How are institutions reducing the cost of teaching and research?

      In class a few weeks ago, it was revealed to us that even though Occidental’s tuition is around sixty thousand dollars, all of that money runs out about halfway through the year. After this point, it turns out that the school has to use money from its savings to fund costs, ranging from electricity and water to teachers’ salaries. Before hearing this, I would have thought that sixty thousand dollars a student would be well over the amount needed to run an establishment for two semesters. However, some (if not most) students do not pay full tuition, and many are given need-based grants or merit scholarships. With this factored in, along with the amount needed to pay professors and keep up facilities, the cost to maintain a college or university would be enormous.

     Many institutions are trying to limit spending by reducing the cost of teaching and research. Everyone can agree that research costs a lot, especially when it has to be funded with only one source.  To get around this, those working at higher education institutions apply for grants from the government to help with funding. In addition, colleges and universities can also strike deals with companies, where a particular company will fund the research thereby also gaining certain rights to the findings. In University, Inc: The Corporate Corruption of Higher Education, Jennifer Washburn utilizes UC Berkeley as an example for this type of corporate funded research. Novartis gave money to the plant and microbial biology department, and gained the right to up to a third of the findings (Washburn 2005; 53).

     It is easy to see the negative and positive sides of this exchange.  On one hand, you have the commercialization of research in higher education. This can lead (and has led) to a complete shift in the focus on different types of research. Perhaps it is that only profitable research gets funded, while more informational research gets put on the backburner. However, any type of research can lead to outstanding intellectual accomplishments, giving others the chance to learn and benefit from new knowledge. 

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What are the Liberal Arts?

The Liberal Arts education is focused not only on providing a wide range of instructional opportunities for its students, but also on supplying a more scholarly way of thinking. It teaches its students proper subject matter and fact, along with moral and intellectual duties that come into play in “the real world”.  Society as a whole would not function at its best if everyone went to extremely specialized schools because no one would be able to relate to each other, or perhaps even themselves. In the Education Gospel, the sentence, “A broader version of the Education Gospel would stress the complexity of political and cultural life, both in this country and abroad, in addition to the complexity of occupational alternatives” (Education Gospel 28) reinforces the idea that the declining demand for a Liberal Arts education can indeed have a negative effect on our community as a whole.

Seneca maintains that the desire for education has shifted from the drive to learn to the mere preparation for an occupation, as shown in his writing On Liberal and Vocational Studies. He writes, “One must learn about things divine and human, the past and the future, the ephemeral and the eternal; and one must learn about Time” (Seneca 103).  As students, we need to venture past the tangible and drift into the philosophical nature of life, which a liberal arts education arguably provides. Ferrall suggests that creativity and wonder are key to a satisfying life. He writes, “A liberal education defines the relationship of its holders to the world around them” (Ferrall 17), and what would we as a people be if we couldn’t relate to our environment? More specialized colleges and universities only focus on one aspect of the development of a student’s mind, whereas Liberal Arts schools encourage their pupils to look further. 

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New Mexico Sup. Ct. Rules Unanimously In Favor Of Marriage Equality!

As expected, the New Mexico State Supreme Court has ruled in favor of marriage equality, making the Land of Enchantment the 17th state to end marriage discrimination against same-sex couples.

The Albuquerque Journal reports:

The New Mexico Supreme Court on Thursday ruled in favor of same-sex couples, granting them all the same rights of marriage enjoyed by heterosexual couples.

The court’s 31-page opinion states, in part, that: “All rights, protections, and responsibilities that result from the marital relationship shall apply equally to both same-gender and opposite-gender married couples.”

New Mexico joins 16 other states, the District of Columbia, and several Native American tribes in recognizing same-sex unions.

Justice Edward Chavez, who authored the unanimous opinion, rejected arguments made during an October hearing by opponents of same-sex marriage.

“Procreation has never been a condition of marriage under New Mexico law, as evidenced by the fact that the aged, the infertile, and those who choose not to have children are not precluded from marrying,” Chavez wrote in his opinion.

However, the ruling also stipulated that religious clergy who do not agree with same-sex marriage are not required to perform marriage ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples.

After eight of the state’s 33 counties began issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples earlier this year, county officials petitioned the court to provide a state-wide ruling.

The court ruled that county clerks must issue marriage licenses to couples regardless of gender, and that licenses issued to same-sex couples prior to the ruling must be recognized. More than 1,400 same-sex couples have been issued marriage licenses in New Mexico since August.

Woo hoo! It is interesting that the last two State Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality have been unanimous (Griego in New Mexico and Varnum in Iowa).

Hat/tip to Joe.My.God

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Are advertisers finally going to give more airtime to the LGB community?

I remember when the prop 8 ads would air on the television screen and I wouldn’t give them much thought. Little did I know that this was a revolution in its own. Never before had same sex couple advertisements been displayed as far as I know in my own life time. It shows a progression of LGBT movement in a positive way if we see advertisements years later after prop 8. Advertisements are a good way of recognizing the status of a cause. The ability for the LGBT society to able to have advertisements shows larger steps being taken for LGBT rights to be recognized in American society.

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by | December 10, 2013 · 4:28 am

What NOT to say to someone coming out

Coming out to close friends and family is hard thing to do.  It is scary because the person who is coming out is usually worried about how their loved ones are going to react.  In all due fairness, there are no guidelines for coming out as well as how one should handle the situation.  But thank goodness for common sense!  Sadly some people completely lack it.  One logical reaction is to listen.  Reserve judgment and do not treat them any differently because they are still the same person.  Sadly not everyone can keep their cool.

Below is a buzz feed article of comments that people should NOT say to friend who is coming out.

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Can Pope Francis, the great reformer, make things better for gay people too?

Pope Francis’s words truly have a deeper meaning to me personally than I would have expected. I grew up in a Christian household but always felt the need to support LGBT rights. Francis has supported much of the reasons the church should be more accepting of same sex couples. The objective of the church is to be there for the troubled or strayed which they seem to not support by claiming they would not be there for same sex couples. Francis partly answers the major question as to why the church can’t support a couple just because they’re gay. He is reshaping a structure that has remained stagnant for centuries.

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by | December 10, 2013 · 3:11 am

Bishop threatens to excommunicate Greek MPs who vote for gay unions

Seraphim calls homosexuality ‘unclean sin’ and says lawmakers risk incurring God’s wrath if they legalize same-sex partnerships. I understand that yes their religion is against same sex couples and have their own beliefs in regards to same sex marriage, but in this sense it seems as though the Bishop is using much of his power to incur his own wrath on fellow members of the church which in my eyes seems to be sin in its own. Whether or not his position gives him power to excommunicate, it gives him no right to impede upon the free will that God ultimately gives to his people.

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by | December 10, 2013 · 2:57 am