“Instructor sues WCC, alleges discrimination”

From The Washtenaw Voice, which is Washtenaw Community College’s student paper, comes “Instructor sues WCC, alleges discrimination.” I thought it was worth posting here because lots of part-timers/lecturers at EMU are also working at WCC and I also thought the circumstances of the lawsuit has an interesting twist:

[Stephanie] Gelderloos alleges that she was passed up for a full-time position, despite being unanimously recommended by a hiring committee, due to an intentional WCC policy to hire male candidates over female candidates in order to increase male representation in the English Department.

According to the complaint, Gelderloos also filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In response to the charge, the EEOC issued a finding that there is a cause to believe illegal discrimination occurred.

Sounds like she has a pretty good claim here.

Susan Martin and EMU Athletics Folks Take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

I have to say that I’m personally a bit of a cynic when it comes to this ALS ice bucket challenge thing. I don’t know why; I’m very happy that ALS research is getting the donations and I think that’s all fantastic. I guess I just don’t enjoy watching people dumping ice on themselves. I think Patrick Stewart perfected the challenge here.

Anyway, EMU President Susan Martin, various coaches, and some other EMU folks took the challenge in a big way the other day. Here’s a link to the mLive story about it. And if you want to donate to the ALS foundation (ice or no ice), check out their web site.

“Chancellor Phyllis Wise Explains the Firing of Steven Salaita” (or, U of Ill “doubles down” on a pretty indefensible position)

From “The Academe Blog” comes an entry by John K. Wilson, “Chancellor Phyllis Wise Explains the Firing of Steven Salaita,” which is a post that raises some important issues regarding the role of “respectable” behavior for faculty-types and the public/private borders of that behavior. I agree 100% with Wilson and I think EMUTalk.org (and the future of sites like it) depend on Wilson being correct.

But let me back up a bit for those who haven’t feel following this that closely. I wrote about this a week and a half ago or so on my own blog here, so a lot of this recap is taken directly from that entry. For those readers who feel caught up on what has come before the Wise statement on Wilson is blogging about: skip ahead to the break.

Here’s a long quote from this Salon piece, “Return of the blacklist?” that more or less sums up what seems to have happened to Salaita:

A few weeks ago Steven Salaita had reason to be pleased.  After a full review by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he had received a generous offer of a tenured, associate professor position there — the normal contract was offered, signed by the school, he had received confirmation of his salary, a teaching schedule, everything except the final approval of the UIUC chancellor.

In academia this is not at all unusual; departments and schools are told to go ahead with the offer, so as to be competitive with both the candidate’s current school and others that might be bidding for their talent.  Salaita is a world-renowned scholar of indigenous studies (and also a frequent Salon contributor). At that point, as required by academic protocols, upon accepting the position he resigned the one he held at Virginia Tech.

But final approval never came.  The Chronicle of Higher Education reports today that “Phyllis M. Wise, the campus’s chancellor, and Christophe Pierre, the University of Illinois system’s vice president for academic affairs, informed the job candidate, Steven G. Salaita, on Friday that they were effectively revoking a written offer of a tenured professorship made to him last year by refusing to submit it to the system’s Board of Trustees next month for confirmation.”

According to Inside Higher Education: “Sources familiar with the university’s decision say that concern grew over the tone of his comments on Twitter about Israel’s policies in Gaza. While many academics at Illinois and elsewhere are deeply critical of Israel, Salaita’s tweets have struck some as crossing a line into uncivil behavior.”  Nevertheless, IHE goes on to report: “But as recently as July 22 (before the job offer was revoked), a university spokeswoman defended Salaita’s comments on Twitter and elsewhere. A spokeswoman told the News-Gazette for an article about Salaita that “faculty have a wide range of scholarly and political views, and we recognize the freedom-of-speech rights of all of our employees.”

This has been followed by a number of defenses of Salaita, including from the national and University of Illinois chapter of the AAUP. There are several various petitions floating around of faculty at U of Ill and elsewhere condemning the dehiring of Salaita.

