I read with interest Abigail Fisher's column, "What college can teach you about life and pizza" in your August 21, 2013 issue. I'm all for humorists and their clever work, but humor usually stems from kernels of truth with which a reader can identify.
Therefore, I am compelled to point out a problem with one part of her column. She says in the piece that "you can enroll in a three-credit class, miss every single lecture or discussion and pass with a 93 percent." She goes on to state that the class that can do this for you is "a multicultural hip hop class." I'm not sure if she is referring to my class, but since I teach a class called "Hip Hop: Global Music and Culture," I take her allegation personally. I imagine the students who enrolled in my class last fall and those enrolled this fall will take it personally also. I have never had Ms. Fisher in my class so I'm wondering how she came by these statistics. She may ask any of my students about the attendance policy and the work that they do in this class. Her choice of "a multicultural hip hop class" as an example of an academic waste of time brings to mind several questions: Does she have a problem with the "multicultural" tag? Or is it inconceivable that "hip hop" would be a course at this university? Does she mean to belittle the humanities generally? What is her intention?
By all means, be funny. However, be careful with demeaning the hard work that my students and I do, using cultural expressions like hip hop to understand the history, politics, and experiences of people all over the world. In this class I maintain a strict attendance policy because I want students to engage in class discussions and think critically about the world we live in. Degrading any class, by name, publicly, especially one you have never taken, is unfortunate and irresponsible.
Again, I realize that Ms. Fisher's column was meant to be funny, but I seriously question the underlying intent of her flippant allegations. Perhaps, in the future, she might consider enrolling in a humanities course like "multicultural hip hop," miss every class, and see if she can make that 93% she boasted about.
— Dr. Stephanie Shonekan,
Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology and Black Studies
Editor's response: Regarding Abigail Fisher's column