Apr 24, 2006, 11:06 PM
Post #45 of 430
yeah, I read that today. A shitty day for that to come out for me, just when I was set to accept Columbia. Although, the more I thought about the piece the less it concerned me. For one, the anger in the piece is obvious so it does seem like a bit of sour grapes. However, I'm willing to accept most of what he says is true.
Still, there are three main complaints raised:
a) There are a lot of medicore students and they all pass
b) they are milking their students as cash cows
c) They higher a lot of bad faculty.
As for a), everything I've ever heard has made me confident that EVERY MFA program everywhere has a lot of mediocre students. I expect this going in. I'd expect htis at Iowa, JHU, Columbia just as I'd expect it at Random State U. I'd except a bit LESS of it at Iowa, JHU and Columbia, but I'd still expect it. Columbia is a very selective school so I see no reason to assume their % of medicore students is different than any other big school
As for all them passing... I'm not sure what to think of that. It doesn't seem like an issue for a prospective student (what do I care if medicore writers graduate? Do I want them to fail?) it seems like more of an issue for Columbia's administration.
But, like my last paragraph, I expect pretty much everyone passes everywhere. I doubt many Iowa or Umass students (to name two more big programs) fail either, for good or for bad
b): This is definitly a big problem. However, this is a problem I (and everyone here at speakeasy I think) was already aware of.
c) I'm not sure what to make of this unless I saw a comparison with other big programs that hire lots of people. I can't say if Mark was right or wrong, but I Can say that Columbia is one of a handful of schools that has exciting faculty to me. Most have competant faculty, but Columbia actually has writers that make me excited. THye might have a lot of shitty ones too... guess I have to just hope to avoid them though. But at the end of the day, there isn't a single program out there that has a facualty that is 100% exciting.
I guess that's what sticks in my craw about Columbia, and other schools that don't offer funding -- to me, the idea of funding is that you're saying to artists: We take you seriously, and we think you deserve some unencumbered time in which to pursue your art. Whereas programs that don't offer much in the way of funding seem to be saying: We think you're talented, and if you give us $40,000 a year (or whatever tuition is) we'll let you hang out and work on your art. That's a pretty different ball of wax.
I see what you are saying. However, I look at it this way:
No program can give all its students free rides. No university president would allow that. The only ones that give some free rides have tiered funding, which is problamatic for a lot of reasons.
So how do students get full fudning? Universities make them work. They make them teach classes (to undergrads who are paying 40,000). Now, there is nothing wrong with this, and I like the idea a LOT and I surely wish Columbia had more TA positions. But at the end of the day, the difference between Columbia and JHU or whatever is that Columbia can't give TAships to all its students while JHU can.
There are some reasons for this (The Writing Division is all grad, not directly connected to any undegrad thing, so the TA positions it gets are leftovers from the english department after they giver their Phd people spots)... though it doesn't fully excuse Columbia.