Declining by Degrees

The documentary, Declining by Degrees, focuses on how the higher education system may be declining and how certain college students and professors are dealing with it. It stresses the importance of a college education and acknowledges that institutions are focusing less on education and more on other aspects of college life, for example sports. It does not only focus on negatives, but also some of the positive feedback students are receiving from college. The documentary interviews several students in college and assesses different parts of their experience such as their work load, how often they study, how often they party, and numerous others. They also interview professors, asking them about their class sizes and the involvement of their students.

I thought this portion of the documentary was very accurate, however, I do not think that some of it applies to Lenoir Rhyne because of the size of our school. I did not identify with any of the students that were being interviewed because I have had a fairly heavy work load since I have attended Lenoir Rhyne. All of my classes are very small compared to bigger universities and the professors can easily get to know you and help you. I thought it was interesting that the documentary brought up high school as a factor and I definitely agree. I believe that high schools have declined academically and ultimately caused some colleges to do so as well.

In Catherine Mitchell’s “The Sorority Body-Image Problem”, she describes the pressure of a college junior to make the decision to join a sorority, and the effect it has on her personal life. This UNC Chapel Hill student finds herself at the banquet with a glass of water, tissues, an index card, and an alumna. After debating whether or not to sign her life over to Greek life, she finally decides to sign her name and cries. While experiencing the ropes of Greek life, she starts to be discriminated against by the girls in her sorority because of her weight.

I am not too familiar with Greek life, but I am familiar with the stereotypical ideas surrounding it. In almost every movie the pledges that rush for a sorority go through some type of hazing and are expected to fit into a certain image created by all the members. This passage made me wonder if all Greek systems fall into their stereotypes known to everyone. The big question that I asked myself was why this girl signed her name. This girl’s experience reminds me of the movie House Bunny. House Bunny is about a particular sorority on campus that is about to lose their house because nobody will pledge for them. A former playboy bunny with nowhere to go is accepted in as the sorority house mother, in hopes that she can transform them and help them earn pledges. Ironically, in order to get girls to join, the sorority finds themselves acting just like the other judgmental sororities trying to get rid of them. The girl in the passage expects to be welcomed with support and a sisterhood, but instead is welcomed with discrimination against her image.

Honestly I can’t remember a specific time when my memory of something has differed from someone else’s but I do know that it has happened before during the many times of reminiscing. I did want to write on this topic though, because this was the question I asked in my journal when I read bell hook’s essay in Essays on Writing. I asked myself while I was reading, “Why do we remember things differently from other people who shared the exact same memory?” It is a question that puzzled me throughout reading her article and compelled me to write about it. I suppose we experienced and react to memories differently. The way we perceive what happened in our own memories is based on how it greatly it effected us. Also the importance of the memory could be whether or not we remember it in great detail or barely remember it at all. If it was a day that sticks out to us it may be easier to remember the smaller details as opposed to someone who was only there to witness your experience. Another thing that can stray our memories is how traumatic the event might have been. Some people, in order to put things behind them, block out a certain memory and act as if it never happened.

I decided to write on this topic because of something bell hook had mentioned in her essay. She describes how she would talk with her siblings about memories that came to her while trying to write her autobiography. They would talk about these incidents and realized that the little details were altered in some way for all of them. Like I mentioned in my free write assignment above, this experience she had reminiscing interested me which made me want to write about it.