Tag Archives: KC Johnson

A Slippery Definition of Rape Is Likely at Top Schools

I recently looked at the inconsistent and in some cases outright arbitrary ways the nation’s leading universities are defining one form of campus sexual assault—rape that occurs because the accuser cannot consent. The piece made three points: (1) a substantial minority of schools have a definition of sexual assault that technically applies to many instances of intercourse in which the parties have been drinking but are in no way incapacitated; (2) because holding disciplinary charges along these terms would lead to hundreds of sexual assault cases annually, the standards are applied only in an arbitrary manner, with no way that the accused student (such as Lewis McLeod at Duke or Peter Yu at Vassar) could reasonably have known that he would be branded a rapist by his school; and (3) because of pressure from “activists” and to some extent the federal government, it’s likely that in a few years a strong majority of the U.S. News & World Report top schools will define sexual assault in this confusing manner.

Two recent examples—one in the realm of policy, the other in practice—illustrate this aspect of the broader problems of campus due process. In the realm of policy, consider news from the University of North Carolina. One of the first schools to be subjected to an anti-due process campaign, UNC is currently rewriting elements of its sexual assault policy. The Daily Tar Heel reports that the committee formulating the new policy struggled with the issue of how to establish the intoxication level necessary for a rape to have occurred.

One UNC administrator confessed, “It feels to me that we are trying to catch a greased pig (defining consent when intoxicated), because it comes down to the intent of an individual.” Another administrator said, “I fear that if we try to come up with a perfectly drawn line (for consent before incapacitation), we are going to be here for 20 more years.”

So what did the committee do? Approve the new policy—by voice vote.

Continue reading A Slippery Definition of Rape Is Likely at Top Schools

Politics and the Race/Class/Gender Trinity

My City University of New York colleague David Gordon has penned a convincing analysis about the current state of history in higher education. I share, and fully endorse, his critique about the direction of the field, with the vise-grip of the race/class/gender trinity “distort[ing] historical enquiry.” Stressing above all else victimization and oppression poorly serves both unbiased intellectual life on campus and the students that we teach.

Gordon’s article focuses on the dramatic expansion of gender history, observing how specialists in the topic have increased their representation to around 10 percent of all historians. (As Gordon points out, that percentage doesn’t include historians of race–a more popular topic, and one even more dominant among U.S. historians–or historians of class.) This expansion, moreover, has occurred at a time of overall contraction of history departments, especially in cash-starved public institutions. So what Gordon terms the “distort[ing]” effect of gender history is more than the profession simply expanding into a new area–it’s evidence of the profession contracting in other areas. In this zero-sum environment, advocates of “traditional” subfields have lost out.

If anything, then, Gordon could have presented an even more alarming case. And while I’d like to embrace an ideal that history departments might embrace a more pedagogically diverse vision in the future, I don’t see any evidence that it will occur. I’m certainly not aware of any department that has come under the dominance of the race/class/gender trinity that then launched a major hiring drive in political, or diplomatic, or military, or constitutional, or business history.

Less convincingly, Gordon suggests possible political influence on the profession’s current state. It’s quite clear that the early move toward race/class/gender was accelerated by contemporaneous political developments (such as the student protests at Cornell and Columbia in the late 1960s, or a second wave of politically correct campus protests in the 1980s). And it’s also true that a handful of politicians–such as the odious former New York City councilman Charles Barron, a close ally of the CUNY faculty union–continue to champion de facto racial or gender quotas in faculty hiring, or a certain type of “diversity” instruction in the classroom.

But in general, I don’t see much evidence that these hiring patterns–much less these curricular and pedagogical patterns–are driven by “politicians who want votes.” If anything, the problem is the reverse. A general indifference by politicians to the lack of intellectual or pedagogical diversity on campus is preventing state legislators in particular from providing a necessary (and appropriate) oversight role.

Nor, I should note, is there much evidence for Stanley Kurtz’s post-election theory implying a connection between the ideological imbalance among the faculty and the fact that “our colleges and universities have been quietly churning out left-leaning voters for some time.” It seems to me that Republican opposition to issues such as marriage equality (backed by 70 percent or more of all 18-24 year olds–not just those who attend college–in Maine, Minnesota, and Maryland last week) and the DREAM Act (which has two-to-one backing from all voters under 34 years old–not just those who went to college) more convincingly explains why 18-24 year olds strongly backed the Democrats in the 2012 elections.

Neither party has an interest in an ill-informed electorate: Democrats increasingly have presented themselves as technocrats, an approach that presumes voters will be able to comprehend public policy debates; Republicans increasingly have presented themselves as defenders of the Constitution, an approach that presumes voters understand what is (and is not) in the Constitution.

Cowardice provides an easy explanation as to why Democrats have avoided addressing the decline of academic diversity in the academy. In political terms, race, class, and gender correspond to black voters, unions, and feminists–three critical elements of the Democratic Party’s base. Tackling the situation on campuses would risk antagonizing base voters.

But what accounts for the Republicans’ reticence? Quite apart from the policy importance of promoting quality education, politically, the issue would seem to be ideal for the GOP. (Consider, for instance, the inexplicable silence of the Republican-controlled Iowa House of Representatives regarding persistent evidence of ideological slanting at the University of Iowa.) Alas, over the past four years the highest-profile Republican politician to involve himself in higher-ed issues has been Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli–who decided to go after a former University of Virginia science professor, in an effort that did little to advance the cause of pedagogical diversity on campus.

I don’t think, in the end, that historians can blame politicians or political pressure for the profession’s sad state. Blame instead lies with the scholars themselves, and the diversity-obsessed administrators who have abandoned the academy’s traditional fealty to the broadest possible range of intellectual debate on campus.

Oliver Stone’s “History” as Propaganda

oliver_stone_untold_history_of_the_united_states.jpg

The 1997 film Good
Will Hunting
features Matt Damon’s character in a conversation with Harvard
students, touting Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States as a way to better understand the American past. The scene was cringe-worthy for at least two reasons. First, there was something more than a little off-putting about a movie whose lead character demonstrated raw intellectual ability celebrating what amounted to a work of propaganda. Second, Damon’s subsequent insinuation of college students’ unfamiliarity with Zinn’s arguments was ridiculous, given the ubiquity of Zinn’s book on 1980s and 1990s history course reading lists.

