“Rally planned at EMU after Native American man reports harassment”

From mLive comes “Rally planned at EMU after Native American man reports harassment.” Here’s a quote:

Native American students at Eastern Michigan University are hosting an on-campus rally Wednesday at 3 p.m.

The Native American Student Organization will gather outside the student center near the lakeside entrance to discuss a recent altercation between students and a Native American man at an off-campus party in Ypsilanti.

There’s one other bit of news that I hadn’t seen previously about this incident in the story. The Ypsi cops came and busted up the party after Phillips’ complaint and there is an EMU investigation going on “for internal purposes.”

“EMU showing ‘American Sniper’ again after protesters interrupt first screening”

From mLive comes “EMU showing ‘American Sniper’ again after protesters interrupt first screening.” I saw this the other day in an announcement sent around by Geoff Larcom, but here’s the mLive story and discussion about it. The second showing is going to be this Friday, April 24, at 8 p.m. in the Student Center Auditorium. Two quick thoughts for now:

  • I saw this article in my newsfeed shortly after I got up this morning and it had like three comments on it. I’m posting this at about 8:30 AM and now it has over 130 comments and the comments seem to be coming about one or two a minute. And of course most of the comments are pretty stupid.
  • I probably won’t attend this screening because it’s on a Friday night and I am guessing I’ll have other plans, but I have to say I’m tempted. I didn’t see it in the theater when it came out and if I had to pick a side in this, I’d probably be on the side of the people protesting this movie. But the added discussion about the movie might make for an interesting night, and besides, it’s free.

It’s a stressful time of year, so….

…go ahead and hug an emu. But be careful– they bite!

The friend of the animals

“EMU investigating allegations of racism where off-campus students were dressed as Native Americans”

I was going to post the email that Geoff Larcom sent around about this, but then this morning, I see it’s been picked up by the mainstream media too. The best story comes from WXYZ channel 7 (Detroit’s ABC affiliate), “EMU investigating allegations of racism where off-campus students were dressed as Native Americans.”

The video is definitely worth watching. Basically, Nathan Phillips, who is described as a Native American man in his 60s who has lived in Ypsi for eight years, came across a loud party last weekend. Here’s a quote from this piece that explains what happened next.

When he approached closer, he saw about 30 to 40 students partying and noticed that about half of them were wearing “Redface” and sporting feathered headpieces.

Phillips asked the students what they were doing. They told him they were honoring Native Americans and told Phillips, “We’re the F-ing Hurons!” EMU’s nickname used to be the Hurons before the university changed it to the Eagles in the ‘90s.

Phillips responded, “This isn’t honoring us, this is racist. And as soon as I said ‘racist,’ it turned from honoring the Indians to, ‘Go back to the reservation, you F-ing Indian, get the F out of here.’”

In the scuffle, someone threw a beer can at Phillips.

The video also features Michelle Lietz, vice president of the Native American Student Organization at EMU (who is also a grad student in my department, by the way), and she said she and her organization worked all week to get EMU to investigate this. To quote again from the piece, “Lietz said, ‘It’s a great opportunity for them to finally come out and condemn this sort of behavior.'”

Jeesh.

First off, this is obviously stupid and condemnable behavior, so I do hope EMU comes out with some kind of statement or action that is a little more “meaty” than “We’re going to look into this and get to the bottom of things.” Second though, since this happened off-campus, I’m not sure there’s much that EMU can do about it.

But third, isn’t really about time to put this “we’ll always be the Hurons!” nonsense to rest? Honestly, it’s been over 20 years now that EMU’s mascot switched to the Eagles. The “F-ing Hurons” involved in this incident weren’t even born yet.

And I think this is just another example of the mistake of not picking up the emu as a mascot, too.  I have no evidence to support this claim of course, but I’m completely convinced (in my own head) that had we become the EMU Fighting Emus none of these “Always a Huron” incidents would have taken place because they wouldn’t make sense. I mean, sure, we were the Hurons, but how cool is it now that we’re the emus?!

“Sweets & Selfies with Su-Mar at the Student Center”

From Geoff “Geoff” Larcom comes the following:

EMU President Susan Martin wants to thank students, faculty and staff with sweets and the opportunity for fun selfies as we end the academic year.

Students, faculty and staff are invited to come, say hello and rock your best smile if you want a selfie with President Martin from 1-2 p.m. on either Wednesday, April 22 or Thursday, April 23 in the Student Center. President Martin will be providing sweets on the first floor of the Student Center in the Fireplace Lounge, located across from the EMU Bookstore.

President Martin wants to sincerely thank so many across the campus for the love, support and hard work during her tenure as president the past seven years. As she says, “You helped lift Eastern up and made it shine as a beacon of opportunity for so many people to lead extraordinary lives. Thank you!”

