Patterico's Pontifications

4/26/2019

Students To Administration: If Guest Speakers Don’t Conform To Our Beliefs, We Can’t Heal From The Wounds You’ve Inflicted On Us

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:45 am



[gust post by Dana]

This week, Vermont’s Middlebury College student government released a list of thirteen demands to administration officials in an effort to foster “community healing”. According to the letter, the healing is necessary because the administration has repeatedly failed students for not bending to their will. Amusingly, in listing their examples of administration’s failure to act on behalf of students, the letter references what they call the “Charles Murray incident”:

The Student Government Association (SGA) exists to be the democratic vehicle of the will of the student body. We believe that students and administrators are a partnership, a two-way street working toward a collectively better future for Middlebury College. Through conversations with alumni, students, staff, faculty, and various community groups, it has become evident that the connection between the administration and students has been reduced to a one-way street. The administration has failed time and again to listen to the desires of its students.

Administrators’ neglect of students’ wishes has been the consistent trend of the past few years.

[…]

On April 12, 2017, the SGA passed a bill asking for specific changes to protest policies in the aftermath of the Charles Murray incident. The bill’s request languished in committee for a full academic year. In the end, the requested changes were not adopted in the protest policy draft announced in late 2018. Rather than a prohibition on violence by Public Safety officers, the final draft included a prohibition on civil disobedience itself.

As a reminder, in 2017, Middlebury professor Allison Stranger had the temerity to welcome an opportunity to moderate a talk with political scientist Charles Murray, an individual with whom she disagreed with on a number of issues. She explained, that in spite of their differences, it “was a chance to demonstrate publicly a commitment to a free and fair exchange of views in my classroom.” Because some students were deeply offended by the notion of a public display of a free and fair exchange between a Middlebury professor and Charles Murray, they shouted down the speakers and forced them to have to be relocated elsewhere and livestream the event. And most infuriatingly, because of Middlebury students narrow-minded bigotry and ignorance, Stranger ended up suffering a concussion after a mob assailed her when she and Murray attempted to leave the campus:

The protesters succeeded in shutting down the lecture. We were forced to move to another site and broadcast our discussion via live stream, while activists who had figured out where we were banged on the windows and set off fire alarms. Afterward, as Dr. Murray and I left the building with Bill Burger, Middlebury’s vice president for communications, a mob charged us.

Most of the hatred was focused on Dr. Murray, but when I took his right arm to shield him and to make sure we stayed together, the crowd turned on me. Someone pulled my hair, while others were shoving me. I feared for my life. Once we got into the car, protesters climbed on it, hitting the windows and rocking the vehicle whenever we stopped to avoid harming them. I am still wearing a neck brace, and spent a week in a dark room to recover from a concussion caused by the whiplash.

I reference this portion of the letter from Middlebury student government because in their list of demands, they state that speakers must first meet the beliefs and standards as determined by the Middlebury community. Otherwise, it’s a no-go. Stranger’s efforts to expand critical thinking skills by diminishing fear of those holding different beliefs appears to have had little, if any impact at all:

Any organization or academic department that invites a speaker to campus will be required to fill out a due diligence form created by the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in coordination with the SGA Institutional Diversity Committee. These questions should be created to determine whether a speaker’s beliefs align with Middlebury’s community standards, removing the burden of researching speakers from the student body.

It’s always a shock to see college students demand that they be protected from the exposure of ideas and thoughts that don’t line up to their own. It makes me wonder exactly where the once-ubiquitous college campus rebels have gone. Anyway, it’s a shame Middlebury students didn’t have an opportunity earlier on to participate in a “political radicalism” class while in high school. If they had had the opportunity, perhaps they would be less fearful of that which is different, and instead be imbued with a confidence that negates any urge to demand that the cocoon be impenetrable:

High school seniors in suburban Columbus, Ohio, get to take a class that could well be banned on many college campuses: a political science course where speakers from the most radical groups—from neo-Nazis to die-hard communists—are invited to present their views and answer questions.

