Archive for the ‘College Bubble’ Category
Study Indicates College Textbook Piracy Is On The Rise, But Fails To Call Out Publishers For Skyrocketing Prices
More college students are pirating textbooks, or so a report seems to indicate even if the methodology seems a little less than solid. The numbers (reported here by Reason) are based on self-reporting from survey respondents, which means the supposed uptick in infringing downloads may actually be a downturn, or nowhere near the actual percentages. But here are the numbers reported by the Book Industry Study Group, which sounds like the entity least likely to receive accurate infringement numbers from survey respondents.
The group surveyed 1,600 students, 25 percent of whom said they or someone they knew illegally downloaded textbooks. That’s up 8 percent from the previous year.
Most likely, this number is low — but the methodology is already suspect. Adding “or someone they knew” makes the results somewhat meaningless without more details. To illustrate, take an extreme hypothetical: on a campus with 100 students, if you have one super popular student who illegally downloads textbooks while everyone else doesn’t, you could have everyone report “they knew” someone who “illegally downloaded,” leading to 100% even as the actual percentage is 1%. Any survey that has a “you or someone you know” in it almost certainly creates a double, triple, quadruple counting problem as there’s no way to distinguish if the “person known” has already been counted in the survey methodology.
The report assumes the self-reported infringement increase is legit, but the key takeaways never point to the main culprit: textbook publishers. Perhaps that’s because these studies were underwritten by those who would be least receptive to open criticism.
Prices for textbooks border on extortionate. Valerie Strauss, covering the subject for the Washington Post, notes that prices for both tuition and books have increased at unreal rates over the past several years.
Book publishers contribute to this skyrocketing rate by forcing the purchase of new editions nearly every single year — using little tricks like adding or removing a few paragraphs to force repaginating or adding minimal amounts of new material in order to claim the previous version is now outdated.
Textbooks are foisted upon students by schools and professors, meaning there will always be a market for publishers’ offerings. But publishers are burning their facilitators as well with steadily-increasing prices.
A San Diego State University sophomore was forced to remove an American flag from his balcony after apartment managers said foreigners could find the display offensive.
Brad Smith, who had just moved into the Boulevard 63 apartment complex in San Diego last month, told ABC 10 News that he received a written notice to remove the flag a few days ago.
“We were then told that it was for political reasons and that the flag could offend foreign people that live here, foreign exchange students,” Smith said. “I’ve had friends and family fight to defend that flag.”
While Smith’s lease agreement with the apartment’s management does have a clause that says “no signs or other personal property may be kept outside the premises,” attorney Christian Curry told ABC. that the clause comes close to infringing on First Amendment rights.
“Clearly, they want to keep it clean and that’s something they want to accomplish,” Curry said. “It’s a compelling reason, but it’s hardly a reason that’s going to overcome your free speech.”
Management initially told ABC that anyone who hangs a flag would be asked to take it down; however, it looks like the management capitulated after the media highlighted the story. An associate of the owners of the apartment complex told ABC there was a “misunderstanding,” and that the flag would be allowed to fly.
Yep. When they get legal on them, some back down…
In a national certified mailing sent today, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) warns the leaders of more than 300 of our nation’s largest and most prestigious public colleges and universities that they risk First Amendment lawsuits by continuing to maintain speech codes that violate student and faculty rights. The letters are being mailed from the main post office near Independence Hall in Philadelphia today to mark the 227th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution.
“58 percent of our nation’s public colleges and universities restrict student and faculty speech with blatantly unconstitutional policies, and 38 percent more enforce policies that are too easily abused to silence campus speech,” said Will Creeley, FIRE’s Director of Legal and Public Advocacy. “In July, FIRE launched our Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project by announcing four lawsuits against institutions that have violated student and faculty First Amendment rights. Now we’re putting public colleges and universities across the country on notice—and inviting them to work with FIRE to fix flawed policies before they’re challenged in court.”
The letter informs college and university leaders about FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, announced in July with the filing of First Amendment lawsuits against Ohio University, Iowa State University, Chicago State University, and Citrus College in California. As the letter details, lawsuits will be filed against public colleges maintaining unconstitutional speech codes in each federal circuit. After each victory by ruling or settlement, FIRE will target another school in the same circuit—sending a message that unless public colleges obey the law, they will be sued.
