Friday, May 31, 2013

GUEST POST: so i hear there was a story in the baltimore sun about smcm?

so a lot of folks are upset about this terrible shitty article in the Baltimore Sun the other day which is understandable since the piece reads like it was researched by skimming halfway thru the list of SMCM’s first year seminars but ending up on youtube watching a montage of eric cartman whining about hippies instead. Some have focused their criticisms on Anne Neal herself, using the sort of language people always seem to feel more comfortable directing at women. realistically though, when a nonprofit president like Neal places an op-ed, the writing is the product of a team effort more often than not -- so it's worth taking a look at the team.

the American Council of Trustees and Alumni was founded by Lynne Cheney -- after 9-11 she used it to attack academics who opposed her husband's war(s). now, they’ve rebranded themselves as advocates for “academic freedom” crusading against "political correctness" -- most notably with their vocal support for ousted harvard president Larry Summers when he caught flak for arguing that women are underrepresented in science and engineering because they aren't as smart as men.

like most think tanks babbling about “market-oriented solutions,” ACTA doesn’t publicly disclose their donors, but they do have ties to charles koch, the kevin bacon of right-wing pigfuckers. oh and did i mention that edwin meese, best known for vocally opposing miranda warnings, having the national guard beat down beat down student protesters, and militarizing the war on drugs as Reagan's attorney general sits on their board too? shit!

ACTA put out a report whining that too few students are required to take a course on shakespeare, lamenting that students are instead encouraged to study "popular culture" -- apparently, critically analyzing work produced for mass appeal only has academic value if it was written before people figured out they should shit and eat in different rooms. really, the entire op-ed drips with that same parochial mentality that education's value can only be measured in terms of quantifiable knowledge about particular dead white men -- she literally invokes our WGSX program for laughs.

and this clayton christensen guy she quotes, his studies in "disruptive innovation" look at technological advancements that displace older markets (iTunes replacing CDs, etc.) one of his favorite examples is how for-profit online degree mills like the University of Phoenix (with help from "reformers" like ACTA) will eventually supplant traditional higher education. To these folks, education is just another industry to make money off of, and educators are only here to tell us factoids about the war of 1812 before we join the workforce. fuck changing lives.

bottom line, St. Mary's has an amazing faculty and staff, and blaming rising tuition on their -genuinely- innovative approach, rather than the financial crisis and the pressure it's put on state budgets, is bullshit. i have a lot of love for SMCM as an institution and it's facing hard times right now, so I guess my point here is don't let this hack distract you, or at least don't let the feelings this editorial evoked in you go to waste.

this isn't just about Anne Neal or even SMCM, shit like this is happening nationwide. chicago just shut down 50 public schools under this same market fundamentalist "narrowly defined results at all costs" mentality. there's a social mission inherent in public education -- we rely on it to make up for our sins, to provide for equality of opportunity and the american dream and all that shit, but it can’t do that if we let the Anne Neals and Arne Duncans of the world turn it into another way to make a quick buck.

43 comments:

  1. Well it's kind of a shame that your punctuation and capitalization is so bad. Is that what SMCM left you with? At my university, we were taught that writing mechanics were just as important as the body of a piece; who's going to take your thoughts seriously if you can't even make the effort to make your essay look academic? You made some great points, however, it's ironic that you don't demonstrate any writing skills (if you were taught any) in an article meant to defend your institution. I know my professors would want me to show that I learned how to write and write well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. mayb dis is jus me, but isnt the kontent moore importent dan the whey itz prezented?

      Delete
    2. While I can hear the sentiment in this piece, I do have to agree with RangerBear. You could have shown just how educated you are by eliminating the cursing and using better form. I get that this is a blog, but as a response piece to an (atypically) well written piece by the Sun, it practically proves the Sun's point.

      Delete
    3. Thirded. Your message got through, but yes, presentation counts if you want to be taken seriously. Sorry.

