NORTHFIELD, MN—Depending on where each Carl was calling from, it was a rainy, sunny, overcast, stormy, and partly cloudy Thursday when President Steven Poskanzer delivered the shocking news that Carleton would be taking on what many of its peer institutions see as an insurmountable task: facilitating its 527 courses purely through the United States Postal Service.
“The rumors surrounding a more creative approach to fall term are true,” affirmed President Poskanzer. “After numerous discussions at various Tuesday Group meetings, we have elected to begin transitioning away from Zoom in favor of our country’s storied Postal Service.”
PE 147: Introduction to Fencing instructor Inigo Montoya feels strongly about the change. “Interaction between students is vital to the sport of fencing; that’s why Zoom was the optimal educational environment.” However, Montoya remains confident that this new fall term will be just as informative as traditional Zoom classes have been. “While a by-mail fall term will not allow for the same level of interpersonal communication provided by Zoom, I eagerly await the challenge of simulating an enlightening fencing experience through the USPS.”
Even though the Carleton faculty are keen on the idea of a by-mail fall term, many Carleton students are concerned they will not receive the same quality of education as they do through Zoom. Psychology major Evelyn Strauss argues, “The environment in which one takes classes matters. How am I supposed to learn about child development if I can’t hear my classmates’ younger siblings yelling in the background of class?”
President Poskanzer acknowledged the concerns of students, emphasizing that the transition to a by-mail fall term will take the cooperation of students, faculty, and staff. “If we all come together this fall, Carleton will exponentially reduce its risk of electronically transmitting the coronavirus while simultaneously supporting our nation’s most important independent agency, the United States Postal Service.” Stevie P. concluded his Thursday call by confirming, “Have you guys seen that John Oliver episode on them? No? You really should–very enlightening. This project is really a win-win, if you think about it.”
Rita Holmstead, president of the INKLINGS Calligraphy Club, is frustrated but not disillusioned. “Am I going to miss hanging out with my friends in pixelated Zoom calls? Of course. Will fall term be different without the chance to nervously laugh about how our internet connections are unstable because all we can afford is a DLS connection installed in 2007? Absolutely. However, it’s important that we recognize the advantages of a by-mail fall term.” Holmstead assures, “I, for one, am excited to have the chance to make four copies of a handwritten response for each student in my small discussion group. This is an opportunity for all of us to get in touch with our aesthetic writing styles: handwriting is the future.”
While junior Trevor Perkins liked the intimate conversations that were supported by Zoom, he recognizes that Zoom is an imperfect classroom medium. “Beyond the threat of spreading coronavirus online, Zoom classes put less privileged students at an even greater disadvantage. More economically privileged students are less likely to have to worry about a strong internet connection, whereas access to class is a lot more precarious for students who come from less privileged backgrounds.”
Trevor welcomes the idea of a by-mail fall term. “We have finally found a medium impervious to the inequalities faced by Carleton students. Every Carl will be able to deliver and receive messages through the United States Postal Service. I mean, it’s not like there are private, faster versions of the mail that could provide an advantage to the more privileged students who can afford it.”