Monday, April 11, 2005

What happens when academics lose trust? 

If you've followed the story (we discussed it here) of the Columbia University report, you know there is a backlash. Paul Mihrengoff, "Deacon" of Powerline, shows that the backlash will consume any ability for academics to govern themselves:
If a professor becomes grossly uncivil, a student can complain, but only to a committee that probably would be unable to adjudicate the matter while the student is still under the professor's dominion. And if the committee did resolve the complaint, it likely would accept the ludicrous half-defenses offered by the likes of Professor Saliba, excuse misconduct based on such technicalities as the location of the building where it occurred, or (if all else failed) fall back on the 'warmth' of the offending professor.
So what will be the likely outcome? Students will find it themselves increasingly tempted to take differences within the classroom to litigation.

We should be very concerned as academics; we have only ourselves to blame.