Category Archives: Blogosphere

In student loan news….

First off, via Michigan Radio I learned about this press release from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (who knew there was such a thing?), “Survey Reveals Varied Perspectives Regarding Student Loan Debt.” Here’s a quote about that survey:

By a two-to-one margin, borrowers were more likely to say that their student loan was a good investment than a bad investment. At the same time, however, more U.S. adults would not recommend student loans as a way to finance a college education compared to those who would recommend doing so. Some felt that if they had realized the amount of student loan debt that they would accumulate, they never would have taken out the loan(s).

Many adults say that they would have benefitted from financial counseling on both ends of the loan – before taking out their loan, as well as after – for many admitted that it is difficult to find the right student loan repayment program for their situation.

This doesn’t strike me as too surprising, but the idea that most people now wished they had had “financial counseling” way-back when they got their loans a) seems pretty self-serving for a foundation of credit counselors and b) sort of seems like a visit from “Captain Hindsight.”

In the amusing/bitter camp comes this entry from the blog/web site Blue Nation Review, “Check Out The Angry Letter This Post-Graduate Sent When His School Asked For Money.”  This was sent to me by a loyal EMUTalk.org reader and I thought it was kind of amusing– almost certainly not actually true (what university? when? who wrote this? etc.), but still amusing and probably tapping into a lot of similar feelings from other graduates.

Maybe we need some “completion coaches” at EMU

Via the Inside Higher Ed blog Confessions of a Community College Dean comes “Walla Walla Wows World” from Matt “Dean Dad” Reed. It’s a story about some of the things that Walla Walla Community College have done to increase graduation rates and the catchy idea of “completion coaches.” Here’s a quote:

The completion coach idea, for instance, seems ripe for the picking.  Completion coaches, of which the aforementioned Mr. Weber was one, spend their time tracking down students who left the college just a few credits shy of graduation.  They encourage/cajole/recruit the students to come back and finish.  (As the article puts it, “they divide up the names and then go on the hunt.”)  When it works, the student benefits by replacing a collection of various credits with an actual degree and some sort of plan to move forward, and the college benefits by both higher enrollment and a higher graduation rate.

The methods of the completion coach sound more like something you’d see in the for-profit sector, but in this case, the coach is using her powers for good.

This seems like a pretty good idea to me. I realize the logistics of something like this would be tough, especially at a large institution like EMU, but it makes a heck of a lot of sense to try to reach out to students who have left or struggling and try to talk them back into school.

Any thoughts on the #ypsipooper?

Apparently, someone has been shitting on the slide in the playground in Prospect Park in Ypsilanti. As reported in mLive a few weeks ago, “Police hunting ‘mystery pooper’ defecating on park slides.” Then, just the other day, Adams Outdoor Advertising put up some ads on its electronic billboard at the South Huron Street exit off of I-94 that are somewhere between funny and insulting about the whole thing.  As mLive described it, “Billboard seeks to flush out ‘mystery pooper.'” I’ve included a sample of that billboard art here; other rotating messages on the billboard included “Do your civic doody, report the pooper,” “Help us flush the pooper,” and “Help us catch the poopetrator.”

By the way, there was some debate about the merits (or lack thereof) for this billboard way back when on this site.

Now, that initial story said it was “a mystery” who put up that billboard. But as was reported in a follow-up piece, “Officials ‘closing in on’ mystery pooper,” the billboard was put together by none other than Adams Outdoor Advertising themselves, and they see this as a “Pubic Service Announcement.”   Though I don’t know if you can actually say this is a PSA since the city doesn’t want it and seems to find the whole message and hashtag about a pooper in Ypsilanti insulting. Here’s a quote from that mLive piece:

General manager Todd McWilliams said his company took the initiative to design and post the signs after an employee saw a news report about the mystery pooper and brought it up in the office.

“The goal would be that someone would call the police if they know, or to at least scare the person into stopping,” McWilliams said.

Ypsilanti City Manager Ralph Lange said that the company did not consult with anyone from city administration before posting the billboards.

“We’re not authorizing it and we don’t need it,” Lange said.

“We have a person of interest in the case, it’s an ongoing investigation and we’re closing in on that individual.”

According to the Detroit Free Press, Adams Outdoor Advertising agreed to take down the billboard Friday afternoon, per the city’s request.

Mark Maynard has been blogging about this too, and you can probably tell his take on Adams Outdoor Advertising by the title of his post “You don’t have to be the Mystery Pooper to shit on Ypsilanti… You can be a corporation.”  Here’s a quote from Maynard’s blog:

It’s been a huge hit for Adams, getting coverage on sites like Deadspin and Gawker, and I’m sure that McWilliams and his team are feeling pretty good about themselves. Unfortunately, though, we’ve still got a local deviant who’s shitting on, and possibly fucking, a play structure outside a local elementary school. And, as hilarious as some people might find the thought of children playing in the feces and ejaculate of the mentally ill, a lot of us appreciate it for the health and safety risk that it is.

