4/5/2012: The UO Matters readership is mostly Johnson Hall administrators seeing if I’ve posted anything they can sue me over, plus a few faculty. But occasionally a student stops by. For their benefit I’m posting this link from the Commentator, by Rebecca X:

ASUO ELECTIONS ’12: The Official Oregon Commentator Voter’s Guide

I’m not sure what it all means, except that the “We are Oregon” slate seem to be shills for the athletic department. Vote to give Rob Mullens more tuition money! The athletic department lawyers are really letting them use Duck logos? A bit obvious, eh?

Student debt trends

3/6/2012: From the NY Fed:

    The outstanding student loan balance now stands at about $870 billion,1 surpassing the total credit card balance ($693 billion) and the total auto loan balance ($730 billion). With college enrollments increasing and the costs of attendance rising, this balance is expected to continue its upward trend. …

    From the second to the third quarter of 2011, the total outstanding student loan balance grew 2.1 percent, from $852 billion to $870 billion. Over the same time period, other types of consumer debt declined or remained flat. … Among people under thirty years old, 40.1 percent have outstanding student loan debt. Among people between the ages of thirty and thirty-nine, 25.1 percent have outstanding student loan debt. In contrast, only 7.4 percent of people who are at least forty years old have outstanding student loan debt.

Going into debt to secure the lifelong advantages of an education is increasing popular. Too popular: many people are having trouble repaying:

… We find that 27 percent of the borrowers have past due balances, while the adjusted proportion of outstanding student loan balances that is delinquent is 21 percent—much higher than the unadjusted rates of 14.4 percent and 10 percent, respectively (see charts below).

This is particularly true of those who start college and then drop out. They get the debt, but not the earnings boost from a diploma. UO graduates have the lowest debt of all OUS schools. (Presumably richer parents explains at least some of that).

A commenter adds:

Interesting, but any such analysis that doesn’t break things down by different higher-education sectors is difficult to interpret. How much of this growth in debt is being driven by the for-profits? My guess would be a lot.

Students want more bread, fewer circuses

3/2/2012: Back of the envelope, each UO student pays $200-$500 per year in various subsidies for the jocks. In December the students voted 9 to 1 to start pressuring AD Rob Mullens to come clean about this, and fulfill longtime promises from past athletic directors to start making a contribution towards academic scholarships. At the November Senate Intercollegiate Committee meeting Jamie Moffitt (then AD finance person, now UO CFO) told the students that athletic director Rob Mullens has no plans to fulfill those promises:

The recommendation that the athletic department start contributing something for academic scholarships was made in 2004. AD Bill Moos and President Dave Frohnmayer agreed to it. Nothing has been done in seven years, and now Rob Mullens is telling the students he has no plans to even think about it for another six years. (Or until he gets another big subsidy for the Autzen expansion.) Meanwhile the costs to the student’s keep growing. Rob Mullens even has them paying half the cost of Chip Kelly’s NCAA investigation lawyer. Chutzpah.

The students are getting a little tired of this bullshit. So, now they’ve started picketing the games. ODE Story here. Photos here.

Eckstein aces game theory, Holmes flunks.

12/7/2011: VP for students Robin Holmes gave the UO students an ultimatum: Vote for the administration’s version of your new student union, or you will get nothing:

Holmes also said the administration will respect the student vote. If the referendum is rejected, the projects will not be built and the facilities will remain as they are.

I’m no economist, but this is bullshit. Draw the game tree, do the backwards induction and find the unique pure strategy sub-game perfect Nash equilibrium. If the students vote against the administration’s plan, will it then really be in VP Holmes’ best interests to stop the EMU renovation? Of course not – that’s not going to get her a job as president somewhere. And ASUO President Ben Eckstein called her bluff. On Friday the students voted against her plan. Today VP Holmes folded and, via Greg Bolt in the RG, she told the students she would negotiate:

In voting that wrapped up Friday, 57 percent of students casting ballots disapproved of the EMU project and 52 percent rejected the recreation center. More than 4,600 students voted.
Holmes said everything will be on the table in talks with students, including scaling back the project to reduce the fee to pay for it.

