“U-M community bands together after suicidal note on Yik Yak”

From mLive comes “U-M community bands together after suicidal note on Yik Yak,” which is another story that makes it clear that Yik Yak is not just a tool for bullying faculty or posting racist rants. Here’s a quote:

A short post on social media titled “Thank you & Bye” prompted a large response and discussion of mental illness on the University of Michigan campus this weekend.

Community members took to the anonymous, location-based social media app Yik Yak and to University of Michigan Diag on Sunday after someone posted about an apparently planned suicide.

and…

Students such as English senior Hannah Maine, 21, said the gathering and programs such as the Wolverine Support Network are opportunities for better open-dialogue on issues of mental illness.

“People don’t feel comfortable admitting ‘I have depression’ or ‘I have suicidal thoughts’ because of all the stigma, but hopefully these types of things will help take that away,” she said. “You need to talk about it otherwise it’s not going to get better.”

Maine said Yik Yak has been a helpful way for students, such as herself, to address similar struggles and stress anonymously.

Announcing EMUTalk, the Facebook Group

Before I get to EMUTalk news, just a quick shout-out to the graduates and their families enjoying commencement today, probably about as I type this. Congratulations! Do EMU proud in whatever you decide to do next!

Anyway, back to my point: as I announced back in February, I’ve decided to wind down EMUTalk by this September. There are a lot of reasons for this, but besides being a bit of a time suck and expense for me (not a huge time suck or expense, but still), I kind of felt like it just became too much of me me ME here. I already have a blog where I spout off about me me ME; I wanted this to be more of a community with lots of voices. Sure, that happens in the comments, but I was hoping it would happen more with the discussions too.

At the same time, I realize that there really is a space– maybe even a need– for a forum for conversations like this, and I didn’t want to completely abandon/leave the chances to share things with the community behind. So I decided to set up a Facebook group– here is a link to it.

I’m still trying to get the hang of how Facebook groups work, but I am pretty sure that I’ve set it up so that it is a “public” group that anyone can join, anyone can write a post, and anyone can comment. If you have a hard time joining for some reason, let me know and I’ll try to set it up. It’s also a group that can easily have multiple administrators. Administrators have the power to do things like change the pictures/headers, add more about the group description, and do some policing in the form of removing abusive posts and blocking/removing administrators. If you want to be a group administrator, let me know and I’ll set you up with that.

I think the Facebook group offers some interesting disadvantages and advantages over the blog set-up. The two biggest disadvantages as I see it is it’s not possible to post things anonymously (though that might be an advantage too) and (obviously) you have to be on Facebook. I like Facebook– I’m on it all the time– but I am very aware of the privacy issues and the other concerns people have about the interface, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some regular readers and posters here are unwilling and unable to participate in that new forum.

But I also think this offers some definite advantages, too. For starters, just about everyone I know has a Facebook account, even if they don’t want to admit it, which means that you’ll still have access. Second, it is A LOT easier for people to post things here to share for interest and/or for discussion. In other words, this is about as close to a completely open community discussion board as we’re going to get. And third, this pretty much will run itself (I think).

So go join that group!

“EMU creates chief diversity officer job after racially charged incidents”

I would have posted about this earlier, but I was (as they say) “away” from the Internets. But as reported in mLive (and as the campus saw in an email from President Martin included in the mLive story), “EMU creates chief diversity officer job after racially charged incidents.” Here’s the paragraph where Martin talks about this new position:

This is why I am announcing that we will add a new position to the University’s senior leadership team: Chief Diversity Officer. This individual will serve as the senior executive on the leadership team responsible for efforts related to diversity, inclusion and equity. The individual will advise the president, senior leaders and campus units on policies, processes, and practices intended to foster a most diverse and inclusive campus where all members of the university community can thrive and contribute to the University’s mission and core values.

I guess I have kind of mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it seems to me like this particular incident deserves an actual response from Martin, at least something along the lines of “I think those students behaved badly” or what-have-you. And I’m just not so sure hiring another administrator is a solution to this.

On the other hand, a “Chief Diversity Officer” is a position that apparently does exist on a lot of campuses. As far as I can tell, it’s a position that tends to bring together under one leader things like Title IX issues, equal employment issues, and to address issues like this infamous party. So maybe it’s a good idea.

