Friday, January 31, 2003

Diversity Training 101 

SCSU's staff members were reminded this afternoon about an upcoming opportunity to complete their seven hours of diversity training. With our campus now facing the prospect of receiving millions of dollars less in state funding, here's a money-saving idea: let's all just ponder the meaning of this billboard for seven seconds. We shouldn't need seven hours to understand its individualistic meaning - that is actually quite profound and helpful.

Typecasting women 

A presentation here next week starts with this:

February 5 - Women on War and Militarism

Women are standing in solidarity to oppose the war in Iraq and to demand a cut in U.S. military spending. This solidarity stems from the common concern that peace is essential to the protection, improvement and enrichment of the quality of life of all people. Learn how women are making their voices heard through non-violent activism and consciousness raising.
This is rather common on our listserv. What was uncommon was a political scientist who does survey research who pointed out that the solidarity isn't true. This amazing presumptiveness of the Left on campus that they speak for all and know all is amazing. And I wonder whether the presentation will include the picture of a female student in today's University Chronicle called up to active duty. The picture is not up at the website, but this article on the deployment of 37 of our students contains this gem:
SCSU students and National Guard carpenters of four years, Amy and Amanda Henry are among those deploying. Amy, a junior, thought it was difficult to leave family, friends and school behind.

"It was hard leaving class after the professor signed my drop-course slip," Amy said. "I had to leave while everyone else stayed."

"It was really stressful having to organize my life in a few hours," Amanda said, "especially moving out of my apartment and speaking to all my professors."

Although they acknowledge the situation is stressful, the Henry sisters look forward to the excitement and new adventures that few people will get to experience.

"We are going with our Guard family and we will make the most of it," they said. "We're ready."


Senior Jessica Kleinschmidt is one of them.

"I'd rather experience this mission, school will always be there when I get back," she said.

Kleinschmidt works as an electrician in the National Guard. Her sister Kayla, 14, thinks what she is doing is "awesome" and has been inspired to someday join the National Guard like her big sister.
I'm listening to how these "women are making their voices heard." Chances are, they won't be heard at that presentation on Wednesday.

Not a neocon 

Jesse Walker on the difference between neoconservatism and libertarians. Israel is a defining difference in his view, but not mine. I may have to write "Why I am not a Neocon" someday. Interesting that he's channeled an observation I've made several times that the Democratic Party has lost its Scoop Jackson wing.

Ah, Google reveals that Kevin Holtsberry has beaten me to it. I'll have to read it later and get back to this.


Not in a parallel universe: From the Taste page of today's WSJ
TEED OFF: A pro-life message equals a Nazi symbol? That's the reasoning of the principal of Abington Junior High School in Pennsylvania, who banned a T-shirt worn by one of his honor students. It read as follows: "Abortion is homicide. You will not silence my message. You will not mock my God. You will stop killing my generation. Rock for life." According to the Thomas More Law Center, the principal told the boy's mother that the message on her son's shirt was equivalent to a swastika, which he would also forbid. But after a letter from the center raising the possibility of legal action, the school has now agreed that the student "has a First Amendment right to wear the pro-life shirt."

Thursday, January 30, 2003

Chronicle colloquy 

Shoot! I missed this colloquy with Stephen Cole, whose forthcoming book Increasing Faculty Diversity: The Occupational Choices of High-Achieving Minority Students (Harvard University Press), has been written up in this week's Chronicle of Higher Education. (You need a subscription for the Chron article until it hits their archives.) In the colloquy Cole mentions a good paper by Dale and Krueger (I've linked to the non-technical summary; from there you can get the paper if you subscribe to NBER or wish to pay for it), that shows that getting into a selective school doesn't help you attain higher income. "Motivation, ambition and desire to learn have a much stronger effect on their subsequent success than the average academic ability of their classmates." Cole and Barber find that, according to the intro to the colloquy, "the pool of potential minority professors is too small -- in part because of affirmative action. The use of affirmative action in undergraduate admissions allows black, Hispanic, and American Indian students to enroll in colleges where they are not likely to excel, and most of these students do not earn the kinds of grades that could lead to earning Ph.D.'s at top universities." The discussion is pointed but Cole does a good and careful job presenting his answers. What he suggests is that if you want more minority faculty, you need to find a way to make minority students more successful generally in classes -- not something we have much ability to help once they get here -- and to encourage them into the higher ed profession at greater rates than whites. I'm not altogether sold on why that would be a good thing, since it ignores what may be the student's comparative advantage. But certainly role models mattered in getting most of us into higher ed. And, notably, Cole and Barber do not find that the race or gender of the role model mattered in getting minority students to enter the higher ed profession.

UPDATE: Kimberly Swygert has more (need to scroll down to "How important is an elite education?")

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

The left becoming grumpy and tedious 

I had an unpleasant moment yesterday when I was chatting with friends at the breakfast place and one of them lashed out at Bush's pro-war stance. The usual tripe of "cleaning up daddy's mess'; "oil"; "no threat to the US". There's a case to be made against the war as I have said before, a principled case. But this fellow was so angry that his reason clouded over and he actually said that 9/11 wasn't as big a casus belli as we made it out to be because not all the people who died in the WTC were Americans. The man's a senior citizen and I still carry that part of my upbringing that makes it impossible to argue strenuously with elders, but my friend and I were sufficiently shocked and appalled that we got up and left. We chatted last night about what we could have said, and I think we agreed that words would change nothing.

The elder at Fraters Libertas links to this article by Paul Scott in the (red)StarTribune (and yes, I know, I violated my policy to stop linking to this transplanted Izvestiya -- so sue me) which displays some understanding of the problem. Yes, it is vindictive. These are the same people responsible for the golden, dollar-festooned calf and Rumsfeld-as-Jew in the picture Dave posted over the weekend. It's heartening to see that some on the Left can see the problem though they may be powerless to stop it.

And while I'm at it, I also read Lew Rockwell today after a student linked it in an email for me. Lew runs the Mises Institute, and I am an admirer of Mises. But I do not think Mises would even recognize what Rockwell is doing now. Many of my libertarian friends display the same reflexiveness to government as the left shows to Republicans doing anything beyond issuing their last breath. We libertarians need to stop this reflexiveness too.

We have a choice: to attack or not to attack. What does the world look like if you leave Saddam in power? What does it look like if the US removes him (and why on earth does it matter if it's a coalition that includes France?) Which principles are sacrificed and which are affirmed by either course of action? Is it possible to discuss this, or has the debate become a museum of statues, each seeking the right pose to get the largest crowd around them?

UPDATE: Kathy Kersten's in the paper as well. (Jeez, two from the RedStar in the same day??? A fresh wind blowing down 4th? Naaaaah.)
We can't let peace activists' moral pose fool us. The truth is this: It's easy to be "for peace" if that means marching, making banners, grooving to Bob Marley's music and hoping that NBC will catch your street theater. Easy, in short, if you don't have to craft workable alternatives to the policies you criticize, or answer to the public if you're proven wrong.
Rastafari! Raze-iraq-for-I!

Will Problems 

Rats. My link to George Will's article on diversity didn't work. I'll try again here.

UPDATE: King to the rescue! Links work now.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Call of history 

"And we go forward with confidence, because this call of history has come to the right country."

May God grant you the blessing of His mighty, loving, and guiding hand upon your shoulder, Mr. President.

Dante and Diversity 

Thanks King for mentioning Dante. And it made me think of the terrible disservice we've done to minority students telling them that Dante -- or Homer, Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylus, Virgil, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Goethe, or any of the others -- aren't for them because they aren't a part of their culture. "Don't read dead white males; go read *The Color Purple* again." Cripes, what racist ever said a worse thing about these students than that they didn't, couldn't and shouldn't share in this massive and beautiful human heritage.
And that moves off into the larger question of diversity that people have been talking about. The university makes a great deal of noise about diversity, but the diversity it wants is very narrow and shallow, and even ironic. Universities have a diveristy of skin color and nation of origin -- ultimately superficial things that are among the least important things about a person, and the things that we say we want to make unimportant in our world -- but tolerate very little or no diversity of thought, political opinion or even religion. Stephen Carter's *Culture of Disbelief* is almost a decade old, but it still applies: We tolerate those for whom "God is a hobby" to use Carter's phrase, but are harsh on those who take their religion seriously -- we call them "fundamentalists" and, ironically, view them as rigid and intolerant as we rigidly and intolerently try to surpress them. When I commented on our faculty discussion list that perhaps the Jewish faculty members' feelings towards the Star of David would make people realize how Christians feel when their sacred symbols are violated, such as the crucifix in urine David posted or the Mary covered in Dung, the only response was from another professor who said the use of the Jewish symbol was political, and the Christans was art and hence there was no connection between the two -- this from folks who demand hyper-sensitivity from the rest of us with all their strength.
And of course the university wants little or no diversity of political opinion. George Will had a lovely essay that I read on Erin O'Connor's blog saying that if universities had any interest in diverity of thought they would give admission preference to conservative students; Will wrote a test that could determine how many extra points students should get. It's cleverly done and funny, but the bigoted, single-minded and self-contradiction situation campuses that this humor reflects isn't.

