Thursday, February 14, 2013

Test of Academic Freedom at Brooklyn College

At Brooklyn College this week, it seems that everyone is talking about academic freedom.  A student group, Brooklyn College Students for Justice in Palestine, organized an event highlighting the “BDS” movement, which advocates for a boycott of Israel, urges people to divest companies that do business in Israel, and promotes sanctions against Israel.  Holding this event in Brooklyn naturally sparks controversy, and the controversy only grew when the political science department chose to co-sponsor it.

Hoping to quell the critics, President Gould issued a letter outlining her commitment to free speech and academic freedom.  She observed that “[s]tudents and faculty . . . have the right to invite speakers, engage in discussion, and present ideas to further educational discussion and debate.”  She noted that the “mere invitation to speak does not indicate an endorsement of any particular point of view, and there is no obligation, as some have suggested, to present multiple perspectives at any one event.”  Indeed, this is, in her mind, the very purpose of a university:  “Providing an open forum to discuss important topics, even those many find highly objectionable, is a centuries-old practice on university campuses around the country.  Indeed, this spirit of inquiry and critical debate is a hallmark of the American education system.”  Thus, she emphasized that “it is essential that Brooklyn College remain an engaged and civil learning environment where all views may be expressed without fear of intimidation or reprisal.”

Not only is this her position, but the political science department also “fully agrees and has reaffirmed its longstanding policy to give equal consideration to co-sponsoring speakers who represent any and all points of view.”  Those faculty also assured students that they “welcome—indeed encourage—requests to co-sponsor speakers and events from all student groups, departments, and programs.”

While many, such as Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School, may be skeptical, students should embrace the tremendous opportunity the President just gave them.  They now have an open invitation—from the President herself—to put the College to the test.  Does it really treasure academic freedom?  Does it really celebrate vigorous debate of “any and all points of view”—even controversial or “highly objectionable” ones?  Is it really an “environment where all views may be expressed without fear of intimidation or reprisal”?  Or is all of this just empty rhetoric administrators trots out when citizens object to leftist or politically correct ideas?

Well, as they say, actions speak louder than words.  Students can find out what the College really believes by organizing a whole series of events—complete with speakers and panel discussions—in keeping with the “BDS” theme:
Students United for Israel could call for a boycott of the PLO, Hezbollah, Hamas, and other groups that seek to destroy Israel; for the divestment of entities that financially support those racist—and often terrorist—groups; and for sanctions against those entities.

The Newman Catholic Club could call for a boycott of states that endorse same-sex “marriage” (including New York), for the divestment of groups that support same-sex “marriage,” and for sanctions against Catholics who stray from the Church’s teachings on this subject.

Chinese Christian Fellowship could call for a boycott of China due to its forced abortion policies and religious persecution, for the divestment of companies doing business in China, and for sanctions against China.

Brooklyn College Intercollegiate Studies Institute Group could call for states to boycott the Obamacare exchanges, for the divestment of groups that supported Obamacare (e.g., AARP), and for sanctions against Obama administration officials for implementing Obamacare.

The Coptic Christian Club could call for a boycott of the Muslim Brotherhood due to its persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt, for the divestment of companies that do business in Egypt, and for sanctions against that country.

Intervarsity Christian Fellowship could call for a boycott of Planned Parenthood because it provides abortions, for the divestment of all businesses that support Planned Parenthood (e.g., Susan G. Komen for the Cure), and for sanctions against Planned Parenthood because of its taxpayer fraud.

Once these groups have organized their own BDS events and invited the speakers, they should ask the political science department—or even the President’s Office—to serve as co-sponsors.  Perhaps it could even be the College’s theme for the semester.

The responses to such invitations would be telling.  If the President and the political science faculty were to decline for one lame excuse or another or if they were to insist on a more “balanced” presentation, students could simply say, in the monotone the National Weather Service patented:  “This is a test.  This is a test of academic freedom at Brooklyn College.”  Then they could call a group that really believes in academic freedom—the Alliance Defending Freedom.


Respected British teacher hounded out of job: Career ruined by 7-year-old boy's unfounded assault claim

A deputy headmaster with an unblemished 41-year career has been forced to quit after an ‘uncontrollable’ seven-year-old boy accused him of assault.

Royden Cope, who had an ‘impeccable’ record as deputy head for 34 years, was ‘marched out’ of a Church of England primary school after the pupil claimed he hit him.

In March last year Mr Cope was alleged to have restrained the unruly pupil by his wrists before slapping him across the face.

He was charged with assault in May. But at the end of a four-month nightmare he was cleared by magistrates after grave doubts were raised about the case.

Despite fierce criticism of the prosecution and massive support for Mr Cope, he remained suspended from his job while education bosses carried out a disciplinary investigation.

Now 63-year-old Mr Cope – who is thought to have suffered a minor heart attack since the court case – has decided not to return to his £44,000-a-year post.

