Thursday, July 31, 2003

Tenure and NASA 

Photon Courier posts a very interesting comment on the similarities between academics and astronauts.
What does a space shuttle disaster have to do with the current troubling situation in the teaching of the humanities? Strange as it may seem, I believe that there is a connection.

...There are very few people in American who have more job security than a civil servant or a university tenured professor. But this security seems to have little payoff when it's time to speak up about something important and truly controversial. Perhaps jobs that offer high security tend to attract people who are not risk-takers. Or perhaps concerns about being liked by one's peers trump job-security issues per se. In any event, it does not seem that systems with a high degree of employee protection really yield the expected benefits in terms of outspoken employee behavior.

I'm sure there are some NASA employees who had and have the courage to speak out [about the failures that led to the Challenger disaster], just as I am sure that such courage exists among some senior professors of the humanities. But it seems that such people are too few in number, at both institutions, to make a real difference.

This has to sound familiar to Jack, who's said this numerous times to me privately and here on the blog.
[Stanley] Fish ends his article like this: "...while academics are always happy to be warned against the incursions of capitalism, they are unlikely either to welcome or heed a warning against the incursions of virtue." He's right. And the medicine will get worse, until the bulk of the sensible faculty who have been depressingly silent, and in their fears have abdicated their responsibility to actually educate their students, start to see the sense of things as Stanley Fish has, get back up on their back feet, and become professionals again.

In loco parentis and moral tutoring 

Invisible Adjunct (who has decided to disappear for awhile again -- what, you mean your blog isn't your work?) posts about John Bruce's exchange with me on in loco parentis. She quotes a paper from 1999 which I think confirms my hypothesis that the function is now performed out of the Dean of Students office, through Residential Life programs.
Although surveillance of students became less extensive in the years that followed, the regime of moral tutoring persisted into the early 1960s, with curfews, dress codes for classrooms and dining halls, and parietal rules -- including the requirements of "three feet on the floor" and keeping the door open when a male student visited the dorm room of a female student, or vice versa.
This is stated like that was a bad thing. Curfews continued at many schools into the 1980s as a matter of fact (including my own) and think about the decrease in sexual harassment and assault complaints that might ensue from "three feet on the floor" in an open room. "If we can be drafted and sent and shot at in Vietnam, we shouldn't need these rules." I think the reply is that you are free to do so, just not on university property.
In loco parentis is hardly back in vogue today, not even in what the Times describes as "an updated and subtler version." Supervision of the personal lives of students in 1999 remains as it has been for 30 years -- virtually non-existent. Student-life handbooks contain no rules for deportment, as they did in the past, and deans of students no longer strike terror in anyone's heart. Some institutions, such as the University of Michigan, have even repealed their speech codes, arguing that students should be free to say just about anything. Student workshops -- such as Duke University's "How to Avoid Dating Hell," "Self Image, Body Image, Eating & Weight," and "DWI -- See Your RA Drunk" -- continue to be offered on hundreds of campuses, but their concerns are the exploration of personal identity and the discussion of racial, sexual, and gender differences. They are neither subtle nor updated versions of in loco parentis; the values they promote are neither enforced nor enforceable.
I find that a very odd statement, compared to the first one saying that "moral tutoring" is dead. What is moral tutoring, if not to learn how to interact with those different than us? (And we're all unique, right?) This is why I said that in loco parentis is alive and well but changed. The differences induced by the movement of the function from faculty to Res Life offices, in my mind, are twofold. First, the newer form is a moral tutoring that isn't an extension of the family from which the student came, but a substitute. New student orientations launch right in on these changes. Even parents are not let go without some diversity training of their own.
Parents and students were invited to come for two days of orientation. Students were separated from the parents and went through a different program. As for the parents, the first few sessions concerned realities of financing, housing, etc. But soon it became apparent that these activities were not the real purpose of the program. The sessions started to focus on "tolerance" and "diversity." In fact the director of the program accidentally let slip the phrase "diversity training." Our so-called "Parents� Orientation Days" was technically, from their point of view, "diversity training"!

As I suffered through two days of "diversity training" sessions, I waited in vain for some mention of academic standards. The presentation by the Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences was our last hope for some evidence of intellectual activity, but it was not to be. He talked about majors, courses, credits and graduation requirements � certainly essential topics � but not a word about the pursuit of knowledge or the love of learning. At no point was there the smallest indication that students should have anything but a strictly pragmatic interest in whatever they study. Even the presentation on the Honors program spoke only of the canoe trip and spring break in Hawaii.

John Galvin's article should be read in full.

The second difference induced by moving the locus of in loco parentis, I'm afraid, is the resulting loss of responsibility felt by faculty for their students' non-academic welfare. For most people, feeling parental towards a young man or woman moves one to behave a certain way, and getting that person on the office couch or floor is not what most people do. As I have crossed into the second half of my working life I find I dislike students addressing me by my first name. It isn't a matter of superiority or feeling like "I earned it so dammit I want it", but that using the title indicates the nature of the relationship. It's easier for John to sleep with Jane than it is for Mr. or Ms. Jones to be seduced by Professsor Smith. I don't insist on Prof. Banaian, ever, because I think students can make choices for themselves, but if one asks how I prefer to be addressed I use the title even with non-traditional students. I think it communicates something about how we are to act with one another. It may be the only form of "moral tutoring" left to me.

UPDATE: Financial Aid Office comments on this post,

Is it mainly that in the classic in loco parentis university, the student body was more homogenous, and so the "moral tutoring" was more likely to be in line with students' families' values?
If you were talking about just public universities I might agree. But I see no reason to believe that this hasn't happened as well at private schools and even religious ones. If this was true, for example, would you argue that Morehouse College has just as much in loco parentis as it did forty years ago? (See here and here.)

Choose carefully 

Financial Aid Office concurs with my assessment of the two studies on the returns to education. I agree with him that the Spielberg effect is pretty strong in admissions. The story also suggests students should pick carefully who writes their letters of recommendation.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Husky sack attack 

Driving back to the office after a late lunch I heard Joe Soucheray (the famed "Garage Logic" show from KSTP) discuss this story of one of SCSU's football players getting in some preseason practice. A fellow decides to rob a jewelry store in town (not doing a very good job of this, if you read the story) and runs from the story.
Pedestrians who were strolling in Stillwater as part of Lumberjack Days responded to her shouts as if they were still living in Lumberjack Days on a rowdy frontier town.

Some helped Grundhauser hold the door to her own business closed as Ziemer tried to escape. When he fled through another exit, Good Samaritans chased him along Water Street toward the Lumber Baron's Hotel.

Somewhere in that frantic dash, police reports and witnesses say, the mask came off and the bag ripped open and fell from Ziemer's hands. That's when Ryan Walker, 19, of Stillwater caught sight of Ziemer.

"He had a good crowd running after him," said Walker, who was working security for Lumberjack Days. Someone yelled to stop him as Ziemer was crossing a chain-link fence. Walker, who plays defensive end/linebacker on the St. Cloud State University Husky football team, hit Ziemer from the side.

"I got to test my football skills," Walker said of the tackle. "He went down."

Walker said he held him down, with help from a Stillwater Police Explorer Scout and some local prison guards who were also working security. The guards told Walker they'd probably be seeing Ziemer at their day jobs, Walker added.

Walker is a first-year player for the team ranked 16th in the national Div. II polls, and I don't know yet how much playing time he's expected to get. But we salute Ryan Walker for the first sack of the season, and we hope he gets some more conventional ones this season.

Essential reading for new students 

Courtesy Cold Spring Shops, Wendy McElroy at ties together several threads we've run through the last several weeks. McElroy points to the series of books from FIRE that should be read by students needing advice on how to get through universities infested with leftism. They're free, she says, and students should obtain them before heading to campuses. Sound advice.

Peace at no cost 

Read Mitch today on the Southern Minnesota Peacekeepers. We've had a similar group up here which we've discussed here and here. Mitch's money quote:
Remember the Twin Cities' "Honeywell Project", which staged vigils for years outside various Honeywell plants? Hundreds of symbolic, "plastic handcuff" arrests - no jail time. Such a sacrifice!

OK - so compare the examples above - and in Brown's article - with what you read on the "Peacemakers" website. Especially read this snide little photo essay, featuring group poobah Chuck Handlon.

What's it scream? "It's all about me! MY beliefs! MY moral certitude! MY views! MY right to protest the injustices I see (absent any consequences to ME, of course)!"

RTWT = Read The Whole Thing. I've decided to invent an abbreviation (I'm sure someone's done it before, but I doubt they read this site.)

Returns to education: Elite or not? 

I meet many parents of college-bound students who ask if the education at St. Cloud State is as good as they'd get at, say, the Univ. of Minnesota or Wisconsin-Madison. I tell them that I think so, but that the problem is often convincing potential employers that their child with an SCSU degree is just as good as the identical graduate of the more prestigious institutions. (We'd love to think they come just for the love of education, but, as my own college freshman says, "ch'yeah right, Dad.") Part of what one buys, I tell them, is a credential, and credentials from one place will have more value than from another place. A violinist who studies at Julliard will be more likely to win an audition for the symphony over the violinist from East Southern State University, even if both sound the same in the audition.

Financial Aid Office points today to a couple of articles on financing education in prestigious schools. The quote that seems to be drawing attention both from FrankAdmissions and from Joanne Jacobs is this:

Maybe a B.A. is worth real money because it signals to employers that the job candidate is capable. If so, there ought to be some way to send this signal without blowing $160,000 on four years of liberal arts courses. Think of all the savings to society if Yale were willing to sell, for a mere $16,000, a certificate saying that such-and-such an applicant was duly admitted but chose not to attend.
Well, it's really the argument we make about the music industry and Napster: A college education is a bundled good: The credential is part of it; the classes another; good alumni associations and the networking that attends them a third. (Did I miss an important piece? Hit the comments!)

