All posts tagged: minority

Becoming the Killjoy: Confronting Academic Spaces

Finishing up my final semester at University of Wyoming’s MFA felt tumultuous, though I suppose it couldn’t have ended any other way. Many faculty seemed to be leaving UW amidst the school’s large-scale budgeting overhaul due to the collapse of Wyoming’s coal industry last year, nothing new for the state considering its legacy of booms and busts. A new drama was rising afresh within the program as students learned of the manner in which beloved faculty member, Rattawut Lapcharoensap, had been terminated. Further, this was all happening against the backdrop of macro and micro struggles. Each week was some new round of messy political theatre, and meanwhile my friends and I were going through own crises, doing what we could to find moments together to fight through the gloom. After my thesis defense, one of my committee members gave me a letter that contained everything I needed to hear at the end of this stricken road. Even now, I’m holding the letter, reading through it again and finding myself wrecked with the sharp joy of …

Contractual Community: Minority Students’ Place in the Creative Writing Program

Image: Conal Gallagher A lot has happened since the events of last semester as detailed here. I thought about what it might look like for me to give an update on promises given, what has improved, what hasn’t. And yet, I feel like it’d be unnecessary, in a sense, to give another somewhat in-depth barometric of things overall. A problem had been pointed out, namely the program’s inadequate approach, specifically under the helm of the current director, Jeff Lockwood, to address issues uniquely relevant to minority students. A call had been made and had been heard. Anymore expended emotional and intellectual energies, other than acting for the sake of my own survival if necessary, would be undue labor on my part, at least in my view. Then, there’s simply the matter of our program’s change in directors starting next year, from Jeff Lockwood to Brad Watson. So rather than go in that direction, I thought I would discuss a topic endemic to the creative writing program generally: problems with the notion of “community.” (Although, if …

Challenging the Whiteness of MFA Programs: A Year in Confrontations at UW

Image: Rene Mensen 1: UW vs. POC Last weekend, our program held its annual recruitment weekend, which means that a bunch of acceptees were flown out here to Laramie, on our program’s dime, in order to see for themselves what the town and program are all about. It was lovely meeting the few prospective students that I did, and I’m eager to hear, once acceptances are all squared away, who will be our new incoming cohort for next year. In some ways, I’m sure these potential newcomers received a fair impression of what life is like in the program as well as in the town. In other ways, not quite. (Of course, I didn’t attempt to catalog exhaustive testimonies on this, so forgive me, members of my cohort, if this assertion feels inaccurate.) Bubbling beneath the falsely serene surface of the University of Wyoming’s MFA program is a tension, common to most MFAs, between its minority students and the “apolitical” culture that, while in and of itself is not a crime or aggression, usually results …