Saturday, December 25, 2010

Professors not pleased with revised exam schedule?

I'm still looking into the issues surrounding the final day of the Fall 2010 semester. There have been some interesting comments on my last blog, "Final exams marred by heavy snow." Check them out. Add anything if you see fit.

Until then, here's an e-mail thread from a few Concord professors that I had forwarded to me.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Mckinley
Date: Fri, Dec 17, 2010 at 8:45 AM
Subject: RE: Fall 2010 Final Exam Inclement Weather Schedule
To: Islamm , Johnnie Linn
Cc: "'George Towers' [+] [+]" , facultystaff@concord.edu

I suggest that final exams be kept on the same day because of travel arrangements plane tickets etc. Also that exams be 2 hrs long so the 1st exam of the day would start at 10am-noon, second exam 12:15-2:15 and third exam 2:30-4:30pm. Most of our students are commuters and the sunsets around 5:05-5:10pm this time of year and the roads refreeeze. This would give our students a chance to get home safely before it got dark and cold.

Tonya McKinley


-----Original message-----
From: Islamm islamm@concord.edu

Date: Mon, 13 Dec 2010 16:44:48 -0500
To: "Johnnie Linn" linnj@concord.edu
Subject: RE: Fall 2010 Final Exam Inclement Weather Schedule

I agree 200% with Professor Linn. The new inclementt weather schedule, only for the finals, has been nothing but a source of confusion. Why was it necessary when there is an existing policy.

Muhammad Islam

-----Original message-----
From: "Johnnie Linn" linnj@concord.edu
Date: Mon, 13 Dec 2010 15:32:20 -0500
To: "'George Towers'" towers@concord.edu, facultystaff@concord.edu
Subject: RE: Fall 2010 Final Exam Inclement Weather Schedule

To All:

I wasn't asked, but a better inclement weather schedule would have been to simply delay all exams by one hour. The exam schedule already has a built-in one-hour delay, since the earliest exams start at 9 a.m. instead of 8. Better to inconvenience everyone by one hour than creating major dislocations for a few students who may have selected sections to fit a carefully prepared finals week departure schedule.

Johnnie Linn.

-----Original message-----
From: George Towers [mailto:towers@concord.edu]

Sent: Friday, December 10, 2010 8:25 AM
To: facultystaff@concord.edu
Subject: Fall 2010 Final Exam Inclement Weather Schedule

Hello Colleagues,

In the event that next week's weather conditions cause Concord University to announce the Final Exam Inclement Weather Schedule, the schedule shown below will be followed.

If the University is closed due to adverse weather during finals, rescheduling instructions will be issued at that time.

Fall 2010 Final Exam Inclement Weather Schedule

Classes that begin:

Exam Time on Normal Schedule

Exam Time on Inclement Weather Schedule

MWF 8:00 AM
Monday, Dec. 13, 9:00-11:15 AM
Rescheduled: Friday, Dec. 17, 2:00-4:15 PM

MWF 9:00 AM
Friday, Dec. 17, 9:00-11:15 AM
Rescheduled: Friday, Dec. 17, 4:30-6:45 PM

MWF 10:00 AM
Wed., Dec. 15, 9:00-11:15 AM
Rescheduled: Wed., Dec. 15, 4:30-6:45 PM

MWF 11:00 AM
Monday, Dec. 13, 11:30 AM - 1:45 PM
No change: Mon., Dec. 13, 11:30 AM-1:45 PM

MWF 12:00 PM
Fri., Dec. 17, 11:30 AM - 1:45 PM
No change: Fri., Dec. 17, 11:30 AM - 1:45 PM

MWF 1:00 PM
Wed., Dec. 15, 11:30AM-1:45 PM
No change: Wed., Dec. 15, 11:30 AM-1:45 PM

MWF 2:00 PM
Monday, Dec. 13, 2:00-4:15 PM
No change: Monday, Dec. 13, 2:00-4:15 PM

MWF 3:00 PM
Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2:00-4:15 PM
No change: Wed., Dec. 15, 2:00-4:15 PM

TR 8:00 AM
Tues., Dec. 14, 9:00-11:15 AM
Rescheduled: Tues., Dec. 14, 4:30-6:45 PM

