The Privilege of Language – “Lingua Franca” blog by Lucy Ferriss

The Chronicle of Higher Education

When Governor Matt Bevin of Kentucky announced that he opposed public funding for humanities curricula, citing the study of French language and literature in particular as a discipline he’d like to take off the table, a hailstorm of criticism ensued. “The study of world languages, literatures and cultures is a valuable pursuit that has led countless college students to successful careers,” wrote Jeffrey N. Peters, a professor of French at the University of Kentucky. “At this moment of rapid globalization, majors in our department learn to become well-rounded citizens of the world.”

In fact, Bevin wasn’t suggesting that studying French can’t lead to a successful career. He argued that preparation for those careers, or working toward the goal of “understanding the world around us,” as one local columnist put it, is not the purview of public education. “The purpose of public education and of public dollars going into education,” he said on July 26, “is to ensure that people who need to hire people to do work actually have the skills necessary.”…


In winning U.S. House primary, Ilhan Omar breaks barriers and sets an example – Op-Ed by Stefanie Chambers

Star Tribune (Minnesota)

Ilhan Omar’s victory Aug. 14 in the DFL primary for Congress is a cause for celebration. Her triumph is especially gratifying for those in Minnesota and beyond who value opportunity and democratic inclusion.

Omar is well-positioned to become the first Somali-American and female Muslim member of the U.S. House. Moreover, she may enter the House with another Muslim woman, Rashida Tlaib, who won a Democratic primary in Michigan.

Omar’s political rise from state representative to congressional candidate implores us to consider how she achieved so much political success — against the backdrop of rising hostile and hate-filled rhetoric aimed at both Somalis and Muslim Americans — in a few short years.

In 2016 Omar was elected to the Minnesota Legislature, becoming the first Somali-American elected to a state house. She was an against-the-odds candidate, because Somali-Americans are often viewed with suspicion even in the communities they call home. Her election provided the media with a positive story about new Americans thriving in our democracy…

Stefanie Chambers is professor of political science and chair at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., and author of “Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus: Immigrant Incorporation in New Destinations,” published by Temple University Press. She is producing the documentary “Dreaming in Somali: New Americans in the Twin Cities.”


“The Museum of the Old Colony”: Inaugural Reception and Artist’s Talk

Repeating Islands

Hampshire College Art Gallery will hold the inaugural reception for Pablo Delano’s art installation “The Museum of the Old Colony” on September 20, 2018, from 5:00 to 7:00pm. On September 27, 5:30 to 7:00pm, the artist and educator (who teaches at Trinity College) will deliver an “Artist’s Talk” at the gallery. The exhibition is on view until November 11, 2018. Hampshire College Art Gallery is located at 893 West Street, Amherst, Massachusetts.

Description: The Museum of the Old Colony, a conceptual art installation by Hartford-based artist Pablo Delano, derives its name in part from a U.S. brand of soft drink named Old Colony, popular in Puerto Rico since the 1950s. Old Colony (the beverage) remains available at island groceries and restaurants in two flavors: grape and pineapple. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico endures 523 years of ongoing colonial rule – first under Spain, now the U.S, since 1898. The island, officially defined as an “unincorporated territory of the United States,” is widely regarded as the world’s oldest colony…


The Democratic Party Just Reduced the Role of Superdelegates. How Much Will It Matter?

Mother Jones

The Democratic National Committee voted on August 25 to reduce the role of so-called superdelegates—high-profile party figures who are not elected as delegates—and potentially their power over the process of determining the Democratic presidential nominee. Superdelegates will still exist under the new reforms and can endorse candidates, but they will only get to cast a vote in the rare event of a contested convention.

The old system caused sharp intra-party conflict during the 2016 presidential primaries. Many supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders felt that superdelegates’ early and overwhelming support for Hillary Clinton unfairly created a sense of Clinton’s inevitability as the nominee, in effect rigging the system in favor of the party establishment.

Passions ran high on both sides in the run-up to the reform vote. One pro-Sanders activist even fasted for a week, calling the move a physical expression of her hunger for change. For their part, some influential Democrats strongly resisted the change, which was pushed by DNC Chairman Tom Perez. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said the move would “disenfranchise” some current superdelegates.

For some context on what this change could mean for Democrats, Mother Jones spoke with Diana Evans, a political science professor at Trinity College who studies party politics.

Mother Jones: How much did the DNC’s rule change have to do with the 2016 primaries?

Diana Evans: I think it was a direct response. The party is really very focused on trying to unify its progressive and more establishment or moderate wings. It seems to me that it is a response to try to make sure that whoever wins the next primary, all Democrats are going to unite behind that person…


How to Make Our Institutions More Accessible – By Dr. Angel B. Perez

Diverse Issues in Higher Education

In his book The Uses of the University, Clark Kerr, former president of the University of California, reminds us that “as society goes, so goes the university.” It is true that as the nation changes, so must higher education, and America is undergoing rapid demographic transformation. The students coming up the educational pipeline are the most diverse in American history, creating tremendous opportunity for colleges and universities to train and support these students — the future leaders of our nation.

While higher education is abuzz with goals of cultivating greater access and success for historically underrepresented groups, many institutions still engage in practices that work against these goals. If we are truly going to open our doors wider, we can’t do so without transforming our own policies and practices. Here are a few ways to move the needle…

Dr. Angel B. Perez is Vice President for Enrollment and Student Success at Trinity College in Hartford, CT.