Friday, December 18, 2015

December 2015 News Digest

Check out the summaries below for your monthly dose of higher education news!

A Collective’s #StudentBlackOut Seeks to Ramp Up the Pressure on Colleges

A group known as the Black Liberation Collective has become a central coordinating hub for helping students put pressure on their college to improve the experience of minority students.

They are working with students to coordinate another day of action following the one held on November 18th. The event will be university specific and could involve sit-ins, marches, or social media campaigns to help students present their demands.

The group hopes to keep up the momentum, help new individuals starting the process, and work with students to get their demands met despite the upcoming break from classes.

David C. Turner III, Ph.D. student and organizer with the Black Liberation Collective

Wisconsin Grad Students Want Pay Parity Across Disciplines

In 1969, Wisconsin’s graduate student union was able to get equal pay for graduate students in all disciplines by arguing equal pay for equal work.

However, this organization is far different today and they are not able to bargain the same way as before. Instead, the university is allowing departments to set wages and students are not included in the debate.

The university president has admitted students should have been included in the panel, but argues that departments have been paying more for STEM fields through bonuses and grants. 

They also argue that it is easier for students to compare graduate programs by knowing how much they will receive ahead of time and that the rule allows departments to set the upper limit not the lower limit. 

Still graduate students outside of STEM fields argue that this process is unfair.

What the Supreme Court Will Be Asking as It Revisits Affirmative Action

The Supreme Court has previously reviewed this case and handed down a 7 to 1 ruling that the lower courts did not properly scrutinize the legality of Texas’ policy.

Ms. Fisher says that Texas unnecessarily considers race in its admission process. She cites that the top 10% rule brings in enough diversity to meet their requirements. 

The university argues that colleges have the leeway to decide admissions and that the top 10% rule brings in mainly low income students from high schools with a majority of students of color. They argue that their admissions process takes into consideration students of color from more integrated schools.

This article examines several questions concerning the case including the basis of the lawsuit, the underpinnings of Texas' policy, and what the numbers demonstrate. 

Abigail Fisher arriving at a hearing in Austin last month

When Recruiting Teenagers, Don't Forget to Question Your Assumptions

According to recent surveys, college admissions officers and prospective students disagree on what methods of communication work best when recruiting.

Most admissions officers believe Facebook and print material are dead despite differing views by students.

The survey also showed students are unlikely to use social media when searching for prospective colleges instead favoring the colleges’ website.

The article states that college admissions officers need to think about what strategies work best and not waste time getting on board with new apps if they won’t be very helpful in the end.

For Researchers, Risk is a Vanishing Luxury

Dr. Roberta Ross, vice president for innovation at The University of Texas School of Public Health, has toured the country arguing for the value of taking risk in scientific research.

However, early-career scientists spoke up about lack of ability to take risks when it comes to determining promotions and getting tenure. This prompted Dr. Ross to write The Creativity Crisis which details her view of the erosion of the American research university.

She claims that in today's culture, "predictability is prized over boldness" as universities have become increasingly reliant upon federal grants and flat financing. 

Dr. Roberta Ross, author of The Creativity Crisis

A Piece of UT Austin History

There are many myths about how the beloved UT mascot, Bevo, got his name. However, Texas Exes has provided us with the truth about Bevo

The gist is that on Thanksgiving Day of 1916, during halftime of a UT and A&M game, two cowboys brought a steer on the field. UT won the game and a report was published in the paper where the author, Ben Dyer, stated "His name is Bevo. Long may he reign!" While debating what to do with Bevo in the months after the game, A&M students broke into Bevo's living quarters and branded the steer with 13-0, the score of a previous game in which A&M beat UT.

Some theories about where Ben Dyer came up with the name Bevo include a soda drink by the same name or more likely, taking the slang for cow "beeve" and adding an "o" at the end which was commonly done at the time.

The original Bevo

The soda that may have contributed to Bevo's name 

In Memoriam for Bevo 14

Summaries written by Kelsey Thompson and Stephanie Nandlal

Thursday, November 19, 2015

November 2015 News Digest

Check out the summaries below for an overview of what's going on in higher education this month.

