University Diaries
A professor of English describes American university life.
Aim: To change things.
Contact UD at: margaret-dot-soltan-at-gmail-dot-com

 
 
 
Read my book, TEACHING BEAUTY IN DeLILLO, WOOLF, AND MERRILL (Palgrave Macmillan; forthcoming), co-authored with Jennifer Green-Lewis. VISIT MY BRANCH CAMPUS AT INSIDE HIGHER ED





UD is...
"Salty." (Scott McLemee)
"Unvarnished." (Phi Beta Cons)
"Splendidly splenetic." (Culture Industry)
"Except for University Diaries, most academic blogs are tedious."
(Rate Your Students)
"I think of Soltan as the Maureen Dowd of the blogosphere,
except that Maureen Dowd is kind of a wrecking ball of a writer,
and Soltan isn't. For the life of me, I can't figure out her
politics, but she's pretty fabulous, so who gives a damn?"
(Tenured Radical)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

UD's Site Feeds Have Moved 

UD's site feeds have moved. Please update your bookmarks to the site feeds with the following links.

http://www.margaretsoltan.com/?feed=atom
http://www.margaretsoltan.com/?feed=rss
http://www.margaretsoltan.com/?feed=rss2
http://www.margaretsoltan.com/?feed=rdf

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Blogoscopy 

'A UT law professor and creator of one of the world’s most popular blogs has been named one of America’s 10 most influential legal scholars by the Social Science Research Network.

Glenn Reynolds, Beauchamp Brogan Distinguished Professor of Law at UT, has published many articles on the SSRN, mainly on constitutional law, science and technology. The ranking is based on how many people read his publications.

“I got in the top 10 by having so much of my stuff downloaded and read by interested people,” Reynolds said.

The SSRN encourages early publication of academic research results so other readers may communicate with authors before the results are printed in academic journals, according to the SSRN Web site. Of the 44 faculty members in the College of Law, 15 are active on the SSRN, Reynolds said.

John Sobieski, interim dean of the UT College of Law, said, “(The ranking) means ... there is a great deal of interest in what professor Reynolds writes. That may be attributable, at least in part, to professor Reynolds’ blog, ‘Instapundit,’ which is one of the most popular blogs on the Web.”

Reynolds said he began the blog as a hands-on exercise for teaching Internet law. “I’m not sure why it’s so popular. I guess there are more people out there than I imagined who find my odd collection of interests interesting...”'



---university of tennessee student newspaper---

Typology of Irritating Professors 

From Jon Cogburn's blog.




'Professor I'm-a-Fraud-and-Pray-To-Jesus-That-No-One-Will-Figure-It-Out

Professor I'm-Above-This-Place-And-Should-Be-At-Harvard

Professor Rebel-Without-A-Clue

Professor Only-Teaches-His-G**d***-Dissertation

Professor Promising-Young-Man

Professor Couldabeena-contenda

Professor Exploits-Grad-Students-as-Cheap-Labor-in-his-Consulting-Business

Professor I-Have-Five-Stories/Jokes-So-Get-Used-To-Hearing-Them-All-The-Time

Professor I've-Got-A-Nobel-Prize-So-Go-F***-Yourself,-I-Can-Talk-About-Whatever-I-Want

Professor Midlife-Crises

Professor Old-Yellow-Notes

Professor Slum-Lord

Professor Tells-You-Everyday-How-Far-He-Is-From-Retirement

Professor Twenty-Graduate-Students-Do-All-My-Research

Professor Used-To-Be-Cool-But-Now-Viewed-With-Knowing-Bemused-Looks

Professor Uses-Tenure-To-Pursue-Hobbies-Or-Job-On-The-Side-Full-Time

Professor Wishes-He-Was-Rich

Professor Complains-About-Working-Conditions

Professor Drunk-Pants

Professor I-Could-and-Sometimes-Do-Recite-This-Lecture-in-my-Sleep

Professor Laughs-At-His-Own-Jokes

Professor My-Jokes-Aren't-Funny-But-They're-All-I-Have

Professor Only-Person-At-Tiny-College-To-Have-Ever-Published-A-Book-In-A-Printing-Of-More-Than-200

Professor Stared-Into-The-Void-And-The-Void-Stared-Back

Professor Your-Work-Will-Never-Be-As-Important-As-Mine

Professor Watches-Sports

Professor Wears-Clothes-With-Many-Holes-As-Though-That-Credentials-his-World-of-Ideas-ness

Professor Will-F***-Anything-Young-and-Naive-Enough-To-Admire-Him'

Fornicators, Whores, and Other Really Nasty Words 

A local news station describes a problem on the campus of the University of South Florida.


'It's a quiet day here on the USF campus, but students like Susie Demesmi say it's not always this serene.

"They're always in front of Subway in this grassy area," she says. "And they usually have really big signs about fornicators, whores, they have really nasty words on that."

Demesmi is talking about people preaching on campus. According to USF police, preachers have been causing problems for years, but they can't legally ban them.

On Oct. 31, police say they received a complaint that the preachers were causing too much noise and disturbing people inside Cooper Hall. While officers were responding to that call, a woman came forward with another complaint.



The USF student didn't want to be identified for safety reasons. She told us a preacher who was overtly aggressive toward her.

"He starting charging towards me with a closed fist and then right when he got within a couple of inches of my face, he was pointing and calling me a whore," the student says. She reported that incident to University Police.

"He's more like a con artist," she says. "I feel like he's trying to provoke something out of anybody in order for him to get a lawsuit. He wants us to hit him, that's why he charged at me."

And now police have forwarded their report involving John Kranert to the Hillsborough County State Attorney's office. Kranert thinks this is a case of mistaken identity and says he isn't looking to sue anyone.



"Will I ever rarely single someone out? Specifically, like a girl that happens to be walking and say, 'Hey you're a whore.' No, we don't do that," Kranert says.

Kranert adds that he and others have a right to preach on campus.

"I don't think it's against the law to practice the First Amendment. And we have video evidence of the law being broken, but it's not us breaking the law."

However, Kranert does have a long criminal history dating back to the 90's. He was recently arrested last month for trespassing at the Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

But Kranert says he didn't do anything wrong then or now.

"[I] can be loud at times, but I'll be honest with you, Valerie, most of the time it's the students screaming in response," Kranert explains.

Students respond by saying they shouldn't feel threatened in the place where they expect to feel safe. University Police told us they can't keep the preachers off campus, because it's a First Amendment issue. Even if they call people names, it's not breaking the law.

They recommend students ignore the preachers.'

Transport 

Excellent writing from a Syracuse University student about George Washington University's new puke-as-you-go policy. An excerpt from her consideration of the effects of such a policy at Syracuse:



'... [D]ozens of freshmen who live in South Campus' Skyhalls had no say in their housing arrangements. These students would be the victims of a puking policy solely because of their reliance on the buses to visit North Campus and enjoy the university's social scene.

