- The proper extent of quarantine and isolation as measures against epidemics was the subject of regular debate through the Nineteenth Century. This article gives a good account of how those debates played out in New York and Massachusetts [Susan Wade Peabody, Journal of Infectious Diseases, February 1909]
- “Without legal immunity, colleges … that reopen will no doubt face suits from those who get sick.” [Jennifer Braceras] More: Why Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue, is determined to get the university reopened this fall for in-person instruction [Washington Post]
- Litigation ahead over question of how big a refund colleges may owe students of unused dormitory space [Jessica Goodman, AZFamily.com, Michael Abramowicz and Caprice Roberts] Law firm files 18 class actions against colleges and universities demanding refund on grounds that online academic program not as good as the in-person instruction it replaced [Susan Adams, Forbes]
- “New Jersey Attorney General: Employers May Have to Restrict Employees’ Saying ‘Chinese Virus'” [Eugene Volokh] First Amendment protects the right to voice irresponsible and wrong opinions, and judge should toss pressure group’s attempt to silence Fox News commentary on virus [Malathi Nayak, Bloomberg]
- “Local governments in Nevada suspend public-sector union contracts in response to COVID-19” [Jerrick Adams, Center Square]
- When does the coronavirus pandemic excuse performance of a commercial contract? [Eugene Volokh first and second posts]
Held over from a week or two back when there were still “campuses” (a joke on that):
- Not just California: mandatory diversity statements (“diversity oath”) examples in recent hiring from Ohio State, U. of Connecticut, Purdue, Cornell [John Cochrane, earlier]
- Disturbing: Canadian bioethicist says “possible solution” to conscience-rights debate is to bar persons with scruples against participating in medically assisted death or abortion from entering medical or pharmacy school in first place [Rachel Browne, Global News]
- If you guessed North Carolina would not be friendly territory for obligatory social justice and cultural studies curriculum, you guessed wrong [David Randall, Martin Center]
- Claim: clinical education in law schools is moving away from “the social justice values that have been [its] hallmark.” Another way of looking at it: it might be moving at last toward better viewpoint neutrality [Paul Caron/TaxProf]
- “Joe Biden’s Record on Campus Due Process Has Been Abysmal. Is It a Preview of His Presidency?” [Emily Yoffe] “Harvard Debuts Anonymous Online Title IX Reporting Form” [Simone Chu and Iris Lewis, The Crimson]
- “Bias Response Teams Silence Civic Debate” [George LaNoue, Law and Liberty on Speech First v. Fenves over University of Texas policies]
Details continue to emerge about the University of California’s use of mandatory diversity statements in faculty hiring (earlier here, etc.) In Berkeley life sciences hiring “diversity statements were used at the outset of searches to eliminate candidates.. … No matter how good your scholarship, if you didn’t pass the diversity [advocacy] cutoff (a score of 11 in the second search), you were toast.” [Jerry Coyne; John Cochrane]
“UC Berkeley has publicized its rubric for assessing peoples’ diversity and inclusion statements. You get 5 points for ‘Clear and detailed ideas for…advancing equity and inclusion…through their research, teaching, and/or service.’ Note word ‘research’.” [Agnes Callard] What if you embark on research that bears on questions of equity and inclusion but it reaches findings that do not advance the cause?
UCLA law professor Stephen Bainbridge, a friend of this site, recently chose to submit and publish a diversity statement emphasizing his efforts to foster a more ideologically diverse atmosphere at his UC campus — testing whether diversity as such, or only some manifestations of it, are the goal [AEI “Carpe Diem”] It caused a stir [Bainbridge blog, reactions and emails; some faculty at campuses like UC Davis have begun to push back] Given that UC is a public university, the prospects for a legal challenge appear strong, and there is interest in mounting a suit [Brian Leiter]
Meanwhile at the national and federal level, a $241 million cluster-hire grant program from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) “is requiring every candidate to prove that they have already promoted diversity”; among those who may lose out are “minority candidates who have been doing things other than ‘changing the culture'” [Jerry Coyne]
Institutional Review Boards (IRBs), which oversee the ethics of human subjects research, have long come under criticism for applying to social science inquiry a range of restrictive oversight practices better suited to medical experimentation [Zachary Schrag on a 2017 effort to prune back the rules] Now Omri Ben-Shahar at Regulatory Review reports on an experiment at the University of Chicago:
It is widely recognized that IRBs have exercised “mission creep,” continuously expanding the de facto scope of their oversight. Some might describe this trajectory charitably as the advance of ethical norms, but the cost of IRB expansion is undeniable: more burden on researchers, slowdown of research, fewer studies, and inevitably less progress.
