Wednesday, September 07, 2005

From the Complaints Division of the Math Department

Dear Freshman:

Thank you very much for contacting us with your concerns about your TA, Mr. Sanjay Kumar. It is feedback such as yours that allows this department to strengthen our core programs in undergraduate education as well as to offer meaningful professional development opportunities for our TAs. I have contacted Mr. Kumar, and we have had a meeting to discuss the issues that you have raised about his foreign accent.

Mr. Kumar is impressed with your linguistic skills at discerning accents. He was born and raised in St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada. He tells me that when he was doing his undergraduate work in Connecticut that people would frequently (and mistakenly) assume that he was from Maine, and he found this frustrating. He admits that although he is a monolingual native speaker of English that he is somewhat embarrassed by this fact; his older sister can speak and understand Hindi, and he now wishes that he had worked harder when studying French in school.

In our discussion, Mr. Kumar and I have come to an agreement as to some steps that he may take to ensure that the class is better able to understand him:
  • Instead of describing what students must do to "get" or "earn" a grade, he will explain what is necessary to "make" a grade.
  • Instead of "collecting" the homework, he will "take up" the homework.
  • He will, as appropriate, refer to the class as "y'all" and "all y'all."
If these changes do not lead to your improved understanding of material presented in the classroom, please contact my office again, and we will work to identify resources on campus that may help you achieve your educational goals.


S. Rudbeckia Hirta,
Unjustified Complaints Division,
Department of Mathematics