5/5: President Obama at Ohio State
5/18: The Dalai Lama at Tulane
5/18: Stephen Colbert at The University of Virginia
5/19: President Obama at Morehouse
5/19: Cory Booker at Yale
5/25: Gabrielle Giffords at Bard
5/30: Oprah Winfrey at Harvard
6/14: Michael Bloomberg at Stanford
Andrew Rafferty of NBC News notes that a common themefocus on the things that unite us, not divide us-was sounded by three prominent commencement speakers:
Michelle Obama (at Eastern Kentucky), Bill Clinton (at Howard) and Tom Brokaw (at Loyola, New Orleans).
The First Lady said: "We know what happens when we only talk to people who think like we do," she added. "We just get more stuck in our ways, more divided, and
it gets harder to come together for a common purpose."
Brokaw told Loyola's new graduates: "Leave here today determined to be the generation of big ideas that unite us in the common pursuit of the goals that we all have,
not small ideas that divide us." He also predicted that the 21st century "will be remembered as the century when women finally took their rightful and fully recognized
place in society here and around the world."
Former President Clinton said: "Try to do something that will make you happy. And most people are happiest doing what they are best at. You have been given that gift."
Majors with Lowest Median Earnings
1. Counseling Psychology
2. Early Childhood Education
3. Theology and Religious
4. Human Services and
5. Social Work
6. Drama and Theatre Arts
7. Studio Arts
8. Communication Disorders
Sciences and Services
9. Visual and Performing Arts
10. Health and Medical
Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce
A Classic Text on Gender--And It's All Wrong
By Cathy Young
A few months ago, a
post with a shocking claim about misogyny in America began to circulate on
Tumblr, the social media site popular with older teens and young adults. It featured a scanned book page section stating
that, according to "recent survey data," when junior high school students in the
Midwest were asked what they would do if they woke up "transformed into the
opposite sex," the girls showed mixed emotions but the boys' reaction was straightforward:
"'Kill myself' was the most common answer when they contemplated the
possibility of life as a girl." The original
poster--whose comment was, "Wow"--identified the source as her "Sex & Gender
college textbook," The Gendered Society by
The post quickly caught on with
Tumblr's radical feminist contingent: in less than three months, it was
reblogged or "liked" by over 33,000 users. Some appended their own comments, such
as, "Yeah, tell me again how misogyny 'isn't
real' and men and boys and actually 'like,'
'love' and 'respect the female sex'?
This is how deep misogynistic propaganda runs... As Germaine Greer said, 'Women have no idea how much men hate them.'"
Innovation, or Something Else?, Peter Stokes, Inside Higher Ed, May 17
Georgia Tech Takes MOOCs to the Next Level, Walter Russell Mead, The American Interest, May 15
Is College Moving Online?, Nathan Heller, New Yorker, May 20
New Sexual Harassment Rules Threaten Free Speech, Nathan Harden, College Fix, May 14
Professional Responsibility, C.K. Gunsalus, Inside Higher Ed, May 14
How to Reinvent College , Nick Romeo, The Daily Beast, May 13
MORE COMMENTARIES >>>
May 17, 2013
Columbia professor Joseph Massad has made the
news yet again. Small wonder: his recent essay in al Jazeera, entitled "The Last of the Semites," linked Zionism to Nazism and claimed that all of the good, anti-Zionist
Jews perished in the Holocaust, Bloomberg columnist Jeffrey Goldberg congratulated al Jazeera for having "posted
one of the most anti-Jewish screeds in recent memory."
Liam Hoare has penned the most complete deconstruction of
Massad's argument, and I can add little to his points. But as Massad has
re-emerged to embarrass his university, it's worth remembering that Columbia
knew exactly what it was getting when it decided to grant him tenure.
Massad's shameful in-class behavior
first came to public attention thanks to the investigative reporting of Jacob
Gershman, then of the New York Sun.
(The Sun, which folded in 2008,
remains very much missed for its consistently first-rate coverage of higher
education.) Already under criticism for allegedly threatening to remove a Jewish
student from class if she did not acknowledge Israel's supposed atrocities
against Palestinians, in 2005 Massad used one of Columbia's "Core" classes to
assign one book about Israel which included "a map of 1967 Israel that
is labeled 'Palestine.'"
What distinguished Gershman's reporting, however, was his ability to bring readers inside of
Massad's classes. (Massad refused to speak to the Sun, and declined to post lecture notes publicly.) One student
noted that Massad had described as Zionist myths the facts that "Ancient Hebrews of Palestine lived
exclusively in Palestine" and "Mod. Euro. Jews are direct biological descendants
of Hebrews." Another student took notes of Massad offering a tasteless joke: "What
makes a Zionist a Zionist? A Jew who asks a Jew to send a third Jew to
Palestine." Even a hopelessly compromised Columbia "investigation" faulted
Massad for his classroom antics.
scholarship similarly substituted blind adherence to ideology for the honest
pursuit of the truth. As Martin Kramer has noted, Massad's heavy
ideological bias distorted his findings from the start of his career, and it
appeared as if Massad's weaknesses were enough to deny him tenure. But Columbia
then granted him a highly unusual second tenure review, and, over the protests
of much of the New York media, he squeaked through. Ironically, Columbia did so
on the basis of a book that earned the following review from the American Historical Review: "If Massad's evidence is to be trusted, then he
is completely wrong in his conclusions."
