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February 27, 2010
The C&T Decision
Last Tuesday, the faculty voted, and they decided to reduce the number of all-college courses from three to two. What this means is that C&T will be revamped to a one semester course. This new course might resemble C&T in some ways, but it could very well be something completely different. The faculty nominated Dr. Horton, a psychology professor, to lead the committee that is creating this new course. I haven't really had a chance to talk to him about it much, but I'm sure Dr. Horton will want some student input. The new course is similar to C&T, in that it will have a focus on reading, writing, critical thinking, and small group discussion. Now, what should this new course look like? I'm not sure I have any really creative suggestions; I haven't had time to think about it.
However, the faculty seem pretty excited about this new course. The Bachelor, our campus newspaper, reported that "with a sense of creativity and optimism... The faculty hope to create a course that will be enthusiastically received by the students." Ideally, the ACC committee will have a proposal by the end of this semester, and next year's freshmen will participate in this new course. By then, most of the upperclassmen that took the old version of C&T will have graduated. So, they wont have the chance to ruin the new course for the underclassmen. I could easily see a senior telling a sophomore that this "new course is going to suck. You wont get the real C&T experience." I think the new course wont be subject to that sort of criticism because a lot of the upperclassmen will be gone. So this new course will have a clean slate.
I hope it just doesn't strike out.
February 25, 2010
2 Interviews Down!
Well, I applied to four programs, and I got two interviews. The first interview was at Clark, and it went very well! I flew into Boston, and then I rented a car to drive to Worcester. Of course, once I got into town, I got lost. I was supposed to meet my host at Clark, but I could not find the campus. It was so frustrating. I ended up meeting him at a gas station. Once we met, he suggested that we go to dinner. He took me to the Flying Rhino, and they served some fantastic sea food. I got lobster ravioli, and it was fantastic; it had lobster, prawns, and scallops.... so good!
At dinner, I met other grad students in the program. They all were really friendly, and, once together, they all seemed like a family. I don't have any family in New England; so, I was a little nervous about moving out there. However, these students made me feel welcome and at ease. I especially had fun with my host. He was cool, and we talked about sports, movies, and Lost.
I had a series of three interviews the following morning. The first interview, with a grad student, went well. He was really interested in my research, and he gave me a little boost of confidence for my last two interviews. My second interview was with a faculty member; he said that my research interest was really organic. That is, my interest seems to flow naturally from my experience at Wabash. My last interview was with Michael. He's the researcher that I want to work with. He was very positive throughout our interview, and he seemed genuinely interested in me.
Today, I had a phone interview with the University of Houston. It went extremely well. The faculty there were very positive too. They asked me about my research interest, my time in Italy, and what I like to do for fun. Because it was a phone interview, I thought there was going to be a lot of pressure. They helped put my mind at ease.
So, now comes the wait. How am I suppose to wait an entire month to learn if I got in?
It's going to be miserable.
February 23, 2010
Comps and Interviews
The day is finally here. I'm flying out to Boston in a few hours for my Clark interview. I think I'm ready; at least, I feel prepared. I've tried to read every empirical article that Dr. Addis has published in the last ten years. I've looked at the program and studied the curriculum. I've taken extensive notes and written down three pages of questions.
I'll be fine (I hope).
In other news, I got my comp grade back yesterday. I got a High Pass! There are three comps grades you can receive: Pass, High Pass, and Distinction. A High Pass is like a B or B+, and I'm happy with it. This year, no psychology majors got Distinction. I could easily read the disappointment on some of my friends' faces when they learned they got a pass or high pass. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed too, but I told my friends that we just earned a degree. Get over it! You just earned a degree... At Wabash!. Let's go out and celebrate.
This little pep talk didn't go over so well with everyone. I still have the bruise on my arm to prove it.
February 21, 2010
The debate is still going on. Last Thursday and Friday, faculty and students came together to discuss the future on the course, If anything, these sessions raised some tough and interesting questions that needed to be addressed. I'll be addressing the one I hear most frequently from students. In conversations with my peers, they argue that C&T fails because professors dont want to teach the class. They say that if the professor isn't motivated to teach it, why should I care?
