Category: Academia

“Doth Protest Too Much”? The University of Wisconsin Delays Free Speech Survey

We have often discussed complaints from conservative, libertarian, and other groups about the rising intolerance for opposing views in the University of Wisconsin System. That has ranged from controversies over attacks on student columnists to speech codes. Now, a survey of students to gauge their views on free speech has been postponed. Faculty and students have objected that such a survey is unwarranted and might be used by the legislature to take action against the various universities in the system.

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University of Houston Students Sue Over Campus Speech Code

There is a new free speech lawsuit on a college campus this week after three University of Houston students sued over a new anti-discrimination policy. The students are unnamed in the complaint, which was brought by Speech First. They alleged that they are chilled in expressing their views on issues like gender because they are now treated as forms of discrimination or harassment. Continue reading “University of Houston Students Sue Over Campus Speech Code”

MIT Reinstates Standardized Testing As Other Schools Move Toward “More Equitable” Admissions

We have been discussing how schools have been dropping the use of standardized tests to achieve diversity goals in admissions. That trend continued this month with Cal State dropping standardized testing “to level the playing field” for minority students. I have long been a critic of this movement given the overwhelming evidence that these tests allow an objective measure of academic merit and have great predictive value on the performance of students. One school, however, has returned to standardized testing: the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Appellate Court Upholds $25 Million Award Against Oberlin in Mob Action Against Family Grocery

Starting in 2017, I have written half a dozen columns on the lawsuit against Oberlin College over its participation in a campaign against a small family-owned business accused of racism. In this case, the college not only joined the mob but helped lead the mob against Gibson’s Bakery. Even after a massive award by the jury, Oberlin President Carmen Twillie Ambar continued to refuse to apologize for the shameful and costly conduct of his administration. Now, an appellate court has upheld a $25 million judgment against the small college and Oberlin earned every penny of that penalty. Ambar still remains the president of the college.

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Senate Democrats Clear Anti-Free Speech Nominee For Floor Vote

At the start of the Biden Administration, I expressed alarm over the anti-free speech figures being brought into the administration by the President. Indeed, President Biden himself has called for greater private censorship and speech regulation. This unease continued to grow as the President turned to figures long criticized for their opposition to free speech, including Dr. Lisa Cook, Professor of Economics and International Relations at Michigan State University. Cook has been nominated for the Federal Reserve. The Democrats just “discharged” Cook from committee on a partisan vote to bring the nomination to a Senate floor vote. Cook has opposed the most basic protections of free speech and academic freedom on campuses during her academic career. Continue reading “Senate Democrats Clear Anti-Free Speech Nominee For Floor Vote”

“[We all] Hope Clarence Thomas Dies”: UCLA Faces New Free Speech Controversy Over Social Media

UCLA is facing a new free speech controversy after its Director of Race and Equity, Jonathan Perkins, tweeted that he (like many) hoped Justice Clarence Thomas would die rather than recover from his recent illness. UCLA recently disciplined a student for controversial statements, but has stood by the right of Perkins to express such hateful viewpoints. Ironically, Perkins’ office has long posted anti-free speech positions to justify censorship and speech codes.

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Federal Court Rules in Favor of UNT Professor Fired for Criticizing Microaggression Policy

We previously discussed concerns over free speech on the campus of the University of North Texas, including the canceling of an event on child gender transitioning. Students and faculty were not content to protest such events but acted to prevent others from hearing opposing views. Now, the university itself has lost a critical motion in a free speech case brought by Mathematics Professor Nathaniel Hiers after his contract was not renewed due to his criticism of the school’s microaggression policies. Judge Sean Jordan ruled that Professor Hiers may proceed to trial on his free speech claim.

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Teachers’ Union Teams Up With Steven Brill’s NewsGuard to Flag “Misinformation” for Children

Under the leadership of Randi Weingarten, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has long been criticized by conservatives for its support of far left policies and support for Democratic candidates. Nevertheless, as a union, it is entitled to be political and most unions favor the Democrats due to their pro-union policies. However, the concern over the AFT’s agenda become far greater when it announced that it would team up with NewsGuard to start to flag news sources deemed “misinformation.” NewsGuard is co-founded by Steve Brill who has been accused of bias against Republicans and conservatives. Conservative sites have previously tagged NewGuard as “heavily skewed” in favor of the left. The “misinformation” label has been used extensively by liberal media to kill stories like the Hunter Biden laptop stories as unreliable. Indeed, Brill is under fire for being one of the voices falsely claiming that the Hunter Biden laptop was likely false Russian disinformation. His company will now put “traffic lights” on information for children on what sources they rely upon.

