Monday, December 30, 2002

FIRE tackles bans on Christian fellowship groups 

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is helping challenge two universities that have insisted that Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship chapters must allow non-Christians to be officers in their IVCFs. At both Rutgers and North Carolina, administrators asked for changes in the IVCF by-laws or else they would lose their recognition as student organizations, thus barring them from using university resources including meeting rooms. This clearly goes against the recent Boy Scout case, claims FIRE, along with other precedents in the treatment of public universities. As Alan Kors, FIRE's president, stated,
Everyone on campus would immediately see the absurdity of such a requirement if an evangelical Christian who believed homosexuality to be a sin tried to become president of a university�s �Bisexual, Gay, and Lesbian Alliance.� The administration would have led candlelight vigils on behalf of diversity and free association. At Rutgers and UNC, however, some groups are more equal than others. There is an unspeakable double standard toward believing Christians. It must end now.

Selecting professors -- by grade or student evaluation? 

Steve Frank sends along a link to Pick-A-Prof, which many people are arguing is going to do for grade inflation what the Weimar Republic did for price inflation. Steve also sent me a link to a Chicago Tribune article (requires free registration) on this site. Pick-A-Prof allows students to see the grade distribution of any faculty member. Student governments pay around $10,000 to join the list of universities where the distributions are monitored. No word yet on whether SCSU's student government will sign us up yet.

Faculty members respond with the objection that this will cause them to grade less harshly in order to maintain students. Comments like "This will turn the university into a casino" or "There will be an influence on professors to bring students into their classes by not
grading too hard," resound through the story. But the site offers more than that. One can get workload requirements, lecture styles, and exam types. Faculty can already provide this through online syllabi, but these are usually scattered around a university's website and hard to obtain. Moreover, there is concern that syllabi are being swiped and used elsewhere (state university faculty are expressing concern of their use by the two-year state colleges, which then will argue that their courses are perfect substitutes for the four-year school's offering.)

Since we're public universities, the grading information is public as well. Pick-A-Prof's price of $10,000 per school is high when compared to a more unfiltered place like MyProfessorSucks or the anti-PC NoIndoctrination.Org (which we've discussed before ). Some students are always looking for "gut classes" and have been getting the information through the grapevine for years. (In big-time college athletics it's known as "academic counseling".) But other students may look at the grades and other info on Pick-a-Prof along with the other online course evaluations and sort themselves into the classes they want and will do best in. If I did manage to have a class like that, rather than people who took my courses ill-prepared and unsuspecting of my workload requirements, maybe they'd all take A's. Wouldn't that be nice for a change?

Sunday, December 29, 2002

Site revisions 

Trying out some new things, putting up blogrolling, eliminating a feature that was creating javascript errors (but I might have made more -- if you run Netscape 4.7 and are having script errors from this page, please let me know.)

Saturday, December 28, 2002

How Not to Prosecute the War on Terror 

Silent Running reports on several incidents of foreign students, particularly from the Middle East, being hassled by the authorities over minor things. CNN reports that students were held under $5000 bond for failing to take 12 credits of college courses as required under their visas.

As much as I think we're right to take extra precautions after 9/11, this isn't how you do it, fellas. In general, the INS is digging up the student visas on many countries from the general area. They have done this so poorly that they even have called in Armenian students. Armenia adopted Christianity as a state religion 1,700 years ago, before even Rome. (Full disclosure: my father's parents were Armenian.)

Helping M. Davis answer the St. Cloud Times Question

As we all know, faculty member Mike Davis has been a very vocal social justice advocate on the SCSU campus. Recently (12-21-02), in response to Mike Davis' two different letters to students of color in Minnesota schools warning them not to come to the hostile SCSU campus, the St. Cloud Times asked a very important question of Davis and his colleague Buster Cooper. The Times stated:

"In the year between their mailings, what did they do to help the community overcome this issue? They owe not only this community, but the recipients of their letters a list of such contributions."

So far, I have not seen an objective listing of their contributions. This made me curious---to what extent is professor Davis making a scholarly contribution to the literature in his field? In my search of relevant publication databases (via the U of M library), I could only find only one publication that may be authored by Dr. Davis. It was a book review. I also checked the SCSU College of Education faculty publication page to discover that Dr. Davis is not even listed.

Dr. Davis, as a taxpayer, former SCSU faculty member, parent of a child who graduated from SCSU, and currently a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota, I would like some kind of accouting of your productivity. What scholarly contributions have you made to your field? Inquiring tax-payer minds want to know.

Kevin McGrew

StarTribune Strikes Again 

The (Red)StarTribune has yet another article by Randy Furst on racism and anti-Semitism in St. Cloud. The news of the news story is some acts of vandalism concentrated against Somali immigrant businesses in the area, including setting a shed on fire and painting "Get out of St. Cloud N-----" on sidewalks. Vile stuff, newsworthy. The reporter goes into the local VFW and gets some people to say they fear speaking out about the Somalis for fear of their houses being burnt down. Way to go there, Randy -- find some people who've had some beer and get them to say something you print without attribution in the paper. Must be the new journalistic ethics there, eh?

But of course the StarTribune can't just report that story, but instead continues its jihad against the university by including the discussion of the anti-Semitism case. (I have a signpost for the story here -- click through the links to get caught up.) They dig up new quotes from Geoffrey Tabakin, a plaintiff in the case.

Geoffrey Tabakin, who teaches kindegarten education and courses in genocide studies and was involved in the suit, accused administrators of being "more interested in face-saving than substantive changes to address the problem. The problem is a hostile climate."
This after the university pretty much gave away the store in the settlement. Mandatory diversity training to include anti-Semitism training. A well-funded Jewish Studies center. A new appeals procedure for anyone turned down for promotion or tenure, and a hiring process even more byzantine than the old one (the manual for hiring a faculty member is over seventy pages.) A complete overhaul of the Affirmative Action office, that will likely be done without input of white faculty (save a few "allies"). These are, in Tabakin's world, "face-saving" changes.

He said that two weeks ago, after the settlement was announced, a faculty member put his arm around him and said words to the effect of, "Congratulations, you Jews certainly know how to get money from the institution."
What does "words to the effect" (I added the italics) mean here? Furst is reporting hearsay from Tabakin, and Tabakin is interpreting what he heard, and Furst reports this without question or rebuttal. This from a man that has a rather tenuous grasp of the meaning of "face-saving". I think we have a right to know what exactly was said and who said it. There's a grievance procedure, Geoffrey, and I think you're quite aware of it. But ...

Said Tabakin: "I took it as a kind of friendly hostility that is typical of Minnesota and St. Cloud. If I say anything, I can't take a joke, and if I say something, I'm obviously one of those crazies."
Obviously indeed.

Note that there is absolutely no mention of the College Republicans and the Israeli flag affair in Furst's article. Wasn't that at all relevant, if you're going to tie the Somali story to the anti-Semitism case?

No, not to Furst. He uses a pretty bad quote of Saigo ("I can't control everything that happens" on campus -- boy, Roy, I hope the Chancellor doesn't hear that!) and quotes Mike Landy, a Jewish member of the city council who lost the mayoral race by 231 votes who says local Jews do not have the perception of St. Cloud that the StarTribune has. (Based on my non-scientific sampling, a.k.a. "the Nichols method", I'd agree with Landy.) But in Furst's world, Landy lost the race because he lost the VFW vote.

Friday, December 27, 2002

Our own pool 

The newspaper today has a story on expected budget cuts in Minnesota higher education. After discussion a series of scenarios with our budget emperess, Diana Burlison, the article ominously intones, "In the meantime, the university has not implemented any account or spending freezes." That's not exactly true; there's already been a belt-tightening memo that disallows consulting contracts and non-contractual travel. Those of you tuning in from elsewhere should know the budget freeze last year occured on May 1 (fiscal year ends June 30); the contract moratorium was in early March, so we're about three months ahead of schedule here.

Still, I think we need to start a pool, following the ATS Dead Pool idea in the previous post. So give us the effective date you think the budget freeze will come. We'll accept "never" to mean no freeze will happen. We'll devise some prize for the winner, perhaps a gift certificate to Office Max to buy the pens and paper the freeze won't let you have anymore. Put your entries in the comment box or email them to the address shown on the left column. (Sorry, but linking that usually leads to spam, and I'm moderating the Scholars' email box, ish!)

I'll go first: February 10th.

Death and taxes, and making a name on it 

I went ahead and entered the Amish Tech Support Dead Pool. Very silly of me, but a chance to get Amazon gift certs for the unexpected passing of Joe Torre cannot be turned down. "The Evil Empire's tentacles reach even into Iran": Khameini is on my list, too.

Tyrrany of the minority 

The Wall Street Journal on its Taste page today covers the brewing controversy over the Univ. of North Dakota mascot. Our own President Saigo has made it a cornerstone of his presidency to stop the use of these Native American mascots, even when it turns out the schools using them were founded by Native America. Even a when the polls show that 3/4 of native Americans do not believe the logo contributes to negative stereotyping, that's not enough for Pres. Saigo. "But I believe that if only a fraction are offended or feel degraded by the practice -- 23 percent according to the survey -- that's still thousands of individuals, and their point of view should be taken seriously. Remember Dr. Martin Luther King's famous quote: 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' " If one wants to know why SCSU panders to each and every small grievance, this statement might be the simulacrum that exposes the reason.

Tuesday, December 24, 2002


I hope we're never so bad that shamed donors ask us not to use their names. ScrappleFace has an idea.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

More SCSC Tales

This evening I became aware of the St. Cloud Times discussion board and found that a number of past and current students understand some of the nonsense that passes for higher education social justice education. Below are some select exchanges that I've extracted "as is."

Click here to find this page.

Dannyboy from St Cloud:

I have all sorts of horror stories from my days at State. The place is wrought with the proverbial hacks we hear about staying in the comforting cradle of school instead of entering the real world. And that isn�t really even the worst part about many of them. A small, very vocal, yet very powerful minority of them actually got into teaching for the expressed purpose of propagandizing our youth with their political biases.

I�ve heard everyone from political science and economics teachers, to sociology teachers say outright that in their view the best part of their job was the molding of impressionable, na�ve, young minds to agree with them. I�ve seen people like sociology professor Alessio verbally chastise students in front of 400+ peers for �disturbing� the class with unwelcome, yet well reasoned, questions that challenged Alessio�s lecture. (The lecture was a 25 minute rant about how a small cadre of racist/sexist uber white men control all the prices in the world, and force Mexican children to make nikes.)
I�ve had political science teachers who giggle with joy in higher level classes, admitting that one of their greatest pleasures was, �creating new socialists,� in freshman classes. Or, more times than I�d like to recount, I�ve endured half-baked monologues about how Ronald Reagan was the worst thing to happen to America since slavery; that Canada�s healthcare system is the best thing since sliced bread; that the guiding principle of America is racism/sexism/homophobia; that Cuba isn�t all that bad� blah blah, so on so forth.

