Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Andy Stern Retiring

It's not official yet, but speculation has been fueled, by a wayward email, that Andy Stern is retiring from the top position of SEIU.

Whether you like Andy Stern or not, the best part of this news is in the potential candidates for his spot - They're both women, and either one would be the first woman to run SEIU.

Anna Burger, current Secretary-Treasurer for SEIU, came from the ground up, and is frequently named to "most powerful women" lists. According to her SEIU profile, she is invested in immigration reform and women's health.

Mary Kay Henry, current International Executive Vice President, may be the most interesting candidate, in that she comes from a Catholic background, and founded SEIU's Lavender Caucus for LGBT union members.

I'll wait for the official comments to come out for more information, but the idea of SEIU getting its first female president makes me inspired on such a deep level that I'm borderline giddy today.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Moscow metro hit by suicide bombers

Earlier today, the Moscow metro (subway) system was hit by two female suicide bombers. The attack seems to be connected to Chechen leader Umarov, but -as always- it is unclear whether he is simply claiming them, or whether they were actually part of his rebel fighters.

The bombers hit 45 minutes apart at Lubyanka and Park Kultury, killing 37. I'll be carrying a heavy heart today, thinking not only of my Muscovite friends and acquaintances, but also of the repercussion of this attack. Putin is already scaling up security measures. It will be interesting, and likely disheartening, to see how far he takes it.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

TeaParty Foul

Great post at Feministe about the Tea Party - not only the GOP's acceptance of violence, racism, homophobia, but also the media coverage that allows the extreme views of the party to have equal weight with the rest of the world.

I commend my friends and some of the bloggers out there who are writing about times when the GOP wasn't so hateful, when you didn't have to go ape-shit about every little thing your party believed. But honestly, am I the only one who feels like we should be fighting fire with fire? The left is supposed to be the side with grassroots organizing skills. Why aren't we making massive steps to battle the Tea Partiers, and creating some balance in the war of the extremes? Are we that disappointed in Obama's neglect of ENDA, gay marriage and immigration, that we're willing to sit back while the Sarah Palin's of the world focus their rifles on the political seats of the left?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Coping with Academic Rejection

It's early March, and for thousands of graduate school applicants, it's rejection season. Between the impersonal letters to the apologetic emails, AdComs have a thousand ways to let you know that this year, you just weren't on top.

Coping with rejection can be difficult, especially when you're having recurring dreams about the committee having a good belly laugh over your credentials. Wallowing in despair might feel really great right now, but picking yourself up is essential to, you know, functioning on a daily basis. Here are a few tips, stemming from personal experience, to help you out this month:

1. Make a Plan B
This helps for a few different reasons. First, you've got a secondary plan developing, which means that your life is not, in fact, over. Second, you go back into planning mode, which is pretty comfortable after the eight months or so you spent on your applications. Third, having viable plans in the future can make you excited about something again. Word to the wise: Don't just plan. Take some real, grounded steps toward a change.

2. Fill your Calendar
You can allow yourself a day or two to wallow, drink whiskey under your bed, and read blogs about the perils of graduate school, ad nauseum. But after that, make a schedule. Whatever you have wanted to do, but thought you wouldn't be able to in graduate school, write it in to your calendar. Keep busy, and try to socialize.

3. It's Not You, It's the Economy
This year was especially competitive. With the economy collapsing just long ago enough to give the unemployed a chance to apply, plus budget cuts to many small programs and state schools, competition sky-rocketed. What may have seemed like a perfect fit, could have quadrupled in competitiveness this year, accepting half as many students, out of twice as many applicants. Find your objective side by documenting these obstacles. You may have been in the top 10%, and still gotten rejected - it's all circumstantial.

4. Revisit your application
Take an honest look at your application. Where did you rush? Which grades are subpar? Which letters of recommendation were last-minute? Make a list of the deficiencies in your application, then look at solutions to balance them out. This could be auditing another class, boosting your resume with work experience, or re-taking the GRE, GMAT, LSAT, etc.

You have another year to perfect your application process. You have time - remember, the world is not coming to an end tomorrow. And even if it is, a PhD won't help you there!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Utah considering cutting the 12th grade

Sen. Buttars from Utah has proposed an unorthodox strategy to cut $60 million from the state's current $700m deficit*.

Just take out the 12th grade. Everybody knows that senioritis kicks in, kids skip class, and the last year of college prep ends up being a waste. Utah could cut teachers, roll back funding to schools, and best of all, gain more laborers earlier.

In fact, why not cut high school out completely? Everybody knows that 14 year olds make excellent laborers, not to mention wives. Student achievement and teacher quality haven't made many improvements over the last year, so let's just scrap it.

Hmmm... I'm not buying it, Buttars.

*Note: To put this into perspective, Utah's deficit comes out to a little over $230 per resident. Michigan's deficit comes out to $92 per resident. We get Michigan's problem - a fledgling auto industry based on tradition and not innovation fails and lays off the entire SE corridor of the state. Utah... well, I'll leave it up to you to decide if bleeding the beast has anything to do with their fiscal reality.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Teresa Sullivan to Become UVa President

Former University of Michigan Provost, Teresa A. Sullivan, will become the University of Virginia president (their first female prez!) this August. A great choice for U.Va., but a great loss for Michigan.

Speaking of losses for Michigan, my alma mater's Sociology program seems to be coming up dry on their recruitment efforts this year. In the last few weeks, two candidates have declined, choosing positions at relatively similar schools. Are they getting better deals somewhere else, or is Michigan doing something unflattering to its (phenomenal) program?

This news, combined with at least half a dozen declines since 2008, plus Michael Kennedy's move to Brown last year, is stirring up a bit of unrest in those of us who have a vested interest in preserving the reputation of our school.

Here's a related report from the American Sociological Association on boosting recruitment efforts to attract the best faculty.