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No America, Please, We’re Global

What is Global Studies? Nobody seems to have a very clear idea, according to an article on the web site Inside Higher Ed by reporter Elizabeth Redden. Her account of a Washington D.C. academic gathering sponsored by the Association of International Educators Administrators leaves readers pretty much in the dark. The article begins and ends with similar head-scratching quotes. Opening line: “What exactly do we mean when we say ‘global studies’?” (the speaker was Niklaus Steiner, director of the Center for Global Initiatives at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.) Closing line: “[it’s] much more than renamed international studies. But what does that mean? Where does that leave us?” (also Steiner).

Despite all the murk, let’s assume the obvious – that global studies have something to do with the process of globalization. But why isn’t this field included in the well-established international studies programs? Because it’s completely different, said Sara Tully West of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee The university has a bachelor’s degree program in global studies that she says is distinct from the already existing international studies program. The global studies major, she says, is intended to be more pre-professional than international studies, a liberal arts program. This is one clue to global studies – it is, in part at least, the beginning of a new trade school, embedded in the universities, preparing students for jobs in global management and security. The University of Illinois has created a global studies librarian position. Presumably someone with a global degree would be a step ahead of other candidates for that job and many others.

Oddly, when the globalists explain what they do, they tend to mention studies that have long been part of the traditional curriculum – science, technology, environment, economics, foreign languages, geography, anthropology, religious studies, world history. Writing under the headline, “The Disciplined Undiscipline of Global Studies, ” Michael Bowler, global studies acting director at Winona State University says, “It is clear that global studies is not a discipline but a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary area of study, that is, the world in its diversity and complexity… [It] seeks to understand the worlds through multiple perspectives, and at times through a holistic, integrated, interdisciplinary lens.”

Make sense of that if you can. But here’s a different thought: for decades now the universities have been downgrading or simply jettisoning western history, literature and culture. Disdain for patriotism and American identity is high on campus. The refusal to allow ROTC and military recruiters on campuses is not simply because of the armed forces’ don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy on gays. They also stand in the way of the dissociation of the colleges from American national politics and identity. The heavy recent emphasis on international students, study abroad and the creation of satellite campuses in foreign countries are all part of this trend. “Academic programs in American government or in American studies will be increasingly de-emphasized on the grounds that they are parochial, in much the same way as programs in Western civilization were de-emphasized in the past,” said James Piereson, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the head of the Institute’s Center for the American University, which sponsors this web site. “It seems strange and perhaps even impossible to think that universities can detach themselves from the nation which funds, protects and encourages them – yet it would have seemed just as strange a century ago to have asserted that within a few generations these same institutions would divest themselves of all religious influence.”

Some years ago when Swarthmore students were arguing over whether it was respectable to fly an American flag on campus, the president of the college ruled that the flag was okay, but only because America happened to be the geographic entity in which Swarthmore is located. A dissociating globalist ahead of his time.

Orwell Lives

FOR SOME LIBERALS, INTELLECTUAL DIVERSITY SHOULD BE BANNED

“In order to enhance diversity, it was necessary to suppress it,” Walter Olson writes at Overlawyered.com, referring to a transgendered Californian who is suing a Catholic hospital for refusing to perform a breast augmentation procedure. As usual in legal attempts to override religious and moral objections, the plaintiff, Charlene Hastings, cites antidiscrimination law and consumer rights. The state’s Unruh law guarantees full services regardless of one’s sex, race, color, ancestry, or disability. The hospital, Seton Medical Center in Daly City, has not clearly explained its position, but it apparently views breast enlargement in this case as part of a sex-change process that it objects to on moral grounds. In a written statement, a spokeswoman said that the hospital “does not perform surgical procedures contrary to Catholic teaching, for example, abortion, direct euthanasia surgery or any of its related components.” The procedure is elective and surely not an emergency, and there is no shortage of hospitals in the San Francisco area willing to increase the plaintiff’s hormone-assisted breast size. Yet the case is likely to be framed as a bias violation, with little attention paid to the right of voluntary service institutions to operate by their own moral rules.The 2006 controversy over gay adoptions in Massachusetts is the classic example of how antidiscrimination law is used against religious institutions. In the conventional liberal narrative, the refusal of Boston Catholic Charities to approve gay adoptions was a simple issue of discrimination. Generally absent from the discussion was this question: Under what conditions can the state force churches and religious agencies either to violate their own principles or to quit providing social services altogether?

