‘Diversity’ Anger at UCLA

If there were a Heisman Trophy for the most articulate angry black undergraduate, Sy Stokes, a recent UCLA graduate, would surely have won.

Subject of a fawning, sprawling 3200-word profile by Eric Hoover in the Chronicle of Higher Education (“A Young Man of Words” — access may require subscription), Stokes made a name for himself in a video, “The Black Bruins,” attacking UCLA as a “racist corporation,” a “place of privilege, callous to the challenges” black men face. “So with all my brothers’ hopes and dreams that this university has tried to ruin,” he cries poetically, “How the hell am I supposed to be proud to call myself a Bruin?”

“The Black Bruin” went viral, which “has been viewed almost 2.3 million times,” and made Mr. Stokes a star. Youlanda Copeland-Morgan, UCLA’s associate vice chancellor for enrollment management,” the Chronicle writes, “took to Mr. Stokes. She invited him to a College Board conference where he spoke to a standing-room-only audience. When he started applying for jobs, she wrote him a letter of recommendation.”

Sy Stokes

Sy Stokes

By now Mr. Stokes should be used to being regarded as a rising black voice. A year and a half ago he was also the subject of Scott Jaschik’s equally adoring profile in Inside Higher Ed, “To Be a Black Man at UCLA.” Given this repeated treatment of Mr. Stokes as today’s emblematic — and hence to be embraced — angry young black man, as virtually a young James Baldwin in waiting, I think it is worth looking more closely at the “diversity” that he both demands and represents. There are more than a few ironies.

  • According to the Chronicle, Stokes is “the son of a black father and a Chinese mother.” Thus he could have as accurately identified himself as “Asian,” but if he had done so he might well have not been admitted to UCLA — despite the fact that it is now allowed to take race into account — and would certainly have had a much harder time getting accepted to any selective university not obligated to be colorblind.
  • There is at least some evidence that he arrived at UCLA with a chip on his shoulder. Consider this sad, revealing anecdote reported by the Chronicle:

Mr. Stokes had first tasted racial tension at 14…. One day a girl from another high school invited him to her homecoming dance. Cool, he thought.

On the big night, he wore a Yankees cap, T-shirt, and Nike basketball shoes. As soon as he got to the school, he felt uncomfortable. Nobody was dressed like him, and just about everyone was white. For the first time in his life, he thought about how his skin was darker than others’. “People stared at me like crazy,” he says. “Whatever I did, I had eyes on me.” Standing on the crowded dance floor, he felt alone.

  • Less star-struck observers might think the above was not so clearly racial tension. Moreover, there is also evidence that Mr. Stokes himself is not so enamored of “diversity.” According to the Chronicle, his dance experience was simply one example, continued at UCLA, of “years of feeling unwelcome among peers who didn’t look like him, who came from different kinds of neighborhoods.” Wait. Isn’t exposing students to peers “who don’t look like” them, who come from “different kinds of neighborhoods,” the very essence of the “diversity” that educrats at UCLA and other selective institutions insist is the sine qua non of an effective education?
  • Perhaps Mr. Stokes was angry because he realized that the “diversity” preached and practiced by UCLA was not intended for people like himself. On the contrary, its rationale and purpose was and is to enable “peers who didn’t look like him” to benefit from being exposed to the “difference” he represents. Indeed, concerned as he was with racial exploitation, he might well have been aware of the unwittingly revealing defense of “diversity” then University of California Chancellor Robert Birgenau offered to the San Francisco Chronicle in February of his freshman year: “We no longer can live in our own world surrounded by people who are just like us.” One need not be a deconstructionist, as I argued here, to figure out who “we” and the “people who are just like us” are, and in fact discerning minorities have realized that they are merely the instruments used to provide “diversity” to others, not its beneficiaries.

There is a final irony fueling Stokes’ anger, an anger usually expressed in the language of underrepresentation — “Of men at UCLA,” he told Inside Higher Ed, “black males make up 3.3 percent; of the 2,418 entering male students this year, 48 were black,” etc. He claimed it was “‘a big cop out’ for UCLA to blame its low number on the ban on consideration of race.” As for what he wants, he insisted “We are not asking for a handout. We are asking for a level playing field.”

“Level playing field,” of course is never defined. I have defined it, here, as “[t]he political, social, and economic terrain that will ensure that two or more teams with different levels of ability, experience, equipment, interest, attitude, coaching, etc. always achieve equal scores and win the same number of games,” but I do not think that’s what Stokes has in mind. I think he means “admit more blacks.” But insofar as the goal of admitting more “underrepresented” minorities is so that colleges can “mirror the community,” demographic statistics do not support Stokes’ demand.

“Blacks were 3.8% of the freshmen who entered UCLA” in the fall of 2013, I noted here in discussing Stokes’ video. “According to the latest census data, blacks are 6.6% of the population of California. Thus, by whatever calculus ‘underrepresented’ and ‘level’ are determined, whites are left holding a considerably shorter end of the stick than blacks: they are 73.5% of the population of California but only 27.1% of UCLA undergraduates.”

