Posts Tagged ‘political correctness’

Could a president “end” political correctness on campus?

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.”

Higher education and Title IX roundup

  • “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]

Campus climate roundup

  • 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]

“Three Blind Mice” Hallowe’en costumes probed at university

After students at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville used Facebook to post pictures of themselves in Hallowe’en “Three Blind Mice” costumes, a member of the school’s “Bias Incident Team” turned them in herself to the team, which decided that there was a risk the costume idea “makes fun of a disability.” The pictures have been taken down. “The University of Washington produced a six-minute video last year decrying ‘cultural appropriation’ around Halloween. Off-limits costumes included hula skirts, [straitjackets], sombreros, fake mustaches and martial-arts attire.” [Jillian Kay Melchior, Heat Street] No mention of possible offense to the tail-amputee community. More on bias response teams here.

Higher education roundup

  • Universities across the country steer mandatory student fee proceeds and other privileges to intensely ideological Public Interest Research Groups [David Seidemann, City Journal; PIRG’s crucial role in backing the truly ghastly CPSIA law on children’s products] When a university shuts off this money spigot, does the First Amendment cut more in favor of the group’s right to go on collecting money, or the rights of “students compelled to fund advocacy with which they may not agree”? [Short Circuit, scroll to 14th item on Ninth Circuit decision in Arizona Students’ Association v. Arizona Board of Regents]
  • Appeal to “personal experience, performance, and radical politics” changing college debate for the worse [John Hinderaker, PowerLine, 2014 (thanks commenter for spotting date)]
  • “The Perils of Writing a Provocative Email at Yale” [Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, on Nicholas and Erika Christakis case at Yale; Paul Caron/TaxProf with more links] More: Identity, activism. and sensitivity on campus: Nathan Heller report from Oberlin [New Yorker]
  • Government is our provider: new push to extend school feeding program into community colleges [George Leef, Pope Center]
  • University of Northern Colorado: “‘Bias Response Team’ Threatened Prof To Change His Lessons” [Jillian Kay Melchior, Heat Street] Candidates for tenure at Pomona College will need to explain what they are doing to promote diversity in classroom [Inside Higher Ed]
  • “When Social Justice Education Is Mandatory, But Math Is Not” [Robby Soave; University of Massachusetts, Amherst]

The trouble with “bias response teams”

“More than 100 colleges and universities have Bias Response Teams, which aim to foster ‘a safe and inclusive environment’ by providing ‘advocacy and support to anyone on campus who has experienced, or been a witness of, an incident of bias or discrimination.’ These teams have multiple missions, including educational ‘prevention,’ investigating alleged bias incidents, disciplining offenders, and organizing ‘coping events’ after such incidents…. BRTs are rapidly becoming part of the institutional machinery of higher education, but have yet to face any real scrutiny.” The teams intervene in a vast and ill-defined assortment of acts of expression, social and classroom interactions, and even intellectual activity that are said to constitute “bias incidents,” yet they are far from transparent or accountable, they encourage an atmosphere of informants and suspicion, and they tend toward the policing of thought and of so-called unconscious sources of offense. At bottom they are “inherently anti-intellectual enterprises, fundamentally at odds with the mission of higher education.” [Jeffrey Aaron Snyder and Amna Khalid, The New Republic]

Campus climate roundup

  • Madness at Harvard Law School: “This is an occupation,” so activist group Reclaim HLS gets to take down posters it disagrees with [The Crimson; Harvard Law Record (“Barlow said that one protestor told him that if he wanted to post a sign, he could attend Reclaim’s plenary meetings and vote with them about whether or not certain speech should be approved. But he could not, he was told, post a sign without prior approval from Reclaim.”); Avrahm Berkowitz/The Observer]
  • “Refraining from hand gestures which denote disagreement” is part of Edinburgh University safe space policy, and now a student leader is in trouble for allegedly raising her arms to indicate disagreement as well as shaking her head in a seeming “no”; while disputing its application to her own action she continues to defend the rule itself [Huffington Post UK]
  • “Or in which candidates were dismissed because of their association with conservative or libertarian institutions.” [John Hasnas, Wall Street Journal on faculty ideological diversity] Plus: conversation between Tyler Cowen and Jonathan Haidt;
  • Which campus environment provides a fairer process for accused students: Duke in 2006, or Yale today? [KC Johnson; more, Ashe Schow/Washington Examiner (Michigan, Berkeley)] Federal judge blasts Brandeis over Title IX process in “kissing sleeping boyfriend” case [Steve Miller/Independent Gay Forum, KC Johnson/Storify]
  • Student militants storm Berkeley stage intent on silencing Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich [Robby Soave: Reason, The Daily Beast]
  • The Ford Foundation, which has done so much to transform academia, is profiled along with president Darren Walker [Larissa MacFarquhar, New Yorker; my critical view of Ford] Funding postmodern feminist glaciology: “Has it become the National Science and Other Ways of Knowing Foundation?” [Jerry Coyne]

Campus climate roundup

  • Some profs still deny: “The Glaring Evidence That Free Speech Is Threatened on Campus” [Conor Friedersdorf]
  • Student demands at Western Washington University would “create an almost cartoonishly autocratic liberal thought police on campus” [Robby Soave] After University of Kansas professor tried awkwardly to discuss her own white privilege, students took offense and things haven’t gone well for her [Robby Soave: update, Althouse]
  • Feds equivocate on whether notorious campus “Dear Colleague” letter has force of law [Hans Bader, CEI; George Leef, Pope Center; me on the letter in 2013]
  • Yale expels the captain of its basketball team, and KC Johnson has some questions Minding the Campus, Academic Wonderland]
  • I wanted to scream about insensitive canoe discourse in Canada and there was no one to hear me but the loons [CBC] And an instant classic: feminist glaciology framework for a more just and equitable science and “human-ice interactions” [Sage Journals; U. of Oregon, part of $412K NSF grant]
  • Lose that worldview, citizen: attending public Oklahoma university requires “changing our worldview to accommodate others’ experiences of oppression.” [Audra Brulc via @DouglasLevene]

Update: mandatory oppression studies at American University

We noted in January that American University, in Washington, D.C., was considering a drastic overhaul of university rules in response to the demands of social-justice activists. Now it’s moving forward: although some of the more extreme details have been dropped, or at least go unmentioned, a February 29 letter from President Neil Kerwin proposes a mandatory oppression studies course for first-years, additionally “address the subject matter in at least one other required course selected from the AU curriculum.” Plus: racial hiring!