By Mike Citrola
“They’re all dead,” said Dr. Vanessa Meade, professor at Pitt’s Communications department, about her twenty students whose heads exploded.
Meade’s Rhetorical Process class last Wednesday started like any other, but everything changed when she asked the students to simply stop using the phrase “I was gonna say” before their comments in class discussions. “Too many students rely on that phrase to introduce their participatory statements,” Meade recounted. “I never understood that. They raise their hands and, when I call on them, they go, ‘well, I was gonna say,’ and then their idea. Where’s the logic in that? This is literally your first opportunity to say that idea. When else were you going to say it, before I asked the question? You weren’t going to say it; you are about to say it. So I told them that from then on, no one was allowed to precede their comments with ‘I was gonna say.’”
The class continued as usual, until Meade posed a question to the students. “I asked them about the rhetorical effect of dress on the credibility of a speaker. Simple, but nobody would answer. They just stared at me blankly until their heads turned red and then…exploded.” Without the crutch of “I was gonna say,” the students lost the ability to participate in class discussion and effectively process new information. One by one, their heads burst like popcorn kernels, the classroom like a foil pan of Jiffy-Pop, Meade’s question like the flames of a lit gas stove.
“I urged them, ‘just say what you want to say! You don’t have to say that you were going to say it beforehand! Just say it!’ But they didn’t listen, and now they’re gone.”
When asked about the incident, senior communications major Sarah Flum said, “I was just gonna say that I think this is a total tragedy and I feel really bad for everyone involved.”