Dear beloved reader(s?).
You know me as Max Reebo. Your beloved light in the darkness. The corrector of your perspectives. Perhaps by the end of this piece you will have been granted a peek at the man behind the curtain, but until then, I have something legitimately important to talk about.
When I began writing the Correct Perspective, it was with the intention of poking some fun at a handful of people that I felt could use it. People who took themselves a smidge too seriously, or people who I thought were getting a bit big in the head, or people who, frankly, just deserved it.
It was fun for a while. Making wacky little jokes about Carroll, or even the occasional direct New Perspective parody (I had a lot more of these in the pipeline that just never came to fruition. For example: I was working on a dynamite Horoscope section that I could never find time to finish). As time went on though, I began to realize that more often than not, it wasn’t the Carroll student body that I was having issues with. People will do what people will do. I can’t go out and scream in the face of every dumbass idiot playing on his iPhone in class or whatever. Live and let live, and all that. But no, it wasn’t my classmates that were really bothering me. It was Carroll.
I think one of the first signs was the name change. Talk to any faculty member that will actually tell you the truth, and you’ll know that Carroll never had any intention of welcoming debate over whether they should become a “university”. All the open forums and whatnot were a formality. Carroll wanted to change the name, and if they didn’t make a show of asking the students and faculty what the felt about it, people would get mad, so they pretended to care, then changed it anyway. But whatever. Carroll being Carroll. If there’s a way they can milk money out of people, they’ll do it. You don’t become the oldest college in the state on accident. You do it by mis-representing how big of a school you are, and making empty promises to the students and staff.
But that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about today. What Carroll has done now is…egregious. It is an insult to me, my friends, and everything we’ve worked for in our time here.
For you see, I majored in Writing here at Carroll. I’ll give you a minute to ponder that, since you probably had no idea such a major existed, but it does!
Or at least it did.
For you see, the powers-that-be have decided that next year’s Writing Capstone will be the last. It will be the third group of seniors to graduate with a full-on degree in Writing from Carroll, and they’ll be the last. The problem, as I understand it, is that there simply isn’t enough interest in the major. Just last year, a handful of the writing classes were in danger of not getting enough students in order to be taught, so I can see that this could be a legitimate issue for Carroll. If nobody is taking these classes, why bother paying people to teach them?
But as I said before, next year’s seniors will be the THIRD graduating class of writing majors. Doesn’t it seem a little unfair to consider making drastic changes like this when the major has been given so little time to grow? Wouldn’t it stand to reason that if you give a new major like this time to get settled in, and build some prestige, that more people will be interested in it, and want to be a part of it?
Unfortunately Carroll has decided that no, it’s not worth it.
“But why do they have trouble filling up the classes?” you ask, “Could it be that they’re not taught well or something?”
Why no, Beloved Reader. The writing professors I have had classes with at Carroll have been nothing but spectacular.
“Well then, could it just be that the majority of the people at Carroll at classless philistines who really don’t understand how awesome a good poem can be?”
Well now I think you’re on to something, Beloved Reader. But wait, I wonder what Carroll’s reasoning could be…They’re certainly not going to call their student body “classless philistines”, like you just did, are they?
Kinda, yeah. See, Carroll’s reasoning for ending the writing major, as I’ve come to understand it, is that it’s simply “too easy”, and that it doesn’t offer any useful real-world experience. So to teach the art of writing, and I mean the kind of writing that is generally referred to as “an art”, prose and poetry, is useless in the real world. To write well is a waste of time. That sound you hear? No, it’s not Shakespeare spinning in his grave…it’s actually Dan Brown and Stephanie Meyer giving each other a high-five. They just won. Does that make you happy, Carroll?
But that bullshit aside, the argument is that writing well won’t actually help you all that much in the “real world”, right? Sure, as offensively rational as that is, I can see a point to it. But last time I checked, I was going to Carroll University, not Waukesha County Technical College (actually, last I checked I was going to Carroll College…that was years ago!). If I wanted an education that would purely help me “in the real world”, I’d go to a place like WCTC and learn an utterly practical skill, like say, how books are made, instead of how to write them (whoops, that’s a spoiler!).
