Regulars at FIRE’s must-read blog, The Torch, already know the ugly details of events at California-San Diego. A fraternity held an off-campus party that was at best tasteless and at worst racist. Appearing on a student-run TV station (which is funded by the student government through student fees), a student satirical organization defended the party in language, The Torch drily noted, “that many persons on campus found highly offensive.”
The university response, however, was nothing short of extraordinary. UCSD president Marye Anne Fox—acting under pressure from various California state legislators—has threatened disciplinary actions against the students involved in planning the party. (That Fox’s administration has elected to use a judicial code that was modified because its overly broad nature appears not to have worried the UCSD powers that be.) Even more incredibly, the student government president—working in concert with the university’s counsel and other university administrators—has frozen funding to all student media organizations. This assault on the First Amendment drew public rebuke from both FIRE and the ACLU, but appears not to have troubled either Fox or her defenders.
The general outlines of the UCSD case should come as little surprise to close observers of contemporary higher education. Regardless of how offensive the student conduct was (and, in this case, it was pretty offensive), the abusive reaction of those with power at the university is far, far more troubling. In the name of promoting “diversity,” Fox and her administration seem intent on massively violating due process for her own institution’s students and ignoring the requirements that the First Amendment imposes on any public college or university.
Saturday, the New York Times brought its attention to events at the San Diego campus. The First Amendment issue received one sentence in reporter Randal Archibold’s article: “The student association has suspended financing to all campus media while it studies what to do about the program about the party.” The article ignored the protests against this draconian action. Likewise the Times saw fit to gloss over the civil liberties angle, blandly observing, “The administration is still investigating the Compton Cookout, and whether students can or should be sanctioned.”
Continue reading The Times Does San Diego
By John McWhorter
Debra Dickerson said of the Cornell students who took over Willard Straight Hall at Cornell in 1969, “What they actually wanted was beyond the white man’s power to bestow.” Even after they were granted a Black Studies department as they demanded, a core of black students remained infuriated at Cornell as still “fundamentally” racist.
As we mark the fortieth anniversary of that day, I am reminded of one twenty springs later in May, 1989, when 60 Stanford students took over the university president’s building and were arrested. Because 1989 was such a different America racially from that of 1969, such that Stanford had a healthy body of black students of middle-class provenance and above, what went down in the annals as “Takeover 89” was fundamentally a happy event. It was symbolic of a general detour in race ideology in America, and the memory has never left me.
The idea was that in not acceding to certain demands regarding minority issues, the administration had revealed itself to be racist. Interesting, though, what the “demands” were. This time there was already a Black Studies program, plus a student association, and a theme house. So instead, the main demands were four: a Native American Studies department, an Asian-American Studies department (despite there being an Asian-themed dormitory and university-funded Asian students’ association), an assistant dean for Chicano affairs (despite a Chicano student center), and a vague demand for “more” black professors. After all, if black professors are not 13% of the faculty when black people are 13% of the American population, then you know what that’s all about.
Continue reading Stanford ’89, A Happier Takeover
The Boston Globe reports:
A judicial panel at Tufts University on Thursday ruled that a conservative campus journal “harassed” blacks by publishing a Christmas carol parody called “O Come All Ye Black Folk” that many found racist.
The Primary Source, which published the carol, removed the lyrics from their site months ago, and replaced them with a rather sincere apology. The note makes clear that the carol was intended as an affirmative action parody. Does that make sense? Not to this panel. They issued a requirement that an editor sign all pieces, and “recommended that Tufts’ student government ‘consider the behavior’ of the magazine when allocating money.”
Bruce Reitman, the dean of students, found this financial threat, well.. rather elegant.
I’m proud of the committee,” he said. “I was pleased to see them balance both values of freedom of speech and freedom from harassment, without letting one dominate the other.
Aren’t we glad there’s someone like Bruce Reitman fighting against the domination of free speech? Thank heavens.