“Letter to the Editor: EMU Faculty Senate’s response to Regent Stapleton”

From the Echo comes “Letter to the Editor: EMU Faculty Senate’s response to Regent Stapleton.” It’s a letter from EMU Faculty Senate President Sandy Norton and Vice President Perry Francis taking on some of the less than kind comments Board of Regent member Jim Stapleton. Here’s a quote from the beginning:

In his statement, Regent Stapleton, noted that he was “disappointed in our Governing Board at the time this agreement was reached for not insisting on better communication with our University community about the decision we collectively made to enter into this arrangement.” He goes on very cogently and admirably to take much personal responsibility for the Board of Regents’ actions.

Later in the statement, Regent Stapleton also points to his disappointment “in our Faculty community who, irrespective of the fact our Administration and Board could have and, should have done more to communicate our decision to partake in this venture, in my judgment have never collectively held an open mind to our involvement.”

And then the letter goes on to point out the many ways in which Stapleton is wrong, that the EAA didn’t want to work with EMU faculty despite the faculty efforts, etc.  This seems similar to statements that Stapleton has made in the past, that everyone shares some of the blame, which I think is clearly bullshit. That’s someone who drives a car off of a bridge and into the lake blaming the passengers in the back seat.

In other BoR meeting news

But I will say this: not everything the Board of Regents did yesterday was a politically motivated hack job not at all in the interests of the university.

First off, EMU will go smokeless beginning July 1. There’s an interesting “FAQ” here; just to quote from a couple of things:

Q. Can I smoke or use tobacco in my personal vehicle when it’s parked on campus, or when I’m driving on campus?

A. Smoking/use of tobacco is not permitted in your personal vehicle, whether parked or in motion, if the vehicle is located on university-owned, operated, or leased property as defined by the policy.

Q. Does EMU have the right to tell me I can’t use tobacco products on campus property?

A. The University has a responsibility to establish policies that positively affect the health and well being of the campus community. It’s understood that the use of tobacco is a personal choice and is legal for adults to purchase and consume. The tobacco-free policy does not prohibit tobacco use; it simply establishes where use can and cannot occur.

Q. How will the policy be enforced?

A. The guiding principle of enforcement will be respect for all. This crucial approach needs to include tobacco users and non-users, and must encompass respect for the policy the University has adopted. We hope this principle will help guide everyone as the University transitions to a healthier, tobacco-free environment.

From review of other campuses, best practice suggests that these changes in culture can happen with everyone working to be respectful of the policy. Repeated violation of the policy will be addressed through the Student Conduct and Community Standards Office for students and Human Resources for employees. Compliance can be achieved through consistent messaging, policy education and the provision of cessation programs.

One question that occurs to me now is can students smoke in the dorms? I think that smoking in the dorms might already be against the rules, but I don’t know.

Second, campus cops are going to start wearing body cameras, which I suspect is going to become the norm everywhere within a few years.

“Chaos erupts as EMU votes to remain with EAA”

There was a story about this EAA vote on the Detroit ABC affiliate, WXYZ (channel 7), “Chaos erupts as EMU votes to remain with EAA.”  Be warned that video will start up when you click that link, but it’s worth watching.

I’ll say this: one thing this video suggests to me that maybe the most effective/ongoing way for the EMU community to protest this is to disrupt the Board of Regents meetings. What I’m saying is if every meeting from now until we were done with the EAA included a crowd of people shouting “down with the EAA” and having a die-in and such, I’m pretty sure that’d keep this story in the media. Oh, the BoR would still probably toss everyone out and still have meetings, but it’d make a point.

(Of course, that’s easy for me to say. I’ve never even been to one of these meetings…).

And I guess I’m going to have to set up an EAA category on the site because we’re going to be talking about this stupid thing for a year.

“Protesters disrupt EMU regents meeting after vote to keep ties to Education Achievement Authority”

From mLive comes “Protesters disrupt EMU regents meeting after vote to keep ties to Education Achievement Authority.” I’d embed the video here but I can’t. I’m sure more details will emerge, but apparently, the BoR has voted to keep EMU’s association with the EAA, this despite all the various protests, petitions, and articles, and also despite EMU President Susan Martin saying it was time to cut ties.

All I can think now is are you shitting me?!?

As a slight update, here’s a link to an mLive article about all of this.

“Petition to terminate EAA agreement”

This just in from Steve Wellinski:

Dear Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents, Dr. Susan Martin, President, and Dr. Kim Schatzel, Provost and Executive Vice President

On October 23, 2013, The COE council sent a letter to the Board of Regents requesting the university’s participation in the inter-local agreement that created the Education Achievement Authority be severed immediately.   The undersign support the following version of that request.  Attached is a list of2,189 individuals who have added their names to this petition, as well as additional comments written by the petition signers themselves.