And don’t forget to tag your photos #SueMar or share them with the President on Facebook Susan Martin (be her friend!).

First off, I think this is something more designed for “the kids,” as they say, so while I’m glad they’ve included faculty and staff, I have a feeling most selfie-seekers are going to be students. Second, be on the lookout for some amusing “SueMar” photos and tags on social media.

“Emu House” to be named in honor of outgoing President Susan Martin

From the Ypsilanti Courier comes “EMU to name renovated home for housing special University guests in honor of outgoing President Susan Martin.”

I had actually heard about this before because the EMU PR folks had invited me to an open house event for “emu house” last week– I couldn’t attend because of some other stuff on my schedule, unfortunately. Anyway, “emu house” is at 526 St. John’s Street, which is across the street from the dorms Best Hall and Wise Hall, and (for those of us who have been here a while) it used to be the EMU Credit Union way back in the day.

The place has been refinished into a guest house which (the article says) could be used for “visitors performing at Pease Auditorium for extended periods, new leaders who are unable to locate a residence quickly and others visiting the University for a major event.” Oh, also important to note here: emu house was made possible by the generous support of Ken Fine and his wife, Rebecca Canary, and also to William and Delores Brehm, who donated a lot of the furniture.

I think this is a great idea because we don’t really have a place on campus to house people who are here for an extended stay. For example (and this is also a plug), my friend and former colleague Annette Saddik has been at EMU this semester off and on as the McAndless Distinguished Scholar– she’s giving a talk tomorrow in the student center called “‘Act Naturally': Embracing the Monstrous Woman in Tennessee Williams’ Late Plays”– and I know that it would have been a heck of a lot easier to put her up for a week or so at a time in this space had it been available. My hope is we can house future McAndless Scholars (and other visiting scholars) here.

But what of the name? Here’s a quote from the article:

The house is named “emu house,” which connects it to both the University and the large, flightless bird native to Australia, a few of which Rebecca adopted over 15 years ago and which still live (and infrequently reproduce) on their property.

The house will be renamed the “Susan W. Martin emu house” within 30 days of her final day as president and will retain that name for at least the next 100 years or until it has reached the end of its useful life. The plaque designating the new name of the house and honoring President Martin will be installed by early fall.

Of course, the real tribute would be a change of mascot, but one step at a time.

 

Four students arrested for protesting “American Sniper” movie

This made the news in The Eastern Echo here– “Four students arrested protesting American Sniper Friday night movie” and also at mLive here– “Protesters detained after disrupting ‘American Sniper’ showing at EMU.”  And it’s also a story that got picked up by Inside Higher Ed, too. It’s a bit of a confusing story to me, but here’s a quote from the mLive story that also paraphrases the Echo story:

About 40 students protested the film, according to a report by the university newspaper, The Eastern Echo.

The Echo reported that student protesters filed onto the stage and held up signs under the screen, before one student began speaking to the crowd.

“Do you want me to play a movie painting your people this way?” the student asked the audience, according to The Eastern Echo.

Audience members reportedly shouted back, “Tell us after.”

Larcom said the protesters received several warnings from police before the four were detained.

They were released shortly after with no charges, he said.

First off, I haven’t seen the movie. It’s not the kind of thing that appeals to me much for all kinds of different reasons and I probably would have agreed with the basic point of the protesters, and besides, I heard a lot of kind of mixed reviews when it came out. But second, I kind of agree with the audience members here: it seems to me it would have made a lot more sense to have some kind of discussion about the movie– maybe both before and after it was shown– rather than to simply try to stop it from being shown in the first place.

This all comes on the heels of events over at the University of Michigan, of course. There the movie was scheduled, then canceled, and then was going to show it along with a panel discussion, then savior football coach Jim Harbaugh tweeted his support for the movie, and then the U of M folks announced they had made a mistake originally in canceling the showing. And, to quote the mLive piece:

Ultimately, the movie was shown as previously scheduled on Friday, with the added option of a showing of the movie “Paddington,” to no major protest.

I wonder how many people saw Paddington?

“Yik Yak catches flack form Mich. universities”

From The Detroit News comes “Yik Yak catches flack form Mich. universities,” which, as the headline suggests, is more about, well, Yik Yak and flack.  It more or less rehashes the same arguments about Yik Yak that have already been trotted out, though I will highlight two passages I thought were kind of interesting. First there’s this:

Laura Krench, a junior at Eastern Michigan University, is a huge fan of Yik Yak. She downloaded the app onto her phone about a month ago and checks it about every 20 minutes throughout the day.

Recently, she commented on a yak from someone who posted that they had stopped cutting themselves for almost six months but had cut themselves three days in a row.