The only practical way for UCLA to have a higher proportion of students who look like Stokes’ father is to impose a rather strict quota on the admission of students who look like his mother. As of Fall Quarter 2014 Asians were 33.5% of UCLA undergraduates but only 14.1% of California’s population.

We Have Too Many Colleges, So Cut Federal Funding

We have clearly oversold higher education. Through subsidies and political hype, we have prodded huge numbers of students to flock into colleges and universities. Naturally, those institutions also expanded in number and in the volume of students.

Now that it is becoming evident that a college degree isn’t necessarily a good investment and for many is a terrible waste of time and money, many schools are struggling, causing Washington Post writer Jeffrey Selingo to write a July 20 column, “How many colleges and universities do we really need?”

Selingo correctly observes, “At too many colleges attended by the vast majority of American students, costs are spiraling out of control and quality is declining.”

That’s right. As we’ve poured more and more government money into college “access,” schools have pocketed much of the money and gone on a spending spree – and then increased their tuition and fees, leading politicians to cry that they must increase student aid more to keep higher education “affordable.”

And it’s true that quality has declined.  A high percentage of today’s students (*far higher than, say 40 years ago) are academically weak and disengaged. To accommodate such students, most schools have lowered their academic standards and allowed the curriculum to degenerate into a hodge-podge of trendy, often frivolous courses.

I agree with Selingo’s diagnosis, but not his proposed cure. He writes, “What we need is a federal commission similar to those that have been tasked with closing military bases over the years. In the case of higher education, this commission wouldn’t just recommend colleges for closure, but it also could identify where mergers or alliances could produce the best solution for clusters of struggling institutions.”

That is a bad idea. Federal political meddling is the very reason why we have the problems we do. Looking to still more of it to solve those problems is extremely naïve.

The main problem is that the analogy to closing military bases is a poor one. We had quite a few bases that were unnecessary. But while quite a few public colleges and universities suffer from low graduation rates and job placement overall, it is often the case that some parts of those schools are worthwhile. A college’s English major might be a joke but its biology major academically solid. Swinging a political – and a federal commission will certainly be highly political – is apt to chop away the good with the bad.

Selingo does suggest that the commission doesn’t just have to close schools, but could also recommend mergers and alliances. Fine, but school administrators can and have been doing that. Why expect better results from appointed commissioners than from school officials who have more direct knowledge and stronger incentives to make good decisions?

Instead of a top-down solution, we need a bottom-up solution. We’ll continue to have enormous waste and inefficiency as long as the federal faucet keeps pouring easy money into higher education. Shut off the faucet and then the invisible hand of market competition will get busy.

The weakest students will stop enrolling without the subsidies. When they stop showing up, administrators will have to prune away the worst majors and departments that cannot be sustained. Cost-saving mergers and alliances will be more avidly explored, but administrators who are best positioned to assess the pros and cons.

A doctor knows to always look for the root cause of an ailment and to deal with it – not just ameliorate the symptoms. With higher education in America, the root cause is the fact that easy money has terribly distorted the decisions of both students and school officials.  We must deal with that.

Amherst: No Pretense of Fairness

Amherst is being sued –and rightly so–in one of the most egregious of the many campus sex cases. In brief, this is what happened.

  • After heavy drinking, two Amherst students had sex.
  • The male involved was the boyfriend of the female’s roommate. Her friends made nasty comments about her or abandoned her for cheating on her roommate.
  • Months later, joining a group of victim’s rights advocates, the accusing student (AS) concluded that the drunken sexual encounter had been rape and brought charges.
  • In a  lightning-fast investigation,  Amherst  did not discover that AS had sent two  crucial text messages to fellow students: one admitting she had seduced the male in question, regretted it and worried that the male had been  too drunk to lie about it; the other inviting a second male to her room for sex immediately after the alleged rape.
  • In a kangaroo court hearing (no lawyer, no discovery no direct cross-examination), the male was found culpable and expelled.
  • Having learned about the exculpatory emails, Amherst refused to re-open the case, and blamed the accused male.

In a defiant response to a lawsuit filed by the accused student, Amherst claimed that the process worked as it should have in this case. Or if it didn’t, it was the accuser’s roommate’s fault—he should have found out about the text messages and forwarded them before the investigator’s investigation ended. Or if it wasn’t the accuser’s fault, it was the accused student’s own fault for (in a hearing with no lawyer) not developing clever supplemental cross-examination questions about the text messages. But Amherst, according to Amherst, did everything right, according to both college policy and federal law, producing a hearing “conducted with fundamental fairness, in good faith.”