So the question is, what's would be the market price of an Ivy credential? There are two papers I've seen on this. One of them by Stacy Dale and Alan Krueger (non-technical summary here, described in Forbes here -- I haven't found a full copy available for free yet, but it's in the Nov. 2002 Quarterly Journal of Economics if you want to look it up) suggests that there's no inherent difference between the earnings of graduates of the elite and non-elite institutions. Another paper by James Monks (described here top item, published in Economics of Education Review, June 2000) says that there is a 3-7% return from entering the elite institution. Very interestingly, the premium is higher for research institutions or those schools with graduate programs than for elite liberal arts schools.

I favor the Dale and Krueger result because it corrects two problems. One is of course selectivity bias -- better students and those who are more likely to be successful anyway will choose better schools. Dale and Krueger get around this by using a sample of students who were admitted to more than one institution -- 41% chose to go to the "lower-prestige" school -- and to explain these choices. Monks doesn't do that. The second problem is one of "unobserved characteristics" of students that may correlate with college choice. Again, I find that Dale and Krueger addressed those issues better. So I'm inclined to put weight on their conclusion that the value of the degree isn't that high for most people. But what is also interesting in their paper is that unlike previous studies, they show that disadvantaged students do get a benefit from attending elite schools (though the sample of these students is relatively small).

So why are college costs going up? Most economic research suggests that the return on higher education has been quite high -- in the late 1970s, according to Dale and Krueger, it was in the area of 16-18%. But college costs have risen as universities realized they could capture a higher share of those returns in the form of higher tuition. As a result, the returns to higher education are returning to more normal levels (which I take to be in the 8-10% range). As FAO also posts today, these rising costs are becoming an election issue, which makes sense because it's purely a distributional question. Who should get the higher returns from a university degree -- the student or the university? And in what shares? It's on these questions that most domestic politics turn.

Certainly, as Frank suggests, the value of a liberal arts education is more than just the credential or training for a specific job, as he links to this speech by a UMichigan faculty member. But failure to explore additional markets for higher education, and to price them correctly, leads to less work for us in academia.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Running the other way 

One of the hale influences from students on the campus at SCSU this past year was our College Republican group becoming more active and challenging the dominant paradigm of campus life. They challenged views on gun control, the Israeli flag, and the war. They gave us that nice "GOP Safe Space" flyer we have on the left column. We went so far as to recognize its president with an award this spring. We hope they'll come back as full of energy as they were this year.

Turns out they're part of a trend, as reported over the weekend in the Washington Times.
Attendance at the biennial College Republican National Convention doubled during the previous convention, and the number of College Republican chapters nationwide has tripled in the past four years.

Thirty thousand members were recruited in the past few years through an outreach program that departing committee Chairman Scott Stewart said began four years ago on a balmy night, in a "tiny, dingy, dirty office" with three students and a map of the United States. He said it wasn't known how the field representatives would be fed or paid, but that in the first year, the program introduced 220 clubs.

For the 2004 campaign, the committee plans to have 40 to 60 field representatives training clubs in the mechanics of campaigning. Mr. Stewart said it is part of a growing Bush following that is recruiting people to the party and attacking liberal dominance on the nation's campuses.

"College students love the president," said Jake Grassel, the Minnesota state chairman of College Republicans. "They find that his compassionate conservatism is where they need to be."

Minnesota is credited with the most growth in college Republican membership, with more than five times as many students involved in chapters than four years ago. The University of California at Berkeley contingent of College Republicans was recognized yesterday as the chapter of the year. It has 500 members. (Emphasis added.)

Gee, wonder why we're growing the fastest? And wonder why the CR chapter at Berkeley is so large? Could it have anything to do with the leftist bent on these campuses? The whooping it up at a Wellstone memorial, say? Critical Mass pointed out the other day how more students are identifying themselves as conservative. And the fellow we covered who told his students to write letters to government officials and include the words "kill the president" now won't be fired. If you read blogs like ours, you've got other stories as well. For every well-intentioned student who falls for the pap these ideologues serve, there's at least one more who says, "the hell with that" and runs the other way.

Monday, July 28, 2003

Tour d'Alliance 

My, how many times did I use the word "note" in the previous post? I'll have to watch myself.

I'm a little busy because the sweetest nine-year-old in the world is having a birthday today. I suggest you tour the other Northern Alliance members (links to your left.) Mitch at Shot in the Dark is covering Gov. Pawlenty's telco problems. It is worth reading Mitch Pearlstein's sensible op-ed in yesterday's (Red)StarTribune. Note how Mitch is bio'd as head of a "conservative think tank", then go read the Fraters Libertas on other STrib persecutions of thoughtcrime. (We've had our issues with them, too.) Then off you go to PowerLine for the national and international stuff, and Hewitt for the doings in California. (As a former Angeleno, can I run the Anybody But Riordan campaign? Please?)

And if I have to tell you to read Lileks, get off our blog!

Last note: Yes, the page changed a little. I so badly wanted that Weather Pixie thing, and ended up farging up the whole template. I had to retreat to a previous version. I'll re-install some goodies as I go. Or maybe we'll finally go to MT. Good evening to you. Off for cake!

Revisionist literature 

Via The Corner, 50 Minute Hour notes that anti-totalitarian novels are being dropped from Russian syllabi in favor of those written in the Soviet era. She notes:
Many adults, especially in government, tend to remember communism with an attitude of nostalgia. Call it the "at least the trains ran on time" phenomenon, but people I've talked to who have visited Russia and the newly independent states say it is prevalent among people who are suffering during the transition, and they pass it on to their children. It is a lack of historical perspective that often leads to struggling new democracies electing authoritarians to power, which, in turn, threatens the freedom that so many fought and died for in previous generations. It's something that we need to keep an eye on, and those who remember the bad old days need to keep the pressure on society to reflect on the past, lest it repeat itself.
I should note, given our discussion of the Berkeley study, that when you use the word "conservative" referring to the xUSSR, as does the article 50 Min links to (fifth item down), it means conserving communism, not some tsarist past. It's worth remembering that very few of the young enter the professoriate in the xUSSR, because most universities are still state-operated at very low wages -- which go unpaid many times. I had a wonderful translator when I worked in Ukraine who learned English from two parents who both worked at a local university. She was their only source of income, even though both still taught. Many faculty have to support themselves through outside income. So it isn't surprising that most of the faculty there are both older and still have syllabi from the previous era. Come to think of it, you could say the same here, couldn't you?

The profits of pulchritude 

Critical Mass mentions a paper by economist Daniel Hamermesh at UTexas and one of his students about beauty and student evaluations for professors. The full paper is here in .pdf. Hamermesh has actually done four papers on beauty and labor as part of his research agenda, which he describes here.
Do good-looking people earn more, how much more, and why? Is the effect the same for men and women? Does it mean employers discriminate against ugly workers? Do good looks make people more productive�can we ever distinguish between the effects of beauty, or some other characteristic, as discrimination or productivity? Does buying clothing and beauty treatments raise earnings power? Is hiring good-looking people a good strategy for companies? Should the government offer affirmative action programs for ugly people?
I've very quickly looked at the paper and note two things. First, the effect of beauty on student evaluations is stronger for men than for women. Second, the paper tried to consider age, but in footnote 5 they say that it "had essentially no impact". Well, even though they tried to get students to not consider age in rating faculty (see discussion at bottom of page 3) I find myself doubting that the ratings were clear of age bias. It would have been helpful to check whether age (or academic rank, which would come close) correlated with evaluations. They did note (again in fn. 5) that whether or not the faculty member was tenured had no impact on evaluations.

Invisible Adjunct thinks that Hamermesh doesn't understand how to make oneself up, but it should be noted (as wasn't in the article) that his student co-author is female. Oh, how sexist of me!?!

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Last on the stupid Berkeley study to simply read Dissecting Leftism, who kicks it all around the block. Start here and scroll down for about a week. We also welcome Dr. Ray to the blogroll. Well done, sir!

Instapundit is amazed "that the Berkeley PR office thought that trumpeting this study to the nationwide media would be a good idea, and that doing so would somehow enhance the school's reputation." Why? These people live in a cocoon.

UPDATE (Monday): The College Republican chapter is seeking an apology, noting that the original release is now revised.

Hey commissioner! Look here! 

We have to thank Commissioner Hugh Hewitt for driving about 800 pairs of eyes here over a two-day period. Since I like traffic, let's see if he finds this one. From Academic Questions, Winter 2002/03 issue, here's a blurb on a course that was run at Harvard this spring.
A course in confronting the world:

Come meet a rock star who sings for nonviolence, a CEO who won't move jobs overseas, and a philanthropist who invests in women as peacmakers -- not to mention such important intellectuals as Noam Chomsky, Robert Reich, Lani Guinier, Howard Zinn, and Jonathan Kozol ... All of these individuals wil be interviewed in person ... Additional guests this term include such luminaries as philosopher Peter Singer, economist Juliet Schor, leval scholar Martha Minow, theologian Harvey Cox, literary scholar Elaine Scarry, ethicist Sissela Bok, physician Jennifer Leaning, religion scholar Diana Eck, and psychiatrist Robert Coles. Readings range from major theorists (Peter Berger, Ulrich Beck) to powerful essayinsts (Naomi Klein, Arundhati Roy) ... With occiasional film nights and an optional weekly dinner, "Globalization and Human Values" creates a space in which you can join with others to make sense of, and perhaps change, the world.

The Harvard page for this course is now toned down, but looks like the same theme. The AQ article suggests the course is no longer taught, but the page here would lead you to think it continues. Betcha they read Hardt and Negri (continue to next article.) See Hewitt's article on the ideology of (his) Class of 1978, and see how little has changed.

Invisible clear thinking 

By way of Arts and Letters Daily, Robert Fulford writes about the lack of good writing in the humanities. Now, in economics we've long had this problem which was pointed out to us by Donald McCloskey (now Deirdre -- see her book Economical Writing for more), but I guess I had assumed it was better elsewhere. I realize this is somewhat selection bias. If a paper is cited often enough in my field, I'll slog through it no matter how turgid the prose or dense the mathematics; that's my job. But I don't have to read badly-written fiction or (for the most part) badly-written history. Jack once lent me Post-Modern Pooh, which I tried to read, and the one word to describe my reaction was "incredulity": Surely it isn't that bad, is it?

