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]
- 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]
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!
- 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]
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.
[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.
- 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]
Some prominent scholars and many civil libertarians have been up in arms about the recent federally driven incursions on due process rights of those accused of sex-related offenses at colleges. Faculty, when their rights are adversely affected, have begun suing. Which raises a question: “Why has not one single major university president brought a legal challenge against [the Dear Colleague] letters?” [Coyote]
American University, in Washington, D.C., according to this document from last month, “is undertaking an ambitious plan to modernize the general education experience” with the assistance of a task force whose Nov. 30 report “outlines a dramatically different approach to liberal arts education,” one that includes “sustained attention to issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion.”
The draft of “Reimagining General Education: Toward a New AU Core Curriculum” envisages the following changes:
* All first-years would be obliged in their second semester to take a one- or three-credit course in oppression studies. Sample content: “Students will explore how historical violence, such as the early slave trade and genocidal conquests, shape the contemporary experiences of marginalized groups and struggles for human rights. Class materials will consider how entrenched systems of inequality marginalize some groups and privilege others.” (The draft text describes this as a three-credit course, but at another point says that whether it will be for one or three credits is yet to be determined.)
* “If budget allows,” “all students living on campus” will be housed with the cohort of students with whom they have taken the series of mandatory courses culminating in the oppression course. They will live under upper-class “mentors” and it is envisaged that “student support teams” will emerge from each cohort under the supervision of the mentors.
I wonder whether they will wind up calling these mentored support teams “block committees for the Defense of the Revolution.”
FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) reminds us, citing a University of Delaware episode, that dormitory mentoring in oppression studies goes back a while. Meanwhile — more or less unrelatedly, except that at a higher level it is most certainly related — per this University of Louisville law faculty anecdote, a colleague who told students on the final day of class to “think for yourselves” and that multiple political viewpoints should feel welcome at the school was promptly hauled to account [Russell L. Weaver, Courier-Journal] (& Robby Soave, Reason)