Football versus Star Wars: A Debate

I’m not really sure what I think of this, but news of this event was passed on to me by Geoff “filling your email inbox” Larcom so I thought I’d pass it along here: “EMU students want to know: Football or lightsabers? Check out the debate in the EMU Student Center on Monday, Nov. 10 at 3:30 p.m.” Here’s a quote:

On Monday, Nov. 10, Eastern Michigan University students will come together to defend one of two well-known pastimes, football versus Star Wars/Trek.

The discussion will be held in the Kiva Room, on the third floor in the Student Center, from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.  The event is free and open to the public and is LBC approved.

This debate is a chance for students to persuade a panel of three judges and the general audience, to vote for football or Star Wars as the best pastime.

More power to the debaters and anyone else interested, but I see at least two problems here.  First, while there are of course allegiances between the worlds of “Star Wars” and “Star Trek,” no reasonable person would conflate them as is done here with the “Star Wars/Trek” thing. Second, obviously “Star Wars” is a more worthy pastime. Duh.

“EMU won’t renew Inkster school’s charter”

I’m not completely sure I understand this story and/or why it is big news– I received a press release sort of email from EMU and it has shown up in a variety of newspapers. Here’s a link to the mLive article: “Eastern Michigan University won’t renew Inkster school’s charter.” Here’s a quote from the story:

Poor academic performance, declining student enrollment and turnover in school leadership and governance were some of the reasons EMU listed as why it chose not to renew the charter.

“While these factors individually would not necessarily lead to a non-renewal decision, when taken together they cannot be ignored,” [Malverne] Winborne [Director of the EMU Charter Schools Office] said.

As a K-8th grade school, Gaudior Academy was chartered in 1996 and was EMU’s first chartered school. The school ranks at the bottom of the state’s top-to-bottom school ranking. Schools are ranked on a scale of 0 to 100. Several schools, including Gaudior, received a zero percentile ranking this year. The school received a first percentile ranking the year before and fifth percentile ranking the year before that.

EMU said it would work with Gaudior Academy’s Board of Directors to complete a transition process.

I guess this raises at least two questions for me:

  • What does EMU do with these schools? Do we act as sort of an accreditor who goes in once and a while to check things out and that’s about it? Or is EMU really “hands on” with this stuff? And if it is the case that EMU is invovled with the day to day running of charters like Gaudior, what does that say about our abilities with supporting elementary and secondary school teachers and students?
  • How is it that we are cutting our ties here but we’re still involved with this EAA nonsense?

“EMU receives $2 million federal grant to implement innovative program to educate students in STEM disciplines”

This news has shown up in a variety of places; here’s a link to the EMU press release: “EMU receives $2 million federal grant to implement innovative program to educate students in STEM disciplines.” This is basically to fund the Creative Scientific Inquiry Experience program. Here’s a quote:

The Creative Scientific Inquiry Experience focuses mainly on STEM students in their first two years of studies. It seeks to increase the number of STEM graduates through emphasis on customized academic support, academic service learning, career exploration and mentorship, and interdisciplinary, theme-based experiences.

“The CSIE program facilitates students’ progression to upper-level courses with a deeper understanding of course content and with participation in community-based problem solving,” said Nina Contis, a professor of chemistry at EMU who will serve as director of the Title III grant. “This grant will enable the University to significantly improve the success rate of students in STEM classes, particularly among underrepresented groups, through broadly implementing the CSIE program.”

I have my own reservations about the extent to which an emphasis on STEM is going to “solve everything,” but hey, this is good news for EMU no matter how you slice it.


Any midterm election thoughts?

I don’t have a lot of them, frankly. I think this has been a pretty non-event midterm elections.

As this piece from Addicting Info I came across on Facebook points out, the Republicans who have now won control of both the Senate and the House need to be careful what they wished for since it’s a lot harder to lead than it is to complain. Besides, the president’s party has always lost control of Congress in midterm elections since FDR.

I was a little disappointed that the Snyder-Schauer race wasn’t closer, but it is what it is. Given that Michigan government has been controlled by Republicans at all levels for a while now, I don’t see a whole lot of changes to higher ed issues in the state. And on the up-side, Terri Lynn Land got crushed, there were lots of progressive causes that did pass around the U.S. (minimum wage, legalizing pot, etc.).

I guess it’s also cool that (as mLive reported) “Nicole Brown elected to represent Ypsilanti’s First Ward in landslide victory.” I didn’t really know anything about Brown until this article, but she’s a 26 year old with essentially no previous experience. Frankly, I think given the state of affairs in Ypsilanti– hanging on the edge of financial solvency, for example– it might not be a bad idea to get some young people/fresh blood in there. And if “these kids” Nicole Brown and new mayor Amanda Edmonds drive this Ypsi bus into the ditch, well, then the old guard will have the pleasure of saying “I told ya so.”

