Tag Archives: microagression

Limp Administrators Let the Angry Few Take Over

The tumultuous, racially charged demonstrations that rocked American campuses this fall show few signs of abating. In fact, they’re spreading across the country because student activists have been emboldened by their “successes.”

For example, at the University of Missouri, the president and chancellor resigned amid protests (even the football team threatened to go on strike) regarding allegations of racism on campus and the administration’s refusal to address them. In response, the UM system announced the creation of a Chief Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Officer and various diversity initiatives.

Related: What Yale’s President Should Have Said

Common threads running throughout the campus upheavals include attacks on principles of free speech and a willingness on the part of school officials to mollify students and cede control to leftist protesters. Given higher education’s track record, however, both developments are unsurprising.

Universities have long preached the gospel of social justice through politicized degree programs, coursework, and university policies. For years, there has been a proliferation of gender, black, and gay studies programs and a host of other partisan “studies” fields. Meanwhile, universities have ramped up multiculturalism “training” for students, professors, and administrators.

And they’ve long treated students as customers to be appeased at all costs to keep the money flowing. The mindset born of the combination of political correctness and consumerism has brought about policies that attempt to “protect” students’ emotional well-being—usually at the expense of scholarly debate and the open exchange of ideas. Schools have disinvited campus speakers who offend the sensibilities of left-leaning students. They’ve given credence to illiberal concepts such as “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces.”

A Lame Defense of Trigger Warnings 

The initial end result has been the debasement of campus discourse, increased cultural and racial division, and diminished academic standards. But we are witnessing an even more disturbing trend: much of academia is being turned on its head, with the least knowledgeable and least mature members of the academic community assuming command based on their emotions.

Protests started by individual campus events and by events outside academia have coalesced into a powerful national movement. Actual authorities cravenly submit to their demands, and one is tempted to think of such historical anti-intellectual movements as the Cultural Revolution in China under Mao-tse-tung or the Italian monk Savonarola’s “bonfires of the vanities.” 

Related: Our North Korean Campuses 

Under the banners of “racial equality” and “solidarity,” some of the protesters—who have aligned with the Black Lives Matter movement and other non-academic liberal causes—have shunned civil debate entirely. At Dartmouth College, protesters stormed a library, shouting racial epithets at white students trying to study.

At Yale University, a student screamed at a school official whose wife (also a Yale employee) had had the temerity to suggest that administrators should not regulate “offensive” Halloween costumes worn by students. Others have vandalized campus statues and monuments tied to historical figures with controversial pasts or racist legacies.

More problematic than these and related incidents, however, has been universities’ timid responses. Out of fear of public shaming and protest, school officials have caved to this new movement’s politically correct thought police. As mentioned above, some have resigned, and others have promised to spend millions on diversity and racial sensitivity programs.

The Mess at UNC

Some administrators seem so fearful of this movement that they have joined with it preemptively. At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in response to the events on the campus, in Missouri, and elsewhere, Chancellor Carol Folt recently announced the creation of a new high-level administrative position aimed in part at improving race relations on campus. And on November 19 the school hosted a “Town Hall on Race and Inclusion” which embodied much of what’s wrong about higher education’s tendency to conciliate students.

Roughly 1,400 people—including Folt, the university’s board of trustees, hundreds of professors and administrators, and students—packed the school’s performing arts center. High above the stage, the university’s motto, Lux libertas (Light and Liberty), was displayed—a message that starkly contrasted with the event’s eventual tenor of groupthink and hostility to dissent.

Folt gave the opening remarks, telling the crowd, “[Nothing] matters more to me [than] having these conversations and trying to…make people in our community feel safe, feel welcome.” She then introduced Clarence Page, a liberal syndicated columnist, who was supposed to moderate the event. Instead, he weakly lost control to students who defied the event’s rules at every turn

‘It’s Our University’

Before Page could give his introduction, a group of roughly 40 students stormed down one of the aisles, chanting “Whose university? Our university!” One student held a sign that read “F— Whiteness.” Another, “UNC Admin Supports Violent Hate Speech.”

The group’s leader grabbed a nearby microphone and brusquely told the crowd, “We are going to read these demands out and you are gonna sit here and listen because we have things that we need to say and problems that need to be fixed.” This was followed by cheers and finger-snapping. Then came the demands, which members of the group took turns reading.

Mandatory Programming, Please

Among other things, students are calling for “mandatory programming [that] teaches the historical racial violence of this University and town….” They also demand “more aggressive recruitment of Black faculty and faculty of color” and an end to the use of the SAT and ACT in admissions decisions, as those standardized tests, according to protesters, “disproportionately benefit” wealthy white students. “Gone are the days where we ask for what is past due to us: we are here to take what is ours. Tear it down, or we shut you down,” concludes the document.

