In reflecting on my four academic years at GW, I cannot help but desire my departure to be on better terms. This is not to say it was a total waste, only that for the fee charged and the time spent, I wish the feeling weren’t so reminiscent of a car coming off an assembly line hoping to be purchased. It might be the case that my frustrations are isolated from the rest of the student population – perhaps I merely learn at a slower pace than others. Whatever the reason may be, I know I am leaving with the feeling that my education has been cheated by a seemingly inhuman and impersonal blitzkrieg of academic materials, leaving little else but vague memories of books once read and cold recollections of courses once taken.
Ultimately, these impressions are my own, and I accept the possibility that I am way off mark, but I cannot help but feel my case to be more abundant than my reservations currently allow for. I know that, beneath every attempt I made to learn, there were conditions pushing me to simply get the work done rather than learn it. These conditions weren’t solely in college, mind you; they segued without missing a beat from high school and all my education beforehand.
I recall having instincts nurtured at an early age by those around me – an instinct whose primary goal is to attain a diploma in order to get a career and make a good wage, that instinct to care about grades in order to get that diploma; that such grades can equate, even remotely, to the amount of knowledge attained. Recalling my interactions with students from this and other universities, I know I’ve heard a countless amount of them having crises over their grade point averages, but hardly any over the quality of their education. Since grade school, one thing has not changed, as I still hear on a daily basis someone talking about books as though they were the plague.
I know that learning can be enjoyable; I also know that my time learning here has resembled a prison sentence. I get the impression that no matter how rational education standards may seem, in the end, they undermine the education they’re supposed to provide. My hope is that after leaving more than 20 years of standardized education, people will not cast away books like shackles and fear self-education like a disease.
Sadly, since my sophomore year here, despite all my efforts in trying to prevent this from being the case, my foremost desire has been to get out so that I might pursue life and education on my own terms. Why I stayed is due to that impending sense of doom instilled since middle school, a sense founded in the assumed fact that one cannot live life on one’s own terms without the written consent of a university to one’s employers.
Like I said earlier, however, my four years has not been a total waste by any stretch of the imagination. My three years of writing for The Hatchet have afforded me numerous opportunities to attend events I never would have been able to attend otherwise. Becoming arts editor of The Hatchet not only increased the amount of opportunities I had at my disposal, but afforded me the chance to participate in a different kind of education, one that allowed me to participate in all forms of culture as a full-time occupation.
While the pay was criminally low, I feel it only highlights the determination my co-editors have managed to maintain, putting in many grueling hours without any of the entertainment perks I was so fortunate to have. Despite numerous disagreements, not the least of which entailed my elimination of ratings for movies, I can vouch that The Hatchet is without a doubt a very serious newspaper with a very capable staff.
Understandably, some people have been insulted with some of my section’s content, most notably but by no means limited to the April Fools’ issue. I personally have no regrets regarding the content my section has put forth. It has always been inevitable that for some, the content will hit too close to home for a critique to be appreciated, commonly resulting in claims that there was no critique at all. While understandable, it is wholly unavoidable, as no matter what style is chosen, be it serious or satiric, there will always be someone who is offended, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
The last part of my education here has definitely been from interactions with the people I’ve encountered, many of whom were through The Hatchet. I do have my thanks to give, in no particular order, to those people that made my experience here enjoyable while in their presence.
To Ranjan Chhibber, you are a true cinema sinner and friend; you’ve enlightened me to the truly psychotic side of film. And remember, censorship is only permissible inasmuch as you are willing to be censored, so keep laying the smack down. Christopher Correa, as a writer and contributing editor you were an integral part of the Arts staff this year. Thanks for lending me your theatrical expertise and happily participating in my polemical rants. Sacha Evans, you tell me I yell at you a lot. If I have, it doesn’t matter; you still did a fantastic job as a contributing editor. In all seriousness, though, if you give the go ahead as arts editor next semester to put Hatchet movie ratings back in, you will kill me and I will subsequently have to give Mogavero the order to kill you … figuratively. Jason Mogavero, you will have to hire someone to get your obscure movie references when I’m gone – all I know is that The Hatchet probably won’t pay them for it … Sorry. Shannon Derby, ahh yes, Shannon, in our freshman year I saved you from getting hit by a car. Somehow the code of ethics got mixed up and instead of you being indebted to me, I became indebted to you. Not sure how that one happened, but I know this much: you’re the only soap opera I enjoy listening to. Certainly my roommate John Costanza has to be commended. Despite both our strange eccentricities, we got along flawlessly for three years. It’s a damn shame you didn’t win the Student Association election; there’s no accounting for taste.
At this point I am out of space, although there are others who need to be thanked, but as you probably know, longwinded thank yous usually end up frustrating those listening and further angering those who still were not mentioned. Yes, I certainly owe thanks to a lot more people, as I know – and always hope to be the first to admit – that I am one huge pain in the ass.