Why Can’t the Lexington Media Leave UK English Alone
I hope everyone interested gets a chance to check out Randall Roorda’s editorial in today’s Lexington Herald-Leader. Randall, my dissertation adviser, condemns the journalistic irresponsibility of local Lexington television news reporter Heather MacWilliams of Channel 36 news, and he also refutes the near-sighted argument of an earlier Herald-Leader editorial.
For those unfamiliar, there’s a backstory here. Several weeks ago, MacWiliams approached the university and proclaimed that she was interested in doing a report on the “rising cost of textbooks.” The dean of UK’s College of Arts and Sciences, Steven Hoch, asked Randall to speak on behalf of UKs English department, basically suggesting that MacWilliams was going to fry UK all the more if the Director of the Writing Program didn’t make his voice known.
Essentially, MacWilliams accused the UK Writing Program of operating a scam operation, where students are forced to purchase artificially inflated textbooks so that the coffers of our plush writing program might be filled. Since ENG 104 is the only course required of every student at UK, the English department is naturally responsible for the purchase of more textbooks than any other department at UK, and many of these purchases are ENG 104 texts.
However, as Randall points out, it’s just not that simple. We’re forced to “inflate” the price of our texts because we’re forced into deals with larger publishers, and because we must accomadate copyright compensations.
As someone who teaches classes and compiles syllabi, I can say that while English professors are bookish people, we certainly make every effort to keep costs down for students. The textbook situation is complicated , as Randall explains in his article. And while no one likes paying $50 for a book seen as irrelevant or not useful, students must realize that college professors are not enemies of the poor and oppressed. We ARE the poor and oppressed. Chiding the English department at UK while simultaneously ignoring UK Athletics’ extravagance and negligence is like kicking a homeless guy in the nuts and then asking him for a few spare dollars to help buy a mink coat for a wealthy neighbor.