Victory in Diversity is Hard to Define

Even after two administrators stepped down at The University of Missouri’s flagship campus, there is still more work to be done.

As the author states, “symbolic gains are not the same as systemic ones” and changing the entire atmosphere of a college campus is difficult.

The University of Oklahoma ended its partnership with a fraternity that was responsible for racist chants, and expelled two of its students. However, more substantive efforts to increase the black student body, black faculty members, and expand retention efforts have been slow.

Although overt discrimination has been eliminated, intimidation and hostility toward minority students still exist and students want to see this change.

Students at U. of Missouri

The Resilient Spirit of Syrian Students

Despite many refugees fleeing war-torn Syria, many Syrians still have resilient spirits.
Numerous Syrian students have been organizing ways to help each other get access to universities where they are now living.  They are trying to find solutions rather than dwelling on the issues they face.
Syrian students are also working to improve education in Syria outside of regime control. They are working with outside NGOs to set up online education programs in the country.
The Invisible Labor of Minority Professors
Minority professors all over the country are feeling the effects of cultural taxation, the pressure faculty members of color feel to be role models, mentors, and even surrogate parents to students of color.

According to studies, students of color who have faculty members as mentors tend to stick around. This is why faculty members of color feel so pressured to serve students and join committees even with already heavy workloads.

These extra hours are also not documented. Professors want to see this changed because this will increase the university’s willingness to hire more minority faculty members.

Rev. Joseph Brown, professor of Africana Studies at 
Southern Illinois U. at Carbondale

Campus Police Chief Is Fired After Saying Most Sex Assaults ‘Ain’t Rape’
The campus police chief at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Georgia has been fired after saying most sexual assaults on campus are not rape.
He was quoted in the student newspaper as saying rape does not happen at his college because "...when the dust settles, it was all consensual." His full comments are located in the article.

The police chief was dismissed and the president of the university called his comments inexcusable.

The $10-Billion Sports Tab

Cash flowing into college sports is only going to a few elite sports programs. Instead, many colleges rely heavily on student fees to finance their athletic programs.

The rates of these student fees are quickly increasing, sparking outrage amongst students, faculty, and lawmakers.

Still, many universities are choosing to create or grow their athletic programs despite data that these programs may be too costly. Students at these universities are left with the tab because without wins on the field, outside donations are minimal.

A Piece of UT Austin History

Before the iconic UT tower, there was the Old Main Building. It was built in 1883 and deconstructed in 1935. The building’s removal was not something that everyone on campus was excited about. Below is a poem by Meredith Posey lamenting the loss of the Main Building.

The current building and UT Tower replaced the Old Main Building and was finished in 1937. The new building was informally named the Mirabeau B. Lamar library, but the memory of Old Main wouldn't go away that easily. Students began calling it the new Main Building and the name stuck.

On the Destruction of the Main Building
Lone Goth, stalwart, crowded, towering, still in mellow strength undaunted,
Giant of earlier days, strong in thew and sinew,
Age creeps on you, ivy-tendrilled,
Age your headsman's axe.
Dust of ages long ago clings about you now at last.
You have marched thus far with time, but-
Death awaits you!
Tall-spired buildings snatched from a fire-doomed fall,
Silent--no bells ring, wires are dumb, the steam is off, the rooms are cold,
not a window blinks with light.
You were not made for pavements, patches, and parterres.
Vastness and bluebonnet vista were yours.
The past you served, your vision ever forward.
You die and serve the future so; your death --
A birth and a memory!
Killers come to you with bars and hammers;
They pry, loosen, and throw.
Soon half will be gone, soon all.
Do you hear them changing their Greek and Latin lore?
Are you mourners only the ghosts of ages gone?
That steam shovel shrieking and grunting is digging your grave --
Proudly descend!  

