Irony and Happenstance

My students often use the term irony in a very loose, colloquial fashion that simply means funny or odd. What they really mean, most often, isn’t irony technically, it’s happenstance. Irony involves a kind of reversal. It’s ironic, for example, when an organization like the American Council of Trustees and Alumni praises President Obama’s critique of university spending.

The ACTA is nothing but supportive of top-down administrative control, and it’s administrators that have promoted the “spas” and “food courts” that they believe help promote their schools to parents and alumni. It’s administrators that have emphasized the academic star system that allows certain professors to avoid the classroom; it’s administrators that believe they need huge marketing budgets.

When will the ACTA criticize the profligate spending on athletics, especially football and basketball? When hell freezes over. On the other hand, Obama says nothing about the disastrous labor policies common in U.S. higher education, and he neglects to mention the administrative costs– many avoidable– that have helped drive up the costs of education. So perhaps this is just happenstance.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and Smarthinking.com. I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol] writinginthewild.com

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