“Pleas from 3 ex-EMU football players charged with beating cousin of Demarius Reed’s killer”

From today’s mLive, “Pleas from 3 ex-EMU football players charged with beating cousin of Demarius Reed’s killer.”  From what I can gather, the deal is these football players who were suspended from the team and thrown out of school earlier in the year all took plea deals that basically make these charges lesser misdemeanors where they aren’t going to be facing any jail time.  As someone in the comments said, they’ll be back playing football (probably division II) within a year.

I have no idea bout that, but it does raise the question: if they have now been convicted of a lesser crime, can they come back to EMU if they want?

Fake football attendance numbers, again

I also received an email from Jeremy Rosenberg, one of the main contributors at the site Eagle Totem, raising questions again about the fake attendance numbers at EMU football games– specifically the game on Saturday. Here’s a quote from Rosenberg’s post about the game:

Listed attendance for this game was 19,654. Anyone who was at the game knows this number is a complete joke. I’m not sure what type of Enron-esque, shell game is being played here, but it is not helpful. (Perhaps it was a typo, but I’m not sure how. The number was much closer to 5,000). I closely watch attendance numbers to gauge fan support. Without accurate, useable data, how are we to keep track of the growth of the program under Creighton? I’m going to try to do a little investigating this week and see what happened with the attendance numbers. Stay tuned…

Of course, this is not even close to new or even that unique to EMU. It’s still pretty slimy though. As Jeremy said in his email to me, if EMU can’t average 15,000 fans a game, maybe they shouldn’t be playing FBS football.


Part-Time Lecturers Win a Major Job Security Greivance

I received an email with this news from Zachary Jones, who is the grievance officer for the EMUFT, which is the union representing the lecturers and part-time lecturers:

On October 8th an Arbitrator confirmed the First Right of Refusal for PTLs over hiring outside the bargaining unit when additional courses become available. The Arbitrator even gave the University a cease and desist order. Attached is the decision.

This is an import decision for PTLs because it requires EMU to first offer additional courses to incumbent PTLs before hiring outside the university. Instead of only getting one or two courses, it now means we’re more likely to get a larger workload, improving our job security.

This ruling is precedence setting and reinforces a grievance EMUFT won against the Creative Writing Program last year where Dean Tom Venner agreed with the EMUFT that the department head violated the contract by hiring outside the university instead of hiring incumbent PTLs to teach the additional courses.

I agree with Jones that this is an important decision. I don’t know the details of this particular situation (even though creative writing is in my department), but as I understand it, what this means now is departments have to actually advertise teaching positions and actually interview people who apply for those jobs. This might seem like common sense, but it actually wasn’t the common practice, certainly not in my field.

A lot of part-time hiring is done at the last minute (because a new section opens up, because someone suddenly can’t teach a class, etc.), and there wasn’t really a system in place to make that happen. And by the way, this practice of “just hire someone” is not new and not at all unique to EMU. When I was a part-timer way back in the early 1990s, it seemed like the process of who would or wouldn’t get that extra section of a class was based entirely on who was in the hallway when the department chair poked his head out of his office.  At my first tenure-track job, “the process” for hiring part-timers was the secretary called someone on the availability list and the first person to answer the phone got the gig.

Mind you, this new process is kind of a pain in the ass too. It means that part-timers have to put together an application, and it means that there needs to be an interview process, which is an extra step for department heads (and, in my department, faculty in the area where the part-timers are being hired). But it does seem to be a system that is a lot more fair and a lot less random.

“Professor suspended from top university for giving off ‘negative vibes'”

This falls into the “not sure this is really true” and/or “there is probably more to the story here” category of things, but from the UK’s Telegraph comes “Professor suspended from top university for giving off ‘negative vibes.'” Here are the opening paragraphs:

A professor was suspended from a top university for nine months following accusations he “sighed” and was sarcastic during job interviews.

Thomas Docherty was banned from the University of Warwick in January for allegedly giving off “negative vibes” and undermining the authority of the former head of his department.

The case against him included “inappropriate sighing”, “making ironic comments” and “projecting negative body language”.

Insert your sarcastic comments here.

