I have, for some years now, been watching the fetid swamp of political correctness, fearfulness, and the jellyfish spines of college administrators at our nation’s institutions of higher learning. I’ve come across numerous articles wherein the precious, special snowflakes have bitterly claimed their teacher’s expectations they use proper grammar, spelling and punctuation in their writings is not only a microaggression, it’s racist, sexist, LGBTQWERTY-ist, it makes them feel unsafe, and it’s generally icky and must stop. The man is keepin’ them down!
Consider, gentle readers, what this means. College students, including those in graduate school, are demanding to write on an elementary school level, when they write at all. This should not be surprising.
Colleges have, for many years now, been accepting pretty much anyone with a heartbeat and a healthy checkbook. They’ve established remedial high schools on campus, and while they charge full tuition for those mandatory remedial classes, the students earn no college credit. They allow students to take as long as seven years–perhaps more–to complete a bachelor’s degree program. Now, at least some in the academy are advocating eliminating the need for such remedial classes, though I’m sure they don’t see it that way. If you wonder, gentle readers, how they could sink any lower, remove proper grammar, spelling and punctuation from the academy, and you’re very nearly at the bottom, as The Washington Times reports:
The University of Washington, Tacoma’s Writing Center now instructs students that expecting proper grammar from others perpetuates racism and ‘unjust language structures.’
A cadre of staffers at University of Washington, Tacoma recently crafted an instructional poster for ‘Huskies’ on ‘anti-racist and social justice work.’ The project was spearheaded by Dr. Asao Inoue, the center’s director.
‘Racism is the normal condition of things. Racism is pervasive,’ the poster reads, the Daily Caller reported Monday. ‘It is in the systems, structures, rules, languages, expectations, and guidelines that make up our classes, school, and society. For example, linguistic and writing research has shown clearly for many decades that there is no inherent ‘standard’ of English. Language is constantly changing. These two facts make it very difficult to justify placing people in hierarchies or restricting opportunities and privileges because of the way people communicate in particular versions of English.
Of course. Racism is in the “rules, languages and expectations,” that make up college classes. Therefore UW at Tacoma is going to combat racism by fighting “unjust language structures.”
Today class, we’re going to review the most irregular verb in the oppressive English language and show you how to turn it on the racist oppressors. Repeat after me:
Dat ho be.
I be F***in’ dem all!
All of this, gentle readers, for only $50,037 per year in out of state tuition.
And if you were wondering, like me, just who is going to hire college graduates without the ability to write or speak on a 6th grade level, Campus Reform might be helpful in explaining:
A professor of medieval literature at the City University of New York in a recent op-ed.
In an op-ed for Inside Higher Ed, Dr. A.W. Strouse argues that colleges should support ‘greater linguistic diversity’ and ‘affirm and embrace’ language differences among students, such as the use of slang and African American Vernacular English (AAVE).
How about WTTRBVE (White Trailer Trash Red Neck Vernacular English), or perhaps FOCVE (Fly Over Country Vernacular English)? I somehow suspect those versions of English wouldn’t live up to the good Doctor’s high standards.
Strouse has several books to his credit including My Gay Middle Ages, which Amazon.com describes:
In the world of My Gay Middle Ages, Chaucer and Boethius are the secret-sharers of A.W. Strouse’s ‘gay lifestyle.’ Where many scholars of the Middle Ages would ‘get in from behind’ on cultural history, Strouse instead does a ‘reach around.’ He eschews academic ‘queer theory’ as yet another tedious, normative framework, and writes in the long, fruity tradition of irresponsible, homo-medievalism…
I’m sure he does. Apparently that book is not about how happy medieval folk were. One wonders if he bothers with grammar and all of the rest of that silly, racist stuff. Homo-medievalism…?
Affirming students’ use of non-standard English is important, he says, because students who speak nonstandard English may feel discouraged if called out for it. Citing educators Vicki Spandel and Richard J. Stiggins, Strouse notes that ‘negative comments…tend to make students feel bewildered, hurt, or angry.
I know what you’re thinking: you’re saying “tell the worthless little twits to cowboy up and try to learn something. Their parents, or the taxpayers, are paying enough for it!” Of course, you’re only saying that because you’re all racist oppressors who want students to feel bewildered, hurt or angry, and what is more important in college than ensuring students never feel the least uncomfy?
