Tag Archives: chronicle of higher education

Another Unbalanced View of Campus Sex Hearings

Monday’s Chronicle of Higher Education featured an article by Sarah Brown, a very one-sided article,  on a gathering dealing with campus efforts to cope with sexual assault. It reviewed

a federally-funded program, the National Center for Campus Public Safety, to better train colleges in adjudicating allegations of sexual assault. “I want to get this right,” Brown quoted one investigator, articulating her strategy for interrogating accused students.

But the article, in fact, portrayed a gathering in which there seemed to be little interest in getting it right.  It shows no interest in fairness to the accused.

Related: Campus Surveys Inflate Rape Statistics

The piece doesn’t list any defense lawyers as speakers. It doesn’t appear as if anyone from FIRE or any other group devoted to academic civil liberties was invited to speak. Of course, a meeting of (say) the National District Attorneys Association might not feature such speakers, either. But the college process—supposedly—isn’t prosecutorial (one reason why colleges claim it’s OK to exclude lawyers from meaningful participation, and not to have discovery). It’s a neutral search for the truth. So why would a federally-funded organization, amidst a conference that wanted to “get this right,” hear only from those involved on one side of the process?

The dangers of one-sidedness appeared in Brown’s discussion of a panel entitled, “Interviewing the Respondent.” Brown paraphrased the advice given: “Ask about the (accusing) student’s background — where they’re from, what they do outside of class, and where they spend time on the campus. Ask about witnesses. Seek evidence, like text messages and social-media accounts.” She then quoted from one of the presenters, waiving a smartphone: “These are little miracles for corroboration.”

What’s missing from this is that the burden of proof is on the accuser, not the accused. (The article contained no mention that Margolis Healy, a campus safety firm, and its solicited presenters urged that investigators force accusers to provide electronic evidence that corroborates their claims—or recommended asking accusers how they spent their time on campus, or what they did outside class. Indeed, such questions almost certainly would yield a strong attack from groups like Know Your IX.) Moreover, one of the greatest shortcomings of the college process is that it lacks the legal power to obtain such evidence. An accuser making a false allegation, or a guilty accused student, will simply refuse to provide evidence that contradicts their version of events. And the school can do nothing.

More striking was the information Brown’s article didn’t contain. She mentioned that Margolis Healy coordinated the National Center for Campus Public Safety through a federal grant, but (oddly) didn’t reveal the amount of the grant. According to USAspending.gov, through the end of 2015, Margolis Healy has received $5,854,732 in taxpayer funds, with the grant scheduled to continue until April 2017. The total grant thus seems to exceed $8 million.

Related: Weaponizing Title IX at Middlebury

And what sort of training does Margolis Healy provide? Brown’s article doesn’t say. I’ve previously looked at Margolis Healy’s unusual approach to training, in the context of its training of Middlebury’s sexual assault investigators. The training heavily relied on the discredited David Lisak; instructed Middlebury officials that they must “start by believing” the accuser (they weren’t supposed to use terms like “accuser” in their reports); and held that the investigator’s report “should not include . . . consensual language” or note that the “victim has inconsistencies with her story.” But what if the accused student wasn’t guilty, and the inconsistencies of the “victim” would prove the accused student’s innocence? That outcome doesn’t appear to have crossed the minds of the Margolis Healy trainers.

After the Middlebury piece appeared at Minding the Campus, Margolis Healy removed its training slides from the web. It would seem that—for around $8 million in taxpayers’ funds—the public has a right to know how, specifically, this firm trains colleges to reach the “truth” in sexual assault claims.

The Chronicle Can’t Seem to Get its Story Straight

Philip W. Semas, president and editor in chief of the Chronicle of Higher Education, is irritated at the Wall Street Journal. On May 9, the Journal ran an editorial castigating the Chronicle for “craven-ness” in firing conservative blogger (and former Wall Street Journal editor) Naomi Schaefer Riley. She had argued in the Chronicle that college black-studies programs are little more than 60′-style radical advocacy and ought to be eliminated. What is fascinating about Semas’s complaint, expressed in a four-paragraph letter published yesterday in the Journal, is that it continues a process of quietly shifting the reason for the firing away from Riley’s supposed failure to meet “the Chronicle’s basic editorial standards for reporting and fairness in opinion articles” (as a statement by Chronicle editor Liz McMillen declared). The likely reason for this shift: the Chronicle had never communicated any standards to its bloggers, as several media reporters have pointed out.

Continue reading The Chronicle Can’t Seem to Get its Story Straight

Why She Was Fired

Why did the Chronicle of Higher Education fire Naomi Schaefer Riley? Writing on the American Thinker site, Abraham Miller offers a deft and elegantly phrased explanation: “for revealing what almost everyone on any campus knows, but is reluctant to say, about black studies: it is a political cause masquerading as an academic discipline, and if there were real intellectual, and not political, standards on campus, it would be shut down.”

Continue reading Why She Was Fired

The Insecurity of Black Studies

Posted by Mark Bauerlein and Richard Vedder

The removal of Naomi Shaefer Riley from the blogging staff of the Chronicle of Higher Education has been widely circulated in the cybersphere and the press, including Riley’s own account in the Wall Street Journal and many of our own contributors at Minding the Campus. All of them understand the psycho-political dynamics behind the whole affair, but people unfamiliar with the social climate of higher education may not understand how Riley could have provoked such a harsh and voluminous reaction from the academic community, albeit given her provocative post.

Continue reading The Insecurity of Black Studies

On Double Standards and Fantasy-Land Arguments

The controversy over the Chronicle essay by Naomi Schaefer Riley provided an unusually rich insight into the mindset of defenders of the academic status quo. Over and over again, Riley’s critics advocated either a blatant double standard or transparently absurd positions. Take a few examples:

On the double-standard front, in a twitter exchange with FIRE’s Adam Kissel and me, Indiana (PA) professor John Wesley Lowery criticized Riley on the following grounds: Riley’s “essays were intellectually dishonest. A. [Readers should] know field is worthless by reading dissertations B. I didn’t.”

Continue reading On Double Standards and Fantasy-Land Arguments

The Chronicle’s Firing of Naomi Schaefer Riley:
Excerpts from Commentary, Pro and Con

Mona Charen, The Corner

This is a test of integrity. Naomi Schaefer Riley has been fired by the Chronicle of Higher Education for expressing views that some liberals find uncongenial. That’s it. Just uncongenial (she critiqued the doctoral theses of candidates in black studies). Not “offensive.” Not even that weasel word “insensitive” — far less “racist.” This represents a profound corruption of the principles that should animate academia and a free society generally. Where are the liberals protesting this assault on liberty and civility? Waiting . . .

Continue reading The Chronicle’s Firing of Naomi Schaefer Riley:
Excerpts from Commentary, Pro and Con

‘A Disgraceful Capitulation to the Mob’

Over at the Chronicle of Higher Education, which used to be the pre-eminent publication covering higher education, the inmates are now running the institution.

Editor Liz McMillen’s disgraceful capitulation to the mob demanding the head of Chronicle blogger Naomi Schaefer Riley for having the temerity to criticize the field of black studies ironically demonstrates the accuracy of Riley’s underlying argument–that political correctness has run amok on campuses, especially where race is concerned.

Continue reading ‘A Disgraceful Capitulation to the Mob’