Passive-aggression to be added as minor option

*The Backdoor is a “work” of “fiction” and “humor”

By Noah Foster-Koth

As part of the evolving Gen Ed curriculum, professors at Lewis & Clark College are adding an option for students to minor in passive-aggression. Two of the professors leading this department, Branny McMurdo and John Arrack, hosted an informational meeting last Wednesday with a couple students about this new academic track.

“For many people, it’s very easy to communicate clearly when you’re angry,” McMurdo said. “That’s why around 50 percent of marriages are so successful. But there are also more creative, subtle ways to express anger or disappointment that require a more trained and patient eye to spot.”

“Passive-aggression is about balance,” Arrack said. “When you’re truly in touch with your passive aggressive self, people around you know. Most importantly, the person you’re upset with will know. You want them to know that you’re mad at them. At the same time, you don’t want them to know that you want them to know that you’re mad at them, so you need to learn a couple subtle gestures that make that person uncomfortable and confused, so that you can also brush off if someone else asks you why you’re staring up at the ceiling, or why you’re sighing so much.”

McMurdo offered some techniques that his students had been practicing in their 100-level course, PAG 110: Ghosting a Friend.

“It’s important to have something on your person that you can pretend to be distracted by,” McMurdo said. “That way, you don’t have to make eye contact with them.”

McMurdo advised his students to invest in crocs and Jibbitz (shoe charms).

“Crocs make it easy to pretend to be especially interested in your shoes when you’re sitting across from a friend you’re upset with,” Arrack said. “Remember those shoe charms that you used to put in your crocs as a kid?” Jibbitz, I think my daughter called them? Well, those things are great for this, and they help you stay entertained while you avoid eye contact.”

One student, Indigo Jackson ’20, whispered to the person sitting next to her that passive-aggression courses shouldn’t be taught in college. While Jackson later said that she hadn’t intended for everyone to hear her concerns, McMurdo overheard her and responded to her question.

“I totally respect you for defending such an unpopular opinion,” McMurdo said. “You’re very brave to stick to your point of view. Not many people would be strong enough to take that stance, especially when so many people disagree with you.”

“Many people have expressed their confusion as to why we’re really offering this Major/Minor track,” Arrack added. “To be clear, we think those people have every right to be whatever they want to be, and they’re definitely respectable members of society…But there are also other ways to express anger or disappointment that go on to help our students succeed in professional environments.”

Arrack passive-aggressively expanded on the statement offered by McMurdo.

“We invite anyone who has any questions or concerns about this major to come to our office hours.” However, neither professor stated when their office hours were.

McMurdo then distributed fliers to each of the students and faculty attending the meeting (although they said hadn’t anticipated such a large crowd, so Jackson didn’t get one).

McMurdo closed the meeting by encouraging those present to consider some of the courses they’d posted on WebAdvisor, PAG 110-The digital age of Passive-Aggression and PAG 241- Passive-Aggression in U.S. History.

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