Strange Weather, With Spanish Black Radish.

Snow and then sun,
snow again and then
sun again, on this

IMG_2975

beautiful Friday
after Thanksgiving.

Taken just now on
UD‘s deck, her snow-
capped radishes
gleaming in the sun.

How to Anger Your Coach

In college, he will learn he is still different and be treated as such. He may live in an athlete only dorm and receive special food, tutoring services, and attention. Many colleges will give him credits for classes he never took and go to great lengths to find him instructors who are athlete friendly. In fact, if you are the rare breed of athlete who is academically smart, you will anger your coach when your academics interfere with training, practice, or games.

“The Dartmouth College student newspaper [called for abolishing all fraternities] in October, writing that ‘Greek life is not the root of all the College’s problems or of broader societal ills … [but] as a system, it amplifies students’ worst behavior’ and citing a 2001 incident where the Zeta Psi fraternity ‘encouraged the rape of a female student.’ A final decision by the administration has yet to be made, but school faculty voted 116-13 in early November to end Greek life campus.”

Moving right along.

UD’s Thanksgiving.

Replete is the word I find,
These days, most often in mind.

I sit down with family to eat.
There it is again: Replete.

UD well remembers watching a brightly-suited, power-of-positive-thinking, representative from one of America’s most notorious jockshops…

… tell a high-level Washington DC gathering of university administrators (they were there to talk about the, er, problem of college athletics) that the solution was easy: “Make athletic directors and coaches professors.”

UD, from her seat at the back of the room, silently applauded the man on his genius. “Yes,” she thought. “He has understood that if you wave a wand and declare the athletic staff professors, you destroy any ability the university has to defend itself as anything other than a sports team. There’s no longer an athletic side and an academic side; there’s no longer any protest from professors that too much of the budget goes to athletics; there’s no longer any concept of academic integrity that might be corrupted by athletics. It’s the final triumph of athletics over academics.”

This was years ago – before the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill went this man’s idea one better and somehow allowed an administrator who essentially worked for the athletics department to be a professor (she didn’t teach, but Deborah Crowder acted as a professor in almost every other way), and before Youngstown State University made a tarnished football coach its president. These were positive trends from the genius’s point of view, but then Penn State came along, and a lot of people seem to have decided that a university run in significant ways by its football team was not a good idea. So that was a setback.

You see these power tensions (does athletics run the school? should it?) at a school so academically bad that there shouldn’t be any sports program there at all: Florida A&M. Yet FAMU has so powerful a sports program (and sports ethos – for decades the university looked the other way while its untouchably powerful marching band hazed members to within an inch of their lives — and then last year the university kept looking the other way while the band did succeed in actually killing a member) that the trustees are in the humiliating position of begging the president to fire an athletics director they can’t fire. The AD is brand new; the president is brand new — FAMU has had to turn over a lot of new leaves in the wake of the bad publicity its manslaughtering marching band brought. Continues to bring, as multiple manslaughter trials (one person has already been found guilty) proceed.

And now, while that beleaguered school’s trustees ought to be talking about how to teach the few students who continue to apply to FAMU, they’re spending all their time talking about the sports program. No one goes to the games; the new AD is fucking up left and right; the athletics budget is so huge it’s killing what’s left of the school… and not only that, but…

[Trustee Rufus] Montgomery also was critical of correspondence coming out of the athletics department to the trustees, saying the emails contained numerous spelling and grammar errors.

“It’s ridiculous. It’s embarrassing,” Montgomery said. “Please don’t let this happen again with athletics.”

But how are you going to keep it from happening? The only solution will cost the school more money in its athletics budget. They’re going to have to hire someone to rewrite the correspondence.

FAMU is a really interesting case right now. Like a lot of universities, it has for decades acted on the belief that a big noisy sports program is the front porch of the university. What do you do when the sports program at your school turns out to be the university’s front funeral parlor?

There’s no question that a program that beats people to death puts a damper on things. Fewer students apply. Very few students go to games. You’re losing so much sports revenue that you increase tuition big time, which turns off yet more applicants.

