Friday, November 13, 2015

Campus Commotions Show We're Raising Fragile Kids

By Jonah Goldberg

It seems like every week there’s a new horror story of political correctness run amok at some college campus.

A warning not to wear culturally insensitive Halloween costumes sparked an imbroglio at Yale, which went viral over the weekend. A lecturer asked in an email, “Is there no room anymore for a child to be a little bit obnoxious … a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?”

Students went ballistic. When an administrator (who is the lecturer’s spouse) defended free speech, some students wanted his head. One student wrote in a Yale Herald op-ed (now taken down), “He doesn’t get it. And I don’t want to debate. I want to talk about my pain.”

Washington Post columnist (and Tufts professor) Daniel Drezner was initially horrified by the spectacle but ultimately backtracked. Invoking Friedrich Hayek’s insights from “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” Drezner cautions outside observers that “there is an awful lot of knowledge that is local in character, that cannot be culled from abstract principles or detached observers.”

As a Hayek fanboy and champion of localism, I should be quite sympathetic. But this time, I think Drezner’s initial reaction was closer to the mark. The notion that the Yale incident is an isolated one defies all of the evidence.

Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist, and Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, recently wrote a sweeping survey titled “The Coddling of the American Mind” for the Atlantic, in which they cataloged how students are being swaddled in an emotional cocoon.

Taco bars at sorority fundraisers are considered offensive. A group at Duke University deemed phrases such as “man up” too horrible to tolerate. And so on.

The suggestion that the tempest at Yale is an isolated incident reminds me of my favorite line from Thoreau: “Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.”

So what is going on?

Well, a lot. Many conservatives want to put all the blame on political correctness or cultural Marxism. And though I think such ideologies certainly belong in the dock, political correctness is now quite old.

Lamentations about it were commonplace when I was in college 25 years ago. Does anyone, other than a few campus hotheads, actually believe universities are more intolerant, bigoted and racist than they were a generation ago?

What has changed are the students. Yes, there has been a lot of ideological indoctrination in which kids are taught that taking offense gives them power. But, again, that idea is old. What’s new is the way kids are being raised.

Consider play. Children are hardwired to play. That’s how we learn. But what happens when play is micromanaged? St. Lawrence University professor Steven Horwitz argues that it undermines democracy.

Free play — tag in the schoolyard, pickup basketball at the park, etc. — is a very complicated thing. It requires young people to negotiate rules among themselves, without the benefit of some third-party authority figure. These skills are hugely important in life. When parents or teachers short-circuit that process by constantly intervening to stop bullying or just to make sure that everyone plays nice, Horwitz argues, “we are taking away a key piece of what makes it possible for free people to be peaceful, cooperative people by devising bottom-up solutions to a variety of conflicts.”

The rise in “helicopter parenting” and the epidemic of “everyone gets a trophy” education are another facet of the same problem. We’re raising millions of kids to be smart and kind, but also fragile.

And what happens when large numbers of these delicate little flowers are set free to navigate their way through life? They feel unsafe and demand “safe spaces.” They feel threatened by uncomfortable ideas and demand “trigger warnings.” They might even want written rules or contracts to help them negotiate sexual relations.

In other words, this is the generation the mandarins of political correctness have been waiting for.


Is This the Next Mizzou? As Racial Tensions Rise, Ithaca College President Faces Mounting Criticism

Another president blamed for not being hysterical enough

Around a thousand miles northeast of the University of Missouri, where racial tensions and protests led to the resignation of the university president, students and faculty at Ithaca College have mounted a challenge to their own leader following protests over alleged incidents of racism at the small private college.

For months, the college of just 6,600 students nestled in the Finger Lakes has seen mounting criticism of President Tom Rochon for what students and faculty believe is an inadequate response to a number of racist incidents occurring on campus. On Wednesday afternoon, students are expected to hold a “walk-out” in further protest.

“There have been a litany of episodes and incidents during [Rochon’s] tenure here which have led to frustration because, when brought to his attention, the view of the protesters is that he has been unresponsive,” Don Lifton, a 29-year professor at the Ithaca College School of Business, told The Daily Signal.

Now, with the nation focused on events in Missouri, tensions between students and Rochon have come to a head, as students have been asked to participate in a Student Government Association-sanctioned survey asking for a vote of “confidence” or “no confidence” in Rochon, Kyle Stewart, vice president of communications for the Student Government Association, told The Daily Signal.

