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Sunday, May 21, 2006

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Arwen,
I am sorry to hear about this fateless battle. I know some people might just say, oh well, it's just another school, but having the opportunity to attend my locasl Nazarene university Trevecca} I understand how you form the srtong bonds there. It was like if you didnt attend ours school, you would have no clue...we all ha a secret only we knew kinf of thing. At least you wete able to attend there though. Maybe some hoe some way some day, it will rise again.
Hope you are feeling wonderful this week,
Bev

My sorority was closed today; they came and took away the charter. It was comforting somehow to come home and read this post. Not the same, but similar.

It makes my head spin to think how completely different my college experience would have been if I had graduated from high school four years earlier than I did. As it is, I was too late to be a student at Ave Maria College--but its influence was soul-shaping and indelible, and I will never forget AMC.

Arwen, This is so sad. I've been watching the quick rise and fall of Ave Maria these past few years. I went to the University of Dallas. Though the situation is different there, we are often afraid that our college will lose its essential characteristics.

Your thoughts (both here and in other posts) are a tribute to AMC and all the good it did.

I'm so sorry you won't be able to send your kids there!

I can only imagine how I would feel if my own alma mater (TAC) were to suffer this sort of fate. There but for the grace of God go we; there were many times during TAC's infancy when the college's continued existence was in doubt. And even to this day, there are sometimes controversies within the school concerning proper use of funding, questions about the actions of the board, etc. Even the best of institutions run afoul of fallen human nature sometimes. I'm sorry this had to happen to your college.

+JMJ+

This reminds me of something Hilaire Belloc wrote about armies who "accomplished nothing but an epic." Ave Maria College may seem like a failed dream to many, but it has obviously accomplished more in its short span than all the "faceless" universities (as you so aptly describe them) put together have done in the past few decades. I envy you for being part of such a special experience--the birth and death of a great school.

Aw, Enbrethiliel (and Arwen, too, but to a much lesser degree): fine to love your own school and all props to you--but do you really need to trash other ways of learning at the same time? Those schools may not seem so "faceless" to their students.

Anon, I'm sorry, but comments like yours are very frustrating to me. It happens so often, especially on the Internet - someone writes about something they have found valuable, and all of a sudden other people are offended because the person is "trashing" the alternatives. Lauding a particular option does not necessarily imply insult to the other options.

As it so happens, I don't think that big universities are bad at all. My husband got an excellent education at the same school that didn't happen to be a good fit for me. It wasn't a liberal-arts education, either; he's a software engineer. Just because a tiny Catholic liberal arts college suited me perfectly doesn't mean I think other kinds of education are useless (and in fact, as I watch the job struggles of my friends who are liberal arts grads, I'm quite grateful to have a engineer husband).

Is it the use of the word "faceless" that you object to specifically? Because I don't think it's a hugely derogatory word, and I used it principally to make a comparison to the intimacy of my tiny alma mater. No matter how much you may love your large school, I doubt the president and academic dean know your name. At my little college, they did - and in comparison, the school where I was known only by a randomly-assigned eight-digit number did seem "faceless."

Having high-level college administrators know your name is not important to everyone. It just happened to be valuable to me, and I think I should be allowed to say that without being assumed to be trashing other ways of learning.

As for Enbrethiel's comment, she's expressing a minority opinion - do you really want to quash her right to do that because it makes you feel offended? Most people would take for granted the truth of the opposite statement: that the large universities accomplish far more in a short span than a little school like AMC could possibly accomplish in decades. In some realms (medical research, just to name one off the top of my head) it's true. Enbrethiel and I are in a tiny minority because we believe that the spiritual battle being fought at places like AMC is more important than those realms, and in most forums, we'd be laughed out of the park for even venturing such an idea. You've got the huge majority of Americans on your side on this particular question, so why let our opinion bug you?

Anyway, all that is peripheral to my real point, which is that I'm struggling to understand exactly what your solution would be to the problem you perceive here. Is it really necessary to avoid ever saying anything good about a particular experience I've had (or even something bad about an experience I've had) simply because someone else might have had a different experience? It would be awfully stilting to my writing if I constantly had to be acknowledging that others may have different, equally valid, opinions. I certainly do not want to be insulting to my readers, but in this case I do not believe I was being insulting. Of course you are free to think otherwise, but it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

From the point of view of someone whose daughter is seriously looking at attending Ave Maria University in 2007, how does AMC relate to AMU? The impression I received here in Florida is that AMU is a continuation in most respects of AMC -- I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks.

Me again. No time for a long comment:

But I just wanted to respond to:
As for Enbrethiel's comment, she's expressing a minority opinion - do you really want to quash her right to do that because it makes you feel offended?

In fact, I think the very best part of your blog is that in responding to majority opinion, you tend *not* to leap to its polar opposite, but instead to articulate your position in a more nuanced way. Just because one's opinion is different from the majority doesn't mean one should allow oneself to be forced to its opposite.

When E writes,

it has obviously accomplished more in its short span than all the "faceless" universities (as you so aptly describe them) put together have done in the past few decades

that *is* a value judgment--a factual one, even. Now, to me, what really distinguishes American education from its counterparts elsewhere is precisely its diversity. I don't think at all that loving AMC forces one to disparage the educational mission of other schools. A big school does something different from a little one. is that really so outside of the mainstream in this country? I don't think so. Certainly I see lots of respect for small liberal arts schools everywhere.

And, again, I don't think you did thatt, or very much. But the comment I was responding to did rankle me a bit.

+JMJ+

Am I the only one who finds it ironic that the commenter who objected to my calling big universities "faceless" is a "nameless" commenter? :)

Now, Nameless, I wasn't intending to trash big universities (having been decently educated at one of them myself) or to start a big debate about tertiary education in the United States (having gone to uni in New Zealand). I'm honestly surprised that you reacted so defensively.

If it makes you feel any better, I'm with St. John Chrysostom on value judgments. He pointed out that we can't say that A is better only because B is bad in comparison: only when both A and B are good can we say that A is truly better.

Hi Arwen- I am sorry to read about the closing of your beloved college. It sounds like a wonderful place. (and I never would have guessed that you are linked to Dominio's pizza!?) :-)

I also enjoyed the 'small school' setting, truly getting to know my professors and fellow students. My school is tied to my Christian denomination as well, and it was a wonderful oasis for me.

After freshman year, most of my classes had 15 or less students. My senior thesis class contained only 5 of us.

My younger sister entered my alma mater two years after I graduated. One of my former (and favorite) professors heard her laughing in the hallway during her summer orientation...and asked "Are you Louise's sister? You have the same laugh!"

Now- how is that for not being faceless or anonymous? Apparently I am known by my laugh ;-)

I actually identified with a lot of what Arwen wrote - I attended a small college where we were encouraged to learn for the sake of gaining knowledge and insight; where the professors and deans and staff knew the students by name; where issues of philosophy, science, history, language, you name it were debated into the small hours in clusters in the dorms. It was heaven for me.

I know how despondent I'd be if my college changed the way Arwen's did; I guess the analog for us would be ::gasp:: co-education, since I went to a women's college. And I also know that I found my education there considerably more enriching than I found the education I received as a graduate student at the largest law school in the country. Sometimes small schools are what works for a given person's learning style, and sometimes large schools are.

Now, I don't know about the use of the word faceless; I do think that's intentionally pejorative. But I'd use it to describe my law school, and I can see where it's useful to describe the large school experience if that's how it feels to the person speaking.

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