“5 Local Blogs You Need To Be Reading”

Via Mark Maynard’s blog I came across this nice little piece in the local online magazine/site Concentrate, “5 Local Blogs You Need To Be Reading.” I of course knew/know about Mark’s site and Damn Arbor, but I didn’t know anything about the other ones. I had no idea that Juan Cole’s blog/site got over 600,000 views a month. Anyway, go check them out.

By the way, just in case you’re curious: EMUTalk gets on average somewhere around 7,000 hits a month, but it varies a lot depending on the time of the year. In the midst of the school year and if there’s something going on, it’s more like 10,000-12,000, and sometimes a lot more; in the summer and/or when not much is happening, it’s more like 4,000-5,000.

Meanwhile, at least we don’t have UNC’s problems (I hope)

So, today’s game day! No, I don’t mean Michigan versus Michigan State, though as a tangent, two thoughts on that:

  • This game seems like it is being promoted as a bigger “rivalry” game than it was in the past; maybe that’s just my impressions. And as far as I can tell, every Big Ten team really wants to beat Michigan (that was certainly the case when I was a student at Iowa).
  • Given the lopsidedness of the teams this year, I’m not exactly expecting a very good game.

No, of course I’m referring to the EMU versus Northern Illinois game! Sorta. Our friends at Eagle Totem have several posts about it all, and they point out that the halftime band show is some kind of tribute to Batman. That and the beautiful weather today could make the game worthwhile, though the Emus are 21 point underdogs.

Anyway, while you’re half-watching either of these games, take a moment to read through this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education about the cheating scandal coming to light at the University of North Carolina, “Widespread Nature of Chapel Hill’s Academic Fraud Is Laid Bare.” It’s pretty startling. Basically, about 3100 students at UNC (about half of them were athletes) took these sham classes in the African and Afro-American Studies department that never actually met where students would get As or Bs for turning in one paper. And the whole thing was run by the department’s long-time secretary and the department’s chair. Here’s a long quote from the beginning of the article:

An academic-fraud scandal at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took root under a departmental secretary and die-hard Tar Heel fan, who was egged on by athletics advisers to create no-show classes that would keep under­prepared and unmotivated players eligible. Over nearly two decades, professors, coaches, and administrators either participated in the scheme or overlooked it, undercutting the core values of one of the nation’s premier public universities.

Such are the sobering findings of an eight-month investigation led by Kenneth L. Wainstein, a longtime official of the U.S. Justice Department who was hired by the university to get to the bottom of a scandal that came to light four years ago.

Mr. Wainstein’s 136-page report, made public on Wednesday, lays much of the blame at the feet of Deborah Crowder, a secretary and then manager in the department of African and Afro-American studies, which is often called AFAM. Ms. Crowder worked with Julius E. Nyang’oro, who was then chairman of the department, to develop what the report calls a “shadow curriculum” that awarded students, many of them athletes, with high grades for classes that required no attendance and minimal work.

Ms. Crowder and Mr. Nyang’oro’s role in academic fraud has long been acknowledged, but the new report is the first to reveal the broad involvement of a variety of actors, including a faculty leader and other professors in the AFAM department. The investigation delves deeply into the motives of central players and provides a complex picture of Ms. Crowder, a relatively low-level operator who investigators say acted as a professor in all but name, routinely grading students’ papers and forging faculty signatures.

This went on for 18 years and it appears that it only became visible and impossible for administrators and others to ignore when Crowder retired. Yikes.

Though I have to say that I can see how this could happen and I can see how it might not really be noticed by administrators and the like. The department secretary is a powerful figure, actually. At EMU, she (and it is usually a “she”) can create special sections of courses for students, and it wouldn’t take a lot of fraud to sign off on grades and the like too. And unless someone was paying really close attention, this could go on pretty much unnoticed.

I guess what I’m saying is it wouldn’t surprise me if there were other universities besides UNC where some slightly crooked faculty and administrators weren’t doing some student athletes a favor or two.

“Keeping students safe: a year after murder of Demarius Reed, do students feel safer on EMU campus?”

