So when racists spread their filth on our public campuses, should we ignore them and hope they go away? Or should we publicize their actions and risk giving their hateful fires more oxygen?
If you prefer the former approach, read no further.
The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and Black Hills State University were hit last weekend with posters from Identity Evropa, a white supremacist group that has been peppering campuses nationwide with its thinly veiled propaganda.
A tweet from Identity Evropa dated Sunday, February 26, shows four photos of the white supremacist group’s posters under the heading “Black Hills University, SD.” The outdoor shot and one bulletin board shot are at Mines, another bulletin board shot is at BHSU; the location of the third bulletin board shot is unclear.
A source in Rapid City tells me other, worse posters have appeared, such as a picture of the World Trade Center on fire with the text, “Imagine a world without Muslims.”
The unauthorized posters were removed quickly, but apparently some racist has been waging poster war all week, including these posters citing a variety of racist movements, tweeted from Mines tonight:
When I view the full picture on Twitter, I find the “White Guilt/Cultural Marxism” poster is taped to the office door of Dr. Kayla Pritchard.
Notice that, disgustingly, some of these tweets have Likes.
Mid-Central members also heard from financial advisor Ed Young, who told member schools to review their retirement plans:
“I can guarantee you who the IRS holds responsible. They’re going to hold the school responsible, and you and your business manager are ultimately going to be on the hook,” said Ed Young, of Plan Services Investments. “Don’t take that liability.”
Young delivered his message at a Mid-Central Educational Cooperative board meeting on Thursday in Platte. Young said every school’s superintendent or business manager must sign of on a 403(b) plan, which benefits the retirement of certain public school employees.
Shama doesn’t provide any further specifics about what deficiencies in the member schools’ retirement plans might draw IRS attention. However, if IRS audits of schools associated with a deadly multi-million-dollar scandal are “probably slim,” let’s hope that’s only because other federal agencies are coming through the books to find where every penny of the mishandled GEAR UP funds went.
Lori Walsh:Conversations about GEAR UP in South Dakota in the past have been political. What do you want people to know about South Dakota GEAR UP…?
Diekoff: …GEAR UP is centered first and foremost on our kids. That’s the whole reason that we have the grant. and that’s where our efforts need to be directed. Our focus is really to work with kids and to work with families, and that’s where we want the focus to be. We are fortunate enough to serve such a high number of kids with great potential and families who want their children to succeed, and our job needs to be on those students and those families, that’s where our focus needs to be, and that’s where it’s going to be. We look forward to creating trust with people, families, and communities and to taking this program and helping it reach its potential [transcription mine; “Dr. Diekhoff on GEAR UP,” SDPB Dakota Midday, 2016.06.14].
Focus on kids, create trust—that’s how GEAR UP should have run in the first place. It could have run this way if Rick Melmer hadn’t farmed this multi-million-dollar grant out to his homefolks back in tiny Platte, far from scrutiny in Pierre, and if members of the Daugaard/Schopp Department of Education had spoken up about fiscal misconduct at Mid-Central when they saw the first signs of trouble six years ago.
The B.F.A. is the degree offered by peer institutions. Without the B.F.A., students at BHSU will be at a disadvantage when competing against those who have this professional degree. This degree is important to both BHSU art students and faculty retention alike. It becomes significantly more difficult for the BHSU art program to attract and retain high performance students and faculty to meet the research and scholarship mission of BHSU. Undergraduate scholarship and creativity in studio arts can only be accomplished effectively in institutions where the B.F.A. is offered [Black Hills State University, “Intent to Plan for a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art,” 2015.11.20].
The BFA is good for aspiring professional artists, but it appears to crowd out opportunity for students to double major in art and another field of interest. The BFA is another example of the work world narrowing the universe of liberal scholarship to which universities are supposed to expose young scholars.
Item 5-S on the South Dakota Board of Regents’ agenda this afternoon makes me think someone at Black Hills State University has been sitting too close to Dennis Daugaard at dinner. In apparent celebration of our Governor’s anti-philosophy approach to education, BHSU is asking the Regents’ permission to eliminate Institutional Graduation Requirements (IGRs).