Thomas Worthington High School has offered “U.S. Political Thought and Radicalism,” or “Poli-Rad,” since 1975. That’s the year teacher Tom Molnar, now retired, came up with the idea for the class, got it approved, and then realized there was no textbook on the topic. A student suggested he invite guest speakers from across the political spectrum, and that’s what Molnar did. (It’s notable that back then, the principal not only approved this idea, he called it “brilliant.”) Now the school’s newer sister school, Worthington Kilbourne High School, offers the class too.

With a wide variety of speakers, from Bill Ayers to Richard Spencer, students are able to hear from political extremes, ask questions of them, and then formulate their own views. The class gives them the freedom to do so.

As it goes, the times certainly are changing. And that doesn’t mean for the better:

Judi Galasso, who co-teaches the class today, told Julie Carr Smyth of the Associated Press that, “In 2019, no school board in America would approve a class like this, but in Worthington, there’s no way you could get rid of it.” The school’s principal, Pete Scully, told Smyth, “In 2019, our teachers generally are like, ‘You know what? Let’s redirect to a different topic, because that one sounds like it’s loaded with land mines. The idea of poli-rad is, you know what, let’s explore all those land mines and talk about them.”

Unlike some college professors, who find themselves unable to discuss a controversial topic without being accused of endorsing it, at Worthington there seems to be a solid understanding that there is a difference between studying radicalization and actually radicalizing students. In fact, the idea of “Let’s explore all those landmines” is probably the most radical idea to which the kids are being exposed.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

45 Responses to “Students To Administration: If Guest Speakers Don’t Conform To Our Beliefs, We Can’t Heal From The Wounds You’ve Inflicted On Us”

  1. Fear is a heartless bitch.

    Dana (779465)

  2. I now have another criteria by which to throw away resumes, i.e. any association with Middlebury.

    David Longfellow (985484)

  3. Not necessarily. The SGA is accusing the administration of treating its demands with the appropriate amount of disdain those demands deserve.

    Kishnevi (682c47)

  4. The same mentality that required coloring books, play-doh and comfort puppies after Trump was elected.

    They’ve succeeded in taking over the Humanities departments of most colleges, now they’re coming after the sciences:

    https://quillette.com/2019/04/16/why-are-women-under-represented-in-physics/

    harkin (a741df)

  5. Let’s just throw in the towel and elect a horse consul.

    Pony is okay too.

    Puggle (4871b9)

  6. @2. Meh. Feel the same way ’bout Liberty University grads.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  7. This is sad. I always thought of Middlebury as a top academic small college. :(

    David in Cal (0d5a1d)

  8. Trade Schools

    mg (8cbc69)

  9. Any organization or academic department that invites a speaker to campus will be required to fill out a due diligence form created by the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in coordination with the SGA Institutional Diversity Committee. These questions should be created to determine whether a speaker’s beliefs align with Middlebury’s community standards, removing the burden of researching speakers from the student body.

    They must absolutely conform to the ideals of Diversity.

    Why are students allowed to use loans and Pell grants here? Perhaps there needs to be an accreditation organization set up to judge freedom of expression and inquiry. Then get the Trump administration to require that accreditation for federal funds.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  10. We’ve raised a nation of pansies.

    Colonel Haiku (951ecf)

  11. You shouldn’t insult flowers, Col.

    mg (8cbc69)

  12. There are two kinds of millennials in colleges today: those that turn violent the moment they don’t get their way, and those that avoid confrontation at all costs.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  13. This passage from an article on the Middlebury student newspaper website today, is quite the case study in lack of self-awareness:

    Paul Johnson, an assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Pittsburgh who studies rhetoric and American politics, said that conservative media outlets have both an ideological and economic incentive to cover free speech issues the way that they do.

    “The idea that elite, liberal institutions — and in these stories, there’s a disproportionate focus on elite institutions like Yale, Harvard, Middlebury, Oberlin — are generally intolerant of conservatism offers one pathway for conservatives and right-wingers to burnish their populist credibility,” he said.

    Johnson explained that this positioning helps provide the conservative movement with a certain kind of ideological unity.

    “Patting yourself on the back for being more tolerant than a bunch of campus leftists — or, to go further, imagining that you’re quite tolerant and they are the hypocrites — does a lot of important cognitive work for the movement,” he said. “Information consumers can go from campus outrage to campus outrage without stopping to think about what one’s own investments are.”