Well, maybe it is.

(Dennis) Dutton (of AL Daily) quotes Paul H. Fry, professor of English at Yale. He finds this in Fry's A Defense of Poetry: "It is the moment of non-construction, disclosing the absentation of actuality from the concept in part through its invitation to emphasize, in reading, the helplessness -- rather than the will to power -- of its fall into conceptuality."

Readers may imagine (as Dutton says) that they are too ignorant to understand "the absentation of actuality." Academic theorists take advantage of the innocent reader's natural humility. In this case, Dutton suggests: "The writing is intended to look as though Mr. Fry is a physicist struggling to make clear the Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. Of course, he's just an English professor showing off."

Nobody's ever accused me of having 'natural humility', but I have no fargin' idea what Fry is trying to say. So my reaction is simply to say, "Book sucks. Next!" and wish Alan Furst would write a new novel. But these practitioners of "pomo babble" -- Fulford attributes this quip to John Leo -- are crossing over into my own area.
In recent years leftist academics have been enraptured by Empire, a 500-page anti-globalization book by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, published in 2000. Empire collects all possible criticisms of free trade and wraps them in prose like this: "In the logic of colonialist representations, the construction of a separate colonized other and the segregation of identity and alterity turns out paradoxically to be at once absolute and extremely intimate."

To commit a sentence like that is to subtract from the sum of human knowledge. But it is not really exceptional, and its authors are much admired for their fresh version of leftist "thinking."

Moreover, I dare you to take a look at any course that discusses globalization and see if you find Empire, then see if it's balanced by a book such as Johan Norberg's In Defense of Global Capitalism. I can tell you which book is better written. And as William Sjostrom points out, it's not just Empire -- Negri simply can't write.

As Ambrose Bierce wrote, "Good writing is clear thinking made visible." And pomo-babble is making muddled thinking invisible.

Hut one, hut two 

Two ScrappleFaces in a week? Why not?
A day after the National Football League fined the Detroit Lions $200,000 for failing to interview black coaches when it hired Steve Mariucci, the league has ordered all quarterbacks to consider blacks as primary receivers on pass plays.

"In order to compensate for the historical oppression of African-Americans, the quarterback's first look will now be at a black receiver," said NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. "If he's not open, only then may the quarterback throw to a white receiver. But even if the black receiver is double-covered, the QB should try to throw to him. It would be better to be intercepted than to violate the NFL's diversity policy and be fined $200,000."

I think we also just figured out the Michigan playbook. But since it lacks obfuscation, does it meet O'Connor's test?

Friday, July 25, 2003


My article on the use of weblogs in academia is up at NAS Forum. (Updated link due to bloggered archives; thanks John.)

Like a beach novel 

Critical Mass has the story of the day. The story is told in the alt-press Memphis Flyer.
In a lawsuit that reads like a steamy sex novel, a former professor ofreligion at Rhodes College says she was denied tenure partly because she rebuffed repeated aggressive lesbian overtures from a department colleague.
Someone trying to use the lawsuit to keep her job, or a bizarre dime-store novel? You decide; read CM and the article for more.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Free drugs? Cool! 

ScrappleFace says we're getting some.
Now that a report in Psychological Bulletin has identified the causes of political conservatism, Medicare and most private health plans will soon cover experimental preventative regimens for the syndrome.

..."Conservatives should not be debated, anymore than you would try to talk someone out of schizophrenia," said the lead researcher who wrote the journal article. "They are to be pitied, medicated and confined to institutions when necessary."

...While there is no cure for conservatism, early intervention by public schools and welfare agencies offers the best hope for prevention.

Who needs a tip jar?

UPDATE: Michael says we're Star Wars-evil. [g]

Who writes the history books? 

The winners, the saying goes. So who's winning in academia? Burt Folsom knows.
His critique focused attention on The National Experience, an American history college textbook written by authors whom he said are considered "experts" and the "premiere historians in the historical profession," including Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., John Blum, Edmund Morgan and C. Vann Woodward. The textbook has gone through eight editions over 30 years....

As seen in The National Experience, Folsom found particularly interesting the description of Grover Cleveland, the 22\super nd\nosupersub president of the United States. Noting that Cleveland was arguably the most free-market president of the era and vetoed 414 bills during his first term - twice as many as the preceding 21 presidents combined - Folsom found the following description of Cleveland perplexing:

"No one could be sure of the new President's views on any of the several leading issues, but everyone could be sure he was a conservative."

Folsom added that a caption of a picture of Cleveland read: "Grover Cleveland: Stubborn Conservative," while a caption of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro later in the book read "Fidel Castro: A Romantic Marxist."

Yes, romantic. The high school texts are worse:
"Within months of taking office, Reagan got Congress to approve one of the biggest campaign promises, a major reduction in the income tax that favored above all, the wealthiest Americans. That raised a tough question, lower taxes meant less money flowing into the treasury," reads (Gary) Nash's text (American Odyssey, a leading high school text.)

These examples, Folsom said, are indicative of a much larger problem requiring "a more neutral treatment of the issues."

Mark Skousen once wrote a good reivew about the reach of Paul Samuelson's economics text and included a quote of Samuelson in a New York Times interview, "I don't care who writes a nation's laws--or crafts its advanced treaties--if I can write its economics textbooks." But his book has had to evolve over time (the first edition was in 1948) and the evolution has been troubling.
But although it would be unfair to criticize anyone for not being clairvoyant about events, it is surely fair criticism of a principles of economics course to point out that some of its advice seems questionable in light of current knowledge. Indeed, Samuelson has hinted in later editions that he would no longer agree with some of his analysis in earlier editions. Today, he probably would be comfortable saying, as he did in the preface of the eighth edition, that his textbook contained "nothing essential being omitted" or "nothing that later will have to be unlearned as wrong." By the fourteenth edition, he confessed, "What was great in Edition 1 is old hat by Edition 3; and maybe has ceased to be true: by Edition 14" (14:xiv).

When faced with such rueful comments by an author of Samuelson's stature, a certain degree of modesty seems warranted for the rest of the economics profession. The successive editions of Samuelson's textbook illustrate that the profession's view of both principles and facts can shift substantially with recent experience, whether the point is the Keynesian lessons that came out of the Great Depression or the speed of Soviet economic growth. An introductory course requires some natural simplification, but it should aim to avoid false certainty.

I'd like to see an analysis like Skousen's for the Schlesinger, et al. book. I wonder how history evolves in their hands?


Randy Barnett has been guest-blogging for Glenn Reynolds on his MSNBC/LSMFT site, and this post on whether the Left has some particular problem with factual arguments got a lot of people's undies in a twist. "The Right does it too!" they exclaimed, which is somewhat true. Who does it more isn't my point. I recall this post from Jack on the topic, and I think that sums up my view as well. I was struck by Prof. Barnett's correspondent at the Volokh Conspiracy, who says that academia lives in a cocoon.
Conservatives, including myself, regularly complain about liberal bias in the media, Hollywood, academia, etc. The silver lining to this annoying reality is that conservatives cannot avoid the world views and arguments of their political opponents. In other words, it is much easier for a liberal to escape confronting conservative views than it is for conservatives to escape confronting liberal views. The consequence is that conservatives are not allowed, particularly by the media, to "make things up". In a strange way, the liberal media forces conservatives to strive to be more careful and honest because conservatives know they will be challenged. ...

In addition, I think the typical liberal not-for-profit worker or college professor can, if they choose, live and recreate in something of a politically correct cocoon. When I used to be more liberal in my early 20s in Washington, DC, my liberal/left friends would talk in shocked tones if a conservative showed up at a party or social function.

That strikes me as very true. I do get to go to a number of university functions, but it's rare that any other libertarian or conservative is even in the room. And the discussion at these things are always full of pleasantries and platitudes, never of serious issues. One of our younger faculty was at a first-year mentoring program -- often just mixers for new faculty to meet and know other new faculty, and a chance to get face time with the dean -- and discussion turned to a serious issue, our democratic citizenship program. The fellow is asked for his views, and he starts with, "Well, in a democracy..." and before he can even finish the sentence another first-year snorts "You think we live in a democracy?" Chastened, the young man didn't speak again, according to his account.

This blog was set up first to keep other members of SCSU informed on what was happening on campus, because the email lists on campus (now under threat) were either mealy-mouthed administrative missives or bilous screeds of leftist thought. That is, when you try to prick the cocoon, they simply try to build more walls. Numerous faculty come up to me and say, "I don't read your email" or "You post too much". And, as Jack notes often, even the faculty who are not committed to the Left are silent as well. And so it will continue until more of them remember to stand up.

Our best allies 

...are students, says Critical Mass.
...the students who are drawn to conservative groups are increasingly more likely to be interested in escaping the strangulating atmosphere of liberal campus orthodoxy than they are in embracing conservative orthodoxy. For lots of students, it's not about preferring conservative dogma over liberal dogma, but about rejecting dogma altogether.
And rejecting Dogma.

I'm breaking a two-month dry spell of golfing today. See you tonight.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

A Hewitt-lanche 

The Commissioner sends us glad tidings! Welcome Hugh Hewitt readers. The piece to which he refers is here.

We just should help ourselves 

Frequent reader and commenter John Bruce wrote me last night, asking for more on the question of student-professor dating.
My impression continues to be that, among faculty who deliver opinions on the Boalt Hall issue, the reaction is surprisingly strong and absolutist -- yours is the first suggestion I've seen from an active faculty member on a blog that there is even anything improper about a prof dating a student in his/her class -- though I'm not making a study...
Not to worry, John, I'm sure someone will -- heck, might make a nice thesis! (Must ... not ... joke ... about ... field ... research ... Must ... not...)