Almost every time these �teachers� make the case that, not only is their opinion unorthodox, but they seems to think it their duty to expose �the other side of the story� to the young minds of Minnesota. The sad fact is, though, that the �other side of the story� is all kids will ever here�unless they take classes from old, fusty philosophers like Myron Andersen in the philosophy department. (Himself a reformed Marxist.)
Anonymous from
A person demanded the removal of a flag from a kiosk because is was offensive. I wonder what her views are about burning the US flag?

Dan Becker from St. Cloud:
Thank you Dannyboy for sharing your views and experiences. I will keep following this SCSU stuff with interest. Did you take those classes as elective or requirements?

Dannyboy from St Cloud:
Mr. Becker:

Actually, many of the classes where I witnessed the most egregious examples of misconduct were those designated MGM, or multicultural requirement classes. These classes seem to be�in my experience anyway�little more than forced programs for the indoctrination of young students. They normally lack any rigor whatsoever, exemplify doctrinal bias in their �field�, and result in a skewed, normally counterintuitive vision of the world for those students who lack experience with other perspectives that do not get play in the universities. Unfortunately, that is a considerable demographic in the student body.

Anonymous from
Hi totally agree with Dannyboy; he could not be more right. I am a student at SCSU and could not be more disgusted by the Univeristy.

Anonymous from
The classes that are required pertain to nothing that is needed and the prof's are terrible. I am often embarressed to even say I am attending SCSU.

St. Cloud Times asks two professors "what have you done?"  

The following brief editorial comment was made by the Times in the 12-21-02 paper:

Unless they can produce a detailed list of their constructive efforts to combat racism in St. Cloud this past year, we give a Nay to Myrle "Buster" Cooper and Michael Davis for sending a letter to some Twin Cities high schools warning that St. Cloud is "a community with a long and sordid record of racism."

Their letter targets potential high school graduates considering post-secondary education. They sent a similar letter last year, and given recent acts of vandalism against minorities in St. Cloud, it's hard to dispute their claims."

But we also ask them this: In the year between their mailings, what did they do to help the community overcome this issue? They owe not only this community, but the recipients of their letters a list of such contributions.

Mike and Buster - what say you?

Friday, December 20, 2002

Free speech in the bedroom 

Colleague John Palmer passes along an article from Jonah Goldberg on what he found more remarkable than Clarence Thomas' comments on the cross-burning case from Virginia. I've thought about the case and was reminded reading this of Murray Rothbard's comment on what Bertrand de Jouvenel used to call "the chairman's problem". (See this article by Timothy Terrell for another application and reference.) The chairman controls a podium at which speeches may be given. If by free speech we mean a zero price, Rothbard said, we're soon going to have a shortage and contention over who gets to use the podium. The solution would be to charge a price.

Free speech happens in a space; who owns that space determines what speech can occur. I can say "Yankees suck" in my home because it's my home; if I say it in George Steinbrenner's home, I rightly expect to be tossed out on my ear. Likewise, what seems a slam-dunk to me in the Thomas comments -- that cross-burning is never speech, anywhere -- was called into question by Scalia, who was holding that place matters.

One could extend this to our flag debacle. VP Church could be seen having the "chairman's problem". Pricing the displays might be one solution; the problem is that student union buildings are usually paid out of student dues, making the building a common property resource to all students, with the attendant problems of overuse that occur in most common property situations. How would you solve that? Drop a note in the comment box.

Apology coming, devil in the details 

The St. Cloud Times reports in an editorial that the administration and the College Republicans are negotiating language on an apology from the Student Life VP Church for asking the CRs to remove an Israeli flag (or replica). The Times lauds this as common sense, which it is.
Church's effort to draft an apology that meets the desires of the College Republicans, and then publicizing that apology, should show students, faculty, staff and the community that the university is committed to supporting all groups' right to freedom of expression.
If you visit the link, be sure to check out the feedback comments. There's some funny stuff in there, including this by 'Eddy":
Free speech cases can be difficult determining when merely unpopular statements cross the line into becoming suppressible hate speech. The U.S. Supreme Court is currently deciding two 'cross-burning' cases where such free speech issues do complicate the matter. The SCSU 'Israeli flag' incident is, however, a 'no-brainer'. And that is exactly what SCSU's Church used to decide the issue.
I'm not Eddy, but I like a good turn of phrase.

Here are a couple of extra details. I have read the first draft of the apology, and the CRs are asking for some strengthening of it. There are models for this out there from FIRE such as this one from the Univ. of Georgia Confederate flag case and this one from the University of Alaska. In the second case the university president wrote these most beautiful words (in reaction to an attempt to suppress poetry that was considered insensitive to Native Americans):
What I want to make clear and unambiguous is that responses to complaints or demands for action regarding constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of speech CANNOT BE QUALIFIED. Attempts to assuage anger or to demonstrate concern by qualifying our support for free speech serve to cloud what must be a clear message. Noting that, for example, �The University supports the right to free speech, but we intend to check into this matter,� or �The University supports the right of free speech, but I have asked Dean X or Provost Y to investigate the circumstances,� is unacceptable. There is nothing to �check into,� nothing �to investigate.�
I cannot reveal the draft that VP Church delivered, but I will say it fell short of that standard.

As to discussion of whether the professors will apologize, it was my understanding a statement would be forthcoming, but that was 72 hours ago. As it is finals week, it may well be that grading obligations overtook the professors in question.

Lastly, CR expects to run more displays in the spring, and has acquired a letter from the Israeli Embassy giving its approval for the CRs to display the colors again.

Archives repaired 

We're functional again. Not sure what the heck happened there, but I needed someone from Blogger to fix it.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Hispanics are diverse; more boxes, please

Discriminations picks up a story from the Pew Charitable Trust survey of Latinos.

Hispanics are united in two central beliefs: 1) they are ethnically diverse with different attitudes and values and do not fit neatly into U.S. Census racial boxes; and 2) learning English is of crucial importance.

Has a university admissions staff done its duty by diversity, then, if its Hispanic admittees comprise only Mexicans, or Cubans and Puerto Ricans, or ...?
Gosh, how many more centers are we going to have to fund?

Teaching difference not tolerance

A colleague passes along this article titled "Dartmouth Does Diversity", discussing the problems of teaching about race at an Ivy League institution and the silliness of how it's reported in the New York Times. ColdSpringShops picks up the thought nicely as well from a discussion on EduBloggaMama Joanne Jacobs' page:

San Diego State hired a dean of students, after leaving the job vacant for years, and now needs an assistant dean of students. The new Cross Cultural Center needs a director, who'll get $3,457 to $4,672 per month. The director of Diversity and Equity can expect $95,000 to $110,000 a year. Associate director of Advising and Evaluations pays $4,801 a month.

It has occurred to me that the students are simply the host animal for a parasitic administration.

Many of the non-teaching jobs involve counseling students, which seems to be a major growth industry on campus.

Some integrity in the recent SCSU court case

Since I am no longer a faculty member at SCSU, I have few facts regarding the recent court settlement. Therefore, I have no basis for evaluating the appropriateness of the settlement. However, I learned something today which I think people need to know. Regardless of whether I may agree or disagree with Professor Geoffrey Tabakin, he and I routinely cross paths in a local coffee house. We often exchange a few words. Today I asked him if the 20 grand he received was tax-free. I asked this question for a specific reason----I had a hunch. GT was very forthcomming and confirmed what I suspected.

I'm sharing this information (with his permission) as SCSU faculty and staff should know, regardless of your agreement with his views and the case, that his involvement in the case was driven by principle. GT insisted that his settlement award NOT be for emotional distress, a condition that would have made his award tax free. By doing so he must pay taxes on the award. He made this decision because he wanted his involvement in the litigation to be motivated by principle and not finances. It is refreshing that his push for social justice (via this court case) was based on sincere social justice principles and not the social justice terrorism tactics employed by others at SCSU.

If possible, it would be nice if somehow this SCSU Scholars blog post could be mentioned on the SCSU-wide lists. Regardless of one's position regarding the court case and the issues, people should respect GT for his integrity and principles.

Kevin McGrew

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Part of our bad press

A faculty member of color asked why we were unable to recruit more students of color from the Twin Cities. Well, atop our own faculty mailing letters to counselors telling them to keep minority students away, the black press is quoting the bogus Nichols report and drawing conclusions. In a Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder article titled "Pressure Builds over St. Cloud State Racism", blame is laid on the city of St. Cloud.

[Roger] Banks [with the Minnesota Council on Black Minnesotans] said part of the school�s problem was the surrounding community, which he said was not a welcoming environment for people of color. �This is a community with a lot of strong values,� he said. �And those values include racism.�
MCBM held a forum here a month or so ago and not many people attended aside those who wanted to air complaints, and from this they draw conclusions. Perhaps they should work for Nichols.

Hmmm. Curious

Reading the online chat of the SCTimes editorial by Mike Sawin is quote interesting. There are several comments made by one person going as Yoda which indicates the issue now is the pro-Second Amendment literature the College Republicans had from the JPFO. At one point I've read the point of the professors' objection to be the flag itself (thus the request/order to remove it); then it was the implied endorsement of Republicans by Israel; then it was anti-Semitic to suggest guns might have helped defend against the Holocaust (a position taken by some of the JPFO's literature); and now this discussion suggests the point is use of Israel to push a pro-gun view. Yoda also brings up repeated picture-taking by the photographer-student, a story not reported in either the AP or SCTimes reports. (Please note, the Times does not continue to run their stories more than three days old; the WCCO report has more details than the one stored at the StarTribune.) I've heard this from people defending the professors, though try as I will I can find no right to not be photographed in my copy of the Constitution.

So which is it, and which of these is being used to justify both the kerfuffle between student and professor, and the subsequent behavior of the VP for Student Life?

Also worth noting, at two or three points Yoda brings up facts that have not been publicly released. S/He claims not to be affiliated with SCSU. So how does Yoda know these things??? The Times' chat areas have been a topic of debate on campus, as campus leftists view their anonymity as leading to irresponsible speech. (I guess only responsible speech is free?) Wonder if Yoda and others are using anonymity now to slip their justifications into the discussion? Could be.

Confirming the worst

I mentioned yesterday overhearing the WCCO report that the letter from the disaffected black faculty that SCSU was toxic to students of color was circulating again. The Times reports today that there are nine such letters sent to high schools in the Twin Cities (but doesn't put the article online!), meaning that their letter is getting as much coverage from the Times as the Israeli flag affair.

UPDATE: Ah, of course! The StarTribune reports it. I'm shocked!

UPDATE 2: The PioneerPress replays the original article from March. At that time the letter went to more than forty schools, churches and community centers in areas with large proportions of African American people. "I think most of us would like to see (Cooper, Davis and Tademe) working on more positive ways of creating a more positive environment rather than trying to keep students out," said a university spokesman. Well, Cooper we understand; he "retired" from the university. As to the other two, consider what would happen to an employee at, say, Target who told certain customers it was dangerous for them to enter the store and that they should go to WalMart instead. Wouldn't he also be "retired"? Ah yes, tenure.

