Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday am WTF

It's that time. Students are turning in term papers. One has 2 ½ inch margins on both sides and two lines between the one sentence paragraphs (sigh). What throws me for a loop though is the paper which uses several sources which as not exactly peer-reviewed. OK, let’s be blunt. The student used several openly racist sources and not as examples to argue against. I am dreading reading a paper on the role of hamsters in society when the student uses “books” written by people I see on the news everyday ranting about how awful hamsters are and spreading lies about how they spread disease and crime. Some of the other sources are fine, such as straightforward government sites with statistics from the US Bureau of hamsters. But how to handle the rest? (sigh) I used to like this student. Now I’m disgusted.


  1. Actually, it's (sort of) good news that the racist sources are also not peer-reviewed, since you can point to their use as a weakness of the paper without being accused of political correctness, or being a stereotypical liberal proffie, or just not liking the student's ideas/the student, or whatever.

    Depending on the assignment (and as I'm sure you're aware), you can also always invoke the ideas of "balance" and "representing all sides of a conversation" (which actually are more often misused, in my opinion, to include fringe conservative ideas in supposedly scholarly conversations, but never mind, at least the student will probably be familiar with this understanding of "balance") to insist that they include scholarly studies of hamsters, their history, and their role in current society (and maybe even studies on hamster-haters and their psychology and motivations -- always interesting to be under the microscope oneself. In fact, I might be tempted to look up one or two of those myself -- preferably ones that analyze the ranters cited by the student -- and suggest them as sources).

    Or you could just give the paper the grade it deserves based on the quality of sources chosen (and other factors), call it a summer term, and pour yourself a cool beverage of your choice. If this is the final version of the paper, there are about 99 to 1 odds that the student won't read any comments you write (and a 99.999% chance that anything you say isn't going to change the student's mind).

  2. Which racist sources did they use? "The Bell Curve", Stormfront internet rantings, translated Nazi jibber-jabber from the 1940s? Or was is all the screaming heads over at the soon to be demolished FOX News outfit - the Becks, Hannities, Doocys, etc.? Or was it Flush Gimbaw?

    Next student that does it, institute a racism rule: all racist material either comes from Hitler, Alfred Rosenberg, or Julius Evola - and it has to be in the original German or Italian. That'll screw the little skinheads over....


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