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Editor’s note The Battalion will resume publishing Aug. 24 during Gig ‘em Week

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thebattalion ● monday,

august 8, 2011

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campus A&M cuts back on energy In a memo to the campus community, President Loftin asked to help conserve energy on campus for the remainder of August. Loftin said to shut off all unneeded lights in offices, classrooms and lab areas. Building space temperatures in non-critical areas should be set back to 78 F, from the 75 F campus standard at 3 p.m. everyday. Connie Thompson, staff writer

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Pilot’s confused landing HOUSTON — A Mexican military helicopter has landed in Texas by mistake. U.S. Customs and Border Protection says the helicopter landed Saturday afternoon at Laredo International Airport after the pilot mistook the airport for a landing strip in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Laredo Port of Entry spokeswoman Mucia Dovalina said customs agents checked out the helicopter’s occupants .

nation &world Rescue mission goes bad KABUL, Afghanistan — The U.S. Navy SEALs and other troops whose helicopter was shot down in eastern Afghanistan had rushed to the mountainous area to help a U.S. Army Ranger unit that was under fire from insurgents, two U.S. officials said Sunday. The rescue team had completed the mission, subduing the attackers who had the Rangers pinned down, and were departing in their Chinook helicopter when the aircraft was apparently hit, one of the officials said. Thirty Americans and 8 Afghans were killed in the crash, making it the deadliest single loss for U.S. forces in the decade-long war in Afghanistan. Associated Press

What’s in a grade? College transcripts are a poor measure in politics Taylor Wolken The Battalion


he release of Governor and potential presidential candidate Rick Perry’s Texas A&M transcript set off a media frenzy this weekend as commentators and columnists feasted on the underwhelming scores.

While releases like this make for fun facts and cute analysis it should be asked, “Why should we care?” College scores can be a great indicator of skill right out of college. They’re helpful for getting into graduate school and ascending the ivory tower, and they indicate a student’s proficiency in each subject. When evaluating a 61-year-old potential presidential candidate low grades are both meaningless and not uncommon. George W. Bush joked about being a C student at Yale with a four-year average of 77. The “complex” John Kerry had a four-year average of 76 also at Yale. While Rick Perry, the face

of the Texas economy, received a D in principles of economics, Al Gore, the face of global warming, received a D in Natural Sciences his sophomore year and a C-plus in natural sciences his senior year at Harvard. The Washington Post said in 2000, “[Gore’s] generally middling college grades at Harvard in fact bear a close resemblance to the corresponding Yale marks of his presidential opponent, George W. Bush.” The point isn’t to deride Bush, Kerry, Gore or Perry, but that college transcripts are only a snapshot of a person’s life. Transcripts may give you a glimpse of Perry the student but they tell little about Governor Perry. Drawing conclusions from information al-

most four decades old is a fool’s errand. It would be just as absurd to assess college students by when they began walking. It would be nonsensical to observe that Rick Perry earned a D in economics as a democrat while as a Republican governor, Texas has created 37 percent of all-net new jobs in America since the recovery began according to Richard Fisher of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. While we’re using old information to draw ridiculous conclusions it should be obvious that Perry is smarter and more driven than the college dropout Bill Gates. The perversion of Perry’s 39-year-old tranSee Grades on page 3


Graduates ready for commencement Jared Baxter

Osa Okundaye — THE BATTALION

Whether it be football, basketball, baseball or any sport out there, the longstanding rivalry between Texas A&M and The University of Texas never fails to cause a stir amongst fans. In the modern age of Facebook and Twitter, the competition extends beyond the playing field and onto the Internet. Aggies can show their pride on Facebook by visiting where U.T. holds a 317,143 to 285,011 lead in “likes.” U.T.’s The Daily Texan newspaper currently edges The Battalion in number of “likes” on Facebook 2,918 to 2,440. To tip the scales in favor of A&M, visit the official Battalion Facebook page and click “like.” Readers can also follow @thebattonline to receive the latest news and updates via Twitter.

The Battalion More than 1,800 Aggies are set to graduate this week, and it all starts Thursday with a commencement convocation address by Aggie Head Football Coach Mike Sherman. Having spoken to a variety of groups on campus during his time at A&M, Sherman will make his address at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in Rudder Auditorium. “Coach Sherman is an extraordinary individual in addition to being an exceptional coach and leader of young men, and he has thoroughly embraced the Aggie Spirit and all the traditions that we hold dear,” Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin said when announcing Sherman’s selection as the University’s summer convocation speaker. “He will undoubtedly bring a message that will be inspiring and well received by our degree candidates, their families and others attending commencement convocation.” Senior Corps member and former Aggie Band Drum Major Austin Welty will be in attendance to hear Sherman’s prelude speech before receiving his diploma on Friday. “I’ve really enjoyed listening to him speak. You can tell he has a lot of passion for the school,” Welty said. “He has a lot of great things


Thanks & Gig ’em ◗ Graduation ceremonies will be at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Friday at Reed Arena.

See Speech on page 3

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8/7/11 9:30 PM


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Grades due


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Construction update Crocker, Moore and McInnis Halls are being torn down and the first dormitory to be built in 22 years will replace the three dorms. The new The five-story facility will house 640 beds and 272 dorm rooms. Completion is set for June 2013.


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Taylor Wolken, Editor in Chief THE BATTALION (ISSN #1055-4726) is published daily, Monday through Friday during the fall and spring semesters and Monday through Thursday during the summer session (except University holidays and exam periods) at Texas A&M University. Periodicals Postage Paid at College Station, TX 77840. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The Battalion, Texas A&M University, 1111 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-1111. News: The Battalion news department is managed by students at Texas A&M University in Student Media, a unit of the Division of Student Affairs. News ofďŹ ces are in The Grove, Bldg. 8901. Newsroom phone: 979-845-3313; Fax: 979-845-2647; E-mail:; website: Advertising: Publication of advertising does not imply sponsorship or endorsement by The Battalion. For campus, local, and national display advertising, call 979-845-2696. For classiďŹ ed advertising, call 979-845-0569. Advertising ofďŹ ces are in The Grove, Bldg. 8901, and ofďŹ ce hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Fax: 979-845-2678. Subscriptions: A part of the Student Services Fee entitles each Texas A&M student to pick up a single copy of The Battalion. First copy free, additional copies $1. Mail subscriptions are $125 per school year. To charge by Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express, call 979-845-2613.

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to say, and he’s brought a lot of fantastic things to the football program. Not only on the football field as a team, but I believe he also brings a lot of character and a lot of devotion to the game.” Welty commissions the day of his graduation and will head to Quantico, Virginia as part of the Marine Corps in March for six months of training. The A-Company brigade member and history major plans to work in the military the next four to five years and plans to see how things pan out. “I could see myself doing a military career and doing twenty or thirty years there,” Welty said. Being the Aggie drum major and leader of the A&M marching band was one of the “most cherished experiences” of Welty’s life, but even with it all now coming to an official end, he’s ready to move forward. “It’s definitely bittersweet. I love being in the Corps. Just like anything you do, there are parts of it you don’t like. The friendships that I’ve built, the relationships that I’ve built, are going to last a lifetime. The lessons that I’ve learned from the Corps are going to help me without a doubt and I’m grateful for the experience. I’m going to miss it at times, but part of life is taking what you learned and moving on.” With more than 30 cadets expected to be sworn in as military officers, Welty will be one of several graduates leaving for far-away places. And like many who leave college, he wants to stay in touch no matter the distance. “I’ve got friends that are going to all four corners of the world, and I plan on keeping in contact with them the best that I can.”

Grades Continued from page 1




Puzzle answers can be found on pg. 4

Pg. 3-08-08-11.indd 1

script is a manifestation of ivory-tower elitism at its worst. This pervasive dogma tells us that our measured academic achievement during a fouryear period is more important than all our life lessons. It’s absurd considering real world employers rarely care about college grades after a graduate’s first job. In the real world, a college degree quickly becomes nothing more than a checkmark among more important items like work history and special skills. This dogma would have us believe Rick Perry’s D in Shakespeare is more relevant than a record consisting of years as a state legislator, agriculture commissioner, lieutenant governor, and almost a decade as governor. This dogma implies that Rick Perry’s C in gym matters more than issues like Gardasil, the Trans-Texas corridor and the seven solutions for higher education. This culture of elitism is the reason every administration has a parade of eggheads running back and forth between Washington, D.C. and the ivory tower. These experts and policy wonks are evaluated on academics by academics more often than unemployment rates and economic growth. That’s not to say we don’t need eggheads and policy wonks, every politician has them, but when evaluating a leader, an F in organic chemistry is far less important than the decisions made after graduation. As the longest-serving current governor of the secondlargest state economy, Perry has relevant points of criticism. His college transcript is not one of them.

8/7/11 8:58 PM


page 4 monday 8.8.2011

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EDITOR’SNOTE The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the various authors and forum participants in this paper do not necessarily reflect those of Texas A&M University, The Battalion or its staff.

MAILCALL GUESTCOLUMNS Make your opinion known by submitting Mail Call or guest columns to The Battalion. Mail

call must be fewer than 200 words and include the author’s name, classification, major and phone number. Staff and faculty must include title. Guest columns must be fewer than 700 words. All submissions should focus on issues not personalities, become property of The Battalion and are subject to editing for style, clarity and space concerns. Anonymous letters will be read,

but not printed. The Battalion will print only one letter per author per month. No mail call will appear in The Battalion’s print or online editions before it is verified. Direct all correspondence to: Editor in chief of The Battalion (979) 845-3315

Taylor Wolken: Seven breakthrough solutions: Part 4


reakthrough solution numberr four is straightforward, “Require Evidence of Teaching Skill for Tenure.” The title simultaneously projects an animosity toward tenured professors while rbackhandedly implying that univerhaps sities award tenure arbitrarily, perhaps throwing darts at a board. There is little instruction on how this The second and last step for implewould be implemented but what is sugmenting solution number four once again gested has a magical, pulling a rabbit out of involves student satisfaction ratings. It states: a hat feeling. “Average teaching ratings must be a minThe first step for implementation redunimum of 4.5 on a 5.0 scale. Limits might dantly titled, “Require Evidence of Teachbe placed on the number of A’s and B’s ing Skill for Tenure,” states: awarded if the efficacy of customer (student) “The majority of new tenure appointsatisfaction ratings are questioned.” ments (say 75 percent) will be granted to How does one decide on 4.5? Rabprofessors who have proven that they can bit. Hat. How many professors meet that teach well by having taught on average standard? Is that reasonable or absurd? Do three classes per semester and thirty students faculty ratings change on average by departper class for the seven or more years that a ment, class difficulty or institution? teacher is on the tenure track.” Why are we using the student satis“Say 75 percent?” Is there any faction ratings as such an integral better way to establish your part of the metric when their Solution numbers are entirely made up? credibility is questioned? Is number four And why would only 75 limiting the number of A’s is to “Require percent of professors receiving and B’s really going to make Evidence of tenure be required to meet them more credible or just Teaching Skill the requirements of tenure? deflate the teachers ratings? for Tenure.” It’s hard to take any other Furthermore, if limiting the numbers seriously after pulling a number of A’s and B’s is going 75 percent rabbit out of your hat but to change the way students rate let’s think about the other suggestions. teachers isn’t that admitting that just Teaching three classes per semester on getting a good grade is a significant part of average goes after professors primarily how students evaluate teachers? That undervested in research. This seems consistent mines the entire purpose of using student with the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s evaluations in the first place. views on research. However, A&M is a top The seven solutions keep trying to impletier public research university. It’s hard to ment static measures on dynamic activities implement an idea that goes against a priand place far too much weight on student mary function of Texas A&M. evaluations. Furthermore what about research? TeachYou can’t cobble together bits of inforing three classes and doing research is better mation, throw in a few arbitrary numerical than just teaching three classes but why standards, add in a student survey and call bother with research if class time is all that it a breakthrough solution. It’s far more counts? How does that affect our graduate similar to a note scribbled on a dirty napkin students and the status of Texas A&M? than a breakthrough solution. Call number Teaching thirty or more students penalfour a bust. izes professors who teach smaller but necessary classes. Upper level classes are smaller, Taylor Wolken is a junior economics major and nursing classes are smaller. Is teaching three editor-in-chief of The Battalion. classes with 30 people really more efficient than two with 60? This all seems arbitrary.

Puzzle Answers Pg. 4-08.08.11.indd 1

8/7/11 8:52 PM

The Battalion: August 8, 2011