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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

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Academics and Administration Blog

Schools already experiencing hurdles due to government shutdown

By Justine McGuire          Last updated: 10/10/13 10:50pm         

A host of problems related to the federal government shutdown could be on the horizon.

MSU officials have said the federal shutdown will affect the university minimally, but a recent article from The Chronicle of Higher Education sheds light on problems already happening and more that could happen if the shutdown continues.

So far, most effects have been on research grants. Furloughs in the U.S. Department of Education are about 94 percent of its workforce, which could lead to delays in the awarding of grants, the article said.

The federal grant money to scientific projects often goes toward paying graduate students who help on the projects.

The article said there is a fear among researchers that to come to an agreement on the budget, legislators might cut research funding, which has been on the chopping block before.

But most problems would come if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling by Oct. 17.

Pell Grants and student loans have not been affected because they are funded through June, to be in sync with the academic year. They will only be affected if the government runs out of money and can’t take on new obligations.

If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, it’s unlikely the government will value student loans and Pell Grants above Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — which make up the bulk of federal spending. It would probably also place veterans’ benefits over student financial aid.

The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs only has enough money to pay GI Bill benefits until late October, according to the article. Active military tuition assistance was suspended by the U.S. Department of Defense on Oct. 1.

ASMSU, MSU Students United create partnership for tuition freeze for 2014-15 academic year

By Nolly Dakroury          Last updated: 10/06/13 9:13pm         

ASMSU is teaming up with a surprising partner, MSU Students United, for a resolution to petition for a tuition freeze for the 2014-2015 academic school year.

The student group MSU Students United formed this year to advocate for the student body because of concerns that ASMSU was not representing student interests.

The resolution was presented during the ASMSU general assembly meeting on Oct. 3. The representatives voted on moving the discussion and a vote on the resolution to one of the committee meetings scheduled for Oct. 10.

Noah Saperstein, history education senior and one of the MSU Students United organizers, said recent tuition hikes were the number one complaint made by students, adding that it’s time the matter be addressed.

Mitchell Goheen, ASMSU vice president for academic affairs, said the petition would be a starting point for students to act against the continuous hikes, adding it would show how outnumbered the administration is.

Although members of the assembly agreed the topic needed attention, some thought the idea needed more planning.

“If we will pursue something like that, we need to have a plan and research,” ASMSU Vice President for Governmental Affairs Jessica Leacher said.

Leacher said a dialogue has to be started with the administration, as well as with the MSU Board of Trustees, before making such a decision.

MSU doesn't follow norm of ignoring global rankings

By Justine McGuire          Last updated: 10/03/13 10:28pm         

Most U.S. universities ignore global rankings, a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article alleged, but MSU doesn’t follow that norm.

MSU’s Office of Planning and Budgets keeps track of its rankings in the three most credible global systems, which happen to be dominated by U.S. institutions. Most of the Big Ten usually makes the top 100 of each ranking system, including MSU.

The article says ignoring the global rankings could hurt U.S. universities in the future. They might “find themselves falling behind in a race they didn’t fully realize they were running.”

But they aren’t losing yet. Eight of the top-10 universities in the Academic Ranking of World Universities, compiled by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, are in the U.S. The QS World University Rankings put 11 U.S. institutions in its top 20. In 2012, Times Higher Education ranked 200 universities, 76 from the U.S.

But the article noted the country’s higher education is sliding, with 30 fewer universities on the Shanghai rankings this year compared to its first publication about a decade ago.

MSU has stayed in top 100 of two of the three rankings for several years, and bobs up and down on the scale.

The article emphasizes rankings as a mechanism of attracting international students — something MSU has done a good job of, with hundreds flocking to campus from around the world every year.

The article referenced an MSU professor, who has done research in rankings: “But just because global rankings haven’t stirred up the same fervor as the U.S. News list doesn’t mean the United States doesn’t recognize global competition, says Brendan Cantwell, an assistant professor of educational administration. International comparisons are increasingly driving political leaders and policy makers like President Obama, even if they don’t explicitly refer to rankings, Cantwell says.”

