Saturday, May 9, 2009

Ass Kicking Excellence

© Stan Spire 2009

“Excellence. We pride ourselves on our standards of excellence. But we don’t maintain excellence: we increase excellence to higher standards. We have excellent excellence.”

When I hear some official spokesman go on about his institution’s “excellence,” I know it ain’t to be found, especially within the New York State college system.

No matter where you go, the biggest or the tiniest, each college brags of its excellence. Every program, every degree, every employee, every student oozes excellence.

The local college, Plattsburgh University, always has some flak going on about PU’s so-called excellence. If that’s the case, then why does PU have a hard time getting its teaching program accredited?

And if PU four-year degrees are so great, why is it so hard for too many students to find decent jobs? After all, an excellent degree means that a graduate is recession-proof, he can be hired at any time.

There’s a journalism program at PU that is flooding the world with more graduates in a shrinking job market. Newspapers are cutting back, even folding. Well, it can be argued, at least these graduates have been trained in proper communication, how to relate on a professional level to others. Such a skill is important in any job.

Take a look at the last issue of the PU student newspaper, Cardinal Pointless (May 1, 2009). There’s an article entitled “Near-campus profs not bothered by PSUC students” (available online here). It about professors who don’t live in the student slum area in the center city; they don’t put up with the problems there, noise, destruction, theft, piss in your flowerpot, whatever.

A PU journalism professor is quoted. He used to live in New York City and from that experience he has learned how not to “radiate fear.” So Plattsburgh college students don’t bother him.

And to make a fine point – using such elegant journalistic language – he states:

“I can handle myself, if someone wants to come up and pick a fight I can kick them in the ass.”

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