On face, the proposal sounds like a way to allow students to diversify their intellectual pursuits:
In fact, in some important respects, IGRs have served to constrain the campuses’ ability to compete for students transferring from Community Colleges or other four year institutions. In some cases IGRs have also reduced the flexibility of the faculty to structure academic programs of study to align with national trends and best practices. To address these concerns, BHSU is seeking to eliminate IGRs on their campus to further encourage students to expand their academic options by pursuing an additional degree or minor. [South Dakota Board of Regents, Agenda Item 5-S, 2015.12.02].
BHSU proposes eliminating 11 credits worth of IGRs, plus an “Experiential Learning” requirement that is listed as ranging from 0 to 12 credit hours. The current IGRs include two credits of P.E. (excuse me, nowadays, we call it Wellness), three credits of Behavioral and Social Sciences (that would be that psychology stuff that Daugaard and Jeb Bush so disdain), and six credits of Fine Arts and Humanities.
Look at those three fields again, and realize that by eliminating these IGRs, we are saying that the universe of knowledge to which Black Hills State University ought to expose its students need not include basic instruction in what it means to be fully human bodily, mentally, and culturally.
Black Hills State will keep graduation requirements for one (one?!?) writing-intensive class within their major and one class within their major or general education requirements raising their awareness of globalization/global issues.
Dual credit is a great program. South Dakota high school students can take university classes for a discount ($40 per credit!) and count their credits toward both their high school and university diplomas. (Dang: they can even take French through Northern and SDSU!) In the absence of dedicated state support for gifted education (killed by Janklow-era budget cuts), dual credit is a reasonable substitute that saves students and families some money.
The Board of Regents’ FY 2015 Fact Book (page 14) says that 4.3% of all of South Dakota’s Regental undergrads and 6.3% of those enrolled at Black Hills State University are under age 18; we may assume that the majority of those students are dual credit-takers. Alas, BHSU implicates dual credit in the $1.5-million shortfall that has led the Spearfish campus to lay off fifteen employees:
“The deficit is from the decline in credit hours,” Hansen said. “Part of our budget comes from credit hours. Our overall credit hours have decreased even as our headcount has increased.”
In 2008, students took a total of 90,908 credit hours. In 2011, that number jumped to 98,176 credit hours and has fallen annually to 91,261 credit hours in 2014.
Hansen said that the increase in total number of students comes in part from the dual enrollment of high school students who are able to take university courses at a greatly reduced rate. Those courses count toward their high school diploma as well as their college transcript.
“We had a high number of high schoolers participate in (dual enrollment), which is great, but they are only taking one or two classes. Even though they show up as a head count in our enrollment, their credit hours are not that of a full student,” she said.
Most fulltime students take 15 credit hours [Mark Watson, “BHSU Makes Staff Cuts,” Black Hills Pioneer, 2015.03.03].
Sure: if students can get cheaper credits during high school, they won’t need to pay for as many full-time credits when they’re on campus. But remember that the Regents reduced the number of credits required for graduation from 128 to 120. That cut means students need one less credit (15 instead of 16) each semester for full-time enrollment. (But hey: now you can’t accuse the Regents of just trying to squeeze more money out of students.)
The bigger problem seems to be that full-time equivalent enrollment has settled back to the pre-recession level at BHSU. Again, from the BOR FY2015 Fact Book (p. 13):
Notice that BHSU’s FTE enrollment has dropped since peaking in 2010, while enrollment down the road at School of Mines has jumped notably. BHSU mentions in Watson’s article that its enrollment numbers from the Northern Hills and Rapid City are “really pretty soft,” but that harder school less than an hour away in Rapid City isn’t having trouble attracting new students.
Mentioning dual credit as part of budget woes contradicts the marketing advantage of the program. Dual credit provides the universities a chance to get their hooks in promising students—you’ve already earned a semester or two of credits at BHSU; why not enroll full-time and finish your degree here after graduation? If I were working admissions, I’d promote the heck out of dual credit as a recruiting tool.
Dual credit serves ambitious South Dakota high school students well; it can also serve our universities as they work to boost their full-time enrollment.