Asking good questions

The St. Cloud Times runs an excellent editorial by Mike Sawin today asking why the local media has not run with the Israeli flag story. Dan Becker, who I mentioned earlier was the Independence Party candidate for US Rep from this district, suggests media fatigue. After all, the Times has beaten up the university already on the anti-Semitism settlement. Or could it be that a display that may have been accosted for tying pro-Israeli and pro-gun views doesn't fit the Times' worldview of being pro-Israeli? (Claudia Rossett has some thoughts on OpinionJournal today.) Unlike most of the PC police, I am unable to determine motives simply from actions.

Over on KNSI, a local talk radio station, Hot Talk with the Ox is saying they won't let go of the story and wondering why coverage has been lax. Dan Ochsner, the host of the show, also works for the Times. Might I suggest he take the story from the previous writer, who's article last Saturday was botched according to all that saw the incident?

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Further links on l'Affaire Flag

Hawkins at RightWingNews gives legs to the story. We're now up at Israpundit and The Spoons Experience.

If you're just new here and trying to find the original posts, welcome! Here's a rundown of the what's happening on this campus with respect to the two events people are covering:

College Republicans anti-terrorism/pro-Israeli demonstration broken up: Original story here; followup here (some additional coverage further upstream).

Anti-Semitism settlement: Original story here; more details here and here. Other stuff also scattered around.

There's plenty more. Thanks for stopping by.

How not to reduce campus tensions

This is the title of an article long ago prepared by the National Association of Scholars. Now the New York Civil Rights Coalition agrees. In a Washington Times article yesterday, this group concludes a study of programs designed to help minority studies students is harming them instead.

Segregated housing, courses, and programs disseminate poisonous stereotypes and falsehoods about race and ethnicity. They limit interaction between minority and non-minority students, and reward separatist thinking They deny equal interaction on campus. Although they claim to have minorities' interests at heart, these colleges in fact take the civil-rights movement giant steps backward.

"Colleges and universities have a mania with group identity," said Thor Halvorssen, executive director of the Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. "Colleges are underlining the differences between students instead of building bridges. What they are doing is promoting Balkanization, not a humane environment."

Enquiring minds want to know

Losing candidate for US Representatives Dan Becker wants to know where's the money coming from to pay for the anti-Semitism settlement?

Overheard on WCCO radio

The letter circulated last year discouraging minorities from attending SCSU is going around Twin Cities counselors again.

Monday, December 16, 2002

Stopped clock right twice a day.

Every once in a while Doonesbury gets one right. This is from 1993; in our case, it looks prophetic. (Courtesy Alan K. Henderson.)

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Worthy of the AP

The StarTribune picks up the AP story of the Israeli flag scuffle. The article adds this piece of information:

The display featured Israel's flag, a list of terrorism victims in Israel and literature prepared and paid for by Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership.

Nathan Church, vice president for student life and development, said Karasik became upset because she felt the use of the flag sent the message that the College Republicans had the support of the Israeli government and the Israeli people.
It does now appear that part of the problem was that they were Republicans. And confirms the title of my first post on the topic.

UPDATE: Jack just emailed that he heard the end of the story on KMSP, a Twin Cities TV station.

UPDATE 2: Also picked up by RightWingNews, who ties together the stories of the Israeli flag and the earlier anti-Semitism settlement. (Scroll up from these two links for more if you wish.)

Saturday, December 14, 2002

By Chicago standards, it's called a mugging

Or at least that's what Cold Spring Shops thinks of our Israeli flag row. John Hickey adds "the standard for flying the flag of Israel imposed by the professors has no standing in the either the U.S. or in Israel. We do not even have to see the issue as an unconstitutional infringement on freedom of expression to see how silly some people can be."

Reductio ad absurdum

Taking a break from grading papers this morning, I strolled across campus to visit with Professor Bunion, King of the Department of Humorous Studies. For your [circle the modifier that offends you least: holiday . . . seasonal . . . December] enjoyment, I�ve reproduced below a transcript of our taped conversation.

Q: Dr. Bunion, I�m concerned about what others apparently heard on the radio yesterday. College Republicans are apparently alleging that some of them were accosted and assaulted Wednesday in Atwood by members of our SCSU faculty and at least one member of our university�s administration while they were displaying an Israeli flag. If that�s true, wouldn�t such an occurrence be a violation of our institutional policy against discrimination and harassment?

A. Hmm. Let�s see, David. [The King shuffles through some papers.] I read here that we stand against biased and/or discriminatory actions taken against any individuals because of their �age, gender, race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, physical capability/dimensions, or sexual orientation.� Nope, I don�t find anything here about �political persuasion� . . . or �income level� either, for that matter.

Q. But what if attorneys for the College Republicans file suit against the SCSU, claiming that their plaintiffs were damaged by actions that went beyond even the level of discrimination and harassment . . . to that of assault and battery?

A. Oh, the answer then is simple, really. We need only look at this past year�s lessons to learn what must be done. The first objective of any SCSU Administration must be to SETTLE the issue out of court, no matter what the cost. The public must NEVER find out if there is any truth to the allegations.

Q. And couldn�t our administrators also rationalize that there must never be an admission that any TRUTH even exists?

A. Precisely so! After all, TRUTH is colored by the eye of the beholder, and we must embrace diversity in all its forms, including the existential right to seek and find TRUTH however we want. It�s truly a beautiful manifestation of any university�s policy that expands its multi-optical horizons.

Q. What about finding people guilty?

A. Are you not listening to me, David? Follow the logical sequitur: Our guiding principle must be that NO INDIVIDUAL, whether a plaintiff or a defendant must ever be found GUILTY of anything. Individual responsibility must be destroyed as a tenet, accountability must be diffused, guilt must be ascribed only unto groups. We will be truly liberated by embracing the concept of COLLECTIVE GUILT.

Q. Cool, I�m starting to get it. But wouldn�t the settlement be costly to students and the taxpayers of Minnesota?

A. Well, yes, you have a point there. But think of what we could accomplish with, say, another $1.5 million or so. Besides paying some hush money to those College Republicans and their attorneys, we could establish a new St. Cloud State University Center for Advanced Conservative Studies!

Q. Would the faculty go along with that idea? After all, no more than 5% of us are Republicans.

A. Don�t you see, David? The answer will be mandatory political sensitivity training for all faculty, staff, and administrators. We could first start by hiring an outside consulting firm to conduct a campus-wide �political-climate audit� study.

Q. What a great idea! I heard that now, down in Pascagoula, Mississippi, there will soon be established a Trent Lott, PhD & Associates consulting firm. Apparently they�re really good at not having to answer any questions about their qualifications, framing survey questions, selecting samples that they want, and writing any conclusions that the Administration wants them to write. But what if some professors don�t go along with this kind of indoctrination?

A. The answer to that is easy . . . G.O.P. ALLY TRIANGLES! Just cut up some white triangles, and ask professors to wear them and put them on their doors, thereby instantly creating �safe spaces.�

Q. Brilliant, Professor! My only remaining problem now is understanding how the SCSU Administration should handle the press.

A. What do you mean?

Q. Well, what if National Review or the Weekly Standard writes a scathing editorial, excoriating as a group all of us at St. Cloud State for being politically intolerant?

A. Aha! The answer is right here in this morning�s Minneapolis Star Tribune []. President Saigo needs only to follow the path that he has taken in the past. First, he must wait a week to let the waters calm. Then he will need to write a �self-congratulatory� piece that uses a first-person singular pronoun ten times.

Q. Let me see those words, please. [I reach for Professor Bunion�s newspaper.] Yes, here they are:
- I feel compelled to respond
- My administration and
- I strongly oppose
- I am excited about
- I am very proud
- I challenge you
- I am confident that SCSU will
- I look forward to reading
- I participated in a program
- I remind you

A. Yes, David, then he needs to employ first-person plural pronouns another ten times when congratulating himself and his new administrators. See here:
- our many substantive actions
- We have strongly and consistently spoken
- we are striving as an institution
- our diversity education and anti-discrimination initiatives
- we have exceeded that plan
- our track record of diversity initiatives
- We are working
- Our new leadership team
- We were well aware that a settlement could imply guilt
- our leadership role

Q. Beautiful! And he�ll never need to refer to any individual�s being responsible for any specific past action?

A. No. Look here�s how it�s done:
- SCSU participated in the recent settlement
- legal requirements prohibited SCSU from making its case publicly
- MnSCU and SCSU agreed to the settlement
- They are human places where mistakes are made

Q. What about the need to mention any positives about any of the students, staff, or faculty of St. Cloud State University?

A. Absolutely not important! See here . . . zero such references in this morning�s editorial reply. President Saigo must continue to learn well from his predecessors that the phrase �We�re all in this together,� means that no one is responsible, no one has more merit than anyone else, and that we�re all equal . . . in guilt as well as in pay!

Q. Fantastic, Professor Bunion! Our Faculty Senate of the IFO will love it! [I take my leave, preferring to laugh than to cry.]

�There is always something rather absurd about the past.� - Max Beerbohm, 1880, age 8.

Updates on anti-Semitic pro-Israeli debate

The St. Cloud Times has picked up the story of a Jewish faculty member involved in a scuffle with a pro-Israeli demonstration as expected, (click here to see my initial report) but not yet the Twin Cities newspapers. The faculty member involved in the scuffle comes off as relatively contrite.

"Yes, I immaturely went for the camera, but I didn't harm him. I didn't grab his neck," she said. "It looked a lot worse than it was. I did not try to hurt the man. Am I sorry? Yes. Do I regret it? Yes. Did I assault him? No."
Usually, when I lunge at somebody (and the report I received was that there were two lunges) I have some capacity for understanding that it might hurt. I do find this humorous that the article goes on at length about the relative sizes of the two individuals (she is listed at 5"4", the student at 6'3" as if it were a boxing match, no word on their reach or weight), as if to imply that there was no way she could hurt him. Two words: Squeaky Fromme. The paper also says that the professors were "taunted" by the photographer. That must be the new word for "debate".

But hell, we all snap once in a while, and it does sound as if she wishes to apologize. She gave the full story, including her indiscretion, to VP for Student Life Nathan Church within minutes of the incident. So a momentary lapse of reason, perhaps. But what on earth could cause a Jewish professor to snap on someone putting up a pro-Israeli display? Because they weren't Jewish (which turns out not to be entirely true, btw)? Or because they were Republicans?

This won't explain Church's behavior, however.
"There were some images that I could understand why some people could be offended, but they were clearly covered under free speech," Church said.

After some discussion, Church said he asked the group's members if they could remove the Israeli flag from the display.

"I said this is kind of a different issue. There's protocol around flags, people take their flags very seriously," he said. "One thing about the flag is it has the Star of David on it. Jews all over the world identify with it."