Amherst: The Process Worked

Amherst’s response comes in three levels. First, it suggests that the college did everything right: the investigation worked as it should, even though the investigator did almost all of her campus interviews in just one day; and the panel made the correct judgment, even as the college denied the accused student any right to meaningful cross-examination or legal representation. After all, AS claimed (more than a year after the fact) that at some point she had withdrawn consent, and the accused student was too drunk to recall the incident.

It’s possible, as Reason’s Robby Soave has noted, that despite this damning contextual evidence, AS’s months-after-the-fact story about nonconsensual sex is correct. But in a case that relied solely on AS’s credibility, in which AS denied to Amherst’s investigator that she had relevant text messages, such material effectively destroys her claim—as Soave also, correctly, observed.

Desperately Defending the Accuser

In its filing, Amherst tries to rehabilitate AS in two ways. First, the college suggests that—even if they had been produced by the school—the text messages would have had “no bearing” on the case, since they were simply discussions about irrelevant aspects of AS’s sex life. But the intercourse is almost certainly relevant (since AS misrepresented to the panel and the investigator why the male student came to her room), and the messages contain several items discussing her intercourse with the accused, not with the second male.

Second, Amherst portrays AS as courageously forthcoming, and therefore wholly credible. It denies that she changed any significant aspect of her story—though even the school’s own investigator couldn’t “say it was clear to me” when AS actually claimed that she withdrew consent. It’s also true, the college’s outside attorneys concede, that AS told the school’s investigator that she didn’t have relevant text messages about the incident. But that answer was truthful, according to Amherst, because AS could have understood that the investigator was only asking her “whether she had communicated or recorded in writing that the Incident had been ‘non-consensual,’ which she did not.”

In other words, Amherst has implied that its investigator was only interested in obtaining from AS contemporaneous documentation that would confirm, rather than undermine, AS’s story. And this is how the college’s system was supposed to work? On this point, Amherst had two unpalatable options: (1) concede that AS lied to the investigator, and therefore is of dubious credibility, or (2) hint that its investigator wasn’t interested in obtaining exculpatory information. I suppose, given those two options, and given the ideological climate at the college, the lawyers had little choice but to implicitly rebuke the investigator.

Amherst’s Fallback Position: Blame Its Students

In a federal judiciary that includes such opponents of campus due process as Ronnie Abrams (Vassar case) and Jesse Furman (Columbia case), perhaps this argument might carry the day. But even Amherst seems doubtful. And so the school offers a second line of defense–to the extent the result was unjust and the school failed to consider exculpatory evidence, it was because Amherst students (either AS’s roommate, or the accused student himself) failed to do their jobs.

On this point, Amherst begins with AS’s roommate, the former girlfriend of the accused. (The roommate seems to me to have been badly treated by all parties in this case—including, now, Amherst.) While the college goes out of its way to defend the unreliable AS, its outside counsel choose to cast aspersions on the roommate—one of Amherst’s own students—by suggesting that she wasn’t entirely forthcoming about the existence of the text messages in her one and only interview with the investigator. Why? Because the roommate answered, “I don’t think so” to the following question from the investigator: “Is there anything else I haven’t asked you about that you think would be important for me to know?”

In other words: the roommate—a college student, not represented by counsel—was supposed to: (1) assume that AS hadn’t turned over clearly relevant messages (and understand why they were relevant); (2) recognize that the text messages (for which she was neither a sender nor a recipient) represented “anything else” in the investigator’s question; and (3) not wonder why this supposedly experienced investigator wouldn’t simply ask about text messages. Moreover, if the investigator had taken a more professional route—that is, scheduling follow-up meetings with relevant witnesses rather than interviewing all the witnesses in the case in a one-day whirlwind through campus—she might have realized the importance of the text messages and asked about them in a follow-up interview with the roommate.

Nonetheless, AS made a mistake. As even Amherst admits that AS “did not provide text messages to Attorney Kurker [the investigator],” she referenced them indirectly in the hearing: “I texted a friend to come over to talk to me and spend the night.” Amherst’s attorneys now argue that this sentence of testimony, buried within a longer discussion of what AS did after the alleged attack, shows the accused student had all the chances he needed. Although he “had the opportunity to do so,” Amherst’s outside counsel maintains, “he never asked [AS] to identify ‘the friend’ whom [AS] texted.”

In other words: the accused student—representing himself in a proceeding whose outcome would alter the rest of his life—was supposed to: (1) have had a clear enough understanding of the case to have recognized that AS made a key admission in her testimony; (2) have composed (in writing) a follow-up set of questions on the text messages as AS’s testimony was occurring; and (3) have submitted these questions to the panel chair and hope that the chair (who wasn’t required to do so) asked them of AS. And since the accused student failed at playing Perry Mason, Amherst now contends he’s out of luck.

Amherst and Its Officials

While the accused student couldn’t have a lawyer with him, he did have an Amherst-approved “advocate,” Torin Moore, who had come to Amherst after obtaining a graduate degree in social justice education from UMass. What was Moore doing as AS made her potentially damning admission? Amherst doesn’t even bother to defend his performance during the hearing. And what about the panelists? The college obliquely concedes their failures: AS “was not asked that question [about the text messages] by anyone else.” Why were they disinterested in this relevant information? Amherst doesn’t say.

