Irony Abounds at Mizzou

By Pollack, Joe | St. Louis Journalism Review, December 2004 | Go to article overview

Irony Abounds at Mizzou


Pollack, Joe, St. Louis Journalism Review


When I was a student at the University of Missouri, somewhere around the dawn of civilization, I would sit with friends at the Shack, munching the 10-cent sandwiches (liverwurst on rye) and drinking 11-cent, 3.2 beer. From time to time, in an idle moment, I would search the catalog, looking for courses that offered inspiration and/or interest, in that order

I never saw one, in any department, that offered to teach about irony, though someone once told me that in one of the caves under the White Campus, one of the Ag schools had classes in horseshoe building, fitting and management.

Irony, of course, was built right in, but it wasn't the irony I was seeking.

It was years later, when I read Bruce Jay Friedman's "A Mother's Kisses," set in Columbia, that I found irony, and I guess my classmate discovered it somewhere, perhaps on the lawn of his Phi Sigma Delta fraternity house.

Today, however, Columbia is swathed in irony, flooded with irony, embarrassed by the story of the poor little rich girl who bought homework and the rich little basketball coach who sang siren songs to players.

As an alum, my gorge rose when I learned that my alma mater was going to put the name of a college coed on its new basketball arena. As if the honoree was a rock star or a soccer player, she used only one name--the Paige Arena. Of course, her parents--daughter and son-in-law of the Wal-Mart fortunes--paid $25 million for it. But for the university, or any university, to allow the name of a college co-ed to go on the front of a building is an appalling case of greed.

Besides, she was not even a co-ed at Mizzou, but is (or was) a student at the University of Southern California, a school whose initials often are said to stand for the University of Spoiled Children.

When ABC broke the story that Paige Laurie had paid her roommate some $20,000 over three years to write term papers--and do a little laundry on the side, but not too much starch in the skivvies, please--I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Given the magic of e-mail, the author did not have to attend class, of course--Paige provided the assignments and the books. Paige apparently went to class, and one of her instructors gave a good grade to a paper and appended a note that pointed out that the paper was far better than her class participation. …

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