Church said the flag's presence over the booth implied the group had the support of the Israeli government and the Israeli people.

Byma said Church used his position as vice president to coerce the College Republicans into removing the flag.

"In my opinion, a university is all about diversity of ideas," he said. "You should feel completely protected to speak your opinion. We feel the student life and development office hindered our freedom of speech."

Church said he merely suggested the group remove the flag. It could have remained on display, he said.
He is quoted in the last graph saying "The issue around the altercation has nothing to do with the free-speech issue. My hope is still that it can be resolved informally." Which sounds to me like the gurgling sound of someone choking on his own actions and praying for his career. Denial is a river running through the Student Life and Development Office.

In a related development, President Saigo's letter on the anti-Semitism settlement (which I first discussed here) was printed in the StarTribune today. It's title is SCSU Has Taken a Stand Against Bias. Let's hope SCSU also takes a stand for free speech.

Friday, December 13, 2002

Defense of Israel too sacred to be left to Republicans

On Wednesday, a group of College Republicans were involved in a scuffle in the student union building for the display of support for the war on terrorism and to show support for Israel. They were confronted by two faculty members who identified themselves as Jewish and were upset with the display.

We received word of this on Wednesday late night, but awaited a full report before running this story. Justin Byma, chair of the CRs on campus, sent me the following memo, reprinted here in full.

The following is a statement released by the SCSU College Republicans regarding the events of 12/11/2002 and sent to the Jewish Community Relations Council. A similiar statement will be delivered to the SCSU office of Student Life and Developement Monday morning. The SCSU CR's sought the help of the SCSU student government last night, but a resloution regarding students rights to free speech wilthout the fear of repercussions or physical harm failed to pass. After seeking outside counsel from CR supporters and campus officials, the CR's are taking action.

December 13, 2002

FR: Justin P. Byma, Chair, SCSU College Republicans


On December 11, 2002, the Saint Cloud State University College Republicans held a kiosk in the Atwood Memorial Center on the campus of Saint Cloud State University. The College Republicans held the kiosk as a means of showing our support for Israel in its fight against terrorism, as we felt that the pro-Israeli opinion is not often heard on campus.

The kiosk displayed a 39-page list of the names of all of those killed by terrorists from Jan 2002 through Oct 2002. It also included a display, which profiled some of the terrorist groups operating in and around Israel and Palestine and some literature that symbolized Israel�s right to defense and self-preservation. Above the kiosk flew a replica of the Israeli national colors.

Two professors approached the kiosk and said that because of their Jewish faith, they found the booth offensive. They specifically pointed to our display of a replica of the Israeli colors and said that because those of us at the kiosk were not Jewish we had no right to fly the Israeli flag.

During the ensuing debate, one of our members, Mr. Zach Spoehr, took a photograph of another College Republican member. One of the professors, Prof. Rona Karasik, told Mr. Spoehr that she would break his camera if he took her photo. Mr. Spoehr said he had not taken her picture and also said that Prof. Karasik has no right to break his camera. She then lunged for the camera and Mr. Spoehr backed away. She lunged for him a second time, grabbed him by the throat with both hands, and slammed him against the wall. I then escorted Mr. Spoehr away from the scene.

Mr. Spoehr has informed the Saint Cloud State University College Republicans that he has filed a complaint with the Saint Cloud Police Department. The College Republicans support Mr. Spoehr�s personal decision to do so.

A few minutes later, Dr. Nathan Church, VP for Student Life and Development, approached the kiosk and said that he "had to ask us to take down the flag" because some people were offended. He also reiterated the opinion that the College Republicans had no right to fly the Israeli flag because we were not Jewish ourselves.

We believe that Dr. Church left us no choice but to take down the flag. I personally argued our point, that forcing us to take down the flag was a violation of our first amendment rights, for close to 20 minutes. But Dr. Church would not back down. He said that he would like to take the flag to his office and that we could pick it up at the end of the afternoon. We convinced him to let us keep the flag, if we covered it up.

I told Dr. Church that we were only complying with his order because we did not want another "scene" at our pro-Israeli kiosk. I told him that I disagreed with his position and did not understand the reasoning behind it. He said we could talk about the implications of his decision at al later time. Two of our members went to see Dr. Church on Thursday and found him less than helpful.

The Saint Cloud State University College Republicans presented our grievances to the SCSU Student Government on Thursday evening. We have sought advise through various sources and plan to submit a written complaint to the Student Life and Development office early next week for what we consider a violation of our first amendment rights.

The College Republicans think it very unfortunate that Wednesday�s events had to turn so sour. Nevertheless, we stand by our right to free speech and will continue to show our support for Israel as it continues its fight against terrorism. We believe that Israel is truly America�s greatest friend and ally. We in no way meant to offend anyone, rather we believe that the Wednesday�s events stemmed from political intolerance and not offensive behavior.

Justin P. Byma, Chair, SCSU College Republicans.
Here's what we can add to the story. According to two witnesses, the second faculty member is Phyllis Greenberg. Both are gerontologists teaching here at SCSU. Karasik is the acting chair of the Jewish Faculty Association, whose members were active in pursuit of the anti-Semitism lawsuit here. In her statement on behalf of the JFA on Dec. 3, Karasik wrote:
...the settlement represents the administrations' accountability for campus climate. By finally making these problems public, it will help everyone understand that Anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance are not acceptable at St. Cloud State University.
If the allegations made by Byma are true it's going to be very hard, in my opinion, to square that statement with these actions.

This places JCRC, who has been critical of anti-Semitism at SCSU, in a real bind: Who's your dog in this fight?

A phone call to Byma learned one other tidbit that may shed light on this: He said that during the debate he was told by one of the two faculty members that there are no Jewish Republicans. Knowing the two faculty members, I'm going to hazard a guess that this was meant in jest. But when one of the students reminded her that Norm Coleman is Jewish, the faculty member replied that "Coleman is a Jew of convenience". Do you suppose she listens to Garrison Keillor?

Doesn't this make you wonder: Would there have been any concern if College Democrats had put up this display?

The administration's role in this is disturbing but unsurprising. They've managed to turn this into a free speech issue. We now have people taking down an Israeli flag because someone was offended not by the symbol but by the identity of the speakers. Dr. Church, part of Roy Saigo's team, is reportedly saying that he did not tell them to take it down but simply informed them that it might be a good idea. That's irrelevant; when a university vice-president comes up to a group of students with a "request", it isn't someone asking an equal for a favor. And the Student Government's vote is an act of cowardice.

The story is on 1450 KNSI currently (the CR members were interviewed on its morning news program, but I missed it being in another meeting), and according to Byma will be in tomorrow's St. Cloud Times.

UPDATE: Reader John Hickey writes:

Do the SCSU faculty know that Israel requires that all foreign ships at Israeli ports fly the Israeli flag? Do they also know that United States Naval protocol allows the flying of foreign flags on U.S. ships as a sign of respect. Do non Jewish holders of Israeli passports have a visually different document? Colleges used to be places where questions could be posed and answers sought. Questions like, who has the "right" to fly even a replica of the Israeli flag. Things sure appear to be different today.

One thing I might add to King's note yesterday is that the sub-title of Sowell's book is "Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy." He analyzes the way the politically correct get to judge and criticize the rest of us without any ned to analyze themelves, their motives ,or their rewards; they get to congratulate themselves mightly as a result, judge the rest of us like crazy, and feel superior. The people who are forcing their social vision on us are powerfully sanctimonious, forceful in finding racist/sexist/homphobes hiding under every bed, or in every unconscious motive; they are also puriticanical in their impulse to sniff out the faintest hint of any attitude they disapprove of (which means any attitude that disagrees with them). But they show no impulse whatsoever in questioning themselves and their own motives. And none of these folks read Sowell.
They are probably right about the rest of us of course -- most of us are in denial about most things, and most of us are at leasat a little guilty of almost everything. Like Hamlet said, if we got what we deserved nobody would escape whipping. And like Jesus said, we should be looking for logs in our own eyes rather than specks inthe eyes of others.; but looking for specks in others is a lot easier and much more self-satisfying. The Politically Correct simply assume that the motives of anyone who opposes them are Evil, and you can tell they are evil because they oppose some part of political correctness, which is always Good and beyond question, for to question is to be in dennial. It's that simple for them: "I and everybody who unquestingly agrees with me are Good; anyone who disagrees or opposes us in any way is Evil, even if the evil comes from the subconscious motives the evil folks aren't aware of or are in denial about." The only acceptible actions is in the silly little emails we get where some faculty member or other simply replys to a message and said, "I agree." Of course they agree; it's all that is possible for them.
It's the old psychology of theTrue Believer. When Hofer wrote his book 50 years ago he was thinking mostly of the fanaticism of the right,and today it's of the left, but it's the same stuff; probably the only real dmage is that this time it's much more damaging to higher education that it had been back in the McCarthy days. It almost makes you nostolgic for tail-gunner Joe, doesn't it?

Thursday, December 12, 2002

President Saigo speaks, but who listens?

Well bully for him! The president has written a response to the vicious StarTribune editorial. Arguing that "Inflammatory phrases in the editorial do not truly reflect the general atmosphere" at SCSU, he proceeds to say why he is proud of SCSU.

Crying "bigotry at SCSU" seems to have become an involuntary reflex that resists the influence of deeper investigation and analysis. I challenge you to compare our track record of diversity initiatives against any educational organization in the region. We are working to become a model for diversity education. Someday, I am confident that SCSU will be recognized as a leader in this area; I look forward to reading a StarTribune editorial singing our praises for this leadership.
As I stated last night, this is unlikely to work, as diversity education seems to create more negatives than positives. (Though without a doubt this point will be lost on the StarTribune and other media outlets.)

As if to prove my point, this afternoon came a response from faculty member Frankie Condon taking exception with Saigo's letter for the institution as well as other posts (and most likely this blog.) A full Fisking here is unfair as the letter is not on the web for all to view; it's been my policy to keep discussion list Fiskings on the list, and as it's finals week next week I'm not likely to get to it. But one thing for now, if you will...

Racism is ubiquitous in American society at large as well as here at SCSU. I know of no one who can reasonably claim to be outside of, unaffected by, or a non-participant in racism. ... There are no innocent bystanders when it comes to racism in the United States.
If you're not part of their solution, you're part of the problem. Thomas Sowell's Visions of the Anointed could not be more clearly demonstrated.
... there is no interest whatever in finding out empirically whether things have been made better or worse for minorities as a result of this program. And in fact, if you bring up evidence, they'll say, Ah, but things would have been even worse had we not done this.
So when President Saigo states the long list of things we have done to create diversity education (and all the new things agreed by the anti-Semitism settlement) none of this will cut it with Condon.
One understanding, for example, now taken as demonstrated in critical race theory is that white claims of "color-blindness" are a) false and b) demonstrations of one of the mechanisms of white privilege. People of color, the scholarship suggests, cannot afford to "not see" color; their very lives depend on knowing where they are and who they're with.
We must continue to teach about racial differences, she says, because they cannot afford to see the world as color-blind. Why? Because whites cannot get beyond their guilt no matter how many hours of diversity training they receive. Whites will always be a threat and must continue to be treated that way.

