Thursday, October 29, 2015

UGA Overreach?

Can UGA tell students what they can wear off campus?

Obvious answer -- no.

But there's this story today, an interesting one by OnlineAthens, in which an email was sent to sorority members at UGA from the administration warning them about the so-called Frat Beach, an infamous booze-filled beach gathering before the Georgia-Florida game. The email was from Panhellenic, which is basically the administration of Greek Life. Lemme quote a few of the most tasty bits of the email:
3) NO LETTERS, SYMBOLS, #’S, OR ANYTHING THAT REPRESENTS YOUR SORORITY. Your sorority will be held accountable for it’s members and will be subject to Panhellenic Standards.
First, Panhellenic, learn the difference between its and it's. Also, enough with the all-caps. It's amateurish. And second, I'm fairly certain it's a violation of the First Amendment for you to enforce a dress code off campus. They're at a beach, not a university function. If an individual sorority wants to say no letters, that's one thing and perfectly acceptable, but you can't enforce it.

And there's more
4) Hold yourself and your friends accountable. (Buddy System). Never let someone roam around alone and go with someone everywhere - even to the bathroom. “Two is better than one” ;) Don’t forgot to help people in need - we are a community; we should have EVERYONE’S BACKS!
Dear Panhellenic: You're allowed the use of three exclamation points in your entire career. You just used one of them. Plus the call-caps thing. Just stop. And my favorite reminders to UGA sorority ladies.
And finally, there's this gem that manages to use, yet again, an exclamation point while also being nauseatingly nauseating.
6) “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” does not apply in St. Simons or Jacksonville. You are always representing Panhellenic, your sorority, and more importantly, UGA!
But other than mocking an email, the real issue to me is whether or not Panhellenic can order what can and cannot be worn at a beach in south Georgia before a football game. I get a chapter saying its members should not wear the letters, and I might even buy into a Panhellenic vote on such a thing by representatives of chapters or houses, but I don't buy you can get away with telling via an email what they can and cannot wear -- unless it's a UGA function. And maybe not even then.

Of course I could be wrong, but I find this fascinating while also disturbing, so remember this sorority gals -- all urination must be in private.

Apparently you need to be reminded of this.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

UGA State of Origiin

Fresh data, fresh analyses. I'm looking here at changes in what state undergrads at UGA were from, comparing Fall 2000 to Fall 2015.

Why? Because I like to, dammit.

First blush table below, looking at states other than Georgia and how they ranked in 2000 and 2015. Keep in mind these are only undergrads, only fall semesters. You'll see some big changes, which I'll discuss below the table.

Fall 2000
Fall 2015
South Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina
South Carolina
New Jersey
New York
New York

My main takeaways from this table?

  • Neighboring states like S.C. and Tennessee dropped. South Carolina plummeted from 1st back in Fall 2000 to 7th by Fall 2015. I'll get to why below, or at least my hypothesis as to why. 
  • North Carolina went from 4th to 1st. It's kinda close geographically, but more on perhaps why below.
  • Texas zoomed from 8th to 2nd, and California climbed from 18th in 2000 to 10th. New Jersey climbed as well, from 13th to 9th. Others moved up, like Virginia. Again, my hypothesis below.
  • A few dropped out. Louisiana was 6th in 2000, down to 12th by 2015.

OK, but why? I blame UGA's rising academic stature, which attracts more competitive students from states other than the neighboring ones. But -- and this is also important -- states like Texas and North Carolina have their own highly competitive schools, so UGA may be benefiting from spillover. That leaves a lot of students from South Carolina and Tennessee unable to compete academically from kids from these other states. That's my hypothesis, but testing it is another matter.

A few more numbers, if you're so inclined.

