Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Daily Caller Presents: The Third Annual College Stupidity Awards

As the summer of 2015 winds down, it’s once again time to celebrate the stupidest and most outrageous events that occurred on campus during the last academic year with The Daily Caller’s Third Annual College Stupidity Awards.

For the 2014-15 version of cringe-worthy political correctness run amok, outrageous suffocation of free speech and ridiculous, fascist buffoonery on the part of bureaucrats, just keep scrolling. It’s all here as TheDC looks back on the academic year that was.

In April at the University of Michigan, a showing of the movie “American Sniper” was canceled because a few students complained it was “insensitive” to Muslim people. Michigan’s new football coach, Jim Harbaugh, protested the protest, tweeting “Proud of Chris Kyle & Proud to be an American & if that offends anybody then so be it!” The taxpayer-funded school first substituted “Paddington” for “American Sniper.” “Paddington” is a children’s movie about a talking, stuffed teddy bear and his series of adorable misadventures on the streets of London. Michigan students had the opportunity to watch both “American Sniper” and “Paddington.”

In April on the main campus of Pennsylvania State University, the editors of The Daily Collegian published a 433-word editorial arguing that Rolling Stone’s fabricated, completely retracted article, “A Rape on Campus”” demonstrates that “false accusations” of rape “are extremely unlikely.” In the bizarre, unsigned op-ed, The Daily Collegian lamented the fact that the Phi Kappa Psi chapter at the University of Virginia is now suing over damages caused by the Nov. 19 article by disgraced journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely.  Erdely’s bombshell article full of lies falsely accused seven Phi Psi members of brutally gang-raping a female student with the alias “Jackie” in September 2012.

This spring, the University of Colorado Boulder proudly launched an on-campus spying campaign that encourages students to report incidents of “bias” to government officials at the school. The new and very extensive online “bias” reporting mechanism solicits nearly two dozen pieces of information about perpetrators of “bias” including their names, addresses, phone numbers and student ID numbers. The point of the “Bias Incident Reporting” scheme is to make the taxpayer-funded University of Colorado campus free of “demeaning and hurtful statements.” To advertise the scheme, the university created and paid for posters featuring demeaning and hurtful statements which denigrate various cultures and ethnic groups. “Go back to Africa, you don’t belong here,” one school-funded poster reads. “Your mom must be the janitor ’cause that’s the only job for dirty Mexicans,” declares another. Except for the school officials behind the “Bias Motivated Incident” poster campaign, there appears to be no evidence that anyone on the CU Boulder campus has ever said these things.

At the University of North Texas, a school that pays its newly appointed vice president of diversity and inclusion a sweet salary that is more than any governor in any state makes, students petitioned school officials to replace Texas Gov. Greg Abbott as the keynote speaker at the 2015 spring commencement ceremony. The petition focused on the fact that some students have political disagreements with Abbott, a Republican. “Governor Abbott is an advocate for immigration reform, border patrol, and anti-equal marriage laws,” it read. The petition did not suggest a replacement graduation speaker with views aligning with those of the 36,168-student commuter school.

Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, the highest-ranking official at the University of Missouri, became pathetically unglued in July and threatened to hunt down students and alumni over a photograph from 2012 of some people holding a Confederate flag. In an official statement, Loftin suggested that students could feel physically threatened by the three-year-old photo’s appearance on Twitter. The three-year old image which caused Loftin to lose his composure appeared on Twitter on July 12 at a Twitter account called Frat Scenery. In all likelihood, the people holding the flag were fans of the University of Georgia football team in town to watch the Bulldogs absolutely throttle Mizzou by a score of 41-20.

Hilariously, officials at Georgetown University put pressure on an off-campus group to edit an April 17 lecture posted on YouTube because parts of the video show the militant feminist student protestors and other students. The lecture entitled “What’s Right (and Badly Wrong) with Feminism?” was part of the Luce Lecture series. The featured speaker was resident American Enterprise Institute scholar Christina Hoff Sommers. One of the militant feminist students described Sommers — 5’7″ and about 130 lbs. — as “an extremist anti-feminist speaker that dismisses and denies survivors of sexual assault and the real harm of rape culture.” A handful of feminist students demanded “trigger warnings” prior to the speech by Sommers. Lauren Gagliardi, Georgetown’s assistant director for the center for student engagement, informed the campus College Republicans via email that the school would “step in” if Luce, an independent conservative women’s organization, refuses to edit the YouTube video. It remains unclear exactly what special legal power Gagliardi believes she or Georgetown possesses.

Over the course of this academic year, George Washington University — America’s lyingest, cheatingest college — bizarrely contemplated a ban on a sacred Hindu symbol because it resembles a Nazi swastika. The administration at the fancypants $62,485-per-year school in Washington, D.C. also left open the option of expelling a Jewish student who brought the symbol, a Sanskrit svastika [with a ‘v’], to campus. John Banzhaf, a famed public interest law professor at the GW Law School, took up the cause of the embattled student. “It’s like banning the 6-pointed Jewish Star of David because some people might mistake it for the pentagram symbol and human sacrifice, or expelling a student for using the word ‘niggardly’ because other students may mistake it for a racist word and get upset,” Banzhaf analogized.

