When college is about learning, not money

To life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness which Thomas Jefferson asserted are the unalienable rights of every man we would like to humbly add education.

Educators have been revered since the time of Plato, Socrates, and Jesus and those who impart their knowledge and wisdom to others are certainly following one of mankind’s noblest callings.

And while the idea of gathering teachers in one place where they can interact with their students is undoubtedly a good one, that idea begins to falter once the students stop being viewed as students and begin to be viewed instead as income streams for what has become the big business of education.

We have mentioned in this space before, the unregulated money grab that is the educational publishing industry, but the visit to the Volunteer State Community College campus by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) opened our eyes to another such scam which will be perpetrated on future generations of Vol State students.

Apparently, SACS has declared that student retention is an issue (yes, if the students leave school, the school no longer receives grant, loan or personal monies for tuition, books and fees) and thus has decreed that schools will take actions to encourage students to stay enrolled.

Vol State will be implementing two courses which all incoming students will be required to take (oh and by the way, pay for too).

Designated FYEX-1030 and FYEX-1030, the courses will, according to Vol State’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP),” provide students with the tools they need to be successful in the classroom and beyond.”

This is the sheerest form of gobbledy-gook.

At what point did it become the college’s responsibility to teach rudimentary skills such as note taking, studying, and even the three Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic) to incoming students.?

In fact, it is the responsibility of high schools (or even earlier) to prepare students for higher education.

And while encouraging students to want to go to college is certainly within the purview of community and regular colleges (remember that crop of money to be harvested from each pupil?) the fact is that not everyone is cut out to attend college.

Yes, the world needs doctors and lawyers, but it also needs plumbers, electricians and construction workers (and in greater numbers than it does the doctors and lawyers) too.

It was suggested earlier that education should be made one of those unalienable rights which Jefferson wrote about, but that education does not always have to end in a Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate degree.

Earning knowledge to live one’s life does not always have to consist of writing research papers and cramming all night for tests.

The knowledge which will enable one to make a respectful living can also be acquired by serving an apprenticeship or in the armed forces.

By definition, most of the students at an institute of higher learning are adults, ergo, they should be treated as such.

Students who are motivated enough to enroll and attend, certainly should know how to take notes, read and even maintain a check-book.

Yes, many of the students arriving on the Vol State campus lack those skills, but when did it become the college’s responsibility to instill them.

That is the job of Tennessee’s high (and even middle) schools.

Students should not graduate from high school until they are capable of reading critically, writing an appropriate analysis of written material and performing rudimentary mathematical calculations.

These are the baseline skills needed for the successful attendance at an institute of higher learning.

Accepting students without these skills is nothing short of theft and a waste of those students’ time.

Forcing them to attend FYEX-1030 and FYEX-1040 is just adding insult to injury by sucking more money from the unsuspecting marks.

Instead of conning these unprepared students out of their money, Vol State should be honest with them, tell them they aren’t prepared for college and that they should come back once they have acquired the appropriate skills to succeed in the college environment.

A kit, a kit, my kingdom for first aid kit

By Jim Hayes

It would appear, that as the average age of students on the Volunteer State Campus increases, steps must be taken in order to address the occasional health emergencies which will inevitably occur.

Evidence of this need can be clearly illustrated by an incident which occurred at the school just last Thursday.

I was sitting on the second floor of Caudill Hall taking an exam when I shed my jacket. Having just gotten to school from one of my three times a week dialysis treatments, I noticed that the bandage which covered my fistula (the spot on my lower left forearm through which the dialysis machine drains, cleans and replenishes my blood) was soaked with blood.

I asked the instructor to be excused from class then asked if there was a first aid kit in the building. My instructor asked two other professors and together, they determined that no such thing existed in that building.

No problem, I thought, I’ll go over to the office of the Campus Police Department. Surely there would be one there. No such luck, and after being told rather curtly not to drip blood on the counter top (certainly a compassionate gesture on behalf of the dispatcher), I took a seat on a chair at the table.

Chief Angela Lawson brought me a towel to rest my now vigorously bleeding arm on while the dispatcher called for an ambulance.

At this point, the story takes on a Keystone Kopsish turn because while an ambulance was dispatched to Volunteer State Community College, there was already an emergency vehicle just outside the door of the Police Department.

In fact, as the second emergency crew came into the building, a member of the first crew was already unwrapping, cleaning and rebandaging the affected area.

Now, here at The Settler, we try to never pose a problem without offering some sort of solution.

Therefore, in the interest of insuring the safety of our fellow students, we propose that at a minimum, each building on campus have a first aid kit in a common, easily identified location.

In fact, a better solution would be a first aid kit on each floor or even in each classroom.

My incident did not require intervention by EMT’s. In fact, I could have handled it myself with some gauze, water and adhesive tape.

Instead, I suspect I will receive a bill from Sumner County because the EMT’s scrambled for a largely unnecessary call. This is in no way a knock on the Vol State PD. They took the proper actions.

However, this situation should never have escalated to the level where an ambulance had to be called and it wouldn’t have had a basic first aid kit been available.

It is certainly time to make simple first aid supplies available to all Volunteer State Community College students regardless of their age.

Vol State Police have quiet 2018

By Jim Hayes

The Volunteer State Community College Police Department had a very quiet 2018 according to the department’s 2019 Annual Security Report (ASR).

The ASR is a federally mandated report submitted to the federal government each year detailing the number of 20 specific crimes which occurred on college campuses.

