Tue 1 Mar 2005
I really want to like the CUL Report on Anchor Housing. And, even if I can’t like it, I want to respect it. And even if I can’t respect it, I want to buy it breakfast in the morning. Yet, having read only the first sentence, I may be in trouble.
What single word best describes that sentence? As opiner on all things Eph, I should avoid knee-jerk emotionalism and snap judgments, but “pathetic” is the only word that comes to mind.
The Committee on Undergraduate Life (CUL) recommends that the College adopt and implement a new system of residential life, to be referred to in this report as The Williams House System.
“The Williams House System”? Let me break out my Newspeak Dictionary and check the capitalization rules! Why not refer to the plan as “The Motherhood and Apple Pie House System” or the “Ephraim Lodging Master Plan”? All three are about as descriptive.
Why couldn’t the CUL have had the intellectual honesty to give their proposal an accurate name, a name that would inform people? Why not use the words “cluster” or “anchor” or whatever?
There is nothing wrong with good rhetoric. The CUL has every right, indeed obligation, to use rhetoric to persuade its audience. But insipid wording serves no purpose. Does CUL believe that the readers of this report find the name “The Williams House System” useful? Does it think that students are more likely to go along with the report if it hides the central organizing principle of the plan behind content-free phrasing?
Good news: The rest of the report can only be better! [You forgot to mock the wordiness of “adopt and implement,” as if one could adopt without implementing or implement without adopting. — ed. I am trying to take the high road here.]
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