Category Archive 'Colleges and Universities'
18 Dec 2016

Save the Snowflakes!

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Hat tip to Vanderleun.

14 Nov 2016

Nationwide University Therapy Sessions

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Glenn Reynolds lists some of the infantilizing responses of universities across the nation to Donald Trump’s untoward election, and it is an amazing list. This large-scale attempt at playing-the-victim is, of course, one more example of the standard leftist technique in which moral jiu jitsu is used to marginalize and intimidate the majority.

Trump’s substantial victory, when most progressives expected a Hillary landslide, came as a shock to many. That shock seems to have been multiplied in academe, where few people seem to know any Trump supporters — or, at least, any Trump supporters who’ll admit to it.

The response to the shock has been to turn campuses into kindergarten. The University of Michigan Law School announced a ”post-election self-care” event with “food and play,” including “coloring sheets, play dough [sic], positive card-making, Legos and bubbles with your fellow law students.” (Embarrassed by the attention, UM Law scrubbed the announcement from its website, perhaps concerned that people would wonder if its graduates would require Legos and bubbles in the event of stressful litigation.)

Stanford emailed its students and faculty that psychological counseling was available for those experiencing “uncertainty, anger, anxiety and/or fear” following the election. So did the University of Michigan’s Flint campus.

Meanwhile, even the Ivy League wasn’t immune, with Penn (Trump’s alma mater) creating a post-election safe space with puppies and coloring books:

    Student Daniel Tancredi reported that the people who attended were “fearful” about the results of the election.

    “For the most part, students just hung out and ate snacks and made small talk,” Tancredi told The College Fix. “Of course, that was in addition to coloring and playing with the animals.”

At Cornell, meanwhile, students held a “Cry-in.”

    As the event took place, students — roughly 20 or so, according to the Sun’s video — wrote their reactions and emotions on poster boards with colored markers, or with chalk on the ground. A chilly day on the Ithaca campus, at one point the demonstrators huddled together as what appeared to be a barista brought them warm drinks. Several adults, most likely professors, stood around the group. The event appeared to take on the atmosphere of a funeral wake.

Yale had a ”group scream.”

At Tufts, the university offered arts and crafts, while the University of Kansas reminded students that there were plenty of “therapy dogs” available. At other schools, exams were cancelled and professors expressed their sympathy to traumatized students.

It’s easy to mock this as juvenile silliness — because, well, it is juvenile silliness of the sort documented in Frank Furedi’s What Happened To The University? But that’s not all it is. It’s also exactly what these schools purport to abhor: An effort to marginalize and silence part of the university community.

In an email to students, the University of Michigan’s President, Mark Schlissel, wrote: “Our responsibility is to remain committed to education, discovery and intellectual honesty — and to diversity, equity and inclusion. We are at our best when we come together to engage respectfully across our ideological differences; to support ALL who feel marginalized, threatened or unwelcome; and to pursue knowledge and understanding.”

But when you treat an election in which the “wrong” candidate wins as a traumatic event on a par with the 9/11 attacks, calling for counseling and safe spaces, you’re implicitly saying that everyone who supported that “wrong” candidate is, well, unsafe. Despite the talk about diversity and inclusion, this is really sending the signal that people who supported Trump — and Trump carried the state of Michigan, so there are probably quite a few on campus — aren’t really included in acceptable campus culture. It’s not promoting diversity, it’s enforcing uniformity. It’s not promoting inclusion, it’s practicing exclusion. And, though it pretends to be about nurturing, it’s actually about being mean to those who don’t fall in the nurtured class. Schlissel says he wants the University of Michigan to be “a welcoming place for all members of society,” but how welcome can students who backed Trump feel in the wake of this performance?

Read the whole thing.

13 Nov 2016

College Kids Today

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collegeboo

28 Jun 2016

Government Interventions For Equality

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EveryoneCollege

14 Jun 2016

College, Then and Now

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Yale1960s
Yale in the 1960s

Uncle Rick explains the differences between college education in the Pre-Revolutionary 1960s and what goes on at colleges today.

Long ago, before 1965 say, college was understood to be for the intelligent and academically prepared among the young, who would one day both provide leadership for the country and set the tone of society. Perhaps ten percent, but no more than twenty percent, of high-school graduates were thought to have any business on a campus.

It was elitist and deliberately so. Individuals and groups obviously differed in character and aptitude. The universities selected those students who could profit by the things done at universities.

