Category Archive 'Colleges and Universities'
27 Dec 2021

University Districts

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Vanderleun visits the University neighborhood in Seattle, and is moved to morose reflection.

There is, indeed, a University in the Seattle University District, even if big business is bugging out of there, and a lot of other areas in Seattle, as fast as they can. The University District is pretty much like all the other college and university districts in medium to large American cities today. It provides a living to a small fraction of genuine scholars, as well as workspace and research facilities and salaries to a host of useful scientists and necessary engineers. But more and more, the main function of our University Districts from coast to coast is to provide a safe haven for the homeless, the useless, the addicted, the soul-dead, the communist, and other politically perverted poltroons and PC pussies of all stripes.

In addition, the university at the center of these districts currently provides employment for, and benefits to, a host of latter-day hippy professors whose twisted politics, depraved morals, and incessant dreams of the destruction of America would make them each persona non grata in most American communities outside of “university districts.”

Saturday was an especially good day for seeing the University District as it really is. It was Street-Fair Saturday and, as I remarked to my friend after strolling a couple of blocks, the streets had been transformed into what can only be described as an open-air Moonbat Mall. Read the rest of this entry »

09 Dec 2021

The Ivy League Liars’ Club

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John Witherspoon statue at Princeton.

Princetonian Scott Newman spills the beans. Those elite colleges’ Wokery is only a hypocritical form of virtue-signaling. The little supposed revolutionaries are really the swiftest and most ambitious rats in the race, running all out for the status and the bucks.

[Elite colleges’] progressive ideals are mostly for show—as evidenced by the fact that the actual career paths of typical Princeton graduates are guided by a hunger for status and security, not social justice. No one I know mentioned “Goldman Sachs” or “McKinsey” in their admissions essays. But year after year, they flock to places like these.

What I’m describing is a kind of liar’s club. Hopeful high school students lie about their commitment to social justice in a bid to gain admission, while the universities themselves lie about all the risk-taking, world-changing mavericks they’re looking to nurture. Neither side dares to speak the grubby truth, which is that the undergraduate experience will be a pro forma exercise in leftist indoctrination that precedes a march into the hallowed halls of investment banks and management consultancies.

RTWT — This one is a good read.

08 Dec 2021

Heather MacDonald Explains the Diversity Scam

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It’s Empire-building justified by an imaginary problem, and it is disastrously fueling tuition bloat and creates powerful local constituencies committed to opposition to free speech and the suppression of adversarial ideas.

Yale already has more administrators than faculty.

07 Dec 2021

Ohio State’s Diversocracy

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(As always, click on image for larger version)

Just out today: @OhioState has a small army of 132 “diversicrats” at an avg. salary of $77,000 and total est. payroll cost of $13.4M, which would cover in-state tuition for 1,120 students.

04 Dec 2021

Female Academics and the Great Awokening

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Today’s universities are full of Tricoteuses.

Noah Karl contends that the Woke cultural shift that has swept through the Community of Fashion in recent years can be traced to the Civil Rights Movement and to the massive leftward shift of Academia.

The Professoriate used to be conventionally Liberal. Today it is conventionally Radical. One key reason for that shift is the dramatic increase of female academics.

I suspect that most of academia’s leftward shift was due to self-reinforcing processes: social homophily (conservatives not wanting to enter a profession where there aren’t many conservatives); political typing (conservatives feeling that an academic career “isn’t for them” in the same way that some women feel that a construction career “isn’t for them”); and discrimination (conservatives being discriminated against in hiring, research and funding).

However, one other possible cause of academia’s leftward shift, and of the rise of woke activism in particular, is the influx of women into that institution. …

[W]hy would the influx of women into academia have contributed to its leftward shift, and to the rise of woke activism in particular? As the psychologist Cory Clark notes, women are consistently less supportive of free speech than men, and consistently more supportive of censorship. Compared to men, they’re more likely to say: that hate speech is violence; that it’s acceptable to shout down a speaker; that controversial scientific findings should be censored; that people need to be more careful about the language they use; and that it should be illegal to say offensive things about minorities.

Clark argues, convincingly in my view, that this stems from women’s greater aversion to harm and conflict. They interpret various forms of speech as harmful to vulnerable groups, and wish to censor them for that reason. Whether these gender differences are cross-cultural universals remains a matter of debate. Women being more averse to harm and conflict would certainly make sense from an evolutionary point of view, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the differences are hard-wired. As with most traits that vary, I suspect there’s both a genetic and an environmental component. Whatever the precise mix, women’s greater aversion to harm and conflict does show up in many WEIRD countries, not least the United States.

