“Alabama Football Follies”

A loyal reader sent me a link to this op-ed piece in the New York Times by Joe Nocera, “Alabama Football Follies.” It’s about the move to do away with football at the University of Alabama at Birmingham followed by the outcry and the reinstatement of football. It’s of interest here since EMU is specifically mentioned as one of the poster children for spending too much money on athletics:

Schools in smaller conferences — Alabama-Birmingham is in Conference USA — have struggled to keep up, especially state schools whose budgets have been cut by their legislatures. (According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, state spending per student in Alabama has declined over 36 percent since 2008.) USA Today does an annual ranking of university athletic department balance sheets, and you can clearly see this trend. Rutgers University had a $36 million deficit; the University of Connecticut, $27 million; the University of Massachusetts, $26 million; Eastern Michigan University, $25 million — and on the list goes.

But there is one other part of this story that is a bit of a silver-ish lining. The president who cancelled football at UAB, Ray Watts, insisted that the university would not pay more than $20 million for football and if the “various interests” in the community wanted more (and they wanted a lot more), they were going to have to find the money themselves. And they did: “By the end of May, the city’s corporate leaders had pledged to make up the additional $17.2 million subsidy, and had made a promising start on raising the $13 million or so needed for the practice facility.”

I agree with Nocera, that there are many better ways to spend the money than on football. But at least there was significant community “buy-in” to football at UAB. Could EMU’s football team come close to raising money like this?

“EMU Football Helmet Part of College Football Hall of Fame”

Two alternative headlines/titles for this post I had in mind were “slow SLOW news around here” and “What?!?” But I decided to go with what they had at emueagles.com, “EMU Football Helmet Part of College Football Hall of Fame.”  Apparently, the new helmets with “the flat forest green metallic color, featuring a chrome diamond plate Block E logo on the side” (I blogged about them way back in October) are featured as one example (with about 50 others) of an exhibit called “The Alternate Helmet — Modern Styles.”

Besides wondering who exactly would go to the College Football Hall of Fame and why, my other two favorite things about this story are the corporate sponsorships. That is, it’s “The College Football Hall of Fame and Chick-fil-A Fan Experience” and the Emus helmet is featured in the “Specialty Exhibit Delivered by UPS.” Heh.

“EMU showing ‘American Sniper’ again after protesters interrupt first screening”

From mLive comes “EMU showing ‘American Sniper’ again after protesters interrupt first screening.” I saw this the other day in an announcement sent around by Geoff Larcom, but here’s the mLive story and discussion about it. The second showing is going to be this Friday, April 24, at 8 p.m. in the Student Center Auditorium. Two quick thoughts for now:

  • I saw this article in my newsfeed shortly after I got up this morning and it had like three comments on it. I’m posting this at about 8:30 AM and now it has over 130 comments and the comments seem to be coming about one or two a minute. And of course most of the comments are pretty stupid.
  • I probably won’t attend this screening because it’s on a Friday night and I am guessing I’ll have other plans, but I have to say I’m tempted. I didn’t see it in the theater when it came out and if I had to pick a side in this, I’d probably be on the side of the people protesting this movie. But the added discussion about the movie might make for an interesting night, and besides, it’s free.

“Sweets & Selfies with Su-Mar at the Student Center”

From Geoff “Geoff” Larcom comes the following:

EMU President Susan Martin wants to thank students, faculty and staff with sweets and the opportunity for fun selfies as we end the academic year.

Students, faculty and staff are invited to come, say hello and rock your best smile if you want a selfie with President Martin from 1-2 p.m. on either Wednesday, April 22 or Thursday, April 23 in the Student Center. President Martin will be providing sweets on the first floor of the Student Center in the Fireplace Lounge, located across from the EMU Bookstore.

President Martin wants to sincerely thank so many across the campus for the love, support and hard work during her tenure as president the past seven years. As she says, “You helped lift Eastern up and made it shine as a beacon of opportunity for so many people to lead extraordinary lives. Thank you!”