“If you feel like cutting, write about it, cry about it,” Krench wrote. “Find an alternative because hurting yourself is not the solution. I’ve been there and I believe in you. You can quit again, you truly can.”

I have to say that I’ve seen a lot of Yaks along these lines– maybe not quite this extreme, but Yaks that anonymously express some kind of loneliness, depression, etc. There are obvious problems with the anonymity of Yik Yak, but I’d suggest that a) Yik Yak becomes a safe space to express these kinds of thoughts, and b) Yik Yak is used a lot more for this kind of thing than it is for harassing professors.

The other passage I wanted to highlight from the end of the piece takes a bit of set-up. In the opening paragraphs, the reporter– Kim Kozlowski–  makes reference to Plato’s (aka Socrates’) low opinion of anonymity generally. I don’t know the dialog specifically where Plato talks about this, but given the high value Plato/Socrates places on the exchange between Socrates and others as a means of arriving at “Truth,” this makes a certain amount of sense. Then Kozolowski quotes EMU Professor Margaret Crouch about how the infamous Yik Yak incident made it impossible for her to teach because “they (the students, that is) did not respect us.” That leads to these concluding paragraphs:

Crouch said students need to be held accountable for violating the student code of conduct, especially in a world that continues to be changed by technology. Already the Internet has created distance between people who use it more often to communicate than face to face, and sometimes to hide as trolls on blogs.

Social media apps that allow anonymity change things even more, leaving no social sanctions — exactly what Plato was talking about centuries ago, Crouch said.

“The kind of behavior we think of as ethical or even just decent is kept in place by social sanction — by other people,” Crouch said. “There will be people who will do bad things if they don’t have the social coercion to behave. … So the idea that people will behave badly if they have anonymity has been around a long time. It’s not anything new.”

A couple of quick thoughts. First, without going too far into the weeds with this, what Crouch is talking about in terms of communication technologies like the Internet is more or less what my dissertation was about. What I argued way back then was that these technologies create what I described as “immediate” rhetorical situations, where the term “immediacy” has both positive and negative connotations. On the one hand, the quickness and juxtaposition of “immediacy” can be confusing and chaotic because of a lack of perspective, reflection, etc. On the other hand, immediacy also breaks down barriers, and it can foster connectedness and intimacy between communicators over a great distance. Or to be more direct about it, while the internet and anonymous communication is not universally good, it’s obviously not universally bad either.

Second, I’m not so sure about the “social coercion” to make students “behave” squares with students “respecting” their teachers. I’m not sure the two are related, and I’m quite sure that “coercion” is a bad way to get “respect.” We’ve all been in situations as students or other kinds of listeners where we “behaved” but where we also had zero respect for the teachers/speaker. So I guess I’m questioning the point where “respect” broke down, and I also am of the opinion that “coercion” is not a great approach to teaching.

And third, as Crouch says, this is nothing new, which is again why I don’t think it makes a lot of sense to ban Yik Yak.

“Board of Regents to Hold Special Meeting”

I don’t usually look at the “EMU Today” page, but I did this morning and I saw this interesting little announcement:

BOARD OF REGENTS TO HOLD SPECIAL BOARD MEETING: The EMU Board of Regents will hold a special board meeting today, Apr. 9, at 3 p.m. in room 201, Welch Hall. The agenda for the meeting is as follows:

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call Attendance
  • Chairman’s Comments
  • Section 1: Recommendation to appoint an Interim President
  • Section 2: Recommendation to establish a Presidential Search Committee and a Presidential Search Advisory Committee
  • Adjournment

There has been some conversation here and I’ve chatted with others lately about when we’re likely to welcome a new president to EMU. As we discussed earlier, there was a little confusion (at least for me there was) about the BoR’s plans for when they want to get a new president in place because pretty much everyone I’ve talked with agrees that getting a new president by the start of the 2015/16 school year (that is, this fall) would be pretty much impossible. So maybe this meeting is going to clarify that.

“EMU pulls the plug on controversial Life in Color concert with a history of drug use, EMS runs”

From the Detroit ABC affiliate wxyz comes “EMU pulls the plug on controversial Life in Color concert with a history of drug use, EMS runs.” I had never heard of the whole “Life in Color,” which is described as the world’s largest paint party.” Basically, it’s what I believe the kids used to call a “Rave.” There’s a video of an investigative report that the WXYZ people did last year that talks about the unusual levels of drug use, EMS calls, and even some deaths. Here’s a quote from the WXYZ site:

The concert, scheduled since January, was set to take place on Saturday at EMU’s Convocation Center. On Tuesday, a WXYZ reporter asked EMU’s vice-president of communications whether the school was aware of the event’s dubious history.

Less than a day later, spokesman Walter Kraft released a statement saying the event was canceled because of “issues with the facility.” He would not comment further.