Quit Smoking at EMU!

If you’ve been on campus this summer, you have probably walked by one of these signs over the last month or two. Well, today is the day:  EMU is going Tobacco Free. I have two general thoughts about all this.

First, as a former smoker who gave it up over twenty years ago, I have gotten to the point where I now pretty much hate any whiff of cigarettes or cigars or whatever, so I am all for this ban. If anything, it seems to me like this tobacco ban should have been in place a long time ago. Just as points of comparison: U of M has been smoke-free since 2011, and Washtenaw Community College banned tobacco in 2005.

Second, we will see how this transition and the enforcement of this policy works out. I look forward to not having to walk through a cloud of smoke outside of Pray-Harrold Hall, but I think it will take a little time to really convince smokers that they aren’t supposed to be smoking there. And I’m not so sure EMU is ever really going to be able to ban smoking in parking lots and the like.

“Report: Stepdad of Julia Niswender headed to trial on child porn charges”

From mLive comes “Report: Stepdad of Julia Niswender headed to trial on child porn charges.” The first paragraph kind of sums it up:

James Turnquist, the 47-year-old Monroe man who is considered a person of interest in the murder of his stepdaughter and former Eastern Michigan University student Julia Niswender, is headed to trial on charges on possessing child pornography, the Monroe News reported.

I don’t know a whole lot about child pornography, but the story here makes it sound like those charges are kind of trumped up. I have to wonder how much of this is really about holding this guy while he remains a “person of interest” in the Niswender murder.

It’s only a drill, folks…

This sounds kind of interesting: Geoff Larcom sent a campus-wide email announcement the other day with the subject line “EMU to use Convocation Center to stage emergency response training Wednesday, May 13 from 12:30 to 3 p.m.” The full text is below, but the upshot is there is a going to be something described in Larcom’s email as an “active shooter exercise.” And actually, it also looks like a lot of it is going to be happening on the campus for St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, too.

I don’t think I’ll be making it through the area then, but I am kind of curious as to what this will all look like. But the point is it’s a “fake” shooting; don’t panic.

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“EMU students say dressing as Native Americans was part of theme party (WITH POLICE REPORT)”

Not much new going on lately (not surprising since we’re now into the slower months of spring and summer), but this story from the Ypsilanti Courier is kind of interesting: “EMU students say dressing as Native Americans was part of theme party (WITH POLICE REPORT).”  Here’s a quote:

An Eastern Michigan University police report has provided more details into an off-campus party where students dressed as Native Americans with faces and bodies painted with red paint.

The report sheds light on student behavior during the April 11 party, that included a game of beer pong that one man said was a metaphorical “impregnation ceremony.” It also includes interviews with party goers who said dressing up was part of a “theme party” and there were no racist overtones.

The police report, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, is part of a university investigation that could result in punishment for students involved if their behavior is deemed to have violated the university’s code of conduct. Names of those interviewed were redacted by university officials because of federal student privacy laws.

Here’s a link to the police report itself, which is posted on Scribd. As far as I can tell, what you’ve got here is a bunch of drunk college kids doing some racist and stupid things, which is to say that this pretty much confirms the previous story as well. Reading the actual police report is kind if interesting though.

“Message to Faculty from Chief Heighes and Provost Schatzel” (which is more or less a response to Moeller’s earlier email on faculty safety)

Faculty and a ton of other people received an email from Provost Kim Schatzel and DPS Chief Robert Heighes yesterday with the subject line “Message to Faculty from Chief Heighes and Provost Schatzel.” It’s about issues of safety on campus generally but specifically it’s a response to the emails about student harassment issues EMU-AAUP President Susan Moeller have sent out recently, including one last week. I include Moeller’s earlier email and this message from Heighes and Schatzel after the break.

I’m sure folks have thoughts they want to share here; I’ll kick things off with a couple of brief observations:

First,there’s an interesting disconnect in the scope of the problem. While Heighes/Schatzel say “each and every incident of concern is important to us,” they want to emphasize that this is a relatively small problem:

For all of 2014, our DPS records indicate there were 13 incidents in which a faculty member or lecturer filed a report with the Department of Public Safety regarding a classroom conduct concern. This is out of 257,938 classroom hours delivered on our campus. Of the 13 incidents that were reported, none resulted in criminal charges.

