Back in 2014, ztevenz, a blogger before my time, started a series of posts entitled “The College Bubble: A Higher Ed Roundup” which gave digests of recent news events that happening at college campuses nationwide. Several events in the past two years, most notably the anti-racist demonstrations begun by Concerned Student 1950 at Mizzou and the nationwide sanctuary campus movement orchestrated by Movimiento Cosecha, have generated talks of rebooting the feature. And now it’s finally happening! So here’s a roundup of things that have been going on recently at various colleges and universities:
Stanford accepts student who wrote “#BlackLivesMatter” 100 times for his application essay.
Princeton Day School senior Ziad Ahmed is now pretty much famous for a tweet that went insanely viral on April 1st where he announced his acceptance to Stanford’s class of 2021. The virulence factor? Well, Ahmed apparently answered a question on his application by writing #BlackLivesMatter 100 times. The prompt to his answer was “What matters to you and why?” Ahmed was also accepted to Yale and Princeton, but has yet to choose a school to attend.
Amherst College trustees voted back in January 2016 to remove their mascot, Lord Jeff. Lord Jeffrey Amherst, the namesake of the town and school, was a commander in the French and Indian War and openly advocated for the gifting of blankets infected with small pox to indigenous tribes. He is quoted in a letter to a colonel: “You will do well to try to inoculate the Indians by means of blankets, as well as to try every other method that can serve to extirpate this execrable race.” Anyway, despite some older alumni opposing the change, many were on board. It took almost a year to plan and execute the selection of a new mascot, but it’s finally complete. After tallying nearly 10,000 votes from students and alumni, the new mascot for Amherst is the Mammoth. If you’re interested, you can read about Wesleyan’s bizarre 50 year mascot transition from the Lavender Methodists to the Cardinals.
Wesleyan saw a record low acceptance rate this year of 15.4 percent. Over the past two application seasons, our applicant pool has grown by a staggering 22%. While some attribute this increase to Hamilton mania, Wesleyan’s change to test-optional, and/or our dropping of the Common App supplement, this decrease in acceptance rate isn’t just a Wesleyan thing. Several Ivies and other top schools are reporting record-sized applicant pools this year. Last year, Harvard reported the same. Also in 2016, UCs reported record application numbers for the 12th straight year. College attendance has been on the rise nationwide for decades, and the Common Application has made it easier than ever to apply to an absurd number of schools in the same application cycle. Many familiar with the process note that while these trends are incontrovertible, the number of ‘qualified’ applicants to top schools hasn’t actually increased that much.
The latest op-ed in the wake of the disruption of white nationalist Charles Murray’s talk at Middlebury on Thursday, March 2 is now in the Times. The op-ed is authored by Middlebury Professor of International Politics and Economics Allison Stanger. Stanger was the faculty sponsor for Murray’s talk. There are many conflicting reports of the escalation of the demonstrations to the violence that followed, which left Stanger with a neckbrace and a concussion and several protesters being “dragged to the asphalt” by security personnel. The latest op-ed from Stanger opens with an account of Edward Snowden’s comparatively controversy-free Skype talk delivered in the same location as the disruptions just a few weeks prior. I have many thoughts on this op-ed and its use of false equivalencies, false dichotomies, and silent majority rhetoric, but that’s an entire post in and of itself. Read it though and follow our sibling blog middbeat for evolving conversations.
A lab at the University of Wisconsin that studies the costs associated with college attendance and experiments with counseling and other measures to make college more accessible and affordable recently released a study noting that 14% of students at 70 community colleges were homeless. Another study by California State University found that 8-12% of its more than 420,000 students were homeless. The New York Times article about the UW study (linked above) states that extreme poverty and homelessness is a problem at elite schools too. It praises Amherst’s policy of opening summer housing to all students in an effort to combat this. Wesleyan, by comparison, charges around $800/month for a Bennet double for students who meet a threshold of high economic need (typically a family contribution of $4000/year or less).
An anti-affirmative action group called Students for Fair Admissions, is pushing the US Department of Education to release admissions records from an investigation completed in 2015 on anecdotally-reported anti-Asian admissions practices at Princeton. The investigation by the Office of Civil Rights (housed in the DOE), “found no evidence of the different treatment of Asian applicants.” The Students for Fair Admissions want the records submitted to the Department of Education to be made public. Princeton spokespeople say that the lawsuit was filed to uphold a promise of confidentiality that Princeton makes to its applicants and their families.
For the second time this semester, racist posters displaying white nationalist messaging have appeared on the University of Maryland’s campus. Some of the posters read “Protect our heritage” on top of imagery of statues of white male Europeans. They were also stamped with “Identity Evropa,” a notable white nationalist group. Posters from the group have appeared on other college campuses as well. Campus police are investigating the postering as a “hate bias incident.”
In February, Northwestern officials received reports of four students being given a date rape drug and sexually assaulted at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity and another unnamed fraternity on campus. The university has just announced that it will take no disciplinary action against SAE or the unnamed fraternity. The Interfraternity Council (IFC) at Northwestern suspended all social activities following the incident and “began to take action to reform IFC’s risk management policies.” Currently, the IFC constitution states that ONE member of each chapter must undergo a training by a Northwestern student group called “Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault (MARS).” Fucking yikesx10000.
State lawmakers in Georgia and Arkansas have recently approved legislation that would make it much easier to carry a deadly weapon on college campuses. Very loosely, the two laws allow for licensed gun owners to carry their weapons on college campuses, with some minor exclusions (including University childcare facilities and student residence halls). So called “Campus Carry” laws went into effect in Texas last Fall and allow for individuals to carry weapons in classrooms and residence halls, in addition to the rest of campus, minus fewer exceptions than the Georgia and Arkansas laws. These laws were the subject of an action campaign at the University of Texas-Austin called “Cocks Not Glocks” where over 5,000 free dildos were distributed by organizers in less than 5 days.