Tag: Higher Education

FIRE’s Greg Lukianoff: ‘We’ve fully entered the Second Great Age of Political Correctness.’

 

In his new feature for the January 2022 edition of Reason magazine, Greg Lukianoff, President and CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, where I also work, puts to readers: 

We’ve fully entered the Second Great Age of Political Correctness. If we are to find a way out, we must understand how we got here and admit the true depths of the problem. 

Elite Universities’ Fall of Failure on Free Expression

 

It probably doesn’t come as much of a shock to Ricochet readers that America’s most elite colleges and universities are often far from elite where their performance on free speech is concerned. Even so, as we’ve been writing at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) over the last couple of weeks, their cultures of free expression have been showing some signs of seriously ill health. A quick rundown:

  • Yale University attracted nationwide scorn this fall for its treatment of a law student, whom it pressured to issue a public apology over an email promoting a social event that made a joking reference to a “trap house.” But as my colleague Adam Goldstein and I wrote recently, another, less ballyhooed incident likewise raises serious concern. Psychiatrist and author Sally Satel delivered a lecture to the psychiatry department at the Yale School of Medicine (where she is a visiting lecturer) discussing the year she spent working in rural Ohio treating people struggling with opioid addiction. Following her lecture, a group of “Concerned Yale Psychiatry Residents” demanded that Satel be stripped of her lecturer title for her “dehumanizing, demeaning, and classist” remarks, seizing upon, of all things, a reference to an “artisanal coffee shop.”
  • The Massachusetts Institute of Technology came in for heavy criticism after its department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences rescinded its invitation for University of Chicago geophysicist Dorian Abbot to deliver its annual John Carlson Lecture. The reason for Abbot’s disinvitation had nothing whatsoever to do with the scientific nature of his planned lecture; it was because he’d previously published a column criticizing university diversity, equity, and inclusion programs and proposing what he believed to be a fairer alternative. As my colleague Komi German documents, that’s only the most prominent in a string of free expression challenges that has seen MIT stumble.
  • Most recently, the Stanford University Undergraduate Senate denied funding to the Stanford College Republicans, who sought to bring former Vice President Mike Pence to campus for a lecture. Audio recordings of the senate’s vote make clear that viewpoint discrimination played a role in the decision. ​​One student senator is recorded saying that “if you’re against the individual speaker, then I think it’s fine to vote in that way.” Or, put differently, it’s perfectly fine to let your personal politics and morality supersede your duty to treat funding requests in a viewpoint-neutral manner.

A theater professor refused to express anger at something that wasn’t meant to cause anger. Coastal Carolina University wants to fire him for it.

 

If you haven’t heard of Coastal Carolina University’s absurd punishment of theater professor Steven Earnest (and you made it through that headline without frying too many brain cells), you might take a couple of more minutes to read through this week’s press release from FIRE:

On Sept. 16, a visiting artist was working with two students of color after class, and one student expressed that she felt isolated and would like to get to know other non-white students in the department. The visiting artist asked about whether it might be helpful for non-white students to connect as a group, and she and the students wrote out the names of other non-white students on the classroom whiteboard while brainstorming ideas. 

FIRE’s 2021 College Free Speech Rankings Find Increased Student Support for Censorship

 

Last week, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), working alongside College Pulse and RealClearEducation, published the second rendition of our College Free Speech Rankings. Among the takeaways? Prospective college students who want a college with a strong culture of free expression should consider Claremont McKenna College or the University of Chicago, which come first and second (with CMC taking the top spot held by UChicago last year). By that same token, they might want to think twice about DePauw University, which finishes last for the second consecutive year.

When we published our first edition of the rankings last year, the nearly 20,000 students at 55 institutions made it the largest survey of college student attitudes on free speech ever conducted. Nowhere to go from there but down? Nonsense. This year, we surveyed nearly triple the number of schools (159) and nearly double the number of students (over 37,000). The report takes into account the varied dimensions of free expression on campus, including the ability to discuss challenging topics like race, gender dynamics, and geopolitical conflicts; whether students hold back from openly sharing their views; and official campus speech policies.

The rankings found that more than 80% of students report self-censoring their viewpoints at their colleges at least some of the time, with 21% saying they censor themselves often. Only a third of students say that their college administration makes it either very or extremely clear that it will protect free speech on campus. What’s more, some illiberal streaks among the student population seem to be trending in the wrong direction. For instance, 66% reported some level of acceptance for speaker shout-downs (up 4 percentage points from FIRE’s 2020 report), and 23% agreed that it’s acceptable for people to use violence to stop certain speech (up 5 percentage points). Additionally, students generally showed much greater intolerance for campus speakers with conservative positions.

