Good Enough is Not Good Enough

Anthony Harris
Opinions Editor
anthonydeanharris@gmail.com

Ever since I’ve been here, I’ve always had a joke about Morehouse. Any time I had to write something in relation to this school to some other department, I always tried to throw in the word “excellence.” You can never go wrong around here without trying to fit in the word “excellence.” It seems some places, especially proposals that go off to the ivory tower of Gloster Hall, like to see that word as a reminder of a standard we try to hold.

We rarely hold to that standard. A couple of weeks ago, in my article on the failures of the physical plant, I told of our solution to cold weather: space heaters. Our solution to the coldest weather in Atlanta was to get space heaters for everyone as opposed to diligently working to make sure boilers were working as soon as possible. One could surmise this is why the “temporary” boiler over at Clark Atlanta has been a staple for going on two years, but that’s neither here nor there. It works good enough.

For some time in my residence hall, Mays, the solution for a loss of internet was to enter the third floor janitor closet and reset the circuit breaker. Even now, our internet blocks websites that people need, stops us from instant messaging one another (unless we use messengers that function within web browsers, and I can’t even recall the last time my wireless internet worked. But as long as I’m attached to an Ethernet cable, I can use maybe 70% of the internet. That’s probably good enough.

The quality of student here is steadily improving, but not by leaps and bounds. In 2006, the mean SAT score of our student body was 1096. Our average high school GPA was 3.2. For us to claim every NSO that we each represent “two other brothers” who couldn’t be accepted to our “excellent” institution (implying a 33% acceptance rate, something I consider a rather preposterous notion), I guess we’re good enough for those claims.

The structural integrity of our buildings holds us down enough to have class in moderate comfort (as long as we don’t have to endure things like… weather). Most of the resources of our academic buildings keep us functioning. The desks are sturdy despite their age. Some of the smartboards in buildings that don’t rhyme with “smeadership” have the ability to work; we even have some professors in certain departments that are trained to use them. We even have some professors that would want to use them (although, I’ve always had an affinity for chalk). That seems good enough.

Things we do around here will take a while to fix (just find a copy of the February 2002 Master Plan for the college and feel a sense of reassurance), but there are just so many things that we don’t do earnestly. We cannot acquire new technology across the campus without earnestly reforming our infrastructure. We cannot eliminate dozens of professors who fail to make tenure without realizing we cannot hire new professors here with the low wages we pay. We cannot expect to keep the best Black male students from around the world if we refuse to give them the best service (which is why we lost 300 students this semester). Morehouse College must eventually realize “good enough” is not good enough.

Last week, I received a phone call at 8:30 in the morning from Sam Ellison who oversees work study. He was in the office early that morning to get some work done and gave me a call to fix a financial matter of mine. My mind was blown by the mere notion that this was a man who was willing to get work done early in the morning and try to fix things before his colleagues had even started their commute.

In my department, I’m hearing a lot about a professor who’s teaching methods are so dynamic, young men in their twenties are actually excited about Middle English. My business law professor is a man who actually requires people to show up every day and answer questions as opposed to the fables of his predecessor who was rarely here and passed everyone easily. We have maintenance workers on the bottom of the totem pole who have been here years with little raises but work just as diligently as the day they first arrived.

There are people here who do their jobs to the level of excellence that we expect of Morehouse College. There are people here who need not shoulder any of the blame or vitriol I perpetually give in these columns. There are people who work here, attend here, and assist here who see an ideal of this place that we hope to achieve one day. There are people here who give their constant best to this place and far surpass “good enough” as the standard.

The problems of this college reside from those secure in their positions. The problems of this college reside in those who do not realize the legacy before them. The problems of this college reside in those who collect their checks and take two hour lunches. The problems of this college can be solved when we look to Dr. Mary Behrman, Prof. Kenneth Torrence, former director of Housing and Residential Life KN Henry, Sam Ellison, and others of their ilk as examples.

The problems of this college will be solved when our actions meet with our rhetoric of excellence. The problems of this college will be solved when we no longer rest our efforts on that which we find “good enough.” The problems of this college will cease when we cease lowering our standards. The problems of this college shall be no more one day when we look to that Franklinian Renaissance, when we give ourselves new birth and become new creatures, replenishing the light within us and shining brighter than ever before.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How a Decade of Momentum Built and Gave Out

The Line-Up for 2-5-2010

There's Just Something Magical about the Second Saturday of October