Tag Archives: sports

“Diversity” in College Sports

A new report from the University of
Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, Black
Male Student-Athletes and Racial Inequities in NCAA Division I College Sports
,
points with horror at the “racial inequities” in big-time college sports,
finding it “shocking” and “astonishing” that college leaders, the NCAA, and the
public at large have “accepted as normal the widespread inequities” endemic to
revenue-producing college sports. Perhaps, it concludes, there would be “more
outrage” if more people were aware of how much college athletic programs
“persistently disadvantage” black male athletes.

The picture of this disadvantage is dramatic.
Based on 2007 – 2010 data from the 76 institutional members of the six largest
athletic conferences, black men were 2.8% of full-time undergraduate students
but 57.1% of football teams and 64.3% of basketball teams. 50.2% of black male
athletes graduated within six years, compared to 66.9% of student-athletes
overall, 72.8% of undergraduate students, and 55.5% of black undergraduate men
overall.

“We hear over and over again that
colleges and universities just cannot find qualified, college-ready black men
to come to their institutions,” Shaun Harper, the report’s lead author,
told Inside Higher Ed, but “they can find them when they want the
black men to generate revenue for them.” In a “Message” that introduces
the report, Wharton professor Kenneth Shropshire
echoes the view that the graduation gap reveals glaring “racial inequities,”
that intercollegiate athletics “take advantage” of black athletes “without
serious care for their personal and academic success.”

One of the “racial inequities” is what thirty
years ago Harry Edwards called the “dumb
jock caricature
” — the “insidiously racist … myth of ‘innate Black
athletic superiority’ and the more blatantly racist stereotype of the ‘dumb
Negro.'” Because black men are so “overrepresented” in college sports, the new report
finds, this stereotype “also negatively affects blacks who are not
student-athletes.” It is common, Harper told Inside Higher Ed, “for a
black man to get congratulated for a football victory while walking across
campus on a Monday morning, despite the fact that he’s 5-foot-6 and skinny.”

Ostensibly preferential treatment of blacks
thus actually exploits them for the benefit of others. Academically
under-qualified, they cluster in the bottom of their classes and fail to
graduate in alarming numbers despite receiving remedial classes, targeted
advising, and tutoring not available to others. Their preferential treatment in
and after admission combined with academic performance far below that of their
peers brands them with a stereotype of racial inferiority so pervasive it also
tarnishes other blacks who needed and received no preferential treatment.

If 
this indictment sounds familiar it’s because we’ve heard it before.
Shaun Harper and his co-authors, in short, eerily and no doubt unwittingly
channel Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor Jr.’s Mismatch.
“Dumb Jock,” meet “Affirmative Action Admit.”
 

Far from criticizing race-based special
treatment, however, Harper insisted to Inside Higher Ed that his study
“in no way seeks to suggest that there are too many black athletes.” To
the contrary, he wants admissions offices to recruit non-athlete black men as
vigorously as coaches recruit athletes, and he wants to extend the preferential
support services black athletes receive “in equal measure to black
non-athletes.” There is no glimmer of recognition in this report, or in the
fawning Inside Higher Ed and Chronicle
of Higher Education
articles that highlight its complaints of “racial
inequities,” that there is anything wrong or even problematical in colleges
bestowing special treatment on blacks because of the benefits they bring to
others, whether entertaining and “generating revenue” or providing “diversity.”

When Points Destroy The Game

In 1956 my Jamaica high school basketball
team played Far Rockaway, a league rival. At the end of the first quarter I had
19 points and our team was ahead by twenty. The result of the game was already
determined. I felt confident of breaking the school scoring record and perhaps
the city record as well, but to my dismay the coach took me out of the game. I
was furious. Yet in retrospect, he was right.

Had I broken the school record, it would have
come at the expense of a marginal team. Moreover, it would have embarrassed the
other players. My coach understood what I did not.

Now we hear the story of Grinnell College
sophomore guard named Jack Taylor who scored 138 points in a recent game
against First Baptist Bible College. While this point total obliterated the
college record and even pro stars like LeBron James are eager to see the video
tape, I find this story depressing. Why didn’t Grinnell’s coach, David Arsenault
bench his star player who took 108 shots – missing 56 – in a game won by 75 points?
 

The once decent standard of not embarrassing
a rival has been interred along with giving bench-warmers a chance to play in a
one sided victory. “Kicking” an opponent when he is down was something college
athletes were once told to avoid. That, of course, was yesteryear when
competition counted and records were set that had real meaning.
 

As I see it, there isn’t anything reasonable
about one player taking 108 shots in a game whose outcome was not in question.
Whatever happened to sportsmanship in college sports? Instead of applauding
this performance as television hosts have, it should be criticized. Imagine
“pressing” all game in a 75 point margin of victory.

During college basketball and football games,
there is the ritualistic suggestion by the NCAA that athletics build character.
After this performance at Grinnell that bromide should be a source of
embarrassment. It is bad enough that players routinely preen in front of the
television camera after a dunk. It is sickening to hear players curse at one
another and engage in verbal intimidation. Exploiting weak athletes by piling
on is yet the latest perversion in college sports. My guess is Jack Taylor will
be a model, a source of emulation. And a coach, who should know better, is also
likely to represent a new bench standard.

