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Wednesday, July 23, 2014 | Last updated: 12:53pm

Cat Tracks: November 15



Trending up:

Small screen stereotypes: False perceptions of professors come from watching too much TV, says one study.

On the small screen, professors are usually portrayed as old, boring, white and mean, according to research by Barbara F. Tobolowsky, an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Arlington.

This portrayal on TV may lead students entering college to expect that their instructors will be intimidating or hostile.

“A lot of research shows that, particularly for young people, if they don’t have other information sources, they rely more on what they see in television content,” Tobolowsky said in an interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education. “They learn early that faculty aren’t friendly, that they aren’t helpful.”

We’re not sure if all of the examples Tobolowsky cited were fitting — Mr. Feeny from “Boy Meets World” was definitely not boring — but the research does raise interesting questions about TV’s reflection of diverse college faculty.

Increasing Salary equality: Salaries of women and minorities among community college presidents are on the way up, despite trends in other professions.

A study by the American Association of Community Colleges found that women, on average, earned higher base salaries than men at two-year institutions. Hispanic and black presidents also earned more than white presidents.

The report notes that further research is needed in order to truly understand how ethnicity factors into community college presidents’ salaries. Nonetheless, it’s encouraging to see the playing field leveling out, at least on some college campuses.

Trending down:

Racism: Blackface is still a thing, apparently. You’d think in this day and age it wouldn’t be, but it is. At least it’s trending down.

Duke University issued an apology this week for a photograph that appeared on the university’s official athletics website The photo showed members of the women’s lacrosse team, one in blackface.

In a statement, head coach Kerstin Kimel said: “The Duke women’s lacrosse program celebrates Halloween with an annual gathering. This year, some of our costume choices were insensitive and entirely inappropriate. No offense was intended, but that does not matter because we should have realized how these choices would be viewed by those outside of our program.”

No argument with that. Although the costume and the photo were regrettable decisions, we’re glad more people are realizing costumes that perpetuate racial stereotypes are never OK.

Scaring students: Scare tactics as training drills don’t work, period. North Lake College, a community college in Texas, held a drill last month in order to practice how to deal with a shooter situation on campus.

But, as local news outlets reported, few faculty members read the email warning them about the training program and encouraging them to tell students about it. Most students were unaware the drill would take place, and as a result, many people believed there was a real shooter on campus and made frantic calls to 9-1-1.

Isn’t it weird that you can email faculty, but not students, to warn them about a safety drill? Go figure.


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