And don’t forget to tag your photos #SueMar or share them with the President on Facebook Susan Martin (be her friend!).

First off, I think this is something more designed for “the kids,” as they say, so while I’m glad they’ve included faculty and staff, I have a feeling most selfie-seekers are going to be students. Second, be on the lookout for some amusing “SueMar” photos and tags on social media.

“Emu House” to be named in honor of outgoing President Susan Martin

From the Ypsilanti Courier comes “EMU to name renovated home for housing special University guests in honor of outgoing President Susan Martin.”

I had actually heard about this before because the EMU PR folks had invited me to an open house event for “emu house” last week– I couldn’t attend because of some other stuff on my schedule, unfortunately. Anyway, “emu house” is at 526 St. John’s Street, which is across the street from the dorms Best Hall and Wise Hall, and (for those of us who have been here a while) it used to be the EMU Credit Union way back in the day.

The place has been refinished into a guest house which (the article says) could be used for “visitors performing at Pease Auditorium for extended periods, new leaders who are unable to locate a residence quickly and others visiting the University for a major event.” Oh, also important to note here: emu house was made possible by the generous support of Ken Fine and his wife, Rebecca Canary, and also to William and Delores Brehm, who donated a lot of the furniture.

I think this is a great idea because we don’t really have a place on campus to house people who are here for an extended stay. For example (and this is also a plug), my friend and former colleague Annette Saddik has been at EMU this semester off and on as the McAndless Distinguished Scholar– she’s giving a talk tomorrow in the student center called “‘Act Naturally’: Embracing the Monstrous Woman in Tennessee Williams’ Late Plays”– and I know that it would have been a heck of a lot easier to put her up for a week or so at a time in this space had it been available. My hope is we can house future McAndless Scholars (and other visiting scholars) here.

But what of the name? Here’s a quote from the article:

The house is named “emu house,” which connects it to both the University and the large, flightless bird native to Australia, a few of which Rebecca adopted over 15 years ago and which still live (and infrequently reproduce) on their property.

The house will be renamed the “Susan W. Martin emu house” within 30 days of her final day as president and will retain that name for at least the next 100 years or until it has reached the end of its useful life. The plaque designating the new name of the house and honoring President Martin will be installed by early fall.

Of course, the real tribute would be a change of mascot, but one step at a time.


Four students arrested for protesting “American Sniper” movie

This made the news in The Eastern Echo here– “Four students arrested protesting American Sniper Friday night movie” and also at mLive here– “Protesters detained after disrupting ‘American Sniper’ showing at EMU.”  And it’s also a story that got picked up by Inside Higher Ed, too. It’s a bit of a confusing story to me, but here’s a quote from the mLive story that also paraphrases the Echo story:

About 40 students protested the film, according to a report by the university newspaper, The Eastern Echo.

The Echo reported that student protesters filed onto the stage and held up signs under the screen, before one student began speaking to the crowd.

“Do you want me to play a movie painting your people this way?” the student asked the audience, according to The Eastern Echo.

Audience members reportedly shouted back, “Tell us after.”

Larcom said the protesters received several warnings from police before the four were detained.

They were released shortly after with no charges, he said.

First off, I haven’t seen the movie. It’s not the kind of thing that appeals to me much for all kinds of different reasons and I probably would have agreed with the basic point of the protesters, and besides, I heard a lot of kind of mixed reviews when it came out. But second, I kind of agree with the audience members here: it seems to me it would have made a lot more sense to have some kind of discussion about the movie– maybe both before and after it was shown– rather than to simply try to stop it from being shown in the first place.

This all comes on the heels of events over at the University of Michigan, of course. There the movie was scheduled, then canceled, and then was going to show it along with a panel discussion, then savior football coach Jim Harbaugh tweeted his support for the movie, and then the U of M folks announced they had made a mistake originally in canceling the showing. And, to quote the mLive piece:

Ultimately, the movie was shown as previously scheduled on Friday, with the added option of a showing of the movie “Paddington,” to no major protest.

I wonder how many people saw Paddington?