by W.S. Winslow
BIG SUR, CALIFORNIA – After over a decade as an obscure local institution with a reputation for innovation on the fringe, Big Sur University has again risen to prominence in higher education.
It’s been over forty years since Big Sur’s regents bowed to student pressure and did away with grades, exams and the core curriculum. Starting in 1985 only student-designed multidisciplinary majors were allowed, then in 1998 regular classes were eliminated. Eventually, majors and degrees were abolished altogether. Now, having done away with virtually every aspect of traditional education, BSU’s regents, in response to pressure from a loose coalition of students and faculty, are jettisoning the last vestige of traditional education; they are renaming the school – with no name at all.
A recent press announcement states, “Big Sur University has, from its inception, been a leader in academic innovation and non-conformity. In that spirit, the cooperative learning community previously known as Big Sur University will immediately be identified only by a non-linguistic glyph. Recognizing the challenge this poses in conversation, we will use the words ‘the community’ when a traditional linguistic identifier is required.”
On campus, twenty-seven year old Hemo Jarndice, who first proposed the change, says pursuing his interest in bong logic (a hybrid of philosophy and psychedelic studies), over a nine-year period would only have been possible at BSU. He notes, “We totally avoid labels here and, like, one day it just came to me that as a community we were evolving in a direction that was way more noumenaic than phenomenological and I thought, we’re like a glyph, and that’s how it started.”
Shenandoah Murphy, a fifth year musical nursing student, adds, “When I tried to combine healing people with my tuba playing other schools I said I was crazy. I mean, it’s called an operating theater, right? But here they told me to go for it and even encouraged me to study the recorder and metaphysics. No labels, no boundaries. That’s why I’m here, so I think the glyph is perfect.”
Though the change seems generally popular, there are naysayers. When asked, a regent who preferred to remain anonymous sighed and noted, “Well, after they finish here, it’s not like these kids will ever be able to get a real job anyway. With no degree, skills or discernible major, what difference does it make whether they put down a school name or a scribble on an application? It’s not like street mimes or landscaping companies have rigid standards, you know.”