I suppose it might be seen as a sign of progress that
this generation’s equivalent of the Zinn book, Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick’s The Untold History of the United States, will likely not have much of an impact on campus: apart from Middle East Studies departments, unabashed propaganda is out of fashion in the contemporary academy. Moreover, Stone and Kuznick spend most of their book attacking U.S. foreign policy, asking questions that–despite their far-left, fact-challenged approach–don’t conform to the race/class/gender paradigm that dominates the study of the United States in most U.S. history departments.

Continue reading Oliver Stone’s “History” as Propaganda

Wendy Murphy Comes to the University of Virginia

The Office of Civil Rights’ mandated procedures for
investigating sexual assault are tilted heavily against the accused party. The
institution can
hire “neutral fact-finders” who produce the equivalent of a
grand jury presentment, deny the accused an advisor of his choice, add
witnesses that the accused student does not request, forbid the students from
cross-examining his witnesses, and judge the student according to a 50.00001
percent preponderance of evidence standard, an approach that mocks even the
pretense of due process.

It is remarkable, then, that one such accused student at
the University of Virginia was exonerated of the charges brought against him.
Unfortunately, what happened next was unsurprising.

The accuser hired an outside attorney–none other than controversial
victims’ rights lawyer Wendy Murphy–and filed a complaint with the Office of
Civil Rights. Murphy’s argument, as expressed to c-ville.com, comes close to
saying that a failure to convict amounts to an OCR violation. “The preponderance standard is simple,”
she told the newspaper. “When her accusations are deemed credible, and his
denials are not described with the same glowing terminology, she wins.” But
under the UVA system, the investigators (serving as the equivalent of a grand
jury) have the authority to deem an accuser’s claims “credible.”
For the
OCR even to consider such an absurd claim would be highly problematic.

The second disturbing element of this story comes from
the article itself. Penned by Graelyn Brashear, the article often appears as
little more than a press release for Murphy. Even though the accuser publicly
reiterated her allegations through a posting on Murphy’s facebook page–which
Brashear notes, was “widely
circulated among students,” c-ville.com kept her identity secret.

Nor does Brashear
inform her readers about what the UVA procedure actually entails. Beyond
referencing the shift toward a preponderance of evidence standard (which the
reporter comes close to celebrating, describing universities lacking the
standard as “holdout schools,” even as she notes concerns from FIRE and the
AAUP), Brashear doesn’t reveal that accused students can’t have an attorney
cross-examining witnesses, that the university considers the equivalent of a
grand jury or the police as “neutral,” or that the university is willing to
abandon even a circumscribed right to cross examine regarding some witness
statements. Given that most people outside the academy (indeed, most academics)
have little knowledge about the details of campus due process, it seems likely
that readers of Brashear’s article came away with the belief that the campus
judicial system resembles not the Kafka-like system envisioned by the OCR but
instead the Law and Order rules that
most citizens at least somewhat understand.

Most troubling, here’s how
Brashear described Murphy: “Wendy Murphy, an adjunct professor at the New
England School of Law and a frequent media commentator on issues of women’s
rights, has a reputation as a firebrand. ‘I’m an activist with my feet in the
courts,’ she said. Her battle cry is blunt: ‘The law is designed to facilitate
and perpetuate violence against women and children,’ she said.”

Virginia is a member of the ACC, and, of course, Murphy
has some experience with handling allegations of sexual assault at an ACC
school. In the Duke lacrosse case, the ubiquitous media commentator repeatedly
made false statements of fact about the case (nearly 20 of them in 2006 alone)
coupled with myriad unsubstantiated claims and bizarre interpretations of law.
These statements weren’t made in secret–and they received widespread attention,
including from the American Journalism
Review
.

Yet Brashear mentions none of this, and instead treats
Murphy as a wholly credible figure. Imagine, for instance, if the intro
paragraph had at least acknowledged that Murphy had a record of playing fast
and loose with the truth on claims of campus sexual assault: “Wendy Murphy, an adjunct professor at the
New England School of Law and a frequent media commentator on issues of women’s
rights, has a reputation as a firebrand, although in at least one high-profile
campus matter, the Duke lacrosse case, she repeatedly misstated both factual
items and questions of law, always in such a way that favored the accuser in
that case.”

Such a portrayal, it seems,
isn’t what cville.com thinks its readers should receive.

Duke Goes After a Critic in the Lacrosse Case

Six years ago, Duke University suffered a high-profile humiliation from which it is still struggling to recover. Students on Duke’s lacrosse team were accused of a brutal sexual assault on a local stripper who had been hired to perform at a party.

The charges were false. But in the interval between the initial headlines and the students’ eventual vindication, credulous faculty and others in the university community applied a presumption of guilt, denouncing the students as rapists.

A university steeped in traditions of free speech and the pursuit of truth was exposed as blinded by its own dogma, unwilling to acknowledge inconvenient facts that undercut the credibility of the students’ accuser, and indifferent to the students’ civil liberties.

Given this sordid history, one would expect Duke to be taking steps to demonstrate its renewed commitment to due process and first amendment principles. On the contrary, the university, which has been sued by the former lacrosse team players and their parents, recently served a subpoena on Robert “KC” Johnson, an outspoken critic of Duke’s handling of the (non-)rape scandal and co-author of the leading book on the subject.

Johnson, a professor at Brooklyn College and the City University of New York, is co-author (with journalist and legal scholar Stuart Taylor) of “Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustice of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case.” (Disclosure: Taylor is a friend of mine). Duke’s subpoena demands Johnson’s disclosure of confidential information he received from sources for the book, including the former Duke students and their lawyers.

Duke’s subpoena, which is being contested in federal district court in Maine, is an offense to journalistic independence and academic freedom. Historians and journalists can’t perform their truth-telling function if their sources have reason to fear that their role, and the information they agree to provide, will later be exposed and scrutinized in court.

This is obviously true if the sources’ identity or information are confidential. This is also true in the fairly common situation in which a source, although named in a book as a source for one statement or fact, provides additional information to the authors, on a confidential basis, for still other statements or facts that are published unattributed. The process of conducting original research for a journalistic or historical work is crippled if lawyers are free to depose authors about these matters.

The legal privilege protecting the work of historians and journalists is not absolute, to be sure. The university’s claim to the subpoenaed information would be more convincing if Duke had exhausted all alternative sources and the information were truly essential to its ability to defend itself in litigation. But Duke hasn’t come close to meeting these standards.

Duke’s leaders should think hard about how much the school is willing to lose. If they insist on enforcing their subpoena, what will they say the next time a Duke professor receives an intrusive court order to turn over confidential research or communications?