Summaries written by Kelsey Thompson and Stephanie Nandlal 

Friday, November 13, 2015

ACA November 2015 General Meeting

We met earlier than usual this month, but it was absolutely worth it! There was excellent food, great speakers, and some time to get to know more about our fellow advisors.

Many thanks to President Fenves for taking time to meet with and speak to our advising community. Thanks to Amanda Golden, our ACA Vice President, for doing such a wonderful job organizing this opportunity for us!

Additional thanks to the Office of the President for sponsoring our lovely breakfast!

Muffins, fruit, and tacos stretched out for miles

I'm always so excited when fruit salads have more than just cantaloupe

Dehydrated? Come to an ACA meeting!

There was even someone pouring the creamer, etc.! Apologies for the blurry picture. I took it quickly. I was a little embarrassed about photographing her, but she was very gracious about it.

OJ, Almond milk.. what else is in that magical silver bucket?!

It was very cool that President Fenves took some time to meet and talk with us. I was fortunate enough to get some pictures of what look like fun and engaging conversations.

After that, Amanda kicked off the meeting and handed it over to President Fenves.

President Fenves spoke and then opened it up to Q&A. When asked what is his favorite thing about being UT's President, he said the view from his office is pretty great!

Next up, we heard from Dr. Leanne Field about the Health Informatics and Health IT Program here at UT. It was great to learn about the opportunities this program offers students as well as all the collaboration with hospitals and legislators they are doing.

After that, Kayla Ford, our ACA President-Elect, lead us in a great game of Advisor Bingo! It was really fun to move around and learn new things about other advisors. Yvanna Corella had the most squares filled at the end. Congrats!

Surprise activity!!


Then, we wrapped up the meeting with kudos and announcements. 

Thanks to Christine Anderson for organizing the ACA Community Service event happening at Webb Middle School on November 21st from 11:30am to 2:00pm! Sign up here: Google Sign-Up

I hope everyone has a great end of the semester and we will see you next year!

Another great round of kudos! Thanks again to everyone who has participated.

ACA Advisory Council's Campus Carry subgroup.  Thank you for all of your hard work!  We are a big organization that will be deeply impacted when the new law goes into effect next Fall, and your efforts to collect our thoughts and concerns, and to then share with us with a summary of what our organization feels about campus carry has all been very much appreciated. 

To the Texas Interdisciplinary Plan (TIP) "A-Team," which consists of Karen Weems, Mike Gutierrez and Lauren Jones. Karen, Mike and Lauren collectively advised nearly 1,000 first- and second-year TIP Scholars in just over a month, in advance of Spring registration last week. Even though they were up to their ears in advisees, they never lost their passion for helping students nor their cheerful senses of humor. Way to go TIP A-Team!

From Roanna Flowers:
Special thanks to Lovelys Powell - for your patience, your great attitude, and your willingness to help someone (me!) brand new to advising. Thank you for making this trial-by-fire a little less toasty... or at least handing me a bag of marshmallows. You are so appreciated.

Mandy Davidson, you are an amazing friend and such a fantastic colleague. I'm glad you're back!

From Cindy Bippert:
Kudos to all the advisors in the BBA Program Office for being the best team I've ever worked with!  I sincerely appreciate your commitment to the students in McCombs, as well as your dedication to the other advisors in our office.  I can't imagine a workplace that is more supportive, energetic, and fun.  Thank you for making my work life extremely enjoyable! :-)

From Jinane Sounny-Slitine:
Many thanks to Erin, Holly, and Jana for working so hard to make this registration cycle successful even though we were short staff and our major numbers grew significantly! I’m so glad to be a part of this team and to call each of them a friend. Best team ever! :-)

From Alexia:
Kudos to Shannon-A'lyce for leaving behind her very organized files. They are neat and organized in a way that makes my heart happy. Thank you so much.

From Andrea Gonzalez:
A HUGE thank you to the ACA Advisory Council for taking time to meet and compose a statement from ACA about the Campus Carry Law. Kayla, Janice, Sarah, and Jeff I appreciate the time you took during your hectic advising days to make it easy for us to contribute a response and for crafting a powerful and well thought statement.