3 in 4 Campaigns Targeting Faculty Expression Result in Punishment (but FIRE’s New Legal Defense Fund Can Help)

 

For more than 20 years, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has defended collegiate scholars from attacks by would-be censors who dislike what they say or discover in the course of their research, teaching, or personal expression. Distressingly, a new report from FIRE shows the scope of this task finding that efforts at such censorship are frequently successful and increasingly common.

The report—“Scholars Under Fire”— documents attempts to penalize scholars for speech and expression that, although often controversial, is protected by their First Amendment and academic freedom rights. FIRE found that such incidents have quadrupled since 2015 and reached a new record in 2020 at 113 incidents, with 2021 on track to match or exceed 2020’s tally. Making matters worse, an alarming 74% of scholars receive some sort of punishment from their schools when they’re targeted by campaigns against their constitutionally protected speech. This problem spans ideologies, with most campaigns in the database (62%) coming from the political “left” of the scholar and 34% coming from the scholar’s “right.”

These findings demonstrate increased risks to faculty expression, but FIRE has added a new resource for fighting back. On the same day we released our report, FIRE also officially launched the Faculty Legal Defense Fund (FLDF), which will provide free legal assistance to faculty at public colleges and universities across the country. The fund provides no-cost legal help by connecting faculty with experienced counsel from FLDF’s network of attorneys around the country and using FIRE’s resources as an experienced defender of campus rights to leverage faculty members’ ability to defend their rights.

Quote of the Day: MLK on Our Colleges

 

“If we are not careful, our colleges will produce a group of close-minded, unscientific, illogical propagandists, consumed with immoral acts. Be careful, ‘brethren!’ Be careful, teachers!” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Despite failings, Martin Luther King, Jr., was a man of remarkable vision. He stated this over 60 years ago. Back then our colleges and universities were centers of academic excellence, stressing the importance of finding knowledge through constant questioning and by challenging the conventional verities. Today? They are occupied by close-minded, unscientific, illogical propagandists, consumed with immoral acts.

The Best Commencement Speech of 2021

 

Purdue University President Mitch Daniels warned that the pandemic snuffed out the American eagerness to take risks and move ahead boldly.

There is no finer commencement speaker at any level than Purdue University’s President and former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. And not because his speeches are relatively short. Nor are they delivered in a flourishing style reminiscent of former Secretary of State and Harvard President Edward Everett, the other Gettysburg speaker in 1863, giving a speech for two hours that no one remembers.

Oh, sure, there are other terrific commencement speakers. Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame comes to mind. Not to a college or university, but this short, memorable unsolicited speech via his Facebook page to trade school graduates and high school grads who forgo college for a trade. Delivered last year during the height of the pandemic, it is timeless.

Member Post

 

Dartmouth College, like any higher education institution, sends out all the usual periodic emails from administration officials, various academic departments, and the medical staff’s COVID-19 updates. To give you all an idea of the current intellectual climate and political views of the administration and selected members of the faculty, I’ve excerpted parts of some of […]

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On this episode of The Federalist Radio Hour, Real Clear Education’s Nathan Harden joins Culture Editor Emily Jashinsky to break down how the newly released College Free Speech Rankings can provide more insight into the problems in higher education and current campus culture.

Heather Mac Donald joins Brian Anderson to discuss how academic institutions responded to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and how academia’s monolithic belief in systemic racism has fueled recent riots across the United States. She also answers questions from a livestream audience.

Audio for this episode is excerpted and edited from a Manhattan Institute eventcast, “Fearless Thinking in an Age of Conformity.” Find out more and register for future events by visiting our website, and subscribe to MI’s YouTube channel.

ACF PoMoCon #25: Tom Harmon

 

This week’s podcast in memory of Peter Lawler is a conversation on education, higher education, elites, and the drama of our times. Tom Harmon’s a friend and a wonderful professor and we talk about everything of concern to conservatives now–what’s wrong with America’s cognitive elites, the new ruling class, how come it’s got such a powerful effect on conservative and Republican elites, too, how we might help conservatives who opt for homeschooling and classical schools, and what it takes to defend the American way of life.

The Fairfax County School Curriculum, Cancel Culture, and Why You Should Care

 

I think conservatives are starting to understand – in practical terms – exactly what Andrew Breitbart was getting at when he said “Politics is downstream of culture.”

“Cancel Culture” is the direct result of the Right’s elite class turning up its collective nose at the culture fight. Cultural battles, they sniffed, were a “distraction” from the “real issues” … like reforming the Alternative Minimum Tax.