College basketball is a game that can build
character when talented players restrain personal ambition for team goals. It
happened last season at Kentucky with six teammates drafted into the professional
ranks. Of course, at Kentucky academic life is a meaningless after thought
since what happens on the hardwood is all that counts. Yet Coach Calipari,
despite his reputation for challenging academic standards, does teach something
about team play.

Jack Taylor, by all appearances, seems to be
a sensible young man. Perhaps he is embarrassed by all the attention. He should
be. The game in this instance was converted into a gladiatorial event with the
opposition gored into submission. Some may call that basketball; I call it
exploitation.

Title IX: Not About Discrimination

Imagine
a hypothetical gourmet grocery store chain — let’s call it Wholly Wholesome
Foods — that serves haute cuisine specialties at sushi/deli/lunch counters only
in its stores located in upscale neighborhoods. Now imagine the long zealous
arm of federal, state, and local enforcers accusing WhoWhoFoo of discriminating
against inner city residents and forcing it to open its lunch counters in all
of its stores, even those located in areas where extensive and intensive
studies have shown there is no unsatisfied desire to pony up for counter
service for WhoWhoFoo’s fancy foods.

Anyone
who thinks my hypothetical is too far-fetched need look no farther than America’s
college campuses to confirm that it isn’t a hypothetical at all. It’s been
happening in real life (or the college campus version of real life) for years
in ongoing disputes over implementing Title IX’s
requirement
that “athletic programs are operated in a manner that is
free from discrimination on the basis of sex.” 

The
central, unresolved conundrum of Title IX, as with so many controversial civil
rights issues, is lack of consensus over the definition and meaning of the “discrimination”
from which these programs must be free. Do colleges discriminate against women
by not offering sports programs in which few women are interested? Does “equal
opportunity” require eliminating programs in which men are interested in order
to have an equal number of programs available to men and women?

A few days ago Inside Higher Ed
published yet another report
of Title IX supporters reacting in outrage to yet another new study
arguing that “it may be a mistake to base Title IX implementation on the
assumption that males and females have, or soon will have, generally equal
sports interest.” Title IX activists reply, in effect, so what? Thus Erin
Buzuvis, a law professor at Western New England University who runs the Title IX Blog,
wonders,


why
are we surprised, in a world where there’s still sex discrimination, that women’s
participation in sport is lower than men’s? Women have inferior opportunities
and they have to do so against the cultural grain…. It doesn’t say anything at
all about what interest levels would be there absent discrimination and absent
these strong cultural forces.

 

In
any event, claims Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a law professor at Florida Coastal
School of Law, colleges can remain in compliance “by demonstrating that the
interests and abilities have been fully accommodated by the present program and
there is no unmet demand (via student surveys and such).”

Hogshead-Makar’s
claim is at best disingenuous, since Title IX proponents always ferociously
attack any attempt to measure women’s interest in college sports offerings as,
in the words of a senior executive at the NCAA quoted
by the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2007, “contrived to show that females
are not interested in participation.” Similarly, in a 2010 Inside Higher Ed article,
Marcia
Greenberger
, founder and co-president of the National Women’s Law
Center, denounced interest surveys as “simply an underhanded way to weaken
Title IX and make it easy for schools that aren’t interested in providing equal
opportunity for women to skirt the law.”

That
Title IX activists aren’t actually opposing discrimination was nicely revealed
by Myles Brand, the late president of the NCAA. No survey, he said in the same
Inside Higher Ed article, could adequately measure women’s interest, “nor does
it encourage young women to participate.” If that’s what Title IX is about,
then the purpose of Title II‘s
requirement of equal, non-discriminatory access to public accommodations must
have been to encourage more blacks to sleep in hotels and buy ham sandwiches at
lunch counters.

Title
IX, in short, has nothing to do with ending discrimination. Like so much of
what passes for civil rights these days, it is all about promoting “equity,”
i.e., proportional representation in college sports, whether or not the
interests of men and women students is proportional.

It’s Not Just the Athletes Who Can’t Read and Write

Tar
Heel alums may be embarrassed over the scandal involving the amazingly low
academic standards for “student-athletes” at the University of North Carolina,
but for the rest of America, it is the gift that keeps on giving for its
insights into the true priorities of our higher education leaders.

This
recent
article
in the Raleigh News & Observer nicely summarizes the mess at
Chapel Hill. We learn among other things that Mary Willingham, a “reading
specialist” employed by the university to help athletes, says that she knew
from their diagnostic tests that many of them simply were not able to do
college-level work. Some admitted “they had never read a book and didn’t know
what a paragraph was.” Yet one of America’s “public ivies” so felt the need to
pile up wins on the gridiron and basketball court that it admitted students who
by objective standards ought to have been returning to about fifth grade after
graduating from high school.

Some
other student-athletes were better prepared for college, but just wanted to
save time on academic work to have more time for their sports. When Willingham
told one student that a paper she wanted to submit in a class was a plagiarized
“cut and paste” job, she was told to look the other way. The student “earned” a
B.

It
would be a serious mistake, however, to think that the problem of ill-prepared
students who don’t want to be bothered with reading and writing is confined
just to athletes. Evidence abounds that this phenomenon is widespread.