UPDATE: Thanks to Dom Olivastro for pointing out the spelling error on EriN O'Connor's name. Fixed now.

More on a dollar-decorated golden calf 

Dave posted a set of pictures over the weekend and I was curious about the middle one. Besides the fact that hard-line leftists have had some history of anti-semitism, I have been at a loss to explain this connection between the dollars and the Jewish religious symbols desecrated at Davos. Virginia Postrel relates a letter from a friend on the European Commission (titled "Jewish Practices" -- Postrel doesn't have permalinks, so search or scroll down) on how laws supporting anti-market practices have Nazi roots in Germany and persist to this day. "Germany is pro-business but is anti-market in a deep rooted, visceral sort of way. Those anti-market reflexes were once indistinguishable from anti-semitism," says the letter-writer. Germany, part of the "Axis of Weasels" that stand for evisceration of the UN's moral authority, who peace protestors on our campus wish to support.

Conversational Terrorism 

If readers from SCSU are wondering why I have wandered off-list for awhile after the weekend outburst from the sleight-of-hand performed by the JFA to cover for flag-gate, I'd ask them to take a time-out, review the writings and observe who engages in conversational terrorism. To those off-campus, you will find this link fascinating. (Found via a related link from Brad DeLong.)

Monday, January 27, 2003

What are the alternatives to war? 

One faculty member is sending around requests for money on the campus listserv to place an ad in the local paper reading WE SAY NO TO WAR ON IRAQ

Their website is here. One wonders what their alternatives are? As pointed out on Punditwatch yesterday, David Brooks has the quote of the year so far:
You've got 100,000 people marching in the streets and they are, in effect, marching to preserve a fascist regime. I know that's not what they want. They want to prevent war, which is a legitimate thing to do. But they are never asked why are you preserving a fascist regime, why don't you want the tide of democracy, which is to spread through Latin America and Central America, to spread to the Arab part of the world - that's the idealistic case the Bush administration has made a little but they haven't made strongly enough.

I just want somebody to say to those people and I wanted to go down there and say here's a regime that has professional rape teams in their military where they rape women and send the videotapes to the fathers. Here's a regime that imprisons mothers and babies in the next cell and forces them to watch their babies starve to death. You know, what is the defense? Maybe we don't want to take out this regime, but is that the moral high ground? What is your defense for preserving that regime?

Another representation of the Left's desire for free speech 

Want to have a pro-life rally on your campus? Better be careful where you hide the props. CampusNonsense reports on the theft of 2500 crosses at Oregon State that were to be used to represent aborted fetuses. Note the comments attached to the post. No denial, no statement of regret, simply an attack on the Right which is used to justify an illegal act. Happens all the time.

University: The opposite of diversity 

Cold Spring Shops carries news of the passing of Richard Mitchell, a.k.a. the Underground Grammarian, who wrote several books that would put the lot of us Scholars to shame. I remember telling Jack about the idea of university and diversity being opposites, and it turns out I stole Mitchell's riff:
That Dante will be that Dante because, like this Dante, he or she will be no respecter of diversity. The diversities among people are, in fact, superficial and trivial. To imagine that they are important, and that they go to mold nature and character, is exactly the root of the mental disorders that we call the -isms. To imagine, for instance, that black people are so constituted that they are more easily blown away than white people, and that that�s OK, and that the meaning of the Second Circle has nothing to do with them, a Dante will not allow. ... For a Dante, the person is the vessel of meaning; it is for the racist that the black person is the vessel of meaning, or the white. It is not to white people, or to religious people, or to Italian people, or to left-handed people, but to people that Dante can reveal the mysteries of self-searching and self-knowing, which is why a Dante has little interest in diversity. His interest is rather in what, how strange to notice, must be the true opposite of diversity. University.
It always comes back to Dante, eh, Jack?

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Display of the Star of David 

Much of the talk over the past week on SCSU's discussion list refers back to the College Republicans' display last month of the Star of David, and to an ensuing professor-student altercation. I count myself among the majority of professors who were offended by the display; but I also defend the right of the students to have expressed freely their views in the manner that they did.

I am just as offended by the following photo, that shows an anti-globalization demonstrator wearing an Ariel Sharon mask and a yellow Star of David during a demonstration at yesterday's annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland; but I also defend the right of these protesters to make their point freely.

Just as offending to me is Serrano's Piss Christ, depicted here. Although I don't have a constitutional right not to be offended, here we no longer have an expression of "free speech." I object to my tax dollars being used to fund this (or for that matter any) expenditure by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

Saturday, January 25, 2003

We're getting some Critical Mass 

Here I am praising Highered Intelligence , and we get a permalink from Erin O'Connor. We appreciate it! Thanks! Michael? Joanne? How 'bout it, kids?

God, I have no shame, do I?

Friday, January 24, 2003

Higher ed happenings around Minnesota 

A colleague posted today of a gender pay equity settlement at two other schools in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system (that SCSU belongs to.) This news, on the heels of SCSU's own settlement of the anti-Semitism case and of a gender pay equity case early last year at Bemidji State and in 2001 here, is beginning to rack up some serious money. On the latest cases, $360,000 will go to 324 women faculty at Minnesota State University, Mankato for back pay, along with adjustments to base pay worth $145,779 annually. Winona State University will cough up $150,000 in back pay and an base adjustment of $51,808 annually. The named plaintiffs in each case got an extra $15,000, and (you knew this was coming) the lawyers get $1,193,000!

If this kind of greenmail doesn't increase applications to the Minnesota bar, the recession is a whole lot worse than I thought! So here we are in a period of very tight budgets, and this settlement means in effect that there will be three fewer faculty at Mankato and one less at Winona, figuring only the effect on the academic budgets of the continuing base adjustments. The $1.7 million in back pay and lawyer welfare? If Mankato and Winona are treated like SCSU has been, well, I hope they've got ample reserves, but this article in the Mankato Free Press quotes Mankato president Richard Davenport as saying MnSCU covered the attorney fees.

There's almost an uncanny similarity in the phrasing of the reason for settling.

"While not an admission of wrongdoing or liability, we believe that this agreement avoids further expense, inconvenience and the distraction of burdensome and protracted litigation." -- SCSU President Roy Saigo, 12/3/02

"We wanted to avoid the negative impact that lengthy trials, probably lasting several months, would have had on the campuses. These settlements allow us to move forward in a positive environment."
-- MnSCU legal counsel Gail Olson, 1/23/03

Maybe we should send the press release to

Of course, in meetings here after the SCSU settlement, the Chancellor's office was at pains to put the decision to settle squarely on Saigo. Apparently, all the university presidents have gotten the order to lay on the grenades. From the Free Press article
"If it would have gone to trial, it would have gone on and on is what I feared," said Davenport, who encouraged attorneys at the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities to settle the case after taking over the MSU presidency last year.
Geez, you paid the lawyers $1.2 million. How much more would a trial have cost???

While looking at the MnSCU press release, I found another one on how MnSCU is consolidating some of its far-flung campuses in northwestern Minnesota. An economist would call this a vertical merger: Bemidji State will now effectively run a nearby technical college, and administration of some smaller technical and community colleges will be done from two offices rather than six. The cost savings are about $700,000 according to the press release. It's gotten very little coverage that I can find.

Last, this article from the PioneerPress discusses a pattern of spending overruns on the University of Minnesota's building projects.

The Best of (one-half of) Highered Intelligence 

I mentioned the other day how much I enjoyed the give-and-take between Michael and Jeff at Highered Intelligence. They're now doing a "greatest hits" set, something I'd like to do here when I get the time. Here's Michael's Top 20, and I'll post Jeff's when he posts his choices.


Another reason why retention rates for diversity-admissions students are low may well be that they don't come to universities able to read, write and succeed. And, as Daniel Henninger reports in the Wall Street Journal today, accrediting bodies may remove accreditation from universities that fail to provide remedial classes what they didn't learn in high school "because the high schools were admitted wastelands."

Thursday, January 23, 2003

The script, Texas-style 

Doesn't this sound familiar? Some idiot does or says something incredibly insensitive. Outcry ensues. "We support free speech on campus, but..." Sensitivity training for all. It's now going on at two campuses in Texas. Erin O'Connor covers first the idiotic behavior of someone egging a statue of Martin Luther King at UT-Austin on Monday, when his birth was to be celebrated. "A rally to raise awareness about racism" comes about earlier today. O'Connor observes, "The leap from awful but unexplained event to blanket condemnation of unproven causes has become a common one on campuses, particularly when it comes to questions of race." Then, at Texas A&M, students advertised but did not throw a "ghetto party", which is a tradition in Aggieland. A letter to administrators complained the event was racist, even including mention of someone dressing in a KKK outfit -- but neglecting to mention that the wearer was himself black. (The parallels between this and the skit last night on Chappelle's Show are uncanny.)

