David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Fill In The Blank Stares

November 16, 2013: Fill In The Blank Stares

Let's play a game.  Fill in the higher ed. headline from the week:

"20K sign a petition to end ISU [Iowa State University] course that __________."

a) University claims is protected by academic freedom.

b) University says doesn't exist.

c) Is about demonstration, politics and the power of the civilian.

d) Hasn't had any student enroll in it for two years.

All pretty good choices, eh?  Well, it's b).  The University says the course doesn't exist.

Nevertheless, the petition states the university is offering "an 11-part course that encourages the proliferation" of what?

a) windmills.

b) diploma mills.

c) puppy mills.

d) General Mills.

The answer is c, puppy mills.  I know, diploma mills would have been awesome!

Apparently, Iowa State is producing educational materials at the request of whom?

a) The U.S. Department of Agriculture

b) The Humane Society

c) The American Dog Breeders Association

D) Cruella De Vil

The last three options seem the most likely, don't they, but, no, it is the U.S. Department of Agriculture. How many of us knew that the department of agriculture meddled in the health of pets?

The accurate information about the educational materials and not the class was presented to Change.Org, which posted the online petition.  Implying that the petition will not be changed or removed, Change.Org cited what other entity as part of its decision.

a) The Tea Party

b) Pinterest

c) Facebook

d) YouTube

It's YouTube, although any of the choices would seem to suggest a similar take on the subject.  Thus, since nothing in the petition is hateful, discriminatory and violent, it will remain up. At Change.org, people continue to sign this petition every minute:  (see latest signees here).  Even someone from Des Moines, where this article refuting the class ran, has signed since the story was broken in her hometown paper. For the record, most people at the site are ranting against puppy mills and less against the notion that a reputable university would really offer a course in how be a disreputable dog breeder, but still this is not a good sign for the intelligence of the populace. 

I went snooping around Change.Org to see how other petitions against colleges or about college issues compare in terms of support.  Remember there are 20,000 people railing against non-existent puppy mill classes at Iowa State.

A petition to lower the cost of tuition (o.k., granted a pie-in-the-sky petition): 67 signatures (started well over two years ago).

A petition to ask HigherOne (a financial institution used by many colleges) to get out of higher education: 27 signatures (started about a year ago).

A petition to prevent College of Charleston from opening a Chick-Fil-A restaurant (on the assumption that the owner is homophobic): 900 signatures.  (So, homophobia strikes more of a chord than money, but much less, still, than dogs.)

A petition to help California community college students transfer to a four-year institution: 141 signatures.  (The entire state of California can only generate 141 signatures!)

I think I have seen enough.  I have even less hope for the future of the human race.

The Iowa State story can be seen here.