arizona state university

Update on this story from two weeks ago: The Arizona State University professor whose videotaped arrest drew national attention and claims of racial profiling has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor violation of resisting arrest.

Reuters reports that English professor Ersula Ore accepted a plea deal in Maricopa County Superior Court in which her aggravated-assault charge was dropped. The county attorney’s spokesman said she’ll probably get probation when she’s sentenced Aug. 1.

Some Ore supporters claimed she was targeted for jaywalking on a street where everyone had to cross to avoid construction, and that she defended herself from the arresting officer’s “grabbing” while her dress was up.

The FBI will continue its civil-rights investigation into the incident, requested by the school, despite Ore’s plea deal, Reuters said.

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Starbucks’ recently announced partnership with Arizona State University to help its employees pay for an online degree will be funded by the taxpayer, rather than from the global coffee chain itself.

While it was billed as “free tuition” by some when the partnership was first announced, in reality ASU is offering Starbucks employees a reduced tuition rate, while the students are expected to cover the rest of the cost with federal student aid or from their own pockets.

The “scholarship” portion in the form of a discount is essentially funded by taxpayers, as the university is funded by public coffers.

Starbucks will largely cover the costs of juniors and seniors completing their degrees if they take a full load of classes. Freshmen and sophomores, however, pay the reduced tuition themselves.

Last month, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, ASU President Michael Crow, and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan met to launch the Starbucks College Achievement Plan.

Crow had told USA Today that Starbucks is “investing” in human capital, and a Starbucks spokesperson said the Seattle-based company’s total investment in the program won’t be known until the company sees how many students sign up.

These statements suggest that Starbucks would end up footing the bill for the program and the resulting scholarships. Many headlines implied the coffee company was paying the full cost of tuition.

Yet those initial claims were overstated.

Following the initial announcement, Crow told The Chronicle of Higher Education that Starbucks is contributing “none” of the money toward the scholarship portion of the program. Instead, ASU will simply charge eligible workers less for tuition.

The Chronicle itself labeled the initial claims “misinformation.”

A Starbucks spokesperson confirmed to The College Fix that Crow’s comments were not a “revelation” but rather meant to “help clarify any misconceptions or confusion” about the program.

“In this partnership, ASU offers an upfront tuition scholarship … and Starbucks offers complete reimbursement for juniors and seniors as students progress,” Starbucks spokesperson Jaime Riley said.

Riley also said that ASU is “embracing this program with overwhelming excitement” and “has seen an enormous rise in interest since the announcement.”

ASU officials did not immediately return requests for comment to confirm that claim.

Riley defended the decision to only offer 100 percent tuition coverage to juniors and seniors.

“We chose to apply full tuition coverage to junior/senior year students since they have the highest success rates with academic study online, but also have a higher risk of dropping out due to student debt,” she said.

Riley also said the school wants to create an “on-ramp” for younger students, who receive just a 22 percent tuition scholarship from ASU.

The Associated Press reported that Starbucks would not bear any costs to cover the remaining 78 percent of tuition, and instead the students would have to apply for financial aid in the form of Pell grants or pay the rest out of pocket.

For juniors and seniors, Starbucks would reimburse the remaining tuition of up to 58 percent for each time the student completes 21 credits.

College Fix contributor Andrew Desiderio is a student at The George Washington University.

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Breanne Fahs, an associate professor of women and gender studies at ASU, is offering her students extra credit for challenging societal norms regarding body hair. Girls let the hair grow on their legs and underarms, while guys have to shave those areas (and their chests, too, if applicable). ASU News reports:

“There’s no better way to learn about societal norms than to violate them and see how people react,” said Fahs. “There’s really no reason why the choice to shave, or not, should be a big deal. But it is, as the students tend to find out quickly.”

That act of rebellion isn’t quite the same for males as females, according to Fahs. It’s not uncommon in our society for some men to engage in “manscaping,” removing hair from some parts of their bodies. For the extra-credit assignment, she asks male students to shave everything below the neck and maintain it for ten weeks. This makes the process labor-intensive and gives men some insight into what women who shave go through, she said.

