Crop Tops Cropped from College, Education = Reparations?, Academic Rejection vs Other Kinds

+ UT-Austin signs tell women how to dress so as not to be distracting and, according to Jezebel, crop tops are out.

Here are the things you cannot wear, if you want to learn to be a nurse at the University of Texas:

Midriff-baring shirts
Low-rise pants
Low-cut shirts that reveal cleavage

My K-12 religious school had a dress code that prohibited all of these things and I still feel funny if I wear them. My mind has been warped forever on the issue of modesty, which means I can’t be trusted to know whether this is egregious. Dress codes! Always unfair, if they’re only targeted at women? Justified in a context that has something to do with God, or taxes, or death? Can we trust students at a certain age to know how to dress appropriately and/or to not get life-threateningly distracted by a glimpse of skin?

+ Uh oh. STEM magic doesn’t work as well for black folks.

More broadly, education is not a panacea and definitely not a replacement for reparations, argues the sociologist and academic Tressie McMillan Cottom in the Washington Post:

Black recent college graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors have fared somewhat better [than their peers], but still suffer from high unemployment and underemployment rates. For example, for the years 2010 to 2012, among black recent graduates with degrees in engineering, the average unemployment rate was 10 percent and the underemployment rate was 32 percent.

No matter what black college grads do, as a group they are the most sensitive to every negative macro labor market trend. (The report has comparative data.) They are more likely to be unemployed, underemployed, and hold low quality jobs even when they have STEM degrees. I point out that last bit because apparently STEM will save us all or something.

In other words, as the JDs might say, educations is necessary but not sufficient. Access to the basic guarantees of citizenship was always intended to be “a means and not the ends.” She argues that “Degrees cannot fix the cumulative effect of structural racism. In fact, over five decades of social science research shows that education reproduces inequality.” It’s heavy but important stuff, and McMillan Cottom makes it irrefutable.

+ Is academic rejection more acute and painful than other kinds? One very sad PhD argues, with the support of her colleagues, that it is almost uniquely devastating.

One reader, “David,” explained that those who “yearn to teach, write, and research find this work to be the highest expression of who they are — so rejection is a rejection of who they are, at the deepest, most fundamental level.” Liana Silva-Ford, a recent Ph.D. who is now the editor in chief ofWomen in Higher Education, concurred: In academe, “the job rejections felt personal; I had heard again and again that I was good at what I did and I believed my work was worthy of funding. Every rejection felt like a big fat ‘no’ to each of those questions.” Another reader, “Elise,” described the academic search as a “a referendum on my intelligence.” And, she said, as intellect was “the thing that has held me afloat all these years,” that referendum couldn’t help but feel overwhelming.

Commenters back her up with cry-til-you-laugh stories about campus jobs they applied for when LBJ was president:

I’m still waiting for some official response from a college at which I interviewed for a teaching position more than 25 years ago. It was an on-campus 3-day interview. I’m thinking I didn’t get the job.


One might think that completing your doctoral thesis, or having a paper accepted for publication, or a grant funded, would be an occasion for celebration and affirmation; but in my experience, in the vast majority of these cases, instead of feeling “Yay! I’m awesome!”, the feeling is more like “Thank god that’s f*cking over”. The processes we go through to get a thesis defended or paper accepted of achieve tenure are so punishing and brutal that they are ego bruising even when they are successful. When even our victories usually feel crushing, it’s not surprising that our rejections are soul-battering.

Should I go to grad school? Signs point to no.