Spin Cycle…..

The Board of John Tyler Community College in Chester, Virginia has recommended that the school be renamed “Brightpoint” (The Progress-Index, July 8th online).   It turns out that John Tyler — the 10th President of the United States, for whom the college is named — was a slaveholder.  Uh-oh.

According to Dr. Edward Raspiller, President of the college, the proposed name evokes two powerful images that are central to the institution’s evolving mission: assisted living facilities for the elderly, and large, high-end appliances for the kitchen, laundry room, and deck. 

In Raspiller’s words, “in the coming decade we plan to reach out to our county’s senior-citizen population with a variety of  one-credit courses, such as ‘Napping’ and ‘Chewing’.  During focus groups at nursing homes around the state, we found that residents smiled broadly when consultants projected the word ‘Brightpoint’ on the screen.  In fairness, they also smiled broadly when the words ‘Pringles’, ‘tooth’, and ‘tapeworm were displayed.  But ‘Brightpoint’ elicited the most intense response.  Folks said they would love to spend time in a place with that name.  

“The second plus for ‘Brightpoint’ is that it brings to mind a deluxe line of stoves, refrigerators, washer/dryer units, and barbecue grills.  In the Spring 2022 semester we will begin selling these items in the campus bookstore, in an attempt to offset reduced budget allocations to our school from those sons of bitches in the state legislature.  A free kitten will accompany each purchase of $300 or more.  Virginians love their felines.”  

“WHEN YOU TAKE A COURSE AT BRIGHTPOINT, YOU’RE MAKING THE RIGHT POINT!” 

“Our consulting firm tells me that I should say this every time I speak in public.  How does it sound?”

Terrific, Mr. President.  Absolutely terrific.   

Meta-Inclusion, Explained….

Colleges and universities are approaching the speed of light in their race to establish high-profile administrative positions devoted to promoting diversity and inclusion within their institutions. 

Now, Yale University has taken this competition to the next level.  It has just created the position of Vice Provost for Integrating into Yale University the Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion at Yale University (VPIYUAPDIYU).

According to Yale President Peter Salovey, “the need for this new position became clear when our recently appointed Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion complained that she was being treated as a token by other high-level administrators.  They seldom involved her in substantive decision-making, and she was never invited when the group got together for their Wednesday night bowling league or the ‘Blue Blazer Happy Hour’ at Applebee’s on the third Friday of every month during the academic year.     

“This type of isolation violates the core spirit of our diversity/inclusion initiatives, and it must cease.  Our new VPIYUAPDIYU, Professor Braden O’Leary, is the friendliest, most gregarious white guy you’ll ever meet, and his extensive social network throughout campus is unrivalled.  The Associate Provost will be in good hands with Braden.  She’ll receive more invitations to wine-and-cheese receptions than she’ll know what to do with.”  [O’Leary holds the Marriott Endowed Chair in Yale’s Hospitality and Tourism Department (formerly the Ph.D. Program in English).]

Yale is well-known for creating innovative administrative roles to meet emerging challenges in higher education.  In February 2021 it established the position of Assistant Dean for Chua Affairs.  The Assistant Dean’s sole responsibility is to keep Yale Law Professor Amy Chua — the controversial, photogenic author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother —  out of trouble and a safe distance away from “Dancing with the Stars.”  

 

Nepotism’s Price….?

On June 30th the Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill voted 9-4 to grant tenure to Nikole Hannah-Jones, a journalist who played a key role in developing The 1619 Project for The New York Times.

When Board Chair Richard Y. Stevens was asked by reporters to explain the controversial — and embarrassing — delay in awarding her tenure, he was refreshingly candid:

“Hey, this is North Carolina we’re talking about — we do dumb s**t all the time.  Remember back in 2016, when a state passed a law preventing transgender people from using bathrooms that aligned with their gender identity?  Yep, that was us. We can’t help ourselves.

“This time the blame lies squarely with my idiot son-in-law Terrence, the Board’s legal counsel.  Terrence told us that it was perfectly okay to discriminate against a person of color as long as that person was a woman.  Well, it turns out he was WRONG.  The North Carolina Attorney General says we can’t do that anymore.  Terrence should have known.  

“Why my daughter married this twit with a degree from Mount Airy Law School is beyond me.  Terrence also claimed that we could refuse to grant tenure to Ms. Hannah-Jones because she spelled ‘Nikole’ with a ‘k’ rather than a ‘c’.  He was wrong about that as well. 

