Category Archives: Blogosphere

“An Open Letter to My Governor…”

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here! It’s kind of a combination of being busy with my day-job, busy with my life, and being in kind of a “slow news” cycle right now, at least slow news relative to EMU.

Anyway, loyal reader and fellow EMU colleague Steve Wellinski sent me a link to this, “An Open Letter to My Governor….” This is by an EAA teacher addressed generally to Snyder. Here’s a quote:

As society continues its pervasive attack on teachers and the education system, I need only to look at the derogatory commentary that has been set forth my way by your own supporters. There is Matthew Schmidt, who scoffed at my 9-month school year, unaware that the EAA, an organization designed and regulated by the Governor he voted for, is a year-round school district. Fellow Christian, Dan Borkowicz spoke from the pew of his profile picture as he told me to “move,” a feeling seconded by Paula Krueger and Mike Head. Gary Rosenfeldt feels that any individual who questions unfair working conditions can always go to Wal-Mart, where undoubtedly, his tax dollars would be supporting my income short-fall anyway.

Supporter Gary Shooltz politely told me to “blame my union representative.” Can you tell me, Governor Snyder, who my local union representative is? Perhaps I can address the bed bugs, cockroaches, mice and ants that I have currently documented pervading my classroom without fear of district reprisal (the foundation of teacher tenure).

And so forth. I picked this quote because I think it’s fair to say that this is part of  what is in the mix about the EAA is opposition to organized labor. I think Snyder et al are under the impression that if we can just get the unions out of the way in the schools, all will be well. There are any number of problems with that point of view, not the least of which is it ignores the fact that most successful public schools in Michigan are unionized as well.

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.

 

“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.

What’s the deal with “Ypsi the Klown?”

I’ve seen a couple of articles– this one in The Echo, and this one from the Ypsilanti Courier (which is where the picture comes from)– about “Ypsi the Klown.” I saw a couple of fliers in Pray-Harrold advertising Ypsi the Klown for the Homecoming court (I assume he lost).

So, what’s the deal with this guy? And is he on campus much? I haven’t seen him yet, though I’m working a lot more from home this term, so maybe it’s just me.

“Swastika vandalism hits two universities following Yom Kippur”

From campusform.org comes “Swastika vandalism hits two universities following Yom Kippur,” and guess what? one of the universities was EMU.

Most of the story was about an incident at Emory University where someone painted swastikas on the walls of a Jewish fraternity. A pretty serious incident indeed, one that was condemned by the university and that’s being investigated.

The EMU connection comes in the form of a vandalized “pro-life” chalk sign on the sidewalk, presumably the one outside of Pray-Harrold:

This is a closeup of the swastikas in the midst of that sidewalk chalk sign, presumably added later. Here’s a quote:

Rueben Ainley, Vice President of Students For Life, told Campus Reform he is disappointed by the the graffiti.

“Last night we were walking through campus and noticed people threw water on both displays on campus,” Ainley told Campus Reform. “When I was walking through campus this morning to go to class, I noticed there were swastikas, about four or five of them drawn in-between the hearts [of the pro-life display].”

“It just shows the intolerance of people on campus, that they would draw an offensive and hateful symbol like the Nazi swastika over our display.”

I agree that it’s totally uncool to vandalize a pro-life display with swastikas, but I think that’s quite a different issue than painting a swastika on the door of a Jewish frat. And presumably, someone used an eraser to take care of these.

Nice to see all the attention of U of M football circling the drain for a change of pace

You can’t throw a virtual brick out of a virtual window without hitting a story about the woes of the University of Michigan’s football team this weekend. As an Iowa alum/fan (they beat Purdue Saturday, btw) but as a “Michigander” based on the fact that I’ve been here for 16 years now, I have a mixture of glee, sympathy, distress, and apathy. I know that seems possible, but there you have it.

One nice thing (the glee part, I guess) about all of this is it is a misdirection from the silliness of the EMU football team. But there’s a good analysis by Jeremy Rosenberg over at Eagle Totem called “Brandon’s Failure at Michigan a Warning for Lyke.” Rosenberg’s argument is that UM Athletic Director David Brandon is screwing up royally by further corporatizing athletics generally and football in particular, and he’s afraid that EMU AD Heather Lyke is trying to imitate that here.

I’ll say this: I was unaware until reading Rosenberg’s piece that U of M is so desperate to keep that 100,000 fans at each game streak alive that you can get a free ticket for a couple of Cokes. That’s kinda sad. At the same time, if EMU had a similar promotion, I’d buy a couple of sodas and take in a game.

“Three Eastern Michigan football players charged with assault”

I was alerted to this story by one of our friends at the blog Eagle Totem, Jeremy Rosenberg, and I’d first and foremost encourage you to read what he had to say about all this at “Three EMU Football Players Charged with Assault.”  mLive has an article on this here. Basically, three players got into some kind of fight on the Friday before the game against Morgan State in the neighborhood over near Huron River and LeForge where it seems like all the violence near campus goes down.

As Jeremy pointed out to me and as he writes about in his post, this all seems kind of fishy. The assault wasn’t originally part of the crime summary from the Ypsi Police Department, as if “someone” wanted to make sure that the information didn’t get out until after a football game. EMU is claiming that the discipline for these players is protected by FERPA, which is freakin’ ridiculous since FERPA is about the confidentiality of student grades, not being disciplined for extra-curricular activities.

As one of the commentators on the mLive story pointed out, let’s see what Creighton does about this. Is he going to prove himself a “class act” and speak out about it? Or is he going to hide out in the factory behind his cinder block wall?

“Professor rants against professors who hate their students”

I came across this the other day on Facebook, and it struck me as the perfect thing to share on the first day of actual classes of the semester. I think this dude– Karl Gude at Michigan State– is spot-on right.

Oh, don’t get me wrong; I get kind of frustrated by some students some of the time. I think that’s just human nature. But What I think Grude is ranting about here are teachers of all sorts who seem to really not like their students, I suppose because of the frustration of having to teach them the same things again and again and again (though of course, it’s always new to the students and just “again” for the teacher).

Higher education is definitely a competitive field– especially for faculty on the tenure track– but I think too many professors make it a competition of sorts between them and their students. Anyway, I’ll be watching this again before my first face to face class today.

Weird emu thing

I found this video via HuffPo:

The Huffington Post described this as a guy hypnotizing a flock of emus by moving his legs, but I don’t know if I’d describe it as “hypnotism” exactly.  It’s a pretty weird video though.