Wellinski talks EAA on “The Voice of the People” blog radio

I haven’t listened to this yet, but friend of the site/fellow EMU faculty member/point person on the push back against the EAA Steve Wellinski was interviewed yesterday on the online radio show “The Voice of the People,” a show hosted by Tony Trupiano. Here’s a link to that show as a podcast.

“Naspa’s Annual Conference Was Going Well. Then Yik Yak Showed Up.”

Here’s an interesting twist on the whole Yik Yak phenomenon: from CHE comes “Naspa’s Annual Conference Was Going Well. Then Yik Yak Showed Up.” Here’s a quote:

Student-affairs professionals flocked to New Orleans this week for the annual meeting of Naspa — Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. It’s one of the few times of the year they can get away from students and their annoying habits like, say, their use of the anonymous messaging app (and frequent powder keg of vulgarity) Yik Yak. Sounds like a great getaway, right?

Foolish student-affairs professionals. When will they learn? Yik Yak knows no borders.

The conference — which, again, is attended by people who have spent time mopping up Yik Yak messes — has been at least partially derailed by some colorful posts on the app.

In the nutshell, some folks at this conference used Yik Yak pretty much the same way that college students use Yik Yak, to talk about sex, drugs, booze, partying, and also to say naughty and offensive things. If you’re curious, you can get a fuller picture of the discussion at this Storify collection of tweets and screen captures, “YUCK – A Look at #NASPA15 Yik Yaks.”

Most of the comments on the CHE piece express various levels of outrage at the unprofessional behavior by folks making these posts on Yik Yak. Frankly, I think it’s more or less evidence that grown adult professionals are just as capable as college kids to write outrageous things in an anonymous forum like Yik Yak. “Do what I say, not what I do,” right?

The Echo in the news: “Student newspaper ‘crass rant’: ‘There are too many babies'”

I just saw this in my EMU news feed: from Campus Reform comes “Student newspaper ‘crass rant’: ‘There are too many babies,'” and the student newspaper in question is our own Eastern Echo. Here’s a quote:

A blurb in Eastern Michigan University’s student publication claimed that there are too many pregnancies and made fun of parents.

“There are too many babies happening,” the post reads. “Why are you proud of throwing the rest of your life away? Will you still be gloating about your baby when it’s smearing its poop all over your new TV? I’ll be laughing with a glass of wine on a boat because I can literally do whatever I want, FOREVER!”

Katie Perrotta, a junior communication major at EMU, told Campus Reform in an interview Tuesday afternoon that she shocked to see the blurb when she picked up the newspaper.

“Seeing that this morning was kind of shocking,” Perrotta said. “I was very stunned at how insensitive it was or how close-minded it was to the big picture of what children are all about.”

Maybe it was kind of insensitive, maybe it was kind of funny– you be the judge. But I don’t think this is really a swipe at the “pro life” crowd, even though that’s the weird direction the rest of this article takes. And Perrotta happens to be the president of the EMU Students for Life group, too.

It also turns out that Campus Reform is a “project of the Leadership Institute,” which bills itself as “training conservative activist, students, and leaders since 1979.” So you know, a bit of an agenda there.


“Anonymous apps on the rise across college campuses”

There was a good story about Yik Yak the other day on the Michigan Radio show “Stateside” and it’s up on their site now:  “Anonymous apps on the rise across college campuses.” It’s a twelve and a half minute interview with the U of M’s Director of Social Media Nikki Sunstrum. Among other things, Sunstrum talks about meeting/talking with the folks who developed the app and their vision of it– they see themselves as a “more democratic Twitter.”

She also talked about the proactive approach to the app that they’ve taken at U of M. For example, there’s this post on the social media blog at U of M from back in September about Yik Yak.  That too is definitely worth reading because it explains what the app is and it also offers some solid advice for dealing with the cyberbullying/harassment problem that comes with this level of anonymity. Here’s a quote:

It’s up to us to change the tone of the yaks. Up-vote positive yaks that speak to us as Umich students, down-vote the yaks that can be degrading or hurtful to others, and flag hateful posts. By doing this we shape our common voice in a supportive way. Even though Yik Yak is anonymous, we can still step in to to stop the bullying found on this platform. If you see yaks about abuse or self-harm, suggest our student support resources link: http://studentlife.umich.edu/studentsupport. Our university also has resources such as CAPS, SAPAC, and our 24 hour helpline for those in need of professional help.

