FROM OUR ESSAYS
By Harvey Silverglate
Seemingly lily-white Elizabeth Warren's supposed claim of Cherokee heritage may make for good campaign fodder--incumbent Senator Scott Brown has gone so far as to demand that Warren apologize for allowing Harvard to claim her as a minority--but the real lesson in this latest of partisan battles has more to do with university rather than electoral politics.
For those who have been living in a bubble, let's rehash: On April 27th, the Boston Herald reported that Elizabeth Warren "was once touted by embattled Harvard Law School officials...as proof of their faculty's diversity" in 1996; indeed, according to the Herald, Warren was considered the only minority woman on the Law School faculty at the time (a statistic of great interest, it seems, to those who count such things). Following the report, the Warren campaign has been on the defensive as opponent Brown, along with many members of the media, have been questioning (or simply making fun of) Warren's seemingly cynical careerist use of her Native American heritage. Over the next few weeks, we will doubtless continue to hear details about Warren's family, and about whether or not she used her lineage in a suspect way.
Continue reading "Harvard's PR Machine and the Cherokees" »
By Peter Wood
What is it with universities in California? Financially strapped, troubled by protesters making impossible demands, and worried about the declining value of their academic programs, many of the state's great universities decide to...redouble their commitment to a fast-fading political ideology.
The latest example is the impending vote by the faculty of UCLA's
College of Letters and Science that would add a course on diversity to
the general education requirements. Only it is not called a course on
diversity. Because the word "diversity" has become too obviously an
enunciation of a contentious political agenda, the supporters of the new
requirement have renamed it "Community and Conflict." Kaustuv Basu,
writing on Inside Higher Ed, quotes a UCLA official who observes that
earlier efforts in this vein failed because the word diversity "means
different things to different people." And the chairman of the Faculty
Executive Committee helpfully explains that the community and conflict
requirement "is not designed to be a diversity requirement."
Continue reading "UCLA: Still Obsessed with Diversity" »
By John S. Rosenberg
"Diversity," as everyone surely knows by now, is the sole remaining justification for racial preference in higher education allowed by the Supreme Court. Defenders seem to regard it as even more essential to a good education than books in the library or professors behind the podium. But a funny thing has been happening on the way to the Supreme's Court revisiting racial preference in the Fisher case next fall: an increasing array of academic studies has been demonstrating that the "diversity" emperor has no clothes.
Continue reading ""Diversity" Takes More Lumps" »
By KC Johnson
As the most important higher-education case in a decade makes its way to the Supreme Court--the Fisher case on racial preferences--UCLA law professor Richard Sander had an excellent series of posts at the Volokh Conspiracy summarizing one critical argument that his research has helped to highlight: that even the ostensible beneficiaries often are harmed (or at the very least, not helped) by racial preferences in admissions. I strongly recommend Sander's three-part series, and thought it would be useful to summarize its main points.
Continue reading "The "Mismatch Thesis," Eye-Opening Research, and the Fisher Case" »
By Robert Weissberg
The University of North Dakota sports teams have been known as the "Sioux" or the "Fighting Sioux" for more than 80 years. But this week the university's hockey team played and lost in the NCAA playoffs wearing uniforms that said simply "North Dakota." The reason: Last November, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple signed legislation permitting the university to retire its "Fighting Sioux" nickname so its hockey team could play schools that had boycotted teams with offensive mascots. This was a triumph for the NCAA in its years-long war against "hostile and abusive" nicknames and logos.
Quarrels over the dropping of long-cherished "offensive" nicknames often
generate immense acrimony. I personally observed this battle in my 28
years at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Arguments over
the Fighting Illini and Chief Illiniwek were fierce, even contributing
to the firing of uber-PC campus Chancellor Nancy Cantor.
Continue reading "Why Campus Mascots and Nicknames Are Under Attack" »
By Judith Miller
Universities have been expressing concern and even outrage
over Associated Press reports that the New York Police Department spent six
months in 2006-2007 keeping tabs on Muslim Student Associations at 16 colleges in
the northeast, including Columbia, Yale, Rutgers and NYU.
Some university presidents and spokesmen complained that the
NYPD's surveillance activities, conducted without clear evidence of criminal
activity, could have a chilling effect on the rights of free speech and
association on their campuses.
Richard Levin, president of Yale, said, "I am writing
to state, in the strongest possible terms, that police surveillance based on
religion, nationality, or peacefully expressed political opinions is
antithetical to the values of Yale, the academic community, and the United
But senior police officials say that the university
spokesmen, including Levin, did not contact the department to hear its
explanation of what law enforcement had done, and not done to keep New York and the
surrounding area safe.
Continue reading "Should Police Monitor Muslim Student Groups?" »
By John S. Rosenberg
Pressure has been building for President Obama to sign an executive order prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression by federal contractors, a move that might make the recent controversy over requiring religious institutions to offer contraception services look mild by comparison.
Metro Weekly recently reported on a strategy session in retiring Rep. Barney Frank's office attended by representatives of the ACLU, Lambda Legal, and other gay and transgender equity advocacy organizations to organize a campaign for such an executive order. Shortly thereafter on Feb. 6 the San Francisco Chronicle's web site published a press release from the Williams Institute at the UCLA law school calling for a gay rights executive order, and the New York Times published an OpEd, "What Obama Should Do About Workplace Discrimination," by M.V. Lee Badgett, the Williams Institute's research director.
Continue reading "Is Another Furor Over Religious Liberty Coming?" »
By Robert Weissberg
Surprise, surprise. Affirmation action for college admissions is yet one more time in the hands of the Supreme Court (Fisher v. Texas). Given the Court's changed personnel from the last go around (Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 2003), race-based preferences may soon be history. But, would this judicial outcome finally doom preferences? Opponents of affirmative might wish to hold off celebrating.
Continue reading "Admission Standards and How to Lower Them Legally" »
By John S. Rosenberg
you probably know by now, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear Fisher v.
Texas, depending on your point of view a promising or threatening challenge
to affirmative action. Major and minor media, blogs, whatever, are all filled
with cries of hope or wails of fear that the racial preferences sanctified in Grutter
will be overturned or at most/least seriously reined in.
Continue reading "What Will the Court Do About Affirmative Action?" »
By Patrick J. Deneen
One of the most mentioned findings in the annual UCLA survey of college freshmen is a decided trend toward more "liberal" political attitudes. The survey shows increased support for same-sex marriage (supported by 71.3% of students, representing a 6.4% increase since 2009); for a pro-choice position on abortion; for the legalization of marijuana; and a corresponding decrease in opposition to provision of public services to undocumented immigrants. One finding that seems at odds with the overall trend is support for national health care, which dropped nearly a point since 2010, and fourteen points since 2007.
Continue reading "Campus Libertarianism up, Civic Commitment Down" »
By Robert Weissberg
Soviet ideologues were famous for adjusting Marxism to the zigs and zags of history, but they were pikers compared to today's campus affirmative-action apparatchiks. The latest installment from university diversicrats is--ready for this--affirmative action for men, not black or Hispanic men, but white men (see here and here and especially here). Allan Bakke, come back, all is forgiven!
More is involved than the usual "fairness" via biological quota. The financial stakes are huge. Compared to women, white men disproportionally gravitate to wealth-generating fields--business, engineering and the sciences. This predilection will be no small matter in a few decades, and universities are justifiably nervous as the pool of future rich donors shrinks vis-a-vis those who majored in French literature.
What explains this male flight? Let me speculate a bit and offer a
reason that dare not speak its name in today's PC climate: universities
are increasingly becoming feminized and many men, to use the
anti-discrimination vocabulary, loathe a hostile working environment. In
a word, males increasingly feel emasculated in today's universities.
Yes, being outnumbered by women may fuel certain male adolescent
fantasies, but believe it or not, a young male who visits a school
dominated by women will suddenly have second thoughts about predatory
Continue reading "The White Male Shortage on Campus" »
By John S. Rosenberg
On February 2 Daniel
Golden, former Wall Street Journal reporter and author of a highly
regarded book on college admissions, reported
in Bloomberg's Business Week that Harvard and Princeton are being
investigated by the Dept. of Education's Office for Civil Rights for
discrimination against Asians.
It's not the first time. In
fact, for the past decade or so there has been a rising tide of accusations
that the Ivies and other selective institutions treat Asians as the "new
Jews" (referring to quotas on Jews in the Ivies and elsewhere early in the
20th Century, and often beyond), holding them to much higher admission
standards than applicants from other groups in order to prevent their "over
representation" and thus make room for the "under-represented" blacks and
Hispanics admitted under much lower affirmative action standards.
Continue reading "Let's Be Frank about Anti-Asian Admission Policies" »
By Robert Weissberg
The campus diversity warriors are once again pounding at
the gates. This time the pounding comes from on high--the American Political
Science Association (APSA) itself. It is a serious clamor: a 76 page report
called Political Science in the 21st
Century authored by fourteen professors, many from elite research-oriented
schools such as Berkeley and UCLA. The report received National Science
Foundation money plus ample professional funding.
It is a curious document since nearly every university,
top to bottom, has for decades sought diversity, and has even been willing to
over-pay and compromise traditional academic standards. The Task Force includes
Diane Pinderhuges, past president of the APSA and my former colleague (and
friend) for 20-plus years. The two of us regularly sat in the same room
discussing how our department could be more inclusive and heard all the
administration entreatments to hire yet more blacks and Hispanics.
Continue reading "Look Who's Endorsing a Race-Based View of Knowledge" »
By Robert Weissberg
By now the "Cupcake War" in which the Berkeley College Republicans sold cupcakes with different prices for various ethnic/racial/gender groups is well known. Drawing less attention is why it produced the panicky overkill reaction, including strong condemnations from some university administrators. After all, the anti-affirmative action bake sale hardly threatens the diversity infrastructure and is a far cry from past disruptive student protests. An impartial outsider might reasonably argue that the affirmative action cause would be better served by ignoring the bake sale to deprive college Republicans of any free publicity.
Let me suggest that the true purpose of the outrage is not to stamp out opposition to racial preferences. Rather, the overreaction is best understood as a reaffirmation of a faith that is slowly (but inevitably) going wobbly. And, I suspect, this includes most Berkeley students. If beliefs about the value of legally imposed racial preferences were rock solid, the over-the-top indignation would be unnecessary.
Continue reading "The Cupcake War as a Religious Event" »
By Donald Downs
It has been over a week since the University of Wisconsin at Madison was torn by the debate over affirmative action on September 13. The conflict was precipitated by the presentation of a study conducted by the Center for Equal Opportunity, which alleges reverse discrimination in UW admissions policies.
A lot has been written about what happened at the press conference announcing the event and the debate between CEO's Roger Clegg and UW law professor Larry Church later that evening. Most publicly presented views have been supportive of the students who protested at these events, and have defended the UW's admissions policies. But criticisms of how this conflict has been handled have percolated beneath the surface.
Continue reading "Protest Versus Disruption at the University of Wisconsin" »
By Heather Mac Donald
Reprinted from City Journal.
California's budget crisis has reduced the University of California to near-penury, claim its spokesmen. "Our campuses and the UC Office of the President already have cut to the bone," the university system's vice president for budget and capital resources warned earlier this month, in advance of this week's meeting of the university's regents. Well, not exactly to the bone. Even as UC campuses jettison entire degree programs and lose faculty to competing universities, one fiefdom has remained virtually sacrosanct: the diversity machine.
Not only have diversity sinecures been protected from budget cuts, their numbers are actually growing. The University of California at San Diego, for example, is creating a new full-time "vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion." This position would augment UC San Diego's already massive diversity apparatus, which includes the Chancellor's Diversity Office, the associate vice chancellor for faculty equity, the assistant vice chancellor for diversity, the faculty equity advisors, the graduate diversity coordinators, the staff diversity liaison, the undergraduate student diversity liaison, the graduate student diversity liaison, the chief diversity officer, the director of development for diversity initiatives, the Office of Academic Diversity and Equal Opportunity, the Committee on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues, the Committee on the Status of Women, the Campus Council on Climate, Culture and Inclusion, the Diversity Council, and the directors of the Cross-Cultural Center, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, and the Women's Center.
Continue reading "Less Academics, More Narcissism" »
By John S. Rosenberg
The University of Virginia Law School held its commencement on May 22, and not a moment too soon. "Not since Teddy Kennedy was speeding through town and picking up reckless driving tickets in the late 1950s," The Hook, a Charlottesville weekly, reported, "has UVA Law School seen so much scandal." Since those scandals involved race it was altogether appropriate that the commencement speaker was Eric Holder, Attorney General of perhaps the most race-conscious Justice Department in history, a department whose civil rights division officials have been accused in sworn testimony by two former members of that division (one of them, Christopher Coates, formerly head of that department's voting rights section) of systematically refusing to enforce voting rights in the race-neutral manner required by law.
In his address Holder referred to UVa's segregated past and to the controversial role a graduating 3L sixty years ago, Robert Kennedy, played in producing an integrated audience for a commencement address by Ralph Bunche, congratulating UVa and his audience by noting that "Sixty years later, I believe that Robert Kennedy would be proud to see this diverse, and extremely talented, group" of 372 JDs about to graduate. However, one name of a graduating 3L was conspicuously missing from the list of degree recipients: Johnathan Perkins, an omission that almost certainly means his degree was held up pending the outcome of an honor committee investigation of a police harassment hoax he admitted to perpetrating.
In late April Perkins, whose father and grandfather were noted civil rights authors, wrote an impassioned letter to the editor of the Virginia Law Weekly claiming that he had been the victim of racial profiling and harassment by the UVa police. "When race is brought up," he wrote, "white people are accused of being prejudiced, insensitive, and out of touch, while black people are accused of having chips on their shoulders, playing the victim, and race-baiting."
Continue reading "Diversity, Honor and Double Standards at UVa" »
By Russell K. Nieli
The American Scholar is the official journal of the Phi Beta Kappa Society -- the college honorary society-- and like The New York Times and The New York Review of Books, its focus is highbrow and its writing quality generally of a high order. Also like the Times and the NYRB, when dealing with current political controversies it leans predictably to the left.
This is prominently on display in its Winter 2011 issue, which features a cover story titled "Affirmative Action's Last Chance," written by former Wesleyan University and Emory president William M. Chace. The article is an impassioned call for private universities, in the face of the increasingly successful ballot initiatives restricting race preferences at public colleges and universities, to step up to the plate and continue or expand their own programs of special admissions for blacks and other targeted minorities. Affirmative action's "last chance," Chace says, is for private institutions like Wesleyan and Emory to ignore opinion polls and ballot initiatives and do what is right by aggressively enrolling underrepresented minorities, who, it is said, now find it much harder to gain admission to state universities in places like California, Michigan, Florida and a growing number of other states. "Opposition to affirmative action has drastically reduced minority enrollment at public universities," the article's introductory blurb begins. "Private institutions have the power and the responsibility to reverse the trend."
Chace's article is worth considering at some length. It reflects better than anything else I have read in recent years the troubled state in which racial preference supporters find themselves as they desperately try to hang on to policies that continue to face great public opposition and which they have reason to suspect have led to many of the serious difficulties and unintended consequences that their critics always predicted. Chace begins his article with the oft-quoted line from the commencement address President Johnson delivered at Howard University in June of 1965: "You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, 'you are free to compete with all the others.'"
Continue reading "A Desperate Defense of Affirmative Action" »
By Russell K. Nieli
Social psychology has long been a haven for left-wing scholars. Jonathan Haidt, one of the best known and most respected young social psychologists, has heaved two bombshells at his field--one indicting it for effectively excluding conservatives (he is a liberal) and the other for what he sees as a jaundiced and cult-like opposition to religion (he is an atheist).
Here he is on the treatment of conservatives:
I submit to you that the under-representation of conservatives in social psychology, by a factor of several hundred, is evidence that we are a tribal moral community that actively discourages conservatives from entering. ... We should take our own rhetoric about the benefits of diversity seriously and apply it to ourselves. ... Just imagine if we had a true diversity of perspectives in social psychology. Imagine if conservative students felt free enough to challenge our dominant ideas, and bold enough to pull us out of our deepest ideological ruts. That is my vision for our bright post-partisan future.
Continue reading "A Double Shock to Liberal Professors" »
By John S. Rosenberg
Are you a female STEM student (or wannabe STEM student) suffering from a stereotype infection? Then, according to new research recently described in Inside Higher Ed ("Inoculation Against Stereotype"), you should take a course from a female instructor to inoculate yourself.