They may drink just as much as their North Campus-residing classmates, yet they would be punished for vomiting on the bus ride home, while other freshmen could simply walk home and enjoy the luxury of puking alongside the sidewalk, instead of on a bus floor. [Delicious prose. SOS would only change one thing: She'd drop instead of on a bus floor. Read it aloud without that, and you'll see it's snappier.... Hm. And now that I do read it aloud, I'm thinking dropping side from alongside would be good, too. You've already got side in sidewalk...]


---the daily orange---

Getting Rich 

George Washington University's incoming president is unhappy about the fact that GW is the most expensive university in the country, and he plans to reduce tuition.

But without that enormous tuition, GW's outgoing president wouldn't have had a chance to scrape together a living.

His salary - close to a million dollars - didn't make him rich, he explains in a recent interview:


'Being a university president is a great privilege, and it comes with tremendous rewards. Getting rich is not one of them.'



Although many American university presidents are compensated, like Stephen Trachtenberg, in the million dollar range, and enjoy free housing, chauffeuring, corporate board money and retention perks, this fails to make them rich.

On the other hand, it has a terrific effect on faculty salaries: "If the presidents are paid well, it follows, or it should follow, that the professor will be celebrated and honored and also fairly compensated."




'Q. What aspects of the job justify paying presidents so much more than faculty members?

A. Well, faculty get tenure. That's worth something. Presidents don't get tenure. They serve at the will of the board. So there's a risk factor, and that ought to be worth some compensation. Secondly, faculty get sabbaticals. Presidents work 12 months a year, … and they don't conventionally get sabbaticals. If a sabbatical is good for a professor, why isn't it good for a president? Faculty generally get 20-percent time off for consulting. Conventionally presidents don't have 20 percent to give to consulting, although some do sit on boards of trustees and boards of directors of outside companies. That, properly done, is compensation — although I worry sometimes that that's abused. You'll see a president who is serving on six boards or eight boards, and that's crazy.'


Presidents get, or are given, faculty tenure, which means that they have a highly-paid university position waiting for them when they leave the presidency. No risk there.

Universities are desperate for presidents, so even the worst can get jobs elsewhere, as Trachtenberg acknowledges earlier in the interview, when talking about how the very competitive market for presidents has pushed up compensation.

Many university presidents get sabbaticals, or significant breaks that aren't called sabbaticals. It's something they negotiate in their contracts.

Most professors UD knows of work twelve months a year.

The board situation is a notorious scandal, with university presidents taking tens of thousands of dollars and squandering university time to go to corporate retreats and do nothing.

I SAID Sorry, Didn't I? 


'The University of Central Oklahoma has acknowledged numerous NCAA rules violations by its football team and has admitted the university lacks control of the program. [Well, it's Oklahoma, where the disconnect between any particular university and the game of football is total, where the university constitutes this teeny pointless thing on the periphery, and the football program constitutes everything else. Under extreme pressure, as in this case, you can get Oklahoma universities to admit this.]

The acknowledgment appeared in the Division II school's response to an NCAA notice of allegations. The university sent the response to the NCAA earlier this month, and The Associated Press obtained a copy Monday through an open records request.


"We regret that any violations occurred and remain committed to operating a model athletic program," the university said in its response, noting the "violations occurred in specific and limited areas of operation relating to UCO football." [I have questions about the sincerity of UCO's regret. Don't you?]

It also said "the institution regretfully agrees" with the NCAA's finding of lack of institutional control "only with regard to period of time this Notice of Allegations encompasses." [Regret again.]

The NCAA says Division II Central Oklahoma paid more than 80 athletes to attend remedial classes at Rose State College in Midwest City, and provided free housing, food, transportation and use of facilities to football players who were not full-time students. [Just get your ass over there! We'll pay you!]

The NCAA also alleged that the university paid $4,772 for a surgery in January 2005 for an athlete who later enrolled at the school.

In its response, Central Oklahoma acknowledged the surgery occurred but argued that the surgery didn't directly enhance the program, because it was provided to a prospective student-athlete. [We paid for the surgery because we are philanthropic.]

In another part of the response, Central Oklahoma agreed its football coach, Chuck Langston, "failed to ensure absolute compliance with NCAA legislation within the sport of football between January 1, 2003 and September 2006." [Langston's among the dirtiest university coaches UD has seen, and she's seen a lot of university coaches.]

Central Oklahoma's response will be considered by the NCAA Division II Committee on Infractions during its meeting Dec. 7-9 in Indianapolis.

The university noted in its response that it already has imposed penalties upon itself. Central Oklahoma has said it would forfeit two full football scholarships, limit the number of transfer students recruited and reduce the Bronchos' maximum number of football players from about 100 to 90 per year.

Earlier this year, as a result of the allegations, Langston served a two-week suspension, which caused him to miss the Broncos' season-opening upset of nationally ranked Abilene Christian (Texas). [Note that they haven't fired Langston. Central Oklahoma might be full of regret that their coach runs a filthy program, but you can't expect them to, you know, fire the guy...]


sporting news

Monday, November 12, 2007

Good Advice. 

From an Esquire Magazine writer:




'He bore her away in his arms,
The handsomest young man there,
And his neck and his breast and his arms
Were drowned in her long dim hair.



That's Yeats, dude -- William Butler Yeats, from a poem called "The Host of the Air," from The Wind Among the Reeds, published in 1899, when Yeats was 34 years old.

Why tell you this? To get you laid.

I'm not saying you can't get laid without aid from Yeats, who couldn't get himself laid at age 34 with Warren Buffett's cash, Brad Pitt's dick, and a keg of Guinness. But I want you to get laid right. If it's merely dipping your wick, Yeats can't help. But I have learned the difference between just having sex and diving into the shadowy pool [1] of high lonely mystery [2] between a woman's legs. I prefer the latter. So should you.

Google the poem. Print it out. Read it -- aloud and slow -- then write it down for yourself. Sweet Jesus, don't ponder the goddamn thing -- let it in. Make it a part of you.

Say, "I can't get this poem out of my head." Share the stanza above. If you blush or stammer and feel like a fool, good. If you've just met, great. She knows you? Even better. She'll know that you are growing, heart and soul, as a man, and she wants that. Wanting that, she wants you -- warm and close and now.

Don't thank me. Read Yeats.


1 Stolen from a Yeats poem.

2 Also stolen from a Yeats poem.'

Enslaved to the Machine 

Andrew, a reader, tells UD of a recent announcement sent to students at Oberlin College (via Gawker):



'Poop in the Adam Joseph Lewis Center toilets [in the Environmental Studies building] anytime between Saturday, November 10th and Friday, November 16th and sign up to receive a quarter per poop.'