The rush to have more diversity training, which we've observed on this campus already, seems endemic to O'Connor:
No one knows who egged UT's statue. It could have been hooligans from town, it could have been misguided black students as it was at Ole Miss. But lack of information has not slowed campus activists down one whit--the egging proves what they have known all along, that UT is a racist campus where bigotry runs rampant and unchallenged, and where whites are entirely unreconstructed and unrepentant. So certain are UT students of why the statue got vandalized and who did it that the student government passed a unanimous resolution on Tuesday condemning the defacement and "urging" (this is the word used in the student paper) the UT administration to implement a racial harassment policy. A cynic might think that the unknown vandals could well have been campus activists looking to create opportunities to pressure UT for policy change.
Or, you could have an administration stick it in a consent decree on a discrimination complaint in which it was the defendant.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Discussion of Flag-gate flares up 

In the continuing saga of the College Republicans and the altercation with offended faculty, the University Chronicle provides front-page coverage. (Link requires free registration.) Most of it repeats the story that we've told here before. (Original story here, latest followup here.) It reports on the incident for the first time, since the paper was on semester break with the rest of us, and reports on VP Church's apology. There is discussion of one of the JPFO's flyers that Karasik says she was disturbed by and wished to express her disapproval of. (The offending material was reported to me to have been this poster.) And, of course, of the ensuing altercation between her and one of the students who was taking pictures for the CRs' photo journal, which Prof. Karasik insisted she didn't want to have taken for fear of how it would be used.

There is also a report of a meeting between the student-photographer and the professor in the provost's office. The meeting was cut short by the presence of the equity representative, Patrice Arsenault, from the faculty union state office. Ms. Arsenault is a lawyer and is listed in the Inter-Faculty Organization's directory as an "equity advocate", and since there is a complaint already filed against the professor and the possibility of a cross-complaint filed by her (for taunting the professor at least, and perhaps for fabricating parts of his story), the student wisely chose to not continue the meeting. The meeting's involvement of Ms. Arsenault is highly unusual for a case such as this, particularly when all parties seem to want to find the solution amicably and as something produced on-campus. The role of an "equity advocate" -- who normally deals with salary equity and feminist issues -- in a meeting of this sort seems beyond her normal purview.

The article sparked an email from the chair of Prof. Karasik's department, who deplored the headline (it says that she's been "charged", when in fact the investigation is ongoing) and argues that she is being tried in the media. I don't recall them having this problem when the anti-Semitism case painted certain administrators very publicly in a bad light, but wrong is wrong, and the campus paper really should have been more careful with the headline. Still, Chair Luke Tripp tries to present "facts" to "set the record straight", but misses the mark in a key way. "This case is NOT about the violation of free speech rights," he says, not once but three times -- but what did VP Church apologize for then? And why would he have asked the CRs to take down the flag if not after a request from Karasik?

Let's be very clear about this. That an altercation occurred between professor and student is not in doubt; neither is there any doubt in my own mind that both sides could have behaved a little better. And I quite completely agree that the professor has apologized for her behavior; undoubtedly she regrets that. The issue to me IS one of free speech, no matter how many times Karasik, Tripp or anyone else would gainsay it. I would post on this issue to the same degree I have now if no altercation occurred. The professors see the kiosk, don't like it, are offended and speak their minds to the students running it. Fine to there. Then they go to the VP and as a result the VP comes and asks the kiosk to remove some of the materials. How can we not infer that the professors asked that the display have the offending materials taken down??? And at what point have the professors apologized for that?

Someone who does get it is Professor Jeffery Bineham, who writes in today's St. Cloud Times on limits to free speech in the context of this case. I disagree with Jeff, who dismiess my statement that the only answer to speech that offends or is wrong in some way is more speech. "[H]armful speech can cause injuries and that those injuries do not evaporate because of 'more speech,'" he says. That's a straw man, however. Of course some speech harms, but not every harm is addressed by coercive limits. Jack and I had this discussion earlier today, where we discussed whether we'd rather live in a world where we support free speech even if it means you can't prosecute every instance of child pornography, or limited speech that would get rid of all child pornography. I am leery of thinking government is the place that deals with this; finding Pete Townsend used child porn just once was enough to make me want to remove all my Who records from my collection. If enough of us have that reaction, maybe we dry up the demand for this perversion. But government can't attack demand in a democracy; like drugs, it has to make war on the supply side, and "the war on porn" takes the First Amendment as a casualty.

Disagreement aside, Jeff comes down on the university's handling of the kiosk. Agreeing that "[t]he university should tolerate a greater range of speech than most other institutions in our society", he concludes:
Universities must make difficult judgments in response to "problematic" speech, but those judgments must be informed by careful thought, by evaluation of circumstances and by reasoned prognosis about the consequences of such judgments for the academic and living/working environments.

If they don't make careful judgments we will be left with the kind of quick reaction practiced in the St. Cloud State case, where the campus community received an unfortunate lesson: Don't articulate controversial ideas in public, because provocative messages might result in administrative action.
Well done.


Archives working again. The old delete-and-republish worked. We now return you to your normal mediocrity.

Planning for SCSU's "Priority Strategic Goals" 

Archives down 

Dunno why; will look into it.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Somebody's feeling the heat at UCSD 

The San Diego Union Tribune reports about the formation of The article includes this bit of wisdom from Provost David Jordan at UC San Diego:
"Why should I teach a point of view I don't agree with? I should teach what is useful to the student. I don't know that I have the responsibility to teach somebody's view that is benighted or irrelevant."
There's nothing in the article that indicates the quote is out of context, and if so it's staggering. How is that one knows some view is "benighted or irrelevant"? And it's done in a very insidious manner. The student, Kyle Wright, whose mother started replied,
"It wasn't anything like 'We're this way and we want you to think this way.' It was more like getting students to think one way by hiding the other side or making it seem ridiculous."
There is an interesting bit at the end where a professor has created a box on the floor of his classroom in which he stands when he's expressing an opinion. "The fine line between fact and opinion is not always clear. It's always something I'm worried about." Such small matters don't appear to bother Provost Jordan.

Inside the gender studies classroom 

In the latest issue of Reason (a favorite of my good friend Margaret) Cathy Young discusses teaching gender studies from her "individualist feminist" perspective.
Perhaps the strongest feelings emerged from our reading of The Myth of Male Power, which turns many conventional feminist arguments on their head, highlighting the ways in which both traditional gender roles and modern feminism disadvantage men. Curiously, the all-female class I had last year was noticeably more sympathetic to Farrell�s arguments than this year�s mixed-gender class; it may be that in a mixed environment the women reacted more defensively to Farrell�s often critical view of female attitudes and behavior, while the men were reluctant to take his side for fear of appearing sexist.

The students� largely sarcastic reaction to The Myth of Male Power was partly a response to Farrell�s often hyperbolic complaints of male victimhood (e.g., his characterization of high school football as "male child abuse"), perceived by most as an attempt to one-up the "victim feminists." To some extent, however, it also showed a deep-seated discomfort with the idea of men laying claim to gender-based disadvantage.

This year, right on the heels of Farrell, we read excerpts from Peggy Orenstein�s book Flux: Women on Sex, Work, Love, Kids and Life in a Half-Changed World, which supported some of Farrell�s claims: specifically, that many young women want to enjoy the fruits of equality but also see it as their prerogative to be financially supported if they want to give up, suspend, or scale down their careers when they have families, and that as a result women today have much more flexible options than men. Several of the women sheepishly admitted that this claim seemed much more plausible coming from Orenstein.
There's plenty more in the article; give it a good read.

The American fights for people, not land 

I received this beautiful passage from a friend and breakfast mate over the weekend. I think it's worth sharing in light of the "peace rallies" that seem ignorant of what makes America:
"This was the land where no man had to bow. In this place at last a man could stand up free of the past, free of tradition and blood ties and the curse of royalty and become what he wished to become. This was the first place on earth were the man mattered more than the state. True freedom had begun here and it would spread eventually over all the earth. But it had begun here. The fact of slavery upon this incredibly beautiful new clean earth was appalling, but more even than that was the horror of old Europe, the curse of nobility, which the South was transplanting to new soil. They were forming a new aristocracy, a new breed of glittering men, and Chamberlain had come to crush it. But he was fighting for the dignity of man and in that way he was fighting for himself. If men were equal in America, all these former Poles and English and Czechs and blacks, then they were equal everywhere, and there was really no such thing as a foreigner; there were only free men and slaves. And so it was not even patriotism but a new faith. The Frenchman may fight for France, but the American fights for freedom; for the people, not the land." -- Michael Shaara, The Killer Angels

Monday, January 20, 2003

Sauce for the firm is not sauce for the government 

One of the reasons I wanted this to be a group blog was that I would on occasion have to disagree with someone else on the blog. I think that makes for a healthy blog. Michael Lopez and Jeff Kahane at HigherEd Intelligence run a lively blog in part through their differing views. So today I am going to feel good about the fact that I disagree with Dave on his previous post.