Student Food Bank to celebrate 20th anniversary with help of ASMSU

By Nolly Dakroury          Last updated: 09/29/13 10:36pm         

ASMSU, MSU’s undergraduate student government, passed a bill to allocate $1,500 to sponsor the Student Food Bank’s 20th anniversary event on campus, which will be on Nov. 15.

K.C. Perlberg, music education and political theory senior and ASMSU representative, said the Student Food Bank should use the anniversary as a chance to raise awareness about the program.

ASMSU Director of Public Relations Matt Franks said ASMSU has been working with the food bank since its founding in 1993.

The food bank, which boasts about being the first student-run operation of its kind, helps students who do not have enough money for food or a meal plan.

A lot of graduate students take advantage of the food bank because many have dependents and families to support, said Stefan Fletcher, president of the Council of Graduate Students, or COGS.

The food bank was initially established through the collaboration of ASMSU and COGS.

The food bank runs on charitable donations and provides about 50,100 pounds of food yearly through biweekly distributions, according to its website.

The next distribution will take place on Oct. 9 at the Olin Health Center’s west entrance from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Students usually are asked to check-in at the entrance and show their MSU ID, according to the food bank’s website. They are then shortly interviewed in order to be given food supplies which meet their needs.

Student newspapers in Virginia can now sell alcohol ads

By Justine McGuire          Last updated: 09/26/13 9:34pm         

The State News can print ads for whatever it wants, but that’s not the case everywhere.

Until recently Virginia had a state law that forbade student newspapers from printing alcohol advertisements. The law was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and is part of a seven-year quest by the American Civil Liberties Union, according to an article in Inside Higher Ed.

The ban was to prevent drinking ads in papers that catered to mostly underage people, but the case found that most readers of The Cavalier Daily at the University of Virginia and The Collegiate Times at Virginia Tech University are 21 or older.

The newspapers won the trial on grounds of free speech.

Lifting the ban will presumably allow student newspapers to get more ad money, which is especially important as newspaper budgets shrink across the country.

University of Pittsburgh’s The Pitt News won a suit to get a similar law overturned, but it took five years. The lawyers in the case noted the law cost the paper $17,000 in one year when it had to turn away advertisers.

The State News pulls in about $2 million in ad revenue annually, but it’s unclear if any of that was from alcohol ads. The newspaper has included ads from bars in the past.

Utah and New Hampshire continue to have restrictive advertising laws.

ASMSU to host medical amnesty awareness event

By Nolly Dakroury          Last updated: 09/22/13 8:42pm         

ASMSU is hosting a medical amnesty awareness event on Tuesday at Olin Health Center.

The undergraduate student government has been advocating for and supporting medical amnesty on the MSU campus recently. Before the medical amnesty law was passed on May 8, 2012, ASMSU had been pushing for it for several years.

Since then, the student government has been keen on spreading awareness about medical amnesty, encouraging students to ask for help if they or their friends need medical assistance as a result of drinking.

The law, which now has been passed in 17 states, first was introduced and spread around the U.S. by the Medical Amnesty Initiative, which is a Michigan based non-profit organization. The organization’s aim is to encourage minors not to be afraid to ask for medical help in case of “alcohol poisoning or any alcohol-related unintentional injuries.”

Medical amnesty gives students the opportunity to avoid a minor in possession charge if a minor voluntarily asked for medical assistance in such cases.

According to the collegedrinkingprevention.gov, blood alcohol concentration or BAC, can sometimes keep increasing even after the person has passed out, meaning that the person’s condition could get worse as they “sleep it off.”

Simon downloads iOS7

By Geoff Preston          Last updated: 09/19/13 11:41pm         

The new iPhone operating system iOS 7 has swept through our tech-heavy generation, as well as the generation before us.

Following a meeting with The State News editorial board in which readers’ questions via social media were asked, MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon responded to a question regarding her use of the new program. She said it took her 45 minutes to download iOS 7 in MSU’s Board Room on Thursday morning.

When asked what she thought of the new system, Simon shrugged. She was unsure if she liked the program.

