Sunday, March 26, 2006

Why did Yale slam the door on Afghan women?

This sounds like an attempt to shame the unshamable to me but you never know. Maybe there are some sincere people in the Yale administration

A statement from Yale University, defending its decision to admit former Taliban spokesman Ramatullah Hashemi, explained that he had "escaped the wreckage of Afghanistan." To anyone who is aware of the Taliban's barbaric treatment of the Afghan people, such words are offensive--as if Mr. Hashemi were not himself part of the wrecking crew. It is even more disturbing to learn that, while Mr. Hashemi sailed through Yale's admissions process, the school turned down the opportunity to enroll women who really did escape the wreckage of Afghanistan.

In 2002, Yale received a letter from Paula Nirschel, the founder of the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women. The purpose of the organization, begun in that year, was to match young women in post-Taliban Afghanistan to U.S. colleges, where they could pursue a degree. Ms. Nirschel asked Yale if it wanted to award a spot in its next entering class to an Afghan woman. Yale declined.

Yale was not alone. Of the more than 2,000 schools contacted by Mrs. Nirschel, only three signed up right away: Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, Notre Dame College in New Hampshire and the University of Montana, Missoula. Four years later, the program enrolls 20 students at 10 universities.

Mrs. Nirschel, it should be noted, had an "in" at Roger Williams. Her husband, Roy, is the president. Mr. Nirschel recalls that after 9/11 his wife mourned not only for the American victims but for the people of Afghanistan, whose brutal regime had helped to sponsor al Qaeda. Mr. Nirschel admits that his first reaction, upon hearing his wife's concern, was to say that they should just give to a charity. But Mrs. Nirschel asked whether he, as university president, could give a scholarship to an Afghan woman instead. He was doubtful at first about the practicality of the idea but eventually agreed. "My wife can be very persuasive," he told us.

Mrs. Nirschel, who has been a homemaker for most of the past three decades, set up the program to find suitable college-ready candidates and pay their travel expenses to the U.S. But the colleges themselves were asked to cover tuition, room and board. Mrs. Nirschel did not want the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women to be treated as a chance to "escape." The program requires that its students return to Afghanistan each summer to work for an organization involved in rebuilding the country. And they must go home at the end of their four years in the U.S.

Aren't the students tempted to remain in this land of plenty? Nadima Sahar, who will graduate from Roger Williams in May with a political science degree, says: "Staying here has never crossed my mind. . . . We are responsible for making sure our country succeeds, so that future generations don't face problems we did." Mrs. Nirschel expects a "trickle-down effect." The returning students will "influence their family, their community and the country at large." Clearly there is more going on here than the usual search for campus "diversity."

These women require no remedial classes, by the way. They come prepared, many having huddled in basements secretly imbibing what information they could from male relatives or having lived in Pakistani refugee camps to gain access to schools. Not one of them has a GPA below 3.5.

Arezo Kohistani, now attending Roger Williams, tells us that she had planned to major in journalism. But she changed her focus when several reporters were assassinated in Afghanistan during her first semester. Stories like this remind us that her country has a long road ahead. The graduates of the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women will surely help to speed it along the way.



A Summit County, Ohio, jury found Charles Plinton not guilty of selling drugs to a confidential informant in 2004. A few weeks later, a University of Akron disciplinary board found him “responsible” for “selling drugs to a confidential informant.”

The difference between those two words, guilty and responsible, may not sound meaningful to the average person. But it's a distinction that begins to explain the secretive world of college justice in which campus committees may re-try the facts of serious crimes after criminal courts have already decided them.

Critics see the hearings as unaccountable Star Chambers marshaled to advance political and ideological agendas. “Campus tribunals are the ultimate ‘kangaroo court,’ an affront to the rational thinking that is supposed to underlie the academic enterprise,” said Boston-area attorney Harvey A. Silverglate. He co-authored “The Shadow University” with Alan Charles Kors and helped found the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

Disciplinary hearings are not trials; they are more akin to union grievance procedures and other types of administrative law hearings that have much looser rules. Students usually aren't going to get a lawyer for one of these hearings. The university's representative may advise the panel on how to conduct the hearing; in criminal court, the prosecutor would never advise the judge on how the trial should proceed. Criminal trials are open to the public and subject to public scrutiny. Student privacy laws keep most campus hearings closed to the public and the records confidential, known only to the student or perhaps a student's parents, depending on age. To lower students' expectations of due process, universities are advised to use nonlegalistic language to describe their procedures.

