That time of year has come again. No, not Spring Break or Lawnparties, but the time when everyone realizes, three days too late, that they missed the deadline to apply for a Creative Writing class… again.
What—You didn’t know?
The deadline for these classes was Monday, April 8, two weeks before course selection, and before many Princeton students have carefully considered which classes they would like to take.
Students who are informed, usually get their information from one stealthy email with a reminder two-thirds of the way down, in ten-point Arial font.
Every student group knows the best ways to get this student population’s attention, through posters, banners, and those unceasing listserv emails. And yet the Creative Writing department seems to be clueless, or at the very least making no effort to inform and include more students.
There is not enough publicity regarding these classes, and even the most artistically-inclined often miss this deadline. But the chief problem is not that there is not enough publicity about the application for these classes, but rather that creative writing classes should not require an application to begin with.
Princeton has always made it clear that it is first and foremost an academic institution. But there is a difference between prioritizing academia over creativity and shutting people out from it.
By putting up barriers to creative classes, Princeton shows its priorities lie in developing its students as scholars, academics, and investors, rather than as artists.
We cannot expect STEM majors to find their inner poet if a level of talent at poetry is required to get into the Introductory Poetry class. The Lewis Center does not make this same mistake with its other classes—anyone can enroll for a Beginning Acting or Painting class. And yet with writing, somehow it is still seen as justifiable to exclude students with nothing more than a basic interest in the discipline.
Many of us already consider ourselves writers and artists and turn our moral good noses up at those who take consulting jobs. Yet we stay quiet as we are accepted into application-only classes in the humanities, as we ourselves benefit from artistic elitism.
Our administration cannot turn its nose up at our ever-tightening social circles when they have entry-level classes only available to the select few.
It is understandable that some classes can only take a limited number of people. But if there is a problem with size and limited space, administration should take this as a sign that more sections are required, not that only the best should be allowed in.
If students are looking for more of a challenge, then Advanced level courses create this space.
This continued creative exclusivity speaks broadly to the stance of the university: we want you to learn everything—but we don’t mind that it’s easier to get into an economics class than a poetry one.