The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU students gather around a bucket of markers to write an encouraging note to put in “Welcome to the Shelter” kits at event in mid-April on SMU’s campus.
Dallas homeless recovery center, The Bridge, is a home
Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024
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Barbarians at the gates

Filling Up the Glass
 Barbarians at the gates
Barbarians at the gates

Barbarians at the gates

Universities are the fields from which the great minds and great leaders of the future are harvested. Or in most cases, so we like to think.

Big things are happening here, important things. Things that involve committees and paperwork and national recognition and alumni support, etc etc etc.

Yet in the midst of greatness unfolding, I am being pandered to as if I’m a pre-pubescent numbskull who doesn’t know her Cosmo magazine from a hole in the ozone layer.

Granted, college students can sometimes be immature. May I also point out that the sky can sometimes be blue. Indeed, immaturity is one of the reasons we’re here right? We come in as tittering, silly young adults, and leave as wizened, fortified real adults, ready to tackle the world and fix it or break it, but whatever we do we’ll do it with super-enriched minds and fantastically polished “critical thinking skills”, whatever the hell those are. Who can blame us if in between we like to enjoy a bit of bubble gum for the brain, so to speak? No nutritive value whatsoever, but tasty and fun to play with.

There’s certainly a time and a place for it.

But rather than engaging in lazy intellectual populism and using vapid cartoons to teach classes, how about raising the bar a tad and setting a higher standard for us here at SMU? It pains me to see professors resorting to crude language* to get our attention, assuming that the only way to capture our interest is to employ what I affectionately call the Jerry Springer method. Reel the audience in with sensationalist nonsense, then dazzle them with your transcendent, arcane wisdom. I expect my university professors to be at least slightly more creative than daytime TV talk show hosts.

Then, the newspaper prints dating columns that presume I don’t know the difference between entertainment and verbal diarrhea, i.e. the loose, sloppy, repulsive waste products expelled from the brain after ingesting one too many pop culture magazines. Dating journalism has a long and glorious history that is being desecrated by the recent offerings of Clark and Nell. For a publication that I normally hold in rather high esteem, I’m disappointed by these Daily sacrifices on the altars of intelligence and originality.Universities are the fields from which the great minds and great leaders of the future are harvested. Or in most cases, so we like to think.

Big things are happening here, important things. Things that involve committees and paperwork and national recognition and alumni support, etc etc etc.

Yet in the midst of greatness unfolding, I am being pandered to as if I’m a pre-pubescent numbskull who doesn’t know her Cosmo magazine from a hole in the ozone layer.

Granted, college students can sometimes be immature. May I also point out that the sky can sometimes be blue. Indeed, immaturity is one of the reasons we’re here right? We come in as tittering, silly young adults, and leave as wizened, fortified real adults, ready to tackle the world and fix it or break it, but whatever we do we’ll do it with super-enriched minds and fantastically polished “critical thinking skills”, whatever the hell those are. Who can blame us if in between we like to enjoy a bit of bubble gum for the brain, so to speak? No nutritive value whatsoever, but tasty and fun to play with.

There’s certainly a time and a place for it.

But rather than engaging in lazy intellectual populism and using vapid cartoons to teach classes, how about raising the bar a tad and setting a higher standard for us here at SMU? It pains me to see professors resorting to crude language* to get our attention, assuming that the only way to capture our interest is to employ what I affectionately call the Jerry Springer method. Reel the audience in with sensationalist nonsense, then dazzle them with your transcendent, arcane wisdom. I expect my university professors to be at least slightly more creative than daytime TV talk show hosts.

Then, the newspaper prints dating columns that presume I don’t know the difference between entertainment and verbal diarrhea, i.e. the loose, sloppy, repulsive waste products expelled from the brain after ingesting one too many pop culture magazines. Dating journalism has a long and glorious history that is being desecrated by the recent offerings of Clark and Nell. For a publication that I normally hold in rather high esteem, I’m disappointed by these Daily sacrifices on the altars of intelligence and originality.

By handing over my time, energy, money, and most importantly, brain, to an institution for 3-4 of my most crucial formative years, I’m trusting that institution to challenge me. I personally subscribe to the philosophy that one must assume an active responsibility for educating oneself. No matter how great the school is, it won’t do the work for you.

But at the same time, since my SMU student ID card costs substantially more than a Dallas Public Library card, I don’t think I’m being audacious when I ask my university environment to provide me with some rigorous intellectual workouts. Lately there have been moments when I actually feel stupider for having read what I just read, or listening to what I just listened to. Do I get some kind of refund when that happens?

In a society where knowledge is obfuscated, denied and mutilated on Galilean scales, we need a beacon that can at least point us in the direction of truth. It would make me very happy if universities and other learning institutions would take it upon themselves to erect and maintain the gates between us and the barbarians that clamor for a return of the dark ages.

I’m overwhelmingly satisfied with the course & results of my 18-odd (very odd? … sorry) year long love affair with formal education. Ever since we made spaghetti in the microwave in preschool, I knew that school was going to be a good thing. More recently, informative campus programming and consistently brilliant instructors quite frequently renew and revitalize my faith in and satisfaction with education as an institution. I’d like very much to look forward to more of it. To do so, I need to feel confidently assured that the caliber of education is rising rather than falling, at SMU and everywhere. This means not dumbing down the curriculum just because Johnny’s parents are upset that he got a C.

It means expecting us to act like more than the irresponsible, silly, impatient, blindly consumerist, immature kids that we sometimes are. It means not letting us get away with being intellectually lazy or stagnant. It means each of us refusing to tolerate stupidity in ourselves.

*- I need to make a distinction here between crude language and well-employed profanity. The former consists mainly of ignorant, mindless sputterings utilized for shock value and often appears in the failed attempts of unhip, inarticulate people to sound hip and compelling. It’s also usually an unpleasant derivative of a complete lack of respect for or proficiency in the English language. The latter method, of which I’m a big fan, involves using “bad” words for the purposes of irony, humor, and satire-when sharply-honed, a communicative device capable of inflicting brilliant damage on closed minds and general stuffiness. Anyone interested can check out Eddie Izzard’s “Dressed to Kill” stand-up routine as a prime example of superb mastery of the f-word.

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