Monday, December 22, 2014

Why are you mad, white people???

With the recent incidents of police officers killing African-American individuals and what many consider to be unfair outcomes of court proceedings dealing with those incidents, the public's attention is yet again drawn to what appears to be pervasive racism in our justice system. Just the other day, protesters blocked the interstate in Milwaukee, WI (where I live). So I've been hearing a little bit about it and I'm really disappointed with the responses I've seen from even my own family members.

"Racism is alive because blacks keep it alive. They are segregating themselves." - A paraphrased quote in response to protesters on the interstate holding signs saying "Black Lives Matter". 

 "Will the 'White Americans for Justice' be equally represented?" - A paraphrased quote in response to the, "African-American Roundtable," and their representation in these issues. 

Just to note - I'm not an expert on race relations in America. It's not my area of study, but I have had some education on the issues. Also, I was not present at any of the incidents in question. What I'm about to say is something that I think virtually every adult in America should recognize when thinking about these kinds of issues.

Whites (and particularly white males) have, since just about forever, been the privileged, default representative for just about everything, including Justice. Things have gotten better, and representation is growing for groups whose views have historically been subverted and largely ignored. Yet, it is clearly the case that many white Americans do not recognize ANY historical facts about what has led to our current state of affairs. 

The fact is, whites do not need any more representation than they already have been granting for themselves for centuries. Racism is alive because of people who are ignorant, and we know it's alive because it is reflected in our justice system and in comments such as those stated above. A sign that says, “Black Lives Matter” shouldn’t trigger a response of anger as if the sign means “only Black Lives Matter”. It should trigger a response that says, “Yes. They do matter too, and it’s time that everyone recognizes it in every way.” Even if you believe you already recognize this perfectly, you could at least support the fight for everyone else to recognize it too.

So you got trapped on the interstate for a little while. That might be "infuriating" for you, but think about how truly infuriating it is to have a hard time walking down the street without being suspected of being up to something bad. Think about how infuriating it must be to know your loved one was shot and killed, even though he was unarmed and possibly innocent. Think about how infuriating it must be to be targeted prima facie as a bad person because of your skin color. 

So why are you mad, white people?? What do YOU have to be pissed off about?? You have a moral pass. You have the upper hand. You have had the right of way since you were born. You are implicitly The Represented by default. All anyone wants to do is enjoy your status too, because we're all human, and all human life is to be valued prima facie - right?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

I just caught someone plagiarizing! Now what?

In teaching, problems inevitably arise.  And on par with the messiness of life, clear solutions or responses to these problems are not always….clear.  So who better to ask for possible clarity than students!

Here’s the issue: I have a submitted paper where the student is obviously plagiarizing – paragraphs of plagiarizing.  The student has been a good student all semester and certainly appears to be earnest and sincere.  But there are substantial amounts of plagiarism in this paper.

If you were the instructor, what would be your fair course of action?  I know a bit about what other professors would do, ranging from failing the student for the course and seeking expulsion to a slap on the wrist and just dropping the paper from the student’s overall course grade.

But if you were the instructor, what would you do?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

UW-Whitewater is Shutting Its Doors?

Everyone knows that universities and colleges are in big trouble.  With education becoming virtually free on the internet, our expensive institutions of higher education need to come up with bigger revenue streams quick if they are going to survive.

Enter UW-Whitewater.

Back a few years, these revenue concerns bothered the administration so much that they formed what they call the “Growth Initiative,” which is just a fancy way of saying that they are going to let as many students as possible through their doors so that the university can still be profitable.  No one knows if this “initiative” is working.

But something funny is happening now.  The dean of UW-Whitewater’s most noted college, the College of Business and Economics, left quite unexpectedly before this fall’s semester even started.  The Chancellor, Richard Telfer, just announced unexpectedly that he’s retiring at the end of this year.  News is circulating that Provost, Bev Kopper, has been applying to get out of Whitewater and is a finalist for positions at other schools.  And UW-Whitewater’s head football coach, Lance Leipold, is leaving for the University of Buffalo.  There are even rumors that many faculty are seeking employment elsewhere.

Why are all of these top UW-Whitewater people leaving??  I guess if the ship is sinking, it’s better to get off as soon as possible.