Need Not Apply

“It may be vanity on my part … but I have a fairly high opinion of the two pieces that I sent in.” A 68-year-old aspiring writer has accused the Iowa Writers’ Workshop of age discrimination, reports The Los Angeles Times. In his complaint, Dan Thomson cites “statistics from the program that reveal that, in the last five years, just over 100 would-be graduate students over the age of 50 applied to the program, but none made the cut.” Doesn’t he know you don’t need an MFA, anyway?

is social media editor at The Millions. She lives in Brooklyn where she's currently working on her first novel. Find her online @kirstinbutler, and of course, on The Millions‘ feeds.

One comment:

  1. It’s true, you don’t.

    I’m guessing the university will try to settle the case rather than go to court, but there’s a good chance that this guy, whose writing demonstrates amply why he didn’t get in, will battle on.

    What’s interesting to me is that nobody seems to have looked at the numbers and said, well, yeah, on the face of it, it’s not surprising that no over-50s have gotten in in the last 5 years. It’s a hugely competitive program, only 3% or so of the applicants get in — I think it’s 130 over that span — and over-50s make up a tiny proportion of the applicant pool. As you’d expect in a grad-school program.

    Some years ago Jim Galvin wondered aloud somewhat bitterly whether Faulkner would get in now, and that strikes me as a more serious kind of question. But then Faulkner didn’t bother with an MFA. Didn’t bother with any degree.

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