At least Solzhenitsyn got to leave the gulag eventually.

'Tis the season for more reason

Dear Professor Tripp, President Saigo, Chancellor McCormick, and all those interested in the future of St. Cloud State University:

I write as an individual member of the faculty who supports fully Professor Tripp�s stated goal of making �our campus a more coherent community and less of a racial battlefield.� In fact, you may be surprised to read that I concur with more than a few of the recommendations advanced in his posting of December 11.

However, the authors of that document also claim that �the fact that some wish to publicly discredit a bona fide research and consulting firm (Nichols & Associates) comprised of associates of color is itself indicative of prevalent local attitudes which have given this campus �bad press� at a national level.� With that statement I must beg to differ.

Through the six months leading up to the release of the findings of the Nichols study I had been an outspoken critic of the authors� survey design, question-framing, grammar, sample-selection, and administrative failings. But throughout those six months I had absolutely no idea that the research and consulting firm was �comprised of associates of color.� Had I been so aware, it would not in any way have changed my professional assessment. Scholarly researchers should be color-blind.

Such a dreadfully designed and administered survey piqued my curiosity. I raised a number of questions that to this date remain unanswered:

1) Why can I find no web site for Nichols and Associates of Washington, D.C.?
2) Why can I find no journal articles published by Edwin J. Nichols?
3) Has anyone on this campus seen a copy of his academic transcript to verify the degrees apparently touted on his curriculum vitae?
4) Has anyone on this campus reviewed copies of any works published by Edwin J. Nichols?
5) Who specifically authorized and signed off on SCSU�s spending more than $80,000 for this study?

Having served as a �once-fooled� member of the Search Committee for the FIRE Department of the Herberger College of Business, I believe I have a responsibility now to stand up and ask the same kinds of questions that we are today asking in our department of all job applicants. Each of us wants our students to be able to savor a widely diverse array thoughts and perspectives that we faculty members offer them in their quest for acquiring knowledge, developing skills, and gaining wisdom. At the same time, I hope that they are sent the message that our �university,� the apparent antonym of �diversity,� is actually a complementary concept. For what value do we stand united, as a university, if not academic integrity?

If you, Professor Tripp, and others on campus can answer answer each of these five questions specifically in an open forum, presenting photo-copied evidence as to the academic degrees earned by Edwin J. Nichols and copies of his peer-reviewed published work, I�ll be the first one to join you in calling for his return to this campus to fulfill his firm�s contractual obligation.

Even if Nichols does not revisit this campus, Professor Tripp, I agree with you that - though the survey has absolutely no statistical validity - there seem to be several numbers that are disturbing. Besides the ones that you mentioned, let me offer three others that were gleaned from a non-scientifically drawn sample of 237 faculty, administrators and staff:

1) �Over one-half (57%) of respondents agreed that the negative media image of SCSU compromises relationships between faculty, staff and students; 20% was uncertain and 23% disagreed.� (Good grief . . . and these results were BEFORE the latest settlement! It is now a full week since the Star Tribune�s hatchet job on all of us at SCSU, and we�re still waiting for President Saigo�s written response. Term papers were due this week, and a grade of Incomplete cannot be granted at this point. At some point an �I� turns into an �F.�)

2) �Thirty-five percent (35%) agreed that there is good flow of communication and information from the President's Office to administrators, faculty and staff; 27% was uncertain and 38% disagreed.� (Might that 38% figure represent those of us who do not work in the AS building? When last did you see anyone from the Administration visiting your college? I seem to remember Sean Teal�s visiting our college a couple of years ago.)

3) �Thirty-seven percent of respondents agreed that faculty, staff and students should be required to take cultural competence/awareness training; 15% was uncertain and the majority (48%) [sic] disagreed.� (Who, specifically, demanded that new mandatory diversity training should be implemented as part of the latest settlement? Will anyone step forward and take the credit [or blame] for this idea?)

Finally, I would ask President Saigo and Chancellor McCormick to stand up and tell us precisely, and with one voice, whose idea it was to settle this past year�s lawsuits? Can you explain the rationale publicly? Do you understand how unsettling such settlements are to innocent victims? Do you truly grasp how much our students have been hurt by your not holding either specific parties accountable for their discriminatory actions or plaintiffs responsible for proving their allegations? What kind of a lesson are we teaching them?

How should they and we answer the following final examination question: What do those who interned Japanese-Americans during WWII, those who practice racial profiling, those who blame a class of "privileged-class white males" for every wrong, and those who write a scathing blanket editorial indicting all of us at SCSU have in common?

I submit that the correct answer is that they all embrace the concept of "assumed collective guilt," which is an insidiously divisive, intellectually bankrupt, and totally evil assumption.

Thank you, Professor Tripp, for the zeal with which you speak out about issues of obviously deep importance to you. I may not agree with most of your conclusions, or even how you state them, but I admire the fact that you�re a fearless leader, not afraid to exercise our freedom of speech. We must cherish that right for all, whether they want to display an Israeli flag in Atwood Center or even decorate a Christmas tree. Leaders do not bend over all the time; that is symptomatic of a lack of backbone. Silence is deadly. We need more leaders - not �plant managers,� and certainly not �potted plants.�

Please be advised that I am herewith, hereby, and hereunder taking "celebratory note" of the impending Christmas season as I head for bed. But first, I think I�ll read about Condoleezza Rice�s years at Stanford in the December 16th edition of Newsweek. It should be inspired and required reading for all.

Good night to all,

David L. Christopherson, PhD
G.R. Herberger Distinguished Professor of Business - 2002
President�s Club Colleague
CEO of the David L. Christopherson Faculty Caucus of One

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Creating false consciousness

Joanne Jacobs links to this wonderful post at No. 2 Pencil on how teaching on race may in fact make matters worse. Jacobs takes a quote from Alan Kors of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

If you teach people to filter everything through the prism of race, they're going to do that. What universities are doing now would be the equivalent if, on the first day of orientation, you've got Jewish and Christians in a room and then you show films of the Holocaust. And then you say to the Jewish students, "That's what they did to you." And then you say to the Christians, "That's what you did to them." [And then say to all of them], "Now that you understand things, go out and get along." This would not increase natural human interaction.
No, it just increases the amount of time I'm spending in Roy's House of Humiliation. Kimberly Swygert at No. 2 Pencil continues the thought:
I think that constantly raising the topics of racism and oppression does make things worse. What's more, I believe that the constant racializing that is currently present on college campuses, in the sense of isolating students of certain races or holding them to a separate set of standards because of race, not only damages race relations, but gives members of minority groups an excuse for any failures, and a false sense of racial identity that is politically motivated.
Read both articles in full.

Happy Holidays!

From the Human Resources office:

Another session of diversity training has been scheduled. It is being held during the break to hopefully make it easier for some of your employees to attend. If you or some of your non-faculty employees have not attended the 7 hours of diversity training, please try to have them attend this upcoming session.
An hour later, from President Saigo:
All members of our campus community should be free to make celebratory note of these holidays in our workspaces, living spaces, and in our conversations. However, as a state institution the University will refrain from putting up decorations or representations embracing any one particular holiday in the common areas, including building exteriors, other than personal living spaces (residence halls). In order to show sensitivity to all, I encourage us also to be inclusive as we plan office or other group celebrations.

Down in front!

The Faculty of Color Caucus (whose membership includes the two who wrote the outrageous letter I've already discussed) posted to the announcement email list of the campus today its response to the Nichols Survey. The second paragraph is telling:

The Caucus is also concerned about postings on the campus email discussion lists which attempt to shift attention away from the findings of the Nichols report toward questions of methodology.
I think he means us, as in here, here, and here.
We note that previous investigations regarding campus climate were more limited in scope and similar in conclusions, yet the competency of the investigating teams was not called into question in the same way.
This would refer to the EEOC and JCRC reports. The JCRC's biasedness has already been discussed here, and I could do a series of posts on the biased and blatantly political maneuverings of the EEOC. Would you really like me to do that?
It appears that there are some faculty and administration members who would rather create diversions and controversies than to deal with real problems. We are particularly concerned that disparaging remarks about the quality of the study are being made by members of the administration thereby giving license to others to disregard the findings of the study.
This means what? That since the Caucus has decided the conclusions are accurate a priori any discussion of the quality of these findings are disparaging and creating diversions? It is not permissable to discuss findings, only to applaud them? But it turns out we did worse than this. Read on...
It is also our understanding that a visit by Nichols and Associate consultants (part of their contract) to our campus is being blocked.
Given how poorly the report has been done, this would be the best piece of news possible. Given the cowardice shown by the administration to date, I doubt this is true.
The fact that some wish to publicly discredit a bona fide research and consulting firm comprised of associates of color is itself indicative of prevalent local attitudes which have given this campus �bad press� at a national level.
Behold those that would silence us. If we point out the flaws of the report, we not only are disparaging and creating diversions" but we're perpetuating the perception of the campus as having a race problem. Very nice. That's as close as someone has come to calling me racist in quite some time. I suppose this is my lucky day.

May I suggest, as your colleagues did once, that what we have here is a failure to communicate? We have sought not to silence any report, but to ask that a report be done correctly. We want to be able to pinpoint areas of concern. We want to know if the racism you see is concentrated in SCSU or is part of whatever racism exists in the community. We'd further like to know how it is that we can define certain groups alone as capable of committing racism. We await your statement denouncing the venomous attacks in the letter some of your caucus members sent -- at university expense! -- to school counselors.

We propose that an affirmation of the Nichols & Associates� identification of problems is a first step toward finding remedies for those problems. Recent and past �campus climate� reports and court settlements have all pointed in the same direction. Concrete steps are necessary. Our goal is to make our campus a more coherent community and less of a racial battlefield.
I don't think the Chancellor's Office will agree after yesterday's histrionics.

The rest of their response accepts at face value the findings of the Nichols report. You may see our discussions (following the links at the top of this post) of why these are flawed. I will grant their contention that a finding of concerns of racism of a significant minority of respondents would be enough to state there is a problem. The point is, however, what constitutes a "significant" minority? 5%? 15%? Where's the line, caucusers? The problem with a flawed survey instrument is that the percentage of respondents (400 out of more than 18,000) is so small that you need some strong assurances that the results are indeed representative of the whole of the campus. Nichols made no attempt to do so. So how does the caucus know it's a problem, other than their own prejudices?

But no matter, accept them they do. They then seek the panoply of remedies suggested in the Nichols report. See the end of my first post on this to consider the costs. It would be more expensive than the anti-Semitism settlement.

