Category Archive 'Colleges and Universities'
17 Oct 2018

Chicago Prez Robert Zimmer Stands Foursquare for Free Speech

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Robert Zimmer, President of the University of Chicago.

Good news for a change from Campus Reform.

The University of Chicago president defended his school’s commitment to free speech in an address to the City Club of Cleveland.

University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer said during a speech on Oct. 3 that “challenging one’s assumptions inevitably creates discomfort, but a discomfort that is necessary for growth, understanding, and achievement.” Zimmer continued by describing what he believed to be three contributing causes of a decreased commitment to freedom of expression across U.S. universities.

“Privileging feelings, to the extent that a child feels they are always entitled to feel good and comfortable, and that the world should be organized around this, is not helpful in this regard.”

“Some people are trying to keep certain views unexpressed out of self-righteous, moral, or political indignation, an agenda driven by such moral or political views, and comfort, arrogating to themselves and those they agree with the right of speech, while denying it to others,” Zimmer said, outlining the first cause.

The second contributing cause, according to Zimmer, is that universities are suppressing free speech in the name of fighting against the exclusion of historically marginalized groups. He makes the case that freedom of expression is necessary for fostering an environment of inclusion.

Zimmer cited “the privileging of feelings” as a third cause: “Privileging feelings, to the extent that a child feels they are always entitled to feel good and comfortable, and that the world should be organized around this, is not helpful in this regard. And what we are seeing in some cases within high schools and universities is an expectation, and then demands, for such privileging, and then the inappropriate acquiescence to such demands.”

The University of Chicago president concluded his speech by stating that “creating a sanctuary for comfort is not fulfilling our responsibility. It is only through an environment of intellectual challenge and the free expression and open discourse that provides this challenge, that we are fulfilling our obligations to students, their future, and the future of our society.”

The University of Chicago has been known for its embrace of freedom of speech. It released a policy report in 2015, known as the “Chicago Statement,” which expressed the school’s commitment to the ideal. Since then, at least 35 schools have adopted the same policy, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

RTWT

HT: Glenn Reynolds.

Come on, Bonesmen, fire that weasel Salovey, double this guy’s salary and bring him to New Haven!

07 Sep 2018

A Lot of Us at Yale Were Minoring in That Back in 1968

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WYNC:

It’s No Joke: Students Can Minor in Marijuana At Stockton University

Students at Stockton University will soon be able to minor in marijuana.

The south Jersey school rolls out its new “Cannabis Studies” minor program next week. While several schools around the state offer courses in cannabis as part of their science programs, Stockton may be the first higher education institution in the Garden State to launch a program designed to prepare students for the rapidly expanding weed industry in New Jersey — and across the nation.

“It’s an industry that is developing and certainly there are a lot of possibilities and new jobs,” said Kathy Sedia, who is an associate professor of biology at Stockton and coordinator of the program. Stockton is nestled in the Pine Barrens just a short drive from the Jersey Shore.

RTWT

HT: Bird Dog.

To get an A, you have to be able to roll a toothpick-thin joint with one hand.

03 Aug 2018

It Takes More than Test-Scores to Build a Meritocracy

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Some building at Harvard.

Wesley Yang, in Tablet (Funny, he doesn’t look Jewish.), has an intelligent, fair-minded essay on the paradoxes of Ivy League admission.

Private colleges in America were all founded to pursue a certain vision of the world. Even if many have fallen away from their original religious sectarian missions, they retain a certain coherence of purpose through their ability to mold their classes as they see fit. On its face, there is nothing wrong with maintaining admissions policies that favor certain kinds of people over others—provided of course that the preference doesn’t violate the law by discriminating against applicants on the basis of their race, gender or national origin. Some schools want to teach Catholics. Some want to teach Jews. Some want to train scientists. Others want to train investment bankers and politicians. Each of these schools will design admission policies accordingly.

