Patterico's Pontifications

5/21/2014

Campus Sexual Assault/Rape: Epidemic or Hysteria?

Filed under: Education,Political Correctness — JVW @ 11:33 am

[guest post by JVW]

Picture this scenario: You are a software salesperson for a medium-sized firm. You spend your day contacting potential customers, both via cold calls and for follow-ups to previous conversations. It’s hard work and your success rate is fairly low (the salesman’s lament is that you hear “no” ten, twenty, even thirty times for every “yes”), but you make enough sales to be considered a moderate success.

One day you are at work and you are asked into a closed meeting. There you are confronted by the VP of human resources, the associate director of manufacturing, one of the senior programmers, and a marketing assistant. They announce to you that they are the company’s disciplinary panel and that you are under investigation because a customer with whom you wrote a contract back in November 2012 now claims that you offered them a kickback and that you wrote the contract in a way that runs afoul of the law.

“Wait a minute,” you say to them, “if you are alleging that I broke laws then I want a lawyer present.”

“This is not a legal proceeding;” the VP for HR replies, “this is an informal hearing in which we are only establishing whether or not you are subject to internal sanctions.”

You are read the allegations against you as reported by the customer, but you are denied a copy of the written accusations and your accuser is allowed to – even encouraged to – leave the room during your “testimony.” You are required to address these allegations immediately on the spot without any time to prepare a defense. No one on the disciplinary panel has a legal background and no one has experience in software sales or writing contracts. There is no hard evidence of your alleged wrong doing in terms of saved email or phone messages. Still, based upon your demeanor and your testimony and the importance of the customer, the panel judges that you are very likely to have committed the acts of which you are accused, so your employment is summarily terminated and you are escorted out of the building.

——–

Does that sound far-fetched? This is apparently roughly analogous to the situation faced by an unnamed male Swarthmore College student who was subject to campus disciplinary proceedings based upon a rape that was alleged to have occurred 19 months earlier. This case has been covered by Powerline, with some original reporting coming from a conservative Swarthmore publication earlier in April with a follow-up a couple of months later. The ending is similar to the scenario I posited below: the student is never charged with a rape, yet Swarthmore deems that he is worthy of expulsion based upon what certainly appears to be a superficial investigation carried out by a panel with no particular expertise in this area.

This is the end result of a campaign waged by campus feminist activists. Unhappy that the vaunted sexual liberation of American youth oftentimes has deleterious consequences, they have determined that there exists today a “rape culture” on campus that is almost exclusively the fault of young male students and the overall patriarchal campus culture. They draw upon the figure from a study of two universities to conclude that one in five college women is subjected to unwanted sexual contact at some point during her undergraduate years. The study in this case defined “sexual contact” as “forced touching of a sexual nature (forced kissing, touching of private parts, grabbing, fondling, rubbing up against you in a sexual way, even if it is over your clothes).” Unsurprisingly, the most aggressive voices among highly politicized feminists have changed that statistic into one in five women being raped in college.

So it comes as no surprise that the Obama Administration — which depends heavily on young single women delivering votes for him, his agenda, and his preferred candidates — would make addressing campus sexual assaults a priority item. The Department of Education, invoking Title IX, is threatening federal intervention against any institution they judge to be unsuitably aggressive in investigating and punishing reported sexual assaults. More ominously, the administration is coercing universities into creating the same sort of kangaroo courts, devoid of due process and staffed by administrators with zero legal training, similar to the one that expelled the Swarthmore student.

Certainly there is no shortage of loutish college boys who seek to use alcohol and peer pressure to entice naive college girls into pushing past the boundaries of their modesty, just as there is no shortage of mindless floozies who believe that drunken sexual promiscuity is a sign of maturity and advances the cause of feminism. Contrary to the clichés that abound among college administrators, our colleges and universities are not populated solely with mature and sophisticated adults, but also with plenty of overgrown adolescents who are no more capable of handling adult freedoms at age 19 than they were at age 15. Any attempt to change a campus culture (and, let’s face it, a youth culture) which fosters regrettable and sometimes even criminal sexual hookups needs to focus on a variety of factors including the easy availability of alcohol and drugs, the loosening of sexual mores in our society, and the lack of rules and supervision prevalent in today’s college environment. Designating young women as perpetual victims always teetering on the verge of being force-fed liquor and raped by uncontrollable college brutes will only further polarize debate, sometimes along rather unpredictable lines. Since she is far more eloquent than I, let me allow Christina Hoff Sommers to have the final word on what she terms the “rape culture hysteria”:

Molestation and rape are horrific crimes that warrant serious attention and vigorous response. Panics breed chaos and mob justice. They claim innocent victims, undermine social trust, and teach us to doubt the evidence of our own experience.

E.M. Forster said it best in A Passage to India, referring to a panic among “good citizens” following a highly dubious accusation of rape: “Pity, wrath, and heroism filled them, but the power of putting two and two together was annihilated.”

- JVW

5/12/2014

The Coming Higher Education Bubble

Filed under: Education,General — JVW @ 6:49 am

[NOTE FROM PATTERICO: Please welcome long-time reader JVW as a guest blogger here at Patterico. JVW's comments are always well-written and well thought out, and this post continues the tradition.]