­­­­­­­­­­­­____________________________________________________________________________________

Peter Scheer is executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, a nonprofit organization based in California. This article does not necessarily reflect the views of the Coalitions Board of Directors.

The Spanier Indictment

In a move that should come as little surprise, former
Penn State president Graham Spanier has been indicted for perjury, conspiracy,
obstruction of justice, and child endangerment. The indictments come in the
wake of the Freeh Report’s revelations
that–after Penn State’s former athletic
director proposed not reporting to police an allegation against Jerry
Sandusky–Spanier had e-mailed administrators to say that “the only downside for us is if the message
isn’t ‘heard’ and acted upon, and we then become vulnerable for not having
reported it. But that can be assessed down the road. The approach you outline
is humane and a reasonable way to proceed.”

The basics of the grand jury
indictment against Spanier mirror the conclusions of the Freeh Report–that senior
Penn State administrators, claimed the state’s attorney general, participated
in a “conspiracy of silence” regarding Sandusky’s crimes,
“working to actively conceal the truth, with total disregard
to the suffering of children.” The presentment makes
no claims against Paterno, the attorney general said, because Paterno’s death
marked “the end” of any potential legal ramifications for his behavior.

The grand jury presentment
went into greater detail than did the Freeh Report on two matters. First, in justifying
the perjury charge, the document claimed that “Spanier has repeatedly
misrepresented the level of his knowledge about the investigation.” Both at the
time and in his media barrage this summer, Spanier portrayed himself as
detached and essentially unaware of matters relating to Sandusky, whether in
1998, 2001, or 2011. But the grand jury document indicates that the former
president specifically requested updates from the former Penn State counsel,
Cynthia Baldwin, about the progress of the grand jury inquiry–and seemed
concerned about former coach Joe Paterno hiring his own counsel during the
investigation. According to Baldwin, Spanier mused with her about what type of
information Paterno could be providing to the grand jury.

Second, Spanier’s repeated
excuse as to why he didn’t keep the trustees informed–that he was bound by
grand jury secrecy rules–appears to have been an outright lie. According to the
presentment, the grand jury foreman had told Spanier that the president was
free to discuss his testimony publicly.

Beyond the specifics of the
case, the indictment raises questions about two other entities. First: the NCAA, which leveled draconian
(but appropriate) sanctions against Penn State after the Freeh Report’s
release. Yet while the organization often comes down hard on student-athletes
(or, less often, coaches) who violate its rules, nothing in the sanctions
applied to Spanier, at one point an influential figure within the NCAA. ESPN’s
Jay Bilas has been the most outspoken figure on the NCAA’s apparent double
standard in not sanctioning the college presidents who make up its membership, and
he tweeted after the indictment to wonder why the NCAA hadn’t held Spanier
“accountable” based on the Freeh Report’s findings. Spanier, of course, is
entitled to a presumption of innocence on the criminal charges. But the NCAA doesn’t
use such a standard, and routinely punishes student-athletes on the basis of
far less damaging information than what was presented about Spanier in the
Freeh Report.

Second:
the Penn State faculty leadership, especially the University Faculty Senate. In
late August, more than two dozen former leaders of the senate issued an open
letter sharply criticizing the Freeh Report.
“As a document in
which evidence, facts, and logical argument are marshaled to support
conclusions and recommendations,” they wrote, “the Freeh Report fails badly. On
a foundation of scant evidence, the report adds layers of conjecture and
supposition to create a portrait of fault, complicity, and malfeasance that
could well be at odds with the truth.”
As with many critics of the Freeh Report,
these faculty leaders declined to identify any errors in the report, even as
they used space in their letter to celebrate their research abilities.–“as scientists
and scholars.”

Now, however, the state Attorney General
has filed charges along lines very similar to those identified in the Freeh
Report. Will these scientists and scholars have the courage of their
convictions and denounce the indictment as they denounced the Freeh Report? I’m
guessing they’ll choose silence on this occasion.

Yale’s New Low and the Sad Saga of Wendy Murphy

Few figures involved in the Duke lacrosse case behaved more disgracefully than Wendy Murphy, an adjunct professor at the New England School of Law. A  frequent TV commentator on the case, she  earned a reputation for defending Mike Nifong’s prosecution through myriad errors of fact, misstatements of the law, and deeply offensive statements such as her betting that “one or more of the players was, you know, molested or something as a child.” To Murphy, there are no false accusers of rape–so as soon as an accusation is made, a “victim” exists. The presumption of innocence, she has maintained, is no more than a presumption that the “victim” isn’t telling the truth.

That bizarre conception of due process is right at home at Yale. The university’s troubling new policies toward sexual assault allegations reached public attention through the New York Times‘s attempt to smear former Yale quarterback Patrick Witt, who was caught up in the university’s Kafka-like “informal complaint” system. (In this procedure, designed to give the accuser maximum control of how the process plays out, the accused student doesn’t even have the right to present evidence of his actual innocence, much less cross-examine the accuser or have legal representation.)

The Witt affair turned out to be the tip of the iceberg regarding due process–an internal report revealed that the “informal complaint” policy allowed Yale to set up a monitoring program for at least one faculty member without even telling him he’s under investigation. The allegation of sexual harassment alone was sufficient for the finding of guilt.

Now these sorts of arrangements will be the norm. Yale has entered into a consent decree with the Office of Civil Rights, ensuring the “use of the preponderance of evidence standard in determining whether sexual misconduct occurred”; promising an informal complaint procedure in the future in which no accuser has to face cross-examination from the person she accused; and creating a double jeopardy system in which the rare accuser who doesn’t get her way at the lower level can appeal a not-guilty finding.  So it’s almost fitting to see the commentator renowned for denigrating due process and the university that celebrated its own denigration of due process paired up in a race to the bottom.

The triggering event was a Title IX lawsuit–generated, Murphy claimed, by the Yale-OCR settlement–filed by her and another attorney, John Williams, on behalf Susan Burhans, who formerly served as security education coordinator for the Yale Police Department. The filing’s basic thesis: over the course of a decade, Burhans recommended a variety of policies which, if adopted, would have ensured that the OCR had no grounds for acting against Yale. But instead of Yale accepting her wise counsel, Burhans was fired.

 

A Connecticut Superior Court already appears to have dismissed Burhans’s case, for reasons that aren’t hard to discern, given some of the claims the lawsuit offers. Murphy and her co-counsel maintain that Burhans discovered that Yale accusers were “revictimized during sexual assault grievance procedures,” and demanded that her supervisors institute new procedures. (The complaint doesn’t reveal what these new procedures were.)