The research, based on a study at U Mass Amherst by Nilanjana Dasgupta, associate professor of psychology and some graduate students there,
found notable benefits for female students (and for male students as well, though to a lesser degree) to being taught by women -- and may point to strategies that would keep more women in STEM fields. The idea behind the research is that certain strategies "inoculate" female students against the sense that they don't belong or are not likely to succeed in math and science courses.
.... Dasgupta said that the evidence suggests that women who are exposed to women doing math and science successfully end up with "stereotype inoculation" in which they gain confidence. The obvious solution from the new research -- which Dasgupta said wasn't realistic -- would be to have only women teach introductory STEM courses.
Continue reading "Do Female Students Need 'Stereotype Inoculation'?" »
By KC Johnson
Each year, the American Historical Association---the nation's leading professional organization of historians---confers the Eugene Asher Distinguished Teaching Award, which "recognizes inspiring teachers whose techniques and mastery of subject matter made a lasting impression and substantial difference to students of history." At the 2011 annual conference (held January 4-7 week in Boston), the AHA will add recently-retired Duke professor Peter Wood to the Asher Award's list of "inspiring" teachers of history.
For those who followed the lacrosse case, Wood needs no introduction; he was among the most outspoken anti-lacrosse members of the Duke faculty. Wood's commentary, however, differed from that of other anti-lacrosse extremists, most of whose public remarks focused on assumptions of guilt about the criminal case (the Group of 88's statement) or race-baiting demagoguery. Wood, on the other hand, tended to use the lacrosse case to speak out about the character of students in his classes. He did so through a string of statements that contained stereotyped, malicious, or evidence-free things about his own students. That such a figure could subsequently win an award specifically designed for "inspiring" students in his classes is nothing short of astonishing.
Even before the lacrosse case broke, it was clear Wood didn't much like Duke students who played lacrosse. In 2004, he wrote to a dean complaining about lacrosse players allegedly missing one of his classes to attend practice. (He didn't mention that the players had acted appropriately and had received advance permission from the relevant dean.) After the false rape charges prompted a campus investigation of the 2006 lacrosse team, Wood expanded on his critique. But he gave an account of his (lacrosse-playing) students' classroom behavior that differed wildly from that of the other nine faculty members interviewed by the investigatory committee, and even Wood's teaching assistant declined to corroborate the Asher Award winner's version of his students' behavior. Wood also seemed to invent a past that never existed: the committee's report coldly noted that Wood's "more recent statements about the behavior of lacrosse players [in his 2004 class] have been significantly more negative than what he said in the letter he wrote in 2004."
Continue reading "Honoring One of the Perpetrators at Duke" »
By John Rosenberg
When the history of the decline and fall of the regime of racial preference is written, recognition will of course be given to the power of the moral, philosophical, historical, legal, and political arguments arrayed against the repugnant notion that benefits and burdens should be distributed on the basis of race. But it seems to me that a prominent place in the story must also be reserved for the devastating, pomposity-puncturing impact of wickedly effective satire in the form of "anti-affirmative action bake sales" that spontaneously erupted on campuses around the country.
For some reason liberals --- a shorthand here for university administrators, students, faculty, and their supporters in the mainstream media and Democratic Party --- who defend as a matter of principle lowering standards for approved minorities in hiring, college admissions, etc., become sputteringly apoplectic when students, parroting and parodying affirmative action, stage satirical mock sales of cakes and cookies with higher prices for Asians and whites and lower prices for blacks and Hispanics and, sometimes, women. Requiring Asians, for example, to score 200 points higher than other minorities on the SAT strikes liberals as entirely fair and just, but a mock sale ostensibly requiring them to pay fifty cents more for a cupcake is somehow offensively discriminatory. Adding irony to insult, they don't even seem to recognize that by calling the differential pricing discriminatory they are simply confirming the point of the affirmative action protesters whose satire, as I argued on this site last April, "merely mimicked the actual practices of the admissions offices."
There have been several dozen of these spontaneous, un-coordinated bake sales on campuses over the past several years, and the controversy at Bucknell is still raging. John Stossel of Fox News held his own bake sale to focus attention on Bucknell's suppression of political speech, and has had several on air discussions of it. "This week," he wrote two weeks ago,
I held a bake sale --- a racist bake sale. I stood in midtown Manhattan shouting, "Cupcakes for sale." My price list read:
Asians -- $1.50
Whites -- $1.00
Blacks/Latinos --- 50 cents
People stared. One yelled, "What is funny to you about people who are less privileged?" A black woman said, angrily, "It's very offensive, very demeaning!" One black man accused me of poisoning the cupcakes.
I understand why people got angry. What I did was hurtful to some. My bake sale mimicked what some conservative college students did at Bucknell University. The students wanted to satirize their school's affirmative action policy, which makes it easier for blacks and Hispanics to get admitted.....
All the Bucknell students wanted was a campus discussion about that. Why not? A university is supposed to be a place for open discussion, but some topics are apparently off-limits.
Continue reading ""Bake Sales" Still Cooking On Campus" »
By Robert Cherry
The education of black and Hispanic women is very much at stake in the on-going controversy over for-profit colleges. A November 9th story in the New York Times by Tamar Lewin, "Scrutiny and Suits Take Toll on For-Profit Company," documented potential abuses found at Kaplan University, one of the schools that disproportionately enrolls black female students. Carlos Urquilla-Diaz a former Kaplan administrator, "recalled a PowerPoint presentation showing African-American women who were raising two children by themselves as the company's primary target. Such women, Mr. Urquilla-Diaz said, were considered most likely to drop out before completing the program, leaving Kaplan with the aid money and no need to provide more services."
The recruiting tactics of some for-profit colleges are not the only problem. There has been too much emphasis on increasing four-year graduation rates rather than offering alternatives, particularly occupational programs that lead to certification or two-year degrees. The strong evidence for this is summarized in an American Educator lead article, "Beyond One-Size-Fits-All College Dreams." Earnings among college graduates have become more dispersed, and earnings from many certificate and occupational two-year degrees have risen. As a result, more than 60 percent of those with two-year degrees make more than the lowest 25 percent of four-year college graduates. In this environment, cajoling weakly-performing high school students into focusing their goals on four-year degrees may not be in their best interest.
Many students are well aware of the hurdles they face in seeking four-year degrees. Some enroll in occupational programs but others seek four-year degrees by enrolling in private and public colleges that give them the best chance of reaching their goals. For black students, most identifiable are the Historically Black Colleges (HBCs) but there are many more colleges that serve this role. Black students graduate disproportionately from these schools. In 2006, 19.29 percent of all black female four-year graduates came from the HBCs. In addition, another 19.25 percent of black female graduates came from colleges where black women comprise at least 25 percent of female graduates. As a result, nearly 40 percent of black female graduates came from a small group of colleges that produce only 7.56 percent of all female graduates.
Continue reading "Kaplan University and the Short-Changing of Minority Women" »
By John McWhorter
Should all-black colleges exist in 2010? No, some say. After all, it's been almost fifty years since segregation was outlawed in America. And most Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are of also-ran status, doing their best, but hardly the bastions of excellence that so many were in the old days. Graduation rates are low and not one of them made the top half of Forbes' ranking of more than 600 schools nationwide. Of the "black Ivies"-- Morehouse, Spelman and Howard-- only Spelman made US News and World Report's top 100 list of Liberal Arts colleges in 2010. Graduates of HBCUs don't make as much money, on average, as their equivalents who went to mainstream schools.
To many, all of this means it's time to just shut these schools down. That argument, if based solely on the facts above, is ultimately an ill-considered reaction, unlikely, I suspect, from anyone who has ever spent time at one of the schools.
Yet it is hardly wrong to start conceiving of HBCUs as time-limited. I don't find that easy to write as a black person - but I do find it true. I presume all agree that HBCUs were necessary in the days of legalized segregation, and that they produced legions of top-rate black thinkers and professionals. The question is what their value is today.
Continue reading "Cognitive Dissonance and Historically Black Colleges" »
By Mark Bauerlein
The National Research Council has finally issued its rankings of doctoral programs, with coverage appearing here, here, and here . Right now, everybody is trying to assimilate the results, which are more complicated than those in the 1995 report. The "Data-Based Assessment" runs to 282 pages, the "Guide to the Methodology" 57 pages, and each one contains numerous cautionary notes about the conclusiveness of the findings.
Still, however confusing and tentative the results, they bear tremendous authority and universities will plumb them for good news and trumpet them in years to come. For this reason, any criterion that plays a role in the rankings process has a powerful, long-term impact on post-graduate education and research in the United States. If the NRC used one, the logic goes, then it's a settled norm, and universities looking to rise in the next version of rankings should consider it well.
It is troubling, then, to find two criteria implemented in the project that are, in truth, dubious measures of the quality of research in at least one area of graduate study, the humanities.
Continue reading "Two Problems with the New Doctoral Rankings" »
By Russell K. Nieli
On average black students do much worse on the SAT and many other standardized tests than whites. While encouraging progress was made in the 1970s and early 1980s in improving black SAT scores and reducing the black/white test score gap, progress in this direction came to a halt by the early 1990s, and today the gap stands pretty much where it was twenty years ago. Whereas whites and Asians today average a little over 500 on the math and reading portions of the SAT, blacks score only a little over 400 -- in statistical metric a gap of a full standard deviation. Only about one in six blacks does as well on the SAT as the average white or Asian.
This state of affairs is well known uncomfortable though it may be to bring up in public. Less well known is what in the scholarly literature is called "the underperformance problem." Once in college blacks with the same entering SAT scores as whites and Asians earn substantially lower grades over their college careers and wind up with substantially lower class rankings. This gap in grade performance, moreover, is not reduced by adding high school grades or socio-economic status to the criteria for matching students. Blacks equally matched with whites or Asians in terms of their entering scholastic credentials and socio-economic backgrounds simply do not perform as well as their Asian and white counterparts in college. And the degree of underperformance is often very substantial.
This is contrary to what many people have been led to believe. Standardized tests are "culturally biased," it is said, and do not fairly indicate the abilities or promise of racial minorities growing up outside the dominant white, middle-class, Anglo-Saxon culture. Often this claim is bolstered by reciting items on long outdated verbal tests asking for the meaning of words like "regatta" or "cotillion" that only upper-class whites are likely to know. The implication is usually that those from minority cultures will do better in college in terms of grades than their test scores would predict. The "cultural bias" argument, however, is not only questionable on its face -- since the clearly non-Anglo Saxon Asians do better than whites on most standardized tests of mathematical abilities including the SAT, while the equally non-Anglo Saxon Ashkenazic Jews outperform everyone else on tests of English verbal ability -- but fails to account for the fact that in terms of grade performance blacks in college consistently do worse, not better, than their standardized test scores would predict. Standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT overpredict, not underpredict, how well blacks will do in college, and in this sense the tests are predictively biased in favor of blacks, not against them.
Continue reading "The Underperformance Problem" »
By Ward Connerly
More than thirteen years ago the people of California voted to end discrimination and "preferential treatment" on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity and national origin, in the public arenas of contracting, education and employment. The margin of the vote on the ballot initiative (Proposition 209) that enshrined the principle of equal treatment in the California Constitution was not a squeaker; it was a decisive 55%-45% margin.
In the years since that vote, most Californians have accepted the verdict of the majority and have adapted to a life of equal treatment without preferences for anyone. That is as it should be in a nation for which the principle of equal treatment is the centerpiece of our civic values system, and for which the "rule of law" is one of our most valued ideals. But, there are some who refuse to take "no" for an answer. Instead, they have used every means at their disposal to bureaucratically circumvent, legally challenge, or flat-out disregard the initiative's simple command of equality.
This week the California Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the law, 6-1, in a response to a lawsuit by white contractors against the city of San Francisco. Along the way, the court noted and dismissed various stratagems employed by the city to avoid the clear meaning of the law.
Continue reading "The Endless War Against 209" »
By Russell K. Nieli
When college presidents and academic administrators pay their usual obeisance to "diversity" you know they are talking first and foremost about race. More specifically, they are talking about blacks. A diverse college campus is understood as one that has a student body that--at a minimum--is 5 to 7 percent black (i.e., equivalent to roughly half the proportion of blacks in the general population). A college or university that is only one, two, or three percent black would not be considered "diverse" by college administrators regardless of how demographically diverse its student body might be in other ways. The blacks in question need not be African Americans--indeed at many of the most competitive colleges today, including many Ivy League schools, an estimated 40-50 percent of those categorized as black are Afro-Caribbean or African immigrants, or the children of such immigrants.
As a secondary meaning "diversity" can also encompass Hispanics, who together with blacks are often subsumed by college administrators and admissions officers under the single race category "underrepresented minorities." Most colleges and universities seeking "diversity" seek a similar proportion of Hispanics in their student body as blacks (since blacks and Hispanics are about equal in number in the general population), though meeting the black diversity goal usually has a much higher priority than meeting the Hispanic one.
Continue reading "How Diversity Punishes Asians, Poor Whites and Lots of Others" »
By Cathy Young
Connecticut's Quinnipiac College, best known for its political polling, is now at the center of the newest round in the controversy over Title IX and women's sports. In a trial that opened last week, a federal judge must decide whether competitive cheerleading should count as a sport for gender equity purposes. The case illustrates the complexities -- and some would say, the inanities -- of the debate over gender and college athletics.
In March 2009, Quinnipiac announced that it was eliminating several athletic programs, including women's volleyball, due to recession-related budget cuts. On the other hand, the school added a new team to its women's sports roster: a competitive cheerleading squad. Women's volleyball coach Robin Sparks and four team members sued claiming a violation of Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments, which prohibits sex discrimination at educational institutions receiving any federal funds. The team got a temporary lease on life pending the outcome of the lawsuit. Meanwhile, Judge Stefan Underhill has granted the suit class action status, so that, if violations are found, remedies could be ordered for all current and future female athletes at Quinnipiac.
Last year's budget cuts did not spare the male athletic teams at Quinnipiac. Men's golf and outdoor track were dropped along with women's volleyball, with no reprieve or reversal. (As for men's volleyball, the college never had it in the first place.) Other men's teams were forced to downside their rosters -- in the case of soccer, from 29 to 23 players, much to the coach's disgust. Some would say that, when two men's teams are cut while women lose 11 slots on the volleyball team and gain 30 on the cheer squad, it is not the women who should be complaining.
Of course, the question is whether competitive cheering is a "real sport" or not. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) still does not recognize it as a varsity sport, though there is a push to change that next year. Still, college cheerleading in the 21st Century has come a long way from the stereotype of sexy girls shaking their booty and boosting the boys: it requires high levels of athleticism and technical skill and features national competitions. Most of the young women on Quinnipiac's cheer squad are top-grade gymnasts.
Continue reading "The Ongoing Folly of Title IX" »
by Roger Clegg
An Inside Higher Ed article yesterday by English professor Satya P. Mohanty of Cornell on "Diversity's Next Challenges" constructs an elaborate house of cards but then inadvertently knocks the whole thing down. The piece features, in particular, an argument suggesting that "stereotype threat"---the claim that fear of being judged by a stereotype can cause minorities to do much less well on a test than they should---requires that universities and all of society must be restructured before minorities can be expected to succeed.
Stereotype-threat research regarding test performance has been widely used and abused. But, whatever its merits, Professor Mohanty has extrapolated its claimed findings to a broader one, that the "culture of our campuses," indeed the entire "culture of learning," needs to be restructured with the aim of fostering racial trust. Merely admitting a diverse student body is not enough: We must "think about what our campuses feel like to those who come to learn." Campuses must be perceived as "trustworthy" by these students. And this means that campus culture must be "more open, democratic, and genuinely attentive to the experience of different social groups." Again, there must be a focus not only on admitting a diverse student body, but on "the campus as a learning environment for different kinds of learners."
Professor Mohanty then plugs the forthcoming book he has co-edited , The Future of Diversity (some of the arguments that follow here are fleshed out by the book's various authors, and the op-ed apparently endorses them). That future is important not only for the success of the university per se, but because "university campuses have a special role to play in building the future of our multicultural and diverse society."
Continue reading "Reshape Universities Because of "Stereotype Threat"?" »
By Ward Connerly
Although my years of service on the University of California (UC) Board of Regents were the most tumultuous years of my life, my pride in the Board and the university that it serves has, until now, never wavered. But, a recent meeting and action by the Board has caused that feeling of pride to diminish.