In effect, Massachusetts used its licensing power to bring the Church to heel—no gay adoptions, no license to conduct any adoptions. Acting on traditional social principles—that one father and one mother are best for children—became bias. Rather than capitulate, Catholic Charities retired from the adoption field after 103 years, leaving other agencies in the state with an enormous new caseload. Catholic Charities had shouldered 31 percent of the state’s special-needs adoptions—children who were abused, neglected, disturbed, or handicapped—almost entirely at its own cost. Very little was at stake for gays wishing to adopt, since all other agencies in the state approved gay adoptions. All gays lost was access to adoption through a Catholic agency.

John Garvey, dean of the Boston College Law School, argues that the most pressing concern should have been religious freedom, not who was right about gay families. “When freedom is at stake, the issue is never whether the claimant is right,” he writes, any more than freedom of the press requires publishers to guarantee that everything they print is true. “Freedom of religion is above all else a protection for ways of life the society views with skepticism or distaste.”

Pressure is increasing on churches and believers to accept dominant secular norms. The pressure includes laws requiring Catholic institutions to provide medical plans offering “morning after” pills to female employees, attempts to force religious hospitals to approve abortions and abortion training, and campus efforts to force Christian evangelical groups to allow sexually active gays into leadership positions.

Jean Bethke Elshtain, a professor of social and political ethics at the University of Chicago Divinity School, calls this establishment pressure “liberal monism.” She means that those who talk the most about diversity and pluralism are often the most willing to mandate that all private and religious institutions conform to one ideological framework. Liberals, she says, are eradicating the differences needed to make tolerance a viable practice. In order to enhance diversity, it is necessary to suppress it.

The deans of diversity

Yale’s burgeoning diversity program has another announcement: it wants to “incorporate the role of ethnic counselor into that of freshman counselor, who will become responsible for providing enhanced community support for cultural affairs on campus,” according to the Yale Daily News. What does that mean? Well, according to the News, which neglected to supply an English-language version of the plan, “students would become increasingly aware of extant cultural resources on campus, along with gaining knowledge of new support to be rolled out under the restructure.” Okay, that clears it all up. There is, however, dissent. “This is unbelievable. It reads like an article from the Onion,” said the first reader comment on the News site yesterday. “Do these people realize they are becoming laughing stocks?” Apparently not. The feeling at Yale seems to be that most students lack sufficient diversity awareness and are in some danger of going mainstream instead of remaining in their identity cubbyholes. Yale currently has 90 residential counselors in its 12 residential colleges and only 13 ethnic counselors, hardly enough by today’s diversity standards. The Daily News says the ethnic counselors have a “sometimes nebulous role within the college community,” but nebulousness seems destined to fade. The goal, as one ethnicity counselor told the News, is to change the culture at Yale so students aren’t afraid to talk about diversity and race and “really understand the way in which ethnicity plays a role in their life within the residential colleges.” To that end, the “intercultural educators” take a missionary position, planning speeches and intercultural events, and preaching the diversity gospel.

Along the way, the Yale diversicrats seem determined to segment the student population into smaller and smaller identity groups. The university hired a new assistant dean for Native American affairs. In yesterday’s Yale Daily News, dean of freshman affairs George Levesque was quoted as opining that it no longer makes sense to lump Saudi, Japanese and Pakistani students into the Asian category. So maybe Yale will have more official ethnic groups and an expanded set of deans for ethnic affairs. For at least a generation, the relentless spread of diversity ideology on campus has produced a sprawling set of programs apt to pop up almost anywhere on campus, even in dorms, as the indoctrination program at the University of Delaware makes clear. Yale even has a diversity council in its library system. In the last few years, some universities have brought these programs together under a diversity czar. Yale has a chief diversity officer. Ohio University has a vice provost for diversity, access and equity, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison has a vice president for diversity and climate. The University of Iowa has a special assistant to the president for diversity and associate provost for diversity who oversees the office of equal opportunity and diversity and the center for diversity and enrichment. As the programs multiply, the czars gain ever more clout  Some of the effort is clearly to make diversity rather than merit the standard for admissions and faculty appointments. But there is a vague, quasi-religious belief in diversity for its own sake that believers can never quite explain. Google the question “What does a diversity officer do?” and you get two veteran diversicrats, Damon Williams and Katrina Wade-Gordon, saying this: “Chief diversity officers have responsibility for guiding efforts to conceptualize, define, assess, nurture and cultivate diversity as an institutional and educational resource… Chief diversity officers define their mission as providing point and coordinating leadership for diversity issues institution-wide.”  Ah, so now we know.