Finally, a striking element of the original complaint was a realistic portrayal of the deeply unhealthy campus climate at Amherst on issues of due process—a task that the accused student’s attorneys, Max Stern and Hillary Lehmann, accomplished by liberally quoting from Amherst officials’ statements and documents. The Amherst filing ineffectively tries to rebut this portrayal by accusing Stern and Lehmann of producing a complaint that “mischaracterizes and selectively quotes out of context” Amherst materials. Yet in 39 pages, the college can’t identify a single specific mischaracterization.

Robert Putnam Knows The Real Reason the American Dream Is Fading

Professor Robert D. Putnam argued in his influential book Bowling Alone that since the 1960s, the U.S. had undergone an unprecedented collapse in civic, social and political life–a finding he modified in 2010 by noting that the trend had turned the other way. In this interview, Putnam discusses his new book, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, with Dean Ball of the Manhattan Institute. Putnam is a political scientist at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. National Review contributor David French said in his review of Putnam’s book, “I can’t think of another book that more clearly lays out the devastating consequences of the breakdown of the family. As Putnam states: Children who grow up without their biological father perform worse on standardized tests, earn lower grades, and stay in school for fewer years regardless of race and class.”


 Dean Ball: Many of the problems in your new book Our Kids are cultural more than political. Yet at the end you delve into policy recommendations. To what extent do you actually think that policy is going to bring the kind of cultural change we need?

Robert Putnam: I do think that cultural change does occur, and it can occur fairly rapidly. I can think of two relevant episodes that both happen to be cultural change in a progressive direction. The first happened at the end of the 19th century. There are deep parallels between America at the turn of the last century and America today. Both are periods of rapid immigration, political corruption, and both are periods during  which the pendulum had swung very much in an individualistic direction, the idea being that each of us is on his or her own. But then, at the turn of the century, pretty rapidly and across party lines, the country turned in a more communitarian direction, and in many different spheres. In religion it was the so-called social gospel movement in Protestant churches. In politics it was the Progressive party that cut across party lines. In a pretty short time, partially as a result of that cultural change, public policies changed, first at the grassroots and then at the national level. And some of the most important and earliest changes came at the grassroots level, in strange places like Toledo and Galveston, rather than at the national level.

I think most cultural historians would agree that America goes through these huge, centuries-long swings of emphasis on individualism to emphasis on more communitarian views. And this actually cuts across left-right dimensions because there are conservative communitarians and liberal communitarians. I think, in some respects, that the individualist-communitarian divide is as important as the left-right divide on many issues.

The second example of rapid culture change is the Civil Rights era. Six months before the march on Selma, the conventional wisdom said that civil rights legislation was politically impossible. And six months after, we had the legislation. It doesn’t depend on whether you think it was good or bad.

DB: It happened.

RP: Exactly, and it happened very quickly. It involved a rapid change in political opinion. It wasn’t quite cultural opinion in the deep sense that you are talking about, but it was a profound change.

So now let me go back to the current case. I think that the problem of the opportunity gap is a purple problem. That is to say, some parts of the problem are best understood through the conservative lens—the collapse of the working class family, for example. And some parts you can see more clearly through the progressive lenses—the eroding effects, for example, of the long stagnation of working class wages. The same thing is true for solutions.

However, I think that the main obstacle to solving the problem is not actually policy. The main problem isn’t that we don’t have the right solutions. I could list several policies that have clear positive effects.

DB: And you do in the book.

RP: Yes. But there are other things that seem pretty off the table now, like restoring the norm that if you procreate you are responsible for the results of your sexual behavior. That norm is a big deal, and it collapsed in the 60s. The collapse of that norm is in fact responsible for a lot of this problem, and it’s not obvious right now to me how we can change that. I mean, you can’t pass a law saying “no sex without a license.” I don’t see where the policy lever is.

Ultimately, I think the real problem is a lack of responsibility. First, men think they can have sex and not be responsible for the results of in a way that wasn’t true 60 years ago. And second is the notion that we are responsible for other people’s kids as well as our own.

DB: A collective responsibility.

RP: Yes. And it’s not a matter of left or right. The examples I use in the book from Port Clinton where you can see that norm operating so clearly in the lives of two of the kids that I talk about, actually all of the poor kids I talk about. There’s a working class guy who came from a very poor background and his parents didn’t know anything about college at all, but his local pastor took an interest in him.