  • As you might expect, South Carolina had the biggest drop in students, 158 fewer in 2015 than in 2000 at UGA.
  • Next in line was Alabama (106 fewer), then Louisiana (87), Tennessee (73) and Kentucky (21).
  • Texas had the biggest increase (137), followed by Maryland (121), North Carolina (98), New Jersey (67), and Virginia (50). 
  • If you prefer percentage change from 2000 to 2015, the biggest loser among the states is Alabama (-63.1 percent) and South Carolina (-55.4 percent). This excludes really small states where one or two people can make a huge percentage difference. 
  • The biggest percentage winners were Maryland (252.1 percent, wow), California (162.1 percent), and New Jersey (119.1 percent).

Biggest Winners & Losers

I wrote yesterday about the top 10 ranked counties in sending undergrads to UGA from Fall 2000 and Fall 2015. Read it first. Brilliant stuff. OK, not brilliant, but helpful for getting into what comes next. As I mentioned in the previous post, you can see certain counties took off (Forsyth, for example) over that 15-year span. Others ranked in 2000 disappeared in 2015 (Bibb, for example).  Now let's look at percentage change over time.

First, a caveat. I warn my students about small numbers and percent change. If a county sent only 2 students to UGA in 2000 but 4 in 2015, that's a 100 percent increase, but small numbers like this make percentage change kinda meaningless. So below I'm talking about percentage change of counties that send a substantive number of students to UGA.


  • I mentioned Forsyth County before, with a 920-student change from Fall 2000 to Fall 2015, that's a 460 percent increase. Stunning.
  • Paulding County, a 149-student increase, for 199 percent increase.
  • Cherokee, up 377 students, for a 139 percent increase.
  • Coweta, up 189 students, a 135 percent increase.
  • And finally Henry, up 188 students, a 96 percent increase.
What do these above have in common? They're all Atlanta burbs/exurbs.


  • Elbert County sent 45 fewer students to UGA in 2015 as compared to 2000, for a 64 percent decrease.
  • Clayton County sent 155 fewer students, a 50 percent drop.
  • Madison County sent 85 fewer students, a 49 percent drop.
  • Clayton County sent 155 fewer students, a 50 percent drop.
  • Finally, Rockdale County sent 133 fewer students, a 43 percent drop.
Interestingly, Fulton County, always a big UGA county, had a 62 percent increase. Other metro Atlanta counties also saw increases, such as Gwinnett (23 percent). Cobb decreased slightly, 4 percent.

Below, a first stab at a map. Click to move it around, just like a normal Google map. Also click on individual counties for stats. The darker counties are those with higher growth.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Where UGA Students Come From

Fresh data for Fall 2015 is out, so it's time for my annual set of posts about where UGA students (where I teach) come from. Today we'll keep it simple ant look at the Top 10 from Fall 2000 and Fall 2015. Table below, then my comments follow.

In 2000
In 2015

So as you can see, the usual suspects show up in the top four slots (Gwinnett, Fulton, Cobb, and DeKalb). Some movement, but basically what you'd expect to see, that UGA is really the University of Atlanta.

Starting at #5, though, it gets interesting. Clarke dropped a spot, but look at 2015 and Forsyth County. It was ranked #19 in 2000, but shot to #5 in 2015. In raw numbers, this translates into 200 total undergraduates in 2000 but, get this, 1,120 in 2015. That's a fivefold increase. That's a 460 percent increase. The same is seen for Cherokee County (#7 in 2015, up from #16 in 2000). Bibb drops out by 2015, from 10th in the earlier year to 18th in Fall 2015.

I'll crank the data more, but I can tell you from running these analyses over the years a few explanatory factors stand out. First, population growth. Second, poverty. Fast-growing burbs and exurbs drive the growth.

When I have more time I'll map this for you and break it down by gender and race.

Oh, one last item. I've played with these data for years, and rarely does Echols County have a single undergraduate at UGA. It does this Fall.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

UGA Survey

UGA has this survey, called Count Me In, that's running. Yes, it's 20 minutes of your life you'll never get back. Yes, it's full of all kinds of questions about whether you've been mistreated, or seen other people mistreated, based on pretty much every possible reason you can think of. For example, are you an Ableist? That's "discrimination or prejudice against people with disabilities."

