Today in academia: dumpster diving, infomercials, cheating scandals, changing UPenn's name and the sociology of all things Jay-Z.
- Sociology professor is teaching society by dumpster diving. Reuters finds Texas Christian University's Jeff Ferrell to be "an urban Robin Hood" because, for awhile, he's been sifting through dumpsters to give his friends things like "never-opened cocktail nuts" (wow, uh...cool, thanks). He even gets soap from looking around in dumpsters, this article tells us all in the name of him being "passionate about the ill effects of consumerism on society." That seems principled. And it looks like he finds a whole bunch of interesting things (that's him in his workshop pictured above, with some tie-dyed dice hanging around). What goes unemphasized in the article is this detail: what prompted the pursuit. On Amazon, his book's description explains that it began in 2001 when he quit his job "and, with a place to live but no real income, began an eight-month odyssey of essentially living off of the street." [Reuters, Amazon]
- Alumni at school that's not Penn State wants to change school name because of Penn State. Again, the University of Pennyslvania is not the subject of the sex abuse scandal. But, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian, there's some alumni who want to change UPenn's school name anyway. "1992 College graduate Noam Harel and 1992 Engineering graduate Kenneth Lesch have gathered a handful of alumni to sign an online petition to administrators to change Penn’s name." Though this small group has high hopes, "the petition currently has less than 10 signatures," the paper reported. [The Daily Pennsylvanian]
- DEAL GET IT NOW BUY: We'll graduate you in four years guaranteed! There's a "growing number" of colleges now sounding like infomercials by offering four year graduation guarantees. We've been hearing this a lot lately. The Chicago Tribune is the latest to tell us about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: "If you stay on track academically but can't complete all of your credits within four years, these colleges and universities will pick up the fifth year of tuition." Or your education IS FREE! Not really, but this does seem like a sensible incentive to get students to see academic advisers more just to make sure they can navigate through the labyrinth that is meeting a major requirement. Good luck. [The Chicago Tribune]
- Yes, plenty of people knew that Long Island SAT cheating was going on. In nearly every New York Times story, there's that one quote that sums up the angle of the piece. And for the paper's latest check in with the ever-expanding SAT cheating ring in Long Island that has resulted in 20 arrests so far and stories of college students charging affluent high schoolers some $3,500 to take an exam, it seems to be this: a lot of people knew that cheating was going on. "It’s almost like drugs," said Jill Madenberg, a former guidance counselor to The Times. "You know it’s out there, but do I want to do it?" Enough people apparently did cheat, obviously, which is why it became "widespread and well known enough that officials at [Great Neck North High School] got wind of it." [The New York Times]
- Jay-Z gets his Georgetown university course devoted to all things Jay-Z. The title: "Sociology of Hip-Hop: Jay-Z." It sounds pretty cool. Still, apparently there are some students who seem annoyed by the class. Like this junior, who wrote in the school's paper, as transcribed by the Associated Press: "It speaks volumes that we engage in the beat of Carter's pseudo-music while we scrounge to find serious academic offerings on Beethoven and Liszt. We dissect the lyrics of 'Big Pimpin',' but we don't read Spenser or Sophocles closely." Ok, but we're pretty sure that Georgetown offers classes on Sophocles too. [Associated Press via USA Today]