A Conservative Hate Crime Hoax

It is slowly dawning on the public that fake hate crimes, like the one just perpetrated by Princeton student Francisco Nava, are quite common on college campuses. Perhaps some aspiring academic, casting about for a PhD. thesis, will try to explain why these hoaxes – mostly imaginary rapes or fake attacks on black students – have come to seem so routine.

I have been following the phenomenon and writing occasional columns on the subject for ten or twelve years. When my eldest daughter was at Oberlin, the campus was propelled into uproar by anti-Asian graffiti in the campus quad. Someone had written “Death to Chinks” and other racial slurs on the monument to members of the Oberlin community who had died in the Boxer rebellion in China. Anger, various demands and a few scuffles went on for weeks until an Asian-American student announced that she had written the graffiti to make manifest the racism she thought was inherent in the monument. This turns out to be a popular rationale for faking hate crimes – the need to create a fictional outrage adequate to express the feelings of an angry student. The more campus voices are raised against “institutional racism” and the alleged sexual dangerousness of all males, the more fake race crimes and fake rapes there will be. Look into the hoax reports and you will see an endless parade of students painting racist graffiti on their own cars, tearing their clothes and writing hate phrases on their own bodies or sending themselves politically useful death threats.

Many campus hoaxes turn out to be teaching instruments of a sort, conscious lies intended to reveal broad truths about constant victimization of women and minorities. At a “Take Back the Night” rally in Princeton in the 90s, a female student told a graphic story of her rape on campus. When the alleged rapist threatened to sue, she recanted the story and a spokeswoman for the Women’s Center said, “Listen we can’t hope to find truth in all these stories,” meaning that the story line was important, not the truth of any one rape.

After the Tawana Brawley case, an article in The Nation said about the faked kidnapping and rape: “in cultural perspective, if not in fact, it doesn’t matter whether the crime occurred or not.” If it helps the cause, who cares if the story is true?

The Francisco Nava case is a rarity – a hate crime created and reported by a campus conservative. Nava, a junior from Texas, said two men assaulted him about two miles from the campus, punched him and repeatedly bashed his head against a brick wall. Nava is a leader in Princeton’s Anscombe Society, a group that speaks out against homosexuals and premarital sex. Earlier three other members of the society, as well as Nava and conservative professor Robert George received death threats.

Several nationally known conservatives immediately denounced the university or the left in general for not reacting quickly to the threats. There’s a grain of truth in this. Princeton’s security did not investigate the alleged death threats. Still, conservatives who jumped the gun and assumed that Nava’s story was true acted foolishly. Robert George had a calmer reaction, quizzing Nava closely and reminding him that if his story was a fabrication, he would be subject to criminal penalties. The best article came from Ryan Anderson of the conservative religious journal First Things. On the magazine’s site, he wrote about about the temptation for both left and right to take sides too early and use the incident for political advantage.

Writing on the Volokh Conspiracy site, UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh had the best one-paragraph warning to any conservatives tempted to fake a hate crime:

You spread unjustified fear and anger. You slander the Left. You make your friends on the Right (and elsewhere) who came to your defense look like dupes. And you further undermine others on the Right, some of whom might face real threats or attacks in the future but who will have a harder time being believed because of you. Lovely.

Bad News: Brodhead Keeps His Job

The Alice-in-Wonderland view of Duke University received yet another boost: a committee of the board of trustees has affirmed President Richard Brodhead’s “compelling vision” for Duke and found “general support, overwhelming support, for the leadership that the president is providing.”The obvious question here is “What leadership?” Brodhead’s performance during the Duke non-rape crisis was surely a disgrace large enough to get him fired immediately on any moderately alert campus.