First off, I dislike the current use of the word "discrimination". Someone with "discriminating tastes" in wine, cars or interior design has something potentially good and useful -- an ability to make careful, nuanced choices among many alternatives. I realize that proponents of affirmative action will say I'm splitting hairs here, but that's just the point: In private practice, splitting hairs is exactly what one should do. Insurance companies are private firms whose purpose is to make a profit. They have to find ways to ascertain the risks in writing a policy and price them so that they do not lose money.

When I moved from here to California about ten years ago for an extended leave, I had to notify my insurance company that I was in LA county. Immediately, my premiums doubled. Was that fair? Of course it was; imagine if a law said the insurance company shouldn't do that. I could then move to St. Cloud just long enough to get an insurance policy and then return to LA. Rational insurance companies would be forced to charge the same for insurance in all states, shifting the costs of auto insurance onto rural policyholders from their urban counterparts. As a result, fewer people in the rural areas would keep policies, while more dangerous drivers would be able to afford insurance in urban areas.

You wouldn't want this. But it's the hypothetical law that has gummed things up. In a laissez-faire marketplace, creative insurance companies learn how to assess risk and price insurance higher for those engaged in riskier behaviors. Insurance companies that fail to do this receive wonderful feedback in the form of losses. (This is a pet peeve of many economists: It's not the profit system, but the profit-and-loss system.)

The problem for government is that it has no feedback mechanism. That's why I've asked over and over, "how do you know when you have enough diversity?" A private university can engage in the type of behavior because at the end of the day, there's an income statement that says whether or not they've hit the balance correctly. There is no such pressure, however, at public universities. As pointed out on Best of the Web today and in particular by Josh Chafetz, the Supreme Court has already ruled on whether or not racial diversity for the sake of race itself is constitutional. It's not: Justice Lewis Powell state in Bakke that "Preferring members of any one group for no reason other than race or ethnic origin is discrimination for its own sake." In other words, Chafetz says, "your end goal can't be racial diversity; it has to be the diversity of viewpoints that (you have to argue) can only come with diversity of skin color." And there's nothing that says that's true.

The Bush administration briefs have not argued against the point that diversity of viewpoint correlates with diversity of skin color, partly, as Chafetz notes (correctly IMO), because you don't make big pushes against precedent. Bakke exists and 25 years of law have built on (a perhaps incorrect) interpretation of Powell saying racial preferences are OK as long as you can say they're not quotas. Those in private universities who continue to pretend that racial preferences promote viewpoint diversity have to answer to boards of trustees that see declining alumni contributions and dropping out of the USN&WR rankings and start asking why. Those pressures do not come from trustees of state institutions. That's why it's vital that some day soon the Supreme Court rule that all of these preference programs --including Dave's -- are contrary to the Fourteenth Amendment. Particularly at a state institution, everyone must have equal protection of their right to admission to higher education. Even boring white guys.

Sunday, January 19, 2003

Minority Matters 

The Dean of St. Mark�s Episcopal Cathedral in Minneapolis today spoke of a broadcast produced seven years ago by his elder son at the University of Georgia�s campus radio station. The show�s title, �Minority Matters,� was an intentional double entendre. While probably not heard by most in attendance as a seasonally timely epiphany, the Dean�s sermon did cause many to think more deeply - especially on the eve of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - about many issues, including the University of Michigan�s affirmative-action admission policy.

Members of the Bush Administration - including Condolezza Rice - have charged that the current Michigan admission policy amounts to a de facto adoption of quotas and reverse discrimination. Democratic talking heads counter that the University�s affirmative action policy in no way reflects a quota system. With both parties so determined to eschew the use of quotas and discriminatory admission policies, one is tempted to ask, �What is wrong with quotas and discrimination?�

As one who worked for 15 years in the life insurance industry, I know that we used quotas and practiced discrimination every day. What was wrong with our setting underwriting standards so that we could accept 90% of voluntary applicants for life insurance at our standard rates? What was wrong with accepting another 6% of applicants at sub-standard rates? What was wrong with rejecting the applications of the least qualified 4%? Were we not setting quotas?

We also discriminated against smokers in our underwriting practices. In my insurance classes I often ask students if they think it is acceptable for an insurance company to query an applicant, �Have you smoked cigarettes in the last year?� Then I ask them if they think that it is acceptable for insurers to pose the question, �Have you practiced unprotected homosexual sex in the last year?� Understanding that both practices are hazardous, most students are temporarily at a loss when I then ask, �What�s the difference?� After a minute or so, some brave student invariably ventures the opinion, �Well, one is controllable, and one is not� . . . which, of course begs the question: �Which one is controllable?� Is not the distinction simply that questions about smoking are politically acceptable, while interrogations about unprotected homosexual behavior are politically incorrect?

In contrast to King�s previous posting, I hereby submit the radical proposition that quotas and discriminatory admission policies, if administered carefully, are not only constitutional, but even effective and desirable tools that may be used to achieve a campus-illuminating objective of being able to work with a diverse and vibrant student body. Must we discard all use of quotas, including those employed to admit a minimum percentage of students who represent a given gender . . . or who possess an exceptionally advanced ability to hit a baseball or volleyball? Must Title IX be ruled unconstitutional?

The Supreme Court may likely decide that the University of Michigan�s peculiar admission policy is indeed unconstitutionally drafted and administered. However, how many would assert that the majority of the Court would also find unconstitutional the following hypothetical admissions policy adopted by a state-supported university?

1) No student will be admitted who has not achieved a minimally acceptable academic record of a GPA of x.xx or a class ranking in the top yy% of his/her high school/undergraduate classes . . . and who has not achieved a minimally acceptable score of zzz on the ACT/SAT/TOEFL/GRE/GMAT and/or LSAT standardized tests.

2) We will set our �discriminatory� advanced academic admission standards high enough to expect that no more than roughly 80% (an arbitrary figure chosen for purposes of illustration only) of our probable new matriculants will represent students whose standardized test scores . . . and past records of academic success . . . reflect those advanced academic levels of achievement that are significantly higher than our minimally acceptable admission standards.

3) We will reserve roughly 20% (an arbitrary figure chosen for purposes of illustration only) of the slots open to our newly matriculating class for those students with minimally acceptable academic records who most eloquently answer the essay question: �In what way(s) might others view you as a �minority,� and what unique perspectives and/or talents would you bring to our campus because of your being so perceived?�

All applicants would be required to answer this same essay question. But each would be free to define his or her unique minority status in personally chosen terms. Age, race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, geographic residence, physical disability, sexual orientation, economic status, family composition, political persuasion, relationships to alumni, and/or even a unique ability to play the flute masterfully are but examples of the minority criteria that applicants, themselves, might select. Setting aside some percentage (20% in this example) of probable matriculants admitted under these minority standards could achieve constitutionally the valid goal of working with a diverse student body. At the same time, no student should feel stigmatized by knowing on what basis he or she was admitted, and resentment for this kind of affirmative action should be minimized. Finally, without government intervention, institutions of higher learning would be free to choose . . . and compete . . . on the basis of the criteria they would use to evaluate �minority� essays.

Minority matters on our campus. We should care about diversity, even to the extent that we value those few of us faculty members who are Republican.

Saturday, January 18, 2003

PowerLine scores a double 

A daily stop on the blogroll for me is PowerLine, and today they're on top of their game. They show several pictures of the rallies in San Francisco and Washington, co-ordinated by A.N.S.W.E.R., an offshoot of the World Workers' Party, a hardline Communist organization. See also this article by David Corn, and this one from Donald Sensing. (Hat tip: Sgt Stryker.)

Then Hindrocket posts comments on the Michigan case that are much more pessimistic than my own.

If conservatives stand on principle--it is wrong for the government to discriminate among its citizens on the basis of race--we have a winning argument, logically, legally and politically. But if we begin by conceding that it is not just permissible but admirable for governments to try to achieve racial "diversity," and the only question is how this should best be done, we lose--logically, legally and perhaps even politically. Our best hope now is that the Court may ignore the Administration's position entirely.
I doubt the Supremes will ignore it; aside Scalia, nobody would have the sack to go all the way to the principled stand, and Rehnquist will almost certainly want something better than a 5-4 decision. We learned that with Florida and Bush and Gore.

