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Subject:

H1N1 Outbreaks & Colleges Review 'Community'

From:

Dan Kern <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 24 Aug 2009 07:05:35 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (269 lines)

H1N1 Outbreaks

Several more colleges and universities are reporting outbreaks of H1N1
virus, or students with flu symptoms that could indicate H1N1. Among the
latest institutions affected so far: Anderson University
<http://www.independentmail.com/news/2009/aug/22/anderson-university-confirm
s-2-cases-h1n1-flu/> , the University of Colorado at Boulder,
<http://www.newsday.com/cu-boulder-ids-8-probable-swine-flu-cases-1.1386374>
the University of Kansas,
<http://www.kansascity.com/news/breaking_news/story/1400771.html>  and the
University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
<http://www.wbir.com/news/national/story.aspx?storyid=96722&catid=3>  At
Tulane University, those with flu symptoms (not yet shown to be H1N1) are on
the football team, leading 27 players to miss a scrimmage,
<http://www.nola.com/tulane/index.ssf/2009/08/tulane_football_staggers_into.
html> The Times-Picayune reported. Recent Inside Higher Ed articles on H1N1
and the campus response may be found here.
<http://www.insidehighered.com/news/focus/h1n1_and_higher_ed> 

Source:  http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/08/24/qt#206386

 

Colleges Review 'Community' 

August 24, 2009 

Some loved it. Some hated it. But everyone is a critic.

Last week, community college employees and attendees got their first look at
"Community," NBC's new sitcom about a group of students at a fictional
two-year institution. Ever since the network announced in May that it would
be airing a new comedy focusing on life at a community college, many in
academe expressed concern
<http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/05/06/nbc>  that the show might
unfairly characterize this set of institutions and its students. Among those
in the community college world who do not like what they have seen in the
show's early ads, there has been some debate over whether to actively fight
the show, ignore it or try to make something positive come out of it.

The pilot was available as a streaming video on Facebook
<http://www.facebook.com/nbccommunity?v=app_110518887050>  for a limited
amount of time to hype the show's Sept. 17 television debut. The only catch
was that users of the social networking Web site had to become "a fan" of
the show to view the pilot, a viral marketing technique making users open to
communications from NBC about the show. The full pilot episode has since
been taken down, but some scenes are <http://www.nbc.com/community-show/>
available online.

Inside Higher Ed asked a cross-section of community college presidents,
faculty members and students to view the advanced screening of the pilot
episode on Facebook and write their impressions, and a number took up the
offer.

Not surprisingly, opinions about the show are mixed. For all those who
overlook the lowbrow humor and laud what they see as the show's ultimate,
encouraging message, there are others who insist that the sitcom is
chock-full of gross exaggerations and has no redeeming value.

One of the most eager to comment about the pilot episode was Betty K. Young,
president of Houston Community College's Coleman College for Heath Sciences.
You might know her as the motorcycle-riding president, then at Northwest
State Community College, who made a cross-country
<http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/08/24/leno>  trip in 2005 to appear
on "The Tonight Show" to set Jay Leno straight for making jokes at the
expense of community colleges. Still, for those expecting a harsh review,
Young may disappoint.

"The show is a comedy, so it takes a few jabs at the perceived community
college experience, but not in a mean-spirited or spiteful way - more like
the way life takes jabs at all of us," Young says.

Jeff, the show's main character (played by Joel McHale), is a lawyer who has
recently been suspended by the state bar because his degree was discovered
to be fake. He turns to Greendale Community College
<http://www.greendalecommunitycollege.com/> , the show's fictitious campus
in Colorado, to make his way to a legitimate degree. Still, he has a cynic's
attitude about his time at the college and asks his old friend, Duncan, a
psychology professor (played by John Oliver), to help him get the answers to
all of the tests he will take during the semester. When Duncan questions
whether this is the right thing to do, Jeff retorts, "If I wanted to learn
something I wouldn't have come to community college." 

"The main character's philosophy on a community college education seems to
reflect the misunderstanding some people have about what a community college
can do," Young writes. "But 25 minutes later, with the magic of television
and a dose of reality, Jeff is beginning to understand what all community
college graduates know: a good education is a great equalizer.. Having been
a community college faculty member and president of three colleges, I've
seen my fair share of disbelieving Jeffs walk through the door - looking for
the path of least resistance, and like Jeff are quickly humbled and accepted
into a community of learners that care about them."

Most of the episode centers around Jeff's Spanish study group, which
consists of a hodgepodge of characters from all walks of life - labeled by
the college dean in the episode as "remedial teens, 20-something dropouts,
middle-aged divorcees and old people keeping their minds active as they
circle the drain of eternity." In this study group, however, there is not
much studying being done.

Reviews from the faculty ranks of these scenes are mixed. Some said they
thought the show's producers, who said at a recent press top that they would
<http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/08/07/qt#205185>  not mock
community colleges and play into negative stereotypes, failed to hold up
their end of the bargain.