There is also something intuitively true about the proposition that grades and test scores are imperfect proxies for genuine merit in whatever area or field. The Ivy Leagues have always refused to be the colleges of the “best students” and have instead sought to identify the “leaders of tomorrow.” It doesn’t take too much thinking to realize how little overlap there might be between these categories of person. In an amicus brief submitted on behalf of Harvard University in 1974, the Harvard law professor and former solicitor general of the United States, Archibald Cox, noted that Harvard College selected less than 15 percent of its entering class purely “on the basis of extraordinary intellectual potential,” going on to express the fear that “if promise of high scholarship were the sole or even predominant criterion, Harvard College would lose a great deal of its vitality and the quality of the educational experience offered to all students would suffer.”

Any system focused on the likely leaders of tomorrow must include the sons and daughters of privilege along with the brightest and most driven students, giving the former the access to the latter and vice versa. Such a class will by definition have a better understanding of the ways of the world and how to master it, which is in part why Harvard intervened in the first case to go before the Supreme Court challenging affirmative action. As Jerome Karabel, author of The Chosen: A History of Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, makes plain, Harvard’s interest in the case “went well beyond the issues of blacks and other minorities.”

As Karabel writes, the case “raised the specter of an encroachment on the institutional discretion that Harvard believed indispensable to the protection of vital institutional interests. In the worst case, a ruling for DeFunis [the student who was denied admission] might lead to the court imposing the model of pure academic meritocracy that [Dean W.J.] Bender and his successor at Harvard had so definitively rejected.”

Karabel’s book is an exhaustively detailed survey of the ways in which the Ivy Leagues battled through the decades to hold the threat of pure meritocracy at bay. At the start of the 20th century, the meritocratic danger was Jewish. In 1908, Harvard began to select its students on the basis of a set of admissions examinations. By the 1920s, as Karabel writes, “it had become clear that a system of selection focused solely on scholastic performance would lead to the admission of an increasing number of Jewish students, most of them of eastern European background.” The institutions sought, as Karabel put it, “the latitude to admit the dull sons of major donors and to exclude the brilliant but unpolished children of immigrants,” and therefore created a system relying on “discretion and opacity—discretion so that the gatekeepers would be free to do what they wished and opacity so that how they used their discretion would not be subject to public scrutiny.”

The system of holistic admissions that place a heavy stress of highly subjective qualities such as character, personality, and leadership that we all take for granted was invented during an era of radical immigration exclusion to supply the discretion and opacity that the institutions demanded in order to maintain the kind of student bodies that they thought suitable—namely white, Christian, and Anglo native-born. But while holistic admissions were born in racist exclusion, the affirmative action debate presented a golden opportunity for the institution to recast this discretion as something at once legally and morally unassailable—by cloaking the institutional interest in independence and discretion in terms of protecting and advancing the interests of racial minorities. This ingenious move, reconciling the claims of justice and self-interest in the manner habitual to a certain kind of liberal, secured the cartel power of the Ivy Leagues to mint a ruling elite for a generation.

No one should fault the keepers of the Ivy Leagues for seeking to hold in balance inherited privilege with meritocratic excellence. It was the smart play. No one can gainsay the results obtained by what history will regard as some of the greatest brand managers the world has ever seen. The election of Donald Trump in 2016 ended a string of 27 consecutive years in which the president of the United States held a degree from either Harvard or Yale University. Every member of the Supreme Court is a graduate of one of two law schools, Harvard or Yale. Harvard University has an endowment of $37 billion, which is a sum at least four times larger than that controlled by hedge-fund king George Soros.

Neither should we begrudge those invested in this system of mutual advantage their exasperation at Asian immigrants for unwittingly acting as spoilers. For that is what Asians have done: By arriving here in such large numbers, and importing their distinctive orientation toward education—by doing so well on grades and tests and being so assiduous in their pursuit of extracurricular activities—they’ve made it impossible for the brand managers of the Ivy Leagues to preserve the balance between merit and social justice and inherited privilege in a way that is remotely tenable. Something had to give, and it appears that soon enough, something will, with large consequences for the country.

RTWT

18 Jun 2018

For the Convenience of Today’s College Students

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HT: Vanderleun.

03 May 2018

American University: “Women Can, Ex Post Facto, Revoke Consent!”