UO students are getting a good education. Our administrators need a few more classes. Explain. 20 points possible.

We need to stop calling them "kids".

12/2/2011: The UO students stuck up for the faculty and for the future of UO all this week. Now they are finishing dead week with a vote against the ill-conceived plans of the UO administration to build a new cadillac student union at student expense – but without student input. And they are telling the UO athletic department to get their financial house in order and stop the hidden subsidies – by a 9 to 1 vote. Common sense from our students. Where has their faculty been on these issues for the past 3 years? Raw election results here:

Rockne Andrew Roll of the ODE has the quick summary. I’ll post more later, as the spin develops.

UO President says no more $ for athletics

11/14/2011: That would be the President of UO’s student government, Ben Eckstein. He’s backed up by Ben Bowman, chair of the student Athletics and Contracts Finance Committee. From the excellent ODE story by Rockne Andrew Roll:

The ASUO Executive and the Athletics and Contracts Finance Committee are sending a message to the athletic department: “We’re not getting our money’s worth,”  ACFC Chair Sen. Ben Bowman said.

So both the Executive and the ACFC have recommended the athletic department receive no increase in its student-fee funded budget for next year. It wasn’t a hard decision. “There was unanimous agreement in the committee and the Executive,” Bowman said. …

The ACFC announcement also comes on the heels of the University’s release of a memorandum of understanding between former University President Dave Frohnmayer and former Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny. This agreement details a $375,000 annual payment by the University administration to the athletic department for the use of Autzen Stadium’s presidential suite — nearly the equivalent of President Lariviere’s $426,936 annual salary.

The agreement also fixed the athletic department’s assessment rate at three percent through 2012. Assessments are payments University departments and programs pay to the University for administrative services. The assessment rate for most organizations, including the ASUO, is over twice that at seven percent. Eckstein referenced this agreement in his comments on the benchmark. “The athletic department gets more than we even know,” he said. “This is one way of making sure that students get a fair shake.” …

It would be nice to see hardball like this from President Lariviere, someday. Steve Duin’s Oregonian column on the secret Frohnmayer Kilkenny deal is here. The agreement is here. A Jack Bog post on this, with interesting comments, is here. “Regular students at U of O tired of paying for jocks”.

ASUO government working pretty well

10/14/2011: We’ve had a few posts about conflicts between VP for Students Robin Holmes and the students. Both now seem resolved, at least temporarily. Franklin Bains has a long story in the ODE on EMU referendum:

The meat of this negotiation was a line-by-line hashing out where Eckstein would read a section from the original memo he tried to sign with Holmes, which was not agreed to, that provoked the postponement. Following, senators — who all had this document open on their computers, along with the new document that was receiving revisions — would discuss concerns they had and vote on these individual sections.

Finally, just before 4 a.m., the final memorandum was approved, and the group took a 15-minute recess so another group could write the letter. It went out to the Multicultural Center, the Women’s Center and the governing bodies of Fraternity and Sorority Life on Thursday. Those bodies returned approval. The letter was read, and the magnitude of that momentous occasion was reflected upon.

“I’ve never seen this happen before … I want to thank everybody,” said Eckstein, who is going on his third full year in the ASUO.

Then the OMAS fight, led by UO Truth, a group of students and their OMAS advisors who were worried they would be reassigned as part of Holmes’s efforts to restore some sanity to Charles Martinez’s OIED empire. Mei Tsai reports Robin Holmes has compromosed there too:

Students with the UO Truth Coalition and Vice President of Student Affairs Robin Holmes agreed in a meeting Friday afternoon to set up a student advisory board that would work with administration in the transition of OMAS to CMAE.