The problem, as Thomas Sowell once pointed out, is "liberals seem to assume that, if you don't believe in their particular political solutions, then you don't really care about the people that they claim to want to help." Because I don't think the Nichols report was well done, because I think they, EEOC and JCRC had their conclusions determined before beginning their studies, because we find that treating people collectively rather than individually counterintuitive to the ending of racism, I must want to perpetuate racism. Give me one good reason why I shouldn't find this insulting.

I just read King's first posting from yesterday. I must be missing something, or am astonishing naive, but as I understand this is seems beyond belief. I could understand a cynical AG reaching a settlement in our case, but this means our own president did this to us. He settled so we will never know the real facts of the case, he cost us over a million dollars when we don't have enough money to buy paper for the copier, he decided to march his whole faculty off to more mandatory "sensitivity" training, and he led to our reputation being clobbered in the state and nationally? Is all this right? I knew the guy was trying to make a career out of racism. (I have a bit with a member of the administration who still trys to support him that I'll buy the biggest steak in town when he can show me Saigo sayiing anything to the faculty about anything but race or telling us what a community we are, and so far I still have my steak.) But this goes beyond anything I would have imagined. Cripes -- with friends like this...

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

A student goes to interview

A fellow faculty member struck me with this clue-by-four today.

Six months ago, a graduating senior goes to an interview in a distant city.
Personnel officer: "So you got your degree from St. Cloud State?"
Interviewee: "Yes, ma'am."
P.O.: "Yes, I've heard of the school. You guys got a great hockey team, don't you?"
Interviewee: "We do, ma'am. The football team is shaping up nicely too."
P.O.: "There's a fellow in marketing who loves college hockey. Let me take you down to his office."

Six months from now, in another office.
Personnel officer: "So you got your degree from St. Cloud State?"
Interviewee: "Yes, ma'am."
P.O.: "Wait, didn't I read about your school in the Washington Post? Oh yes, that's right. Are you anti-Semitic?
Interviewee: "No, ma'am."
P.O.: "Good, very good. Look, we'll be doing second interviews soon. We'll call you back if we're interested. Have a nice day."

I think students should worry more about this scenario than the loss of beer money mentioned by a University Chronicle columnist. If you're a student reading this, use the comment link below to vent away.

And wait! There's more!

Add to this, Dave, that in the open meeting with the Chancellor's Office today that we were told the decision to settle the anti-Semitism case was made at the local level, not by the AG's office. It was said by two different people, and the subject of your pop quiz was present. (Please note: I could not be there due to student appointments, but I received this information from two sources at the meeting.)

That proves my previous hypothesis wrong -- that the settlement was imposed by the attorney general or MnSCU. I simply did not want to believe that we caved in. But it also means the obnoxious conduct sanctions -- including mandatory diversity training, gutting the Affirmative Action office, etc., -- are the result of local decision-makers, most likely the university president. Two of the three plaintiffs are no longer on campus; it seems farfetched to think they gained value from asking for these sanctions. Faculty and staff had better start thinking: Why would Administration want this? Perhaps this explains the union's statement distancing itself from diversity training as being not their idea.

Today's pop quiz

Term papers are due this week, and a grade of Incomplete (I) is no longer an option. Today's pop quiz:

Q: What do those who interned Japanese-Americans during WWII, those who practice racial profiling, those who blame a class of "privileged-class white males" for every wrong, and those who write a scathing blanket editorial indicting all of us at SCSU have in common?

A: They all embrace the concept of "assumed collective guilt," which is an insidiously divisive, intellectually bankrupt, and evil assumption.

Monday, December 09, 2002

Stryker speaks

Laurinda Stryker, one of the plaintiffs in the anti-Semitism case, has written a farewell letter in the campus newspaper (requires free registration).

About two years ago, I spoke out against anti-Semitism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination and then immediately began to be denigrated by my chair and by my dean, despite previous praise from them. I tried to resolve things in a low-key manner and use the mechanisms available to me on campus. ...
Note the cloaking device (this conjures up images of Star Trek, but never mind) that Stryker uses. Her actions are solely because she "spoke out" and someone took revenge.
Only when it became clear that some administrators were intent upon terminating my employment at SCSU by means of illegally noncontractual (and, to my mind, unethical) actions did I hire an attorney. ...
Note that Zmora already had a lawyer and EEOC complaint underway; Stryker filed on April 2, 2001 according to this WaPo article. So the time from her speaking out to taking the lawyer was probably not all that long. After the EEOC report came out in February this year -- which our president unprecedentedly asked for himself, and which he thought he was going to use to address the issue -- the suit is filed a week later. The EEOC report becomes part of the plaintiffs' case.
I continue to have difficulty accepting what has occurred. I was summoned to a settlement conference in July. At that conference, I was made the so-called "offer I couldn't refuse." Either I had to accept the settlement proposal or be fired, effective the next day and have to hire another lawyer and then file yet another lawsuit for wrongful dismissal. This was how the "offer" was presented to me by the state university system and SCSU.

So I signed.
So the question you have to ask here is, why? We have so many people wanting to use the university's agreement to settle as a confession of guilt. Why would she sign rather than allow herself to be fired and sue the living crap out of the university? If it really was wrongful termination, wouldn't she win much more than the $80,000 she took away from this settlement? Could it be... from the WaPo article,
officials are urging she not be retained on the faculty and are investigating her over what she called a bogus charge of academic fraud. She said that when she applied to be put on the tenure track two years ago, she told officials she had a scholarly article coming out in an academic journal. But, she said, she was unable to finish the piece because her mother became seriously ill.
The discussion on campus was always around this being a book under contract rather than an article in review that didn't end up getting done, but that falls under the category of rumor. Still, for her to sign this settlement, she must have thought they had something that could cause her to lose a wrongful termination case, right?

Now, if you're answering me with "that's unfair, she's not admitted anything," well, you're right ... but isn't that what everyone is doing assuming SCSU is anti-Semitic because we settled?
My scheduled courses for this semester were oversubscribed; I've taught some of the students who had registered for them since they were freshmen and I was looking forward to seeing them through their senior year and celebrating their graduation with them. I wanted more than anything to return to the classroom.

Instead, I was told that I must submit a letter of resignation which would be effective August 2003 and not teach at all during this academic year. Beyond that -- unbelievably to me -- I was to vacate my office before the beginning of the semester, months prior to receiving a written offer of settlement. Again, if I didn't do so I would be fired immediately.
"Oh hi, Laurinda, so nice to see you here. Thanks ever so much for dragging our university through the mud, shall we go to lunch at the faculty club?" Did she really think it wise to stay around?
I'm now on paid study leave, which costs the university not only my salary, but salaries for those who are teaching "my" classes.
Which wasn't an issue when she took leave in 2001 because of stress and left four classes for her colleagues to teach?

This then is where we end with Prof. Stryker. She really was committed to studying the Holocaust, and she and I have spoken at length about the Armenian genocide, so it was with some sadness that I found her embroiled in this controversy. And I think her letter, while not forthcoming about the complicating issue of her resume, will end up serving her well with her supporters at SCSU. For those of us who dispute the settlement, we should recognize that her part in this is actually a sideshow from the main issues raised by Zmora. It's to him that we turn next. Stay with us, please, as we lay out more of this case.

Thanks, Josh!

My thanks to Joshua Mercer of Campus Nonsense for driving a lot of traffic our way in the discussion of the anti-Semitism settlement (scroll down for all that coverage -- I decided we need a breather.) Josh's site is designed for students to provide reports on PC idiocy on their campuses. Along with all the recent coverage of NoIndoctrination.Org, the people who matter most to us -- students -- are getting the word on what the self-anointed in our faculty have in store for them.

Indeed, professors are now beginning to yearn for the days of in loco parentis. In an AP article today (which circulated over the university's discuss list), professors are concerned of too much interference from parents.

Sociology professor Gary Stokley recalls when meeting the parents of his students at Louisiana Tech University was limited to a few handshakes at graduation.

Now, to the dismay of Stokley and other academics, angry parents are introducing themselves much sooner to professors and departments heads as they complain about their children's grades.

Faculty members also say moms and dads sometimes pressure officials to register students in mandatory courses that are filled to capacity and question the intent of classroom assignments. ...

Former high school science teacher Luann Wright said she wouldn't think of complaining to officials at the University of California at San Diego about her son's grades.

But when his writing course placed what she believed was undue emphasis on racial issues, Wright created a Web site � � that invites parents and students to report instances of political bias in the classroom.

Now back to SCSU ... The campus newspaper (requires free registration) runs an article (showing) and an editorial (lamenting) student ignorance of the anti-Semitism settlement. In the local community, a letter to the editor of the paper demands accountability, and if you read the comments there you will see how that might happen. (Warning: The links to the St. Cloud Times seem to go dead in about four days, so if you are reading this in archive you may need to use Google to find a cached copy.)

All of this makes me wonder: If it's going to take an outside force to make the truth come out, what will be the outside force? Parents? They're busy and being discouraged by universities who wish they'd just shut up and pay their money. Students? Not even watching the paper. Alumni? Trustees? I think they're our best hope. And they are watching -- beond the letters already mentioned, the shaking heads I get at the local bagel shop are indicative of people fed up with the nonsense coming out of this campus and a desire to see it end. There's recognition that it may be time for their help.

Three Blind "Findings"

While we wait for President Saigo�s response to the Star Tribune�s recent hatchet job on SCSU (noting that there is still no response in tomorrow�s edition), we might do well to reflect on three profoundly disturbing �findings� of the Nichols & Associates �survey�. Based on a non-scientifically drawn sample of 237 faculty, administration and staff, Nichols finds:

1) �Over one-half (57%) of respondents agreed that the negative media image of SCSU compromises relationships between faculty, staff and students; 20% was uncertain and 23% disagreed.� (Good grief . . . and these results were BEFORE the events of the past month! - dc)

2) �Thirty-five percent (35%) agreed that there is good flow of communication and information from the President's Office to administrators, faculty and staff; 27% was uncertain and 38% disagreed.� (Might that 38% figure represent those of us who do not work in the AS building? - dc)

3) �Thirty-seven percent of respondents agreed that faculty, staff and students should be required to take cultural competence/awareness training; 15% was uncertain and the majority (48%) [sic] disagreed.�

Who can tie these seemingly unrelated �findings� together? On second thought, please don�t bother to waste your time . . . unless you believe that there might actually be something credible in the Nichols report. But what's that saying about blind squirrels?

Sunday, December 08, 2002

Alumni also find StarTribune scurrilous

Dave Christopherson is away from his regular computer but sends word that two more letters are in the StarTribune Monday morning, this time from alumni. Dave adds this note:

I would ask why so many of us are so disturbed by the Star Tribune's December 5th blanket indictment of SCSU? Do you think that perhaps past administrations' eagerness to embrace the concept of "collective guilt," coupled with their unwillingness to discuss any INDIVIDUALS' accoutability, has something to do with enabling the Star Tribune's editors' to have found us all "collectively guilty?" Is it any wonder that so many of us are defensive?
Individuals are being held accountable here. Stay tuned for further details.

