Announcing Nuts & Boalt’s first-ever “Try to Write a Worse Sentence Than Chancellor Birgeneau” Contest! Everyone can play. No skill required. In fact, it’s actively discouraged.
Here’s what we’re trying to top—a sentence from his recent email to the entire UC community about…well, I’m not sure what it’s about. Something about the diverse attainment of diverse diversity:
A five to 10-year initiative for progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion campus-wide has begun with the launch of a strategic planning phase to set specific goals, objectives and resources. This initiative…will focus on creating the sustainable, institutional change necessary to embrace the core values and practices of our University encouraged by the Regents in the UC Statement on Diversity.
The full email, in all its discordant and tortured glory, is reprinted in the comments for those alums fortunate enough to no longer receive administration communication.
The entire email is a sort of Office Space-meets-the-Federal- Register type of rhetorical disaster. I half-expected to see an accompanying award for Achievement in the Field of Excellence. I mean, what the fuck is this thing actually about? I have no clue. And that's after spending 5 minutes of my life investigating that I now desperately wish I had back.
In formulating your own entry for worst possible sentence (from a UC administrator), I encourage you to draw upon personal encounters with terrible, terrible writing—such as sitting in LRW, reading USA Today, or perusing a Souter opinion.
Here’s my entry:
The core focus of the program’s core will be promoting inclusion, discouraging exclusion, and achieving the goals set by the objectives.
There’s actually a great deal to say about the Chancellor’s email—about the gratuitous bureaucratese that paralyzes public institutions; about ‘diversity’ as the mindless panacea for all educational ills; about the totemic figurehead role played by University presidents these days; about the expenditure of taxpayer money on useless and overlapping administrators; about the decline of writing and rhetoric instruction; about the reification of feelings over knowledge as the purpose of higher education—but, honestly, that’s all pretty much said by the Chancellor's sentence itself.
PS – Dean Edley’s wonderfully styled, detailed, and slightly subversive emails—one of which is reprinted in the thread below (I mean, come on, it’s got a joke about commodities prices in the third sentence—how cool is that?)—seem to be the exception that proves the rule.