FAMU, UD thinks, could go either way. It could go the way of the genius and athleticize the whole school. Make the new AD the provost; keep pouring money into the football program, etc. Or it could suspend all or part of its athletics program and concentrate on academics.

You and I know which one it’ll be.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm Says: There’s a Kind of Bad Writing You Can Only Learn at College.

Here’s an example, from a Georgetown University senior who argues in the school paper (the piece has now been taken down) (the piece seems to have been put back up) that his recent mugging by gunpoint in Georgetown was a product of economic disparities.

Who am I to stand from my perch of privilege, surrounded by million-dollar homes and paying for a $60,000 education, to condemn these young men as ‘thugs?’ … It’s precisely this kind of ‘otherization’ that fuels the problem …

As young people, we need to devote real energy to solving what are collective challenges. Until we do so, we should get comfortable with sporadic muggings and break-ins. I can hardly blame [the muggers]. The cards are all in our hands, and we’re not playing them.

Amid this clutch of cliches, a single word really stands out – otherization.

The writer has enhanced this already lovely term by growing quotation marks for it.

************************

The conservative press is having lots of fun with this student’s effort to understand his mugger. SOS, as always, is more concerned with the lamentable prose he has brought to his claims, the learned raid on the articulate (to mess with TS Eliot a bit) this writing represents.

Especially if you’re going to argue something unpopular (people in our cities who stick guns in our faces and force us to the ground at night in order to take all of our goods should be objects of sympathy), you need your writing to be really good. In this particular case, you somehow need your words to convey your grasp of the complexity of the problem of crime, and your understanding that most of your readers aren’t going to agree with your position on it, even as you defend your non-standard take. Instead, this writing seems to flaunt the superior morality of the writer, a person able to rise above the lowly rage and terror the rest of us are likely to have felt in his situation. SOS knows he didn’t mean to convey this, but precisely the use of super-abstract jargon like otherization suggests a weirdly disengaged, hyper-theoretical disposition …

It’s never too soon to do the math.

This UVA fiasco may have put Virginia taxpayers on the hook for potentially tens of millions of dollars in damages from civil lawsuits.

… What did UVA officials know and when did they know it? Under state law, the UVA Board of Visitors is fully responsible for all areas of campus life, including student safety. Many students have been expelled for violating the honor code. But how many for rape? …

UVA’s leaders made a fatally flawed choice for years. Because of that, Virginia taxpayers now face huge financial risks, not to mention suffering a terrible blow to the state’s reputation.

[Eh. When your last leader was the soon to be imprisoned Governor Vaginal Probe, there ain’t much rep to lose.]

… Bottom line: Virginia forgot to take care of its own on state property, at a place of learning where young minds are to be educated, not where bodies are to be sexually tortured.

Well, that last phrase certainly gets it said. Well done.

Just for comparison purposes: Post-Sandusky, Penn State has (so far) paid out roughly sixty million.

******************

Update: On Penn State, a reader points out:

$60 million is just the victim restitution. Another $80 million in costs, and $36 million still due to the NCAA fund.

Limerick

Whatever our champion’s flaws be
Whatever the federal laws be
We’ll stick by the man
Cuz… you know… we can!
All praise to the good Dr Cosby

Like a Rolling Stone: University of Virginia Version

Once upon a time you dressed so fine
You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you?
People’d call, say, “Beware doll, you’re bound to fall”
You thought they were all kiddin’ you
You used to laugh about
The frats that were hangin’ out
Now you don’t talk so loud
Now you don’t seem so proud
Now you have to prep for the next newsreel

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be without a home
All your secrets known
In the Rolling Stone?

You’ve gone to the finest school all right
But you know you only used to get juiced in it
And nobody has ever taught you how to live on the street
And now you find out you’re gonna have to get used to it
You said you’d never compromise
With frat boy mysteries, but now you realize
You better come up with some alibis
As you stare into the vacuum of your eyes
And ask yourself do I want to make a deal?

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
All your secrets shown
In the Rolling Stone?

You never turned around to see the frowns on the women on the Grounds
When they all came down and told tales to you
You never understood that it ain’t no good
You shouldn’t throw your freshmen to the hounds
You used to ride on your high horse with the frats
Who led the school to wins with balls and bats
Ain’t it hard when you discover that
They really weren’t where it’s at
After they took from you everything they could steal

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
And your cover blown
In the Rolling Stone?

