Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

New insanity from higher education

March 9, 2008

If you want to look “inclusive” and as non-sexist as possible, you now use the @ sign at the ends of Spanish words that would normally end either in O or A. To wit: the new “themed floors” in the residence halls at UCLA, one of which will be the “Chican@/Latin@ diaspora” floor. The @ sign, being an A inside of an O, is supposed to encompass both male and female, and thus be less likely than insensitive words like Chicano and Latina to emotionally scar someone for life.

Good Lord, shield us from an overconcentration of buzz-words.

Read the article at the Daily Bruin. It may be the first and only time in your life that you laugh while vomiting, both uncontrollably.

But I have a problem with this. (Big surprise.) I want to know how the idea of a Chican@/Latin@ diaspora floor is more “inclusive” than any of the themed floors it is replacing:

an academic floor, a social justice floor, an art floor, a community service floor and a health and fitness floor

These cover EVERYBODY. Chican@ etc. covers only Chican@s. Funny thing, too: they plan to introduce new themes in the future if Chican@ et al. prove successful. One of the projected future themes is “health and fitness.”

And what’s up with the O encompassing the A? Like the A needs the O’s protection? And what about the letter O belonging to women, for its likeness to feminine anatomy? (See this book for an example.)

The whole thing—focusing on my race rather than on “academics” or “art”—is like a piano player taking lessons to master the trill, without caring ever to learn the circle of fifths.

Do read the whole article. It’s ridiculous.

OH, there is another something I read this week that could induce joint laughter and horking. As reported on the Phi Beta Cons blog, the Madonna Constantine plagiarism case at Columbia University has been subjected to a profoundly moving analysis by one Anthony Kelley. In the piece, entitled “Is Professor Constantine Guilty of Plagiarism?”, Kelley, a self-described “advocate of black radical feminism,” is concerned less with whether plagiarism occurred than with making sure nobody’s feelings get hurt:

By staying committed to the principles of compassion and love, I trust that we may be able to preserve both the integrity of all individuals involved and the community to which we are all committed.

If you see Kelley, tell him this: a plagiarizer forfeits his or her (can I just write “h@” and be understood?) integrity, and betrays the trust of the community h@ belongs to. However, to Kelley, the whole thing “is just another instance of white supremacy and sexism at work wherein a black woman’s credibility is systematically made illegitimate.”

I suppose the mournful saga of oppression begins when an Ivy League school hires a black woman and then awards her tenure. The depths of white supremacy’s evil are indeed fathomless.

I will say, though, that if she did not plagiarize, then her accusers need to pay, big time. If she did plagiarize, she needs to pay.

Anyway, I have work to do, so I’ll leave you with the ending. Anthony Kelley makes Mr. Rogers look like Rambo in this dripping performance:

We do not know whether or not Professor Constantine committed plagiarism. Neither do we know her motivations if she did indeed plagiarize. Nonetheless, we should have fewer conversations about punishment and more conversations about redemption and healing. Only after constructive dialogue can we even begin to discuss “punishment” or “sanctions.”

Imagine a forum in which Professor Constantine and her accusers engage in the life-sustaining practice of dialogue, actively listening to each other’s concerns and extending heart-felt compassion in understanding each other’s pain. Imagine the reconciliation that could arise from such a space. Imagine the impact such a forum would have on our community. Instead of just giving lip-service to the idea of dialogue, we would be demonstrating its importance and effectiveness, even when it is difficult and uncomfortable. Imagine an end to the lies. Imagine embracing truth. Imagine healing.

Anthony Kelley is a Columbia College junior majoring in Women’s and Gender Studies. Strength to Love runs alternate Tuesdays.

HAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!!!!!! Dangit, sign me up! I want love! I want Columbia WGS love!