TR 9:30 AM
Thursday, Dec. 16, 9:00-11:15 AM
Rescheduled: Thurs., Dec. 16, 4:30-6:45 PM

TR 11:00 AM
Tues., Dec. 14, 11:30 AM-1:45 PM
No change: Tues., Dec. 14, 11:30 AM - 1:45 PM

TR 12:30 PM and
TR 1:00 PM
Thurs., Dec. 16, 11:30 AM - 1:45 PM
No change: Thurs., Dec. 16, 11:30 AM - 1:45 PM

TR 2:00 PM
Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2:00-4:15 PM
No change: Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2:00-4:15 PM

TR 3:30 PM

Thursday, Dec. 16, 2:00-4:15 PM
No change: Thurs., Dec. 16, 2:00-4:15 PM


Evening classes will have a two hour final during the regularly scheduled class meeting time during finals week, December 13-17.

If a rescheduled exam results in a conflict with an exam in an evening class, the student must notify the professor of the evening class and either arrange for a late arrival time or reschedule the exam at the discretion of the professor.


Sincerely,

George Towers
Professor of Geography / Associate Academic Dean
Concord University
Athens, WV 24712-1000
voice: 304.384.5220

Merry Christmas



This was me when I was 10. Not literally, but I did get a Nintendo 64 the first Christmas they were available. I was a very happy boy. Not as happy as this boy, but I was still very excited.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Final exams marred by heavy snow

What a crazy end to the Fall 2010 semester at Concord University, right?

I had two finals scheduled for Thursday, the final day of the semester. One at 9 a.m. and the second was at 11:30. Wednesday night, I'm laying in bed around 3 a.m. and I look out the window. It's dark and I don't have my glasses on, but it looks like the sky is moving outside my window. "Must be snowing," I think to myself. I wake up a little before 8 a.m. and realize that it had been snowing. How much, I was soon to find out.

Around 8:30, I'm getting ready to leave. I open the door and see the following:


We're not on the inclement weather exam schedule, as I had not received a text message from Concord. Right before I leave, I get a text message from one of my professors asking if I can make it to campus. Since we're not on the inclement weather schedule, I tell my professor that I should be able to, since Athens Road is probably cleared. Otherwise, I reason, we'd be on the inclement weather schedule.

I was wrong. Athens Road, the winding backroad to Concord, has not been cleared:



The speed limit on Athens Road is 45. The average speed people usually go on Athens Road is about 55-60. I was creeping down Athens Road at a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour:



When I finally made it to campus, the grounds were horrible. Nothing had been cleared and maintenance men were in the process of clearing off sidewalks on lawn mowers rigged with snow plows:



I make it to my final about 10 minutes late. It's okay, the professor was also running late. He woke up and assumed we were on the inclement weather schedule, so he wasn't rushing to campus. The final starts at about 9:15. At 9:22 I receive a text message. The professor isn't paying attention, so I pull my phone out and check it. It's a text alert from Concord. It says that the campus will be closing at 11:15 (after the first final).

I finish my final at about 10 o'clock and head to the library. I sit there and try to grasp the situation. As I'm doing that, I upload the pictures above (and a few others) to Facebook. I think to myself, "How could we not have been on the inclement weather schedule today?"

I decide to do a little journalism and look up the number for Mark Stella. Along with being Concord's Police Chief, he is also the Director of Public Safety. I try his office a few times and both times his secretary tells me that he is not available. By this point it's getting pretty bad out, so I go home.

I never did get an answer to why were weren't on the inclement weather schedule. This was a huge mistake by Concord's President, Gregory Aloia, to not place us on the inclement weather exam schedule. There were probably about 4 inches of snow on the ground when I looked out the door at 8:30 Thursday morning. When I left Concord at around 11, it was alternating between hail and rain, which caused the roads to freeze.

I don't know if this has changed since the last time I heard about it, but a committee (with Dr. Aloia having final say) determines whether or not to put Concord on the inclement weather schedule. Unless things have changed, here's how the committee works: they informally get together the night before and check the forecast, they all wake up really early and check the forecast and roads and whatnot, they get together and decide the course of action, then Dr. Aloia makes his final decision based on their report.