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A new story of life at the University today strongly suggests that male college students would be well advised to restrict their romantic lives to paid professionals.

Washington Examiner:

American University is requiring all new students take a controversial sex education training course or face academic discipline.

In screenshots obtained exclusively by Red Alert Politics, American University asks students hypothetical questions about sexual encounters in an online course called “Campus Clarity: Think About It.” The program also asks students personal behavioral questions like how many sexual partners they’ve had and how often they drink.

“Alex and Jen played beer pong together and she even made out with him,” the module prompts. “How then could Alex have assaulted her?” one hypothetical asks.

The material teaches that women can change their mind about consent the day after an encounter, effectively leaving women with the ability to re-write history and accuse sexual partners of inappropriate behavior despite receiving consent.

Sydney Jacobs, a former student at American University, told Red Alert Politics she was threatened with academic probation when she did not complete the online training during the Spring semester of 2017.

“As a reminder, any undergraduate student that does not meet this requirement will be referred to Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution Services and be assigned an educational sanction,” an email sent from the AU Wellness Center to Jacobs read in part.

RTWT

16 Mar 2018

Ooops!

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Florida International University President Mark Rosenberg hits the familiar notes of complacency and self-congratulation that administrators of contemporary US colleges specialize in, as he celebrates the installation last Saturday of his new $14.2 million pedestrian bridge, the first to be put into place using the wonderful new Accelerated Bridge Construction method.

Local10.com:

A 950-ton section of a pedestrian bridge was swung into place over Southwest Eighth Street Saturday morning, connecting Florida International University with the city of Sweetwater.

The $14.2 million bridge at Southwest Eighth Street and Southwest 109th Avenue is being built using Accelerated Bridge Construction methods, which have been advanced at FIU. The university said the modular construction method reduces potential risks to workers, commuters and pedestrians and minimizes traffic interruptions.

The bridge is also made of self-cleaning concrete. When exposed to sunlight, titanium dioxide in the concrete traps pollutants and turns them a bright white, the university said.

Officials said the bridge should be completed early next year. FIU President Mark Rosenberg said in addition to connecting the campus with Sweetwater, the 289-feet-long bridge will become a destination for students and faculty.

“This bridge is not just someplace to someplace else,” Rosenberg said. “It will have places where people can study, where they can contemplate, where they can observe the incredible traffic and dynamism of West Dade.”

Currently, the university runs shuttles that ferry students across busy Eighth Avenue safely. A student died crossing Eighth Avenue in August after the shuttle service ended for the day.

Saturday installation marks the first time a bridge this large has been installed in this way.

————————-

Denoument: The bridge collapsed yesterday, killing at least 6 people. 9 people were pulled out of the rubble alive. The contractor behind the bridge is a major political donor in Dade County.

Miami Herald

Miami New Times

The country’s in the very best of hands.

11 Feb 2018

The Problem With American Education in a Nutshell

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OutofHand

It’s a foolish society that chooses for its teachers and storytellers people who hate that society.

All too often our children are being taught by people who have no experience of our society and no success within it. Their indoctrination at collectivist “education” schools has made them openly (and ignorantly) hostile to America.

What if one of the requirements to teach K-12 was that you be at _least_ 50 years old, with proven success in the society (in business, a trade, parenthood)? You needn’t have made a million or be a top-level executive–so long as you have functioned effectively within American society.

Ned Young

20 Dec 2017

Why He Left Teaching

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David Solway quit teaching, and he had good reasons.

Some years back, I decided I had to quit the teaching profession to which I had dedicated half my life. The modern academy, I felt, was so far gone that restoration was no longer possible. Indeed, I now believe that complete collapse is the only hope for the future, but as Woody Allen said about death, I’d rather not be there when it happens.

