By Rosemin Nathoo
The verdict is in! As many of you know, the first "Yes" and "No" emails have been sent out over the past few days. With 229 submissions, an acceptance rate under 30%, and far more eligible papers than we could accept, we figured that you guys may want to know a little more about our vetting process.
You should know that the vetting committee is a diverse group of about 20 of your peers. This means that we are undergraduate English students at BU, and that we critically evaluate your papers from this standpoint. Though we use a careful rubric and a double-blind system, our perspective is quite different than, say, your professors'. In fact, I've found that we're often even harsher.
The first round is when we are as strictly objective as possible. It is a double (usually triple) blind process where at least two different reviewers read each paper thoroughly and evaluate whether it meets the qualifications of a QUEUC essay. Qualities on our rubric include mechanics, structure, analysis, use of primary and secondary sources, length, and (most importantly, in my opinion) originality.
Then comes the fun part. After Round 1 this year, we found 111 solidly eligible papers - all voted "yes" by their group of reviewers - that's 48%. That's far too many! We had to narrow down to 65 papers - which is where our subjective tastes, our emotions, and our visions for QUEUC came into play. Every year, we narrow down the papers and make our panels during an eight-hour vetting bonanza. Each individual vetter came in this year with their favourite papers ranked from one to about six. From here, we started around the table. Each vetter presented their first pick to the whole committee, agreed or argued with their teammates, and made a decision. Then we went around the table again with the twos, the threes, etc… until we had filled all the spaces. Finally, we got punny, and sorted our very favourite papers into panels. To me (biased, as a very nerdy vetting coordinator), this is where the conference is made.
The significance of this subjective choosing of our favourite papers is pretty interesting. At this point, the papers that get through the final vetting are not necessarily the most objectively pleasing papers, with perfect grammar and structure. The papers that get through are those that truly make an impact on us, your fellow undergrads, for whatever reason. We are not robots; we read with our own tastes and experiences. We haven't read all the texts you are discussing. But we know QUEUC, and we visualise the conference as we read. This is where factors like originality come into play. This is where your personal style, your heart, and your passion comes into play. And I believe that this is how the passion gets into QUEUC (there is a heck of a lot of it, believe me). We're English students, after all; we're emotional language-lovers. You know us; you are us. This is what it means to be vetted by a jury of your peers.
If you've been accepted, congratulations! Because space is so limited, we only accept our absolute favourites. If you are not presenting a paper this year, remember that over forty qualified papers had to be, regretfully, vetted out, and this in the most subjective part of our process. Try again next year; if you're very passionate about your paper, check the qualifications again, edit, and submit it next year. You never know. And if you can make it in March anyway, be sure to come join the conversation.