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Day: February 10, 2010

Extra, Extra, Read All About It

Yesterday, the Collegian wrote an article discussing the widespread use of Facebook at Penn State. The article discussed how popular Facebook is on campus, and how the Penn State fan page is used to deliver alerts to students (today it's being primarily for students to complain about classes not being canceled).

Come on, Collegian, this is breaking news? It's not 2006, EVERYONE has a Facebook, and in all aspects of life it's become common practice to use Facebook as a means of communication. It must have been a slow news day when they had to resort to running this deprecated social commentary. If only a local Congressman had died, or there'd been a massive snow storm, or a White House aide had mocked Sarah Palin. Oh wait.

Read on to find out what other "breaking" news stories the Collegian could have run...

To AP or Not to AP

Advanced Placement tests offer a number of advantages to high school students, including weighted GPAs and college credit. More students take AP tests these days, but more students fail them.

According to USA Today, AP enrollment jumped from 704,000 to 1.7 million students between 1999 and 2009. However, failing scores, defined as a 1 or 2 out of 5, rose from 36.5% to 41.5%.

Students' performances have shifted unevenly. Scores for AP Physics have generally increased, while scores for AP English Literature have dropped (reflecting the world's new infatuation with math and science).

Geography may also affect the high fail rates. In the South (roughly Texas to Delaware), nearly half of all AP tests earned a failing grade. This represents a significant statistical difference from the rest of the country.

New Mexico, Arkansas, Mississippi, and West Virginia contain the lowest scoring test-takers. In those four states, AP test-takers failed between 55% and 70.3% of all exams. Yikes.

AP credits fulfill many general education requirements and can improve one's college career immensely. Fewer gen eds can equate to early graduation and thousands of saved dollars. Fewer gen eds can also free up precious college time to take fascinating yet semi-irrelevant courses of one's choice.

The rigor of AP courses surely differs from high school to high school. However, an AP test fee is a great investment—as long as you pass the test.

See Penn State's AP course equivalencies for more details.

Can’t Conflict with Love, Presidentially Speaking

Academics can be a mundane world, until a juicy scandal excites it.

The president of the University of Chicago recently come under fire for romantic involvement with a member of faculty. An entire ethical debate has subsequently risen over whether this presented potential for a conflict of interest.

The board has stated it sees absolutely no problems with the romantic involvement between the president and the professor. According to the Chicago Tribune

The university has taken steps to ensure that Zimmer will not be involved in decisions about her salary or promotions, spokesman Steve Kloehn said. If there are questions that typically would go to the president, they will instead go to Alper [the chairman of the university's board of trustees].

Spanier's wife, Sandra Spanier, is a Penn State employee. The question arises: Does President Spanier come into direct contact with questions related to his wife? Does it give her an unfair advantage compared to the rest of the faculty? Should the board let someone as qualified a professor as Sandra Spanier go, just so we it can avoid a potential conflict of interest? In all cases, the answer is: probably not.

National Signing Day 2010 – How’d We Do?

It's been nearly a week since college football's National Signing day, when football recruits from coast to coast bring joy or break hearts via fax machine. Though the class of 2009 was hardly unimpressive, championships are a lot easier to win when the program acquires a large number of talented prospects in a short time. And now that the dust has settled, it's safe to say that Penn State has done exactly that.

Read on for a more detailed analysis, if you dare.


WWSFD: What Would Sigmund Freud Do?

The University of Alabama is having a...umm...long...err...stiff...ehmm...hard problem. Craig Wedderspoon, head of the sculpture program at UA, recently installed a 10-foot-tall sculpture entitled "Argyle". Wedderspoon saw it as an abstract artistic expression, which was all fine and dandy until people started trying to go past the abstract.

“We had a lot of people come by and comment ‘giant phallus,' ” said Wedderspoon, head of the sculpture program at UA's Department of Art. “When confronted with something abstract, we may not know what it is, it's curious how quickly it is we go to our sexual organs."

Yes Mr. Wedderspoon, curious indeed. Wedderspoon, who's previously had similar comments on his work, denies any (intentional) innuendo. It's a good thing that we don't have any statues like this on campus that could be potentially misconstrued. Oh wait...

Read on to get a closer look at Penn State's dirty statue.

IFC No Fan of State Patty’s Day, But So What?

After an embarrassing setback by the leak of his email to IFC presidents about the Penn State Pulse survey, IFC President Max Wendkos seems determined to his resolve in combating high-risk drinking. The question is whether it will matter.

The rules are no liquor, no wine, and no more than 50 nonmembers. Frankly, this will likely do less good than a similar proposal from the taverns or UPUA would. And later tonight we will see UPUA President Gavin Keirans lead his assembly in discussion of the holiday-- after he announces his veto on a piece of elections code legislation.

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