Only once did the moderator speak up and tell the protesters, who took roughly 30 minutes to read such demands, that other students in attendance deserved a chance to speak, too. And even after the protesters left, he allowed students to exceed the pre-determined two-minute speaking limit. Chancellor Folt, nor any of the faculty and administrators in attendance, addressed such insolence. Two students expressed objection to the protesters’ tactics and to the other student-commenters. Muffled sneers percolated through the crowd after those objections were made.

Diversity Brainwashing

Chancellor Folt provided closing remarks. “We couldn’t have heard more strongly that we need training,” she said, possibly referring to “racial equity training,” which one male student suggested should be mandatory for university employees. (“A lot of black people have spoken and have different views, but we all agree on one thing: systemic racism exists. If you don’t understand that it exists, you won’t get it,” he had said.)

That student, a freshman, said he had learned all about “systemic racism” at a diversity training workshop sponsored by UNC-Chapel Hill’s Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs. Each year, taxpayers devote hundreds of thousands of dollars to that office, which seems more focused on indoctrinating students into political activism than objectively educating students or creating a positive campus climate.

At any rate, perspective is important. Twenty-nine thousand undergraduate and graduate students attend UNC-Chapel Hill; the truculent protesters at the town hall event represent a very small fraction of that total. And while some agree with those protesters and their tactics, many others do not. There are signs that students at Chapel Hill and other universities want administrators to restore civility and reopen the marketplace of ideas on campus.

Furthermore, the vitriol toward other groups expressed by the protestors clearly shows that justice for all is not their goal, but that they seek vengeance and advantage.

Letting the Few Take Over

So it’s time for university leaders to stop allowing a small minority of militant activists to control university policies and campus dialogue. Rather than kowtow to the fringe and waste resources on diversity initiatives and cultural reeducation programs, which have abysmal track records, Chapel Hill and other universities should use recent events as a broader learning lesson.

In the coming months, instead of fear, university leaders should show “solidarity” around the First Amendment, intellectual vitality, and real diversity—viewpoint diversity, which is sorely lacking on many campuses. They can remind students that coercion and the stifling of opposing views—no matter how offensive they may be—hurts one’s cause and social progress itself. The Black Lives Matter movement and other movements in the broader culture are free to behave as they wish; on college campuses, however, higher standards must be maintained and cherished.

In the end, this is a struggle to restore the spirit of higher education. The UNC protestors asked one very important question—“Whose university?” It’s time for administrators, particularly at public universities, to think long and hard about that. Unfortunately, for many, it seems too difficult a task. After all, they created the university according to their beliefs, and the protesters are their intellectual progeny.  

Reprinted from the John William Pope Center for Educational Policy. Jesse Saffron has been with the Pope Center since 2013.

Our AntI-Israel American Universities

The foundations of American Jewish life are under assault today in ways that were unimaginable a generation ago. Academia is ground zero of the onslaught. The protest movements on campuses are primarily anti-Jewish movements.

For the past decade or so, Jewish communal leaders and activists have focused on just one aspect of this anti-Jewish campaign. Jewish leaders have devoted themselves to helping Jewish students combat the direct anti-Semitism inherent to the anti-Israel student movements.

Despite the substantial funds that have been devoted to fighting anti-Israel forces on campuses, they have not been diminished. To the contrary, with each passing year they have grown more powerful and menacing.

Consider a sampling of the anti-Jewish incidents that took place over the past two weeks.

Two weeks ago, Daniel Bernstein, a Jewish student at University of California Santa Cruz and a member of the university’s student government was ordered not to vote on a resolution calling for the university to divest from four companies, which do business with Israel.

Bernstein represents UCSC’s Stevenson College at the university student government. He is also vice president of his college’s Jewish Student Union. Ahead of the anti-Israel vote, Bernstein received a message from a member of his college’s student council ordering him to abstain from the vote on Israel divestment.

The student council, Bernstein was informed, had determined that he was motivated by “a Jewish agenda,” and therefore couldn’t be trusted to view the resolution fairly.

In the same message, Bernstein’s correspondent gave him a friendly “heads up” that his fellow students are considering removing him from office because he is a Jew supported by the Jewish community.

To his credit, Bernstein ignored his orders. He voted to oppose the anti-Israel resolution.

Following the incident Bernstein published a statement decrying the anti-Jewish discrimination and hatred now rampant on his campus.