I don't know who's on the committee aside from Dr. Aloia and Officer Stella. I'm not even sure if that's still the way they decide to go on the inclement weather schedule. If anybody knows anything else, fill me in.

Bottom line here is that somebody fucked up. Concord should not have been on the regular exam schedule Thursday morning. People were put in danger by driving on snow-covered roads. I know, I drove on those roads. Those were horrible conditions. Somebody finally realized it, as they made the decision to close campus before 9:30. The decision should have been made hours earlier, in a much-more responsible and timely manner.

If anybody knows why we were not placed on the inclement weather exam schedule, let us know. Like John Walsh says, "You can remain anonymous."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Inclement Weather Exam Schedule & some other snow notes

Below is a listing of Concord's inclement weather final exam schedule. Some of the times aren't affected, but a few of the earlier ones have been rescheduled. If the inclement weather exam schedule goes into effect, a text alert will be sent out. Click here for information on how to sign up for the text alerts.

MWF 8:00 AM..........Rescheduled: Friday, Dec. 17, 2:00-4:15 PM
MWF 9:00 AM..........Rescheduled: Friday, Dec. 17, 4:30-6:45 PM
MWF 10:00 AM..........Rescheduled: Wed., Dec. 15, 4:30-6:45 PM
MWF 11:00 AM.....No change: Mon., Dec. 13, 11:30 AM–1:45 PM
MWF 12:00 PM......No change: Fri., Dec. 17, 11:30 AM – 1:45 PM
MWF 1:00 PM.......No change: Wed., Dec. 15, 11:30 AM–1:45 PM
MWF 2:00 PM............No change: Monday, Dec. 13, 2:00-4:15 PM
MWF 3:00 PM................No change: Wed., Dec. 15, 2:00-4:15 PM

TR 8:00 AM..................Rescheduled: Tues., Dec. 14, 4:30-6:45 PM
TR 9:30 AM.................Rescheduled: Thurs., Dec. 16, 4:30-6:45 PM
TR 11:00 AM.........No change: Tues., Dec. 14, 11:30 AM – 1:45 PM
TR 12:30 PM........No change: Thurs., Dec. 16, 11:30 AM – 1:45 PM
TR 1:00 PM..........No change: Thurs., Dec. 16, 11:30 AM – 1:45 PM
TR 2:00 PM.................No change: Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2:00-4:15 PM
TR 3:30 PM.....................No change: Thurs., Dec. 16, 2:00-4:15 PM

* * *

According to the Weather Channel app for my BlackBerry, a winter storm watch is in effect from Sunday afternoon through Tuesday afternoon (12-11 through 12-14), with the possibility of 6-12 inches of snow. So, that's not good. Exercise caution when traveling these next few days.

This is reminding me of last year, when the snow just started pouring down and didn't stop for a couple weeks. It canceled Concord's fall graduation ceremony. I remember where I was when it started, because it wasn't part of my usual routine and stuck out for me.

It was December 18, 2009, and I was at Pizza Hut for a couple hours. The manager on duty needed to leave for a couple hours and asked me to watch the store for him. Nothing was going on and myself and the two other employees there were sitting in a booth, when we noticed that it had started snowing. Within an hour, it looked like this:


It got so horrible so quickly. The other manager got stuck in slow-moving traffic in the snow and was delayed getting back to work by about two hours. One of the delivery drivers walked out, saying that he wasn't driving in the snow. It was just a crazy, crazy couple hours.

The snow continued throughout the night. I had to work the next morning at 8 a.m. I leave my apartment and walk to my car. Luckily, I lived down the street from Pizza Hut at the time, as I quickly decided that I was walking to work:


The actual walk to work wasn't so bad. It was cold, but it was that cold where it's so cold that you don't feel it anymore. The streets hadn't been cleared yet and there was no traffic. That was good for me, since I couldn't find the sidewalks and had to walk in middle of the street:



I wound up walking to work for 4 days. After that, the weather was still bad, but it had stopped snowing and I was able to get my car out of that mountain of snow. Things stayed pretty bad for a couple weeks, then finally settled down to just being bad.