Back to the point that the classes are “too easy”…The writing major classes that I took, which happen to be the ones that are specifically under fire here (leaving one mysteriously unscathed!), are anything but “easy”. There’s nothing “easy” about sitting silently while your classmates pick apart all the issues they have with whatever story or poem you wrote. So the argument that these classes, the poetry and fiction workshops, are “easy” and that’s why everyone in the major takes them, is not only bullshit, but this argument may or may not be actually related to inter-disciplinary politics, though I certainly don’t know anything about that! And if that that were the case (IF!), it would just happen to make this whole mess a hell of a lot worse, knowing that this isn’t Carroll being stupid, but people within Carroll being, if I may, downright mean. Stepping on others to further their own…hypothetical…tenure tracks, or whatever. For shame, perhaps…for shame.
So whatever the reasons may be, Carroll has deemed my major a failure, after only a handful of years to work out the kinks. But that’s really just the beginning. It’s a shitty situation, especially for all of the professors I’ve come to know and respect. But I said that Carroll’s actions were an insult, and I assure you…they are.
Because THIS is what the writing major is being replaced with. This abomination.
This is “Book Art”. It doesn’t even claim to be related to the English major (a mostly friendly cousin to the Writing major). It’s actually part of the Art major (hence the name, huh?). Before I explain to you everything that’s wrong with this…and I assure you, they are legion, why don’t we take a look at the goals of the Book Art program.
First and foremost we have:
A. History of book arts:
- Students will be able to summarize the key innovations in the history of book making and publishing.
- Students will be able to demonstrate the importance of these innovations by articulating the ways in which the history of book making and publishing has influenced social and cultural changes.
Alright, now go back and re-read number 2. “Articulate the ways in which the history of book making and publishing has influenced social and cultural changes”. Aw, isn’t the nice? Learning how bookmaking has changed the world…But I wonder, isn’t there something related to bookmaking that has had a massively greater impact on social and cultural changes than the way books are made?
Oh wait, I know. THE FUCKING WRITING. You can’t have a GOD DAMN book without somebody there to WRITE IT.
Let’s imagine a different situation for a second. For one reason or another, Carroll has decided to end the Chemistry major. That major, as Carroll knows it today, will be no more. Perhaps the powers-that-be decided that Chemistry was just “too easy” for today’s college student, and that the reason everyone takes chemistry over some other, more boring, science is because it’s so easy. But whatever the case may be, Carroll knows that there is still some value to the teachings of Chemistry, so they have decided to replace it with something “similar”:
Test Tube Making.
Test tubes are very important to chemistry, and certainly the technology behind the creation of test tubes, and the use of test tubes, has advanced over time. Therefore, students will now be taking classes where they learn how to make their own test tubes, and they will also learn how advancements in test tube technology helped to cure all of history’s most terrible diseases. Also, students will learn about how test tubes can benefit them in daily life, and they’ll be able to utilize their test tube knowledge in employment situations (like getting a job at a test tube factory). As a final project, Test Tube Art majors will be asked to design and create their own test tube, which they can then fill with any improperly mixed solution they choose.
Why are the solutions improperly mixed? Well, it should be obvious…You see, nobody at Carroll has been trained in how to make a well crafted solution, because, according to Carroll, mixing solutions just isn’t “useful” in the real world.
Pretty fucking stupid, huh? But you have to admit, that was an awesome metaphor.
“But Max!” you say, “What are the other goals of the Book Art program? Surely one of them must be related to writing!”
Why yes, Billy. One of them is. (And your name is now Billy)
D.Skills and techniques:
- Students will be able to speak effectively and articulately about the field of book art.
- Students will be able to write effectively and persuasively and edit critically to accepted publication standards.
- Students will utilize skills in photography and design in the creation of books.
- Students will be able to demonstrate skills in layout and pre-press used in publication or book creation.
Is that Letter B that it’s under? Letter C, maybe?
No, that’s a D. And not only is the first mention of actual writing not until D, it’s NUMBER TWO in the D section.
“But Max!” you’ll continue, “At least it’s in there! At least writing is being taught!”
Hey shut up, Billy. And you’re right. In fact, if you were to look at the required courses for “Book Art”, you’d see this:
Two of the following courses:
English 206 Fiction Writing (4 credits)
English 207 Poetry Writing (4 credits)
English 208 Nonfiction Writing (4 credits)
English 305 Advanced Expository Writing (4 credits)
Oh, well that’s nice! Eng 206 and 207 are a couple of badass classes…Only, something’s not right…See, as it stands now, the 200 level writing classes are essentially glorified introductions to whatever genre they’re teaching. Yes, you get basic stuff in the writing seminar, and in some of the other 100 level English classes, but the real importance of these 200 level classes is to prepare you for the 300 level writing classes. As anyone who has taken 306, 307 or 308 can tell you, they’re a lot different than the 200 levels. For one, the students take it a lot more seriously. The people who are there, for the most part, want to be there. Even the work you do in the 200 level classes gets revised more in the 300 levels.