Incoming freshmen were assumed to read with fluency and to know algebra cold. They did, because applicants were screened for these abilities by the SATs. These tests, not yet dumbed down, then measured a student’s ability to handle complex ideas expressed in complex literate English, this being what college students then did.

There were no remedial courses. If you needed them, you belonged somewhere else. The goal of college was learning, not social uplift.

Colleges were a bit stodgy, a bit isolated from the world, and focused on teaching. Most had not adopted the grand-sounding title of “university.” Professors were hired for a few years to see whether they worked out with the expectation that if they did, they would get tenure. At schools I knew, “publish or perish” did not exist. The students, almost entirely white and with the cultural norms associated with that condition, were well behaved within the limits imposed by late adolescence.

The purpose of college was the making of cultivated men and women who would understand the world to the extent that it has proved willing to be understood. This meant the liberal arts. “Liberal” didn’t mean “lefty” or “nice.” It implied a broad grounding in languages, literature, history, the sciences, mathematics, economics, philosophy, and art and music.

The emphasis was on “broad.” For example, if the student took a reasonably rigorous course called “A Survey of Art from Classical Antiquity to the Present,” he—or, most assuredly she—could go into any museum or archaeological site in the Western world, and know what he was seeing. In discussions of politics or literature he would not feel like an orphaned guttersnipe and, having a basis in most fields, could rapidly master any that proved of importance or interest.

There was of course, the young being the young, parallel interest in beer, the other sex, and the usual foolishness that we geezers remember with fondness.

That is how things were. Then came what are roughly called the Sixties, actually the late Sixties and early Seventies.

They changed everything.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

YaleRacialDemonstration
Yale today

23 Mar 2016

Pink Snowflakes Meltdown at Emory Over “Trump 2016” Chalkings

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EmoryStudents

Several instances of the chalking of “TRUMP 2016” at various locations on the Emory campus provoked student demonstrations and demands for administrative action.

The Emory Wheel:

Students protested yesterday at the Emory Administration Building following a series of overnight, apparent pro-Donald Trump for president chalkings throughout campus.

Roughly 40 students gathered shortly after 4:30 p.m. in the outdoors space between the Administration Building and Goodrich C. White Hall; many students carried signs featuring slogans such as “Stop Trump” or “Stop Hate” and an antiphonal chant addressed to University administration, led by College sophomore Jonathan Peraza, resounded “You are not listening! Come speak to us, we are in pain!” throughout the Quad. …

“I’m supposed to feel comfortable and safe [here],” one student said. “But this man is being supported by students on our campus and our administration shows that they, by their silence, support it as well … I don’t deserve to feel afraid at my school,” she added. …

“[Faculty] are supporting this rhetoric by not ending it,” said one student, who went on to say that “people of color are struggling academically because they are so focused on trying to have a safe community and focus on these issues [related to having safe spaces on campus].”

Read the whole thing.

The Emory Administration responded affirmatively with new regulations requiring campus reservation service permission before scribbling with chalk, restricting chalkable surfaces, and limiting the duration chalked messages will be permitted to survive. University President James W, Wagner additionally promised “immediate refinements to certain policy and procedural deficiencies, regular and structured opportunities for difficult dialogues, a formal process to institutionalize identification, review and [the] addressing of social justice opportunities and issues and a commitment to an annual retreat to renew our efforts.”

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

22 Nov 2015

Hitler Learns of the Unrest on Campuses

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15 Nov 2015

The American University as Rotten Pumpkin

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MarchofResilience
“March of Resilience” at Yale

Ross Douthat obviously does not agree with the crybullying of today’s radicalized college students, but he recognizes that it was the same academic establishment they are insulting and revolting against which made the corrupt bargain with the revolutionary left that is responsible for the presence of the toxins within the national educational system which produced the current infatuated mobs howling at their doors. There are the crazed students, heads full of Marxist agitprop, filled with passionate intensity confronting the empty-headed and empty-hearted liberals who never believed there could be such a thing as an enemy to the left.

The protesters at Yale and Missouri and a longer list of schools stand accused of being spoiled, silly, self-dramatizing — and many of them are. But they’re also dealing with a university system that’s genuinely corrupt, and that’s long relied on rote appeals to the activists’ own left-wing pieties to cloak its utter lack of higher purpose.

And within this system, the contemporary college student is actually a strange blend of the pampered and the exploited.

This is true of the college football recruit who’s a god on campus but also an unpaid cog in a lucrative football franchise that has a public college vestigially attached.

