Monday, January 29, 2007

Op-Ed: Pardon Moi?

Today's Polite World, Explained

By Amber Sutherland

How do I drop a course without hurting anyone’s feelings?

While adding requires only that the student strike some balance of desperation and charm in order to win a spot, dropping leaves potential for hurt feelings and blacklisting.

There are myriad reasons to drop a course: professorial disorganization, a misleading course description or a prevalence of theater students. In any event, you must handle the bureaucracy of dropping with grace and style.

Consider the possibility that you may want to take advantage of the professor in the future. If the course is in your field, refrain from torching any bridges. Privately tell the professor your intent to drop and give the most diplomatic reason plausible. Saying, "I don't feel as though my background is informed enough to enrich class discussion," is much nicer than, "Your mustache makes you look like a pornographer and I can’t stomach the sight of you.”

However, if you are determined to never again take a Women's Studies course, and you are immune from consequences, consider a bolder gesture: exit in a crazy huff. Find any banal policy to take issue with. If, for example, a certain philosophy adjunct were to object to laptops in class, shout, "Iconoclast!" and run out sobbing.

What is the socially acceptable way to submit to Inprint?

First, evaluate your understanding of what we at the paper like to call “editing,” “the collaborative process,” and “wellness in working with others.” If you have even an elementary command of these fine virtues then welcome aboard! Or, even if you’re an anti-social sociopath, our door is always open! You are now ready to receive the highest honor any young writer can hope for--being published in a small liberal arts college newspaper. Name-calling and temper tantrums are encouraged.

But before you get too drunk on your newfound sense of power, take stock of what you can really bring to the paper. Eugene Lang College is second only to NYU, Columbia and its ugly stepsister Barnard in excellence and we want the paper to reflect that quality. Before issuing a submission, be certain that your piece is of the highest caliber you can produce.

While we are confident that the non-sequiturs you scrawled on the back of your Duane Reade receipts are keenly analytical in some respect, everything can benefit from a little self-editing. Run your piece through a quick spell-check and give it a good proofread to polish it up from “crazy ranting” to “thoughtful musing.” If this seems little tedious, keep in mind that 100 years ago, computers ran on coal. At least now, to be a real published journalist, you don’t even have to get your hands dirty.

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