At several UC campuses, a variety of incidents occurred several weeks ago that were characterized as creating a "toxic" racial climate for black students. The source of the "toxicity" came in the form of an off-campus party called the "Compton Cookout" and a noose found hanging inside the library at the UCSD campus.
In a little over a three-week period, racial epithets were allegedly directed at black students at UCSD; and, at other UC campuses, a swastika was carved into a Jewish student's door and derogatory graffiti was found at the gay and lesbian students' center.
These alleged incidents resulted in a delegation of students, faculty members and UC staff attending a meeting of the Board of Regents in late March to complain that the Regents weren't doing enough to create a climate that nurtures "inclusiveness," for minorities, such as blacks and gays/lesbians. With no effort to validate the assertions, several regents gushed into a state of apologia, as is customary for university governing board members in such circumstances.
Continue reading "More Subterfuge at UCal" »
By Cathy Young
During a conversation at an academic conference, a professor from an Ivy League school refers to two female graduate students as "black bitches." After the students report the incident, the professor apologizes -- but it takes another two months, and vociferous protests from the campus black community, for the university officials to acknowledge the issue publicly, announce mild sanctions against the professor, and state that an investigation was underway.
This is a true story currently unfolding at Cornell University. It is a story with a twist: the offending professor is himself black and teaches in the Africana Studies department, and the incident occurred at a conference on black intellectuals. And, in yet another twist that some have called karmic, the professor, Grant Farred, has now become a target of a rabid campaign that has all the hallmarks of a politically correct witch-hunt -- four years after he was at the forefront of a similar campaign at Duke University during the now-infamous rape hoax in which three white lacrosse team members were accused of assaulting a black stripper at a party.
Professor Farred's recent gaffe, while hardly commendable, seems to have been little more than a tacky attempt at humor -- humor which, compounding the irony, was probably rooted in the identity politics of black "authenticity" expressed through vulgar slang. Farred had invited the women, both of them his advisees, to a February 5-6 conference at the University of Rochester titled "Theorizing Black Studies: Thinking Black Intellectuals." The women arrived late, walking into the conference room in the middle of a panel. After the session ended, Farred came up to them, thanked them for making the drive to Rochester and then added, lowering his voice, "When you both walked in, I thought, 'Who are these black bitches?'"
Continue reading "A Dose of Poetic Justice at Cornell" »
By Susan Pinker
If only Carole Carrier and her peers felt more aggrieved, the new report released by the American Association of University Women on women in science would make more sense. On the day the AAUW report was released, Carrier, a 34 year-old mechanical engineer who works part-time, was walking down the street in early spring with her 20 month old son, Luke, and her mother, Anita. They were on their way to see the spring flower display in the municipal greenhouse when we all stopped for a neighborly chat. "I've never experienced bias," said Carrier, her pale eyes registering surprise when I described the gist of the report. Standing on the sidewalk, I summarized its main points: that women avoid going into STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and math) because hidden cultural signals have persuaded them that women don't have what it takes to succeed in those fields. The few women who do buck these stereotypes then tend to abandon their career plans due to implicit gender biases and university science programs that make women feel unwelcome. Hence, a ratio of women in physical science and math that won't budge past 20 percent, and the title of the report,"Why So Few?"
But Carrier, like many female engineers and scientists I've spoken to over the past five years, was frankly puzzled about why anyone might see her as a victim. All along she has felt her choices were entirely her own. She always liked math and was encouraged by her parents, especially her father, who also likes numbers, to study Pure and Applied Science. Then she went into a Forestry program, but she switched out of that because "it was too touchy-feely. It was like, is this environment good for squirrels? I needed to go into something where there's a right answer." So she transferred into agricultural engineering, and told me she enjoyed it immensely---the university program, as well as the work that came afterwards. So, what about the AAUW's conclusion that women avoid studying engineering because role models are scarce, and university programs are hostile to women? "Hostile environment? Not at all. We had excellent professors. Many female professors, too." There were also many other young women in the program, she said, because students could specialize in food or water treatment and most of the women planned to work in the developing world. Not Carole. "From university I went to work at a cement company because of my love of heavy machinery. They have their own open pit mine, and it was fantastic! I loved every minute of it. I loved the work, and the people there. We worked extremely well together. I started out as a mechanical engineer working on reliability issues, then worked on production, then on machinery output." The company was good at staff development, offering courses and the opportunity to advance, she added, and she "mixed well" with employees, and was well-liked, especially on the shop floor, where she considered other employees' real life expertise as instructive as her academic training. She even had an octengenarian male mentor. Hers seemed like an unequivocally happy story, so thin on the ground these days.
Continue reading "On Women, STEM and Hidden Bias" »
By John Rosenberg
Sometimes it seems as though the most heavily researched, richly funded area of American science today involves studies of why there aren't more women in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and efforts to induce, recruit, and retain more of them.
In her article for Minding the Campus, Susan Pinker deftly punctures the omissions and evasions of the most recent such study, the AAUW's "Why So Few?", pointing out how that study's predictable bogeymen of "stereotyping" and "unconscious bias" denigrate the choices many women freely make.
There is nothing new about this attempt (dare one call it patronizing?) to deny and denigrate women's choices. A generation ago, for example, in its spectacularly unsuccessful attempt to hold Sears, Roebuck responsible for the "underrepresentation" of women in such jobs as installing home heating and cooling systems, (EEOC v. Sears, Roebuck and Co. 628 F. Supp. 1264 (1986), 839 F.2d 302 (1988)), the EEOC submitted testimony from an expert witness (Alice Kessler Harris, a prominent women's historian) that discrimination was the only possible explanation for such "underrepresentation" because "where opportunity has existed, women have never failed to take the job offered.... Failure to find women in so-called non-traditional jobs can thus only be interpreted as a consequence of employers' discrimination."
Continue reading "The Misguided Push for STEM Diversity" »
By Roger Clegg
Two law-school professors, Vikram David Amar and Kevin R. Johnson, recently published a piece in FindLaw.com on "Why U.S. News and World Report Should Include a Diversity Index in its Ranking of Law Schools." Early on, the piece notes a research finding that, by including in its law-school index the LSAT scores and undergraduate GPAs of the students admitted and enrolled, the USNWR ranking "creates disincentives for schools to admit and enroll applicants from underrepresented groups that have not - as groups - fared particularly well in grades or on standardized tests."
The good news is that Amar and Johnson don't suggest what many on the Left would immediately demand, namely that the index and, for that matter, law schools themselves simply ignore test scores and grades if they have a politically incorrect disparate impact. The bad news is that the authors instead embrace the "welcome development" that Bob Morse, USNWR's "point person for law school ratings," has "recently expressed openness to thinking about incorporating a 'diversity index' into the rating methodology."
Amar and Johnson then agree with Mr. Morse that "measuring diversity is a very complicated issue," since after all it requires deciding which racial groups "should be included in the definition of diversity, and determining the extent to which the diversity index should go beyond race and ethnicity - to include socio-economic class, gender, sexual orientation, geography, age, and perhaps religion and other characteristics ...." True enough (and probably a good reason to rethink the wisdom of the whole undertaking).
Continue reading "Shall We Rank Law Schools for Diversity?" »
By Robert Weissberg
In the contemporary battle within the social sciences between free market think tanks and liberal- dominated universities, the former labor under a huge disadvantage: they lack students. Think-tank based scholars may daily issue erudite policy analyses, write incisive op-ed columns galore, dominate talk radio, publish in widely admired magazines like City Journal but the half-life of these missives seldom exceeds a few days. By contrast, a professor typically has fifteen weeks, two to three times per week, for usually 50 minutes, to expound his or her views to a captive audience, two to four courses per semester, and over a thirty-five plus year career. Of the utmost importance, professors can compel students to read stuff and insist on minimal familiarity, a power unimaginable to even the most professional think tank PR department. That these students are of an impressionable age---the pedagogical equivalent of droit de seigneur-- and are hardly in a position to argue, only adds to this built in indoctrination advantage.
In graduate education the propagating-the-faith advantage multiplies, since most Ph.D. students will become tomorrow's teachers. Ideological domination can persist for decades, regardless of events. So, to use a depressing example, the Marxist analyses that first filtered into America's college classrooms in the 1960s are still going strong a half century later and can only continue on as the torch is passed from professor to Ph.D. advisees. Perhaps only centuries from now will Marxism go inert and like spent weapons-grade Plutonium, the last lead-brained but still radioactive Marxist professor will be entombed in a deep Nevada salt mine. And it may require additional centuries for him to be joined by ideologically exhausted feminists, deconstructionists, ethnic studies experts and all the rest.
This monopoly of early access cannot be overcome by think tanks churning out more reports, better public relations, or ensuring that every "important opinion leaders" receives a free copy of their sponsored research (which may not even be read). And keep in mind that professors get to students first (the droit de seigneur), so the glories of free markets, low taxes, and limited government etc. etc. must overcome years of prior exposure. It is no wonder that many free-market think tank scholars must feel like they are trying to push boulder up a mountain. They are---the professors got there first and designed the obstacle course terrain.
Continue reading "Recapturing the University: The Hybrid Alternative" »
By Roger Clegg
Should universities weigh race and ethnicity in deciding whom to hire for their science departments?
The American Association for the Advancement of Science thinks so, according to a recent National Journal article. "Science and engineering should look like the rest of the population," says AAAS's Daryl Chubin, and if hiring decisions don't yield the right numbers, "somebody needs to pull the plug and say this has not been an open and fair search."
Taking steps to ensure that the best possible individuals apply and are hired is fine---indeed, that's precisely what the whole process should be about. Casting your recruiting net far and wide is a good idea, as is reassessing your recruiting policies to make sure that you are not overlooking good sources of candidates. Reevaluating selection criteria from time to time is, likewise, unobjectionable; if some criteria are weighed too heavily or not heavily enough, with the result that the best individuals are not selected, then that needs to be fixed. And, of course, everyone involved in the selection process, from beginning to end, needs to be told that the best individuals, regardless of skin color or national origin, are to be picked.
But it's clear that nondiscrimination is exactly what AAAS does not have in mind. The National Journal article says that it wants to "allocate additional slots to U.S. racial and ethnic minorities" and to protect universities from "likely lawsuits by groups seeking color-blind admissions policies." As the quotes above suggest, it is demanding that schools get their numbers right. It wants quotas, it wants race and ethnicity to be weighed when hiring decisions are made.
Continue reading "Another Bad Idea: ''Diversifying'' Science Faculties" »
By Roger Clegg
Allegations of tenure discrimination have recently been leveled against Emerson College on grounds of race and against DePaul University on grounds of sex.
At Emerson, two black scholars were denied tenure, the local chapter of the NAACP became involved, and an investigation has been launched by the Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination. The school has agreed to give one of the professors another shot next year, in exchange for dropping his complaint with the Commission.
Four women are challenging DePaul's tenure denial. They have a lawyer, have unsuccessfully appealed the denial to the school's president, and have now indicated that they plan to take DePaul to court.
In neither case has direct evidence of discriminatory intent been alleged, such as racist or sexist comments. Instead, statistical disparities of one sort or another are cited.
So, is there anything to these allegations?
Continue reading "Discrimination In Granting Tenure?" »
By John McWhorter
While this year has become best known as the fortieth anniversary of Woodstock, it was also forty years ago that the first African-American Studies department was established, at San Francisco State University.
Forty-one fall semesters later, there are hundreds of such departments. Has what they teach evolved with the march of time? What should the mission of a truly modern African-American Studies department be?
The answer common in such departments is that the principal mission is to teach students about the eternal power of racism past and present. Certainly it should be part of a liberal arts education to learn that racism is more than face-to-face abuse, and that social inequality is endemic to American society. However, too often the curriculum of African-American Studies departments gives the impression that racism and disadvantage are the most important things to note and study about being black.
Continue reading "What African-American Studies Could Be" »
By Edward Blum
As the saying goes, "fuzzy law begets controversy", and nothing has proven this maxim better than the Supreme Court's 2003 landmark ruling on "diversity" in higher education. Lacking clarity, the ruling has left individual institutions to interpret how to achieve diversity on their campuses, stoking never-ending conflict over race and admissions. However, a new lawsuit from Texas that is working its way up the appellate ladder---the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals took the case this week--- may compel the justices to clarify---and limit---how race and ethnicity may be used in the admissions process.
Some background is in order. Six years ago, the high court handed down a decision from a University of Michigan case that addressed the use of race as a factor in university admissions. In Grutter v. Bollinger, a challenge to Michigan's law school admissions practices, the justices ended a debate that had bedeviled college administrators for decades by permitting institutions of higher education to employ racial and ethnic preferences in order to create a "diverse" student body.
The Grutter opinion was significant in that it held that the creation of a racially diverse student body was so beneficial to the educational experience of everyone that there was a "compelling state interest" to lower the admissions bar for some applicants, and raise it for others.
Continue reading "Deciphering Grutter V. Bollinger" »
By Ward Connerly
During my twelve-year term as a Regent of the University of California (UC), I served for several of those years as Chairman of the Committee on Finance, which has jurisdiction over the budget of the UC system.
Adopting a budget was among the most complex and painful tasks that confronted the Board. For me, the "teachable moment" from that experience was that fewer things are more complicated and mysterious than a multi-billion dollar budget of a university that has numerous sources of public and private funding - restricted and unrestricted, that respects "shared governance," and which allocates budget authority to its campuses and other operational units. I always doubted that the Central Intelligence Agency could unravel the mystery of a UC budget.
While many in the nation are focusing for the first time on the serious fiscal dilemma of the State of California, UC has had to deal with cycles of financial shortages for much of the past two decades. In fact, belt-tightening has become the norm rather than the exception at UC. It is because of this experience that the current State budget "shortfall" is not hitting UC with the same effects as might otherwise have been the case.
To place matters in context, there are several salient features that must be acknowledged. First, UC is a vast enterprise with multiple sources of funding. This fact serves to cushion the university from the consequences that would be devastating to other universities faced with similar circumstances. Second, instead of just cutting costs to match revenues, the UC Regents and the administration have always sought to have nearly all its constituent parts share the pain during harsh budgetary times. For example, during the current UC budget year, in addition to staff furloughs - which are expected to achieve roughly 25% of the almost $1 billion "hit" on the UC budget from the State, and a 9.3% fee (tuition) increase, the university is looking at fewer course offerings, deferral of salary increases for most UC employees, layoffs, fewer faculty hires, fewer teaching assistants and elimination of a 2.5% increase in freshman enrollment that is a part of the Higher Education Compact between the State of California and the university. This approach will result in all segments of the UC community - students, faculty and staff - experiencing some degree of economic harm.
Continue reading "No Recession For Bonuses Or "Diversity"" »
By John McWhorter
"If I couldn't study something that's about myself then I wouldn't want to be here," the black sophomore once told me, explaining how crucial to him it was to be able to major in African-American Studies.
It always stuck with me.
The African-American Studies department he was a major in was one of about 300 nationwide; this year is, in fact, the fortieth anniversary of the foundation of the first one at San Fracisco State University in 1969. I have never had a problem with such departments in themselves. After all, despite that we hear this so often it has become a cliche, the story of black people is, to a considerable extent, the story of America.
Slavery helped drive the colonial economy and sparked the Civil War. The Civil Rights revolution was a moral advance unprecedented in the history of the species. Today American popular culture is deeply stamped brown and, in that form, has taken over the world, from hiphop through the worldwide superstar status of actors like Will Smith. The swelling numbers of African immigrants are giving the African diaspora to the New World a whole new meaning. The campaign and election of Barack Obama distilled all of this so profoundly that courses could be taught on it alone - and surely will be, nationwide, starting in the fall.
Continue reading "What Black Studies Can Do" »
By Daphne Patai
One of the key contributions of second-wave feminism to the academy is what is known as "standpoint theory," which asserts that members of oppressed groups have special "ways of knowing" based on their group's unique experiences. The problem standpoint theory attempted to address is how to respond to the apparent monopoly of knowledge and power held by men (usually called "white men" in these discussions). Since women were for centuries excluded from education and professional activities, how could they gain traction for their views and rapidly enhance their present status?
The easiest way to deal with this problem is to consider the source of an idea an adequate gauge of its validity and significance. This is known as the "genetic fallacy," a form of ad hominem or ad feminam argument. Valorizing the viewpoints of hitherto marginalized groups is an obvious instance of this fallacy. It also discourages challenges to one's point of view, since any challenge can be represented as an attempt to demean that group's experience, out of which it presumably speaks.