It’s true of the liberal arts student who’s saddled with absurd debts to pay for an education that doesn’t even try to pass along any version of Matthew Arnold’s “ best which has been thought and said,” and often just induces mental breakdowns in the pursuit of worldly success.

It’s true of the working class or minority student who’s expected to lend a patina of diversity to a campus organized to deliver good times to rich kids whose parents pay full freight. And then it’s true of the rich girl who discovers the same university that promised her a carefree Rumspringa (justified on high feminist principle, of course) doesn’t want to hear a word about what happened to her at that frat party over the weekend.

The protesters may be obnoxious enemies of free debate, in other words, but they aren’t wrong to smell the rot around them. And they’re vindicated every time they push and an administrator caves: It’s proof that they have a monopoly on moral spine, and that any small-l liberal alternative is simply hollow.

Or as the great Walter Sobchak might have put it: “Say what you want about the tenets of political correctness, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.”

Which might turn out to be the only epitaph for the modern university anybody needs to write.

01 Nov 2015

Academia’s Fraudulent Diversity

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CornellFacultyDonations2011
Cornell Faculty Political Donations 2011-2014

Arthur C. Brooks, in the New York Times of all places, questions Academia’s double-standard on diversity.

One of the great intellectual and moral epiphanies of our time is the realization that human diversity is a blessing. It has become conventional wisdom that being around those unlike ourselves makes us better people — and more productive to boot.

Scholarly studies have piled up showing that race and gender diversity in the workplace can increase creative thinking and improve performance. Meanwhile, excessive homogeneity can lead to stagnation and poor problem-solving.

Unfortunately, new research also shows that academia has itself stopped short in both the understanding and practice of true diversity — the diversity of ideas — and that the problem is taking a toll on the quality and accuracy of scholarly work. This year, a team of scholars from six universities studying ideological diversity in the behavioral sciences published a paper in the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences that details a shocking level of political groupthink in academia. The authors show that for every politically conservative social psychologist in academia there are about 14 liberal social psychologists.

Why the imbalance? The researchers found evidence of discrimination and hostility within academia toward conservative researchers and their viewpoints. In one survey cited, 82 percent of social psychologists admitted they would be less likely to support hiring a conservative colleague than a liberal scholar with equivalent qualifications.

This has consequences well beyond fairness. It damages accuracy and quality. As the authors write, “Increased political diversity would improve social psychological science by reducing the impact of bias mechanisms such as confirmation bias, and by empowering dissenting minorities to improve the quality of the majority’s thinking.”

One of the study’s authors, Philip E. Tetlock of the University of Pennsylvania, put it to me more bluntly. Expecting trustworthy results on politically charged topics from an “ideologically incestuous community,” he explained, is “downright delusional.”

Read the whole thing.

Diversity with respect to supposed victim’s groups, pace Mr. Brooks, is simply a load of crap. Everyone is a victim some of the time, in some respects. The children of the very rich have, by enormously disproportionate margins, extraordinarily selfish, often really neglectful, parents and are commonly burdened with expectations and obligations which most of humanity is spared.

Imagine growing up as George W. Bush with the living image of Frank Merriwell, captain of the Yale Baseball Team, Youngest Navy Pilot in WWII, as a father. You would be expected to live up to an absolutely impossible scale of human perfection. It’s no wonder that the poor chap originally took to drink. The astonishing thing is that he ever dried out.

Being African-American, being “Hispanic”, being a sexual pervert, even if you are actually from a privileged background makes you a highly valued, eagerly recruited representative of “Diversity,” but nobody gives a good goddamn about the diversity of being of a Belgian, Finn, Ukrainian or from any kind of poor, white working class or rural background.

Go watch one of the old-time Hollywood war movies. You didn’t need Sidney Poitier to achieve American diversity. There would be the Protestant blond farmer from Iowa, the Texas cowboy, and the rustic Southerner. Then, there’d be the Catholic Polack coal-miner, the funny little Italian, the tough Mick, and the heavily-accented prole from Brooklyn. And, as the really odd man out, you’d frequently have the very different too-small, too pacifistic, too-urban, or too-intellectual Jewish member of the platoon. There was plenty of diversity, in some ways more authentically than today, back in the Bad Old Days before today’s accredited forms of diversity were recognized and officially established.