The leadership of Eastern Michigan University (EMU) entered into an inter-local agreement that created the Education Achievement Authority (EAA). They did so in a manner that fostered assumptions that members of the education faculty at Eastern were actively engaged in the EAA — misleading the citizens of the state; the professional educators of the state; AND the students of the University. The fact is EMU faculty were not invited to give input into such an arrangement or asked for our expertise as researchers and professionals in the complex and varied aspects of education (school administration, teacher development, and student achievement) as the EAA was established. To date, the faculty have been excluded from any direct participation in the creation or implementation of its policies, operating procedures, professional development, curricula or pedagogical practices, many of which the faculty find questionable at best.

Furthermore, the faculty find the undermining of democratic processes represented in the creation of a district outside the purview of public decision-making and oversight to be in direct conflict with this university’s mission and our legacy as a champion of public education. This violation of our principles is now beginning to affect our historically strong relationship with local schools.

Thus, the faculty find Eastern Michigan University’s participation in the Education Achievement Authority unacceptable. These negative impacts on our reputation, our local relationships, our students and programs, the clear effect on enrollments and thus revenue to the university are a repudiation of Eastern Michigan University’s legacy as a champion of public education and a leader in the preparation of educational professionals. The faculty implores you to remedy this situation as quickly as possible by unanimously voting to withdraw from the contract creating the Education Achievement Authority.

Respectfully submitted

Steve Wellinski


“Eastern Michigan University explores banning all tobacco use on campus”

I heard this story on WEMU this morning, but here’s a link to the mLive version: “Eastern Michigan University explores banning all tobacco use on campus.” Basically, the Board of Regents is apparently going to discuss (vote on?) a tobacco policy that would ban all tobacco products anywhere on campus, including in people’s cars. The WEMU story said this was the policy at places like Western and Central, and it has the advantage of being easier to enforce, certainly more than the 25 foot from a door thing.

I’m all for it. I hope it happens.

More EAA news for today’s BoR meeting

The Detroit News is reporting “EMU board could cut ties to Michigan’s EAA.” Here’s a quote:

At a meeting Friday afternoon, the EMU Board of Regents will consider whether to sever its relationship with the EAA — set up by Snyder in 2011 to turn around the academic performance of students in the state’s lowest performing schools to prepare them for the workforce and global competition.

But the initiative has been controversial. EMU students, faculty and staff, along with faculty from other universities and Detroit educators, are expected to be out in force, demonstrating before the 1:30 p.m. meeting.

It is the last meeting of the year, and regents must give notice by Dec. 30 if they intend to withdraw from the interlocal agreement, according to the contract.

Steve Wellinski, an EMU associate education professor and leader among those demanding that the university end its partnership with the EAA, said he’s confident the regents will exit the contract.


Fingers crossed that Steve is right!

Tomorrow’s BoR and the EAA show-down

Well, it’s all come down to this: Friday the EMU Board of Regents is meeting (I assume the last meeting of the term?) and clearly one of the top agenda items for this meeting is undoubtedly going to be EMU’s ongoing relationship with the Education Assistance Authority.

It’s certain this is going to be on the agenda, and all the signals so far have been that EMU is going to find a way out of the EAA. Steve Wellinski, an EMUTalk fan and faculty member who has been working hard to get EMU out of the EAA, sent me this link from Detroit’s metrotimes, “EMU considers ending its association with the EAA.” Here’s a quote from later in the article:

If EMU’s Board of Regents decides to withdraw from the inter-local agreement at its upcoming meeting, the school’s relationship with the EAA will remain intact until June 2015. That allows time for a new entity – another state university, for example, or some other unit of government – to step into the void and allow the EAA to stay in business.

According to Steve Wellinski, an associate professor in EMU’s Education Department and the person who launched the petition drive, the Board of Regents could also attempt to immediately withdraw from the agreement if it determines the EAA has, in essence, voided the contract. Failure on the part of the EAA to follow the law regarding treatment of special education students, for example, would be grounds for EMU to pull out immediately, Wellinski contended. He said he plans to raise that issue with the regents during this week’s meeting.

