Post Academic


The Return of Broke Ass!: Sex, Drugs, Janitorial Services

How long has it been since we’ve written up a broke ass piece?  When we did, it was all about broke ass schools and how they can’t pay for anything, like stuff schools need from faculty and departments.  It seems like broke ass schools have passed the savings on to students and post academics, who’ve resorted to all the means mentioned above in the title to make ends meet:

Broke Ass, Now with More Ass!: Dateline, China — This story from the L.A. Times tells how female college students in China are working it, making a living from basically being kept women with drama school types charging up to $25,000 to B-schoolers getting $5000.  The article, however, doesn’t look at the phenomenon from the angle of gender dynamics so much — actually, the piece reads pretty anti-Chinese women,focusing on describing them as “ambitious and frostily pragmatic” and using “paid sex as a strategy”,  rather than emphasizing how the men are horndog sleezebags.  Overall, the underlying point of the article is to use this situation as yet another example of how the Chinese don’t do capitalism the right way and that maybe it isn’t for them: As author Megan Stack puts it, “In China, everybody seems to be selling something these days.  Advertising crowds the skyline and the roadsides.  A closed country has opened up in a span of decades, and is experiencing an economic boom that has introduced new desires and an ‘anything goes’ mentality.”

Before Georgetown became a big ol' meth lab--we think ("Georgetown University and Canoe Club 1910s," Public Domain)

Was Meth Lab One of Your Freshman Dorm Options?: Back here in the good ol’ United States, our students make pocket money the old fashioned way, by manufacturing drugs.  Last week, two Georgetown students and a University of Richmond student were arrested for creating a drug lab in a frosh dorm room on the Georgetown campus.  The reaction seems to be two-fold, that no one should be shocked that heavy-duty drug use happens at a hoity-toity school like G’town and that meth labs are kinda commonplace on campuses across the country, like at U Central Florida and SMU.

Overqualified and Underemployed?  This Is News?: A few of my Facebook friends posted this opinion piece from the Chronicle — reader beware, it’s basically one of those anti-college screeds about how higher ed doesn’t pay off written by an econ prof who runs his own center — that notes there are 5,057 janitors in the U.S. with Ph.D.s.  What I wanna know is whether or not working custodial actually pays better than being a marginally employed freeway flyer?  And does it have better benefits too?

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Broke-Ass Schools: The Literal Edition

Posted in Absurdities,Broke-Ass Schools by Caroline Roberts on July 23, 2010
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Just a quick post: When we started the “Broke-Ass Schools” section, we focused more on departments shutting down and the like. Our emphasis was on the “broke,” not the “ass.”

Well, imagine my surprise when I discovered that Texas A&M plans to save money by not stocking dorms with toilet paper.

The toilet paper elimination would begin in August 2011, giving the university enough time to inform the students and ensure that campus stores are stocking it. At that point, toilet paper will no longer be provided in residence hall bathrooms shared by up to four people; the university will continue to supply it in larger bathrooms, administrative office areas, and public areas.

Okay, fine. The TP will be in the bigger bathrooms, and learning how to buy TP is part of growing up. But I am hoping this is some sort of desperate PR ploy so Texas A&M can get attention for its budget troubles. When you’re starting to squeeze the Charmin, either your priorities have gone awry or you need a new accountant.

Broke-Ass Schools: Kean University, the school with no departments

Posted in Broke-Ass Schools by postacademic on May 31, 2010
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"Schere" by Horst Frank (Creative Commons license)

You read the headline right: Kean University in New Jersey has a plan to cut 38 departments, consolidating them into 18 schools headed by “executive directors” who would replace typical chairs.  And Kean is no podunk university, being the 3rd largest public univsersity in New Jersey with an enrollment of 15,000 or so.  The plan to dispense with any sense of a conventional academic structure was done to save the school around $2 million, although the entire budget shortfall Kean is facing is $17.7 million, according to Inside Higher Ed.  IHE reports that the plan could go into effect by July, although NJ.com claims that it will take two years to phase in the changes.

