News Round-up 8-16-10

Hope you survived your night without a home.  And just remember, anything you did when you were ten is probably meaningless compared to this.  Here’s your dose of news:

Hippie Christmas has come and passed.

Hmm.  Another set of college rankings, you say?  This time Madison comes in at 17.  Remember, this is coming just days after Madison was declared 212 by Forbes.  Are they completely arbitrary, or are some just plain wrong?

“In a continuing effort to crack down on unscrupulous colleges that collect federal student-aid dollars but provide little useful education in return, the U.S. Department of Education plans to develop a program to assess whether institutions are complying with existing laws and regulations.”  More here.

The number of applications to two year schools is on the rise.  Does it have to do with the economy?  My guess is yes.

That’s it for today, slow weekend overall.  Now get out and enjoy the beautiful day.  If anything, DO IT FOR THE PANDA!

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News Round-up 8-12-10

Hide your kids, hide your wife, and hide your husbands, because I’m rounding up every news out here.  So you can run and tell that.

UW Madison’s power plant is ceasing its use of coal, and people are happy about it.

Press release from Washington, DC:  “U.S. Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold announced today that 22 colleges and universities throughout Wisconsin have been awarded TRIO Student Support Services grants totaling $7,337,627, offering first generation, low income and disabled students access to programs that will help them succeed in college.”  What is UW-Madison’s share?  $301,692 — which is the same as UW Superior.

Forbes released its rankings of the America’s Best College.  UW Madison ends up at *drum roll* …216??  What?  Methodology:  “The Forbes ranking is designed to meet the needs of undergraduate students. It attempts to help them evaluate things that many believe are important criteria when selecting a college.”  For more on how they picked, go here.

The man from the nine sexual assault charges on campus is now in custody.

Now if you will excuse me, its time to be cool as a cucumber.


News Round-up: 8-11-10

Good morning, back from my McDonald’s breakfast run.  Here’s your news for the day.

Sad news from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Despite an effort to play catchup that ranks better than many of its peer universities, the University of Wisconsin-Madison remains among the public universities with the biggest gaps in graduation rates between white and African-American students….”  The University has, of course, taken steps to remedy what is inarguably a serious problem, but at this point, as Vice Provost for Diversity Damon Williams points out, the University is going to need to get creative to counter what is currently a 23.3% difference in graduation rate between white students and black students.

Campus construction is causing some headaches.  Are they just realizing this now?  And I guess its going to be delayed.

Mayor Dave has some competition.  How serious is it?

Good news from the Capitol for Higher Ed: “On Tuesday, members of the U.S. House of Representatives took a break from their annual August recess to give final approval to a bill that would provide $16.1-billion in additional Medicaid assistance. While that money will not directly benefit colleges, it will help plug states’ budget gaps and avert cuts to other areas, including education.”  This is especially important at UW Madison, considering that we not only took budget cuts, but had money taken by the state to fill budget shortfalls.

That’s all for the day, now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta get that Chicken McNugget real bad.


I went to the ABTS Conference and All I Got was this Stupid Shirt…and a Whole Lot More

I’m not one to break promises, especially those made on trendy social networking sites, so here is my recap of this weekend’s trip to The Ohio State University.

Courtesy of Tom Templeton

For those of you who don’t know, the Association of Big Ten Students (ABTS) is an organization that strives to unite the now twelve schools of the Big Ten, with newly welcomed University of Nebraska — Lincoln included.  Twice a year, they hold a conference to share information, “steal” each other’s good ideas, and network.  This year the trip was hosted at the beautiful OSU campus.

I cannot say enough about how welcoming this group of people was; Wisconsin has not attended one of these conference in some time, and to have us feel right at home immediately was incredibly helpful.   In particular, the students of Ohio State were exceptionally welcoming to their campus, but all schools struck me as engaged and actively trying to network with everyone present.

Nebraska was also welcomed in, and with good reason; their delegation was ambitious, smart and well-rounded.  Gene Smith, Director of Athletics at OSU and the event’s keynote speaker, kindly greeted them with a “welcome to the hood.”  It is worth noting that despite a large amount of rivalries within the conference, there was (almost) no bad blood between schools (Michigan, who was not in attendance, seemed to have made more than its fair share of enemies, however.)

But I digress, for the purpose of these conferences is not to make the Big Ten feel like one big family, although it certainly helps if it does.  The real purpose of the event is to learn about other schools and make lasting alliances with common goals.  For the sake of brevity (because I could ramble for some time about all I learned) here are some very useful things about being involved with the ABTS:

  1. As the largest institution in the state, UW-Madison has sometimes struggled to get assistance from other schools in the UW System.  This is not to say that we are more advanced or have some advantage over the smaller colleges; it is simply saying that we unique challenges.  The city is unique, the administration is unique, and the funding is unique.  But many of the Big Ten Schools share the same problems as us, and the fact that we are so closely aligned academically, financially, and athletically with these schools makes them useful friends in solving our own problems.
  2. By being involved, we can quickly get the backing of hundreds of thousands of students.  In fact, the Wisconsin delegation and the Nebraska delegation quickly got together to discuss the concept of a lobbying conference at the US Capitol in DC.  By the end of the convention, a date was all but set to host a Big Ten on the Hill summit for March of 2011.  By doing this, we can reach roughly nine times as many congressmen with a unified message of investment in higher education.  There is room for expansion of this program, and I hope that it continues to grow.
  3. Unlike United Council, membership in the ABTS only requires two visits a year (or three with the lobbying summit).  This may seem like a bad thing, but in truth, every SGA has its own problems to deal with, and four to six days out of the year isn’t enough to hinder a school’s own work.  It seems to me to be the perfect balance.
  4. There isn’t very much bureaucracy in the ABTS.  In fact, the event was run completely without paid staff.  There are only three positions with the ABTS: Executive Director (which we were lucky enough to appoint none other than our own Carl Fergus to), Assistant Executive Director, and Secretary.  This means that we don’t have to play politics or dance around; we simply get together, make partnerships, and get things going.  It is a streamlined and pragmatic approach to cooperation.

There are many intricacies of the each SGA that I learned this weekend, but I might save those for a different post.  For now, just know that it was the Wisconsin Delegation’s consensus that the trip was well worth it.  In the future, I hope to expand the number of people we bring.

Oh yeah, and I did get a shirt.


News Round-up

I promise at some point I will post about the Big Ten Students Conference from this past weekend.  In the meantime, I am trying to start a regular trend of news round-up here at the Campus First, similar to what the Sconz does over at the Isthmus.  It will be shorter, probably only a few that have to do with the campus.  Anyway, here we go…

A writer for the State Journal actually advocates for keeping the Humanities Building, which is notorious for its difficult to navigate halls and brutish, riot-proof structure.  “Years from now,” he questions, “will the citizens of Madison look back in regret and anger at the philistines who heedlessly traded a gem for a trinket?”

The bad news that nobody wants to hear: a sexual assault spree with nine (!) recorded assaults occurred on Sunday night.  The good news: it appears the suspect has been caught thanks to some local heroics.  This is a good time to remind everyone just how important it is for ASM to be actively involved in City and Campus safety.

President Obama, speaking at the University of Texas, Austin, “made the case that ‘education is an economic issue’ and restated his call for the United States to produce an additional eight million college graduates by the year 2020.”

And lastly, High Five!