In a comment, an Oberlin student explains:


'[T]he poop is to feed their "living machine," which filters waste water with bacteria and plants and stuff. The building isn't that highly trafficked and if the bacteria doesn't get enough poop it dies. I remember once during a deserted winter term they had to feed the thing a tray of donuts from the cafeteria to keep it going...

[I]t's on the honor system. They put up a bulletin board outside the bathrooms and you write your name, your mailbox, and self-satisfied message about the dump you just took.'

Another NYU Suicide? 

Gothamist reports:

'A sophomore at New York University was found dead in his Water Street dorm room on Friday night. The Washington Square News reports that other residents were told about the death on Saturday and that the university did not send out an NYU community-wide email per a request from the deceased student's parents: "The family has asked that they be accorded the utmost privacy, and the university will do its best to honor its wishes and urges the media to do the same."'

A History of Violence 

'Student government leaders are urging University of Massachusetts at Amherst students to skip classes Thursday and Friday to protest a range of grievances they say university administrators have consistently ignored.

The two-day student strike is intended to pressure administrators into heeding student complaints about increased student fees and aggressive police patrols of dormitories.'



The Globe fails to mention a likely reason for that uptick in police patrols.

Last December, U Mass students rioted in spectacular fashion:


'...100 and 125 windows had been smashed with bricks, rocks and chairs, and police had been pelted with bottles and pieces of concrete. ...[C]harges including disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, failure to disperse in a riot, minor in possession of alcohol, possession of marijuana, breaking and entering, mistreatment of a police horse or dog and destruction of property.


...About 60 campus, town and state police officers in riot gear were needed to squelch the riot that drew more than 1,800 students to the plaza of the Southwest residential area. Students threw bottles, cans, bricks, pieces of concrete and other items at the officers and yelled obscenities.

At least two officers were slightly injured from being hit with objects. O'Connor, who was on site during the riot, said someone threw a gallon jug of liquid from a high-rise dorm that missed her by a few feet.

"If it hit me, it would have killed me," O'Connor said.

O'Connor said two officers immediately read an order of dispersal to the mob, which responded by throwing items at them.

"You could tell right away they came out with malice in their hearts. They were bent on destroying things," O'Connor said. "They were assaulting us."

An estimate on damages had not been completed as of yesterday, but O'Connor said it's "going to be quite high." O'Connor said between 100 and 125 dorm and dining common windows were smashed with chairs, bricks and rocks, with a price tag of $250 to $1,000 per window.

Police used pepper balls, sting balls, flash bangs and smoke to disperse the crowd, at a cost of between $2,000 and $5,000, O'Connor said.'

Leiter Notes UD Title 

Brian Leiter, whose blog is Law School Reports, links to UD this morning.

He liked her ironic headline about his recent career move (Another Academic Career Destroyed by Blogging).




Among scholars who've "helped themselves greatly by blogging," Leiter mentions a colleague of UD's at George Washington University:

'Orin Kerr ... consistently posts informative items about cases and issues in his areas of scholarly expertise. His political opinions are well within the spectrum of unoffensive opinions, and they also don't play a particularly large role in what he writes about. Experts in criminal procedure would, of course, know about Kerr anyway (indeed, as data I will release shortly shows, he is among the twenty most-cited scholars writing in criminal law and procedure, and the youngest on the list). But because of his blog work, he now has a much higher profile as a respected expert in these areas.'




Leiter, who's about to take a spectacular job at the University of Chicago, concludes with some reflections on his own blogging:

'I venture no opinion on the topic that has, by now, occurred to at least some readers, namely, the effect of my own blogging on my professional prospects. It won't surprise anyone to learn that I haven't approached blogging with that in mind, though I've been pretty fortunate, indeed, in the professional opportunities I've had nonetheless. I certainly run afoul of many of the cautionary notes remarked on above. [He has in mind in particular a caution about blogging political opinions out of the mainstream.] Although I rarely blog about scholarly topics, my political opinions are, on most issues, well outside the familiar spectrum. I also don't suffer fools gladly which, given their over-representation in the blogosphere (for an obvious reason: there are no meaningful barriers to entry), makes me prone to be a bit more abrupt and direct than is the norm in the pseudo-egalitarian blogosphere. (In real life--e.g., in the context of academic debate and academic hiring decisions--anti-egalitarianism is the norm, at least at the better schools.) So maybe I'm a counter-example to the cautionary notes sounded above? On the other hand, I had a decade of teaching, publications and scholarly presence before I did any blogging, which means the evidential base for informed judgments was far greater than it would be for someone newer to the academy. I am inclined to think that is significant in all cases, which is yet another reason for students and junior faculty to be very cautious about blogging.'





If you're visiting from Leiter and would like a taste of UD on legal matters, here's an early post about another of UD's GW colleagues, Jeffrey Rosen.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Theater of Cruelty 

I'm in downtown Silver Spring (well, I was in downtown Silver Spring yesterday... but this you-are-there use of the present-tense is fun, so let's go with it...) in the Roundhouse Theater.

I'm the youngest person in the audience.

When you retire in America, it's community theater all the way.

The tiny stage is a scruffy bit of football field; game-day music tinkles behind us.

I'm here to see Red Shirts, a play about bigtime university sports.





"How many people here was a real football player?" A codger two rows down addresses us as we wait for things to start.

A tinny old lady answers: "Were you?" Belligerent.

He doesn't hear her. Like everyone in the room except UD, he wears a hearing aid.

Who knew so many Americans abused Viagra?





UD's basically impressed by the play, but she agrees with the reviewers who say that the author tried to pack much too much - plot, character, idea - into it. Slimmed down, it'll be a strong treatment of a serious subject, one that an opinion piece in today's New York Times gets at too -- the exploitation of often culturally and economically disadvantaged college athletes because of the absurd conceit that they're all college students. We pretend, writes Michael Lewis, that these people are

students first, and football players second. They are like Franciscan monks set down in the gold mine. Yes, they play football, but they have no interest in the money. What they're really living for is that degree in criminology.


And they're really keen on English lit too. The funniest scene in the play -- and it's a smart, well-written play -- is a poetry-analysis practice session with coach, when the guys try to make sense of Emily Dickinson:

My nosegays are for captives;
Dim, long-expectant eyes,
Fingers denied the plucking,
Patient till paradise,

To such, if they should whisper
Of morning and the moor,
They bear no other errand,
And I, no other prayer.


The many ways the guys say what the hell? are hilarious, and UD loved it.

The English professor is a thankless role in this sort of drama -- if she doesn't care, she's contemptible; if she does, she's a scathing schoolmarm destroying the school and the players' prospects. As this character pursues sanctions against team members for cheating, one of them says to her: "You think the coach is gonna let a pissant professor knock out his game? He makes two million dollars a year."