Hopefully this winter doesn't wind up being like that.

On a positive note, there was one cool thing about all the snow and it was on a bush outside of my apartment. Nobody altered the snow in any way, it just naturally forms like this, as I've seen it a couple other times:

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Final Exam Schedule




































Sorry for the poor quality here. If you look closely you can see what time the exams are.

Lennon

December 8, 2010 marks the 30-year-anniversary of the death of John Lennon. I just wanted to make a quick note of that. Here's the link to a really short blog I wrote on the 29th anniversary -
http://chrisslater.blogspot.com/2009/12/instant-karma.html

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Re: "Is Lindsey Mullins a good newspaper adviser?"

It's been an interesting couple days here at the blog. A little increased readership, a lot of comments, some good debate, and a very good representation of an online public forum were presented here over the last week or so.

Before we go any further I'd like to point out an easy way to leave comments. You post your comment into a box that is labeled "Post a comment." Under that box is another box that says "Comment as:" and features a box you can click. You can choose a few options there, one of which is "anonymous," if you don't want your name printed. If you do want your name printed, you can choose the "name/url" option and enter your name. You can also enter a url that people can be redirected to if they click your name. That way, we won't read what we think is an anonymous comment, until we get to the bottom and see that somebody put their name on it.

The last couple blogs I posted had a lot of feedback. The first was my entry titled "Looking at the Nov. 17 'Imagine...' column" and the second, which came about from comments left on that post was titled "Is Lindsey Mullins a good newspaper adviser?"

The post about Lindsey Mullins came about after talking to my girlfriend Candace Nelson, who is the Editor-in-Chief of West Virginia University's newspaper (The Daily Athenaeum). She didn't think that Mullins was very professional in criticizing the work of one of her writers in my blog's comments section. I agree with Candace that it was not right to do that. Candace also had some wise advice, not just for Mullins, but for anybody in a position of power - "Praise in public, criticize in private is an essential rule to live by a a leader, as a teacher."

In my comments section, Mullins has said that she had learned her lesson and would no longer comments on student blogs - "... I have learned my lesson as a young professional to not comment on blogs outside of work."

The key issue that has come up here is what constitutes being professional? Was it unprofessional of Lindsey Mullins to comment on my blog? I don't believe it was unprofessional of her to do that. She's left several good comments on my blog before. Click here to see an example.

It was not the best decision to criticize one of her students on my blog. Mullins was not conducting herself in a professional manner by doing that.

Does this make Lindsey Mullins unprofessional? No. This is one snafu over nearly four years of being a professor at Concord. Has she made some other unprofessional snafus before? There are a few incidents from her first year that I can think of, but she has definitely improved as a professor over the years.

I was Editor-in-Chief of The Concordian during her first two semesters at Concord. That was in the 2007-2008 academic year. I came back to the staff for the fall 2009 semester. I noticed a huge turnaround in the way Mullins conducted herself at the meetings. It was a much-more professional manner.

One thing I would like to point out is that the last post about Mullins was not an attack on her. It was not me saying that she was a bad adviser. It was me asking a question - "Is Lindsey Mullins a good newspaper adviser?" and giving the evidence that was in front of me. The only problem with that was that there was not enough evidence presented.

Is she a bad adviser because she criticized MariLuz Diaz' work on my blog? There are so many components to being a newspaper adviser that one instance cannot make one entirely good or bad at advising. Was it the best decision? No, it wasn't. Should we throw her under the bus for it? No, we shouldn't.

We're all human. We all make mistakes. Have I made them? Yes. A couple, at least. That was a joke - my life is one mistake after another. We all make mistakes and one shouldn't ruin our reputation.

Is Lindsey Mullins a good newspaper adviser? That depends on one key element - does she advise the newspaper staff well. There's not a journalism program at Concord, and the "Comm. Arts" major that it does fall under is a joke, so the staff gets most of its advising from her.

Is she advising the staff well? Are they putting out a good product? This is the first semester I can honestly say the newspaper staff has no influence from me. There are no staff members I worked closely with and nobody on that staff has ever asked me for help. My influence - which basically means all the stuff I learned regarding running The Concordian before Mullins took over as adviser - is gone.

