Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump spoke recently of his intent if elected to “end” political correctness on university campuses, and Steve Kolowich at Chronicle of Higher Education asks a number of observers, including some who have been critical of that phenomenon, to describe what practical changes in federal higher education policy that might entail. I’m quoted on how Trump’s intent is “not something that you could easily reduce to the four corners of a policy proposal.”
- “Free Speech on Campus: A Challenge of Our Times,” recent speech by University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone;
- University of Virginia puts professor on leave of absence after comments critical of Black Lives Matter [Hans Bader] “Yes, Brooklyn College really has a Director of Diversity Investigations.” One prof’s experience [David Seidemann/Minding the Campus]
- “Lawyer: Why the lower standard of evidence in college sexual-assault cases is dangerous” [Robert Shibley] It’s rare for the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights to stick up in favor of due process rights for accused students, but that just happened in Wesley College case [Jake New/Inside Higher Ed, Tyler Kingkade/BuzzFeed, ED press release]
- “Northern Michigan University had — and perhaps still has — a policy subjecting students to discipline if they share suicidal thoughts with their peers.” So how bad an idea is that? [Ken White, Popehat]
- “Historically Black Colleges and Universities struggle with Title IX compliance” [American Sports Council on reporting by David Squires/The Undefeated]
- “University Of Michigan Gets Lost In The Tall SJW Weeds” [Amy Alkon] Georgetown offers legacy status to applicants descended from university-owned slaves; showy gesture, but anything more? [Scott Greenfield] “American University Student Government Launches Campaign for Mandatory Trigger Warnings” [Robby Soave]
A class action suit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) cites California law, as well as the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, to argue that college football players should be deemed employees subject to minimum wage and overtime law. I find it a stretch for reasons quoted in the report [Robert Teachout, SHRM]
…where he was at length told, “Even if I were to agree with you, you know I can’t say anything.” [Ann Althouse] Relatedly, “The Sex Bureaucracy” is the title of the widely noted new article by Jacob Gersen and Jeannie Suk in California Law Review (via Hans Bader):
…we focus on higher education to tell the story of the sex bureaucracy. The story is about the steady expansion of regulatory concepts of sex discrimination and sexual violence to the point that the regulated domain comes to encompass ordinary sex. The mark of bureaucracy is procedure and organizational form. Over time, federal prohibitions against sex discrimination and sexual violence have been interpreted to require educational institutions to adopt particular procedures to respond, prevent, research, survey, inform, investigate, adjudicate, and train. The federal bureaucracy required nongovernmental institutions to create mini-bureaucracies, and to develop policies and procedures that are subject to federal oversight. That oversight is not merely, as currently assumed, of sexual harassment and sexual violence, but also of sex itself.
And: “Judge reinstates Brown Univ. student accused of sexual misconduct, blasts ‘organized’ pressure to get him not to” [Fred Barbash, Washington Post]
As noted in posts here and at Cato, the University of California, Berkeley is considering taking down free online course content rather than expose itself to liability and litigation over its possible lack of accessibility for some disabled users. One irony: even if the welfare of disabled persons is treated as the only important outcome, the application of the ADA is probably going to do harm, because online alternatives to classroom instruction are particularly valuable to disabled persons, notably those with impaired mobility. [Alex Tabarrok, FEE (“The ADA Attack on Online Courses Hurts the Disabled Too”) Scott Greenfield (from whom title is taken); The Suburbanist (“So if your disability keeps you homebound, then the ADA will prevent you from viewing online courses.”); Preston Cooper, Forbes.
Advancing a trend we’ve been warning about, the University of California, Berkeley, said it may have to take down educational course content posted free online for the benefit of the public due to an ongoing conflict with the U.S. Department of Justice over whether it is obliged to accompany the content with expensive captioning and other technological assists to make it more accessible to disabled visitors. I’ve got a write-up at Cato. More: Robby Soave, Reason; Andrej Karpathy Twitter thread about withdrawal of computer science videos; earlier on web accessibility. And this tweet, from Prof. Sam Bagenstos responding to Soave’s article, represents the culmination of the entire civil rights model.