    Financially, he said that right-wing news organizations like Breitbart and Campus Reform want to write articles about free speech issues because they generate clicks.

    “They have an audience hovering their mouse arrow over various social media feeds waiting to hear about the most recent campus excesses,” he said.

    For readers that want to engage such coverage critically, Johnson said that one red flag to look out for is when a reporter uses the phrase “free speech” frequently in an article without providing a clear definition of the term.

    “When pundits or outlets talk about ‘free speech’ as an absolute social value, it really stands in for a demand that they think people should be able to say anything they want. That, of course, could be the basis for its own kind of anarchistic, violent society, but it is in no way the basis for anything resembling a shared, democratic life,” he said. “Our social structure is not built on the idea that all ideas have an equal right to be expressed.”

    (emphasis added)

    Dave (1bb933)

  14. There is also a story on the student paper website about a Chemistry professor who gave his class an exam problem to calculate the lethal dose of hydrogen cyanide in a nazi gas chamber.

    It must be something in the water…

    Dave (1bb933)

  15. It strikes me that there are characteristics shared by the Middlebury administration and the Republican Party, neither of which seems willing to stand up for long-held principles that benefit the university and the nation, respectively.

    John B Boddie (66f464)

  16. Sounds like these students are well versed in NeverTrump’s Rules for Snowflakes, the go to guide when you don’t get your way. They’re simply deciding for everyone what ideas are “fit” and which are “unfit”.

    Munroe (62c16c)

  17. Sounds like these students are well versed in NeverTrump’s Rules for Snowflakes

    FTFY

    Dave (505f06)

  18. There are very fine people on both sides.

    nk (dbc370)

  19. Roger Scruton: An apology for thinking
    I am forced to acknowledge what a mistake it is to address young leftists as though they were responsible human beings

    We in Britain are entering a dangerous social condition in which the direct expression of opinions that conflict – or merely seem to conflict – with a narrow set of orthodoxies is instantly punished by a band of self-appointed vigilantes.

    We are being cowed into abject conformity around a dubious set of official doctrines and told to adopt a world view that we cannot examine for fear of being publicly humiliated by the censors.

    This world view might lead to a new and liberated social order; or it might lead to the social and spiritual destruction of our country. How shall we know, if we are too afraid to discuss it?“

    https://spectator.us/roger-scruton-apology-thinking/

    harkin (a741df)

  20. @20. Yes, Reaganomics made for excellent fertilizer.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  21. ^10.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  22. I certainly don’t blame the students. They sound like pretty bright kids to me who came to the realization that American academia these days is basically a criminal subculture — gypsies in gowns — perpetrating a fraud on the students, the students’ parents, and the taxpayers who’ll be stuck with the student grants and unpaid loans. Their protests may be pointless and unproductive, and not focused on the real causes of their anger and frustration, but they have a right to be angry and frustrated.

    nk (dbc370)

  23. nk (dbc370) — 4/26/2019 @ 5:01 pm

    “Gypsies?”
    “Forget it he’s rolling.”

    Dave (1bb933)

  24. Dcsca @6, I might do the same not because of their beliefs…its actually not ability to quote bible verses, but the saccharine have a blessed day manners training and demeanor. Same reason I will only do airport Chick Fil As (a couple of towns really overreacted on this recently) as opposed to the drive thru or dine-in.

    urbanleftbehind (29c1c0)

  25. Think you have it a bit off, nk, the real operative line is the very first one:

    “The Student Government Association (SGA) exists to be the democratic vehicle of the will of the student body.”

    Classic socialist infiltrator verbiage. WE ARE THE WILL OF THE STUDENT BODY, as though anyone in high school actually cared what the class President ever did. You should never blame the mass of students for what a self-appointed ‘governing body’ does in their name.

    “Student organizations” were traditionally ignored by students who came to college to actually learn something, unless that something was drinking, and unless the purpose was to petition the college for more free time and indulgences for drinking and its consequences.