Anyway, I agree with him that it's an important issue that we try not to speak of. In the old days of in loco parentis such behavior was considered a violation of one's duty as a professor. It most certainly did happen, and if the romance blossomed into a permanent relationship one at least tried not to discuss this in great detail. Over the last thirty years we were told to view 18-year-olds as adults. (I don't, and that's part of my problem as my detractors on campus see it.) Since they were now adults, and able to make adult choices -- ask any dean of students about THAT one! -- it was only natural that we would also begin to view them as able to make adult choices about who to date. We as faculty were able to say, "Hey, they're adults! They can make that choice."

What's important to note, as Erin O'Connor did, is that there is a conflict of interest that arises when personal affairs come between faculty and student, and there needs to be some distance maintained. This doesn't just relate to sex. I have wrestled at times with going out with students when alcohol is served: I'm not prudish -- I enjoy whiskey as much as any man -- but I wonder about what signals are sent from me to students when I do go out with them. (More so after the second Jamesons.) I limit myself to official mixer functions as a result, and there are times I'm not even comfortable with that rule. I find myself asking, "Is this something a man of integrity does?" If I can answer yes, then I'll go out with the group.

Students are in a bad position, of course, but it's unwise to think that students and administrators alone could clean this up. I think it has to begin with the faculty themselves, despite John's misgivings. What is needed is a rule that would look something like this. In the faculty member's contract will read a section like this:

SECTION XX. 1. Any faculty member who finds in their class or in their program a student with whom they have a business or personal relationship beyond the normal bounds of the faculty-student relationship will not evaluate that student's performance. S/He will identify the student to her/his dean or the dean's designee and the student will be moved to another section.
2. Failure to identify a student thusly will result in a sanction from the dean, up to and including termination of employment.
3. Decisions may be grieved by the faculty member to a grievance committee constituted of faculty and administrators.
I left 3. vague because that depends on what your grievance process looks like. It permits the relationships that I think are probably OK, like the art professor and the physics student. The rule isn't about keeping adults from doing what they wish (even if I don't think 18-year-olds are adults). It's about protecting the integrity of the institution.

We just can't help ourselves 

At least according to Berkeley researchers, conservatives are "just that way".
Four researchers who culled through 50 years of research literature about the psychology of conservatism report that at the core of political conservatism is the resistance to change and a tolerance for inequality, and that some of the common psychological factors linked to political conservatism include:

  • Fear and aggression
  • Dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity
  • Uncertainty avoidance
  • Need for cognitive closure
  • Terror management

"From our perspective, these psychological factors are capable of contributing to the adoption of conservative ideological contents, either independently or in combination," the researchers wrote in an article, "Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition," recently published in the American Psychological Association's Psychological Bulletin.
"See, it's a mental condition. If we could just find the right medication, we could get rid of all these people."

Here's a clue, no dime required: The meaning of the word "conserve"? As in "conservation"? And "conservative"? It's to save things, things of value. There are changes I resist because these are good to resist, there are other changes that I should not resist. How we can move from "protection of our valued past" to "fear and agression" or dogmatism is perverse (and lazy, since they don't want to explain why change is good.) It's simply someone wanting to change things who is unable to accept that someone might oppose that change. As for "tolerance of inequality", well, I tolerate facts. I accept them and work with them. Inequality is a fact. Those wishing to tear down every instance of inequality seek the cosmic justice that Thomas Sowell has eloquently written about. They reject reality.

If that's not enough to get your dander up, check out this paragraph:

Concerns with fear and threat, likewise, can be linked to a second key dimension of conservatism - an endorsement of inequality, a view reflected in the Indian caste system, South African apartheid and the conservative, segregationist politics of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-South S.C.).

Disparate conservatives share a resistance to change and acceptance of inequality, the authors said. Hitler, Mussolini, and former President Ronald Reagan were individuals, but all were right-wing conservatives because they preached a return to an idealized past and condoned inequality in some form. Talk host Rush Limbaugh can be described the same way.

I'm amazed they didn't get Trent Lott and Rick Santorum into that one. Now we should remember that this last entry was written not by the authors of the study but by media relations person Kathleen Maclay. I have had my work summarized by university media relations people and there are times where, well, something gets lost in translation. And if you look at a blogdex search of Berkeley's media relations stuff, you will find some pistols that have already attracted the blogosphere. They write these things to get attention, and Ms. Maclay has at least been successful with this. Nevertheless, the conflation of Mussolini and Hitler (who were not right-wing in any way) with Reagan and Limbaugh is the kind of stuff that should be left for, radicals or German politicians, not academic media relations.

UPDATE: Via AtlanticBlog, a further example from John Ray:

Writing about modern Eastern Europe in Political Psychology of June 2003, Hilde Weiss says that the "new right" in Europe is �a "modernized" brand of fascism in which neoliberal ideology, instead of anticapitalist resentments, is combined with traditional value patterns.� So to oppose big government (neoliberalism) is Fascist?? Tell that to the founder of Fascism, Mussolini. Mussolini tried his best to subject EVERYTHING in Italy to his control! What the ignorant Ms Weiss is describing is simply normal conservatism, not Fascism. [Links in original]
UPDATE 2: Angry Clam was on this before us, and it was noted in today's Best of the Web (last item). They wanted media coverage, well, they got it!

Oh Hampton, my Hampton 

My reminisces of youth appear on the Volokh Conspiracy.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

More one-sided programs 

William Sjostrom points to an article in the City Journal by Steven Malanga on the new labor studies programs springing up in universities around the country. Where have we heard this story before?
Newly potent public unions, in their quest for an ever greater share of taxpayer spending, advocated for more labor-related studies resources at public universities (among many other things). In quick order, many states complied, setting up labor studies courses, undergraduate majors, and research centers on labor topics, till by the mid-1970s several dozen centers and departments were flourishing, mostly at public institutions. They arose just as a new generation of administrators and professors began to radicalize instruction by dumping core curriculum requirements, lowering standards, and replacing the objective pursuit of knowledge with social agendas. The result was a new kind of labor studies, more apt to encourage activism than teach students the fine points of employment trends or labor law. And these programs defined �labor� almost exclusively as �organized labor.�

The nearly 50 such programs operating today pulsate with energy and churn out new initiatives. In 1995, for instance, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst began a labor studies M.A. program in union leadership and administration�in essence, a professional school for union leaders that is emblematic of the transformation of the field from a backwater of continuing education to postgraduate academic status. In Michigan, in the late 1990s, the labor center at publicly funded Wayne State University, working with the radical left-wing group ACORN, began providing technical support to living-wage campaigns around the country.

I added the links so you can see what he's talking about. The overview of the labor studies masters program at UMass (yes, they have two different programs) is pretty plain in its advocacy:
The Labor Relations and Research Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is the premier graduate program in the country for those who want to work in the labor movement and with organizations advocating for workers' rights. Our Master's of Science degree is a multi-disciplinary program which combines course work and an internship in a unique and exciting graduate program. Coursework toward the Master's degree provides not only the skills necessary to work in and with the labor movement - expertise in organizing, collective bargaining, and union leadership - but also an opportunity to examine the larger theoretical and strategic issues confronting workers and their unions in the new millennium.
Maranga concludes his article that this is different from the multiculti battles sites like ours engage in:
It�s easy to view what has happened at labor studies programs as simply one more manifestation of disturbing trends within the larger academy over the last few decades: the victory of advocacy over the disinterested pursuit of knowledge, the abandoning of standards, the ascendance of race and gender politics, the growth of anti-Americanism. And, giving credence to that idea, labor studies programs, from CUNY�s Queens College to UMass Boston to Washington State�s Evergreen State College, took a highly conspicuous role in leading campus opposition to the recent war in Iraq.

But something also sets the labor studies phenomenon apart from the campuswide culture wars. Unlike gender studies or race studies, labor studies undeviatingly promotes the interests of a remarkably tiny constituency: the union movement, representing a minuscule 13 percent of America�s private-sector workers and about 35 percent of public employees. It�s an amazing coup for organized labor and its allies to have tapped so brilliantly into the campus culture wars for their own narrow purposes. Set amid the larger battles within universities, it�s a coup that also has gone largely unnoticed by traditional academics, businesses, the media, and the taxpayers whose dollars support this agenda.

The whole article bears reading.

Starry Minnesota 

Or "stare Minnesota", if you speak Russian. Read Dick Winzer sends along a link to this graph in USA Today which shows government performance in the 50 states. Minnesota ties North Carolina and Dingelbutt's Michigan for fourth place, behind Utah, Delaware and Georgia. I find the list odd, so I clicked on the methodology page. It grades on three scales: government spending restraint, for which Minnesota gets only 2 of 4 stars (thanks, Jesse); our bond rating, which is quite good; and then 4 of 4 stars for our "tax system". The last one threw me -- I talk to any number of people in the tax field in Minnesota, and public finance was my "back-up" field in graduate school. So I thought this required a little investigation.

The methodology points to a study at, which is a resource for local and state government officials. Now click that last link and go to the first map showing state tax revenue per capita. We're one of the orange states, with taxes in the second highest category. The authors then create a second map -- go ahead, scroll down there -- to set the measures as a share of personal income. We're still fairly high, but now we don't stand out quite as much, because state median income here is above the national median. Still, wouldn't you think these higher rates would at least knock one star off us? Well, no, because after all that, they didn't use the numbers.

It would have made this project significantly easier if there were a standard set of multiple-choice questions that could be asked of the states. But there is clearly no �one-size-fits-all� formula for a state�s taxes. It would be simply absurd to anticipate that Alaska, with its wealth of oil, rely on the same sources of revenue as Rhode Island. New Hampshire, which takes pride in providing bare-bones government, simply can�t be held to the same standards as Minnesota, with its emphasis on many citizen services.

So, a �scientific� approach in which clearly quantifiable data could be used to compare the states was simply out of the question. Instead, it made far more sense to start with a solid general outline of the elements that contribute to adequacy, fairness and management and then � through interviews and document review � see how successful states had been in establishing them.

That is, because Minnesota has always been a nanny-state, lowering taxes would make it less adequate in providing for nanny's finances, and thus a lower rating, while New Hampshire (my home state) would be punished for raising taxes, because it's got a history of providing few state services (even if the Supreme Court there is trying to force change.) What kind of cockamamie scheme is that? We are stuck with old (stare) Minnesota as far as is concerned.