      Delete
    4. This is a blog not a published article. Good writing has nothing to do with punctuation and capitalization. If it did there would be no such thing as editors. Your strange fixation on this very narrow aspect of of writing mechanics — one that can be fixed by a trained ape performing 1-3 keystrokes per mistake— is quite ironic and nicely illustrates how the mindless, cookie-cutter, use-derivatives-without-understanding-what-a-limit-or-infinity-means approach to education that Mrs. Neal is advocating is problematic. just sayin,,

      Delete
    5. (hopefully same 'anonymous' as directly above)

      OH and you guys above me, lighten up it's a [fucking] blog.

      Delete
    6. Don't take out the swearing - it makes a fucking point. Capitalization aside, this piece is infinitely better than Anne Neal's in every way.

      Delete
    7. I'm not trying to start some sort of flame war here but, a strange fixation? Merely an observation. Good writing has nothing to do with mechanics? Are you kidding? Please tell that to one of your professors and let me know what they say. Everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion, however, I don't necessarily see the need in throwing insults. I think it undermines any other point, especially when there's no real rebuttal. I simply made the point that you should do right by your school and write well. It should come naturally. That's what education is for. And a trained ape shouldn't have to correct a human's writing. Again, I'm not trying to start some sort of contentious argument, it's just a speculation that lack of simple capitalization, something we learn in 1st grade, undermines the point that one can get a great education at SMCM (which they can).

      Delete
    8. That should be a semicolon or a period before "however." Did your professors teach you about comma splices?

      Delete
    9. If you have trouble getting through the presentation then you'll never get the message the author intends to convey, so yes, all that stuff an ape could do matters. (And you know by extension you've just called the author an ape. Just sayin'.)

      Delete
    10. No, it was clearly implied from the previous sentence that editors apes. Learn to infer.

      Delete
    11. * editors are apes.

      Delete
    12. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    13. you should consider yourself lucky that other commenters responded to what you said on its merits, rather than pedantically derailing about your syntax like you did with my post.

      i actually think i did write well, since the purpose of writing is to convey meaning and all, but its upsetting that folks are obsessing over the style of my post while ignoring its substance. the eagerness to conflate grammar in an informal blog post with insight, writing ability, and education that i'm seeing makes me wonder if neal's prescriptivist bullshit (forsooth, a cuss!) has more of a foothold than i thought it did

      Delete
    14. Consider it a teachable moment and do better next time. No one wants their message to be bogged down in semantics, so don't give anyone the chance next time.

      Delete
    15. It's a BLOG - RangerBear, do you use the APA Style Guide when you text? Pay attention to the content - Mr. Lollar is dead on.

      Delete
    16. If you can't discern the content, you can't read it, can you? The whole point is if you don't communicate your point well, your point is never going to be communicated.

      Look how ridiculously this post, which has a lot of good points, has gotten bogged down in talking about how it was presented. If the presentation had been graspable, there wouldn't have been any conversation about it.

      Just sayin'.

      Delete
    17. ATTN: Dipshits saying that the writer should have used Proper English to avoid getting "bogged down in semantics." You are blaming the victim here. Stop.

      There is very little more tedious or useless than a grammar nazi, online or otherwise. They are self-satisfied whiners and concern trolls who never truly intend to educate, only to humiliate. They deliberately distract from completely legible discussion because the have nothing interesting or valuable to add to it themselves.

      I say this as someone who proofreads documents for a living. There is a time and a place for perfect syntax, usually when people are paying you for it. There are other venues, like this one, where a more appropriate, conversational tone can be established by loosely employing caps and punctuation. This does not in any way affect comprehension for anyone with a functioning brain.

      If you really couldn't "discern the content" of this article, you should take the spectacles out of your arse and put them on your face, you hideous bore.

      Delete
    18. that should be "THEY have nothing interesting or valuable to add to it themselves," of course. I'm well aware of my own typos, tyvm

      Delete
  2. This is, in a lot of ways, a wonderful piece of writing.

    Anne Neal: take note.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I give this author an A for Child in America!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are in a departmental retreat right now and everyone took a little break to admire the work of our alum. A little worried to see why it was posted at 12:45--hopefully you were at lunch.