Clark isn’t the only scholar to have noticed that women’s aversion to harm and conflict has profound implications for academia. Drawing on the work of psychologist Joyce Benenson, Arnold Kling notes: “Women have a social strategy that works well for protecting their individual health and the health of their children: emphasize safety, covertly undermine the status of unrelated females, and exclude rivals rather than reconcile with them.” This leads him to speculate that adding a lot of women to formerly male domains has made the culture of those domains more consistent with female tendencies. “The older culture valued open debate,” Kling notes. “The newer culture seeks to curtail speech it regards as dangerous.”

We know that, on average, women are less favourable to free speech and more favourable to censorship.

RTWT

02 Oct 2021

At Today’s University, Truth is Beside the Point

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Recent Harvard grad Carine Hajjar has bad news and some intelligent observations on the deplorable state of universities today, including in particular the most prestigious.

Before the Cold War, universities were run by faculty: “From the perspective of 100 years ago,” says Goldstein, “the idea that a faculty member would have his speech suppressed by the university was difficult to conceptualize.” During the Cold War, higher education was laden with research grants, one of the factors leading to the bureaucratization of the modern university. From 2007 to 2018, public degree-granting postsecondary schools in the U.S. generated a revenue of $671 billion. “The amount of money involved in higher education in the U.S. was slightly more than all the software we sell and electricity combined,” notes Goldstein. The result? “Universities don’t reflect the interest of the faculty anymore, they have the priorities of a corporation.”

The idea of university corporatism as an impetus for illiberalism is not new. In 2015, Fredrik deBoer, who had just completed a Ph.D. at Purdue, wrote a piece for the New York Times on the pernicious effects of corporatism on campus, stating that “a constantly expanding layer of university administrative jobs now exists at an increasing remove from the actual academic enterprise.”

Academic freedom is not optimal for market share. “Tranquility and profitability tend to win out over truth and inquiry,” says Goldstein. Controversial views (even if factually accurate) can disturb the corporate equilibrium. This may be one of the reasons why universities are increasingly dedicated to a new concept: “safetyism,” a term coined by FIRE’s founders, Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt in their book The Coddling of the American Mind. Educators’ telos is no longer only knowledge; it’s ensuring that students feel “safe.”

But what is “safe”? Goldstein deals with cases where students claim to feel “unsafe” when presented with certain arguments in class. But can one really equate words — statements, claims, hypotheses — to physical safety? “It isn’t as if somebody saying words will make you explode into a fine mist,” as Goldstein says.

“Safe” in modern parlance seems to be about being on the “correct” side of an issue. That side is no longer simply the one on the left. Pinker shared a story with me about a hiring process he was involved in. The candidate, in Pinker’s words, “was a kind of middle-of-the-road liberal Democrat.” His political orientation did not matter; he violated a pillar of the orthodoxy. “He was skeptical about affirmative action,” which got him “branded as an extreme right-winger.” I asked if this was the reason the candidate was not hired. “It went into it,” among other factors.

Larry Summers, former president of Harvard, told me that certain topics demand more homogeneity than others: “We’re comfortable accepting a fairly wide range of views on U.S.–China foreign policy but we’re not comfortable accepting a wide range of views on affirmative action.” Other taboos include certain positions on race, gender, and colonialism. Summers shared a hypothetical: “If someone did research that showed that it’s better for children to spend more time with their mothers during the first six years of their life during the day, you’d have to be an extraordinarily brave person to do that on Harvard’s campus.”

How did we get here? Wasn’t the once-whimsical soft Marxism of college enough? Pinker offered a psychological explanation, mentioning the work of his former postdoctoral student, Peter DiScioli, on the human creation of groups. Humans have a propensity to compete for prestige as well as a fear of being in the “more vulnerable coalition.” So they join the mob lest they be the target of the mob. It’s a phenomenon that occurs in witch hunts, cultural revolutions, and political purges: “Anyone can be a victim if they themselves don’t join the ‘denouncers.’” This can be extrapolated to universities-turned-corporations, which, seeking to avoid controversy, are happy to oblige denouncers.

Ironically, the hippie-student-against-the-man crowd is driving this whole corporate tilt. “It’s easiest for [administrators] if they cave. . . . No skin off their nose if the universities are less able to investigate questions of truth and falsity and explanation,” said Pinker. They’re more worried about appeasing the “left-leaning students protesting outside their office.”

