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Doug Clark: Switch to semesters strokes ego of avid Eagle

Today I’m giving a rare “hats off” salute to Washington lawmakers for taking a break from screwing over taxpayers to officially honor Eastern Washington University, my alma mater, on our recent national football championship.

As my astute colleague, Jim Camden, reported the other day:

“Members of the team held the NCAA trophy high and stood with EWU President Rodolfo Arevalo in the Senate and later in the House galleries as both chambers applauded.”


That’s odd. For some reason I wasn’t invited to tag along to Olympia like I was to the Jan. 7 Big Game in Frisco, Texas, as a member of the mighty Eastern band.

Maybe President Arevalo was afraid I’d start blatting my cornet at this event, too.

But putting aside this stinging oversight …

Praising Eastern is the wisest move our Washington wastrels have made since the last time they voted to adjourn and take an extended vacation.

It’s yet another indicator that Eastern – with its bold red turf and cutting-edge, silo-shaped dorms – is on a roll.

And the excitement doesn’t stop at football.

University officials, according to a recent news story, are “working on plans to change from a three-quarter to a two-semester system.”

Now I judge all changes at Eastern through the scientific lens of self-absorption. Or in layman’s terms …

How is this going to affect me?

Example 1 – The school mascot when I was at Eastern was a racially offensive caricature of a Native American called “The Savage.”

Not long after I left the mascot was changed to the Eagle, which was an obvious win-win to anyone except certain sheet-wearing North Idahoans.

The Eagle, as everyone knows, is one of America’s most beloved national symbols. Plus, in a pinch, it tastes like chicken.

Example 2 – I first attended Eastern in 1969 to evade, I mean avoid, being drafted into the Army.

At that time the school was known as Eastern Washington State College.

Then in 1977, the school decided to become Eastern Washington University, which was a considerable upgrade especially when I use the fake, highly educated voice that I’ve learned listening to National Public Radio.

“Where did I go to school? Oh, I went to the Yale of the West Plains. You know, Eastern Washington YOU-niversi-TEEE.”

So what do I think about a switch from quarters to semesters?

Well, on the one hand you can’t beat quarters for sounding numerically impressive.

As in: “Although Doug never followed through with getting his master’s degree in creative writing at EWU, he did get through four or five quarters including a supposedly master’s level class on Mark Twain where this lazy boob of a prof made students watch moldy antique film strips and Hal Holbrook recordings.”

But semesters sound heavier and, you know, more Ivy League.

As in: We’re so proud of our Mary. She just finished up her final semester at Bryn Mawr in Angry Feminist Studies.

Here’s the dealmaker, though.

Semesters are longer than quarters, and you know what that means?

That means I, as a student, would have had even more time to not read Don Quixote, which the World Literature final was based on.

So as a lifetime procrastinator I must say YES to semesters.

It’s great to be an Eagle!

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at