Just as thankless is the learning specialist who tries to explain the English professor to the players: "She wants to know that you can assert and defend a position on a poem." But, says a player, "Nobody gives a shit about Paradise Lost."




The play concludes a bit awkwardly -- its plot meanders and never finds enlightenment -- so that UD doesn't leave the theater with the aesthetic payoff she'd have liked. But the heart of the thing is pure, with a pure appraisal of the inhumanity at the heart of Division I university football.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Testimonial 

"Soltan is profane, incisive, and snotty, a delightful combination."


Panic in Year Zero

Gore Vidal on Norman Mailer 

"Mailer is forever shouting at us that he is about to tell us something we must know or has just told us something revelatory and we failed to hear him or that he will, God grant his poor abused brain and body just one more chance, get through to us so that we will know. Each time he speaks he must become more bold, more loud, put on brighter motley and shake more foolish bells. Yet of all my contemporaries I retain the greatest affection for Norman as a force and as an artist. He is a man whose faults, though many, add to rather than subtract from the sum of his natural achievements.”

The Writer and the University 

'I discovered [at Harvard] that people could speak of poetry without an apologetic grin. They could be dead serious about listening to classical music. You know, I came from Brooklyn and you were lower than a sissy if you took music seriously, if you took poetry and so forth. That wasn't there. The game was on the streets. I don't mean by that that I was a tough kid out on the streets and such, but we all were slightly tough. You know, we learned to play touch football jeering at cars when they occasionally went by because they interrupted our game. That was as tough as we got, but nonetheless there was an attitude of machismo even though we didn't fulfill it. And so going to Harvard where culture was important was the key shock.'



Norman Mailer: 1923 - 2007

Norman Mailer Has Died. 

It was a summer during my high school years, and I was unhappily camping in the Pyrenees with Catalan friends of my family and a bunch of other camping Catalans. It was hellishly hot. I hated setting up tent, standing in line for mashed beans, shitting in the woods.

While everyone put on their big boots and went for mountain hikes, I holed up in my tent, reading Norman Mailer's novel, The Naked and the Dead. He wrote it when he was absurdly young. It was about his war experiences.

I remember being lost in the powerful narrative momentum of the thing -- remember a description of a man pissing himself in terror as his group of soldiers is drawn into a bloodbath by a malign commander...



Around the same time, late 1960's, as UD marched with her high-school boyfriend on the Capitol, it was Mailer's Armies of the Night that helped her figure out what she was doing (her only memory of the march is her boyfriend massaging her feet afterwards).

I doubt UD understood then what Mailer meant by "the overpsychologized loins of the liberal academic intelligentsia." Does she ever now.

"It is a work of personal and political reportage that brings to the inner and developing crisis of the United States at this moment [1968] admirable sensibilities, candid intelligence, the most moving concern for America itself," wrote Alfred Kazin in New York Times.

This Just In! 

'Do you know which federal legal holiday is observed on Nov. 11?

Here are the choices:

1.) Veteran’s Day

2.) Veterans’ Day

3.) Veterans Day

Retail stores are having Veteran’s Day sales this weekend in time for what many calendars tell us is Veterans’ Day.

And, according to the federal government, this Sunday also happens to be Veterans Day.

Grammatically, any of the above versions could be correct, which is perhaps why the answer, resting on the placement (or nonuse) of a single apostrophe, remains open for debate.

Professor Pat Okker, chair of the MU English department, said the aforementioned holiday “is a great example of the power of punctuation,” because each of the variations connotes a different meaning.

Here’s where things get a bit complicated, grammatically.

* The first variation, “Veteran’s,” uses the singular noun in its possessive case, suggesting that the day ‘belongs’ to each veteran.

* The second variant, “Veterans’,” is the plural noun in the possessive case, which suggests that the day belongs to all veterans.

* The third variation, “Veterans,” is attributive, meaning the word functions as an adjective rather than a possessive noun.



By Professor Okker’s measure, No. 3 is the superlative choice.

“Since the first example (Veteran’s Day) would refer to only one veteran, that seems not to be the best choice,” Okker said.

Okker thinks Veterans’ Day is a “viable option” but ultimately favors “Veterans” because it not possessive.

“It suggests that it is a holiday that belongs to all of us to honor veterans,” Okker wrote in an e-mail. “To me, that is the appropriate meaning: Veterans Day isn’t a holiday just for some Americans; instead it is a national holiday for us all to honor veterans. The absence of the apostrophe, then, says a lot,” Okker wrote.



Matthew Gordon, associate chair of the English department at MU, is a linguist by training. “That means I spend more time worrying about why people use the language the way they do than worrying about what forms are supposed to be correct,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Nonetheless, his reasoning resembles Okker’s.

“Here, the question might be whether the holiday is about veterans or somehow belongs to them. It seems to me that either interpretation is defensible, but I like the first one and thus ‘Veterans Day,’” Gordon wrote.

“Also I tend to regard the apostrophe as an overrated piece of punctuation, but that’s a personal bias,” he added.



George Justice, associate dean of the MU English graduate school, also favors “Veterans” but eschews mechanics in offering his explanation.

“There’s no grammatical reason why it should make sense, but it’s common practice, and here (as in many cases) what is easy and works takes precedence over logic,” Justice wrote in an e-mail.



This common practice has historical roots.

During World War I, a temporary cessation of fighting between the Allies and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of Nov. 11, 1918.

On Nov. 11 of the following year, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first commemoration of Armistice Day; and in 1938 Congress passed legislation to declare Armistice Day a legal federal holiday.

Following World War II and the Korean War, President Dwight Eisenhower signed a proclamation in 1954 giving the holiday a more encompassing name: “Veterans Day.”

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (no apostrophe) continues to promote the attributive version, and offers the following explanation on its Web site: “Veterans Day does not include an apostrophe but does include an ‘s’ at the end of ‘veterans’ because it is not a day that ‘belongs’ to veterans, it is a day for honoring all veterans.”'



---missourian---

Grinnell Student Blows Hillary's Cover 

'Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s campaign admitted Friday that it planted a global warming question in Newton, Iowa, Tuesday during a town hall meeting to discuss clean energy.

...According to a report on the Grinnell University Web site, the Clinton campaign arranged for some of the questions for the candidate to be asked by college students...

[A]ccording to Grinnell College student Muriel Gallo-Chasanoff ’10, some of the questions from the audience were planned in advance. 'They were canned,' she said. Before the event began, a Clinton staff member approached Gallo-Chasanoff to ask a specific question after Clinton’s speech. 'One of the senior staffers told me what [to ask],' she said.

"Clinton called on Gallo-Chasanoff after her speech to ask a question: what Clinton would do to stop the effects of global warming. Clinton began her response by noting that young people often pose this question to her before delving into the benefits of her plan.