 

Burhans “experienced an increasing number of colleagues avoiding her,” which Murphy and her co-counsel suggest constitutes evidence that Yale violated Title IX. And the complaint wants to hold Yale liable for posting a $129,000 job in the security department requiring “qualifications Burhans did not possess.” Finally, the complaint reveals that Burhans applied for around 50 other jobs at Yale and didn’t get any. Again, it’s not clear how this is evidence of a Title IX violation.

 

Continue reading Yale’s New Low and the Sad Saga of Wendy Murphy

How the Colleges Skew U.S. History

American history has been radically transformed on our campuses. Traditional topics are now not only marginalized but “re-visioned” to become more compatible with the dominant race/class/gender paradigm.

In two posts last fall, I took a look at U.S. history offerings at Bowdoin College. The liberal arts college, one of the nation’s finest, long enjoyed a reputation as a training ground of Maine politicians, at both the state and federal level. The staffing of its History Department suggests that the college has abandoned that mission, with the intent to exclude significant portions of the American past. (Two of the department’s five Americanists specialize in U.S. environmental history; the department’s only non-environmental 20th century U.S. historian has a Ph.D. in the history of science.)

The department’s own U.S. offerings featured a heavy course emphasis on Western U.S. history, including a history of California, seemingly odd choices for a school in Maine but a subfield that heavily stresses such
trendy themes as environmental degradation, exploitation of Native Americans, and discrimination against Hispanics and Asians. In the previous semester, the department’s token “traditional” course topic, a class on the Cold War, was taught by the school’s historian of science and featured heavy use of film.

What about the situation at a larger–and more nationally renowned–History Department? To find out, I turned to the fall 2012 offerings at UCLA.

The department’s webpage excitedly announces three new course clusters in which undergraduates can specialize. Two of the topics raise eyebrows: “Gender, Sexuality, Women” (tailored to those, apparently, for whom the department’s more general race/class/gender approach isn’t enough) and “History in Practice,” which seems to invite politicization. “This cluster,” the
department indicates, “aims to provide an organizational footing for the
Department’s commitment to applying history in the service of the larger
community.” The third new cluster is oral history.

At the class level, this semester the UCLA department website lists 16 courses in U.S. history since 1789. No courses deal with the Early Republic or the early 19th century. The only coverage of the Civil War comes in the form of small portions of thematic courses dealing either with race or gender (Slavery: Narrative, Novel, and Film, History of Women in the U.S., 1860-1980).It offers no classes on U.S. military history or U.S. constitutional history. The only standard survey comes in the class dealing with the New Deal, World War II, and the immediate postwar period.

Look what the department emphasizes. A quarter of the classes deal with race. Another two courses focus on ethnicity–including Asian-American cuisine; another two focus on gender. Fifteen or twenty years ago, students might encounter these courses in an ethnic studies department, not a history department at one of the nation’s leading public universities.

Consider, moreover, what students receive from two of the few UCLA courses whose topics, at first glance, appear to be “traditional.” One course, on social movements in the 1960s and 1970s, is hopelessly slanted toward the left. We might expect some treatment of significant right-wing social movements, including the grassroots conservative activists profiled in Rick
Perlstein’s Before the Storm; the conservative women mobilized by Phyllis Schlafly to oppose the ERA; the pro-life activists mobilized by Roe; and perhaps most broadly, the emergence of a powerful grassroots movement of
conservative Christians who played a critical role in American society for the
next three decades.  But these are not covered. Whom does the course profile? African-Americans, Mexican Americans,  Native Americans, “At Large Advocates,” and “Radical Women and Gay Women.”

Continue reading How the Colleges Skew U.S. History

Look What they’ve Done to U.S. History

If you doubt that leftist activists now dominate the study and teaching of U.S. history, take a look at the program for the 2013 American Historical Association conference in New Orleans. The pattern  is similar to the University of Michigan’s history department, discussed here yesterday—a heavy emphasis on race, class, and gender, with more “traditional” topics frequently reconfigured to conform to the dominant paradigm.

Of the approximately 70 AHA panels devoted to U.S. history, a few unintentionally confirm the critique of the academy as a hotbed of left-leaning political activism. On a panel entitled “Using Oral History for Social Justice Activism,” scholars look at their partnership with “activists” seeking to undermine “the dominant historical narrative.” Yet the “narrative” that these social justice activists pursue seems to conform to, rather than undermine, the academic status quo—Chicano activists, anti-war activists “working in G.I. Coffee houses,” and “Shirley Chisholm’s best friend, secretary and hairdresser.” It’s hard to imagine much opposition in the contemporary academy to exploring the history of any type of underrepresented racial or ethnic groups—or certainly anti-war activists.

Continue reading Look What they’ve Done to U.S. History

In History—the Obsession with Race, Class and Gender

The University of Michigan history department has 28 tenured or tenure-track professors whose research specialties in some way relate to U.S. history after 1789. Race is the favorite topic; at least eleven of the department’s professors indicate that their research in some way deals with race in America. Gender is the next prominent area of specialization; at least seven of the professors offer research in this area (with some overlap with race). Race and gender are, obviously, important themes in U.S. history. But are they of such importance that they should dominate to this extent the Americanist wing one of the nation’s major departments? And is Michigan fulfilling its mission of preparing future citizens by offering such a limited view of the nation’s past?

With the rise of the race/class/gender approach, subfields perceived as excessively “traditional" or overly focused on “dead white males” have gone into decline—or, in the case of political history, have been “re-visioned” in the hopes of transferring focus to topics oriented around themes of race, class, and gender. Since (at least in large departments, or at elite institutions) U.S. history hires in the national (post-1789) period come in subfields, looking at personnel specialties can give a sense of exactly how a university does—or does not—fulfill its obligation to train future citizens in the foundational events of their nation.

Continue reading In History—the Obsession with Race, Class and Gender

More Rumblings at CUNY

I’ve written before about the Pathways plan, a sensible proposal  to create  a common core curriculum at the City University of New York (CUNY). It has been sponsored by the administration of Chancellor Matthew Goldstein and approved by the CUNY Board of Trustees. The extraordinary–and student-unfriendly–process that currently exists at CUNY contradicts the vision of the institution as an “integrated university,” since students who transfer from one CUNY school to another often find themselves forced to take a new round of introductory courses.