Yik Yak can be a way to share the hilarious and absurd thing you saw while studying in the UGLi. It can be the outlet you introduce a difficult issue that’s on your mind. It can be a way to anonymously reach out for support when you need it. Yik Yak is a culture-sharing medium. It’s hilarious and it’s entertaining. It can be distressing or it can be uplifting. It can connect us or tear us apart. Regardless of how you use Yik Yak, these fleeting posts have an impact on us.


“Now that Agilix’s BUZZ software has been fully beta-tested by Detroit student guinea pigs, it’s time to cash in!”

Via Steve Wellinski– friend of the site, and my colleague in Teacher Education who is the point person on the fight against the EAA– comes this from the eclectablog, “Now that Agilix’s BUZZ software has been fully beta-tested by Detroit student guinea pigs, it’s time to cash in!” A quote:

As I reported over a year ago, the Education Achievement Authority – Gov. Rick Snyder’s failed education experiment on Detroit children – was used as a testing ground for software that endeavors to teach children using computers with little teacher interaction. The colossal failure of this software called BUZZ has been well-documented here on this site.

Check out that article and follow those links for more details. I’m all for using technology to help teachers teach better, though the idea of using computers to replace teachers is a pretty crappy idea. Further, it seems really strange to me that this company is pointing to the clearly failing EAA as a “case study” to promote this software. I’m not marketing expert, but don’t you want to point to “success stories” to sell a product like this?

BoR and EAA news

I’m getting ready to get out of town for a conference that has to do with my day job, but I thought I’d share some links and such about the most recent Board of Regents meeting, which took place yesterday, and which I assume featured green beer (though I haven’t seen that reported anywhere).

First off, here’s a link to the official word of the meeting from the EMU web site. Among other things, the BoR approved money for health-related programs that are going to be housed in the refurbished Rackham Hall, and they approved some money to expand the Honors College.

But it sounds like the big drama at the meeting was about the EAA. mLive reported “EMU regents shut down again as EAA protesters disrupt meeting,” which featured a die-in from students. There’s video on the site.

I also received an email from Steve Wellinski, the professor in Education at EMU who has been leading the charge against the EAA, which included a number of documents. He said that he wasn’t able to make it to the meeting to give his statement, but here it is:

President Martin, Provost Schatzel, and EMU Community . . . I did not come here to praise the Regents’ for their actions on December 5th. Nor, did I come here to bury/embarrass the Regents.   The Regents are ‘honorable’ appointees.   Let us not forget that they offered a noble reason for continuing with the inter-local agreement that established the EAA: “to help those kids in Detroit.”

A. The Governor’s action last week illuminates the problems of Detroit as political NOT As such, the Regents with political loyalties chose to ignore the multiple educational options in favor of their political agreement. As the Regents are ‘honorable’ appointees, this must be the right path for those kids of Detroit.

B. It is convenient to have 2 honorable appointees simultaneously serving on the EAA Board. Yes, their unwillingness to investigate hindered FOIA requests or disregard potential EMU-EAA partnership opportunities — criteria outlined in their December 5th resolution — might be viewed as a compromised allegiance. Regents Morris and Treder-Lange are honorable appointees dutifully serving their board . . . which one?!?

C. Regent Stapleton claims that EMU faculty did not “hold an open mind to {their} agreement.” Regent Stapleton is an ‘honorable’ appointee and if he judged my mind as not open during my efforts to create practicum proposals for his EAA partners, it must be so . . .

D. Regent Webb defines the teachers who speak-out against his agreement as “bullies.” Regent Webb is an ‘honorable’ appointee and if he characterizes these teachers who have been committed to our EMU students without any university acknowledgement or compensation (not even a tuition discount) as “bullies,” it must be so . . .

E. Regent Morris recently declared the EAA’s reclamation “as impressive and well-thought out.” His efforts as Chairman and CEO of American Electric Power (AEP) “laying off thousands of workers, while collecting massive profits and bilking the taxpayers out of hundreds of millions” certainly establishes his credibility to make such a declaration. Regent Morris is an ‘honorable’ appointee and if he is impressed . . .

F. Regent Stapleton has recently voiced long-standing reservations about this agreement in part because he understands that Black Lives Matter. Yes, his concerns were lost in the celebratory fist-bump during the press conference introducing the EAA. But, his October email warning us of the Snyder Endorsement from the owners’ of The Chronicle as “the worst kind of African American . . . that have gotten theirs and care little about anyone else.” This certainly shows efforts to safeguard his community. Regent Stapleton is an ’honorable’ appointee and if believes that the EAA is good for the Black Community, it must be so . . .

