Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Michigan State U: Don’t Say “I Apologize,” It’s A Trigger

By Professor Doom

     Our campuses are bloated with administrators, so many that not only is it a puzzle to those who work on campus what these people actually do, it’s a puzzle to the administrators themselves. They mostly work very hard to justify their jobs, and their efforts manifest in a variety of ways.

      One way is to control or change the language. English has a massive vocabulary, and there are dozens of ways to express even a simple concept with words in this language. So, admin can always justify their jobs by recommending yet another new way to say something. 

       One such change in diction is harmless enough, but decades of having my vocabulary forcibly changed has affected my ability to speak about some concepts which shouldn’t be hard to discuss, and I’ve found myself “offending” people by accidentally using a word that was outlawed years ago, instead of another word meaning the same thing.

       Trouble is, it never ends:

Michigan State University informed student employees to refrain from using terms like "I apologize" and "no problem" and addressing customers with gender-specific “sir or ma’am,” in a mandatory August training.

--emphasis added

     Another way admin justifies their jobs is by calling “mandatory” meetings. If what they say is so important, so revelatory, why must we be forced to listen to it? I digress, perhaps, but I really feel to need to emphasize how unimportant, how useless, so many of these “leaders” are…and they know it, or else they wouldn’t make it mandatory to listen to them.

“Raise your hand if you’ve ever said ‘no problem,’” Ballbach told the employees. “Did you ever think that was a trigger? I say this all the time and never thought that this could be a trigger word. But if I’m saying ‘no problem,’ that’s leading a customer to believe that they could be a problem or they could be an inconvenience to you and we’re just assuring them that they’re not.”

       That…isn’t how the phrase “no problem” is used, as I trust the gentle reader knows. Thing is, these useless staff need to manufacture issues for them to solve. What do you say instead of “no problem”?

     The leaders recommend instead “You’re welcome. It was my pleasure…”

       I grant the replacement sounds nicer, and from a customer service point of view it’s ok, but there is an inherent lie in saying “my pleasure” when asking someone to hand you the appropriate form or whatever. “No problem,” is a faster way of saying the same thing.

       What other kinds of substitutions are recommended? Well instead of “I apologize…” you should say “I am truly sorry…” The latter sure sounds more sincere, but we’re not necessarily talking about a death in the family, perhaps you just handed the guy the wrong form. 

       I remind the gentle reader tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money was spent on administrative time to consider and recommend these changes.

       Instead of “but” you should say “and.” While technically the words are identical in meaning (so that the change is a pointless waste of money), the “but” often indicates some level of contradiction. For example, “He’s a great person, but he does like to swear” and “He’s a great person, and he does like to swear” technically have the same meaning, but the latter could mislead a person (especially a non-native English speaker) that the two qualities are comparable. Changing the language is a step backwards.

       A step that costs thousands of dollars to make.

       “The only thing we can do…” should be replaced by “The best option would be…”? Again, the replacement is technically correct, but adds confusion, since it implies there are at least two other options (“better” would indicate two options), instead of only once choice in any event.

        Whenever we want to be serious about cutting tuition costs, eliminating wide swaths of the administrative caste coming up with this drivel really will be the best option (cutting their pay to adjunct levels would be another option, as would be making their salaries dependent solely upon student contributions based on how much impact the administrator had on education of the students—see how the language works?).

        The beauty of this lunacy is a few years from now, a new batch of admin will come up with new ways to change the words around.

“Not everybody identifies like ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am,’” the facilities manager informed employees.

“I would like to start seeing a culture around MSU where we say… “they”, not “his” or “hers.”’ In addition, asking for a customer’s name is appropriate according to a presentation slide. 

      And of course the “training” has to delve into the gender-confused lunacy so common today. English is somewhat special in that the language isn’t nearly as gendered as English…destroying what little of this that English has actually harms students who are trying to learn other languages. But, who cares about reality, the ideology must be served!

The MSU presentation also included slides depicting a black student holding a sign reading “why is my skin color considered a threat?” a Muslim student grasping a sign claiming “I can cover my body & still be a feminist,” and a female student bearing a sign saying “select your gender,” followed by “male” and “female” options and, further down, “why is my gender not an option?”

      Every year, possibly every semester, scholars are forced to sit and listen to this type of stuff, presented by leaders who do nothing for education but soak up huge sums of student loan money. Anyone wishing to promote scholarship and education on campus must come to the same conclusion: get rid of the student loan money paying for all this crap.



  1. At the start of my teaching career (college level) I was told not to use red ink when grading papers. It was felt that red gave a negative vibe (if you will) since it was used when something was wrong. Therefore when a student saw red ink it made them feel bad about themselves. We were told to use green ink. I called BS. When confronted I explained that green simply becomes the new red and that when students see green ink now, they will feel bad about themselves. This put all admin in a tizzy as they had no reply and i was labeled a trouble maker. I saved my career by using my own children's colored gel pens--a different color every assignment. perhaps I should have written a paper on this idea, had it published, and reaped the accolades for it. After all, the students really liked the different colors--especially the sparkly and scented ones. Higher ed. I taught in higher ed and used sparkly gel pens to save my skin.

    1. Stickers, man! Unicorn stickers. That's what you needed to be using. By the way, a decade ago I would have assumed you were kidding. I know better now.

    2. Heh, a "trouble maker" for pointing out the bleeding obvious.