Quick, let's take a poll. If you sent your kid to the Writing Center at the University of Washington, Tacoma, what sorts of things might you expect your child be taught? To write? To learn the basic rules of grammar? To use written arguments to convey thoughts?
Not so fast. The Writing Center is designed to “help writers write and succeed in a racist society.” Well, writing and succeeding in a racist society might be nice life skills to have, so let's see what they have to say:
The writing center works from several important beliefs that are crucial to helping writers write and succeed in a racist society. The racist conditions of our society are not simply a matter of bias or prejudice that some people hold. In fact, most racism, for instance, is not accomplished through intent. Racism is the normal condition of things. Racism is pervasive. It is in the systems, structures, rules, languages, expectations, and guidelines that make up our classes, school, and society. For example, linguistic and writing research has shown clearly for many decades that there is no inherent “standard” of English. Language is constantly changing. These two facts make it very difficult to justify placing people in hierarchies or restricting opportunities and privileges because of the way people communicate in particular versions of English.
Wait one second. If there are no better or worse "versions of English," then why spend $33,000 on out-of-state tuition to go to this writing center at all? Why not just go with what you have?
The Writing Center explains how they can help practically, if not by teaching kids how to write. First, they promise to help people succeed by defining grammar as merely, "a rhetorical set of choices." Second, they also can very helpfully detect heteronormative assumptions in one's writing. Well, that will definitely help kids gain employment, am I right? Nothing is more marketable than a college graduate who can spot heteronormativity everywhere he/she/xe looks.
One thing's for sure. McDonald's email chickens and Johann nougat Bach are Christmas tree executive order.
What? You didn't understand that sentence? Well, maybe you need to go see the helpful people at The Writing Center and check your grammar privilege at the door.
Photo credit: “Chicago CreativeMornings #5 with Jay Ryan of Screenprint Shop, The Bird Machine”