Author: Jonathan Marks

Jonathan Marks is a Professor of Politics at Ursinus College.

BDS Israel

How Campus Bullies Pulled Off the Anti-Israel BDS Movement

Today, thanks to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, launched in 2005, campuses around the world are treated every year to Israeli Apartheid Week. The plan, orchestrated by an array of student and non-student organizations, and aided by academic departments that host breathtakingly dishonest anti-Israel speakers, is to depict Israel as just like apartheid-era […]

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Don’t Kill the National Endowment for the Humanities

The National Endowment for the Humanities is again in the news as a possible casualty of the new administration’s effort to cut costs. Conservatives should fight for the agency. Conservatives worry that humanities scholars have turned away from enduring questions to embrace political fads. But under Bruce Cole’s administration, from 2001 to 2009, the NEH […]

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BDS Israel

Was Fordham Right to Ban a Pro-Palestinian Club?

Fordham University did what no other university administration has done to date. It rejected a student request, which had been accepted by the student government, giving official club status to Students for Justice in Palestine. Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) has well over 100 chapters on U.S. campuses. SJP has led campus efforts, greatly […]

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Kindergarten kids

Should Colleges Coddle the Whiners?

Our recent campus upheavals, focusing at times on offensive speech, have provoked a worry: are colleges infantilizing their students? Last March, the journalist and cultural critic Judith Shulevitz raised this concern in a tour de force of an op-ed, in which she argued that protecting students from offensive speech, except in the most extreme cases, […]

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The AAUP Takes a Sharp Left Turn

Along with many others, I received an email last week from Rudy Fichtenbaum, president of the American Association of University Professors. Because the AAUP is best known for defending academic freedom, valued by both liberals and conservatives, and because it represents the academic profession as a whole, it has cultivated a reputation for nonpartisanship. Fichtenbaum […]

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A Gloomy Poll of College Officers

Inside Higher Ed has released its survey of College and University Officers. The news is largely not good for those who long for an early  return to health for colleges and universities.. The headline is that eighteen percent of those surveyed agree that “My institution is unlikely to shut down in the near term, but […]

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An Anti-Semitism Controversy at Stanford

Molly Horwitz, a junior at Stanford University, is running for a spot in Stanford’s student senate. In the course of her campaign, Horwitz, a Latina and a Jew, sought the endorsement of Stanford’s Students of Color Coalition (SOCC) and was granted an interview. During the interview, Horwitz claims, she was asked this question: “Given your […]

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U of Houston Pays Over $155,000 for Actor to Speak at Commencement

The University of Houston, a public university, is proud to have snagged actor Matthew McConaughey as its 2015 commencement speaker. The University says that McConaughey has “the kind of star power that adds muscle to the University of Houston’s bold reputation campaign “Welcome to the Powerhouse.”” I understand that colleges and universities are fighting for […]

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The Controversy Over Hillel at Swarthmore

Hillel is an unrivaled center of Jewish life on college campuses. Swarthmore College students decided this week to give up the Hillel name, and thereby break from the organization, because they thought it absolutely critical that its chapter host speakers and cooperate with organizations that denigrate Zionism and wish to expel Israel from the family […]

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Are Liberals Stifling Intellectual Diversity on Campus?

Earlier this year, Jonathan Chait, a liberal, caused a stir when he argued that “political correctness,” a “system of left-wing ideological repression” has made a comeback among students and intellectuals after a long lull. Among his cases in point was Omar Mahmoud, a University of Michigan student who was fired from the student newspaper, and […]

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A Troubling Report on Campus Anti-Semitism

I recently reported on a clear incident of discrimination against a Jewish UCLA student for her ties to Jewish organizations on campus. Readers who follow this issue will be familiar with other recent cases in which the allegedly progressive movement to boycott Israel has flirted with anti-Semitism. Until now, though, we haven’t had much data […]

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What’s Going on at Swarthmore?

Swarthmore is again in the news over campus speech. Just yesterday, Hussein Aboubakr, an Egyptian political refugee who’s written about anti-Semitism among Egyptian Muslims, spoke at an event sponsored by Swarthmore’s pro-Israel groups. According to Swarthmore’s Students for Israel, some of the students who attended the event came only to scoff: “As [Aboubakr] tearfully recalled […]

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Harassment by Lawsuit in Salaita Case

KC Johnson and Adam Kissel have written insightfully about the case of Steven Salaita for MTC. Briefly, this August the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign withdrew its offer to Salaita of a tenured position in American Indian Studies. The offer was withdrawn after Chancellor Phyllis Wise and the Board of Trustees became aware of […]

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Steven Pinker on the Boycott Israel Dispute at Harvard

Steven Pinker, an experimental psychologist and prominent public intellectual, has written an important letter concerning the latest controversy over Israel at Harvard University, where he is based. Such controversies are notuncommon there. First, some background. SodaStream, an Israeli company that makes a popular home carbonation system, has been an object of the boycott, divestment, sanctions […]

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Student Workers Vote to Support the Israel Boycott

The UC Student-Workers Union represents “over 13,000 student-workers across the University of California system.” They are affiliated with the United Auto Workers. The union exists to bargain with the University of California concerning “salary, benefits, workload, grievance procedures, fair hiring processes and other issues.” On Wednesday, the union announced that its members had voted, 1411 […]

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Anti-Israel Activist to Students: What’s to Discuss?

In his fine essay in The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel, Russell Berman of Stanford University, says this of the boycott Israel movement in academe: “a hatred of knowledge and of reasoned argument pervades its prose.” I thought that characterization over the top until I read this account of a panel on Palestine at […]

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Can Games Save Higher Education?

In Minds on Fire: How Role Immersion Games Transform Colleges, Mark C. Carnes makes the case that they might. Students at Pace University have become so engrossed in a game called Henry VIII and the Reformation Parliament that class spills into the dorms: “students endlessly debated, gossiped, and strategized Tudor religion and politics.” At Dordt […]

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Goucher to Applicants: No High School Transcript, No Problem!

Goucher College is lowering its application standards even further. Having dispensed with the SAT requirement in 2007, it’s now making transcripts optional, too. Students can now apply to Goucher by sending in two assignments from high school, at least one of them graded, and a video, of no more than two minutes, explaining how the […]

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Anti-Israel Campus Activists Could Learn Something from George Bush

In a speech delivered to a joint session of Congress fewer than two weeks after September 11th, the much maligned President Bush repeatedly distinguished between the radical Muslims who had attacked us and Muslims in general. Toward the end of the speech, he reminded Americans not to single out Arabs or Muslims for the actions of a […]

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Anti-Liberalism at Vassar: Will the Professors Please Stand Up?

Last month, the Vassar chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine posted a Nazi propaganda poster on its Tumblr site. The poster depicted, among other things, a big nosed man carrying a moneybag. The SJP had previously posted material from an anti-Semitic magazine, using the classic “fifth columnist” trope to describe Israel’s American defenders. At that time, […]

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Don’t Let Anti-Israel Boycotters Play the Victim

Representative Alan Grayson, a Democrat from Florida’s 9th District has introduced H.R. 4776, “to prohibit an institution of higher education that participates in a boycott of the Israeli government, economy, or academia from receiving funds from the U.S. federal government.” The text of the bill is not yet available, but it is not too early to say that Grayson’s […]

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Higher Ed Innovation Experts or Wishful Thinkers?

Not all experts think expertly. Consider Clayton M. Christensen, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. Christensen, as his web site informs us, “is the architect of and the world’s foremost authority on disruptive innovation.” Last year, he predicted that hundreds of colleges and universities would go bankrupt within the next ten years. One can’t rule it out, but Christensen’s reasoning does not inspire confidence. […]

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More Sloppy Higher-Ed Journalism

Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past several years knows that things are harder for college graduates than they once were. Higher education writing that exaggerates this point with the help of misleading factoids consequently leaves readers less informed than they were before. Writers are especially to be blamed when the […]

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In College Fundraising, the Rich Get Richer

College fundraising was up 9 percent last year, says the Council for Aid to Education, but there’s a worrisome statistic: 17 percent of the $34 billion raised went to ten already wealthy institutions. The poorest of the ten is NYU, which already has an endowment of about $3 billion, 28th richest among American colleges and universities. Inequality among […]

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The Wrong Way to Argue About Higher-Ed

Earlier this week, the great classicist Victor Davis Hanson made a few familiar complaints about American higher education: Colleges cost too much, depend too much on low-paid adjunct professors, employ too many administrators, and engage in political advocacy, rather than liberal education. However, he added some over-the-top rhetoric. Colleges, in his estimation, have “gone rogue […]

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Redwashing, Pinkwashing, and Hogwash in Beirut

Thanks to the American Studies Association’s recent vote for an academic boycott of Israel, the field of American Studies has been under a microscope. Prior to the boycott resolution, perhaps no one would have noticed the conference on “Transnational American Studies,” sponsored by the Center for American Studies and Research at the American University of […]

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American Studies Association Boycott Update:
The Condemnations Pour In

Just three days after the American Studies Association announced its boycott of Israeli academic institutions, I was able to report here that Brandeis University and Pennsylvania State University-Harrisburg would cancel their institutional memberships in the ASA. I predicted that more colleges and universities would join those two after the break. But some are not waiting. […]

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At Least Two Schools Leave the American Studies Association

On December 16th, as I reported on this site, the American Studies Association voted to boycott Israel universities. Two days later, Brandeis University and Pennsylvania State University-Harrisburg announced that they would cancel their institutional memberships in the American Studies Association. Professor William Jacobson of Cornell University and Legal Insurrection has a list of affiliated institutions […]

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The American Studies Association Boycotts Israel

The results are in. The American Studies Association has voted to boycott Israel, becoming the second notable academic association, after the Association for Asian American Studies, to vote on the boycott. What does this move mean? It will be touted as a sign of strength of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement. And to be fair, a […]

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Former ASA Presidents Speak Out

As David Bernstein has reported on this site, the American Studies Association’s National Council voted last month to endorse an academic boycott of Israel. At the same time the Council put the resolution to a vote of the membership, which is being conducted online and concludes on December 11. Eight former presidents of the American […]

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