People of good faith can (and do) disagree about the merits of Pathways. But opposition to the proposal has been centered around the two elected bodies of CUNY faculty, the University Faculty Senate (UFS) and the Professional Staff Congress (PSC), the CUNY faculty union, perhaps most notorious for its zealous opposition to Israeli security.

The two bodies–preposterously–cite academic quality as the reason for their Pathways opposition. Given that the PSC in particular has opposed virtually every pro-quality initiative that Goldstein has proposed (extending the tenure clock to ensure better-qualified professors, creating a CUNY Honors College, raising tuition to boost funding for needed academic services), suggesting that the union has any credibility on matters of quality is laughable. Opposing Goldstein has become the union’s raison d’être.

The PSC filed a lawsuit against Pathways, arguing that despite the clear wording of the CUNY bylaws, the Trustees lack final say on all curricular matters at the institution. As the suit works its way toward an all-but-certain defeat, the union has fallen back on Plan B, pressuring individual departments around CUNY to reject the minor course adjustments (course titles, credit hours, etc.) that the uniformity of the Pathways proposal requires.

But, of course, the union doesn’t have to live with the consequences for this decision. Individual departments do. In the past week, as the New York Times reported, the English Department at Queensborough Community College followed the union’s advice and rejected the bookkeeping changes required to institute Pathways. Doubtless the move made the English professors feel good. But as things now stand, it also means that the QCC English Department will see a dramatic reduction in their curricular offerings come the fall of 2013, since Core courses form a substantial portion of the community college department’s offerings. Queensborough students looking to complete the English portion of Pathways would have to go to another CUNY institution.

The department’s fantasy-land argument is that the professors should be allowed not to adhere to the university’s curricular guidelines, and therefore offer far fewer courses–while still receiving the same levels of university funding. When a Queensborough administrator pointed out that the department could either defy CUNY’s curriculum or have full staffing but not both, the department reached out to the Times, which promptly, and sympathetically, told their story. In a comment that unintentionally revealed an embarrassing sense of entitlement among the pro-PSC faculty, the deputy chair of the Queensborough department fumed, “I felt a little like I was being asked to vote for Raul Castro or Ahmedinijad.”

Of course: being asked to adhere to guidelines approved by the governing body of the institution that pays a professors’ salary resembles the plight of the Green Revolutionaries in Iran. What reporter, among hearing such a preposterous claim, could treat seriously anything that the professor said?

Why Are There Still Preferences for Women?

Using federal statistics, Laura Norén has prepared a series of graphics showing gender distribution among recent recipients of undergraduate, M.A., and Ph.D./professional degrees. The charts are visually striking, especially since all three sets of charts show movement in an identical direction. According to Norén, by 2020, women are projected to earn 61 percent of all M.A. degrees and 58 percent of all B.A. degrees—figures far above the percentage of women in the total population. There’s no indication that this trend will reverse anytime soon.

The Norén chart reminded me of figures revealed in CUNY’s recent faculty “diversity” report. As I previously noted at Minding the Campus, the demographic breakdown of CUNY’s faculty (and there’s no reason to believe that CUNY’s figures differ from those at most major public institutions) has shown a similar progression.

Between 2000 and 2010, the number of women increased from 42 to 47 percent of the all CUNY faculty. (The total had risen five percent in the previous decade, as well.) Because of the nature of tenure—only a small percentage of faculty positions come open every year—a five percent overall gain in a decade suggests disproportionate figures in hiring. And, indeed, that was the case—while the CUNY diversity report only broke down gender-hiring patterns for a couple of years in the decade, in 2005, the most recent year for which data was available, 55.5 percent of the new hires were women. If current patterns hold, women will be the majority of CUNY faculty in 2020 and be nearing the 60 percent mark by 2030.

There’s nothing necessarily troubling with these patterns in and of themselves. Undoubtedly the growing numbers of female students—and female faculty members—in part reflect the broader opening of higher education toward women that has occurred since the 1960s. And in a nation where women form 50.8 percent of the population, a fair-minded campus admissions and hiring process could easily yield majority-female enrollment or hires.

Yet these statistics do raise profound, and troubling questions about the nature of campus race/ethnicity/gender “diversity” programs. If women are the substantial majority of students at all levels, and increasingly emerge as the majority of faculty members, what possible rationale could exist for programs, of any type, that grant gender-based preferences to women? Regarding the student population, at least, and the faculty population in the near future, women are no longer an underrepresented minority. To my knowledge, however, no university anywhere in the country has modified either its admissions or its personnel policies to take into account statistics such as those graphed by Norén.

Take, for instance, the University of Michigan’s affirmative action policies. The policies include such banalities as a requirement that “university publications relating to employment . . . include articles covering the University’s affirmative action programs, including progress reports and employment data on minorities and women. Pictures will include minorities and women.”

But other requirements are more direct. “Special attention will be given,” according the guidelines,“to extending and strengthening efforts to increase the number of women” in faculty positions. “Recruitment practices will focus on creating a feeling[emphasis added] conducive to attracting minorities and women.” And faculty search committees “will utilize methods which are most likely to result in the inclusion of qualified minorities and women in the applicant pool.” Such requirements might once have been needed. But in an academy in which women are moving toward majority status?

Despite all of these policies, moreover, the university preposterously maintains that “Applicants for employment are considered and placed without regard to . . . sex.” And with federal courts clearly in mind, the guidelines add that goals and timetables for hiring more women at Michigan “are not to be construed or used as a quota system.”

There’s nothing particularly unusual about Michigan’s policies, just as there was nothing unusual about CUNY’s faculty hiring data; such patterns are common throughout higher education. And there’s no reason to believe that any statistics will lead to these policies being repealed.

Norén’s chart unintentionally highlights a point made in several of the Fisher briefs: that it’s entirely possible that even outright quotas might lead to a fairer higher education system than our ever-shifting “goals and timetables,” which can easily be shielded from transparency.

Critics of Freeh Report Fire Blanks

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Over the past several weeks, high-profile criticisms of the Freeh Report, which examined the Penn State administration’s failed response to a report of inappropriate sexual behavior by former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, generated more heat than light. Nearly identical missives from a handful of renegade PSU trustees, the family of ex-coach Joe Paterno, and a handful of former Penn State football players all slammed the Freeh Report as biased and filled with factual errors–but were unable to identify even one specific way in which the report was biased, or point out even one factual error that made the critics’ case.

