Column retort

Karen Craven’s “Student Opinion” column of Aug. 23 contains the best rationale yet for being failed in a course (French 202), that is (assuming the student re-enrolls), NIU ends up making more money. The logical extension would be that teachers here are encouraged to keep students back in order to delve deeper into their and/or their parents’ pocketbooks—an interesting premise which seems to run counter to the policy of certain public schools whose teachers are mandated to a fixed (i.e., generous) passing percentage.

I can sympathize with Ms. Craven to some extent. When I was a final semester senior at Illinois, I was informed that I was lacking two hours in biological science. I should have been told this when I transferred to UI from what was then called a junior college, and was quite upset with the LAS office for not discovering the discrepancy sooner. Being an English major, I was taking all elective courses at the time. But there was nothing I could do, if I wanted to graduate, but fulfill those two hours of “meaningless” bi sci. Since there were no two-hour courses in that field, I picked what was for me the least of evils and had to traipse across campus three times a week to a genetics class in the zoology building. How I managed a ‘C’ in that course I’ll never know.

I didn’t think, however, that my final undergrad semester should be all fun and games. Even if I had been able to take only electives I wouldn’t have thought that. I learned something about genetics, even if I didn’t quite understand its mechanics. If nothing else, foreign language should indirectly teach you a little about your own language and culture.

Rather than feel that one is paying something for nothing, one might remember that in life—not just on campus—you don’t get something for nothing and you only get out of something what you put into it. Built-in resentments don’t help.

And really—Ms. Craven could have at least said the French 202 class meant “rien” in her life instead of “nada.”

John C. Tomme