Archive for the ‘current events’ Category
When awareness about the impact of socio-economic class was not as prevalent among the public, one exercise I did with my undergraduates at elite institutions was to ask them to identify their class background. Typically, students self-identified as being in the middle class, even when their families’ household incomes/net worth placed them in the upper class. The NYT recently published this article showing the composition of undergraduate students, unveiling the concentration and dispersion of wealth at various higher education institutions.
As a professor who now teaches at the university listed as #2 in economic mobility (second to Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology ), I can testify to the issues that make an uneven playing field among undergraduates. Unlike college students whose parents can “pink helicopter” on their behalf and cushion any challenges, undergraduates at CCNY are supporting their parents (if alive) and other family members, bearing the brunt of crushing challenges. (In a minority of cases, students’ parents might help out, say, with occasional childcare – but more likely, students are caring for sick family members or helping with younger siblings.)
To make the rent and cover other expenses in a high COL city, CCNY students work part-time and full-time, sometime with up to two jobs, in the low-wage retail sector. They do so while juggling a full load of classes because their financial aid will not cover taking fewer classes. For some students, these demands can create a vicious cycle of having to drop out of classes or earning low grades.
I always tell students to let me know of issues that might impact their academic performance. Over the years (and just this semester alone), students have described these challenges:
- long commutes of up to 2 hours
- landlord or housing problems
- repeated absences from class due to hospitalizations, illness/accidents, or doctor visits for prolonged health problems
- self-medicating because of fear about high health care costs for a treatable illness
- anxiety and depression
- childcare issues (CCNY recently closed its on-campus childcare facility for students), such as a sick child who cannot attend school or daycare that day
- difficulties navigating bureaucratic systems, particularly understaffed ones
- inflexible work schedules
These are the tip of the iceberg, as students don’t always share what is happening in their lives and instead, just disappear from class.
For me, such inequalities were graphically summed up by a thank you card sent by a graduating undergraduate. The writer penned the heartfelt wish that among other things (i.e., good health), that I always have a “full belly.” Reflecting this concern about access to food, with the help of NYPIRG, CCNY now has a food pantry available to students.
…an international conference on Global Resistance in the Neoliberal University organized by the union will be held today and tomorrow, 3/3rd-4th at the PSC, 61 Broadway.Scholars, activists and students from Mexico, South Africa, Turkey, Greece, India and the US will lead discussions on perspectives, strategies and tactics of resisting the neoliberal offensive in general, and in the context of the university in particular.You can visit this site for a link to the conference program:Due to space constraints, conference registration is now closed. But we’re thrilled by the tremendous interest in the event! You can watch a livestream of the conference here: https://www.facebook.com/PSC.CUNY. If you follow us on our Facebook page, you will receive a notification reminding you to watch.We look forward to seeing some of you tonight and to discussing the conference with many of you in the near future.
Right now, Senate Democrats have a choice, they can vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch or reject. This choice is complex:
- How desirable is this individual nominee?
- How desirable is it to filibuster this individual nominee, even if he is desirable?
- How desirable is it to punish Republicans for not holding a vote on Merrick Garland?
I think these issues are subtle and interdependent. For example, it is unclear whether Trump would nominate another Scalia type jurist, who is very conservative but does show some degree of independence. Thus, this may be “as good as it gets.”
However, voting in favor of Gorsuch, or simply not filibustering, raises a number of issues for Democrats. First, it essentially confirms a new norm in the Senate. If the President and Senate are from different parties, the Senate can deny the President the power to appoint any Supreme Court justices. This is a real shift. Technically, the power granted by the Constitution is “advise and consent,” not complete denial. Second, allowing the Gorsuch nomination to proceed without a major fight will probably inflame the base. The Democratic base could reasonably ask why Republicans are happy to filibuster and Democrats not so much.
My prediction is that Senate Democrats will allow Gorsuch to be nominated without much fuss because Democratic primary voters won’t punish them. The Democratic base seems to be very ineffective when it comes to punishing deviant behavior. Thus, the marginal Senate Democrat will probably focus more on general election voters in swing states.
Joe DiGrazia, a recent IU PhD and post-doc at Dartmouth, has a really great article in Socious, the ASA’s new online open access journal. The article, The Social Determinants of Conspiratorial Ideation, investigates the rise in conspiratorial thinking on the Internet. He looks at state level Google searches for Obama birtherism and then compares to non political types of conspiracy theory, like Illuminati.
The findings? Not surprisingly, people search for conspiracy related terms in places with a great deal of social change, such as unemployment, changes in government, and demographic shift. This is especially important research given that Donald Trump first rose to political prominence as a birther. This research is indispensable for anyone trying to understand the forces that are shaping American politics today.
Only seven days into his presidency, Donald Trump has issued cruel executive orders aimed at immigrants and refugees. One recent executive order banned the re-entry of any individual who was a citizen of Iran, Yemen, Syria and other countries. The order was especially cruel in that it applies to travelers who had already secured visas, green cards, and other paper work. Observers noted that the order applied to newborn infants, the elderly, and the disabled, none of whom present risk.
In response, lawsuits were filed and protests erupted. Thankfully, at least two federal court judges believed that the executive order was likely invalid and ordered a stay. However, this is a short term victory. It will not be hard for the Trump administration to rewrite executive orders and propose legislation that comply with American law. This is because courts time and time again have agreed that people do not have the freedom of movement.
As time passes, the Trump White House will learn how to write policy in ways that pass judicial review and that are approved by Congress. This is deeply problematic on two levels. First, restrictions on migrations are irrational and cruel, no matter who is president. But also, the successful imposition of anti-immigration policy will embolden the White House to follow through on one of Trump’s most repulsive proposals, a religious registry.
What do to? I think the strategy is obvious. Simply, resist these anti-immigration proposals now so that future proposals are harder pass. How? There are simple ways: simply say to your friends and family that immigration is ok; call your local representatives; donate to groups that litigate on behalf of immigrants; and, for the brave, their will be plenty of chances of non-violent civil disobedience.
Remember when everybody said that the polls completely got the 2016 presidential election wrong? Now we have final numbers on the popular vote count, and guess what? The national polls were on target:
- In the Real Clear Politics rolling average, the final estimate was HRC up by 3.3%. In the final popular vote count, the Cook Report found that the final difference was 2.1%. Being 1.2% off on the margin is pretty flipping good.
- In terms of the percent per candidate, the polls did worse because people over reported support for 3rd parties. Stein and Johnson together got 3% more in the polls than the results. This is evidence for the “parking lot theory of third parties.”
However, the state polls sucked. Not too hard, but they did suck a little bit, except Wisconsin and Minnesota, which totally sucked:
- Wisconsin – off by over 7%.
- Michigan – off by 3.4%
- Ohio – off by 4.6%
- Pennsylvania – off by 2.6%, which is not bad. HRC losing Pennsylvania was definitely within the margin of error here.
- Minnesota – off by 4.7% (My average, 6.2% vs. 1.5% final)
This is consistent with conventional wisdom about state polls, which is that they are less reliable because it is hard to pinpoint people in states, hard to identify likely voters, and have smaller electorates that can fluctuate (e.g., voter registration laws or bad weather).
Still, in retrospect, looking at state polls did suggest that a popular vote/electoral vote split was possible. A Trump victory was within the margin of error of the polling average in a number of states such as New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. This observation about state polls is also consistent with the finding that the HRC lead was due to urban centers.
Bottom line: The conventional social science about polls held up. National polls do decently, states polls a bit worse and in some cases badly. However, they was plenty of evidence that Trump might get an electoral college victory, but you had to really read the state polls carefully.