professor
William Gassaway

Nov 2012

William is very nice and knowledgeable about the field of Western Art, however, his essay preferences unfairly disadvantage students new to the field. I found that before coming to Columbia, most of my classmates attended private schools that exposed them to the canon of Western Art, including how to write about art. I did not go to a private school and had never taken an art class before, but then again, there is no prerequisite for the course anyway. This apparently, didn't matter to William, who often thought my vocabulary wasn't diverse enough to merit high grades on my papers. I was never told that my arguments weren't effective or that my papers lacked proper grammar or structure, but was constantly informed that because I didn't use enough "different words" that my work was subpar. This stylistic preference seemed to be the sole determining factor between an A and a B. Also, I approached William and asked him to explain the concept of symbolism in art to me. I listened to his feedback and even wrote down what he said. I then wrote my essays on the midterm according to this information, and still received a subpar grade. Because of these experiences, I feel William's class privileges those students fortunate enough to attend a private school before coming to Columbia, and leaves the rest of us out in the rain.