When students are compelled to have “White Privilege 101” classes, we have every right to ask: Why, and for whose benefit?
If you’ve been white lately, you have likely been confronted with the idea that to be a good person, you must cultivate a guilt complex over the privileged status your race enjoys.
It isn’t that you are doing, or even quite thinking, anything racist. Rather, your existential state of Living While White constitutes a form of racism in itself. Your understanding will serve as a tool … for something. But be careful about asking just what that something is, because that will mean you “just don’t get it.”
I assume, for example, that the idea is not to teach white people that White Privilege means that black people are the only group of people in human history who cannot deal with obstacles and challenges. If the idea is that black people cannot solve their problems short of white people developing an exquisite sensitivity to how privileged they are, then we in the black community are being designated as disabled poster children.
So let’s start this stage of our “dialogue on race” with a simple question: When our mandated diversity director says, “This is messy work, but these conversations are necessary,” we have every right, as moral persons, to ask: Why, and for whose benefit?
Category Archives: College Bubble
In 2012, my colleagues and I at the ACLJ filed suit against multiple officials at UCLA on behalf of Dr. James Enstrom, a researcher fired after he blew the whistle on the junk science used to justify draconian new emissions regulations in California.
The facts of the case were astounding. As the environmentalist Left pushed new, job-killing regulations in the interests of “public health,” Dr. Enstrom took his own look at the data and determined that the health threat from diesel emissions was being wildly overstated. As he looked further, he discovered that the lead researcher pushing the new regulations actually possessed a fraudulent degree, purchased from “Thornhill University,” a shady, long-distance diploma mill. Moreover, members of the state’s “scientific review panel” tasked with evaluating the science had in some cases overstayed term limits by decades. At least one was a known ideological radical. (He was a member of the infamous “Chicago Seven.”)
Dr. Enstrom did what a scientist should do. He exposed public corruption, called out fake scientific credentials, and worked to save California from onerous and unnecessary regulations.
So UCLA fired him. After more than 30 years on the job.
Not only did the Regents agree to pay Dr. Enstrom $140,000, but they also have effectively rescinded the termination, agreeing to Dr. Enstrom’s use of the title “Retired Researcher” (as opposed to acknowledgment as a non-titled terminated employee) and his continued access to UCLA resources he previously enjoyed during his appointment.
Dr. Enstrom’s victory comes at a critical time, reminding the public that the scientific establishment is hardly infallible. Indeed, it’s subject to all the same failings as any human institution, including greed, corruption, and bias. It’s worth remembering as the House once again takes up the Secret Science Reform Act, a bill that would render the EPA more transparent by requiring it to make available for public review the “scientific and technical information used in is assessments.”
These days, when students talk about threats to their safety and demand access to “safe spaces,” they’re often talking about the threat of unwelcome speech and demanding protection from the emotional disturbances sparked by unsettling ideas. It’s not just rape that some women on campus fear: It’s discussions of rape. At Brown University, a scheduled debate between two feminists about rape culture was criticized for, as the Brown Daily Herald put it, undermining “the University’s mission to create a safe and supportive environment for survivors.” In a school-wide e-mail, Brown President Christina Paxon emphasized her belief in the existence of rape culture and invited students to an alternative lecture, to be given at the same time as the debate. And the Daily Herald reported that students who feared being “attacked by the viewpoints” offered at the debate could instead “find a safe space” among “sexual assault peer educators, women peer counselors and staff” during the same time slot. Presumably they all shared the same viewpoints and could be trusted not to “attack” anyone with their ideas.
How did we get here? How did a verbal defense of free speech become tantamount to a hate crime and offensive words become the equivalent of physical assaults?
You can credit — or blame — progressives for this enthusiastic embrace of censorship. It reflects, in part, the influence of three popular movements dating back decades: the feminist anti-porn crusades, the pop-psychology recovery movement and the emergence of multiculturalism on college campuses.
This reliance on subjectivity, in the interest of equality, is a recipe for arbitrary, discriminatory enforcement practices, with far-reaching effects on individual liberty. The tendency to take subjective allegations of victimization at face value — instrumental in contemporary censorship campaigns — also leads to the presumption of guilt and disregard for due process in the progressive approach to alleged sexual assaults on campus.
This is a dangerously misguided approach to justice. “Feeling realities” belong in a therapist’s office. Incorporated into laws and regulations, they lead to the soft authoritarianism that now governs many American campuses. Instead of advancing equality, it’s teaching future generations of leaders the “virtues” of autocracy.
There is not, and has not been for a long time, a question of the existence of overwhelming liberal bias at institutions of higher education. The inquiries into the phenomenon focus on why that structural bias exists and persists. Whatever the reasons, it’s easy to understand why the liberal establishment wants to protect the biased architecture of American education.
And protect it they do. A college degree has become a kind of certification for entry into many of the higher reaches of the American economy. The government benefits from this financially by running the student-loan scheme, which drives up tuition costs and thus benefits not only big government but its liberal allies in academic administration.