"Now, as a teacher of literature, I recognize that Jeff is a flawed
character who, by episode end, begins to sense his limitations and, we
assume, mature through the encouragement of his 'study' community," writes
Howard Tineberg, English professor at Bristol Community College, in
Massachusetts, and former editor of  <http://www.ncte.org/journals/tetyc>
Teaching English in the Two-Year College. "Much of the cynical
representation of the community college is offered through Jeff's rather
warped perspective. But there is really no hint of irony that I can see
because not one character so far is a trustworthy purveyor of the truth
about community college.. I see much to be offended by in this premier
episode."

Other faculty members expressed similar criticisms.

"Unfortunately, the pilot of 'Community' perpetuates stereotypes of two-year
colleges as consolation prizes for students and faculty who do not 'make it'
into four-year institutions," writes Sandie McGill Barnhouse, chair of the
Two-Year College English <http://www.ncte.org/tyca>  Association (TYCA) and
English professor at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, in North Carolina.
"The opening scene manages to portray the dean as a bumbling administrator
who cannot even explain to a gathering of students what a community college
is without his note cards. The only professor we meet seems to be willing to
sell test answers and spends his office hours swilling wine. What
'Community' does do is illustrate the broad range of students who attend
community colleges, but the pilot misses the point. Our colleges are not
second rate - but they often give a second chance to the unemployed, the
returning veterans, the working parents, and the financially strapped....
This nation's community colleges students should not be demeaned or
portrayed as losers; in fact, they should be applauded for their choice to
choose cost-effective, responsive education that meets their needs."

Students were the most generous critics of the show, though much of the
pilot episode lampoons them.

"Although some of the points made seemed a bit exaggerated, I found the show
to be quite humorous," writes Giovanni Garcia, a student at San Diego City
College. "Some of the comments made toward community colleges had some truth
behind them, but seemed to be a little far-fetched. The cast is a pretty
accurate representation of a community college setting and is amusing to
watch because it makes the show very easy to relate to.. I look forward to
the upcoming season."

Other students hope the show will give them an opportunity to tell others
about the value of their institutions, but they acknowledge that all of the
jokes at their expense will not make it easy.

"I think the show is pretty clever," says Wendy Hamilton, president of the
American Student <http://www.asacc.org/home.html>  Association of Community
Colleges and a student at Hillsborough Community College, in Florida. "I can
see where some offense can come in, to the bias of what type of people
community college students are. I know this is show, but I want people to
know that the majority of community college students are people who couldn't
afford the luxury of a 4-year college, are not prepared to enter a 4-year
institution, or are trying in these hard economic times to gain the
knowledge that will help them attain a better job in our society. I believe
the show is going to be great, but I still believe that it will not help
change people's perception of our community college systems."

Most of the reviewers of the pilot episode say they will be sure to watch
the show again at some point this season, whether in an attempt to find
redeeming value or further criticize. For instance, Young writes that she
has even planned to have a group of faculty and students over to her house
to watch the premiere in a few weeks as a way to start a dialogue with them
about her institution.

Of the pilot and the community college world's response to it, Richard
Dittbenner, public information and government relations director of San
Diego Community College District, frames it this way: "It is a show loaded
with inaccuracies, misrepresentations, half-truths, stereotypes, and just
enough truth in it to make it funny and engaging."

-  <mailto:[log in to unmask]> David Moltz 

Go
<http://www.insidehighered.com/layout/set/print/news/2009/08/24/community#Co
mments>  to comments (0) > 

*	 <http://www.insidehighered.com/career/seekers> Search Jobs C
Copyright 2009 Inside Higher Ed 

Related Stories

*	 <http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/08/21/zombie> Students
Model Zombie Attack
August 21, 2009 
*	 <http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2009/08/21/chenoweth> A Peek
Behind the Veil
August 21, 2009 
*	 <http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/08/20/iphone> Where Phones
in Class Are OK
August 20, 2009 
*	 <http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/08/19/orientation>
Reorienting Themselves
August 19, 2009 
*	 <http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/08/18/mindset> Ready to
Feel Old?
August 18, 2009 

Sources:

http://www.insidehighered.com/layout/set/print/news/2009/08/24/community

 

http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/08/24/community

 

 

 

Dan Kern

AD21, Reading

East Central College

1964 Prairie Dell Road

Union, MO  63084-4344

Phone:  (636) 583-5195

Extension:  2426

Fax:  (636) 584-0513

Email:  [log in to unmask]

 

http://www.studentveterans.org/

 

Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is
it politic?' Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular?' But, conscience asks
the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a
position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it
because one's conscience tells one that it is right. (Martin Luther King,
Jr.) 

Instruction begins when you, the teacher, learn from the learner. Put

yourself in his place so that you may understand what he learns and

the way he understands it. (Kierkegaard)

 

To freely bloom - that is my definition of success. -Gerry Spence, lawyer
(b. 1929)    [Benjamin would be proud, I think.]

 


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