Color scheme change 

After taking some grief from Jack and Dave over the colors, I've made a switch on the background. If you want to see the whole palette from which I choose see Non-Dithering Colors. We'll also permanently display the GOP Safe Space symbol that Jack obtained for us.

Friday, January 17, 2003

Are you a safe space? 

After last semester's tussle between the two Jewish professors and Young Republicans, a student created this for faculty office doors. I have mine up. Feel free to download the picture and put it up on yours.

Who wrote that? 

I'm an alumnus of Claremont Graduate School ('86, now called CGU) and I read the papers from Claremont still. (Once you've been there, you'll understand why; it's idyllic.) While looking over CampusNonsense's links to college blogs and conservative papers, I found that Claremont Independent is operating as an alternative conservative newspaper. They report in their December issue (requires Acrobat) that Collage, the largest campus newspaper in Claremont, ran articles under pseudonyms reporting on a Young Democrats group activities. The reporter at CI (who is also the managing editor) believes the pseudonyms are for the editor of the Collage, who is vice-president of the campus chapter and communications director of the state organization. If this turns out to be true, CI believes that Collage is in violation of its 501(c)3 status with the IRS which makes donations to its operations tax-deductible as charitable giving.

I can see using a pseudonym for fiction, and even an opinion piece. But news articles? Maybe I'm missing something here, but I can't see where it would ever be a good idea.

The squeaky farmer gets the gasohol 

Minnesota is going through some tough budgetary times, like anyplace else in the US, and Governor Pawlenty's plan to balance the budget ending June 30, 2003 has to shave off nearly $400 million. As we've mentioned, the university system (MnSCU) is up for a cut of $25 million, and probably we at SCSU would have to lose $2.2 million. Another of the cuts Pawlenty has proposed has been to gasohol. According to this report (new rule: I will never link to the RedStarTribune when I can link to some other paper instead) the farmers responded by coming down by the busloads to the state capitol to protest. The subsidy is to processing plants that take in corn and produce alcohol, which is used to dilute gasoline and burns cleaner.

According to the article, the Dept. of Agriculture says that this subsidy of $27 million creates 1000 jobs and reflows $15 million to the budget. That therefore works out to a subsidy of $12,000 annually to those 1000 farmers. Wouldn't it make more sense to just spend $13 million to buy off these farmers and kill the subsidy? In year one it's revenue neutral, and in years 2 and 3 (where we have more than $4 billion to slash) we save $24 million.

Of course that won't happen. Corn farmers are a small, well-organized lobby with little to do in January beyond taking a bus ride to St. Paul. And the legislature, weak-kneed as they are, all but rejected the governor's plan. The faculty union is now sending urgent reminders for us to lobby hard like the farmers -- but for us it's first week of classes, sort of like planting season.

AtlanticBlog has moved 

Bill Sjostrom has taken AtlanticBlog off of Blogspot. Looks spiffy. Change your bookmarks.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Now pitching for the Harvard econ department... 

Critical Mass, the blog of Erin O'Connor, reports on another website of same name run by a student who had a bad experience in a principles of economics course. Aaron Greenspan (and how appropriate a name is that?) has set up another website that allows Harvard students to grade faculty. Greenspan succeeded in getting the chair of the Harvard economics department to hear the professor in the classroom; the chairman subsequently removed the professor and brought in a reliever (maybe Jim Lonborg?)

O'Connor notes this is now a trend of academic watchdogs.

These sites and organizations are unpopular, to say the least, on campuses themselves, but that's to be expected when the reason they exist is that college and university faculty and administrators expect not to be held accountable for either the quality of the education they provide or their frequent disregard for the law. Here's hoping that these sites will inspire more sites, and that together, they can force American higher education to clean up its act.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Bush gets it and tells it to the Supremes 

As some of us had hoped, President Bush will file an amicus brief to the Supreme Court on Thursday saying "the Michigan policies amount to a quota system" and argues it is unconstitutional. He goes on to say that the Univ. of Michigan uses a 150-point scale to grade applications for admission and awards 20 points to applicants that identify themselves as African-American, Native American or Hispanic. In contrast, a perfect SAT gets you 12 points.

Of course the New York Times is displeased. The Bush remarks indicate he is advocating instead the system in Texas where the top 10% of all Texas high school graduating classes are automatically admitted. The Times states

That approach is necessarily flawed since its success depends on perpetuating a system of largely segregated secondary schools. It also fails to address the need to keep up minority enrollment at the best private colleges and professional schools.
Odd comment, since even Lani Guinier is quoted in this article as supporting the Texas 10% plan.

An AP story makes the rounds of the usual legal talking heads, and says Bush is moderate on this.

UPDATE: ColdSpringShops adds some observations.

Study finds anti-Semitism more prevalent among Democrats 

Gary Tobin, President of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, and co-author Sid Groeneman today released their findings of a survey entitled, �Anti-Semitic Beliefs in the United States.� Based on data collected from calls made by the International Communications Research firm to 1,013 randomly selected adults around the U.S., the study�s authors find that Democrats show a statistically higher level of anti-Semitism than do Republicans.

Liberals on this campus, however, should not be concerned. All they have to do is use the same rigorous standards that they employed last year to discredit so thoroughly the findings of the study completed by Nichols & Associates.

Dr. Phil on Profile of Planning 

"Fundamentally flawed� with �vague, full of jargon, untestable . . . content standards,� embracing the notion that �process [is] more important than content� and that there should be �no objective tests.�

Katherine Kersten uses these words today in a scathing indictment of Minnesota�s K-12 �Profile of Learning� program. Even Oprah�s replacement, Dr. Phil, echoes these sentiments daily when he says, �Waaal, yooou know that unless yooou set goals for your children that yooou can measure, yooou won�t get anywhere.�

Are not all these same obvious observations just as applicable to MnSCU�s strategic plan, that has no measurable objectives, and to SCSU�s new process of redefining �Priority Strategic Goals?� King earlier noted that they �have no endpoint [and] are no more than lip-sync for action.� Instead we�re supposed to be working hard at SCSU toward the �goal� of developing (maybe this decade?) some amorphous �KPIs� (Key Performance Indicators). [???]

Should anyone be surprised that during Minnesota�s current budget crisis, our Governor and most legislators want to cut funding for those who refuse to establish any quantifiable measures or standards that can be used to assess performance? No, duh! It's called accountability.

Quick add on Lomborg 

D.J. Tice has an interesting column today on the Lomborg case (which I discussed here). It appears Tice was hassled to report the refutations of Lomborg after writing a review of the book. This seems to have only succeeded in getting Tice's dander up.
While neglecting to make specific charges, the committee report wanders off on self-revealing tangents. Noting that Lomborg's book received "overwhelmingly positive write-ups in leading American newspapers," the panel explains: "The USA is the society with the highest energy consumption in the world, and there are powerful interests in the USA bound up with... the belief in free market forces."

Have these scientists disproved "free market" economics, too?
Hey DJ, wait until you report on your new SUV!

UPDATE: ColdSpringShops points out this post from AtlanticBlog which connects all the bits on Lomborg. I have to keep making myself correct the spelling because I can't separate Bjorn Lomborg from Jim Lonborg.

The Intellectual Origins Of America-Bashing  

The world seems to divide itself into those that view America as inherently evil and those that do not. Two good articles found today on this: Lee Harris has a long article in Policy Review (reprinted on OpinionJournal today) and Ken Sanes writes about three "super-systems" (American, Islamic and European). "America-bashing has sadly come to be 'the opium of the intellectual,'� writes Harris. " And like opium it produces vivid and fantastic dreams."

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

A new notch on our tightened belts 

All the gossip on campus this afternoon settles around the proposed budget cuts from the Governor. Included in the plan is "[c]utting $50 million from payments the state owes to the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system." That's about 4% of the money due us. The impact on our campus, according to a hurried memo from the faculty union's state office, is about $2.2 million. As you'll recall, I said the budget freeze will come Feb. 10. I may have been too optimistic.

Does diversity in admissions benefit those admitted? 

Following on Dave's post from the weekend, John Rosenberg discusses the Michigan case at length.
...whatever benefits derive from diversity are provided by the preferentially admitted minorities, not to them. ... Not to put too fine a point on it, the elite institutions that offer racial preferences are using minorities to provide "diversity" to their non-minority students. In return, those students are allowed entry into institutions whose requirements would have excluded them if they had been judged by the same standards as the other students. This bargain may or may not be beneficial to the instiutions or to the preferentially admitted, i.e., differentially treated, minorities, but it is a fallacy to point to diversity benefits allegedly received by the preferred to justify the preferences extended to them. If "diversity" justifies racial discrimination, it is because of the benefits received by the non-minorities who are exposed to the preferentially admitted minorities. To claim otherwise is less than honest.
The whole article and the links merit serious attention.

