James Hatch is a former a Navy SEAL who has dealt with PTSD for nearly half of his 52 years of life. So it was kind of a big deal when he was accepted to Yale University this past fall as a college freshman. While the Fox News crowd may have been eagerly anticipating the meaty clickbait they could mine from the potential cultural clash of this Real American and those whiney radical college protestors, Hatch beat them to the punch by publishing his own reflection on his first semester. Spoiler alert: it's probably one of the most deeply humanistic things I've read in a long time.
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As the younger students started to express their thoughts, the young woman (truly a unicorn of a human) used the word “safe space” and it hit me forcefully. I come from a place where when I hear that term, I roll my eyes into the back of my vacant skull and laugh from the bottom of my potbelly. This time, I was literally in shock. It hit me that what I thought a “safe space” meant, was not accurate. This young woman, the one who used the phrase, isn’t scared of anything. She is a life-force of goodness and strength. She doesn’t need anyone to provide a comfortable environment for her. What she meant by “safe space” was that she was happy to be in an environment where difficult subjects can be discussed openly, without the risk of disrespect or harsh judgment. This works both ways.
Because fiction, satire, and reality are all one big intertwined clusterfuck these days, the New York Times has reported the following:
Student representatives at the University of Florida introduced a bill on Tuesday to impeach Michael Murphy, the student body president, accusing him of improperly using student fees to pay one of President Trump’s sons to speak on campus.
It all began when Mr. Murphy, a senior, invited Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former Fox News host and adviser to the president’s campaign, to speak on campus and paid them $50,000 with university funds. Some students say the payment was a violation of the Student Senate code — and possibly the law.
So the president (of the student body at a college) is facing impeachment because he took money from other people against their will to enrich the Trump family. What do you a call an SEO wet dream when it's actually a nightmare?
This is a pretty major upgrade in the ongoing right-wing crusade to de-legitimize higher education across the country. But I do have to admit: stealing $50,000 from your fellow students and using it to get yourself in good graces with the Trumps is exactly the kind of slimey move a Trump would pull. So in that case, good on you, Mr. Murphy, for really putting in the work to achieve your lifelong dreams of corrupt scumbaghood. I salute you with this one finger.
He Invited Donald Trump Jr. to Campus. Now He’s Facing Impeachment [Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Hannah Phillips / The New York times]
Image by Max Goldberg/Flickr
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In a story that will surely captivate Fox News pundits for at least the next week, the student newspaper at Northwestern released a statement about their own reporting, following a visit to campus by Jeff Sessions.
Essentially, the newspaper is apologizing for the way it covered the protest resulting from Sessions' presence. According to their statement, some students were upset that they were photographed, or contacted via the school directory, or texted for comments on the protest, mostly out of fear of retaliation by either the school administration, or the media at large, or really wrathful authority figures of any kind.
This, of course, comes on the heels of the recent debacle at Harvard, where reporters at the Harvard Crimson reached out to ICE for a comment after another protest, which is also a…fairly standard journalistic practice. While the concerns of these individual students might be valid, the entire field of news reporting should not be expected to compromise itself and over-cautiously cater to needs of every possible individual. This doesn't mean that journalists—student, or professional—should not try to approach situations with empathy and sensitivity, particularly when dealing with subjects who might be placed at risk by their reporting. In the case of the Daily Northwestern, the paper's backpedaling response may be a prime example of over-correcting for such sensitivities. Read the rest
Latina author Jennine Capó Crucet recently spoke to students at Georgia Southern University about her novel Make Your Home Among Strangers, about an Hispanic girl who feels out of place at a predominantly white college. According to the student newspaper The George-anne, the conversation was quickly derailed by angry college students who think it's racist to point out when things are racist:
"I noticed that you made a lot of generalizations about the majority of white people being privileged," one respondent said into the microphone. "What makes you believe that it’s okay to come to a college campus, like this, when we are supposed to be promoting diversity on this campus, which is what we’re taught. I don’t understand what the purpose of this was."
For the record, Georgia Southern University has about a 6 percent Hispanic population.
After the event, several students called the author out even more explicitly on Twitter (although those tweets have been deleted, The George-Anne still has the screenshots). Then they gathered together outside of a dormitory and did what awful mobs throughout history have always done: they burned books.
College kids do dumb stuff sometimes. Read the rest
For years, college students have unofficially majored in weed. Now universities are beginning to offer cannabis studies programs because, y'know, marijuana is where the money is these days. From the Associated Press:
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"We're providing a fast track to get into the industry," said Brandon Canfield, a chemistry professor at Northern Michigan University in Marquette. Two years ago, he proposed a new major in medicinal plant chemistry after attending a conference where cannabis industry representatives spoke of an urgent need for analytical chemists for product quality assessment and assurance.
The four-year degree, which is the closest thing to a marijuana major at an accredited U.S. university, has drawn nearly 300 students from 48 states, Canfield said. Students won't be growing marijuana, which was recently legalized by Michigan voters for recreational use. But Canfield said students will learn to measure and extract medicinal compounds from plants such as St. John's Wort and ginseng and transfer that knowledge to marijuana.
Agricultural schools are also getting in on the action. A similar program is being launched at Minot State University in North Dakota this spring. The college said students will learn lab skills applicable to medical marijuana, hops, botanical supplements and food science industries.