Among other things, he wrote, “I wish that [my] being subjected to anti-Semitism was a shocking new occurrence. But the truth is that I’m not shocked. I’m not shocked because this hatred and ignorance has followed me everywhere. I’m not shocked because Jewish students have been targeted with this vile racism all over the [University of California] UC system for years, and especially since BDS became a major issue of discussion. Anti-Semitism … has … become an inseparable part of campus politics right here at UC Santa Cruz and across the UC system.”

Then there is the growing movement of professional associations that boycott Israel.

Last week the National Women’s Studies Association passed a resolution to join the BDS movement. The resolution, written in turgid, incomprehensible prose, proclaimed that the only state in the Middle East that provides full and equal rights to women is so evil that it must be singled out and boycotted, sanctioned and the university must divest from it.

Whereas Bernstein was personally targeted, and the NWSA criminalizes Israel, at CUNY, on November 12, a group of protesters targeted the Jewish community as a whole.

That day, as part of a national “million student march,” where students demanded free tuition, anti-Jewish students at CUNY rallied at Hunter College and introduced a new demand: the expulsion of all Israel supporters from campus.

Congregating in the center of the campus, some 50 students chanted in unison, “Zionists out of CUNY!”

Aside from an anodyne statement in favor of “freedom of expression,” CUNY administrators had nothing to say about the affair.

For their part, Hunter’s administrators issued a statement “condemning the anti-Semitic comments,” made by the rally participants.

But no disciplinary measures were taken against any of them.

Speaking to the Algemeiner, StandWithUs’s northeast regional director Shahar Azani said that the Hunter incident “is another example of the hijacking of various social causes by the anti-Israel movement.”

In making this claim, Azani was merely repeating the position taken by Jewish communal leaders and activists involved in the fight to defend Jews and Israel on university campuses. Unfortunately, this position is incorrect.

According to the prevailing wisdom guiding Jewish communal responses to the onslaught against Jewish students on campuses, the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish movements are distinct from the wider anti-liberal forces now disrupting campus life throughout the US. As Jewish leaders see things, there is no inherent connection between the protesters embracing victimhood and demanding constraints on freedom of expression, inquiry and assembly (and free tuition), and those who seek to drive Jews out of the public sphere on college campuses.

In other words, they believe that Zionists can be crybullies too.

But they can’t.

The crybully movement, which demands that universities constrain freedom to cater to victim groups, is necessarily hostile to Jews. This is the reason that at the same time that “victims” from blacks to transgenders are coddled and caressed; Jews have emerged as the only group that is not protected. Indeed, the BDS movement requires universities to discriminate against Jewish students.

 

The inherent conflict between the tenets of the “progressive” movement and Jewish rights is exposed in a guide to racial “microaggressions” published earlier this year by the University of California. Students and faculty must avoid committing these “microagressions” if they want to stay on the right side of campus authorities and the law.

The UC defines “microagressions” as, “brief, subtle verbal or non-verbal exchanges that send denigrating messages to the recipient because of his or her group membership (such as race, gender, age or socio-economic status).”

Transgressors can expect to be accused of engendering a “hostile learning environment,” an act that can get you expelled, fired and subjected to criminal probes.

As law professor Eugene Voloch reported in The Washington Post last June, among other things, the list of offenses includes embracing merit as a means of advancing in society. A statement along the lines of “I believe the most qualified person should get the job” can destroy a person’s academic career.

So too, statements rejecting race as a significant factor in judging a person’s competence are now deemed racist. For instance statements to the effect of, “There is only one race, the human race,” “America is a melting pot” or “I don’t believe in race” can land a student or instructor in hot water.

In a column last week, Dennis Prager noted that the list castigates as racism all the pillars of liberal society in America. The list, he wrote, shows that “the American university is now closer to fascism than to traditional liberty.”

Prager is right, of course. But the fascist takeover of American academia will not affect all Americans equally.

Jews are the greatest victims of this state of affairs.

For the better part of the past hundred years, the upward mobility of American Jewry has been directly correlated with America’s embrace of meritocratic values. The more Americans have looked past race and ethnicity and judged people by their talents, characters and professional competence, the higher Jews have risen. Conversely, where qualities other than competence, talent and professionalism have determined social and professional status, Jews have suffered. They have faced discrimination and their opportunities to advance have been limited.

Academia is but a small component of American society. But to earn a place in America’s middle, upper-middle and upper classes, you need at least an undergraduate degree. Moreover, university graduates go on to populate and head the state and federal governing bureaucracies, the business world, the entertainment sector and every other major area of human endeavor in American society.

