Archive for the ‘Academics’ Category

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Michael Kelley

Michael Kelley

In yet another example of insensitive, zero-tolerance approaches, school faculty members of Wichita East High in Wichita, Kansas reportedly compelled a special needs student athlete having both Down syndrome and autism to remove a varsity letter his mother bought for him. He was given instead a girl’s sweater to wear.

School officials stated he could not wear the varsity letter because he was not a member of the varsity team. Apparently they were forced to act upon this transgression because “one parent complained” and therefore no exception could be made for this student.

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Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 7.59.39 PMThis is one of the most impressive new inventions that I have seen recently and it is the work of two George Mason students. Engineering seniors Viet Tran and Seth Robertson have created a fire extinguisher using low-frequency sound waves to douse a blaze. Question: does this mean that there are never any kitchen fires in the home of Barry White?

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150px-OPRFHighSchoolLogoNRouseThere is an interesting controversy at Oak Park and River Forest High School in Oak Park (outside of Chicago) where the school allowed students to hold a black-student only meeting. OPRF held a “Black Lives Matter” assembly on Feb. 27 but barred parents of white students who tried to participate. Principal Nathaniel Rouse (right), the assembly’s organizer, insisted he thought black students would speak more freely among members of their own race as what is known as affinity grouping. It might also be called racial segregation at a public school. What if white students wanted to engage in “affinity grouping” by excluding minority students?

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17282445-mmmain20150318_inq_rrxpsu18-aPennsylvania State University Associate Professor Karen Bettez Halnon, 52, took her students on a memorable field trip this month to Nicaragua that ended in witnessing her reported meltdown and arrest on an American Airlines flight that landed in Miami. In addition to reportedly raving about how the United States was setting up Venezuela for “military aggression,” she also lit up a cigarette to reportedly show symbolize the United States as a “smoking gun.” She was charged with disorderly-conduct and breach-of-peace. She has accused the FBI and airport security of abusing her after her arrest. Her two research assistants reportedly made it home safely.

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150px-GWUlogoGeorge Washington University President Steven Knapp last night sent an urgent message to all students and faculty and employees regarding the disturbing discovery of swastikas at the International House, which houses 176 Greek students. The first appearance of swastikas appeared a few weeks ago and then again yesterday on the bulletin board of Zeta Beta Tau fraternity. It is clearly a hateful demonstration and the university has worked with the campus Rabbi to counsel students who might have been traumatized by the postings. However, the letter below indicates that the University is treating the posting as a possible hate crime and seeking assistance from the police. A colleague wrote me last night after receiving the email to ask if the posting of such an image is really a hate crime now. It is a good question, though one that some faculty or students might not feel comfortable in raising in fear of being viewed as insensitive.

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Happy Pi Day

pi-pieBy Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Today is historical, or horological if you prefer. It is a day in which the mathematical representation π aligns with our clock sequence, that is 3/14.

But, this year marks the only time within a hundred years when the month / day / two digit year format can result in the ability to observe π day to its greatest precision

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The_University_of_California_Irvine.svg200px-flag_of_the_united_statessvgLike many people, I was disappointed by the effort at University of California at Irvine to ban the American flag. Yet, as a university professor, I have seen some senseless efforts by students who can bring more heat than light to some issues. The response has been a bit overblown, including a call for a state constitutional amendment, when the ill-conceived and insulting resolution was vetoed by a later school board. Moreover, the resolution never involved a ban on the American flag from the school but just from one area of the school. However, the report of a letter from some UC faculty has left me baffled in its suggested support in among academics for the premise of the resolution. While we all have different political and philosophical viewpoints, the flag represents first and foremost the protection of such differing viewpoints and the right to express them. We clearly have our problems and historical regrets, but the flag is a unifying symbol of our values, including the free speech rights that allow us to criticize our government and our history.

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