I head, with a sense of dread, to my four hour-long ecology discussion/lab. Strangely, Tiff and her boyfriend are there when I arrive. I ask them why they've come, and Tiff replies, "We wouldn't want to miss this." I am confused.

The reasons for their interest in my normally mundane class soon become clear. My TA, Sarah, is leading our lab in some sort of a s
éance. Surveying us with a black lace shawl wrapped around her head, she nods silently. Then Sarah dims the lights. Someone giggles, and she stares at them reprovingly. One girl has brought a snack of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies for the lab, which Sarah intercepts, reappropriating the cookies as holders for tapered white candles. These are placed with care around the room. Under Sarah's direction, we arrange our chairs in a large circle and drape black fabric over our laps. It seems as if the entire class is taken aback at how seriously Sarah's approaching this séance. We stifle our snickers and roll our eyes as she directs us to hold hands and, throwing her head back, begins to chant.