Tag Archives: occupy

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover, But…

You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, or its title, but how about from an extended interview with the authors?

On November 2, Inside Higher Ed carried such an interview with the three authors of a new book entitled Occupying the Academy. The authors, Christine Clark (a professor of multicultural education at UNLV), Kenneth Fasching-Varner (a professor of elementary education at LSU), and Mark Brimhall-Vargas (associate director of the Office of Diversity Education and Compliance at the University of Maryland), want people to know, as their subtitle puts it, just how important diversity work is in higher education.

Reading through the interview, we never find out exactly what “diversity work” is. Once the admissions people have done their best to engineer a student body that has the right quotas of students of certain ancestries, what more is there to do for the “diversity workers” to do? I have ordered the book and will read it to find out, but I think that the honest answer is that they pretend to keep busy by obsessing over student differences. Diversity work entails a constant search for issues of “insensitivity” that can be used to pry money out of administrators.

That money is very important to these diversiphiles becomes clear in the interview. Diversity offices, we read, “face problems that are largely invisible and hard to understand. They are often starved of resources or are constantly made to scramble for declining resources. This climate of instability makes it hard so that the workers dedicated to equity and diversity are always unsure of whether they will be around.”

Apparently it does not occur to those diversity workers that almost every part of every university now has to scramble for resources and that if they don’t get all the funding they want, it could be because departments that actually do some educating are regarded as more important.

An idea as to the inflated sense of self-importance of these diversity workers comes from Professor Clark’s statement that following Obama’s election, she expected that “our work would get easier, become more respected, be more well-funded, and be able to penetrate further in more substantive ways into the fabric of the academy.” You can probably guess why those dreams didn’t come true – racism.

Furthermore, we learn that diversity workers, displaying the victim mentality that Bruce Bawer brilliantly describes in his book The Victims’ Revolution, believe that they are “under assault.”

Now, I doubt very much that there has ever been a single assault – much less a battery – against any diversity worker. The alleged assault consists of not having a “guarantee that they will have access to the places where meaningful change can happen.” What that means is that the guilt-ridden academic officials who get mau-maued into creating “diversity offices” don’t actually take them seriously, so they can’t “have a real chance at changing the campus composition and climate.” Don’t the diversity workers understand that they’re nothing more than politically correct ornamentation on campus? It’s as if the guards at Buckingham Palace complained that they don’t get to play any role in preparing the defense of the nation.

Again, I will read Occupying the Academy when I get it. If the authors make a persuasive case that all of this “diversity work” is something other than a sheer waste of money, I will be glad to say so.

Inequality Courses on Campus
Mostly One-sided and Dishonest

            By Charlotte Allen and George Leef

inequality.jpgThis article was prepared by Minding the Campus and the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

A new movement is rising on American campuses, timed perfectly to feed the frenzy over the income gap that is Occupy Wall Street’s main complaint. But this movement isn’t street populism; it’s another way for leftist professors to mold student beliefs.

Charlotte Allen’s essay, “The Inequality Movement – A Campus Product”
examined the phenomenon of college courses and programs on
inequality–that is, on income and other social differences among people.
It prompted both of us to wonder if students taking those courses would
hear any ideas inconsistent with the “liberal” orthodoxy that income
inequality is unjust, has been principally caused by racism, sexism, and
free enterprise, and must be combated with a variety of government
laws, regulations, and aid programs.

To find out, we investigated the syllabi and readings for a dozen
courses at well-known colleges and universities, public and private,
around the United States. The courses are:

Continue reading Inequality Courses on Campus
Mostly One-sided and Dishonest

The ‘Inequality’ Movement–A Campus Product

Robin Hood Index.jpgThe sharp political focus on inequality, driven into the public mind by the Occupy movement and endorsed by President Obama in his State of the Union message, was born, not on the street, but on the campus. It thrives there, mostly under the aegis of elite universities such as Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Columbia and Johns Hopkins. Those universities have free-standing inequality centers bearing such titles such as Multidisciplinary Program on Inequality and Social Policy (Harvard), Global Network on Inequality (Princeton), and the Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality (Stanford).