What would success look like? 

While at the SCSU Association of Scholars meeting today, I asked the question: How would you know when you had enough diversity? Would the student union building look like the UN General Assembly? Would there be any "students without color"?

I then went to read some other blogs, and ran across the story of Edmund Gordon from the New York Times (link requires registration.) Both Joanne Jacobs and Highered Intelligence comment on this story. To be successful, they all say, you have to know what success looks like.

One of the books I got when I becamse a department chair was the One Minute Manager. After that I picked up The Heart of a Leader. The latter book is like a daily reading for me: I randomly open the book and read a page, which across from it has some motto. Ken Blanchard and Don Shula once wrote, "Success isn't forever and failure isn't fatal." Finding out someone is ahead of you means they're only ahead of you today. Where you are tomorrow is up to you.

To do that, we have to know as a university where we are going; where is the goal line? "Priority strategic goals" that have no endpoint are no more than lip-sync for action. The diversity-firsters want us to "walk the talk" on diversity, but not a one of them can tell us where the goal line is because you can't measure when you have enough diversity.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Not Found in the Minneapolis StarTribune 

Two items lift our spirits as we start a new semester. First, Professor Wes Carter of the University of Buffalo writes an uplifting �My Turn� narrative that is published in tomorrow�s Newsweek (not yet available online) about how he and most around him have �moved beyond race.�

Second, in National Review, Roger Clegg drafts an extraordinarily eloquent speech that he wishes President Bush would deliver this week when filing a brief to the Supreme Court on behalf of the plaintiffs in the Michigan Law School Case. Clegg closes by quoting Thurgood Marshall�s words as lead attorney in Brown v. Board of Education: �Distinctions by race are so evil, so arbitrary and insidious that a state bound to defend the equal protection of the laws must not allow them in any public sphere". . . and . . . "classifications and distinctions based upon race or color have no moral or legal validity in our society."

Friday, January 10, 2003

Academic dishonesty in Denmark 

Nick Schulz has an excellent article up at Tech Central Station discussing the continuing smear campaign against Bjorn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist. The Economist and Reason both offer the same coverage. A Danish committee on scientific discovery accuses Lonborg of "systematic onesidedness" (something we would never say about, oh, the StarTribune). And yet through the whole finding of that committee one can find not a single piece of evidence in favor of this conclusion. Charles Paul Freund points out in the Reason piece that this pronouncement by the Danish committee has a long history, q.v., the Counter-Reformation Church and Stalin's purges. As I mentioned last October, any challenges of hard environmentalism are attacked in quasi-religious fashion; as a poster on an email list from which I got this article said, this is surrogate socialism which has not even an attempt at justification. The parallels to free market economists' time in the wilderness (between the Great Depression and the Great Inflation) is telling -- I hope Lonborg does not have to wait for his resurrection as long as Friedrich Hayek did.

Annoucement: 3-day conference on race, differences and education/research at U of M 

If this hasn't made it onto the radar screen at SCSU, hopefully this note will somehow be distributed. I have no background information of these speakers but the U of M is no slouch when it comes to pulling together nationally recognized scholars. Maybe ALL SCSU faculty (of ALL colors) might find some external reference points useful as it continues to struggle with these issues


A three day conference - TEACHING AND RESEARCHING ACROSS COLOR LINES: LITERACIES, PEDAGOGIES, AND THE POLITICS OF DIFFERENCE - will be held at the University of Minnesota, February 21-23, 2003.

The conference will focus on race and difference and explore how these inform our perspectives and practices as educators and researchers.

Nationally acclaimed keynote speakers include Pulitzer-nominated critical race theorist Gerald Torres, and Gloria Ladson-Billings, Julie Landsman, Donaldo Macedo, Alice McIntyre, Carol Miller, and David Roediger.

The conference will also feature a panel discussion on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and roundtable sessions on race, literacy, and education.

For more information, including PRE-REGISTRATION materials, visit the conference's web site at or contact Timothy J. Lensmire at (612) 625-2092.

Hogwarts Forced To Accept Muggles  

If you have kids into Harry Potter, Stephen W. Carson has a vision of their future. (Courtesy Alan K. Henderson.)

Thursday, January 09, 2003

How to apologize: Regret and recommitment 

FIRE scores again! They've managed to get the dean at Harvard Business School to apologize for verbally warning the student newspaper editor for a cartoon that mocked the efforts of HBS' career services. Alan Kors and Harvey Silverglate, authors of The Shadow University and co-directors of FIRE, note,
�This is the best way for abuses to end. We reasoned morally with the dean. The dean admitted error and committed himself to making HBS an appropriate haven for freedom of expression.�
One may compare the statement made by Dean Kim Clark at HBS to our own apology letter over the CR case.
�Since mid-November, I have sought a wide range of opportunities ... to publicly reaffirm my commitment to free speech and the independence of the Harbus. Moreover, I have expressed my own regret that recent events may have caused anyone to doubt the depth of our commitment. I will continue to affirm this message at every appropriate moment�. I am confident we have learned from our recent experience, strengthened our commitment to free discourse, and underscored its importance in preserving the vitality of our community.�

Berkeley liberals and free speech 

I was reading about the decision and punishment of the Berkeley mayor for stealing copies of the Daily Cal when I came across this passage:
[Mayor Tom] Bates, who said the crime was an irrational act of election fatigue, did not appear in court. He was represented by two attorneys, Malcolm Burnstein, former chief counsel for the 1964 Free Speech Movement, and Robert Cheasty, former mayor of Albany.
For the crime of taking 1000 copies of the (free) newspaper and trashing them (the Daily Cal endorsed his opponent for mayor), which was ruled as an infraction rather than a misdemeanor, he hires two lawyers? The maximum fine for an infraction is $250 and no time in jail -- he could have gone to jail for a year had he been tried and found guilty of a misdemeanor. And the guy who defends someone who trashes newspapers was chief counsel of the Free Speech Movement? Anyone? Bueller?

The Cal Patriot, a conservative student paper, provides coverage of a protest of Bates last month. It took almost a month to settle this in part because the eyewitnesses were, gasp!, College Republicans.

Three writers and an editor of the California Patriot said they witnessed the theft of the newspapers by Bates and reported the incident to both the Daily Californian and a UC police officer.

�He just scooped up the entire stack into his arms and dumped them in the trashcan,� said Andrea Irvin, treasurer of Berkeley College Republicans. �I couldn�t believe my eyes.�

Editors of the Daily Californian said they would not print allegations of Bates� involvement in the theft because of the alleged witnesses' affiliation with the Republican party.
Perhaps Berkeley could use some GOP Safe Space training.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Qui ministrare? 

Instapundit checks in with a report from Brad DeLong's website on conversations overheard on his trip to the Allied Social Science Association meetings. Whenever my department is hiring, the chair ends up spending three days in a small hotel room interviewing candidate after candidate. (Due to our odd hiring manual, we're not allowed to interview unless we fly out the whole search committee; unlike Berkeley, we haven't budget for this.) Professors DeLong and Reynolds took delight with this observation:
Well, we do have a strong system of faculty committee governance. But that isn't a blessing: it's a curse. You see, rule by faculty committees translates into rule by those who come to meetings and stay a long time. And thus it becomes rule by those who have nothing better to do--rule by those who place a very low valuation on their time. In most cases, those who place a very low valuation on their time are correct in doing so. It's thus a form of rule by the incompetent.
A colleague has suggested we have a student run a senior thesis based on a difference-of-the-means test (note to Margaret: "mean" means average; sum up the observations, divide by the number of observations) of publications between those who serve on our Faculty Senate and those who do not.

DeLong reports the other person in this overheard conversation charged the first with finding the "proper Greek-derived word" for this. I'd suggest Mencken's "boobocracy: plebianism ad absurdum."

Viewpoint diversity 

The Volokh Conspiracy runs a piece on how the University of Michigan is end-running the quota questions implicit in its admissions policy.
I have no quarrel with the argument that diversity of viewpoint and ideology enriches the educational experience -- indeed, I heartily endorse it (though I am not convinced it justifies the consideration of race at state institutions). Yet I cannot help but suspect that many (though by no means all) defenders of affirmative action make this argument in bad faith. When one looks at University of Michigan�s school of law, for example, one cannot help but notice the utter lack of ideological or viewpoint diversity on the faculty, let alone a �critical mass� of faculty with various ideological perspectives.
I think there's something more wrong with this than Juan suggests, though -- that one's viewpoint can be ascertained by one's skin color, or one's gender or sexual identity. Is it wrong to suggest that the biggest problem liberals have with black conservatives like Clarence Thomas or Thomas Sowell is that blacks aren't supposed to be conservative? And I'm trying hard to imagine that the admissions office is checking to be sure that they've got enough conservatives. Hang on, I'll try harder.