G. EAA Chancellor Conforme is honorable as well . . . And, if she declares that “three years into this, achievement hasn’t moved,” it must be so . . .

Yes, the Regents are ‘honorable’ appointees!

“‘She’s spitting lies,’ says Julia Niswender’s aunt about grandmother’s comments”

From mLive, “‘She’s spitting lies,’ says Julia Niswender’s aunt about grandmother’s comments.”  Here’s a quote:

The tension was palpable in the courthouse as two camps of slain Eastern Michigan University student Julia Niswender’s family came to the court hearing to watch stepfather James Turnquist waive a preliminary examination in a child pornography case Tuesday.

After the brief hearing, dozens of family members spilled out into the hallway and outside the 1st District Court in Monroe. Some jeered and gave unfriendly gestures to family members from a distance.

Essentially, not even the family agrees if Turnquist had something to do with Julia’s murder. The court at least decided that he wasn’t that big of a threat because they lowered his bond in the case that’s been holding him in jail.

On the lighter side of all of this, here’s Buzzfeed’s “25 Hilarious Little Gems From Yik Yak”

A loyal EMUTalk reader (who also happens to be a departmental colleague, good friend, and someone who has sent me other Yik Yak links lately) sent me this from Buzzfeed, “25 Hilarious Little Gems From Yik Yak.”  I’m posting this here for two reasons. First, it’s funny. I realize that there are those who might say something like “THERE IS NOTHING AT ALL FUNNY ABOUT YIK YAK,” and I apologize in advance to those readers. And not all of these are equally funny, family-friendly, and/or politically correct.

Second, in my reading of Yik Yak (which really isn’t all that frequent), these kinds of posts are pretty typical. Sure, you do see ugly things like the language that characterized the infamous Yik Yak incident that has put EMU on the map for all the wrong reasons. But I think a much larger percentage of Yaks are more along these lines– or maybe a better way of putting it is most of the Yaks I have seen are attempts to be as funny as these.

And by the way, if you are doubting me about this and you haven’t yet checked out Yik Yak, what are you waiting for? As I said as part of a rather “spirited” Facebook conversation I had over the weekend, if you are in the “we need to ban Yik Yak” camp, it seems to me you ought to at least see what it is you’re trying to ban.

But in the meantime, read these. They’re pretty funny.


One last time at the NCAA Tourney: the annual (and final) you pick-em contest

As far as I can tell, this year’s NCAA “March Madness” men’s basketball tournament is basically a contest for second place: I can’t imagine anybody is going to beat Kentucky. Then again, part of the excitement of tourney-time (and of college basketball generally) is anything can happen.

Here’s a link to the EMUTalk pool– I think I have this right. As was the case in the past, it’s for bragging rights only. Sign up early and often!

Dueling Yik Yak emails

Yesterday, faculty and lots of other people received not one but two emails about the ongoing Yik Yak mess. I include both below; the first was from Provost Kim Schatzel  in the afternoon. She basically outlines the administration’s response to all this and what they are planning to do about it. Among other things, it includes workshops about workplace bullying, discussions about faculty classroom rights and responsibilities, and policy reviews of classroom management policies.

Then last night, EMU-AAUP President Susan Moeller sent an email which was a forwarded letter/email from MSU’s Hilda Lindemann. Lindemann is the chair of the American Philosophical Association’s Committee on the Status on Women. That letter/email (are you following all this?) expresses support for Margaret Crouch because she was the one featured in the New York Times piece and because she’s a philosophy professor. (I’m assuming that the APA also supports Crouch’s co-professors, even though they aren’t philosophers and aren’t mentioned in the APA letter.) The APA group urges EMU to do something about it.

For me, I guess this begs two questions: first, do the actions/initiatives described in Schatzel’s email adequately address the demands being made by the APA?

Second, what are the other issues on the table in contract negotiations this year?

Don’t get me wrong– as I’ve said several times before, these issues are important, particularly as they spill over from the anonymous and digital world to the non-anonymous and physical classroom world. It’s just that this seems to be the only issue I’ve heard about from the EMU-AAUP for a while now. So for example, are there issues about things like health insurance, salaries, teaching load (and so forth) on the table, or is it all about classroom conduct?

The emails after the break.

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