- Will the University of Chicago’s new policy on free expression chill professors’ freedom to run their classes in their own way, as some claim? [Alex Morey/FIRE, Howard Wasserman/Prawfs] Jonathan Chait on how the safe spaces debate really isn’t about things like church groups or gay bars; and a judicious Ken White at Popehat on how safe space idea can make sense in private/chosen settings, but not as academic mandate.
- As federal Title IX enforcement percolates downward: e-mail from administrator at University of Alaska, Fairbanks, discusses expelling “perp” before investigation has begun [K.C. Johnson on Twitter] USC administrator: do they know who I am? [same] Wasn’t Columbia U. just serving up what its customers want? [Scott Greenfield] “OCR to Frostburg State University: Common Sense, ‘Reasonable Person’ Standard Violate Title IX” [Robby Soave]
- UW-Milwaukee poster campaign warns students against using terms like “lame,” “crazy,” and — inevitably? — “politically correct” [Jillian Kay Melchior/Heat Street, Robby Soave/Reason]
- The future of American higher education: fewer historians, more chief diversity officers [David Frum]
- “More on the sex panic at Yale” [KC Johnson, Minding the Campus]
- Capitol Hill Republicans keep shoveling cash at power-mad campus regulators, while tying hands of dissenters at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights [John Fund, NR]
If the climate among students on campus has turned markedly less favorable toward free expression in recent years, perhaps that is but a symptom of a deeper problem: academic opinion itself in relevant fields has turned less friendly toward free speech, which it is replacing with new concepts of speech-as-violence, speech-as-discrimination, and speech-as-scientifically-perilous-“denialism.” Each of these concepts invites the suppression of large categories of expression disapproved of by authorities. [Daniel Jacobson, Cato Policy Analysis No. 796] The paper also sheds light on how Yale law professor Robert Post might have come to write approvingly of government investigation into wrongful climate advocacy.
- How litigation-averse Western universities’ human-subjects-research protocols ignored cultural sensitivities and set back the study of native languages in Bhutan and the Himalayas [Zachary Schrag, IRB Blog]
- Judge to feds: not so fast on regulating school bathrooms [Jonathan Adler; Scott Shackford/Reason]
- California Supreme Court won’t hear Vergara constitutional challenge to teacher tenure law [Daniel Fisher, earlier]
- “Roommate drama lands Penn State sorority sisters in federal court” [Jeremy Roebuck, Philadelphia Daily News]
- “Is the walk to school really so terrifying?” [Lenore Skenazy, Tulsa World] “Mom Arrested for Leaving Kids Alone in the House While She Went Out for Food” [same]
- Feds are rolling out web accessibility settlements with local school systems and state education departments [Department of Education press release; our web accessibility tag]
- Wells Fargo declines to serve firm that sells knives online, which might relate to a “mass de-risking” trend that followed Operation Choke Point [Kelsey Harkness/Daily Signal, H. Clay Aalders/The Truth About Knives]
- “Time For Securities Lawyers To Stand Behind Their `Confidential Witnesses'” [Lyle Roberts via Daniel Fisher]
- Attractions of English law may help London retain luster as financial center post-Brexit [Jon Sindreu, WSJ]
- “Hillary Clinton’s ‘Exit Tax’ Is an Unseemly Example of Banana Republic Economics” [Daniel Mitchell, related earlier] Three good ideas from Clinton’s small business tax plan [Scott Greenberg, Tax Foundation]
- Lawyers file class actions against Yale, Harvard, MIT, many other universities, objecting to excessive fees on retirement fund investments [Ira Stoll, Future of Capitalism; Benjamin Edwards, PrawfsBlawg]
- “White House climate disclosure plan is major executive overreach.” [Ray Lehmann, R Street Institute]