"But the source of the question was no coincidence — at this event 'they wanted a question from a college student,' Gallo-Chasanoff said."

The tape of the event shows that the question and answer went as follows:

Question: "As a young person, I'm worried about the long-term effects of global warming How does your plan combat climate change?

Clinton: "Well, you should be worried. You know, I find as I travel around Iowa that it's usually young people that ask me about global warming."...'

UD's Blogpal, Mary Beard... 

...is featured in a Guardian article:

'...Beard is now a professor at Cambridge and the best-known classicist in Britain. Her new book, The Roman Triumph, is keenly awaited, and she has been asked to give the prestigious Sather lectures at Berkeley...

...The subject of her Sather lectures will be "laughter in Rome", but before she writes them, she is due to finish a book about Pompeii, which will, in part, try to think about the experience of tourists wandering around the ancient town: "What do they look at? And how do they look at it?"

Pompeii has long been a site of mass tourism and, like Hollywood blockbusters, offers itself up to an interpretation combining scholarly expertise with a willingness to be populist. Beard has had an enthusiastic response to her blog, which ranges from discussions of America as the new Rome to a list of "10 things the makers of [the film] 300 got right."'


UD, whose mother worked with Wilhelmina Jashemski, an expert in the gardens of Pompeii, at the University of Maryland, looks forward to Mary's book.

Because UD went to Pompeii with her mother, who knew everything about the place (and about Herculaneum, down the street), UD's experience of the town was not touristic. It was excruciatingly meticulous.

On the other hand, because of their Jashemski connection, UD and her mother were able to see some off-limits plaster mummies.

Friday, November 09, 2007

A Blogger Writes to Governor Corzine 

'I was stunned and dismayed to read that you intend to help fund the expansion of Rutgers University's stadium -- by some estimates, to the tune of $30 million.

One reason that figure caught my eye is because, if memory serves, that was precisely the amount by which the state decreased the budget for higher education for 2007.

The upshot of that budget cut, you may remember, was that Rutgers was forced to cancel 451 classes, lay off 185 employees and impose a tuition increase on its 50,000 students.

In addition to those cuts, you'll also recall, the university eliminated a number of "non-revenue sports." Today, any Rutgers student who wishes to participate in heavyweight or lightweight crew, men's or women's fencing, swimming and diving or tennis can do so only at the club level.

Club-level sports, however, don't draw students who have spent years immersed in a sport. So they'll now choose schools where they'll find coaches and budgets and a higher level of competition, where they'll have a shot at being Olympics contenders, All- Americans, NCAA medalists and team and individual champions -- all of which those Rutgers teams produced in the past.



If $30 million is lying around for an upfront payment on football stadium luxury boxes, why was it impossible to find even a small fraction of that amount to save six sports that have served thousands of students over the years?

Well, okay, I know the answer: The football stadium project, we're told, may "pay for itself." Except these things almost never pay for themselves, especially if you start adding up the ancillary costs of going "big time" in football. All those extra cars already tie up New Brunswick for hours on game days and require hundreds of officers for traffic control -- and the only apparent solution for this problem is to spend tens of millions more on parking facilities.

We're also told that a stadium expansion is a necessary part of the larger football upgrade that will increase general interest in Rutgers -- and it does seem that last year's football success has helped draw greater interest among college- bound students around the coun try.

I just wonder if these potential applicants have been told that they'd be coming to a school with fewer classes, fewer professors and fewer sports.

Granted, some -- or even many -- applicants may be interested in Rutgers because it has a winning football team. But does a student really select a college on the basis of knowing that on six Saturdays a year he can go to a football game and paint his face red?

And if such a student exists, what university that cares about its academic ranking is scheming to get him?

I do understand, by the way, that a school's sports program and budget are separate entities from its education program. But it's hard to mentally separate them when one of those programs is contemplating a $100 million expenditure, with perhaps 30 million taxpayer dollars up front, while the other is under enormous financial stress. And if $30 million is lying around to ensure football stadium luxury boxes, why wasn't a fraction of that amount available when Rutgers was cutting those 451 classes or yanking those six sports out from under students who went to Rutgers partly to participate in them?...'

Donald Bren!!!! 

'Signs on [University of California Irvine] law school buildings [funded by billionaire Donald Bren] must read "Donald Bren School of Law" and be at least twice the size of the building name. Bren's must be the largest and most prominently displayed name on the building, according to the agreement.'


Kind of like
MARGARET SOLTAN'S
university diaries




---los angeles times---

An Emeritus Professor... 

...of sociology goes where no man has ever gone before: He actually reads the fucker.




'In its report to Chancellor Fernando Treviño, the review committee weighing plagiarism in Glenn Poshard's 1984 dissertation indicated it had "investigated the academic culture in that period, in the Department of Higher Education, and specifically, by [sic] Dr. Poshard's immediate peers and adviser."

Yet in restricting its focus to the question of plagiarism, the review committee ignored broader issues about that culture that are raised by the character of Poshard's work itself.

His dissertation reports the results of re-administering a survey of programs for gifted children conducted statewide by the Illinois State Board of Education six years earlier. Though he suggests that his interest is both descriptive and interpretive, he gathered no information upon which to base interpretations of his data. Thus, the dissertation is entirely descriptive.

What scholarly contribution might Poshard have hoped to make through this project? None, it seems, because his topic was not of academic interest. His results could have let the ISBE know whether gifted programs in the south of the state were expanding, contracting or changing in other ways, but were this of concern to the IBSE, it would have contracted for the research. The results would not merit dissertation treatment because they didn't allow for the sophisticated analysis which normally is required for a Ph.D.

This means Poshard's project never should have been approved by his dissertation adviser and committee. Indeed, it could only get him into trouble. For instance, there was no way to write a proper "literature review," since there was no literature bearing directly on his topic; hence his review meanders through the general topic of gifted education without focus, and inserts, among its 40 pages, nine from the "executive summary" of a national study.

If we subtract the 25 pages of tables and graphs from the 107-page dissertation, the inserted executive summary is 11 percent of the entire written work.

Further, a purely descriptive dissertation would allow no interesting conclusions to be drawn, and none of those Poshard arrived at were either interesting or much related to the data he obtained.

For example, Poshard writes on page 105: "It can be concluded that increased Gifted Area Service Center efforts to bring local districts into compliance emphasizing program articulation across all grade levels has resulted in the increased size of programs in many districts."

But this statement is not related to any of his research questions or findings. Most of the conclusions come out of thin air and seem geared primarily to applaud the efforts of the local Gifted Area Service Center, by which Poshard was employed at the time.

Reading Glenn Poshard's dissertation gave me some sympathy for his effort to shift blame to his dissertation committee, if for a different reason. Had its members held him to substantive standards of scholarship, he would have developed a more extensive research project and produced very different work. His plagiarism was only one aspect of the low scholarly standards for advanced degrees in SIU's Department of Higher Education.