Let’s review Brodhead’s dismal handling of the case. He fired the lacrosse coach without any hearing or finding that the coach had done anything wrong. He took no action and made no relevant statement when some of the hard-left professors harassed lacrosse players in class, and when one professor punitively reduced the marks of one player. (Imagine how he would have sprung into action if a gay person or a woman had been treated this way.) He refused to look at the overwhelming evidence, offered to him by defense counsel, that the boys were innocent. He made no comment when the racist black professor Houston Baker bitterly and falsely denounced the three white players. He said nothing and did nothing when death threats were made against the three. Instead of offering protection, he and his administration appointed a committee to examine “persistent problems involving the men’s lacrosse team, including racist language and a pattern of alcohol abuse and disorderly behavior,” a statement clearly implying that the players were racists while an out-of-control prosecutor was issuing the same untruths to voters and jurors.

Still Brodhead knows how the game is played and he surely judged his strategy by what happened to President Lawrence Summers at Harvard. Summers told many unwelcome truths and leftist professors forced him out. Brodhead told some welcome untruths and therefore kept his job. Brodhead ‘s performance was “a moral meltdown” of a cowardly man, in the words of Stuart Taylor Jr. and K C Johnson in their book, Until Proven Innocent. But given the moral climate of the modern university, cowardice was probably his safest course. But given the moral climate of the modern university, cowardice was probably his safest course.The Alice-in-Wonderland view of Duke University received yet another boost: a committee of the board of trustees has affirmed President Richard Brodhead’s “compelling vision” for Duke and found “general support, overwhelming support, for the leadership that the president is providing.”But given the moral climate of the modern university, cowardice was probably his safest course.

But given the moral climate of the modern university, cowardice was probably his safest course.

Diversity–There’s Never Enough

Yale’s college council has come up with a bright idea: it endorsed a call for each of the twelve residential colleges on campus to have two diversity coordinators. The relentless expansion of what Claremont McKenna professor Frederick Lynch calls “the diversity machine” is not exactly breaking news. Diversity is a restless quasi-religion whose missionaries are ever on the move. Yale already has an impressively vast diversity bureaucracy headed by Nydia Gonzalez, the new chief diversity officer. She is working on a long-term plan, “Diversity Yale 2010 and Beyond.” Each school has its own system of diversity apparatchiks. There’s even a Yale library diversity council with 10 to 16 members and a three-year diversity program. Now Yale’s Coalition for Campus Unity (CCU) is encouraging the residential colleges to create “some kind of diversity-awareness position or board.” A board of, say, ten members in each college would add 120 new officials – another diversity gusher. Last February, Yale continued its long-term program to segment the student body into ever smaller ethnic and sexual groups. It hired a new assistant dean for Native American affairs. Can anyone say that a provost for the transgendered is somehow out of the question?

Why does Yale, or any university, need to keep creating more diversicrats? Undergraduate Robert Sanchez says his group, CCU, “thought most Yale students lacked sufficient cultural awareness,” i.e. a high enough degree of enthusiasm for the diversity movement. Sanchez, according to the Yale Daily News, seems distressed that “when we have these forums and panels we are preaching to the choir because only a certain demographic of students attend the event.” This certainly sounds familiar. I grew up Catholic, and while everybody went to Sunday mass, the nuns and priests frequently would express their anguish that few parishioners bothered with daily mass. Perhaps unwisely, the parish neglected to address the crisis by naming a few dozen boards of pro-mass officials.

Sanchez called attention to two offensive graffiti discovered a month ago on campus. Everyone knows that most campus graffiti, even the hoaxes and pranks, provoke calls for more diversity. You are not allowed to simply erase the scrawls and dismiss their authors as morons. No, you must behave as Yale did. The deans of the college and the graduate school sent emails to all, stressing how appalled they were. “We Shall Overcome” was sung at a Rally Against hate. Four major panel discussions covering the history and sociology of hate were scheduled. Yale decided to coordinate all of its multicultural centers to create a campus-wide team to addresses the graffiti. Yale will develop a new “protocol” for coping with hate speech on campus.

What an impressive display of diversity mongering. Imagine the uproar if three graffiti had been discovered instead of just two.

Columbia Buys Off a Strike

Five students drinking Gatorade and water for a week are apparently all it takes to bring a major university to its knees. Columbia has had more than its share of lunatic events this year – the noose, the cancellation of the Minuteman speakers for the second time, inviting and then abusing the Iranian madman, and last week another controversy over a biased comment someone had scrawled into a library book. But the collapse of the university in the face of five student hunger strikers – the number was reduced to two students before the university folded – makes all the previous lunacies seem sane.

