Friday, April 20, 2007

Board elections, sociolinguistics & gender

Technically, I'm supposed to be working on my essay draft for human geography; I have a meeting with my instructor later today to discuss my draft for this 2500-word paper. So far I have 346 words. Sometimes I have a hard time motivating myself.

Yesterday in sociolinguistics, we discussed language and gender. A tricky topic, but more fun because of the fact that it is sociolinguistics. Professor Janse was auditing the class, as head of department, but as he is also a) a linguist, and b) a man, he added a little dimension to our discussion. Also a little intimidation.

The discussion was, as usual, very interesting, and, as is even more usual, a little strange. Gender and language is one student's favorite linguistic topic, so she is very enthusiastic about it. We touched on all manner of bizarre subjects and the instructor constantly had to draw our attention back to the task at hand.

Janse left at the break, during which I ate strawberries with Liv and Ellie and talked to friends in the courtyard. Back in class, we got into a discussion of words such as "gingerbread man", the "Actor/actress" distinction, etc, which led to the topic of snowmen.

"Why are they called snowMEN?"
"Because they have a hat."
"But look at them. The first snowman ever did not have a hat at first. Now compare a snowman to a gingerbread cookie. A snowman looks more like a gingerbread woman, who has a skirt, than a gingerbread man, who has two separate, distinct legs. So if you had just built the first snowman ever, but had not given him any features yet, he would look more like a curvy woman in a skirt, than a straight man in pants."
"Grace, what happened to you! Your talking again!" said Dr. Lahey.
I blushed and jerked my thumb back to where Janse had been sitting. "He left."
"Oh is that what it was? I thought it might have been..."
So then we got into a discussion of how men affect our conversation, and I had two excellent examples in Janse's presence and absence and in my silence at home at the dinner table with my six male housemates. We also reminded the teacher how we had suggested, in our mid-term evaluations, that we be allowed to bring a date to our gender discussion to even it all up a bit.

That class is simply the best. I hope the 300 level is this much fun next semester.

In other news, elections for committee boards are coming up. Some foreign students want to make a new RASA rule stating that at least one-third of the RASA board be foreign students. It's a good idea, I think, but completely impractical, as I only know of one foreign student who is even running for board.

My main dilemma is which basket to put all of my eggs into. Unfortunately, they can't be split, and I have to choose between the RA yearbook and the RA magazine/newspaper, Tabula RASA (TR). I was originally planning to run for chair of yearbook, because I had a lot of fun doing that this semester but would really love to make the whole committee much more organized and thought-out, and have a lot of ideas for how to do this. I would love to arrange the committee from the beginning of the year, have a person specified as photographer for each and every event, etc, etc, etc. However, TR needs a new board, as none of the current members can re-run, and they are having a hard time finding candidates. Of course, I should not do TR because they need me instead of Yearbook, which I want to do, but when I think about taking a board position on TR, I realize how much work there is to be done there, too.

For starters, the attitude that this school has toward its magazine needs to be turned around. People are downright disrespectful of the work we put into TR, and then they turn around and talk about RA*dio -- as if interviewing the RASA chair about goldfish was a hard-hitting journalistic piece. Second, TR can change its image and focus to gain a lot more respect and readers from the student body, without turning into a popularity contest of grocery counter tabloid. I'm already thinking: letters to the editors, more opinion pieces, articles about more of the everyday occurrences that occur at RA, and less stupid things such as that article about "is it worth it to turn your A into an A+". As if many RA students were even in the situation at the first place - and then there's the fact that there is no difference between an A and an A+ in your GPA.

That's beside the point, though; I just meant that TR could be much choosier about its articles; committee meetings could be more frequent, more involved, etc; and it could gain back readers from the student body. But yearbook could also be much more organized, have a better jump start on the process, maybe even have an organized THEME this year.

What to do... what to do...