An Inflammatory Bake Sale; A Plea to Rethink Rankings

And in today's academia round-up: the snarky response to Boston University's ad campaign

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Today in academia: U.S. News has a ready rankings retort, Boston University has its new ad campaign snarked, a UC Berekeley bake sale gets inflammatory and college presidents are an aging bunch.

  • A tasteless bake sale that will sell pastries at $2.00 if you're White, $1.50 if you're Asian and $0.75 if you're Black... was supposed to be a controversial political stunt by UC Berkeley campus Republicans protesting efforts of colleges to increase diversity in favor of a "color blind" system. But the mocking bake sale (the Facebook page now appears deleted) was more than a little inflammatory for saying it will offer race-based, tiered-cost pastry items. On Monday, the UC Berkeley student senate unanimously condemned the stunt and the school's chancellor noted: "Some other students are now thinking of handing out free 'cupcakes of conscience' at the same time and place," as the Republican's sale. [San Franscisco Chronicle, The Daily Californian]
  • The proposed changes to all-powerful U.S. News rankings fall on deaf ears. If you're generally confused by why the U.S. News & World Report college rankings are all-powerful and think that the criteria of what makes a "best" college "best" should be rethought, then this Inside Higher Ed piece will be a fascinating read. Last Friday, a group of admissions counselors presented a report to U.S. News offering an assessment of the rankings that, among other things, called for the magazine to rethink how much emphasis it puts on SAT scores. Of course, the guy who oversees the U.S. News rankings, Robert Morse, had a handy retort ready: "As long as colleges and universities continue to weight test scores and class ranking as a crucial component of admissions criteria, Morse said, it is hypocritical for institutions to ask U.S. News not to do the same." [Inside Higher Ed]
  • 'The World Needs To Know' about Boston University's new ad campaign. The New York Times spends a lot of text (three pages online) dissecting the University's new branding effort aimed at thought leaders. And since "The world needs to know" isn't a very complicated slogan to unpack, the paper judiciously quotes author Zac Bissonnette, who offers a few zingers about these types of academic campaigns: "If a few high-resolution photos and some clichés about 'thinking differently about the world' are enough to influence your decision about an investment in higher education, you really have to rethink whether you have the brain power to benefit from college." [The New York Times]
  • The annoying things that every college president has to deal with.  Sure, college presidents are aging (average age is reportedly 60) and according to the Chronicle there is now a new period of rapid turnover underway at major universities. It can also be a thankless job. This is how Ruth Simmons, who recently stepped down as Brown University president, framed it to the news outlet: "It's no fun to be followed around by a campus newspaper. It's no fun to have people writing blogs about you," she says. "And yet, if we cannot do this work without it, we must endure." [Chronicle of Higher Education]
  • Trend: college students aren't eating on trays anymore.  And it doesn't even seem to have anything to do with the tray's being unwieldy or uncool. USA Today cites a Sustainable Endowments Institute survey "finding that a number of schools going 'trayless' has increased dramatically over the past few years." There are some numbers in the article to back the trend story up, but mostly it seems "going trayless" is just an eco-friendly trend that also happens to be cost effective: "A 2008 study by Aramark Food Services on the effects of trayless dining found that food waste per-person fell nearly 30%." [USA Today]
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