“My daughter’s husband has a thing for Nicole Kidman, and was arrested in 2018 for repeatedly sending her packages of Carolina Pride Red Hot Links that contained a handwritten note saying ‘sizzle me’.  The guy is a loser and a dipwad, but it’s the BOARD that ends up taking the heat.  Please, God, don’t let my little girl have kids with this wingnut.”

 

 

Time to Rebrand the T-Shirts and Coffee Mugs….?

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Dixie State University (DSU), located in St. George, Utah, is considering changing its name to Utah Polytechnic State University in order to avoid being associated with the slaveholding South (June 25th issue).  

DSU is by no means the only school grappling with an unsavory moniker in these linguistically sensitive times.  Here are 10 more institutions that are currently being pressured by various constituencies to change their names:

Colby College (Waterville, Maine):  Colby was the preferred cheese of plantation owners in the antebellum South, and it’s featured in several major scenes in the film Gone with the Wind where appetizers are served to privileged white people.  Faculty will vote in the fall on a proposal to change the college’s name to Gouda. 

University of Tulsa (Tulsa, Oklahoma):  When read backwards, “Tulsa” becomes a vile sexist slur.  Enough said. 

Brown University (Providence, Rhode Island):  “Brown” appropriates the name of an entire BIPOC subgroup and uses it to characterize a school that is largely white.  No way this is acceptable in 2021.  

Dickinson College (Carlisle, Pennsylvania):  A slang term for male genitalia is egregiously embedded in the college’s name.  A faculty task force recently recommended that the school be rechristened “Kinson College.”

Rice University (Houston, Texas):  Highly offensive to China, the world’s largest producer of this vital grain.  Rice will rebrand itself as Chili University in 2023, in honor of the Lone Star State’s signature dish.  

Mount St. Mary College (Newburgh, New York):  A name change became imperative when school officials realized that “Mount” was being used as a sexually aggressive verb in hostile social-media depictions of the college.  The Vatican has demanded that the school adopt a new name that shows greater respect for the Blessed Virgin.  

Bates College (Lewiston, Maine):  The descendants of infamous motel manager Norman Bates, the protagonist in Psycho, has requested a name change.  As his great-niece put it, “Uncle Norman had absolutely no interest in liberal arts education.  His passions were shower curtains and cutlery, and Bates does not offer a major in either of those.”

University of Idaho (Moscow, Idaho):  Another example of a sexist slur, this time against women named “Ida.”

Ball State University (Muncie, Indiana):  See “Dickinson College.”

University of Mississippi (Oxford, Mississippi):  Lots of bad memories here, associated with plantations, slave owners, racist violence, and mullets.  A name change to “University of Canada” is being considered.  

Let’s be honest: the time has come for EVERY college and university to take a hard look at what it calls itself.  

 

Protecting the 21st-Century Student-Athlete…..

No Joke:  A proposal to expand the NCAA College Football Playoff from 4 teams to 12 teams will be presented on June 22nd to the university presidents and chancellors who oversee the playoff system. 

If approved, the new arrangement would undoubtedly lengthen an already long college football season.  How can this be accomplished without jeopardizing the precious study time that today’s high-profile student-athletes devote to their courses?

Eric Barron, President of Penn State University and a member of the College Football Playoff’s Board of Managers, believes he has the answer:

Shorten the academic semester for ALL students.

“Really, this is a no-brainer,” says Barron.  “A semester usually lasts from 13 to 15 weeks.  Trust me, a lot of that time is filled with total crap.  I should know.  In my days as a full-time faculty member I taught more than my share of crap. 

“And let’s be honest.  Five years from now, over two-thirds of all Penn State undergrads will probably be majoring in E-Sports.  Hell, the content of a typical 3-credit E-Sports course can barely fill two lectures, including the hour it takes to explain our school’s policy on ‘trigger words’.  

“Let’s say we cut the semester down to 8 weeks.  Everyone could be done with their coursework and exams by Thanksgiving at the latest.  That would leave plenty of time to do justice to an expanded football season, with no annoying term-paper assignments floating around to distract players OR non-players.  It’s a win-win for all concerned.”

A reporter asked Barron if his proposal constituted additional evidence that capitalism’s rapacious lust for profits continues to dredge every bit of dignity and self-respect from the soul of higher education. 

