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The Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics

ISSN: 2472-7318

This is the email I wanted to write.

Megan McIntyre

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Keywords: campus return, mentions of sexual assault, food insecurity, abortion access, anti-Blackness

Content warning: sexual assault, anti-Blackness

This is the email I wanted to write when I heard about our “return to campus,” our “return to normal”:


How am I supposed to do this when people are dying of COVID by hundreds/thousands every day? When vaccine doses are expiring in the US while huge swaths of the world can’t get access? When I can’t persuade beloved family members to just wear a fucking mask?

When Black and Latino/a/x students are terrified by the growing number of police officers patrolling our campus? When our written commitments to Black Lives remain on our websites but without any evidence in our policy, plans, or procedures? When faculty of color are overburdened and underrepresented at every level of every campus in the country?

When disabled students and faculty are told that the accommodations that made their participation possible last year are “no longer feasible”? When disabled students and faculty are pictured on the banners on campus light poles outside a building without a working accessible door? (“Facilities management and campus police are aware that the accessible door button is broken. We have informed the vendor.”)

When first generation students are once again thrust into an endless maze of opaque requirements and a graveyard of forms?

When the campus food pantry is even more necessary but severely underfunded?

When we still have a sexual assault epidemic on college campuses?

When students, faculty, and staff lack access to basic healthcare? When reproductive care and abortion access are disappearing in huge swaths of the US?

When climate-fueled wildfires rage across the state of California? And Nevada? And Oregon? And Colorado? And the smoke from those fires chokes the Western half of the United States? When climate-fueled hurricanes (spawning tornadoes and massive flash floods) deluge the Eastern half of the US, burying New Orleans and New York City both under a wall of water?

When I’m just so broken? So tired? So sad? But so desperate to connect with students and talk to them about their writing and affirm the beauty of their language? To tell them they’re smart. And kind. And can change the world. (But what if they can’t? Why should they have to?)

Any direction on how to handle the overwhelming senses of dread and helplessness, the sprinkles of hope often extinguished by the crushing reality of the current moment?




This is the email I did write:

See you Monday.




Megan McIntyre is an Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Composition and Director of the Program in Rhetoric and Composition at the University of Arkansas. She was formerly Writing Program Director at Sonoma State University and the Assistant Director of Dartmouth College's Institute for Writing and Rhetoric. She received her PhD from the University of South Florida in 2015, and her research interests include digital rhetoric and writing, antiracist pedagogy and writing program administration, and postpedagogy. 

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