Now, I will agree that a professor's attitude toward a course can shape the experience for the students. For example, if professors are excited about the class, some students will respond to it with enthusiasm. However, I argue, does it really matter if professors want to teach C&T or not? I feel like their attitudes towards the course only matter to a certain extent. Many professors have told me that the best discussions in C&T are driven by the students. They say that C&T goes the best when students are bouncing ideas off one another, and the professors only moderate the discussion. Professors don't offer their own opinion, but they let students take the discussion in their own hands. It seems to me that whether professors give a damn about the course or not, it is really the students' responsibility to make the class a success. In other words, in you don't read the text, you cant discuss. If no one is discussing, then the class will suck.
Now, in an ideal world, this is how C&T would operate. However, it is not quite like this. Problems are co-created between students and professors. But, I'm glad these conversations are happening. An alumni just placed a comment on my blog. He told me that C&T was a significant turning point in his Wabash career. He said C&T was the first time he read The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which led to a career in Black Studies. As well, C & T was the class where he first learned about ancient Chinese dynastic history. Twenty years later, he is the father of a Chinese-American daughter, and he relied upon C&T learning to raise her as a proud Chinese and American girl.
Reading his comments has helped me see the scope of this debate. C&T is a common experience that has united Wabash men since the 70's. I'm still not sure whether I'm ready to see the course go.
But we will know in two days.
February 18, 2010
The Debate Over C&T
This week has one of serious conversation. With budget cuts, the college has a major decision on its hand. It has to decide whether to cut one of the all college courses. But, let me back track just a little. Everyone Wabash student is required to take 3 semesters of freshmen tutorial and C&T. C&T is a discussion course where we read a series of books, poems, essays, and dialogues. Traditionally, there have been two semesters of C&T, but with the loss of about 12 faculty members, the college is considering removing C&T all together or reducing it to one semester.
Although almost every student complains about C&T, there was a huge backlash this week from the student body. On this past Tuesday, the faculty were going to vote whether they should reduce C&T to one semester or do away with it completely. When the students got wind of this vote, we quickly organized a friendly protest. Students filled up the library and lined against the stairwell and wall that surrounds the room whether the faculty hold their meetings. This was particularly shocking because faculty had to walk right by us. I dont think some of the faculty knew how important C&T is to some students.
I've heard a lot of arguments about this debate. Some say we should get rid of C&T because the numbers dont add up; that is, with so many faculty members retiring, there is not enough faculty to teach the course as it is today. Others disagree with the numbers. Some say, if we sacrifice a course or two within departments, then C&T can continue to be taught the way it is. Some argue that professors dont really like teaching C&T, and they welcome the idea of creating a new course. Some fear that if we create this new course, then we have already set the precedent to get rid of it when professors begin to dislike it. Are we going to get rid of an all-college course every time we start to dislike it?
I'm not sure where I sit on the debate. C&T does have its fair share of problems. I think the biggest is that it is not clear what the goals of C&T are. Unlike other courses, the goals of C&T are pretty ambiguous to me. Is the point of the class to read a bunch of books? Or is the point to foster critical thinking skills? One could argue that C&T is designed with too many goals; maybe thats why its failing.
I feel like if there really aren't enough faculty to teach C&T, then it makes sense to get rid of it. I personally liked my time in C&T, but when I reflect on my time at Wabash, C&T does not immediately come up. It was a good course, but my experience at Wabash does not depend on this course. I suggested that why not make Senior Colloquium the new all-college course. Senior Colloquium is similar to C&T, in that you read lots of different texts but you only meet once a week. Essentially, you read one book every week. And the best part is that a different professor teaches colloquium every week. So that would spread the responsibility of teaching class among more faculty. Maybe faculty would have to teach colloquium 2 or 3 times a semester, but they would not have the responsibility of teaching this class every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Even more, if the other college course was in the senior year, it would bookend the Wabash experience quite nicely. You come in and you complete freshmen tutorial, and you leave by completing senior colloquium.
The faculty have an emergency session this Tuesday. I guess we'll find out the fate of C&T then.