In May, a group of slouchy, overwhelmingly white and comfortably well-fed students at Tufts University very briefly went on a hunger strike on behalf of 20 janitors laid off by the administration. The hunger strike went on for about a week. The students involved ended the stunt out of concerns for their own health and went back to their normal lives on the marginally prestigious, $61,277-per-year Boston-area campus. One student striker, Zoe Jeka quit her hunger strike on Friday when her blood pressure dropped. Also, Jeka presumably had tools on hand to measure her blood pressure. The custodians remain laid off.

LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM is an actual acronym that exists in the real world populated by actual human being thanks to Wesleyan University. The acronym — for student housing — is an attempt to include every conceivable kink and gender identity (except heterosexual) in the already-long acronym LGBTQ. In its alphabet soup, the fancypants private college in Connecticut recognized Questioning, Flexual, Asexual, Genderfuck, Polyamourous, Bondage/Disciple, Dominance/Submission and Sadism/Masochism.

Officials at Marquette University suspended tenured political science professor John McAdams in December because he wrote a blog post criticizing a colleague’s refusal to let a conservative student debate gay marriage during a philosophy lecture. The philosophy professor, Cheryl Abbate, had allegedly called the student’s concerns about gay marriage “homophobic.” “Everybody agrees on this,” Abbate said according to the student, “and there is no need to discuss it.” The Catholic university relieved McAdams of all teaching duties.

Word came out this summer that the University of New Hampshire had a Bias-Free Language Guide advising students not to use the word “American” because it is “problematic.” Other “problematic” terms in the ultra-politically-correct guide included “illegal alien,” “foreigners” “mothering,” “fathering” and “homosexual.” According to the university’s website. Once news of the Orwellian guide spread nationally, the taxpayer-funded school’s president quickly made it disappear.

Officials at Dixie State University in Utah banned libertarian students from stapling fliers on school bulletins in March. The reason? The bureaucrats concluded that the fliers “disparaged” two American presidents and a dead communist revolutionary.  Specifically, the fliers — created by the university’s chapter of the Young Americans for Liberty as advertisement for the group’s info session — depicted Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Che Guevara in a negative light. Backed by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the students have since sued the public, taxpayer-funded school on free speech grounds.

At Goddard College, an obscure private school in Vermont, former Black Panther Party member and convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal was scheduled to be the fall commencement speaker this year. Abu-Jamal was convicted of killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in 1982. He has been serving a life sentence ever since. Abu-Jamal earned a bachelor’s degree from Goddard in 1996. He “returned” to campus via a pre-recorded speech that was broadcast to graduates and ceremony guests.

New Jersey’s publicly funded Kean University attempted to fill the position of “specialist for residence life” at its satellite campus in China this year. There’s just one hitch: You should be a member of the Communist party if you want to snag the job. The still-extant job posting explicitly declares: “Membership in Chinese Communist Party is preferred.” Applicants must also state their height and birthplace. Known as Wenzhau-Kean University, Kean’s China campus is a jointly Chinese-American institution offering dual degrees to English-speaking students.


The Wrong Solution to Crushing Student Loan Debt

The story we’re about to share is completely true. It was just published by Bloomberg and describes how the Obama administration is working to relieve the crushing burden of student loan debt by making taxpayers pick up the tab for the wasted education of a 29-year old Chicago woman who graduated with a doctorate degree.

Laura Strong, a 29-year-old in suburban Chicago, owes $245,000 on student loans for the psychology Ph.D. she finished in 2013. This year, she says she hopes to earn $35,000 working part-time jobs as a therapist and yoga teacher—not enough to manage a loan payment of about $2,000 a month. But Strong isn’t paying anything close to that. She’s one of at least 3.8 million Americans who’ve qualified for federal programs that tie payments to income and eventually forgive debt for some struggling borrowers, leaving taxpayers to pick up the tab.

Clearly there’s a lot that has gone wrong here. For example, Laura Strong could have pursued a degree program that would have led her to a genuinely productive career, one that if people valued her line of study enough to justify her academic program’s enormous tuition bills, would have led to a well-paying job in her field of study. But that was something that was not to be found waiting for her at the end of her studies, and as a result, she has instead found herself with a fool’s gold-plated trophy diploma, which she might as well have been awarded for participation rather than meaningful academic achievement.

But with $245,000 of student loan debt to show for her poor choices, we have to recognize that the bad decisions that led to her personal taxpayer-funded bailout weren’t made in a vacuum. She got the federal government to loan her the money to rack up that tuition bill. And in fact, she may have been exploited by the government-academic industrial complex that was counting on her being bailed out even as they jacked up her tuition bills year after year.

Income-based repayment was introduced under President Clinton, but the programs weren’t heavily promoted until late 2013, when the Obama administration began sending e-mails to borrowers, including Strong, telling them, “Your initial payment could be as low as $0 a month.” The number of people using these plans has quadrupled since 2012. About half of borrowers taking out the Department of Education’s Grad Plus loans, which finance advanced-degree studies, are in income-driven plans. Most borrowers in the programs have payments capped at 15 percent of income, with allowances for housing and other expenses. In December the Obama administration is expected to expand the number of borrowers eligible for a payment cap of 10 percent. In a July 27 speech at the University of Maryland’s Baltimore campus, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the plans protect people going into socially valuable but low-paying lines of work from crushing debt. “That’s good for them. That’s good for our economy. It’s good for our society,” he said.