Cornell now offers a minor in inequality studies for students who are ” interested in government service, policy work, or related jobs in nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), or want to go on to graduate work in anthropology, economics, government, history, law, literature, philosophy, psychology, public policy, or sociology.”

Continue reading The ‘Inequality’ Movement–A Campus Product

No, They Can’t Renege on Student Debt

Sometimes the left is onto something. Take, for example, the
latest twist in the “Occupy” movement: Occupy
Student Debt
. The new activism front, which began in with a Nov. 21 rally
at Occupy Ground Zero, New York’s Zuccotti Park, is trying to collect a million
online signatures from debtors pledging to refuse
to repay their student loans
. That’s supposed to be only the beginning.
Down the road, according to the campaign’s organizers (members of the student
debt subcommittee of Occupy Wall Street’s Empowerment and Education working
group) are proposals to pressure Congress into writing off all existing student
loans and making future student loans interest-free–or better yet, having the
federal government subsidize tuition completely at all public colleges and
universities.

Good luck, you might say. Still, the Occupy Student Debt people
have focused public attention on the alarming growth of the federal
student loan program
over the past few years. As USA Today recently
reported, the amount of student loans taken out in 2010 alone exceeded $100
million. Before the end of 2011, the total amount of outstanding student debt
is expected to exceed $1 trillion for the first time in history. Furthermore, USA
Today reported
, students are borrowing twice what they borrowed only a
decade ago, even adjusting for inflation….

Continue reading No, They Can’t Renege on Student Debt

“OccupyCUNY” Fails

Commendably, the trustees of the City University of New York
refused to bow to intimidation, and put the best interests of the university
first by approving, in a 15-1 vote, a new tuition structure. The new policy grants
CUNY the authority to raise tuition by $300 annually for the next five years.

The decision, of course, met with outrage from the
“OccupyCUNY” movement, which appears to believe that unless CUNY can be funded
through a tax on New York millionaires, it should be starved of resources–and
that it certainly shouldn’t get any money through either private gift-giving or
minor tuition increases.

Continue reading “OccupyCUNY” Fails

The Embarrassment of “OccupyCUNY”

A few weeks ago, I attended a presentation on the state of the university by CUNY chancellor Matthew Goldstein. In the Q&A session, a student asked Goldstein for his opinion on sympathy-protests with Occupy Wall Street that had sprung up on various CUNY campuses. Goldstein gave what seemed to me a reasonable answer. He said that he sympathized with some OWS goals, disagreed with others, and supported the rights of students to peacefully protest at CUNY. But, he added, he would not tolerate protests that infringed on the learning experiences of other students, who might or might not agree with the protesters’ aims.

I suppose it was inevitable, nonetheless, that an “OccupyCUNY” movement would spring up to test Goldstein’s resolve. According to the New York Times, organizers “were protesting not only tuition increases [of $300 per year] but also the university’s push for a public-private partnership,” such as the $1.4 billion in private philanthropy that CUNY has received this year. Of course, if the university received no private support, either tuition bills would have to increase dramatically or services, including the number of faculty, would need to be slashed dramatically. But logic doesn’t appear to be a strong suit of “OccupyCUNY.”

Continue reading The Embarrassment of “OccupyCUNY”

Pepper Spraying for Beginners

The scenes that describe certain events or incidents in the course of human events sometimes distort the actuality of those events and incidents; and, thus, leave a flawed portrait as a historical record. For example, while the public saw the “brutality” of the Los Angeles Police Department in the Rodney King incident, they did not see the fact that King was driving 100 miles per/hour while “under the influence” prior to being pulled over by the police. These circumstances, by providing a context, mitigated the harshness, to some extent, of the conduct of the LAPD. Or, at least, they clouded the public’s view and left a basis for some to rationalize the conduct of the police.

