University Diaries

University Diaries

A professor of English describes American university life.

February 25, 2008 - 4:26pm
"Elsewhere, when you violate the law or the rules, you go to jail or pay a fine," says an amazed Andrew Zimbalist, a man who's been following university sports closely for decades and ought to be way past amazement.
February 18, 2008 - 4:43pm
Let's consider two recent, related pieces in the University of Miami newspaper. The first announces the appearance, in selected classrooms, of a new technology called SYNCHRONEYES. Synchroneyes is the sort of thing universities all over the country are spending your tuition dollars on.
February 13, 2008 - 12:00pm
Evidence of UD's still-throbbing 'sixties sensibility. A list that will be added to as UD thinks of more stuff. 1.] Usually UD finds students who come to class without the book -- without even paper to take notes! -- a royal piss-off. If the student's a mentally-askew hippie, no prob. 2.] No wrist-watch.
February 11, 2008 - 9:28am
Three of them come to mind right away, three sensitive, eager, smart literary scholars in the making in my literature classes at George Washington, the world's most expensive university.
February 7, 2008 - 4:42am
Here's writing that doesn't work -- doesn't convince its audience. In her parenthetical commentary, SOS tells you why. 'GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY FOSTERS MIND, BODY, BUT NOT SOUL [This is the headline, and you don't have to be Stanley Fish to be fussing already. Who said universities are about my immortal soul? Even Catholic ones, like Georgetown, aren't primarily religious. They're intellectual.]
January 31, 2008 - 9:27am
Drunken assholes in a rage don't make decorous fans. The NCAA, whose annual meeting in Nashville UD just attended, can dither all it wants about what it calls bad bench decorum -- players and coaches and fans at bigtime football and basketball games who say very very naughty things very very loudly -- but for a lot of students and alumni the American university represents above all an institution which offers luxury sports venues in which they can express a cult fervency that would make the hitlerjugend blush.
January 24, 2008 - 9:39am
Provost Marty Krauss, whose field is mental retardation, wrote a letter to a professor at her institution, Brandeis University... a letter which did not have the effect she, its writer, intended. Instead of gaining the faculty member's cooperation in what she asked of him, she alienated him, and, on top of that, ended up alienating almost the entire faculty of the university.
January 21, 2008 - 8:44am
UD has no idea why the University of Michigan seems to be holding this year's graduation on the campus of Eastern Michigan University, but the decision is certainly pissing off a lot of graduating seniors. One of them, in an opinion piece in the student newspaper, reviews four years of complaints she's accumulated against this much-sought-after school. Her case against the University of Michigan is worth looking at in some detail, since it lists many sad elements of the modern university.
January 17, 2008 - 9:02am
UD learned a new phrase at the NCAA convention: Bench Decorum. People who discuss bench decorum worry about the growing tendency of players, fans, and coaches to speak and behave in a vile manner during games. Here's a recent, somewhat controversial, example, from the Georgetown University newspaper: The cheer began just one minute 47 seconds into the game, when the University of Connecticut's A.J. Price stepped up to the foul line for his first free throw of the afternoon.
January 14, 2008 - 4:32pm
Myles Brand is a little like Woody Allen, complete with the rather whiny accent and the self-deprecating manner. UD considered him, at the press conference, and as she did, she thought about universities. Brand's blandness is the blandness of the politician, the blandness of the university president. When you watch his surgical neutering of every question raised, his platitudinous evasion of America's bigtime university sports scandal, you think -- UD thought -- of his million-dollar salary.

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