Princes at the Steeple and all the pretty people
They’re drinkin’, thinkin’ that they got it made
Exchanging all kinds of precious gifts and things
But you’d better lift your diamond ring, you’d better pawn it babe
You used to be so amused
At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used
Go to him now, he calls you, you can’t refuse
When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose
You’re visible now, you got no secrets to conceal

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
An emperor unthroned
In the Rolling Stone?

From a music professor at UVa.

The past few years have witnessed a steady stream of alleged rapes at schools with big revenue-generating sports cultures and Greek systems. Part of the supposed shock of the [Rolling Stone] article involves a sense that [UVa] as an institution is committed to high-minded ideas and taking care of our students, and that we ought to be better than this, even better than the rest of the society. If only that were true…

“The union claimed Farahi has driven up the university’s debt and cares more about appearances than education.”

They made this scurrilous claim in the aftermath of Kean State University’s president having tarted up his cv something wild.

Now that he’s used tuition and taxpayer money to buy a $219,000 table, I suppose we can expect them to say the same thing again.

Excerpts. To help you think about what has happened to the University of Virginia over the past few years.

Orin Starn, the sports-anthropology professor, is less sanguine. Duke, he says, has become “this place that’s sort of divided against itself. On the one hand, you have this university that wants to be this first-class liberal-arts university, with a cutting-edge university press, these great programs in literature and history and African-American studies, that’s really done some amazing things over the last twenty years, building itself from a kind of regional school mostly for the Southern élite into a really global university with first-class scholarship. But then you have another university. That’s a university of partying and getting drunk, hiring strippers, frats, big-time college athletics.

… If you were starting from scratch at Duke, no one would have imagined an athletics program where the budget is almost fifty million dollars. This huge outlay of expenses and energy and visibility of sports is just clearly out of proportion with what it should be. Yes, athletics has a place in college education, but not this sort of massive space that it’s taking.”

**************************

Even before the lacrosse scandal, alarms had been sounded over the coarsening of undergraduate life. Toward the end of Nan Keohane’s tenure as president, the school undertook an extensive study examining the lives of women at Duke. The project’s summation reads like a scholarly anticipation of Tom Wolfe’s “I Am Charlotte Simmons,” the 2004 novel (published after Wolfe’s daughter graduated from Duke) portraying college life as a soul-deadening, booze-fueled marathon of sexual predation:

Students rarely go on formal dates but instead attend parties in large groups, followed by “hook-ups”—unplanned sexual encounters typically fueled by alcohol. Men and women agreed the double standard persists: men gain status through sexual activity while women lose status. Fraternities control the mainstream social scene to such an extent that women feel like they play by the men’s rules. Social life is further complicated by a number of embedded hierarchies, from the widely understood ranking of Greek organizations to the opposite trajectories women and men take over four years, with women losing status in the campus environment while men gain status.

*************************

[T]he University of Virginia has allowed its top seeded men’s team to continue playing into the [lacrosse murder] post-season. … George Huguely V, the indicted midfielder from the men’s Cavalier squad, has, for nearly all intents and purposes, already admitted to the crime, and, in my mind at least, also implicated — albeit on a very different level — the culture and friends that provoked reckless excess and failed to take notice of a young man spiraling out of control.

… [T]he fact that Huguely was at times reckless and violent, particularly when drunk, and was alarmingly obsessive about Love, would have been recognized by fellow players, and perhaps coaches, too, and certainly should have been addressed. The fact that this was not his first violent interaction with Love is the strongest charge against the friends and teammates that failed to recognize the severity of the situation.

In truth, there are many places in the game’s culture where nights like the one Huguely had at Washington and Lee University in November 2008–when he was Tasered after resisting arrest and shouting slurs at a black, female officer who had found him stumbling into oncoming traffic–garner acceptance and credibility. As with other sports teams and fraternities, stories like these are traded like war stories among lacrosse players; they’re the battle ribbons of a culture that enjoys hard-drinking and recklessness. They’re a kind of proof of one’s weekend warrior bona fides.