On Dingell 

Both Erin O'Connor and Power Line have covered the nasty exchange between Michigan Democratic Representative John Dingell and UC Regent Ward Connerly over Connerly's offer to help with a civil rights initiative in Michigan as he did for California. Dingell's letter on official government stationery is offensive. All this because Connerly wants to stop government use of racial, sexual, religious and ethnic data in college admissions and governmental hirings. In his own words,
"The time has come for America to break free from its obsession with classifying and dividing her citizens by race. And the popular revolt will begin in Michigan, where a national effort must be mounted to prohibit (the University) and all other entities of government from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to any American citizen because of race, ethnic background, sex or national origin."
What of this is, in Dingell's words, " �black vs. white� politics that were long ago discarded to the ash heap of history"? Why the anger of crowds when Connerly speaks? Where is the anger at Dingell, who brazenly posts his drop dead letter on his House website, without the decency to post Connerly's reply?

Monday, July 21, 2003

Cursing their good luck 

Remember the old line, "Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it"? That appears to be the case at the University of Michigan, says fellow Alliance member PowerLine.
Over the weekend, I saw an old friend who is now a prominent and well-placed faculty member at the University of Michigan. Regarding the recent Supreme Court rulings, he told me that (1) the university's undergraduate officials are still trying to figure out how, under any sensible legal analysis, they could have lost their case while the law school prevailed and (2) meanwhile, they are quicky switching from their objective point-based admissions standards to a system like the law school's that will produce race-based decisions through a process that satisfies Justice O'Connor.

No surprises there. But my friend also told me that the undergraduate officials are quite unhappy with the ruling, and not just because it is requiring them to hire more admissions staff. Michigan actually liked its point system, and with good reason. Its virtue was that, unlike the vast majority of admissions systems used these days, it produced very few surprises.

That sounds about right: If you are going to use an objective system of questionable legality, you most certainly want to try to make it fly under the radar. Fewer lawsuits that way. But now that this is illegal, they have to use a system that generates more surprises. Deacon notes that
High quality white students will be getting rejection letters that they would not have received if either the Court had banned race-based preferences or had simply rendered an honest decision upholding such preferences.
It may be, however, that the universities don't really care. John Rosenberg, who covers this area of the law as well as any blogger, links several pieces that collectively show that while the lawyers agree that admissions offices have a harder job to do now, the higher administrations can't seem to take 'no' for an answer.
Last Wednesday, according to an article in today's Chronicle, leaders of 48 colleges met at Harvard to discuss how to protect preferences in perpetuity. According to the understated, laconic lead, "[r]ace-neutral alternatives to affirmative action attracted little interest...." (Link requires subscription)
Several of those present said they planned to focus on finding ways to shield race-conscious admissions policies against future legal challenges, rather than experimenting with the alternatives to affirmative action being promoted by the Bush administration and some conservative activists.
Not to mention the Supreme Court. And, of course, that's precisely what happened: Justice O'Connor's requirement of serious consideration of race-neutral means of achieving diversity, etc., was not discussed.
The event's leaders said that much of the participants' attention focused on how colleges can best justify racial and ethnic diversity as central to their missions. Those on hand also discussed several areas in which they saw a need for additional research, such as the appropriate use of testing, the question of how to define academic "merit," and how colleges can make the best use of diversity on campuses....

Justice O'Connor's admonition regarding race-neutral alternatives to affirmative action barely came up, meeting participants said.

Plus ca change...

Reverse coding for fun and profit? 

Hey, maybe it isn't so easy to run a for-profit university after all.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has ended a preliminary probe of allegations that the University of Phoenix stole trade secrets from its former placement-testing software provider, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

If you're a subscriber to the WSJ, the fuller article is here.
Jan Caldwell, a special agent in the FBI's San Diego office, said no charges have been filed as a result of the investigation into the allegations by Chariot Software Group, a closely held San Diego company that built and maintained the university's online system for placement testing of newly enrolled students for several years. Chariot has told the FBI that the university administrators supplied high-level access passwords for its proprietary system to another vendor, which then imitated Chariot's system in a supposed redesign for the university.

"The investigation is pretty well concluded, but there might be some tail-end things going on," Ms. Caldwell said.
It can't be too good, as the stock lost 3% on a day when the market as a whole lost 1.5%.

And more progressive aid plans 

Liberal bloggers are breathing heavily over the news that the Pell Grant formula that determines how much student aid people get is probably going to reduce aid by $270 million and eliminate aid for 84,000. This is the evil Bush at work, they say. Two points. As Highered Intelligence points out, financial aid is a sop to universities. It's a very old assignment we give in public finance: Two goods, x and y, with a budget constraint, and let's call x "higher ed". Now we subsidize one of the goods. Of course, there's more spending on that good, which goes to the universities. There will be more spending on the other good as well, which is "all the other stuff we consume". Financial aid is food stamps for middle class parents with late-teen kids. I know, I have one.

Michael gets an 'A-' for his analysis; he only forgot that the fungibility of financial aid means some of the money leaks out to other uses. I recall a young student on a cellphone to her friend saying, "I'm getting my financial aid money today. Want to go shopping?" (Really.)

The other point is this: The Pell grant formula is just that, a formula. The formula has been around for awhile, The issue, according to this article (and thanks to the Accidental Administrator for this link) is that the formula requires using IRS data on state and local tax collections that are three years old. Since those taxes have gone up substantially since then, the numbers are probably understating the true cost of local and state taxes on households. Tax cuts were the rage three years ago, and since the cuts were for middle-income families more than the poor, the impact of the new formula seems to be on middle income families.
The department has yet to come up with its own figures, but an analysis was conducted by Human Capital Research, an Illinois-based consulting firm that helps universities set enrollment and aid. Its methodology was vetted by financial aid officers, and the Education Department described it as generally sound.

In the 2004-2005 academic year, when the changes first take effect, parents in places like New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington, D.C., who earn $50,000 a year may be expected to contribute $700 or so beyond what they are already paying, according to the analysis. Those earning about $25,000 may owe only an extra $165 or less, while families earning $80,000 could be expected to pay an additional $1,100 or more.

Families in Florida and California should experience a smaller increase, probably less than $500 for those earning $50,000 and about $750 for those earning $80,000. In other states like Michigan, Delaware, South Carolina or Wisconsin, the burden will likely be greater. Families earning around $25,000 may be expected to contribute an extra $220 or less, those earning $50,000 may owe $940 more, while their counterparts with $80,000 incomes may be obliged to part with an additional $1,500.

Again, like the progressive tuition plan post down two from here, the issue is not a poverty issue -- the formula changes focus on taxes, and the tax changes have had the greatest impact on those from higher-income families. Those 84,000 cut off, if that materializes, will not be 84,000 single mothers from the inner city.

I've nothing to add 

Michael has dissected this story about a hip-hop expert hired by Harvard so well that I have nothing to add. I don't know that hip hop is cave art, but if there's deep meaning in hip hop then I think it's time to have a Department of Pink Floyd Studies. I mean, that shit is really deep, man. Pass the bong.

Progressive tuition plans 

I suppose we at SCSU should be glad our tuition is only going up 15% this year. The budget disaster in California has caused both the UC and CSU systems to take their tuitions up 25% (with a pre-approved 5% more if the budget situation causes a further cut in the higher education budget.) What is novel in the UC plan is a proposal (not yet enacted) to put a surcharge on students from higher-income families.
To address that issue, in September the regents will also discuss the idea of increasing student fee revenue with a surcharge on affluent families to offset the $9,000 state subsidy the university uses to cover approximately $15,000 in instruction costs for each student. The surcharge, which could be applied to families with incomes of $90,000 or more, would take assets and family size into account.

"I am concerned we are squeezing qualified middle-income students out of the university," said Regent Tom Sayles, who proposed the idea. "I don't think we can continue to apply across-the-board increases."

About 58,000 of UC's 180,000 undergraduates have a family income of $90,000 or more, and an extra fee of just $1,000 would raise nearly $60 million. But (Larry) Hershman (UC VP for budgeting) aid it would have to be more, possibly $3,000 or more per student if it were really to make a difference.

Opponents, such as UC Regent Ward Connerly, suggest instead the high-tuition, high-aid approach that we've discussed before. As then, I find the numbers to cause my jaw to drop: Almost a third of the UC students come from families that are doing pretty well ($90k doesn't go as far in California as it does here in central Minnesota, but you wouldn't be hurting.)

Republicans are acting pretty silly on this one, as another article in the Washington Times quotes:

"I think that is outrageous," said Republican state Sen. Dick Ackerman, a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley. "There is already a significant program of financial aid and scholarships for people who can't afford to go there. You shouldn't be charging rich people more just because you can."
Except, you blockhead, that's exactly what markets do: Charge what you can, up to where marginal benefit equals marginal cost. And it's what we do with scholarships all the time. You already do it to out-of-state students, right? And the trustees there have already voted to charge out-of-state tuition to in-state students who have more than enough credits to graduate.

There's no free lunch here: There will be fewer subsidy dollars for state higher education in the near future, it is simply a matter of how you allocate them.

UPDATE: Cold Spring Shops suggests a different model.

The way in which it is being introduced is clumsy. Higher education already operates in the spirit of Adam Gimbel: nobody pays list price. The way in which the special discounts operates is cumbersome: everybody sees the same base price, then a special committee evaluates "need" and works out a price cut in the form of financial aid, or a subsidized loan. The formula by which this magic takes place is only slightly less convoluted than the PHRF rating system for keelboats (you can be first to Mackinac Light and not win the race) but it conceals the surcharge to richer families (their students don't get any financial aid.) Although the surcharge is isomorphic to the existing system, its transparency works against it. The universities might better have copied the airlines, where everyone confronts the same base price, but depending on when you book and a number of other things, you get a special discount.
Stephen also links to John Irons who links to an article on OMB Watch that includes this:
It appears that these increases are unnecessary, as there is strong support for public support of college and university students. The poll cited above {by none other than the Education Testing Service --kb} also found that �66% of respondents are willing to pay more taxes to increase financial support for college students, while 61% are willing to pay more taxes to increase support for colleges and universities.�

Finally, there is also strong backing for federal support of higher education. �Eighty-four percent (84%) of adults say that the federal government should play a significant role in higher education.�

Somebody forgot to learn about tax prices.