Diversity? Places like Yale will really have diversity, when in addition to the university-provided Black Student Center, Women’s Student Center, Hispanic Student Center, and LBGT Center, there is a Conservative Center, a Redneck Center, and Gun Owner’s Center.

24 Aug 2015

Freshman Summer Reading, Then and Now

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A scene from “Fun Home”.

When you get admitted to an elite university, you receive “the freshman packet,” a large envelope containing a guide to the campus, a course catalog, various brochures inviting you to join organizations or buy things… and a suggested reading list for the summer. At some point, after you arrive on campus in the Fall, there is going to be a Freshman introductory meeting at which the suggested book(s) are going to be discussed. In other words, you will be tested on the reading(s).

In my day, at Yale, the suggested book was Jacques Monod’s “Chance and Necessity“.

I was, I fear, naive as an incoming freshman. I read it as a rather turgid, Continental recounting of the Miller-Urey Experiment, involving the creation of amino acids (the building blocks of life) by passing electrical charges through a mixture of methane, ammonia, water, and hydrogen gases in a closed container. In reality, “Chance and Necessity” was an attempt to dispel my (non-existent at that point) religious faith in order to replace it with the proper sort of faith in materialism and scientism which a good member of the establishment elite ought to have.

An Amazon reviewer summarizes it, thusly:

Jacques Monod, the Nobel Prize winning biochemist, allies himself, in the title of this admirable treatise, to the atomist Democritus, who held that the whole universe is but the fruit of two qualities, chance and necessity. Interpreting the laws of natural selection along purely naturalistic lines, he succeeds in presenting a powerful case that takes into account the ethical, political and philosophical undercurrents of the synthesis in modern biology. Above all, he stresses that science must commit itself to the postulate of objectivity by casting aside delusive ideological and moral props, even though he enjoins, at the same time, that the postulate of objectivity itself is a moral injunction. He launches a bitter polemic against metaphysical and scientific vitalisms, dismissing them as obscurantist. … He refutes teleological explanations of nature as being contrary to the postulate of objectivity, drawing attention to self-constructing proteins as teleonomic agents, followed by an explanation of the role of nucleic acids, reproduction and invariance. This leads him to dismiss Judaeo-Christian religiosity, which accords man a significant role as being created in God’s image, as a nauseating and false pietism and he even goes so far as to recommend eugenic reform. Writing with great clarity and flair, and often in a forceful and idiosyncratic idiom, he puts forward a compelling case.

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Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. I was reading today that incoming freshmen at Duke also have summertime suggested readings, and that certain unenlightened members of the Duke Class of 2019 have had the temerity to resist reading this year’s choice, a graphic novel, titled “Fun Home“.

Duke Chronicle:

Several incoming freshmen decided not to read “Fun Home” because its sexual images and themes conflicted with their personal and religious beliefs. Freshman Brian Grasso posted in the Class of 2019 Facebook page July 26 that he would not read the book “because of the graphic visual depictions of sexuality,” igniting conversation among students. The graphic novel, written by Alison Bechdel, chronicles her relationship with her father and her issues with sexual identity.

“I feel as if I would have to compromise my personal Christian moral beliefs to read it,” Grasso wrote in the post.

Many first-year students responded to the post, expressing their thoughts on Grasso’s discomfort with the novel. Some defended the book’s images as having literary value and said that the book could broaden students’ viewpoints.

“Reading the book will allow you to open your mind to a new perspective and examine a way of life and thinking with which you are unfamiliar,” wrote freshman Marivi Howell-Arza.

However, several freshmen agreed with Grasso that the novel’s images conflicted with their beliefs. Freshman Bianca D’Souza said that while the novel discussed important topics, she did not find the sexual interactions appropriate and could not bring herself to view the images depicting nudity.

Freshman Jeffrey Wubbenhorst based his decision not to read the book on its graphic novel format.

“The nature of ‘Fun Home’ means that content that I might have consented to read in print now violates my conscience due to its pornographic nature,” he wrote in an email.

Grasso said that many students privately messaged him thanking him for the post and agreeing with his viewpoint. He explained that he knew the post would be controversial but wanted to make sure students with similar Christian beliefs did not feel alone, adding that he also heard from several students with non-Christian backgrounds who chose not to read the book for moral reasons.

“There is so much pressure on Duke students, and they want so badly to fit in,” he said. “But at the end of the day, we don’t have to read the book.”

The summer reading book selection committee expected that the novel would be contentious among its readers, said senior Sherry Zhang, a member of the committee and co-chair of the First-Year Advisory Counselor Board. The debate generated by Grasso’s post was “very respectful and considerate,” Zhang said.