      Delete
    2. Haha, to clarify this was a Guest Post, I didn't write it. I looked over it during lunch and suggested the addition of Arne Duncan along with a few other suggestions.

      Delete
  4. Fair enough. Putting it in perspective though, one small error vs. a whole essay of poor punctuation and expletives? I'd still stand by one mistake over a rant.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Love this. Love. L-O-V-E.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Excuse me RangerBear2011, what is the name of this fancy east coast university you attended? I am afraid that you are actually a bear from the forest trying to steal our honey (via your username)~

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great commentary. I want to note the thinly veiled racism in the Sun article. I find it interesting that this putz singled out Urgo's statement about diversity in the upcoming class--a seemingly irrelevant digression--while later bemoaning a course that attempts to take aspects of black youth culture seriously. That's race coding, and it's a great way to make a statement about your problems with black culture without being called a racist.

    I guess when a room full of old, rich white people--ACTA's board--sets the agenda, I shouldn't be surprised when that agenda devalues marginal perspectives. Many of the professors at St. Mary's actively work against this agenda that says the only things worth learning are written by and about white people. They should be commended for that and strive for a lower grade from ACTA. That'd be my suggestion for figuring out if you're doing things the right way.

    ReplyDelete
  8. It was a horrible piece by a horrible group of pundits. Best forgotten.

    The piece in the Washington Post today, however...

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/st-marys-college-of-maryland-president-questioned-on-student-shortage/2013/05/30/f99d951c-c5fd-11e2-9f1a-1a7cdee20287_story.html

    Also, rumors are FLYING around campus today that either Urgo, Pat or BOTH were canned last night. Stay tuned!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Only too happy to answer "Anonymous". I attended Drew University. Our mascot (the Ranger Bear) doesn't make too much sense, I admit. I think technically, we're just the Rangers but our mascot was a bear? Go figure. We actually have a pretty good relationship with you guys. Our A Capella group tours there. I actually attended one of their parties. Good times. I'm from Maryland myself and have lots of friends who went to SMCM and received a great education and are certainly successful. I should probably clarify: I have no beef with SMCM. I agree with the author that that article (which I read)was undeserving. My point was more that in one's writing, especially to defend their school, should be well crafted, not only in thought (like I said in my first post, he made great points) but in technical composition. It doesn't exactly help to talk about how great your school is if it doesn't look like you actually apply what you learned.

    ReplyDelete
  10. **that one's writing...should be well crafted. Oops :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. And yes, I'm coming for your honey ;)

    ReplyDelete
  12. I will jump onto this blazon bandwagon of destruction, conflagration, arrogance, pedantic meanderings, socio-economic questioning, higher education debating, opinionated, fiery trail that is currently being blazed. I may soon be " cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of fate" but you will know who I am, where I believe I stand and how I came to that point of understanding whilst retaining a modicum of respect for an understandable difference of opinion.

    Now that I've thrown out that eloquent little diatribe, I have 3 main points to make just as the ghosts of past, present and future had to make to Ebenezer.

    1. Despite your (being those who refuted RangerBear)assertion that mechanics matter not in making a point of refuting an Op-Ed piece on higher education, I completely disagree. Mechanics are part and parcel with communication. They can serve to either hinder communication or in even imbibe such discussion with the makings of the higher education that we received at St. Mary's College of Maryland.
    What about alternative styles of writing? All good and fair point my blossoming self proclaimed writer of excellence. HOWEVER... do realize that while all writing is subjective and good writing isn't some monolithic beast to which we are all required to ascribe... what you write and the way in which you write it, regardless of whether you think so or not, does matter to others and will influence their opinions; for example a reader's opinion such as mine. I liked the "point and style of the blog" but personally felt the lack of capitalization/grammar... came to a point (forgive the pun) where it did hurt the overarching point of this blog piece. I'm not advocating spending hours dialing in grammar on a blog as I, myself, am not one to speak on the matter of grammar, but lets attempt to keep it at the very least... on par with the basics. Capitalization, general spelling, ending punctuation marks. I'm okay with colorful speech as you are "drawing attention to a point."