Three reasons determined my course of action. For one thing, administration had come to deal less with academic issues and more with rules of conduct and punitive codes of behavior, as if it were a policing body rather than an arm of the teaching profession. Woe betide the (male) student accused of sexual assault or misconduct; the administration will convene an extra-judicial tribunal to punish or expel the accused, often with a low burden of proof. It will find ways to shut down conservative speakers. It will browbeat faculty and students to attend sensitivity training sessions on matters of race and gender. It will strike task forces to deal with imaginary issues like campus rape culture and propose draconian measures to contain a raging fantasy. The administration is now beset by two basic compulsions: to expand its reach at the expense of the academic community and to ensure compliance with the puritanical norms of the day. I thought it prudent to take early retirement rather than wait for the guillotine to descend.

For another, colleagues were increasingly buying into the politically correct mantras circulating in the cultural climate. The dubious axioms of “social justice” and equality of outcome, the postmodern campaign against the Western tradition of learning, and the Marxist critique of capitalism now superseded the original purpose of the university to seek out truth, to pursue the impartial study of historical events and movements, and to remain faithful to the rigors of disciplined scholarship. Most of my colleagues were rote members of the left-liberal orthodoxy: pro-Islam, pro-unfettered immigration, pro-abortion, pro-feminist, anti-conservative, anti-Zionist, and anti-white. Departmental committees were now basing their hiring protocols not on demonstrated merit, but on minority and gender identities, leading to marked pedagogical decline. Professional hypocrisy could be glaring. Case in point: The most recent hire speaking at a department meeting was a white woman advocating for more brown and black faces on staff – though, as a recent hire, she had never thought of stepping aside in favor of minority candidates vying for her position. In any event, faculties were and are progressively defined by firebrands on the one hand and soyboys on the other – partisans rather than pedagogues, plaster saints all. I found I could no longer respect the majority of people I had to work with.

But the primary incentive for flight had to do with the caliber of students I was required to instruct. The quality of what we called the student “clientele” had deteriorated so dramatically over the years that the classroom struck me as a barn full of ruminants and the curriculum as a stack of winter ensilage. I knew I could not teach James Joyce’s Ulysses or Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain since they were plainly beyond the capacity of our catechumens – mind you, all old enough to vote and be drafted. The level of interest in and attention to the subjects was about as flat as a fallen arch. The ability to write a coherent English sentence was practically nonexistent; ordinary grammar was a traumatic ordeal. In fact, many native English-speakers could not produce a lucid verbal analysis of a text, let alone carry on an intelligible conversation, and some were even unable to properly pronounce common English words.

RTWT

13 Dec 2017

The Humanities and the Modern University

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Yale in Winter

Justin Stover contemplates the diminished role of the Humanities in the modern University, but he takes a very long view, shrugging off the rise of fads and ideologies. He believes that, in the long run, both the Humanities and the University will not only survive, but continue to perform the same function of building and credentialing Western Society’s elite that they have always done.

We began with the crisis of the humanities and ended with the survival of the university itself. This is no accident. The heart of the university is the arts, understood broadly. For the first centuries of the institution’s existence, every student had to traverse the arts curriculum before they could go on to achieve an employable degree in law, medicine, or theology. At any given time, the arts faculty and students would have formed by far the largest bloc in any university. The fact that students are still awarded BAs and MAs is a distant echo of their centrality. The arts they taught were in theory the seven liberal arts, although in practice primarily grammar (which included almost everything we would now call literary studies) and logic. But the formulation of the seven liberal arts permits a wide mandate covering most of what we consider the humanities—everything connected with the understanding of what’s written down—as well as the first and last letters in STEM, mathematics in all its branches, the physical and natural sciences. …

The contemporary university is a strange chimaera. It has become an institution for teaching undergraduates, a lab for medical and technological development in partnership with industry, a hospital, a museum (or several), a performance hall, a radio station, a landowner, a big-money (or money-losing) sports club, a research center competing for government funding, often the biggest employer for a hundred miles around, and, for a few institutions, a hedge fund (“with a small college attached for tax purposes,” adds one wag). Unbundling may well happen. If it does, where will the university be found amid the wreckage? …