I suppose we should just be thankful that they didn’t put up a “Home of the Pooper” billboard.

I don’t quite know what to think about all this. I suppose the story was inevitable, given the circumstances. Dog shit in a playground isn’t a story, even if it had been on a slide. Human shit in an undesirable/wrong place isn’t a story per se– that is, poop in an office hallway is disgusting and wrong and would need to be stopped, but it wouldn’t be news. But human shit on a playground slide? Stop the presses.

I agree with Mark in that this is actually a serious issue and it’s just another unfortunate reason for people to dump on Ypsilanti (pun intended). Still, the scatalogical humor here is kind of hard to deny or to stop, which is why there are hundreds (probably thousands) of Tweets with the hashtag #ypsipooper.

In the end, I think everyone just hopes the cops catch this person.

“Presidents of the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University and Washtenaw Community College personally support May 6 Millage”

Via the interwebs/social medias (that is, via some source I can’t really recall) comes “Presidents of the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University and Washtenaw Community College personally support May 6 Millage.” This is from a web site set up to support the May 6 millage called morebuses.org.  Two things; first, a quote:

The presidents of the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, and Washtenaw Community College, the three largest higher learning institutions in Washtenaw County, have personally endorsed the May 6 ballot proposal to improve public transportation in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township.

[...]

“The AAATA helps Eastern Michigan University’s students, faculty and staff travel to class, work, job interviews, and local businesses around our campus and throughout the Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor area,” according to EMU President Susan Martin. “The proposed expansion of AAATA services will provide even more opportunities for our students and employees and will benefit the local economy and environment. The Ride has been a valuable community resource and active partner with Eastern and I am pleased to support the proposed expansion of services.”

Second, I guess I haven’t been paying attention because I was not aware that there was going to be a May 6 vote on an additional millage for the buses.  I don’t know if this is county-wide or if its limited to Ann Arbor, but I’d encourage people to get out there and support it for the same reasons Sue Martin is supporting it.

“Should We Rank Colleges Based on Their Graduates’ Earnings?”

A loyal EMUTalk.org reader sent me this piece from Slate, “Should We Rank Colleges Based on Their Graduates’ Earnings?” which is a follow-up/defense of that article about PayScale’s college rankings based on the earnings of graduates. Frankly, I don’t have the time or energy to explain once again what is wrong with this logic right now– lots of grading and such as we round the turn for the end of the semester– but I thought I’d share it in case anyone else wants to make the argument. Go ahead, dive in!

“Major Attack on Academic Freedom in Michigan”

Over at the blog “Academe Blog” comes “Major Attack on Academic Freedom in Michigan,” which is a post by Martin Kich. It’s a pretty short post, but here’s a quote:

In the Michigan Senate, the Appropriations Higher Education Subcommittee included in its budget proposal a penalty against any public college or university that teaches a labor-related course or offers a labor-studies program.

and

Specifically, SB 768 prohibits “the encouragement or discouragement of union organizing of employees, including, but not limited to, participating with any business or union, or group of businesses or unions, in hosting, sponsoring, administering, or in any way facilitating an academy, seminar, class, course, conference, or program that provides instruction, in whole or in part, in techniques for encouraging or discouraging employees in regard to union organizing.”

Oh, and apparently Michigan Radio has a story about this too and how it would specifically impact Michigan State: “MSU could lose $500k for offering labor courses.” Seems like an oddly narrow law to impact a specific course like this.

PS: There’s this article in mLive too– I guess I missed all this earlier.

In basketball news…

First off, I find myself in the somewhat unlikely place of being in the lead of the annual EMUTalk NCAA Tourney. Go figure! Sure, it’s only a pool of five people, but a lead is a lead!

Second, there were a few end of the year articles/blog posts about the EMU men’s basketball team. mLive gives us “Eastern Michigan ends season with 69-56 loss to Columbia in second round of CIT.” The Emus finished a very respectable 22-15 for the season, the best since 1996-97. The Echo has a more philosophic/reflective piece, “5 Things to Take Away: EMU men’s basketball team’s season.”  I agree with four out of five– nothing good came from the CIT thing, IMO.

And the blog Damn Arbor posted “Today, We Are All Eagles” about the crappy attendance at the games generally and the CIT game specifically. It’s probably not rehashing all of that now, but I think the lousy fan support/attendance is something for the PR folks/athletic program folks to think about carefully. Basketball was pretty decent this year, so these attendance numbers should have been better; why weren’t they?

