We have yet another story of educators showing no regard for the interests of students in the imposition of a thoughtless and baseless punishment. In this case, the Wayne-Westland Community Schools had children using discolored and tainted water in their restrooms. Hazel Juco took a picture of the disgusting water and posted it in the hope of getting action. The school administrators responded by suspending her.
I recently expressed unbridled pride in my alma mater, The University of Chicago, in taking a stand for free speech and rejecting the notion of sheltering students from opposing or disturbing views with “safe spaces” and speech codes. Now, across town, my other alma mater, Northwestern University, appears intent on embracing the opposing view. Northwestern President, Morton Schapiro, has called faculty and students who adhere to views underlying the “Chicago Principle” as nothing more than “lunatics.” Fortunately, I only went to Northwestern for graduate school and was able to secure my undergraduate degree at Chicago in a free and robust community of free thought and free expression. The contrast in the two schools on different sides of the city captures the deep division among academics. However, as one of those “lunatics” and “idiots” denounced by Schapiro, there is no question in my view where the better educational environment can be found in light of Schapiro’s comments. He also denounced those with opposing academic views as just speaking from their privileged backgrounds and lifestyle.
I have been a long critic of the erosion of free speech on college campuses and the use of the ill-defined concept of “micro aggressions” to sanction students and faculty alike. Now there is a national campaign by the National Association for Bilingual Education and the Santa Clara County Office of Education that indicates that a teacher who mispronounces a student’s name is causing an offense to the student’s identity. negative emotional state that can lead to poor academic success.
The campaign, titled “My Name, My Identity” says on its website, “Did you know that mispronouncing a student’s name negates the identity of the student? This can lead to anxiety and resentment which, in turn, can hinder academic progress.” The author of an influential report on the issue, Rita Kohli, an assistant professor of education at the University of California at Riverside, maintains that such mistakes can be deemed a “microaggression.” That is chilling for some of us who are notoriously bad at pronouncing names.
Another university has cancelled a conservative speaker under the guise of security concerns. The speaker is Milo Yiannopoulos who has repeatedly been disrupted or cancelled in his effort to speak on campuses (as well as being barred by Twitter). Yiannopoulos attracts considerable opposition and seems to relish the controversy with his “Dangerous Faggot” tour.
We recently discussed the dubious research grant on lesbian drinking habits. Now, researchers in Switzerland have used a research grant to establish what would seem the most obvious fact known to most anyone over 10: drinking a single glass of beer can make people more sociable. It turns out that Mackeson Beer was right: “It looks good, it tastes good, and by golly it does you good.”
Marquita Alston, 24, was a teacher at Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School who pleaded guilty to five counts of statutory rape with five different 17-year old boys, including encounters on school property. What is very surprising is that five counts of statutory rape by a teacher results in no jail time and only five years of probation.
One of the highest stress moments for academics these days is the announcement of the U.S. News and World Report rankings that continues to drive applicants and donors alike. The new ranking is out on undergraduate schools. Princeton University, Harvard, and the University of Chicago (tied with Yale) took the top three spots. The University of Chicago is particularly gratifying for many faculty members rallying around UChicago over the “Chicago Principles.”