I
recently finished reading The
Shadow Scholar
by Dave Tomar. He admits – without any apparent remorse
– that he wrote thousands of college papers for students over the span of a
decade. His business of enabling students to cheat began while he was an
undergraduate at Rutgers, a university that U.S.
News
rates as “more selective.” But Tomar found many of his classmates to
be pathetically weak in their basic academic abilities.

One
of his first clients was “Rich Kid Sid.” Sid regarded himself as better than
Rutgers. He intended to transfer as soon as possible to a more prestigious
school with the long-run goal of getting into law school. He didn’t want to
waste his time with the expository writing course required of all freshmen. The
problem was that his initial in-class writing assignment had been graded as No
Pass. Sid needed to do better, but wasn’t interested in accomplishing that
himself, so he paid Tomar to rework the assignment.

How
bad was the writing of this typical (and non-athlete) student? Tomar writes,
“It was a jumble of words slapped together uncomfortably, standing next to one
another with an air of remoteness, like strangers in an elevator…. Punctuation
dotted the landscape of his work almost randomly, as though he had written the
paper first and then gone back through it indiscriminately inserting dots and
dashes.”

Sid
thought he was a good writer. Tomar observes that no teacher had ever told him
otherwise. That’s a common problem with young Americans. Many of them coast
through twelve years of schooling without ever learning how to write, as Ellen
Finnigan, an online writing coach, explains here. In
college, a few improve their writing, but many others get by with cheating or
just because professors don’t want to take the large amount of time necessary
to work with students on their writing. Professor Murray Sperber made that point
during a Pope Center event last year.

College
leaders say that they’re committed to educational excellence, but their actions
speak otherwise. They admit many students who are hardly ready for high school,
much less college, and then allow them to graduate even though they have made
scant progress in basic skills like writing.

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

Critics of Freeh Report Fire Blanks

Graham_Spanier_091305110347.jpg

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 Freeh Report and the Failure of Trustees

sandusky-paterno1.jpg

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

Star Chamber Hearings at Brown, Yale, and Cornell

brown students.jpgThe ugly episode at Brown–a botched hearing of an alleged rape case– is part of a disturbing pattern of how sexual assault procedures are handled at Ivy League schools. Typically, the schools impose a gross form of injustice, permanently damaging the reputation of the accused male, then congratulate themselves for acting so fairly and appropriately.

According to the definitive 3,279-word account published by the Brown Spectator, Richard Dresdale, a wealthy donor to Brown and father of the accusing student, Marcella Dresdale, secretly met with a key witness in the case, and agreed to help promote that witness’s career. Then the witness, student counselor Shane Reil, made a damning statement against the accused student, William McCormick. In a criminal case, this would obviously be witness tampering, and it looks like that here as well, but a Brown administrator said there was no violation of university procedures in the secret meeting and what appeared to be a bribe to a witness.

Continue reading Star Chamber Hearings at Brown, Yale, and Cornell

What Yale and the Times Did to Patrick Witt

Remarks delivered at a Manhattan Institute luncheon, March 28, 2012 in New York City. Professor Johnson and attorney Harvey Silverglate, whose talk will be presented here tomorrow, spoke on “Kangaroo Courts: Yale, Duke and Student Rights.”

                                                                                       ***

Silverglate and Johnson.jpgBefore the Patrick Witt case, I had some experience writing about how the New York Times handles cases of sexual assault allegations against high-profile college athletes–the Duke lacrosse case. After all that damage had been done, and after more than a hundred articles had been published in the New York Times, two Times editors, including Bill Keller, issued some half-hearted apologies for how the paper had mishandled the case, and “mishandled” is a generous word for what the Times did.

I had always worked under the assumption that when an institution
apologizes, it also takes steps to ensure that it doesn’t commit the
same kinds of mistakes again. But the Times obviously has a different
standard of apology than I do. And in the Patrick Witt case, the same
sorts of mistakes were made in coverage — a presumption of guilt when
the allegation is sexual assault, and a decision to ignore critical
procedural issue — because they don’t fit the preconceived storylines.

Continue reading What Yale and the Times Did to Patrick Witt

Why Campus Mascots and Nicknames Are Under Attack

sky diver.jpgThe University of North Dakota sports teams have been known as the “Sioux” or the “Fighting Sioux” for more than 80 years. But this week the university’s hockey team played and lost in the NCAA playoffs wearing uniforms that said simply “North Dakota.” The reason: Last November, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple signed legislation permitting the university to retire its “Fighting Sioux” nickname so its hockey team could play schools that had boycotted teams with offensive mascots. This was a triumph for the NCAA in its years-long war against “hostile and abusive” nicknames and logos.

Quarrels over the dropping of long-cherished “offensive” nicknames often
generate immense acrimony. I personally observed this battle in my 28
years at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Arguments over
the Fighting Illini and Chief Illiniwek were fierce, even contributing
to the firing of uber-PC campus Chancellor Nancy Cantor.

Continue reading Why Campus Mascots and Nicknames Are Under Attack

Patrick Witt and Yale’s Disastrous Failure

Patrick Witt.jpg

Richard Perez-Pena’s New York Times article on Patrick Witt consisted of little more than dubious inferences and negative insinuations. But the story did, unequivocally, feature one revelation: someone (presumably either in the accuser’s entourage or a Yale administrator) violated Yale’s procedures by leaking existence of the “informal” complaint against Witt–with the motive of torpedoing his Rhodes candidacy. In combination with the Times‘ irresponsible reporting, this violation of procedures caused enormous damage to Witt’s reputation. Yet there’s no sign that Yale has undertaken an investigation as to whether a university employee violated Yale procedures and Witt’s due process rights, and an e-mail to Yale’s P.R. office asking if such an inquiry was planned went unanswered.

