Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Attractive young women unacceptable?
A combination of jealousy and boiler-suit feminism at work here, methinks. Amusing that the young women are accused of selling themselves short. Since when were slim and attractive young blue-eyed blondes at a disadvantage? They've got the world at their feet, much as others may simmer about that
IT’S currently recruitment season at American colleges — a time when sororities and fraternities put their best foot forward and try to recruit new members for the upcoming academic year.
But “rush season” turned sour for the University of Alabama’s Alpha Phi sorority after its recruitment video — filled with white, blonde, bikini-clad college students — was labelled “worse for women than Donald Trump” in a widely-shared opinion piece.
The video was viewed more than 500,000 times after being uploaded to YouTube last week, but was removed on Sunday after writer A.L. Bailey slammed the clip as “objectifying”, “forced” and “unempowering”.
Bailey’s piece on news site Alabama.com, titled ‘Bama sorority video worse for women than Donald Trump’, has been shared more than 18,000 times on Facebook. Alpha Phi has since deleted their Twitter and Tumblr accounts and made their Facebook and Instagram pages private.
Bailey describes the video as a “parade of white girls and blonde hair dye, coordinated clothing, bikinis and daisy dukes, glitter and kisses, bouncing bodies, euphoric hand-holding and hugging, gratuitous booty shots, and matching aviator sunglasses.
“It’s all so racially and aesthetically homogeneous and forced, so hyper-feminine, so reductive and objectifying, so Stepford Wives: College Edition. It’s all so ... unempowering.
“These young women, with all their flouncing and hair-flipping, are making it so terribly difficult for anyone to take them seriously, now or in the future,” she writes.
Sororities often have a significant focus on service and charity work, writes Bailey, but the video lacks any mention of these core ideals.
“It lacks substance but boasts bodies. It’s the kind of thing that subconsciously educates young men on how to perceive, and subsequently treat, women in their lives. It’s the kind of thing I never want my young daughters to see or emulate.
“To the incoming PNMs [potential new members], this video has a clear sales pitch: beauty, sexuality, and a specific look above all,” she continues. “They’re selling themselves on looks alone, as a commodity. Sadly, commodities don’t tend to command much respect.”
Bailey questions whether the 72 women who live in the Alpha Phi house thought about the message they were selling in the video.
“Did they think they were selling the kind of sisterhood that looks out for all women? Or were they focused on having the hottest video in the popularity contest that is sorority recruitment?” she asks.
“Were they satisfied with being perceived as selling a gorgeous party-girl, cookie-cutter commodity? Were they satisfied with being the commodity?
“Most importantly, did they realise they are a group of young women blessed with potential who are selling themselves, and each other, short?”
According to the university, over 2442 women registered for formal recruitment this year and 93 per cent of those — 2,261 women — received ‘bids’ and were selected to join a sorority.
The number of women who registered increased year-on-year by 7 per cent, and the total number of bids increased by 10 per cent.
The university responded directly to criticism of its lack of racial diversity in a statement: “Of the total number of women who accepted bids, 214 were minorities, a number that increased by nearly 13 per cent.”
In a statement to US news outlets, the University of Alabama’s associate vice president for university relations Deborah Lane criticised the video.
“This video is not reflective of UA’s expectations for student organisations to be responsible digital citizens. It is important for student organisations to remember what is posted on social media makes a difference, today and tomorrow, on how they are viewed and perceived,” she said.
More British students opt for toughest senior High School subjects: Entries for maths, sciences and humanities up by 13% since 2010
More teenagers are taking the tough A-level subjects favoured by Oxbridge this year following a Government campaign to drive up academic standards.
Entries for the ‘facilitating subjects’, which include maths, the sciences, English, geography and history, have risen by 13 per cent since 2010 to 435,583 and now account for just over half of all qualifications taken, official figures show.
The numbers taking maths have risen by more than half in a decade. Take-up has gone from 7 per cent of pupils in 2006 to 11 per cent this year, when there were 93,000 candidates.
