WRIT105/FSEM148: Colgate Talk
Margaret Darby, Associate Professor of Writing and Rhetoric
MWF 9:20 a.m., Lathrop 401
Course description: A number of people, both professionals and students, hold jobs that require speaking and writing about Colgate University. This course for first-year students samples writings that consider Colgate as both theme and organizing principle. The topic for discussion is Colgate itself — its real events, controversies, and ideals — and, at the same time, the individual student’s response to Colgate in light of the past. Students learn how to analyze texts through traditional rhetorical questions: What intellectual claims are made? What values are attributed? What audiences are addressed? Students develop new powers of persuasion by studying the interaction of language, autobiography, others’ points of view, and local cultural knowledge.
On the reading list: Diana Hacker, A Writer’s Reference; David Rosenwasser and Jill Stephen, Writing Analytically; the Colgate Scene; www.colgate.edu; and the Colgate Maroon-News
Class visitors: People who write and speak about Colgate for admission (staff and student tour guides), communications, advancement, and the Maroon-News.
Homework: Students must prepare a piece of writing for nearly every class meeting.
The professor says: “This course teaches students how to use writing to think more effectively. Its goal is the student who habitually says, ‘OK, that’s what I wrote in my rough draft, but what do I really mean?’ Its reward is a useful strategy for saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Not easy, but satisfying — and fundamental to an elite education.”
Live and learn
Last summer, I had the pleasure of helping to run a pilot youth camp on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, home to the Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe. Other participants were Maggie Dunne ’13, Kelsey John ’13, Brenton Um ’11, and Lauren Miller ’11.
We went as representatives of Maggie’s nonprofit organization, Lakota Pine Ridge Children’s Enrichment Project (LPRCEP). Pine Ridge is one of the most impoverished U.S. counties, so there are very few enrichment opportunities for children.
With monies from fundraisers, individual donors, and the university’s Native American Studies Program, we worked with representatives from the National Indian Youth Leadership Project (NIYLP), Wings for America, the Oglala Sioux Housing Authority, and Re-Member, to bring a modified version of NIYLP’s Project Venture to 8- to 13-year-olds from the reservation.
Activities during the five-day camp ran the gamut from archery, softball, kickball, and mural painting, to hikes through the Badlands and discussions with Lakota elders. These activities brought out the best in the campers, who were enthusiastic about all of the activities and really came out of their shells. By the end of the week, it felt like the kids were virtually running the camp, as evidenced by their excitement to set up impromptu games.
We worked long, hard days to keep the campers engaged, and in the process, we learned valuable lessons about the children — and ourselves. It took a lot of perseverance and faith to ensure the camp was enjoyable for all.
All three graduates agreed that the camp was a fantastic capstone to our Colgate careers. Meanwhile, I’m envious that Maggie and Kelsey can take this experience back to campus to share it with classmates and professors.
— Will Cawthern ’11