Teacher: No, Johnny, it is not proper English to write that Emily Dickinson was “that pasty-faced bitch.”
Student: “I feel bewildered, hurt and angry. I need a safe space.”
Already, scholars of rhetoric believe, as the consensus view, that instructors should not try to change their students’ speech patterns,’ Strouse writes. ‘In the classroom, students shut down in the face of pedantry because they hate when bossy teachers tell them how to talk, especially in cases in which bourgeois white teachers dictate ex cathedra about what speech is ‘correct.’
Well of course! Just because those people earned doctorates is no reason to think they know a thing! Who are they to tell 18 year olds anything? After all, they’re bourgeois, and white too! Why should they be able to pedantically shove “standards” down the throats of sensitive students?
Strouse told Campus Reform that his motivations for penning the essay were ‘personal, political, and poetical,’ noting that he has friends and family who ‘are made to feel like dummies for not speaking in standard English.
Why does this not surprise me? And what does this guy mean by “poetical?”
Poetically, I want to care for all words, especially the unloved, red-headed-step-child words.
Uh, right. Apparently Dr. Strouse doesn’t understand the difference between poetic license and what he so glibly disdains as “academic” writing. One can take liberties with grammar, word order, and spelling in poetry because it’s, you know, poetry. Then again, perhaps he just doesn’t care. There is more:
The high level of respect that elites place on standard English can cause political problems, as well, Strouse contended, pointing out that ‘clueless elites’ have consistently failed to grasp ‘the appeal of [Donald] Trump’s rhetoric’ to his working-class supporters.
Well, this is rather incoherent, incoherence being what I’ve come to expect from the academy these days, but it all comes down to saying Strouse believes he’s right because TRUMP! Now we come to the really important argument:
When asked why he believes it’s important to embrace and support alternative types of English, especially those that are typically frowned upon in the workplace, Strouse said employers shouldn’t dictate how their employees speak.
“The workplace has way too much power and should not be allowed to determine something as fundamental as how we speak,’ he declared. ‘People need to tell their bosses, ‘Fuck you.
Well, perhaps they should do that on the day they plan to be fired. Other than that, not so much. One wonders what sort of reality Dr. Strouse inhabits? It is certainly not the reality his students will encounter should they ever graduate from college with a degree in something-or-other studies. Unless a company is looking for a specific diversity hire, they won’t get past the first two minutes of the first interview:
Human Resources Interviewer: Please tell me why you want to work for Acme Services Ltd?
New Graduate: Shiiiiit! Dis f***er tell me you hirin’ and lookin’ to stack wid woke dudes, so I be here. How much you payin’ bitch, and where be my company ride?
Human Resources Interviewer: I think we know all we need to know about your qualifications. Thank you. We’ll be in touch.
Despite his limited influence over the realities of the job market, Strouse held fast to his belief that professors shouldn’t correct their students’ language, saying that doing so would only contribute to ‘linguistic racism’ in society.
One can only hope Strouse’s influence over the job market will continue to be limited. I suspect we won’t have to hope too hard or long about that.
[Students] do not need educators to perpetuate that injustice by promoting dubious standards,’ he said. ‘They need to equip themselves with a knowledge of historical linguistics so that they can battle against linguistic racism.
And remain perpetually unemployed. It is quite easy to satirize Dr. Strouse and those like him. The unfortunate reality is he is far from alone in the contemporary academy, and those demanding the dismantling the conventions of educated, polite society are winning the college culture war.
The “academic” language Strouse sees as evidence of racism is nothing more than expecting students, when they reach college, to be capable of writing with style and precision. They should also be expected to demonstrate command of the conventions of the writing they’ve been taught, and apparently ignored, since the first grade. It is also expected–gasp!–they be able to write with clarity, and demonstrate a functional vocabulary greater than that of a fifth grader.
An earlier generation of college professors would have seen Strouse as an incompetent crank and drummed him out. Today, it is people like Strouse that drum out competent teachers intent on demanding actual college level work of college and graduate students.
Actually, companies could save a very great deal of time in hiring by simply requiring college transcripts. Anyone ever having taken a class taught by Strouse can be immediately crossed off interview lists. Reality has a way of catching up with you, though probably not Dr. Strouse.