*************************

Huguely’s team is … one on which eight players have been charged with alcohol-related offenses. Is anyone paying attention?… If things go terribly wrong, the culture of protection — including parents, coaches and alumni boosters — hire high-priced lawyers who manage to get records expunged and witnesses to forget what they saw.

‘“The fraternity culture has to change, but I don’t know how it would, because the fraternity culture is such a big part of life here,” said Annalise Gill, 18, a first-year student from Texas.’

From the mouths of babes. She’s quite right. As I said in an earlier post, about places like Penn State and Florida State, when sports and fraternities and drinking rule and have long ruled, it’s hard to know how any of that would change.

Fraternities in places like these tend to be the quintessence, the culmination, of all the alcohol and athletics in the larger campus culture. At UVa, “the fraternity system is king and heavy drinking is part of the culture.”

More frighteningly, fraternities are young, tightly-knit, all-male subcultures. In many settings, young, tightly-knit, and all-male is bad news. Young, tightly-knit, and all-male adds group aggression – extreme hazing, fighting, assaulting – to the mix. “Fraternities have become more like lab experiments for the distillation of male sexual aggression” than anything else.

Some have called for UVa to close its frats permanently.

Phi Kappa Psi, like all fraternities, exists to teach bad values to developing young men. Sent off to campus to educate themselves as individuals, fraternity members instead learn to subordinate their values and plans to a collective. After a torturous and dehumanizing selection process, fraternity members are able to write a check and purchase 30 new friends; it’s not surprising that they would see sex — pour a drink, girl is yours — as similarly transactional.

… By deciding to suspend its fraternities temporarily, the University of Virginia has acknowledged that those frats cannot be implicated in any new offenses while the eyes of America are watching. It is a tacit admission that the school cannot risk, not now, another sexual assault being committed. It has decided that the easiest and most palatable way for this to happen — for UVA’s fraternity brothers not to rape — is for its fraternities to cease to exist.

So why bring them back? Shut them down and move on.

Dahlia Lithwick doesn’t weigh in on shutting or maintaining them, but she does get to the nub of things:

Fraternities are nuts.

***********************

UD doubts closing them down is really a solution. Sick and sometimes criminal initiation rituals will persist somewhere on campus at any booze and sports soaked university that ignores them. The Florida A&M marching band didn’t need a fraternity to beat a fellow student to death in a long-tolerated form of hazing.

Perhaps what makes more sense is really serious policing and surveillance of fraternities – policing and surveillance for which the fraternities would pay.

Just as many schools spend a fortune on squads of extra police for their football and basketball games (students are prone to mischief and violence both in and outside sports arenas), so fraternities should be willing to bill their current and past members for the heightened security procedures they need. Hugely wealthy Michael Bloomberg happens to be a proud and loyal member of Phi Kappa Psi; with his passionate involvement in violence reduction, he should be willing to subsidize the hiring of guards and cameras for his brothers. A million dollars a year, say, would set Bloomberg back not at all.

Would university campuses begin to look like armed camps? Yes, but university football and basketball games (plus tailgates and party/riots) already tend to look like that. And as to cameras everywhere – well, most universities already have cameras everywhere.

In the longer term, UD proposes that frat-run universities like UVa choose as their yearly campus-wide book (UD is talking about the popular One Campus One Book, or Common Read, program) Lynn Chancer’s Sadomasochism in Everyday Life, so that fraternity members can begin to think seriously about their problem, and other members of the campus community can learn enough to at least see the brothers coming.

‘There’s where I labored so hard for my Massas, / Day after day in Phi Kappa Psi’s …

back room…’

The Eastern theater of the American Civil War rages again, as the traditional fraternal order goes to war against campus pussies.

Men lining the patio of a bar on The Corner were quick to yell “insults and slurs” at the [anti-rape] protestors as they walked by, said Carl Goette-Luciak, a fifth-year student who helped to lead the march.

Others volleyed comments scorning the actions of the crowd as it marched through the streets, but Goette-Luciak contends that facing such a reaction was the protest’s way of “confronting the issue where it lives.”

