Jon Sanders’ Top 10 Nuttiest N.C. Campus Events For 2007

Editor’s note: Jon Sanders compiles an annual “Top Ten” list of what he calls the “nuttiest campus events” in North Carolina. This year’s list makes a notable exception, granting the top spot (see below) to something that didn’t happen. What didn’t happen, he says, was so strikingly necessary that its predictable non-occurrence warrants attention.

Onward to this year’s list:

Americans Want to Help Immigrants, Up to a Point

In 1982, the Supreme Court decided that K-12 education could not be denied to illegal immigrants. Symbolically speaking, these children have now grown up and, twenty-five years later, the issue is whether illegal immigrants should be denied a college education at public community colleges and universities.

My view is that individuals who live in the United States, even though illegally, should be allowed to attend college if they pay the full cost of their education.

Illegal immigration is an emotionally wrenching issue because most Americans believe two things that currently contradict one another. They believe that our laws should be obeyed. Yet they recognize that today’s tight immigration laws fly in the face of a major reality: millions of people live in nearby countries whose governments have ruined their economies, making their citizens desperate to leave.

Harry Potter Goes to College

Editor’s note: The latest installment in the wizarding movies, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, will likely make an appearance under many Christmas trees this year. A more important question is whether the books should make an appearance in college courses. This article was originally published in the Charlotte Observer on August 9, 2007.

Universities across the country are adding Harry Potter to the curriculum in disciplines as diverse as English, philosophy, history, Latin, and science. Edmund M. Kern, an associate professor of history at Lawrence University and author of the reader’s guide The Wisdom of Harry Potter, is teaching an entire course on Harry Potter this fall.

The generation of students entering college this year has a mania for J. K. Rowling’s seven-book series about a young boy’s adventures in a fantastic magical world. Harry Potter’s ongoing battle against evil, with its themes of choice and consequences, life and death, and love and hate, reverberates among this generation as Catch-22 and Slaughterhouse-Five captured the students of the 1960s.

But are Harry Potter books good enough for the college curriculum?

Accountability – What Is It?

“You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.
You can send your son to college, but you can’t make him think.”

This little ditty ran through my mind as I was trying to understand the accountability movement of colleges and universities. Under pressure from the federal government, higher education institutions are scrambling to find ways to measure and report “learning outcomes” – that is, to show that students learn something after four years at their institution. This week, at a Washington, D.C., meeting of a Department of Education accreditation advisory group, that pressure will increase.

Fifty years ago, the student was accountable for learning, not the college.

What Does Accreditation Really Mean?

Most people think that college accreditation is a procedure that ensures good educational quality. A current dispute between a small college in North Carolina and the regional accrediting association tells a different story.

On June 21, 2007, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) voted to remove the accreditation of St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg. The college quickly appealed, but was informed by SACS on August 23 that the appeal had been denied. Had St. Andrews done something educationally reprehensible?

No. In a statement issued on July 12, SACS provided the following explanation:

“The Commission voted to remove the College from membership for failure to comply with Core Requirement 2.11.1 (Financial Resources), Comprehensive Standard 3.10.1 (Financial Stability) and Comprehensive Standard 3.10.4 (Control of Finances) of the Principles of Accreditation. These standards expect an institution to provide evidence that is has (1) a sound financial base and financial stability to support the mission of the institution and the scope of its programs, (2) a financial history that demonstrates financial stability, and (3) control over all its financial resources.”

The problem with St. Andrews isn’t really about how it educates students, but about the school’s finances. In its public report, SACS has not specified exactly what is amiss with the school’s financial situation. The college’s president says that recently incurred debts have funded campus improvements that have led to enrollment increases and an increase in net revenues.