Interestingly, perhaps the most outspoken defender of the U of Ill’s administration on this is the once leader of the charge at the AAUP, Cary Nelson. In an Inside Higher Ed column called “An Appointment to Reject,” Nelson basically presents two arguments about why the dehiring is okay. First, Nelson thinks Salaita’s tweets were horrific. Nelson quotes from several of them– and Salaita is a pretty crude dude– and calls him loathsome, sophomoric, irresponsible, sordid, bombastic, and anti-Semitic. But his second reason is more or less based on a technicality. He writes:

I should add that this is not an issue of academic freedom. If Salaita were a faculty member here and he were being sanctioned for his public statements, it would be. But a campus and its faculty members have the right to consider whether, for example, a job candidate’s publications, statements to the press, social media presence, public lectures, teaching profile, and so forth suggest he or she will make a positive contribution to the department, student life, and the community as a whole. Here at Illinois, even the department head who would have appointed Salaita agreed in Inside Higher Ed that “any public statement that someone makes is fair game for consideration.” Had Salaita already signed a contract, then of course he would have to have received full due process, including a full hearing, before his prospective offer could be withdrawn. But my understanding is that he had not received a contract.

Now, I blogged and commented elsewhere on my own take regarding all this already. But to summarize:

  • I certainly don’t agree with Salaita’s extremist views. My own take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are more middle of the road and I think fairly mainstream in that I wish Hamas (et al) would acknowledge the right for Israel to exist and I wish Israel would stop bombing Gaza and provocatively expanding their settlements to claim more territory. But again, the issue for me is not Salaita’s extremist position per se; it’s more about what role his reckless expression of those views on Twitter has with his job as a professor.
  • I think everyone involved in this hire screwed up in all kinds of different ways, but there are two big ones. Salaita screwed himself big-time.  Despite what that Salon quote suggests, the common practice when a tenured faculty person leaves one tenured position for another tenured position is to take some kind of unpaid leave from the first position in case the second one doesn’t work out. In other words, Salaita shouldn’t have just quit his tenured job at Virginia Tech before the ink was dry on his new job at the University of Illinois. Maybe Virginia Tech didn’t let him do that, I don’t know; that’d be an interesting fun fact to hear more about though. And of course U of Ill screwed up in the dehiring thing.
  • A lot of this seems to circle around the technicality of whether or not Salaita was actually hired at U of Ill and then dehired. Here’s a link to the PDF of Salaita’s appointment letter.  On the one hand, this to me is pretty solid evidence that Salaita was hired because that recommendation by the board thing is a technicality and a rubber stamp. On the other hand, it is a pretty important technicality.This is why lawyers and courts are ultimately going to get involved.
  • What more generally/theoretically concerns me is the line between who is and isn’t protected in terms of academic free speech, and the fuzzy and leaky definitions of what’s allowable. I think it is a little weird that there seems universal agreement among Nelson and defenders of Salaita (who is pretty much everyone else in academia– I haven’t read another support of the University of Illinois on this) that free speech is tied to the magical flip of the tenure switch. Before tenure, you can be fired for anything you say; after tenure, you can say anything and not be fired. I’m not crazy about either one of those extremes as I think that people who are never going to get tenure– grad students, part-timers, lecturers, etc.– deserve some degree of protection, and I think there are logical extremes of what a tenured professor can say or do to get her or himself into trouble.

Okay, still here? Now what’s happened lately:

Continue reading

Ex-EMU football star turned Oklahoma City cop arrested for alleged rape, sexual assault of 7 women

From mLive comes “Ex-EMU football star turned Oklahoma City cop arrested for alleged rape, sexual assault of 7 women.” Yikes. Here’s a quote:

Oklahoma City police officer and former Eastern Michigan University football standout Daniel Ken Holtzclaw was arrested Thursday afternoon after being accused of sexually assaulting at least seven women from February 2014 through June 2014 while serving as an on-duty officer.

Holtzclaw, a 27-year-old Enid, Oklahoma, native who attended EMU from 2005 to 2008 on a football scholarship, is being held in the Oklahoma County Jail on $5 million bond.

So he has managed to give a bad name to both college football players and the police. The article goes on to point out that the “at least seven women” number is likely to get larger as more victims come forward.

This is what I see whenever I receive a campus-wise email from Geoff Larcom

Endless Geoff Larcom

Via Mr. Larcom’s Facebook page. Could not resist.

“EMU student receives $80K national grant to study public policy”

From mLive comes “EMU student receives $80K national grant to study public policy,” which is about EMU student Trevis Harrold. Here’s a quote:

Now a senior at EMU, Harrold, 21, a Saginaw native, was recently awarded an $80,000 fellowship grant to continue his graduate studies as he works towards a career in the U.S. Foreign Services.