What does the word settlement mean to you?

It appears that the Jewish Community Relations Council has now decided to go on the offensive against SCSU. In a letter in this morning's St. Cloud Times, Molly Grisham, JCRC's deputy director for public relations, takes issue with the university's statement that the settlement includes no admission of guilt.

One disappointment is the press reports indicating that despite the provisions of the settlement, which are an implicit indictment of the university's conduct, the university refuses to admit to any wrongdoing.

It defies logic and reason that the university would agree to the provisions of the settlement yet claim it is not responsible. Perhaps this is one of the disadvantages of a settlement; there is no explicit guilty party, no one to be held directly accountable by law.
Ms. Grisham, if you wanted to determine that we did anything wrong here, take us to court. Don't settle. But no, you took the money, you took the new Jewish Studies Center (when there already is a Holocaust and Genocide Center on this campus), and you were supposed to have settled your differences. You want to have it both ways.

Here is why it is wrong to settle: you settle to avoid costs and to protect the reputation of your institution, and these people will use any settlement to mean an admission of guilt. This paragraphs makes a mockery of that settlement by assuming that the unproven was proven by the fact that we gave these people money to go away. Thanks a million and a quarter, Attorney General Hatch.

Meanwhile, Larry Roth conducts a mild Fisking of the Times editorial.

Serve and volley on StarTribune letters

Someone beat Prof. Uradnik to the STrib -- there are two letters in the Sunday paper. The second is by a professor here who correctly characterizes the editorial as "highly inflammatory and misleading." Good for you, David!

The first is by the director of the Univ. of Minnesota's Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Stephen Feinstein. He isn't a disinterested observer, but already quoted in the Washington Post report mentioned here earlier, and quoted as saying that sending a Jewish student to SCSU is "like sending a black kid to Ku Klux Klan University." How seriously should we take his lament for how we've conjured up "negative images of Minnesota from the 1940s, when anti-Semitism was considered rampant here"?

He takes most of his letter to defend one of the plaintiffs, Laurinda Stryker. She is stated to be an excellent teacher with high student ratings. There are many ways to get these ratings however -- grade inflation is one. Her sudden departure for a semester due to illness during the height of the controversy preceded the supposed interference in the grading of Robbi Hoy, a student who received a separate settlement in this case. She is reported in the campus report as having an 'A' converted to an incomplete. We do not know if Hoy ever turned in all work.

No matter, she got $7500 and a letter of apology -- I guess for putting her through the hassle of losing her instructor.

If Stryker is so wonderful an instructor, couldn't she have done something for Hoy? Or was Hoy, who was supportive of Stryker's conflict with the administration, seeking to create a conflict?

We'll never know, we'll just have to take $7500 out of the equipment budget to pay for the cowardice of the attorney general's office to fight these claims.

One more point from the Feinstein letter -- he mentions that "the "charges" against her clearly seem a form of retaliation." What charges? From the Washington Post, April 1, 2001 (and have you wondered why the WaPo has run three articles on this case in lil' ol' St. Cloud? Try "good PR".)

Stryker, who is not Jewish but who said she plans to convert to Judaism, {she hasn't yet, according to Feinstein's letter today -- kb} noted that officials are urging she not be retained on the faculty and are investigating her over what she called a bogus charge of academic fraud. She said that when she applied to be put on the tenure track two years ago, she told officials she had a scholarly article coming out in an academic journal. But, she said, she was unable to finish the piece because her mother became seriously ill.
Doesn't this cause anyone to wonder what happened to the academic fraud case? Any academic has had a manuscript receive a "revise and resubmit" decision from a journal; we don't list them as "coming out" on our resumes unless they have been revised, resubmitted and accepted for publication.

Should the University overlook that type of error? Remember that history teaching posts are scarce and competition is fierce. CVs will fly in fast and furious, and the committee will be able to be choosy. Publications will likely be one of the criteria. Would Stryker have been a candidate for the job if she had written on her resume "article under revision if I can get around to it?"

Feinstein closes his letter with "Stryker, a non-Jew of German heritage, was probably the perfect person to teach "History of the Holocaust" at St. Cloud State." What the hell does that mean? There are many German-Americans in the St. Cloud area -- who's stereotyping now? Weird.

Saturday, December 07, 2002

Campus newspaper reports on lawsuit

The campus newspaper now reports on SCSU's lawsuit settlement over anti-Semitism claims. [Link requires registration.] Dr. Zmora is quoted at length repeating many of his charges. But the University Chronicle's editorial isn't as convinced as Dr. Zmora.

Friday, December 06, 2002

Truth in advertising

From a list of new arriving faculty at Univ. Wisconsin-River Falls in 1997-98:

Arie Zmora, Lecturer; Ph.D. The University of Maryland at College Park, M.A. The Johns Hopkins University, M.A. and B.A. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; previous experience at Macalester College, Hamline University, University of Maryland at College Park and Tel-Aviv University.
Dr. Zmora was a plaintiff in the lawsuit, hired here not once but three times on fixed term appointments before the disputed tenure-track search that was the basis of the lawsuit. He also received summer teaching appointments. If we were anti-Semitic, how is it that he was hired three times? There isn't a shortage of Ph.D. historians.

A reply to the StarTribune

Political science Professor Kathy Uradnik posted this letter to our internal discussion list last night. Reprinted with permission.

To the Editor of the Star Tribune:

I would like to invite the author of �Editorial/St. Cloud: Banishing a University�s Bias� (12/5/02) to spend a day (or longer) at St. Cloud State University as my guest. In fact, I extend this invitation to the entire editorial board, and particularly the editor-in-chief, who had to review and approve publication of the hatchet job that this editorial represents.

The administration, faculty, and staff of SCSU, led by the principled leadership of President Roy Saigo, have taken significant measures in the past several months to combat the allegations of discrimination lodged against the University. These measures have included settling pending lawsuits. It should come as no surprise to the Star Tribune�or to anyone�that allegations in plaintiffs� discrimination complaint against SCSU painted a �grim picture.� That�s what complaints are supposed to do. But allegations in a legal complaint should not be assumed true, particularly by a newspaper; rather, they should be investigated.

An investigation of SCSU will indeed reveal that it is not perfect; disgruntled faculty members and discrimination can still be found on our campus. But the Star Tribune�s charge that a �supremacist fever� exists at St. Cloud State is simply wrong. More significantly, it is a thoughtless and irresponsible insult to the highly committed and extremely capable men and women who are striving to make SCSU a better place. I, along with and hundreds of other faculty, staff, and administrators, have worked diligently to ensure that the University corrects its past mistakes and becomes a welcoming place for all. This good work was in progress well before the lawsuit and settlement and will continue despite the Star Tribune�s ill-considered editorial, which focuses only on the bad, and then distorts it.

The work of making our university�or any university�a better place is never finished. But let me assure all who read this editorial response that the �stench of bias� alleged by the Star Tribune to exist at the University is lifting, replaced by the fresh, charged air that surrounds faculty eager to teach and students excited to learn. We have outstanding students at SCSU who make tremendous sacrifices to attain their degrees; ultimately they may be hurt the worst by the Star Tribune�s unfair characterization of the University. I cannot undo the damage that has been caused to my institution�s reputation by the Star Tribune�s editorial. But I can help to see that such an editorial never appears in the paper again. To that end, I reiterate my offer to the editorial board to visit SCSU and see what our University is really all about. I�m sure that, upon visiting the campus, the editors will find plenty of good things to write about.

Kathy Uradnik
J.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Political Science
St. Cloud State University

Thursday, December 05, 2002

Job requirements of a president

ColdSpringShops follows on Dave's post with an observation on what it would take to be president of a university:

...anyone who would apply for a university presidency and give as objectives (1) serious admission standards (2) applied on a consistent basis among populations (3) enforced by a faculty (4) on the tenure-track (5) with time for research and manageable class sizes (6) and limited assessment and committee duties (7) in order that tuitions reflect the benefits students receive yet (8) do not subsidize bureaucracies charged with special education, diversity boondoggles, big-time sports and lying to the alumni would likely not make the short list of candidates.

Attack by Minneapolis Star Tribune

If you have not yet read it, this morning�s Minneapolis Star Tribune has published an unbelievably supercilious attack on St. Cloud State University. The following words appear:

�air hangs heavy with hate�
�ethnic enmity�
�intractability of institutional bias�
�wedded to ideas that went out of style with the Inquisition�
�grim climate�
�an anti-Semitic stronghold�
�school's hallways still resound with last year's sotte voce slurs�
�not-so-secret hatreds�
�supremacist fever�
�stench of bias�

Over the past dozen years, past administrators at SCSU have stood by and allowed our university to be characterized in the press as an enclave for drunkenness, sexism, homophobia, racism, and anti-Semitism. Previous Presidents have failed to confront unfounded allegations or to punish individuals responsible for their actions. Instead, they have largely practiced M.B.W.B. (Management by Wearing Buttons), proclaiming such platitudes as, �We�re all in this together.� By wringing their hands and crying, �Nostra culpa,� they have been able to use the concept of �collective guilt� to avoid having to undertake the difficult tasks of punishing guilty INDIVIDUALS, challenging false allegations, and standing up to news media members who find it all too facile to report one side (always the most sensational and least complex one) of every story.

Yes, I understand that if you took the job of President of SCSU, you would find it a thankless one. On the one hand you would have to stand up to the minions at MnSCU who continue to try to �dumb down� your university to the level occupied by Cass County Community College. And those folks in St. Paul are backed by an Attorney General�s office that is headed by an individual with higher political aspirations and a vested interest in settling every suit. At the same time you would have to deal with the micromanagers of the Faculty Senate who seem all too eager to second-guess your every move.

It makes you wonder why we need a President at St. Cloud State University. After all, given that Minnesota taxpayers and their legislators must look to cover a $4.5 billion shortfall over the next thirty months, why should they not look to cut an ever-burgeoning share of the MnSCU pie that is going to administrators?

�No,� is my answer. Now, more than ever, SCSU needs a strong leader willing to speak up and speak out for his campus and his constituents. Dealing with the press is a difficult job, but I hereby submit my �vote of confidence� in President Roy Saigo�s ability soon to answer forcefully and in detail this morning�s lazy, ill-informed, and spiteful journalistic effort by the Star Tribune.

Who's suing whom?

We received a summary document on the faculty list today from the Faculty Association. Included were two real gems.

Named as defendants were the State of Minnesota, MnSCU and the MnSCU Board, SCSU, ... The Inter-Faculty Organization was named by the court as a "Defendant-Indispensable Party" because of our contract with MnSCU.