Bubble-Wrapped Americans: How the US Became Obsessed with Physical and Emotional Safety

 

Bubble-Wrapped Americans: How the U.S. Became Obsessed with Physical and Emotional Safety“In America we say if anyone gets hurt, we will ban it for everyone everywhere for all time. And before we know it, everything is banned.” — Professor Jonathan Haidt

It’s a common refrain: We have bubble-wrapped the world. Americans in particular are obsessed with “safety.” The simplest way to get any law passed in America, be it a zoning law or a sweeping reform of the intelligence community, is to invoke a simple sentence: “A kid might get hurt.”

Almost no one is opposed to reasonable efforts at making the world a safer place. But the operating word here is “reasonable.” Banning lawn darts, for example, rather than just telling people that they can be dangerous when used by unsupervised children, is a perfect example of a craving for safety gone too far.

Requiescat in Pace, Universitas

 

Did you hear that? It was the sound of academia’s lifeless corpse thudding against the ground, having finally succumbed to COVID-19. Higher education had a preexisting condition, you see.

Bryan Caplan is known for his signaling theory of college education: A college education is valuable because of what it signals, and not because of the learning it involves. If this is true, it’s only part of the truth. A college degree may be valuable mainly as a credential, but college is more than just the degree. Why didn’t online education kill the four-year college? If the university is just a credentialing mechanism, won’t any credentialing mechanism do? Well, no. As it turns out, an online education isn’t a perfect substitute for the value provided by a conventional university education — or, at least, it wasn’t until coronavirus came along.

Member Post

 

http://walterewilliams.com/colleges-dupe-parents-and-taxpayers/ Colleges have been around for centuries. College students have also been around for centuries. Yet, college administrators assume that today’s students have needs that were unknown to their predecessors. Those needs include diversity and equity personnel, with massive budgets to accommodate. Preview Open

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Kay S. Hymowitz joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss Pennsylvania’s Williamson College of the Trades, a three-year school for young men offering a debt-free path to high-paying work—and the life skills to help them get there.

“Trade schools” have long had a stigma in American culture, but Williamson is no ordinary trade school: students wake up early to the sound of reveille and attend academic classes in coats and ties. As Hymowitz writes in City Journal’s autumn issue, “With its old-timey rituals, rigorous scheduling, and immersive culture, Williamson has a military-school feel.” But according to the students she interviewed, the prospect of a good-paying career makes the strict rules more than worth it.

An Antidote to Conservative Gloom on Campus Free Speech

 

FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff is in National Review this week with a rather simple message for conservatives: There are actually a lot of things we can feel good about regarding the state of free expression on college campuses today.

The welfare of campus discourse is not perfect, of course, and its easy to sense that the issue is only getting worse–especially as free speech on campus gets no shortage of media exposure. The playing field has also changed in other fundamental ways. College students today are more aligned against free speech than they were ten or even five years ago, for reasons Greg and Jonathan Haidt expound on at length in their bestselling book The Coddling of the American Mind.

I’ve been at FIRE since 2008, and I can attest to those changes in the culture firsthand. I can also, however, attest to these meaningful changes FIRE has brought about nationally:

Johns Hopkins’s Blooming Ideas

 

http://welcometobaltimorehon.com/images/johnshopkins.jpgJohns Hopkins was born on this day, May 19, 1795. A Marylander, his Quaker parents lived out their religious beliefs by freeing their slaves. This cost them greatly and led them to put their son into their tobacco fields at age 12, ending his formal education. Yet, Johns Hopkins not only overcame the economic disadvantages imposed on him by his parents, but also overcame the natural human impulse to hate the “other,” the people with darker skin who society and his personal experience would tell him to blame. From a poor start in his parents’ tobacco fields, after transplantation to the merchantile field, Johns Hopkins blossomed into a business leader, then grew other businesses through investment, finally creating seedbeds from which amazing new ideas bloomed.

Johns Hopkins started life with a very unusual first name. As Johns Hopkins Medicine explains:

Johns Hopkins’ peculiar first name was simply a family affair; it had been his great-grandmother’s maiden name.

At the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma, Professor Jacob Howland writes in City Journal, “a new administration has turned a once-vibrant academic institution with a $1.1 billion endowment and a national reputation in core liberal arts subjects into a glorified trade school with a social-justice agenda.” Speaking with Seth Barron, Howland describes how, in early April, TU’s new administration announced a wholesale reorganization of academic departments, including the elimination of traditional liberal arts majors. Students and faculty have responded by organizing protests and launching a petition to “save the heart and soul of the University of Tulsa.”

Member Post

 

Kevin Williamson just published an article at National Review where he advocated eliminating all government and bank-financed student loans. While I understand the logic behind his ideas and support getting rid of government-based student loans, I think his ideas are woefully insufficient at dealing with one of the root causes for the over $1 trillion […]

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