Can this burden be reduced without increasing risks to subjects? The University of Chicago is about to launch a pilot reform to test this question. The reform will address the great majority of social science experiments that are classified as minimum risk—by my own count well over 95 percent of the protocols received by the social science IRBs are treated as either “exempt” or “expedited.”
The reform is propelled by a simple premise: Instead of applying for IRB approval, researchers would self-determine that their studies are low-risk and launch them without IRB review.
This reform is entirely in line with the law.
- As part of “human rights capstone project” Yale student disrupts professors deemed not progressive enough, including law school’s estimable Akhil Amar. Time for the university to reaffirm the Woodward Report and intellectual freedom [Yale Daily News: Audrey Steinkamp, Matt Kristoffersen followup]
- “The foundational claim leveled by anti-racism protestors is that violence is ubiquitous on campus…. Violence is not meant to be taken metaphorically…. Threats to life are now commonplace accusations.” [Darel E. Paul, Areo] “What is the difference between firing tenured professors and removing them from required classes?” [Jonathan Adler]
- “Faculty at universities across the country are facing an echo of the loyalty oath, a mandatory ‘Diversity Statement’ for job applicants…. in reality it’s a political test, and it’s a political test with teeth.” [Abigail Thompson, Notices of the American Mathematical Society via Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed and thence via Bainbridge; more, Jerry Coyne and Joel Fish thread with background on new UC centralized hiring procedures; earlier and more on mandatory diversity statements]
- Not at all scary or authoritarian for rightists discontented with the political tenor of academia to call for seizing university endowments [for instance, more, a sampling of chatter on Twitter]
- Emphasis on writing quality and rigor in coursework decried as instruments of European supremacy [Arnold Kling] California Assembly passes bill requiring all undergrads to take ethnic studies course before graduating [Tony Lima critique]
- Urban Institute report claims higher education has seen rightward political shift. Really? [Phillip W. Magness, American Institute for Economic Research with a skeptical look]
- Federal judge upholds Harvard’s admissions policy against charges of discrimination against Asian Americans, appeal likely [Anemona Hartocollis, New York Times; Roger Clegg/Martin Center; Neal McCluskey, Hechinger Report (“private institutions should be free to have affirmative action, but it should be prohibited at public institutions”); Ilya Shapiro, WSJ last year]
- In Florida, following an initiative from Gov. Ron DeSantis, state universities expected to adopt versions of “Chicago Statement” committing to freedom of expression [Mary Zoeller, FIRE]
- Under antitrust pressure from the U.S. Department of Justice, college association drops guidelines discouraging “poaching” students and other competition for enrollment. Could mean big changes in admissions process [Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed]
- In case you missed this angle in the astounding Bruce Hay story earlier: Hay “has already run afoul of [Harvard] investigators for reaching out to journalists (namely me), which they view as an act of retaliation” under Title IX [Kera Bolonik]
- “The Galling Push for a Student Debt Bailout” [Cato Daily Podcast with Christian Barnard and Caleb Brown] If more of the same is what you want, you’re in luck with the House majority’s new College Affordability Act [Neal McCluskey, Cato]
- The story of Oberlin College’s town-gown legal debacle in the Gibson case [Abraham Socher, Commentary] Return of the loyalty oath, cont’d: update on University of California requirement that all faculty candidates “submit an equity, diversity and inclusion statement as part of their application” [Nora McNulty, Daily Bruin; Stephen Bainbridge; earlier] Professor at the New School exonerated after quoting James Baldwin [FIRE] Students at University of Tennessee, Knoxville, have a lot of sensitivity training in their futures. Coming to 4-H too? [Hans Bader]
Old, new property law casebooks make for a contrast of doctrine versus indoctrination [Charles Rounds Jr., Martin Center] Former Yale dean Anthony Kronman’s latest book, The Assault on American Excellence, is a pointed critique of trends at elite universities [Caron/TaxProf; I reviewed one of Kronman’s earlier books back when] Shortcomings of present law school model leave dire need for alternatives [Mark Pulliam, Southeast Texas Record] “On the Ethics of Legal Scholarship” [Marquette Law Review symposium with Carissa Byrne Hessick, Paul Horwitz, and others]