[Guest post by JVW]

Note: As a long-time reader and commenter, I am very pleased to make a modest contribution to this fine blog. When we were discussing my contribution, Patterico specifically mentioned my longstanding interest in higher education issues, so I would like to start out by addressing some issues that I have seen percolating over the past twenty years. This post will be a general overview of the problems facing higher education, and I hope to follow up with specific posts geared towards graduate education, undergraduate education, and college budgeting and financial aid coupled with the increasingly federalized loan industry. Since I know many of you have extensive experience with higher education as students, parents, alumni/ae, employees, and taxpayers, I would welcome your comments.

KS

Photo: Students of Kansas State Normal School (now known as Emporia State University), one hundred years ago. http://www3.familyoldphotos.com

In the aftermath of the great housing bubble pop at the end of the last decade, many economists began to point out the numerous parallels between the housing market and the higher education market: the unshakable faith that investment in the commodity would lead to long-term profitability, the incredible willingness to go deeply into debt in order to be an “investor” in the commodity, and the shortsighted anti-market interventions by the government in order to continue to prop up a scheme with obviously shaky underpinnings.

Fear of a college bubble goes as far back as the early 1970s, when Time Magazine ran an article titled Education: Graduates and Jobs: a Grave New World [linked article available for subscribers only], which reported that the huge number of Baby Boomers who had attended college and, particularly, graduate school had led to an oversupply of students with graduate degrees in proportion to the available jobs. I will have more about this in a later post. By 1987, Education Secretary William Bennett was beginning to explore the relationship between ever-increasing federal support for financial aid and loans, and the corresponding tuition increases that colleges were imposing. Fast-forward to early 2013, and even left-wing journalists who have every reason to be allies of the higher education establishment are openly noting that colleges are too big and too expensive, and produce too many underwhelming students with too much debt.

So it would seem that the existence of the bubble is fairly well established, despite the insistence of some bubble-denialists. It is thus left merely to forecast what kind of havoc might ensue from the bubble’s pop. Already we are seeing colleges reduce their enrollments or even shut their doors all together. After reaching a peak in 2011, college enrollments have dropped in both the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years. A 2012 report [PDF download] from Bain & Co. summarized the problem succinctly: “Institutions have more liabilities, higher debt service and increasing expense without the revenue or the cash reserves to back them up.” Less than a year later, a New York Times columnist estimated than fewer than one in eight U.S. colleges and universities seemed to have the financial wherewithal to withstand the coming turmoil.

We’ll come back to this in a bit, but in the meantime I’ll leave you with a series of questions to mull over in the comments: Is college still a worthwhile “investment” and if so, under what circumstances? Are we sending too many kids to college, and if so, what alternatives should they be presented with? Finally, what happens when the bubble pops? Do we see the growing influence of self-paced online education embodied by MOOCS [Massive Open Online Courses -- P], with perhaps traditional college classes only continuing for upper-level courses? If so, how does that affect the traditional blended role of the professor as both instructor and researcher?

- JVW

POSTSCRIPT FROM PATTERICO: If you want to read more about the higher education bubble, grab yourself a copy of Glenn Reynolds’s broadside The Higher Education Bubble. It’s a long essay in an inexpensive booklet form that can be read in under an hour, and the ideas are well worth that short time investment.

7/15/2010

Gloom, Doom and Socialism

Filed under: Economics,Education,Obama — DRJ @ 12:06 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The financial news is gloomy as the sluggish economic recovery shows signs of faltering. As columnist Irwin Steltzer noted over a year ago, the Obama Administration is making America more like Europe everyday:

“In the end, Americans will live in smaller houses, drive cars more like those to which Europeans are accustomed, and will rely on European-style healthcare. In short, we will be more like you, which is after all the social democratic model to which Obama wants to convert America.

The president also intends to change the way our children are educated. He says he wants teachers to be compensated on a merit basis, and parents free to select schools they deem best for their children. But his allies in the teachers’ union won’t go along with this, and in the one test of his rhetoric so far he has allowed Democrats in Congress to kill a programme that provided funds to allow a few thousand poor, mostly black children to escape the horrors of the Washington DC school system and instead attend swanky private schools of the sort in which he has enrolled his daughters.

There is no doubt about one thing: the president intends to increase the number of students financially able to attend college. America will, in the end, have more degree-wielding students and fewer horny-handed sons of toil. That will produce another result the president has in mind as he rebuilds the American house on his rock: the earnings premium paid to highly educated workers will decline as the number of men and women competing for those jobs increases, and the relative wages of the fewer blue-collar – by then, green-collar – workers will increase.

This greater equality of income distribution is, for Obama, the summum bonum. He is redesigning the tax system to narrow the after-tax gap between “the rich” – family incomes above $250,000 (£170,000) a year – and lower earners, even if the economic cost of such a move (reduced risk-taking) is quite high. Equality, not economic efficiency, is his goal. Which is why he favours raising the rate at which capital gains are taxed even if the result is a fall, rather than an increase, in the Treasury’s net receipts.”