In the more academic-sounding form of "standpoint epistemology," by which one's racial or sexual identity provides a person with experiences that define how he or she thinks, deference is routinely paid to the special perspectives of minorities. While not wanting to get embroiled in biological essentialism or in the view that acquired experiences are inherited (or transmitted through some sort of collective unconscious), proponents of standpoint theory have turned it into a staple of feminism over the last few decades, and it has been of great utility as well to other identity groups. Its objective, as feminist scholar Sandra Harding, one of the founders of feminist standpoint theory, puts it, is to unearth the special powers that women's lived experience can offer, the special knowledge that they can thus claim.
Continue reading "Standpoint Theory Arrives At The Court" »
By John McWhorter
A few weeks ago a teenaged pot dealer was shot dead in a Harvard dormitory.
That alone was depressing enough. However, Harvard suspects a black senior, Chanequa Campbell, of an association with the pot dealer -- Justin Cosby, also black -- and last week was barred from her dormitory and prevented from graduating. Campbell grew up in the depressed Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, but was a star student, a product of elite prep school Packer Collegiate Institiute, and four years ago was celebrated for her achievement.
The details have yet to be released. But one of the three men who planned the murder, and a suspect in the shooting itself, Jabrai Copney, is a songwriter from New York who was dating another Harvard undergrad named Brittany Smith who also grew up in Brooklyn. Copney and Smith are black.
Continue reading "The Murder At Harvard" »
By Donald Downs
Forty years ago this week, an armed student insurrection erupted on the Cornell campus. I was a sophomore on campus at the time and later wrote a book on the events, Cornell '69: Liberalism and the Crisis of the American University. To some the drama represented a triumph of social justice, paving the way for a new model of the university based on the ideals of identity politics, diversity, and the university as a transformer of society. To others, it fatefully propelled Cornell, and later much of American higher education, away from the traditional principles of academic freedom, reason, and individual excellence. "Cornell," wrote the famous constitutional scholar Walter Berns, who resigned from Cornell during the denouement of the conflict, "was the prototype of the university as we know it today, having jettisoned every vestige of academic integrity."
In the wee hours of Friday, April 19, 1969, twenty-some members of Cornell's Afro-American Society took over the student center, Willard Straight Hall, removing parents (sometimes forcefully) from their accommodations on the eve of Parents Weekend. The takeover was the culmination of a year-long series of confrontations, during which the AAS had deployed hardball tactics to pressure the administration of President James Perkins into making concessions to their demands. The Perkins administration and many faculty members had made claims of race-based identity politics and social justice leading priorities for the university, marginalizing the traditional missions of truth-seeking and academic freedom.
Two concerns precipitated the takeover: AAS agitation for the establishment of a radical black studies program; and demands of amnesty for some AAS students, who had just been found guilty by the university judicial board of violating university rules. These concerns were linked, for, according to the students, the university lacked the moral authority to judge minority students. They declared that Cornell was no longer a university, but rather an institution divided by racial identities.
Continue reading "Cornell '69 And What It Did" »
By John Ellis
In his Prologue to the Canterbury Tales Geoffrey Chaucer distills the betrayal of trust by corrupt public servants into a memorable expression: "If gold rust, what shall iron do?" This is the metaphor that his honest parson lives by, and it reflects on the venal churchmen among the pilgrims who betray the ideals of the church and set a terrible example when they should be a guiding light. This theme---one of high expectations for integrity cruelly disappointed---is timeless: it is exemplified yet again by the sorry tale of malfeasance in the Chancellor's office at UC Berkeley that follows. Yet Chaucer's miscreants are not cardinals and bishops, but only a lowly monk, friar and pardoner, while Chancellor Robert Birgeneau of UC Berkeley is the leader of the flagship campus of the greatest public system of higher education in the world. And while Chaucer's folk cloak their transgressions in the mantle of devotion, Birgeneau wraps his in the mantle of diversity.
Already in late 2007 California's deteriorating budget led to reductions in UC's state support, and President Robert Dynes announced that his system-wide staff would be reduced. A severance pay incentive was offered to those who retired voluntarily, but when the Regents were asked by recently appointed President Mark Yudof in November 2008 to approve severance pay of $100,202 for Linda Williams, alarm bells went off: Williams had transferred from her job as Associate President in system headquarters to the position of Associate Chancellor at nearby UC Berkeley without missing a day's employment. She sought severance pay though she had never been severed. Astonishingly, President Yudof recommended it and the Regents approved the recommendation.
It said much about the entitlement mindset at UC that top administrators were surprised by the outcry that followed. The public easily grasped that it was offensive for Williams to ask for $100K of public money as a "severance package," but that simple point seemed lost on UC's leadership. President Yudof hid behind the notion that the rules for UC's buyout program were not his responsibility, having been written before he took office. That left an obvious question unanswered: why didn't he tell Williams that what she was asking was unseemly, and that it would be an embarrassment to the university if he sought regent approval of this payment when a deepening financial crisis was forcing an increase in student fees? The culture of administrative self-serving in the President's office that had brought down the presidency of Bob Dynes was apparently still in place---a great disappointment for those who hoped that Yudof would be a new broom.
Continue reading "A Tangled Web At Berkeley" »
By Charlotte Allen
A modified version of this piece appears today in the Washington Examiner
Georgetown University, like many colleges and universities hit by the current economic downturn, is in what look like dismal financial straits. The value of Georgetown's endowment shrank 25.5 percent last year, to $833 million, the annual deficit it has been running is estimated to climb to $37.8 million this fiscal year with little abatement in the near future, and donations are expected to be down--and likely to fall further if President Obama's proposal to reduce tax deductions for charitable gifts takes effect. So Georgetown's president, John DiGioia, like many another college CEO these days, recently announced a plan to cut costs.
The nature of DiGioa's proposed cost-cutting, however---freezes on salaries, delays in filling vacant positions, and a hold on the construction of a planned science center---seem anemic in the face of the university's obvious financial problems. That's probably because Georgetown's desire to trim its budget is running smack into the reality of campus politics, in which every program, silly, overstaffed, or non-essential as it might seem to outsiders, has an aggressive constituency ready to raise the pitchforks in its defense. Harvard, for example, facing a projected 30 percent drop in the value of its massive $38.5 billion endowment, announced in February it would trim the ranks of its contract janitors---not even Harvard employees---by a few dozen, leaving some Harvard buildings a shade less spic and span. The upshot? A series of student protests, denunciations by the Service Employees International Union, and on March 23, a unanimous condemnation of Harvard by the city council of Cambridge, Mass. Georgetown clearly doesn't want to go down that road.
Private businesses might shrug off such negative publicity, but most universities are sensitive to their images as repositories of progressive values. So there is a long list of campus sacred cows that can't be nicked by the budget-cutting knife without an uproar. One is tenured faculty. Tenure means having a job for life, no matter how lackadaisically you perform it or whether the department in which you teach attracts many students. The University of Texas Medical Branch laid off 30 of its 127 faculty members, many of them tenured, after Hurricane Ike devastated its Galveston campus last year and forced the temporary closing of its main teaching hospital. The Texas Faculty Association is now suing the state university system to force the professors' rehiring.
Continue reading "Don't Cut The Sacred Cows" »
By Donald Downs
In a recent op-ed, New York Times columnist David Brooks raised an interesting and important question. Drawing on a recent book (largely neglected) by Hugh Heclo entitled On Thinking Institutionally, Brooks critiqued a report on education that a Harvard University faculty committee issued a few years ago. According to the report, "the aim of a liberal education is to unsettle presumptions, to defamiliarize the familiar, to reveal what is going on beneath and behind appearances, to disorient young people and to help them find ways to reorient themselves."
Brooks observed that this logic "is deeply consistent with the individualism of modern culture, with its emphasis on personal inquiry, personal self-discovery and personal happiness." The problem is that this way of living neglects the important role that tradition and institutional custom play in providing order and a sense of duty that give meaning and form to life. Brooks quotes Heclo: "In taking delivery, institutionalists see themselves as debtors who owe something, not creditors to whom something is owed."
Brooks points to the erosion of obligation and responsibility in the banking profession as one example of the problem, among many. "Faith in all institutions, including charities, has declined precipitously over the past generation... Lack of institutional awareness has bred cynicism and undermined habits of behavior. Bankers, for example, used to have a code that made them a bit stodgy and which held them up for ridicule in movies like 'Mary Poppins.' But the banker's code has eroded, and the result was not liberation but self-destruction."
Continue reading "Universities, Individualism, and David Brooks" »
By Robert Weissberg
It is not so much our friends' help that helps us, as the confidence of their help.
- Epicurus (Greek Philosopher 341 BC-271 BC)
Though relatively tiny in number PC forces now exercise disproportionate influence across the university, even capturing entire departments. What makes this conquest especially noteworthy is the lack of resistance from academics, liberal and conservative, who know better and should have stood up and shouted, "Enough with this race/class/gender crap, we need people to teach Chinese or Japanese politics, not yet one more course about African Americans." Going one step further, where is the vocal outrage when the PC contingent accuses a fellow professor of "hateful insensitivity" by assigning the Bell Curve or his "heretical" remarks on colonialism? Outside the university this bystander unresponsiveness even has a name---the Kitty Genovese phenomena, named after a repeatedly stabbed woman who lay unattended for hours in an apartment building courtyard while "oblivious" neighbors ignored her screams (she eventually died). But, why would life-time tenured professors go deaf when the ninnies beat up on a colleague who, to be hypothetical, dare hypothesized a biological factor in male/female mathematical distinction? Rallying to his defense is hardly as dangerous as, say, trying to stop a Mafia execution. Callous indifference to the plight of those singled out for PC attack is critical to understanding what bedevils today's academy, and deserves an explanation.
The decline in friendship explains a lot---friends defend friends, even risk death, but without camaraderie, it is all too easy to run and "not notice." Friendship's role in helping others was made crystal clear following World War II when sociologist Morris Janowitz and others interviewed German POWs to assess their extraordinary unit combat cohesiveness. It turns out that small units like tank crews typically came from the same town and were kept together for the entire war. This bonding, plus the realization that cowardice would travel back home encouraged bravery---Hans would risks his life to save his friend, fellow Bad Homburger, Rolf, and this loyalty far outweighed abstract ideology. American units, by contrast, favored shifting personnel and mixed composition (recall WW II "buddy" movies where "Brooklyn" shared a foxhole with "Tex"). But with the war ending, and German units becoming hastily assembled hodge-podges, combat effectiveness collapsed and mass surrenders ensued. Hans would risk death for Rolf but not the newcomer Wolfgang from far distant Rostock.
Today's universities are almost organized conspiracies against such cohesion. Affirmative action consciously rips it apart (recall how in 1984 friendship was sabotaged to atomize society on behalf of Big Brother). The diversity fetish guarantees departments filled with strangers having little in common. Hiring newcomers who "will fit in" has been replaced with "is he or she sufficiently different enough to satisfy the Diversity and Outreach Dean." Departments grow to resemble modern grade- school earth science textbook role model pictures---no two young faces alike, a few disabled to boot, and numerous smiling representatives from "under-represented" groups hardly known for scientific achievement. Indeed, hiring a white male job candidate who will further cement social cohesion may require extra justification beyond "he is the best." Too many white males implies unacceptable "good old boyism."
Continue reading "The Conspiracy Against Faculty Friendship" »
By Roger Kimball
The following is an excerpt from Roger Kimball's introduction to the third edition of his classic book on the humanities, Tenured Radicals.
One of the great ironies that attends the triumph of political correctness is that in department after department of academic life, what began as a demand for emancipation recoiled, turned rancid, and developed into new forms of tyranny and control. As Alan Charles Kors noted in a recent essay,
under the heirs of the academic Sixties, we moved on campus after campus from their Free Speech Movement to their politically correct speech codes; from their abolition of mandatory chapel to their imposition of Orwellian mandatory sensitivity and multicultural training; from their freedom to smoke pot unmolested to their war today against the kegs and spirits---literal and metaphorical---of today's students; from their acquisition of young adult status to their infantilization of "kids" who lack their insight; from their self-proclaimed dreams of racial and sexual integration to their ever more balkanized campuses organized on principles of group characteristics and group responsibility; from their right to define themselves as individuals---a foundational right---to their official, imposed, and politically orthodox notions of identity. American college students became the victims of a generational swindle of truly epic proportions.
What, as Lenin memorably asked, is to be done?
Continue reading "What Can Be Done About Campus Decline?" »
By Robert Weissberg
"..the one aspect of American culture and society most in need of improvement and investment--education--has been greeted by deafening silence on the part of all candidates."
Leon Botstein, president of Bard College in his "charge" to the Class of 2008. Leon forgets to mention that all of today's presidential candidates, including also-rans, offer detailed prescriptions for fixing education and US spending on education has for decades out-paced inflation and even government health care spending. In other words, class of 2008, when it comes to saving the world, just make it up. Why bother with inconvenient truths.
Universities, it would seem, are committed to uncovering truth. Exceptions occasionally occur, and a small contingent insists that there is no such thing as objective truth, but for the most part, professors who make up data or plagiarize are usually caught and punished. Recall that Ward Churchill was fired for research misconduct and fraud, not his loathsome views, and even fellow travelers could not justify deception. Professors may exaggerate a bit, disregard awkward findings or even tilt research towards pre-conceived outcomes, but it would be professional suicide to insist that 2+2=5.
Unfortunately, a major exception exists, and this might be called the "Grand Noble Lie" whose purpose is not to deceive (the usual aim of a lie) but to reassure listeners so as to advance a career. Whereas conventional liars seek to cover their tracks (e.g., what is "is"), the effectiveness of the Grand Noble Lie depends on its blatant, plain-to-see falseness. It is insufficient to claim that 2+2=5 or for the timid 2=2=4.01; rather 2+2=100. This is an incredibly upside down world whereby those saying 2+2=100 may go on to glory while Professor Joe Average dreads being humiliated for citing a book he never read. That Grand Liars are more likely to be distinguished university presidents, or at least Deans, not under-the-gun junior faculty concocting data to get published, only makes the phenomena even more remarkable.
Continue reading "The Noble Lies Of PC" »
By Robert L. Paquette
Imagine for a moment that you are a senior professor at an elite college with a proud 200-year tradition in liberal arts education. You attend a monthly faculty meeting in the fall 2007 and find yourself for the first time in a quarter century surrounded by seventy or so undergraduate activists who are staging a demonstration for social justice. Several incidents that in all likelihood have little or no connection to the behavior of members of the community precipitate the protest. Faculty sympathizers move to allow one of the student leaders to speak. She issues demands that the college "must make a stronger commitment to diversity in ... structure, institution, and most importantly curriculum." The small college of 200 faculty and 1700 undergraduates, claim the students, needs to do more to promote diversity, although the campus already boasts a Diversity and Social Justice Project, Social Justice Initiative, Associate Dean for Diversity Initiatives, and Associate Dean of Students for Diversity and Accessibility, along with a host of well-funded multicultural groups, with access, in aggregate, to hundreds of thousands of dollars of annual funding.
The lengthy student wish-list includes a place of their own, a "Cultural Education Center" that will educate the benighted in "systems of privilege and oppression" and provide a "safe space" in which to "privilege the experiences of non-dominant individuals." The faculty applauds the student initiative like trained seals. The discomfited president and dean of the faculty commend the protesting students for their "powerful and respectful demonstration." The dean, poor chap, who unwittingly doubles as a syndicated columnist for higher learning's lexicon of loonery, endorses diversity as the great "hedge against obsolescence," dismisses talk of political activism in the classroom, and speaks approvingly in the campus newspaper of the idea of "parallel safe spaces"---whatever the hell that means-- for the allegedly marginalized. The senior professor asks him point blank if he is concerned about the lack of intellectual diversity at the college, given that it hosted not one---that's right, not one---conservative speaker on campus during 2007-2008 academic year. In a word, he replies, "No." A few weeks after the faculty meeting, a breathless president, alluding to unnamed threats to inclusiveness, publishes a list of all the benefactions the college is providing and will provide in the name of diversity, a word that she, like her immediate predecessors, refuses to define with so much as a modicum of intellectual clarity. The activist students demand and receive a meeting with the board of trustees, a self-congratulatory, ostrich-like group, whose favored measures of judging the college's well-being revolve around the size of the endowment and the college's rankings in the annual educational issue of US News and World Report. One trustee comes to the rescue and antes up 4 million dollars to renovate an existing building for a new student center to serve as a kind of multicultural "hub" for "expanded collaboration among all student groups." Whether the renovated building will contain sacred spaces for the secret rituals of the diversity cartel remains to be seen, but don't bet against it. The building sits next to an impressive village of yellow buildings previously dedicated to student activities. Diversity, the president insists, "is not a problem to be solved, but "a fact and an ideal." Yes, a non-scholarly ideal, on which, it appears, you shower as much money as necessary to buy political peace and garner favorable headlines in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Continue reading "What Is It About The Liberal Arts?" »
By Ward Connerly
If you like "whodunit" books and "perfect crime" plots, I heartily recommend the Tim Groseclose experience of trying to obtain the data to evaluate the "holistic" admissions process of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Groseclose is the political science professor who blew the whistle on what he considers to be UCLA's violation of the California Constitution with regard to the use of race preferences in admissions to his campus.
