Most colleges and universities in America have Writing Centers, and I was lucky enough to be offered a job at mine while I was an undergrad. Our WC was different from most other WCs in two ways (not including guiding philosophies):
1) Our staff was completely undergrad--which is actually not all that unique considering that my small liberal arts school had no grad students. However, while most schools seem to rely primarily on juniors and seniors (if not grad students), we drew equally from all classes, including freshmen. Some schools also limit employment opportunities to English/Writing majors or Humanities students. At one point, we had every major, except one, represented by our staff. Part of this was because we had a huge staff. In fact, we (probably) had the biggest staff-as-a-percentage-of-student-body in the country (a little less than 5%) and (probably) had the biggest staff in sheer numbers (about 60).
2) Many WCs across the country are in danger of losing their place in academia through lack of institutional and, especially, financial support. We, however, had almost the complete blessing from the administration and a sizable amount of green. (We weren't--and still aren't--entirely sure how our Director made all the finances work. We have theories.) This allowed us to attend many Writing Center and Writing conferences. In fact, the general principle that the Director set forth was: you can attend any conference we go to, as long as you work on a presentation and keep a journal. We usually took 25-30 students to each conference.
So, of course, I took complete advantage of this. And this is how I, a boy who had spent his entire life in the west, got to see Baltimore and Minneapolis my first year away from home. Later, I added Chicago, New York, Savannah, San Antonio, Hershey (PA), and Lawrence (KS). I presented at the Midwest Writing Center Association and the National Writing Center Association. But the big conference was the 4C's (CCCC; which, for the life of me, I can't remember what it stands for--I think "conference" "composition" and "communication" are three of the C's).
The proudest I have ever been with my school was at the 2003 4C's conference in New York. [And I'm not talking about the $17 pastrami and corned beef sandwich I had at (I think) Carnegie's Deli that holds the "Best Sandwich I've Ever Eaten" award.] Now, the 4C's is the top composition conference in the country that easily clears 1000 attendees. Not many students go, and not many of those were undergrads. In New York, our estimate put the number of all students at around 60, the number of undergrads at about 35; twenty-three of those from our school.
So there was this session--I don't remember what it was about or what it was called--but it was a big one, with a panel made up of composition teachers from Big Name Schools. So Harvard is talking about teaching writing, specifically "freshman composition", and has some choice things to say about students' writing: the one that stuck out (and thus I remember) is when he described it as "soul sucking."
And there were many nods in agreement.
So, this girl from my school--a freshman--calls him on this. I can't write what she said, for this quickly became The Stuff Legends Are Made Of and, in our memories, the words have been changed accordingly. But Harvard quickly tries to back-peddle, saying things like "I didn't know there were students here" and "I didn't really mean it's all
soul sucking" yadda yadda yadda.
We thought it was great. (And we weren't the only ones; a week later, some WC Director from Colorado, on the WC-Director List-SERV, said that that was the highlight of the conference for him.) The incident ended up sparking lots of conversation (at least among us) about how we as students and we as WC tutors are to interact with the academy and with the professors etc. Eventually, this topic became our presentation at the NWCA and the next CCCC.
Many things came up. One guy tried to tell us (essentially) that we shouldn't have been there--that it was a venue for instructors to get away from the students and to (essentially) let loose there frustrations. Like the teacher's lounge. Or the water cooler.
Anyway, you all are probably wondering what the point of all this is. (And if you've read this far and aren't, then may I suggest professional help?) Well, clearly, it's about the Bloggernacle.
It's like that big conference room and everyone is there. Someone gets up to speak (posts) and the rest of us listen or doze off or leave to get a drink. Occasionally there are bad jokes that we laugh at to be polite. Nothing is really earth-shattering, but most is at least interesting, even if we forget it in a week.
Occasionally someone will comment to the effect of “We should be careful what we say, we don’t know if any investigators are lurking here” and I’d give a chuckle. I’m not a Church member and, although I’d like to think that I have pretty unique take on it, the thought that someone would be discouraged from joining simply because they couldn’t understand or misunderstood the finer points of 19th century polygamy seemed a bit ridiculous. I’m probably wrong in thinking that, but whatever. But I wouldn’t really advise anyone interested in the church (spiritually, academically, etc.) to read much in the bloggernacle.
See, it’s not because I think it’s offensive
, but that some of what’s written is just insulting. I imagine that most don’t realize that the way non-member views are treated here is much like how the Anti-Mormons treat LDS doctrine.
I’m all for disagreeing, but calling the morality of someone in to question and insulting their choices goes a bit far. I’ve said it before: I don’t care if you think drinking, watching R-rated movies, or having pre-marital sex is a sin—that’s your prerogative—but claiming that I (or anyone else) is not a good person because of it? Yeah: insulting. And yes, I know that you (probably) don’t mean it that way and that there is some basis of truth there. I know that reading Freshman papers for low pay year after year can make one question their life choice. But the rhetoric just isn’t cool and it doesn’t do any good. Well, maybe it increases your own sense of self worth, but other than that, no.
And this is why I spent so long explaining my story at the beginning. Maybe I, as a non-member, shouldn’t be here and that this discussion should take place independent from outside opinions. Maybe the Nacle should be a closed community of (relatively) like-minded believers. But I’m here, and this is an open forum. So consider this just a heads up in case you don’t realize how off-putting insulting non-members and their culture is. Someday you might turn someone off of the Church because of it. I can't speak for others, but I find it hard to respect and discuss your views when you don't respect mine.
‘Cause I tell ya, some of my best friends are Mormon and there are some great people in the nacle. But if the inconsiderate around here end up in the CK, then I am happy shooting for the Terrestrial.
(And, just so everyone knows, I am referring to no one in particular here, but just a general ethos that seems quite prevalent.)