College’s BLM essay contest will not mark down entries for faulty grammar

College’s BLM essay contest will not mark down entries for faulty grammar
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Actually the title oversimplifies the matter. According to the website of the Center for Public Policy and Social Research at Central Connecticut State University (CSSU), “submissions will not be judged on traditional literary or grammatical standards.” The operative term in that requirement, I suspect, is traditional. In other words, we’re not in Kansas anymore, grammatically speaking. (RELATED: College writing center declares American English grammar a ‘racist,’ ‘unjust language structure’)

The freedom to write in what used to be dismissed as substandard English (the use of ain’t and similar constructions, lack of subject-verb agreement) is all part of life in the woke new liberated world of American academe.

In 2020 Rutgers University took a step toward mainstreaming once marginalized language with the introduction of “critical grammar.” “This approach,” wrote English Department Chairwoman Rebecca Walkowitz in an email to faculty, “challenges the familiar dogma that writing instruction should limit emphasis on grammar/sentence-level issues so as to not put students from multilingual, non-standard ‘academic’ English backgrounds at a disadvantage.” She added:

Instead, it encourages students to develop a critical awareness of the variety of choices available to them w/regard to micro-level issues in order to empower them.

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Empowerment is also at the core of the CSSU Reflective Writing/Multimedia Contest, the title of which is “Reflect & Empower: What Black Lives Matter Means to Me.” Submissions need to answer one or more of the questions “what do these issues and your experiences related to this movement mean to you,” “how has this movement affected you and those you hold close, as well as your perspective on American society and your expectations for the future,” and “where do you envision this movement will take us as a country”?

Thirty-six prizes in the form of scholarships will be awarded to the best submissions. Entries must be original, but no word on whether neatness counts.

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles is a freelance writer and regular contributor to "Liberty Unyielding."

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