Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Graduate School, Or, How I Got Thrown Out of a Class at ASU

Okay, so I know I've been a slacker blogger, and to be honest I'll be surprised if anyone is still reading this. But now that we have (semi) reliable internet in our new apartment in Provo that has a (slightly) acceptable speed, I should be blogging much more often.

But only if graduate school and working part-time does not kill me.

Yes, I started the ASU Liberal Studies program last week.  So far, it hasn't been too terrible or time-consuming, although with a few projects and some longish papers due in the next 6 weeks, I know it will get harder. I was taking 2 classes that span for 7.5 weeks--or, at least, I WAS.  Now I suppose I still am taking two classes, but to be honest, I am confused about it.  Here's why.

One of my core classes was a Film Theory and Analysis class (the other is Ethics and Science-BLEH).  I am not sure why this is a core class, but it is.  I've never taken a film class  before, so I was kind of interested and thought it would be a pretty good experience, or at least a better experience than my Ethics class (again, BLEHHHH).

I did realize before class that there would probably be rated R movies on the syllabus.  This is a problem for me because it is part of my religious and personal standards as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints not to watch rated R movies. (Yes, I've heard the argument that exposure to violence and s.exuality makes a person more in tune with the human condition.  But I think that more often, it just makes you more used to violence, and less careful in making wise moral choices. These two things are something our society should be super concerned about, in my opinion.)

Back to ASU.  While I guessed there would be rated R movies, I thought the number would be limited, and I could find a way to get reliably edited versions or make other arrangements.  It would all work out.

Then I looked at the syllabus.

Every single movie was rated R.  All of them.  All, that is, except for a few which were unrated.  Looking at the movies, I am not sure that this meant the movies were harmless.  There was also one film with a rating I did not even recognize.

Let's just say, I did some research and now know what the rating means.  It means NEVER NEVER NEVER EVER LET A PERSON UNDER THE AGE OF 17 WATCH THIS MOVIE.  If that's not clear enough for you, I will just say that the film was totally banned in several COUNTRIES.

Yeah.  The whole country.  Multiples countries, actually.

So, this story is beginning to be very long-winded, but I will finish soon.  I started looking at options for edited movies.  I looked at subscriptions, TV versions, BYU versions, possible Netflix edited versions, everything.  But there were some movies that I could just not locate, probably because A) they were foreign or not mainstream titles, or B) there was so much bad stuff that no one had attempted to edit them.  One source basically said, "If this movie were edited, nothing would be left but the opening credits and....yeah, that's pretty much it."

I also began to feel uncomfortable with watching edited versions.  How did I know the editing job could be trusted?  Was I still keeping my standards if I allowed someone else to determine that a movie was now acceptable for me to watch?  I was also uncomfortable with the idea of just not watching the movies and trying to struggle through the course by making up crap whenever I was expected to talk about the movies. That isn't honest, and I would be insinuated that I had watched the movie, instead of standing up for what I believed in.  I couldn’t drop the class, because the drop deadline was already over (that came speedy quick!), and it was a core class anyway. I did know one thing--I wouldn't be watching the films.

I emailed the professor, trying to explain my situation in as humble and clear a way as possible.  I did not know how she would react.  After all, we’re not at BYU anymore, Toto.
And can I just say, she was totally lovely about it.  She accepted my standards gracefully, but she also told me I couldn’t participate in the class discussion without watching the full versions of the films that were on the syllabus.  She told me she had talked with the Liberal Studies program manager (eek!) and that he had told me I could drop the class with special permission and take a Reading and Conference class with him, where the material would be up to my own discretion.  This had been a solution I had never considered before! She then bid me farewell.

My first thought:  I was just kicked out of a college class!

My second thought:  I’m so grateful my professor had the decency to kick me out of class!

The second thought probably should have been my first.

Some things  I’ve learned:
A) While ASU is definitely run different than BYU, people are willing to work with you.  I appreciate that immensely.
B) It is totally worth it to lose credit for classwork you have already completed if it benefits you in other awesome ways.  Sunk cost, my friends, sunk cost.
C) My other class is with the same professor.  It is about Ethics.  I could not have demonstrated my opinion on ethics any more clearly than I already have.

Okay, long-winded post and pointless story over.  It feels weird and good to be back in school again.


  1. Awesome post, fellow ASU student! I'm proud of you for sticking to your beliefs, and I'm shocked that ASU responded the way they did.

    Did you ever think you'd be a Devil? Or going to school at the same time that I am? I am finding it so intriguing and more time consuming than I thought, especially with this wedding coming up.

    Speaking of wedding, email me your address so I can send you an announcement.

  2. You're awesome. :) And I can't believe every single movie was rated R or worse! Craziness... Anywho, good job standing up for your standards. I'm so glad they were able to find another class for you! :)

  3. Heather, thank you for always being such a good example and gracious person. It's a good story to tell your kids one day. Love you!

  4. That's cool. Way to stick to your guns! When I was a mother's helper in New York the mother said she'd especially need me for Saturdays and Sundays. When I was finally brave enough to say we didn't believe in working Sundays, she said, "Oh, that's fine--you can have Sunday as your day off then." 'Twas heaven. Susan Andersen