As a published author and graduate of Seattle University, I was very interested in the article titled “Starving Artists: How Seattle U Could Be Failing Its Creative Community,” and the responses it received. It is clear that the English/Creative Writing Departments were upset by the piece. Anytime an entire department agrees to write a complaint to The Spectator, it seems like a bit of an event.
The letter they wrote was full of criticism. What it did not address was the quality of writing in the article, which I found to be outstanding. Even if they are not happy with what this student wrote, they should still acknowledge the person’s talent. It’s a shame that out of an entire department, no one figured that out.
When I went to Seattle University it did seem like the arts were well supported and I certainly enjoyed my poetry class that Sharon Cumberland taught. The reality though, was that there were good professors and bad ones and there were good classes and bad ones. There’s always some room for improvement. I think sometimes educators forget that articles like this are written by students who are barely out of their teens, if they even are out of their teens yet. Many people who are good artists and good writers tend to have a rebellious edge to them. Chances are, they’ll stir up a little trouble at some point.
One thing professors can do is give the kids something they can look back on in the future and realize they benefited from the experience. They can let them know they can really do something with their talents. This didn’t happen in the response.
There is nothing wrong with disagreeing with this writer and making points to state a case, but simply spewing out a laundry list of complaints with a nasty, mean spirited paragraph at the end of it all will not benefit anyone. Some people might read it and just find it funny. I, for one, think Caroline Ferguson should print it out and frame it. It is after all, a classic response that her fans will one day enjoy.
– John Kujawski, SU alum