Barron’s brow furrowed: 

“So, what’s your point?” 

 

 

Hue-niversity Life, 2021

In a recent installment of its “Race on Campus” column, The Chronicle of Higher Education examined the pros and cons of using the terms “minority,” “people of color,” and “Bipoc” to refer to groups of non-white individuals (June 8th online).  

The analysis presented is a valuable one, but it fails to explicitly discuss the linguistic challenge posed by another group that has been traditionally marginalized on college campuses: red-haired students.  As a service to University Life readers, here is an overview of the top 10 terms that professors employ when interacting with this population. 

Crimson Tide:  A respectful and empowering label, but it’s been trademarked by the University of Alabama, and their lawyers will sue you for invoking it if they find out.  Consider yourself warned. 

Merlots:  Associated with a popular red wine, this term is classy and highbrow.  However, many object that the word implies that all red-haired students are alcoholics.  Although most redheads do have serious drinking problems, a few do not. 

Red Delicious:  Favored by male professors who teach at women’s colleges in apple-growing regions of the country; increasingly regarded as offensive.  

Frecklers:  Capitalizes on the fact that red hair and freckles go together.  But not always.  This means that students with red hair but no freckles feel even further marginalized.  

Cardinalians:  Honors a bird of distinction, but representatives of the cardinal community, including the Audubon Society, have complained that the term unjustly appropriates avian identity for human purposes. 

Sunburners:  It’s true that individuals with red hair are especially vulnerable to sunburns.  Unfortunately, this makes the label a “trigger word” for many, bringing to the surface excruciating memories of the “scarlet hell” experienced after visits to the beach.  

Pippies:  Pippi Longstocking, a fictional Swedish character with red hair, is a beloved figure both within and outside the red-haired community.  “Pippies” is the term officially recognized for addressing red-haired students at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, a school with Swedish roots.  

Dye Jobs:  Considered a “red slur,” but still frequently employed by many faculty at colleges in the Deep South.  Do not use. 

Wildfires:  Another derogatory term, based in stereotypes about the quick tempers of people with red hair; used extensively in the Southwest and Far West. 

Hucknallers:  A tribute to Mick Hucknall, the red-headed lead singer of the British soul/pop group Simply Red.  Regrettably, virtually no one pays attention to this band in 2021, and use of the term has declined steadily since 1990.  Attempts to replace it with “Sheeranians,” in honor of another British singer (Ed Sheeran), have failed to gain traction.  

Best of luck in finding a word that works for you. 

 

 

 

CRT: What Do You See……?

The American Psychological Association announced yesterday that the Rorschach, the world-famous projective test using inkblots, will be replaced on August 1, 2021 by the Critical Race Theory Reaction Inventory (CRTRI).

Administration of the CRTRI is simple: subjects look at a piece of paper or computer screen displaying the phrase “Critical Race Theory” in a box.  They are then asked to immediately write down or say the first five things that come to mind in response to the stimulus.

Extensive pilot research demonstrates that political conservatives are likely to give the following answers:

“Instrument of Satan”

“Don’t understand it, don’t like it”

“Kill me now.  Please.”

“Worse than fluoride in our water supply”

“Left-wing poopy crap”

“Left-wing crappy poop”

“Whiny Whinerson” 

“But some of my best friends have acquaintances who know people who are Black….”

“Old-fashioned racism was good enough for my Confederate ancestors, and it’s good enough for me.  Micro-aggressions are for cowards.”

“Can I still hate Asians?”

In contrast, political liberals tend to offer responses such as:

“Explains everything….that has ever happened….anywhere”

“Precocious love child of Michel Foucault and Angela Davis”

“Totally woke”

“Totally dope”

“Totally dope-woke”

“Produces more guilt than Catholicism and Judaism combined”

“Proves that Ivory soap is the devil’s cleanser”

“Needs to be funnier”

“Don’t understand it, do love it”

“This applies to Asians too, right?”

A rubric for scoring the CRTRI is available from the American Psychological Association for $49.95.  According to APA President Jennifer F. Kelly, an individual’s score on the CRTRI is the single best predictor of whether that person has a poster of Ayn Rand, Che Guevara, or Mr. Rogers on their wall. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Air Ball…..

Seattle Pacific University is the only U.S.-based school in the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities that will require students to get vaccinated for COVID-19 before coming to campus in the fall (Christianity Today, May 26th online). 

