Friday, August 28, 2015

Academic Fascism again

By Walter E. Williams

Last week's column highlighted college oncampus absurdities and the ongoing attack on free speech and plain comm sense. As parents gear up to fork over $20,000 to $60,000 for college tuition, they might benefit from knowing what greets their youngsters. Deceitful college officials, who visit high schools to recruit students and talk to parents, conceal the worst of their campus practices. Let's expose some of it.

Christina Hoff Sommers is an avowed feminist and a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. She's spent a lifetime visiting college campuses. Recently, upon her arrival at Oberlin College, Georgetown University and other campuses, trigger warnings were issued asserting, in her words, that her "very presence on campus" was "a form of violence" and that she was threatening students' mental health. At Oberlin, 30 students and the campus therapy dog retired to a "safe room" with soft music, crayons and coloring books to escape any uncomfortable facts raised by Sommers.

The problem for students and some professors is that Sommers challenges the narrative, with credible statistical facts, that women are living in a violent, paternalistic rape culture. As a result, she has been "excommunicated from the church of campus feminism" in order to protect women from her uncomfortable facts. This prompted Sommers to say, "There's a move to get young women in combat, and yet on our campuses, they are so fragile they can't handle a speaker with dissenting views." I wonder whether there will be demands for the military to have therapy dogs and safe rooms in combat situations.

The University of New Hampshire published a "Bias-Free Language Guide," which "is meant to invite inclusive excellence in (the) campus community." Terms such as "American," "homosexual," "illegal alien," "Caucasian," "mothering," "fathering" and "foreigners" are deemed "problematic." Other problematic terms include "elders," "senior citizen," "overweight," "speech impediment," "dumb," "sexual preference," "manpower," "freshmen," "mailman" and "chairman." For now, these terms are seen as problematic. If the political correctness police were permitted to get away with it, later they would bring disciplinary action against a student or faculty member who used the terms.

The offender would be required to attend diversity training, the leftist equivalent of communist re-education camps. In a rare instance of administrative guts, UNH President Mark Huddleston said he is offended by many things in the guide and declared that it is not university policy.

Florida State University has an "Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination Statement," which says, "Behavior that may be considered offensive, demeaning, or degrading to persons or groups will not be tolerated." That's both broad and troublesome. Say that you're a Muslim student and offended by homosexuality. Can you demand termination of campus activities that support homosexual activities?

A 2014 report by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education ( found that 59 percent of the 427 higher-education institutions it analyzed have policies that infringe on First Amendment rights. FIRE found that the University of Connecticut prohibits "actions that intimidate, humiliate, or demean persons or groups, or that undermine their security or self-esteem." The University of South Carolina prohibits "teasing," "ridiculing" and "insulting."

In 2012, FIRE listed the "12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech" ( In no particular order, they are the University of Cincinnati, Syracuse University, Widener University, Harvard University, Yale University, Saint Augustine's College, Michigan State University, Colorado College, Johns Hopkins University, Tufts University, Bucknell University and Brandeis University.

University presidents, other academic administrators and faculty members all too often find the well-worn path of least resistance most attractive. They give support to claims of oppression and victimhood. These close-minded people are simply the "grown-up" leftist hippie generation of the 1960s and '70s.

You might ask: What's Walter Williams' solution to these problems? For starters, benefactors should stop giving money to universities that endorse anti-free speech and racist diversity policy. Simply go to a university's website. If you find an office of diversity, close your pocketbook. There's nothing like the sound of pocketbooks snapping shut to open the closed minds of administrators.


British Schools ordered to build up children's 'resilience to radicalisation' by teaching British values in fresh crackdown on terror

Schools have been asked to build up children's 'resilience to radicalisation' by teaching them British values.

From last month schools were placed under legal duty to take action to stop children being drawn into terrorism.

The Department for Education has now issued advice for teachers – and even childcare providers - on how to make sure they are fulfilling their new duty.

It says: 'Schools and childcare providers can also build pupils' resilience to radicalisation by promoting fundamental British values and enabling them to challenge extremist views.

'It is important to emphasise that the Prevent duty is not intended to stop pupils debating controversial issues.

