Campus Radical

Here’s a blast into the not-so-distant past. Found this after plugging in a rickety old Dell desktop from the good ol’ college days (circa 2009). I’m absolutely appalled at my own horrifying bloviousness and self-importance — at least I took it all seriously.

**

Dear Dr. Enz Finken,

Sometimes it’s rough to be politically conservative on a college campus. It’s not as bad as some purport it to be; for the most part, professors err from being the stereotypically leftist academic-types and manage to be fair-minded and respectful of different views.

Yet some professors can’t be wrangled into control, especially when they have that handy “Tenure” status. This is the case with Tom Pribek in the English Department.

My major concern grows from the events of last night’s Reporting and Copy Editing class, when he ended the session by ragging on George W. Bush.

Roughly fifteen minutes before class was to end, Professor Pribek distributed a sheet of paper. One side was labeled, “Some observations on quotes,” and subsequently listed notes from the textbook’s chapter on using quotes in a news story. After reviewing that sheet, he instructed us to turn to the other side, on which he printed a transcript from one of Bush’s impromptu answers to a question at a press conference.

What follows is an honest approximation of what he said: “I’m not sure where we’ll go from here, but go ahead and read it anyway.”

We went ahead and individually read the transcript, which was the former President’s response, verbatim, verbal pauses included. This began as a decent exercise. For example, on Tuesday, in covering a story for The Racquet, I ended up talking to six different people over the phone and later transcribing their interviews. The raw transcripts of those interviews would show verbal pauses and stall words similar to those that appear in the transcript of the former President’s response. I would have greatly appreciated the practice of making difficult quotes usable in prose, as I expected us to do as a class with the transcript.

Once everyone had enough time to read, Professor Pribek led everyone not in teaching how to wade through a tricky quote, but by criticizing the content of the speech, and the apparently negative images Bush’s words conjured. This came on the heels of a lecture that reminded journalists to remain unbiased in their reporting. Even an amateur will note it’s not the journalist’s responsibility to interpret the quote, but rather to accurately represent the spoken word on paper.

Had the situation ended there, you wouldn’t be reading this email. But when students chimed in, detailing their disagreements with the Bush administration’s foreign policy, he encouraged it and agreed. This was not the appropriate venue for Professor Pribek to say these things.

As the editor of The Racquet, it would not have been appropriate for me to voice my personal disagreement with these students in that setting, especially because other Racquet staff are in the class.

I intend to speak with Professor Pribek about this on Thursday when we meet to discuss this week’s assignment, after which I will let him know I am dropping his class.

His Two Minutes Hate of the former world leader was unprofessional and insulting. This frustration is compounded by the fact that he introduced the transcript by acknowledging he didn’t necessarily have a point to it, but felt it necessary to share nonetheless. To keep students in class without a purpose wastes time. As the editor of The Racquet, the general manager of the campus studio radio station, and above all, full-time student, time is important to me. Moreover, what is gained by insulting a man who no longer has direct control over policy decisions? It must be some pathetic catharsis for those disenchanted with the direction of the country over the last eight years. I ask that the university administration take steps to discourage this sort of behavior. May I suggest paying for yoga classes or cream sodas for troublesome instructors? Really anything to calm them down will do.

I hope you take into account what happened last night and how it has affected me as a student.

If you have any further questions, please contact me via email. Otherwise, thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Nicholas Nelson

About the writer: Nik Nelson is publisher of MorningMartini.com and Founder/CEO of OpenBox Strategies, where he connects political candidates and small businesses with excellent digital marketing tools and strategies.