What’s better than one semester of University Writing? Two semesters of University Writing!

On January 11, 2022, I and other students received an email from the Center of Core Curriculum informing us that, in order to complete our University Writing requirement, we would have to take a makeup session to receive credit for courses that were cut short due to the Fall 2021 graduate student strike. At the time, students were asked to choose between two options that were later amended the next time we heard back from the writing department, February 8,2022. 

The first option available would be to complete Progression Three in a five-week course that would meet once a week for three hours and would be offered during the semester from roughly February 21 to March 28 (going through spring break!) and during both summer terms. Option Two required students to take a two-week, tuition free summer class called Public Writing which would  meet three times a week for two hour class sessions with asynchronous work. The goal of the Public Writing class was to produce an op-ed and a writing memo. The final grade received on our transcripts would be the highest grade from any of our University Writing progressions, whether it be one from the Fall semester or from the makeup session we took. 

After receiving this information, I contacted the University Writing department to inquire about the first option; since I had already made other commitments during the summer,the Spring semester option was the only one that worked for me. I asked about whether the class would take place during spring break and how the class would work when students have other classes and responsibilities. Two weeks passed without receiving a reply, so I sent a followup email, in case my email had gotten lost in the many emails the department was probably receiving at the time. I never received a response to my follow-up email. 

Students received the next email on February 21, asking us to fill out a Google Form to indicate which sections we would like to take, in order of preference. For Option One, there were options for online and in-person formats from 6 to 9 pm on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays. None of these were particularly optimal but, I ended up ranking the online, 6 to 9 pm on Mondays the highest. I wound up receiving an email that I had gotten into that section on March 17, during spring break. The class would start the Monday we got back from break and run for five weeks. 

From what I had been told, the make-up session seemed like it would be the same level of workload as University Writing had been, with 40 to 50 pages of reading for the first day of class and the amount of time spent in class each week. This was about the same as it would be in UW, however my instructor was very understanding of the heavy workload of the students in the class. During the make-up session, I was pretty much taking 22 credits, or seven classes, and I dedicated as much of my free time as I could to working on the make-up work, without affecting my mental and physical health; it seemed like the other students were in similar circumstances. For the second week of class, we had to come up with ideas about what we might want to write about for our P3 and our instructor gave us free rein to write about whatever we were interested in. The third week, we needed to complete an annotated bibliography on our research topics. During the fourth and fifth weeks, we had to write an exploratory and formal draft, respectively, with our final draft due a week after the final class session.

During the class sessions, we generally spent the first hour going over the “How Scholars Write” information you would talk about in a normal University Writing class and the remaining time working on next week’s assignment or reading, peer reviewing, or meeting with the instructor. The peer review sessions were definitely not as productive as they would have been in-person as most of the students had either not completed the assignment for the week completely or didn’t want their essay peer reviewed probably due to the former. In the end, we ended up having a lot of free time during the classes where I could spend it working on other classes or procrastinating my work.

Overall, the experience was really frustrating. There was little communication from the UW department. They never established concrete dates of when the courses would take place, even knowing students had other responsibilities, might have been working or researching during the summer, or had a fully loaded schedule during the semester. The only redeeming part of the process was how understanding and kind my instructor was, despite being assigned to teach for three more hours every Monday and grade assignments, all while having work of their own. Another frustrating detail is that students who had to make up LitHum or CC credits supposedly simply had to write an extra essay, even though it seems like the in-class portion of LitHum and CC are more critical to the class than the inclass UW portions. I am glad to have my University Writing requirement done with, but this felt like an unnecessary addition to my workload and schedule that could have been resolved with a single assignment or could have been waived.

sadness and sorrow via Bwog Archives