Advocacy for Hunter College English Undergraduates

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I know Jennifer Raab does not read this blog because she is reeeeeally busy doing other stuff. REALLY BUSY SIGNING HER NAME- so I figured I'd fill you in. This has been bugging me. Last week several of my OTR companions and I went to go see Seamus Heaney get his honorary degree and read some of his fantastic poetry to a packed auditorium. Wonderful. He was as sweet and modest as could be- a Nobel Prize winner with a heart, etc. He handled a nutty Q&A with grace and was humorous to boot.
Who provided Heaney with his "honors?" The MFA writing program of course. A small assembled crew who is intimately aware of each others works and writing styles- who are- no doubt about it- deserving of praise. What bugged me? The way the whole thing was handled as an uppercrust sort of deal. The Undergraduate sector of Hunter College (I've been here four years- this is opinion- but also experience) is completely disjointed. There was no mention of an undergrad literary community!
  • There is no core literary community outside of the classroom. Or is there? WAIT. What about all of the people who submit their work from workshops? What about the people who OPERATE the literary journal. Jennifer Raab talked up a writing community that consists of a few people selected through a rigorous process. What she has no idea about- and probably never will - is the undergrad community. A community comprised of writers finding their voice, their style, AND gaining writing chops to move forward through academia (or, shock, real world job-force after however long it takes to get out of the ten foot requirements checklist and not MFA-no offense to the MAFFERS, git 'em) Heaney was kind enough to mention the "baby steps" of the writing process. Perhaps this is what made the unintentional snub so obvious.
  • How many of us are learning the ropes, working internships, holding down part and full-time jobs, commuting from Staten Island, Orange County, Long Island, Westchester, - the far reaches of Brooklyn AND dedicating ourselves to promoting something we are passionate about- the chance for works of literary and artistic merit to meet a public audience?
  • Who are these amateurs who violate the halls with pens for their thoughts and not Sharpie's for the stairwells?
..............We the cave-dwellers of the crumbling Thomas Hunter building.
  • Is the ceiling falling down? Is our tuition going up? Was there asbestos removal two doors down without the provision of masks? Are stair railings bent or completely missing? Is the new key card system hindering our editorial work and making coming and going in an office that we independently maintain difficult (you try putting in a work order)? WHY YES.
I voice these complaints here. I also urge all English Undergraduates to partake in all of the free literary events on campus. Show strength in numbers. The ceiling isn't leaking in the faculty cafeteria in the West Building- it is safe.
Thanks anyway HC for keeping us on the map with awesome people like Seamus Heaney.
(If anyone deserves praise for reaching out to the undergrads with scholarship info, contests, etc. it is Thom Taylor- so we sincerely thank him for being an advocate- whether he realized how far his emails reach or not =) Thanks to the professors in the English department who get paid so little, torture us so briefly, and embolden us.

It has been a great Spring. No doubt that World Cup coffee and writing prompts have made some of this semester more active than others. We write. We share. We edit.
Thank you to my literary partners.

Rebecca K.
Senior Poetry Editor
Class of 2010