On the other hand, Moeller’s email said:

Our faculty survey results show that at least 100 faculty have had students threaten them in or outside of their classrooms.  This is a systemic problem at EMU, which culminates in a culture where students feel free to harass and bully faculty with no worry of any recourse. The recent situation in the honors college (where three female faculty members, in a course with over 200 students, dealt with harassment through social media) is a perfect example of just that. The Provost did nothing about that situation and the faculty members received more support from the press than the administration of this university.  It’s time to change that culture.

Part of the disconnect is the EMU-AAUP is basing its argument on feedback from faculty in a survey about a variety of issues that are on the table in these recent contract negotiations. In this case, it seems to me that both the administration and the EMU-AAUP are probably right: that is, it seems entirely possible that at least 100 faculty would report to being harassed in some sense by students over their time at EMU (though maybe the harassment that faculty have felt over the years didn’t necessarily mean they would have contacted DPS), and at the same time, only 13 of those incidents became a problem that involved DPS in fall 2014.

Second, there’s an interesting disconnect in the process. Moeller’s email lays a lot of the blame with the Office of Student Conduct, while the Heighes/Schatzel email says that the contact for these kind of faculty safety issues is DPS. Moeller says the response time from the administration has been too long, while Heighes/Schatzel says that it hasn’t been. Interestingly enough, both the EMU-AAUP and the administration cite a “Classroom Management Flow Chart (PDF)” that indicates the process for dealing with these problems. Which I guess means both the EMU-AAUP and administration are agreeing on the process but they’re disagreeing on how the process works.

And third, there are clearly still some issues on the table. Heighes/Schatzel don’t address the issue that Moeller has raised about how the administration and DPS have not permanently removed students from classes where it’s so bad that a security guard has to be set up outside the classroom or where there is some kind of court order. It also seems to me that there’s no reason why faculty shouldn’t have the contractual right to have a student removed from a class for disruptive and harassing behavior.

Anyway, the whole emails below for those who are interested and/or who haven’t read them yet.

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“Pizza delivery man robbed at gunpoint at Peninsular Place”

From mLive comes “Pizza delivery man robbed at gunpoint at Peninsular Place.” I thought I’d share this story of crime at everyone’s “favorite” apartment complex for two reasons. First, the good news is that the police arrested the two guys suspected in the robbery, which, when you think about it for a second, shouldn’t be that hard to do. I mean, the pizza guy who was robbed presumably has the address of the robbers, right?

Second, the pizza guy in question, who identifies himself as “Nate,” posted in the comment section about the robbery. At least I assume that’s the guy.

In other BoR meeting news

But I will say this: not everything the Board of Regents did yesterday was a politically motivated hack job not at all in the interests of the university.

First off, EMU will go smokeless beginning July 1. There’s an interesting “FAQ” here; just to quote from a couple of things:

Q. Can I smoke or use tobacco in my personal vehicle when it’s parked on campus, or when I’m driving on campus?

A. Smoking/use of tobacco is not permitted in your personal vehicle, whether parked or in motion, if the vehicle is located on university-owned, operated, or leased property as defined by the policy.

Q. Does EMU have the right to tell me I can’t use tobacco products on campus property?

A. The University has a responsibility to establish policies that positively affect the health and well being of the campus community. It’s understood that the use of tobacco is a personal choice and is legal for adults to purchase and consume. The tobacco-free policy does not prohibit tobacco use; it simply establishes where use can and cannot occur.

Q. How will the policy be enforced?

A. The guiding principle of enforcement will be respect for all. This crucial approach needs to include tobacco users and non-users, and must encompass respect for the policy the University has adopted. We hope this principle will help guide everyone as the University transitions to a healthier, tobacco-free environment.

From review of other campuses, best practice suggests that these changes in culture can happen with everyone working to be respectful of the policy. Repeated violation of the policy will be addressed through the Student Conduct and Community Standards Office for students and Human Resources for employees. Compliance can be achieved through consistent messaging, policy education and the provision of cessation programs.

One question that occurs to me now is can students smoke in the dorms? I think that smoking in the dorms might already be against the rules, but I don’t know.

Second, campus cops are going to start wearing body cameras, which I suspect is going to become the norm everywhere within a few years.