The Ypsilanti Courier has a nice piece about campus safety, “Keeping students safe: a year after murder of Demarius Reed, do students feel safer on EMU campus?” The basic answer to the question in the headline is “yes.” A quote:

Desmond Miller, EMU Student Government president, said much has changed since last year, including the amount both city and university police officers patrol the area as well as the hiring of additional police officers.

“We feel the police presence,” he said. “We felt it before but we really feel it now.”

Not only have the officers been more visible, Miller said they have also been having a friendly relationship with students and fitting in well with the campus community.

Miller said he’s heard positive comments from students about the safety improvements.

“Students feel a lot more comfortable,” he said.

As I’ve said before, I have never felt unsafe on campus, though there are some areas just off campus– including the neighborhood where Reed was killed– that still seem pretty dangerous to me.

“America’s Worst Colleges”

Kind of an interesting article in The Washington Monthly, “America’s Worst Colleges” by Ben Miller. Here are a long quote from the beginning:

… [T]he truth is that students choosing among selective schools are making largely inconsequential decisions. Whether it’s a northeastern private college, a well-regarded midwestern public institution, or some other school rich with financial and reputational resources, any option will provide students with what really matters: overwhelmingly high odds of graduating from a well-recognized college. For them, even the dreaded “safety school” is likely still a better option than the best choice available to large numbers of students.

Less-fortunate students, by contrast, are often forced to choose among the many colleges that get lumped into broad lower tiers on best colleges lists, or from private for-profit colleges that are not even ranked at all. Many of these colleges are dropout factories, where students are unlikely to graduate and prices, debt levels, and student loan default rates are high. For these students, the crucial question is where not to go to college. When you’re wandering through a minefield with destructive options that lead to high loan debt and no degree, it’s worth having a map.

Yet the newsstands don’t sell guides to America’s worst colleges. Nobody writes stories about high school seniors beset with anxiety about whether to attend a community college with a rock-bottom graduation rate, a nearby private college with shaky finances, or a shady for-profit institution.

Miller goes on and explains a couple of different categories of “the worst colleges,” all of which are either for-profit or private institutions– no public universities or colleges are on the list. I think there are ways to quibble with the way that Miller categorizes things here, but it’s an interesting list. And frankly, it’s the worst colleges (along with fly-by-night bartending schools and hairstyling “academies” and the like) that are the real problem with dropout rates and students not finishing and then defaulting in huge piles of student loan debt.

“Google Apps for Education has more to offer EMU than just email”

Pretty slow news day around town, so I thought I’d draw attention to this article in The Eastern Echo, “Google Apps for Education has more to offer EMU than just email.” I made the switch to GAE back in February or March, in part because I assumed that everyone at EMU was going to be moved to GAE anyway. But for some reason, staff, administrators and faculty are still on Zimbra. My guess is that some suit said “Hey, don’t mess up my email! I like it just the way it is!” Whatever.

GAE has it’s pros and cons. It’s good for me as a teacher (and one who makes extensive use of Google Docs in my teaching) to be on the same platform/system as my students. Besides, I’ve used Google for my own purposes for years. The downside is it’s kind of buggy in some weird ways. For example, if you are an Apple computer user who likes using the built-in email software called “Mail,” you’re out of luck because GAE is oddly not compatible with it. And while it usually works to have both my EMU account and my own personal Google account open at the same time and in the same browser, it doesn’t always work and can be kind of buggy with the EMU sign-in. I guess I still prefer it to Zimbra though.

UMass vs. Emus– and what’s the deal with Slippery Rock?

This weekend in football news: the Emus are away at the University of Massachusetts, and while our friends at Eagle Totem say this is a game that matters to both teams (because whoever wins will have put together a “streak” of two wins in a row for the first time in a long time), it kind of strikes me  as a “who is going to lose less” game. But hey, go Emus all the same.  UMass is a 14 point favorite right now.

What I don’t understand though is why is Slippery Rock playing football in Ann Arbor today? There’s an article on mLive about today’s game here, and this article from a couple days ago kind of/sort of explains the connection having to do with former PA announcers at the different schools. I mean, I don’t really care that much one way or the other, but it seems kind of odd that two small Pennsylvania colleges would come all the way to Ann Arbor to play a football game.