Why is this woke crowd powerful enough to dictate university incentives? Humans, in general, want to be on the “right” side of history. “We’re all moralistic animals,” said Pinker. But that doesn’t mean objective morality: “Moralistic efforts are those that attempt to claim superiority and demonize opponents.” We go for what is perceived as moral. The Harper’s open letter touched on this: There’s a “vogue for public shaming” and a “tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.”

So long as this “vogue” continues, profit-seeking entities will comply. Safetyism and moralism go hand in hand: Universities can avoid controversy by tolerating mob mentality. It’s similar to the virtue-signaling you’re seeing in corporate America (think woke Coke). It’s trendy, it’s safe, and it sells.

After all, what’s more corporate than appearing moral?

RTWT

29 Mar 2021

There is Fantastic Money in Ruining American Higher Education

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They pay Peter Salovey $1,662,386 per year to destroy Yale. Amazingly, a fair number of inferior schools pay their presidents even more. The top earner, the President of California’s University of Spoiled Children gets $7,061,188.

Chronicle of Higher Education

05 Feb 2021

Applicant’s Guide to Ethos of American Colleges

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Steve Smith at McSweeney’s has a go at briefly capturing the typical student character and personality.

Harvard: I would shiv someone to answer a question in class.

Yale: I wrote a Pulitzer-nominated play about the time I shivved someone to answer a question in class.

Princeton: I’ve structured a derivative, the Shiv Swap, whose price reflects the probability that a given shivving is successful in allowing one to answer a question in class.

Brown: We must ensure equal distribution of shivs across all socio-economic strata of American society.

Cornell: GO BIG RED. …

RTWT

25 Sep 2020

Universities Today

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One of the whips of the Culmstock Otter Hounds holds up a 22lb otter they killed on 13 September 1934, at Taunton Castle, Somerset.

A Medieval Studies Professor forwarded the following:

A student describing the ethical system of Dante’s Inferno noted that the first ring of the 7th circle encased those who committed violence against otters.

14 Sep 2020

Forwarded by an Academic Friend

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Luciana Parisi is Professor in Media Philosophy at the Program in Literature and the Computational Media Art and Culture at Duke University.

On Friday, September 18, 2020 – 9:30am to 11:00am, she will be delivering a talk on “Recursive Colonialism and Speculative Computation.”

Talk description:

Recursivity is a generic dispositif of power at the core of the colonial logic of capital. It defines the entanglement of algorithmic functions in computational prediction with the rules of knowing. Recursive algorithms give us the droste effect of a spiral of the same. Today, recursivity returns in the automated condition of planetary incarceration through hyperdisciplinary confinement and necropolitical killing enmeshed with algorithmic solutions of self-governance packed in our mobile phones. However, since speculative computation has indeterminacy as input, it has the capacity to trans-originate collective, cosmotechnical, abolitionist conditions of knowing. The COVID-19 contingency summons us to refuse the recursive violence defining immunity and to embrace the mutations of collective desire demanding the total abolition of the exceptional auto-immunity of the Universal Man.

The sender commented: “If one of my students wrote this I would simply assume: ‘Drugs’.”

20 Aug 2020

“Decolonizing” the Eurocentric Tradition of the Essay

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Suzanne Conklin Akbari is a Professor in the English Department of the University of Toronto.

Old fogeys like myself characteristically think the role of the university professor is to cultivate the mind and character of the young by exposing them to the best intellectual and artistic productions of the civilization they live in and whose traditions they are by birth inheritors.

Silly me. Today’s professoriate has found a more interesting and important mission, described in Lithhub by Suzanne Conklin Akbari: the mission of leading and instructing the young in the processes of apology and repentance for Western Civilization’s accomplishments and success, particularly for eclipsing the Stone Age cultures of Amerindian tribes, who apparently rather than penning essays speaking as individuals, just naturally collectively participate in grooving over “that which is not seen, not known, what is cherished and hidden.”

Instead of cherishing and cultivating our understanding and appreciation of the Western canon, our proper role apparently is to “decolonize” it as a form of reparations for settling North America in the first place, creating Canada and the United States, building cities and universities and modern technological civilization, thus permitting millions to live in material abundance, peace, and in the possession and enjoyment of vastly more sophisticated forms of thought and art. Shame on us for supplanting and absorbing the descendants of the original thousands of representatives of diverse hunter/gatherer tribes who once freely wandered the undeveloped wilderness in a state of constant rivalry and war, generally living lives solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. Assimilation, you see, was just another of our crimes.

