My son Aidan ran across this item below on the website for Fairfax schools in signing up for its economics course. Aidan has come face to face with, as he noted, “proof that there really is no free lunch.” He has now learned the first central tenet of economics.
For a number of years, I have been writing about the lack of due process for our students and faculty in cases of alleged sexual harassment or assault in colleges or universities. (For prior columns, click here and here and here). This problem grew far worse under the Obama Administration when Russlynn Ali, then assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education, issued a “Dear Colleague” letter that effectively forced schools to strip away basic due process protections from internal proceedings. Various faculties objected, though they were largely ignored by administrators who feared losing federal funds or appearing “soft” on sexual harassment claims. Now, 23 Cornell Law School law professors have signed a letter denouncing such failures in a recent case. Unfortunately, some 41 law professors at Cornell opted not to join in the effort.
There is an interesting controversy in New York where people are irate that Brooklyn Museum selected a distinguished academic as curator over its African art collection. Kristen Windmuller-Luna, 31, holds a Ph.D. in African art history from Princeton University and has been a lecturer at Columbia University and Metropolitan Museum of Art. That is a pretty stellar resume but people are focused on one other aspect about Windmuller-Luna . . . she is white. Rather than respond that it does not select curators or artists on the basis of the race, the Museum issued a pleading response that it is seeking to address the complaints. However, the complaint is that, no matter how qualified Windmuller-Luna may be, she should have been barred due to her race from consideration.
Bates College is one of the oldest colleges in New England (and the first to grant a degree to a woman). It has a great legacy and reputation. As is unlikely to surprise many on this blog, one of my favorite things about Bates is its annual AESOP experience, or the Annual Entering Student Outdoor Program. The Outing Club takes first-year students into the gorgeous Maine wilderness for a 4-day, 3-night trip. I was saddened therefore to see an editorial by Justice Geddes in The Bates Student, where he attacked the tradition as an exercise of “white privilege. The article has caused a backlash among conservatives.
Despite national outcry over the blind application of “zero tolerance” rules, school and police officials continue to throw kids into the criminal justice system without any logic or judgment. The latest example is Zach Cassidento, a high school senior at Amity High Regional School who suspended and arrested after simply posted a picture of his birthday gift — an “Airsoft gun,” on Snapchat. He was not charged but was suspended for a day from school.
We have previously discussed the national trend in colleges and universities to require faculty to use an increasing number of different pronouns for students. Faculty questioning such alternative pronouns have been subject to discipline or condemnation. There is even a move in states like California to criminalize the failure to use alternative pronouns. Now, the women’s college Mount Holyoke has ordered faculty to avoid calling its students “women” since some students may identify as non-genders or different genders.
We have yet another ridiculous example of school officials applying “zero tolerance” policies against a kid for an innocent page of doodling. A 13-year-old boy in the seventh grade drew a stick figure holding a gun and another holding two knives and was promptly suspended from Roseboro-Salemburg Middle School.