"All of our graduates are going to be qualified to be analysts in a lab setting," Canfield said, noting that experience could lead to a position paying $70,000 right out of school. Those wishing to start their own businesses can choose an entrepreneurial track that adds courses in accounting, legal issues and marketing...
RateMyProfessors.com is like Yelp for college students, but until recently it also had an uncool "Hot or Not" setting where students could rate the attractiveness of professors, with those who were sufficiently hot "earning" a chili pepper next to their ratings. Read the rest
In college and grad school, I knew several students who couldn't afford housing and "lived" in the student lounges (showering in the rec center) and one guy who pitched a tent in the hills near campus. But this story of Allan Kornfeld who lived in a Yale ventilation shaft from 1963 to 1964 is the closest I've seen to Lazlo Hollyfeld's secret lair in the classic 1985 film Real Genius.
Kornfeld had hidden the entrance to the ventilation shift by covering the entrance with brick-patterned wallpaper. He left his DIY dorm room after graduation and shared his story with the press.
"It was a little cold," he said.
More at Weird Universe: "Unauthorized dwelling at Yale"
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Boing Boing pal Eric Paulos, an engineering professor and artist at UC Berkeley, has a history of high-tech provocations, from his early work with machine performance group Survival Research Laboratories to his controversial art installations such as a vending machine for pathogens. Above is the performance/prank Eric recently staged to open his Critical Making class:
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On the first day of class, I wanted to make a point about expectations – about expectations for this course and more importantly about leaving them behind as we engage in the material and topics within Critical Making. Rather than say it or even show a slide, I unexpectedly and dramatically lifted "my" laptop and smashed it across the floor of the classroom.
Next, I setup the room, ensuring that the impact area would be clear and safe and also that I could adequately conceal my real laptop underneath using a haphazardly stacked set of design textbooks as camouflage. You can see my real laptop in the image below, carefully concealed underneath the broken laptop. I was able to easily advance my slides using a handheld remote control. I placed a board across, concealing my real laptop and then placed the staged laptop on top. A few more books covered up the board and a fake cable were attached to the broken laptop giving the illusion that all was normal – as expected.
I rehearsed the staging, where I would stand, what I would say, and how I would grab the laptop. Remember the bottom of the laptop would completely fall apart if lifted improperly.
Central Michigan University student Anna G should earn an honorary doctorate in pranksterism. Welcome to, er, Wii U.
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The Sigma Nu fraternity at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia has been suspended in connection with these asinine signs displayed at a private residence where members of the frat live. The brilliant individuals hung the banners during move-in week when parents were dropping new students at campus. Read the rest
Caitlin Flanagan has written the funniest and most incisive glimpse into what it's like for today's road hacks whose livelihoods depend on navigating the treacherous waters of the college comedy circuit. Read the rest
A "very aggressive" turkey has apparently been terrorizing people on the University of Michigan's North Campus.
"Do not try to approach the turkey," deputy police chief Melissa Overton said. "We've gotten calls from people who have been trapped and unable to move because he's cornered them."
"He hasn't hurt anybody, but he's a very aggressive bird... He's also created a traffic hazard because apparently he likes to lay down in the middle of the road and not move. It can be very difficult for the buses to get around him."
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Are you a college student who embodies the virtues of the Triforce and needs five hundred bucks for school?
Meet Kyle Kandilian, a 20-year-old University of Michigan-Dearborn student who raises tens of thousands of cockroaches, in his apartment, for fun and profit. Depending on the species, Kandilian's roaches can be had for as little as a dime a dozen, or as much as $200 for a very special individual bug. He's using the money to help pay for college. Read the rest
And that's true even if the savings account doesn't have enough money in it to cover a full degree — or even a semester. A study from Washington University in St. Louis has attributed this effect to aspirations. A kid who grows up knowing that their parents and others expect high education — and who grows up thinking about higher ed as an option for them — is more likely to go. That makes sense to me. Anecdotally, my grandparents sold a cow when I was born and put the money into a savings bond college fund. It wasn't much when I turned 18. But it was part of creating a family culture that made college something I planned on doing. The catch to this idea, of course, is the rising cost of college. I was lucky enough to attend school in a time and place (1999, Kansas) where my freshman year only cost me about $2000 a semester. Read the rest
There is some truth to the American ideal of meritocracy. But there's a lot of myth, as well. Biologist Danielle Lee describes her experience coaching poor kids in St. Louis on science fair projects — an activity that often becomes a stepping stone to a career in the sciences. But, for the kids Lee met, intelligence and a good idea aren't enough to overcome the institutional barriers working against them. This is how discrimination happens. It's not simple and easy to fix and it isn't pretty to watch. Read the rest
Todd Landman is a professor of government at the University of Essex. He's also a talented stage magician and mentalist. Now, Landman has combined his love of teaching with his passion for illusion to become the world's first official Visiting Professor of Performance Magic, an appointment at England's University of Huddersfield's new Magic Research Group. Oh, if only I could audit. From the University:
Landman… delves deeply into the history and heritage of magic and believes that it enables the world to be viewed with a fresh sense of wonder.
“We are trying to rescue magic from its worst faults – which is cheesy guys in cheesy ties with rabbits in hats!” he says. “We are interested in the deeper side of things.”
He has a special fascination for renaissance men such as Dr John Dee and Sir Isaac Newton – scientists, astronomers and mathematicians who also practised astrology and alchemy. And today, the study of magic allows for “different ways of knowing the world”, according to Dr Landman.
"Magical mysteries of visiting prof" Read the rest