We ought presumably to kick those Injuns out of our wicked Western universities, take away their centrally-heated houses, televisions, and pick-up trucks, issue each of them a breech-cloth, a pair of moccasins, and a bow-and-arrow, give then back their tomahawks, “self government and autonomy,” get back on the boats and go home to Europe leaving the noble red man living in his teepee or his wikiup. He understands, which we don’t, that everything’s like a basket….

This, this is contemporary Academic thought!

[W]hat would it mean to decolonize the canon, specifically, the canon of essay writing puts Montaigne at its foundations and inscribes Woolf at the summit? Washuta and Warburton [in Shapes of Native Non-Fiction, 2019, in which “Editors Elissa Washuta and Theresa Warburton ground this anthology of essays by Native writers in the formal art of basket weaving. Using weaving techniques such as coiling and plaiting as organizing themes, the editors have curated an exciting collection of imaginative, world-making lyric essays by twenty-seven contemporary Native writers from tribal nations across Turtle Island into a well-crafted basket.”] lay out a path for “the process of decolonization” through their account of the “exquisite vessel.” Yet we must also remember that decolonization, as Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang have influentially argued, is not a metaphor; it is about land and water, real things in the real world. It is about reparations, self-government, and autonomy. We—by which I mean settler people, those who are not native to these territories—must be ready to give up things in order to embrace decolonization.

What would this require of us, in terms of the literary canon? Can we keep Montaigne and Woolf, even as we embrace the “exquisite vessel”? When we incorporate Indigenous writers into Eurocentric canons, it is not enough simply to add in a few writers. Instead, we need to think about how the inclusion of Indigenous writers—including their ways of knowing, their philosophies, and their ways of thinking about literary form—disrupts the very idea of “canon,” of “essay,” of “literature.” This necessary question is one that we have begun to ask through The Spouter-Inn literature podcast: what does it mean to have a canon? What is included, and what is excluded? What works are juxtaposed? Who speaks, and when? Who listens? What would it mean to be an active listener, a witness, instead of a passive one? What can books made us do—not just alone, but together?

WT

29 Jul 2020

Not Many Defenders of Academic Freedom to be Found

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David Henderson observes that when the pressure is on, not many have the courage to resist the mob.

At Cornell University Law School, a number of people are trying to bully the Dean into firing law professor William Jacobson over 2 of his criticisms of Black Lives Matter. (Disclosure: I read Professor Jacobson’s posts at least once a week because I find them informative.) The Dean, to his credit, defended Jacobson’s academic freedom, but to his discredit, made a nasty attack on Jacobson’s posts, managing to badly misstate the posts in the process. It’s interesting how easy it is to win an argument when you badly misstate what the person you’re arguing against says. Dean Eduardo M. Peñalver will not soon be winning any ideological Turing test awards.

Professor Jacobson appears to have received little public support from his colleagues. He writes:

    None of the 21 signatories [of a public letter denouncing him], some of whom I’d worked closely with for over a decade and who I considered friends, had the common decency to approach me with any concerns. Instead they ran to the Cornell Sun while virtue signaling to students behind the scenes that this was a denunciation of me. Such is the political environment we live in now at CLS.

I’m not surprised. The reason has to do with an “aha” moment I had in the summer of 1979. I was leaving the University of Rochester’s Graduate School of Management even before my tenure clock was up. I had become friends with W. Allen Wallis, the Chancellor of the university, and he invited me to lunch in the nicer section (the part that served booze) of the faculty club, housed in the Frederick Douglass building. Early in the lunch, I realized that this wasn’t just a warm good-bye, although it was that too, but also an exit interview. So I ordered a whisky sour and loosened my tongue.

Allen wanted to know what I thought of the management school. I said that it had a lot going for it. The Dean, William H. Meckling, was great and there were a lot of strong faculty, especially in finance. But, I said, it could be so much better, even with existing faculty if there were a more open discussion and not so much kowtowing to Michael Jensen, the most prominent member of the faculty. Everyone had figured out that Michael was Bill’s buddy and so the majority were hesitant to challenge him in workshops or faculty discussions about policy issues. I said that I was one of the few willing to do this. (I didn’t name Richard Thaler, who was also one of the few, because he had left and it looked as if he wasn’t returning.)

Then I said, “My view is that in a faculty of 40 people, you should have 40 independent minds.”

Allen started laughing and I felt hurt. “Why are you laughing at me?” I asked.

He answered, “My view is that if in a faculty of 40 people you have 2 or 3 independent minds, you’re doing well.”

RTWT

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