Over the past few years, faculty have found something new to complain about. They used to complain bitterly about students who forgot to silence their cell phones in class. And faculty would rail about how unbelievably thoughtless it was for students to do this. Who could IMAGINE such rudeness!?! Then, one day, faculty just quit. The reason, of course, was that they themselves got a cell phone and discovered that it was incredibly easy to forget to silence your cell phone before class. Once it had happened to them — in church or at a movie or in their own f***ing class — they realized that maybe this wasn't the hill to die on.
Lately, it has been about email from students. Faculty love to get on their high horse about email communications from students, railing to one another about how rude students are. And some are now providing students a guide to email communications in their syllabus. Here's a nice one from a writing center: Effective email Communication.
OK. We've all gotten email that was thoughtless or poorly written. But c'mon. They tell students that they need to use a salutation and a closing, like a business letter. Stupid. Email is a memo, not a letter. It has a "To:" line. Now, it's true that if I send a letter to someone I don't know — or if I sent a letter to one person and copy others — a salutation to make clear to whom the letter is written might be helpful. But mostly, it's just ballast. The same with a closing. You should be using a properly structured signature block.
Now, it may be true that showing some additional care -- or stroking the ego of a fragile faculty member -- may score some points with some people. So I'm not saying it's necessarily bad advice to be aware of these expectations and tread carefully when you're not sure. But the tender snowflakes getting pissed off if someone doesn't conform to one is just pathetic. Get over yourselves.
- Steven D. Brewer's blog
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