And it’s a self-perpetuating cycle, which is why Democrats are so keen to guard it jealously. The system as it’s currently set up means educational attainment correlates, in general, to higher income. But that education gets increasingly expensive, which puts it in easier reach of those with higher income, who tend to have more education, etc. As the Economist notes, “the best predictor of an American child’s success in school has long been the parents’ educational level”–though money, which is also now related to educational level, “is an increasingly important factor.”
The Democrats’ approach thus perpetuates inequality, which they blame on “the rich” in order to win national office, which they use to perpetuate this system of inequality–another cycle.
Scott Walker calls this whole scheme into question. It’s not that his experience teaches that you don’t need a college degree to get a good job; it’s that you shouldn’t need to need a college degree to have professional and/or political success. Kids shouldn’t be discouraged from going to college and getting their degree as long as the current system persists, in which it usually makes sense for them to get that degree (if they can).
The point is that the system itself shouldn’t persist, at least in its current form. Walker, then, is living proof that the system can and should be reformed, and the world won’t end. Walker is representative of the potential of those outside the liberal economic elite and those who are severely underserved by the government’s college racket and union-friendly approach to education. That’s why Walker’s personal story matters, and why it’s such a threat to the left.
The Washington Post has a long article up about Scott Walker’s formative years. It has some fine reporting, but the overall tone and headline are curious: “As Scott Walker mulls White House bid, questions linger over college exit.”
Questions linger? Over what, exactly? It’s not a secret and it never has been that Walker didn’t finish college (well, it hasn’t been a secret in spite of the fact the obtuse scolds at Daily Kos are a bit confused). He left Marquette in his fourth year. Since then, Walker has had quite a political career as Milwaukee County Executive, in the Wisconsin State Assembly, and now Governor. After all that time in public life, the majority of voters of Wisconsin haven’t had an issue with the man’s general intelligence level and it seems obvious enough that he’s a capable man. So why is the Post implying that his lack of a college degree is some sort of liability?
Insisting on academic credentials as a way of evaluating leadership abilities — let alone suggesting that being a few credits shy of an undergraduate degree is disqualifying — is so worthless that it boggles the mind that Democrats would even float this as a talking point. In fact, based on the 2014 mid-term results, Democrats’ inability to woo white voters without college degrees is starting to really hurt them at the ballot box.
For decades now, America’s higher education system has ill-served Americans. If you can weld, you can land a job making six-figures tomorrow. If you recently acquired a B.A. in Sociology, well, can you tell me how you do that thing where you make the foam on top a latte look like a heart? There’s a reason why the lack of a college degree is practically celebrated in Silicon Valley. Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are all college dropouts. Peter Thiel says a college “diploma is a dunce hat in disguise” and wants to blow the higher-ed system up entirely. Sixty-three of the people on the Forbes 400 don’t have college degrees.
And now, finally, he has shown us what he really thinks of the middle class. The most telling part about the 529 proposal is that it was coupled with a proposal for two free years of community college.
Working to get our kids ready for a four-year college—academically and financially—is what the middle class does. There is perhaps no activity that is more middle-class-ish than that. And you can see why: it’s our way of ensuring that the next generation stays in the middle class. We’re not well-off enough to give them multi-million-dollar inheritances, but we are well-off enough to give them an education that will qualify them for a white-collar job. So this is treated almost as a sacred obligation. But do that, and Obama thinks you should get taxed. On the other hand, if you put aside no money and send your kid for a community college education that will qualify him, at most, for high-end blue-collar work, Obama thinks you should get a subsidy.
That shows you president Obama’s priorities. If you work and save to provide for yourself and your children—then he wants to raid your savings with a special new tax. But he’ll “offset” that by increasing handouts for people who don’t work, don’t save—and don’t pay taxes.
What defines the middle class is its self-reliance, its ability to provide for its own needs and set aside savings for the future. History teaches that this also gives the middle class a troublesome independence. Precisely because they don’t need the state or the sovereign to support them, they are resistant to its blandishments. So its no wonder that Obama wants to punish and discourage savings—while focusing all of his efforts on supporting those who rely on handouts from the state.
“It’s almost as if they want there to be a vast rabble of the poor who look upward for political saviors, rather than a thriving independent middle class that just doesn’t need them.”
By attacking the middle class for engaging in the most quintessential middle-class behavior—saving for their kids’ education—President Obama has just confirmed that speculation.
The vast majority of students at American public colleges do not graduate on time, according to a new report from Complete College America, a nonprofit group based in Indianapolis.
“Students and parents know that time is money,” said the report, called “Four-Year Myth.” “The reality is that our system of higher education costs too much, takes too long and graduates too few.”
At most public universities, only 19 percent of full-time students earn a bachelor’s degree in four years, the report found. Even at state flagship universities — selective, research-intensive institutions — only 36 percent of full-time students complete their bachelor’s degree on time.
Nationwide, only 50 of more than 580 public four-year institutions graduate a majority of their full-time students on time. Some of the causes of slow student progress, the report said, are inability to register for required courses, credits lost in transfer and remediation sequences that do not work. The report also said some students take too few credits per semester to finish on time. The problem is even worse at community colleges, where 5 percent of full-time students earned an associate degree within two years, and 15.9 percent earned a one- to two-year certificate on time.