For someone who isn’t a socialist, he sure acts like one.

– DRJ

7/9/2010

Boy Samson Prevails

Filed under: Education,Law — DRJ @ 6:28 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The 5th Circuit upheld a federal court ruling in favor of Boy Samson and his parents over the Principled Principal:

“The 5-year-old boy’s parents, Kenney Arocha and Michelle Betenbaugh, argued their son, identified in court papers as A.A., has a constitutional right to wear a hairstyle that conforms to his American Indian religious beliefs. Arocha hasn’t cut his own hair in 11 years, believing the long braids have religious meaning. His son’s hair has never been cut.”

There are earlier posts on this story here and here.

– DRJ

6/28/2010

Court: School can Refuse to Fund Christian Group

Filed under: Education,Judiciary,Religion — DRJ @ 3:16 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In a case involving San Francisco’s Hastings College of Law, the Supreme Court ruled today that the school could refuse to fund a Christian group that violates the school’s nondiscrimination policy by excluding gays. Writing for the majority (the liberals and Justice Kennedy), Justice Ginsburg said the Christian group effectively sought preferential rather than equal treatment by seeking an exemption from the nondiscrimination policy.

Justice Samuel Alito’s dissent described it as “a serious setback for freedom of expression in this country.”

– DRJ

6/25/2010

Concealed Carry on Colorado Campus

Filed under: Education,Second Amendment — DRJ @ 12:48 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In a 5-4 vote, the Board of Regents at the University of Colorado voted to appeal a court decision allowing permit holders to carry concealed weapons on campus. Faculty members and students have also expressed support for the ban. Frankly, though, it sounds to me like the Regents should be unhappy with the Colorado legislature because it has not included college campuses in the list of places excluded from the Concealed Carry law.

And Ken Salazar isn’t having much luck in court these days.

– DRJ

6/24/2010

Condoms for Kids

Filed under: Education — DRJ @ 8:29 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

It’s Condom-Bonanza in the Provincetown, Massachusetts, school district:

“Earlier this month, the school committee overseeing Provincetown’s schools passed a resolution that will provide all students from elementary to high school with free, unlimited condoms. All you gotta do is step up and request one.

Let’s say you’re the parent of a 6-year-old and you don’t like the idea.

Tough! says the district.

You don’t get a say. School officials don’t even have to tell you if your….

…child requests a condom. Further, if you object, they can run roughshod over you. They can distribute at will.

Sounds like a condom-bonanza!

Not quite, sneered the committee chairman.

“It’s about availability; we’re not handing ‘em out like M&M’s,” Peter Grosso told the Boston Globe.

That’s true. You have to go talk to the school nurse and she can load the student up with a wallet-ful if necessary.

If the person requesting them is particularly young? Say, a kindergartner wanted a few dozen? These are professionals we’re talking about, so don’t worry.

The superintendent said that “if an especially young child requests a condom, the nurse will ask the student’s motive and act accordingly.”

Because it would be unthinkable to Just Say No.

– DRJ

6/20/2010

UC Irvine Recommends Suspension of Muslim Student Group

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Education — DRJ @ 9:14 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The University of California at Irvine has recommended a Muslim student group be suspended for one year.

UC President Mark Yudof said he played no role in the decision, while UC Irvine Law School President Erwin Chemerinsky was supportive, saying: “Given the seriousness of the offense, I think it’s completely appropriate to suspend them for a year.” Meanwhile, Jewish groups were heartened by the suspension, calling it a victory against hate speech, and Muslim students claimed it unfairly punished the group for the actions of a few.

Although both groups want to portray this in ways that promote their views, I think this is what most colleges do with a school organization that knowingly breaks the law. It’s no different than suspending a fraternity for intentional hazing. It’s not the speech or the arrests that got the Muslim student group in hot water; It’s that the arrests resulted from an intentional, coordinated decision by the group.

There’s more at aunursa’s Jury post.

– DRJ

6/19/2010

Harvard Student Can Stay in U.S.

Filed under: Education,Immigration — DRJ @ 7:16 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

A Harvard University student who emigrated illegally from Mexico to Texas with his family at age 4 will be allowed to stay in the U.S. for an indeterminate period.

The student, Balderas, had been traveling on a Mexican passport until his most recent trip, when he tried to use a student I.D. after losing his passport. Immigration reform advocates point to cases like Balderas as reasons to support the DREAM Act, which would grant citizenship to illegal immigrant children who pursue some college education.

– DRJ

Colleges Post Tuition Increases

Filed under: Education — DRJ @ 6:01 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

College tuition is on the rise.

Florida’s state universities increased 2010-2011 tuition 15% for the second straight year, and the College of Charleston imposed a similar increase. Several Texas colleges saw tuition go up by 3-5%, with like changes at the Universities of Wisconsin and Louisville.

And according to this LA Times story, Cal State students will see their tuition go up 5%. Graduate and out-of-state students may see their fees go up even more.

With state funding down and college enrollments hitting record levels in 2008 and again in 2009, this isn’t a surprise. We may see similar increases at many colleges across the nation.

– DRJ

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