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The Layup List

On Tuesday last week Lulu Chang ‘15 ran a column in The D entitled Discouragement in Distributives, in which she took to task the College’s system of diffuse course distributives. One paragraph caught my eye:

Because of the compulsory nature of the current methodology and students’ inevitable concern with their GPAs, when students are forced to take a course in an area that would remain otherwise unexplored they tend to look for the easiest way out. It is no secret that a “lay-up list” can be found every term, detailing the courses that will both fulfill a distributive and result in a solid grade without requiring much effort. Rather than instilling an honest and intrinsically motivated desire to learn something new, forcing students to take a Thought, Meaning and Value distributive, for instance, lends an obligatory character to the course that often has the capacity to overshadow the curiosity that should encourage students when choosing their classes. [Emphasis added]

A lay-up list? That was a new one on me. So I set several members of Dartblog’s Baker Tower Irregulars to the task, and it didn’t take them long to find several lists, including one for this term:

LayUp List 13W1.jpg

After each entry, a small notation describes just how little work and attendance are required for a high grade in each course. An example: “Normally offered during soph summer, don’t have to attend class.”

My English 5 prof from the fall of 1975, Don Pease (known to students for a good many decades now as Easy Peasy), made all the lists that I saw. Additionally, it seems that students now keep track of Pease’s many non-sequiturs on a blog. What a lovely way to employ modern technology. In my day, we used to write Pease quotes in the margins of our notebooks for the same purpose, and then we’d share the results after class to general hilarity. Some things never change.

Addendum: Pease chairs the College’s adult education MALS program, about which The D wrote this morning:

Dartmouth’s master’s of arts in liberal studies has received an average of 90 applications a year since 2004, when it accepted about 85 percent of prospective students.


The MALS program experienced a 25 percent decrease in applications last year, which English professor and MALS chair Donald Pease said was likely due to a temporary vacancy in its director position. Besides last year, applications to the school have been fairly constant since 2004.

Pease said the program anticipates a more regular number of applications for its next admission deadline on February 15.

The program recently began increasing its outreach to Graduate Record Examination test-takers who indicate an interest in pursuing studies in the liberal arts.

“We aim to grow to a maximum 250 from 230 current students, but we don’t want to exceed that,” MALS director Wole Ojurongbe said.

With acceptances seemingly given out to anyone with a steady pulse, one really has to wonder about the need for such a program at the College.

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