Critics say the plans are a hidden subsidy to well-off students and colleges, which can justify tuition increases by reassuring students that they may not have to repay their debt. In a seminar at Georgetown Law, Charles Pruett, assistant dean for financial aid, was captured on video telling alumni they could “ignore” debt balances if they spent 10 years in government or nonprofit jobs, which would qualify them for early loan forgiveness. (The video was first reported in 2013 by the New America Foundation, a Washington think tank.) Pruett says Georgetown promotes the programs to encourage graduates to take public-service jobs. “It’s an earned benefit, not a giveaway,” he says.

It seems like an awful lot of nonsense to go through to justify being able to work in a “socially valuable but low-paying line of work,” which is really just a polite way of saying a “job that really doesn’t require all that much education.” Kind of like a minimum wage-paying cashier’s job at a fast food restaurant and many of the kinds of jobs that can be easily taken over by today’s automation technology.

And all to benefit the government-academic industrial complex, at the expense of those they exploit.

There is a better way to handle that situation, one that puts the cost of bad decisions directly on those who contribute to both making and enabling them. Allow all student loans, whether issued by private lenders or the federal government, to be fully discharged in bankruptcy.

Here, people like Laura Strong who have made poor choices in pursuing their academic path would bear the direct penalty of going through bankruptcy proceedings. While that would limit their ability to take out other kinds of loans, it would actually have the benefit of lasting for fewer years on their record than the government’s preferred “income-based repayment” alternative, which is really just the same as an income tax—one that’s additionally imposed on people who have proven to only be capable of earning low incomes.

At the same time, the federal government would have a strong incentive to be a lot less wasteful in how it doles out federal direct student loan dollars, as it would no longer be able to profit when many of the students whose educations they fund turn out to not be capable of paying them back because people don’t value them very much or because the economy won’t support them.

And with a federal government that can no longer subsidize the growth of tuition at U.S. universities to the extent they have, that tuition growth in the future would be much more restrained, which would actually help make pursuing college and advanced degrees more affordable for those who can genuinely benefit from gaining that level of education.

It seems odd to suggest that bankruptcy is a better solution than alternatives that avoid that outcome, but where student loan debt is concerned, the benefits would far outweigh the costs for everyone but the government-academic industrial complex.

And as long as U.S. taxpayers are going to be made to bear the cost, they might as well get something positive to show for it by sticking it to the people who are gaming the system for their own benefit.


Jeb Bush And The Common Core Debacle

During the first round of the 2016 GOP presidential debates, Jeb Bush was pressured by the moderators to explain his history of pushing for Common Core implementation across the country. In his statement, Bush said:

“I don’t believe the federal government should be involved in the creation of standards directly or indirectly, the creation of curriculum or content. It is clearly a state responsibility. I’m for higher standards…”

In his statement though, Bush avoided the specific answer the moderators wanted, which was whether or not he did or did not endorse the current Common Core curricula be adopted by various states. This isn't the first time Bush has dodged the question, back in December of 2014 Bush had this to say about the implementation of off a common curricula adopted by states:

"...Standards are different than curriculum...I would be concerned if we had a national curriculum influenced by the federal government. My God, I’d break out in a rash."

Here's why the way Bush phrased his response is so telling, he spent his portion of his answer time during the debate to state what Common Core is not instead of giving an actual answer. Bush simply stated these two known facts:

1) Common Core is not a federal standard of education

2) Common Core is not a product of the Department of Education

Even though he did say he was against the federal implementation of core curricula, he did say however that states did have the right to opt-in or opt-out of implementing a shared standard similar to other states . That's where he managed to slip in the answer to the question though, the proverbial devil in the details; Common core is a program which states can choose opt into, which he wants states to do as long as standards for students are high.

This should concern anti-Common Core activists, since one of the biggest issues is that the Department of Education did funnel a lot of federal money into states which chose to take part of Common Core, therefore providing a huge incentive without actually endorsing the program.

A key moment during this debate debacle was when Senator Marco Rubio responded to the former Governor's remarks:

“Here is the problem with Common Core. The Department of Education will never be satisfied. They will not stop with making it a suggestion. They will make it a mandate. In fact, what they will say to local communities is, 'You will not get federal money if you don't do things the way we want you to.' They will use Common Core and any other requirements that exist nationally to force it down the throats of our people in our states.”

Rubio's statement hit at the heart of the issue; its that even though this progressive policy isn't federally born, the money offered to states that adopt the system is what has influenced the culture of corruption we have been seeing throughout the country since its inception.

As of now, only two of the GOP candidates in the prime time debate stood strong against Common Core since the beginning, Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul . Ohio Governor John Kasich recently started to follow this wave by cutting all state spending to Common Core exams. The rest of the candidates on stage have all come to oppose Common Core, such as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker .


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