Did you beat Simon’s download time? What do you think of the system? Let us know in the comments below.

Penn video handled wrong, college Democrats say

By Justine McGuire          Last updated: 09/18/13 10:14pm         

Could English professor William Penn’s in-class rant have been handled differently?

Yes, said Rawley Van Fossen, MSU College Democrats president and social relations and policy and urban planning junior.

He said steps the university has taken in response to the “anti-Republican rant,” are in the right direction, including removing Penn from classes and creating a faculty committee. But the student who recorded the lecture also should have handled the situation differently.

There are channels for students to address problems with faculty, such as going to the department chair or dean, Van Fossen said.

Political science sophomore Evan Schrage who recorded a nine minutes of the rant, didn’t do that — the video was posted on YouTube. The YouTube video gathered momentum a few days after it was posted and gained national attention.

“We can’t just go around posting a YouTube video when ever we have a problem with a professor. Our only route to bring forth this issue shouldn’t be putting up a video,” Van Fossen said. “I’m not sure that was the most fair way to deal with Penn.”

He added that he has a problem with the video because it was edited down from nine minutes to about one minute.

“It’s not in full context — the video is edited,” he said. “I have to think that there was context to that statement. It’s hard for me to believe that there are professors that rant like that in class.”

Recording professors during class is not going to improve the learning environment, he said.

“I’m here to learn. I want to hear what they have to say,” Van Fossen said.

ASMSU looking to engage students in East Lansing City Council elections

By Nolly Dakroury          Last updated: 09/15/13 8:50pm         

The ASMSU Policy Committee passed a bill Thursday allowing the undergraduate student government to encourage students to vote in the coming East Lansing City Council elections, scheduled to take place on Nov. 5.

“When it comes to your city, these (elections) are the most influential in your everyday life,” said Jessica Leacher, ASMSU vice president for governmental affairs and a social relations and policy senior.

There are five elected city council members whose job is then to appoint both the mayor and the mayor pro tem, or the person appointed to act in the absence of the mayor, according to the city website. These five council members also elect the city manager and the city attorney.

There are five polling locations on campus that can be found in Brody Hall, IM Sports-East, the Union and two stations can be found in IM Sports-West.

To vote, students need to be U.S. citizens, at least 18 years old and residents of the city. Voters must provide a photo ID and they need to be registered to vote at least 30 days before elections. The deadline to register is on Oct. 7. Voters can register at the clerk’s office, located at 410 Abbot Road, Room 100.

Those who will not be in East Lansing the day of the elections can send an absentee voter Ballot application to the clerk’s office no later than 2 p.m Nov. 2.

MSU ranks top 100 again

By Justine McGuire          Last updated: 09/12/13 9:44pm         

Earlier this week, MSU came in No. 73 in the U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges rankings — but those aren’t the only rankings that came out recently.

MSU is also ranked as a top-100 school in two of three world ranking systems.

The Academic Ranking of World Universities puts the university at No. 92 in the world and at No. 50 in the U.S.

World Universities has published rankings since 2003 and MSU has ranged from the upper 70s to No. 96 last year. The best ranking was is 2005, at No. 77.

When pitted against only U.S. institutions in the World Universities ranking, MSU has maintained a ranking of around No. 50. There are more U.S. universities on the list than from any other country.

The rankings are based on faculty and alumni prestigious awards, publications and citations.

The other two world rankings are out of London.

In it’s most recent publication in 2012, Times Higher Education World University Rankings listed MSU at No. 94. The university first cracked the top 100 in 2011, the second year of the publication.

It’s important to note that the data for the Times ranking is three years old. It measures citations, industry-sponsored and grant research and more.

The QS World University Rankings put MSU at No. 171 for 2013 — up three places from 2012. The university has never cracked the top 100 in this ranking, the closest it got was No. 116 in 2004.

QS ranks universities in categories including faculty and employer reputation and international faculty and students.

Although the numbers seem to jump all over the place, there is some consistency. On all three world rankings, MSU is listed among or near the top 50 schools in the Association of American Universities every year, according to calculations done by the MSU Office of Budgets and Planning.