At last, a little good news from the academy. Oberlin College has a sense of humor -- or at least its choir does. I don’t know that the subversive (by Oberlin standards!) song they've perormed has a title, but it might well be “Please Don’t Put Me In the Real World.”
Nearly seventy-two thousand hits on YouTube so far! Astonishing that the Oberlin administration hasn’t demanded the removal of the video from public viewing. Christina Hoff Sommers must be feeling better about her recent campus visits, which Mark Hemingway wrote about in the current issue of the magazine here.
The clamor for “trigger warnings” has, predictably, spread to the Classics. This isn’t particularly surprising: From Herodotus to Livy to Tacitus, the body of literature that used to be called the Canon is chock-full of violence, sadism, and what would now be considered racism.
On May 18, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, will be Barnard College's commencement speaker and will receive the Barnard medal of distinction, the college’s highest honor.
Hardly an academic semester goes by without a high-profile opportunity arising for the right to address pervasive, perennial anti-conservative animus on the American college campus. And hardly an academic semester goes by without the right, reflexively blinded by righteous indignation, blowing an opportunity to do so.
Modern academics are not celebrated for the clarity and felicity of their writing. One of the most important lessons a postgraduate student can learn—and if he doesn’t learn it soon, he’s doomed—is that academics generally do not write books and articles for the purpose of expressing their ideas as clearly as possible for the benefit of people who don’t already understand and agree with them. Academics don’t write to be read; they write to be published.
A few years ago—as you probably remember—Duke University received a lot of bad publicity when a group of lacrosse players were (falsely, as it turned out) accused of brutally gang-raping a black stripper in Durham, North Carolina. Today, with the recent changes in the school's sexual misconduct policy, that spirit lives on.
Certain events can be expected each time the 9/11 anniversary rolls around. Opinion writers will opine about how the attacks did or didn't change America. Moments of silence will take place in any number of locales. Think tanks will host panels discussing everything from the war on terror to the impact on immigration reform. And the loosely affiliated conspiracy theorists that comprise the 9/11 Truth Movement will hold rallies and conferences around the country to bring themselves attention.
THE PERSECUTION OF SCHOLARS for gender bias, on even the flimsiest evidence, has long been a fact of life in academe. Should one professor write, "Mary entered the kitchen," another boils over with feminist indignation, convenes a panel to investigate, and soon the whole campus is sucked into a tedious speakathon on the evils of sexism. But more than just the hobbyhorse of a few discontented radicals, heightened scrutiny for potential offense to preferred political groups has become policy within most disciplines.
IN A JULY LETTER to colleges and universities across the country, Gerald Reynolds, head of the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights, addressed "a subject," as he put it, "of central importance to our government, our heritage of freedom and our way of life: the First Amendment." Reynolds' office doesn't have the authority to bring lawsuits to enforce the First Amendment. What, you might wonder, possessed him to write a letter about it?
The answer begins with the fact that hundreds of colleges and universities have policies restricting speech that the First Amendment protects.
THE QUESTION raised by our editorial in last week's issue--whether the American Association of University Professors would "censure" the University of South Florida for having fired indicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad chieftain Sami Al-Arian--has been resolved. Sort of.
WHILE THE NATION AWAITS the Supreme Court's rulings in the Michigan affirmative action cases, the Bush administration has launched an effort designed to stimulate interest in race-neutral means of enhancing educational opportunities for racial and ethnic minorities. The project has proceeded quietly, with the Education Department taking the lead.
THE WEEKEND OF APRIL 5, the Organization of American Historians (OAH)--the leading association of professors of American history--held its annual meeting in Memphis, Tennessee. The best-attended event, televised live by C-SPAN, was a panel discussion entitled "Historians Reflect on the War in Iraq." Before a packed audience of OAH members, five historians presented five takes on why it was necessary to oppose the war. Not one audience member begged to differ--at a time when polls showed 70 percent of the American people backing the war.