Two (and a half) for the road: CIT and a couple of Mark Maynard posts

I have to get out of town for this conference, but I had to mention two (and a half) other things/suggestions for further reading:

First, from our friends over at Eagle Totem comes “EMU Wins Basketball Game, Loses the Internet.” Basically, the Emus won it’s basketball game in the CIT last night in front of a crowd of 373 fans. One of the players sent out some negative and not well-worded “tweets” about the whole experience, and that appears to have received more attention than the game itself. mLive has the story here, too.

And what the hell is the “CIT?” And is this the sort of “post-season play” that is entitling Rob Murphy to a bonus this year? If you ask me, this is a waste of time and money on all fronts– zero to negative PR value/visibility issue for EMU, it takes students out of the classroom for no good reason, it costs us money we don’t have, etc., etc.

Second, Mark Maynard has two posts of interest: “EMU venturing into the community, making damn good videos,” which is about a video made by the office of Campus Life about the Ypsi Food Co-op, a video that I would agree is very well done.  The other post is “Participants in Thursday’s Wurst Challenge already raise $3,624 for Ypsilanti’s FLY Creativity Lab, aim for even more,” which is an update on the sausage eating contest that will feature EMU President Susan Martin. I’ll be out of town, but it looks like an event worth attending and/or donating to.

More on the EAA, or “GUEST POST: Students for an Ethical and Participatory Education respond to staged EAA “forum” at Eastern Michigan University”

Loyal EMUTalk.org reader and faculty member Steve Wellinski send me this useful link, “GUEST POST: Students for an Ethical and Participatory Education respond to staged EAA “forum” at Eastern Michigan University,” which is about the less than satisfying EAA forum on Wednesday. It’s a short memo, but the complaint is that this wasn’t really a forum to discuss the merits of the EAA at all since the only speakers were “pro” and the questions were limited to index cards.

I wonder if there isn’t some merit for these folks to organize a “counter” forum to air their views a bit more loudly?

Maynard challenges Martin to Sausage Eating Contest

Well, sort of at least.

As Mark Maynard noted on his blog, “Consuming 20 feet of meat is apparently newsworthy… Seattle and San Francisco take notice of the Wurst Challenge.”   The “Wurst Challenge” is actually a fundraiser for FLY, which is a “mobile” children’s art center that brings cool art making and DIY projects to kids in Ypsilanti and throughout Southeast Michigan. Here’s a quote from Maynard’s blog:

The Ann Arbor News ran a story about the event today, and it got picked up by the Associated Press. As of right now, it looks as though the story has been reprinted by about 20 different media outlets across the United States, from the CBS affiliate in Grand Rapids and WEMU, to the San Francisco Chronicle and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. One would hope that increased contributions for FLY’s downtown Creativity Lab might follow, but I haven’t seen today’s tally yet. As of last night, though, our nine participants had raised $886, which I think it is a pretty respectable start. (Our Mayor is currently in 5th place, having brought in $76 in pledges, well behind Jason “Knifebeard SausageHawk” Youngs, who leads the pack with $335.)

If you have a few dollars and want to support a worthy cause, just click here, choose your champion, and leave a contribution so that FLY can keep inspiring our kids at their downtown Ypsilanti Creativity Lab. And come to the Wurst Bar on the 20th to see these nine brave, sausage-loving philanthropists wolf down impossible amounts of meat.

In that mLive/Ann Arbor News article Maynard mentions, he specifically calls out EMU President Susan Martin to throw her hat (napkin?) into the ring and enter the contest. He writes about that a bit more on his blog, too:

For what it’s worth, I didn’t mean any disrespect by it. I do think, however, it would be awesome to have a representative from EMU sit alongside our Mayor and the various local luminaries we have joining us for the challenge. And, President Martin, if you’re reading this, you should know that, if you were to join us, you wouldn’t have to consume the entire 20 feet of meat. Even if you could only manage a few inches, we’d appreciate your effort. The important thing, from my perspective, is to help build that bridge between campus and the community, and I can’t imagine a better way than to have your support for FLY’s Creativity Lab. But, if you’re not a sausage fan, I’ve got two other suggestions for you to consider. One, you could appoint someone to eat in your place, like an art professor or regent. Or, two, you could contribute financially. Jesse Kranyak, the owner of the Wurst Bar, will be donating ten cents for every inch of sausage consumed by our nine contestants, and it would be awesome if you could match him. The kids of Ypsilanti would very much appreciate it.

Maybe a regent, but I don’t know any art professors who would have much of a chance in a sausage eating contest. In any event, a good and fun cause, and I hope Martin takes up Maynard on the challenge.