College Cracks Down on Overused Punctuation

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by Brody K. Truce
Senior Staff Writer

"We intend to set the national benchmark for proper and gratuitous use of the interrobang," said the president of Fountain Hills College in a recent keynote address.

We were receiving a lot of complaints from faculty about students using too many exclamation points and question marks,” said David Herrera, Vice Provost of Academic Affairs. The complaints led to a joint investigation launched by Academic Affairs and the college’s IT department. The findings were astounding.

During the 2009 academic year, we found that students, faculty and administrators had used over 2.9 million exclamation points and nearly 1.8 million question marks,” said Herrera. But the flagrant use of punctuation was not limited to students; faculty and administrators were also guilty of overuse, with administrators using nearly twice as much punctuation as faculty and students combined. As a result, administrators are now required to include punctuation in their annual budgets.

Nobody is going to make a change unless they feel it in their purse,” said Herrera. Beginning in January, Fountain Hills College administrators will be awarded an allotment of punctuation each year. Once exhausted, they will be able to purchase additional exclamation points and question marks at punctuation kiosks conveniently located around campus.

Campus officials are also promoting the use of the interrobang, a virtually unused form of punctuation that combines a question mark and an exclamation point. “There isn’t an interrobang key on the keyboard, so people need to open their Unicode symbols to insert one. Our hope is that this will promote awareness about use of punctuation rather than just mindlessly keying in exclamation points.”

Many administrators expressed outrage at the new policy. Joanie Carmichael, Secretary for Liberal Arts Studies, voiced the following via email earlier this week:

Why in the world would anyone care about what punctuation I use????? THIS IS RIDICULOUS!!!!!!!!!! And what the hell is an interrobang??? It isn’t even on my keyboard!!!”

Fountain Hills College is reportedly also looking into excessive use of capital letters for next year’s campus policy handbook.