The character of Poshard's dissertation helps us understand why he has appeared so clueless about academic standards in responding to the discovery of his plagiarism. How could he appreciate such standards when he had never been held to any, nor apparently developed them on his own? This also helps explain why it was possible for the review committee to see his plagiarism as comparatively blameless.

It appears, then, that Poshard participated in a defective academic culture, and has, these many years later, become its victim. The response to this by SIU's Board of Trustees, one of whose members hails from the Department of Higher Education, may suggest it simply does not see that culture as much of a problem.

Alternatively, it could indicate a worry that guaranteeing academic standards, both retrospectively and prospectively, is too massive and too threatening an endeavor for SIU's trustees to initiate.

The character of Poshard's dissertation raises more and weightier questions than any new plagiarism policy from SIU will answer.'

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Swastika Girl Revisited 

It now looks as though she drew all of the swastikas on her door.

Snapshots from Home 

Mr. UD attended Harvard with Benazir Bhutto.

UD used to see a little of her years back, when she made trips to Washington.

She recalls Benazir, not yet in office, sweeping into a French restaurant on Capitol Hill, where she met up with les UD's and other Harvard friends -- I think this must have been UD's first glimpse of her. She wore an amazing fur coat -- UD could impress you more with this detail if she were able to differentiate among pelts -- and took immediate command -- a tall, insanely intense woman -- of the table. As soon as she arrived, small talk ended. Everything was about her recent pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, her father's imprisonment and death, her brother's death.

UD saw her in a more relaxed mode at the Capitol Hill house of a mutual friend. This would've been at least fifteen years ago. She was funny. She complained good-naturedly about the woman who was writing her autobiography. One of the guests was recently divorced, and Benazir was hilarious on the subject of various unsuitable cousins she was going to toss at him for his next wife.

After Benazir took office, les UD's went to a very formal gathering that was supposed to be a very informal gathering, welcoming her to Washington as part of a state visit. The event was at Blair House, across the street from the White House, and the guests were, again, Harvard friends of hers. UD remembers lots of group photos being taken; she remembers being dazzled by Benazir's sister, a gorgeous woman in a sari whose shimmering glow gave her the aura of one of the major saints. She remembers a longish chat with Benazir's husband, a genial, self-deprecating man who spoke mainly about polo.

There were other formal events, including a state dinner at a Washington hotel, where Dan Quayle toasted Benazir and Benazir toasted Dan Quayle and UD's eyes flickered from VIP to VIP to VIP...



UD's all about private life, or mainly about private life, so people fully committed to public life are enigmatic to her. Their destinies frighten her. When he was with the United Nations in East Timor, Mr. UD worked for, got to know a bit, and got to admire profoundly, Sergio Vieira de Mello, a handsome, brilliant, unpretentious man who was killed in a Baghdad bombing. Benazir's life, too, is in danger.

USC Celebrates O.J. 

'Heritage Hall, the athletic department building at the center of USC's campus, has seven Heisman Trophies and their recipients' jerseys on display. Each of the seven players is highlighted in the USC football media guide and game-day programs. Enormous replicas of the retired jerseys are displayed all football season long below the peristyle of the Los Angeles Coliseum.

That's right: USC still celebrates the football career of O.J. Simpson -- who was tried for a double murder, found liable in civil court for the death of his ex-wife and her friend, sued for pirating DirecTV and is scheduled to appear Thursday for a preliminary hearing in Las Vegas, where he is facing several felony charges in connection with an alleged assault on two sports memorabilia dealers.



USC has taken a very diplomatic approach to handling Simpson's legacy. The school recognizes that Orenthal James Simpson attended USC and played football -- quite well -- before going off, like most Heisman winners, to a career in the NFL. But Simpson is not invited to any official university events. The school embraces his gridiron accomplishments while distancing itself from what came afterward.

I have to wonder how head football Coach Pete Carroll -- who had nothing to do with USC's Simpson-era heyday -- feels as he walks past the Juice's No. 32 jersey and Heisman Trophy each day. Is that lesson of compartmentalization one that Carroll truly wants to send to his players? Play football well and it doesn't matter what happens off the field? That's the message USC seems to be sending to players. Or, perhaps more accurately, that's the message the players receive.



In recent years, Trojan football players have been arrested for or charged with soliciting a prostitute, spousal battery, sexual assault, simple assault and gun possession, while others have been punished by USC for drug possession and steroid use. And a lack of game-day discipline has been a factor in USC's disappointing season. A holding penalty cost freshman tailback Joe McKnight a touchdown -- and the Trojans the game -- when they played at the University of Oregon on Oct. 27, eliminating USC from the national-title discussion for the first time in five years. There are 119 teams playing Division I college football. Only nine have been penalized more yardage than USC this year. But I guess a personal foul is de minimis when compared with armed robbery and murder.



Some of my fellow USC boosters say Simpson is being recognized for accomplishments that are 40 years in the past, and that it is possible to disassociate [dissociate would be better] his triumphs as a running back from his recurring role as criminal defendant. USC has a proud football tradition; wearing cardinal and gold is an accomplishment, a ticket for many to the NFL. Still, no one should be so arrogant as to think that their talent on the field will excuse their behavior off it. Yet if Heritage Hall celebrates O.J. Simpson the football player while looking away from O.J. Simpson the man, regrettably, that is the idea we're left with.

I understand the argument that the man's troubles today have nothing to do with his athletic performance during the Johnson administration. I understand why, during the racially charged early 1990s in Los Angeles, USC postponed making a decision about how to handle Simpson's legacy until after his criminal and civil trials.

But, as a USC alumnus and donor, [Written this way, it sounds as though Simpson, rather than the opinion writer, is the alumnus and donor.] Simpson's antics are getting embarrassing. I listened to the tape from the Sept. 13 Las Vegas hotel room incident in which Simpson allegedly tried to steal his own memorabilia, and I have blushed in embarrassment as I walked into the Coliseum on Saturdays this fall.

If the Las Vegas charges stick and Simpson is convicted, USC may finally have the prompting it needs to take down his jersey from Heritage Hall and the Coliseum...'



--opinion piece, la times--

Irregular Hours... 

...is a blog that doesn't seem to have been too active until recently. Its author, a journalism student, writes quite well. A post describing Mike Wallace's visit to Fordham University concludes:

'Students came forth slowy, tentatively, with questions. But by the end of the 60 minutes, Wallace was the one conducting the interview, doing what he still does best: putting people in the hot seat, and by God, making them squirm...