The strikers got most of their scattershot agenda. New faculty will now have to endure diversity indoctrination as part of their hiring. Columbia’s core curriculum, much too “Eurocentric” for the strikers, will now feature more more required courses on Asia, Africa, and Latin America. More money and staff will be added for ethnic studies. The Office of Multicultural Affairs will be expanded and another high-ranking diversicrat will be named to the administration. The collapse will cost Columbia at least $50 million.

But the university’s reputation for weakness and cowardice in the face of PC-mongering is not the key to this story. Columbia has been working for years to expand north into Harlem. It wants to add to its campus four large blocks from 129th Street between Broadway and 12th Avenue as well as three properties east of Broadway. Columbia must run the gantlet of many hearings and approvals, including those of the City Council, which is unusually sensitive to racial complaints about the curriculum and behavior of a historically white institution about to annex a chunk of Harlem. The strikers played the race card by denouncing Columbia’s “institutional racism.”

Columbia may have feared that one or more of the hunger strikerrs would become seriously ill or die. One abandoned the strike after fainting in the library and two others quit to get medical help. But the real aim was to protect the expansion program. One professor told me it was “a brilliant move” by President Lee Bollinger to buy off the protesters for only $50 million, while at the same time demonstrating some politically useful concern for racial and ethnic studies.

But it’s only a brilliant move if it doesn’t teach future strikers how easy it is to get concessions from Columbia. Protestors are still trying to kill the expansion into Harlem. Bollinger’s decision to buy off the strikers may lead to more protesters and larger demands.

Where Are the News Media?

Stuart Taylor’s brilliant rant in this week’s National Journal (“Academia’s Pervasive PC Rot” ) says “the cancerous spread of ideologically eccentric, intellectually shoddy, phony-diversity-obsessed fanaticism among university faculties and administrators is far, far worse and more inexorable than most alumni, parents, and trustees suspect.”

There’s an obvious explanation of why so many university watchers don’t seem to know what’s going on: the news media are extremely reluctant to report on what the increasingly coercive diversity lobby is doing to the campuses.

The brainwashing and indoctrination at the University of Delaware (and anyone who has read the voluminous documents in the case knows that use of these words is surely fair) has been pervasively reported on conservative blogs and right-wing radio. But the left has been silent and the mainstream media have almost universally avoided telling alumni, parents and trustees what is going on. Only a few news outlets covered the story. The Wilmington News Journal ran a piece headlined “Some Made Uneasy by UD Diversity Training” , thus reducing indoctrination to discomfort. The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a similarly soft report that used the headline word “unsettled” instead of “uneasy.” The story’s lead: “When University of Delaware freshmen showed up at their dorms this semester, their orientation included an exercise aimed at bridging cultural

Well, no. Bridging divides is not what the programmers had in mind. If that had been the goal, the Delaware indocrtrinators would not have kept telling the students that all whites are racists. And they wouldn’t have insisted that “Students will recognize that systemic oppression exists in our society.” The point of the program (which isn’t just for freshmen) was to change the thoughts and beliefs of the students to the ones the university administrators wanted them to have. Well down in the article, the reporter lurches briefly in the direction of accuracy, but the tone of the piece is clear: this is a high-minded program and nothing is amiss. Move along people, there’s nothing to see here.

The Chronicle of Higher Education, a good publication that has been moving, ever so slowly, toward telling the truth about the campus diversity obsession, ran an article in its November 16 edition that I consider wildly dishonest. (Headline: . “U. of Delaware Abandons Session on Diversity.” Lead: “The university of Delaware spent years refining its residence-life education program. One week of public criticism unraveled it.”) Obvious impression left: a wonderful well-honed program has been unraveled by hotheaded critics. The article said: “The conflict shows the difficulty of promoting meaningful discussion outside the classroom…” And then later: “In an era when colleges may view students as customers to keep happy, how many are willing to make their students uncomfortable in the name of learning, even for a few minutes.”