As a regent of the University of California (UC), I supported the use of what we called "comprehensive review" as an alternative to over-reliance on standardized test scores. Yet, at the time of approval, I and others expressed concern that allowing UC campuses the discretion to view applicants for admission "comprehensively" opened the door to the use of subjective factors that could not be detected or proven; however, it was my belief then that UC administrators would resist the temptation to cheat and violate the California Constitution and that they would administer this new process with integrity. In the case of UCLA, I am now strongly convinced that my faith in the institution's honor has been misplaced.
Why the perfect crime?
Originally, UCLA reviewed applications for admission by determining the academic competitiveness of those in the applicant pool solely on the basis of academic performance. Nonacademic factors were reviewed separately. This approach was a fail-safe method of ensuring that the constitutionally prohibited factors of race, color, ethnicity, sex and national origin would not be factors in admissions decisions.
Continue reading "Fuzzy Admissions At UCLA" »
By Daphne Patai
It's hard to say just when universities ceased to believe that education was a worthwhile mission. But that they have done so is beyond question. Among many signs of this reality is the anxiety to redefine the university's task. After all, educators who no longer expect or demand serious intellectual effort from their students are bound to look elsewhere for ways to justify their existence and that of their institutions. Enter the language of "community engagement," "outreach," "social justice," and "equity" (to name just a few of the terms now used as rallying cries on many campuses).
If anyone has doubts that behind these grand terms lies the degradation of academic life, a look at procedures for recruiting new faculty is a good place to observe the university's priorities. At the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where I teach, a document both sublime and ridiculous advises us how to go about determining if applicants have what it takes to work here. Along with the usual lists of questions that may or may not be asked, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity provides some crucial guidelines in a document titled Supplemental Search Instructions. I reproduce the final section of this document below:
Continue reading "Want to Teach Here? Then Tell Us Your Politics" »
By Anthony Esolen
Whenever anyone asks me what sealed my commitment to teaching the heritage of the West, I recall a minor uprising at my college long ago. In some ways it was tame enough. No sit-ins, no public obscenity. A group of students, led by a newly arrived sociologist, had been roused to indignation at having to study Dante and Homer and Thomas Aquinas. They called themselves Students Organized Against Racism. What they wanted to study instead they never specified. It wasn't math.
So the school organized a panel discussion, attended by a hundred students and a few dozen professors. The panelists were polite. There was a leftist ex-nun in blue jeans, who intoned, "Teaching is a political act," that great first tenet of the academic credo. A history professor tried to defend the old regime, then shrugged and admitted that a little change couldn't hurt. The students included a young lady driven by the cause, petulant and pretty, and a young black man who played the Guiding Star, intelligent, well-spoken, an obvious leader, but ignorant, as most people at that age are.
Back then I too was a left-leaning professor, but I had long fallen in love with Plato, Chaucer, Pascal, and the rest, and so I found myself at an impasse. I figured I'd try to persuade the attendees that if they really wanted to advance their causes a sinistra, studying the heritage of the West would be a fine strategy. So I asked the young lady a simple question: "Why do you study Virgil?"
I expected an ideological reply, with the requisite pepper of scorn: "To confirm the patriarchy" or something similar. What I got instead stunned me.
"I don't know why we study Virgil."
Continue reading "No Western Culture, Please--We're Students" »
By Robert Weissberg
Observers of today's campuses have undoubtedly encountered a phenomenon that I will call "incidentism." Its principle characteristics are as follows:
First, a seemingly minor often obscure, innocuous event, e.g., a student newspaper cartoon, an off-hand remark by the school president, an invitation to a "controversial" outside speaker, among countless other possibilities, triggers boisterous outrage among groups claiming to be offended to the point of incapacitation. Rallies, marches, non-negotiable demands and all the rest predictably follow. Offended parties are almost always African American students, sometimes feminists, gays, even Muslims, but never conservatives. One might guess that sensitivity to "offense," like susceptibility to Tay-Sachs disease, follows ethnic/racial lines. Interestingly, that the triggering incident was a likely hoax, a silly misunderstood joke or even a misconstrued word like "niggardly" is irrelevant. Stating truth is, needless to say, also no protection. Anything suffices for those addicted to being offended.
Second, no matter how ridiculous or even false, the university's administration will treat matters "seriously." Typical are promises of yet more free benefits to help the injured party "heal the wounds" (e.g., mandatory campus-wide sensitivity training, additional faculty hires from "under-represented" groups, more role models and mentors, special "theme" centers where the vulnerable can feel safe, and on and on). At a minimum, the official Flak Catcher (to recall Tom Wolfe's Mau-mauing the Flak Catchers) will issue an official apology, promise an investigation, even suspend classes so student can attend workshops, and assure aggrieved victims that "this will never happen again."
Third, despite all the heartfelt official assurances an "incident" will soon occur, again. It is inevitable on today's campus. Rest assured, some professor will use improper terminology (e.g., colored instead of person of color); some campus restaurateur will slight a rowdy gay rights group or, to recall an outrage-provoking incident whose offensiveness still befuddles me, The Champaign, Il police department used the abbreviation "BM" for black male on their crime reports. These seem to average at least one per year per group, and nothing, absolutely nothing can make universities "incident free." These indignations are not like a frat party gone too wild, mere nuisances. They can entail hefty new expenditures ($50 million in the case of Larry Summers' off-hand remark about women and math) and sully a university reputation for "tolerance for diversity," an especially important cost if universities rely on state funds. There is also the ever-present threat of reputation-destroying violence if campus police over-react or rowdy outsiders join the fray. At a minimum and this is hardly trivial, a parade of incidents contributes to an unhealthy, freedom-killing paranoia---nobody, especially professors, risks triggering a confrontation, so better sanitize everything.
Continue reading "A Guide To Campus Shakedowns" »
By Gail Heriot
The ABA is very big on diversity. To satisfy its standards, nearly all law schools must seriously relax their admissions standards for minority students. But how many of so-called beneficiaries of affirmative action are graduating and passing the bar? And how many are winding up with nothing to show for their trouble but students loans? The evidence is not encouraging.
For years, the ABA has used its clout to demand that law schools toe the affirmative action line. In the 1990s, fully 31% of law schools admitted to political scientists Susan Welch and John Gruhl that they "felt pressure" "to take race into account in making admissions decisions" from "accreditation agencies."
Law schools must take pressure from the ABA seriously. As the U.S. Department of Education's designated law school accreditation agency, the ABA, through its Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, has the power to decide whether a law school will be eligible for federal funding. Unless the ABA approves, for example, a law school's students will be ineligible for student loans. And that is just the beginning. Most states do not allow the graduates of non-ABA-accredited law schools even to sit for the bar examination. A law school that is not in the good graces of the ABA is thus not a law school at all.
Continue reading "The ABA's Diversity Agenda" »
By John Leo
If I ran the campus
I'd start out anew
I'd make a few changes
That's just what I'd do
Here's a simple suggestion
(Avoiding all fads)
I'd have some professors
Who teach undergrads
I hear you all snicker
I hear you all scoff
But I've got to believe
That many a prof
Would thrill to be meeting
A freshman or soph
TAs are beloved
They're always the rage
Because they all work
For a minimum wage
(But do students want teachers
Who are just their own age?)
I'm sure is a must
For teachers who give
Only A or A-plus
They really must practice
At home, if they please,
Some Bs and some Cs
There's another idea
I can bring to fruition
I know how to cut
The cost of tuition
I really don't care
Whose waters this muddies
But I'd cancel all courses
Whose names end in "studies."
This could irritate
The fuddies and duddies
That's just a start
I'll do better than that
My curriculum changes
Will cut out the fat
No courses on Buffy
The Vampire Slayer
Or Batman and Robin
Who cares which is gayer?
No bongo or bingo
(Remember I said it)
No study of Yoda
No sex acts for credit
No Star Trek theology
No Matrix psychology
No queer musicology
I give no apology
If I ran the campus
I'd start out anew
I'd make a few changes
That's just what I'd do
This originally appeared as part of the National Association of Scholars' "If I Ran The Zoo" series
By Peter D. Salins
What are we to make of the decision by a growing number of "highly selective" colleges to scrap the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) as a criterion for college admission, something brought to our attention recently when another pair of semi-elite schools (Smith and Wake Forest) joined these ranks? The New York Times story of May 27 reporting on the Smith/Wake Forest developments explains the matter thus: "The number of colleges and universities where such tests are now optional... ...has been growing steadily as more institutions have become concerned about the validity of standardized tests in predicting academic success, and the degree to which test performance correlates with household income, parental education and race." If this is really what is driving the SAT defectors, they are deceiving themselves and misleading the public.
Let's begin with predictive validity. Among the countless studies done on this subject over the years, not a single one has failed to find a high correlation between SAT scores and academic performance in college, as measured by grades or persistence. On a personal note, during my ten years as Provost of SUNY, I had my institutional research staff repeatedly review the relationship between SAT scores and academic success among our 33 baccalaureate campuses and their 200,000 + students, and found - as all the national research has confirmed - a near perfect correlation. SUNY schools and students with higher SAT profiles had higher grade point averages and markedly higher graduation rates.
The other claim of test critics is that high school grade point averages are equal to or better than SATs as predictors of college performance. This, too, is inaccurate. Looking at all U.S. high school graduates in any given year, we find the distribution of grade point averages (GPAs) is remarkably uniform - and invariably bell-shaped - across the nation despite enormous local and regional differences in high school quality or curricula. There is statistically no way that such similar high school GPA profiles could accurately reflect the highly variable academic abilities of the American high school graduating cohort. If there is any truth at all to the claims of SAT defectors in this regard, it is that among their own students - most of whom have graduated from academically superior public or private schools - SATs and high school GPAs are highly correlated. Analysts have pointed out, however, that if high school GPAs were to more generally replace SATs as the primary admissions criterion to get into top colleges, grade inflation would very likely erode the predictive validity of GPAs even at privileged public or private high schools.
Continue reading "Abandoning The SAT - Fraud or Folly?" »
By John Leo
The academic left is fond of buzzwords that sound harmless but function in a highly ideological way. Many schools of education and social work require students to have a good "disposition." In practice this means that conservatives need not apply, as highly publicized attempts to penalize right-wing students at Brooklyn College and Washington State University revealed. "Social justice" is an even more useful codeword. Who can oppose it? But some schools made the mistake of spelling out that it means advocacy for causes of the left, including support for gay marriage and adoption, also opposition to "institutional racism," heterosexism, classism and ableism. Students at Teachers College, Columbia, are required to acknowledge that belief in "merit, social mobility and individual responsibility" often produce and perpetuate social inequalities. Even in its mildest form "social justice" puts schools in a position of judging the acceptability of students' political and social opinions.
Now the left is organizing around its most powerful codeword yet: sustainability. Dozens of universities now have sustainability programs. Arizona State is bulking up its curriculum and seems to be emerging as the strongest sustainability campus. UCLA has a housing floor devoted to sustainability. The American College Personnel Association (ACPA) has a sustainability task force and has joined eight other education associations to form a sustainability consortium. Pushed by the cultural left, UNESCO has declared the United Nation's Decade of Education for Sustainable Development 2005-2014, featuring the now ubiquitous symbol of the sustainability movement - three overlapping circles representing environmental, economic and social reform (i.e., ecology is only a third of what the movement is about).
Only recently have the goals and institutionalization of the movement become clear. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability is Higher Education (AASHE) says it "defines sustainability is an inclusive way, encompassing human and ecological health, social justice, secure livelihoods and a better world for all generations." When the residential life program at the University of Delaware - possibly the most appalling indoctrination program ever to appear on an American campus - was presented, Res Life director Kathleen Kerr packaged it as a sustainability program. Since suspended, possibly only temporarily, the program discussed mandatory sessions for students as "treatments" and insisted that whites acknowledge their role as racists. It also required students to achieve certain competencies including "students will recognize that systemic oppression exists in our society." At a conference, Kerr explained "the social justice aspects of sustainability education," referring to "environmental racism," "domestic partnerships" and "gender equity."
Continue reading "The Worst Campus Codeword" »
By Edgar B. Anderson
Recently I sat down with a young woman who shared with me the experience of her first year at Thurgood Marshall College, one of the six colleges of the University of California at San Diego. She explained to me that regardless of her major field of study and in order to graduate she was required to take certain "general education" courses, the centerpiece of which is a three-quarter, 16-unit creation called "Dimensions of Culture." What she had to tell me is a warning to both parents and students.
The Dimensions of Culture program (DOC) is an introductory three-quarter social science sequence that is required of all first year students at Thurgood Marshall College, UCSD. Successful completion of the DOC sequence satisfies the University of California writing requirement. The course is a study in the social construction of individual identity and it surveys a range of social differences and stratifications that shape the nature of human attachment to self, work, community, and a sense of nation. Central to the course objective is the question of how scholars move from knowledge to action. - UCSD Course Description
Edgar B. Anderson: So let's talk about Dimensions of Culture. That's vague. What's that mean?
Student: I don't know. Each quarter, the first quarter is called Diversity, the second quarter is called Justice, and the third quarter is called Imagination. So Diversity is we studied everything about minorities - like women, homosexuals, and then Asians, blacks, Latinos.
Q. So what's left out - white males?
A. Yeah, pretty much if you're a white male you're bad, that's kind of the joke among all the students.
Q. Women are not even a minority, they're a majority.
A. But it's more about the workforce.
A. Yeah, that's kind of how they presented it. We didn't really focus on women that much. It was mainly how Asians have been oppressed in history and how Latinos continue to be oppressed and how blacks continue to be oppressed, all of that.
Continue reading "University Of The Absurd" »
By Gail Heriot
(Ms. Heriot is a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. This piece is adapted from Ms. Heriot's Commissioner Statement for the Civil Rights Report on Affirmative Action at American Law Schools released last fall.)
I have no doubt that those who originally conceived of race-based admissions policies - nearly forty years ago - were acting in good faith. By lowering admissions standards for African-American and Hispanic students at selective law schools, they hoped to increase the number of minority students on campus and ultimately to promote minority integration into both the legal profession and mainstream society. Similarly, however, I have no doubt of the good faith of those who opposed the policies. Indeed, their warnings that academic double standards cannot solve the nation's problems and may well exacerbate them seem especially prescient in light of recent research.
The real conflict over race-based admissions policies has not been about good or bad faith or about whether we should aspire to be a society in which members of racial minorities are fully integrated into the mainstream. There is no question we should. The conflict is about whether racial discrimination - something that nearly all Americans abhor - is an appropriate tool to achieve that end. Put starkly: Should the principle of non-discrimination be temporarily sacrificed in the hope that such a sacrifice will, in the long run, help us become the society of equal opportunity that we all aspire to?
Justice Stanley Mosk warned of the risks associated with such temporary compromises with principle over thirty years ago, when, writing for the California Supreme Court in Bakke v. UC Regents (1976), he held racially discriminatory admissions policies to be unconstitutional:
To uphold the University would call for the sacrifice of principle for the sake of dubious expediency and would represent a retreat in the struggle to assure that each man and woman shall be judged on the basis of individual merit alone, a struggle which has only lately achieved success in removing legal barriers to racial equality.
Continue reading "How Mismatches Devastate Minority Students" »
By Michael Meyers
At a recent Manhattan Institute forum, Ward Connerly, the fierce opponent of race and sex preferences by government (who's leading a state-by-state referendum drive to abolish affirmative action) admitted how the Bush Administration has disgraced itself by endorsing racial and gender-conscious policies and practices. Connerly did not give examples, but one glaring illustration is President Bush's Education Department's failure to address racial and gender discrimination underway in public schools and higher education in the guise of helping black men through differential treatment and separate programming.
