“Sponsored Research Shows Significant Growth at EMU”

I’m not completely sure what this means, but I think it’s generally good news: “Sponsored research shows significant increase at Eastern Michigan University.” Here’s a quote:

Funded research for the six-month period ending December 2014, is $7.38 million, reports Jeffrey Kentor, associate provost and associate vice president for graduate studies and research at Eastern. This represents a growth of more than 50 percent over the prior six-month period.

“This is exceptional growth, which reflects a heightened emphasis on research at EMU” Kentor said. “This includes expansion of the Office of Research Development and Administration (ORDA) with new staff in the pre-award and post-award areas, and a new director of technology transfer. ORDA is now a one-stop shop to support faculty in all aspects of grant development and management.

So I think this means that EMU has been more successful recently in securing grant money for research, which is a good thing. I’ve just never heard the term “sponsored research” before; though that might be because I don’t really do work like that, so….

“The Writing on the Wall,” a podcast about Yik Yak at Colgate

“sometimes sports fan” posted this to the comments section, but it’s definitely worth sharing in its own post: “The Writing on the Wall” is a podcast about Yik Yak at Colgate University, where a particularly ugly series of Yaks “brought out a particularly vicious strain of racism that shook the school.” Completely worth listening to in all sorts of ways, but a few highlights/quasi-spoilers:

  • The issue here was among student on student racism at the very small and very white private liberal arts school. And it sounds like a lot of the Yik Yak users are pretty freakin’ racist.
  • At about the 7:10 mark, the story explains that a) Yik Yak has honored requests to restrict access at high schools but not colleges, and b) besides, all users have to do is not use the college network and use their smart phones’ networks. In other words, what the EMU-AAUP was asking for from the administration isn’t technically possible.
  • At about the 12:30 mark, we get into a bit about how the legal ramifications of compelling Yik Yak to give up information on some of its users. This story says that request was essentially denied, though I’m a little fuzzy on the details of that denial.
  • Keep in mind that this was a situation where students were being mean/racists/threatening to other students, and the faculty at Colgate were quite upset about all this. So they decided to fight back by more or less “taking back” Yik Yak. At about the 15:45 moment, that part of the story begins. The professors basically offered naively positive and upbeat statements on Yik Yak, and those faculty signed their Yaks. That seemed to have two effects: first, it sent the message to students “we know what’s going on here,” and second, “we care.”
  • It wasn’t perfect; there were still problems, as the podcast says toward the end. But it helped.
  • And at the end of the story, there’s an important message, I think: Yik Yak made visible to the students and faculty at Colgate what people were saying only to people who thought like them. It exposed a level of racism and overall nastiness that before this whole incident was there but just not visible.

Anyway, super-duper smart stuff here, and I sincerely hope that the folks at the EMU-AAUP and the faculty who wanted to ban Yik Yak in the first place take a listen to it.

Two MLK Day Links

I’m a little late on the uptake for a couple of different reasons on Martin Luther King Day news, but two things I thought I’d share:

First, EMU’s MLK Day schedule of events. Technically, EMU isn’t closed today– it’s just that there aren’t classes– and there are indeed a variety of different events happening on campus. The keynote speaker for today’s event is Dick Gregory, and I have kind of mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, he is of course a giant of the civil rights movement. On the other hand, when I did a search just now of “Dick Gregory,” I came across this YouTube video (which is really 47 minutes of rambling audio from some kind of Internet radio show), “Dick Gregory speaks on Ebola Hoax, Obama’s Secret Service Debacle, and ISIS (CIA Agents).” I only listened to about 10 or 12 minutes of it, but as far as I can tell, Gregory has a lot of kind of crazy conspiracy theories. A LOT. So the open to the public 10 AM keynote in the student center auditorium could be a wild ride.

