Nestled between Santa Rosa and the MultiCultural Center is a run down green building I call home. The College of Creative Studies boasts its advanced undergraduate program from the oldest building on campus, a building that acted as a commissary during World War II when the campus was still a military base. No matter how many coats of paint the UC decides to slap onto the rickety wooden building, it still won’t change the leaky roofs in the damp classrooms. When it rains, we plop a bucket on the desk to catch the drops falling through the roof – advanced, huh? There is nothing I love more than riding my bike to class in the rain, only to be rained on in class as well.
Because CCS doesn’t actively advertise its program, I’m not surprised at the confusion surrounding our majors. I’m also not surprised most people haven’t taken the time to acknowledge our hideous green building. I’ve heard people call CCS everything from the College of Resource Students to the College of Cut and Paste to “that building full of pretentious assholes.” Most notably CCS seems to be known for its oddly-dressed art kids, the bizarre art projects showcased on the lawn and that the building itself houses some sort of secret cult rituals every Wednesday at four during the highly ineffective and still-so-mandatory literature symposium. CCS requires six-full quarters of this one-unit class. Once a week, the younger CCS students are herded into the Old Little Theatre – also known as the ugly red building next to the ugly green one – and forced to listen to half-authors read things no one cares about.
Don’t get me wrong, I really appreciate everything CCS has offered me: free copying, a key to the building, the opportunity to teach a student colloquium, an assigned faculty advisor and access to plenty of creative writing workshops. For those of you who have looked to any kind of creative writing in the English department, you know the search is rough – the English department is highly discouraged from teaching creative writing, so at the very least, CCS maintains alternatives. The benefit of skipping almost all the bullshit general College of Letters & Science requirements, combined with the possibility of evading classes requiring sections, mostly makes my time at CCS worthwhile. Finding entire wedding cakes in CCS’s main office pretty much tips the scale – odd as we are, we do enjoy sampling free blueberry-lemon wedding cake. As much fun as it is filling out comment cards about cakes, I obviously have my problems with the program as well.
In addition to being surrounded by the same group of similarly pretentious people for four years, I constantly put up with smirks and snide remarks from people who truly believe my program, my major and my almost-finished degree to be utterly useless.
As for CCS’s no-grades-in-lieu-of-units policy, personally, I find it slightly unmotivating. Grades let you know where you stand, right? When real letter grades replaced the Outstanding, Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory grade scale in the fourth grade, I was ecstatic. Sometimes I feel as if I’ve moved back in time and am only now striving for the “S+” instead of the sixteen-points a real letter “A” adds to my grade-point average.
The CCS Literature program, which accounts for a third of the entire CCS program, is limited to two full-time staff. The other, smaller CCS programs, such as Art and Physics, seem not only better staffed but funded better as well. Our classes are never posted till what seems like hours before pass times begin, and taking classes with the same core group of people can be exhausting – especially when self-importance and pomposity enter the classroom dynamic. Taking core literature classes with insufferable people is one thing… taking creative writing workshops with insufferable people is another. I can’t count the number of times I’ve drawn a thick red line through the terms “abyss” and “void.”
That being said, I do encourage non-CCS students to take CCS classes. The classes are special, though some claim the “specialness” to be more in the realm of “the short bus” special. Whether you do take a class or not is up to you. But should you choose to, remember that regardless of your college, your program or your major, there will never be an acceptable time to use the phrase ” through the dark void abyss…” Ever.