“Rally planned at EMU after Native American man reports harassment”

From mLive comes “Rally planned at EMU after Native American man reports harassment.” Here’s a quote:

Native American students at Eastern Michigan University are hosting an on-campus rally Wednesday at 3 p.m.

The Native American Student Organization will gather outside the student center near the lakeside entrance to discuss a recent altercation between students and a Native American man at an off-campus party in Ypsilanti.

There’s one other bit of news that I hadn’t seen previously about this incident in the story. The Ypsi cops came and busted up the party after Phillips’ complaint and there is an EMU investigation going on “for internal purposes.”

“EMU showing ‘American Sniper’ again after protesters interrupt first screening”

From mLive comes “EMU showing ‘American Sniper’ again after protesters interrupt first screening.” I saw this the other day in an announcement sent around by Geoff Larcom, but here’s the mLive story and discussion about it. The second showing is going to be this Friday, April 24, at 8 p.m. in the Student Center Auditorium. Two quick thoughts for now:

  • I saw this article in my newsfeed shortly after I got up this morning and it had like three comments on it. I’m posting this at about 8:30 AM and now it has over 130 comments and the comments seem to be coming about one or two a minute. And of course most of the comments are pretty stupid.
  • I probably won’t attend this screening because it’s on a Friday night and I am guessing I’ll have other plans, but I have to say I’m tempted. I didn’t see it in the theater when it came out and if I had to pick a side in this, I’d probably be on the side of the people protesting this movie. But the added discussion about the movie might make for an interesting night, and besides, it’s free.

It’s a stressful time of year, so….

…go ahead and hug an emu. But be careful– they bite!

The friend of the animals

“EMU investigating allegations of racism where off-campus students were dressed as Native Americans”

I was going to post the email that Geoff Larcom sent around about this, but then this morning, I see it’s been picked up by the mainstream media too. The best story comes from WXYZ channel 7 (Detroit’s ABC affiliate), “EMU investigating allegations of racism where off-campus students were dressed as Native Americans.”

The video is definitely worth watching. Basically, Nathan Phillips, who is described as a Native American man in his 60s who has lived in Ypsi for eight years, came across a loud party last weekend. Here’s a quote from this piece that explains what happened next.

When he approached closer, he saw about 30 to 40 students partying and noticed that about half of them were wearing “Redface” and sporting feathered headpieces.

Phillips asked the students what they were doing. They told him they were honoring Native Americans and told Phillips, “We’re the F-ing Hurons!” EMU’s nickname used to be the Hurons before the university changed it to the Eagles in the ‘90s.

Phillips responded, “This isn’t honoring us, this is racist. And as soon as I said ‘racist,’ it turned from honoring the Indians to, ‘Go back to the reservation, you F-ing Indian, get the F out of here.’”

In the scuffle, someone threw a beer can at Phillips.

The video also features Michelle Lietz, vice president of the Native American Student Organization at EMU (who is also a grad student in my department, by the way), and she said she and her organization worked all week to get EMU to investigate this. To quote again from the piece, “Lietz said, ‘It’s a great opportunity for them to finally come out and condemn this sort of behavior.'”

Jeesh.

First off, this is obviously stupid and condemnable behavior, so I do hope EMU comes out with some kind of statement or action that is a little more “meaty” than “We’re going to look into this and get to the bottom of things.” Second though, since this happened off-campus, I’m not sure there’s much that EMU can do about it.

But third, isn’t really about time to put this “we’ll always be the Hurons!” nonsense to rest? Honestly, it’s been over 20 years now that EMU’s mascot switched to the Eagles. The “F-ing Hurons” involved in this incident weren’t even born yet.

And I think this is just another example of the mistake of not picking up the emu as a mascot, too.  I have no evidence to support this claim of course, but I’m completely convinced (in my own head) that had we become the EMU Fighting Emus none of these “Always a Huron” incidents would have taken place because they wouldn’t make sense. I mean, sure, we were the Hurons, but how cool is it now that we’re the emus?!

“Sweets & Selfies with Su-Mar at the Student Center”

From Geoff “Geoff” Larcom comes the following:

EMU President Susan Martin wants to thank students, faculty and staff with sweets and the opportunity for fun selfies as we end the academic year.

Students, faculty and staff are invited to come, say hello and rock your best smile if you want a selfie with President Martin from 1-2 p.m. on either Wednesday, April 22 or Thursday, April 23 in the Student Center. President Martin will be providing sweets on the first floor of the Student Center in the Fireplace Lounge, located across from the EMU Bookstore.