Second, from the blog Gin and Tacos, “Here Comes Santa Claus.” The guy who writes that blog is a poli sci prof who blogs quite a bit about a variety of things, and I think his point here– that Martin Luther King’s legacy and even the whole civil rights movement is being softened and misinterpreted as it becomes more historically distant– is probably accurate. And that’s a problem, especially given the last year or two and some rather high profile. A quote:

As I watched what happened in Ferguson, NYC, Cleveland, and too many other places to count last year – and particularly watched how white people reacted in many cases with an amount of bile and racist invective that would have made a 1920s Klansman blush – I wonder if America’s race problem is actually worse today than it was when Martin Luther King lived. Sure, we no longer have segregated theater seating and public bathrooms. But back in the days of Jim Crow, society didn’t even bother to pretend that black people were equal or treated equally. Somehow the widespread perception among whites today that black people (and other people of color) are treated equally despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary has made things worse. We’ve traded brutal, immoral honesty for a delusion that has made us more bitter by the day.

I don’t think I completely agree with this– I do think that there has been progress since the 1960s– but I definitely see GT’s point.

Talking Back to the EMU-AAUP About Yik-Yak

Let me begin with three preambles/preemptions. First, I want to apologize to the colleagues I have who are offended by my disagreement with them and the  EMU-AAUP about their call for censoring Yik-Yak. I am sure folks will disagree with me, especially the three women faculty who felt they were sexually harassed and defamed in an honors class this past fall. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to convince you to change your minds about all this, but maybe I can persuade at least a bit.

Second, in answer to the question many readers might have, “why do you care?” Well, my teaching and scholarship has centered on internet technologies like this for over 20 years, and there have been times where I’ve caught a fair amount of shit about it. Just a couple of examples: back when I was a graduate teaching assistant and back in the days when it was weird for students to have email, a fellow grad student and I went through a lot of hoops to set up a mailing list discussion between our sections of first year writing. My “boss” at the time called me and my fellow GA into her office to more or less yell at us for doing something so crazy. I’ve had to fight with IT people to let my students make web pages. I’ve had to explain the relevance and usefulness to various folks about having students create blogs, post to Twitter, etc. It is very easy to see how I could use Yik-Yak in some of the classes I’ll be teaching next year.

So my “talking back” to the the union isn’t just a rant. This is me defending my teaching and my scholarship. This is important to me. And since I’m a tenured full professor, I feel I have an obligation to speak out about this.

Third, I’m going to post this on both EMUTalk.org and stevendkrause.com, for what it’s worth.

Okay, my talking back after the break: Continue reading

“Ex-EMU football star fired from OKC police after sex crime charges”

Not exactly a surprising story given what has come before, but as Mlive reports, “Ex-EMU football star fired from OKC police after sex crime charges.” A quote:

Former Eastern Michigan University football player Daniel Holtzclaw has been fired from the Oklahoma City Police Department after being charged with several sex crimes related to his position in 2014.

Holtzclaw is accused of sexually assaulting multiple women while working as an on-duty police officer between February and June 2014.


EMU offline this morning?

I am guessing this will change soon, but as far as I can tell, EMU is offline this morning: no email, no my.emich, no web site, at least for me. Anyone out there know anything about this?

“I Am Not Charlie Hebdo” (or am I?)

While scanning through the book of face this morning, I came across a New York Times Op-Ed column by David Brooks titled “I am Not Charlie Hebdo” I thought I’d link to/share here. It’s kind of a weird piece and I’m not sure what to make of it.

Let me quote from the first couple paragraphs, which are the most confusing part for me:

The journalists at Charlie Hebdo are now rightly being celebrated as martyrs on behalf of freedom of expression, but let’s face it: If they had tried to publish their satirical newspaper on any American university campus over the last two decades it wouldn’t have lasted 30 seconds. Student and faculty groups would have accused them of hate speech. The administration would have cut financing and shut them down.

Public reaction to the attack in Paris has revealed that there are a lot of people who are quick to lionize those who offend the views of Islamist terrorists in France but who are a lot less tolerant toward those who offend their own views at home.

Just look at all the people who have overreacted to campus micro-aggressions. The University of Illinois fired a professor who taught the Roman Catholic view on homosexuality. The University of Kansas suspended a professor for writing a harsh tweet against the N.R.A. Vanderbilt University derecognized a Christian group that insisted that it be led by Christians.

Americans may laud Charlie Hebdo for being brave enough to publish cartoons ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad, but, if Ayaan Hirsi Ali is invited to campus, there are often calls to deny her a podium.