Publishers Weekly described “Fun Home”:

This autobiography by the author of the long-running [comic] strip, Dykes to Watch Out For, deals with her childhood with a closeted gay father, who was an English teacher and proprietor of the local funeral parlor (the former allowed him access to teen boys). Fun Home refers both to the funeral parlor, where he put makeup on the corpses and arranged the flowers, and the family’s meticulously restored gothic revival house, filled with gilt and lace, where he liked to imagine himself a 19th-century aristocrat. … Bechdel’s talent for intimacy and banter gains gravitas when used to describe a family in which a man’s secrets make his wife a tired husk and overshadow his daughter’s burgeoning womanhood and homosexuality. His court trial over his dealings with a young boy pushes aside the importance of her early teen years. Her coming out is pushed aside by his death, probably a suicide.

In 1966, those-who-know-better were trying to get rid of your religious superstitions and make you into a good secular materialist believer in progressive scientism and the rule of experts. Today, the goal is to get rid of that old-fashioned religion-based morality and to make you into a politically correct and appropriately sensitive and respectful admirer and supporter of the LBGTQ movement, if not LBGTQ yourself.

17 Jul 2015

Parents Dedicate New College Safe Space In Honor Of Daughter Who Felt Weird In Class Once

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Idea-FreeZone
The calming, new-idea-free zone will be open around the clock to comfort students who have read or heard opinions that are at odds with their preexisting worldview.

From The Onion:

LYNNFIELD, MA—In an effort to provide sanctuary for Lynnfield College students exposed to perspectives different from their own, a new campus safe space was dedicated Wednesday in honor of Alexis Stigmore, a 2009 graduate who felt kind of weird in class one time.

Addressing students at the dedication ceremony, parents Arnold and Cassie Stigmore noted that while the college had adequate facilities to assist victims of discrimination, abuse, and post-traumatic stress, it had until now offered no comparable safe space for students, like their beloved daughter, who encounter an academic viewpoint that gives them an uncomfortable feeling.

“When our Alexis felt weird after hearing someone discuss an idea that did not conform to her personally held beliefs, she had no place to turn,” said Arnold Stigmore, standing outside the $2 million space that reportedly features soothing music, neutral-colored walls, oversized floor cushions, fun board games, and a variety of snacks. “God forbid any of you, in your years at this institution, are ever confronted with an opinion you do not share. But if you are, you will have a refuge on this campus.”

“If unfamiliar thoughts are ever provoked in your mind, or in the mind of someone you know, you can come to this place and feel safe again,” he added.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Robert Laird.

01 May 2015

“The Paradox of Dogma”

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LeftwingAcademic

Robert Tracinski argues that all the talk in contemporary universities controlled by the left about “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings” demonstrates the kind of alarm among herds of herbivores manifested in the immediate build up to an extinction event.

At the beginning of the year, I speculated that we may have reached “Peak Leftism,” the point at which the left has achieved such uniform control of the commanding heights of the culture that they have no place to go but down. Their mania for soft ideological conformity suggests a mechanism for this decline. They are growing so accustomed to living in an ideological “safe space” that they will no longer understand what it means to debate their positions, much less how to win the debate.

The most powerful historical precedent for this is the totalitarian creed of the Soviet Union—a dogma imposed, not just by campus censors or a Twitter mob, but by gulags and secret police. Yet one of the lessons of the Soviet collapse is that the ideological uniformity of a dictatorship seems totally solid and impenetrable—right up to the moment it cracks apart. The imposition of dogma succeeds in getting everyone to mouth the right slogans, even as fewer and fewer of them understand or believe the ideology behind it.

This is the Paradox of Dogma. To return to the question we started with: if you try to shut down public debate, is this a way of ensuring that you win—or an admission that you have already lost? The answer is: both. It might ensure that you win in the short term. But over the long term, it abandons the field to those who do believe in ideological debate.

26 Feb 2014

What Does Having a Freshman Sex Worker Make the College President?

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Richard Brodhead, President of Duke — “Lauren” aka “Belle Knox”, freshman pornstar

Emmeline Zhao, at Real Clear Education, interviewed “Lauren”, Duke’s Republican freshman pornstar about her preferred way of working her way through college and Duke tuition costs.

How did it cross your mind to get into adult films?