I am not making this up.  If a student every uses that term in a news story, except in a quote, I'll fail that student. Stupid, ugly word. And yes, I heard a faculty member use it in University Council meeting once. Sheesh. I swear to God I think it was when we were asked for a show of hands for a vote. "That's ableist," she said. No, really. She said that. In public.

I filled the survey out as a faculty member and, a few moments later, tried again. Yup, I could do it again. And maybe again and again, rinse and repeat, as often as I liked.

Let me clear as a guy who teaches graduate level public opinion -- that's a problem. They've not set up the survey in such a way as to keep a band of radical ableists (or radical disabilists?) from skewing the results. It's not hard to set it up in such a way that at least you'd have to use a different device to complete multiple surveys.

So you radical ableists out there, now's your chance. Able away.

Cheating at UGA

Here's the tweet, and then the headline, from our local paper's story on cheating at UGA:
Let's put this into perspective.

These data are a measure of students caught cheating, not of how much cheating is going on at the UGA campus. You get weird blips in the data, like a bunch of students in one chem lab who cheated on the same assignment and got caught -- thus inflating the numbers.

The ABH's story kinda admits this -- in graf #5.
The one-year increase may not be quite as dramatic as it appears. More than 100 of the cases appear to come from a fall semester 2014 management information systems class in UGA’s Terry College of Business.
In other words, it's not unlike the rape story last week reported by both The Red & Black and, in a follow-up, the ABH, that noted the rise in reported rapes from six to 71. In both stories, the explanation was buried several grafs below -- the measurement system changed. Sigh.

Don't get me wrong. Students cheat at UGA, far more than are caught, but the "caught" numbers signify only that, how many were caught, not how much cheating is taking place. Has cheating increased? Find a good way to measure that and then get back to me.

Note: You can find various academic honesty reports here. Haven't found the one referenced in the news story yet. The paper should link to such stuff. That's how it's done on the InterWebs, folks.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Who Is UGA's New VP of Marketing and Communications?

UGA has announced it's new VP of (sorry, but it's their title) Marketing and Communications. So who is Karri Hobson-Pape? You can read the official press release here, but I had a few minutes to kill so I did a quick-and-dirty check on her.

Here's her Pinterest page. Not a lot of pinning going on here. Her Facebook page is equally as interesting. And Twitter, that powerful marketing and communications tool? There are two possibilities.

Here's one. It's the most likely.

Here's the other.

Neither bode well for a marketing expert. The more likely of the two has no tweets. None. Zero. In marketing and communications.

But don't worry. She's on MySpace.

Yeah, I feel a lot better now.

Basically it seems she's created lots of accounts on every possible social media outlet, and done little or nothing with any of them. Then again, that's why you have interns. And here's my favorite (so far). She's mentioned in a book entitled Supercharge Your Social Media Strategies. I'll just let that one slide. Too easy. And in fairness, she has a much fuller LinkedIn page, which makes sense in the business world.

So what's a VP of Marketing and Communications pay? No idea of her salary. Her predecessor, Tom Jackson, made $187,761, but Jackson was here forever. Then again, she's coming out of the private sector, so there's no way to say. What's more interesting is how the communications folks will change, if at all, with a "marketing" theme to the department. It's a more modern, which isn't necessarily better, approach to pushing the University's message. We'll see.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Not so Libertarian after all

In the 2012 election, Clarke County (where I live, in Georgia) ranked #1 among all 159 counties in the percentage of votes for a Libertarian candidate (2.4 percent). The second highest was at 2 percent.

My how times change.

In the 2014 election, Clarke County ranked only in a tie for 67th place with 2.4 percent of all votes cast being cast for a Libertarian candidate. Essentially the same percentage as in 2012, but everyone else moved up. Tops was Whitfield County at 4.6 percent.