“Ohio State is seeking a trademark on one of the most common words in the English language. The school, formally known as The Ohio State University, is seeking a trademark on the word ‘The’ for use on clothing and hats.” [ESPN] The rival University of Michigan responded:
— University of Michigan (@UMich) August 14, 2019
Meanwhile, a small firm in Wales called Boss Brewing has changed the name of some of its products following trademark opposition and cease and desist correspondence from the German clothing maker Hugo Boss. [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt]
Update: the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has sent a letter to Ohio State indicating that the application will be rejected, although one of its reasons might be unsettling, namely that another applicant (the Marc Jacobs fashion house) had already filed to seek a trademark on the word “The” as applied to handbags, knapsacks, and the like [Caron/TaxProf]
- Seventh Circuit panel rebukes Purdue in important Title IX case [KC Johnson, Minding the Campus] Since federal Dear Colleague letter pressuring them to revamp procedures in favor of accusers, colleges have been sued more than 500 times [Stephanie Gutmann, New York Post] Behind Harvard Title IX investigation of law professor Bruce Hay is a story of trust and betrayal that almost beggars belief [Kera Bolonik, New York] Analyzing student demands at Princeton [Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic]
- For research institutions, exposure to False Claims Act liability is more than just a mouse nibble: Duke University will pay $112 million following allegations that it misrepresented progress of rodent studies [U.S. Department of Justice press release]
- Waiting-and-seeing on the Trump campus free speech executive order [from this spring: Eugene Volokh; Heather Mac Donald (“The history of government mission creep and bloat is not reassuring”); FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) statement; Neal McCluskey, Cato; Keith Whittington; Donald Downs, Martin Center; Tyler Cowen]
- Letter from 12 scholars: “Philosophers Should Not Be Sanctioned Over Their Positions on Sex and Gender” [Inside Higher Ed] “Self-Censorship on Campus Is Bad for Science” [Luana Maroja, The Atlantic] U.K.: “Stonewall’s LGBT Guidance is Limiting the Free Speech of Gender Critical Academics” [Kathleen Stock, Quillette; more]
- “Cambridge University, which still drips with Norman money and influence, should now consider to what extent it needs to compensate its Anglo-Saxon victims.” [satire: Sahil Mahtani, The Spectator (U.K.)]
- Gov. Ron DeSantis signs bill passed unanimously by Florida legislature defining as hateful in context of educational civil rights such things as “demonizing, applying a double standard to, or delegitimizing Israel.” Shouldn’t that be more controversial, especially as applied at university level, given that it takes in some kinds of core political speech? [John Haughey, Florida Center Square; Florida Politics: A.G. Gancarski, Scott Powers; Joe Cohn, FIRE]
Legislation in the California assembly aims at heading off the prospect that private colleges and universities will require adjunct professors to begin operating on time card systems:
In recent years, a number of colleges and universities have settled faculty overtime violation lawsuits filed by the same California law firm — lawsuits that even many adjuncts say are frivolous. Stanford University, for example, last year settled for nearly $900,000 in a class-action suit regarding instructors in its continuing studies program. Attorney’s fees accounted for one-third of the settlement, so adjuncts involved were each entitled to a partially taxable $1,417. Kaplan University also settled, according to public documents. Other suits have been settled more quietly. Public institutions in California, whose adjuncts are generally unionized, have not been affected.
Private colleges and universities have responded to the ongoing legal threat by either making or planning to make their adjuncts document all of their working hours on time cards.
Tinker with its details as one will, wage and hour law necessarily proceeds on the premise of regimenting the workplace by the minute. That’s why the time clock is its symbol. [Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed]