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October 5, 2007

These Meticulously Written Directions Are Confusing As Shit

A Codependent Collegian Guest Editorial
By Nathan Squire, University of Toledo Class of ‘09

Squire: Baffled By Clear, Concise Prose

Professor Matthews, all semester I have endured your writing assignments like a leper endures open sores oozing puss. I scratch and wail and thrash, but I’ve hung in there for over a month now, hoping you will ease up around midterms.

But this recent essay you’ve assigned, with its moderate four page length and meticulously written guidelines, has confused the shit out of me.

First of all, Dr. Matthews, look how obtuse your language is: “Choose a controversial social issue and compose a four-page persuasive essay that takes a stance based on credible research and your own personal views.” I’ve read that fucking sentence nine times—I said NINE—and still have no idea what you want. Is this a book report? Am I supposed to read something and then summarize it? Not all of us have a PhD in Smartness, professor—try to talk to us like human beings.

What is ‘controversial,’ anyway? When Rita Opal blew my roommate even though she was dating Evan Stoutmire, that was pretty goddamn controversial, but you don’t want a paper on that, do you? Cause sure as shit I could write four pages about that soap opera.

The assignment gets even more cryptic from here: “In addition to the four page length requirement, the other main criterion for this assignment is that you must cite three pieces of recent journalism to support your stance.” Jesus Tapdancing Christ, look who’s breaking out ‘criterion.’ You know, I’ve consulted at least two online dictionaries and still don’t know what that word means. And don’t even get me started on that ‘recent journalism’—is High Times considered journalism? Or the National Enquirer? Because frankly, that’s where I get most of my news, and given that you’re a stuffy pencil-neck professor who chuckles his entire drive home at the idea of confusing kids who are trying to get business degrees and make a living and maybe one day start their own hotel chain, you’ll probably say those fine periodicals are ‘substandard.’

So for an English professor, Dr. Matthews, you sure write crappy. While most other profs bark assignments in passing during their lectures, you give us these meticulously written handouts so we can spend hours and hours trying to figure out what the hell you want.

And after that, a guy can only turn to Miller Lite and Madden ’08 to ease his troubled mind.

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