Continue reading Pepper Spraying for Beginners

When Adolescent Culture Goes to College

Paterno protests.jpg

College students have been protesting lately in many different settings, from Occupy Wall Street to classroom walkouts, to the riots at Penn State.  Each incident recommends its own separate analysis and explanation, but it is important to recognize what they share in common as well.  Philip C. Altbach and Patti Peterson reminded us that student protest is as old as the Republic, though it received national attention and serious analysis only in the 1960s: “In 1823, half the Harvard senior class was expelled shortly before graduation for participating in disruptive activity, and students were involved in anti-conscription campaigns during the Civil War. Student activism before 1960, however, had no major impact on national policy, and prior to 1900, no organized student activist groups emerged.  Yet there is a tradition of student involvement in politics in the United States, and many of the concerns of the activists of the sixties are reflected in the past.”  (Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 1971.)

Continue reading When Adolescent Culture Goes to College

The Anarchic Impulse in Zuccotti Park

The Occupy Wall Street demonstrators are no longer merely residents of Zuccotti Park, they have converted themselves into roving bands restricting traffic on Broadway and Church Street and occupying nearby buildings. Yet the city authorities avert their gaze and well known scholars who share a hard left ideology such as Cornel West, Slavoj Zizek and Frances Fox Piven offer words of encouragement to the demonstrators.

Continue reading The Anarchic Impulse in Zuccotti Park

Yet Another Student Occupation

Students occupied a New School building early this morning and police have now entered, with the evident aim of removing the occupants, the New York Times reports.
They seem to have followed the lead of February’s NYU protesters in advancing a list of highly disparate demands:

The students adopted a list of eight demands including a greater student voice in university affairs and the resignations of Mr. Kerrey, a former senator from Nebraska; James Murtha, the executive vice president; and Robert Millard, treasurer of the board of trustees, who students said was connected to a private security company working in Iraq.

It seems clear that these will not be met.

How To Finesse A Student Occupation

What kind of mark does NYU deserve for its handling of its student occupation? Let’s give the university a “B-plus” or even an “A” for a performance marred only by a poor end game—immediately reinstating the suspended perpetrators of the sandbox revolution, thus letting them claim that they had won. (“We did it”, said the Take Back NYU web site. “You made our cry heard around the world and it worked!!”)
The University of Rochester deserves a “D-minus” for caving in last month to an SDS sit-in only nine hours after it started. The university did not yield to the occupiers’ major demand—divestment in Israel—but it promised economic and humanitarian aid, including scholarships for Gaza students. Universities and colleges would do well to plan ahead for more anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian occupations by the hard left. More than 20 student occupations have been mounted in Britain and sponsors want to inspire similar actions across the pond.
In preparing for such occupations, American administrations should take a look at a model response from the 1960s, possibly the only “A-plus” in the student occupatrion sweepstakes. It took place at the University of Chicago, drew little publicity at the time and is recalled by few today. The Chicago Maroon, the university newspaper, wrote recently that “awareness of this story is mostly limited to its eyewitnesses” and is “nearly absent from the collective memories passed down to each new generation of students.”
The central figure in the story is the late Edward Levi, president of the university, later to be the attorney general (under President Ford) who cleaned up the justice department after the Watergate mess. He faced a far more serious threat than NYU did last month. NYU had a handful of comic protesters, who explained that they wanted to “consense” (they meant form a consensus), screamed about brutality without being touched, and bitterly accused the employees who evicted them of drinking “corporate water.” Then there was the demand that NYU reconsider the lifting of its ban on selling Coca Cola. The administration disarmed protesters by offering food, even vegetarian options. It’s always hard to hate oppressors who care about the vegan menu. In contrast, the Chicago protesters were sophisticated and experienced. Some were members of Students for a Democratic Society and many went on to join the terrorist Weather Underground.
Levi had taken office at a tense time, only a few months after the upheaval at the 1968 Democratic national convention. On January 30th, more than 400 students took over the administration building, the third occupation of a campus building in four years. Vietnam and anger at “the system” were obvious issues. So was resentment that students played no role in university governance. But the excuse for the takeover was the sociology department’s decision not to rehire Marlene Dixon, an eccentric Marxist and radical feminist who had drawn attention by chanting “Work, study, get ahead, kill!” to students during Levi’s inaugural procession.
Despite heavy pressure to call in police, Levi refused to do so. No police meant no photos of abused students and therefore no dramatic storyline. “The whole thing builds to the police raid,” said classics professor James Redfield, decribing the ideal conditions for a successful student takeover. “That’s the big scene and when that doesn’t happen, they don’t quite know what to do.”
Levi refused to capitulate or negotiate. Students generally supported the administration. Faculty was split, and on the seventh day, Milton Friedman held a press conference vehemently opposing amnesty. Left alone for 16 days, the protesters grew weary and left the building. After the 1966 sit-in, a faculty body had recommended “appropriate disciplinary action, not excluding expulsion” if another takeover occurred. That’s what happened in 1969. Levi called 165 students in for hearings, suspended 81 and expelled 42. Students who convincingly expressed remorse got off the hook. In statements afterward, Levi talked about the integrity and civility of the university, its mission to pursue truth and the need to resist coercion. He said, “There are values to be maintained. We are not bought and sold and transformed by that kind of pressure.”
During the takeover, a bomb threat was called in and someone threw a typewriter during a confrontation among students. During an SDS-sponsored rally against the disciplinary committee, student kicked in the door of Levi’s house. But the tumult that burst forth on other campuses subsided at the University of Chicago. This success in Chicago in the 60s and NYU today should lead other colleges and universities to take note. The low key, no-police, no-negotiation strategy works.