DB:  A community that fostered him…

RP: But even more dramatically, the two cases of the black kids in town. There was racism, this was the 1950s, but nevertheless, two white people each played an important role in the lives of those two kids. Without the white coach– who was himself a little bit racist– taking an interest in making sure this black kid got a college football scholarship, and even more dramatically, this wealthy matron taking an interest in her maid, who was my classmate, admittedly really smart and hardworking and so on, but still her parents were not going to send her to college. It was this white matron that took an interest in her. Well, all of that captures what we thought about all the kids in Port Clinton—not we, but our parents. They were all “our kids,” and now, honestly, if you go back to Port Clinton and talk to people, nobody thinks of the poor kids that appear in our book as ours. They’re someone else’s kids.

There have been periods in American history in which authors have held up a mirror to social realities. If you take the case of the 19th century Gilded Age, when Jacob Riis, in this city, held up a mirror to the Lower East Side, letting the folks in the Silk Stocking District on the Upper East Side, know what it was like to live in those tenements. And he said, do you want to live in a city, in a country, in which there are people living like those people living in the tenements? The best historical evidence says it had an effect, there were still some underlying norms that he was appealing to that changed the politics. So what did it mean? It meant more money was invested in sewers and clean water. It wasn’t like the revolution came to New York City, but it did actually have real effects. So I’m not saying that Our Kids is going to have the same effect, but that’s the genre of Our Kids. Is that making sense?

DB: Completely, yes. And also, the book’s broader point is that the cultural change is what affects the policy change. Policy change is not what is affecting the cultural change.

RP: Exactly right. Who knows whether we’re at a time in history where that will happen, it certainly could happen, at least that’s my view.

DB: Are you saying that there is just a general lack of responsibility in our culture, something we’ve lost?

RP: Well, to say “lost” implies a kind of a dichotomy, you have it or you don’t have it. But it’s surely reduced. Now I’m playing that back and seeing whether I really believe that. I do really believe that actually. It would be silly to say that people don’t have responsibility—you have a sense of professional responsibility not to say something that I didn’t say or misinterpret it. I have a responsibility not to make up data. There are a whole string of norms that we all follow in our daily lives, so I don’t want to say the sky’s the limit. But it is true, I think. And is that related to the decline of religion?

DB: That’s exactly where I was going.

RP: As you may know, my previous book to this one, American Grace, was about religion. I myself am not deeply religious. I’m an active member of a religious community, the Jewish community, but I’m not deeply theologically religious. But as a student of it, I have to say, religion is a big deal, and I think that secular liberals, and I sort of think of myself as among them, may have underplayed the role that religion has played historically in undergirding our sense of ought. Now oughts can be based on many things; they do not have to be based on the notion of a deity or theology. They certainly don’t have to be based on that, but…

DB: But is religion the most accessible form of those things for, let’s say, the aggregate of people?

RP: Yeah, I do think that, and not just for them. Somewhat to our surprise, we found that church friends are supercharged friends. That is, you feel greater obligations to members of your religious community than to members of your bowling league. David Campbell and I were quite struck when we could see in the data that the more church friends you had, the nicer you were. By nicer, I mean, I was slightly joking, but you’re more likely to help old ladies cross the street, you volunteer more, you give more. All that stuff is true, and it meets the most rigorous standards of social science—it actually causes it. Having church friends, not actually believing in God, so if you happen to get in a church religious community, but you don’t believe in God—say you go because your spouse is religious ,and you go along ,and you are actually members of that community—that community actually makes you nicer.

And I say that without, for a moment, hiding from myself that there are also negative things that are associated with religion. Of course we know that. I mean, people blow up other people in the name of religion, so it’s not like it’s a uniform good. And I do think that we’re just coming through a really interesting period in the ups and downs of religion in America. You know, from the previous book, that we, and everybody now, agrees that religion, in terms of practiced religion and religious communities, has been on a kind of downgrade for the last twenty years or so. And I think by now, it’s the most common view that religion got to be too political in a way. that lots of people, young people especially, felt driven away by the exclusively hard emphasis on conservative sexual values, and I’ve actually, ironically, it’s not the sexual values that I’m concerned about—being responsible for progeny—it was sexual values of having straight marriage…

DB: Premarital sex, something like that.

RP: So, I do think that—this is to your point about responsibility—far be it from me, a secular Jew, to tell religious people how to do their job, but I do think that we’ve been through a period in which  the major American religious communities, especially evangelical and Catholic, have become awfully one-sided in  their emphasis on issues of sex, and especially abortion and homosexuality, to the exclusion of a lot of other things that are clearly there in the Bible and that clearly religious people have in the past paid a great deal of attention to, including responsibility for other people. I mean, the Sermon on the Mount is a much better, clearer statement on this than I’m likely to make, about our responsibility for poor people. I’ll stop lecturing you. I do think that the most important political thing that’s happened, bar none, with respect to the issues I’m concerned about, which are this growing opportunity gap in America and child poverty and so on, is the advent of Pope Francis.  I think that is a hugely important development, and I don’t mean that only in the sense that he’s presumably going to appoint a somewhat different array of archbishops and cardinals, and I don’t mean it only in the sense that he’s got a really good PR presence. I mean, he’s been articulating what is—it’s not like this is some great new revelation that’s just come to him– it is an enduring feature of Christian theology that he’s articulating.

