I’ve written a couple of posts in the past few days that attempt to address negative–or at least less-positive–aspects of the MAPH program. Because I don’t want to be one of those people that just rants on the internet without attempting to do their part to fix the problem, I have also attempted to speak to those in positions to address these concerns over my nine months in the program. Sadly, in general the response that I have received during these meetings has most often been either pats on the head (e.g. grading in the Foundation’s Course, oppressive hand-holding during thesis writing, etc.) or assurances that I am the very first person to be bothered by this or that issue (e.g. Master’s hoods, lack of pedagogical scaffolding for Analytical Expositions). On various occasions I have also attempted to post less-than-wholly-congratulatory comments at the official University sponsored blogs, but in each case–if a comment was anything less than completely complimentary of the program–it was never allowed to appear on the website.
I don’t find the censorship of the “official” MAPH pages to be surprising. Certainly, if an institution wishes to communicate with the public on pages that it commissions and maintains with its own finances, then it has any and all rights to sign-off on or some times censure what sentiments appear on those blogs. However, when it asks the public to respond with “comments,” the implication for all who read those blogs is that the pages allow for a dialogue between the officially sanctioned press-releases of the University and concerned student and alumni responses to the same. When a website implies a dialogue, but silently censors dissenting views they are simultaneously appealing to the persuasive power of free and open communication to further their own rhetorical agenda while preventing any such real dialogue from occurring. In a word, they are “lying.”
Now, Maphmatically Yours was created to provide a source of unofficial information about the MAPH program, its resources, and its students so that potential students could make informed decisions when choosing to accept or deny a MAPH letter. The vast majority of information on this blog has been positive about the program, boasting of the wealth of opportunities it provides, and extremely positive about the quality of students that contribute to the experience I have had of it. So, when these less positive posts occur, their purpose is not to reverse all that praise so much as to suggest that with all the MAPH has done right, it owes it to itself, its alumni, and its prospective students to address these remaining faults.
If the series “Why this is Here” was all about the positive reasons for the existence of what I’ve termed “The Great MAPHmatically Yours Experiment” then this post is slipped in among a flurry of “final posts” in order to acknowledge that as fantastic as UChicago’s MAPH program is and as wonderful as all the MAPHstaff appear to be, this is not the perfect program that the official documents tell you it is–of course no program ever is. Let this little bit of shadow only serve to highlight how bright and glorious is the light of MAPH–but don’t let that 6,o00 watt “official” floodlight blind you–as it has at least some of the administration–to the program’s shortcomings.