This latest rage in education takes the form of Black Male Initiatives, which usually include "special" classes, counseling, mentoring, tutoring, and, on some campuses, even separate residences for blacks and ethnic minorities. The U.S. Education Department simply won't comment. I know because I asked Secretary Margaret Spellings to do so in the context of the Administration's claims that it supports the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, which overturned the "separate but equal" doctrine in the field of public education. There are a plethora of laws that dictate that race may not be used as a proxy for educational disadvantage by public schools and universities, yet programs have been designed and implemented for black men only in public higher education systems and lower schools in Georgia, Kansas, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. Many of these efforts proclaim their intent to "save" black boys and black men and also to "restore" them to their "rightful place" as credits to their race and as leaders "in their own communities" and, also, as heads of "the black family." All of that racial rhetoric is propagated by governmental and academic leaders at a time we are supposed to have entered a color-blind, 21st century, world where racial and gender stereotypes are not only old-hat but dysfunctional.
Spellings never answered but instead punted to the DOE's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) which can on its own, if it wanted, give recipients of federal funds guidance on the do's and don'ts - especially the don'ts - of separating and differentially treating children and adults in education solely on the basis of their skin color and/or gender. But notwithstanding this Administration's commitment to color-blindness and equal sex treatment, it, like the Clinton Administration, is frozen and mute when it comes to giving leadership and clarity on this momentous government-assisted, publicly-financed racial and gender divide of our times. So, I brought a complaint to OCR, so that they could no longer ignore the race fad that was sweeping the nation under the nomenclature of the "Black Male Initiative."
Continue reading "CUNY Schemes Around Civil Rights Law" »
By Peter Wood
Defenders and advocates of group preferences generally make their stand on a moral claim: group preferences are needed to advance the common social good. To oppose group preferences is, in turn, to act immorally. The vehemence with which defenders of group preferences frequently speak and the extreme tactics of some pro-preference groups such as By Any Means Necessary stem from this rootedness in moral conviction and moral antipathy.
Critics of group preferences also often make their stand on a moral basis. Many believe that group preferences perpetuate the sort of inequalities in our society that undermine the common good. Other critics tap directly into an almost visceral sense among Americans that group preferences are unfair. The critics of group preferences likewise imply some moral deficiency on the part of their opponents, who they see as not just advocates of unwise policy but also as architects of an unjust social order.
The moral claims of both supporters and critics run deep, but they of course do not exhaust the terms of the debate. We also make legal arguments, pragmatic claims about the likely consequences of policies, historical analyses, international comparisons, statistical investigations, and political appeals. This sprawl is characteristic of American life: whenever we debate something of fundamental importance, the arguments avalanche. Racial and gender preference began as an issue in graduate and professional programs in the 1970s, expanded into all of higher education, found welcome in the armed forces, and by the late 1980s moved into the corporate world. As the use of preferences expanded, the ideology of preferences centered on the concept of diversity diffused throughout American life until it was granted Constitutional imprimatur in 2003 in Justice O'Connor's opinion in Grutter v. Bollinger.
But behind the avalanche of arguments when Americans debate something of fundamental importance, there is always a central moral question. Or perhaps better put, there is a tightly knit cluster of moral questions. Who are we? Whom do we aspire to become? What is the right way forward?
Continue reading "The Aristocratic Reign Of Group Preferences" »
By John Leo
Yale's burgeoning diversity program has another announcement: it wants to "incorporate the role of ethnic counselor into that of freshman counselor, who will become responsible for providing enhanced community support for cultural affairs on campus," according to the Yale Daily News.
What does that mean? Well, according to the News, which neglected to supply an English-language version of the plan, "students would become increasingly aware of extant cultural resources on campus, along with gaining knowledge of new support to be rolled out under the restructure."
Okay, that clears it all up. There is, however, dissent. "This is unbelievable. It reads like an article from the Onion," said the first reader comment on the News site yesterday. "Do these people realize they are becoming laughing stocks?" Apparently not. The feeling at Yale seems to be that most students lack sufficient diversity awareness and are in some danger of going mainstream instead of remaining in their identity cubbyholes.
Yale currently has 90 residential counselors in its 12 residential colleges and only 13 ethnic counselors, hardly enough by today's diversity standards. The Daily News says the ethnic counselors have a "sometimes nebulous role within the college community," but nebulousness seems destined to fade. The goal, as one ethnicity counselor told the News, is to change the culture at Yale so students aren't afraid to talk about diversity and race and "really understand the way in which ethnicity plays a role in their life within the residential colleges." To that end, the "intercultural educators" take a missionary position, planning speeches and intercultural events, and preaching the diversity gospel.
Continue reading "What's New In Diversity" »
By Ward Connerly
John Moores is a friend of mine. When I was a member of the Board of Regents of the University of California, John was my closest ally. Occasionally, we found ourselves on different sides of specific issues, like student fees. But, more likely than not - and especially on other fundamental issues - our perspectives and our votes were in accord. I grew to respect John as one of the most dedicated and talented Regents with whom I had the pleasure of serving during my twelve-year term.
On November 12 of this year, John tendered his resignation, nearly a year and a half before the scheduled expiration of his term. With the resignation of John Moores, California is losing an extraordinary public servant. Because of his stature as an icon in the San Diego community, one of California's most distinguished citizens, and one of America's most generous and successful entrepreneurs, it is useful for us pause and reflect on the reasons for the early resignation of John Moores.
Continue reading "Trustee Out, Diversity In?" »
Color and Money: How Rich White Kids are Winning the War Over College Affirmative Action
by Peter Schmidt
Reviewed by George C. Leef
Exactly how important is a college degree from a prestige school? Many believe that having such a degree is extremely important - a virtual guarantee of success in life. The higher education establishment works hard at propounding the idea that without a college degree, a young person's life will be one of almost Hobbesian misery and the elite institutions go a step further and portray themselves as the essential training grounds for the nation's leaders. If you accept those views, the destiny of the nation is largely shaped by who goes to college and where.
Peter Schmidt has swallowed them hook, line, and sinker, which isn't surprising for a reporter who has been immersed in higher education for many years. In his new book Color and Money he writes, "In modern American society, many of us assume - or at least desperately hope - that the people in leading positions in government, business, and the professions are our best and brightest... How do we decide who deserves such status? Generally, we rely on academic credentials. We entrust the task of identifying and training our best and brightest to our elite higher education institutions..."
Continue reading "Do Rich White Kids Win With Affirmative Action?" »
By Ward Connerly
David Leonhardt, an economics columnist for the New York Times, recently visited the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and took a careful look at the current admissions process of that campus in the wake of Proposition 209, the California ballot initiative that outlawed race and gender preferences in public education, as well as in public employment and contracting. In particular, Leonhardt examined the application and the fate of one Francis Harris, a black student from Sacramento, who became the case study for his article. Here is how Leonhardt describes Ms. Harris:
She has managed to do very well in very difficult circumstances, and she is African-American. Her high school, in the Oak Park neighborhood of Sacramento, was shut down as an irremediable failure the spring before her freshman year, then reopened months later as a charter school. Midway through high school, her father developed heart problems and became an irritable fixture around the home. She also discovered that he was not actually her biological father. That was a man named Leroy who, when her mother took Harris to see him, simply said his name was George and waited for her to leave. In Harris's senior year, her mother lost her job at a nursing home and the family filed for bankruptcy... Harris, for instance, scored a 22 on the ACT test - slightly above the national average and well below the U.C.L.A. average.
The underlying question posed by Leonhardt with regard to Harris is the extent to which her "disadvantages" should factor into her application for admission to U.C.L.A. As did Leonhardt, most college admissions officers look primarily at one facet of Harris's life: "...she is African-American." They start from the premise stated by Peter Taylor, a good friend mentioned in Leonhardt's column, that "race has an enormous effect on the lives of applicants."
Continue reading "College Admissions, Let's Not Break The Law" »
An excerpt from the new book Education's End, Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life by Anthony T. Kronman, Sterling Professor of Law, Yale Law School (Yale University Press)
By the early 1970s, the humanities were floundering. Ideological rifts were widening. Traditional ways of teaching had lost much of their authority, and there was worried talk of a "crisis" in the humanities. To many it seemed less clear than it had a quarter century before, when Harvard published its famous report on the aims of liberal education, what the humanities are supposed to do and why their doing it is important. In this anxious and excited environment, a new set of ideas began to gain currency. The first idea was an outgrowth of the civil rights movement and is associated with the concept of diversity. The second generally goes under the name of multiculturalism, and reflected the deepening suspicion of Western values provoked, in part, by the Vietnam War. The third, which provided philosophical support for the other two, I shall call the idea of constructivism, though its supporters have given it a variety of other names ("postmodernism", "antiessentialism," and the like). Loosely inspired by the work of philosophers as different as Marx, Nietzsche, and Foucault, constructivism affirmed the artificiality of all human values and the absence of any natural standards by which to judge them. It insisted, in particular, that the values of the West have no inherent superiority over those of other civilizations and are merely instruments of power in disguise that must be unmasked and resisted as weapons of colonial oppression. Together, these three ideas are the source of the culture of political correctness that has dominated the humanities for the past forty years.
Each has something to recommend it. Each has a core of good sense with intellectual and moral appeal. And each draws its appeal from a feature it shares with secular humanism, which also acknowledged the diversity of human values and the need to construct one's life by making a choice among them. Together these ideas have helped to maintain the confidence of many in the humanities that they do in fact have something special to contribute to the work of higher education. They have helped define a new and distinctive role for the humanities, organized around attractive moral and political values - one that fills the void that opened up when teachers in these fields abandoned their role as guides to the question of life's purpose and value in favor of the research ideal. And they have done this in a way that appears consistent with the values of secular humanism itself.
Continue reading "The Humanities: A Laughing Stock?" »
By John M. Ellis
The welcome news that Ward Churchill has been removed from the University of Colorado faculty is blighted by the fact that the means used has allowed the university to avoid the much larger problem that Churchill's conduct pointed to. It was in early 2005 that the public learned of, and was appalled by, excerpts from an essay that had been posted on the web by Churchill, a full Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado, on the subject of 9/11 terrorist attacks. Now, over two years later, Churchill has been fired after due process within the university for plagiarism and falsification of research. But what the public heard and responded to was not fabrication and plagiarism. Though these are certainly legitimate grounds for a dismissal, they could never have attracted the attention of the public, still less caused a widespread sense that something must be horribly wrong with a university that employed such a man as a professor.
The ACLU, basing itself on this undeniable discrepancy between the furor of the public's response and the narrow grounds of the decision, has charged that the firing is illegitimate because the real motive is nothing to do with the ostensible reason that has been given for the university's action. But that charge makes no sense. Al Capone may have been jailed for tax evasion when his far more serious offense was racketeering, but he was certainly guilty as charged, and so is Ward Churchill. Yet in both cases the limited grounds had the effect of removing one man from the scene while leaving a larger systemic problem untouched.
The manner of Churchill's dismissal clearly sidestepped the issues that the public was so disturbed by. The ACLU maintains that the public furor was caused only by Churchill's unpopular political opinions. Again, it is wrong. Far left political expression by professors is nothing new to the American public - Noam Chomsky's views are just as extreme and unpopular, but they do not lead to calls for his dismissal. What the public reacted to was something much more than this. All of their own experience of what their teachers and professors had sounded like told them that the man they heard should never under any circumstances have been a professor at a major university.
Continue reading "Two Cheers For Ward Churchill's Dismissal" »
By KC Johnson
This week, as expected, the University of Colorado regents dismissed Professor Ward Churchill from his tenured position in the Ethnic Studies Department. (A university committee had found that Churchill committed plagiarism and misused sources.) And, as expected, Churchill has filed suit, alleging First Amendment violations.
The move against Churchill - who first attracted attention after describing those who perished (except for the terrorists) in the World Trade Center attack as "Little Eichmanns" - came over the opposition of the ACLU, which charged that the "poisoned atmosphere" of the inquiry into Churchill's scholarship rendered meaningless the committee's findings. ACTA president Anne Neal, on the other hand, welcomed the dismissal as "a very positive message that higher education is cleaning up its own."
The viewpoints of both organizations raise additional questions. The ACLU's position, if established as a precedent, would invite academics who (like Churchill) had engaged in research misconduct to issue inflammatory public statements, in the hopes that a public outcry (preferably from "right-wingers") could then provide a First Amendment shield for their academic misdeeds.
Continue reading "Ward Churchill And The Diversity Agenda" »
By K.C. Johnson
[Robert "K.C." Johnson is the indefatigable chronicler of the Duke non-rape case, turning out a thousand words of brilliant reportage and analysis a day for more than a year on his Durham-in-Wonderland site. On the Volokh Conspiracy, Jim Lindgren writes" "If bloggers were eligible for Pulitizer Prize... I would nominate Brooklyn Professor K.C. Johnson... No self-respecting journalist would think of writing anything long and evaluative on the Duke case without first checking "the blog of record," Durham-in-Wonderland."]
On April 6, 2006, 88 members of Duke's arts and sciences faculty endorsed a full-page ad published in the campus newspaper, the Chronicle. The professors suggested that men's lacrosse players had triggered a "social disaster" by holding a spring-break party. The faculty members unequivocally asserted that something "happened to this young woman," accuser Crystal Mangum. And, in the aftermath of anti-lacrosse rallies featuring banners reading "Castrate" and "Time to Confess," the Group of 88 said "thank you" to the protesters "for not waiting and for making yourselves heard."
Continue reading "Duke Lacrosse And The Professions of Diversity" »
By Heather Mac Donald
There may be jobs requiring greater mendacity than a college affirmative action officer - college president comes to mind - but there can't be many. The ideal college affirmative action officer lies about his mission not only without regret but also without awareness, so brainwashed has he become in the foolish ideology of "diversity." The following false propositions form the cornerstone of the college diversity charade:
Continue reading "Diversity Gobbledygook" »
Posted by John S. Rosenberg
Over at the Chronicle of Higher Education, which used to be the pre-eminent publication covering higher education, the inmates are now running the institution.
Editor Liz McMillen's disgraceful capitulation to the mob demanding the head of Chronicle blogger Naomi Schaefer Riley for having the temerity to criticize the field of black studies ironically demonstrates the accuracy of Riley's underlying argument--that political correctness has run amok on campuses, especially where race is concerned.
Continue reading "'A Disgraceful Capitulation to the Mob'" »
Posted by John S. Rosenberg
From what has been revealed so far, it appears that Elizabeth Warren, Harvard law professor and likely Democratic candidate against Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts, gave herself status as a Native American in the past, which led Harvard and a leading legal directory to identify her as such, but recently she has claimed that she forgot all about it, never used her self-defined minority status to advance her career, and that her minority status was in fact irrelevant to her being hired by several law schools.
Continue reading "Elizabeth Warren: A Native American Now and Then" »
Posted by John S. Rosenberg
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (I am tempted to say even the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals) has once again recognized that treating people without regard to race does not violate the Fourteenth Amendment. In an opinion released April 2, a three-judge panel reaffirmed in no uncertain terms a 1997 Ninth Circuit decision holding that "[a]s a matter of 'conventional' equal protection analysis, there is simply no doubt that Proposition 209 is constitutional." The Pacific Legal Foundation, which successfully argued the case, deserves the congratulations and gratitude of all those who believe in colorblind equal opportunity.
Continue reading "Surprise! 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms Obvious!" »
Posted by John S. Rosenberg
"Top civil rights lawyer John Payton dies at 65; Obama calls him 'champion of equality,'" the Washington Post reported a few days ago.
Although Payton, 65, had been a prominent Washington lawyer and, after 2008, director-counsel and president of the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund, he is probably best known for arguing a case he lost, Gratz v. Bollinger, where he unsuccessfully defended the University of Michigan's rigid use of race in its point-system of deciding undergraduate admissions. (The University, as the Chief Justice wrote, "automatically distributes 20 points, or one-fifth of the points needed to guarantee admission, to every single 'underrepresented minority' applicant solely because of race" but only "up to 5 points for ... extraordinary talent.") That ruling, however, was overshadowed by the contradictory simultaneous holding in Grutter v. Bollinger, which allowed the law school (and hence every other institution in the country) to do by stealth and dissembling what the University's undergraduate admissions officers had been prohibited from doing openly and honestly.