What do we make of this? Nothing, really. We're talking a handful of percentage points, a semi-random bit of data, but I do admit I'm surprised to see Clarke tumble so far down the list in the 2014 data. Whitfield, for example, was tied for 44th in 2012, so clearly some local aspect to the elections can affect this.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Gallup Away

If you're into polling, read this summary of Gallup getting out of the "horserace poll" business. Fascinating stuff, especially the comments from other pollsters.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Been Around a While

I started this blog in May 2007, so it's been around a while. It's original mission was to focus on research about media and politics but over the years it's morphed into commentary about current events, media coverage, polls, and criticism of journalism. It's also played a minor supporting role in a student newspaper walkout and earned me criticism from that very same student newspaper. Heh, maybe I'll sit out the next student walkout. My response to their response, here.

See the graphic below for the most popular posts, at least in terms of traffic.

Dominating the list is stuff about the Great R&B Walkout, which also resulted in me being interviewed supporting the students in various national media outlets. It was an odd time as many faculty either sat it out or were more quiet in their student support.

I'm rarely quiet. Plus I have the advantage of rank (full professor) and tenure.

Some of the others below have other explanations. The fourth and fifth place ones are about popular areas of research, so a lot of scholars end up here reading the material, or at least scoffing at it. Then there's one about a local gag order I bitched about, and then yet more R&B stuff.  On a normal day I'm read by ones of people, maybe tens of people. So check it out below.

I've written a total of 1,625 posts (counting this one) from May 2007 to Oct. 7, 2015, when I posted this one. I want to hit 2,000 before I hit the 10-year mark. I figure the election year will help.

I've also blogged good story ideas that are often, eventually, picked up by student or local media. And sometimes I reveal the innards of Grady's politics, but not as often as I'd like.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Poll Support x Twitter Followers

In the GOP race we all know Trump is ahead (though perhaps slipping), so I decided to examine all the candidates by their national poll numbers and number of Twitter followers. First off, there is a high correlation between the two (r = .80), in large part thanks to Trump's lead in both polls and Twitter followers. Still, remove Trump and the correlation is still .71, so we got something here.

See the scatterplot below. Yeah, that's Trump all alone in the top right corner. If we drew a regression line here, it'd be running up from 0,0 to Trumpland, a nice linear fit. As I tell my students over and over, however, correlation is not causality. You cannot argue lots of Trump followers equals poll popularity, nor the other way around.

Raw data is below.

Poll Twitter
Bush 8.3 326,000
Carson 17.3 705,000
Christie 2.6 55,600
Cruz 6.1 519,000
Fiorina 11 581,000
Graham 0.3 27,800
Huckabee 2.8 411,000
Jindal 0.5 20,900
Kasich 3.1 111,000
Pataki 0.3 54,600
Paul 2.4 693,000
Rubio 9.5 888,000
Santorum 0.4 245,000
Trump 22.8 4,036,000

Millage Rates

I teach journalism, but I'm also a bit of a nerd when it comes to statistics, math, and especially public opinion polls. Today let's look at an "explainer" produced by our Newsource students down stairs. You can watch it here for context. Go ahead. It's fast. Then come back. Oh, and I love the clever bit about what's a millage rate? It's not Milledge Avenue. Nice job on that.

OK, done? Good.

At the 1:27 point we get to my point. Here's a screenshot:

So what's the problem? Not the math. The issue is the "If your assessed property value is $100,000 ..."

That's not quite how it works. Here's a nice, simple description, but I'll save you the visit off site and summarize it for you.

1. You have the assessed value of your home. In our example above, $100,000.
2. You then take 40 percent of that value.
3. And then you remove various exemptions, like homestead exemption. Let's say $10,000
4. This gives you the taxable value.

So in the example above, a $100,000 assessed value would become a tax on $30,000. So instead of a $1,913.10 tax bill, you'd see more like a $765.24.

How'd I catch this? I own a home in Clarke County -- with higher taxes than Jackson -- assessed at more than $100k, and I know my tax bill is below $1,913.

So there's commercial value, assessed value, and taxable value.