“If male students at [the University of Virginia] will deride the people who are demanding change, [if they] won’t take seriously how important this moment is, it just stresses the gravity of the situation we’re facing,” he said.

Later in the night, Goette-Luciak said he saw five students, both male and female, tearing down a memorial that students had created at Peabody Hall. In support of those who had been sexually assaulted, students had covered the doors of the administrative building with Post-it notes filled with stories of their experiences and encouragements toward survivors, he said. They also placed stones, creating a “small mountain” in front of the building, to symbolize survivors they knew.

Goette-Luciak said he walked past the memorial an hour or two after the protest when he saw students tearing down the notes and discarding the stones.

“We confronted them and they were very aggressive, very violent towards us,” he said. “One young man in particular, with chest puffed out, kept screaming, ‘What are you going to do about it?’ and then left.”

Baby, you go up against our way of life and you’re gonna hear about it. We’re here and we’re beer, get used to it. We even got girl camp followers.

“If we have learned anything with the Sandusky scandal at Penn State, we have learned that those with expertise in coaching or teaching or research or in university administration are often not equipped to handle the intricacies of a criminal investigation. We have learned that facing an issue head on, regardless of the potential for negative publicity, and letting the proper authorities handle it, will protect both the individuals and the university.”

A Penn State person shares her scandal-wisdom with UVa.

I’m fine with this except for the writer’s suggestion that coaches, of all people, are unequipped to handle criminal investigations.

If university football coaches aren’t equipped to handle criminal investigations, who is?

Doesn’t experience count for anything?

Next Page »

Latest UD posts at IHE

Archives

Categories

Bookmarks

UD REVIEWED

There's always something delightful and thought intriguing to be found at Margaret Soltan's no-holds-barred, firebrand tinged blog about university life.
AcademicPub

You can get your RDA of academic liars, cheats, and greedy frauds at University Diaries. All disciplines, plus athletics.
truffula, commenting at Historiann

Margaret Soltan at University Diaries blogs superbly and tirelessly about [university sports] corruption.
Dagblog

University Diaries. Hosted by Margaret Soltan, professor of English at George Washington University. Boy is she pissed — mostly about athletics and funding, the usual scandals — but also about distance learning and diploma mills. She likes poems too. And she sings.
Dissent: The Blog

[UD belittles] Mrs. Palin's degree in communications from the University of Idaho...
The Wall Street Journal

Professor Margaret Soltan, blogging at University Diaries... provide[s] an important voice that challenges the status quo.
Lee Skallerup Bessette, Inside Higher Education

[University Diaries offers] the kind of attention to detail in the use of language that makes reading worthwhile.
Sean Dorrance Kelly, Harvard University

Margaret Soltan's ire is a national treasure.
Roland Greene, Stanford University

The irrepressibly to-the-point Margaret Soltan...
Carlat Psychiatry Blog

Margaret Soltan, whose blog lords it over the rest of ours like a benevolent tyrant...
Perplexed with Narrow Passages

Margaret Soltan is no fan of college sports and her diatribes on the subject can be condescending and annoying. But she makes a good point here...
Outside the Beltway

From Margaret Soltan's excellent coverage of the Bernard Madoff scandal comes this tip...
Money Law

University Diaries offers a long-running, focused, and extremely effective critique of the university as we know it.
Anthony Grafton, American Historical Association

The inimitable Margaret Soltan is, as usual, worth reading. ...
Medical Humanities Blog

I awake this morning to find that the excellent Margaret Soltan has linked here and thereby singlehandedly given [this blog] its heaviest traffic...
Ducks and Drakes

As Margaret Soltan, one of the best academic bloggers, points out, pressure is mounting ...
The Bitch Girls

Many of us bloggers worry that we don’t post enough to keep people’s interest: Margaret Soltan posts every day, and I more or less thought she was the gold standard.
Tenured Radical

University Diaries by Margaret Soltan is one of the best windows onto US university life that I know.
Mary Beard, A Don's Life

[University Diaries offers] a broad sense of what's going on in education today, framed by a passionate and knowledgeable reporter.
More magazine, Canada

If deity were an elected office, I would quit my job to get her on the ballot.
Notes of a Neophyte