In the last few days, however, two new attacks–one explicit, one implied–on the report have emerged. An authorized biography of Paterno by sportswriter Joe Posnaski bent over backwards to present the late coach in a favorable light and imply that the Freeh Report’s claim that Paterno knowingly participated in a cover-up couldn’t be true. And Penn State’s disgraced ex-president, Graham Spanier, kicked off a public relations campaign with two interviews and a press conference by his attorney. Ironically, through their weaknesses, these ostensibly more substantial critiques of the Freeh Report wound up further confirming the report’s conclusions.

Continue reading Critics of Freeh Report Fire Blanks

The Education of Rachel Corrie

To predictable outrage among anti-Israel activists worldwide, a
Haifa court ruled Tuesday that former U.S. college student Rachel Corrie’s 2003
death was an accident. Corrie, a member of the fanatic International Solidarity
Movement, was in Gaza at the time, trying to obstruct the work of the Israeli
Defense Force; she was killed as she tried to act as a “human shield” by an IDF
bulldozer whose driver couldn’t see her. The judge used common sense, noting
that as the bulldozer moved toward her, “she did not move away as any
reasonable person would have done. But she chose to endanger herself . . . and
thus found her death.”

Corrie’s story subsequently became lionized by those eager to
demonize Israel; see Jamie Kirchick’s scathing review of the
one-person play based on Corrie’s writings as both a little girl and as a
college student. As Kirchick noted, the play’s attempt to tug at the audience’s
heartstrings unwittingly undermined its argument, since it showed that “Corrie never outgrew the naïve little schoolgirl. Corrie at
23 was just like Corrie at ten.”

This simple-mindedness was reflected in Corrie’s e-mails to her
family. A note that she sent to her mother at the time confirmed her ignorance
of international affairs; after accusing Israel of genocide, she wrote home to ask her mother to “look up the definition of
genocide according to international law,” whose meaning she admitted that she
could not recall. (“I really value words,” she added–though apparently not
enough to worry about whether what she said about Israel was accurate.)

If nothing else, sending such a poorly-trained student into a war
zone would constitute an indictment of the education that Corrie received,
especially since she was in Gaza while on break from Evergreen College. Evergreen,
however, seems to revel in the fact that its students will receive (at best) a
one-sided education on matters relating to Middle East international relations.
The college sponsors a “Rachel
Corrie Memorial Scholarship”
(to memorialize Corrie, the “community
activist”), which awards $2000 to an Evergreen
student “dedicated to gaining a better understanding of the Middle East and to
working locally or internationally to further Middle East peace.” Applicants,
according to the college, “must show how they will use their studies to promote
human rights and social justice through community activism and/or political
advocacy.”

What academic training does a Corrie Scholarship applicant
need? Work in such “areas of interest related to the Middle East” as “Arab
culture and Arabic language, US Policy in the Middle East, and peace, justice
and conflict resolution studies.” At Evergreen, learning about Israel
apparently isn’t essential to gain “a better understanding of the Middle East.”

Given what Evergreen does teach
about the Middle East, perhaps it’s better for its students simply to remain
ignorant about Israel. While she was at the college, Corrie could learn about Israel
through such one-sided offerings as “Seeking Justice:
Reclamation, Equality, and Restitution,” which contrasted Palestinian sources
with what the syllabus termed “Zionist/Israeli” documents; Israel, in this
sense, was recognized not as a sovereign state but merely a “Zionist” entity.
And
after her death, an Evergreen professor who had worked with Corrie named
Steve Niva published an op-ed
charging that his former student was “killed” as a foreseeable result of
Israeli security policies (in this instance, building a security barrier to
guard against Gaza smugglers). Niva, who shortly before Corrie’s death penned a
Counterpunch article implying
that former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon bore responsibility for the
Palestinians’ embrace of suicide-murder tactics, has made something of a career
in Corrie Studies; the Evergreen website notes that he served as a featured
speaker
at Oregon State during a “week-long run of the play ‘My Name is
Rachel Corrie,’ where he gave a talk entitled ‘Unlikely Icons: Rachel Corrie,
Palestine and the New Internationalism.'”

This past semester, Niva taught a course
on U.S. foreign policy
and the roots of terrorism, which purported to
ensure that students would “obtain a thorough
knowledge of current events” and “develop a thorough understanding of the
history of United States foreign policy in the Middle East.”

Evergreen, alas, has stopped
putting course syllabi on-line, so outsiders have to trust that Niva’s reading
list and course topics are fair.

Surprise! Faculty Money Goes to Dems

This week featured some interesting political news regarding campaign contributions: confirming the partisan shift on Wall Street, Business Week revealed that around 70 percent of Goldman Sachs employees who have donated to this year’s presidential campaign send funds to Mitt Romney. The contrast to 2008, when about 75 percent who made contributions had donated to Barack Obama’s campaign, confirmed the deteriorating relationship between the President and Wall Street.

Another story dealing with campaign contributions, however, attracted scant notice. A study from Virginia Watchdog showed that professors at public colleges and universities in Virginia (one of the two or three most important states in the election) have donated over $100,000 to President Obama’s campaign, as opposed to around $11,000 to Mitt Romney’s. Among professors at the system’s flagship campus, the University of Virginia, the disparity is $62,000-to-$2,000. The totals were similar at public universities in other battleground states.

As with the yawning gap in partisan registration among the professoriate, disparities in campaign contributions are, at best, a crude measurement to determine the intellectual health of a campus. (Full disclosure: I was an Obama donor in 2008 and am again, at a lower level, in 2012.) It’s possible, for instance, that a military historian might be a major donor to the Green Party, while his colleague in African-American history might have just cut a check to the Romney campaign. But in the real world, the number of GOP backers who get jobs in African-American history is small indeed. And the partisan/donor disparities, at the very least, should prompt administrators and–especially–trustees to ask some hard questions as to whether open or implicit biases in the personnel process are encouraging a closed-minded campus, while excluding other areas of study that might challenge the politically correct.

When confronted with indications of gender or racial disparities, universities certainly go to great lengths. Indeed, as John Rosenberg pointed out in his analysis of the University of Texas’ filing in the Fisher case, universities all but invent reasons to address such disparities, real or imagined.

But with this data? Indifference. Bronson Hilliard, spokesperson for the University of Colorado (where the donations disparity was 6-to-1), told Colorado Watchdog, “Few meaningful generalizations can be drawn from this (data). A lot of people in higher education are Democrats. A lot of bankers, financiers, and business leaders are Republicans. That doesn’t mean that all academics are incapable of interacting fairly with those who don’t agree with them politically any more than it means Republicans in the financial world aren’t capable of being fair to their Democrat[ic] customers and clients.”