DB: But crucially, he’s articulating it, he’s making it palpable to a modern audience.

RP: Absolutely. I think it’s a really big deal. What I like about it is actually, and I’m not on the same page as him, certainly not with respect to homosexuality, and actually not even with respect to abortion, although that’s certainly a more complicated moral issue. But he’s articulating it in what I would call a purple way, that is, he’s articulating it in a way that makes sense to people who are conventionally thought of as different political camps in America. I don’t know whether that’ll have a big effect. I think it could have a big effect in American politics. And I don’t just mean Catholic politicians suddenly taking this on board, though to be honest with you, Paul Ryan would say that that was a factor in his renewed attention to these issues.

DB: You talk about religion in the last 20 years, becoming fixated on a couple issues in this country. Do you think that has a connection with the rise of evangelical Christianity as a political faction in this country, or do you think it is an unrelated phenomenon?

RP: Well, it’s obviously related to that because evangelicalism, modern evangelicalism. I mean over the last 30 years, expanded rapidly precisely as a counter-reaction to the 60s. I’m just now rechanneling one of the chapters of Bowling Alone, of American Grace, but I’m pretty confident that the rise of evangelicalism is associated with a mass counter-reaction against the 60s. So, in essence, sure there’s a connection, but evangelicalism is not, either now or historically, the same as fundamentalism. There were plenty of evangelical modernists a hundred years ago, and evangelicals, historically, have been the most committed to issues of equality in America. The American Revolution, the language of the American Revolution, “All men are created equal,” comes directly out of the First Great Awakening.  The history is quite clear about this—that language and that culture comes out of an evangelical Protestant movement. The emancipation movement comes directly out of the Second Great Awakening, which was evangelical. You go back and you look, “Where was the evangelical Second Great Awakening of the 1830s and 1840s strongest?” And that’s the same place where the emancipation movement and the Republican Party grew, and it grew out of that. So, I mean it’s quite the contrary, historically, evangelical Protestantism in America has been unusually sensitive to issues of what we would now call social justice. Now that seems a little odd if you juxtapose that with the current version of that, and I recognize of course that fundamentalism emerged in the 20th century as a reaction against the social gospel. The social gospel movement was not a Catholic movement. It wasn’t coming out of what we now think of as mainline churches. It was coming out of evangelical churches.

DB: Is the evangelical movement of today different because of the 60s? Because I think the 60s affected how social movements happen in this country. The terms of the civil rights movement and the tactics, especially of the later civil rights era, have impacted….

RP: Everybody. Yeah, I agree with that.

RPI think convincing the main religious communities in America that the opportunity gap is a big deal,—meaning, I think it’s the most important domestic problem we face now— is almost, I would say, almost a necessary and almost a sufficient condition for solving the problem. Look, there’s a difference between saying something is wrong, which this book does, and saying that it’s a sin. Any secular person has the capacity to say it’s wrong. I’m trying to say, read this, it’s really wrong! But that isn’t the same power as somebody saying it’s a sin. And that’s all I’m trying to say.

DB: it’s a much more profound effect.

DB: On a slightly different topic. Your work invites comparison to the work of Charles Murray, especially his book Coming Apart.

RP: Has he written about the religion thing? I didn’t remember that.

DB: Coming Apart is about decline of religion certainly. And yet you don’t cite Murray at all in your book, right?

RP: That’s not quite true, I do cite him actually. There’s a footnote there, it’s only a footnote, but it says   he covered much of the same material, but offered a different interpretation of it. Frankly, a lot of conservatives, libertarians have alleged that they don’t talk about that, but I do talk about it here.

DB: I missed that in the book, I must say. I’m sorry. I was going to say, how do you think your work fits in?

RP:  I think his book is an important book, and I’ve said so publicly. It’s different, my book, in two ways.  Depending on your political view, you may think these are important or unimportant. First of all, he doesn’t actually focus on kids, he’s focused on adults. And I think that’s the least interesting part of the issue. I think that the kids are the really important part of the issue because they’re the ones who are completely innocent. And there’s a whole bunch of things like bootstrap theory, which is, if you just get your act together and pull yourself up by your bootstraps you’d be fine, which applied to poor people in his book, but can’t apply to kids. So, from my point of view, the difference from focusing on the adults and on the kids, is a really big deal, ethically and sociologically, because Americans have historically been ambivalent about differences in income, that is, the income distribution. Americans have historically not been as concerned as people in other countries have been about rich folks and poor folks. But equality of opportunity is just in our DNA as a country. Equality of opportunity means, all men are created equal. Okay, men—we meant white men, and we meant men.