    Unfortunately, education became infested by the same sort of horrendously unattractive catladies-in-training that just got arrested for letting illegals rush out their court doors, and they’ve mostly neutered the dirty male fraternities that would have bullied these students into submission in normal times. Nothing inspires these tinpot dictators like the lack of male students around with upper body strength and a team of like-minded male students willing to use it to bully them when they start mouthing off about being THE WILL OF THE STUDENT BODY and THE PROMISE OF THE GREAT PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN STUDENTS AND ADMINISTRATORS(retch) or the NECESSITY OF FILLING OUT DUE DILIGENCE FORMS (double retch.)

    We now see quite clearly the horrors that those fraternities once kept in check.

    Dictatorial Residence Adviser (f09337)

  26. They’re worse than Trump University. All Trump University stole with worthless promises of future wealth was the students’ money. Mainstream academia is stealing their youth, and polluting their minds, too.

    nk (dbc370)

  27. Mao’s Red Guard V2. Just what the left wants to inflict upon the rest of us. Submit or be destroyed. Seems familiar with another hateful group trying to destroy the West and her history.

    NJRob (4d595c)

  28. Mainstream academia is stealing their youth, and polluting their minds, too.

    I put it to you, nk – isn’t this an indictment of 0ur entire American society?!

    Dave (1bb933)

  29. That movie … from the era of the Draft Deferment Racket that helped them get their claws into the entire American education system. With, among other things, the high school teachers they graduate, that teach next to nothing, in order to make college a “necessity”, where college professors can have a sinecure teaching next to nothing to 75% of the students.

    nk (dbc370)

  30. These are candidates for a PhD in Moronity, right?

    askeptic (728656)

  31. I dont know how those D-III liberal arts colleges survive based on cost alone. In the 80s through my HS graduation year in 1991, my high school was prolific in the number of grads who ended up at the CMOG (Carleton, Macalester, Oberlin a d Grinnell) schools, but the next year while my happy for full ride to Champaign is unloading cars of new dorm residents at beginning of sophomore year(I-Guides), I start seeing people in that same cohort all over U of I moving in as freshman. I figured a price point got surpassed.

    urbanleftbehind (72eba6)

  32. I dont know how those D-III liberal arts colleges survive based on cost alone.

    As my grandfather used to say: “Some folks has more money than they does good sense.”

    Dave (1bb933)

  33. Don’t ask me, urbanleftbehind. I still can’t believe that parents are going to prison for trying to bribe their kids’ way into these wastelands.

    nk (dbc370)

  34. Something is afoot in academia when 4 of my early twentysomething extended nieces – 1 from a situation which would qualify for a lot of aid, and 3 from upper middle households that could go either Bobby Martin or Roberto Martinez (VDH readers will get that reference) – decide to became estheticians and hairstylists.

    urbanleftbehind (72eba6)

  35. Smart girls. They realize that the odds strongly are that’s what they’ll be doing anyway, after wasting four years of their lives and hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide a living for diplomates who got into the racket before they did.

    nk (dbc370)

  36. “31”…..At least John Deere made a name for himself.

    askeptic (728656)

  37. I went to a Christian college, the administration of which is now in the tank for Trump. It’s kinda disgusting. Whatever this is, this is much worse. Stupid kids.

    JRH (52aed3)

  38. Sam Harris: “People don’t want to hear that a person’s intelligence is in large measure due to his or her genes and there seems to be very little we can do environmentally to increase a person’s intelligence even in childhood. It’s not that the environment doesn’t matter, but genes appear to be 50 to 80 percent of the story. People don’t want to hear this. And they certainly don’t want to hear that average IQ differs across races and ethnic groups”

    Noam: “The most controversial sentence in The Bell Curve attributed about half of the black-white IQ gap to genetics, the rest to environment. In 2013, a survey of 228 intelligence researchers found that the typical scientist in this field agrees”

    The challenge of having a discussion about IQ, race, and consequences is that there is an immediate panic that it somehow legitimizes white supremacy, segregation, and discrimination. It also requires a fairly sophisticated and dispassionate understanding (and appreciation) of statistics. Most college students lack this deep understanding and objectivity….they are just not academically mature enough…so…in a way….the result at Middlebury was somewhat expected. If you can’t argue statistics and methodology, then you go and pull someone’s hair….

