“Eastern Michigan University hosting Real Madrid practice sessions Thursday and Friday”

First there was the World Cup, that event every four years where casual sports watching Americans like me have to feign interest in kickball soccer for like a month. Now there is some kind of European league tournament play happening in different places in the U.S., including at the Michigan Stadium “big house” on Saturday. Note to fellow casual sports fans: stay out of Ann Arbor on Saturday.

But before the big game, “EMU is hosting Real Madrid practice sessions.” Want to swing by to take a look at a big time soccer team? Well, the practices are “closed to the public,” though given where the field is and that it’s all in the wide-open on the other side of the football stadium, I don’t really know how closed they can make it.

Ed Thomas found not guilty on all counts in Demarius Reed murder

Yikes. I for one wasn’t expecting not guilty on all counts.

From mLive, “Jury finds man accused in Demarius Reed homicide not guilty on all counts.” And from The Eastern Echo, “Jury finds Ed Thomas not guilty on all counts in murder of Demarius Reed.”

Wrapping up the Demarius Reed murder trial while the Julia Niswender homicide is still under investigation

The murder trial for Demarius Reed is wrapping up/has wrapped up. This article from mLive, “Demarius Reed’s killer: ‘He fell to the ground and I shot him,’” sums up what’s happened I think. As I understand it, the person who actually pulled the trigger in killing Reed, Kristopher Pratt, took a plea bargain where he could be out of prison in 18 years instead of life. In exchange, he agreed to testify against Ed Thomas, the other guy charged with the murder. One thing I don’t quite get is it seems possible that the guy who did the actual shooting might end up serving less time in jail than the accomplice.

Also in disturbing news about the trial and testimony is this from the Ypsilanti Courier, Gunman testifies during second day of Demarius Reed murder trial.” In my view, this is a case where the reporter really buried the lead. This article also recounts the testimony from Pratt, but then it has this near the end:

Detective Joe Yuhas, of the Ypsilanti Police Department, also took the stand during Thursday’s court session. Yuhas was the officer in charge of Reed’s homicide investigation last year.

During Brown’s cross-examination, Yuhas admitted telling Thomas during a previous conversation that the investigation was under a lot of pressure due to an unusual amount of media attention. Yuhas confirmed under oath that the Ypsilanti Police had been contacted by out-of-state news outlets including the Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, TMZ and MTV.

“I did say, regrettably, that if it was just a nobody EMU student, we wouldn’t have put this many resources into the investigation,” Yuhas said Thursday.

A nobody EMU student. Yikes.

You know, the Ypsi Proud faithful took great offense for EMU BOR member Francine Parker’s comment last year about building a moat around campus to protect it from Ypsilanti. But with bullshitty admissions like Yuhas’, that “nobody” EMU students don’t get the same level of police protection and interest from the city, maybe Parker was right.

Speaking of which: there is also this in mLive, “Julia Niswender’s mother frustrated with lack of progress in homicide case.”  A quote from that piece:

A year before Reed was killed, 23-year-old Julia Niswender was found dead in the bathtub at her apartment in Peninsular Place, the complex adjacent to Reed’s along LeForge Road in Ypsilanti.

Despite almost two years having passed, no one has been arrested and police say they’ve exhausted nearly all their leads.

[Nieswender's mother Kimberly] Turnquist said she is very frustrated that the case is still hanging out there and believes police could be doing more.

“There is absolutely no new update,” she said Friday. “I’m frustrated with the lack of time that is put into Julia’s case.”

One the one hand, the circumstances surrounding Nieswender’s homicide seem a lot more complicated than the Reed murder. On the other hand, Detective Yuhas’ comment doesn’t exactly seem at odds with with Turnquist’s argument.

As boring as watching the grass grow (albeit grey grass)

mLive had this the other day, “Photo gallery: Gray turf installation underway at Eastern Michigan University’s Rynearson Stadium.” That’s pretty much what it is. My favorite picture in the series is this one:

grey grass

Is it the grey turf or a black and white picture of grass? Who knows. Oh, and the comments on this post are pretty amusing too, as in “EMU will find 50 ways of gray to lose on this field.”

“Proof that Eastern Michigan University’s EAA affiliation is hurting College of Education student teachers”

From the site eclecta blog comes “Proof that Eastern Michigan University’s EAA affiliation is hurting College of Education student teachers.” I had received an email about this the other day, but this is a more full-blown article so I’ll just link to this and share a long quote from the beginning:

The faculty and students of Eastern Michigan University’s College of Education have been actively seeking to end the institution’s affiliation with the Education Achievement Authority, Gov. Snyder’s failed education experiment on Detroit students. Among the many horror stories coming out of the EAA, we learned this past week that they are literally experimenting with 100-student kindergarten classes.

I’m not kidding.

There has been a protest rally, a petition, and open letters which I have posted HERE,HERE, and HERE.

Each time, the students and faculty have been rebuffed by their Board of Regents.

Things have gotten so bad that nearly a dozen school districts refuse to accept EMU College of Education students as student teachers.

Now the chickens are coming home to roost. Aimee Hayden is a student in the EMU College of Education and she has been unable to land a student teaching position, an unfortunate situation that is direct result of the university’s EAA partnership. What follows is a letter Aimee sent to a colleague and fellow member of the Kappa Delta Pi sorority Carol Janowski, seeking help in securing a position. What you’ll learn from her letter is that EMU’s connections to the EAA are harming their students’ teaching careers in a very real, very tangible, and very negative way.

When are we getting out of this EAA thing?


“Eastern Michigan football players bury jersey of Demarius Reed in new turf at Rynearson”

From mLive comes this in turf news,”Eastern Michigan football players bury jersey of Demarius Reed in new turf at Rynearson. A quote:

Eastern Michigan football players and coaches gathered Friday morning at Rynearson Stadium to honor Demarius Reed.

Demarius Reed was killed during a robbery attempt in October.

According to the EMU Athletic Media Relations Office, the players and coaches gathered in a private ceremony to bury Reed’s No. 2 jersey in the new, gray FieldTurf surface that is being installed.

This happened the same day that one of the guys charged with Reed’s murder plead guilty in a plea deal that will have him testifying against his co-defendant. That article is here.

I understand and respect the need for the players and athletic program as a whole to memorialize Reed. But doesn’t this seem a little weird and/or creepy? Is that just me?


A couple of advising and graduation rates articles

From mLive comes “Lack of academic advising costing college students time and money.” It is mostly about the conditions on the ground at Central Michigan University, but it could just as easily be about EMU. A few paragraphs:

Twelve of Michigan’s 15 public universities have four-year graduation rates lower than the national average, and that extra time on campus is costly to students, families, and the Michigan economy.

A majority of college students don’t earn a four-year degree in four years. Some switch majors or work part- or full-time. Others are enrolled in programs, such as engineering or education at some colleges, that are structured to take five years. But more should graduate on time, said Charlie Nutt, executive director of the National Academic Advising Association.

One reason cited for the low on-time graduation rates: inadequate academic counseling.

Counseling is critical for students who are making the huge adjustment from high school to college. “(Students) underestimate the amount of time it takes compared to a high school class,” Nutt said. “It’s a different type of preparation that they’re not prepared for.”

“There’s no question that in some cases, students don’t get the counseling,” said Patrick Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. “Proper counseling keeps them taking the course that keeps them on a steady path towards graduation. Budget crunches, however, cut back on that (counseling) staff.”

Sure, we could/should probably have more advisors, but I also think there are two things that places like EMU could do right now to help the situation. First, require students to see an advisor throughout their college careers– say once a year. And by “require,” I mean they physically have to go speak to someone who is authorized as an advisor and to get some kind of approval/signature before they are able to register for anymore classes. Second, faculty should do what is already contractually mandated and advise students on a regular basis. In other words, we don’t need to hire more advisors necessarily; we need to have more people who are already here doing some advising.

