Category Archives: Uncategorized

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Tentative and Incomplete

The Education Department’s “framework” for its college-ratings plan is surprisingly tentative, filled with verbs like “exploring” and “considering.” It can be seen as a smart move: Kick the ratings can down the road, telegraph what might be coming, get more stakeholder involvement, and so on. But it can also be seen as an OMG moment: After so much effort, so many meetings, and so much chatter, there remain far too many questions unanswered and far too many ratings criteria ill-defined.

The depar…

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Why We Need a Federal Ratings System

The plan just released for rating colleges and universities is a concept that higher education should welcome as a first step toward developing more-comprehensive ways to measure colleges’ value. The U.S. Department of Education’s Postsecondary Institution Ratings System (PIRS), a continuation of the existing College Scorecard, will be complex for many reasons, including the diversity of our higher-education institutions and our well-documented limitations on data. But we should start by con…

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Use Civil Law to Adjudicate Campus Sexual-Assault Cases

There is no debate that more can and should be done to stop and redress sexual assaults and harassment on college campuses. What is debatable are the best methods for achieving those goals. A particularly thorny problem is how best to adjudicate sexual-assault cases involving students.

For a number of reasons, students are reluctant to file criminal complaints for rape or sexual assault, and district attorneys rarely proceed with prosecutions. Consequently, survivors continue to suffer, and thei…

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Reliving Newtown in a College Classroom

The only three-hour afternoon lecture that has ever held my attention was in this semester’s course on ethics in journalism, taught by Mark Bowden. The globe-trotting author told us colorful stories about the writing of his book Black Hawk Down, investigating the killing of the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, and bringing to light American interrogation practices during the war on terror.

We wrestled with the ethical issues surrounding graphic images, like the ISIS beheading videos, and debat…

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What’s Lost, and Maybe Gained, in the Collapse of ‘The New Republic’

The disaster at The New Republic should concern all who love the arts and humanities, or who aspire to share scholarship with a general public. The abrupt resignations last week of the editors Franklin Foer and Leon Wieseltier roiled the world of journalism. More than 20 of the magazine’s contributing editors also resigned, including the academics Alan Taylor, Helen Vendler, Sean Wilentz, Anthony Grafton, and John McWhorter.

Journalists aren’t tenured. Editors come and editors go, but the publ…

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Will and Grace

Thanksgiving week, news outlets worldwide trumpeted the discovery of a previously unknown copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio (the first collected edition of his works, published in 1623). Lacking its title page and other prefatory matter, the book had been incorrectly cataloged in the public library of a small French town near Calais. Once the book’s identity was confirmed, Rémy Cordonnier, the delighted librarian in Saint-Omer, was reported as saying: “It was very emotional to realize we …

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Ageism in Academe

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How a $47 Shrimp Treadmill Became a $3-Million Political Plaything

shrimp treadmillOver the past few years numerous media stories have surfaced about how hard-earned taxpayer dollars are supporting scientists who run shrimp on treadmills: Forbes.com listed shrimp-treadmill research as wasting $3-million in taxpayer dollars, AARP produced a nationally distributed commercial of lab-coat-wearing scientists running shrimp on treadmills to equate the lack of federal support for retiree health-care services to money spent on shrimp-treadmill research, and Mike Huckabee linked the Na…

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A University Is a Social Force

When the president of a university is dragged from his bed in the middle of the night and shot point-blank in his garden by an elite squad of the national military, we must pause to ask why.

This month the Universidad Centroamericana in El Salvador, known as UCA, will be commemorating the 25th anniversary of the killings of eight people on its campus, including six Jesuit priests: the president, vice president, and leading faculty members. Universities—especially those of the Association of Jesu…

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My Book Got Optioned. Here’s What Happened.

On the day my book, Guyland, was published, my agent sold the film rights to Dreamworks.

I was speechless, a first for me. It was also pretty gratifying, because I had been fighting with my publisher for months over the title. They had wanted something like Almost Men, which I thought was a great title—if you happened to be writing a book for pre-operative FTMs. I’d been adamant. Guyland. When I spoke to the producer, they’d said they were captivated by the title. They hadn’t actually read t…