I’ve always really liked watching porn. I started watching porn when I was maybe 11, and it was something I was always very ashamed about, but I really enjoyed watching it. So when I got to college and was faced with all these financial burdens, I was literally sitting in my room one night, and I didn’t know how I was going to pay for all this, and half joking said to my roommate, “Well f— it, I’ll just be a porn star.” And so we kind of laughed, but then I half-heartedly applied and sent my picture to a bunch of porn agencies. I didn’t expect anything to come of it, but then I started getting callbacks from people saying they saw a lot of potential.

And when I started learning about just how much porn stars make, I realized I could graduate from school free of debt and do something I really love doing without having to bust my ass doing minimum wage jobs that wouldn’t get me anywhere. I knew that with my skills — I don’t yet have a college degree — I knew that all I could get was a minimum wage service job. It didn’t seem economically feasible to me. I didn’t want to struggle in school while working, and it wouldn’t pay my bills. So I just jumped into it, into porn, and really loved it.

What about financial aid? Did you apply for any grants or scholarships?

I have siblings in college, who are being supported by my parents, and my parents are paying $1,000 a month just for their own student loans and my dad graduated 20 years ago. One of my parents is recently unemployed. I was offered $13,000 in financial aid. That wasn’t enough — that’s $47,000 still unaccounted for.

People have this perception that if you cannot pay for college, financial aid will take care of you, and that perception is wrong. If you are very low income, you can get a full ride to Duke, no problem. If you are middle or upper-middle class, you will get screwed in the process. So many middle class students have not gotten sufficient financial aid because on paper, their families look like they have money. Just because I’m not poor doesn’t mean I can afford $60,000 a year for college. Other students from middle and upper-middle class families have said the same thing.

When you look at the state of education in America, middle class students are left out, even harmed, by the financial aid process, not helped by it. People need to come to an understanding about that. Financial aid offices should look at their policies and how they help their students.

What about options for student loans? Government loans would have at least deferred payments for a little while after graduation, interest-free.

I wasn’t offered any government loans — my only other option was private loans at 12 percent interest rates and I knew that by the time I graduated college, I’d have hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. I have seen other members of my family graduate college decades ago still dealing with debt now and I knew it’d give me less mobility. It would also hurt me if I needed to get something like a credit card — hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt is not something I want to carry around and it’s absolutely ridiculous that that’s what the state of our nation is, that that’s an expectation.

I have a friend who comes from a low-income family and pays $500 a year for Duke, and when I talk to him about my problems with financial aid, he doesn’t understand. It’s such a problem to be caught in the middle with financial aid, and people just don’t understand.

I think it’s very poignant that nowadays if you’re middle class, the only way to pay for college is to take out hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans. We need to provide a better financial future for our students. I shouldn’t have to go broke, I shouldn’t have to go into debt at 18 years old to pay for an education.

So why Duke, of all places? Why didn’t you choose a less costly institution?

I was offered scholarships at a lot of places. I was offered full tuition at Vanderbilt, for example, and was accepted into USC, Wellesley, Barnard, Pepperdine, some others. But I visited Duke last year on Blue Devil Days [Duke’s programmed weekend for admitted freshmen], and I remember walking into the Duke Chapel — I’m a very spiritual person — and just feeling an energy that told me, “This is the place you need to be.” And I felt something in the chapel in that moment that told me that I needed to be here and go to Duke and it was something that would be an amazing experience for me.

Would you still do porn if Duke cost less?

No. If Duke had given me sufficient financial aid, if they had given me the proper resources and made college affordable for my family, I would not have done porn. I would’ve just gotten through college and been fine. The financial burden that Duke put on me was absolutely enormous and insurmountable with the resources that I had. …

Why do you say porn is less demeaning than a service job?

Go to the mall and talk to somebody who works at a hot dog stand and ask them about their job. They go to work at 9 a.m., work until 6 p.m., maybe get two five-minute breaks in the day, make $6.25 an hour before taxes, and they’re on their feet all day. They’re working in conditions that are physically and mentally draining. So they’re making maybe $100 a day before taxes for doing 9 hours of hard physical work. You look at that and look at what I’m doing, making $1,000 for two hours doing what I really love doing, which for me is not degrading and is something I feel safe in, you tell me which industry is demeaning?