'On the contrary, schools should provide a safe space in which children, young people and staff can understand the risks associated with terrorism and develop the knowledge and skills to be able to challenge extremist arguments.'

The obligation to protect children from the risk of radicalisation should be seen as part of schools' wider safeguarding duties and is similar to the requirement to guard against other harms such as drugs, gangs and sexual exploitation, the advice said.

Schools are expected to assess the risk of children being drawn into terrorism, which can include support for extremist ideas that are 'part of terrorist ideology'.

Extremism is defined by the Government as 'vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs'.

The definition also includes calls for the death of members of the UK armed forces.


UK: The great High School re-marking fiasco: Hundred lose university places waiting for wrong grades to be changed

Hundreds of teenagers are missing out on their first choice of university because of an ‘unfair’ exam marking system and admissions process, head teachers warn.

Some pupils who get the right A-level results for their preferred degree courses – but only after having papers re-marked and upgraded – are being told their university places have already gone.

Official figures reveal that record numbers of A-level grades were overturned on appeal last year, with 122,500 scripts challenged and 23,200 changed. This compares to 59,500 challenged and 10,550 changed in 2010.

However some are taking so long to be re-marked that pupils are plumping for their second choice of university just to ensure they have a place. And many students from poorer families who fear they may have got the wrong grades cannot afford to contest the results, according to teaching unions.

The Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), which represents leading private schools, said a significant number of independent and state students were facing ‘real unfairness’.

This year some schools are already reporting high numbers of challenges – with Royal Grammar School, Newcastle, saying it has requested 117 re-marks compared to 83 at the same time last year.

A number have had their results dramatically bumped up just a week after they were published. Among them, Brighton College has five more A* grades after remarking and Magdalen College School in Oxford also has five extra A*s.

HMC said that while the proportion of teenagers suffering unfair treatment was small, the impact on individuals could be huge.

Marion Gibbs, the head of the £15,000-a-year James Allen’s Girls’ School in South London, said she was ‘very angry’ about the treatment of one of her pupils by Durham University. She said the girl achieved the required grades for her language degree after a re-mark which took two working days.

But Mrs Gibbs said: ‘The university said it had no place for her. The girl is devastated.’

She said Durham had offered the pupil a place in 2016 but she did not want a gap year, adding: ‘It is her whole life. She set her heart on Durham.’ She added the marking system needed an urgent overhaul, and the exam boards have set up a working group to try to recruit new markers.

Another head, Adam Pettitt of Highgate School in North London, said one of his pupils achieved the grades to study psychology at Durham after a re-mark. ‘She got an email from Durham apologising they couldn’t honour the offer this year, but could in 2016,’ he said.

‘The girl couldn’t afford a gap year, so gave up her place to go to Southampton.’ He added that the university was acting like an airline bumping people off a flight because it has overbooked.

Durham had warned it could not guarantee immediate places for pupils after re-marks. HMC said it also had reports of another eight or so universities, including Warwick and Bristol, holding on to borderline candidates for longer than reasonable before deciding whether to take them, jeopardising their chances of obtaining alternative places.

Exam boards were also taking too long to re-mark many papers, it said, adding: ‘We call on the boards to deal with poor assessment more quickly, and universities to give students fairer treatment.’

A third head, from a West country independent school, said that schools were also concerned about infuriating cases of ‘dire’ marking, particularly when results improved by up to two grades on appeal, sometimes rising from a C to an A.

State school leaders were also critical. Steve McArdle, assistant head at Durham Johnston comprehensive, said that while schools would pay the £50 to have fast-track re-marks when there was a glaring error, neither they nor pupils could always afford speculative reassessments.

He added there could be hundreds of poorer pupils missing out on university places for this reason.

Durham University declined to comment yesterday, while Warwick said it was unaware of significant issues and Bristol said it ‘endeavoured to let students know about their place as quickly as possible’.

A spokesman for the Joint Council for Qualifications, which represents exam boards, said: ‘Boards have robust systems in place to ensure marking is accurate.

‘A post-results system is in place for schools that wish to query a student’s grade. This is completed as quickly as possible. It is important to note that less than 1 per cent of grades are changed.

‘Boards have encouraged universities to keep places open until the post-results system is complete.’


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