Perhaps the most stunning part of the discussion was the point at which Wallace began to press students about death. "Where do you go when you die?" he asked the group of undergrads, standing three steps away from his silver-haired wife. "When a leaf falls off a tree," he said, "is it conceivable that that's what happens to us—we just crumble?" He waited for a response. "C'mon, I'm ninety," he said. It was typical Wallace: disarming, honest, unafraid. Only this time, he didn't dig deep for an answer—not in this crowd of twenty-some-things. He simply drew a coda, letting himself trail off: "Crumble like a leaf..." And every hot seat in the room went cold.'


Not all of this prose is perfect. But, by God, she nails the ending.

Thinking Like a Business School 

UD once saw a course evaluation form across whose top something like the following message to students appeared:

Please remember that your instructor's salary is directly tied to your evaluation of him or her.




She recalled that message when she read this article about her university's business school:



'Business Week magazine will pay special attention to GW when calculating its annual business school rankings because of a controversially worded letter from University administrators encouraging students to participate in the magazine's survey.

The magazine sent individual e-mails to all seniors in the School of Business last week, asking them to participate in an online survey about the school. The survey asks questions about the students' overall experience in the program.

The student input comprises 30 percent of the final ranking, said Business Week Staff Editor Geoff Gloeckler. The magazine told schools they could encourage student participation but not influence the results.



The e-mail, sent Tuesday by two deans, explains the importance of the Business Week rankings for future employers and recruiters - adding that many people are unaware of the "strong" programs offered in the School of Business.

"The higher The George Washington University School of Business is ranked, the more valuable your degree will be perceived to be," wrote Susan Phillips, dean of the Business School, and Larry Singleton, associate dean for undergraduate programs, in the e-mail.

"As a member of the Class of 2008, you have an opportunity to affect the way that current and future employers and students will view The George Washington University, our students and our alumni," the e-mail stated. "We encourage you to complete the survey promptly with that thought in mind."



"The purpose of this ranking is that prospective students know what they're getting into at the school," Gloeckler said. "And it blows my mind that they would (send) out a note like that."

He said the magazine would pay special attention to GW when it reviews the data. If GW's student approval improves drastically, the magazine will know it was likely the result of the letter - and will take action based on that information.



Singleton said he did not receive an e-mail the magazine sent regarding the appropriate way of encouraging participation in the survey. [Um, but as a university dean, he understands the protocols here, no?] The message was meant to garner involvement in the survey, which only a quarter of seniors participated in last year, he said.

"We were trying to get students to fill out the survey more, all with the best intentions," Singleton said.

He continued, "I thought we were doing something good for GW and good for the school."

Singleton also endorsed the survey this week when he introduced himself to various business classes. A senior, who is being granted anonymity for fear of retribution from the school, said some professors were angered at Singleton's apparent catering to ratings.

"(Singleton) basically said if you are bashing the school, you may be venting, but you're harming your degree," the senior said.



Gloeckler said he rarely deals with this type of incident because universities encourage students to vote objectively.

Senior Matt Cohen, a senator for the business school in the Student Association, said he helped Singleton emphasize the rankings this year. He said he felt the letter properly advertised the survey.

"I truthfully do not think that any bounds were overstepped in the terms of (the e-mail). As administrators they should make us aware of the importance of certain things," Cohen said. "I think they have accurately illustrated the importance and the audiences that the rankings touch."'





--GW Hatchet--

Blogoscopy: Universities 

A recent survey ranks Syracuse a prominent blogging city, and the presence of Syracuse University is a major reason why.


...'Syracuse ranks high because it has several of the characteristics that correlate with blogging activity, not the least of which is the presence of Syracuse University...

"The common characteristics of the high-ranking cities include high Internet penetration, high broadband penetration, a young, well-educated population, the presence of high-tech employment opportunities and the presence of colleges and universities," [a spokesperson for the survey research firm] said.

Mark Obbie, a professor at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a blogger himself, said he expected academia to play a role in the volume of blogging.

"Any university town is going to have a lot of people who think others want to hear what they want to say," Obbie said. "And I would imagine there are a few professors like myself who blog, which adds to the number."

Freshman Dan Orlando said he has noticed the growth of blogging at SU and at most colleges. He hosts a New York Giants blog with two students from Quinnipiac University. He said that blogging is a necessary step to continue his writing career.

"I still get to write, hone my journalistic skills and get my thoughts out there - where millions of people can see - by writing a blog," Orlando said. "Our blog is very professional, and it gives us a lot of much-needed experience for our future careers in journalism."

Obbie said he believes blogging is an essential tool for both journalism students and the everyday person. Obbie's blog, called "Lawbeat," covers reporting on law, lawyers and the courts.

"It's a good way for me to keep one leg in the professional world," he said [I thought it was keep a foot in.]. "It keeps my visibility higher than if I was simply expressing my thoughts in the classroom. It's a great daily creative outlet that can turn into something more formed and thought-out and be written to a larger audience than my classes."

Blogging makes it easier for students to gain writing experience, Obbie said.

... Blogs may even create publicity for the university.

"If people at the university make a name for themselves, it sends a clear signal that this is a place that is engaged and cares about these things in the outside world," Obbie said. "It significantly raises our profile."

As a blogger, Orlando said blogging only helps SU, and particularly Newhouse, in the future.

"This is what we're all about here," he said. "Blogging follows Syracuse's traditions and beliefs. We just built a building that has the First Amendment written on it, and blogging is one of the ways we can take advantage of our First Amendment rights."




The Daily Orange, the Syracuse University newspaper.

SOS 

Good writing about a lack of intellectual curiosity at Harvard.

SOS suggests ways to make the writing even better.




'When I began my undergraduate career at Harvard a little over two years ago, I spent the early days, weeks, and months floating around in a haze. I felt out to sea in my classes, and socially, the scene surprised me. I had expected Harvard to be an oasis of intellectualism, and it wasn’t. [In a haze, out to sea, an oasis... We've got a mess of metaphors here. But the first-person approach is a good idea, and this Harvard undergraduate writing in the campus newspaper is about to say something very important, and say it pretty well.]

To some degree, this lack of intellectualism was a relief: It meant that I didn’t have to worry so much about whether people considered me an intellectual powerhouse, because they weren’t intellectual powerhouses either. It was a shame so few of them read [Note: This is a current Harvard undergraduate talking about the reading habits of others like her. Many do not read... Which can't really be true. But many probably read very little.] and so few of them cared about the happenings of the world [Weak phrase, happenings of the world. Vague. Global events, for instance, might be better.], but at least I felt less guilty when I spent more time freshman year surfing Facebook than thinking about art or culture or politics.

And though I would come to get used to this aspect [grow accustomed would be more elegant.] of the Harvard landscape (and discover microcosms of intellectualism on campus), the pervasive apathy still troubles me. The ability to engage with the world in a multifaceted way, to employ the approach of liberal arts, and to absorb and apply new knowledge over the course of a lifetime is an essential part of being an intelligent and worthwhile person. [This writing is weak, but describing the nature and value of intellectuality is very difficult.] If Harvard, an apex of higher learning, does not hold the pursuit of intellectualism as a central value, then can any other place be expected to?

