The latest Conversations With Bill Kristol features former Harvard president Larry Summers:
Speaking about the intellectual climate on campus, Summers says, "The main thing that’s happening [on campus] is what always happens, professors teach courses, students take courses, students aspire to graduate, they make friends, they plan their lives… That said, whether it's the President of Princeton negotiating with people as they took over his office over the names of schools at Princeton, whether it is attacks on very reasonable free speech having to do with adults' right to choose their own Halloween costumes at Yale, whether it's the administration using placemats in the dining hall to propagandize about what messagesRead more
As college campuses shut down for winter break, the Maoist insanity that gripped American higher education this fall hit a new high-water mark. At Harvard, little laminated posters began appearing in the student dining halls with instructions on how students should discuss sensitive political topics with the rubes back home over the holidays. For example, what if, over Kwanzaa-eve dinner, a family member says, "We shouldn't let anyone in the U.S. from Syria. We can't guarantee that terrorists won't infiltrate the ranks of the refugees." Well, the poster instructed students to respond, "Racial justice includes welcoming Syrian refugees.Read more
In this week's magazine, I have a long piece about the campus protests that engulfed colleges across the country this fall. The story is by turns absurd, comedic, and worrisome.
To give you just one example: When the protests came to Amherst College, they began as a one-hour sit-in staged by three students. Over the course of an afternoon, other students, administrators, faculty, and various campus stooges glommed on. The protestors came up with a list of demands and then called the college president's office to demand that she come to the library to receive them.
The president had left that afternoon for a business trip to Japan.Read more
At the University of Missouri, feminist professor Melissa Click cried out “I need some muscle over here!” to expel a reporter from the Concerned Student 1950 protest in a public quad. A more apt encapsulation of what conservatives feel ails academia—identity obsession, rights-curbing, self-righteous bullying—can scarcely be imagined. It’s exactly the kind of thing that might make them cry out for some muscle of their own: someone to force intellectual diversity.Read more
Next month the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Abigail Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, one of the most important cases this term. In 2008 Fisher, a white high school senior in Texas, applied for admission to the university and was turned down.Read more
The Obama administration—easily the most ideologically progressive in modern American history—has been accompanied by both liberal triumphalism and liberal outrage.
Three major protest movements have marked the Obama era: Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and the as-yet-unnamed campus protests that began at the University of Missouri and Yale and have now spread across the country. The Occupy movement failed utterly. The Black Lives Matter movement has been on a fast track to irrelevance, its only success having been to discipline Democratic presidential candidates to deny that "all" lives matter, while insisting that "black" lives do.
The campus protests are different.Read more
For decades, the American university system has been creeping towards both moral and intellectual bankruptcy. But the events last week at Yale and the University of Missouri suggest we are reaching a tipping point, and that campus culture is transitioning from painfully idiotic to wantonly destructive. Even at the height of the Vietnam war protests, administrators endeavored, with varying degrees of success, to keep the inmates from running the asylum.Read more
Every few years in the Northeast, biologist John Cooley gets famous—because he’s the man who discovered the mating secrets of one of the insect world’s weirdest and most-publicized species: Magicicada septendecim, the 17-year cicada. True to their name, and unlike the bottle-green “annual” cicadas that emerge in backyards every summer, the black-and-orange 17-years spend more than a decade and a half underground as larvae, and then all emerge as adults at the same time, usually in May.Read more
Nearly everyone recognizes that student debt has risen to a level that will be difficult to sustain, given the nation’s slow-growing economy and the sagging incomes of too many college-educated Americans. Nearly 40 million Americans carry some form of student debt; more than 7 million are in default on their loans, and many more have missed scheduled payments. The total amount of outstanding student debt is estimated to be $1.2 trillion, with about two-thirds of this sum underwritten by the federal government.Read more
Every spring, thousands of American higher learning institutions and tens of thousands of high schools send their graduates off with a commencement ceremony. A centerpiece of the event, as old as American education itself, is the commencement speech. At their best, these speeches furnish students with wise and inspiring advice for the future. The choice of speaker is also part of the message; it signals the sort of person of whom the university, college, or high school approves.Read more
Start with those old enough to be graduating from law school. The law business ain’t exactly what it used to be -- so hungry for new lawyers that anyone with a law degree could find work and earn enough to start chipping away at his or her student loan, unless responding to government incentives to wipe the loan from the books seemed more attractive. Those halcyon days may never return, but the worst seems to be over.Read more
If anyone was unsure of the veracity of Rolling Stone's account of an alleged gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity, the final nail is now in the story's coffin. Sunday night, the Columbia School of Journalism released its much anticipated blistering report on the magazine's November feature.Read more
Less than four months ago, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice had concluded that the transgendered are among the classes of persons protected, unbeknownst to the framers of the legislation at the time, by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.Read more
Scott Walker has proposed higher education budget reforms and many people in higher education are unhappy.Read more
The president is proposing more higher education (at the community college level) as a cure for our economic woes. Along with some substantial tax increases, of course. But is more college the answer?Read more
The Council of the Princeton University Community voted on Monday to gut due process for students accused of sexual misconduct. The week before last it was the turn of the faculty to genuflect as the hearse bearing the remains of due process rolled past. This unsavory episode highlights two parlous issues. First, there is the problem of sexual misconduct on campus, which was always at unacceptable levels and appears to be getting worse. Second, there is the dangerous license federal agencies have to rewrite law.Read more
Florida Polytechnic “University” (it isn’t accredited) is making headlines this week by opening a bookless library. Instead of checking out traditional codex books, students will be forced to read class material on tablets, e-readers, and/or laptops. According to the middle-aged librarians and bureaucrats who run the school, a bookless library will appeal to the youth.Read more
A senior at the University of Buffalo in New York called the $275,000 speaking fee the school paid to Hillary Clinton last year "ridiculous." Local TV station WVIB reported on the former secretary of state's appearance and the fee, which amounted to about 30 percent of the university's $900,000 total speakers' budget for the year.
WVIB reporter Joe Melillo spoke with UB senior Pat McKowne about how much his school paid Clinton.Read more
Hillary Clinton will be getting $225,000 to speak at a university fundraiser later this year. Students at the same school, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, have recently been outraged that the institution is raising tuition by a staggering 17 percent.Read more
The University of Colorado’s Colorado Springs campus has decided it won’t be involved in the White Privilege Conference anymore. Since 2007 the campus’s Matrix Center for Social Equity and Inclusion, directed by UCCS sociology professor Abby Ferber, had lent the controversial conference some academic sheen, including the fact that UCCS students could get academic credits for attending the conference as part of a UCCS course. Although the annual conference is headed by its 1999 founder, Eddie Moore Jr., diversity counselor at the Brooklyn Friends School, the Matrix Center had been its official home and Ferber one of its key organizers.Read more
Support for the decision of Brandeis University not to award Ayaan Hirsi Ali an honorary degree, after previously announcing it would do so, has coalesced around the notion that while Islamic radicalism can be criticized, even condemned, one cannot criticize Islam itself. By condemning both, and by implying strongly that Radical Islam and Islam are indistinguishable, Ms. Ali—so the argument goes—not only does not deserve an honorary degree; she is, in fact, a bigot.Read more
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