We cannot attribute the present decline to some change in historical circumstance. Writing a commentary on Virgil is just as useless now as it was in the year 450. The reality is that the humanities have always been about courtoisie, a constellation of interests, tastes, and prejudices which marks one as a member of a particular class. That class does not have to be crudely imagined solely in economic terms. Indeed, the humanities have sometimes done a good job of producing a class with some socioeconomic diversity. But it is a class nonetheless. Roman boys (of a certain social background) labored under the grammaticus’s rod because their parents wanted to initiate them into the wide community of Virgil readers—a community which spanned much of the vast Roman world, and which gave the bureaucratic class a certain cohesion it otherwise lacked. So too in the Middle Ages: it is no accident that what we might think of as the scholastic and the courtly are so often linked. Reading Virgil, commenting on Aristotle, participating in quaestiones disputatae, writing chansons de geste and romances—these made scholars, bachelors, masters, and doctors alike, set apart as an international community embedded in but separate from the international community of the Church, the religious orders, and the waxing national powers. …

It remains true today. Deep down, what most humanists value about the humanities is that it gives them participation in a community in which they can share similar tastes in reading, art, food, travel, music, media, and yes, politics. We might talk about academic diversity, but the academy is a tribe, and one with relatively predictable tastes. It does not take a particularly sharp observer to guess whether a given humanist might be fond of some new book reviewed favorably in the LRB or some new music discussed enthusiastically on NPR. The guess might not always be right, but if even odds are offered our observer could get away with a tidy sum. If the bet were on political affiliation, the payoff would be almost guaranteed.

As teachers, what humanists want most of all is to initiate their students into that class. Despite occasional conservative paranoia, there is not some sinister academic plot to brainwash students with liberal dogma. Instead, humanists are doing what they have always done, trying to bring students into a class loosely defined around a broad constellation of judgments and tastes. This constellation might include political judgments, but is never reducible to politics. It is also very susceptible to change. For two hundred years or more, European universities were deeply enmeshed in the pernicious stupidity of Ramism, with Ramist professors installed across Europe in any number of the humanistic disciplines. Eventually the fad dissipated, and today, the celebrated method of Petrus Ramus holds little more than antiquarian interest. We should not assume that the current modes and fashions of the academic class are permanent. But if they are to change, that change will come from the inside.

A must-read.

28 Nov 2017

Hitler Reacts to Grad Student Thought Crimes

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Also via Vanderleun.

02 Aug 2017

Apparently, Some People Are Going to be Loved a Lot Less

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“March of Resilience” protesting Christakises’s calls for Free Speech at Yale.

Bill Jacobson reports that the Trump Justice Department may be about to start making colleges resume admitting people on the basis of the content of their character, rather than the color of their skin.

Chief Justice Roberts had it right: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

If a report in the NY Times is accurate, the Trump administration is getting ready to take on the most precious of liberal dogmas, the institutionalized racial discrimination in college admissions, aka affirmative action.

The Times reaches the conclusion that affirmative action will be under attack, even though the documents it has obtained for its reporting don’t actually say that. The Times reports, Justice Dept. to Take On Affirmative Action in College Admissions:

    The Trump administration is preparing to redirect resources of the Justice Department’s civil rights division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants, according to a document obtained by The New York Times.

    The document, an internal announcement to the civil rights division, seeks current lawyers interested in working for a new project on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”

    The announcement suggests that the project will be run out of the division’s front office, where the Trump administration’s political appointees work, rather than its Educational Opportunities Section, which is run by career civil servants and normally handles work involving schools and universities.

    The document does not explicitly identify whom the Justice Department considers at risk of discrimination because of affirmative action admissions policies. But the phrasing it uses, “intentional race-based discrimination,” cuts to the heart of programs designed to bring more minority students to university campuses.

There is the predictable freak out, particularly from virtue-signaling white liberals.

The Left is going to have a cow.

RTWT

21 Jul 2017

First California Community College, Then Yale

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NPR interviews the head of California’s community college system, who is arguing in favor of eliminating Algebra as a course requirement. The reason? Algebra is too hard for minorities.

Algebra is one of the biggest hurdles to getting a high school or college degree — particularly for students of color and first-generation undergrads.

It is also the single most failed course in community colleges across the country. So if you’re not a STEM major (science, technology, engineering, math), why even study algebra?