Nope, not working.

Sunday, January 05, 2003

CRs accept apology from VP Church. 

The College Republicans have accepted an apology (in Word format) from Vice President Nathan Church for his role in the dispute over their pro-Israel, pro-war on terror display which we have discussed at length. I repost here their statement of the events as they saw them; we have had coverage of the event here and here (and further upstream in the archive). This is their press release issued this afternoon (and likely on the news tomorrow):
The St Cloud State College Republicans have accepted a formal apology from Dr. Nathan Church, SCSU Vice-President for Student Life and Development, following our complaint that Dr. Church violated our right to free speech at an organizational display in the Atwood Memorial Center on 12/11/2002.

An apology alone does not correct the offenses that took place at our display. Thus, the College Republicans accept this apology with the expectation that the University will never again infringe on the right of any student organization to present its ideas in a peaceful manner.

Our organization hopes that the University will use this incident as an opportunity to reevaluate its approach to supporting the exercise of free speech on campus. We believe that this is crucial to student development and the furthering of critical debate.

Dr. Roy Saigo, SCSU President, in a letter last week, informed the College Republicans that he is aware of our complaints and of our willingness to accept an apology from Dr. Church. He also assured us that the University is taking seriously the investigation into the alleged assault of one of our members, Zachary Spoehr, by SCSU Professor Rona Karasik.

It is our position that Prof. Karasik acted altogether unprofessionally, with total disregard for the University Code of Conduct. We hope that the investigation will be conducted with integrity.

There are a few questions raised here. There have been several reports that Mr. Spoehr may have taunted Prof. Karasik by repeatedly flashing the camera after her request to not be photographed. I do not know if this is true or not, but the report needs to be investigated. This doesn't excuse any physical threat she might have made, but places that behavior in a slightly different context. And as we've discussed earlier, her own justifications for her actions have gone around several explanations, with the taunting camera only one of the reasons offered. Still no word from the Supreme Court on where "the right to not be photographed" appears in the Constitution. We'll be happy to post any response she has in full here.

I'll note that the Code of Conduct discussed is the student code. It's not clear that it applies to faculty. Physical action between students is prohibited conduct; so too is "Intentionally, recklessly or negligently placing any person under mental duress or causing any person to be in fear of physical danger through verbal abuse, harassment (including repeated phone calls), sexual harassment, hazing, intimidation, threats or other conduct which threatens or endangers that person's emotional, mental or physical well-being." You would hope that faculty are held to at least that standard in speaking with students outside of the classroom. There is an area discussing student complaints against faculty that would have the discussion take place with first the faculty member's department and then his or her dean.

As to Church's apology, this strikes me as rather tortured English.

Upon reflection, I accept that I could have managed my concerns about your display in a fashion that would have left these matters clearly within your hands to consider and manage as you thought would be appropriate.
What concerns were these that needed managing? That two professors were upset by a Republican display could hardly have come as a major surprise -- like most campuses, our faculty isn't exactly swimming in Republicans. That it had a pro-Bush, pro-Israeli sentiment was obvious from inspection. Last I knew, the fact that it displayed literature from Jews for the Preservation of Firearm Ownership (one of the various reasons given for the professors' offense) wasn't in and of itself anything that would require one to "manage my concerns". What would have prevented Church from taking the position that University of Alaska President Mark Hamilton gave almost two years ago after an attack on an insensitive poem?
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.�
In lieu of mandatory First Amendment training, I simply request that Drs. Church, Greenberg, Karasik and Saigo tape that paragraph to their desks.

You get the university you deserve 

Jack Hibbard's away from the office but sends in this:
David was right on Saturday to blame the administration for the damage being done to SCSU, but there's another group equally guilty: the reasonable, common-sense faculty who have seen what has gone on here for years and have been too passive or frightened to say or do anything. Many faculty have been astute enough to see what has been happening , and they've said things in offices with doors safely shut, and have responded privately to emails on scsu-discuss saying things they won't say in public, and they've read the blog by dozens and hundreds and agreed but stayed silent themselves.

Administrations come and go (and I hope this ones goes quickly) but the faculty are ultimately the university, and the faculty get the university they have earned.

Need for historical SCSU perspective

In Dave's "hoist by its own petard" post, he asks: "How long will SCSU continue to suffer from a perception of a 'severe lack of credibility with regard to diverstiy issues,' and a reputation for 'institutionalized bias, sexism, racism, and anti-Semintism?' "

I think that an equally important question is "how long will SCSU continue to (a) encourage the suppression of free speech/expression, (b) march to the tune of collective thought reform, and (c) display a benign neglect of academic standards and scholarship for faculty?" Given that past behavior is typically the best predictor of future behavior, I think that those new to the SCSU community may find some important lessons from the past Applied Psychology debacle which caught the attention of FIRE.

Diversity issues are not the only issues that need attention on the SCSU campus. Similar attention needs to be focused on free speech and due process for ALL and on academic standards and scholarship. To continue to ignore the later will likely result in SCSU becoming known as a substandard luniversity.


Saturday, January 04, 2003

Hoist by its own petard 

Pick your metaphor: playing with fire, chickens coming home to roost, or hoist by its own petard. What did the SCSU Administration expect would happen when it practiced collective, nostra-culpa self-flagellation (a perverted complement to self-congratulation), agreed to settle all lawsuits, and contracted with biased researchers bent on breaking every rule for scientific survey design and administration?

King's summary of today's commentary in the Minneapolis StarTribune explodes in our faces. How long will SCSU continue to suffer from a perception of a �severe lack of credibility with regard to diversity issues,� and a reputation for �institutionalized bias, sexism, racism, and anti-Semitism?�

Forever may be the answer . . . unless and until the SCSU Administration publicly and forcefully:
1) denounces the insidiously divisive, intellectually bankrupt, and totally evil concept of �collective (institutionalized) guilt;�
2) states its future intentions to litigate, rather than settle, all future lawsuits, demanding individual responsibility and accountability from all future plaintiffs and defendants;
3) insists that any future campus surveys will be assessed against the most rigorous standards for testing their validity as well as reliability; and
4) announces that before implementation plans are finalized, it will critically evaluate the efficacy as well as the implications of what President Saigo announced yesterday was coming: new, �substantive and significant diversity training on campus.� Please stay tuned for the details.

JCRC/StarTribune war on SCSU continues 

After the letter written by President Saigo to the StarTribune, we had thought the issue would die at the newspaper, but they're at it again. Today Ed Siegel disputes Pres. Saigo's letter arguing that Saigo is wrong to say that we've the best track record on diversity in the state of Minnesota and that he must "acknowledge and accept the existing evidence".
Yet three recent, contiguous and separate studies have validated the same findings: There is a hostile climate for minorities at SCSU. Saigo need not dance around the issue -- the proof is already in. Conveniently, the president took the high road by skirting around the issue, but the data speaks for itself.
Siegel is not a disinterested party. He is president of the Center for Evaluation Research and co-authored the JCRC report (linked here) that we've discussed. Looking over Siegel's bio at CER's website shows no experience whatsoever in diversity issues; the website claims his firm's expertise is in statistical computing. He has a masters in psychology plus 3.5 years post-masters work. JCRC is, based on CER's website, their only client ever in this type of research. One must wonder why CER was hired, but that's at least JCRC's money and their choice, unlike the $87k we paid to Nichols and Associates for their report, which even Siegel says has "many technical flaws".

But what is deeply disturbing about Siegel's letter today is that he doesn't even seem to remember what he wrote in his and JCRC President Steve Silberfarb's report. From page 4 of the report they say

By definition, the scan will not determine the factual basis for claims of anti-Semitism nor determine the degree of institutional culpability (whether by omission or commission). Rather, it is an attempt to gain a sense of how those individuals who participated in the interviews are thinking and feeling about anti-Semitism on campus. Thus, we make no assertions regarding the factual basis for these perceptions. The reality we are capturing is what the people who participated perceived and related to our interviewers. As a result, we have no way of knowing whether or not the perceptions contained herein are the proverbial tip of the iceberg.
The cultural scan was to look at a lot of documents from the anti-discrimination cases, create their on questionnaire "based on JCRC's collective knowledge of anti-Semitism" and interview people "face-to-face, one-on-one ... on a first come first served basis." Which requires a lot of expertise in statistical computing.

So who did they talk to? Forty-six people, of whom six were former faculty (five of them Jewish), ten were students, 28 faculty member and a couple of staffers. Five of the interviews were done by phone (why?), and the report notes "[t]here was an impressively large number of former faculty". Did Siegel ever stop to ask why? And why they were chosen?

