Drexel University Professor George Ciccariello-Maher is an unabashed lightning rod for controversy. Last Christmas, he wrote how he longed for “white genocide”. Then recently he wrote how he wanted to “vomit” when an airline passenger gave up his first class seat to a soldier. It is chilling and obnoxious rhetoric, but he made these comments on his private social media sites. The investigation by Drexel appears to be the direct result of donors threatening to withdraw support for the university. As such, it is a highly troubling intrusion into the right of free speech of faculty.
It appears that being shy could now be part of the ever-widening and ill-defined ranger of “micro aggressions.” Oxford’s Equality and Diversity Unit has issued a statement to student that avoiding eye contact or “not speaking directly to people” could be deemed a “racial microaggression.” Such a failure to maintain eye contact is cited as a possible cause for “mental ill-health”.
Azhar Hussain, an assistant professor at Indiana State University, has been arrested for allegedly making false reports of anti-Islamic threats and an attack. Hussain, 56, teaches aviation technology.
The officials at the University of California at Berkeley have had a change of heart and agreed to the planned speech by conservative Ann Coulter. The decision to cancel the speech was criticized on this blog and in other forums as the latest example of mob rule on our campuses. The decision is a welcomed change. However, Coulter has objected to the scheduling change in the speech when no students are likely to be on campus. Coulter has rejected the change and plans to move forward as previously set for the event.
Western Kentucky University’s Student Government Association has passed a resolution that declares standardized scores as a tool for “white supremacy.” They also demanded reparations for African-American students by guaranteeing free tuition.
We have been discussing the erosion of free speech on our campuses across the country through speech codes and increasingly violent protests. Conservative speakers are now routined denied the opportunity to speak on campuses by university officials who cite security concerns or by mob action preventing events from occurring. The latest example is Ann Coulter whose speech was cancelled at the last minute by the university even though she agreed to additional conditions set by officials. Coulter however pledges to show up to speak regardless of the decision. That could produce a confrontation with the university in its continued failure to protect free speech on its campus.
We have previously discussed how some schools are abandoning the use of traditional pronouns to reflect a growing list of possible genders for students. Brown University has pushed these changes even further in its acceptance letters this year by using “they” as the “gender-inclusive” pronoun. Thus the letter refers to “their” achievements when referring to the singular admitted student. For many, the use of such plural pronouns for a single individual is confusing and ungrammatical. However, the Associated Press recently adopted the use of “they” as a preferred pronoun in recognition of transexual and other individuals who may not be comfortable with traditional genders.