    2) Let's all get it out of the way and agree that the article written by Neale and cronies was absolute rubbish from the simple addition errors of the college's existence all the way to misconstruing the basic requirements of St. Mary's core requirements. Which I thought was interesting considering I did, contrary to the Op-Ed's assertion, study a bunch of old dead white men. Some of them were pretty groovy like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams. If my memory serves me correctly, it's just that we incorporated a larger portfolio of diversity than those "fundamentals" which I percieved as a positive addition to our curriculum. Silly me.

    3) Respect.

    Drop the arrogant rants. Drop the overdone eloquent speech to make a point. Drop the name calling, the education questioning, finger pointing angry tactics. I understand. You're fired up. I am as well, but you serve no one by creating more TENSION, more anger and LESS understanding and LESS tolerance. Not everyone is going to agree with you, get over it. No matter of fancy words, quotes about your education or sarcastic caustic retorts is going to change that. You just come off as a pompous prick.

    The most important thing I learned from my alma mater was fucking tolerance. We don't agree, but I will attempt to understand your position before taking some bullshit inflated stance of "moral superiority" over you. I suggest you keep in mind that one person's moral "superiority" evokes the same sort of feelings as does the opposite end of the spectrum.

    That being said. Have a burrito, dance, talk it all over, but take the time to respect and understand the other persons opinion before going apeshit.

    With Regards,
    That uneducated "religious studies" heathen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well said. My only addition would be to contact the administration about how they've handled/are handling the current crisis. They need to get input from everyone on this disaster, including alums.

      Delete
    2. Religious Studies HeathenJune 4, 2013 at 4:43 PM

      *Thumps chest in quasi-gangster fashion*

      Truth.

      If you're going to spend 4 years at an honors institution paying absurd amounts of money... it better be someplace you love and expands on the standards rather just a rehash of ever school out there.

      Delete
  13. Thank you uneducated "religious studies" heathen, as you certainly know what's up.

    The focus on academia not directly attached to the norm is what attracted me to St. Mary's in my experience there, and ultimately why I chose to stay. It's the type of institution where the student is encouraged to explore what expands your mind while also retaining an honors college standard. It did not feel cookie cutter, inauthentic, impersonal or contrived education. Many colleges today lower the standards of undergrads to acquire greatest profit per academic year and increased enrollment for the institution. The quest for a college education is greater than ever, and clearly the standards fall aside. St Mary's reminded me to be myself and love others with compassionate acceptance. It offered me academic challenges where I implored for them. It was a wonderful education and despite my fellow alum's choice for lacking in grammar in this written post, I think St Mary's gave a nourishing experience for those who sought it- whether or not he or she thought grammar was important. After all, you're enrolled there at roughly 18-22 years of age (when you hardly understand the world and where you fit in it), at least be somewhere that supports you right there and then and doesn't force you to follow what's regular and vanilla.
    From a SMCM grad 2010

    ReplyDelete
  14. Kyle Freaking McGrathJune 1, 2013 at 9:35 PM

    Mr. Bear--

    1) Dude how is it that you did not go to SMCM and are reading this blog, where did you even find this?

    2) The complete lack of grammar and punctuation, flagrant syntactical errors, incorrect use of the terms "via" and "vis-a-vis," improper use of the tilde "~", and general juvenile content of this blog are part of the larger satire it provides of academic life at SMCM, to the point where its asinine writing style is preserved even in serious posts like the above to avoid "breaking character." In other words, this blog is a joke we've been telling for years and you haven't got it yet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *slow clap* for point numero 2.

      Delete
    2. The real joke is this is the best campus reporting around, and a LOT of people look to it for information you can't get elsewhere. No joke.

      Delete
    3. Good point that I didnt take into account. That's the straight up truth. Feels kinda like the Colbert report... yeah its satiric and ridiculous but its still far more accurate than everything else, So I come here to hear what's happening at my alma mater rather than elsewhere via publicized news sources.
      ,
      I guess I'm used to the ridiculous nature of SMCM LOL but really looked at this specific post out of context given how serious of an issue it is. Point taken though.

      Delete