This is not a quantitative analysis. There has been no attempt to gain any sort of random or scientifically structured sample. The scan does not necessarily represent a cross section of people on campus. We attempted to interview as many Jewish members of the SCSU campus populations as we could.
And even those not on campus. It turns out in the executive summary we find out "Some Jewish faculty members were recruited using a phone list provided by a faculty association." It's not clear if this is from the Faculty Association (our union), the Jewish Faculty Association or some other organization. (Which makes one wonder -- who's keeping count?)

Yet somehow today, Mr. Siegel can attack our university president with "The numbers and survey statements render Saigo's cheerful comments as out-of-place and incorrect, compounding the problems at St. Cloud State." Which report is he reading? Certainly not JCRC's.

Thursday, January 02, 2003

Measuring within and between-group variances well 

No. 2 Pencil has disected perfectly the argument for the efficacy of affirmative action admissions in the Univ. of California system. (Click here and scroll to the entry if the previous link doesn't work -- her archives weren't working last I checked.) Discussing the claim that achievement test scores don't measure academic success, Kimberly Swygert, a psychometrician, demonstrates the difference between "within-group and between-group variances" that Dave discussed earlier today.
Ms. Guerrero [who was arguing for affirmative action in law school admissions] claims, as do many affirmative action proponents, that SAT scores should be weighted less because they are not valid predictors of performance in higher education. But ethnicity is? If the purpose is to better predict college performance, then the variable of ethnicity fails miserably, which reveals that affirmative action proponents aren't really interested in improving prediction. They aren't really interested in developing a set of standards that will truly determine who will do best in college.
She also gets third-factor effects down cold; discussing how minority students who went to the same colleges and had the same high grades (perhaps inflated?) Swygert demonstrates the care one needs in interpreting the data.
possibly it demonstrates that grade inflation that more commonly affects minorities. Or it demonstrates that stereotype threat is a reality, and that minority test takers are so convinced that they will do poorly on the exam that they do poorly on the exam. Or it demonstrates the effectiveness of affirmative action in convincing minorities that they do not need to study hard for the LSAT, because they will be admitted with lower scores than will whites. Or it demonstrates that minority students don't prepare correctly for the LSAT, and other students do. Yes, test bias is a possibility, but it's tiring to see it constantly presented as the only possible explanation for the data.

What's a 4.0 any more? More evidence on grade inflation, high tuition, and return on investment 

Following up on our post last week, there's renewed evidence of grade inflation. The Chicago Tribune reports on the debate between scholars over the matter. Ward Connerly wades in with this
"I had a long meeting with one of the chancellors who said the number of students not adequately prepared for university work has increased dramatically. . . . We're doing more remediation, but we're not calling it remedial work. ... It's my clear sense that a 4.0 today [in high school] is not what a 4.0 was 10 years ago."
The National Association of Scholars (our parent organization) released a report last month that shows that students fifty years ago learned almost as much as they do today. They did worse on the history questions and the same on geography but more in music, literature and science.

NAS President Stephen Balch notes how much more students pay in real terms for higher education versus fifty years ago. They don't seem to have any more real knowledge. But that might miss the point, in my view. There is plenty of evidence that the return to a college degree has risen over the last fifty years. So more students are going in to higher education, and undoubtedly the typical student is of lower academic aptitude now than when universities and degrees (and A's) were fewer. That could account for part of the difference. But a bigger problem comes from wondering what it is firms and their personnel officers are looking for when they hire college graduates? Note my wording: there's a higher return to a college degree. That doesn't necessarily mean a higher return to education.

Where to find good colleagues? 

AtlanticBlog is a little miffed at Ann Coulter (take a number, Bill!) To Coulter's suggestion that academic life is easy (I'm not linking to it, because Coulter's all about self-promotion and she doesn't need my help), Bill suggests
With the right colleagues, academic life can be great. More typically, you would be working with a better class of people if you sold heroin for a living.
If we legalized drugs, would we get a better group of heroin sellers?

Stephen Karlson discusses the important function of faculty in the minds of administrators -- committees! -- and notes that the former chairman at Northwestern researched the modal number of publications for Ph.D. economists. It was ... zero. I'd suggest that might be a screen for choosing "the right colleagues". To the tails!

Color coding 

What's this? According to Emperor Misha, use of the colors red, white and black immediately constitutes Nazism. You will note that our mascot at SCSU is of similar color scheme. See it? "viscious looking dog, severe red white and black color theme"? Coincidence? Probably not to our anti-Semitism detractors. Cold Spring Shops, whose operator works as another economist at another red-white-black school (No. Illinois) with the evil Husky mascot, is concerned that they might have to change the team colors. Maybe that's why I've always hated the Miami Dolphins -- those aqua road uniforms are really hideous. Maybe we'll have to change the mascot. No doubt this will be pointed out by North Dakota fans.

Glad I used this pale green...

Toward a Statement of What SCSU Respects 

To: All SCSU Faculty, Staff, and Administrators

As a new semester ushers in a springtime of hope, may the frigid climate that has in past years enveloped our campus soon be thawed by the attitudes of our faculty and staff. Understanding that individual responsibility is a requisite complement to the right to speak freely, I have this year resolved to match my criticisms with what I hope will be perceived as constructive suggestions. Toward that end, and following the eloquent lead of Sandra Osterholt of the Aviation Department, I offer a specific recommendation.

I believe that it is totally undesirable for our university to serve as a �melting pot� of people and their ideas. Diversity in its many forms should be celebrated. At the same time, if carrots, peas, cucumbers, and radishes remain frostily clustered on their respective edges of a chilly �salad bowl,� then no creative intermingling of flavors can take place. If we accept the metaphor that SCSU can be viewed as our �container,� what can serve as our �broth� that simultaneously blends us together, encourages us to interact freely with each other, and warms our spirits - regardless of our retained and celebrated vegetable group identities?

Other universities have tried and failed to concoct �Speech Codes� that might serve as their �broths.� Complex combinations of ingredients needed to draft such restrictive recipes have frequently clashed with fundamental values, too often leaving bad tastes in many mouths. Instead, I offer for your consideration as our �broth,� a new, expansive, and positively phrased �STATEMENT of WHAT SCSU RESPECTS.�
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
WE . . . at St. Cloud State University who sign below . . . RESPECT:

1) absolute academic integrity among all who teach, learn, and serve at our university;

2) individuals who assume personal responsibility for their own words and actions, and who pledge not to reflect bias against any others because of their age, gender, race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, physical ability, political persuasion, or income level;

3) scholarship that continues to emphasize the fact that �within-group� variances are more significant than �between-group� differences of means that may be misused to stereotype groups;

4) free, spirited, and intellectually reasoned debate and expressions of opinion on all issues;

5) an open-mindedness to understanding and appreciating new ideas and perspectives;

6) collaborative research and service initiatives undertaken between colleagues of different disciplines and colleges;

7) excellence of effort and achievement by all in their endeavors to acquire knowledge, develop skills, and elevate wisdom in the course of striving to serve others; and

8) opportunities for all students to savor an extensive smorgasbord of disciplines, courses, ideas, and perspectives that are offered by widely diverse faculty members whose shared primary mission is to challenge and serve their students.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The above eight points represent only a rough draft of a statement that is in no way meant to replace our current �Code of Conduct� or �Priority Strategic Goals.� Rather, as a statement of the �broth� of our university, it is intended to serve as an external as well as internal affirmation of that which we respect.

What if scores of SCSU staff and faculty members volunteered to meet in small groups to improve this draft? What if a portion of our upcoming Faculty Forum Day - Wednesday, April 2 - could be devoted to refining and condensing the best ideas of all of us? What if by mid-April, all who work at St. Cloud State University had a chance to sign a new STATEMENT OF WHAT WE RESPECT? What if a �normal� 98.6% of faculty, staff, and administrators voluntarily signed such a STATEMENT OF WHAT WE RESPECT? What if by early May we could communicate our signing of such a unique STATEMENT OF WHAT WE RESPECT to all students, their parents, high school counselors throughout the state, MnSCU�s Board of Trustees, SCSU alumni, corporate and individual donors to our Foundation, the news media, and all state legislators?

What if? Why not? Who will? Happy New Year!

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Lake Superior State shows excellence 

Lake Superior State in Michigan (the smallest of their state system) shows a keen eye in finding a list of words that must be banished at once. The list runs from "weapons of mass destruction" to "black ice" to "reverse discrimination". The last caught my eye -- �Discrimination is discrimination, regardless of who is being discriminated against.� says "Kristen of St. Paul, Minnesota" on LSSU's webpage. She must read the Scholars. Meanwhile Michele at A Small Victory has in turn written a little story using all the banished words. No doubt Dave will be submitting "collective guilt" for the 2004 list. We salute LSSU for showing us what a good state university can do.

Happy New Year! 

From all of us at the Scholars, a very Happy New Year -- if you use the Gregorian calendar. If not, oh, never mind!