“FIRE prefers to secure students’ and faculty members’ free speech rights by working cooperatively with colleges and universities,” Creeley writes in FIRE’s letter. “However, FIRE will not hesitate to turn to the courts when necessary. Throughout our 15 years defending student and faculty rights, FIRE has consistently coordinated successful First Amendment challenges against unconstitutional speech codes.”
A high-profile academic center used federal funds to promote anti-Semitism on the campus of the University of California Los Angeles, a watchdog says.
The university’s Gustav E. von Grunebaum Center for Near East Studies “is promoting a one-sided, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic bias to impressionable students,” Leila Beckwith said Wednesday during a Board of Regents meeting.
Beckwith is a UCLA professor emeritus and co-founder of AMCHA Initiative, the watchdog group that audited CNES events from 2010 to 2013. The CNES program, she said, “completely distorts UCLA’s scholarly and educational mission and is a violation of the Higher Education Act.”
During the period AMCHA reviewed, CNES received approximately $1.5 million from the Department of Education under Title VI of the Higher Education Act of 1965. In 2008, fearing that recipients would engage in biased programming, lawmakers amended the act to require recipients “reflect diverse perspectives and a wide range of views and generate debate on world regions and international affairs.”
As Congress considers reauthorizing the law, AMCHA and numerous others say the amended act is “not working.”
Nine other organizations joined AMCHA to condemn the alleged anti-Semitic programming. These groups, including Accuracy in Academia, The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, sent their report to U.S. House and Senate leaders to alert them that “Middle East centers funded under Title VI have failed to comply with federal law, by using taxpayer dollars to present biased, anti-American, anti-Israel views in their outreach programs.”
College students can earn academic credit for promoting socialist causes on their campuses through a program run by the Young Democratic Socialists, a situation that has prompted concern among conservative and libertarian college students who do not receive credit for similar measures.
The Young Democratic Socialists work with administrators to help their campus student leaders secure academic credit, but declined to The College Fix to say which campuses have made such arrangements through the program.
“We do not have a standing list of schools which provide credit, rather, if a student expresses interest, we work with them to find out if their school would do so,” DSA National Director Maria Svart told The College Fix in an email.
“As you may be aware,” she added, “many schools have programs where a student finds an internship with a non-profit, for-profit, or advocacy organization and is supervised by an academic adviser. Our internship program helps develop a student’s leadership skills, such as critical thinking, writing, public speaking and project management.”
But this arrangement prompted controversy recently at the University of Southern California, where an undergraduate adviser sent students word of the opportunity via the official political science department listserv.
“Sick of politics as usual? Questioning capitalism? You are not alone! … We are currently looking for young, motivated democratic socialists to organize and lead active Young Democratic Socialists chapters at their colleges and universities,” the email stated.
Here’s an actual, for-credit homework quiz in an undergraduate class called Psychology 1100 at Ohio State University:
Theo has an IQ of 100 and Aine has an IQ of 125. Which of the following statements would you expect to be true?
• Aine is an atheist, while Theo is a Christian.
• Aine earns less money than Theo.
• Theo is more liberal than Aine.
• Theo is an atheist, while Aine is a Christian.
The bolded statement, suggesting that atheists are — demonstrably and as a group — smarter than Christians, is the credited answer on the quiz.
A student currently enrolled in the class who wishes to remain anonymous tipped off Campus Reform about the questionable quiz at the taxpayer-funded school.
“Colleges will tolerate pretty much any religion other than Christianity,” the student told Campus Reform. “If colleges really want to give everyone a fair shot, they should stay away from making comments about any religion.”
“How can you really measure which religion has a higher IQ?” the student added.
Earlier this year, the University of Wisconsin–Madison faculty senate adopted a new Framework for Diversity and Inclusive Excellence, which, according to the campus’s Board of Regents, “places the mission of diversity at the center of institutional life so that it becomes a core organizing principle.” Nothing new under the sun there.
But UW economics professor W. Lee Hansen notes something profoundly disturbing in the framework, which apparently went unnoticed by the faculty and the administration:
To achieve the plan’s vague aims, the Ad Hoc Diversity Planning Committee formulated five goals and thirty detailed recommendations. Unbeknownst to faculty senators, these goals and recommendations are based on the “Inclusive Excellence” framework adopted earlier by the Board of Regents. (See Agenda Item II.6 for the March 5, 2009, meeting of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents.)