Continue reading "R.I.P. John Payton--But He Was Part of the Problem" »
Posted by KC Johnson
The Supreme Court's decision in Grutter operated on the basis of some unspoken assumptions. One was that regardless of how other applicants were affected, students admitted because of preferences benefited from the decision. Another was that universities could be trusted to handle issues of race fairly and efficiently, or at least more so than could the courts.
Continue reading "Justice Kennedy Should Read Richard Brodhead" »
Posted by Harvey Silverglate
According to various reports, UCLA may ask incoming students about their sexual orientation. Such a development would make it the second school in the nation to do so--Elmhurst College in Illinois became the first last fall. The disclosure would be voluntary, and would have no bearing on admissions. As Matt Comer, a spokesperson for the LGBT organization Campus Pride told Fox News, "It's much like asking race or gender."
Continue reading "Students' Sexuality is Their Own Business" »
Posted by John S. Rosenberg
"Meet the new boss," the Chronicle of Higher Education begins its article today (March 12) on the American Council of Education's latest survey on "The American College President 2012," and continues: "Same as the old boss."
By "same," of course, the Chronicle didn't mean that most college presidents share common religious, political, or cultural views, or come from the same social class or part of the country. It meant that they were still (after all these years!) not "diverse," were a presumably fungible bunch of old white men.
Continue reading "Can A College President Be "Diverse"?" »
Posted by Mark Bauerlein
Kevin Carey, policy director at Education Sector, a DC think tank, has a commentary in this week's Chronicle of Higher Education that signals the kind of rhetoric we may expect from proponents of affirmative action as the Fisher case heads to the Supreme Court. It is a mixture of high-mindedness for one side and denunciation of the other.
Continue reading "The Anger of Affirmative Action Advocates" »
Posted by KC Johnson
For Democrats (like me) concerned with academic freedom and depoliticizing personnel and curricular processes in higher education, the 2008 primary season offered only one candidate who even might adopt a good policy on higher education, an area where the GOP has had the overwhelming advantage in recent years. Even if he wasn't a transparent phony, John Edwards (Version 2008) was presenting himself as a hard-left anti-poverty crusader, and seemed likely to embrace a more politicized academy. Hillary Clinton was running a rally-the-base campaign; and in a party whose base consists of African-Americans, labor unions, and feminists, it was clear Clinton's higher-ed policy would bolster the race/class/gender dominance of the contemporary professoriate.
But Barack Obama offered promise. Not only was he running on a kind of
post-racial platform, he had the record to back up his rhetoric. His
career featured none of the inflammatory screeds so common among Chicago
African-American politicians. He had demonstrated an ability to work
with downstate Republicans in the Illinois legislature. And in the U.S.
Senate, he was one of only two Democratic senators
to support a Justice Department investigation of Mike Nifong--a
mini-Sister Souljah moment in which the nation's first serious
African-American presidential candidate publicly repudiated the man to
whose efforts Duke's Group of 88 had attached their professional
Continue reading "The Troubling Video of Obama at Harvard Law" »
Posted by John Leo
The third round of a very engaging and amiable debate on affirmative action is here on the National Association of Scholars site. The debaters are James P. Sterba, professor of philosophy at Notre Dame and author of "Affirmative Action for the Future" (pro) and George Leef, a frequent writer here, director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.
Posted by John Leo
Vartan Gregorian once said the way to become a successful college president is simple: stand up, give a speech on "diversity," then sit down.
Richard Levin, president of Yale, is the longest-lasting president of an Ivy League university, and following Gregorian's sage advice is surely one reason why. Whenever a serious incident occurs at Yale, Levin's first instinct is to put out a resonant but off-key statement stoutly defending a point not really at issue.
Continue reading "How to Be President of Yale Forever (At Least)" »
Posted by Ward Connerly
Say what you will about California's enigmatic governor, Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown, but on major issues involving votes of the people, Brown is very reluctant to go against the will of the people, no matter what his personal views happen to be.
In 1978, during his first term as governor, Brown opposed the highly popular Proposition 13, which was approved by the voters to place a lid on property taxes imposed by local governments.
Continue reading "Jerry Brown Disappoints Backers of Preferences" »
Posted by Kenneth L. Marcus
The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights has just opened a new investigation into anti-Semitism at Columbia University. At this author's urging, OCR is looking into whether a Jewish Barnard student was unlawfully "steered" away from a course taught by controversial Columbia Professor Joseph Massad. Massad has been accused of anti-Semitism before. This case though has a twist. The basic allegation is that a Barnard student was unlawfully "steered" away from Massad's class by a departmental chair, Dr. Rachel McDermott, who urged her to study ancient Israel instead. The chair insisted that the student, who is an Orthodox Jew, would be made to feel uncomfortable if she took Prof. Massad's class.
Continue reading ""Steering" Orthodox Jews Away from Massad at Columbia" »
Posted by KC Johnson
Prompted by the NAS' intriguing--and commendable--decision to use Bowdoin as a case study to explore the liberal arts experience, I took a look last week at the staffing decisions in Bowdoin's history department. Three unusual patterns emerged: (1) a seemingly disproportionate emphasis on environmental and African history; (2) an inconsistent commitment to scholarship as a requirement for promotion and/or tenure; and (3) a preference for narrowness (history of diet, history of science, two environmental historians of the Pacific coast) in U.S. history, all while running away from any approaches that could be deemed "traditional."
So how do these staffing decisions translate into curricular choices?
Continue reading "Notes on Bowdoin's Curriculum" »
Posted by Mark Bauerlein
This week's "Diversity in Academe" issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education contains an interview with the "first-person ever appointed to the position of vice president for diversity and equity at the University of Virginia," a man named William B. Harvey. He has moved on to North Carolina A & T, where he serves as dean of the School of Education.
From the very first question and response, the interview casts an illuminating light on the mentality of diversity officials, an outlook that does not promise objective and fair interpretations of campus policies and practices. We might first note the disheartening statement about the college curriculum near the end of the interview: "A Western European framework obviously completely ignores the contributions of people of color." That statement is so easily refutable by a million examples that one hardly knows what to do with it. Let's remember, too, that one of the characteristics of the European outlook from the beginning is to explore other cultures, to learn about them, to record them, to incorporate them. To say "completely ignores the contributions of people of color" is to allow resentment to interfere with historical fact.
Continue reading "The Resentment of the Diversity Officer" »
Posted by John Leo
The occasionally violent mob protests at the University of Wisconsin, and the role of a university administrator in egging on the disrupters, have barely raised a ripple in the mainstream press. But commentary here by Robert Weissberg, KC Johnson and Roger Clegg, has circulated widely on the Internet. Today Donald Downs, a professor at the university and a regular contributor to MTC, discusses the "How dare you even think that" tone of the protesters' reaction to facts in the two reports presented by Clegg and his group, the Center for Equal Opportunity. Both reports demonstrate the astonishing extent of racial and ethnic preferences in UW admissions. We also recommend Peter Wood's masterful account of the events on his regular Innovations blog for the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Continue reading "The News about the Wisconsin Mob Gets Out" »
Posted by John S. Rosenberg
I recently posted an essay here about a racial hoax at the University of Virginia Law School that quickly became an issue implicating the University's honor code. Briefly, Johnathan Perkins was an attractive third year UVa law student from what could be described as a civil rights family inasmuch as both his father and grandfather wrote civil rights books. A few weeks before graduation Perkins sent a letter to the Virginia Law Weekly describing in vivid detail an offensive and frightening case of racial profiling and abuse he had suffered at the hands the UVa police. Or it would have been offensive and frightening abuse if it had actually happened, but it didn't. Perkins made the whole thing up, he confessed after an investigation had been launched, to "bring attention to ... police misconduct." The police and the commonwealth's attorney declined to bring charges, arguing in effect that charging someone for inciting a riot by shouting Fire! in a crowded theater would discourage others from reporting real fires.
At most places the refusal to bring charges would have been the end of the matter, but the University of Virginia is decidedly not most places. It has one of the most ancient and honorable Honor Codes in the nation, a code that most members of what "Mr. Jefferson," in local parlance, referred to as the "academical village" take very, very seriously, and the honor code has a "single sanction" for those who lie, cheat, or steal: expulsion. Whatever happens with Perkins -- his degree has been withheld pending an honor council investigation -- his fraud has focused attention not on imagined police misconduct but on a long simmering dispute over what can be described as the "disparate impact" of the honor code on minorities at UVa.
Various explanations have been offered for the "overrepresentation" of those accused and convicted of honor violations, among them the SPOTLIGHTING of black students -- they stand out in a mass of white students (they all look different?) -- and the "DIMMING" of whites in a white crowd (they all look alike?). Really. No one at UVa seems to take very seriously the idea that the "overrepresentation" represents disproportionate actual honor violations. Whatever the explanation, however, the disparate impact of honor codes on minorities is not a phenomenon limited to Mr. Jefferson's University.
Continue reading "Honor Codes and Affirmative Action" »
Posted by KC Johnson
A divided three-judge panel from the 6th Circuit has issued a remarkable decision striking down the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, which prohibited state institutions from "discriminat[ing] against, or grant[ing] preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting." In 2006, Michigan voters had approved the measure, by a 16-point margin. Voters in other blue states, such as California and Washington, have endorsed similar measures.
Judges Guy Cole and Martha Daughtrey (both Clinton appointees) held that the MCRI violated the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. They complain that the MCRI forced Michigan's public universities "to modify the policies they had in place for nearly a half-century to remove consideration of 'race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin' in admissions decisions. No other admissions criteria--for example, grades, athletic ability, or family alumni connections--suffered the same fate." (The last time I looked, the 14th amendment didn't promise equal access to public university admissions regardless of an applicant's grades.) The duo further contended that the use of a plebiscite "rigged the game to reproduce" the majority's "success indefinitely." According to Judges Cole and Daughtrey, then, a "rigged" version of "success" for the "majority" means creating an admission system in which colleges and universities cannot give special preferences to anyone on basis of the candidate's race, ethnicity, or gender. A system that allows such preferences, on the other hand, reflects the equal protection tenets of the 14th amendment.
Continue reading "The 6th Circuit's Astonishing Defense of Racial Preferences" »
Posted by Anthony Paletta
"Bans On Affirmative Action Help Asian Americans, Not Whites, Report Says" reads a Chronicle of Higher Education headline this week reporting on a new study of preference bans and attendance, offering little surprise to... any, it seems, aside from the study's authors. The study examined the results of preference bans at a number of colleges, and found that they yielded significant increases in Asian American applicants, significant declines in black attendance, and mixed portraits otherwise, with some declines in white attendance, which can partially be attributed to demographic change in the applicant pools. It's slightly odd to see race-blind admissions yielding a decline in white attendance, but, substantively speaking, it's been apparent for a significant amount of time (to anyone who's watched the UC schools, for one) that the end of preferences is principally a boon to Asian American attendance. And despite all this, opposition to preferences has continued to mount. How do the researchers explain this? Whites have been fooling themselves.
In a grim and considerably unfair portrait of the movement against affirmative action, the report suggests that their findings "can hardly be satisfying' to 'those who campaigned for the elimination of affirmative action in the belief that it would advantage the admission of white students." Yes, it would be dissatisfying to those persons, but what is that demographic? I seem to recall broad enthusiasm for restoring merit as the source of anti-preference arguments and success, not white American racial interest. The report continues in this vein, predicting that whites may begin opposing affirmative action bans if Asians continued to make gains, observing that "Whites are still too influential in politics and in the private sector to sit quietly while this trend continues." I was struck by the profound cynicism of this commentary, seemingly attributing the success of bans to narrow white misconceptions of their self-interest, until I saw the final line of the Chronicle report. One of the study authors, Charles E. Young, former chancellor of UCLA, stated, about the effects of preference bans in colleges, that "limits on affirmative action have 'clearly negatively affected their ability to provide diversity in education,' hurting the education of their students." Hurting the education, of course - now it's easy to discern a narrative. What's a new way to stem the tide against preferences and install diversity forever? Convince whites that they might want them!
The study commentary seems to advance a recent tradition of pro-preference argument, which seeks to bolster support for preference regimes by seeking to incorporate aggrieved parties into their preference schemes. Already, some have argued that preferences for vanishing males could convincingly be incorporated into existing diversity systems. Now we'll see preferences for whites? It's a novel universalist argument, but hey, any argument's worth a try if it might keep affirmative action alive, right? I look forward to reading the full study.
Posted by Anthony Paletta
In our latest podcast, John Leo interviews Ward Connerly on his efforts to eliminate racial preferences in five states this November and the role of diversity in college admissions. Listen here.
Posted by Anthony Paletta
Randy Cohen, the New York Times "Ethicist", offered a very slippery response to a reader last week, on the question of financial incentives for the hiring of minority professors. You'd best read the whole exchange first. My comments are beneath:
I teach at a state university that offers financial incentives to hire minority candidates. A department receives $1,000 for completing a tenure-track hire but $5,000 if it hires a minority candidate. I'm concerned that colleagues will make recommendations based on the financial reward rather than pursue the "best" candidate. Should the institution offer these bounties? - DR. MARK E. CHASE, SLIPPERY ROCK, PA.
There's nothing discreditable or even unusual about using financial incentives to prompt estimable conduct. Governments use tax codes to promote desired activities. Businesses offer bonuses to encourage certain kinds of job performance. (Full disclosure: I have a "financial incentive" to write this column. It's called a "paycheck.") Be wary of skewing your argument with a loaded word like "bounties."
It is admirable of your school to acknowledge that some minorities are underrepresented on campus, that this is unjust in itself and that it subverts the school's mission: it is important for students to encounter professors (and fellow students) of diverse backgrounds and viewpoints. In pursuit of this goal, the school may try various things. There might be better ways to genuinely expand faculty diversity, but until such methods are on the table, and unless the danger you worry about actually emerges, financial incentives are worth a try.
Be comforted that hiring a new faculty member involves so many layers of scrutiny, so many opportunities for colleagues to weigh in, that the hazard you invoke is minimal. Remember: this tactic is not meant to lower hiring standards but to broaden the pool of people considered for the job.
For so long there has been so much social (if not legal) pressure arrayed against hiring such folks - in effect, incentives to hire white men - that it seems hypocritical to object only when incentives benefit minority candidates.
First, yes, the incentive that Dr. Chase writes concerning is clearly a small one. It's unlikely that a department would contort its hiring decision much on the basis of a $4,000 "bounty" - after all, they'd have to work with the hire. Cohen's right to point out that the "hazard is minimal" - yet his answer concerning that minimal danger is far from forthright. Consider this, the slipperiest sentence from above:
Continue reading "The Ethics of Diversity" »
Posted by John Leo
It is slowly dawning on the public that fake hate crimes, like the one just perpetrated by Princeton student Francisco Nava, are quite common on college campuses. Perhaps some aspiring academic, casting about for a PhD. thesis, will try to explain why these hoaxes - mostly imaginary rapes or fake attacks on black students - have come to seem so routine.
I have been following the phenomenon and writing occasional columns on the subject for ten or twelve years. When my eldest daughter was at Oberlin, the campus was propelled into uproar by anti-Asian graffiti in the campus quad. Someone had written "Death to Chinks" and other racial slurs on the monument to members of the Oberlin community who had died in the Boxer rebellion in China. Anger, various demands and a few scuffles went on for weeks until an Asian-American student announced that she had written the graffiti to make manifest the racism she thought was inherent in the monument. This turns out to be a popular rationale for faking hate crimes - the need to create a fictional outrage adequate to express the feelings of an angry student. The more campus voices are raised against "institutional racism" and the alleged sexual dangerousness of all males, the more fake race crimes and fake rapes there will be. Look into the hoax reports and you will see an endless parade of students painting racist graffiti on their own cars, tearing their clothes and writing hate phrases on their own bodies or sending themselves politically useful death threats.
Many campus hoaxes turn out to be teaching instruments of a sort, conscious lies intended to reveal broad truths about constant victimization of women and minorities. At a "Take Back the Night" rally in Princeton in the 90s, a female student told a graphic story of her rape on campus. When the alleged rapist threatened to sue, she recanted the story and a spokeswoman for the Women's Center said, "Listen we can't hope to find truth in all these stories," meaning that the story line was important, not the truth of any one rape.