The drastic response was apparently conceived of by the school president and OK’d by the University Senate without input from the faculty at-large.  Faculty critics who dispute the Kean admin’s numbers argue that costs could even go up by replacing dept chairs with another level of bureaucracy with directors.  Per Inside Higher Ed:

“This new structure is adding an entirely new layer of administrators that never used to exist,” said James Castiglione, who teaches physics at Kean and is president of the Kean Federation of Teachers.

The union, which is part of the American Federation of Teachers, will challenge the plan on several grounds, Castiglione said. Most notably, union officials fear one of the plan’s chief goals is to convert department chairs into executive managers, who will then be removed from the bargaining unit, even though they’ll still carry some teaching duties.

More below the fold…

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Broke-Ass Schools: Middlesex University (UK) Philosophy

"Atrium at Middlesex University London at night" by Fox8901 (Public Domain)

Since we’re on the topic of academic celebs, here’s a case where they’re using their superpowers for good, fighting the epidemic of Broke-Ass Schools: Though Homi Bhabha hasn’t signed on as far as we can tell, superstars from B (Alain Badiou) to Z (Slavoj Zizek) are rallying to try and save the day for the Middlesex University philosophy program in the UK.  Many of you might have learned about this already from your Facebook news feed since a lot of academic types have joined the “Save Middlesex Philosophy!” fanpage, which now numbers of 12,000 members from around the world.  Along with the powerhouses mentioned above, esteemed scholars like Etienne Balibar, Judith Butler, Hardt & Negri, and Gayatri Spivak have co-signed a letter to the Times Higher Education in the UK speaking out against the proposed shutdown of one of the preeminent philosophy programs in Europe (which I guess we can assume is true, based on the caliber of its supporters).

Some choice quotes from the letter, below the fold

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Broke-Ass Schools meet Broke-Ass Students: The lists grow

Posted in Broke-Ass Schools by postacademic on April 28, 2010
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If you’re looking for the most current news on Broke-Ass Schools and how they are creating Broke-Ass Students, we’ve found a great resource for up-to-date info on budget crunches across the nation.  The Chronicle of Higher Ed‘s “Campus Cuts” blog compiles a list of schools facing cut backs.  The “Campus Cuts” list covers everything from large scale salary freezes and furloughs to programs and faculty/staff positions that are threatened by the chopping block.  Or you can just click on our own “Broke-Ass Schools” category listing and see which schools are hurting right now, which include SUNY Stony Brook Southhampton, UMass Amherst, some UIowa humanities grad programs, University of Maine, and–of course!–the UC.

"UVA Rotunda" by Uris (public domain)

So it looks like Broke-Ass Schools are trying to keep afloat by breaking-ass their students: Huffington Post has digested some of the latest tuition hikes at state universities in Virginia, Maryland, and the Kentuck.  Reporting the second-hand info third hand here, the schools in the university system in Virginia seem the hardest hit–just hope the tuition hikes aren’t used to fund Confederate History Month.  Here are the numbers, courtesy WaPo’s College, Inc blog:

U Virginia: almost 10% increase / $956 tuition hike for in-state students ($1900 hike to an almost $34,000 tuition for out-of-state students, too!)

Va Tech: 9.7% increase

James Madison: 8.5% increase

UMaryland is raising its tuition by 3%, while UKentucky and Louisville passed a 6% increase, which hopefully won’t go to paying the multi-million dollar salaries of  basketball coaches John Calipari and Rick Pitino.

Last week on Post Academic (3/14-3/20)

If you’re waiting to watch the House vote on health reform coming some time  today, why don’t you check out what you might have missed last week on Post Academic?  Besides the fun stuff on what (not) to wear, March Madness, and Spring Break that’s still on the home page, here’s what else we covered:

* Caroline tries to buck up prospective grad students who might not be getting great news about their applications.  Arnold does the same for jobseekers who haven’t gotten the results they’ve been hoping for.

* Caroline looks at more broke-ass schools and more broke-ass folks.

* Arnold learns that the NY Times figured out that there’s this Rate My Professors thingy.