This is not progress 

There's a long history of governments from the Middle East buying academic research. Candace de Russy writes in the NAS Forum of the latest attempt by Saudi prince -- the same fellow that had his $10 million donation to the victims of 9/11 returned when he decided to blame US-Israeli relations for the attacks -- to create "pillars" (his word) between the American and Islamic worlds. The writers at FrontPage Magazine have noticed the parlous state of Middle Eastern studies (here's one recent example from them -- I could link a couple of dozen others), and as I've already noted, Stanley Kurtz and Jay Nordlinger have been critical as well. Armenian scholars are fuming over the purchase of a professorship at Princeton for a scholar that denies the Armenian genocide. de Russy notes that Martin Kramer covers this ground well, but she adds what I find a very telling point:
Academic "bridge-builders" of this anti-American and anti-Western persuasion would also likely propagate doctrines such as "transnational progressivism," which has gained a hearing on prominent American campuses. John Fonte of the Hudson Institute describes professors in this camp as proponents of a new transnational regime, or world government, that is post-liberal democratic and, in the American context, post-Constitutional and post-American. From these "progressive" teachers, Arab nations would be tutored in a brave new world order whose key political unit would not be the individual citizen who voluntarily associates with fellow citizens but the ethnic, racial, or gender group into which one is born. How helpful, notably, to the beleaguered citizens of Iraq, where a constitutional democracy is struggling to emerge, and where Islamists hostile to democratic values oppose self-government!
The Fonte article, if you've not read it, is worthy of study. It's the logical extension of the creation of so many Faculty Caucuses, where the fill-in is whatever group you identify with. And most of these people already label themselves "progressives" while they promote tribalism.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Feeling shirty 

Mitch, if you'll offer an SCSU version of your t-shirt, I think I can sell you a boatload.

Purchases are encouraged, or simply hit Mitch's tip jar, please.

Friday, July 18, 2003


There's a most interesting post at Crooked Timber (this is not news in and of itself -- CT is a group blog with more writers than we have) about the placement of new PhDs in philosophy from the top departments. The moral of the story is that if you can place at a very good school, do so:
So it�s not all a bed of roses. But the impression the information creates is that in philosophy at least, median to somewhat below median students at good to great departments will get pretty good jobs. And that�s a lot better both than the impression I have of most humanities disciplines, and that many people in philosophy have of the state of play within our discipline.
If you're at a less than great department, the implication is, you better get your taxi license. In comparison to the advice one gets on Invisible Adjunct, this is almost a cause for joy.

I remember when I was looking for my first position in the early 1980s (and the job I landed is the one I still have), one of my professors said if I landed at a school as good as my undergraduate institution, I should consider myself well off. This is probably true. A publication from the American Economics Association (in .pdf) suggests that at least 80% of candidates on the market get at least one offer. If you went to a top-50 institution, about half those offers were tenure-track. Coming out of a top-20 program added on average 1 to 1.6 more interviews. Good horses come from good stables. Still,

Each year, almost every economics Ph.D. program produces more Ph.D.s than it will hire. As a result, candidates from the top departments trickle down, filling openings at lower-ranked departments, crowding the graduates of those departments to jobs in departments further down the rankings. Stock, Alston, and Milkman (2000) find that the vast majority of new economics Ph.D.s in 1995-96 moved to jobs in departments at least 50 ranks below their graduate department; excluding moves to unranked departments, the average drop was 59 ranks.
I'd be interested to know how many schools were included in CT's assessment of "good schools".

Boalt the door, it's the professor! 

Not much happening here, because of course it's Friday and they've tried shutting down the place. I'm turning on the lights to frustrate them. Meanwhile, see Critical Mass' coverage of the latest turn of events at Boalt Hall, where it is now forbidden for faculty and their students to date.
The ideologues who think grown men and women are too dumb to make their own sexual decisions and too immature to take responsiblity for their mistakes, who want in particular to protect vulnerable women students from the big bad predatorial men professors who want to exploit them, have got their wish. The University of California now joins Yale, the University of Michigan, and the College of William and Mary in attempting to regulate the private behavior of consenting adults.

...In general, I think it's wise for faculty not to get involved with their students. It creates a conflict of interest; it is unfair to other students, who assume that the Chosen One is getting special treatment; and such relationships are rarely undertaken on equal grounds--often, the power differential between the student and the professor shapes the relationship in ways that are far from healthy for either one. This is particularly true when the student is much younger than the professor with whom he or she is involved.

At the same time, I object strongly to policies that seek to monitor and regulate the sexual activities of grown men and women. It's not just that this is infantilizing, intrusive, and insulting (at some schools, for example, faculty members are expected to report any involvements with any students, anywhere in the university, to their local dean: as if the private, consensual activities of grown adults is the administration's business, as if profs and students have such poor erotic judgment that their private lives simply must be policed).

I recall getting this lecture from my dean my second year of employment at SCSU. It was a "thou shalt not" speech, full of predictions of doom for the relationship and one's employment. My lady friend at that time had just graduated from SCSU, and we had started dating a month before her graduation. She's now my wife, and if you could just see who wears the pants in our family now, you'd have one counter-example to this power differential hypothesis.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

"I feel like that all the time." 

(With apologies to Steven Wright.) I was reading some baseball bulletin board discussing this New Yorker article on Bill James. For the uninitiated, James is considered the father of the use of statistical analysis in baseball, referred to as sabermetrics, and there's a quote of James, from a different article on, that perfectly describes how the Scholars sometimes feel.
"I thought that if I proved convincingly that X was a stupid thing to do, that people would stop doing X. I was wrong. People would just keep saying X."

One I missed while away 

Regarding the coverage of the Michigan cases, Thomas Reeves asks,
The vital issue facing us today is not who gets in but what goes on once they're there. That is to say, why do we fuss endlessly about admissions (especially when the great majority of colleges and universities in America let almost anyone in) when we seem to care little or nothing about what is taught and what graduates come away with? The great triumph, it seems, is to be admitted to a prestigious college or university. After that, silence.
Read the rest.

UPDATE: Reader John Bruce notes that apparently NAS' archives are phooey. I've relinked to the main Forum page: Please scroll to the July 3 entry. John notes

The academic blogs have somewhat recently re-stressed the point that to succeed in the academic job market, you need to have received your degrees from the various top-10 or top-20 institutions (Michigan among them). Yet when flaps arise at the same institutions, as over the anti-Semitic poet variously invited and disinvited and reinvited to speak at Harvard, commentators have suggested that, to gain insight into who's doing this, one browse the faculty profiles on the Harvard English Department's web site. This is a discouraging exercise, people whose main accomplishment seems to have been to acquire credentials trendy or correct or diverse enough to satisfy a bunch of trendy, correct, and diverse peers.
Links are mine. He's right.

Minnesota unbounded 

Mitch Berg has an excellent review of the obnoxious Doug Grow (a writer at the RedStarTribune) today discussing a consulting retainer Governor Pawlenty signed with a telcom company. One of the reasons I read Mitch and Lileks and Fraters regularly is that I try to understand Minnesotans (and NoDakians, in Lileks' case) as someone who didn't grow up here. My wife constantly tells me I'm not like the boys she grew up with, and I don't think she means that entirely as a compliment. So the end of Mitch's piece really caught my eye.
If you're [State Rep.] Tom Rukavina, it means talking in an accent that the Coen Brothers would have cut from Fargo as "too over the top", and acting no more literate or knowedgeable than the deadenders that stagger out of the bars at 1AM in Virginia, and waving your "roots" in people's faces, as if they, themselves, were a qualification. It means treating one's "blue collar roots" as a licence to be an ignorant buffoon, or at least to talk like one from the floor of the House.

If you're Pawlenty, it means that no matter how far one goes in life, one keeps some of the values of the place you came from. Including hard work, resourcefulness, and using your talents to their full extent.

Pawlenty left the neighborhood long ago. Now it appears he may have forgotten where it was.
One of the great glories of American Civilization is that one is not bound, any more than one chooses to be, to one's "neighborhood" or upbringing or social class, or much of anything else.

"It appears" Doug Grow has forgotten that.

Unlike the rest of the Northern Alliance, we're up in St. Cloud, a humble spot of about 60,000, mostly escapees of late 19th century Mitteleuropa which now confront immigrant waves from Southeast Asia and recently Somalia. Most came with very little and made their way. In my hometown of Manchester, NH, the south side of town was filled with these kinds of people -- mostly French-speaking refugees from late 19th century Quebec with a handful of Slavs and Irish -- and that's where I grew up. We see the same thing there -- there are so many of my old friends from there that never left, who wear their love of the Sawx and the Pats and the Celts around like badges of honor that make them privileged enough to know how to snicker at Whitey Bulger jokes. One of my uncles once said of San Diego, "Been they-uh once. Don't need to go they-uh again." He's a Rukavina (though he's nice enough to my children I shouldn't kvetch.) There are loads of Rukavinas here in St. Cloud and the rest of the world. What's refreshing is when you see someone who pulled themselves up and still kept their core values, which Mitch says is Pawlenty and Lileks says today about Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. But when they don't toe the line of agreeing to pay taxes whenever desired, they are decried for ruining Minnesota Nice. What's forgotten is that Minnesota wasn't Nice for them when they got here, just as it isn't always nice for Somali and Hmong immigrants today. You made it that way by being unbounded.

How much is that flag-gy in the window? 