The comparison, of course, is absurd. “Republicans in the financial world”–and, it’s worth noting, 70 percent of Goldman Sachs donations in 2008 went to the Democratic presidential candidate–are “capable of being fair to their Democrat[ic] customers and clients” because these “customers and clients” are paying the “Republicans in the financial world” lots of money. A banker who doesn’t treat his customers fairly will soon be a lot less wealthy. The same, of course, can’t be said of professors. Indeed, to take the most extreme example (Joseph Massad), an argument could be made that not treating his students fairly helped his career, to the extent that Columbia gave him a second shot for tenure following the media outcry caused by his dubious classroom behavior.

More to the point: what kind of threshold is Spokesperson Hilliard using? As long as professors don’t mistreat students, outsiders aren’t supposed to inquire any further into the data? That’s an embarrassingly low criterion for analysis.

No Conservatives, Please–We’re Colleges

Over
the past several years, a number of studies have shown that registered
Democrats far outnumber registered Republicans in the academy, or in particular
academic departments (history, for instance) that would seem to have no reason
to have wide partisan imbalances.
 

Invariably,
the most interesting thing about these studies is not the finding itself–which,
after all, is a very crude measurement of ideological balance at any school–but
instead how academic defenders of the status quo have defended the figures. In
2004, for instance, after a Duke Conservative Union study, Duke’s then-Philosophy
chairman, Robert Brandon, justified the school’s partisan imbalance on the
following grounds: “We try to hire the best,
smartest people available. If, as John Stuart Mill said, stupid people are
generally conservative, then there are lots of conservatives we will never hire
. . .
Mill’s analysis may go some way towards explaining the power of
the Republican party in our society and the relative scarcity of Republicans in
academia.” Substitute “black” for “conservative” and imagine the on-campus
reaction that Brandon’s absurd words would have generated.

After
another study showed that University of
Iowa’s History Department didn’t even have one registered Republican, the
department’s then-chairman, Colin Gordon,
attributed the disparity to the fact that “about two thirds of Johnson County
are Democrats”–as if 67 percent equals 100 percent, and as if all of the
applicants for jobs in Iowa’s History Department came from Johnson County, Iowa. Gordon
added that “
the UI policy says not to discriminate; it does not
say we should be going out and getting diversity.” Imagine the outrage if a
major university’s History Department had only white males, and the
department’s chairman responded by remarking that men outnumbered women in the
school’s home county, and in any case the university’s policy “does not say we
should be going out and getting diversity.”

In both the Iowa and Duke cases, the defenders of the
academic status quo essentially proved the critics’ case. The partisan
disparities, in and of themselves, didn’t prove that the Duke or Iowa hiring
processes were necessarily flawed. But no reasonable observer could expect an
open Republican or conservative to be fairly treated by departments in which
figures like Gordon or Brandon played key roles. And–at least based on their
pedagogical approaches to their fields–Gordon and Brandon are what pass for
moderates in the contemporary academy.


Those
reactions are worth keeping in mind in light of a recent article about a study
conducted by Dutch psychologists Yoel Inbar and
Joris Lammers. The duo measured not partisan affiliation but ideological
biases, and found that more than one-third of professors they examined admitted
they’d be less likely to hire the conservative when “
asked whether, in
choosing between two equally qualified job candidates for one job opening, they
would be inclined to vote for the more liberal candidate (i.e., over the
conservative).”

 

It’s hard to imagine
how anyone could offer any sort of rationalization for these findings. But in
the tradition of Robert Brandon and Colin Gordon, Massimo Pigliucci, chairman
of Lehman College’s philosophy department, does so. The Washington Times paraphrases Pigliucci’s argument: “The problem is
not that conservatives face discrimination; it’s that any hint of political
bias, whether conservative or liberal, necessarily flouts the standards of
objectivity to which scholarship must adhere.”


The
article continues, “‘It is to be expected that people would reject papers and
grant proposals that smacked of clear ideological bias,’ he says. 
Inbar and
Lammers, he says, should have examined the extent of bias against
liberal-leaning papers and grant proposals. If the degree of bias against liberals
and conservatives is similar, maybe the data on discrimination against
conservatives would not be so alarming after all.”


Beyond the
obvious–the Inbar/Lemmers study dealt with the hiring process, not grant
proposals–Pigliucci’s analysis makes no sense. The study was premised on a
question of whether professors would be “inclined to vote for the more liberal
candidate.” In short, the study did exactly what Pigliucci said it should have
done: it asked whether professors would differentiate between two equally
situated candidates, if the professors knew that one candidate was liberal and
the other conservative.


An illogical
response, I suppose, is all that can be used to rationalize indefensible
academic behavior.

Thirty Million for Race and Gender Hires at Columbia

In 2005, amidst the Harvard faculty’s ultimately successful effort to
purge President Larry Summers, Columbia president Lee Bollinger announced that
his university would launch its own “diversity” hiring initiative. Bollinger
committed $15 million to “add between 15 and 20
outstanding women and minority scholars to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences
over the next three to five years” and to “enhance efforts underway to change
the process and culture surrounding faculty searches, recruitment, hiring,
retention and promotion.”

The effort was coordinated by Columbia’s first
diversity vice provost, Jean Howard, who had managed to distinguish herself as
on the ideological fringe even among Columbia’s arts and sciences faculty. (A
Shakespeare scholar committed to the race/class/gender trinity, Howard’s
co-authored or co-edited books include Engendering a Nation: A Feminist
Account of Shakespeare’s English Histories
 and Marxist Shakespeares.)
Shortly before Bollinger promoted her to become the school’s diversity czar,
Howard had been in the news for
signing a petition calling
on Columbia “(1) to use its influence–political and financial–to encourage the
United States government to suspend its military aid and arms sales to Israel,
and (2) to divest from all companies that manufacture arms and other military
hardware sold to Israel, as well from companies that sell such arms and
military hardware to Israel.” Bollinger never explained why a figure who
exercised such grotesque misjudgment by signing the boycott petition was
appropriate to coordinate a major hiring initiative.

Continue reading Thirty Million for Race and Gender Hires at Columbia

The OCR’s Newest Target: Xavier University

The Cincinnati
Enquirer
reports that Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR)
has entered into its latest Title IX-related agreement with Xavier University.
Unlike the
OCR’s agreement with Yale
, which used a manufactured controversy to weaken
the due process rights of the university’s students, at least at Xavier the OCR
involved itself only in response to actual complaints of sexual assault. But,
as with Yale, the outcome revealed a basic lack of respect for the presumption
of innocence and fair play for all students.