This is the approach I’d favor, personally. It sounds like EMU was kind of forced into this, that there was a hint at favors from the state that never came, and I think the wise move (as James Stapleton implied in the recording featured in this post) would be for EMU to get out while the “gettin'” is good. But according to this article, another possibility is for EMU to get even more involved with the EAA:

“One of the many changes that Chancellor Conforme envisions is in the EAA’s relationship with the Eastern Michigan University community,” noted [EAA spokesperson Mario] Morrow. “Over the past few months, she has been listening to parents, principals, teachers, students, and community leaders about what improvements the EAA needs to make. She firmly believes that dialogue must extend to EMU’s educators, administrators, and students, and she intends to make that happen in the months to come.

“The EAA’s goal is to provide our children with the best education possible, regardless of their economic circumstances. We know that is the goal of Eastern Michigan University as well. It is critical that we reach that goal together for the sake of our students.”

Oh, hell no. The first rule is if when you find yourself deep in a hole is to stop digging.

There’s more about all of this at electablog, “ACTION/EVENT: Join EMU faculty, students, & alumni in their continued fight against EAA partnership.” And if there is info to share from or about tomorrow’s BoR meeting, be sure to pass it along.

Ypsi cops to wear body cameras; Chris Rock interview raises a couple of interesting points to share here

This is kind of a tangent post (as I really try to keep this site pretty squarely about EMU most of the time), but given some of the conversation/campus events lately, I thought I’d go ahead and point these things out.

First, it turns out that “Ypsilanti police will be wearing body cameras by March.” This story is from mLive, but I’ve heard about it on NPR too. I believe Ypsi is the first place in Michigan where this is happening. No one should kid themselves into thinking that this is going to “solve” the problem of police shootings like what happened in Ferguson, but a) if Darren Wilson had been wearing a body camera, I think we would have had at least some additional evidence about what happened when Michael Brown was killed, and b) when cops have had to wear body cameras (notably in California), incidents of police brutality/shootings went down like 80% (though I don’t have that citation on that one right in front of me or anything).

Second, there’s a great interview of Chris Rock making the rounds now that is totally worth reading even if you are only sorta/kinda a fan. One loyal EMUTalk.org reader suggested I share it because of what he had to say about college campuses:

What do you make of the attempt to bar Bill Maher from speaking at Berkeley for his riff on Muslims?

Well, I love Bill, but I stopped playing colleges, and the reason is because they’re way too conservative.

In their political views?

Not in their political views—not like they’re voting Republican—but in their social views and their willingness not to offend anybody. Kids raised on a culture of “We’re not going to keep score in the game because we don’t want anybody to lose.” Or just ignoring race to a fault. You can’t say “the black kid over there.” No, it’s “the guy with the red shoes.” You can’t even be offensive on your way to being inoffensive.

When did you start to notice this?

About eight years ago. Probably a couple of tours ago. It was just like, This is not as much fun as it used to be. I remember talking to George Carlin before he died and him saying the exact same thing.

I think he kind of has a point, though I personally think Maher’s “riff on Muslims” was pretty ignorant.

Then there’s also a longer (too long for me to just cut and paste) and interesting take on the mess in Ferguson. Among other things, Chris Rock says if he was reporting on it, he’s interview white people because “We know how black people feel about Ferguson.” Smart stuff.

EMU football should buy a clue from UAB

This was actually posted as a comment by EMUGrad, but it’s worth making into its own post/topic: from ESPN College Football News, “UAB shutting down football program.” It’s apparently not without some protests from students, players and cheerleaders, and there is also a question about what it means for the University of Alabama-Birmingham’s membership in Conference USA. The fallout out to be interesting.

I have to say this passage of the article was really striking to me:

The Blazers are 6-6 and bowl eligible after coach Bill Clark’s first season. Players will meet later Tuesday to decide if they want to play should a bowl berth be extended.

The program’s only bowl trip came in 2004.

Players can transfer to other schools and play immediately.

Playing in the shadows of Alabama and Auburn and lacking an on-campus stadium, UAB has struggled to develop a fan base and consistent attendance in the nearly two decades since it joined the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Average attendance doubled this year under Clark to more than 20,000 fans per game, but reports circulated that administrators might kill the program even as the Blazers compiled their best record in a decade.

As an institution, I think it’s fair to say that UAB is sort of like a cross between EMU and Wayne State: it’s not one of the flagship institutions in the state, it’s around 18,000 students, and kind of “regional” university, but it also has a big medical school and probably more PhD programs than EMU. But as a sports school, there is absolutely no doubting that EMU and UAB are in the same boat: substitute “Michigan” for Alabama and “Michigan State” for Auburn and we’re pretty much there.

Of course, this happened at UAB because the administration had been pushing for closing down football for some time; fat chance that’s going to happen anytime with our current administration and/or home of the newly grey turfed “factory.”