    The science on this subject is hardly settled…though I thought the Bell Curve was insightful in drawing attention to the widening gap between blue and white collar opportunities. Murray is actually pretty careful and intellectually honest…hardly a ripe target in today’s spin culture. The students didn’t want a careful and measured view of research data….they just wanted their confirmation bias fed….”Data!? We don’t need no stinkin’ data!”

    AJ_Liberty (165d19)

  39. I honestly wonder how big a deal this is. When I went to college a few years ago there were all sorts of articles talking about PC culture. I never saw any actual examples. I asked my younger cousin about this yesterday. He goes to a state college in in the mid-west. He said this sounded dumb and people are stupid. I asked if this was common at his college and he said he didn’t think anyone had time for it.

    I agree that outrageous examples are just that, outrageous. I just wonder if they’re prevalent, or if social media and the outrage based business model has allowed us to make infrequent events seem like a broad trend.

    Time123 (d54166)

  40. @ Harkin The Quillete study was pretty flawed in that it ignored the impact bias on non-blind peer review. This was shown to have a large impact on orchestra auditions

    I’ve seen a similar study for peer reviewed papers in the past but can’t quickly find the link. Sorry.

    I agree that this is a complex issue with more than one root cause, but ignoring the impact of gender on outcomes in traditionally male fields skips a lot of available information. We shouldn’t do that just because feminists are super annoying.

    That last bit isn’t snark. It’s just how I feel.

    Time123 (d54166)

  41. I agree that this is a complex issue with more than one root cause, but ignoring the impact of gender on outcomes in traditionally male fields skips a lot of available information.“

    Disagree – it’s not so much the impact of gender as it is the tendencies and differences of the genders. Equal opportunity honestly practiced will follow those tendencies and differences.

    The lefties insist on ignoring available information about the wage gap too.

    harkin (58d012)

  42. I dont know how those D-III liberal arts colleges survive based on cost alone.“

    Adult children are costing many parents their retirement savings

    “Financial independence, once a hallmark of adulthood, has gone by the wayside as adult children increasingly depend on their parents to help them cover the cost of rent, student loans, health insurance and more. But parents’ desire to give their children a financial assist could be misguided — and even backfire in the long run.”

    Ya think?

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/adult-children-are-costing-many-parents-their-retirements/

    _

    harkin (58d012)

  43. I agree that this is a complex issue with more than one root cause, but ignoring the impact of gender on outcomes in traditionally male fields skips a lot of available information. We shouldn’t do that just because feminists are super annoying.

    That last bit isn’t snark. It’s just how I feel.

    You’re right about this.

    There have been studies where black/white male/female professional actors pose as scientists and deliver identical lines in the same way on a given subject, and the white male actors get higher ratings on how knowledgeable and authoritative they are.

    When I joined the faculty almost 20 years ago, it was not uncommon to hear male colleagues express demeaning comments about female students and job applicants. In one experiment I worked on, my Japanese colleagues forced their female peer (who had a PhD just like them) to serve them coffee at meetings.

    One fact backed up by research, which I have also witnessed with my own eyes, is that women and other traditionally underrepresented groups have a much better chance of success when they have role models and peers like themselves. This is also true for first-generation college students from any gender or ethnic group.

    I’ve reviewed hundreds, if not thousands, of graduate school applications, and the frequency with which women volunteer in their personal statements how important the example or inspiration of a female professor or female mentor a couple years ahead of them was in their success is striking.

    See also: Impostor syndrome.

    AJ_Liberty also makes excellent points. Suppose there is evidence that on average some group has a genetic disposition or handicap vis-a-vis a given field – so what?

    It’s not our job as educators to tell people “Sorry, women/minorities aren’t cut out to do <insert profession here>”. Women and minorities can and do succeed. Some of the most important discoveries in modern physics and astronomy were made by women. A woman led one of the two 5000+ physicist experiments that recently discovered the Higgs boson, and today leads the laboratory where the discovery was made. Rather, our job is to do everything we can to help every student succeed. While the same standards should (and do) apply to everyone, that doesn’t mean treating the students as identical robots who all think and respond the same way.

    On a related subject, I’m pleased to report that my new graduate student gave her first presentation of results in our international collaboration video meeting Friday…

    Dave (1bb933)

  44. Ack, moderated for number of links!

    Dave (1bb933)


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