People say the porn industry is demeaning, but being in a service industry is degrading in and of itself. You’re basically being stepped on. Any job I would’ve gotten as a minimum wage worker would’ve been exploitative, degrading to me, and not provided the money I needed to make, which was $4,000 month. So why would I work 80 hours a week, struggle with school, barely get any sleep and be treated like a second class citizen, when I can do porn for 14 hours a day , make thousands, set my own hours, and have a ton of fun doing it?

Read the whole thing.

Reading this piece, I wondered how Richard Brodhead, president of Duke can sleep at night.

If I were president of an elite university and read in the paper that the combination of my school’s tuition costs and financial aid policies had driven a female freshman to become a sex worker in order to pay her tuition bills, I’d be tossing and turning all night as I thought about what I needed to do about it.

Yes, it is true that young college students do not always have good judgement, and some of them will inevitably make bad choices. But I cannot imagine how the chief executive of a university with such a student could avoid feeling a sense of personal responsibility for the state of affairs in which tuition cost have risen to such a point and where student loans commonly create such a crushing burden that one young woman would make such a choice. The president of that particular university ought to feel that his own policies and administration have, ultimately, turned him into the equivalent of a pimp.

I think that Richard Brodhead when he got up the next morning, after reading the news stories, ought to have summoned “Lauren” to his office as the first thing. He should have talked to her like a Dutch uncle, and explained to her that she had made a serious mistake, one which she would inevitably later profoundly regret, and told her that much of it was his own fault. He should urge to relinquish her part-time cinematic career, and in return offer her full tuition assistance.

He should then arrange a meeting with his financial officers and senior administrators to initiate steps to cut excess spending, reduce numbers of superfluous administrators and staff, and to cut tuition costs drastically while increasing grants of aid to middle-class students.

If Richard Brodhead does not feel personally obligated to do all that, I’d say that he ought to buy a big floppy hat with a feather, a flashy purple suit, and start driving an enormous Cadillac.

20 Feb 2014

Academic Freedom Under Question at Elite Universities

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Sandra Y.L. Korn, no liberal she, (who is already contributing to the Nation, as an undergraduate at Harvard) editorialized recently in the Harvard Crimson against academic freedom.

[T]he liberal obsession with “academic freedom” seems a bit misplaced to me. After all, no one ever has “full freedom” in research and publication. Which research proposals receive funding and what papers are accepted for publication are always contingent on political priorities. The words used to articulate a research question can have implications for its outcome. No academic question is ever “free” from political realities. If our university community opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of “academic freedom”?

Instead, I would like to propose a more rigorous standard: one of “academic justice.” When an academic community observes research promoting or justifying oppression, it should ensure that this research does not continue.

The power to enforce academic justice comes from students, faculty, and workers organizing together to make our universities look as we want them to do.

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Meanwhile at Swarthmore:

Robert George ‘77 and Cornel West’s [appearance] on Monday, hosted by the Institute for the Liberal Arts, culminated a campus-wide discussion on the meaning of discourse at Swarthmore. The Princeton professors, known for their friendship despite of their strongly opposing viewpoints, intended to build community and discuss questions like “What does it mean to communicate across differences regarding what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong?’”

The event was expected by many to be controversial, with rumors of student-led protest in the form of a boycott of the event or a rally after the collection, but no such protest occurred during the collection. Prior to the event, many students voiced concerns with the College’s choice of speaker in George, who is known for his strong opposition to abortion, stem cell research, and gay marriage. Some queer students attended the event wearing shirts that read “Beneath Human Dignity,” a reference to a George quote in National Review magazine about the New York gay marriage decision in June 2011. Students also created a zine which opposed tolerance of George’s viewpoints, stating that by doing so, we would be “condoning homophobia.”

After the talk, many students expressed dissatisfaction with the event, saying it did not accomplish any meaningful community-building or address substantive issues.

“What really bothered me is, the whole idea is that at a liberal arts college, we need to be hearing a diversity of opinion. I don’t think we should be tolerating [George’s] conservative views because that dominant culture embeds these deep inequalities in our society. We should not be conceding to the dominant culture by saying that the so-called “progressive left” is marginalizing the conservative,” Erin Ching ‘16 said.

Really old people like myself can remember the radical left’s adroit use of the so-called Free Speech Movement at Berkeley in the early 1960s. Allowing outside agitators representing the extreme left to recruit, propagandize, and proselytize on campus was, way back then, a vital issue of “free speech.”

Now, fifty years and a Gramscian long march later, the radical left effectively controls all our elite universities and the discussion of whether there is any real value in free speech, academic freedom, or diversity of opinion is now on the table.

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