The Student Government Association voted unanimously to hold the vote for students but is a neutral party, he said.

The vote comes as Ithaca’s Faculty Council, the representative body of the college’s faculty, are scheduled to meet Tuesday night to discuss the possibility of holding their own vote, which, according to Lifton, represents “unprecedented” action taken against Ithaca’s top official.

“Over my years of service here, there have been a variety of presidents each having their strengths and weaknesses, but never has a president during—I’ve been here for three—never had his two predecessors have those amongst us, never has it come to a vote of confidence,” Lifton said.

If both students and faculty cast votes of no confidence in Rochon, it would cause the Ithaca College Board of Trustees—charged with hiring the college president—to re-evaluate Rochon’s future with the college, Stewart and Lifton said.

‘Racial Problems’ on Campus

Rochon became the president of Ithaca College in 2008. In recent years, students have become increasingly unhappy with his leadership following three separate events that students and protesters with People of Color at Ithaca College—a student activist group known as POC at IC—say were perceived as racially charged, Stewart said.

The first involved public safety officers who, during training sessions with Ithaca College resident assistants, allegedly made “racially insensitive” and “aggressive” statements, according to The Ithacan, Ithaca College’s student newspaper.

The second, Stewart said, centered on an off-campus party hosted by an unaffiliated fraternity last month. The party was themed “Preps and Crooks,” and students and alumni viewed the theme, described in a Facebook post, as “racially charged” and a “microaggression,” according to The Ithacan.

The last incident occurred during a university-sponsored event called “Blue Sky Reimagining” last month, where an African-American alumna of Ithaca College said she had a “savage hunger” to succeed in her professional career. A Caucasian Ithaca College alumnus speaking alongside the woman repeated her description, calling the alumna a “savage” multiple times, Stewart said.

“Those were a few of the racial problems on campus,” Stewart, a sophomore, told The Daily Signal.

People of Color at Ithaca College called on Rochon to respond to the incidents and became frustrated when the responses from Ithaca College’s administration were inconsistent, Stewart said.

In the case of the fraternity event, the response from college leadership was swift, and Ithaca distanced itself from both the fraternity and the event, calling the language in a post describing the party “reprehensible for its racial and class stereotyping,” the Ithacan reported.

Ithaca’s response to the comments at Blue Sky Reimagining, however, came days later—and after a video was taken offline.

“There’s definitely tense feelings,” Stewart said. “I think there’s a lot of people who are actively involved in these issues. The group, POC at IC, every day they’re involved with trying to improve the campus climate.”

Perhaps the most telling incident showcasing students’ disapproval of Rochon’s handling of such alleged racism, though, came two weeks ago at a forum hosted by Rochon called “Addressing Community Action on Racism and Cultural Bias.”

Fifteen minutes into the event, attended by thousands of students and faculty, Lifton recalled, 40 students with POC at IC moved down the center aisles shouting chants of “Tom Rochon, no confidence.”

The student activists took the stage—where Rochon sat with other college administrators—and outlined why the college president needed to be removed.

“I never felt there was a danger of violence,” Lifton said. “It was awkward, tense, and unprecedented, but I never felt I was in danger during this protest.”

After the students cleared the stage and left the event—followed by what Lifton estimated to be about half the crowd—the professor himself went to the microphone and made a declaration: for Rochon to step down.

“It’s unfortunate, but we need a fresh face to help us reform,” Lifton said. “He’s been on campus for seven years, and the climate during his watch has deteriorated. There are too many of us who have lost patience with dialoguing with him because the past opportunities of dialogue led to nothing adequately concrete.”

In a statement to The Daily Signal, Ithaca College said issues involving “racial and cultural bias” have garnered the full attention of Rochon but noted that the college has improvements to make.

“Ithaca College must be a caring and inclusive community where all students, faculty, staff and visitors feel safe and respected,” the statement said. “There is no question that the college, like the rest of our nation, has a great deal of work to do to make this happen, including the very urgent need to combat systemic and structural racism.”

‘Larger National Issues’

The unrest among faculty and students at Ithaca College comes as racial tensions at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo., led to university President Tim Wolfe’s resignation.

Similar to the concerns voiced at Ithaca College, University of Missouri students expressed disapproval of Wolfe’s handling of racist incidents, according to the New York Times. Wolfe ultimately stepped down after the university’s football team threatened to boycott the remainder of the season as a gesture of solidarity with students protesting the administration, the Times also reported.

