What the [heck] class do you watch anti-war music videos in?

, Jon Sanders, Leave a comment

RALEIGH — The television in the classroom strangely beckons. A voice speaks. “You’re traveling to another dimension, a dimension of only sight and sound … not of mind. A journey into a wondrous playland, which results in only those who lack imagination. You’re entering … the Twilight of Higher Education Zone.”

No, that’s not quite true. Actually, the classroom TV just plays music videos to kids who can barely write. What you’ve entered is an introductory sociology course at North Carolina State University, one of the two flagship institutions in the University of North Carolina system and a major research institution in the U.S.

Critics of higher education often write about leftist bias in the classroom, barely literate students who somehow gain admission, dumbing down of course content, and academically disengaged students. Sometimes, however, those problems write themselves.

Consider “Outraged girl in class,” a thread from “The Wolf Web,” an Internet discussion forum for NCSU students. The opening post, dated Jan. 25, discussed an incident in the day’s class. Here is that post verbatim:

“Ok so we are sitting in class, and at the end the professor usually plays music video stuff. Well today he played a music video saying basicly the war is about oil. We are sheeps of society that watch tv, yada yada. This girls (definatly a conservative) stands up saying this is not what the war is about. This is not what it means, crying. Honestly shee looked as if it was her first election she ever voted in in teh first place. Are you kidding me. PLease talk amongst yourselfs, all i could do is laugh.”

Several subsequent posters discussed the girl, the idea of crying in class, and other instances of people losing control during class. One asked, “your prof was playing ‘Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm Of The War Drums’ from A Perfect Circle wasn’t he[?]” to which the answer was “Yeah, exactly!!”

Shortly afterward someone asked what would have seemed the obvious question: “wtf class do you watch music videos in[?]” (For the uninitiated, “wtf” is Internet shorthand for “What the [expletive]?”)

At first, the only answer given is “soc.” (Only much later in the thread are students told it is SOC 202, “Principles of Sociology.” According to the NCSU course catalog, SOC 202 covers “Introduction to sociology. Analyses of key processes and institutions including interaction, inequality, organization, socialization, and social change. Includes core sociological concepts, methods, theories.” Apparently NCSU simply forgot to include the part about the “leftist anti-war music videos.”)

Another student from the class then posted about the “hilarious” student. “i was sitting there saying ‘someone is gonna be offended by this’ and not 4 seconds later did she turn around to her friend saying THIS IS REDICULOUS,” she wrote, adding “when we were walking out of class she started saying ‘I CANT BELIEVE PEOPLE THINK THIS WAR IS ALL ABOUT OIL[.]’ I was laughing right behind her repeating what she said[.] soooooooooooo funny when she started crying in the brickyard and her friend had to console her[.]”

She summed up her impression: “i mean really….why get worked up…atleast he stopped lecturing to play some [expletive] music.”

Later on, a student asked, “who’s the professor? is it Dr. Tom? he always used to play cool music videos in class[.]” The answer was affirmative, and other students chimed in with their impressions of the professor. He’s “so chill,” “didnt care what party you were reppin’ just make a change,” “hardcore hippy, cool as [expletive] though.” Also, “just wait until he starts talking about his pro-marijuana movement.”

One student wasn’t satisfied with knowing only that the class was in the Sociology Dept. He pressed for more detail: “Hey, what class was this in?? I wanna know what I can take to watch music videos of bush-slamming.”

The first response he received to his question was rather abrupt, however. It began with a profanity, then advised him to “blindfold yourself, flip to a random page in a TRACS book [the book listing the courses offered at NCSU], and stick your finger somewhere on the page.”

Why do such a thing? Because “chances are, you’ll get a liberal pinko professor[.]”

Jon Sanders is a policy analyst for the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in Raleigh.