DB: But, broaden that a little bit…

RP: But the fundamental idea that everybody ought to get an equal start in life, that issue is engaged only if you talk about the kids. So I’m not trying to make an ethical attack on his book, but I think the difference between focusing on the adults and focusing on the kids is important. It also means that I talk about some things here that he doesn’t talk about, like early childhood education and like Good Night, Moon and all that kind of stuff, which isn’t such a big deal if you’re looking at the parents. But it’s a huge deal if you’re looking at the kids. And the second thing people have talked about is, it’s not just left-right, it’s also libertarian-communitarian, and I’m more inclined to say that this is a purple problem that has both economic, or structural, and cultural causes. He absolutely does not think that—he and I have been on panels together—he absolutely thinks there’s no material, no structural, no economic…

DB: It’s all culture.

RP: He thinks it’s all culture. He thinks there’s no connection between the economic stagnation the working class has had, and I just think there is. This is not an ideological position, just look at the data—it’s very implausible. If you look at Port Clinton, where I grew up, and you look at when the family collapsed there, it was not in the 60s. It was in the 80s and 90s, and it collapsed then because of all those factory closings. Nobody in Port Clinton thinks that the 60s caused the rise in unwed births. And finally, because you asked me about differences and so that’s what I’m focusing on—there’re a lot of similarities between our two books and I’m happy to talk about those too—

DB: No, no, I’m more interested in the differences.

RP: Yeah, and Charles and I have been on the same platform in which people asked both of us, what should you do about it? And he said, I’m more or less quoting, “I’m a libertarian, I don’t think you can fix things.” That’s not my view. I have mixed, or you can say muddled, ideas about what you do about it. I don’t mean that he’s morally obtuse, but I just think in this particular case his libertarian views need him to have no foundation on which to build moral condemnation of the situation. I’m trying to avoid being just critical of his book, but when he does have things to say about that, it’s largely middle-class people should go into the ghetto and preach virtue. That, I think, doesn’t take the problem seriously. I also think that, in a way, that’s what I’m doing, preaching too. You could say in a very loose sense, isn’t it bizarre– Putnam is preaching, doing what Murray wants me to do? I’m preaching. But I’m actually mostly preaching to the upper classes, not preaching to the lower classes.

DB: Thank you, professor.

UC San Diego Loses in Sex-Assault Case

After several troubling court decisions on the handling of college sex cases, a state judge in California has issued a ringing defense of due process. The ruling by Judge Joel Pressman, first reported by Ashe Schow, held that the University of California-San Diego (UCSD), had provided a fundamentally unfair procedure to a student accused of sexual assault. Scott Greenfield has an excellent analysis of the ruling, which also has been covered by the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, as well as by FIRE.

The case involved two students (both pseudonymous) who had a brief affair in early 2014. Contemporaneous text messages the accuser sent suggested that the intercourse had been voluntary, and that the accuser was at least somewhat experienced with alcohol. The sexual relationship quickly ended, but soon after the accused student attended a late spring social event at the accuser’s sorority (with another date), the accuser filed a complaint with UCSD.

The accuser wrote out a statement and was interviewed by one of UCSD’s “complaint resolution officers,” Elena Acevedo Dalcourt. (UCSD has refused to turn over either the statement or Dalcourt’s interview notes.) Only then did the accuser make a formal statement alleging two separate instances of sexual misconduct: first on the evening of a party (at which she had “brought a change of clothes to [the accused student’s] place,” with the expectation of sleeping over) and then on the morning after. She also claimed that despite a text message that she had a contact who “usually” purchased her alcohol (since she was underage), she actually was “inexperienced” with alcohol, and the accused took advantage by encouraging her to drink heavily.

Investigator Dalcourt found insufficient evidence of the first claim, but concluded that it was likely sexual contact occurred without “effective consent” the following morning. The investigator reached this conclusion because the accuser, in her interviews, “exhibited signs of a trauma victim.” Dalcourt’s report did not reveal what those signs were.

UCSD’s theory of the crime was as follows: after a night of what appears to have been voluntary intercourse, despite the accuser’s later claim, it was nonetheless at least 50.01 percent probable that the accuser told the truth when she charged that there was non-consensual sexual contact the following morning—even though later that same day, she would (a) text the accused about hooking up; (b) attend a formal at her sorority with him; and (c) have consensual intercourse with him again that night.

The UCSD Trial

A disciplinary hearing occurred on December 12, 2014, before a three-person panel of two UCSD administrators and a graduate student. The proceedings could have been a parody of how a college might seek to deny due process. In addition to a victim’s advocate at her side, the accuser had someone to speak on her behalf—a residence life bureaucrat named Anthony Jakubisin. He presented the case against the accused—and did so knowing that he couldn’t be challenged in any way by the accused’s attorney, Mark Hathaway, since university policy prohibited Hathaway from speaking at the hearing. Jakubisin informed all parties that “demeanor may be taken into consideration when deciding credibility”—but since the university allowed the accuser to sit behind a partition, the accused could not gauge her non-verbal reactions to questions. The two sides disputed whether the accuser was also shielded from the disciplinary panel; the university maintained that panel members could see her face, though not, it seems, her hands, while Hathaway, who was in the room, argued that she was shielded from the panel as well.

