The student government at Queen's University, in Canada, has announced that it will no longer use sumo costumes in fund raisers because the outfits are racist, The National Post reported. According to a statement from the student government, the costumes "appropriate an aspect of Japanese culture," turn a racial identity into a "costume," and "devalue an ancient and respected Japanese sport, which is rich in history and cultural tradition." The costumes were also faulted for failing "to capture the deeply embedded histories of violent and subversive oppression that a group has faced." The costumers are owned by the athletics division at Queens, which has used them at halftime events. Mike Grobe, athletics spokesman for Queen's Athletics, said he had never heard concerns before. ""They're just big puffy suits. They're pink... No one's complained."
Higher Education Quick Takes
The State University of New York at Binghamton says that Sally Dear, the adjunct who was an early whistle blower in what became a major scandal over the basketball team, will have a job next semester, The Press & Sun-Bulletin reported. Initially, it looked like Dear wouldn't have a job this semester -- a situation that Binghamton blamed on tight budgets but that seemed suspicious to those watching the basketball scandal grow. Amid publicity about the situation, she was hired back. The newspaper in Binghamton went back to Dear, who said that she hadn't yet been offered sections for next semester. But university officials assured the newspaper that she would be employed.
Communications scholars are unaware of their ability to have fair use right to copyrighted works, and as a result are leaving out key materials from publications, according to a report issued Thursday by the Center for Social Media, at American University. Among the findings of a survey of members of the International Communication Association: "Nearly half the respondents express a lack of confidence about their copyright knowledge in relation to their research. Nearly a third avoided research subjects or questions and a full fifth abandoned research already under way because of copyright concerns. In addition, many ICA members have faced resistance from publishers, editors, and university administrators when seeking to include copyrighted works in their research."
A new blog -- UMagazinology -- is attempting to support alumni and other college and university magazines that aspire not to just be house organs, but to provide valuable journalism at a time when serious coverage of the arts and sciences is disappearing from many newspapers. The founders of the blog have ties to the alumni magazine at Johns Hopkins University, which has a reputation for the quality of its writing and design. The blog aims to support such efforts and to call for magazine editors to focus on quality in ways that go beyond presidential updates.
The blog recently published a credo: "1. The only people required to read our magazines are our life partners, and half of them duck out on us. For everyone else, reading a university magazine is voluntary. 2. If your magazine is not being read, then every dollar that your school pours into it might as well be poured down a storm drain. 3. What do people read? People read stories. Engaging, compelling, deeply reported, well-crafted stories. True stories. 4. Ergo, if you want people to read your magazine, and thus not waste your school’s money, you need to tell great true stories, real stories that have narrative drive and vivid actors and meaningful knowledge, all conveyed with a storyteller’s verve."
At the same time, the blog post acknowledged how unpopular that view may be with some in higher education. "There will never be a shortage of senior administrators, deans, development communications VPs, alumni association directors, and public affairs professionals steadfast in their belief that the graduates of your academy will shove aside The New Yorker, the sports page, the laptop, and the remote in order to read the status of the latest capital campaign, news from the Muskegon alumni chapter, six superficial profiles of earnest undergraduates who are passionate about giving back to the community, and The Dean’s Message," the post says. "But the truth is, almost nobody reads that stuff. It’s boring, it insults our readers’ intelligence, and it can’t possibly compete with a new episode of Lost."
The Republican candidates for governor are making an issue of the California law that allows those who attended the state's high schools for three years and graduated in California to enroll at public colleges at in-state tuition rates -- even if the students don't have the legal right to reside in the United States. The Sacramento Bee reported that one candidate, Meg Whitman, wants the students barred from enrolling. Her opponent, Steve Poizner, wants the students to lose in-state tuition rates. While the Republican candidates have been speaking out on the issue, the Bee noted that relatively few students in the state's colleges and universities have enrolled under the law.
In the wake of a series of racial incidents at University of California campuses, system officials may toughen student conduct rules to specifically bar hate crimes, the Associated Press reported. Vandalism and sexual and racial harassment are already banned, but system officials may explicitly ban acts designed to terrorize groups of people. Some of those acts might be hanging a noose, burning a cross or using symbols such as swastikas in ways that could frighten and intimidate. Officials said that any policy changes would also reflect First Amendment protections.
Just 14 Division I athletics programs were able to cover their overall expenses in 2008-9 only with money they generated -- excluding direct and indirect payments from general university funds, government support, and student fees, according to an analysis Friday by USA Today. That's down from 25 sports programs in 2007-8, and reflects the growing dependence of big-time sports programs on financial subsidies from their institutions. USA Today's new analysis also reveals that coaches' salaries are eating up ever-growing chunks of athletics budgets at colleges and universities in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I.
Pay and benefits for those who lead British universities increased more than 10 percent last year, according to an analysis for Times Higher Education. The raises and substantial compensation packages are being discussed as the universities are facing deep cuts in their budgets.
If you notice more Franklin & Marshall clothing in Italy and elsewhere in Europe, it doesn't reflect a booming alumni base from the Pennsylvania liberal arts college. Rather, the Associated Press reported, the clothing is produced by an Italian company whose sales are growing, and are based on the same tastes that sell Abercrombie & Fitch attire. The college signed a licensing deal with the company in 2003 for products distributed in the United States, but the college doesn't control the rights abroad. Still, the company recently donated $135,000 to the college for a scholarship.
Some of the news in the student press this April Fool's Day:
- The Diamondback at the University of Maryland at College Park is reporting that as one of his last initiatives before stepping down as president, Dan Mote is trying to have the institution's mascot changed from the terrapin to the panda.
- Student Life, of Washington University in St. Louis, satirizes the boom in applications for Teach for America (ever popular with students worried about the job market) by suggsting that the career center is now urging students to consider joining Strip for America. The founder of that organization is quoted as saying: "A lot of people have this misperception that there are good strippers across the country, but that’s just not true. Some people today are really put at a major disadvantage; they live in communities with little or no funding for quality strip joints.”
- Washington Square News has some fun with New York University's growth agenda by suggesting that the university has purchasd Columbia University.
- The GW Hatchett focuses on the alleged Twitter account of George Washington University's president. Steven Knapp.
While most of the April Fool's Day news comes from student journalists, those comedians at Johns Hopkins University have announced on their home page that they are changing their name to John Hopkins University (dropping the S from Johns), since so many people do so anyway. President Ronald J. Daniel is quoted as saying: "We're fighting a losing battle here. And we strongly suspect the extra 's' was a typo in the first place."