Oral Roberts University poised for better days

December 4, 2007

Over Thanksgiving dinner a priest friend told us about the scandal that’s shaken Oral Roberts University in recent weeks. In short, Richard Roberts (Oral’s son) had been using the university’s money to live large. ACTA summed it up well:

The campus is reeling, and students are reacting strongly to the news that their leaders have not necessarily held themselves to the moral and behavioral standards to which they hold students. Oral Roberts students sign contracts committing to observe a dress code, a curfew, and strict rules about such things as swearing, drinking, and lying. Allegations that Richard Roberts used university resources to–among other things–finance cars, horses, vacations, and a swanky Beverly Hills home aren’t sitting well with them.

According to my friend, an ORU alum (yes, strange, given that he’s now a RC priest), Roberts would take multiple vacations a year (like 2 per month), and would fly to Italy to get his custom-tailored suits. Apparently, on the university’s dime. Well, he’s resigned now, and the Board of Regents seems committed to turning things around. Here’s to a future of upright dealing, all around, at ORU.

Affirmative Action for Viking orphans!

November 3, 2007

Got another acknowledgement letter today, saying that the place had received my application. And surprise, surprise . . . enclosed was the form asking me to tell them my race, sex, etc.

Nice punctuation typo in this one:

We request data on the race, sex and ethnic identity of all applicants to monitor our employment practices in accordance with federal executive order 11246 and U.S. Department of Labor discrimination obligations for the university with respect to veterans, individuals, with disabilities and those age 40 and over.

Confusing how they refer to “race, sex and ethnic identity” in one place—as if race and ethnic identity are different things. Maybe they mean like the main character in the terrible movie “Pathfinder”: a Viking boy brought up by Native Americans. So his “race” is Scandinavian but his “ethnic heritage” is something else. Maybe I should tell them I’m a Viking who was brought up by Native Americans. (But there is no check box for that.)

The place I’m supposed to return this is the self-contradictorily-named “Equity and Diversity Resource Center”. (I know, it’s possible to be “equal” in one sense and “diverse” in another . . . I’m just being ornery.)

My diversity essay

November 1, 2007

To see the enthusiasm with which I’m throwing things away tonight, you might think I’m procrastinating from doing my real work. Which I am, sort of. But sometimes when you clean up your living space, your mind clears up along with it. That’s what I’m banking on.

Anyway. I am tossing out old papers that I know I’ll never need any more. These are mainly scholarly articles that I know I can get on JSTOR. But I was also going through my grad school application papers, and came across an essay I wrote for my application to UC San Diego:

“How my presence would enhance diversity at UCSD”

Affirmative Action: when “voluntary” means “mandatory”

October 25, 2007

It’s also when “non-discrimination” means “discrimination”.

Colorado State U at Pueblo is but one of many universities currently recruiting faculty for the Fall 2008 school year. CSUP’s application instructions tell the applicant what documents to submit to be considered for the position. Among these is a “voluntary” demographics sheet. So, you “must” include the “voluntary” sheet that tells what race you claim to be.

The choices are illuminating: (there is a check space next to each option)

1. American Indian OR Alaska Native
2. Black OR African American

Ahmadinejad at Columbia

September 26, 2007

Are you all following this story? The nutcake president of Iran was invited to speak on the campus of Columbia University, an invitation promoted by the nutcake president of Columbia, Lee Bollinger. Commentary on this tragically stupid move is ubiquitous online, but here is an excerpt from one of the denunciations.

Friends, please take 60 seconds to read this and let me know what you think. I agree with the point about it being unacceptable to treat genocide as a topic of legitimate debate, but am not so sure about the call to abandon Columbia. I’d think rather the goal should be to renew it by gradually injecting it with common sense, in the form of new professors and new students who are attracted to it precisely because they do not conform to the currently-prevailing views. You can still get a good education there, after all, while not agreeing with the administration’s politics (and looniness).

Hilarious but scary: Ohio State’s “Diversity Statement”

September 8, 2007

FIRE’s speech code of the month for September 2007 has been awarded to Ohio State. While it’s important that we get along with each other, OSU has crossed a line here and ventured into the realm of the ludicrous. As FIRE puts it:

The Diversity Statement also contains another, quite cryptic, prohibition: “Words, actions, and behaviors that inflict or threaten infliction of bodily or emotional harm, whether done intentionally or with reckless disregard, are not permitted.” Could anyone at Ohio State actually explain what this prohibition means? How exactly does one threaten to inflict emotional harm? Would that mean shouting, “Hey you! Get out of here or I’m going to hurt your feelings…”?