In a thoughtful essay, espn.com’s Jemele Hill examined the fallout: “Real due process in this case was destroyed by whomever shared the story to the Rhodes Trust and The New York Times,” and as a result “Witt’s reputation has been irreparably damaged.” Hill, one of a handful of reporters or columnists to issue a genuine, public apology for having rushed to judgment about the Duke lacrosse case, condemned both Rhodes and Yale for “hiding behind confidentiality and an unwillingness to comment,” leaving Witt with no avenue for regaining his reputation. Hill concluded that “with so much confusion between the reported timeline and Witt’s version, either the Rhodes Trust or Yale is obligated to clear up whether Witt’s scholarship campaign ended at his request or theirs.”

Hill’s hope that the Rhodes Trust will bring transparency to what happened (which would include revealing the improper leaker’s identity) seems far-fetched. But Yale’s silence is harder to excuse. Even if (as is likely, given campus politics) the Yale administration is afraid to be perceived as caring about Patrick Witt, the university’s silence about such a flagrant violation of the school’s sexual harassment and assault policy stands in stark contrast to the administration’s loquaciousness about the policy in general. Ironically, on Tuesday, Yale president Richard Levin penned a university-wide e-mail hailing Deputy Provost Stephanie Spangler for producing a “comprehensive, semi-annual report of complaints of sexual misconduct and related remedial actions.”

Politics, Procedures, Pretenses, But No Due Process?

Levin noted that the Yale administration “thought it was important to provide greater transparency about the entire array of concerns–including verbal harassment and sexual assault–to motivate the Yale community to improve our campus climate.” After some standard boilerplate (“let us join together unified in a common commitment to proper behavior and mutual respect”; “there is no place for any form of sexual misconduct on our campus”), Levin got to the heart of the matter: “The new procedures and services we have put in place are necessary, but they are not sufficient.”

The Witt affair, of course, exposed to the world the shortcomings of those procedures even as they currently exist. Yale’s “informal complaint” procedure ensures limited or no investigation and allows the process to begin on the basis of an accuser’s “worry.” The university’s formal complaint procedure, meanwhile, promises the accuser “considerable control . . . as the process unfolds,” culminating in judgment by an unfair, preponderance-of-evidence standard.

Yet according to Levin, these procedures, wildly tilted in favor of the accuser, are “not sufficient.”

In her report, Spangler spoke much more bluntly about the “informal” complaint process from which the improper leak sprung. The deputy provost dropped any pretense that Yale seeks to provide due process or find the truth. Instead, she affirmed that the informal complaint procedure’s “goal is to achieve a resolution that is desired by the [accuser],” so that accusers can “regain their sense of wellbeing,” even though the process provides no mechanism for determining whether the accuser is telling the truth. In fact, the process seems all but designed to ensure that the truth won’t be discovered, especially if the accuser is less than truthful. According to Spangler, Yale wants the informal complaint procedure to give the accuser “choice of and control over the process.” This goal is incompatible with providing due process to the accused.

Sexual Assault Statistics

Spangler’s report details thirteen allegations of sexual assault by Yale undergraduates from 1 July through 31 December 2011. Since Yale currently enrolls 5322 undergraduates, the report suggests that 0.24 percent of Yale students reported a sexual assault over this six-month period.

The FBI crime statistics for the last six months of 2011 aren’t currently available. But during the period from 1 January through 30 June 2011, New Haven, with a population of around 130,000, experienced 25 reports of sexual assault. That means 0.02 percent of New Haven residents reported a sexual assault over this six-month period. Making the not unreasonable assumption that instances of sexual assault in New Haven were about the same in the second half of 2011, per capita reports of sexual assault on the Yale campus were 10-12 times greater than those in New Haven.

How, possibly, could Yale have a rate of sexual assault many times greater than the city the FBI has billed the fourth most dangerous city in the country? Spangler provides an answer, buried in a footnote on the last page of her document: “This report uses a more expansive definition of sexual assault” than required under federal law (or that any police department anywhere in the country employs). Moreover, none of the 13 Yale students who alleged sexual assault even filed a formal complaint at Yale–much less reported the alleged crime to police. As a result, no medical or criminal investigations of their cases ever occurred. When the allegations remained confidential, this didn’t pose much of a problem for the accused. For Witt, obviously, the outcome was much different.

Tricky Terminology in the Times

When Times readers learned from Richard Perez-Pena that “a fellow student had accused Witt of sexual assault,” how many of them realized that Yale was actually using an “expansive definition” of this otherwise commonly-understood term? How many readers further realized that Yale had designed the procedure about which Perez-Pena wrote so as to give Witt’s accuser “control over the process,” including limited or no investigation? And how many readers could have dreamed that the procedures guiding the allegation against Witt have produced the extraordinary claim that sexual assault is far, far more common on this Ivy League campus than in the fourth most dangerous city in the country? And since the Times went to print without ever speaking to Witt or (it seems) anyone sympathetic to him in the Athletic Department, didn’t the paper at the very least have an obligation to provide the context that would explain the highly unusual procedures and definitions that Yale features?

