DECEMBER 14, 2010
Letters to the Editor
A Modest Proposal
Don Rag season is upon us. Sophomores, Juniors, and special Freshmen are all in the thick of it right now. As we enter this strange and stressful time of the year there are a few things that will be helpful to keep in mind. Seinors, of course, have been robbed of the honor. As the Student Handbook says, “within the college, the most important form of evaluation is the don rag.” This will be true for the first three years of your time here, after which you will not have don rags or conferences. You may wonder why, if the emphasis is placed on conversation-based evaluations instead of letter grades, you stop having don rags? The stock answer is that Seniors should be able to perform accurate self-evaluations, but it comes up lacking when compared with the reality that graduate schools don’t look at your “accurate self-evaluation” or even your Tutors’ don rag reports; they look at your letter grades. Suddenly, you realize that while the College has been encouraging you to stop worrying about grades and focus on learning for learning’s sake, it has actually been setting you up for failure. Because there is no institutional grading standard there is no guarantee that your letter grade for a given class will accurately reflect your performance, or even that your grades for a given section across a period of semesters will reflect the consistency of your output. The College, as usual, wants to have it both ways: it wants to assign grades but it doesn’t want those grades to matter. That explanation doesn’t really pass muster with graduate schools, and in light of this I propose a solution: that the College live up to its philosophical promise and does away with grades entirely. Students who wish to go on to graduate school will appear in front of a faculty committee and make the case for why they would be excellent candidates in their prospective field of study. The faculty committee would take the student’s presentation into account along with don rag reports and reports from the Assistant Dean, the Director of Security and the Director of Residential Life attesting to the student’s good character and citizenship. Upon the positive recommendation of the faculty committee, the student would receive a glowing letter of reference and a set of transcripts indicating a 3.8 GPA. All other graduates of the college would receive a set of transcripts indicating a 2.5 GPA, representing the “satisfactory” evaluation so often heard in don rags. Of course, we can’t give everyone 3.8 GPAs. That would make grades meaningless. With these measures in place we can free our students to take full advantage of the Program free from the stress and anxiety caused by a rediculous, hypocritical, and nonsensical grading policy.
An upsurge in formal “codes of conduct” has been recorded lately. At least one old student group has adopted one, and newer ones are placing provisional wording in their charters outlining what is to be expected from the behavior of members, as well as the bases upon which members may be kicked out. So it’s come to that, then. Echoing the panel on civility not too long ago, the problem of “institutionalizing the community” has spread to the students themselves. That may be good in some ways, but it is unfortunate that common courtesy has to be spelled out. Perhaps it is only natural for bodies, as they grow, to come up with formal mechanisms for their more efficient — and more just — functioning. I seem to remember talk of an honor code, an idea which has been ebbing and flowing in the student body over the course of the past couple of years, at any rate. Is it now time to get serious about clearly laying out what students want for themselves, from themselves? The student handbook and city, state and federal law notwithstanding, it might be useful to instill a real, organic “social contract” among Johnnies. Nareg Seferian SF ’11 Dear Editor, Why aren’t there more letters to the Editor in this issue? Adam Visher ’11 Editor’s Note: Hey Adam, thanks for your concern. The reason there aren’t more letters to the editor is because no one writes them. Adam
Adam Visher Editor-in-Chief
Compassion for the Departing
As the end of first semester approaches, many of your fellow classmates, particularly in the freshman and sophomore class, will be leaving the College soon. Three reactions may immediately come to mind upon hearing that a classmate is leaving: a feeling of loss and sadness at loosing a friend or an appreciated classmate, a feeling of joy at the departure of those who caused you particular anguish in or outside of class, or absolute indifference. It may seem that each departing student deserves his or her own response based on the experience that you might have had with them. Perhaps, however, we should all have the feeling of remorse and sadness that we feel for the students we appreciate as well as those who never talk in class or the ones who always lead the class on an irrelevant tangent. Often we consider these students to be detriments to the class and feel we would be better off without them. However, each student can in fact have a positive impact on the education of each member of class. When the student who led the class off topic, your own ability to see what is more relevant is improved and you are provided an opportunity to help your classmate. When you notice that a student has gone 3 straight weeks without uttering a sound in class, you may be moved to speak your mind so that you do not fall into their shoes. Besides the benefit that each student has upon every member of their class, you also never know if the departing student will return. Burning a bridge by dismissing one student as useless or even treating them in such a manner that damages your classroom relationship could really come back to haunt you. So be nice to each other. Christian Winting Managing Editor
The Moon Editor-in-Chief Adam Visher Managing Editor Christian Winting Intern Rachael Alvir Editorial Board Adam Visher and Christian Winting Copy Editors Mary Creighton, Nareg Seferian Staff Writers: Maria Acciani, Elaine Fortuna, Ed Lederman, Hector Mendoza, Lonnie Monka, Natalie Plowman, Nareg Seferian, Jack E. Smith IV, Whitney Will Contributors: Sarah Bell, Charlie Beyer, Timothy Davis, Alicia Dondo, Aidan Freeman, Caroline Gorman, Dohee Kang, Christopher Katrakis, Kelsey O’Brien, Felicia Thompson
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