Continue reading "A Conservative Hate Crime Hoax" »
Posted by John Leo
The Alice-in-Wonderland view of Duke University received yet another boost: a committee of the board of trustees has affirmed President Richard Brodhead's "compelling vision" for Duke and found "general support, overwhelming support, for the leadership that the president is providing."
The obvious question here is "What leadership?" Brodhead's performance during the Duke non-rape crisis was surely a disgrace large enough to get him fired immediately on any moderately alert campus.
Let's review Brodhead's dismal handling of the case. He fired the lacrosse coach without any hearing or finding that the coach had done anything wrong. He took no action and made no relevant statement when some of the hard-left professors harassed lacrosse players in class, and when one professor punitively reduced the marks of one player. (Imagine how he would have sprung into action if a gay person or a woman had been treated this way.) He refused to look at the overwhelming evidence, offered to him by defense counsel, that the boys were innocent. He made no comment when the racist black professor Houston Baker bitterly and falsely denounced the three white players. He said nothing and did nothing when death threats were made against the three. Instead of offering protection, he and his administration appointed a committee to examine "persistent problems involving the men's lacrosse team, including racist language and a pattern of alcohol abuse and disorderly behavior," a statement clearly implying that the players were racists while an out-of-control prosecutor was issuing the same untruths to voters and jurors.
Still Brodhead knows how the game is played and he surely judged his strategy by what happened to President Lawrence Summers at Harvard. Summers told many unwelcome truths and leftist professors forced him out. Brodhead told some welcome untruths and therefore kept his job. Brodhead 's performance was "a moral meltdown" of a cowardly man, in the words of Stuart Taylor Jr. and K C Johnson in their book, Until Proven Innocent. But given the moral climate of the modern university, cowardice was probably his safest course.
Posted by John Leo
Five students drinking Gatorade and water for a week are apparently all it takes to bring a major university to its knees. Columbia has had more than its share of lunatic events this year - the noose, the cancellation of the Minuteman speakers for the second time, inviting and then abusing the Iranian madman, and last week another controversy over a biased comment someone had scrawled into a library book. But the collapse of the university in the face of five student hunger strikers - the number was reduced to two students before the university folded - makes all the previous lunacies seem sane.
The strikers got most of their scattershot agenda. New faculty will now have to endure diversity indoctrination as part of their hiring. Columbia's core curriculum, much too "Eurocentric" for the strikers, will now feature more more required courses on Asia, Africa, and Latin America. More money and staff will be added for ethnic studies. The Office of Multicultural Affairs will be expanded and another high-ranking diversicrat will be named to the administration. The collapse will cost Columbia at least $50 million.
But the university's reputation for weakness and cowardice in the face of PC-mongering is not the key to this story. Columbia has been working for years to expand north into Harlem. It wants to add to its campus four large blocks from 129th Street between Broadway and 12th Avenue as well as three properties east of Broadway. Columbia must run the gantlet of many hearings and approvals, including those of the City Council, which is unusually sensitive to racial complaints about the curriculum and behavior of a historically white institution about to annex a chunk of Harlem. The strikers played the race card by denouncing Columbia's "institutional racism."
Columbia may have feared that one or more of the hunger strikerrs would become seriously ill or die. One abandoned the strike after fainting in the library and two others quit to get medical help. But the real aim was to protect the expansion program. One professor told me it was "a brilliant move" by President Lee Bollinger to buy off the protesters for only $50 million, while at the same time demonstrating some politically useful concern for racial and ethnic studies.
But it's only a brilliant move if it doesn't teach future strikers how easy it is to get concessions from Columbia. Protestors are still trying to kill the expansion into Harlem. Bollinger's decision to buy off the strikers may lead to more protesters and larger demands.
Posted by John Leo
By John Leo
Beware the words "social justice" and "dispositions" when used by schools of education and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). These apparently harmless terms lay the groundwork for politicizing the training of teachers and giving the ed schools an excuse to eliminate conservatives from their programs. The news this week is that NCATE is backing down a bit from its use of "dispositions" and "social justice" while denying the political use of these words and calling its new policy a "clarification."
"Dispositions" refers to the correct mindset that would-be teachers must have. "Social justice" is the most controversial of the dispositions sought. In its benign sense, "social justice" means a sense of fairness, honesty and a belief that all children can learn. In its politicized sense, it can refer to endorsement of affirmative action and a formal (often written) endorsement of policies favored by the political and cultural left.
"NCATE never required a 'social justice' disposition", NCATE said on its web site. True, but the statement is a slippery one. In fact, the group had ruled that education departments could "include some measure of a candidate's commitment to social justice" - in effect ruling that public school teachers could be evaluated on their perceptions of what social justice requires. So the ed schools, basically a liberal monoculture, could rule that a student flunked "social justice" by displaying a negative view of multicultural theory and other policies of the left. At Washington State University, where the college of education tried to expel a conservative student for flunking "dispositions," the dean was asked whether Justice Antonin Scalia could pass a dispositions test at her school. "I don't know how to answer that," she replied.
As NCATE tells it, "the term 'social justice,' though well understood by NCATE's institutions, was widely and wildy misinterpreted by commentators not familiar with the working of NCATE." The group now defines professional dispositions as "professional attitudes, values and beliefs demonstrated through both verbal and non-verbal behaviors. The two professional dispositions that NCATE expects institutions to assess are fairness and the belief that all students can learn. Based on their missions and conceptual framework, professional education units can identify, define and operationalize additional professional dispositions."
This is a mild improvement. Still, one wonders about those "non-verbal behaviors" and how they will be judged. The word "fairness" remains a linguistic sinkhole and the phrase "additional professional dispositions" keeps the door open for more politicization. NCATE's "clarification" doesn't clarify much.
Posted by Anthony Paletta
Fear that Proposition 209 has whitewashed the University of California? A majority of students at seven of the nine undergraduate campuses at the University of California are now foreign-born or have one foreign-born parent, a new study by the Center for Studies in Higher Education at UC Berkeley reveals. Chinese, Latino, Korean, Vietnamese, Filipino, East Indian, Pakistani, Japanese, Pacific Islander, and white immigrants now constitute a majority at all UC schools save for UC Santa Cruz and UC Santa Barbara - where students who are immigrants or have one immigrant parent still make up almost 40% of each student body.
The report contained other striking revelations; socioeconomic diversity is on the rise as well; 24% of attendees reported annual parental income of under $35,000. Surprising? Well, it's not unrelated. The report additionally indicates that those students immigrant backgrounds are "much more likely" to come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds than their peers. 74% of those in the under-$35,000 bracket grew up speaking a principal language other than English, or English along with another language.
What does this all mean? Well, the report's explanation is simple, and convincing:
UC is becoming increasingly racially and ethnically diverse in complex ways that reflect major demographic changes in the state, with Chinese students largely from immigrant families now representing the second largest identifiable racial/ethnic group in the UC system, followed by Chicano/Latino and then Korean and Vietnamese students.
The representation of Asians in the UC system is a continued success story, but the encouragingly high Latino\Chicano rate of attendance, at 14% of the undergraduate body, is an encouraging rejoinder to objections that Proposition 209 decimated Latino attendance rates. Latinos constituted a bit over 13% of the UC population prior to Proposition 209, according to the California Research Bureau. They've clearly now achieved comparable results free of preferences.
What's more, the report posed a number of questions about students' priorities at college. The more affluent students were, the more likely they were to skip classes and to value "social involvement - time spent on fun" over "academic involvement - time spent on academics." The students from less affluent backgrounds, by contrast, were most likely to report never skipping classes, and valued academic involvement over social involvement by the greatest margin. The changes in the UC student body reflect a clear shift towards greater seriousness in student performance. Hopefully we'll see more of the same.
Posted by Anthony Paletta
Inside Higher Ed features a piece today by Gary Orfield, Erica Frankenberg, and Liliana Garces bemoaning the impact of the Supreme Court's late desegregation ruling.
They foresee an associated collapse of minority applications to colleges, as they glimpse minorities sinking into underperforming all-minority schools. They bolster their case with citations from Eric Hanushek, who's written convincingly on the poor performance of mainly-minority schools. Yet it might have done them good to read more of Hanushek. Read their claim first:
Colleges and universities, especially selective institutions, tend to draw their successful minority applicants from interracial schools and their admissions offices know well that many of the segregated minority high schools fail to prepare their students well enough to succeed in college. Research by the Civil Rights Project has shown that too many segregated urban high schools are "dropout factories" where the main product is dropouts and successful preparation for college is rare. Conservative economist Eric Hanushek found that the damage was worst for the relatively high achieving black students, the very students likely to comprise the college eligible pool. So making segregation worse cuts the number of well prepared students. In addition to academic preparation, students from segregated backgrounds are also often not ready to function socially on a largely white, affluent campus. It also means of course, that the most segregated group of students in American schools, whites, also have less preparation to deal successfully with diversity. So colleges may have won, but also lost.
Continue reading "Desegration/Resegregation, Huh?" »
Posted by Anthony Paletta
The Regents of the University of Colorado are meeting to determine Ward Churchill's fate tomorrow, July 24th. The ACLU has written the University of Colorado arguing against Ward Churchill's firing. This isn't surprising - its letter repeats a central canard in the case - that the Churchill investigation was merely a pretext for larger, sinister pressures:
It is undisputed, however, that Professor Churchill's views are protected by the First Amendment, and cannot serve as a legal basis for any adverse employment action. Nevertheless the University soon launched the investigation of Professor Churchill's scholarship in an effort to find more defensible grounds for sanctioning him.
Churchill defenders willfully conflate all elements of the proceedings against Churchill - "the University" you notice, is here presented as judge, jury, and (perhaps) executioner. No difference is admitted in agency or person between the submission of a complaint as to Churchill's work, and the creation of a University panel looking into the question; the processes are looked upon as one and the same. The timing of the complaint about Churchill's research is viewed as an ineradicable taint, no matter what they unearth or how often they address the question directly of the reason for inquiry. Consider the Standing Committee on Research and Misconduct's statement here:
Continue reading "Ward Churchill And The ACLU" »
Posted by John McWhorter
Since the Supreme Court last week decided against Seattle and Louisville, Kentucky's policies of assuring a certain degree of racial diversity in public schools, we have heard much about the undoing of Brown v. Board.
However, I have a hard time mourning the decision, though the brute notion that we must ignore race to get beyond it is, surely, simplistic.
Preliminarily, I think of the plethora of schools nationwide where all the students are brown and yet excellence is a norm. I think of the fact that to the extent that black teens tar excelling in school as "acting white," it tends to be when they go to school with white people, as scholarly studies have shown.
Yet I openly admit that my discomfort with racial (as opposed to socioeconomic) preferences in education is also based in part on gut impressions - based on my own experiences in academia over, now, almost 20 years. Too often, commitment to "diversity" has nothing to do with recognizing the humanity and individuality of the persons in question, and much to do with reaffirming other people's sense of moral legitimacy.
As it happens, it was ten years ago this week that I had one such experience.
Every two summers, linguists have a kind of summer camp, the Linguistic Society of America Institute, where linguists from around the world give mini-courses for students on a college campus. I was invited to teach at the one in 1997.
Continue reading "Diversity In Linguistics" »
Posted by Anthony Paletta
In anticipation of a new U.S. Commission on Civil Rights report on historically black colleges and universities, Gail Heriot at The Right Coast has been doing some reading.
These institutions, which produce only 20% of African-American students, launch a striking 40% of all African-American science and engineering graduates. Heriot wonders as to this:
Why might this be? In 1996, Rogers Elliott, A. Christopher Strenta, et al. took a look at the why African-American and Hispanic students are less likely to follow careers in science than white or Asian-American students in "The Role of Ethnicity in Choosing and Leaving Science in Highly Selective Institutions." They found that African-American and Hispanic students at elite colleges and universities are about as likely as white or Asian-American students to start off intending to major in science. But they abandon those intentions in larger numbers. The authors concluded that mismatch probably played a major role.
Heriot cites segments from the report:
Why are so many talented minority students, especially blacks, abandoning their initial interests and dropping from science when they attend highly selective schools? The question has many possible answers, but we will begin with the factor we think most important, the relatively low preparation of black aspirants to science in these schools, hence their poor competitive position in what is a highly competitive course of study. As in most predominantly white institutions, and especially the more selective of them, whites and Asians were at a large comparative advantage by every science-relevant measure ...
It'd be interesting to see the hypothesis tested against African-American students' performance at non-elite, non-historically black colleges. The study's attention to a common level of academic preparation (without the lags that dog black performance at elite colleges) seems the most convincing factor. Perhaps they're additionally better at providing encouragement to minority science careers than institutions of comparable quality? Hopefully the Commission's report will shed additional light on this.
Posted by Anthony Paletta
John Rosenberg has an excellent post at Discriminations on, among other things, Lee Bollinger's latest slippery utterances in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Rosenberg offers a superb paragraph's description of the filigreed nature of diversity goals:
Since preferentialists speak in platitudes and not principles, their defense of racial preferences provides no guides to policy makers or guidelines by which to judge the policies they defend, other than the numbers of favored minorities they produce. How "critical" is having a "critical mass," and how "massive" must it be? By what principle (can't escape them), if any, should its size reflect the "mass" it attempts to represent, and where must that "mass" be - local, national, anywhere in the world? When, where, and why do differences, say, among Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans disappear into their presumably shared Asian-ness? Are Cherokees fungible, for representational purposes, with Cheyenne? If some discrimination is acceptable to produce the desired result, why not more discrimination to produce an even better result? Is there a limit, and if so where does it come from?
Any idea? I certainly don't know. By all means read the rest of the post.
Posted by Harry Stein
Henry Lewis Gates, renowned Harvard professor of African-American Studies - which is to say, someone about as deep as can be gotten in the belly of the diversity-obsessed academic beast - said something quite remarkable the other day. Invited to address the graduates of Kentucky's Berea College, founded in 1855 as the first integrated college in the South, from the speakers platform Gates trod very familiar territory. He lauded the benefits of affirmative action, and instructed the grads that it isn't enough to "pay lip service" to diversity. But in an interview he gave an enterprising reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader, things got interesting. Gates allowed that while he, the son of a janitor, had needed affirmative action to get ahead, his own privileged children did not; nor should they benefit from it. But poor white children should. "We need to get more black people into the middle class," he concluded. "We need to get more white people into the middle class."
One cannot help but wonder whether the learned professor realizes that such a position -support for economic affirmative action, but opposition to the kind based merely on skin color - is identical to that held by the nation's leading crusader against racial preferences (and a man much detested by campus liberals and leftists), Ward Connerly. Indeed, in his successful fights on behalf of state initiatives to end race-based college admissions and government hiring in California, Washington and Michigan, Connerly has been bitterly denounced as a race traitor and worse for saying the very same thing; demanding, for instance, how affirmative action supporters can fail to see the elemental unfairness of a college admissions officer giving preference to the child of a black surgeon over the child of a white coal miner who would be the first in his family to go to college.
Continue reading "Henry Lewis Gates: Ward Connerly's Latest Supporter?" »
Posted by Anthony Paletta
The yield of the University of California's "holistic" admissions process is now becoming apparent with the release of enrollment figures. Admissions were conducted under a novel system for the current year, a "holistic process" which was promoted as a means to improve the relative chances of disadvantaged students who lacked AP courses and other academic opportunities that wealthier peers enjoy.
Now that the matriculating class of 2007 has been selected, University administrators are hailing the result as a great success. So it proved a boon for low-income students? Well, no, not at all actually. The number of students from families with incomes under 30,000 declined from 955 in 2006 to an estimated 689 for 2007. The number of first-generation students fell by about 400.
What do University administrators have to say about the results? Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Janina Montero declared to the UCLA Daily Bruin "We are certainly out of crisis mode." Acting Chancellor Norman Abrams was "very pleased" with the result.
How is this? Well, black enrollment increased from 96 in 2006 to 203 for the present year. What would most rational persons call a policy that traded modest increases in black enrollment for much more severe declines in immigrant and other low-income enrollment? Flawed? Only a university administrator could look at such a result and declare themself pleased.
Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case
Diversity, the Invention of a Concept
Illiberal Education: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus
Elites to Anti-Affirmative Action Voters: Drop Dead
Liberal Education Then and Now
As Goes Harvard. . .
The Left University
Don't Fund College Follies
Profiles in Diversity
Retaking the University
Who Should Get into College?
The Changing Shape of the River: Affirmative Action and Recent Social Science Research
Is Campus Racial Diversity Correlated with Educational Benefits?