Category: Academics

No Joking Matter: Survey Finds Six Out Of Ten Students View Offensive Jokes As “Hate Speech”

We have been discussing the growing intolerance for free speech on our campuses and the ever-expanding scope of both hate speech and “microaggression” definitions. Now, College Pulse has released a survey of 2,000 college students that finds six out of ten view offensive jokes to be hate speech — a view shared by many European countries which now regularly prosecuted people for such jokes.

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Prisoner’s Dilemma: Harvard Tells Professors Not To Proctor Exams To Reduce Stress For Students Working At Home

There is an interesting article in the Harvard Crimson where professors are being encouraged to trust students in taking exams rather than attempt to proctor to avoid added stress. The approach however raises a type of prisoner’s dilemma where students who might not be inclined to cheat must factor in the expected cheating of other students in their calculus of risk.

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University of California Tells Students “Do Not Allow Others” To Refer To “Chinese Virus”

The Council of Chief Diversity Officers at the University of California has issued a “guidance document” to reject racism, sexism, xenophobia and all hateful or intolerant speech, both in person and online” during this crisis. Specifically, it tells students to stop others from referring to the “Chinese virus” or “Wuhan virus.” The guideline raises renewed questions over the use of diversity rules to restrict or regulate free speech, particularly terms that have strong political or social meaning for students.

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NYU’s Nero? Dean of the School Of Arts Under Fire For Dance Response To Tuition Refund Demands

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Dean Allyson Green at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts is facing quite a backlash over a response to the demand for a refund from students of part of their tuition. Green sent out a video of her dancing. She has instantly become the image of a dean fiddling (or dancing) as academia burns in the Corona crisis. Indeed, the backlash is so great, they may be soon calling Emperor Nero the Allyson Green of ancient Rome.

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Fighting Contagion With Inflation? Columbia Professor Calls For Giving As To All Students

Like many schools, the law school is debating how to change our grading system as we move to an online curriculum during this outbreak. Various proposals have been advanced in different schools from a blanket pass/fair system to an option for students to take a grade or opt for a credit. Columbia Professor Jenny Davidson, however, has a curious solution: give everyone As regardless of the course, their work, or their performance before the outbreak. Of course, putting everyone in the top one percent leaves no one in the top one percent. Responding to a viral contagion with grade inflation is a rather dubious concept. She is not alone. Students at Harvard have called for grading scale that runs only from A to A-. I thought that was a pretty loony idea until I read Professor Davidson’s column. It now seems like the model of restraint and reason.

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A Foundation For Fascism? Critics Warn of Authoritarian Design Behind Trump’s Call For Classic Building Styles

There are many who disagree with the executive order to mandate that new federal buildings follow classical styles of architecture. There are also those of us who have objected to some modern designs like the eyesore design in London of our new embassy. It is a view shared by Prince Charles who lamented how modern designs were ruining the classic profile of key London areas. However, Yale History Professor Glenda Gilmore and columnist Mark Lamster see a far more sinister and frightening meaning in President Donald Trump’s executive order: the blue print for fascism. It appears that we are just one Corinthian column way from an authoritarian structure.

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Mars Lander Jams . . . So NASA Orders It To Hit Itself With A Shovel

It appears that NASA follows the same principle of many homeowners that the last resort for any stuck machine is to give it a good kick. In the case of the NASA InSight Mars lander, the solution was to order the lander to literally hit itself with its own shovel. It worked.

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American University Professor Calls For Trump Impeachment Over The Coronavirus Response

Professor Chris Edelson, assistant professor of government at American University, has penned an opinion column calling for President Trump to resign or be impeachment for his handling of the coronavirus crisis. It is just the latest in a long line of such impeachment theories that reflect a fundamental misconception of the function and standard for the removal of an American President.

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“I’m Terrified Of Your Organization”: CMU Professor Admits To Tearing Down Fliers For Conservative Group

The site Campus Reform is reporting a disturbing confrontation between student members of the conservative group Turning Point USA and Central Michigan University Professor Sara Moslener. The group posted a videotaped purportedly showing Moslener admitting to tearing down their posters because “I’m terrified of your organization.” While I have defended the right of academics to post and write in controversial and even offensive ways, this does not fall into any category of protected speech. This is the denial of free speech and should be a serious matter for the university.

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Trinity College Professor Doubles Down on “Whiteness Is Terrorism” Position

We previously discussed the controversy over the writings of Trinity College professor Johnny Eric Williams and his position that “whiteness is terrorism.” in a recent opinion editorial.  I previously supported Williams when many called for his removal because I believed — and still believe — that his writings are protected by both free speech and academic freedom. Williams has now penned a new opinion piece that lashes about at any one who identifies as white. My concern is not whether Williams’ speech is protected. It should be. Rather my concern that another professor saying that same about black people would not receive the same protection and the lack of any bright line rule protecting all free speech.

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The Beauty and Brilliance of Monticello

I recently visited the University of Virginia for a speech at the Miller Center, which was always an immense pleasure. It is remains one of the most beautiful and historic campuses in the country and I was able to bring my son, Aidan, who is looking at Virginia for college. As has been my custom for decades, I never go to Charlottesville without taking a pilgrimage to Monticello and the home of Thomas Jefferson. There has been many changes since my last visit due to a wonderful gift of David Rubenstein, who continues to leave a lasting mark on our historical record with his generous and well-placed giving. Monticello is an even greater delight with Rubenstein’s support. No other historic home more perfectly reflects the figure who lived within it. In this case, the home is filled with designs and inventions of Jefferson whose creativity seems to explode in every room with novel architectural points and quirky inventions. Located in one of the most beautiful areas of our country, Monticello is as timeless as the legal contributions of Jefferson from the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom to our Declaration of Independence.

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“An Incredible Way Of Putting It”: MSNBC Host and New York Times Columnist Highlight The Declining Math Scores In The Post-Yang Period

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It seems like Democratic and media sources have been struggling with calculation since Yang lost the primaries. Joe Biden explained recently to the public that 150 million people have been killed by guns since 2007. Now, MSNBC Brian Williams and New York Times editorial board member Mara Gay have delivered a cringe-worthy moment on the math behind Bloomberg’s campaign.

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GW Professor Under Fire For Kavanaugh Attack

A professor of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University, Sean Aday, is under fire this week from various conservative sites and Campus Reform for using the occasion of Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s birthday to call him a “rapey prep school douchebag.” As will not come as a surprise to many on this blog, I support Aday’s right to express his views on social media, even views that are offensive or obnoxious as they are here.

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“A Mockery Of My Culture”: Students Oppose A “Mostly White” Choir For Singing Spirituals as Cultural Appropriation

I have previously discussed what appears to be an ever-expanding scope of “cultural appropriation” charges at colleges and universities. The latest controversy has arisen at Western Michigan University School of Music after a concert featured a “mostly white” choir performing African-American spirituals. “Spirituals: From Ship to Shore” was led by Salisbury University Associate Professor John Wesley Wright, who is African American. However, the racial makeup of the choir led to protests over cultural appropriation over what one advocate denounced as a “a mockery of my culture.”

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Turley To Speak At University Of Virginia

On Monday, I will be speaking on the recent impeachment trial at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center for Public Policy. The event, “The Trump impeachment episode: Party wars and the Constitution,” will be a discussion with Claire Finkelstein, Algernon Biddle Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy, of the University of Pennsylvania Law School. It will be moderated by Sidney M. Milkis, the White Burkett Miller Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia. The event will be held Monday, February 24, 2020 for 11:00 – 12:15 at The Miller Center, 2201 Old Ivy Rd, Charlottesville, VA 22903.

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