NYU Is Safe Again

New York University students, or at least a few dozen of them, have just set several records for student occupations of a campus building: fewest occupiers, shortest occupation (3 days) , least support among the student body and longest list of demands. Surely the strange litany of demands had much to so with the adventure’s quick collapse. The protesters wanted public disclosure of NYU’s endowment and operating budget, a student on the university board of trustees collective bargaining for TAs and student workers, tuition kept at or below the rate of inflation, access to the library for the general public, and priority for student groups in building owned or leased by NYU. After his list, the demands got showier: 13 scholarships for Gaza students, extra NYU supplies sent to rebuild Gaza University, amnesty for all occupiers and—perhaps to guard against the possibility that the occupation would be taken seriously– a serious reconsideration of the lifting of the campus ban against Coca-Cola. Nothing about a longed-for reduction of salt in cafeteria French fries, however.

Noam Chomsky, clearly dodging the Coca-Cola issue, put out a statement supporting the protesters’ call for “universities to end their participation in the brutal oppression of Palestinians.” The New York Daily News published an editorial making fun of the occupiers as weeneies and wusses, and mocked their slogan, “Take Back the University.” Who took the university, the News asked. “Was it the Klingons?” Two NYU alumni set up a web site, “Fake Back NYU” explaining that the protesters may seem laughable, “largely because they speak a language of knee-jerk-faux-liberal-college-speak.” The Washington Square News said it had interviewed thirty NYU students and not one of them fully supported the list of demands. Maybe the occupiers, 18 of them now under suspension, just got their timing wrong. Takeovers and non-negotiable demands seem to work better in the spring and fall, when the weather is better.

Hawaii and Palestine – Two Occupied Countries?

When an American university sponsors a conference on Israel and Palestine, most observers know what to expect: a prolonged rabble-rousing attack on Israel sponsored by the “anti-colonial” far left, with no one invited to defend Israel. Last Friday, the University of Hawaii at Manoa concluded an 18-day Israel-bashing festival, one of the longest such adventures on any campus. The event was primarily sponsored by the university, a public institution, and therefore funded by the Hawaiian and American taxpayers.

The symposium featured films, including “Occupation 101,” “End Israeli Occupation” and “Sacred Space Denied – Bethlehem and the Wall.” Panels focused on divestment in Israel, the rights of Palestinian refugees to return home, the history of Nakba (catastrophe) wrought by the founding of Israel, and “Palestine and Hawaii: Occupied Countries.” Hawaiian Studies professor Haunani Trask said: “The corollaries are there. Both are occupied (with) indigenous forced to leave their country, and divided by blood as part of the bigger ‘elimination of the native’ plot.”

How is it that presidents and administrators of these universities never think to raise any objections to these one-sided events?