The IFO had little influence on the settlement. The IFO was legally combined with the defendants, but was morally allied with the plaintiffs as faculty who alleged unfair discrimination (and who were not receiving resolution of their complaints and grievances). Throughout the discussions, the IFO attempted to use its influence to get a fair outcome for all faculty and for the University.
So we have a case where the IFO gets itself listed as a defendant but wants to be the plaintiff. Some lawyer should tell me how the hell that works. Are they given permission to hear defense strategy? If so, and if they are "morally allied with the plaintiffs", doesn't that participation in the defense cause the defense to be compromised? I teach law and economics once in a blue moon, but these procedural matters are far out of my ken.

But the next is worse:
SCSU must implement mandatory diversity training (including anti-Semitism) for all faculty and administrators. Mandatory training was not introduced by the plaintiffs, nor by the IFO, but by the main defendants, i.e. administrators and attorneys of MnSCU and SCSU. (Emphasis added.)
Other than trying to save the university money, I cannot understand this except that the university seems to want mandatory training. As Instapundit notes, this seldom works as well as just making them pay. And if it was to save money, it didn't work.

Instapundit found us

Big Daddy Reynolds found the WaPo story and adds this:

I'm not sure I agree with the "establish a diversity training system" approach to settling lawsuits like this. I think big, whopping damages do a better job of training people not to discriminate, and without setting up campus bureaucracies that will never die.
Which matches what I've already said.


Seems to be offline currently, so we're without the comment boxes. Sorry about that; we'll hope they're up shortly.

UPDATE: Now they're back within 20 minutes.

Eerily familiar

Cold Spring Shops reports on a case at Northern Illinois of a student suing "'permitt[ing] a racially hostile educational environment that existed throughout Plaintiff�s matriculation". Stephen describes how the administrators are of the best intentions in diversity hirings and increased recruitment of people of color. As we can tell him, the best intentions are no defense. If anything, they become the cudgel with which you get beaten over the head. Best of luck!

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Don't trust WaPo

Critical Mass argues that we are getting good medicine in the settlement. I disagree. In citing the Washington Post article, O'Connor is reading absolutely the worst about this university. Outside of President Saigo, nobody who might disagree with this settlement is quoted. And as I note in the previous entry, the settlement is forced upon us by an elected attorney general and some state lawyers whose career prospects I believe should be called into doubt.

That doesn't mean Pres. Saigo didn't want this settlement -- he may very well have, I cannot be sure. But using the settlement to validate the worst lies perpetrated by the multiculti stormtroopers running over individual freedom is exactly the reason why these settlements are never wise. Here we have a blogger who runs two weblogs (Critical Mass and CantWatch) which I respect, and even O'Connor falls into the trap of believing the slanted reporting of the WaPo. The statements by Saigo that there was no admission of guilt in the settlement are not reported even in the press release from MnSCU (which has less desire to protect us.)

There's more to the story than has been reported. As I clarify a few more facts from those in the know, I'll have more here. I think it's very important that folks like O'Connor read what really happened. You won't find it in the Post.

UPDATE: Critical Mass replies. Perhaps I am a little harsh, but when this was reported last year a Jewish friend in Ukraine sent me a copy of the article. I found that depressing. Perhaps someone can cheer me up?

Jewish faculty settlement

Last night we received word that the anti-Semitism lawsuits had been settled. We actually received word after the information had been received by the media, according to at least two sources, though it was represented to us on campus as a "heads up" by the President's office. However, since the press release was not under control of that office, I can hardly blame our administration for not acting faster.

Anyway, it's all over the news at the StarTribune, Pioneer Press the St. Cloud Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education and Minnesota Public Radio. The PioneerPress' Kristina Torres has some earlier articles here, here, and here that the paper is now reposting. For those of you reading this information for the first time, it is worth going back and reviewing those pieces.

I posted to the faculty list a couple of months ago an analysis of a previous grievance settlement (which is discussed in some of Torres' earlier articles) about incentives to settle. I said
The decision to settle versus sue is a cost-benefit analysis. Suing is costly, but settlements are painful too, as the figures discussed here and my department's meager M&E (materials and equipment) budget attest. The problem is that once the suit proceeds to the state level, MnSCU and the AG's office assert control of the settle/sue decision without bearing the cost. If they settle, they look good but the cost of their decision falls on this university. If they go to trial and win, they look great; if they go to trial and lose, someone's career in St. Paul is damaged. The careerists in St. Paul have an easy choice -- roll the dice on a trial, or settle, claim a more modest victory, and impose the costs on SCSU. If they are even modestly risk averse, settlement is the way to go.

Now consider the union's side. The people most aware of the case are the local administrators. While they can see that the case has no merit, they know once it goes to St. Paul it'll be out of their hands. The union, realizing this, has reason to get a case sent downtown. And best of all, they do not bear all of the costs either. Time and resources spent grieving, mediating and litigating are costs chargeable not only to union but to non-union members. This is quite legal, of course: Any funds spent on clarifying and enforcing the Master Agreement are chargeable as proper expenses for "fair share members" (that is, those who are coerced to pay to the union as a condition of employment but do not join it). If they spend a great deal of money, those funds are recompensed by charging more for dues in future years. Since the union membership does not pay the full cost of litigating, then, they will demand more litigating, particularly when pushing the case off campus gets you to a better payoff probability.

It's a perverse situation. I spoke this morning with the university's president and with several administrators later. No one on this campus decided to settle; Attorney General Mike Hatch, an elected politician with higher aspirations, is reported to have made a cost-benefit analysis and decided to settle the case. The discovery phase of this suit was costing a bundle -- I fielded a request for departmental minutes and search committee minutes for the last seven years. If they paid all those costs and still lost, Hatch looks worse. And as I say, he bears none of the costs. The university will.

What is galling is not so much the money, though with a $4.5 billion deficit projected for the next biennium we're already looking at huge cuts (none of which you can bet will come from MnSCU) it is going to be really painful here, but the conduct agreements that go with this are particularly odious. The settlement will include "mandatory diversity training for faculty and staff that includes a component on anti-Semitism" (meaning that it will be used for all sorts of things beyond what the lawsuit addresses); "make several changes in the university's procedures to handle discrimination complaints" (meaning it will be easier to harass the administration as it tries to conduct its business; and "create a peer review process that will be available in all faculty retention, tenure or promotion disputes." Deans and departments can reasonably wonder if it is wise to ever turn down someone for tenure or promotion.

Which is what our faculty union has wanted from the start.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

No Indoctrination, No Chronicle of Higher Education

A hit piece from the Chronicle for Higher Education on the website (which I reported about earlier) has drawn the attention of Stanley Kurtz at NRO. The attack comes from the last paragraph of the Chronicle article, which reads:

One posting accuses Cecilia Rao, who is listed as a professor at Barnard College, of putting too much emphasis on "the plight of the low-income family" in a course called "Poverty and Income Distribution." But according to a college spokeswoman, no one by that name teaches at Barnard and the course does not exist.
But this turns out to be misleading. According to NoIndoctrination, they asked the department in which Rao worked and Rao once did teach at Barnard, but is no longer. There is no indication that the author of the Chronicle article researched whether Rao had taught there other than asking a "spokeswoman". Someone here is not telling the truth.

Kurtz makes a very telling point.
To put it in terms that the radicals might understand, the web has allowed oppressed mainstream students on our campuses to develop a form of "class consciousness." Marx thought that by piling up workers in factories, capitalism would bring them to awareness of their shared oppression. You might think that students would gain awareness of their collective oppression by PC professors at the campuses where they're piled up, but our campuses aren't ordinary factories. They are factories of consciousness, so to speak, run by leftist overseers. It was the advent of the Internet that gave grumbling students a place to go for an alternative to the closed intellectual shop of the universities. And with sites like, David Horowitz's, and others, it has given them a place to gain awareness of their shared oppression. Now, points the way to revolutionary action in defense of student intellectual freedom. So students on the web unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains.
We hope our little offering here can be part of that mix.

Michigan Law School Case

Attorney David Limbaugh today provides us with helpful insights about what led up to yesterday's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case of alleged reverse discrimination brought in the matter of Grutter vs. Bollinger. Limbaugh also states:

"But while we're talking about these value judgments, I remain firmly convinced that our society is thinking way too much in terms of groups and classes than individuals. This is not only foreign to the American ideal of equal opportunity, but is insulting and destructive to the individuals comprising these favored groups and classes, as well as damaging to race relations overall. America will be a better place in the long run if it resists the temptation to yield to societal pressure to impose politically correct value judgments and musters the courage to adhere to colorblindness."

Given the high probability of a 5-4 or 4-5 split decision by the Supremes this summer, might it not be prudent for SCSU to defer drafting the details of its "let's all embrace diversity 'Priority' Strategic Goal" until we see how the law and our Constitution are construed?

Monday, December 02, 2002

Comments turned on

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Marshall-ing evidence (and hello Cold Spring Shops!)

Thanks to Stephen Karlson at Cold Spring Shops for his thoughtful extension of my post on rising administrative costs. Stephen recently noted the same problem, citing this article from Northern Illinois University's campus paper. I went back to check the data to be sure I had this story correct. All of the MnSCU system's budgets are online for people to check.

Simple score: SCSU 2002 budget $137 million; Office of Chancellor and "systemwide" expenditures $111 million.

The system allocates about $600 million currently; we draw less than 10% of that money (out of 53 campuses in the system, and we're over 11% of enrollments), with the rest coming from tuition (over $40 million) and endowments. As mentioned before, about $84 million is spent on personnel from general revenue (and another $10 million supported from special monies); it's my best guess that less than $60 million of this is instructional budget including the benefits, and I believe academic office support is in that number. (Diana, if you're reading, email me!) We are funded on the basis of full-year equivalent enrollments with a two-year lag -- we're up over 500 students, meaning that we're actually getting less funding per student than even the allocation formula should place us. If we therefore back out our share of the system costs at 10%, we're under $2 of instructional cost per dollar of ASP cost.

Stephen like me is an economist (and knows the answer to the t-shirt question "Where in the hell is DeKalb?" that my old grad school friend wore), and in the Marshallian world he cites in his post, the returns to instruction and ASP should reflect the relative contribution of each to the production of education. I think that's a tough case to make here.

Nichols and dimes

The StarTribune finally gets around to its take on the Nichols report (reported earlier three weeks ago.) Once again, our president is absent from the article, relying instead on the provost who wasn't here before. There's still mention of the president installing a new team (not one of the vice presidents here when he was hired remains now). The rest isn't really new except for this quote at the end of the article from the provost:

The issues are serious, he said, but "we don't want to lose sight of the fact that we provide our students with a phenomenally good education. We just need to overcome issues that students bring to the campus and, in some cases, faculty and staff bring from their home environments."
What does this mean? Re-education? Not everyone coming to SCSU comes with the same worldview, and I'd sure like to think they don't leave with the same, either. Remember: We're a public university, meaning we're a government school. The Founding Fathers were right to argue that the state should not mandate a religion; nor should it mandate adherence to a belief system of any -ism.