“Public university required students to submit sexual history or face disciplinary action”

So the first thing to say about this is that Clemson apparently stopped this “mandatory training” and it looks like they did so pretty quickly after they started. But here’s the story from the website Campus Reform: “Public university required students to submit sexual history or face disciplinary action.” Here’s a long quote from the beginning of the article:

In screenshots obtained exclusively by Campus Reform, the South Carolina university is asking students invasive and personal questions about their drinking habits and sex life as part of what they’ve billed as an online Title IX training course.

“How many times have you had sex (including oral) in the last 3 months?” asks one question.

“With how many different people have you had sex (including oral) in the last 3 months?” asks another.

In a campus-wide email, the South Carolina university announced that all students, faculty, and staff would be required to complete a mandatory, one-hour long Title IX training course by November 1.

Zoinks! No wonder they stopped this “training!”

I have to wonder who came up with this. When folks at EMU (I assume just employees, but maybe students too?) had to go through sexual harassment training on the web, EMU farmed that out to some third party. I assume what Clemson decided to do this on their own and hired someone with zero experience in “human subject review” standards for what you can and can’t ask in a questionnaire and/or someone who was just curious about the sex habits of Clemson undergrads.

“Scholars Take Aim at Student Evaluations’ ‘Air of Objectivity’”

Kind of an interesting piece in The Chronicle about student evaluations: “Scholars Take Aim at Student Evaluations’ ‘Air of Objectivity.’” Here’s a quote:

“We’re confusing consumer satisfaction with product value,” Philip B. Stark, a professor of statistics at Berkeley, said in an interview.

“An Evaluation of Course Evaluations,” which he wrote with Richard Freishtat, senior consultant at Berkeley’s Center for Teaching and Learning, lays out a mathematical critique of the evaluations and describes an alternative vision for analyzing and improving teaching.

Even though evaluations have become ubiquitous in academe, they remain controversial because they often assume a high-stakes role in determining tenure and promotion. But they persist because they are easy to produce, administer, and tabulate, Mr. Stark said. And because they are based on Likert scales whose results can be added and averaged, he said, they offer the comfort of a number. But it is a false kind of security. “Averages of numerical student ratings have an air of objectivity,” the authors write, “simply because they are numerical.”

“Part-time lecturers petition to be paid at same time as full-timers”

From The Eastern Echo comes “Part-time lecturers petition to be paid at same time as full-timers.”  I was in Pray-Harrold earlier today and I noticed (and signed the petition!) the effort to draw attention to this paperwork problem that really does cause problems for a lot of part-timers.

Basically, part-timers don’t get paid until September 30 instead of September 15. Think about that with your own life for a moment: it’d make a difference if you didn’t get paid for another two weeks, right? Especially if you were expecting to be paid on the 15th. To quote from the story:

The university is not complying with the federation’s wish to be paid at the same time as full-time lecturers. That is why EMUFT set up in Pray-Harrold to present the issue to students and faculty and get a petition going.

After coming off of a summer of not getting paid and then not receiving a check on the 15th is making it hard, “people are scrambling to pay bills,” Sonya Alvardo, President of EMUFT, said in a statement.

I fully support finding a way to pay these folks on September 15, and it doesn’t seem like it would be that big of a deal to make happen if the administration wanted to make it happen. But I have to say that part of the problem here is the number of people who are “full-time part-timers.” For example, in the opening of this article, there’s this:

“It’s becoming such a burden, a lot of part-time lecturers have to get a second job,” said Zachary Jones, a part-time lecturer in the geology department.

Well, doesn’t “part-time” by definition you have to do something else to pay the bills– that is, a second job or some other kind of financial support?

“In Academe, the Future is Part-Time”

From the Chronicle of Higher Education comes “In Academe, the Future is Part-Time,” which is actually not a new report but a series of short videos that are about adjuncts. A depressing story but nothing really new here.

It does make me wonder though. The stats about the increase in adjuncts and the decrease in tenure-track faculty are painted with a very broad brush, and when I think about my own experiences at EMU, it doesn’t quite add up. My department (English) is about the same size now as it was 50 years ago; my program (Composition and Rhetoric) has more tenure-track faculty now than when I came here 16 years ago. So we haven’t really seen a decrease in faculty in the department, though there has been a shift in what faculty do– there aren’t as many faculty in literature, for example.

I also wonder about role of part-timers. We have a lot of part-timers in the department, especially teaching freshman composition, but freshman comp has been largely staffed with part-time professors for as long as I can remember. I’m not sure that the percentages are that much higher now than they were in 25 years ago, maybe longer.