February 17, 2010
February 13, 2010
We Are the World 25
It makes me smile to know that some entertainers use their celebrity for charity. So often, celebrities are constructed as narcissists who are only concerned with pursuing their own fame. The first We Are The World was written 25 years ago... a couple of years before my birth. It was for famine relief in Africa. Every time someone purchased the song, some of the proceeds went straight to the relief effort. 25 years later, a ton of singers recorded a new single for Haitian relief efforts. I'm glad that some celebrities are trying to keep Haiti in the public conscienceness; it can be so easy to forget that plenty of Haitian are starving and still without water. The damages done to Port-au-Prince wont be resolved in a few weeks, nor a few months. Its efforts like We Are the World 25 that help us remember that there are men, women, and children who need our help. Take the time out to watch this video. If you're really touched, it can be purchased off iTunes.
February 11, 2010
They Caught The Crook!
Great news. Freshmen, Colten Cragain, has an uncle who is a US Marshall. When he heard about our spring break scandal, he offered to give his uncle a call. Within 24 hours, his uncle had tracked down the con artist. He asked us for our information to prepare a case against the guy. The last time I heard is that they were about to arrest him. The only thing that sucks is that we may not get our money back for years. There's ton of protocol to follow, and it is unlikely that we'll get our money back by spring break.
But, I am excited that this crook has been apprehended. This whole debacle has taught me to be more careful with my money. From now on, I'm going to double check and make sure that condos and hotels actually exist before I use my credit card.
Just glad we got a little justice out this whole situation.
February 09, 2010
The Spring Debacle
This year, spring break was suppose to be epic. My senior class was planning on going to Panama City, FL and tearing it up. It was all planned. We found a house close to the strip. It slept 22 people. We contacted the owner. We sent in the check. Everything was perfect.
Everything was perfect until we got a call from the police yesterday. The police asked us if we were planning on renting a house for a week in Panama City. They asked us to confirm the address. Regrettably, they had to inform us that we had been scammed by a con artist. Apparently that beautiful house that sits on the strip does not exist.
Since yesterday, everything has been so crazy around here. We've been trying to see if we can get our money back. We're trying to find out if people are still interested in going on a spring break trip. Its been hard to say if the guys want go on a trip anymore; everybody's spirit is kind of broken. We cant believe we got conned.
Some guys still want to go somewhere; they're arguing its our last spring break together. I've heard that we should go to Vegas. Or we should try to find another place in Panama City. Some guys just want to go home.
I'm not really sure what's going to happen.
February 07, 2010
The Houston Interview
I got some great news on Friday. I have an interview with the University of Houston for their Counseling Psychology program later this month. Because its so close to my Clark interview, I'm not sure that I will be able to attend in person. However, there is an option for me to participate in a phone interview. I think that will work out best for me.
I still haven't heard back from the University of Texas, but I haven't given up hope. I could be on wait list or something. But I am grateful for the interviews that I have. I'm going to do my best to show Clark that I am serious about their program and would love to study with them. The same goes for Houston.
February 04, 2010
Hilarious. A friend from home just sent me this:
"Introducing the Tail Of The Tiger Golf Ball Gift Set - The Mistress Collection! Now, all of Tiger Woods' favorite call-girls and cocktail waitresses have been immortalized on a set of collectible golf balls.
February 03, 2010
So, Brad and I went to Ohio this weekend. Apparently, we picked the worst weekend in the semester to go! Last weekend, Denison hosted its recruitment day for all the fraternities and soroities. Everyone was busy with rush, and almost no one was partying. Can you believe it? The one time we choose to take a road trip.
Well, you know me and Brad... we brought the party anyway. We ended up having lunch at a local treasure, Del Mare. The food was pretty good. Afterwards, we went to a Denison hockey game. We pretended to be students and heckled the opposing team. Next sat down and had an Italian dinner with our friends. It was reminiscent of our time in Perugia. We told stories and laughed for a couple of hours, and then we went to the local bar to have a few drinks.
Even though we may have picked the worse weekend to go to Denison, I think we still had a lot of fun.
PS- Sorry, there are no pictures. The batteries in my camera died ;-(