By: Winona Young, Staff Writer
Dear SFU prof,
When I walked into my prof’s office hours, he recited Dr. Seuss to me. Mid-sentence. With no prologue at all. Now I know for a fact that reciting children’s literature is not in his job description, or hell, even his field of study, but it’s fine. Without a doubt, to this day, that prof remains one of my favourite profs.
At SFU, on its teetering mountain top filled with students looking downward in the halls as they make a beeline for the bus loops, it was hard to find any chances to talk to anyone. Yes, there’d be days where I saw my friends, but SFU is such a big campus that I rarely shared any classes with them.
As a student, I felt a little lonely being one of several people in a 200+ lecture, and one of the few willing to speak up. I came from a high school that pushed kids day in and day out to speak up (read: do Socratic Seminars every other week). As I transitioned from seeing my friends on a daily basis and hearing other people talk in classes to SFU’s commuter campus, my world got quiet — I got quiet… and that scared me.
But my profs had to speak every day – and God, did they like to talk. Luckily for them, I’m what many people would call a “keener.” So I braved the trek to their office for office hours, like I often did, hoping that my visit would be repaid in high Canvas grades and, more importantly, end my desperate search to find the Mr. Miyagi to my Danny.
What I found instead was a zany communications prof who interrupted me during my proposal about my satire on the neoliberalism and the commodification of feminism with the phrase, “Star-belly sneetches.”
I responded as eloquently as any undergrad could. I paused and replied with “???”
Without missing a beat, the prof continued his recitation: “Now, the Star-Belly Sneetches / Had bellies with stars. / The Plain-Belly Sneetches / Had none upon thars,” he finished with a nod.
Still confused to the point of intrigue, I watched as my prof, seemingly possessed by the ghost of Dr. Seuss, began digging through his shelves for the book. Then, when he couldn’t find it, he searched online for the entire PDF. Once he’d procured a copy of the children’s book, he promptly narrated the entirety of The Star Bellied-Sneetches to me, illustrations and all.
I was speechless. When he finished his impromptu storytime, he noted that, interesting fact, my satirization of neoliberalism could be a loose model of Sneetches. He spent the next twenty minutes bluntly picking apart my idea, which gave me about as much intellectual whiplash as one could imagine.
And I loved it.
I loved my prof’s zaniness. I adored that even with all the propriety of academia, it didn’t stop him from reciting children’s literature on that grey Tuesday afternoon.
There was never a dull moment during this prof’s office hours. Even with his occasional tangents, he would never hesitate to give me a critical note, push me to do better, or promote greater understanding of the course content.
Long after I finish my degree, I know I’ll still look back on my university experience with fond memories of those office hours, which were more impactful than any lecture.
To the professor, who shall remain nameless, thank you for the critique, the wisdom, and for never shutting up — truly.
With love and a newfound appreciation for Dr. Seuss,