Communication graduate left searching for the “s” she swears was at the end of her major’s name

The woes of a communication(s?) graduate

Photo: Victoria Loveland / Pixabay

By: Alex Masse, SFU Student

This year hasn’t been great for anyone. Students have online schooling to dread, and graduates are braving the “new normal” in search of work. Most of them, however, have one particular advantage: they actually know what their major is called.

Sure, graduates of 2020 probably didn’t imagine they’d receive their degree in remotely-delivered celebration boxes, but they knew what was on the paper inside. They knew what would go on their resumes, their LinkedIn profiles, their Facebook accounts. 

This was not the case for Marsha Harold, graduate of the department of Communication, who recently sat down with The Peak for an interview to discuss her experiences. 

“I’m a comms grad,” she told me during her utterly confusing introduction. “But technically, I’m a comm grad, aren’t I?” 

And technically, she would be. The School of Communication has always been communication — singular. So why is it that so many SFU students, some even majoring in communication, call it communications? 

“It’s ironic,” Harold said, laughing in a way that made me worry for her mental wellbeing. “The major is all about, well, communicating. We look at, like, mediums, and how mediums help you clearly get ideas across. But this isn’t a clear idea. This is a messy idea. The only way it’d be funnier is if this were, like, linguistics.” 

Harold brought out her degree and, sure enough, it read that she had graduated as a communication major. 

“At first I thought it was because I transferred here from Kwantlen,” she continued. “Over there, it’s called communications. Weird, huh?” 

Before I could agree, she continued.

“To make matters stranger, Kwantlen’s abbreviation for Communications courses was COMM. So I took COMM 1100 and such. Sidenote, why do they use four digits over there for their courses? Is it to compensate?” 

I shrugged. Probably to compensate, yes. 

“Anyways,” Harold went on, “you know what’s downright bizarre? The course abbreviation for SFU’s communication classes, and that’s communication — singular — is CMNS.” Again, she shoved her degree forward. “C-M-N-S. Ssss. Where’s the “s” here, though? Why is there an “s” in the abbreviation, when there’s none in Communication?” 

I didn’t have time to get any theories in. She was on a roll, spit flying with all these “s” sounds.

“I think it’s a coverup,” Harold said in a hushed tone. “Some kind of scheme. While all my peers were doing joint majors and co-ops, y’know, securing their careers or whatever, I was figuring out why this had happened.” 

We asked if she had any ideas or leads. 

“I bet it’s an algorithm thing,” she told us, her eyes alight. “People only want communication or communications-with-an-S degrees. Not all of us will make it. Someone is trying to keep us unemployed.”

I reminded her about her comment that her communication peers were getting joint majors and doing co-ops successfully. This only made her angry. 

“What about those of us who just wanna coast by on a nice degree and watch TV for homework?” she demanded. “What, do you want me to be an IAT kid, too? You want me to learn programming? Or take the English joint major and write even more essays? That would only get in the way of me working on this.” 

Harold continued insisting that solving this mystery was what she was meant to do. Truthfully, it is puzzling that the course abbreviation is CMNS when the major is communication, but I doubt it’s because of a massive conspiracy. SFU is just like that.

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