While President Levin and Deputy Provost Spangler are cowards on the issue of due process, there’s no reason to believe that they share the indifference of a figure like the Times‘ Perez-Pena or the malevolence of someone like Poynter source/seminar instructor Wendy Murphy. Rather, they appear to have embraced a thesis common among both the professoriate and “victims’ rights” groups: that the way to persuade more real victims of sexual assault to report the crime is to jerry-rig procedures to make it more likely that those who do file reports will prevail, whether in court or before campus “judicial” tribunals. This mindset, however well-intentioned, contradicts any reasonable definition of due process and presumption of innocence. That President Levin seems prepared to further abandon these bedrock American principles, as he implied he will do in his campus-wide e-mail, is a sad commentary on the state of higher education.

 

Second Thoughts About Joe Paterno

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Some Penn State alumni, outraged over the Board of Trustees peremptory firing of Coach Joe Paterno, are organizing a campaign to elect three new trustees.  The objective of Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship is, ultimately, to oust the current Board.  The Board fired Paterno, two University officials and the University President for not responding forcefully to accusations of child sexual abuse in the football-team shower room.  Many alumni, including hundreds who met with the new President at hotels in the Pittsburgh, New York City, and Philadelphia areas recently, were outraged that the Board had not verified the accusations before acting.

According to indignant alumni, the Penn State Board of Trustees confused two separate, unequal cases.  One case was possible perjury before a grand jury by Tim Curley, the Athletic Director, and Gary Schultz, the senior vice-president in charge of the Penn State Police.  The second case was the charge against Jerry Sandusky that he possibly sexually molested a young boy in the Penn State football-team shower room.

Curley and Schultz were suspected of lying to conceal discreditable behavior damaging to the reputation of the Penn State football program.  Guilty or innocent, they face enormous legal costs to mount a defense against the perjury charge.  If convicted, they will probably go to prison.  But the evidence for the indictment for perjury is weak.  It rests entirely on the grand jury testimony of assistant football coach Mike McQueary in the fall of 2011 about what he saw nine years earlier when he was in his early twenties.  McQueary remembered being shocked when he accidentally observed in the shower room of the Penn State football team what appeared to be a former coach sexually molesting a pre-adolescent boy.  Here is how the Washington Post described McQueary’s account of the 2002 incident when called as a witness in a District Court hearing last December 16:

In his testimony at the preliminary hearing for Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, McQueary said he believes he saw Sandusky sexually molesting a boy in the shower but was not 100 percent sure it was intercourse.

McQueary said he peeked into the shower several times and saw Sandusky with his hands wrapped around the waist of a boy he estimated to be 10 or 12 years old. He said both were naked, the boy was facing the wall, and that the last time he looked in, Sandusky and the boy had separated.

“I know they saw me,” McQueary said. “They looked directly in my eye, both of them.”

Tim Curley and Gary Schultz have both insisted publicly that, when McQueary told them in 2002 what had disturbed him, he did not mention anal rape, as some newspaper accounts reported.  McQueary had told his story first to Coach Paterno in 2002, and Coach Paterno’s recollection of their meeting characterized McQueary’s report similarly.  Here is what Joe Paterno said on November 6, 2011, about their 2002 meeting:

As my grand jury testimony stated, I was informed in 2002 by an assistant coach that he had witnessed an incident in the shower of our locker room facility. It was obvious that the witness was distraught over what he saw, but he at no time related to me the very specific actions contained in the Grand Jury report. Regardless, it was clear that the witness saw something inappropriate involving Mr. Sandusky. As Coach Sandusky was retired from our coaching staff at that time, I referred the matter to university administrators.

The grand jury accepted McQueary’s graphic report as a faithful account of what happened and what he told about it to Paterno, to the Athletic Director, Tim Curley, and to Gary Schultz, the senior vice-president.  Curley, Schultz, and Paterno remembered the conversations with McCreary differently.  According to all three of them, McQueary said nothing about anal rape, only that Sandusky and a preadolescent boy were showering together in the shower room and “horsing around.”  Because the grand jury believed that McQueary was telling the truth and that Curley and Schultz were lying to minimize disreputable behavior at the University, it indicted Curley and Schultz for perjury.  Whether or not they committed perjury has nothing to do with whatever Sandusky did or did not do to a boy in the shower room.  (The grand jury did not explain why it did not also indict Coach Joe Paterno for perjury; his report of his conversation with McQueary was identical to the accounts given by Curley and Schultz.)

Questionable Indictments

The Board of Trustees apparently considered the indictments of Sandusky, Curley, and Schultz evidence of guilt.  On the evening of November 9, the Vice-Chairman of the Board, John Surma Jr., made a vague public statement explaining why the Board fired Joe Paterno, the Athletic Director to whom he reported, the vice-president to whom the Penn State Police force reported, and the president of Penn State University itself.

We thought that because of the difficulties that engulfed our university, and they are grave, that it is necessary to make a change in the leadership to set a course for a new direction.