It's not defendants and trials; it's respondents and hearings. It's not evidence, it's information. Students are not found guilty; they're found responsible or in violation. They aren't sentenced, they're sanctioned. Changing the word “evidence” to “information” is an attempt to avoid defamation lawsuits because hearing boards cannot accuse students of committing crimes, Silverglate said. “It's meant to keep people from expecting that the campus system is like the criminal justice system in the real world and from expecting a decent level of fairness,” Silverglate said.

Universities once kept an even tighter leash on students, standing in place of the parent. That control loosened with the social revolutions of the 1960s, but made a comeback in the 1980s and 1990s as universities attracted more diverse student bodies and sought to provide an educational refuge from racism, sexism and other social evils. What's changed, said Silverglate, is that campus hearing boards are now deciding serious criminal matters, especially hot-button issues such as date-rape, sexual harassment and hate speech. “If the student is convicted in the criminal courts, the schools throw out the student, relying on the court's judgment,” Silverglate said. “If the student is acquitted, most schools re-try the student, convict him, then punish or expel him. It is a completely loaded deck.”


The National Center for Higher Education Risk Management consults with universities throughout the country on how to lower students' expectations of due process by removing words that evoke the criminal justice system. Brett A. Sokolow, an attorney and president of the Pennsylvania-based nonprofit, said he hasn't worked with the University of Akron. But he's not surprised that a student found not guilty in a criminal court would still be found “responsible” at the university level. “By definition, a college's lower evidence standard means that they will often find a student in violation of the conduct code for an offense that results in a not-guilty verdict in court,” Sokolow said.

It may be legal, but is it fair? Sokolow thinks so. “I think many people realize we're not convicting students of crimes, and that colleges need more latitude to ensure safety within a closed, trusting community,” Sokolow said. The higher courts have given universities a wide berth in enforcing their own policies, but they do require some due process. Evidence against a student in an administrative hearing should at least be “substantial,” he said. That standard is considerably lower than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the highest level that criminal juries need before convicting someone. The “substantial” standard is even lower than “preponderance,” which simply means that guilt is more likely than not 50 percent of the evidence plus a little. Sokolow figures that the substantial standard is satisfied if a third of the evidence points toward guilt. That's a very rough estimate, Sokolow said, but it's still less than half. “Because no one goes to jail, the standards are more relaxed,” Sokolow said. “The more serious the consequence, the more process is due. The courts do not consider suspension or expulsion as extreme deprivations of liberty or property, comparatively speaking.” [It can only ruin your life, after all]

Evidence standards alone are no guarantee of due process because they can mean different things to different jurors, but standards do provide a guide. “More than half of colleges use preponderance,” Sokolow said. “Many use clear and convincing. A small number use substantial evidence, but it is the minimum standard required by law.”


Plinton's former department head, Professor Raymond Cox, said a higher standard of evidence probably wouldn't have helped Plinton. The panel that heard Plinton's case decided 3-2 that he was “responsible” for “dealing drugs to a confidential informant.” “That's kind of scary, but that's the reality,” said Cox, who has a background in administrative law. “Clearly you had three people who said ‘I believe cops.’ That's a 100-percent statement.” Cox said the university is “very, very sensitive” about drug use on campus. “They're going to bend over backwards to avoid making a mistake that permits people to stay,” he said. “It does give you pause.” He said he generally supports the university's hearing process, and believes the Plinton case was an aberration. Cox sat on hearing boards during the 2004-05 school year and always thought of Plinton when he walked into the room. “The process is limited by the strengths and weaknesses of the people sitting in judgment,” Cox said



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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