, a good publication that has been moving, ever so slowly, toward telling the truth about the campus diversity obsession, ran an article in its November 16 edition that I consider wildly dishonest. (Headline: Lead: “The university of Delaware spent years refining its residence-life education program. One week of public criticism unraveled it.”) Obvious impression left: a wonderful well-honed program has been unraveled by hotheaded critics. The article said: “The conflict shows the difficulty of promoting meaningful discussion outside the classroom…” And then later: “In an era when colleges may view students as customers to keep happy, how many are willing to make their students uncomfortable in the name of learning, even for a few minutes.” The Chronicle, apparently influenced by the programmers, wants readers to think those touchy students couldn’t take a few moments of discomfort. In fact, it was relentless programming and indoctrination, week after week. Dan Lenker, who was a residential assistant at the University of Delaware before he transferred out in 2006, said RAs whose opinions differed from the university-approved ones on diversity, homosexual rights – “and more subtly, politics” – were not likely to be hired. He said: “I personally encountered the ‘every person of European descent is privileged and benefits from racism’ type remarks, among many others which weren’t so bad yet still controversial and presented as unarguable dogma in which Reslife’s opinion was the only correct opinion. Every week, RAs are put under great pressure by their Hall Directors to “promote diversity” on a constant basis through mandated social interactions, bulletin boards on approved or mandated topics, and mandated programs which residents are told they have to attend… The forced programs while I was an RA were ridiculous and poorly designed, but they did show a trend of becoming more belligerent towards re-educating students into accepting university beliefs.”

, apparently influenced by the programmers, wants readers to think those touchy students couldn’t take a few moments of discomfort. In fact, it was relentless programming and indoctrination, week after week. Dan Lenker, who was a residential assistant at the University of Delaware before he transferred out in 2006, said RAs whose opinions differed from the university-approved ones on diversity, homosexual rights – “and more subtly, politics” – were not likely to be hired. He said: “I personally encountered the ‘every person of European descent is privileged and benefits from racism’ type remarks, among many others which weren’t so bad yet still controversial and presented as unarguable dogma in which Reslife’s opinion was the only correct opinion. Every week, RAs are put under great pressure by their Hall Directors to “promote diversity” on a constant basis through mandated social interactions, bulletin boards on approved or mandated topics, and mandated programs which residents are told they have to attend… The forced programs while I was an RA were ridiculous and poorly designed, but they did show a trend of becoming more belligerent towards re-educating students into accepting university beliefs.”The ResLife program now says the sessions were supposed to be voluntary and were discussed as mandatory due to error. It also says the all-whites-are-racists message was posted by a guest lecturer, though it is clearly listed in program literature.

Some basic questions have been left unanswered. Why do residence halls have their own curriculums? Why do administrators who shy away from defining a core curriculum for students feel free to impose one in the dorms without publicity or student consent?

The few reports that the mainstream press has carried give the impression that the program runs a discussion group promoting tolerance. But the program clearly rejects give-and-take discussion. It says: “We have successfully moved away from the idea that simple exposure to topics and opportunities to attend is equivalent to education. Our specific education aims, broken down into 28 competency areas now requires us to examine competency attainment” and “learning goals,” i.e., student acceptance of the ideas we are determined to impose. The residential assistants were reporting to administrators on which students were resisting the diversity programming. “I felt like the secret police, not as a mentor,” a former RA wrote anonymously to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Stuart Taylor is likely right about one prediction: the program will probably return in another form once the heat is off.

Brainwashing 101

More on indoctrination at the University Of Delaware .

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) sent Patrick Harker, the president of the University, a voluminous set of papers on how their residence life program was run. “Hundreds of pages, without exception, are about how to indoctrinate students,” school of education professor Jan Blits told the campus student paper, the Review . “What’s surprising is how open they are about it.” Blits acquired the papers from the residence life program by simply asking for them. Kathleen Kerr, the director of residential life for the university “was so proud of the program she just handed them over,” he said. Blits, head of the university’s chapter of the National Association of Scholars, and another professor at the school of education, Linda Gottfredson, have been cooperating with FIRE to get the story out. Gottfredson said: “Residential Life has the whole person and they try to change beliefs – the heart and soul of a person – which is exactly what totalitarian institutions do. This is a national issue and FIRE is not finished.”

Kerr is currently chair of the American College Personnel Association’s commission for housing and residential life. ACPA’s site lists 28 residential life officers from colleges and universities across the country, including the University of Texas, Oberlin, the University of Maryland, Rutgers, Michigan State, Brandeis and Michigan State, though it is not clear that these institutions are engaged in any indoctrination. The national group’s ethical code says that “respecting the rights of persons to hold different perspectives” is essential.