That’s the argument Eloy Ortiz Oakley, chancellor of the California community college system, made today in an interview with NPR’s Robert Siegel.

At American community colleges, 60 percent of those enrolled are required to take at least one math course. Most — nearly 80 percent — never complete that requirement.

Oakley is among a growing number of educators who view intermediate algebra as an obstacle to students obtaining their credentials — particularly in fields that require no higher level math skills.

Their thinking has led to initiatives like Community College Pathways, which strays away from abstract algebra to engage students in real-world math applications. …

What are you proposing?

What we’re proposing is to take an honest look at what our requirements are and why we even have them. So, for example, we have a number of courses of study and majors that do not require algebra. We want to take a look at other math pathways, look at the research that’s been done across the country and consider math pathways that are actually relevant to the coursework that the student is pursuing.

You are facing pressure to increase graduation rates — only 48 percent graduate from California community colleges with an associate’s degree or transfer to a four-year institution within six years. As we’ve said, passing college algebra is a major barrier to graduation. But is this the easy way out? Just strike the algebra requirement to increase graduation rates instead of teaching math more effectively?

I hear that a lot and unfortunately nothing could be farther from the truth. Somewhere along the lines, since the 1950s, we decided that the only measure of a student’s ability to reason or to do some sort of quantitative measure is algebra. What we’re saying is we want as rigorous a course as possible to determine a student’s ability to succeed, but it should be relevant to their course of study. There are other math courses that we could introduce that tell us a lot more about our students.

Do you buy the argument that there are just some forms of reasoning — whether it’s graphing functions or solving quadratic equations that involve a mental discipline — that may never be actually used literally on the job, but may improve the way young people think?

There’s an argument to be made that much of what we ask students to learn prepares them to be just better human beings, allows them to have reasoning skills. But again, the question becomes: What data do we have that suggests algebra is that course? Are there other ways that we can introduce reasoning skills that more directly relate to what a student’s experience in life is and really helps them in their program of study or career of choice?

A lot of students in California community colleges are hoping to prepare for a four-year college. What are you hearing from the four-year institutions? Are they at ease with you dropping the requirement? Or would they then make the students take the same algebra course they’re not taking at community college?

This question is being raised at all levels of higher education — the university level as well as the community college level. There’s a great body of research that’s informing this discussion, much of it coming from some of our top universities, like the Dana Center at the University of Texas, or the Carnegie Foundation. So there’s a lot of research behind this and I think more and more of our public and private university partners are delving into this question of what is the right level of math depending on which major a student is pursuing.

And there are people writing about concepts of numeracy that may be different from what people have been teaching all this time. Do you have in mind a curriculum that would be more useful than intermediate algebra
?

We are piloting different math pathways within our community colleges. We’re working with our university partners at CSU and the UC, trying to ensure that we can align these courses to best prepare our students to succeed in majors. And if you think about it, you think about the use of statistics not only for a social science major but for every U.S. citizen. This is a skill that we should have all of our students have with them because this affects them in their daily life. …

Rates of failure in algebra are higher for minority groups than they are for white students. Why do you think that is? Do you think a different curriculum would have less disparate results by ethnic or racial group?

First of all, we’ve seen in the data from many of the pilots across the country that are using alternative math pathways — that are just as rigorous as an algebra course — we’ve seen much greater success for students because many of these students can relate to these different kinds of math depending on which program of study they’re in. They can see how it works in their daily life and how it’s going to work in their career.

The second thing I’d say is yes, this is a civil rights issue, but this is also something that plagues all Americans — particularly low-income Americans. If you think about all the underemployed or unemployed Americans in this country who cannot connect to a job in this economy — which is unforgiving of those students who don’t have a credential — the biggest barrier for them is this algebra requirement. It’s what has kept them from achieving a credential.

RTWT

From the perspective of the Left, colleges are there to supply credentials which are tickets to comfortable, well-paying positions in Society. Results must be equal, so if some groups are having trouble earning those credentials, it is necessary to grease the skids. The goal is not education; the goal is credentials.

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