KC Johnson

A Slippery Definition of Rape Is Likely at Top Schools

I recently looked at the inconsistent and in some cases outright arbitrary ways the nation’s leading universities are defining one form of campus sexual assault—rape that occurs because the accuser cannot consent. The piece made three points: (1) a substantial minority of schools have a definition of sexual assault that technically applies to many instances […]

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Politics and the Race/Class/Gender Trinity

My City University of New York colleague David Gordon has penned a convincing analysis about the current state of history in higher education. I share, and fully endorse, his critique about the direction of the field, with the vise-grip of the race/class/gender trinity “distort[ing] historical enquiry.” Stressing above all else victimization and oppression poorly serves […]

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Oliver Stone’s “History” as Propaganda

The 1997 film Good Will Hunting features Matt Damon’s character in a conversation with Harvard students, touting Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States as a way to better understand the American past. The scene was cringe-worthy for at least two reasons. First, there was something more than a little off-putting about a movie whose lead character demonstrated […]

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Wendy Murphy Comes to the University of Virginia

The Office of Civil Rights’ mandated procedures for investigating sexual assault are tilted heavily against the accused party. The institution can hire “neutral fact-finders” who produce the equivalent of a grand jury presentment, deny the accused an advisor of his choice, add witnesses that the accused student does not request, forbid the students from cross-examining […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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How the Colleges Skew U.S. History

American history has been radically transformed on our campuses. Traditional topics are now not only marginalized but “re-visioned” to become more compatible with the dominant race/class/gender paradigm. In two posts last fall, I took a look at U.S. history offerings at Bowdoin College. The liberal arts college, one of the nation’s finest, long enjoyed a reputation as a training […]

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Look What they’ve Done to U.S. History

If you doubt that leftist activists now dominate the study and teaching of U.S. history, take a look at the program for the 2013 American Historical Association conference in New Orleans. The pattern  is similar to the University of Michigan’s history department, discussed here yesterday—a heavy emphasis on race, class, and gender, with more “traditional” […]

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In History—the Obsession with Race, Class and Gender

The University of Michigan history department has 28 tenured or tenure-track professors whose research specialties in some way relate to U.S. history after 1789. Race is the favorite topic; at least eleven of the department’s professors indicate that their research in some way deals with race in America. Gender is the next prominent area of […]

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More Rumblings at CUNY

I’ve written before about the Pathways plan, a sensible proposal  to create  a common core curriculum at the City University of New York (CUNY). It has been sponsored by the administration of Chancellor Matthew Goldstein and approved by the CUNY Board of Trustees. The extraordinary–and student-unfriendly–process that currently exists at CUNY contradicts the vision of […]

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Why Are There Still Preferences for Women?

Using federal statistics, Laura Norén has prepared a series of graphics showing gender distribution among recent recipients of undergraduate, M.A., and Ph.D./professional degrees. The charts are visually striking, especially since all three sets of charts show movement in an identical direction. According to Norén, by 2020, women are projected to earn 61 percent of all […]

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Critics of Freeh Report Fire Blanks

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 […]

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The Education of Rachel Corrie

To predictable outrage among anti-Israel activists worldwide, a Haifa court ruled Tuesday that former U.S. college student Rachel Corrie’s 2003 death was an accident. Corrie, a member of the fanatic International Solidarity Movement, was in Gaza at the time, trying to obstruct the work of the Israeli Defense Force; she was killed as she tried […]

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Surprise! Faculty Money Goes to Dems

This week featured some interesting political news regarding campaign contributions: confirming the partisan shift on Wall Street, Business Week revealed that around 70 percent of Goldman Sachs employees who have donated to this year’s presidential campaign send funds to Mitt Romney. The contrast to 2008, when about 75 percent who made contributions had donated to […]

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No Conservatives, Please–We’re Colleges

Over the past several years, a number of studies have shown that registered Democrats far outnumber registered Republicans in the academy, or in particular academic departments (history, for instance) that would seem to have no reason to have wide partisan imbalances.  Invariably, the most interesting thing about these studies is not the finding itself–which, after […]

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Thirty Million for Race and Gender Hires at Columbia

In 2005, amidst the Harvard faculty’s ultimately successful effort to purge President Larry Summers, Columbia president Lee Bollinger announced that his university would launch its own “diversity” hiring initiative. Bollinger committed $15 million to “add between 15 and 20 outstanding women and minority scholars to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences over the next three […]

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The OCR’s Newest Target: Xavier University

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has entered into its latest Title IX-related agreement with Xavier University. Unlike the OCR’s agreement with Yale, which used a manufactured controversy to weaken the due process rights of the university’s students, at least at Xavier the OCR involved itself only in response […]

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Using Classes for Advocacy OK at UCLA

UCLA’s “Academic Freedom Committee” has delivered an important document that appears to give carte blanche to professors to introduce unrelated political advocacy into their classrooms–in apparent violation of Regents’ policy. The case involved David Delgado Shorter, a UCLA professor in the “Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance.”(His dissertation was entitled, “SantamLiniamDivisoriam/Holy Dividing Lines: Yoeme Indian […]

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More Advice on Railroading Males in Sex Cases

Not one college or university that I know of has resisted the notorious “Dear Colleague” letter’ urging a lowering of the burden of proof in campus sexual assault cases. Reasons for this timidity include the fact that powerful forces within the academy fully support the attack on due process by the Department of Education’s Office […]

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Duke Didn’t Come Clean, Penn State Did

In 2006, the Duke lacrosse case featured an extraordinarily high-profile intersection of college athletics, academic culture, and the criminal justice system. Six years later, the tragedy at Penn State far surpassed events in Durham in the annals of campus scandal. There were clear differences between the two cases (chiefly, of course, that at Penn State, […]

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The Freeh Report and the Failure of Trustees

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 […]

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A Questionable New Student

Tablet brings news of the unfortunate case of Sheherazad Jaafari, who was admitted to Columbia‘s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) despite her background as a public relations aide for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. The admission raises important questions of standards and program policies.

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A Delayed Coup in Maine Succeeds

In the last few months, the highest-profile administrative skirmish has occurred at the University of Virginia. The affair was depressing in that an important principle (the need for aggressive oversight by trustees) appears to have been used to advance a rather weak agenda.

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Where the White/Jewish Category Leads

A few weeks ago, controversy erupted after a diversity report prepared by two CUNY committees identified a “White/Jewish” category among the university’s faculty. (There was and is absolutely no reason to believe that this new designation reflected the thinking of either Chancellor Matthew Goldstein or the Board of Trustees, nor was there any reason to […]

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