“Of course, it wasn’t an easy decision,” notes SPU Provost Laura Hartley.  “Like other Christian schools, we’d prefer to rely on God to protect our students from this dreaded virus.  Unfortunately, however, The Almighty failed to come through for us on an important occasion earlier this year, and the memory of that episode has lingered.”

The episode:  On January 14th, the SPU men’s basketball team lost a close game to Whitworth University, 69-65.  At a key point late in the contest, an SPU player made a sign of the cross and looked heavenward before attempting two free throws.  He proceeded to miss both of them.

“I must admit, that incident shook the Seattle Pacific community to its core,” says Hartley, her voice quavering with emotion.  “We’re a bit skittish now about relying solely on God to help keep us safe from COVID.  As a result, we’re insisting that everyone get a shot.  No disrespect intended to The Creator, but a little insurance never hurts…..

“…..and next season, we fervently hope The Almighty returns to the foul line on behalf of our student-athletes.”

Amen, and swish.  

Farewell, “Seniors”…..?

The Senate Committee on Curricular Affairs at Penn State University has passed a resolution that calls for the school to stop using gendered terms such as “freshman,” “junior,” and “senior.”  The resolution recommends that the descriptors “first-year,” “second-year,” “third-year,” and “fourth-year” be employed instead (Daily Collegian, May 5th online). 

Inspired by this faculty decision, colleges and universities across the country are transitioning to less volatile vocabularies when referring to their student bodies.  Here are five examples from the past two months:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Freshmen → Sentient Meat 1

Sophomores → Sentient Meat 2

Juniors → Sentient Meat 3

Seniors → Sentient Meat 4

Oral Roberts University

Freshmen → Jesus Kittens

Sophomores → Madonna Meerkats

Juniors → Lieges of the Lord

Seniors → Satan Stabbers

Harvard University

Freshmen → The Grateful

Sophomores → The Arrogant

Juniors → The Gratefully Arrogant

Seniors → Platinum Donors

U.S. Military Academy

Freshmen → Water Pistols

Sophomores → Super Soakers

Juniors → Surface-to-Air Missiles

Seniors → Cannon Fodder

University of Phoenix

Freshmen → Level 1 Borrowers

Sophomores → “How the F**K Am I Ever Going to Pay All This Back?” Insomniacs

Juniors → 7-Eleven Stick-Up Artists

Seniors → Inmates

May is not over.  There’s still time to call an emergency meeting of your school’s Faculty Senate.  

 

Abandon Ship?

The authors of a recent Chronicle of Higher Education essay argue that the term “flagship” should no longer be used to describe certain universities.  They assert that the word “has outlived whatever purpose it once had, and now clearly does more harm than good” (May 14th issue).  

Welcome to higher education Whack-A-Mole. 

Academicians breastfeed their young on jargon, and should “flagship” leave us, one can be certain that a new, equally obnoxious term will replace it within a few weeks.

To wit, consider the following institutional descriptors that have gained currency in the past several months:

Dumpster Fires:  Small, non-elite, liberal-arts colleges that were in serious financial trouble before the pandemic, and now are in danger of flaming out entirely.  

Monster Trucks:  Large state universities that dominate their competition in key domains (e.g., University of Alabama football). 

Bullet Trains:  Schools that offer an Acela’s worth of fast-track degrees, such as a bachelor’s in 2 years, a BA/MA combo in 3, or the BS/PhD/MD trifecta in 4. 

Mushroom Clouds:  Colleges where over 40% of the male faculty have been accused of sexual assault AND the cafeteria workers are on strike AND the President has been caught having separate affairs with both the Dean of Arts & Sciences and the Dean’s spouse AND there are at least 3 buildings on campus named after slaveholding Confederate generals and one named after a Nazi war criminal. 

Tricycles:  Schools where nearly 80% of all course offerings are remedial. 

Pelotons:  Universities that specialize in graduate certificate programs — highly expensive, and you end up where you started.  

Rusted Oil Drums:  Colleges with a lot of elderly, heavily tenured faculty who are about to be dumped overboard.  

Septic Atomizers:  Institutions that are transitioning with great speed to a predominantly online curriculum (known as Zoom Sewers west of the Mississippi).  

Let’s face it:  Naming stuff is higher education’s core competency.