Posts Tagged ‘colleges and universities’

May 24 roundup

  • Not the theater’s fault, says a Colorado jury, rejecting Aurora massacre suit [ABA Journal, earlier here, here, and here, related here, etc.]
  • Senate GOP could have cut off funds for HUD’s social-engineer-the-suburbs power grab, AFFH. So why’d they arrange instead to spare it? [Paul Mirengoff/PowerLine, more, earlier] Related: federal judge Denise Cote denies motion to challenge supposed speech obligations of Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino under consent decree with HUD [Center for Individual Rights; earlier here, here, etc.]
  • “Earnhardt Family Fighting Over Whether One Earnhardt Son Can Use His Own Last Name” [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt]
  • Freddie Gray charges, bad new laws on pay, the state’s stake in world trade, armored vehicles for cops, bar chart baselines that don’t start at zero, and more in my latest Maryland policy roundup [Free State Notes]
  • “You can be fined for not calling people ‘ze’ or ‘hir,’ if that’s the pronoun they demand that you use” [Eugene Volokh on NYC human rights commission guidance]
  • Despite potential for schadenfreude, please refrain from taxing university endowments [John McGinnis]

Campus free expression roundup

  • 21 professors, including Bartholet, Epstein, and McConnell, write letter to Department of Education Office of Civil Rights [OCR] challenging its directives on campus sexual harassment [Ashe Schow, Washington Examiner] Student suing Colorado State over multi-year suspension adds OCR as a defendant [Scott Greenfield; more, George Will]
  • President Obama has been saying things students need to hear about intellectual freedom at commencements [Howard and Rutgers, Jonathan Adler] “Does Obama understand that his own government is responsible for the safe-space phenomenon he frequently decries?” [Robby Soave]
  • Protesters these days disrupting and physically shutting down a lot of pro-Israel campus speeches and events on US campuses [Observer; UC Irvine]
  • “Jokes, insensitive remarks, size-ist posters”: from a distance the doings of the University of Oregon’s Bias Response Team can seem kind of hilarious. Maybe not up close [Robby Soave/Reason, Catherine Rampell/Washington Post] “Towson U. [Maryland public university] implements ‘hate/bias’ reporting system to ensure ‘anti-racist campus climate’” [The College Fix]
  • Read and marvel at the arguments being deployed against Prof. Dale Carpenter’s proposal for bolstering free expression at the University of Minnesota [Susan Du, City Pages] “Why Free Speech Matters on Campus” [Michael Bloomberg and Charles Koch]
  • Faculty at George Mason University law school unanimously affirm commitment to renaming school after Justice Antonin Scalia [Lloyd Cohen, Michael Greve]

“The Federal Leviathan Is Crushing Colleges and Universities”

Jenna A. Robinson and Jesse Saffron, Pope Center:

Last year…the Task Force on Federal Regulation of Higher Education—formed in 2013 at the behest of a bipartisan group of U.S. senators and comprised of top university officials from around the country—released a stunning indictment of what it called the “jungle of red tape” produced by the Education Department. The report cited analysis from George Mason’s Mercatus Center that showed federal higher education mandates increased by 56 percent from 1997-2012.

Today, the situation is bleak: There are thousands of pages of federal regulations, and the Education Department has to release “guidance” letters to clarify vague rules once per day, on average, according to the Task Force.

Case studies from individual schools reveal just how burdensome compliance can be. One example comes from Vanderbilt University, which recently analyzed its federal compliance costs and found that they accounted for $150 million—or 11 percent—of the university’s 2013 expenditures. (Vanderbilt announced that for each student, those compliance costs “equate to approximately $11,000 in additional tuition per year.”)

Earlier here. More from reader mx in comments, who notes that the Chronicle of Higher Education has criticized the Vanderbilt number on the grounds that most of the university’s regulatory costs ($117 million of $146 million) is attributed to compliance related to research, which is not necessarily charged to students as tuition.

Campus climate roundup

  • Department of Justice: we’re going to use that Dear Colleague Title IX letter as a basis for prosecution, and colleges are going to need to crack down on speech if they want to stay in compliance [Eugene Volokh, Scott Greenfield, and FIRE, on University of New Mexico case] A brief history of how we got here from the Dear Colleague letter [Justin Dillon and Matt Kaiser, L.A. Times; my Commentary piece three years ago anticipating the basics] Why won’t even a single university challenge this stuff in court? [Coyote, earlier]
  • Dangers of “safe spaces”: Mike Bloomberg’s Michigan commencement address is getting noticed [Bloomberg View, Deadline Detroit, Soave] “Slogans Have Replaced Arguments” [John McWhorter]
  • Compulsory chapel will make no provision for adherents of dissenting sects: Oregon State plans training incoming freshmen in “social justice learning,” “diversity,” and “inclusivity.” [Robby Soave]
  • Running various departments at George Mason U. along lines recommended by Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”: no problem. Naming law school after Antonin Scalia: that might politicize things [Michael Greve via Bainbridge]
  • USC cancels visiting panel of gaming industry stars because it’s all-male [Heat Street]
  • Harvard aims sanctions at students who join off-campus, unofficial single-sex clubs [The Crimson, FIRE, background Althouse, Greenfield]
  • Margot Honecker, hated DDR education minister, filled schools with indoctrination, informants. Glad that era’s over [Washington Post, Telegraph, SkyNews obituaries]

Campus climate roundup

  • New college freshmen show scant knowledge about or commitment to free speech. How’d that happen? [Howard Gillman and Erwin Chemerinsky, L.A. Times via Josh Blackman] New Gallup survey of students on campus speech [Knight Foundation and report] Greg Lukianoff (FIRE) interviewed [Fault Lines]
  • Senior Ohio State administrator coolly advises protesters that not retreating from their “occupied space” will involve getting arrested and expelled [Eric Owens, Daily Caller]
  • Mizzou’s chief diversity officer asked university administration to assist protesters with logistics. And it did. [Jillian Kay Melchior, Heat Street]
  • No, the regents of a public university should not be saying that “anti-Zionism” has “no place at the University of California.” [Eugene Volokh]
  • “In Her Own Words: Laura Kipnis’ ‘Title IX Inquisition’ at Northwestern” [FIRE interview, earlier] Title IX complainant at U.Va.: that mural must go [Charlotte Allen, IWF]
  • National Coalition Against Censorship, AAUP, FIRE, and Student Press Law Center voice opposition to calls to ban anonymous speech apps such as Yik Yak on campus [NCAC, College Fix, earlier]

“Man Accepted by 10 Law Schools Sues for Age Bias”

“Sixty-eight-year-old Geoffrey Akers, highly accomplished both academically and professionally, has sued the University of Connecticut Law School over the school’s denying him twice into its 2012 and 2013 classes. Akers applied to 11 law schools over the past several years. U. Conn Law School was the only school that didn’t accept him.” [FindLaw]

The trouble with “bias response teams”

“More than 100 colleges and universities have Bias Response Teams, which aim to foster ‘a safe and inclusive environment’ by providing ‘advocacy and support to anyone on campus who has experienced, or been a witness of, an incident of bias or discrimination.’ These teams have multiple missions, including educational ‘prevention,’ investigating alleged bias incidents, disciplining offenders, and organizing ‘coping events’ after such incidents…. BRTs are rapidly becoming part of the institutional machinery of higher education, but have yet to face any real scrutiny.” The teams intervene in a vast and ill-defined assortment of acts of expression, social and classroom interactions, and even intellectual activity that are said to constitute “bias incidents,” yet they are far from transparent or accountable, they encourage an atmosphere of informants and suspicion, and they tend toward the policing of thought and of so-called unconscious sources of offense. At bottom they are “inherently anti-intellectual enterprises, fundamentally at odds with the mission of higher education.” [Jeffrey Aaron Snyder and Amna Khalid, The New Republic]

Campus climate roundup

  • Madness at Harvard Law School: “This is an occupation,” so activist group Reclaim HLS gets to take down posters it disagrees with [The Crimson; Harvard Law Record (“Barlow said that one protestor told him that if he wanted to post a sign, he could attend Reclaim’s plenary meetings and vote with them about whether or not certain speech should be approved. But he could not, he was told, post a sign without prior approval from Reclaim.”); Avrahm Berkowitz/The Observer]
  • “Refraining from hand gestures which denote disagreement” is part of Edinburgh University safe space policy, and now a student leader is in trouble for allegedly raising her arms to indicate disagreement as well as shaking her head in a seeming “no”; while disputing its application to her own action she continues to defend the rule itself [Huffington Post UK]
  • “Or in which candidates were dismissed because of their association with conservative or libertarian institutions.” [John Hasnas, Wall Street Journal on faculty ideological diversity] Plus: conversation between Tyler Cowen and Jonathan Haidt;
  • Which campus environment provides a fairer process for accused students: Duke in 2006, or Yale today? [KC Johnson; more, Ashe Schow/Washington Examiner (Michigan, Berkeley)] Federal judge blasts Brandeis over Title IX process in “kissing sleeping boyfriend” case [Steve Miller/Independent Gay Forum, KC Johnson/Storify]
  • Student militants storm Berkeley stage intent on silencing Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich [Robby Soave: Reason, The Daily Beast]
  • The Ford Foundation, which has done so much to transform academia, is profiled along with president Darren Walker [Larissa MacFarquhar, New Yorker; my critical view of Ford] Funding postmodern feminist glaciology: “Has it become the National Science and Other Ways of Knowing Foundation?” [Jerry Coyne]

AAUP getting a little braver on Title IX?

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP), which has a record of sadly weak defenses of faculty rights in response to the feds’ efforts under Title IX to restrict due process accorded to persons accused of misconduct at universities (see last paragraph of my piece from 2013), might possibly show a little more spine in a pending report now in draft form. Citing a string of episodes, including what happened to Prof. Laura Kipnis at Northwestern as well as many that are less well known, the report acknowledges that the current Washington interpretation of Title IX “has had a chilling effect on academic freedom and speech” and “that the emphasis on complying with federal law has led to some professors being investigated by universities for making statements that some students find offensive but that the report says should be protected.” [Anemona Hartocollis/New York Times, Lizzie Crocker/Daily Beast, Scott Greenfield, Peter Wood/Minding the Campus] More from the NYT:

The association says the government should allow universities to use a “clear and convincing” standard of evidence in their internal reviews of sexual harassment complaints rather than the less strict “preponderance of evidence” standard now required. …The report says that the federal crackdown has poisoned the traditional relationship between faculty and students by turning professors from informal confidants into official enforcers.

Plus, new paper being widely talked about, “The Sex Bureaucracy,” by Jacob Gersen of Harvard and Jeannie Suk of Harvard Law, forthcoming in the California Law Review, abstract:

We are living in a new sex bureaucracy. Saliently decriminalized in the past decades, sex has at the same time become accountable to bureaucracy. In this Article, we focus on higher education to tell the story of the sex bureaucracy. The story is about the steady expansion of regulatory concepts of sex discrimination and sexual violence to the point that the regulated area comes to encompass ordinary sex. The mark of bureaucracy is procedure and organizational form. Over time, federal prohibitions against sex discrimination and sexual violence have been interpreted to require educational institutions to adopt particular procedures to respond, prevent, research, survey, inform, investigate, adjudicate, and train. The federal bureaucracy essentially required nongovernmental institutions to create mini-bureaucracies, and to develop policies and procedures that are subject to federal oversight. That oversight is not merely, as currently assumed, of sexual harassment and sexual violence, but also of sex itself. We call this “bureaucratic sex creep” — the enlargement of bureaucratic regulation of sexual conduct that is voluntary, non-harassing, nonviolent, and does not harm others. At a moment when it is politically difficult to criticize any undertaking against sexual assault, we are writing about the bureaucratic leveraging of sexual violence and harassment policy to regulate ordinary sex. …

Connecticut governor: let’s not tax Yale’s endowment, actually

“A tax proposed by top legislators on the earnings of Yale’s sizable endowment was shot down Tuesday by the administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. …The proposal – backed by Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney and Appropriations Committee Co-chair Toni Walker, both Democrats from New Haven – [had] generated national attention.” [Connecticut Mirror] I modestly proposed that Yale consider moving in part or full to some jurisdiction that would leave its endowment alone, much as General Electric, which had been the largest corporation headquartered in Connecticut, chose recently to toddle off to Boston in search of a better climate. Ira Stoll picked up and expanded on my idea in a column reprinted in the Hartford Courant, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott promptly got into the act by inviting Yale to relocate to the Sunshine State. More: Courant editorial (“Idea Of Yale Fleeing Taxes Makes Connecticut Look Bad”) And I’m interviewed in this WTNH story.