In interviews with The Daily Signal, Stewart and Lifton outlined what students, faculty, and administrators can do to address the racial issues plaguing Ithaca College’s campus.

“I think the main thing the campus needs to work on is respect for everyone. We can’t really move forward as a campus unless every single person respects everyone else regardless of gender, color, sexual orientation,” Stewart said.

“I want a new leader to give us a fresh start,” Lifton said. “I want a new leader who will have a honeymoon period to demonstrate a systematic concern with addressing racial tensions on this campus. … I want a new leader who can prove a mettle to be up to this challenge of inclusivity and dramatic change in the campus climate.”

And both student and teacher agreed that the events taking place at their college, as well as the University of Missouri and Yale University, speak to a larger, national issue.

“I feel like it reflects a national climate on colleges, especially Missouri and Yale,” Stewart said. “I feel like I’m not sure if we’re any different than other colleges right now, but there’s tension, and we are looking to resolve that in the best way possible.”

“I think that what we have here, lamentably, is systemic of a larger struggle, and that Ithaca College undergraduates would be so engaged in it speaks so commendably to them, all of them,” Lifton said. “I think it’s systematic of larger national issues playing out locally.”


Muslim-run school in Britain: Children told to chant, 'Do we send Christmas cards? No!' and 'Do we celebrate Christmas? No!'

Pupils at Oldknow Academy, a school implicated in the Trojan horse scandal, were led in anti-Christian chants in assemblies, it has been alleged. Teacher Asif Khan allegedly led pupils shouting: “We don’t believe in Christmas, do we?” and “Jesus wasn’t born in Bethlehem, was he?”, a tribunal was told

In these assemblies Mr Khan who was a classroom teacher, also allegedly talked about “hellfire” and “prostitutes”.

Apparently some teachers were so disgusted they walked out.

Former deputy head teacher Jahangir Akbar and Asif Khan both stand accused of unacceptable professional behaviour and/or conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute.

The professional conduct hearing panel is taking place at The Beeches, Selly Oak Road, Bournville.

It was told that children were also asked to shout: “Do we send Christmas cards? No!” and “Do we celebrate Christmas? No!”, although Mr Khan denies the claims. It was said that the assembly was “like a rally” with a “plainly divisive” attitude.

Asif Khan failed to turn up to the appearance before the National College for Leadership & Training (NCTL) panel and may now be living in Qatar.

Christopher Gillespie, the lawyer representing the National College for Teaching and Leadership , said: “An agreement was made to introduce an undue amount of religious influence into the education of Oldknow School.  “The distinction between a faith school and a state school was being blurred if not obliterated.”

Ann Connor, an education advisor contracted to work for Department for Education, was asked to visit the school after Peter Clarke’s 2014 report into Birmingham Schools.  She said: “I found the school to be extraordinary. There was an element of fear.”

One female member of staff was allegedly frightened of Mr Khan and of potential repercussions for her in the school.  A teacher told Ann Connor: “I am too frightened and he knows where I live.”

Ms Connor said there were signs written only in Arabic including the name of an office block, doors on toilets and a school lunch menu displayed on a class notice board.

In the hearing it was heard that one parent complained of the “increasing Islamic ethos in the school.”

Other concerns raised were that a school trip to Saudi Arabia was only available to certain male Muslim students and that teachers were discouraged from putting up Christmas decorations.

In one episode in January 2014 a mother complained that a teacher at the school had told her daughter that she should be avoided because of her religion. Mr Gillespie said: “This was a horrific message to be sending out and it’s outrageous that a young child was left with this impression.  “This should have triggered more of an investigation and was incredibly divisive.”

A maths lesson was also allegedly segregated with the girls sat at the back of the room.

It was further alleged that pupils were told they could not sing, use musical instruments or draw trees or eyes.

When newspaper articles started running about the school in 2014 Mr Akbar allegedly warned teachers to stop leaking information to journalists.

In defence Andrew Faux, representing Mr Akbar, said religious worship was in line with the requirements in British educational law. He also said Mr Akbar was not a teacher at the school when Arabic started to be taught and the trips to Saudi Arabia began.

There are currently 12 teachers from the five ‘Trojan Horse’ schools facing disciplinary action and possible life-time bans from the classroom. The hearing is listed to run until November 18.


No comments: