Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Many thanks to Stephanie Fairyington, a talented writer who pointed out these two pieces that she penned: the first one is at The Progressive, and is about how she is reluctant to marry her girlfriend of three years even though gay marriage is legal in their home state of New York. I am curious if any of you have been with long-time partners who have chosen not to tie the knot? Please do discuss!

The second story is at The Atlantic and also deals with relationships, although this one questions whether romances are really mutual. Again, a good read.

Our fearless executive director at wrote a poignant piece for the Huffington Post about the controversy around contraceptives today and the history of birth control in this country in general. Also at MomsRising: I just put together my first blog carnival — this one for Black History Month. I am so proud of the stories we are featuring — everything from the personal to the political. I’d appreciate it if you hit that “like” button on the blog carnival itself or any of the posts and shared with your loved ones. Thanks!

Affirmative action is in the news (again), this time, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case having to do with the University of Texas. Just to show you how structural racism is, I am wondering where is the outrage and Supreme Court hearing regarding legacy systems, brownie points for knowing the guy who donated to the school library and other boosts in the admissions process?

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


University of Illinois Rocked by Scandal

In one of the biggest non-news stories in that this has been going on for so long it is embarrassing the press is just catching on, the Chicago Tribune ran an expose of the corrupt University of Illinois system that accepts less qualified students just because of who they know — like Tony Rezko. I mean, who knew?

From the Associated Press:

But the truth is, many universities — public and private alike — give special treatment to some degree to the sons and daughters of big donors, politicians, trustees and others with control over the school’s purse strings or other clout, admissions experts say.

“The admissions offices are essentially being held over a barrel,” said David Hawkins of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. “How can they really say no when the directives come from the very top of the institution?”

Whether formalized or not, “virtually every selective college, public or private, has some kind of list” like the one maintained by the University of Illinois, said Daniel Golden, whose 2006 book “The Price of Admission” exposed admissions practices that favored well-connected applicants.

Golden’s reporting focused mostly on elite private universities like Duke, Stanford, Brown and Harvard. But the Illinois story shows how far “the problem goes of colleges essentially trading admissions slots for favors,” he said. “Here you have a flagship state institution essentially making a lot of slots available to candidates who aren’t as strong as some they reject.”

What bugs me is back in the late ’90s, much hoopla was made over less qualified minorities and low-income students thanks to a series of high-profile lawsuits by more affluent and caucasian families. The University of Michigan law school and both California and Texas university systems had to reverse their affirmative action policies. But nothing was made of legacy systems or that pesky question asked in most college applications over the “optional” race category, “Who do you know has gone to this institution?” Or, letters of recommendation written by high-profile people.

Finally, it isn’t the poor students who are being picked on by the media.


Weekend Open Thread

Just as I suspected: The real affirmative action in this country is old money.

About 15 percent of freshmen enrolled at America’s most exclusive colleges are white teens who did not meet the schools’ basic admission requirements, according to the Boston Globe. So what did these schools see in these kids? Dollar signs.

Who are these mediocre white students getting into institutions such as Harvard, Wellesley, Notre Dame, Duke, and the University of Virginia? A sizable number are recruited athletes who, research has shown, will perform worse on average than other students with similar academic profiles, mainly as a result of the demands their coaches will place on them.

A larger share, however, are students who gained admission through their ties to people the institution wanted to keep happy, with alumni, donors, faculty members, administrators, and politicians topping the list.

These kids were twice as likely to get an admissions packet than blacks and Hispanics who received a break on their ethnicity or race.

This is infuriating to me. How often have we heard news stories about unqualified minorities making it on campus — making it seem like none of us deserve to be there. At least one friend in high school stung me with, “It must be nice to be a minority“ when I received my admissions letters before her. How insulting.

Nip and Tuck: The New York Times ran one of those yuppy trend stories about moms getting plastic surgery.

Aimed at mothers, it usually involves a trifecta: a breast lift with or without breast implants, a tummy tuck and some liposuction. The procedures are intended to hoist slackened skin as well as reduce stretch marks and pregnancy fat.

“The severe physical trauma of pregnancy, childbirth and breast-feeding can have profound negative effects that cause women to lose their hourglass figures,“ he said. His practice, Marina Plastic Surgery Associates, maintains a Web site,, which describes the surgeries required to overhaul a postpregnancy body.

I am sticking with the same plastic surgeon I had with Ari: the treadmill.

Another Rosie Drama: Rosie O’Donnell claimed Barbara Walters fired her, and that the show told its View ladies what to say.

O’Donnell said that the ladies on “The View“ wore earpieces, according to the article. She also claimed that producers told the panelists what to say through the devices. Rosie also reportedly told the Comix audience she refused to wear one during her time on “The View.“

The outspoken former TV host also made another shocking claim — that she and Walters were once close enough that Walters suggested a name-brand, personal lubricant for O’Donnell’s use — Astroglide. Rosie told the Comix audience that the suggestion took her by surprise, Rush & Molloy reported.

TMI, Rosie!

What else is in the news? What are you up to this weekend?