So, I guess I’m asking two things:

  • Are my perceptions about what’s going on here just flat-out wrong?
  • If I am wrong, where have the increases in part-timers in higher education been taking place?

EMU vs. ODU (and Go Hawks!)

For some reason, I thought the EMU-Michigan State game was today and I kept wondering “why the heck is that not on TV anywhere?” And then I figured it out: EMU is playing at Old Dominion University this evening. And according to mLive, it starts at 6 PM and won’t be on TV around here anyway.

A personal fun fact: when I interviewed for and was offered the position I have now at EMU, I was also interviewing and offered a position at ODU. For all kinds of different reasons, I came here and we’re all living happily ever-after.

Oh, and while I am sure the UofM versus Miami-Ohio game will be fascinating, I’ll be watching (off and on) Iowa versus Iowa State, which is the big rivalry game for both teams.

“On Campus, Grenade Launchers, M-16s, and Armored Vehicles”

From The Chronicle comes “On Campus, Grenade Launchers, M-16s, and Armored Vehicles.” Here’s a quote:

Should the campus police at the University of Central Florida ever need a modified grenade launcher, one sits waiting in the department’s armory. Retooled to fire tear-gas canisters, the weapon was used several years ago for training purposes, according to Richard Beary, the university’s chief of police. It hasn’t left storage since.

At Central Florida, which has an enrollment of nearly 60,000 and a Division I football team, the device was acquired, a police spokeswoman said, for “security and crowd control.”

Yikes. It takes so little imagination to see how campus cops might get out of hand with this equipment during a student protest or what-not. This is the same Department of Defense program that gave the cops in Ferguson, Missouri all of the military-grade hardware that fueled the riots in that town last month.

The good news, as far as I can tell from this table the CHE includes with the story, is that most of the stuff the DoD has given to college campuses is pretty mundane and there isn’t a lot of it in Michigan. MSU got a bunch of stuff that looks like it is mostly surgical/first aid gear; U of M got some computers and barriers (I presume the sort of thing you’d put up to redirect traffic), and Western got one “Mount, Sight” and 20 “Face Shields.”

“Salaita Speaks Out”

From Inside Higher Ed comes “Salaita Speaks Out” and from the CHE comes “Salaita to U. of Illinois: ‘Reinstate Me’ or Brace for Legal Fight.” Both stories are about the first public appearance/public words from Steven Salaita since he was “unhired” by the University of Illinois.

Let me just make two observations.

First, at the risk of electrocuting myself by touching what has become the third rail of academia– that is, discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict– maybe the Cary Nelsons of the world need to at least hear this guy out. Because I have to believe that being critical about Israel and defending the rights of Palestinians doesn’t automatically make you an antisemite.  Here’s a quote from The Chronicle:

Mr. Salaita acknowledged that his tweets were “no doubt passionate and unfiltered,” but he challenged the university’s claim that he was uncivil.

“My first thought was that the notion of incivility is really subjective, it’s sprawling, it can mean anything in the context of what the speaker wants it to mean,” he said. “It’s also a fundamental mischaracterization of who I am as a scholar, as a teacher, and as a human being. If you read my Twitter feed in its totality, you’ll see that … I’m deeply opposed to all forms of bigotry and racism, including anti-Semitism, which I have publicly spoken against numerous times.”

Here’s a quote to add to this from IHE:

Salaita added that the 140-character remarks he made on Twitter were those of a private citizen troubled by world events using a specific social medium. He said his classroom “demeanor” was very different.

Asked if he regretted any of what he’d posted on Twitter, Salaita said: “I feel I’m able to discuss the content and the meaning of what I’ve said in these last two or three months on Twitter and I hope to be able to do that in a professional environment, and that I’m given the opportunity to participate in those kinds of conversations.”

And this leads to my second point: I have to say as someone who writes a lot of different things in the blogosphere, on Twitter, and on Facebook that do not represent who I am as a professor, I have a tremendous amount of sympathy for Salaita’s point. Let’s just set aside the political and racial weight of Salaita’s “passion” for a second: should a series of 140 character messages he posted not in his role as a professor but as a human mean the end of his career?

Boy, for my own sake (and probably for yours too), I sure hope not.

EMUTalk.org, this little site I run, is a forum/space that is a) not officially associated with EMU and is my self-declared hobby, and b) a place where we often discuss things that are critical of the suits the administration, the Board of Regents, the athletic program, and so forth. This has occasionally generated some rather controversial and uncivil conversation. I am proud of the site, but I wouldn’t want it to be used to judge the work as a do as a professor; I certainly would not want this to be a reason for me to be fired.