The UO Truth Coalition would like to see a board of 10 students from the group, as well as other representatives of other student groups. It would take part in the hiring process of potential CMAE advisors, as well as approve or disapprove of hiring advisors.
However, she did not agree to allow the student board to oversee the administration and its processes.

“To have oversight over an administrative function is not something I can agree to, nor do I think it would work,” she said.

Students also asked for included the retaining current OMAS services, hiring culturally competent advisors to fill advising positions that are currently empty, and creating more scholarships for in-state students of color. Holmes agreed to all of these.

Bit by bit the administration is learning they are better off consulting with the students than ignoring them.

UO administration picks new ASUO President

11/10/2011 Update: The ODE reports the student leadership have agreed to a plan on the EMU referendum, which they will present to VP Holmes today.

11/9/2011:  The UO administration is going after ASUO President Ben Eckstein because he went to the OUS board and got them to agree that UO couldn’t sell bonds repaid with student money unless  students passed a referendum on the EMU renovation plans. He cancelled the referendum when VP Robin Holmes wouldn’t answer questions about how the money would be spent. Good for him.

Last year the administration went after ASUO President Amelie Rousseau because she had the nerve to ask tough questions about how VP Frances Dyke was spending student money on lobbying the legislature for armed UO cops. Good for her.

So what’s the end game? UO Matters has obtained video showing exactly what it will take to satisfy the UO administration’s definitions of appropriate student government behavior. We bring you ASUO President Greg Niedermeyer:

What ASUO does

9/19/2011: From the ODE Franklin Bains article:

– Last year, when the state government was looking through proposals to fix the ailing public higher education system, students in Oregon — including University students — roundly condemned University President Richard Lariviere’s plan, which wanted to use a mix of public and private funds to start an endowment. Students went to several public comment sessions of the legislature to air grievances and Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber decided to postpone the proposal until this upcoming legislative session.

Take the booze bus

9/18/2011: The just released campus livability working group report is here. Joe Moseley’s HotTopics blog has some good comments, here. And Ed Russo has a long story in the RG – part of a series – on the impact of student partying on the neighborhoods south and west of campus. This one’s new to me:

Take the booze bus

And there is another drinking phenomenon for residents to deal with — the private party bus. Students, many from fraternities and sororities, pay to be driven around in recreational vehicles so they can party without being busted by police. The buses have sound, strobe and laser light systems. Some have a dancing pole similar to those at strip clubs.
The buses leave intoxicated passengers in neighborhoods around campus, traveling through the areas with loud music and pulsating lights. “It’s a horrendously invasive thing,” said Carolyn Jacobs, president of the South University Neighborhood Association.

I thought this was titillating hype – strip club dancing pole? But it’s true: click on link to rent one:

Our 32 passenger Party Busses features these amenities: Multipul Dance poles, party lighting ( Lasers, Black lights, Lightning disks, LED disco floor, Laser Starlight,Fiber optic, Halo lights, LCD Picture frames). Complimentary Ice and bottled water, Big 4000 watt stereo surround sound system, 4 10 inch subs, I-Pod CD MP3 DVD player, Tinted windows, Plastic cups with lids and straws, 

I’m guessing the lids and straws are essential.Why not sippy cups?

This is a very well done series, with lots on the growing negative effects for campus neighborhoods. The increasing numbers of rich out of state students are obviously adding to the problem, which is as old as universities and will never be solved, just controlled.

UO’s latest effort is on online course called “AlcoholEdu”. This is carefully analyzed in the Oregon Commentator blog. The latest research I’ve seen on this program suggests the main effect of AlcoholEdu is on the company’s stockholders (positive and significant) and on the perception that the university is doing something (weak, insignificant, and unstable.)