The four Vol State campuses were nearly crime free in 2018 according to the report. Just seven incidents, all on the Gallatin campus, made this year’s report.

By comparison, last year, the Vol State Police Department reported 14 incidents in 2017, 10 on the Gallatin campus and four on the Livingston campus.

Most of this year’s offenses (five) occurred on the public property surrounding the Gallatin campus. The other two were on the campus itself.

Of the five off campus incidents, four were drug arrests and one was the theft of a vehicle. The two on-campus arrests were for drug law violations.

The ASR is issued each year to comply with the Clery Act which requires college campuses to publish their crime policy and statistics.

Under the act, campuses must disclose crime statistics, issue campus alerts to inform the campus community about issues which may impact their health or safety.

It also requires that programs and campaigns to promote awareness of dating and domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. Those programs focus on prevention and awareness.

The ASR also contains information regarding procedures victims of dating or domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault should follow.

Institutional disciplinary procedures for those committing those crimes are also part of the report.

In addition to the SAR, the campus must submit crime statistics to the U.S. Department of Education.

The department must also publish a daily crime log of alleged criminal incidents which is open to public inspection.

The Clery Act was enacted in response to the rape and murder of 19-year-old Lehigh University student Jeanne Clery in 1986.

Clery’s parents believed that, had she known about violent crimes in the area, she would have been more cautious.

According to the SAR, only four percent of colleges and universities reported campus crime to the FBI before the law was enacted.

Newspapers defend freedoms which define US

By Jim Zachary

Newspapers protect your First Amendment rights

With just 45 words the founders guaranteed five — no six — basic freedoms, fundamental American rights.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, was ratified to protect freedom, to ensure liberty and to define the Republic.

These fundamental rights of freedom declare what it means to be an American.

As Americans, we are guaranteed:

— The right to freely practice religion — The right to exercise the freedom of speech — The right of a free press — The right to peaceably assemble in protest — The right to petition the government for a redress of grievances — And the sixth — implied — right: The right to know, viz. the freedom of information.

It stands to reason that if the press is free to hold government accountable, if all people are free to openly express their opinions about government, to assemble in protest of government and to petition the government for grievances against it, that we also have a fundamental right to always know what government is up to.

Newspapers have a long and important legacy protecting the public’s right to know.

In that way, newspapers have always mattered.

The work newspapers do in communities has always been important.

However newspapers have never mattered more or been more important.

In 1841, Thomas Carlyle wrote about the power of the press, conjuring the words of Edmond Burke: “Burke said there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all.”

Burke may have been chiding the press for its sense of itself, but Carlyle used his words to write about the importance of newspapers to democracy.

In an often-quoted letter to Edward Carrington, Thomas Jefferson wrote that if he were to have to choose between “a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

Democracy is best served when the newspaper provides checks and balances as the Fourth Estate of government. Newspapers are not the enemy of government — rather they are the champions of ordinary men and women.

Newspapers are the most powerful advocate the public can have and for that reason should always provide an open forum for a redress of grievances and public expression.

Newspapers hold government accountable because at our very core we believe that government belongs to the governed and not to the governing.

If newspapers do not stand up for the public, protect the rights of free speech and the rights of access to government, then no one will.

The provisions of the First Amendment do not exist to protect the press. Rather, the press exists to help protect those freedoms.

Far from being the enemy of the people, the province of a free and unfettered press is to help keep government in check and to defend the public against any assault on the five — no six — basic American rights of freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment.

CNHI Deputy National Editor Jim Zachary is CNHI’s regional editor for its Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Texas newspapers and editor of the Valdosta (Ga.) Daily Times. He is the vice-president of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation. He can be reached at jzachary@cnhi.com

This is one gold star you don’t want

By Jim Hayes

Typically, this space is reserved for commentary about items which it is thought will resonate with Volunteer State Community College students.

Not so, this week. This week we will attempt to reach an audience that likely includes some of our students, but this message is more likely to connect with Vol State’s faculty and staff.

Yesterday was Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day.

It is a day set aside to remember the families who will never again see their sons or daughters who died in service of this country.

The gold star has been around for a long time.

In 1918, the Woman’s Committee of National Defense suggested to President Woodrow Wilson that the mothers of soldiers killed in World War I be allowed to wear a black armband upon which was embroidered a gold star.

In 1936, the United States Congress officially designated the last Sunday in September as “Gold Star Mother’s Day.” President Barrack Obama expanded the gold star designation to include all family members in 2009.

But somehow, its commemoration has fallen through the cracks. Perhaps the American people feel that paying their respects on Memorial and Veterans Days is enough (although, those days are more often marked with cookouts and pool parties rather than commemorations of those who served this country).

However, the Gold Star mothers and their families are still here and still grieving.

Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving dinners are still celebrated. But there will always be the feeling that something is missing. Each birthday passes, but there is no longer anyone to bake a cake for, or to hug and congratulate for making it through another year.

This has to be a special kind of torture. One borne silently. The missing family member unacknowledged yet never forgotten.

It is a familial sacrifice, yet one that barely registers on anyone’s radar.

Well, for the record, it made a big blip on ours.

You have our condolences, our sympathy and, if needed, our shoulder to cry on.

Your son or daughter made their sacrifice and yours will go on for the rest of your life.

Nothing will ever replace that empty spot at holidays and birthdays, but know that you will always have our ungarnished gratitude.