The papers laying out the residential curriculum at the University of Delaware have a number of gassy euphemisms for insisting that students accept the ideas being imposed. One is “competency attainment” – in plain English the acceptance by students of ideas they are told to accept. The same insistence is available in clear language as well, often in sentences that begin “Students will.” One example: “Students will recognize that systemic oppression exists in our society.”

At a meeting of the faculty senate, Blits said that programs at public universities structured to impose beliefs are illegal, “even if it were Democratic party principles or Republican party principles.” According to a report in the Review , he told the senate: “Under the civil rights law of 1871, the Ku Klux Klan Act, public university officials are personally liable for punitive damages. That is very, very serious.” Blits said the university is currently “the laughing stock” of the nation.

Among the questions now being debated: why did President Harker merely suspend the program for the rest of the academic year, instead of quashing it entirely? And more basically, why should dormitories have their own curriculum? Possible answer: highly ideological freshman orientation programs are now widespread and meet so little resistance, the temptation to extend the brainwashing to all four years of college may seem irresistible to eager ideologues.

The RAs are forbidden to talk to outsiders about the residential curriculum, though attacking FIRE is apparently allowed. Adam Kissel of FIRE Reported on November 3 that a parent wrote to say that her son “told me that RAs were ‘mandated’ to speak out against FIRE to the media. One refused and was told by residence life staff that he would lose his job and the university would not consider him a student anymore. I asked him if he (the RA) would be expelled and he said that was 100 percent correct.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education blog said several RAs had been asked to speak favorably about the program to the news media. “When I declined I was taken aside and told that my future as an RA was in jeopardy as was my future as a student, ” he said “I decide to stand up for myself.” In addition to its indoctrination, the residence program has its own speech code. The university’s “residence life escalation procedures” divides emergencies into three levels of seriousness. The A) level, the most dire, includes life-threatening situations, sexual assault or rape, drug busts, serious injury and this: “Any instance that is perceived by those involved as being racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, homophobic or otherwise oppressive.” All A) emergencies are to be reported immediately, at any hour of the night or day to the residential life professional on duty (parents are not to be notified). If the “instances” of oppressive behavior are comments or beliefs, the provision is clearly unconstitutional. But then, what goes better with an illegal indoctrination program than an equally illegal speech code?

Ed School Politics–Still a Problem

Beware the words “social justice” and “dispositions” when used by schools of education and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). These apparently harmless terms lay the groundwork for politicizing the training of teachers and giving the ed schools an excuse to eliminate conservatives from their programs. The news this week is that NCATE is backing down a bit from its use of “dispositions” and “social justice” while denying the political use of these words and calling its new policy a “clarification.”

“Dispositions” refers to the correct mindset that would-be teachers must have. “Social justice” is the most controversial of the dispositions sought. In its benign sense, “social justice” means a sense of fairness, honesty and a belief that all children can learn. In its politicized sense, it can refer to endorsement of affirmative action and a formal (often written) endorsement of policies favored by the political and cultural left.

“NCATE never required a ‘social justice’ disposition”, NCATE said on its web site. True, but the statement is a slippery one. In fact, the group had ruled that education departments could “include some measure of a candidate’s commitment to social justice” – in effect ruling that public school teachers could be evaluated on their perceptions of what social justice requires. So the ed schools, basically a liberal monoculture, could rule that a student flunked “social justice” by displaying a negative view of multicultural theory and other policies of the left. At Washington State University, where the college of education tried to expel a conservative student for flunking “dispositions,” the dean was asked whether Justice Antonin Scalia could pass a dispositions test at her school. “I don’t know how to answer that,” she replied.

As NCATE tells it, “the term ‘social justice,’ though well understood by NCATE’s institutions, was widely and wildy misinterpreted by commentators not familiar with the working of NCATE.” The group now defines professional dispositions as “professional attitudes, values and beliefs demonstrated through both verbal and non-verbal behaviors. The two professional dispositions that NCATE expects institutions to assess are fairness and the belief that all students can learn. Based on their missions and conceptual framework, professional education units can identify, define and operationalize additional professional dispositions.”

This is a mild improvement. Still, one wonders about those “non-verbal behaviors” and how they will be judged. The word “fairness” remains a linguistic sinkhole and the phrase “additional professional dispositions” keeps the door open for more politicization. NCATE’s “clarification” doesn’t clarify much.