The heart of the case at Xavier, according
to the Enquirer
: “Two female
Xavier students charged that a male student was twice allowed to remain on
campus after being found responsible for sexual assaults, and a third charged
that XU did not treat her fairly in her sexual harassment and stalking claim.”

In fact, the male student, Sean Marron, was acquitted of four counts of sexual assault in a bench trial. The trial records were sealed,
but
according
to the court reporter
, the judge ruled as he did “due to inconsistencies” in the accusers’ stories and “a lack of
evidence.” In the aftermath, Xavier dismissed two student life officials, on
grounds that they mishandled the female students’ on-campus complaints, before
the students filed criminal complaints against Marron.

Continue reading The OCR’s Newest Target: Xavier University

Using Classes for Advocacy OK at UCLA

UCLA’s “Academic Freedom Committee” has delivered an
important document that appears to give carte blanche to professors to
introduce unrelated political advocacy into their classrooms–in apparent
violation of Regents’ policy.

The case involved David Delgado Shorter, a UCLA professor in the “Department of
World Arts and Cultures/Dance.”(His dissertation was entitled,
“SantamLiniamDivisoriam/Holy Dividing Lines: Yoeme Indian Place Making and
Religious Identity.”) Shorter’s website, which indicates that he received a
Ph.D. in the “history of consciousness,” asserts that he specializes in
“ethnographic representation of Yoeme religiosity.” He adds that his favorite
course to teach is “Aliens, Psychics, and Ghosts.”

In the winter 2012 semester, Delgado taught a course
called “Tribal Worldviews”; the course homepage contained a link called “Boycotting Israel.”
The course resources page, meanwhile,
featured links to the Goldstone Report, to a site on “US Academic and Cultural
Boycott of Israel,” and (with two different links!) to an “Open Letter to Bono
Re: Palestinian Rights.” While the Goldstone Report, as vile as it was, at
least is an official document, it’s hard to see the course-related relevance of
(two!) links to an open letter to Bono. And the links to boycott-Israel sites
would seem to constitute a clear violation of California regents policies that
prohibit professors from misusing their courses to engage in “political
advocacy.”

To reiterate: these links appeared on a course webpage
for “Tribal Worldviews,” taught by a professor whose academic specialty is a
Native American tribe from Arizona.

Continue reading Using Classes for Advocacy OK at UCLA

More Advice on Railroading Males in Sex Cases

Not one college or university that I know of has resisted
the notorious “Dear Colleague” letter’ urging a lowering of the burden of proof
in campus sexual assault cases. Reasons for this timidity include the fact that
powerful forces within the academy fully support the attack on due process by
the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, the source of the letter.

A reminder of which way the campus winds are blowing
comes in an email from the Association of Title IX Administrators–yes, the  Title IX bureaucracy is bloated enough to
evolve an actual association like this. In its “Tip of the Week,” the
Association urges colleges and universities to modify their campus appeals
processes in such a way that would almost certainly render successful appeals
less likely. Specifically, the group wants to exclude from the appeals process
the college president–or, indeed, “any
high-ranking university official.” Why? Because “deciding appeals makes [top
administrators] a target personally for a lawsuit. Why serve that prize to the
plaintiff’s attorneys on a silver platter?”

Of course, if the goal is preventing lawsuits,
a better approach would be setting up a procedure that respects the rights of
all parties, including the accused student, recognizing that the truth is more
likely to emerge from a fair process in which all sides’ rights are respected.
But the Association has little interest in that sort of arrangement.

Continue reading More Advice on Railroading Males in Sex Cases

Duke Didn’t Come Clean, Penn State Did

In 2006,
the Duke lacrosse case featured an extraordinarily high-profile intersection of
college athletics, academic culture, and the criminal justice system. Six years later, the tragedy at Penn State far
surpassed events in Durham in the annals of campus scandal. There were clear
differences between the two cases (chiefly, of course, that at Penn State,
horrifying crimes occurred, while in the Duke lacrosse case the only criminals
were rogue DA Nifong, who spent a day in jail for contempt, and accuser Crystal
Mangum, currently awaiting trial on a murder charge). But both instances were
characterized by a massive administrative breakdown–in Penn State’s case, based
on an unhealthy degree of power held by the football program; in Duke’s case,
based on the administration’s apparent fear of alienating race/class/gender
faculty on campus.

Continue reading Duke Didn’t Come Clean, Penn State Did

The Freeh Report and the Failure of Trustees

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The past few months have been troubling for those who
believe that Trustees must exercise more aggressive oversight roles on today’s
college and university campuses. At the University of Virginia, the board of regents (temporarily,
it turns out) sacked President Teresa Sullivan, yet struggled to articulate a
reason for doing so. Then, when they did so–seeming to demand more on-line
classes, seeming to criticize the German and Classics Departments–the board’s
vision conflicted with defenders of high standards. At University of Southern
Maine, meanwhile, the board stood aside amidst a
slow-motion coup against President Selma Botman–an effort that aimed, as one of
the plotters privately admitted, to show that “the faculty really are the
center of the universe.”

Continue reading The Freeh Report and the Failure of Trustees

A Questionable New Student

Tablet brings news of the unfortunate case of Sheherazad Jaafari, who was
admitted to Columbia‘s School of International
and Public Affairs (SIPA) despite her background as a public relations aide for
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. The admission raises important questions of
standards and program policies.

Continue reading A Questionable New Student

A Delayed Coup in Maine Succeeds

In the last few months, the highest-profile
administrative skirmish has occurred at the University of Virginia. The affair
was depressing in that an important principle (the need for aggressive
oversight by trustees) appears to have been used to advance a rather weak
agenda.

Continue reading A Delayed Coup in Maine Succeeds

Where the White/Jewish Category Leads

A few weeks ago, controversy erupted after a diversity
report
prepared by two CUNY committees identified a “White/Jewish” category among
the university’s faculty. (There was and is absolutely no reason to believe that
this new designation reflected the thinking of either Chancellor Matthew
Goldstein or the Board of Trustees, nor was there any reason to believe, based
on their longtime records, that either Goldstein or the current Board ever
would have implemented a policy based on the designation.) The “White/Jewish” designation
nonetheless attracted a negative editorial in the Post and a good deal of negative commentary elsewhere.

Continue reading Where the White/Jewish Category Leads