Safe Spaces and Timidity

Antonia Okofor is an advocate for empowering women, and she argues that the 2nd Amendment is a valuable tool in the empowerment.

She was scheduled to speak at two Liberal (note: not Liberal Arts—they’ve long ago lost that breadth) colleges, Hampshire College and Mount Holyoke.

Hampshire College canceled Okofor’s engagement on short notice—two hours’ notice—claiming that her speech was “too controversial.”  Then the place thought better of its excuse and claimed the trivial technicality of a student application not being complete as the premise for canceling.  This is nonsense: if that had been the reason, school management would have said so in the first place.  On the other hand, the lack of dotted i’s and crossed t’s would have been just as indefensible as an excuse.  This is fear, instead, fear of a better argument.

Higher Education Improvement

The Wall Street Journal has a summary of the House’s The Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity Through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act, to be proposed this week.  It’s aimed at

filling that gap [in college graduates’ skills, with 6 million jobs left begging] by both deregulating parts of the sector and laying the conditions for shorter, faster pathways to the workforce. The act focuses on ensuring students don’t just enroll in school, but actually graduate with skills that the labor market is seeking.

Highlights include these:

Cornell Professors

apparently support racism and racist stereotyping.

Recall that George Ciccariello-Maher, Associate Professor of Politics and Global Studies at Drexel University, routinely says it’s whiteness, white victimization, all things white that are at fault for mass shootings and violence generally. For instance, this in an interview with Democracy Now!

Whiteness is never seen as a cause, in and of itself, of these kinds of massacres despite the fact that whiteness is a structure of privilege and it’s a structure of power, and a structure that, when it feels threatened, you know, lashes out.

What makes white men so prone to this kind of behavior?

Frightening the Snowflakes

It seems a Cambridge University professor had the effrontery to warn new students of a class of his—Physical Sciences—that life is hard and that it’s harder when you’re stupid.  For instance, this in an email that he sent to his incoming students:

Remember that you are NOT at any other uni, where students do drink a lot and do have what they regard as a ‘good time’—and you are NOT on a course, as some Cambridge courses sadly are, where such a behaviour pattern is possible or acceptable.

Oh, the wailing and bodice rending that resulted.

College Entrance Criteria

In an op-ed nominally centered on the failure of affirmative action in college admissions, John Katzman (o Noodle CEO and Princeton Review and 2U founder) and Steve Cohen (co-author of Getting In! The Zinch Guide to College Admissions & Financial Aid in the Digital Age) wrote this.

But the work of admissions officers is more complicated than finding the highest test scores. …. They want to put together an incoming freshman class that has aspiring journalists for the school newspaper, great athletes for all the teams, debaters, musicians, actors, dancers, legacies, and development prospects.

Free Speech at the Universities

Kent Fuchs, University of Florida President, and Glenn Altschuler, Cornell Professor of American Studies, have some…interesting…thoughts on this in their recent Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Public universities that choose to grant access to speakers who are not invited or affiliated with the institution are legally obligated to accept all such speakers. As a result, they may become hostage to Nazis or other extremists—forced to stand by as these groups capitalize on their university’s visibility and prestige to amplify their vile messages.

Fuchs and Altschuler wrote that as if it were a bad thing.  I have to ask: why are they so terrified of a contest of ideas in an open, public forum?

“Fear of Violent Protests Raises Cost of Free Speech on Campus”

That’s the title of Douglas Belkin’s piece in Sunday’s Wall Street Journal.  However, it’s inaccurate.  What is feared by college/university management is the thugs who protest free speech with violence and others who protest free speech with noise and interruptions and venue entrance blockings that prevent the speaker from speaking.

Schools have struggled to come up with a consistent answer to requests to speak, pitting their free-speech ideals against security concerns.

Schools are being disingenuous when they pretend to these concerns, and the WSJ is misunderstanding the problem when it characterizes the schools as having free-speech ideals. The existence of the schools’ trading off security for free-speech demonstrates the lack of ideals regarding free-speech.

A Blow for Standards

And it’s struck by California’s state Supreme Court, yet, which is the controlling factor in setting the passing score, the cut score, on the State’s bar exam which prospective lawyers must pass in order to practice in California.

The Court has decided to keep the cut score at its current level, which is the second highest in the US.  The State’s law school deans are in an uproar over that; they wanted the cut score significantly lowered.  They’re complaining that

many competent graduates will continue to suffer the consequences of not being able to become certified to practice….

Integration

It seems a New Jersey high school, Cliffside Park High of the town of Cliffside Park, has a teacher who insists English—or as she put it, American—be spoken in her classroom.

…men and women are fighting. They are not fighting for your right to speak Spanish. They are fighting for your right to speak American[.]

Of course, she’s being called a racist for insisting that folks assimilate into American culture rather than our culture be bent into the home country’s—every home country’s—culture.

One More Reason

…for charter and voucher schools, this time provided by the Biloxi (public) School District.  They’ve banned Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird from its 8th grade classrooms.  Why?

…some of the book’s language “makes people uncomfortable.”

Never mind that proper education must make people uncomfortable because it challenges their preconceived notions, it makes them think, it makes them think for themselves.  It even confronts students with uncomfortable aspects of our history, like Atticus Finch explaining to his daughter, Scout, the term “nigger-lover.”  Or Tom Robinson referring to himself, ironically, as a nigger.