Some possible reasons for believing that MFA rankings are bad and wrong:
- You have an MFA or are otherwise associated with an MFA program (e.g., are employed by one) and you're worried your program won't rank well. I suppose this is a legitimate concern. If your MFA program wasn't previously ranked and now it's showing up dead last or at #72 on some supposedly definitive list, your degree is worth less in the eyes of the world. This is certainly true of me. I went to Emerson and Emerson isn't going to be on anyone's top 10 list. But I don't really give a fuck because I don't structure my life such that anything significant depends on the value of my graduate degree. I'm not trading on it for publications, academic jobs, etc. I'm not saying I'm better than you if your life does depend on the value of your degree, but perhaps it means I can be more rational about a ranking system than you.
Of course, no one who's claiming to be anti-rankings on principle is admitting this as the reason.
- MFA programs aren't like other graduate degree programs. Choosing one is like adopting a kitten. You just have to follow your heart and pick the one that feels most special to you! Ranking MFA programs is like ranking kittens. You can't rank kittens!!! (Or eat them.)
I think some people actually believe this -- that creative writing programs can't be measured or compared quantitatively because writing is art and art's not quantitative. Basically, these people are confused. MFA programs can be compared along the same data points as other degree programs: cost, availability of funding, acceptance rate, average class size, etc. This information isn't any less factual because the classes are "about" art.
- Closely related to #2: Accepting rankings means admitting that MFA programs are like other degree programs, which feels cheapening. It brings your MFA experience down to the cold, calculating level of douchebags going for an MBA. This is art. It's not a business. It's not about money, etc.
- You just hate Seth Abramson. Which is your right, by God, but don't try to rationalize your hatred by arguing that everything he does is morally bankrupt and/or maddeningly broken in concept. Instead of going around leaving comments about how you can't rank kittens, just say "Seth Abramson is such a tool LOL" or your variation of choice.
- Because your friends don't like them. There definitely seems to be some social bandwagoning going on here and it's very Mac vs. PC. Being anti-rankings or at least anti-Seth's rankings is what all the cool kids are doing. I like the cool kids (by which I mostly mean HTMLGiant; not being sarcastic, I really do love HTMLGiant) so I hope they don't stop liking me just because I don't see what the big flipping deal about rankings is.
BTW I've never met Seth Abramson and I don't follow his poetry so I'm not "defending" him (get it) on personal or poetry-buddy grounds.