President Martin wants to sincerely thank so many across the campus for the love, support and hard work during her tenure as president the past seven years. As she says, “You helped lift Eastern up and made it shine as a beacon of opportunity for so many people to lead extraordinary lives. Thank you!”

And don’t forget to tag your photos #SueMar or share them with the President on Facebook Susan Martin (be her friend!).

First off, I think this is something more designed for “the kids,” as they say, so while I’m glad they’ve included faculty and staff, I have a feeling most selfie-seekers are going to be students. Second, be on the lookout for some amusing “SueMar” photos and tags on social media.

“Emu House” to be named in honor of outgoing President Susan Martin

From the Ypsilanti Courier comes “EMU to name renovated home for housing special University guests in honor of outgoing President Susan Martin.”

I had actually heard about this before because the EMU PR folks had invited me to an open house event for “emu house” last week– I couldn’t attend because of some other stuff on my schedule, unfortunately. Anyway, “emu house” is at 526 St. John’s Street, which is across the street from the dorms Best Hall and Wise Hall, and (for those of us who have been here a while) it used to be the EMU Credit Union way back in the day.

The place has been refinished into a guest house which (the article says) could be used for “visitors performing at Pease Auditorium for extended periods, new leaders who are unable to locate a residence quickly and others visiting the University for a major event.” Oh, also important to note here: emu house was made possible by the generous support of Ken Fine and his wife, Rebecca Canary, and also to William and Delores Brehm, who donated a lot of the furniture.

I think this is a great idea because we don’t really have a place on campus to house people who are here for an extended stay. For example (and this is also a plug), my friend and former colleague Annette Saddik has been at EMU this semester off and on as the McAndless Distinguished Scholar– she’s giving a talk tomorrow in the student center called “‘Act Naturally': Embracing the Monstrous Woman in Tennessee Williams’ Late Plays”– and I know that it would have been a heck of a lot easier to put her up for a week or so at a time in this space had it been available. My hope is we can house future McAndless Scholars (and other visiting scholars) here.

But what of the name? Here’s a quote from the article:

The house is named “emu house,” which connects it to both the University and the large, flightless bird native to Australia, a few of which Rebecca adopted over 15 years ago and which still live (and infrequently reproduce) on their property.

The house will be renamed the “Susan W. Martin emu house” within 30 days of her final day as president and will retain that name for at least the next 100 years or until it has reached the end of its useful life. The plaque designating the new name of the house and honoring President Martin will be installed by early fall.

Of course, the real tribute would be a change of mascot, but one step at a time.

 

Four students arrested for protesting “American Sniper” movie

This made the news in The Eastern Echo here– “Four students arrested protesting American Sniper Friday night movie” and also at mLive here– “Protesters detained after disrupting ‘American Sniper’ showing at EMU.”  And it’s also a story that got picked up by Inside Higher Ed, too. It’s a bit of a confusing story to me, but here’s a quote from the mLive story that also paraphrases the Echo story:

About 40 students protested the film, according to a report by the university newspaper, The Eastern Echo.

The Echo reported that student protesters filed onto the stage and held up signs under the screen, before one student began speaking to the crowd.

“Do you want me to play a movie painting your people this way?” the student asked the audience, according to The Eastern Echo.

Audience members reportedly shouted back, “Tell us after.”

Larcom said the protesters received several warnings from police before the four were detained.

They were released shortly after with no charges, he said.

First off, I haven’t seen the movie. It’s not the kind of thing that appeals to me much for all kinds of different reasons and I probably would have agreed with the basic point of the protesters, and besides, I heard a lot of kind of mixed reviews when it came out. But second, I kind of agree with the audience members here: it seems to me it would have made a lot more sense to have some kind of discussion about the movie– maybe both before and after it was shown– rather than to simply try to stop it from being shown in the first place.

This all comes on the heels of events over at the University of Michigan, of course. There the movie was scheduled, then canceled, and then was going to show it along with a panel discussion, then savior football coach Jim Harbaugh tweeted his support for the movie, and then the U of M folks announced they had made a mistake originally in canceling the showing. And, to quote the mLive piece:

Ultimately, the movie was shown as previously scheduled on Friday, with the added option of a showing of the movie “Paddington,” to no major protest.

I wonder how many people saw Paddington?