SCRAPS FROM THE EDITOR'S WASTEBASKETThese are excerpts from a regular column in The Vector an informal, unofficial, and unheralded publication I edited during my years teaching at Lock Haven University. In response to overwhelming demand (a couple of people at least) these are being archived here for those strange people who enjoy wallowing in nostalgia. Some of the references to then-current events may be puzzling, but feel free to skip them, or relate them to more recent events of similar nature (which can always be found). References to internal politics at Lock Haven University may be easily transferred to situations at other academic institutions. A few explanatory comments have been added in square brackets.
Vol. 3 No. 1. Dec 1978
FINAL ISSUE OF THE VECTORNo, don't get your hopes up. This isn't the last issue (that issue preceded this one). It won't be the last to appear either, it is just the issue which comes out before FINAL exams.
Old readers know this, but new readers should be forewarned: Anyone who believes everything he reads in THE VECTOR is hopelessly naive. If it seems that some of our humor is irreverent, absurd, and unfair, then we have at least partially succeeded in our intent. If we have left some persons or institutions unoffended, rest assured that we are working on the problem and will try to get around to those we have overlooked. Some targets are easier to make fun of than others. Some have been slighted not because they were undeserving of needling, but because we have been unable to do justice to the task. We strive to maintain a certain style: light, slightly acerbic, and just a bit outrageous. One of these days we might achieve it.
Every large organization experiences the phenomena of the anonymous memo, usually of a humorous nature. We reprint an example. We have seen this one at least three times, from different sources, but identical in content. We have no idea who might be the genius who originated it originally! If anyone knows, tell us, and we will give him due credit. We have noticed that these things sometimes suffer from copyist' errors as they pass from hand to hand. This one, as received, bore the name "Benjamin Platinus", which makes little sense. We strongly suspect that an error crept in as someone retyped this, and have "corrected" it to Plotinus. (Plotinus was a Neoplatonic philosopher of the 3rd century AD.)
Now we do have a "department of English and philosophy" here at Lock Haven. This is a conjugation about as viable as the mythical hippogriff. [Why should we have to explain everything? Look it up in your Funk end Wagnalls.] Yet, I assure you that we have no one in that department with the name "Plotinus".
WARNING!We expect to put out another issue of THE VECTOR this academic year, in early spring. In addition to the usual ephemera, it will contain a recap on the outcome of our psychic predictions made last year, and a survey of how the professional seers' forecasts failed. We will also publish, at long last, the definitive biography of that ancient sage, Anon. We may even get around to the answers to the science history quiz! [We didn't, but now you can read the answers to the Science History Quiz. here.
CONTRIBUTIONSYour editor receives written tidbits from a variety of questionable sources. The motives of the senders are often unclear. Some may intend these for publication, and some are published. Others end up in a file for later consideration, having not struck the editor in a receptive mood when received. This file is generally reviewed, often in desperation, as the deadline approaches for another issue.
Some contributions may well be unsuitable to our high standards of taste and sophistication. Some, we suspect, were sent to us by someone who was weeding out junk from his own files.
A MODEST PROPOSALIn the recent debates over Student Cooperative Council [the student governing body] funding of athletic programs, I noted one comment which was especially interesting and worthy of serious analysis. In a letter to the Eagle Eye, a student urged greater funding of sports programs, arguing their great value to the college, and noting the service the coaching staff provides by recruiting students :or the college. This student then said, "What has the English department done for the college lately?"
Now this slur was surely not intended merely for the English department, but for all of the academic departments, that is, most of the departments outside of Physical Education. But it is a question worth pondering. How many football games has the history department won for us lately? Has the philosophy faculty helped us in any way to win a wrestling meet? How many paintings and sculptures glorifying athletes has the art department produced? Are these other departments doing their share in promoting the most important function of this school, namely athletics?
We must note that the music department is doing its bit providing rousing music at athletic events.
But to return to the English department; this department does deserve criticism. The very fact that Howard Cosell continues to pontificate on national television is all too audible testimony to the fact that English departments have utterly failed to teach Americans to speak their own language; even to know the difference between good English and specious drivel.
Clearly the student who questioned the value of the "rest of the college," is representative of a very large segment of opinion in this community. One need only look at the coverage of college news in the Lock Haven Express and in the Eagle Eye to become convinced that in the eyes of most people, sports are the primary and most important function of the college. The administration recognizes and supports this view by funding the physical education programs out of proportion to the academic programs. And the College Board apparently concurs in this, probably because they know very little of what really goes on at the college beyond the sports scores.
In view of these facts of life, perhaps the time has come for a realignment of the college structure to more accurately reflect the commitments of the community, the students, and the administration. I suggest that this can be brought about by renaming the school, "The Lock Haven State College of Athletics." All of the formerly academic departments will then become subdivisions of the "school of athletics". This will immediately eliminate friction between sports and other departments, for there would be no other departments.
Think of the improved efficiency which would will result from this reorganization. The physics and chemistry faculty will devote their entire attentions to such important matters as the physics of body mechanics and the chemistry of training table nutrition. The geography faculty will handle the essential task of preparing maps to enable the teams to find their way to off-campus sporting events. The history faculty will chronicle the past glories of the teams, and offer courses in history of sport.
The English faculty will reorient their activity to the writing of athletic press releases. The time of the campus services people will be entirely devoted to videotaping sports events. And this mew focus of priorities will completely eliminate any need for a library; a great saving of money.
The mathematics profs will take over the important task of calculating team statistics. The computer science people will work out new football strategies. The entire energies of the music and drama specialists will go into providing spectacular half-time entertainments. The art students can design team uniforms. The philosophy faculty will offer courses in the philosophy of sports, while their specialists in ethics do research to find a convincing proof of the proposition that sports are the most important human activity. This will at last bring faculty people in all of these areas into service to the college, instead of being academic drones and parasites.
All faculty members will go out to recruit athletes (or else!). But with a curriculum such as this, entirely devoted to what people really like (sports); and to fun, instead of dull academic drudgery; you can be certain students would come in droves to enroll at Lock Haven.
As such a reorganized college begins to function, expansion of its programs will surely result. Medical training programs will soon be required, to handle all of the sports injuries, and to research drugs and procedures for improving athletic performance.
No longer will faculty in different disciplines squabble over their cut of dwindling college financial support. All disciplines will be part of the School of Athletics, and receive support in proportion to their service to the sports programs.
This may seem a utopian idea, but current trends would lead me to believe it will become reality sooner than we might think.