Saturday, June 11, 2016

Maker of racist video nabbed

The Southern reports that SIU police, working with FBI, have identified the guy who put out the racist video in the lead up to the May 2 "strike". He's from outside of Chicago, has no affiliation to the fraternity he tried to drag into things, and no affiliation to the groups that led the protests. So this is good news, it seems to me. It was just some jerk out there who wanted to make a splash. This doesn't mean there isn't racism on campus, of course, but let's count our blessings: this wasn't an SIU student, and thank goodness it wasn't a SIU fraternity.

I'd also count the continuing failure to nab the graffiti 'artists' who painted Faner as a blessing, to be frank. I would not have used paint where chalk (or washable paint) would do, or said something about a riot--but the crime here was pretty trivial, the bulk the message was worth spreading (student debt), and the zealous efforts to go after the perpetrators has always seemed a bit over the top to me.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Illinois Atlas of Austerity

UIUC geography student Melissa Heil has put together an impressive website offering graphics depicting the effects the budget impasse. The Champaign News-Gazette has a story given some background on her efforts.

I paste below what was one of her more striking graphics, one showing how many students eligible for state MAP grants did not get them even before the crisis. According to her figures, 125,000 students were funded on this program last year, but the state paid for less than half of those students with the stop-gap spending bill, with universities fronting the money otherwise (leaving it uncertain in some cases whether students will have to pay their MAP grants back as if they were loans).

Tastefully hidden after the break, a quick update on non-happenings in Springfield.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Program Prioritization

Here's my feedback on the draft report of the faculty Joint Task Force on Program Prioritization.

I do encourage comments, both on this blog and, rather more importantly directly to Mike Eichholz, the co-chair of the committee, who is soliciting comments. (Yes, that's the same Mike Eichholz familiar to old-time readers of this blog as the founder of the Faculty for Sensible Negotiations.) SIUC faculty received an email on this on June 2, including the document itself and a call for comments. My opening praise below wasn't meant as just fluff: this is a serious effort at a very difficult task. I am certainly full of trepidation about what 'prioritization' will result in here, but that's not so much because of this report but in spite of it.


Dear Mike,

First, thanks to you and your colleagues for all your hard work on this document. The result is pretty impressive as academic documents go: clearly written, balanced, intelligent. These comments aren't meant to be solely critical; to some extent they are just observations on things I found somewhat striking about the process as you all envisage it.

1. The plan may rank chairs rather than programs.
2. The plan suggests a partial and somewhat muddled vision for SIUC. 

3. The plan prioritizes quality over mission.