They explain that this is “unconstitutionally vague,” since “no reasonable person can figure out exactly what this sentence prohibits.” As a consequence, the whole campus is reduced to talking about the weather. They must live in an oppressive climate of fear, accepting that they could be punished for unwittingly saying something, at some time, that might offend someone. And scariest of all, judgment of wrongdoing will be left to the least tolerant people on campus: the Diversity Bureaucrats.

The eros of souls

July 9, 2007

I spent 20 minutes reading this piece over at the American Scholar website, so I thought I’d share. The link came to me through my Arts & Letters Daily RSS feed (you can currently find a link in my “Other Sites” section in the right column).

The author, William Deresiewicz, a professor of English at Yale, discusses several recent movies that depict English professors as failed writers, sexual predators, bad husbands, deadbeat dads, etc. and analyzes possible causes for this new academic stereotype (the old stereotype was the absent-minded professor). At the end, he explains that a kind of eros does exist in the best of student-teacher relationships, but that it is a mental, not physical eros. I enjoyed this piece a lot. Here’s how it ends (note: it’s not possible to “spoil” this piece by giving away the ending):

The Socratic relationship is so profoundly disturbing to our culture that it must be defused before it can be approached. Yet many thousands of kids go off to college every year hoping, at least dimly, to experience it. It has become a kind of suppressed cultural memory, a haunting imaginative possibility. In our sex-stupefied, anti-intellectual culture, the eros of souls has become the love that dares not speak its name.

Obit: G.B. Tennyson

June 14, 2007

One of my UCLA English professors has died in a house fire. I learned this while searching for information on Owen Barfield, whose Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry I’m currently rereading.

I found the news over at David Lavery’s Barfield website. Tennyson was a specialist in Victorian literature and a pioneer in Barfield studies; and at the time I was his student, had recently completed a documentary on Barfield (“Owen Barfield: Man and Meaning”), part of which we watched in class. That was 1996 and Barfield was 98 years old.

Strangely, there’s not a word of Tennyson’s passing on the UCLA English department’s website, and I couldn’t find anything about it anywhere else online, either. I have good memories of his C.S. Lewis class: his expertise on the subject of Lewis’s life and writings, primarily, but also the “magic wand” he would bring to class—a clear tube filled with glitter and a clear, semi-viscous liquid. I think he used its powers mainly to get us to be quiet at the beginning of class—a feat accomplished by tapping it repeatedly on the table. The final exam was also memorable: we were to complete a narrative/analytical essay on Lewis by simply writing single words into blank spaces. E.g., “Lewis was born in the year ____.”

Lavery has written up a nice bio of Tennyson. R.I.P.

Where’s Savannah State in this article?

May 2, 2007

The NY Times has a piece on the increasing popularity of religion among university students. What causes this newfound interest, which, according to a guy from Harvard, is at its highest pitch in 100 years?

They offer a few reasons: the increased prominence of the “religious right” in politics (a term I find ridiculous); realizing after 9/11 that religion influences world affairs; uncertainty about the war in Iraq. So far, they’re interested in it because it affects politics. Not very convincing to me, though surely some students’ interest is best described in these terms. Towards the end they note that perhaps some students come to religion because it answers some questions that secularism can’t.

But I’d like to see a companion piece to this, pointing out that the orthodoxy on campus is still by and large anti-Christian. I don’t know all the facts about the Commissioned II Love case at Savannah State University, but it seems very clear that there’s some anti-Christian bias at work on the part of the administration. Unless C2L is as horrific as some of its critics accuse it of being (see the numerous comments at my earlier entry on this topic), you’d have to be committed to suppressing Christians to say that their foot-washing ceremony is “hazing”.

I tried to find new information on the C2L case the other day, but nothing seems to be publicly available beyond what I posted in March.