Commonplace 11

Part 1)

This is a sign which appears on the outside door of a bathroom located on American University’s campus. (From what Professor Hoskins has told the class, this bathroom is located in an area where many faculty and visiting benefactors/ alumni conduct business). The specific location of this sign is an indication of the type of audience which AU is trying to reach- and therefore also a direct indication of the message they’re trying to get across. The sign reads clearly, explaining that the bathroom is to be used by everyone, regardless of gender identity. But what does this mean in terms of context and situation? AU is known as a liberal college, and this sign definitely falls in line with that mindset. Gender-neutral bathrooms have been a big topic in the news lately, with various elected officials stating very different viewpoints on the topic. By displaying this sign, AU is not only establishing itself as a socially liberal space, but they are also aligning themselves with politicians and laws that hold the same view. By design, this alignment is simultaneously distancing AU with politicians/ laws that hold opposing views. It would be fair to say that this sign goes far beyond simply defining bathroom use. The appearance of this sign suggests that AU knows those seeing it are aware with the current political and social scene, and anticipate how those people feel. Since this is located in an area where donors and important/ influential people of the AU community engage, it would be accurate to assume that AU is displaying something that not only holds their own views, but also what they anticipate the views of those important people to be.

Part 2)

“Shall property owned by the University System of Georgia and utilized by providers of college and university student housing and other facilities continue to be exempt from taxation to keep costs affordable?”

Root: shall property continue

Key words: University system, college, university, continue, exempt, taxation, affordable

Rhetorical Analysis: As the key words above point out, I think the main takeaway from this sentence is continued taxation exemption upon college to remain affordable. Two huge issues in politics right now are affordable higher education and taxation rates upon high-earning individuals and businesses. This sentence raises a question which could definitely raise quite a bit of debate. However, this sentence is very strategic in its worded. If the last four words were removed (to keep costs affordable), then many peoples’ answer would most likely be very different. Without context, the idea of a person or business avoiding taxes is very unappealing. Yet, the addition of affordability changes the rhetorical situation quite a bit. Suddenly this is no longer a simple “yes” or “no” question. Its also interesting how the sentences contains the word “continued”. This establishes that the university has been practicing this action previously, which adds an element of seniority- the same way firing an established employee is very different than firing a new one. By adding “continued”, the fact that the action existed previously is also brought into question. To end it now would also be challenging the fact that it was ever in place. This question is like the adult version of a child asking their father something like “Can I keep having fun with my friends even though I have to clean my room, because mom said I could?”. The sentence from the Georgia Referendum to amend the State Constitution is establishing the fact that this action has been going on, and it has been accepted, and there’s a decent reason that its been going on.

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