Massad was then, and still is,
a scholar who cared more about advancing his anti-Western, anti-Jewish ideology
than true scholarship. And despite all this, Columbia went out of its way to
keep him permanently. No wonder the school chose not to comment on his latest
May 16, 2013
“FIRE is right to note that fair, inclusive enforcement of this mindlessly broad policy is impossible. But I doubt it's intended to be fairly enforced. I doubt federal officials want or expect it to be used against sex educators, advocates of reproductive choice, anti-porn feminists, or gay rights advocates, if their speech of a sexual nature is "unwelcome" by religious conservatives. The stated goal of this policy is stemming discrimination, but the inevitable result will be advancing it, in the form of content based prohibitions on speech. When people demand censorship of "unwelcome" speech, they're usually demanding censorship of the speech that they find unwelcome. They usually seek to silence their political or ideological opponents, not their friends—all in the name of some greater good.”
Wendy Kaminer, The Atlantic
“Conservative student groups must flood the systems with complaints about every Vagina Monologues performance, classroom reference to “testosterone poisoning,” and every single “Sex Week” event until reason returns. It’s an Alinsky principle: Make them live up to their own book of rules. And remember: There’s a lot to make conservative and libertarian students feel uncomfortable on almost any campus.”
Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit
“So, to say the least, this new mandate will have a chilling effect on sexual speech on campus. There’s no way you could discuss any sexual behavior in class. Not only couldn’t you discuss Lolita, Shakespeare and the racier parts of the Old Testament might have to be purged from the curriculum. I make a big deal of the issue of the relationship between incest and philosophy that Aristophanes brings up in a witty and vulgar way in the Clouds. Students don’t usually welcome the opportunity to have a conversation about incest, and especially about how questionable their revulsion to it is. Book V of the Republic, with the community of women and all that—that always creates a bit of an unwelcoming environment for some students. Well, it’s supposed to; it’s supposed to get them thinking about the possibility that what we regard as natural sexual differences are merely repressive conventions. Once I’ve written that, I realize that we just won’t be able to teach most of the content of “women’s studies” classes anymore. A big objection any professor would have to these Puritanical regulations is that they empower student affairs staffs to have a bigger role in schoolmarmishly regulating the campus environment, including assuming a more intrusive role in determining what goes in the classroom and in ordinary conversations between professors and students, and students and students.”
Peter Augustine Lawler, Big Think
…what defenders of free speech on campus, such as the estimable FIRE, among others, may miss is the contradictory place the university has become. Having embraced the sexual revolution and encouraged an atmosphere of promiscuity, much of higher education has now created a legalistic, centralized crackdown on talk about sex. We have become what Tocqueville implied our condition would be without the influence of mores: a bureaucratic nightmare. If we can’t rule ourselves, we will have rules, myriad of them, made for us.”
Ken Masugi, Library of Law and Liberty
“Obama promised fundamental transformation. This is part of it. Freedom of speech is sacrificed, and a new army of sexual-harassment “specialists” will descend on America’s campuses to enforce the new dispensation.”
Mona Charen, NRO
As the Supreme Court prepares its opinion in Fisher v. University of Texas (in which that school’s use of racial and ethnic admissions preferences is challenged), and as our bien pensants continue as always to agonize about the state of race relations in the United States (which are actually quite good, by the way), a few thoughts.
Racial preferences are becoming more and more unwieldy and divisive as the United States becomes more and more multiethnic and multiracial. But they are thought necessary because without them there would be “underrepresentation” of some groups. The same logic, by the way, is behind the use of “disparate impact” lawsuits: They are attractive because this is another way to address the “underrepresentation” that results from merit-based selection.
But the principal reason for some groups’ failure in the aggregate to achieve will not be solved by using racial preferences and is ignored by them – the principal reason being illegitimacy. That’s the problem that should be addressed, rather than pretending there is something wrong or unfair with merit selection.
Continue reading "A Simple Prescription for Race Relations" »
May 15, 2013
Socioeconomic preferences can be a better proxy for race than race preferences, according to an Inside Higher Ed report this morning on a new study to be published this summer in the Harvard Law & Policy Review.
More precisely, the authors, Matthew N. Gaertner, a researcher at Pearson's Center for College and Career Success and Melissa Hart, associate professor of law at the University of Colorado, argue that properly constructed class-based preferences can lead to more racial diversity, i.e., a larger number of underrepresented minorities (URMs) being admitted, than current race-based preferences. A preliminary version of the article is available here.
Analyzing random selection of applicants admitted and rejected at the University of Colorado in 2008 and 2010, the authors describe a complex class-based construct built on a highly complex “disadvantage index” and “overachievement index.” The latter is relatively simple: it measures the degree an applicant’s grades or standardized test scores exceed those typically earned by those in their socioeconomic group.