Then there’s my regular “Steve Krause” social media activities. As I’ve said before, I think my own politics are pretty mainstream/milktoast, but I do express my liberal Democratic views on Twitter and Facebook on a fairly regular basis, views that conservatives often find “uncivil.” And I routinely post about what can only be called “dumb shit” on Twitter and Facebook: celebrity gossip, gross Tosh.0 styled videos, bad jokes, pop-tarts, cat videos, quizzes, photos of myself and friends where we aren’t entirely sober, etc., etc. Perhaps some of you, my fellow academics and/or Facebook friends, have some similar posts.

None of it is what I’d call controversial of course, but “unprofessional?” You bet. If we had a “civility” clause here at EMU and someone wanted me “out” for some reason, I have no doubt that I’d at least have a fight on my hands. And you know what? Most of the academics I know might have a similar problem.

“Crimes and Misdemeanors:” ET interviews AD Heather Lyke

Well, this is kind of interesting: our friends at Eagle Totem alerted me the other day to this post, “Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Jeremy Rosenberg had a chance to sit down with Athletic Director Heather Lyke to talk about the the recent somewhat late suspension from the football team (and also the university) of Darius Scott, Jay Jones, and Quincy Jones and this is what he wrote.

Read what he posted over there, but here’s a quote:

She said that, “University policy is [that] we’re not going to make a public … statement about any misdemeanor.” Lyke went on to clarify that this directive does not originate from the Athletic Department, that is comes from the University.

This is the distinction, readers. According to Lyke, the Athletic Department had a statement crafted and ready to go if the charge was changed to a felony. A distinct line is drawn between a misdemeanor and a felony, Lyke said that there are “different paths that we have to go down” depending on the nature of the charge. A felony charge triggers a series of actions that simply do not occur in the case of a misdemeanor.

You know how I said something was fishy about all this? Turns out the fishiness is coming from the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office. In short, how is this crime not a felony? Not that I’m rooting for Scott, Jones, and Jones to have a felony on their record, quite the contrary, but they put this dude in the hospital with a fractured orbital bone and multiple lacerations.

In other words, according to Lyke, these guys weren’t charged with a felony and that’s why the AD and such didn’t have to come forward.

Rosenberg said that Lyke seemed sincere and wanting to be open about all this, but there are still two things that I have to say nag at me a bit. First, why is this not a felony? Rosenberg blames the Prosecutor’s Office and maybe he’s completely right about that. But according to what Lyke told Rosenberg, the AD office knew that there was a crime but they didn’t know who committed the assault until the three players got together with Coach Creighton, who then persuaded them to turn themselves in.

So here’s my question: did these guys get a sort of “preemptive plea bargain” of calling the assault a misdemeanor rather than a felony as a result of turning themselves in? And I wonder if anyone in the AD’s office got on the phone with someone in the Washtenaw Prosecutor’s Office (and after the Reed killing, there are probably people in both offices who know each other well) and said something like “Look, these guys were good friends with Demarius and they guy they beat was the cousin to the scumbag who killed him. So maybe if they turn themselves in we can look the other way on this whole felony thing?”

And second, if this is indeed just a misdemeanor– like getting caught with drugs or alcohol in your dorm room– how does EMU kick these guys completely out of school?

So it seems to me that Lyke’s answers actually raise some other questions.

Who lost worse, U of M or EMU?

I realize that is an impossible question to answer, sort of a “chicken or the egg” dilemma, but it does seem worth asking. On the one hand, you could say that the biggest loser is clearly EMU, losing to Florida 65-0. Our friends at Eagle Totem have some analysis of the game. I actually watched a good portion of it off and on yesterday (who knew I got the SEC channel?) and what it looked like was the EMU players literally could not move around that well on the field, like they were all woozy or something.

On the other hand, Michigan lost to Notre Dame 31-0. For Wolverine fanatics, the ones who begin every year thinking that a national championship is inevitable, that kind of blow-out stings more than a little. And I have to say this makes U of M the biggest loser this weekend because while no one thought EMU had a chance, this game was at least supposed to be competitive.

Of course, in the end what really matters is Iowa managed to get by Ball State and they kept it interesting until the fourth quarter.

“How Police Caught The Cop Who Allegedly Sexually Abused 8 Black Women”

From BuzzFeed News (which surprised me– I thought Buzzfeed was just clickbait stuff) comes “How Police Caught The Cop Who Allegedly Sexually Abused 8 Black Women.” It is a long and (trigger warning!) rather graphic story about former EMU football player and Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw. The short version is Holtzclaw allegedly targeted middle-aged African American women he stopped while on patrol and sexually assaulted them, more or less in exchange for not being hauled into jail. Very icky.