First off, let’s be clear that there is an enormous difference between all of the examples that Brooks cites here and killing people in their offices. The idea that he is making a comparison at all strikes me as both downplaying the terrorism and exaggerating the on-campus examples. The fact is  censoring a student newspaper (which I would agree is wrong) is simply not at all “like” killing people.

Second, context matters a great deal here. There’s a difference between all of the things that Brooks mentions happening on a college campus versus not. So yeah, the University of Illinois might have “fired a professor who taught the Roman Catholic view on homosexuality” (though I am quite certain that there’s more to the story about whatever he’s referencing here), but it’s not as if that speech is shut down entirely– probably not at the Catholic student center at UI, for example.

This all seems to circle around the bad logic of “Political Correctness,” which, as far as I can tell, is always in the eye of the beholder.  One person’s “ideologue who must be silenced” is another person’s “voice of freedom and reason.” I don’t disagree that college campus discussions often get skewed by different views, and sometimes the effort to protect people/censor people in the name of decorum or fairness or whatever goes too far. But using this particular French situation as an example of how speech codes in the U.S. have run amok go too far.

“Study: Students often clueless about how much they owe”/Obama’s Community College “plan”

From the Freep comes “Study: Students often clueless about how much they owe.” A quote from the opening:

Terrance Mitchell knows. Rebecca Williams doesn’t. Eric Simon isn’t sure, but he thinks he might.

Mitchell, a junior at the University of Michigan, owes $13,500 in federal student loans. Williams, a sophomore at Eastern Michigan University, has no clue how much she owes. Simon, a senior at Wayne State University, thinks he owes about $20,000, but isn’t real sure.

That range of knowledge about student loans is common, a new study has found.

There are some other interesting passages here about the percentages pf students who have to borrow money, about the rise in private (and more expensive) college loans, and so forth.  I have to say that I have some sympathy with Williams because while I didn’t borrow a lot of money during my college career, I didn’t really know the amounts or the consequences of that borrowing until I was actually paying it back.

With all of this, it is probably no wonder that Obama has proposed funding two years of community college for everyone by a combination of state and federal funding. Inside Higher Ed described it a bit here, “Federal Promise Unveiled.” The problem with all of this right now though is I think I actually (and for the first and likely last time) agree with Speaker of the House John Boehner on this: it’s more of a “talking point” than it is a “plan” at this stage.

“EMU again earns Carnegie Foundation designation for exceptional community engagement”

Via Geoff Larcom, I learned the other day that “EMU again earns Carnegie Foundation designation for exceptional community engagement.” You can read all about it at the press release and/or watch this lovely little video; a quote from the press release:

Of the more than 4,500 public and private four- and two-year degree-granting colleges and universities in the U.S., only 240 received the Carnegie Foundation’s 2015 Community Engagement Classification. That group of 240 campuses joins 121 institutions that earned the classification during the 2010 process.

“Community engagement is one of the hallmarks of the University’s mission and success,” said Susan Martin, Eastern Michigan University president. “We believe the essence of a great, historic 165-year old public university is to create well-educated citizens who give back to their community.

“The University has long promoted and supported involvement beyond the campus as a way of improving the lives of individuals as well as the community, and as a means of enhancing learning. We take great pride in our role in the community, and I am thankful for the work of all of our faculty, staff and students that led to this recognition.”

So hey, good for EMU!


“Video: Woman’s curse-laden tirade at Ypsilanti McDonald’s goes viral”

Via a friend of mine on the book of face, I learned about this in mLive, “Video: Woman’s curse-laden tirade at Ypsilanti McDonald’s goes viral.” Here’s a quote:

A woman had some serious beef with employees at an Ypsilanti McDonald’s recently.

Eastern Michigan University student Janae Sims took video of the woman going on a cuss-filled tirade at the McDonald’s, located at 1070 Huron River Drive, on Dec. 23.

On Dec. 24, Sims posted the video on her Facebook page. As of Jan. 7, the video has been viewed 9,053,002 times and shared 215,539.

Sims agreed to share the video with The Ann Arbor News/MLive.com, but did not wish to be interviewed.

The video link I have here is actually from YouTube– easier to share.

Needless to say, the woman’s anger here is way over the top and quite profane. But I will admit that I too get angry when McDonald’s messes up my order.