‘Has everyone done the seminar reading?’ not actually rhetorical question

‘They ask too much of us, they really do.’

The University of Bristol has released a statement today assuring students that the opening refrain of most seminars, ‘Has everyone done the reading?’, is actually a genuine query to which tutors expect an answer.

The clarification came after a slew of students complained about asinine questions from tutors, including ‘I take it you’re all well underway with your essay?’, ‘why didn’t you attend the seminar last week?’, and ‘why isn’t the sound working on this YouTube link?’.

The answer to these is, most commonly, ‘no’, ‘I was hungover but pretended I had an urgent family disaster’, and ‘you’re using Windows so I actually don’t know’.

The difference between primary and secondary reading has been debated by students for eons, but it is a generally held belief that it is more a case of ‘reading that I probably won’t do’ and ‘reading that I definitely won’t do’. All that is set to change though in the coming weeks after the University’s troubling clarification.

‘I really am shocked by such an unexpected change in University policy,’ explained a stunned bystander outside the St Michael’s Hill Parsons cafe after the announcement was made, ‘it’s gonna completely change the flavour of seminars. Instead of a general mumble in agreement followed by fifty minutes of awkward paper shuffling, I’m now expected to contribute. What’s that gonna lead to, challenging the viewpoints of my peers and contributing to their overall education whilst having my own beliefs scrutinised? I’ve never heard such a preposterous idea. What are they gunna suggest next, that students actually attend lectures?’

‘The notion of reading in our free time is frankly ridiculous. They ask too much of us, they really do. Where am I gunna find the time to read? After my three day weekend it’s Tuesday which means FIFA all day as it’s Champions League in the evening, Wednesday is sports so absolutely no work, Thursday I’m hungover after sports night and then it’s Friday which as everyone knows is the student Sabbath. The LadBible says so, so it’s pretty much scripture.’

‘It’s a weird one cos now I’ll actually listen to what people have to say after I ask them about the seminar reading. Usually it’s like asking how someone’s weekend was, I could probably guess the answer – and I don’t care anyway. At least now we might be able to have a little pre-seminar debate on the failings of Descartes’ understanding of reason.’

Ed Strang

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