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Letter to the Editor: “Opinion inappropriate for the university’s official newspaper”

Laura Wittren’s article titled, “How to sound smarter than you actually are,” was not only in poor taste, but also incredibly offensive to Drake students. To start off this train wreck, Wittren writes, “We’re not all geniuses. If we were, we’d all be at Ivy League schools like Harvard and Yale.” To undermine the quality of the school you attend is crazy! We all know Drake is an accredited university, but clearly we’re not very smart or else we’d go somewhere better.

Later in the article she talks about how we shouldn’t be wasting our time reading the dic­tionary and learning new words when we could just use words no one has heard of to sound smart. As a future English teacher, for Wittren to write, “Do your friends read books and try to talk about them with you? How annoying! Do they expect you to actually read? Well, thank goodness for Wikipedia and SparkNotes!” is perhaps one of the most offensive things anyone has said to me.

She then lists the books “Catcher in the Rye,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Harry Pot­ter,” and “Twilight.” The first two books were required reading in high school, and you’d be hard pressed to find someone who has not read them. To think that Wittren’s feeble summaries of these books prepares you for a conversation about literature is ridiculous.

If the article was intended as sarcasm, it’s still not very good. If it wasn’t intended to be taken seriously, the only other way I could inter­pret it is as a satire mocking the low intelligence of Drake students, which is equally insulting. Drake students are smarter than just knowing the names of politicians and two-sentence sum­maries of popular literature. The overall tone of the article toward Drake is absolutely inap­propriate for the university’s official newspaper.


Allison Millea and Brian Benish


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  1. BHall September 30, 2010

    First off, I mock you both. This letter made me laugh because of the sheer indignant blathering that was splattered all over the page. The fact that neither of you understands sarcasm would make me concerned for your future if I cared about you. You really need to get the stick out of a certain place (although based on how angry you got about the article, I’m guessing it’s an entire tree).

    The fact that you were offended only goes to show how quick you are to jump to conclusions without knowing the actual facts (which is how we got involved with the mess in Iraq). Laura is one of the few people I know that actually DOES bring up books in conversation. Unfortunately for her, some of her friends have no idea what she’s talking about. And let’s face it, kids these days don’t want to read books (if you haven’t figured that out yet, you shouldn’t be an English teacher) so they take the easy way (i.e. Spark notes and Wikipedia). If you never used either, then why are you offended? Have you used them instead of reading anything? Are you worried that someone will find out about it and your chances of becoming an English teacher will be ruined?

    And Catcher in the Rye can easily be summoned up as: Angry child with mental issues is convinced that everyone else is a “phony”, yet he himself won’t be his true self. Harry Potter not so much, but only because there are seven books and it would take awhile to sum some of those up. The Twilight “saga” can easily be summed up as “Edward, I love you.”

    Drake isn’t a bad school. Most of the people there are there because they think it’s a good school, and they almost have to. And Drake has excellent academics. I go to ISU, but I am considering transferring schools because of how great Drake’s academics are. We just had to make fun of you for the whole D+ deal.

    In short, this article wasn’t supposed to be offensive, it was supposed to be humorous.

    You need to lighten up.


  2. Kevin September 30, 2010

    You mad?

    Is the entire point of an opinion section not to express one’s opinion? Maybe she DOES think you aren’t very intelligent, and maybe she DID intend to undermine your “proud” school. Tough.

    Not everyone thinks the way you do, and to suggest that one’s (obvious) sarcasm is inappropriate and offensive only shows that you are sheltered and need to spend some time in the real world. The school’s official newspaper is probably the single best place for an article of this sort. People need to realize that not every student is a happy go lucky “I love my school and I worship everything about it” kind of person. Smart people choose their schools based on their programs and nothing else (IE some people choose schools based on the football team, sadly.)

    To summarize, Ms. Wittren criticized your school, and you by proxy. You got mad. No one cares.

  3. KS September 30, 2010

    I’m friends with Laura Wittren, and when she wrote her first article last year, I told her that she should do it as a jest, as in a laugh. As in she doesn’t really believe Drake students are idiots (as she did a powerpoint on why I should go there rather than my school). She merely writes this as a comic relief for students who are having a rough time.

    Besides, I bet there are some people out there that didn’t read Catcher in the Rye or anything like that who really do need Wikipedia. And it’s not satire; it is intended for sarcasm.

  4. Becky October 1, 2010

    1. “Is the entire point of an opinion section not to express one’s opinion? Maybe she DOES think you aren’t very intelligent, and maybe she DID intend to undermine your “proud” school. Tough.”

    But wait, I thought her article was clever and witty- you know, sarcasm?- not actually her opinion?

    2. “To summarize, Ms. Wittren criticized your school, and you by proxy. You got mad. No one cares.”

    You seem to care. A lot.

    3. The original article isn’t even worth talking about. D+

  5. DSI October 3, 2010

    Okay, yes, we do care. Laura’s a good friend and we know full well that she didn’t mean any harm when she wrote the article. So sarcasm doesn’t translate well to paper. It’s not that big a deal. Not as big as the criticism makes it out to be, certainly. Also, yes, the original article is worth talking about. Someone took time and effort to enumerate the ways in which it offended them and in which they believe it was offensive to a group they claim to represent. It is the very reason we are here having this discussion.

    Anyway, to the critics themselves: This is an opinion, not a mudslinging session. “Train wreck?” First off, train wrecks, while disastrous and terrible, are an awesome sight to behold after the fact. More importantly, the fact that you are displeased with something does not necessarily give you the right to dis it in such a manner on an open forum. If something of the sort bothers you, please give consideration to the author and keep it civilized. If the author turns out to be a complete jerk and responds in the manner of an internet troll, feel free to retaliate in kind! But in the meantime, I urge you to offer constructive criticism rather than a hail of self-righteous mockery. Writing the way you have done will only incite the sort of responses you have received thus far.

  6. Bill October 7, 2010

    Wow! I can’t believe such a light hearted piece can generate this kind of criticism! I think there must be some very insecure people out there. I thought this piece was great. I had a really good laugh over it!

    I have a hard time believing that Allison Millea and Brian Benish cannot recognize sarcasm when they see it.

    Then they go on to assume that, because certain books were required reading for them, they must be required reading for all people everywhere! So not true! Do they realize that educational standards are not universal, not even within the United States?

    I did not for one moment think the author was trying to insult the intelligence of Drake students or insinuate that they could not get into a ‘better’ school. It was quite obvious to me that this author thinks very highly of their school, and has deemed it to be of such high quality that a little sattire could not possibly harm its’ image or that of its’ students.

    Some people just need to lighten up! They will live longer if they do,

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