Academia’s simultaneous rejection of core liberal principles and legitimization of anti-Semitic forces is not a coincidence. Jews are a constant reminder that human agency – rather than race and other group identities – has everything to do with a person’s ability to excel in academics and beyond. For fascist principles to hold, Jews must be demonized and hated.

The intrinsic link between anti-Semitism and fascism and their simultaneous embrace by a key American institution means that the equal rights and freedoms of Jews are far more threatened in America today than most Jewish leaders and activists have realized. The Jewish community’s failure to date to defeat the anti-Semitic forces on campuses owes at least in part to its failure to recognize or contend with the dual nature of the problem.

Reprinted with permission from the Jerusalem Post


 

Caroline B. Glick, an American-born Israeli, is  deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post. She served as assistant foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from 1997 to1998 and is author of the 2008 book, Shackled Warrior: Israel and the Global Jihad.

After Many Woeful Failures, the Colleges Avoid Change

The students at Mizzou and Yale caught in twin episodes of contrived campus racial hysteria have been described as narcissists and self-indulgent brats catered to by their parents who told them how special they were and expecting the same judgment from college. Handed what they understand as the attitudinal keys to the kingdom, they’re enraged when challenged.

The two highlights are probably 1) the would-be Maoist Missouri media studies professor calling for “the muscle” to shut down coverage of a protest by a young journalist invoking the First Amendment and 2) the Yale student shrieking “who the fuck hired you” at a professor so foolish as to suggest that the subject of culturally appropriate Halloween costumes for Yale’s overgrown brats was in part a matter of free speech. Like President Obama insisting he “can’t wait” for Congress before overriding the Constitution to impose himself through executive authority, “the snowflake totalitarians” insist that its fears need to be propitiated forthwith. Fortunately, both incidents were caught on camera and have gone viral on YouTube.

These young people in America’s increasingly hierarchical society expect to be obeyed. Treated as important customers by their colleges, their faculty and staff assume the customer is always right. What makes their effluvia different from those of the 1960s student protesters is that the context has changed. Then as now, students, short on experience, are often unable to distinguish between considered political perspectives and their emotion-laden ideologies.

But in the 1960s the faculty still had a few conservatives and a fair number of old-line liberals scarred by McCarthyism and firmly wedded to freedom of speech. But 45 years later academic self-selection has produced faculties and over-staffed administrations that devolve from protestors of 1970.  The student protestors are an expression of what academia has been producing over these past decades.

In recent years, academia has done so much to discredit itself that we might have expected calls for reform to be ringing from the halls of Congress. “Federal spending,” notes The Journal, “on loans and grants, on an inflation-adjusted basis, has jumped more than 50% over the past decade to $134 billion last year, and total federal student-loan debt has hit $1.2 trillion.”

On the presidential campaign trail, Hillary Clinton has spoken for new and better subsidies and perhaps even some student debt forgiveness at a time when the national debt has doubled in the past seven years. On the GOP side, Marco Rubio referred in passing, during Tuesday’s Republican debate, to delivering commodified higher education more efficiently. And to be sure, former Indiana Governor and now Purdue University president Mitch Daniels has talked on unbundling the services purportedly provided by higher education so that they can be delivered more efficiently. There are proposals for Contractor model in which “The core business function of the contractor-college would be assembly and quality control rather than running an institution and hiring faculty or holding classes.”

But given the endless scandals and massive failures, there’s been strikingly little political outcry. That’s in part because the average lawmaker has twelve institution of higher learning in his or her district. These institutions are often in close touch with local elected officials who are well aware of how many jobs the colleges account for. Nationally, counting only the four-year operations, colleges are the sixth largest industry in America. They employ 3.6 million people, more than one of every 40 workers in the U.S.

“Higher” education has become a very big business and its size and economic influence has been expressed in its political clout. “Colleges and universities,” explained The Journal, “have become one of the most effective lobbying forces in Washington, employing more lobbyists last year than any other industries except drug manufacturing and technology.” Last year colleges and universities deployed more than a thousand lobbyists at a cost of 73 million dollars. The upshot is that from George Bush the first to Barack Obama’s attempts to rank schools based on supposed outcomes, every effort at accountability has been beaten back.

In the event that reform comes to academia, it will be borne on the wings of competition. On the matter of free speech, the University of Chicago has recently distinguished itself with a strong embrace of traditional notions of free speech. Other colleges like Hillsdale in Michigan, which takes no federal money has made a name for itself by teaching about the genius of the Founding Fathers. If academia is to dig itself out of the hole it’s put itself in to, it will be because many more colleges decide to opt out of the suicidal spiral all too visible at Missouri and Yale.