A jury would have to believe – despite an absence of corroborating evidence — that Coach Paterno and the two administrators lied independently to a grand jury about what McQueary told them in 2002 or conspired with one another to lie in order to protect the University from bad publicity.  The jury would also have to believe that reputable University officials chose to cover up the rape of a ten-year-old boy.  More plausible is faulty memories rather than lies.  McQueary stumbled on what seemed to him improper and upsetting sexual behavior between a coach and a pre-adolescent boy, but he did not remember exactly what went on nine years earlier.  Surely the defense attorneys will raise questions about how McQueary reacted to what he saw and what he heard during the 2002 incident.  He did not claim to have heard the boy cry out, “Help!” although he said that the boy saw him. He did not claim to have himself shouted, “What’s going on here?”  All he did was peek into the shower room three times and then go home and telephone his father.  Paterno, Curley, and Schultz all deny receiving explicit information about an anal rape.

The perjury indictments have little to do with football at Penn State, only with the accusation that two reputable University administrators lied to a grand jury (for which they are potentially liable to be given long prison terms).  The collateral damage of the perjury indictments – inflicted by the Board of Trustees — was the firing of Coach Paterno and of Penn State President Graham Spanier. Perhaps a prudent Board of Trustees should not have rushed to administer punishments.  As one of my former students, now a senior executive of an organization in the professional sports field commented about the uproar at Penn State in an email:

Where is the adult in the room who says, “Hold on. We have a legal process and we need to follow it in the most routine cases and even for the most hideous ones. This case is no exception.”

The American system of criminal justice does not usually imitate the Queen in Alice in Wonderland, who enunciated the principle of “Sentence first, verdict afterwards.”  Maybe current members of the Board never read that criminological classic or understood that Lewis Carroll was ridiculing arbitrary punishments.  Maybe Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship should distribute copies of Alice in Wonderland to all members of the Board of Trustees as well as to the new members they succeed in electing.

What to Do About Big-Money College Sports?

Mark Emmert, the head of the NCAA, is a man with a mission. A
series of unprecedented scandals has eroded confidence in big-time college
sports. In fact, some critics contend the NCAA is an enabler that is
compromised by the billions of dollars colleges earn through football and
basketball programs. Mr. Emmert is intent on changing that perception.

Some contend that the so-called student-athlete should be paid
and, at the very least, have called for “extra money” for athletes. Others
argue that those who violate recruitment regulations and the maintenance of
minimal academic standards should be prohibited from Bowl games and March
Madness tournament participation. With 338 Division I members, whose budgets
range from $5 million to $155 million consensus is not easily achieved. And
some, Joe Nocera of the New York Times for example, contend that “Many NCAA
infractions consist of actions that most people would consider perfectly appropriate
– and entirely legal – but that the NCAA has chosen to criminalize.”

Continue reading What to Do About Big-Money College Sports?

The Penn State Trustees React to the Stench

The Board of Trustees acted properly in cleaning house at Penn State, by firing president Graham Spanier and longtime football coach Joe Paterno. The inaction of the duo, along with similar conduct from now-suspended Athletic Director Tim Curley and now-retired VP Gary Schultz has exposed the university to potentially massive legal liability, as well as prompting an extraordinary public relations backlash.

Continue reading The Penn State Trustees React to the Stench

Arne Duncan Succumbs to March Madness

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The cosmology of ideas to fix America’s supposedly troubled higher education abound. Some resemble comets–small amounts of rock and frozen toxic gas that periodically appear, light up the sky and then vanish only to reappear decades later. Today’s comet-like elixir is directed at the NCAA’s Division I men’s basketball tournament (“March Madness”).

The facts are simple enough. First, basketball players are disproportionately African Americans (60%), especially among teams making it to the final four. Second, graduation rates of blacks are shockingly low, far below that of their white teammates. At Kansas State University, for example, all the white players are on the path to graduation compared to 14% of the black players. To be sure, a few teams (e.g., University of Illinois, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt) graduate all players and some graduate more blacks than whites (e.g., Boston University, Northern Colorado),  but the gap is generally large (91% vs. 59%) and is growing.

The typical inference is that universities are exploiting African Americans. Schools recruit these often underprivileged youngsters while the school profits handsomely from their contribution, their “workers” often leave school without a diploma. That a handful will have a brief professional career (and even then, rarely in the big bucks NBA) cannot justify the exploitation and, in a sense, the exaggerated lure of the NBA only adds to the dishonesty.

Continue reading Arne Duncan Succumbs to March Madness

Title IX Claims More Victims

Supporters of Title IX such as the National Coalition for Women and Girls In Sports regularly claim that “loss of male collegiate athletic participation opportunities is a myth.”
Tell that to the University of Delaware, which announced in January:

that it is downgrading its men’s cross country and outdoor track and field teams from varsity to club status — as part of an effort to comply with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The university’s announcement said that, in the past, it has sought to comply with Title IX by expanding women’s athletic options, but that budget realities make it impossible to add more women’s teams. Men’s teams needed to be eliminated because the university now plans to demonstrate compliance with Title IX by meeting a proportionality test under which an institution should have roughly the same percentage of female undergraduates and female athletes. Currently, 58 percent of the university’s undergraduates are female, while only 51 percent of athletes are. After the two teams are eliminated, 57 percent of athletes will be female.

To the naked, untrained eye the “proportionality test” may look like a quota, but fortunately we have the NCWGE to assure us that’s not the case:

Does the three-part test establish quotas?
No. The three-part test [which includes the “proportionality test” as “Prong One”] imposes no numerical requirement even remotely analogous to quotas. Because athletic teams are gender-segregated, individual educational institutions must decide how many athletic opportunities they will allocate to each sex. Thus, schools are required to make gender-conscious decisions related to allocation of opportunities. Far from imposing quotas, the three-part test is merely a measurement, a benchmark for determining whether schools distribute sex-segregated athletic participation opportunities fairly. Courts have repeatedly recognized that the three-part test in no way creates quotas.

So a quota is not a quota. What would we do without the NCWGE and those “Courts” to force us to admire the emperor’s new clothes?

Football Teams with Colleges Loosely Attached

The 2010 college football season ended with Auburn’s dramatic victory over Oregon for the national championship and with the usual meditations on how important the sport is for the colleges that play it. Athletic directors and coaches, attempting to dispel all doubt about the value of football, proudly point to gate receipts, increased alumni donations, legislative largesse and more student applications to schools with good teams.
More institutions trying to keep up with the joneses are lining up to field football programs. The National Football Foundation proudly boasted in May that “six new college football teams are set to take the field for the first time this season, with 11 more programs set to launch between 2011 and 2013.”
The belief in the benefits—financial or otherwise– of having a football team is widely assumed. Lamar University Athletic Director Billy Tubbs said, “Football is almost a religion in Texas and a lot of the country, and when we dropped football we lost 2,000 students” said. But Cornell economist Robert Frank has found “not a shred of evidence to suggest that cuts in across-the-board spending on athletics would reduce either donations by alumni or applications by prospective students.”

Continue reading Football Teams with Colleges Loosely Attached

Honoring One of the Perpetrators at Duke

What if all college professors were forced to be higher-education entrepreneurs, with salaries pegged to the number of students they attract to their classes? That’s the model recently proposed by a Texas professor who styled himself “Publius Audax” on a Pajamas Media blog. Publius launched his proposal, he wrote, as the solution to a projected $25 billion budget shortfall over the next two years that is likely to hit the Texas higher education hard. Publius’ argument is that his “entrepreneurial professor model,” when coupled with other reforms would “harness the power and efficiency of the market” to make public higher education cheaper and better. The other reforms include abolishing tenure, eliminating state subsidies to public campuses, getting rid of “core curricula” (which nowadays are nothing more than pointless distribution requirements, and allowing private “charter colleges” (both nonprofit and for-profit) onto public campuses in order to provide more competition.

Hmm, my own undergraduate alma mater was founded by a highly successful entrepreneur, the railroad baron Leland Stanford. What if college professors were more like Leland Stanford and less like the brilliant but economically illiterate head-in-the-clouds types who taught at Stanford when I went there?

Here is how Publius’ entrepreneurial professor model would work: All professors and lecturers would receive a base “living wage” of $30,000 plus benefits. Beyond that it would be up to the professors themselves to generate a “tuition-based bonus” for themselves consisting of 50 percent of the tuition income generated by students enrolled in their classes, “up to a maximum of 320 students (960 student hours).” All instructors would be allowed to teach up to eight classes a year. In order to gin up the price competition further, professors, department heads, and even entire colleges could offer tuition rebates to students, the money to come out of the professors’ salary bonuses. Professors with ultra-large classes could hire teaching assistants—but the money would again have to come out of their salary bonuses. And to ensure that professors wouldn’t game the system by handing out easy A’s to all comers, there would be a strict grading curve. No more than 15 percent of students in any given class could receive an A-grade, and another 15 percent would have to either flunk or receive a D. Professors whose grades deviated from the curve would lose their bonus for every student whose grade exceeded the curve. This would not only keep the professors in line, Publius argues, but would “transform the campus culture, replacing partying with studying” as students scrambled to stay out of the bottom of the class.

Continue reading Honoring One of the Perpetrators at Duke

Why Caltech Is in a Class by Itself

Caltech005.jpgOlder readers know how the leading American universities, which had risen to world-class status by the 1930s and 1940s, were upended by the traumatic campus events of the late 1960s and their aftermath. Riots and boycotts by student radicals, the decline in core curriculum requirements, the loss of nerve by university presidents and administrators, galloping grade inflation, together with the influence on research and learning of such radical campus ideological fads as Marxism, deconstructionism, and radical feminism all contributed to the declining quality of America’s best institutions from what they had been in the middle years of the 20th century.
Added to these 60s-era trends (some of which have mercifully waned) came two further developments which are still very much with us today and which moved the elite universities further away from the pursuit of excellence and merit which was their greatest achievement after the Second World War: the competitive sports craze and the affirmative action crusade. To these two anti-meritocratic developments, we might add a third: the policy of granting huge admissions boosts to the sons and daughters of alumni — a practice found almost nowhere else in the world and outside America would be likened to bribery or shady political payoffs.
Minding the Campus readers probably need little instruction on the corrupting effects of the racial balancing game played by almost all our elite universities. The typical African- American and Latino student who gets admitted to the most elite colleges and universities in the U.S. (median admit) has a substantially lower achievement record in terms of high school grades and SAT scores, not only than his white and Asian classmates, but even those white and Asian students at the middle-level of his institution’s pool of rejected applicants. The academic achievement gap between the admitted white and Asian students and those designated as “underrepresented minorities” is often huge, in statistical terms often exceeding a full standard deviation (equivalent to a 600 vs. a 700 on each of the sections of the SAT exam).