Rather than get into a sticky mess over the Confederate flag, the Office of Residential Life at the University of Alabama has decided to ban any and all displays on dorm windows. Doors are exempt, so that should be the next battleground for Dixie. Said one member of the Res Life office, "The policy has to do with the windows, and was never about flags. Windows should not be used as a political forum." Tell that to the person occupying the second floor of Brown Hall in the northeast corner office here at SCSU. There's still a huge Wellstone poster up there. Somehow I doubt it would be treated so benignly if it was a Bush/Cheney poster. The odd part, of course, is that anything is barred but the Res Life person discusses only political messages. If the policy is directed at political messages, it's pretty certainly a First Amendment violation. But if someone hangs a chartreuse shade to keep out the sun? How about a beer poster?

Folks at Alabama are not satisfied with this action. On the discussion board that is at the bottom of the above-linked news article, Prof. Charles Nuckolls has sounded the clarion call

The university's new policy on window displays represents an unacceptable infringement of the right of free speech. It must be vigorously opposed. The Alabama Scholars Association is prepared to assist any student in bringing action against the University, including legal action, if necessary. Our rights are simply too precious to allow a group of PR-sensitive administrators to take them away. We are pleased that the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has already written an official complaint to President Witt. I urge all students to do likewise, and to contact the ASA if they need assistance.
Advantage: ASA!

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Academic Position Description Writing 201 

In the process of settling the now-famous anti-Semitism suit last year, MnSCU and the plaintiffs agreed to fund a new Jewish communal center. They are looking for a director and have posted their ad now. Under "qualifications and experience" they list:
We are looking for someone who has the skills and enthusiasm to establish a center for Jewish Studies and communal relations in an environment in which Jewish culture has been mostly invisible.
Um, yeah. Unless you read the newspapers about these suits we've been having.
The center emerges from the University�s commitment to address past problems.
What about that sentence reflects on "qualifications and experience"? What is the point of putting this in the ad? What does it say about the biases of the people doing the hiring? Worse, what kind of person applies for a job with these red flags waving in the breeze?

I note that the chair of the search committee is also the president of the Jewish Faculty Association, which carries three of the five seats on the search committee. Apparently position description writing wasn't a factor in deciding who would be on the committee.

Careful with that banana 

Stuart Taylor in National Journal covers the Cal Poly case and uncovers some other examples of speech codes on campus:
Here are some representative examples of rules that appear to be current as far as FIRE could tell from checking university Web sites: Georgetown warns (PDF) against "expression" that is "inappropriate" and that severely offends others on matters of "race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual preference." (Would that include quoting Justice Antonin Scalia's acerbic dissent from the June 26 Supreme Court decision upholding gay rights?) At the University of Massachusetts, students can be disciplined for speaking in ways that create a "sexually offensive" environment, or for displaying "offensive or sexually suggestive" pictures, cartoons, or posters. At Princeton, they can be disciplined for "unwanted sexual attention that makes a person feel uncomfortable." (Asking for a date after being once turned down?) At Brown, "unwelcome verbal expressions," "degrading language," "jokes or innuendoes," "sounds or whistles," and "gestures" can amount to sexual harassment. At Dartmouth, "sexual harassment [can be] subtle and indirect, possibly even unintentional." Many campuses define "leering" as a form of harassment. A training document once used at the University of Maryland even warned against "holding or eating food provocatively." (Handle bananas with care.)
Mike Adams, the ubiquitous UNC-Wilmington professor who is making a name for himself on TownHall, is applying for the position of Director of the Office for Campus Diversity and would help with this problem:
Perhaps most importantly, I will seek to have all university speech codes abolished. Currently, we promote the idea of diversity through affirmative action and a number of other programs. If those programs succeed in bringing people with different views together, we must expect them to get offended from time to time. Therefore, speech codes are at odds with our larger diversity mission.

My final goal will be to abolish the Office of Campus Diversity. Every professor should know that it is their duty to prepare students to function in our democratic society. They should also know that the United States Constitution is the cornerstone of our democracy. Therefore, we will simply hand each professor a copy of the Constitution along with their apartment finder packets when they arrive to teach here. Hopefully, they will begin by reading the First Amendment. This will save the taxpayers a lot of money by not having to pay my salary as Director of Diversity. I will probably start a radio talk show after I abolish my job.

So happens, Mike, we've got an opening too! May I nominate you?

Stop calling me 

Do you ever get announcements that make you go "huh?" From our administration:
There have recently been some misunderstandings on the part of individuals from off campus who call SCSU offices on Fridays. When they receive the voice mail intercept it indicates there call will be returned but in many cases the fact that the University is closed on Friday and calls will not likely be returned until Monday is not clear.

Please verify that the message that callers receive on Fridays indicates that we are closed Fridays for the summer and, where appropriate, an alternate contact for an emergency.

Let me guess -- taxpayers are contacting SCSU and can't figure out why the university is closed on Fridays. Funny enough, neither MSU-Moorhead nor MSU-Mankato have this problem. So maybe they're leaving messages at the administrative affairs office and those folks don't like 'em? Tough.

Friday, July 11, 2003

You're kidding, right? 

I'm sure this idiot could get a job here.
A political science instructor at Santa Rosa Junior College is being investigated by the Secret Service for telling his students to compose an e- mail to an elected official that included the words "kill the president, kill the president," a school administrator said Wednesday.

Michael Ballou, a part-time lecturer who teaches an "Introduction to U.S. Government" course at the college's Petaluma campus, intended the assignment to be an "experiential exercise that would instill a sense of fear so they would have a better sense of why more people don't participate in the political process," said Doug Garrison, the vice president and executive dean of the Petaluma campus.

However, it "clearly is a violation of our board policies," said Garrison, who learned of the incident on Monday from campus police officials and immediately summoned Ballou to his office for an explanation. He said Ballou was continuing to teach his classes while the matter was under investigation by the Secret Service.

Ballou did not respond to requests for an interview.

See, it was "an experiential exercise that would instill a sense of fear." It scared Mr. Ballou from explaining his assignment.
"Whether the intention was there or not, he created an environment where he was jeopardizing students," Garrison said.
Note that there's no discussion of the silliness of the message, or its slant. Were it not for the illegality of making lethal threats against the president, would Santa Rosa JC's administration even taken notice?

Nickel and Dimed, Drawn and Quartered 

TongueTied links to an article in the Raleigh News and Observer on how some North Carolina legislators are unhappy over the use of Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickeled and Dimed as a required reading for incoming freshmen at UNC-Chapel Hill.
The Committee for a Better Carolina, a student group formed this year to promote "balance and fairness in education at UNC-Chapel Hill," took out full-page newspaper ads criticizing the book. In an ad in The News & Observer, the students called the book "a classic Marxist rant" that portrays business people as exploiters of working-class Americans.

The students said they would create their own Web site with alternative readings to the Ehrenreich book.

Michael McKnight, a UNC-CH senior and founder of the group, said he wants to expose students to other viewpoints. "It's easy to say that freshmen will research on their own, but the university is presenting one point of view," he said. "You tend to think what your teachers and professors tell you is correct, especially coming out of high school."

I hope they do so, though the Carolina Review has already covered this with a link to Larry Schweikart's review in Ideas on Liberty (the successor to The Freeman, a journal that changed me politically.) It is a bad book for many reasons.

My first reaction was to shrug this off, or perhaps get a little peevish about the Right practicing the type of censorship that the Left has done so well for the last twenty years. But if you want to see the thought process that went into the selection of this book, take a look at the discussion questions. "Who should take the lead in solving the problems of low-wage work in America?" assumes that it's a problem. As Schweikart points out, it isn't a problem: My own teen needs to learn basic skills of work and minimum wage jobs are the right place for him to learn them. All teens do. Take a visit to a former Soviet country, where there was no incentive to learn these skills because they were irrelevant to whether or not you had work, and tell me what the level of customer service in these countries is like today.

5. Ehrenreich's account is a reflection of her own experience. How might her experience have been different if she were male? If she were a person of color? If she had little education? How do issues of race, class, or gender connect with low-wage work?
Sheesh. If she couldn't answer that question, how the heck would incoming students to UNC? This is no doubt part of the "works program" for multi-culti education at UNC.

Seeing this and the additional readings (which deserve more of the opprobrium leveled by the legislators than Ehrenreich herself) I'd say the Committee has a point. There is no attempt to provide any balance within the whole course itself.

Add to this comments made by Eric Muller, a UNC law professor and author of the good Is That Legal? blog on the lack of balance in last year's book selection on the Qu'ran. He is more sanguine that students will suss out the bias in this year's selection. I hope so, but as one of the commenters on his site suggests, it's more likely they'll parrot the answer they believe is expected of them.

Going postal 

A former faculty member sent me this item from one of those free shopper newspapers in the Houston area:
Fascinating fact ...
A crocodile cannot stick its tongue out!

This just in ...

At St. Cloud University in St. Cloud, Minn., they are trying to cut back on expenses.

And, in their ongoing effort to save a few dollars, it has been decided that, among other things, tuition statements for the Spring 2003 semester would not be mailed out.

Instead, to save postage, the statements would simply be put online for the students to access.

To get the word out about the new change in policy a notice was mailed to each student."

Quoth my friend, "I was really surprised to read this since I thought a crocodile could stick its tongue out."

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Iranian blogger entry 

Today is Iranian blogger's day, and Instapundit says that the students have called off protests in Iran after being threatened with massive force. Since words are all we have, maybe time for a story...

I went to graduate school in the fall of 1979. There were twelve entering students in the economics program, with three of us American. A Chinese woman, a Korean, and seven Arab students, including at least four Iranians. First year graduate school is of course a battle for survival, and for me it was the first time away from home, having lived with my parents through my college years. I also had gone from right to left coast, so it was all new.

I had an American roommate, but the other economics students closest to us were the Iranians, and the food they ate was close to the food I had (my mom, not Armenian, had learned how to cook for my dad from his mother, and Mom is better at Armenian cooking than any other type.) They also played cards, chess, and backgammon, so they were natural friends for me, and we studied and ate dinner together often. So when the hostages were taken, I -- sheltered youth of New Hampshire -- am puzzled by what to do. I ask these guys, what do you think? One of them named Farzad takes off his shirt, right there outside his apartment. His left shoulder is puckered and looks slightly out of kilter to his right. What happened? "I was driving with my father, who was an officer in the army," he said. "We got shot."

