Archive for academia

“Intimate supervision”: Surveillance on campus

This Washington Post report – holy crap:

Short-range phone sensors and campuswide WiFi networks are empowering colleges across the United States to track hundreds of thousands of students more precisely than ever before. Dozens of schools now use such technology to monitor students’ academic performance, analyze their conduct or assess their mental health. …

Instead of GPS coordinates, the schools rely on networks of Bluetooth transmitters and wireless access points to piece together students’ movements from dorm to desk. One company that uses school WiFi networks to monitor movements says it gathers 6,000 location data points per student every day.

School and company officials call location monitoring a powerful booster for student success: If they know more about where students are going, they argue, they can intervene before problems arise. But some schools go even further, using systems that calculate personalized “risk scores” based on factors such as whether the student is going to the library enough.

The dream of some administrators is a university where every student is a model student, adhering to disciplined patterns of behavior that are intimately quantified, surveilled and analyzed.

cross-posted from nocontest.ca

h/t Clarissa

Can I get class credit for that?

My beloved province is home to so many financial ruses and scams.

This story amused me more than it should have.

Almost six months after the B.C. government asked post-secondary institutions to stop taking large cash payments for tuition, many [universities] have closed the loophole identified in Peter German’s report on money laundering. [German is a former high-ranking RCMP officer leading a province-wide investigation into money laundering and the gambling industry.]

Contained among the recommendations … was concern that B.C. universities and colleges could be vulnerable to money laundering.

The report included an example of a student who went to an unnamed college with a duffel bag containing $9,000 in cash and asked to deposit it.

“Peter German has advised that people are paying thousands of dollars in suspicious cash for multiple semesters in advance and then seeking refunds by cheque,” Attorney General David Eby said at a new conference in May. “Our post-secondary institutions must not be used to launder money, and we are asking them to review their policies to put a stop to it.”

Since then, many of B.C.’s public post-secondary institutions have moved to end the practice, including Thompson Rivers University and the University of the Fraser Valley. …

Several schools are still reviewing their policies. [My employer] Kwantlen Polytechnic University … still accepts cash but is “looking at the possibility of moving to a fully online payment model and recently adopted a new online payment method for international students.”

A Bargain!

EngineeringCommunicationIngreBasil

I didn’t know until last week that there was an Indian edition.

It was a fun project written with a dear friend.

New Chalk

KPU_Homepage

I begin my sixteenth year at Kwantlen Polytechnic University today. This summer I’m teaching a couple sections of Advanced Professional Communications and one of Technical Report Writing. These are healthy, hearty classes! I am looking forward to meeting my new students. This gig has been such a blessing.

[Addendum – this came in from my university’s administration a couple hours ago: “Surrey RCMP have alerted us to an unsubstantiated threat against KPU, specific to today.  The threat is not specific to any one campus.  Therefore, out of an abundance of caution and with the highest regard for the safety and security of our students and employees, KPU is evacuating all buildings immediately and closing all five of its campuses for the remainder of the day.  All classes at all campuses are cancelled for rest of the day and our buildings will remain closed while security reviews the situation.” No update on this yet.]

genius sister

Jenny

I actually have two genius sisters! But it is the younger of my two younger sisters, Jenny Basil, who just won The Claire Tow ‘52 Distinguished Teacher Award. “The award, in the amount of $10,000, recognizes a senior member of the faculty for outstanding qualities as a teacher and for being a role model to students and other faculty” at Brooklyn College.

I am a pretty talented, even occasionally inspired professor, but I am not a genius by any stretch. I am delighted I can count on my siblings.

“pure capitalist intent”

This tweet by Kwantlen Polytechnic University colleague and marketing instructor @AndreaNiosi is my April favourite:

Showing my students the dark side of marketing. Cultural appropriation, mis- & under-representation, stereotypes, & the pure capitalist intent lurking behind (some) cause marketing campaigns. I’m now writing an open book to go as deep as I can into this.

Saudi “scholarship students” leaving Canada

I’ve had a number of superb students at Kwantlen Polytechnic University from that country. This is awful news.

From Inside Higher Ed this morning:

Saudi Arabian students in Canada are caught in diplomatic crossfire.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education is making plans to transfer students out of Canada to institutions in other countries after a diplomatic meltdown between the two countries sparked by Canada’s criticism of the kingdom’s arrest and detention of human rights activists.

A spokesman for Saudi Arabia’s education ministry said on Twitter that the ministry is “working on preparing and implementing an emergency plan to facilitate the transfer of our students to other countries.”

CNN reported that 7,000 Saudi students on government scholarships in Canada will be relocated.

Dan Drezner of the Washington Post has three “not mutually exclusive” explanations for the Saudi action:

– Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is “trying to demonstrate that he is in control [in his country], even if these sanctions will not lead to any Canadian concessions.” …

– “Another possibility is that these sanctions are less about compelling Canada and more about deterring other Western countries from criticizing Saudi Arabia.”

There is one final, more speculative explanation. There has been some recent international relations research into “prestige goods” or “Veblen goods,” things that states spend costly sums of money on with little tangible return. … As I explained this summer: “Veblen goods are positional goods, in which demand increases along with price because the good is seen as a display of prestige. Veblen goods can explain why some countries choose to invest in aircraft carriers or space programs when they should be allocating scarce resources elsewhere.” …

Maybe, just maybe, economic sanctions themselves have become a kind of Veblen good. Not many countries have the resources to impose economic sanctions of any kind on another state in world politics. The United States sanctions a lot, the European Union sanctions some, so do Russia and China, and then . . . crickets.

Except for Saudi Arabia. If Saudi Arabia is seen as a country that can sanction others, it starts to look more like a great power. The very fact that these sanctions are costly is what makes them such a compelling Veblen good. According to this logic, it does not matter whether they work: Most sanctions fail anyway. What makes them successful is that Mohammed has demonstrated that he can impose them in the first place.