Some male students have come up with strategies to add a “macho” element to the project. “One guy did his shaving with a buck knife,” Fahs said. “Male students tend to adopt the attitude of, ‘I’m a man; I can do what I want.’”

One student, Jaqueline Gonzalez, “credits the body hair project with helping to shape her into the activist she is today.” It gave her a better grasp on how prevalent “gendered socialization” is in our contemporary society.

Read the full article here.

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A tense standoff between an Arizona State University professor and a police officer, which ended in a physically aggressive arrest for jaywalking, is drawing national attention as an alleged incident of racial profiling. And there’s dashcam video.

Inside Higher Ed reports:

The video, released by 3TV News, shows the professor, Ersula Ore, being stopped for jaywalking and asked for her identification. She maintains that others jaywalked as well (to avoid construction) and that there was no need to stop her. Supporters of Ore have posted photographs of the street on a Facebook page, showing that the street indeed is under construction, and one on which many people would cross the street in places other than a designated cross-walk.

The interaction with campus police escalates until she is body-slammed (after the police officer says he will do that). During the altercation, she specifically says that she is being treated unfairly, and also identifies herself as a professor. After she is forced onto the ground, she is seen kicking an officer (the alleged assault), but the professor’s lawyer says that she was exposed in a dress and that the officer was grabbing at her when this happened, and that this was legitimate self-defense.

There’s a petition with just under 12,000 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon asking the school’s police department to “drop all charges and issue an unqualified apology.”

The school has consistently stood by the police, saying it has “found no evidence of inappropriate actions,” but after mounting criticism, it modified its stance:

However, the ASU Police Department is enlisting an outside law-enforcement agency to conduct an independent review on whether excessive force was used and if there was any racial motivation by the officers involved. In addition, although no university police protocols were violated, university police are conducting a review of whether the officer involved could have avoided the confrontation that ensued.

Read the full article here.

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If you can’t wait to sit in the anchor chair and tell viewers what fresh new atrocity happened in Syria today, Arizona State may be the place for you.

USA Today reports that ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is taking over the Phoenix PBS affiliate. As in, owning, operating and running Frankenstein-type experiments on it:

It will take over news and public affairs programming on the station’s three TV channels and its website. And, more intriguing, the school will offer the station as a venue for professional news outlets to experiment as they try to reinvent journalism in the digital age.

“This has game-changing potential,” says Christopher Callahan, the Cronkite School’s dean and the university’s vice provost. “The combination of a large PBS outlet and a university that prides itself on disruptive innovation is very powerful.” …

Sometimes news outlets have creative ideas but fail to pursue them because of internal constraints or financial risks. Callahan will invite them to try them out in the desert. “If they have an idea, they can bring it here and beta test it,” he says.

Read the whole article here.

h/t College Media Matters

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The Starbucks corporation has announced that it will begin offering discounted tuition benefits to employees working at least 20 hours per week through a partnership with the online degree program at Arizona State University.

The Associated Press reports that ASU will offer qualifying Starbucks employees a discount off the normal tuition price. Though a combination of federal grants the AP estimates that the average out-of-pocket will be about $1000 per year.

This story is significant because it provides evidence of a major U.S. corporation acknowledging the cost benefits of online education. In a sense, by taking such a visible step to partner with Arizona State’s online program, Starbucks is helping to put a stamp of legitimacy on online education.

Hosted, as it is, by a brick and mortar institution like Arizona State, this kind of program is an huge win for online education. And a move like the one Starbucks is taking is likely to be watched closely by other large companies that have tuition benefit programs. The likely result will be that more and more companies will steer their employees, through such programs, into online programs.

In the wake of ever-rising tuition costs at traditional residential colleges, the economic advantages of online education for middle-to-low income Americans is impossible to ignore. As I have been saying for a while now, online education offers a tremendous benefit for the poor and lower-middle class. Starbucks’s latest moves shows that it also offers an advantage to companies that want to offer educational benefits to their employees.

Look for more partnerships like this between online degree programs and major corporations to emerge in the near future.

Nathan Harden is editor of The College Fix and author of the book SEX & GOD AT YALE: Porn, Political Correctness, and a Good Education Gone Bad.

Follow Nathan on Twitter @NathanHarden


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