Cheating economics students at Duke

8/11/2011: From Dan Ariely at Duke, in the Chronicle:

They sent all 498 of their classmates e-mail messages from a
fictitious student explaining how to download Mr. Ariely’s final-exam
questions and answers from the previous year. Half the messages included
this postscript: “P.S. I don’t know if this is cheating or not, but
here’s a section of the university’s honor code that might be pertinent.
Use your own judgment: ‘Obtaining documents that grant an unfair
advantage to an individual is not allowed.’”

Among students who were reminded of the honor code, 41 percent
clicked on the link (which did not actually contain any test material).
But among students who were not reminded of the honor code, a much
higher proportion—69 percent—clicked on the link.
The day after the actual final exam, Mr. Ariely conducted an
anonymous survey, asking students whether they had cheated, and also for
their estimates of how many of their fellow students had done so.

Very few students admitted to cheating—and Mr. Ariely believes their
self-reports are basically accurate. If there had been much cheating on
the final, he writes, the grades would have been better. (The average
grade was 70.)

But Mr. Ariely does not take much comfort from that, because the
students estimated that 30 to 45 percent of their fellow students had
cheated. Those estimates are probably much higher than the reality, but
Mr. Ariely argues that “such an overestimation of the real amount of
cheating can become an incredibly damaging social norm. …  If the
perception of cheating is that it runs rampant, what are the chances
that next year’s students will not adopt even more lenient moral
standards and live up to the perception of cheating among their peers?”

If I read the story correctly the students actually *undersestimate* the amount of cheating going on. The fact that this is happening at a school with an honor code is striking.

UO has 3x the typical % of foreign students

In terms of what UO can contribute, long-run, to Oregon’s economic growth, bringing smart ambitious undergrads from other countries with growing economies (and from other parts of the US) to Oregon is surely #1 on the list. Plus we get their out-of-state tuition and the diversity spillover for our Oregon students. I get a lot of these students in my field. Their quality is mixed but OK on average. Let me be un-PC for a moment and say I want more Indians. Good math, good verbal, fun in class. Comments?

7/19/2011: The China/India growth difference is striking. Why no growth in # of Indians? From a very interesting report from the Office of International Affairs.

Not only is UO’s % higher than other schools, so is our growth rate: (green for UO, blue for nat’l average).

43% of college grades are A’s, 4% are F’s

7/14/2011: From a study by Stuart Rojstaczer and Christopher Healy reported in
43% of college grades are A’s, 4% are F’s. Good discussion in the NYT.

In my department it’s more like 20% and 5%. I’ve heard the average grade in the UO education school is A. Here’s a link to Ian Mcneely’s UO Senate motions to address grade inflation. Only the most mild was passed.

Diversity of thought at UO

6/5/2011: UO student Ben DeJarnette adds some diversity of thought to his education – with a joint class with Oregon State Penitentiary inmates. From his Op-Ed in the RG:

… As universities do somersaults to achieve diversity in their student bodies, the Inside-Out experience should force us to question what that diversity ought to look like.

The current model stresses diversity of race, gender, sexuality and nationality. Perhaps these are important. But more important is the very ingredient that seems forgotten in universities’ melting pot: diversity of thought.

At the Oregon State Penitentiary, ideological diversity helps drive the success of Inside-­Out. The operation is low-budget, but flashy computers do not ensure dialogue, and projector screens cannot replace fresh ideas. When it comes to classroom dynamics, the penitentiary and the Inside-Out program are doing education right.

I’d like to see the University of Oregon follow suit.

Ben DeJarnette of Mechanicsburg, Va., is a journalism student at the University of Oregon’s Clark Honors College.

I met with the search firm looking for UO’s new VP for Diversity, and went to 2 of the 5 “visioning sessions“. At one session someone actually said she assumed the new hire would be African-American, since the current one was Hispanic. The chair of the search committee made a point of saying that he had hired a woman owned search firm. Window dressing tokenism. But I don’t remember diversity of thought being mentioned once. This is not a new problem. For a focus on the political angle, see Dan Lawson’s CS Monitor piece here. Some UO reactions here.