Continue reading Why Caltech Is in a Class by Itself

The Big 12 – Beyond the Game

“What’s Happening Off the Field”, a new report on the Big 12 from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni suggests that all is not well beyond the playing fields. First, in a sure gauge of misplaced priorities, it’s no surprise that athletic expenditures appear to have grown at a higher rate than other expenditures at at least half of the schools. Perhaps worse, though, is a look at the other purposes to which universities are directing their spending. As the report indicates, in the five years ending in 2008 “nine of the Big 12’s institutions increased spending on administration, and they did so by an average of 59 percent.” [italics mine] Has this increase in administrative expenditure accomplished any evident improvement in the report’s other metrics, of four and six year graduation rates and freshmen retention? No, not reliably. In fact, it’s impossible to make out any reliable variation in performance in these categories between those 9 schools that increased administrative spending and the three valorous schools—Iowa State, Texas A&M, and Missouri—that slashed it. Of course, there are more complex factors at work beyond the measure of the survey, but even in an omniscient look, I doubt you’d find improvement in any category even remotely correlated with the growth of administrative spending. To hear even of 3 frugal universities is inspiring though, and let’s hope more take heed of their example.

The Wild, Ethically Dubious Allegations at Wesleyan

I first encountered Wesleyan professor Claire Potter at the tail end of the Duke lacrosse case. The self-described “tenured radical” published a post claiming that “the dancers” at the lacrosse team’s party “were, it is clear, physically . . . assaulted.” She produced no evidence for the assertion (perhaps because no evidence existed); indeed, even rogue district attorney Mike Nifong had never claimed that the second dancer, Kim Roberts, had been assaulted.

Potter further asserted that “many players who were not involved in this incident, and who did not do anything wrong, still refused to speak about what had happened.” In fact, nearly two dozen lacrosse players voluntarily spoke to investigators from the North Carolina attorney general’s office, and all of the players offered to do so.

A few days after Potter leveled these and other untrue allegations, the North Carolina attorney general released a report exonerating the lacrosse players, affirming that no evidence existed that any type of assault against false accuser Crystal Mangum, and laying out the remarkable degree of cooperation from lacrosse players and their attorneys with the investigation. In response, Potter not only refused to retract her false statements; she lashed out with more bizarre allegations (this time against me). Many months later, perhaps recognizing her potential legal vulnerability, Potter without explanation deleted her Duke post.

This tendency to make wild, ethically dubious allegations against college students she perceives as politically unappealing reappeared in the recent controversy over a student-run affirmative action “bake sale” at Wesleyan. (John Rosenberg profiled the affair here.) According to the Corner’s Mytheos Holt, Potter inserted herself into the controversy by e-mailing one of the student organizers.

Continue reading The Wild, Ethically Dubious Allegations at Wesleyan

Black Women Underrepresented in Soccer – Threat to Diversity?

On August 30, I noted here that Title IX Has A Disparate Impact–for Black Women.
The occasion for that piece was an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Narrowing the Gap, that fawningly reported the dramatic findings of a new book by Deborah Brake, a law professor at Temple, lamenting the lack of “diversity” in the sports black women play. “Nine out of 10 black women who play college,” the author lamented, “compete in either basketball or track….”
If I had done my homework I would have mentioned that this “underrepresentation” of black women in such sports as soccer, lacrosse, and rowing — a gap that has not only persisted but increased under Title IX — is not new. In fact, it is not even new to the Chronicle, which reported almost exactly the same thing over four years ago, based on an earlier study of the same dispiriting disparities. “While the enactment of a federal gender-equity law 35 years ago has spurred significant growth in women’s intercollegiate athletics,” Black Female Participation Languishes Outside Basketball and Track begins, “certain racial disparities persist. Chief among them: Few black women participate in sports other than basketball and track.”

Since Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 became law, black female participation has soared 955 percent. The growth, however, has been confined to basketball and track and field. In fact, nine of every 10 black female college athletes participate in one of those sports.
In recent years, the racial gap has widened. Between 1999 and 2005, the number of black women participating in collegiate sports increased by only 336, compared with 2,666 for white women. International athletes even surpassed black women, gaining nearly 1,000 spots.

Continue reading Black Women Underrepresented in Soccer – Threat to Diversity?

Title IX Has A Disparate Impact–for Black Women

It has dramatically increased the number of white women (and girls; surely women even today remain girls until some point in their K-12 school years) playing on sports teams, but “most of those teams, especially those at the college level, have remained overwhelmingly white.”

Title IX, it turns out, hasn’t benefited female athletes of color nearly as much as it has their white teammates. And the resulting gap, says one legal scholar in a newly published book, poses a challenge for those who rally passionately around the law.

This news comes from yet another report of yet another “gap” we have to worry about, with its inevitably accompanying “disparities,” in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Narrowing the Gap, which features a new book, Getting in the Game: Title IX and the Women’s Sports Revolution, by Deborah Brake, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh.
“Title IX did not introduce problems of racial inequality into our nation’s school system,” Prof. Brake acknowledges. “The problem is,” she argues, “Title IX doesn’t do anything about it, either.”

Continue reading Title IX Has A Disparate Impact–for Black Women