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View Diary: Belated grade for a college student (45 comments)

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  •  content wise its worse than you think (27+ / 0-)

    lets consider this was an essay for...oh i dont know....a sociology class or an anthropology of gender of class. the freakin' belly of the beast where his "privilege" would be discussed and critiqued at length.

    In a class like that, how much is grading the writing style going to affect the grade? Its final week and I have 60 papers to grade today. 60 tomorrow. and friday Ill have like 120 more to read by 4:30pm. The writing does matter. It will affect the grade. But I'm not an english professor, IM a sociology/anthropology professor. And how well the argument is structured and how well the student reflects that they understand the theories matters.

    (I am ignoring the fact that this was for an Ivy. As an Ivy, I would just assume the writing to be better and the writing in this piece is worse than the writing of many of my students....which happen to be at Rutgers in Newark....about halfway geographically between new rochelle and princeton....so the students largely come from the pool of high schools and such)

    He does not define what "white privilege" is. He does not say "they define this privilege I am supposed to check as X" anywhere. He is reacting to things he feels hears and senses on his campus and not once does he make an attempt to see things from the other point of few....even if to only disagree. The absence of any sociology or anthropology from his essay undermines it completely and turns this "composition" into a whiny rant by a kid who has very little self awareness about his privilege and class.

    It also misses the fundamental idea that just because you have a kind of privilege doesn't mean your life is easy nor does it mean that your family did not go through a struggle to achieve. Just because the deck is stacked in your favor does not guarantee that you will win.

    This is a poorly written editorial without substance. It is a pathetic piece of intellectual work and Princeton should be embarrassed.

    ON the other hand... having white privilege is a little more complicated when one is Jewish. Antisemitism is historically strong and continues to exist just like racism. And it exists here in northern NJ and in the NYC area where people of the Jewish faith are common.

    An essay written by a young Jewish man reflecting on the complicated nature of white privilege and the contradictions that arise when the recipient of said privilege is of the Jewish faith is potentially fascinating and valuable. But this composition ain't that

    I cant tell if its a West End musical or Marxism in action.

    by Evolution on Mon May 12, 2014 at 07:26:44 AM PDT

    •  yep (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kevskos, annan, RiveroftheWest

      I'm actually a rhetorician, but (like you, I bet) was picking out just a few approaches to argument which I viewed as most egregious. I totally agree.

      BTW, my experience with ivy league schools is that they are not particularly good compared to midwestern and western good public universities. They don't pay well enough to get the best faculty, except for stars. (but then, my experience was back when I was TA and faculty.) That doesn't mean there aren't good students or good faculty there, but considering the quality they start with, the average results are frighteningly mediocre compared to the average public university student. Of course, I generally knew students who graduated from there and were in graduate school. So while I agree "Princeton should be ashamed," I actually suspect the average first year student doesn't write much better.


      A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

      by kestrel sparhawk on Mon May 12, 2014 at 09:02:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There's an excellent reply (5+ / 0-)

        (by an African-American) to the Time op-ed. Here it is:

        You Don’t Have To Apologize For Being White

        I’m sure that if you wanted, you could come up with some ways that somewhere in history, Jewish people had it rougher than black people. Or maybe even now. And we could go back and forth about this, endlessly.

        But realistically, in the court of general opinion on historical victimhood, you’re not going to win. I will. Black people always do.

        But really, is this a game that you want to win? Would you like to be at the bottom rung of the social ladder? Is pity what you want?

        Toward the end, this author says this:
        You said that you won’t apologize for your privilege. That’s fine, man. I don’t think anyone actually wants you to apologize for anything. Really, all we can ask of you, especially at this early stage in your development of thinking about the world, is that you give it some thought. It’s hard, I know. If it was easy, all the bad stuff we have today — racism, sexism, homophobia, wars, all that — would be gone. But it’s not easy. These are hard problems.

        I said earlier that it’s okay if you’re racist. It is. As long as you’re working at it, as long as you’re trying your best to listen, and to understand, and to not be racist, or sexist, or whatever, that’s all anyone can ask. It’s a hard battle, man. I’m racist and sexist too, but I’m doing my best not to be.

        OK. Here's where it gets interesting.

        So a friend on Facebook shared this with me and then I shared it and then another friend linked to this article: Conservative Money Front Is Behind Princeton's "White Privilege" Guy.

        Fortgang wrote his rant for the Princeton Tory, an independent campus publication that's just one of about 80 bankrolled by the Collegiate Network and its parent group, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. According to its website, ISI was founded in the McCarthy era as a "fifty-year plan" to advance conservative political causes "by implanting the idea in the minds of the coming generations."

        Today, ISI is a "nonpartisan" non-profit with a $10 million annual budget that astroturfs scores of conservative campus publications across the country, funding them and grooming their staffs to become TV pundits, politicians, and political moneymen. Praised by the likes of Ronald Reagan and Antonin Scalia, it started humbly in 1953 with nothing but an idea and a president: a recent graduate of Yale named William F. Buckley.

        The ISI and Collegiate Network have raked in millions of dollars from major conservative financiers over the years, most of it from the coffers of Richard Mellon Scaife, a banking tycoon (yes, those Mellons) who's most famous for bankrolling the conservative witch-hunt against Bill Clinton that led to Whitewater and Monicagate. Scaife's money also helps keep the lights on at the Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, Cato Institute, ALEC, and just about every other conservative money-and-opinion laundromat you can name.

        And that's the rest of the story. Good day!

        "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

        by Dbug on Tue May 13, 2014 at 10:23:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Fascinating (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dbug

          And it occcurs to me to ask: why can't the left do that? We certainly have enough money bouncing around to realize that priming the pump of writing lefties would be a worthwhile investment.


          A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

          by kestrel sparhawk on Wed May 14, 2014 at 12:08:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I forgot to say... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ree Zen, Kevskos, mrkvica, RiveroftheWest

      I really like the paragraph where you point out a good argument he could have made (that privilege doesn't guarantee an easy life.)


      A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot. The beggars change places, but the lash goes on. --WB Yeats

      by kestrel sparhawk on Mon May 12, 2014 at 10:02:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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