Posts Tagged ‘colleges and universities’

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.

Colleges and the overtime edict

The damage from one of President Obama’s worst unilateral edicts, overtime for junior managers and other workers with middling salaries, is going to radiate through every sector of the productive economy. That includes academia: “The University of California school system, for instance, faces a $39 million-a-year tab for raises to avoid paying overtime to thousands of postdoctoral scholars, librarians and specialists. The University of Iowa says it would limit work hours of staff. And a state university in Missouri could cut some employee benefits.” [WSJ]

Campus climate roundup

  • Some profs still deny: “The Glaring Evidence That Free Speech Is Threatened on Campus” [Conor Friedersdorf]
  • Student demands at Western Washington University would “create an almost cartoonishly autocratic liberal thought police on campus” [Robby Soave] After University of Kansas professor tried awkwardly to discuss her own white privilege, students took offense and things haven’t gone well for her [Robby Soave: update, Althouse]
  • Feds equivocate on whether notorious campus “Dear Colleague” letter has force of law [Hans Bader, CEI; George Leef, Pope Center; me on the letter in 2013]
  • Yale expels the captain of its basketball team, and KC Johnson has some questions Minding the Campus, Academic Wonderland]
  • I wanted to scream about insensitive canoe discourse in Canada and there was no one to hear me but the loons [CBC] And an instant classic: feminist glaciology framework for a more just and equitable science and “human-ice interactions” [Sage Journals; U. of Oregon, part of $412K NSF grant]
  • Lose that worldview, citizen: attending public Oklahoma university requires “changing our worldview to accommodate others’ experiences of oppression.” [Audra Brulc via @DouglasLevene]

Update: mandatory oppression studies at American University

We noted in January that American University, in Washington, D.C., was considering a drastic overhaul of university rules in response to the demands of social-justice activists. Now it’s moving forward: although some of the more extreme details have been dropped, or at least go unmentioned, a February 29 letter from President Neil Kerwin proposes a mandatory oppression studies course for first-years, additionally “address the subject matter in at least one other required course selected from the AU curriculum.” Plus: racial hiring!

Schools roundup

  • Fear of regulators drives many campuses to restrict speech [Greg Lukianoff of FIRE interviewed by Caleb Brown, Cato podcast] New UCLA Title IX policy requires faculty to inform on “possible” sex harassment, and Prof. Bainbridge objects;
  • Tributes to my much admired colleague, the late Cato Institute education scholar Andrew Coulson [Neal McCluskey and Jason Bedrick, Adam Schaeffer, Nick Gillespie/Reason]
  • “Total Law School Enrollment at Lowest Point Since 1977; 1L Class Size Lowest Since 1973” [Derek Muller]
  • New Jersey: “Elizabeth Public Schools Spend More on Attorneys than Textbooks, Heat or Electricity” [WPIX (autoplays)]
  • “I began to see the social sciences as tribal moral communities, becoming ever more committed to social justice, and ever less hospitable to dissenting views.” Jonathan Haidt interviewed by John Leo [Minding the Campus]
  • Furor continues over U.S. Department of Education funding of “facilitated communication” with profoundly disabled persons [David Auerbach, Slate]
  • “Rhode Island: Children Under 10 Shall Not Be Left Home Alone, Even Briefly” [Lenore Skenazy]

Why regulated academics don’t identify with regulated businesspeople

Missed this outstanding Jacob Levy post from 2014, you should really read the whole thing but here’s an excerpt:

A lot of people a lot of the time underestimate how burdensome, onerous, and intrusive complicated bureaucratic rules and regulations are. …Politically we associate this kind of talk with business owners and managers complaining about government regulation, and that’s not a class to which academics are (as an overall pattern) especially warmly inclined– but goodness knows that academics understand these dynamics when it comes to the administrative micromanagement of our own professional lives. Time that we should be spending researching or teaching is instead spent asking for permission to do so, by humbly seeking to prove ourselves innocent of all sorts of potential malfeasance. No, I didn’t buy a glass of wine with that grant money. No, I haven’t given an in-class exam during the two weeks before finals. No, my study of Plato does not involve potential harm to human subjects or laboratory animals. No, I haven’t made up publications to include on my CV for my performance review. Yes, here’s the proof in triplicate.

I think this is a case in which our biases between groups we like and groups we don’t is especially strong. We are mainly honest competent adults trying our best to do what we’re supposed to do, and they keep getting in our way with these insulting burdensome rules; they don’t take seriously the cost to our time and energy of having to prove compliance constantly, both by paperwork and by subordination to the administrative officials who monitor all of us in order to detect wrongdoing by a tiny few. You are basically suspect characters to begin with, and if we let you get away with it you’d all be running wild, and the other ways you were going to spend your time we don’t really like anyways, and we’re dubious enough about you that monitoring you closely is a good idea anyway even if some of you aren’t technically violating the rules, and the moral cost of even one of you getting away with this terrible thing is so great that we simply have to prevent it, and anyway what are you complaining about, if you obey the rules like you supposed to, there’s no harm to you.

As I say, read the whole thing, which also includes an analysis of the actual likely effects of a typical venture in legislative posturing, a ban on dispensing food stamps to lottery winners.

“US Marshals arresting people for not paying their federal student loans” (P.S.: Really?)

[Note: updated Friday 9:30 a.m., an hour and a half after publication, after it became clear that the original reporting was gravely flawed] According to KRIV, “the US Marshals Service in Houston is arresting people for not paying their outstanding federal student loans. Paul Aker …says seven deputy US Marshals showed up at his home with guns and took him to federal court where he had to sign a payment plan for the [$1500] 29-year-old school loan. Congressman Gene Green says the federal government is now using private debt collectors to go after those who owe student loans. Green says as a result, those attorneys and debt collectors are getting judgments in federal court and asking judges to use the US Marshals Service to arrest those who have failed to pay their federal student loans.”

But see: Scott Riddle with plenty of evidence that KRIV’s version of the story omits material facts (h/t commenter Matthew: Aker “wasn’t arrested for the debt itself. He was arrested for evading service and failing to show up for mandatory court dates.”) As for the guns, the marshals’ office said it sent reinforcements when an attempt to arrest Aker failed and the situation escalated. As Riddle notes, the original report had spread rapidly around news outlets, but corrections and clarifications are often slow to catch up.

Campus climate roundup

  • New Oxford vice chancellor speaks out against threats to free inquiry as well as overregulation of universities [Iain Martin, CapX]
  • Feds: get in line on Title IX or we’ll yank your institutional science funding [Inside Higher Ed, background on Title IX]
  • More on scheme proposing mandatory oppression studies for first-year students at American University [Robby Soave/The Daily Beast (and thanks for mention), earlier]
  • Back to the days of Plessy v. Ferguson? Oregon State University holds racially segregated retreats [Peter Hasson, Daily Caller] More: University of Connecticut building segregated housing for (some) black male students [Campus Reform]
  • Sometimes there really is a good case for taking the names of evil long-dead men off public university buildings, especially if the alternative is to throw a $700,000 subsidy at a murderer-themed café that can’t make it on food sale revenues [The College Fix; UCSD’s Che Guevara cafe]
  • “Out in the real world, we have master electricians and mechanics, chess masters, masters of the universe, taskmasters of all kinds, and other such varieties of positions and titles connoting particular skill, knowledge or authority” [Harvey Silverglate, Minding the Campus, on Harvard College “masters” flap (citing “extraordinary recent expansion of the cadre of student life administrators … on virtually every campus throughout the nation”)]
  • “Post-Protest Mizzou: Adverse Consequences of the Capitulation” [Thomas Lambert, Pope Center, earlier Lambert on Missouri]