Continue reading "Looking for Class Preferences to Replace Racial Ones" »
As everyone but members of the National Ostrich Society now knows, Washington, D.C. is beset by three actual or potential scandals: the Benghazi matter; the IRS’s politicization; and the wiretapping of the Associated Press by the DOJ. These matters are important and call for genuine investigation and concern.
But there is another controversy emanating from Washington that should also be of great concern to citizens who care about the education of the nation’s young men and women and the status of free speech and thought in our country. And once instituted, the policy involved could metastasize into other domains as well.
On May 9, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights and the Department of Justice wrote a letter to the president of the University of Montana, mandating a broad new sexual harassment standard for that institution. But rather than limiting itself to that institution, the letter portrayed itself as “a blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country to protect students from sexual harassment and assault.” This would be fine if the standard for harassment were properly defined, consistent with the standard proffered by the United States Supreme Court in 1999 Davis case.
Continue reading "A Misguided Feminist Agenda Curbs Free Speech" »
May 13, 2013
administration is currently embroiled in two political scandals, and a third,
understandably overshadowed by Benghazi and the IRS, is brewing on our
campuses. The Civil Rights offices of both the Education Department and the Justice Department have issued a flabbergasting
and clearly unconstitutional assault on free speech, ruling that colleges must
eliminate and punish "verbal action" (better known as speech) touching on
sexual matters. Rumors (true or not), "unwelcome" requests for dates, off-color
jokes and virtually all sexual discussion will now be (selectively) punishable
as sexual harassment under orders from the Education Department. Here two
well-known civil libertarians react to the ED and DOJ's assault on speech and common
sense: Harvey Silverglate, co-founder of FIRE (above, writing
with Juliana DeVries) and Eugene Volokh of the UCLA law school and the
blog, The Volokh Conspiracy, below.
Cross Posted from the Volokh Conspiracy
The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights is telling universities to institute speech codes. And not just any old speech codes: Under these speech codes, universities would be required to prohibit students from, for instance,
1. saying "unwelcome" "sexual or dirty jokes"
2. spreading "unwelcome" "sexual rumors" (without any limitation to false rumors"
3. engaging in "unwelcome" "circulating or showing e-mails of Web sites of a sexual nature"
4. engaging in "unwelcome" "display or distributi[on of] sexually explicit drawings, pictures or written materials"
5. making "unwelcome" sexual invitations.
This is not limited to material that a reasonable person would find offensive. Nor is limited to material that, put together, creates a "hostile, abusive, or offensive educational environment." (I think even speech codes that would have these requirements are unconstitutional, but the speech codes that the government is urging would in any event not have these requirements.) Every instance of such material of a "sexual nature," under the government's approach, would be "sexual harassment" and would need to be banned.
Why do I say this? The explanation has quite a few moving parts, because of how the government has articulated its theory. But here's a brief summary.
1. The OCR has long taken the view that, just as Title VII's ban on employment discrimination has been read as prohibiting speech or conduct that is "severe or pervasive" enough to create a "hostile, abusive, or offensive environment" based on sex for plaintiff and for a reasonable person, so Title IX (the educational analog) does the same for speech and conduct in educational institutions. Colleges and universities, according to the government, must therefore institute speech and conduct codes that ban such speech and conduct.
courts that have considered the issue have held that such speech codes in public
universities violate the First Amendment on their face (to the extent they
cover speech), because they are too vague or overbroad (i.e., apply beyond the
few unprotected categories of speech, such as threats or "fighting words").
See, for instance, some of the cases cited in this guest post by
FIRE's Greg Lukianoff. The government's pressuring the
creation of such codes in either public institutions or private institutions
would likewise violate the First Amendment. But the government takes a
different view. Though it agrees that "harassment" codes shouldn't be read in
ways that violate the First Amendment (which is tautologically true), they
apparently think that a great deal of speech "of a sexual nature" on campuses
is unprotected by the First Amendment, as suggested by the materials discussed
2. Now, in an investigation involving the University of Montana (and see also this document, the government has apparently gone further:
a. The government has specifically faulted the University for defining "sexual harassment" as being limited to conduct or speech that is severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile environment, or conduct or speech that would be objectively offensive to a reasonable person. "Whether conduct is objectively offensive is a factor used to determine if a hostile environment has been created, but it is not the standard to determine whether conduct was 'unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature' and therefore constitutes 'sexual harassment.'"
b. Instead, according to the government, "sexual harassment" is simply "unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature and can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, such as sexual assault or acts of sexual violence." And what constitutes "unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature"? An earlier OCR document, defining, conduct "sexual in nature" as "sexual conduct," says that "Examples of sexual conduct include":
1. making sexual propositions or pressuring students for sexual favors;
2. touching of a sexual nature;
3. writing graffiti of a sexual nature;
4. displaying or distributing sexually explicit drawings, pictures, or written materials;
5. performing sexual gestures or touching oneself sexually in front of others;
6. telling sexual or dirty jokes;
7. spreading sexual rumors or rating other students as to sexual activity or performance; or
8. circulating or showing e-mails or Web sites of a sexual nature.
Continue reading "The Administration Says Universities Must Implement Broad Speech Codes" »