The lengthy time to graduate has become so much the status quo that education policy experts now routinely use benchmarks of six years to earn a bachelor’s degree and three years for an associate degree.
“Using these metrics may improve the numbers, but it is costing students and their parents billions of extra dollars — $15,933 more in cost of attendance for every extra year of a public two-year college and $22,826 for every extra year at a public four-year college,” the report said. “Hands down, our best strategy to make college more affordable and a sure way to boost graduation rates over all is to ensure that many more students graduate on time.”
Study Indicates College Textbook Piracy Is On The Rise, But Fails To Call Out Publishers For Skyrocketing Prices
More college students are pirating textbooks, or so a report seems to indicate even if the methodology seems a little less than solid. The numbers (reported here by Reason) are based on self-reporting from survey respondents, which means the supposed uptick in infringing downloads may actually be a downturn, or nowhere near the actual percentages. But here are the numbers reported by the Book Industry Study Group, which sounds like the entity least likely to receive accurate infringement numbers from survey respondents.
The group surveyed 1,600 students, 25 percent of whom said they or someone they knew illegally downloaded textbooks. That’s up 8 percent from the previous year.
Most likely, this number is low — but the methodology is already suspect. Adding “or someone they knew” makes the results somewhat meaningless without more details. To illustrate, take an extreme hypothetical: on a campus with 100 students, if you have one super popular student who illegally downloads textbooks while everyone else doesn’t, you could have everyone report “they knew” someone who “illegally downloaded,” leading to 100% even as the actual percentage is 1%. Any survey that has a “you or someone you know” in it almost certainly creates a double, triple, quadruple counting problem as there’s no way to distinguish if the “person known” has already been counted in the survey methodology.
The report assumes the self-reported infringement increase is legit, but the key takeaways never point to the main culprit: textbook publishers. Perhaps that’s because these studies were underwritten by those who would be least receptive to open criticism.
Prices for textbooks border on extortionate. Valerie Strauss, covering the subject for the Washington Post, notes that prices for both tuition and books have increased at unreal rates over the past several years.
Book publishers contribute to this skyrocketing rate by forcing the purchase of new editions nearly every single year — using little tricks like adding or removing a few paragraphs to force repaginating or adding minimal amounts of new material in order to claim the previous version is now outdated.
Textbooks are foisted upon students by schools and professors, meaning there will always be a market for publishers’ offerings. But publishers are burning their facilitators as well with steadily-increasing prices.
A San Diego State University sophomore was forced to remove an American flag from his balcony after apartment managers said foreigners could find the display offensive.
Brad Smith, who had just moved into the Boulevard 63 apartment complex in San Diego last month, told ABC 10 News that he received a written notice to remove the flag a few days ago.
“We were then told that it was for political reasons and that the flag could offend foreign people that live here, foreign exchange students,” Smith said. “I’ve had friends and family fight to defend that flag.”
While Smith’s lease agreement with the apartment’s management does have a clause that says “no signs or other personal property may be kept outside the premises,” attorney Christian Curry told ABC. that the clause comes close to infringing on First Amendment rights.
“Clearly, they want to keep it clean and that’s something they want to accomplish,” Curry said. “It’s a compelling reason, but it’s hardly a reason that’s going to overcome your free speech.”
Management initially told ABC that anyone who hangs a flag would be asked to take it down; however, it looks like the management capitulated after the media highlighted the story. An associate of the owners of the apartment complex told ABC there was a “misunderstanding,” and that the flag would be allowed to fly.
Yep. When they get legal on them, some back down…
In a national certified mailing sent today, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) warns the leaders of more than 300 of our nation’s largest and most prestigious public colleges and universities that they risk First Amendment lawsuits by continuing to maintain speech codes that violate student and faculty rights. The letters are being mailed from the main post office near Independence Hall in Philadelphia today to mark the 227th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution.
“58 percent of our nation’s public colleges and universities restrict student and faculty speech with blatantly unconstitutional policies, and 38 percent more enforce policies that are too easily abused to silence campus speech,” said Will Creeley, FIRE’s Director of Legal and Public Advocacy. “In July, FIRE launched our Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project by announcing four lawsuits against institutions that have violated student and faculty First Amendment rights. Now we’re putting public colleges and universities across the country on notice—and inviting them to work with FIRE to fix flawed policies before they’re challenged in court.”
The letter informs college and university leaders about FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, announced in July with the filing of First Amendment lawsuits against Ohio University, Iowa State University, Chicago State University, and Citrus College in California. As the letter details, lawsuits will be filed against public colleges maintaining unconstitutional speech codes in each federal circuit. After each victory by ruling or settlement, FIRE will target another school in the same circuit—sending a message that unless public colleges obey the law, they will be sued.
“FIRE prefers to secure students’ and faculty members’ free speech rights by working cooperatively with colleges and universities,” Creeley writes in FIRE’s letter. “However, FIRE will not hesitate to turn to the courts when necessary. Throughout our 15 years defending student and faculty rights, FIRE has consistently coordinated successful First Amendment challenges against unconstitutional speech codes.”