Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Student Petition Signature Drive

I have been meaning to post about this for awhile, but I have been obsession about the Presidential election.  

Our own student association has put together a petition demanding that politicians put more resources toward higher education.  It is a very nice idea, but I am not sure what they want to accomplish with the vague statements laid out here.

I've signed it, but I don't think it will make a bit of difference.  Just like our LERT principles, when you make something this vague, it is hard to find anyone who disagrees.  It also makes it difficult to see a course of action ahead. . . . .

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Were in Big Budget Trouble!!

Doyle announced yesterday that he expects there to be a 3 billion dollar hole in the budget for the next biennium. 

Chancellor Wells informs us that he has been asked to reformulate the budget with a 10% reduction.  He mentions that there is also a good possibility that our budget will be reduced for the final year of this budget cycle.

Even though we know well that universities play an especially valuable role for the state when the economy slows and citizens are looking for retraining, I don't think the legislators are going to give us much protection.

What do you think we will lose this time around?  

1. Cancelling of current searches?

2. Losing our miniscule raises?

3. Increasing class size?

4. Cancel the new building?  The My Two Cents blog at WOSH radio proposes that (he also posted nasty comments about the "rich, spoiled" students who attended the John Kerry rally yesterday).

Any other speculations?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Whoops! No more ban in Illinois!

Just when I thought I found an interesting story about academic freedom, I find out that it was already old news.

Illinois took it back last week.

The Chronicle also reports that several other state institutions have reversed themselves in trying to ban campaign advertisements.  The University of Missouri at St. Louis and Texas-Austin both reversed themselves this week on the same question, involving both classrooms and students.

Maybe it is because Obama is surging in the polls -- it no longer looks less like political advocacy and more like preparation for the next presidency. . . .

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ban those Bumper Stickers!!

Although I have plenty of more important things to do, I just came across the story about the Ethics office of the University of Illinois system that tells all employees that they are not allowed to display political buttons, bumper stickers, or anything else.

You can read Stanley Fish's take on it from the NYTimes.  He argues that legally, the state can ban whatever it wants from the classroom, as long as they claim it is "political."

It is a complicated issue, but the state of Illinois absolutism (as well as Fish's) seem to be absurd.  We all should try to make sure the core knowledge of our discipline is passed along, but analysis and advocacy are part of making students think about that knowledge.   

We know that our system does not allow partisan political activity from state employees, but now Illinois is trying to ban even the expression of an opinion from campus?!

Will we soon see such draconian suppressions in our state?  I guess I'll have to get out my scraper . . . 

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Flaws in U.S. News Mathematics

I know that for a school like ours, the U.S. News rankings aren't very relevant (3rd tier regional, if I remember correctly).  However, it is interesting to see a report about how flawed the statistics are that create the rankings.

With statistical profiles like the VSA on the way, it is a good reminder that these numbers are easily gamed and essentially meaningless.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Angry Republican Student Letter in Northwestern

This letter ran in the Northwestern on Tuesday.  The student complains that there are no Republican events on campus.  

I don't know what is going out on the student email lists, but the biggest initiative on campus is the American Democracy Project, which is a non-partisan attempt to register students and get them engaged in the process.   I have seen the posters around campus, so I imagine they are one of the tables in Reeve that the author is complaining about.

Ironically, when I look at this campus I see apathy across the spectrum.  Compared to almost every other campus that I have been on, there is NO student activism.  It would be great for the atmosphere around here if there were really were raucous rallies in support of candidates for president.   To see students join in something with real passion and enthusiasm would make my day!

Instead, we see most of our students sort of shuffle through class with little emotion or engagement--too busy with jobs or sports or parties to pay much attention to the large, important issues we face.

This student should get involved with the Campus Republicans, organize some speakers, and make her voice heard on campus.  If she had the energy to write the paper, why hasn't this turned into activism here??