The phenomenon may have to do with the college admissions game that has reached maniac-scale intensity [maniac-intensity would be better.]. According to a 2000 College Board report, between 1994 and 1999, the number of first-year students in American universities grew by 200,000. In part, this owes to [owes to is awkward] an expanding demographic, Generation Y. Combined with better recruiting by colleges and programs such as the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative (HFAI), winning a spot at Harvard (or Yale or any other top college) has become a considerable feat. The cause of Harvard’s intellectual decline in this period of hyper-competitiveness is two-pronged: It has to do with the transformation of the college student makeup, as well as the growing college preparatory hysteria.

The first part of this lack is due in part to something that is quite good about Harvard: the place is no longer a rich, white boys’ club. Harvard, in the trend of colleges nationally, is increasingly diverse, particularly socioeconomically. [Four is's in two sentences. Let's see how we can avoid them.... An easy initial move: Get rid of that is. Just drop it and read the phrase without it: ...something quite good about Harvard. Much better. Okay. Let's go back and look at the first is. How about This lack stems from? So now we've got This lack stems from something quite good about Harvard. Let's keep our third is in: the place is no longer, etc. As for our final is, I propose radical surgery: Drop the sentence altogether. The sentence right after this one carries the substance of the point.] Thanks to programs such as HFAI, Harvard draws from a much wider cross-section of applicants than it once did.

But this unquestionable benefit has had negative side effects [Drop side.]. With an influx of students from for whom a major draw is post-college career success and earning potential, there will naturally be less emphasis on the “frivolous” pursuits of the liberal arts and more on activities and areas of study that are distinctly pre-professional. [See that that are toward the end of the sentence? Just as with that is before, drop it and read the phrase: activities and areas of study distinctly pre-professional. Get it? Wordy writing is in part about sticking in unnecessary little phrases like these.] Though of course there are exceptions, this culture increasingly pervades campus. This is why there has been a surge of campus business groups, and so-called “leadership” organizations. This is evident, too, in the rise in number of concentrators in areas such as economics, which serves for many as a pre-business track. [The last two sentences both begin with the sometimes confusing and often dull phrase This is. Go back and find the heart of these sentences - campus business groups, economics concentrators -- that's where you should find their first words.] A Crimson survey of the Class of 2007 found that more than 60 percent of those entering the workforce were pursuing jobs in finance. [Too ingy. Rewrite: pursued jobs in finance.]

On the flipside, the intellectual’s status as an endangered species is also caused by a sort of leisure class mania. [To be verb plus passive voice. Rewrite: Leisure class mania also contributes to the intellectual's endangered status.] In this atmosphere of intense competition, the college admissions game has been transformed into an industry. Students are sent off to preparatory programs, and their parents drop thousands of dollars on private SAT tutors and college consultants. Ivywise, a New York-based college consulting firm, charges anywhere from $1,000 for a one-time consultation to $30,000 for a two-year 100-hour program. The company promises pleasing results: 75 percent of its clients go on to attend Ivy League colleges. Ivywise provides a slew of standard services like scheduling students’ testing dates and summer programs and editing admissions essays. But some of the firm’s offerings are a bit unsettling: One Ivywise package promises to “identify the student’s passions and interests.” A teenager, we gather, couldn’t possibly figure out his interests on his own. At least, he couldn’t possibly pinpoint which “passions” would win him a spot at a top college. [Fine writing throughout, but drop quotation marks around last use of word passions.]

When it comes to the college admissions process, vigor is hardly a virtue. The modern child may be a whiz at excelling in [drop at excelling] his courses and extracurriculars, but this does not make him capable of intellectualism. His schedule is jam-packed with all the stuff his hovering helicopter parents and college consultants have picked out for him. He learns the ways of networking and time management, not the ways of devouring a poem or pondering life’s great questions.

Upon arrival at Harvard, many of these students are not so sure why they’re here. Some burn out completely — free from the watchful eyes of mother and father, they stop attending classes and flop as students. But most of them simply don’t get what they should be getting out of college — the rigorous pursuit of liberal arts — because they can’t escape the résumé padding of their earlier years. They continue to take courses they’re not really interested in and they participate in activities they find dull because these are the ways to land jobs at Goldman Sachs & Co.

Though the Harvard of 2007 is a progressive and admirable institution, something has been lost. We’ve mistaken grades, test scores, meaningless extracurriculars, and our college admission as a collective barometer for the successful young person. These are components of personal success, but they are irrelevant if, as individuals, we are deficient in intellectual depth. Only when we recognize (and change) this, will we be able to get something worthwhile out of college.'

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WHEN SOS WAS A SCATHING OFFLINE SCHOOLGIRL... 

...she was always told never argue from emotion.

This rule remained somewhat abstract until SOS read the latest of many letters in the Southern Illinois press in defense of plagiarizing Southern Illinois prez Glenn Poshard.


'I have sat quietly by reading the headlines and editorials about Glenn Poshard, a dizzying roller coaster ride that made me wish I had skipped the chili dog. [A quiet, dizzying roller coaster ride. Confusing.] He devoted his life to serving people of Southern Illinois and is charismatic, enthusiastic and dedicated to his community. [You can be many good things and a plagiarist too.]

I watched him dancing on the sidewalk in Carbondale's Town Square last December, bobbing along to the music of the middle school marching band with his grandson, Tucker, on his shoulders. It was anybody's call as to which of them were having the better time at the annual Lights Parade. He is genuine and caring. [This kitschy description intends to bring a tear to the eye. But you can bob along to the beat, have a grandson with a cute name, and still plagiarize.]

You can hear it in the squeals of laughter of his grandson. [How much, really, can we conclude from this laughter? Hitler made toddlers laugh at Nuremburg, you know...] And if that's not enough, you can read it in his public record.

How is it that a self-appointed, nameless band of plagiarism vigilantes can tear apart a man's career, family and reputation? [John Wayne talk.] The accusations don't have to be true to be damaging. Just because he's accused doesn't make him guilty.

Tossing out a lifetime of stellar public service over a passage written years ago is incomprehensible. At minimum, he deserves the benefit of the doubt. Until the hooded, neo-Nazi, Klansmen of plagiarism snuff out their burning torches and find something better to do there will be no peace. Show us your faces so that we may level the playing field and scare up the skeletons in your dark closets. [Skeletal masked closeted torch-bearing fascists cavort on tilted fields.]

We can look Glenn Poshard in the eye. But we cannot see in yours.'



The problem with arguing from emotion is that you're emotional. You can't think straight. Readers are looking for reasons, not dispatches from the fainting couch.









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