Yesterday Mr Cope from Accrington, Lancashire, would say only: ‘I am sad to leave the profession after 41 years.’

It is believed the youngster who levelled the accusations at Mr Cope is still being taught at the school, St Bartholomew’s in Great Harwood, Lancashire.

Mr Cope’s daughter Joy Corrigan, 33, said that since the allegations she has had to remove her eight-year-old daughter from the school after the girl was ‘goaded’ by the young boy.

Mrs Corrigan, who is also a teacher, added: ‘The saddest thing is that my dad was nearing retirement and after such a long career one of his resounding memories will be being marched off the premises. It should not have ended like this.’

Parents have been left shocked and angry that a highly regarded teacher has effectively been forced out of his job.

Victoria Mather, 34, said: ‘I think it’s horrible what has happened to him in the past year and he went through a lot because of that court case.

‘It is no surprise that this has taken its toll. He’s been in the profession for such a long time – it’s not right that it has come to this but he has always had a lot of support from the parents who stood by him.’

Kerry Molyneux, 30, said: ‘I’m really disappointed that he has chosen to step down but I can understand why. I just don’t think he wanted to have all this added stress. We are sorry to see him go as he was a good long-standing teacher.’

Linda Holt, 63, whose grandchildren attend the school, said: ‘I feel sorry for him and it has probably had a lot of effect on him and his family to be accused of something like that.’

‘Some of the kids today are out of control and they know exactly what their rights are, they say “you can’t touch me”. It was never like that in my day, there isn’t any respect any more.’

But the 38-year-old mother of the pupil – who cannot be named for legal reasons – defended her son and said she was ‘glad to see the back’ of Mr Cope. ‘We didn’t take it to court the police did,’ she said.

The mother, a music teacher, said he had never misbehaved at home and criticised other parents and staff who said he was disruptive.

‘I’m not saying he’s perfect but... he isn’t a devil child how they’ve made out he was,’ she said.

Mr Cope had faced up to six months in jail following the assault allegation.

But in August he was cleared by Blackburn magistrates when the chairman of the bench, Graham Parr, said there were ‘real doubts’ about the case.

The court heard that the boy had been disruptive since starting school and had been removed from classrooms regularly after he was violent towards other children.

In his statement to police Mr Cope said the boy was the most ‘disruptive and aggressive’ he had encountered in his career.

He said: ‘On some occasions he is uncontrollable. As he has got older, he has become more aware of his own physical prowess and he has become more aggressive.’

On the day of the incident in March last year, the boy is said to have ran amok, hitting ten classmates with his bag, pinning one of them to the wall and yelling at teachers. Mr Cope was called to deal with him.

Three days later, the boy told his mother that he had been hit by Mr Cope.  She said he had described ‘a struggle’ and said Mr Cope had grabbed his wrists before he ‘slapped him’.

Mr Cope told the court that the youngster had worked himself up into an ‘incandescent rage’.

He said: ‘He was next to a cupboard and a desk leg, and I held him by the hands as I was concerned he would bang his head.

‘I was trying to stop his head from rolling around so I put my hand out to stop him. That’s when he slammed into my hand and there was contact.

‘This allegation has caused me and my family great distress.’

Another teacher, Thomas Lowe, claimed he did see Mr Cope strike the boy. His evidence was rejected by the magistrates.

Mark Mackley, headteacher at St Bartholomew’s, confirmed yesterday that after ‘careful deliberation’ Mr Cope had decided to step down


Australia: University focus as Rudd marks apology anniversary

Rudd is Australia's Obama in terms of saying stuff that sounds good but is totally empty of any contact with reality. 

Blacks have had preferential access to universities ever since the Abschol sceme was set up decades ago.  But very few of them are bright enough to handle university.  And those that do get to university are, in my experience, just waved through regardless of their abilities

Thousands of people around the nation are marking five years since the formal apology and Mr Rudd has spoken of the need to boost tertiary access for Indigenous Australians.

Campaigner Brian Butler has been working to help Aboriginal people affected by forced removal of children from families over six decades.

He says the initial hope Mr Rudd gave Aboriginal people has long disappeared.

"Whether it's Kevin Rudd or anyone, no single politician is going to be able to make promises to the Aboriginal people because that's never happened before, things haven't progressed," he said.

"There might have been native title, there might have been a few payouts but it's still not reaching those people that are in this impoverished situation."

Mr Rudd was the keynote speaker at a breakfast held in Adelaide to mark the fifth anniversary.

The former prime minister said the latest Closing the Gap focus needed to be achieving university placements.

He said too few Indigenous students reached higher education and urged work to achieve a target of 10,000 extra Indigenous students going to the nation's universities.

"We must as a nation see the same number of Indigenous kids at our universities, proportional to their size and population in Australia ... and at present they are not," he said.

Mr Rudd said Indigenous participation in tertiary education should not be seen as "something exotic" but as mainstream.


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