This is what a 100% Lindsey Mullins led newspaper looks like. Go to http://cunewspaper.com/ and look around. If it looks good, then Lindsey Mullins is a good newspaper adviser.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Inclement Weather Schedule

Information about Concord University's inclement weather schedule can be found at http://www.concord.edu/emergency-alerts

Here's the schedule for classes:

MONDAY/WEDNESDAY/FRIDAY CLASSES

8 a.m. classes meet at 10:00-10:40
9 a.m. classes meet at 10:45-11:25
10 a.m. classes meet at 11:30-12:10
11 a.m. classes meet at 12:15-12:55
12 p.m. classes meet at 1:00-1:40
1 p.m. classes meet at 1:45-2:25
2 p.m. classes meet at 2:30-3:10
3 p.m. classes meet at 3:15-3:55

TUESDAY/THURDAY CLASSES

8 a.m. classes meet at 10:00-11:00
9:30 a.m. classes meet at 11:05-12:05
11 a.m. classes meet at 12:10-1:10
12:30 p.m. classes meet at 1:15-2:15
2 p.m. classes meet at 2:20-3:20
3:30 p.m. classes meet at 3:25-4:25

Concord offers an emergency-alert text system to let students and faculty know about school closings and other such emergencies. Go to http://www.concord.edu/emergency-alerts-system/emergency-text-messaging for more information.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Is Lindsey Mullins a good newspaper adviser?

My last blog post, looking at MariLuz Diaz' "Imagine..." column got a lot of interesting responses. For those who didn't read it, Diaz' column was about usage of the "n-word" and how she felt it was not acceptable. My response was about how I felt that the word was slowly becoming more acceptable.

I was discussing the blog post with the Editor-in-Chief of West Virginia University's newspaper, (aka my girlfriend, Candace Nelson). My "blog influence" at Concord is something that has come up as a topic between us several times. She's impressed that I have decent readership and, more importantly, that people seem to listen to me when I say something.

She was looking through the comments section and asking me about the people. There were a couple anonymous comments, a comment from Justin Grathwohl, one from MariLuz, and a couple from Lindsey Mullins. Grathwohl is a former Concord student who is now working in the Las Vegas area. He was involved in the SGA and was also a former Concordian columnist. MariLuz is the current Opinions Editor of The Concordian. Mullins is the faculty adviser of the paper.

When I told her who Mullins was, she brought up whether or not it was appropriate for Mullins to be making the comments that she was making. That led to Candace writing her own blog post about the subject. Here's the link - http://candacelately.blogspot.com/2010/12/advisers.html

She discusses the role of an adviser, and how she feels as though Mullins was acting unprofessionaly by posting comments about MariLuz' work in my blog.

"Yes, maybe [MariLuz'] writing isn't up to par," Candace writes. "Maybe she needs to do some more work, but when was it ever, ever okay to critique your student's work on the public blog of another student?"


Candace notes the fact that Mullins is representing Concord University as a professor, and that she believes this looks bad on Concord's part - "This adviser is representing her university, and Concord seriously made a flawed decision in hiring this women if this is any indication of how she runs her newspaper."

I've been a member of the newspaper staff under Lindsey Mullins for three semesters. Two as Editor-in-Chief of the paper, and one as a staff writer. My two as EIC were her first two semesters as a professor at Concord. I blogged about Mullins in June, after a chance meeting at Taco Bell. Click here to read that. At the time, she was not coming back to Concord in the fall; however, that obviously changed, as she's still here.

I don't know if I'll have any thoughts on the subject I want to throw out. I'll let Candace's blog post sink in and see what comes out of that. Any thoughts, comments, criticism, etc on the subject from anybody else is welcome and encouraged. As always, anonymous comments are allowed. Keep it civil and relatively clean.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Looking at the Nov. 17 "Imagine..." column

There is a weekly column in The Concordian called "Imagine...". It is written by MariLuz Diaz, the Opinions Editor. I think she's a sophomore. I'm not sure. In one of her columns she mentioned that she was an English major, I think. She's allergic to smoke. She wrote about that a month ago or so. That's all I know about her.