Jakubisin opened his case by referencing “prior sexual misconduct” by the accused student, which “seriously undermines” the accused’s claims of innocence from the charge that he faced. Yet UCSD’s own investigation had found no “prior sexual misconduct” by the accused. In a court of law, a prosecutor’s false claim of criminal conduct by the accused likely would have resulted in at least a mistrial. In UCSD’s disciplinary process, Jakubisin’s statement merited no response from any of the three potted-plant panelists. And the accused had no opportunity to rebut it through an opening statement from his lawyer.

Jakubisin then moved forward with questions for the sole witness at the hearing, the accuser, who said that the accused had tried to improperly touch her the first morning after they slept together. Though the only unequivocal claim of an actual assault came in the report from Investigator Dalcourt, based on interview notes that the university did not produce, Dalcourt didn’t testify at the hearing.

Citing the dangers of a victim re-traumatized by aggressive questioning, UCSD policies prohibit an accused student from cross-examining his accuser, even in cases (like this one) when the accuser’s word is the only evidence presented. The accuser therefore followed policy, and wrote out questions—he submitted 32 of them—that the panel chair could (or could not) choose to ask the accuser. This system, as Scott Greenfield has pointed out, is unfair on its face, since “questions beget answers, and answers beget more questions. Putting aside whether [the accused was] adept at formulating incisive questions, no one can effectively confront an accuser without hearing her answers and following up.” Even conceding these limitations, panel chair Rebecca Otten, the school’s Director of Strategic Partnerships and Housing Allocations, seemed indifferent to fairness. She presented to the accuser only nine of the questions submitted by the accused, and several of these she altered. She frequently denied questions without any explanation at all.

The rejected questions were hardly immaterial. Otten refused to ask about the text messages the accused student produced—which at the very least called into question the accuser’s credibility. The chair refused to ask whether the accuser had turned over to UCSD “all relevant text messages concerning [her] allegations.” Otten refused to ask whether the accuser had prepared her written report after she was interviewed by UCSD’s investigator, notes for which the university would not produce. The chair refused to ask whether the accuser had any meetings with de facto prosecutor Jakubisin before the hearing. And Otten refused to ask whether the accuser had “been honest and forthright at all times during the investigation . . . up through and including” the unsworn testimony she presented in the hearing. In an Orwellian argument, the university later cited “the requirements of due process” for Otten’s refusal to ask any of these questions.

At the hearing, the accused student unequivocally denied that any improper sexual contact occurred on the morning of February 1, 2014. (The accuser, of course, had asserted that the male student was “trying” to touch her in a sexual fashion.) Yet de facto prosecutor Jakubisin implied in his closing statement that the accused student had at some point in the case conceded to the contact, and instead had tried“to establish that there was some sort of implicit or explicit consent to digitally penetrate the vagina of the complaining witness on the morning of February 1st, because of past communication or activities between the two.” But the accused student had never made such a claim. Yet again, the panel allowed Jakubisin to speak unchecked, and yet again, because of UCSD procedures, the accused student’s attorney couldn’t rebut the misleading statement.

The Outcome

Given such one-sided procedures, it came as little surprise that the panel found the accused student guilty. Almost incredibly, it did so largely on the basis not of the testimony that it had just heard, but instead on the report produced by Dalcourt—who didn’t appear before the disciplinary board. The panelists also seemed oddly interested in the accuser’s deep personal ambivalence, noting that she “stated that she physically wanted to have sex with [the accused] but mentally wouldn’t.” And they implicitly faulted the accused student for sometimes invoking the 5th amendment, since the panel wanted to “hear more” from him. The panel recommended a one-term suspension, which various UCSD administrators subsequently increased to more than a year, without explanation.

You can read the university’s filing claiming that this record showed that the accused student received an “abundance of process,” a “generous process” even. (Imagine what an “ungenerous” process would have looked like!) As part of the university-provided “substantial procedural safeguards,” UCSD conceded, it hadn’t given the accused student information on the accuser’s initial interview with the investigator, or the witnesses’ interview with the investigator, or the accuser’s initial statement. But, it maintained, the panel never received this important information, either, so the accused student could claim no harm. UCSD attorneys also ridiculed the accused for positing “a false choice between compliance with Title IX and the due process rights of accused students”—yet the history of the last five years has shown that at too many universities, this choice is all too true.

Unlike Judge Abrams in the Vassar case and Judge Furman in the Columbia case, Judge Pressman did his job. Faced with a blatant denial of due process, he ordered the university to set aside its judgment against the accused student.

At the conclusion of the school’s disciplinary hearing, Otten, the panel chair, affirmed that “this process is educational in nature.” UCSD provided the accused with quite an education in the importance of due process.