“I am not sure where I will attend graduate school, but I do know I will study public policy and public service wherever I go,” Harrold said. “The thing that fascinates me about this career is that people come to us for help and I really take pride in helping others.”

As one of 20 students to win the Thomas R. Pickering Undergraduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship, Harrold will be able to use the money to pay for tuition and other expenses at EMU for his final year and the rest of the money will be used during his first year of graduate school.

Harrold is the first EMU to ever receive the award.

Good for him!

“The 10 Craziest Playing Surfaces in Sports” makes EMU’s parking lot gray look kind of tame

Viat the Facebook this morning, I came across “The 10 Craziest Playing Surfaces in Sports” from a site called “Stack.” Here’s what they said about EMU:

What do you do when your program hasn’t won a conference title since 1987 and hasn’t had a winning season in nearly two decades? Give it a makeover, of course.

This summer, Eastern Michigan decided to install gray turf, to symbolize the program’s new dedication to toughness. The idea was born when head coach Chris Creighton told his team that they will compete against “anyone, anytime and anywhere . . . even on a parking lot.” Now Eastern Michigan will play on a field that actually looks like a parking lot.

The piece goes on to share some even stranger basketball courts and football fields and the St. Patrick’s day green-dyed ice of a Kalamazoo minor league hockey team. My personal favorite is the Central Arkansas football field which is “alternating sections of purple and silver turf and black end zones.”


More on the EAA, and is WEMU a non-journalistic tool?

Two additions to the ongoing EAA saga, one with a twist: First, there’s “Designed to lift schools from bottom, EAA yields decline and stasis” from The Michigan Citizen. Not much new here from other things we’ve heard, that most of the EAA schools are doing poorly. It does feature a picture of a stoic Rick Snyder though.

The second piece comes from WEMU: “Eastern Michigan University Professor Concerned With Schools Ties To Charters” is a short and straight-forward report about what we’ve been talking about here for what seems like years, that EMU has gotten itself involved with some pretty dubious things for some dubious reasons when it comes to the EAA and charters. It’s a piece just over a minute long and features a quote from Steve Wellinski.

Here’s the twist: that link for the WEMU story is actually from a Google webcache because as of this morning, the link on the WEMU page is blocked for some reason– “access denied” it says.  What does that mean? Is WEMU in reality a non-journalistic tool that kills an innocuous story like this one because of some intervention from some administrator/BOR member? Or is it just some internets snafu and it’s a coincidence that this is happening with a story like this?

I don’t know. I posted something along these lines on Facebook and Geoff Larcom (who is indeed a FB friend) commented “Well, one thing is for sure. EMU admin and the BOR would not influence such a decision. WEMU is an independent journalistic entity. I oughta know — I am often answering challenging questions from them.”

I hope he’s right and I hope the “access denied” thing gets fixed and I can officially answer my question about WEMU “no, of course not.” Let’s see what happens. In the meantime, enjoy the just over one minute story via the link I’m sharing here.

Ypsilanti Heritage Festival this weekend

I just found out that this weekend is the annual Ypsilanti Heritage Festival.  Check out their web site.

I’m not a big fan one way or the other of the Heritage Festival– it seems to me like it’s still seeking some kind of unifying theme. But jeez, they sure could do a better job of promoting this thing. I found out about it in the “things to do around town this weekend” blurb on mLive.

“Movie Night at The Factory Set for August 25″

Here’s kind of an odd one, IMO: EMU is going to be hosting “Movie Night at the Factory” on August 25 in Rynearson Stadium “The Factory.” Here’s a quote:

Fans can vote between Frozen, Gravity, Monsters University and Rise of the Guardians to be the film shown on that Monday evening. Voting will be available on EMUEagles.com until mid-afternoon Thursday, Aug. 14.

Attendees will be asked for a $5 donation, which 100 percent of the proceeds will be donated to the American Heart Association.  All seating will be on the turf and fans are encouraged to bring blankets to sit on, while furniture of any type will be prohibited. Concessions will be available for purchase and the money raised through concession sales will be donated to the American Heart Association as well.

Okay, so for five bucks, I can go to the football stadium to watch a movie while sitting on the new “‘EMU Gray’ FieldTurf” (as the article calls it)– but don’t bring a lawn chair or something because that would mess up the turf, so I’m going to be watching a 2 hour movie sitting on the ground. Really?

And how does 100% of the proceeds get donated? How is the EMU athletics department paying for stuff like basic security and the film itself?