Southern Illinois University at Carbondale does not make national news very often. Occasionally the Salukis will pop onto the radar for sports fans, but given just how much “news” (using that term loosely) gets generated in the field of sport, those developments tend to age and be forgotten rather quickly. When the university does draw national attention for academic, rather than athletic matters, more often than not, the story is a negative one. And that is certainly the case when it comes to the latest development.
Two weeks ago, an internal memo got leaked. It was from an associate dean for Research, Budget, and Personnel, Michael Molino, and addressed to department chairs in several of the colleges. The SIUC Alumni Association – and as it turns out, the provost (though not mentioned in the memo) – were starting a pilot program looking to bring in qualified alumni with Ph.D.s for three year appointments with “zero time adjunct status” in graduate programs.
Within hours of the leak – first as a Facebook post by “The Professor Is In” – a variety of conversations, questions, knee jerk reactions, and rants flooded the internet, particularly on Twitter. Nearly all of it was clearly negative in nature, but hard information about the precise motivation and meaning of the memo was lacking, and as an alumnus of SIUC, the first thing that struck me was how a very unlikely school had suddenly become – in the minds of many people – a stand-in for their (often legitimate) gripes about contemporary academia in general. Continue reading →
Since the years of the George W. Bush administration, pundits have been poring over electoral maps, and drawing inferences – alternately illuminating, plausible, and at the very least interesting (though quite often false) – from the information conveyed in those representations. By this point, enough pieces focused on the fundamental cultural and political divisions between rural America and urban America have been published that one could probably assemble an edited volume on the topic.
The latest of these, Red State Blue City, by David Graham, has just come out in the Atlantic. It raises much of the same issues as the previous decade and a half of similar pieces. If instead of focusing on the state-by-state electoral map, and you focus on the counties, it is clear that, with a few exceptions that seem to be based on racial demographics, there’s a significant and well-established split at the county level. Rural counties go hard red, the majority of their voters supporting Republicans. Urban counties show the opposite trend, deep blue, supporting the Democrats. The urban counties, of course, wield a lot more votes since they are densely populated, but there are far more rural counties, at least in most states. Continue reading →
Last Tuesday, my wife and I braved the bitter cold and police-blocked highways to drive over to State Fair Park in West Allis. President-elect Donald Trump was in town, on his post-election “victory lap,” holding a rally to thank the people of Wisconsin for his recent electoral victory. We had a connection to get tickets, and since neither of us had seen Trump speak in person, and both of us wanted to see firsthand what he and the crowd were like at a rally, we took what we expect – but don’t really know for certain – might be the last opportunity to witness both interacting during this campaign, the politician and the people.
This election certainly has been an interesting one, to understate matters mildly. So much has already been said in the last months – though quite often shooting from the hip, groping for explanations and intelligibility, rather than contributing cogent analysis – about all sorts of topics. Fake news, interference with the elections, fascism, the alt-right, the anger of the white working class, authoritarianism, a post-truth environment, bullying and insults, demagoguery, normalization. Those are among the topics that still require a good bit of sorting out and sorting through at present. Continue reading →