That framework includes eight essential “working definitions,” among them the already-discussed diversity, as well as others: “compositional diversity,” “critical mass,” “inclusion,” “equity mindedness,” “deficit-mindedness,” “representational equity,” and “excellence.”
Let us take a closer look at one of these working definitions included, namely “representational equity.”
It calls for “proportional participation of historically underrepresented racial-ethnic groups at all levels of an institution, including high status special programs, high-demand majors, and in the distribution of grades.”
Political correctness has for some time mandated that everyone get an A, so it was only a matter of time before the coercive forces seeking “Diversity and Inclusive Excellence” rendered grades utterly meaningless. But to commandeer grades as a vehicle for reparations? That level of brainlessness deserves an F — no matter what color you are.
A Christian college in Massachusetts requested the freedom to live out its ideals, and since some powerful people don’t share those ideals they’re set to destroy Gordon College—unless it agrees to retreat to the closet.
In June, Gordon’s president added his name to a public letter asking President Obama to not force religious organizations into hypocrisy. Obama plans an executive order that would be the equivalent to many organizations of forcing Human Rights Campaign to hire adherents of Westboro Baptist Church. It would force anyone who receives federal funds to hire people whose sexual conduct disgraces all the world’s major religions.
Gordon, like every other observant religious institution in the world, does not want to be forced to hire people that represent the opposite of what it stands for. For that, it’s been pilloried in the press and persecuted by apparently every local public official who gets morally high from judging Gordon’s beliefs. It has already lost a contract with a local town to manage its historic town hall, and its accreditation will soon be under review—all for merely signing a letter. Gordon is only the vanguard. There is far more of this ahead, for every religious school, charity, parachurch organization, and even churches. So it’s time to pay attention to the tenderhooks of tyranny.
Brandeis University was founded to “embody its highest ethical and cultural values and to express its gratitude to the United States through the traditional Jewish commitment to education,” according to its mission statement. But recently uncovered e-mails between faculty members expressing their express their disdain for the United States and Israel cast doubt on its commitment to that mission.
Brandeis student Daniel Mael uncovered an internal faculty listserv that contains e-mails with hateful anti-Israel language and attacks on the school’s Jewish leadership. Mael exposed portions of the listserv on Tuesday, and the Washington Free Beacon has since gotten ahold of more of the e-mails from tenured faculty members.
The secret Brandeis faculty listserv, entitled “Concerned,” was started in 2002 “out of concern about possible war with Iraq, and it now has 92 subscribers. When women’s-rights activist AyaanHirsi Ali was to receive an honorary degree from the university, 87 Brandeis professors signed a petition in protest. On the listserv, they expressed their outrage. “She’s an ignorant, ultra-right-wing extremist, abusively, shockingly vocal in her hatred for Muslim culture and Muslims, a purveyor of the dangerous and imaginary concept, born of European distaste for the influx of immigrants from its former colonies, ‘Islamofascism’ — which has died on the vine even of the new European right wing,” Brandeis English professor Mary Baine Campbell wrote.
The listserv has also been host to anti-Israel rhetoric, especially recently with the Israel–Gaza conflict.
More than 500 adjunct professors and their advocates have signed a petition calling for the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate their working conditions. The petition’s authors, all current or former adjuncts at various colleges and universities, allege that they are being paid for only part of the work they do, and that that amounts to wage theft. The petition is addressed to David Weil, director of the agency’s Wage and Hour Division, and urges him to “open an investigation into the labor practices of our colleges and universities in the employment of contingent faculty, including adjunct instructors and full-time contract faculty outside the tenure track.” The investigation should be conducted at the “sector” level, they say, rather than individually.
The petition says that average yearly income for adjunct professors “hovers in the same range as minimum-wage fast food and retail workers,” since adjuncts typically are paid only for the time they spend teaching — not the time they spend preparing or meeting individually with students. Ann Kottner, an adjunct professor of English at three New York City-area colleges, says in a photo posted with the petition that she works 66 hours per week but is compensated for only 26 hours, for example. Kottner and her co-authors say faculty unions have helped alleviate the problem in some cases, but that more needs to be done to protect the rights of adjuncts who can’t or won’t form unions. Many adjuncts lack basic job security and fear getting “blacklisted” for speaking out or organizing, they say.