I enjoy reading MariLuz's column in the paper each week. I think she has an interesting perspective on things. I mentioned her column briefly over a month ago in my "Concord musings" blog. I wrote about how her column had the potential to be really good, but she just needed to find out how to successfully complain in an article. She's getting better. The only way to get better is to keep writing, so she's on the right track.

I was reading the Nov. 17, issue and checked out her "Imagine..." column. For those who don't know, it opens the same way each week. She starts with "Imagine..." and writes about a scenario and it leads into whatever her column is about.

[side note - I tried to find the article on http://www.cunewspaper.com/ in order to link it, but I can't seem to locate it anywhere. I don't know if it's temporarily missing, or was never posted, or what. If anybody finds it online somewhere, feel free to send a link. Otherwise, check out the hardcopy issue around campus.]


Close your eyes and imagine some rude people disrupting her lunch in the cafeteria. As Diaz writes, "I was sitting down to lunch with one of my friends, when the people at the nearby tables disturbed us. They were yelling across our table at each other, sometimes using the 'n-word.'"

She continues, "I am pretty sure that everyone knows which 'n-word' I refer to. This word truly offends me." She never mentions what that word is, but we're all adults here and can have a civil discourse regarding the use of the word "nigger."

Diaz notes the historical significance of the word, with some facts about slavery and even brings up that her great-great-great-great grandparents were slaves. To help her cause, she also breaks out the dictionary.com definition: "a person of any race or origin regarded as contemptible, inferior, ignorant, etc; a victim of prejudice similar to that suffered by blacks; a person who is economically, politically, or socially disenfranchised." She uses this to illustrate that you're not just being offensive to black people if you break out the "n-word," but to lots of other people.

The main point Diaz makes with her column is that people are ignorant for using the word "nigger."

She writes:

...Isn't the fact that you made it to college proof that you're not ignorant? And for a people who have been fighting against oppression and racism, why keep this term around as if it was a term of endearment? Your oppressors used it against your ancestors, and yet you sit around yelling it at each other like nothing.

I think if you can't stop calling each other racial slurs, then you shouldn't be in college. Our ancestors died for the right to be seen as human beings, not as slaves, not as inferiors, but as humans. And look at us, we're throwing it in their faces, and using it every day. Wake up people and think before you talk.

I'm not disputing Diaz' point, that this word has historically been a very offensive and derogatory term. Something that I feel needs to be brought up has been how "nigger" has developed a not-as-offensive connotation over the years.

I'm not saying that I feel as though Diaz is wrong to feel the way she does. I'm not condoning usage of the word. I'm just saying that in some instances the negative stigma is gone.

Urbandictionary.com, a site that is purely for entertainment, has the definition listed as: "1. describes an ignorant, uneducated, foolish individual regardless of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, etc. 2. endearing term between two or more individuals to describe a friendship or bond."

An endearing term to describe a friendship or bond. Urbandictionary isn't a serious website, but that is a legitimate connotation that has developed recently.

I wrote about this issue back in February. Musician John Mayer dropped the "n-bomb" in an interview with Playboy magazine. Click here to read that blog. Two of the three YouTube videos I embedded are no longer available. Mayer is asked about being accepted by black people, having a "hood pass." Mayer said that if you actually had a hood pass, you could call it a "nigger pass."

This is a hot-button issue and I feel like more attention should have been paid to the connotation, rather than the denotation. I don't believe the people that were using the "n-word" in the cafeteria were trying to disrespect their ancestors, but rather using a word that is slowly becoming acceptable in certain circles.

Do I think that's right? I don't know. Do I think Diaz is wrong in her opinion? No. She doesn't like that word and that's perfectly fine. Some people do like it. Are they wrong? No.

I feel as though this debate has now entered into that category. You know, where no amount of debate will really change any feelings about it. "Is 'nigger' okay to say" is now in the same category as "Should marijuana be legalized," "Should the drinking age be lowered," "Are abortions ethical," and so forth.

Thoughts? Anonymous comments are allowed. If you go that route, keep it civil.