EMU is not likely to do either of these things. I think the powers that be are afraid of doing anything that might delay students from registering for classes (and paying those all-important tuition dollars), and making students do something other than self-advising would do that. If I were super-cynical, I’d also guess that EMU actually kind of likes it when students take classes they don’t need because that’s extra tuition dollars. As far as faculty advising goes: in my experience, too many faculty pass off that work because they claim they don’t know enough to tell students what classes to take when. That strikes me as silly. Besides the fact that basic advising isn’t rocket science, there’s always asking others for the right answer.

Also in mLive is another story along these lines,  “Tuition incentives pay off for students graduating in four years.” This one is mostly about Grand Valley State, which has doubled its graduation rate since 1990. Here’s a quote with an interesting info-graphic:

Twelve of Michigan’s 15 public universities have four-year graduation rates below the national average of 31 percent; at nine public universities, one in five students or fewer earn a four-year degree in four years.

Many go on to graduate following a fifth or sixth year, but those extra semesters are costly to students, parents and the state’s economy. “Should we accept a 20 percent grad rate over four years?” asked Blue. “Heck no. Not as a parent or a taxpayer.”

All good points, but one of the things for me with this chart is there is a correlation between test scores and the selectivity of the institution and the graduation rate of its students. Now, I’m not saying that a place like EMU ought to turn students away; I value the mission we have for extending access to higher education to those who wouldn’t have it if the only choices were the more elite institutions. But we also have to recognize that one of the impacts of that is we’ll never have the graduation rates of places like U of M.

At the same time, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea for folks at EMU to study what’s going on at Grand Valley State, an institution not completely different from us. According to this chart, their six year graduation rate is 66%, while ours is 37%. Clearly there are lessons EMU could learn.

“Construction of the Factory Breaks Ground”

Want to see photos of “Construction of the Factory?” Look no further than emueagles.com and their story and photo gallery of the whole grey turf thing. So far, it’s about as exciting as the construction of an actual factory, or the construction of a parking lot.

We’re #126! We’re #126!

My father actually alerted me to this little piece in The USA Today: “Ranking every college football FBS for 2014.” This must be one of these things that they do in installments or something because as I’m looking at this on Sunday night, they’re only up to number 57, which is Ball State.  But no worries; coming in at number 126 out of 128 FBS teams– just ahead of UMass and Florida International– are the EMU Emus Eagles. To quote:

No. 126 Eastern Michigan: Chris Creighton steps into Ypsilanti and assumes one of the toughest coaching jobs in the country. The Eagles’ new coach will have a promising young quarterback to work with but not much else. It’s going to be another down season for EMU.

A long season at the factory….

“Student Debt: The Rising U.S. Burden”

Here’s a “QuickTake” from Bloomberg I thought folks here might find interesting, “Student Debt: The Rising U.S. Burden.” To quote the opening paragraph:

In terms of American exceptionalism, student loan debt stands out. No other country imposes the kind of costs on college and university students that the U.S. does, and nowhere else do loans cover so much of those costs. Experts think that the $1.2 trillion in outstanding education debt in the U.S. is more than that of the rest of the world combined. It’s a situation that educators, consumer advocates and members of both political parties all decry. Agreement on solutions is harder to find. In the meantime, the level of student loans is increasingly seen not just as a burden on students but as a drag on the nation’s economy. Young adults are delaying setting up their own households in the face of a mountain of debt while default rates rise to dangerous levels. Recent studies also show a growing economic divergence between young Americans with and without student loans. There’s widespread agreement as to who is worst off: college dropouts. They’re stuck with debt but without the higher earnings a degree might have brought to help pay it off.

This piece mostly rehashes news most folks in higher ed already know about, and it skips by the real cause/solution here (at least in public education), which is more money for universities from the government. But still a good read.