Geography, English literature and history have also seen year-on-year rises but so-called ‘Mickey Mouse’ courses have fallen out of favour, with take-up of general studies falling by a quarter to 17,400.
However, languages suffered this year, with a drop in numbers taking French and German, although Spanish saw a rise in entries.
Yesterday, education experts said the figures were a ‘vindication’ for former education secretary Michael Gove, who campaigned to get more teenagers to study core skills subjects.
Richard Cairns, head teacher of Brighton College, an independent school, said: ‘Michael Gove’s determination to rebalance education in England is being realised.
‘Sixth-formers have begun to understand that if they want a place at a top university, they need to study the demanding A-level subjects that prepare them properly for the most challenging degree course.’
In 2011, the Russell Group of top universities produced a guide listing the subjects most useful for would-be entrants.
This year’s figures are believed to show the highest take-up since then.
Preliminary statistics released by the Joint Council for Qualifications show that the take-up of facilitating subjects has increased by 0.8 per cent since last year.
The change follows new performance measures which mean schools are now judged on the number of pupils that achieve a C or above in tougher subjects at GCSE.
Schools minister Nick Gibb said yesterday that the drive to persuade more pupils to study core academic subjects has been a success.
He added: ‘As a result thousands more pupils, from all backgrounds, are studying subjects that will secure them a place at a top university or an apprenticeship and that will help to secure well paid employment.’
Australia: Academics hate the idea of competition
IT WAS Budget night 2014 and Professor Bruce Chapman, the man credited with inventing HECS, went to the lock-up fully expecting it to be a “bit of a bore”.
“When we heard the announcement about the planned policy reforms, I don’t know what the sound of what one hand clapping is, but I do know what the sound of three jaws dropping was,” Prof Chapman recalled.
Prof Chapman attended the Budget lock-up with two colleagues who had both worked in the office of former Treasurer John Dawkins, responsible for one of the biggest shake-ups of tertiary education in Australia, including the introduction of HECS. But those reforms paled in comparison to what the Federal Government proposed in 2014.
Prof Chapman, who spoke at a forum on university financing at ANU last week, said he had been modelling various parts of the university financing system for 25 years or more. The Abbott government’s plans were so radical he had never even considered them.
“(We) had never modelled any of this because we thought the likelihood of it ever happening were close to zero,” he said, calling them the “most radical suggested reforms to Australian higher education” ever.
The plan to deregulate university fees was rejected by the Senate, but Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he will not give up on the reforms, insisting they are necessary if Australian institutions are to flourish.
Other experts are not so sure, and one US academic is concerned Australia could do more harm than good by pressing ahead.
Despite initial support for deregulation among Australian universities, there has been more scepticism about whether student fees should be deregulated, particularly if aimed at improving Australia’s ranking on international tables.
This week it was revealed that Australia now has more than half of its public universities listed in the prestigious Academic Ranking of World Universities, and four universities in the top 100.
Experts at the ANU forum also expressed concerns that universities would be encouraged to chase profits rather than educate students.
Professor Susan Dynarski of the University of Michigan in the US said it was unclear why the reforms were needed.
“What problem are people trying to fix?
“If the goal is to get more money — and I haven’t seen any evidence there’s insufficient funds for teaching ... it seems to be getting more funds for research ... that would cost tax dollars and people don’t want to spend money.”
During the forum Prof Dynarski provided “gory details” of the problems in the US system, which had seen student debt double between 2001 and 2011. There was now a push to implement elements of the Australian HECS/HELP system to address some of the issues.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government wants to cut university funding in Australia by 20 per cent and allow universities to make up the shortfall by deregulating student fees. Allowing universities to increase fees would also enable it to put more money into research, which is the measure largely used to rank universities.
“It seems like what would really need to happen is a more robust system for funding research, and the grown-ups should sit down and agree to that rather than dumping (the expense) on to the kids,” Prof Dynarski said.
“This place doesn’t seem to be broke so don’t try to fix it too much because you might definitely break it.”
Posted by jonjayray at 12:51 AM