Slice of Life: Lessons from Evil

It began with Marilyn Manson. One of my first college assignments was to dissect the lyrics to “The Beautiful People.”

For a kid coming from a suburban high school where slapstick poet Billy Collins and artist Salvador Dalí were considered controversial, Manson’s “The Beautiful People” brought education to a whole new level. I was completely out of my league.

Filing through YouTube videos of zombies, women in lacy straight jackets and dental torture devices, I began to wonder: Was this professor serious? It was the first time I had ever heard of shock rock, and as it was chock-full of cryptic one-liners like, “Hate every motherfucker that’s in your way.” I was definitely shocked.

The class was called “Evil.” Looking back, it’s not surprising that the simple, one-word nomenclature in itself prompted so many eager students to register for the course. The professor asked us to call him by his first name, so Hache quickly became the subject of my weekly phone calls home. Evil is where I was introduced to what would be a never-ending slew of ‘ism’s, like Panopticism and other concepts I had never encountered before. Every class was an adventure, whether we were picking apart Manson or debating post-Columbine massacre literature. I was excited and challenged. I finally felt like I had arrived. I was in college.

What Hache created my freshman year in that class seems to be a rarity at GW. As I continuously parse through measly Rate My Professors scores and ask other students for class references in preparation for my final semester, I keep running into the same old, “The class was okay, but the teacher was a [expletive].”

There’s no question GW has some of the best and brightest teachers in the most innovative fields, but at what cost? Especially as an international affairs major, I find that many of the professors are more interested in their resumes and promoting their latest books than helping students revise papers. Yes, I understand you have to run off to some World Bank seminar on the international trade rights in Kazakhstan, but could you at least explain why I got a “B” first?

Perhaps it’s just the academic culture. In choosing the most politically active school in the nation, we effectively choose a hands-off, trial-by-fire college experience. Incoming freshmen, potential students and underclassmen always ask that one key question: What was your favorite class at GW?

My answer always comes down to this – the best classes are taught by teachers who care about their students. Those are the teachers I’ll grab coffee with on a rainy October afternoon. Those are the teachers who have inspired me the most.

When someone asks me someday for my fondest memory of my college education, you can bet I’ll be telling that person all about Hache and his evil ways.

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