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“Organizing within Our Changing Profession”

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Two Stories from Oklahoma That Seem to Illustrate Skewed Priorities

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

The first of these stories, “Gun Activists Lobbhy for Weapons on Campus,” appeared in the Norman Transcript [http://www.normantranscript.com/news/article_52a58aa0-4b3d-11e4-89de-0f889f7b5efd.html].

Gun-rights activists are pushing for legislation that will allow guns to be brought onto the state’s 25 public college and university campuses. Don Spencer, Vice President of the state’s Second Amendment Association, is promoting the legislation in these terms: “’Anywhere you can carry your Bible, which is your First Amendment right, you should be able to carry your gun, which is your Second Amendment right.”

But the university presidents seem largely united in their opposition to such legislation. Glen D. Johnson, the Chancellor of Higher Education for the state, has stated: “;We strongly believe that there is no scenario where allowing the carrying of weapons on college and university campuses does anything other than create a more dangerous environment for our students, faculty, staff, and visitors.”

The author of the…

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Should Campus Police Be Using Students as Drug Informants?

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Here are the opening paragraphs of an article that appeared in yesterday’s Boston Globe:

“The University of Massachusetts Amherst announced Monday that it will review aspects of a campus police department program that uses students as confidential drug informants, after a disclosure that an informant for the university police died of a heroin overdose.

“The university defended the program, but said it will review whether to require informants in drug cases to get help for possible addictions and whether to notify parents when a student is recruited into the program.”

From just these two paragraphs, any clear-thinking observer can very readily deduce that this “program” creates so many inherently problematic possibilities that they cannot possibly be outweighed by whatever positive results it might produce.

But it’s actually worse than those first two paragraphs might lead you to suspect. The student was initially arrested for possession of LSD, and the…

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Pearson Knows Where the Revenues Are in Undergraduate Education

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

In the mid-1990s, Pearson, which, to that point, had been a media conglomerate, set out to become the world’s largest publisher of textbooks. Within a decade, it bought up most of the most recognizable imprints—and most of those that it didn’t buy up have been bought up by its major competitor, McGraw-Hill. In the early 2000s, Pearson recognized the profit potential in standardized testing at the K-12 level and quickly became the world’s largest provider of standardized tests.

If nothing else, this massive corporation, which was founded in Victorian period in the U.K. as a construction company specializing in public works projects and transitioned into a major newspaper and periodical publisher in the interwar period before becoming a media conglomerate in the 1970s and 1980s and then, in very quick succession, a textbook publisher and a test provider in the 1990s and 2000s, has shown the ability to anticipate new…

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Trying to Reduce Higher-Ed Costs without Addressing Administrative Bloat Is Only Making Things Worse

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

John T. McNay, a professor of history at UC-Blue Ash, is president of the Ohio Conference of the American Association of University Professors. The following op-ed appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer on September 28 and is available at: http://www.cincinnati.com/story/opinion/contributors/2014/09/28/opinion-bloat-driving-uc-miami-costs/16410479/

We appreciate the column by David Hodge, president of Miami University, and Santa Ono, president of the University in Cincinnati, in the Aug. 29 Enquirer. They touted results from a poll commissioned by the Inter-University Council (IUC), and we are equally encouraged that Ohio voters so strongly support higher education and funding it. We agree with Hodge and Ono that higher education is critical for the future prosperity of Ohio. However, their editorial stopped short of how to address the most pressing problems Ohio’s public higher education system faces.

We applaud the efficiencies that Hodge and Ono mentioned because there is work to be done. In a U.S. Department of…

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Please Steal This Idea. (I Did.)

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Hank Reichman, the First Vice-President of AAUP and a frequent contributor to this blog, is marking his retirement by teaching a seminar on the history of academic freedom in the American university.  Unprompted, his provost handed him a sizable check and invited him to organize a broader symposium, a speakers series, on the history of academic freedom and the current challenges to it.

This struck me as a perfect way to celebrate the centennial of AAUP and to honor the contributions of faculty who have served both their institutions and AAUP over their long and productive careers.

At my own university, the recent retirees have included many who have contributed in significant ways to our AAUP chapter. But, coinciding with the centennial of AAUP, those retirees will include two individuals who have served in leadership positions since the chapter was first being organized and who deserve special recognition.

One of…

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Is Your University Doing This?

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

I was initially going to add this brief post as a comment on Ulf Kirchdorfer’s new post “Papa John’s Pizza Plot: Heimlich Maneuver Needed for Schools, Parents, and Students,” but then I realized that I had more to say than would be appropriate for a “comment.”

Ulf’s post is insightful and wryly humorous, and you really ought to read it–and not just this concise summary, which doesn’t do it justice. He discusses the corporatization of education-related fund-raising. Our system of public education becoming increasingly corporatized and, worse, blatantly and unapologetically so, even where the public schools are not being replaced by or undercut by corporate-operated charter schools.

Along these same lines, at my university, there is apparently a plan afoot to allow students to print for free because an advertisement for a corporate sponsor will appear along one of the margins of each printed page. At this stage, it would…

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The Growing Caste System in Higher Education: Campus Construction Edition

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

It is hardly surprising that as colleges and universities have struggled to maintain their finances in response to the deep reductions in state support and the sometimes volatile fluctuations in enrollment caused by the Great Recession, those institutions have allocated far fewer resources to maintaining their existing buildings and to the construction of new buildings.

According to a recent article in the Columbus Dispatch, “New construction at campuses across the country has been sliding for much of the past five years, according to market research by McGraw Hill Construction. This year, the total square footage of new campus projects is down 7 percent from last year, when the industry saw a slight uptick.”

In this context, the massive new construction projects at Ohio State University do not simply go against the norm; they stand in stark contrast to the norm.

The university is completing the biggest single building project…

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The University Campus as Ground Zero for Epidemics

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

With the recent news that Emory University hospital would be accepting yet another patient infected with the Ebola virus [https://time.com/3306305/emory-university-hospital-will-receive-another-ebola-patient/], the lunatic fringe of the Far Right went into overdrive to generate hysteria about the potential of Ebola to decimate the U.S.  population. World Net Daily, the news source for those who think that National Review and American Spectator lean a little too far to the Left, has run stories on the potential weaponization of the Ebola virus and on the possibility that such WMD may be smuggled across our porous border with Mexico, presumably hidden in the backpacks of the children fleeing the drug gangs and escalating violence of the cities of Central America.

As is often the case, the things that we are being encouraged to fear are largely phantom menaces that, ironically, serve to obscure much more real, immediate, and readily remediated menaces.


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Cancelling Out Student Debt for Cents on the Dollar

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

It is hard to say exactly what the long-term impact of the Occupy Wall Street movement will turn out to be. Will it seem in retrospect a very impassioned but transient response to a very serious economic crisis caused largely by the unprincipled marketing of mortgage-backed securities of very dubious value? Or will it be judged the first demonstration of a new wave of Progressivism as the political pendulum finally started to swing backwards along the long arc of Reaganism?

Right now, the Occupy Movement is a rather spectral presence. But several of its offshoots have continued to have a significant impact. One of the most remarkable of these offshoots has been the Rolling Jubilee.

As Vauhini Vara has explained in a recent article for the New Yorker, the activists who founded Rolling Jubilee recognized some basic truths about debt and have devised ways of turning the ways in…

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