Assistant VP Burgwell Howard pilots change in official Northwestern comma policy

By Chron Burgundy

Grammar SchoolNorthwestern likes to make its summers worth more than the cat-naps that the rest of us put them to. This past summer quarter, administration has made changes large and small in everything from our never-ending campus construction all the way to where it’s appropriate to stash a comma.

“It’s, really, a tribute,” said Howard, who only agreed to be interviewed by email, “to the, freedom, power, and rights, of the student, to be able to write, however they want.”

Howard pointed out that under the new regulations, even the greeting of his letter gave him more freedom of choice than he has experienced in the academic world since graduating kindergarten. 

“I could have said ‘Hello, Northwestern students,’ or ‘Hello Northwestern students,’ or even ‘Hello Northwestern, students,’” Howard wrote. “It’s just limitless, limitless, freedom.”

Not all of Northwestern applauds the change, however. A spokesman from the Medill School of Journalism stated that despite this new policy, Medill continues to enforce strict standards of grammatical excellence under pain of the Medill F. In particular, the school stands by its vow to eliminate the Oxford comma from the face of the earth.

“Journalists simply do not use the Oxford Comma,” stressed Medill representative William A. Cunning-Lindquist. “Whatever the situation, it simply isn’t done. Ever.”

Lindquist offered no further comment on behalf of the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications.

Other more supportive voices view the administration’s decision as a step in the right direction, such as Jonathan Watson, Professor of Third Grade English at Evanston Township High School.

“I think that the administration looked at the rollicking success of Weird Al Yankovic’s song ‘Word Crimes,’ and thought they’d jump on the wagon before it left the station,” said Watson. “I think they also wanted to show that they are very supportive of diversity, both in their student body but also in how that student body represents itself on paper. I applaud that.” He also mentioned that he is currently consulting with the university to bring such a change to his own school.

“It’s elementary really,” said Watson.

University officials say that a tenured position for Yankovic in the Bienen School of Music is still under consideration.

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