4.0317 Writing Course at Texas Rejected (1/75)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Wed, 25 Jul 90 17:39:01 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0317. Wednesday, 25 Jul 1990.

Date: Monday, 23 July 1990 5:03pm CST
From: John Slatin <EIEB360@UTXVM.BITNET>
Subject: Bad news re Texas curriculum

Dear friends,

I'm writing to ask for your help. As you may recall, back in May I sent
a letter to MBU-L outlining an exciting new direction for the required
first-semester writing course at the University of Texas at Austin. The
course has been highly controversial, and its opponents have,
temporarily at least, won the day. What follows is the text of a letter
that has just been sent to the editor of the campus newspaper, _The
Daily Texan_:

23 July 1990

To the Editor:

In April 1990, the Lower Division English Policy Committee authorized,
by a vote of 4-2, the development of a new syllabus for E 306, Rhetoric
and Composition. The new syllabus was to focus on writing responsible
arguments about the complex topic of difference. At that time, several
members of the Lower Division English Policy Committee agreed to work on
the syllabus during the summer months. Later, all interested Assistant
Instructors [that is, graduate students who would be teaching the
course] were invited to join the faculty working on the syllabus.

This group has just received word that Dr. Standish Meacham, Dean of the
College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin, has
decided to postpone for one year the implementation of the new syllabus.
We deeply regret that decision. We regret it all the more deeply
because none of those who opposed the course, and no member of the
College or University administration, has ever seen or asked to see the
completed syllabus.

Those who have the most to lose from this unprecedented and unwarranted
interference are not the people who have spent so much time over the past
several months devising a coherent syllabus; nor is it the faculty of the
English Department. Those who stand to lose the most are, first, the
students who would have taken the course in 1990-91, and, in so doing,
prepared themselves for full, responsible participation in the
University community; and, second, the graduate students who, since the
course was announced, have been preparing themselves to teach it. The
English Department loses when administrators act without reasonable
cause to overturn a legitimate decision taken by a duly constituted
departmental committee-- a committee charged with establishing
curricular goals, selecting course materials, and setting course
policies. By extension, other departments lose as well. But The
University of Texas is ultimately the greatest loser of all. In
foreclosing the very possibility of argument, this action does
irreparable damage to The University's reputation as a center of
intellectual inquiry.

Linda Brodkey, Shelli Fowler, Allison Mosshart, Susan Sage Heinzelman,
David H. Ericson, Margaret Downs-Gamble, John M. Slatin, Dana
Harrington, Stuart Moulthrop, Richard Penticoff
***** End of Text ******

Colleagues, I ask for your support. If you feel that there are
sufficient grounds for doing so, please write to express your concern
about the "postponement" of E 306. Address your letters to Dr. Standish
Meacham, Dean, College of Liberal Arts, University of Texas at Austin,
Austin TX 78712; to Dr. Gerhardt Fonken, Provost and Vice-President for
Academic Affairs, University of Texas at Austin, Austin TX 78712; and
please send copies to Dr. Joseph Kruppa, Chair, Department of English,
University of Texas at Austin, Austin TX 78712 and Dr. Linda Brodkey,
Director, Lower Division English, Department of English, University of
Texas at Austin, Austin TX 78712.

Thank you.

John M. Slatin
Director, Computer Research Lab
Department of English
University of Texas at Austin
Austin TX 78712
EIEB360@UTXVM (bitnet)