“Y’all better make a decision before us/’Cause the way that we livin’ ain’t all good.” – Beanie Sigel, “I Can’t Go On This Way”
I was hoping to deliver a real slam-dunk column for the trustees this week so that they would want to give the Carletonian enormous sums of money. Unfortunately, my dreams of replacing the Dominos in the office with Kobe beef and truffles will probably fall short because the most exciting thing I have to write about is probably the most boring part of Carleton. Namely, my week has been vaguely perturbed by the same mild inconvenience as every other sophomore’s seventh week: The Dreaded and Scary Writing Portfolio.
The astute reader will no doubt notice my amendments to the official title, which is The Not-Really-Taken-Seriously-By-Anyone Writing Portfolio, but, like I said, I’m trying to add some excitement to my column. I actually considered writing about Room Draw, which might have been incrementally more exciting due to the general hatred it incites, but since I didn’t participate this year, I was pretty neutral. If I had ranted about anything, it probably would have been on the enormity of the rising senior class.
As a result, I’m left with The Horrible and Unnerving Writing Portfolio, which has been causing everyone in my class so many headaches. The conventional wisdom tells us that it is extremely difficult, or at least relatively inconvenient, to do our reflection essays. Think how inconvenienced I feel, writing a reflection about my reflection, which itself is as-of-yet unwritten. The whole project is totally overwhelming considering the overloaded schedule most Carleton students have. Overwhelming for the two hours it takes to do, that is.
The Frustratingly Tame Writing Portfolio may be forever crippled by the anecdotes surrounding its unimportance. Since my arrival at Carleton, I have been told how little it matters. Obviously, this is an impression that the administration is trying to overcome, but my first reaction when I found out, on Monday, that the Writing Portfolio was due this week was that it could probably wait until next year. My point is that, until the administration somehow effectively communicates the importance of the Writing Portfolio, which I admittedly fail to see, it will never be taken seriously.
I guess The Unstoppable Leviathan-like Writing Portfolio is making progress in that people are doing it, but I’ve also heard people discussing drinking games for finishing it. People feel an enormous entitlement not to take new attitudes seriously at Carleton, and this will only be magnified when there is a lack of understanding as to the purpose of changing systems. Much of the frustration that students feel stems from a lack of communication between the administration and the students. The Handily Metaphoric Writing Portfolio is a perfect example of this problem. As long as students fail to see the importance of it, they will not treat it with the same level of seriousness that they are expected to. They will be mildly upset and question the administration’s motives.
From the rather harmless example of The Inoffensive Writing Portfolio can be drawn a larger lesson, though. There would not be the same venom surrounding decisions if students understood their purpose. For example, the institution of GoPrint was relatively smooth because it was well-explained and justifiable. We may have an absurd sense of entitlement when it comes to keeping lenient rules, but we will make changes if we understand why they’re necessary.