It's worth remembering this: These kids were told to come home or else they would receive no money and no help from the new government in Iran. They chose to stay, even though it could not be easy for them to go out at night. They were a delightfully funny bunch -- they did not drink, but Farzad had a hairbrained scheme for making money at the blackjack tables (I watched it fail), they were the model for Two Wild and Crazy Guys at bad clubs in Pomona, and they'd spend hours fixing a dinner with spaghetti only to fight over the burned pasta at the bottom of the pan -- burnt starch is apparently a Persian delicacy, de gustibus and all that.

As far as I know, all of these fellows are still here in America, all finished their degrees, and are all teaching at places very much like my SCSU. Farzad married another Persian economist -- God knows they'll have many beautiful but seriously disturbed children. (Economists should not intermarry, btw.) Reza moved to Wisconisn, Masoud and his brothers still call Claremont home, but it is my wish for them is to have back the country they came from, some day, to see as it was once if they wish (and not, if they prefer).

If any of them are reading: Shoma koja, inja koja. Long time no see.

Saturday, July 05, 2003

It's Bill Whittle day 

Go read. Not one in five members of the faculty at SCSU will get it.

Friday, July 04, 2003

Incompetence, fraud, or affirmative inaction? 

This Independence Day the top local story in the St. Paul Pioneer Press deals with a unique kind of perceived freedom. Apparently, administrators of SCSU�s �sister� MnSCU university, Metro State, believed that they did not have to comply with federal law that governs students� required academic eligibility standards for receiving financial aid. Metro State will have to repay the U.S. Department of Education almost $1.1 million, including a $205,000 penalty.

"We have people here who . . . made bad judgments,� said the Twin Cities� Metro State President Wilson Bradshaw. That kind of non-response, of course, forces one to ask, �Why?� Were these �bad judgments� the result of incompetence, fraud with �bad intent,� or perhaps some kind of well intentioned, but illegal �affirmative inaction� when asked to enforce federal academic standards on economically disadvantaged students who had sought financial aid? What other kinds of explanations could there be?

No matter what the reason for these �bad judgments� may be, Minnesota�s taxpayers should be demanding to know why Metro State�s Financial Aid Director Jim Cleaveland has been put on paid administrative leave since May. How long will he receive pay? Does MnSCU�s Chancellor care? Who knows? We simply note that the Chancellor�s new 2003-04 Annual Work Plan�s top four priorities mention nothing about accountability!

All this bad news comes less than four months after another shocking report of MnSCU�s member institutions' having an unpaid receivable total from students that, as a percentage of annual tuition and fees billed, is 50% higher than that of the U of MN, and almost twice the comparable figure for Wisconsin�s University system. After Metro State, guess which MnSCU campus tied for second worst in collecting monies from students? You guessed it . . . St. Cloud State University. Look for Minnesota�s Office of the Legislative Auditor to resume trying to get MnSCU to understand the importance of adopting and enforcing "performance measures."

Hey you're a star! 

Bidding for talent happens in more places than just sports. I was chatting with a fellow here who used to work at the now-ACC-bound University of Miami. I remember when they went on a buying spree of academics not too long ago (no football jokes, now, please!) and among others got Neil Wallace away from the University of Minnesota. It didn't help them much, alas, and Wallace has since moved on to Penn State.

So now we read another article about bidding on superstar academics. While I groaned on seeing Carol Gilligan (she's no more a superstar than Joe Mays), there are some fascinating bits here of who's being paid how much to do what. I found the piece on Sachs particularly entertaining -- his work at the Harvard Institute for International Development didn't end so well and yet he managed to land on his feet. (From what I can tell, Harvard should be unhappy about letting him get away, but they take a couple of swipes at him as he headed out.)

I don't have anything really insightful to say about the article, except that it even more confirms my opinion that the tournament pay models in economics are increasingly becoming useful in predicting what happens in paying professionals.

Sure, I leave, and the whole blogosphere goes to pot 

So what I want to know, Saint Paul, is how did you goof up our name?

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

The way out? Give them a horse 

Thanks to reader Paul Nelson for this pointer: Peter Kirsanow suggests that Grutter is littered with landmines for those wanting to use racial preferences in admissions, and that the map to them was laid out by the dissenting justices.
Put simply, enrolling a critical mass of minorities merely to assure that a percentage of the entering class consists of members of preferred racial/ethnic groups is patently unconstitutional. So it is imperative that the institution be able to demonstrate educational benefits flowing from student-body diversity. (Note that the burden is not on the school to show this in the first instance, but it must be able rebut a showing that the benefits are specious.)

This is the most frustrating part of the Michigan case. As a seemingly exasperated Scalia notes, the issue of alleged educational benefits was not truly contested in Grutter. The Court simply took UM's data in support and ran with it. Had there been a real battle of rival data on this issue, the outcome in Grutter � including the holding that diversity is a compelling state interest � may well have been different. But while frustrating, it is also reason for optimism.

Justice Scalia states that a court may question whether in a particular setting any educational benefits flow from diversity. Simply because a court grants deference to a university's academic determination does not mean a wholesale abdication of judicial review follows. This is the most glaring vulnerability of the Michigan-style programs.

Kirsanow shows that this creates three problems. First, you need to show that a critical mass in fact creates benefits for the preferred groups, a claim already shown to be dubious. Second, why one group over another? Why not Hispanics rather than blacks? What about native Americans? Third, race can't be a plus factor -- this creates huge costs for admissions offices.

But the money point is this:

A college's assertion that diversity promotes cross-cultural understanding, breaks down racial barriers, and inspires more lively classroom discussions fails if the college provides separate housing for minority students, sponsors minority-exclusive organizations, holds separate graduation ceremonies for minorities, or conducts minority-only orientation programs. Moreover, an argument could be made that racialist courses masquerading as serious ethnic studies and attended almost exclusively by students of a particular ethnicity undermine the college's stated educational benefits. Even separate tracks for employer recruitment (minority career days) or preferences for positions on a law journal may be problematic. Standing alone, none of the above may rescind the presumption of good faith, but cumulatively they spell trouble.
I've not spent much time on the Michigan cases on this site because I have been unclear if they're the Armageddon some have suggested. Kirsanow's timely article makes me more confident that the Supremes have not given our opponents a victory, but rather a Trojan horse. It helps for me to be overseas and not see the news coverage you are apparently seeing in America. For those who like this site's point of view, I'd urge you to sit back and look at this thing a little more dispassionately, perhaps from the lake cabin, and see that the glass is half-full, maybe three-quarters.

Comments that I am a silly optimist are invited.

They need GOP safe space training 

At Cal Poly SLO, there's been another violation of free speech:
On November 12, 2002, Steve Hinkle, an undergraduate and a member of the Cal Poly College Republicans (CPCR), posted fliers advertising a speech by Mason Weaver, author of "It's OK to Leave the Plantation." In that book, Weaver argues that dependence on the government puts many African-Americans in circumstances similar to slavery. Weaver's speech was sponsored by both CPCR and the student government. The flier contained merely the title of the book, a photograph of the author (who is African-American), and the time and location of the speech.

When Hinkle sought to post a flier on a public bulletin board in the Multicultural Center, several students approached him. They claimed that they were "offended" by the flier and that it was in violation of the Center's posting policy. Hinkle left to check the policy, confirming that he was indeed in compliance. While he was gone, one of the students called the university police. The officer summoned to the Center stated in writing that he was investigating a report of "a suspicious white male passing out literature of an offensive racial nature."

The students in the Multicultural Center admit trying to prevent Hinkle from advertising the event. Charges were brought not against these censors, however, but against Hinkle himself. On January 29, 2003, Cal Poly charged Hinkle with "disruption" of a "campus event." The students who objected to the posting of the flier claimed that they were holding a Bible study dinner and meeting at the time of the incident. The university's "finding of facts" notes that the Bible study group is not officially recognized, that the bulletin board is in a public "student lounge area," and that no notice of any kind indicated that a meeting was underway at the time.

In February, Cal Poly subjected Hinkle to a lengthy hearing. He was denied the right to have a lawyer present at the proceedings, but his faculty advisor made a transcript. At that hearing, Cornel Morton, vice president for student affairs, told Hinkle: "You are a young white male member of CPCR. To students of color, this may be a collision of experience.... The chemistry has racial implications, and you are naive not to acknowledge those."

On March 12, Vice Provost W. David Conn found Hinkle guilty. Conn ordered Hinkle to write letters of apology to the offended students. The sentencing letter from Conn stated that the text of the apology would be subject to the approval of the Office of Judicial Affairs. The letter also warned that "there is no parameter or guarantee regarding the confidentiality of the letter [of apology]" and that "this decision is final." Conn informed Hinkle that if he did not accept this punishment, he would face much stiffer penalties, up to expulsion.

FIRE is representing Hinkle, and has put up a copy of his flyer. It's not as informative as I would have wanted it, and perhaps more information would have helped make it less offensive. But given that the students in the Multicultural Center went to the nuisance (shades of our Israeli flag incident?) and created a commotion, I doubt it. What is telling about the reply from the university's lawyer is that nowhere does he refute the point that the meeting that the university claims was disrupted by Hinkle's posting is a legitmate campus function -- stating "many of your factual assertions concerning the circumstances related to the meeting Mr. Hinkle disrupted are incorrect" is itself an assertion -- which FIRE states it was not. Therefore I fail to see the time and place requirements asserted for the university's restriction on Mr. Hinkle's speech rights.

As a request, if anyone can point me to where courts have ruled that universities can deny lawyers to students in disciplinary proceedings, I'd be grateful. I'm unaware of where the rule comes from.

UPDATE 7/2/03: Erin O'Connor and Eugene Volokh are on the case and reports that FIRE has a copy of a letter by the investigating officer saying he never saw Hinkle there and that there was no disruption found. Time to fact-check SLO's ass.