My university is kind of crappy. One of our main selling points is that a lot of TV shows film on our campus, so there are fairly many opportunities to be an extra, which, given our reputation, is probably a decent career compared to anything a degree from here will get you. Last week we got an email warning us not to freak out if we happened to notice fires and people scaling buildings all night, because it was just for a TV show. A week later the same charming administration that authorized that refused to allow the use of a single room for early voting to help get students to vote. Because priorities.

College business majorWhen I started college, everyone kept saying that being smart in high school doesn't mean being smart in college. They were either stupid or lying. I'm guessing stupid, since 99% of the people here are, too. Today, we analyzed essays to find out why they work well. And here is the dazzling wit displayed in the near-unanimous decision that this was the main reason: "Smith uses paragraphs to organize his essay."

Well shit.

You mean all this time, the secret to good writing is paragraphs? It's such a relief to know that I can stop focusing on things like tone and sentence structure.

Look, a new paragraph! Try not to be overly impressed by my kickass writing.

And yet, as impressed as I am by Smith's use of paragraphs, I don't think this admittedly brilliant observation fully conveys the eloquence of his writing. Smith's groundbreaking use of sentences and controversial decision to use words and punctuation are truly redefining the art of writing. But let's look a little deeper. How do we know that Smith wrote this? We know this because Smith put his name directly under the title, an ingenious decision. And what about that title? It is made out of words. Words have varying amounts of syllables and are formed with letters. Why does it echo inside my head so much when I have a thought?

And then there's the way everyone likes to provide feedback on peer edits. No one ever actually criticizes or corrects anything, but they will cover your paper in smiley faces and say things like, "I heart this sentence!" I once used the word "ubiquitous" and literally the only feedback I was given was "Big word! :-)" I write things like "this is a god-awful sentence" and "congratulations on locating your thesaurus, now consider adding some actual content." I do this because I am a mean-spirited person, according to the addled girl whose paper I was forced to edit last week. The poor thing was clearly illiterate; her blue hoodie said "PINK" in giant letters.

I didn't really realize how crappy and run down the English department is until we were assigned to work on a project helping the business majors learn to not suck at writing. First step: teach them to correctly spell "business." Yes, really. Apparently business majors are never taught about appropriate tone and diction for business writing or even how to form a coherent sentence, because people who work in business have no use for effective communication. That, or the vast majority of the students in this 400-something level course are 8- and 9-year-olds, in which case their writing skills are highly impressive. The kindest thing we could say about most of their writing was, "excellent font choice!" It really sucks having to correct the basic spelling and grammar errors of the person who will one day not hire you because you were an English major. Unless, because of your useless degree, you end up whoring in which case they might.

We didn't have classes last week because the English building's A/C unit broke, and since there's no administration or legitimate departments housed in it, it took over a week to get it fixed, and building temperatures soared to the 100's. Fortunately the English building is one of the few that hasn't been replaced, and since it was made almost entirely out of asbestos it suffered no harm. Our professor started class today with, "Imagine you are a business major. Your job prospects have just tripled, the air conditioning works, and you get to go to class in the business building." And then we took a minute, sitting there in our broken desks under the flickering and buzzing of our crappy fluorescent lighting, wistfully talking about the business building.

I heard they have carpet.

They have enough funding that they're allowed to turn on the lights in the hallways.

Their bulletin boards have actual job and internship offers.

The English department has one bulletin board. On it is a single piece of paper, on which is printed a vague justification of the English department's existence. It is 3 lines long, and can be summed up with "Gosh books are cool, and you'll be able to write a sentence!" which, while true, is not particularly inspiring when it comes to convincing someone that student loans, unemployment and endless group projects are worth it.

Hell, half the essays in the Norton Anthology for composition studies are scathing critiques of English departments. The entire class could be summed up with "this is why this class and every class you will ever take in this department are utterly useless." A few years ago creative writing split off and became its own department.  You know your department is fucked when the moronic subsection of it that insists typos are fully intended and deeply meaningful runs away screaming, "You guys are full of crap!"

In 7 months I'm going to graduate. Business majors, I'm totally available if you need someone to condescendingly help you spell big words.

That's c-o-n-d-e-s-c-e-n-d-i-n-g-l-y. Dumbass.

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