Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Dirty Dozen

America's Most Bizarre and Politically Correct College Courses. Princeton University's "Prostitute, Cross Dressing, and Same-Sex Eroticism" Course ranked as the most bizarre Class

As tuition rates climb to an average of over $21,000 per year, today's college students study prostitution, teeth whitening, and Beavis and Butthead. The following Dirty Dozen highlights the most bizarre and troubling instances of leftist activism supplanting traditional scholarship in our nation's colleges and universities:

Princeton University's The Cultural Production of Early Modern Women examines "prostitutes," "cross-dressing," and "same-sex eroticism" in 16th - and 17th - century England, France, Italy and Spain

The Unbearable Whiteness of Barbie: Race and Popular Culture in the United States at Occidental College in California explores ways "which scientific racism has been put to use in the making of Barbie [and] to an interpretation of the film The Matrix as a Marxist critique of capitalism."

At The John Hopkins University, students in the Sex, Drugs, and Rock `n' Roll in Ancient Egypt class view slideshows of women in ancient Egypt "vomiting on each other," "having intercourse," and "fixing their hair."

Like something out of a Hugh Hefner film, Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania offers the class Lesbian Novels Since World War II.

Alfred University's Nip, Tuck, Perm, Pierce, and Tattoo: Adventures with Embodied Culture, mostly made up of women, encourages students to think about the meaning behind "teeth whitening, tanning, shaving, and hair dyeing." Special projects include visiting a tattoo-and-piercing studio and watching Arnold Schwarzenegger's bodybuilding film, Pumping Iron.

Harvard University's Marxist Concepts of Racism examines "the role of capitalist development and expansion in creating racial inequality" (emphasis added). Although Karl Marx didn't say much on race, leftist professors in this course extrapolate information on "racial oppression" and "racial antagonism."

Occidental College-making the Dirty Dozen list twice-offers a course in Stupidity, which compares the American presidency to Beavis and Butthead.

Students at the University of California-Los Angeles need not wonder what it means to be a lesbian. The Psychology of the Lesbian Experience reviews "various aspects of lesbian experience" including the "impact of heterosexism/stigma, gender role socialization, minority status of women and lesbians, identity development within a multicultural society, changes in psychological theories about lesbians in sociohistorical context."

Duke University's American Dreams/American Realities course supposedly unearths "such myths as `rags to riches,' `beacon to the world,' and the `frontier,' in defining the American character" (emphasis added).

Amherst College in Massachusetts offers the class Taking Marx Seriously: "Should Marx be given another chance?" Students in this course are asked to question if Marxism still has any "credibility" remaining, while also inquiring if societies can gain new insights by "returning to [Marx's] texts." Coming to Marx's rescue, this course also states that Lenin, Stalin, and Pol Pot misapplied the concepts of Marxism.

Brown University's Black Lavender: A Study of Black Gay & Lesbian Plays "address[es] the identities and issues of Black gay men and lesbians, and offer[s] various points of view from within and without the Black gay and lesbian artistic communities."

Students enrolled in the University of Michigan's Topics in Literary Studies: Ancient Greek/Modern Gay Sexuality have the pleasure of reading a "wide selection of ancient Greek (and a few Roman) texts that deal with same-sex love, desire, gender dissidence, and sexual behavior."


Diversity of everything but ideas

Mark 2005 as the year that the dirty little secret of higher education became part of the public conversation. Most of us on college campuses have long known that there is little intellectual diversity in higher education, especially when it comes to political ideas. But we learned to live with it as part of the artificial bubble that characterizes much of campus life. Consider these recent challenges to the leftward lean of thinking on college campuses:

-- Moderate U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander -- a former university president and one-time Secretary of Education -- told the Commission on the Future of Higher Education that the greatest threat to broader public support and increased funding for higher education is a "growing political one-sidedness which has infected most campuses."

-- The American Council of Trustees and Alumni, in its recent report "Intellectual Diversity: Time for Action," said "the most serious challenge for higher education today is the lack of intellectual diversity."

-- Earlier this year, the broad-based American Council on Education issued a statement, supported by 30 higher education organizations, acknowledging the growing concern about "intellectual pluralism" and the "free exchange of ideas" on campuses.

Yes, people are now standing up to say that higher education, which has pioneered in every other kind of diversity -- ethnic, gender, same-sex benefits -- lacks diversity in the very heart of its mission: the development and transmission of ideas.

A liberal arts education has become politically liberal. The evidence of political one-sidedness on campus is strong, but not really new. Critics point to a survey by three scholars published earlier this year in The Forum showing that 72 percent of professors consider themselves liberal while only 15 percent say they are conservative. In the liberal arts, as opposed to hard sciences, the numbers are even more imbalanced. Studies of political party affiliations of Stanford and UC Berkeley faculty show registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by 8 or 10 to 1. While disturbing, this kind of data isn't really new.

What seems to be new is a perception by students that professorial political opinions are now very much a part of the classroom, even in a course on Chaucer or biology. Professors once took pride in disguising their own views and making the classroom an objective laboratory of ideas. Now, some argue, in a postmodern world where everything is political, how can politics not be engaged in the classroom? As a result, a survey of students at 50 top universities showed that nearly half the students feel faculty use the classroom to present their personal political views, and that political discussions seem "totally one-sided."

The academy should take such concerns seriously because a lack of intellectual diversity undercuts the fundamental purpose of liberal arts education: to stretch and grow students through exposure to a wide range of disciplines and ideas. Marketing one political ideology to students throughout their four years of study, as happens on many campuses, not only leads to less intellectual creativity and policy innovation, but it continues to isolate an academic class in its "ivory tower." No wonder, then, that Sen. Alexander warns that Congress will be less and less interested in supporting a venture that leads to greater political divisiveness in the name of higher education.

So what is to be done to promote greater intellectual diversity on campuses? It won't be easy, given that tenure protects professors' jobs and academic freedom is used to defend almost whatever they choose to say. Still, there is plenty that can be done to broaden the range of ideas on campus.

Trustees and administrators should undertake a study of the diversity of thought on their own campuses. One way to balance what is presented in the classroom is to invite a greater diversity of outside speakers, or part-time adjunct faculty. Deans should look at the syllabus for courses to see if a range of ideas is presented in the readings and engage faculty on the issue. It doesn't violate academic freedom to have a conversation about a professor's reading list. As one of my bosses correctly said to me, "You have academic freedom to write what you want and I have freedom to say what I want about what you write." Intellectual diversity should be part of student course evaluations, and should be reviewed at the highest levels.

On the seal of my alma mater are the words, "Let the winds of freedom blow." We should remember that the winds of freedom blow right and center, as well as left, and that, in the academic world of ideas, diversity of thought may be the most important kind of diversity of all.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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