Ryan Chartrand

In response to Miss Glasgow and company’s cantankerous ad hominem hurled at my ENGL 102 class and her hasty generalization that we had a “powwow” moment, I say this: These letters are not a joke. Rather, these letters are meant to awaken others, students and brass, from the sun-drenched reverie that all is Norman Rockwell-perfect in the land of “Cal Pollyanna.”

First, my class did not create the term “crown jewel” to describe Cal Poly; rather, this term has become what we in the English business call a “dead metaphor,” created long ago by Poly brass and alumni to draw away the best and the brightest from the UC system and to make students at CSU Stanislaus feel badly about themselves.

Yes, we do know where we are right now. Your description of San Luis Obispo is apt, but you failed to mention that a nuclear power plant is about 15 minutes from here, not to mention the Men’s Colony (no, this is not a spa), Atascadero State Hospital, and a rampant meth problem that plagues the county. Oh, and in addition to a stellar College of Engineering, we are also known for having a few serial killers roaming our town: Remember Rex Krebs?

Yes, I am privileged to teach at Poly, and my students are privileged to attend this university; however neither they nor I got here on privilege, but rather hard work.

Is this the way we reward our freshmen and future stadium donors, with, as I described it, a “Third World learning environment”?

I did teach in pre-Katrina New Orleans, in the Ninth Ward before everyone in America knew about the Ninth Ward, and coined it a “Third World environment;” that classroom, save the security guard positioned outside the room, makes my current classroom look like the penthouse suite at the Santa Barbara Motel 6.

By the way, these are students that already have a rightful chip the size of a Ford V-8 on their shoulder: ENGL 102 is a credit/no credit class meant to prepare – “remediate,” if you will – students for ENGL 134. To compound matters, we put them in a room hotter than, as my Mississippi grandmother used to say, “two rats making love in a wool sock.”

You made the point about a hall pass; did you bother to think that one of my students might have a condition that does not allow her to wheel herself down the stairs and “one-hundred” yards, then up and over more stairs to the latrine?

Yes, as you point out, my students have “balls,” big brass ones, if you want to get down and grapple in the dirt.

Did you write such a letter when you were a freshman? Did you have a teacher who inspired you to actually write a letter rather than grumble? Oh, but I bet you’ve never grumbled about the chicken that tasted like fish but turned out to be tofu at the Red Dragon, I bet you never complained about paying for overpriced and dried out barbecue at the Campus Markup, and I bet you never complained about the construction of a football field (yes, private versus public money) when most of our professors have to scratch and claw to get a “smart room.”

I bet you never complained about not getting the classes you wanted because you were at the bottom of the rotation? Gee, what about parking? Shall I continue?

To all those out there who want to continue berating and deriding students who just three months ago were high school seniors, you should instead pat them on the back and buy them a Red Bull. These are the kind of Poly students and graduates we want: those who do not go through life with an “aw-shucks” attitude and merely “roll with the punches.”

Is this the future engineer you want building the bridges you have to cross with a car filled with children on their way to school?

Here’s the bottom line: the time to renovate the bathrooms in this building was over summer break or over the upcoming holiday break.

I know that the department I work for, as well as all my colleagues, teach our students to think, question, listen and respond; the pen truly is mightier than the sword.

And you, Miss Glasgow, also must have had a good English teacher, for why else would you have responded? I owe you a pat on the back. You go, girl.

Carson Medley is the instructor of ENGL 102, the basic writing II class which sent about a dozen letters to the Mustang Daily last week.

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