All posts by Andy Thomason


Have You Used Trigger Warnings in the Classroom?

A letter to incoming students at the University of Chicago, and its open opposition to trigger warnings and safe spaces, has touched off a debate about the effects of — and rationale for — those practices in the classroom. The controversy has, among other things, prompted supporters of trigger warnings to openly advocate for their value in the classroom.

One instructor, Erika D. Price, wrote in a post on Medium that trigger warnings are a critical tool to protect students who have faced traumati…


U. of Chicago’s Condemning of Safe Spaces and Trigger Warnings Reignites Debate

A letter to incoming freshmen at the University of Chicago has reignited a debate over political correctness, the perceived coddling of college students, and academic freedom.

The letter, signed by John Ellison, the dean of students, states that the university does “not support so-called ‘trigger warnings,’” nor does it cancel controversial campus speakers or “condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.”



U. of Vermont Cancels Game at Chapel Hill Over ‘Bathroom Bill’

Citing concerns about North Carolina’s controversial “bathroom bill,” the University of Vermont has canceled a scheduled women’s basketball game against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Burlington Free Press reports.

“We strive very hard to create an inclusive climate for our students and staff in which they all can feel safe, respected, and valued,” the university’s athletic director, Jeff Schulman, said in a written statement. “It would be hard to fulfill these obligations …


Will the NLRB’s Columbia Ruling Tarnish the ‘College Experience’? A Closer Look

The National Labor Relations Board’s decision on Tuesday declaring that graduate-student assistants at Columbia University are employees with the right to unionize could have stark and unwelcome effects on private campuses where such unions are formed. Or so said the lone board member who voted against the majority, Philip A. Miscimarra, in his dissent.

First and foremost among those effects are the “economic weapons” now available to both the assistants and their universities in the course of c…


Out to ‘Impress’ a Woman, U. of Pittsburgh Student Instead Needs to Be Rescued

A University of Pittsburgh student who, in an effort to impress a woman, jumped between two buildings — but missed — was rescued on Tuesday morning after the police knocked out a wall of a Qdoba restaurant, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. The man became wedged between the two buildings in the city’s Oakland neighborhood, according to a city official quoted by the newspaper.

“The young man met a girl, brought her up to a rooftop, and decided to impress her by leaping from one roof to the nex…


In Victory for Union Efforts, NLRB Rules Columbia U. Grad Students Are Employees

In a long-awaited decision, the National Labor Relations Board on Tuesday ruled that graduate students at Columbia University are employees and can form a union. The decision reverses a previous board decision involving a case at Brown University, which, a majority of the board said on Tuesday, “deprived an entire category of workers of the protections of the [National Labor Relations Act] without a convincing justification.”

The decision, by a vote of 3 to 1, has big implications for graduate s…


Missouri State Instructor Is Charged in Stabbing Death of Professor

An instructor at Missouri State University was being held on murder and other charges on Thursday after a retired professor of the same university was found dead in his home on Wednesday night, the Springfield News-Leader reported, citing documents filed by prosecutors and the Springfield, Mo., police.

The victim, Marc F. Cooper, was an emeritus professor of history and a scholar of ancient civilizations.

According to a police statement, the suspect, Edward M. Gutting, an instructor of modern an…


Berkeley Paid to Improve Image of Soon-to-Be-Ex-Chancellor

The University of California at Berkeley paid consultants more than $200,000 over the past year to raise the profile of the chancellor, Nicholas B. Dirks, who announced on Tuesday that he would resign.

The revelation, made by the San Francisco Chronicle, has echoes of a controversy that recently helped to topple the chancellor on the Davis campus, Linda P.B. Katehi.

Berkeley entered into a yearlong contract with the firm Williamsworks and a subcontractor on July 1, 2015. Among the goals, as stat…


Clemson’s Football Team Is Getting a Nap Room and a Lot of Other Stuff

Clemson University is building an enormous $55-million facility for the football program, and it has a lot of features. As The State, a Columbia, S.C., newspaper, reports, that includes a theater, a golf simulator, and an “outdoor village” that has basketball courts and miniature golf.

It also has what appears to be a first in college football: a nap room, with eight bunk beds, some bean bags, and massage chairs. “The No. 1 problem is lack of sleep,” Thad Turnipseed, the university’s director of…


What Is a ‘Serious Academic’? Social-Media Critique Provokes a Backlash

“I’m a serious academic, not a professional Instagrammer,” read the headline of an anonymous article in The Guardian on Friday. Embracing social media, as many academics are encouraged to do, amounts to little more than a dog-and-pony show, the author writes, and is more about demonstrating an exaggerated enthusiasm than anything else.

“I do not — and should not — have to parade myself online to please my employer or to stake my claim as a good researcher,” the author writes. “Can’t we save th…