EMU Regent Stapleton on the EAA Recording

I came across this via the book of face this morning. This apparently comes from a September 22 Board of Regents meeting, probably the one the BoR had a while back on EMU’s involvement in the Education Assistance Authority. So it was a public meeting, meaning that for anyone who was there, this is probably not news. But it is worth listening to for at least three reasons:

  • Stapleton is pretty blunt about how this all came about and what has been the result: that is, there was a dinner meeting with some regents and the Governor’s people (which of course raises issues about “open meeting” rules) where there was an “offer you can’t refuse” was presented. The Governor’s people wanted EMU to sign on to this EAA deal, which was presented as a) a state-wide school district and not just Detroit Pubic Schools; b)  an opportunity for recruiting students (because it was going to be statewide and such); and c) a way for getting “political favor” from Lansing: that is, we do this and we’ll get a better shake with state funding. Of course, none of these things happened. It’s also worth noting that Stapleton and the BoR agreed to this EAA idea and then decided to clue in EMU’s administration.
  • Stapleton is also pretty blunt about how he feels about the EAA. Listen to the recording, but the sense I get from him is he feels kind of swindled (which is about right) and I have a hard time believing he’s going to be in favor of signing back on to this.
  • He says a couple of times “there is fault on everyone’s side;” I call bullshit on that. It sounds to me like the BoR got talked into/forced into a bad deal by Snyder’s people here, and given that the faculty had zero role in getting us involved in this, for Stapleton to suggest now that we’re “all in this together” is pretty ridiculous.

Band Day at EMU football game

The Emus take on the CMU Chippewas today at EMU at 1 pm. The team from Mount Pleasant (which, as I like to say to a colleague of mine from that town, is actually neither a mountain nor “pleasant”) is a 14 point favorite.

But never mind that; it’s band day! As this piece on com says, halftime will include 19 area high school bands playing along with EMU’s band. It’s a fun spectacle.

So if it stops being windy and if I have time, I might take a walk over to the stadium to take a look from outside the gates. If I do, I’ll post some video.

“Professor beheaded in what witnesses first thought was Halloween prank”

I meant to post this yesterday, but I was busy at a conference and also busy with some very stupid day job issues I was trying to handle at this conference via email: from the Fox News web site comes “Professor beheaded in what witnesses first thought was Halloween prank.” Here’s a quote:

A man with a history of psychiatric problems beheaded his mother in her Long Island, N.Y., apartment late Tuesday and then dragged the body and head out onto a street, where onlookers initially thought they were witnessing a macabre Halloween prank, police and witnesses said.

Patricia Ward, 66, was killed inside her apartment by her son, 35-year-old Derek Ward, who jumped in front of a commuter train near the Farmingdale, N.Y., home moments later, killing himself, Nassau County police said.

Yikes, though when I first read this headline, I had thought that the victim’s only relationship with the murderer was that she was (presumably his) professor. It turns out Patricia Ward was his mother, and was also described as a “popular and devoted” instructor at Farmingdale State College.

“Pleas from 3 ex-EMU football players charged with beating cousin of Demarius Reed’s killer”

From today’s mLive, “Pleas from 3 ex-EMU football players charged with beating cousin of Demarius Reed’s killer.”  From what I can gather, the deal is these football players who were suspended from the team and thrown out of school earlier in the year all took plea deals that basically make these charges lesser misdemeanors where they aren’t going to be facing any jail time.  As someone in the comments said, they’ll be back playing football (probably division II) within a year.

I have no idea bout that, but it does raise the question: if they have now been convicted of a lesser crime, can they come back to EMU if they want?

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.


Part-Time Lecturers Win a Major Job Security Greivance

I received an email with this news from Zachary Jones, who is the grievance officer for the EMUFT, which is the union representing the lecturers and part-time lecturers:

On October 8th an Arbitrator confirmed the First Right of Refusal for PTLs over hiring outside the bargaining unit when additional courses become available. The Arbitrator even gave the University a cease and desist order. Attached is the decision.

This is an import decision for PTLs because it requires EMU to first offer additional courses to incumbent PTLs before hiring outside the university. Instead of only getting one or two courses, it now means we’re more likely to get a larger workload, improving our job security.

This ruling is precedence setting and reinforces a grievance EMUFT won against the Creative Writing Program last year where Dean Tom Venner agreed with the EMUFT that the department head violated the contract by hiring outside the university instead of hiring incumbent PTLs to teach the additional courses.

I agree with Jones that this is an important decision. I don’t know the details of this particular situation (even though creative writing is in my department), but as I understand it, what this means now is departments have to actually advertise teaching positions and actually interview people who apply for those jobs. This might seem like common sense, but it actually wasn’t the common practice, certainly not in my field.

A lot of part-time hiring is done at the last minute (because a new section opens up, because someone suddenly can’t teach a class, etc.), and there wasn’t really a system in place to make that happen. And by the way, this practice of “just hire someone” is not new and not at all unique to EMU. When I was a part-timer way back in the early 1990s, it seemed like the process of who would or wouldn’t get that extra section of a class was based entirely on who was in the hallway when the department chair poked his head out of his office.  At my first tenure-track job, “the process” for hiring part-timers was the secretary called someone on the availability list and the first person to answer the phone got the gig.

Mind you, this new process is kind of a pain in the ass too. It means that part-timers have to put together an application, and it means that there needs to be an interview process, which is an extra step for department heads (and, in my department, faculty in the area where the part-timers are being hired). But it does seem to be a system that is a lot more fair and a lot less random.