Now, you’re forcing these “Book Art” kids to take the 200 level classes, and the 200 level classes only. The 300 level writing classes are not required for the Book Art major (And for all I know they won’t be offered at all, or at least less often than they are now). If you remove that goal to improve your work, and to better your craft for the higher level classes, the entire makeup of the class changes. Instead of writing something that you’re probably going to have to keep working with for more than one semester, you can just throw something together however you please. You don’t need to care about what you’re writing, and as a writer, the thought of that sickens me. We’ve all taken classes we cared about that were unfortunately also taken by people who did not. This phenomena isn’t only seen in the writing classes (Though I can come up with some specific examples of people in both my fiction writing and poetry writing classes that didn’t care about what they were doing, which in turn brought everything else down. Pretty severely in one case…), but as far as my experience goes, none of those people who do not care make it to the 300 level classes, simply because they don’t care. So imagine a class where nobody has the incentive to care about what they do in that class, beyond maybe getting a good grade. It’s a completely different class then. You’re not going to get somebody putting their heart and soul into a poem, hoping to actually get good feedback from their classmates. You’re going to get somebody writing a poem the night before it’s due, and it’ll probably be about something stupid like going to the bathroom during a power-outage.
You see, yeah, writing classes are still being offered, as they’re required by the “Book Art” major…But they won’t be the writing classes I took. They just can’t be. It’s unavoidable. The classes won’t exist for the same reasons they do now, and therefore, they won’t mean the same thing to anyone taking them. I’ve seen some good writers come out of this program, people I respect, and people whose work I respect. I hate to imagine a Carroll where that doesn’t happen anymore.
And that’s not even getting into the screwjob the professors are facing with this. It’s the same situation, only now they’re going to be teaching something that they really do care about, but to people who won’t necessarily, you know, care.
I don’t really know why I’m bothering with any of this. The two of you out there reading this have proved that, beyond myself, there isn’t really a market at Carroll for the kind of thing I’ve been doing here…but I just felt like this was something that had to be shared. I can almost guarantee you that you’re not going to find anything about this in the New Perspective…but that’s probably because it’s not a fluff-piece about whatever ridiculous renovations Carroll wants to do next…But hey, if that’s what the people want. I just hope that everybody realizes that there’s another side to all of this stuff…I mean, to some of the ridiculous crap Carroll loves to pull. We never really get the whole story, at least from official channels.
I guess I’ve just become jaded…but I don’t want to be. I don’t want to have to go out like this, feeling mostly negative about my time here…So I won’t. Or at least, I’ll try not to…
In January, on the last episode of his depressingly brief tenure as host of The Tonight Show, Conan O’Brian said something that really…spoke to me, I guess. I’m sure it didn’t hurt that ol’ CoCo was choking back tears as he said it either, but…well, I think it’s appropriate here.
“All I ask of you, especially young people . . . is one thing. Please don’t be cynical. I hate cynicism — it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”
I can’t think of a better note to end on…I’ve had a lot of fun doing the Correct Perspective, even when some of my entries were a little…venom-filled. And in the long run, the positive things that Carroll has given me (and I’m thinking of one in particular…and no, it’s not my wicked literary skillz) will stick with me far longer than the bad ones will. So I guess that’s all I can really ask for…but it’s still a shame—
Uh oh, I’ve just been sent an important notice!
CAMPUS SAFETY BULLETIN
5/15/2010, 7:45 pm: NOT DOING SHIT, WHAT ELSE IS NEW?
YOU KNOW YOU LOVE IT!
So this is it. I had a good run here. I hope those of you who kept up with my insane ramblings enjoyed it. I enjoyed writing it…the old TCORP was a good place to vent some stuff over these couple of years or so. Also: Thanks to those of you who actually read this stuff. I appreciate it.
But ESPECIALLY thanks to those of you who managed to suffer through this whole mess…I didn’t realize how long it had gotten. Oh well. I had lots of stuff to say…
Either way, thanks for reading!
I can’t really think of a good way to end this (what else is new?), so I’m just gonna end it.
Smell ya later!
-Maxwell Reebo, editor in chief