Tuesday, November 13, 2012

University Pres. Scolds Students for Inviting Ann Coulter to Speak

A lesson in how to make threats subtly.  Quite literally Jesuitical

American universities are often criticized for their left-leaning biases, but the president of Fordham University in New York appeared to take it a step further when he singled out the young Republicans on campus.

The group “College Republicans” had invited well-known author and columnist Ann Coulter to speak, and President Joseph M. McShane expressed his thoughts in a university-wide email, according to Young America’s Foundation (YAF).

It should be noted that Coulter’s appearance was to be paid for by the school’s student activity fees, but the president still made it seem as though the school deserved tremendous praise for allowing free speech by a conservative firebrand.  In the end, though, Coulter’s invitation was still rescinded, the university’s website says.

Here is part of the November 9th email, via the YAF:
    …Student groups are allowed, and encouraged, to invite speakers who represent diverse, and sometimes unpopular, points of view, in keeping with the canons of academic freedom. Accordingly, the University will not block the College Republicans from hosting their speaker of choice on campus.

To say that I am disappointed with the judgment and maturity of the College Republicans, however, would be a tremendous understatement. There are many people who can speak to the conservative point of view with integrity and conviction, but Ms. Coulter is not among them. Her rhetoric is often hateful and needlessly provocative-more heat than light-and her message is aimed squarely at the darker side of our nature.

McShane then references a number of racist incidents that occurred on campus, before concluding:
    Still, to prohibit Ms. Coulter from speaking at Fordham would be to do greater violence to the academy, and to the Jesuit tradition of fearless and robust engagement. Preventing Ms. Coulter from speaking would counter one wrong with another. The old saw goes that the answer to bad speech is more speech. This is especially true at a university, and I fully expect our students, faculty, alumni, parents, and staff to voice their opposition, civilly and respectfully, and forcefully.

The College Republicans have unwittingly provided Fordham with a test of its character: do we abandon our ideals in the face of repugnant speech and seek to stifle Ms. Coulter’s (and the student organizers’) opinions, or do we use her appearance as an opportunity to prove that our ideas are better and our faith in the academy-and one another-stronger? We have chosen the latter course, confident in our community, and in the power of decency and reason to overcome hatred and prejudice.

When the College Republicans rescinded their invitation to Coulter, saying they didn’t “vet” her properly, McShane said the university had passed its challenge “with flying colors.”  Here is part of his follow-up letter, via The Observer:
    Allow me to give credit where it is due: the leadership of the College Republicans acted quickly, took responsibility for their decisions, and expressed their regrets sincerely and eloquently. Most gratifying, I believe, is that they framed their decision in light of Fordham’s mission and values. There can be no finer testament to the value of a Fordham education and the caliber of our students.

Yesterday I wrote that the College Republicans provided Fordham with a test of its character. They, the University community, and our extended Fordham family passed the test with flying colors, engaging in impassioned but overwhelmingly civil debate on politics, academic freedom, and freedom of speech.

We can all be proud of Fordham today, and I am proud to serve you.


British universities paying £10,000 to sign up bright students

Bright students are being offered financial incentives worth up to £10,000 to study at "lower-ranked" universities amid a scramble to fill undergraduate places, the Telegraph has learnt.

Dozens of institutions outside the academic elite are making lucrative offers to applicants with the best A-level grades, irrespective of their household income, it emerged.

The awards - for students starting degrees in 2013 - normally include substantial discounts on tuition fees or cash contributions towards living costs.

Some universities are offering applicants guaranteed places in halls of residence and even free laptops or membership of sports clubs.

Institutions offering deals include Aston, Bournemouth, Brunel, Coventry, De Montfort, Edge Hill, Essex, Gloucestershire, Kent, Leicester, Northumbria, Roehampton, the Royal Agricultural College, Salford, Surrey and Wolverhampton.

City University London is offering awards of between £3,000 and £9,000 over three years depending on students' A-level grades and chosen undergraduate course.

Newman University College in Birmingham said it was offering £10,000 for all students who achieve three B grades or better in their A-levels.

Newcastle University's school of electrical and electronic engineering offers scholarships of up to £2,000-a-year plus a laptop, while Surrey University promises a £3,000 cash award alongside free sports club membership to students with straight As.

In most cases, these scholarships are not means-tested but depend on students naming particular universities as their "firm choice" on UCAS application forms.

The disclosure appears to underline the lengths universities are being forced to go to in an attempt to fill places following a backlash over the near tripling of tuition fees to a maximum of £9,000-a-year.

Earlier this month, England's Higher Education Funding Council found that university finances were under pressure after an "unexpected fall" in admissions rates.

Overall numbers were an average of 2.1 per cent lower than universities' own forecasts, it emerged. Some 57,000 fewer undergraduates started courses across the country this year.

In a report, the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies said "lower-ranked" universities were now increasingly likely to use cash incentives to attract students.

"Support for high-achieving students has become more generous across all types of institutions, particularly lower-ranked ones," it said. "This may be at least partly a response to the new admissions system... It may result in high-achieving students being attracted to lower-ranked universities by the promise of more financial support in the short-term."

Previously, the number of students recruited by each university was subject to strict Government caps.

But the Coalition has partially lifted controls to allow institutions to take unlimited numbers of students with the best A-level grades. In 2012, they could recruit more undergraduates with AAB grades, while next year the measures extend to those with at least ABB.

The move has triggered intense competition to sign up these students to prevent them being tempted to rival universities.

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, which represents vice-chancellors, said high-achieving students were "in demand by universities and there are a wide variety of scholarships and other financial inducements being offered to them."

"Universities have offered merit-based scholarships for many years, so the concept is not new," she said, adding that UUK was currently undertaking research into the impact of bursary and scholarship packages on university application trends.

But Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said cash for bright students may come at the expense of means-tested support for the poorest.

"Some universities are now pulling out all the stops to secure students with the highest grades," she added.

"Students considering university next year should be attracted to the courses that best suit their talents, not by financial incentives."

But Deborah Streatfield, a London-based careers adviser, doubted that scholarships acted as a significant draw, adding that applicants "intensively study league tables of university rankings and subject ranking and never look at the financial incentives on offer".


Weak British primaries to become academies (charters)

The Government will improve the 400 weakest primary schools by turning them into academies, the Prime Minister said yesterday.

David Cameron said that by the end of next year he wanted them to be paired with sponsors to turn them into academies as part of the Coalition's efforts to improve education in the poorest performing schools.

"The driving mission for this Government is to build an aspiration nation, where we unlock and unleash the promise in all our people," he said. "A first-class education system is absolutely central to that vision.

"We have seen some excellent progress with our reforms, including turning 200 of the worst-performing primary schools into sponsored academies.

"We have seen how academies, with their freedom to innovate, inspire and raise standards are fuelling aspirations. So now we want to go further, faster, with 400 more underperforming primary schools paired up with a sponsor and either open or well on their way to becoming an academy by the end of next year.''

At the last general election, there were 203 academies but they were all secondary schools. There are now 2,456 academies, and a further 823 in the pipeline. Of the new academies, 333 were formerly failing primary or secondary schools.


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