Word bug infests new class schedule

I’m no spring chicken. After eight years of higher learning, I actually have a good shot at spring graduation. Hey, I don’t want to hear about it — if Jerry Garcia were still alive, I might still be a sophomore.
All this time has given me ample opportunity to learn a few tricks — devices to make college a little less daunting. Things like using the tunnels, not buying books until you absolutely need them for a test, pleading for mercy rather than accepting that D and dodging morning classes altogether.
The University has also devised a handful of artifices to expediate undergraduate education, like Web registration offering easy access to academic records and classes. And in the long run, semester conversion should improve graduation rates.
But the University didn’t stop there. They had to meddle where they didn’t belong.
I’m talking about the student vernacular. Our language. Words like campus, school, major and minor are under attack. The simple things about academia that we can plainly understand, even from day one.
Here’s a scenario that, no matter how hard the University tries, should never take place.
It’s a few days before the beginning of fall quarter, 1999. Two University freshmen bask in the sunny splendor of Northrop Mall, talking about the future. You overhear their conversation — they’re freshmen, mind you, so bear with them — and it goes something like this:
Freshman 1: “Truly, this Twin Cities Institution is most resplendent. My brother attends the Academic Program at the Duluth Institution, but overall, this Institution is much more attractive.”
Freshman 2: “Poppycock! This Institution is hideous compared to the Crookston Institution — too citified and industrial! No matter; the Academic Programs at those Institutions failed to accommodate my Academic Plan. Besides, I wanted to pursue a particular Academic Sub-Plan, which the Academic Program offers only at this Institution.”
Freshman 1: “But why so early in your Academic Career would you choose your Academic Plan and Academic Sub-Plan when your Academic Program only requires you be taking Academic Career classes at this Institution?”
Still with me, everyone?
I don’t blame you if you didn’t make it through. And while their conversation might seem cumbersome, gelatinous and just plain ridiculous, get used to it — it’s what the University calls: NEW TERMINOLOGY FOR SEMESTERS!
And it’s for real. Don’t believe me?
Get out your Spring 1999 Course Guide. You can’t miss it; it’s the ethereal, florescent green number that’s circulating our campus right now. Turn to page 12.
Alright — for those of you that don’t have one handy, I’ll paraphrase. For those of you who do, skip to the next paragraph. Okay — atop a box with two columns filled with words, reads the following: “Fall 1999 will usher in both semesters and a new student registration system for the University. With these changes, new terminology will be used to refer to some common student categories.” And within the table, the following (Under New Semester Names/Old Quarter Names, respectively): Institution replaces Campus; Academic Career replaces Student Level (i.e. graduate, undergraduate, etc.); Academic Program replaces School or College; Academic Plan replaces Major, Minor, Field or Degree; and finally, Academic Sub-Plan replaces Emphasis Within a Field or Major.
Let’s review. Instead of campus, grad/undergrad, school/college, major/minor and emphasis, we have Institution, Academic Career, Academic Program, Academic Plan and Academic Sub-plan. Huh?
Here’s what I say to that — to the noun-stacking, double-speaking, George Orwell-fearing, blowhard bureaucrat whose idea it was to “update” our vocabulary, (which has been pretty useful for the last few hundred years):
Now, if we are all equally as adamant in retaining discernible terms — words that make sense to UNDERGRADUATE students — it should quickly become apparent to this person that this idea is the most bombastic, preposterous imbroglio ever proposed by an “administration.” Do they really expect us to buy this euphuistic junk?
What’s next — class will be called “Academic Environment?” Grades to be called “Academic Achievement Reviews?” Professors to go by “Academic Facilitators?” And students — “Academic Beneficiaries?”
This pencil-pushing pretentiousness isn’t the only albatross in this spring’s snot-green tome; it shares pages with a discomposed bureaucratic snafu of shameful proportions. The Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost (an eyeful in and of itself) hastily approved a policy granting fall 1999 registration priority to students who take more than 15 credits this spring.
The goal was to push students, with semester conversion looming, to accelerate toward graduation.
Fine and good — until the office decided to yank the policy, realizing it discriminates against working and post-secondary students, who either can’t handle or don’t need full course loads. But the decision came too late — the prominent, maroon-and-gold inserts flop haplessly in the booklets, trumpeting a completely defunct policy.
On Feb. 18, an official from the office told the Daily that they “needed to think about the full range of implications for this.”
Really? Well how ’bout next time you bureau-cronies do that before you pump the campus full of misinformation?
Er, I’m sorry … what I meant to say was, before you pump the “Institution” full of “Academic Inaccuracy.”
My bad. I forgot about the NEW TERMINOLOGY FOR SEMESTERS!
What a joke. The University has set up enough hoops for us to jump through, and I won’t stand for another one. You shouldn’t either. Mock and ridicule anyone who tries to use this confusing, superfluous new “language.” I will.
Josh Dickey’s column appears every Thursday.