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Yale Law Students Disrupt Conservative Speaker . . . Then Object to the Presence of Police as Creating an Unsafe Environment

We have been discussing how academics and students now define blocking speech or shouting down speakers to be an exercise of free speech. It is the very denial of free speech but also violates the rules of many universities. Yet, administrators are either supportive of such cancelling efforts or fearful in being tagged the next racist or reactionary by a mob. So we have scenes like the one at Yale Law School where students disrupted a conservative speaker and required the intervention of campus police to safely remove the speakers. It is particularly distressing to see such scenes unfold at law schools where free speech was once taught as a defining right in our system. As shown recently at Georgetown Law School, free speech is often portrayed today more as a threat rather than a guarantee in our system. Indeed, Yale students later complained that the police presence at the event created an unsafe space for students as they disrupted the event. Police were needed to escort the speakers safely out of the event.

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Washington Post Column: Jussie Smollett is “Just Another Black Man Serving Time-in a System More Perverted than his Crime.”

Cook County Sheriff’s Office
The Washington Post yesterday ran a column by MSNBC Legal Analyst and Georgetown Law Professor Paul Butler that argued that the incarceration of actor Jussie Smollett for 150 days is a miscarriage of justice fueled by racism. Butler declares that Smollett is “just another Black man serving time — in a system more perverted than his crime.” The Washington Post column repeats a number of legal assertions that have been refuted by the special investigator, prosecutors, the court, and others about the case. Continue reading “Washington Post Column: Jussie Smollett is “Just Another Black Man Serving Time-in a System More Perverted than his Crime.””

Northwestern Student Government Bars The Press from Some Meetings

We have regularly discussed the rising attacks on free speech on college campuses, including Northwestern University.  Protesters at Northwestern have blocked speakers while maintaining that there is “no free speech for overtly racist white dudes.” They have stopped classes from discussing ICE policies. However, the student government has now added an attack on the free press by voting to block media from meetings to protect students from criticism over their advocacy. Even the dean of the school’s prestigious journalism school called out the action as inimical to the free press.

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Bridgewater State University Sued Over Asking Applicant to Address Her “White Privilege”

Bridgewater State University is the subject of a novel lawsuit after it asked Donna Johnston, a white applicant for one of three open positions in the School of Social Work, to, according to the Boston Globe, “defend her whiteness” in a job interview. The university said that she “missed the target” in answering how she could overcome her “white privilege.”

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SDSU Professor Removed from Courses for Using Racial Terms in Course on Racism

Professor J. Angelo Corlett is a philosophy professor who has won multiple teaching awards at San Diego State University (SDSU) for his teaching of classes like “Critical Thinking and Composition” and “Philosophy, Racism and Justice” classes. Those classes often raise the use of racial terminology, which Corlett references in class. After a complaint from students, however, he has been removed from two of his three classes without any prior opportunity to fully present his case and explain his pedagogy. What was particularly concerning was a university statement that such removals are not matters of free speech or academic freedom.

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“Woke Dysphoria” at Concordia? University Suspends Professor After Criticism of Diversity Priorities

There is a major free speech fight brewing at Concordia University in Wisconsin where Professor (and Minister) Dr. Gregory Schulz was suspended after he criticized “woke dysphoria” as part of the search for a new university president. Ironically, Schulz is still listed as one of the approved candidates for the position. Continue reading ““Woke Dysphoria” at Concordia? University Suspends Professor After Criticism of Diversity Priorities”

Should Universities Take a Stand on Ukraine? UChicago is Facing That Question

It has become increasingly common for universities to take political positions in support of everything from Black Lives Matter to D.C. Statehood. As such positions increase, there is more and more pressure for official positions to be taken on other subjects. Now, the University of Chicago is being asked to affirm its support of Ukraine after controversial statements from Professor John Mearsheimer. (For full disclosure, I am a graduate of UChicago and Mearsheimer was one of faculty when I was doing strategic studies research at the department). Continue reading “Should Universities Take a Stand on Ukraine? UChicago is Facing That Question”