Monday, April 11, 2016
WCU: Western Communist University
The next time a college professor starts lecturing on the importance of a free and open marketplace of ideas beware. He’s probably going to offer a few platitudes before he throws in an awkward “but,” and then shows his true beliefs about free expression. As a general rule, you can ignore everything that comes before the word “but.” It is usually after he utters his first “but” that he really starts to show his ass.
At Western Carolina University (WCU) the faculty senate recently showed its true colors on an important issue of academic freedom. They were approached with an offer to fund a new Center for the Study of Free Enterprise (CSFE). It should have been easy for them to handle. Predictably, they screwed it up to a fair thee well.
When the faculty senate met they decided to publish a report on the pros and cons of accepting the money to fund the CSFE. As you read about their pro and cons remember that these professors regularly complain that they don’t get enough funding for higher education. Thus, they are constantly asking you to pay higher taxes to make up for it.
1. The WCU Faculty Senate fully agreed that the proposed CSFE was advancing theoretical perspectives well within the mainstream of the discipline of economics. They also recognized that their colleagues in the Economics department had a “right” to determine their own research agendas, which the faculty senate said it “unequivocally” supports.
2. In contrast with the university as a whole, proposed centers can address a specific agenda without addressing a diversity of viewpoints. The WCU therefore rightly concluded that the limited focus of a free enterprise center should not be deemed problematic.
1. The senators expressed concern that the $2 million gift from the Koch Foundation (please note the source of the gift) would expire in five years. They warned that even if the cessation of external funding forced the CSFE to close WCU “may still be obligated to some level of increased funding in future years.”
Did you catch that one? The faculty at WCU is refusing to accept millions of dollars in external funding because of fears that somehow, some way, the funds might dry up and the taxpayer may some day be hit with some kind of unspecified cost. Has anyone ever heard of a faculty body rejecting millions in external funding due to fears of burdening the taxpayers with unspecified future costs? And could anyone ever imagine them rejecting the gift if the proposed CSFE stood for Center for the Study of Feminist Environmentalism?
2. The WCU faculty senate further concluded that the proposed CSFE was not needed because research and education on the issue of free enterprise was already taking place at WCU.
Was that really an issue? Can you imagine WCU rejecting money from a prominent organization wanting to start an LGBT center – and doing it on the theory that professors are already engaged in research and education on LGBT issues? Of course, you can’t. The reason is that these centers are already up and running at most universities. They are not in need of external grants because the faculty senators have already approved of them and sent the bill to the taxpayers.
3. The senators further stated that the proposed center placed “potential constraints on academic freedom.” They claim that the Koch Foundation has “previously set forth explicit expectations in line with their political views in exchange for monetary gifts to universities, thereby constraining academic freedom.”
Can anyone explain how accepting the gift for a pro capitalist CSFE in any way constrains the freedom of Marxist professors to critique the center’s activities? Furthermore, ask yourself which of the following poses the greatest threat to academic freedom:
*A privately funded CSFE, which only considers applicants who support capitalism?
*A government funded campus LGBT center, which only consider applicants who support same sex marriage and other leftist public policy positions?
4. The senators further expressed concern that accepting a gift from the Koch Foundation would be accompanied by reputational costs. They claimed that gifts from Koch were followed by “much negative publicity in higher education outlets as well as general media.” They topped it off by stating that “for WCU to establish a new center on free enterprise may suggest to the general public something about our institution’s priorities and values with which many faculty are uncomfortable.”
Please allow me to translate those last two statements. First, the WCU faculty senate is saying that the fact that liberal academics and the liberal media would criticize them for accepting the gift justifies rejecting the gift. In other words, liberal educational bias and liberal media bias justify further liberal educational bias. What was that they just said about academic freedom?
Furthermore, this idea that faculty can negate speech simply because they are “uncomfortable” is disgraceful. It boggles the mind to imagine how their ancestors crawled out of a pond and somehow evolved into beings so emotionally unfit that they cannot withstand ideas that make them “uncomfortable.” Compounding their lack of emotional strength is a lack of humility, which claims that their own emotions actually trump the ideas of others.
It is worth noting that none of these professors have expressed opposition to the WCU Women’s Center, which once sponsored a bondage and masochism seminar teaching students how to inflict physical pain on one another for sexual pleasure. Were any of these professors concerned that the center’s activities were accompanied by “reputational costs” in the broader community?
5. Finally, the WCU faculty senate was concerned about the lack of scholarly peer review ensuring that the CSFE activities really were scholarly in nature.
I have to wonder whether there was peer review involved when the WCU Women’s Center held a series of panels on sexual empowerment several years ago. One panel featured WCU psychology professor Hal Herzog. In case you didn’t know, Hal Herzog is an expert on animal behavior. He once wrote a book asking profound questions such as “Why is it Okay to feed a mouse but not a kitten to your pet boa constrictor?” and “Can dogs read people’s minds?” The learned professor also developed a personality test for baby snakes. No, I am no making this up.
So please note that these professors at WCU really do care about academic freedom. If it appears they are engaging in censorship then think again. They are just trying to save money, prevent unnecessary research, spare the university’s splendid reputation, and ensure that only legitimate research is being done in the hills of western Carolina. (Sarcasm = off).
To sum it all up, the Marxists who run WCU don’t need a center celebrating free markets. The marketplace of ideas has been shut down for years.
The Sissification of Academia
For decades, liberals have forewarned the destruction by conservatives of their Ivory Towers of academia. They whine that conservatives are out to “starve” educational institutions by cutting their bloated, taxpayer-funded budgets; they blame conservative opposition to their precious Common Core scheme as “paranoia,” and they defend teacher unions to the death.
However, it is not the Tea Party, Republican governors, or homeschool families that liberals should fear. The single biggest threat to the ivory bastion that is Big Academia is the students whose very minds liberals have spent decades molding with their meticulously-crafted indoctrination.
Since the 1960s, when liberal activism was characterized by nuclear disarmament peace marches, sit-ins, and anti-Vietnam war protests on campuses from Columbia to Berkeley, liberals have used educational institutions to push their globalist, Big Government agenda into highly impressionable students under the guise of a “liberal arts” education. Today, not much has changed, except for one thing: whereas in recent years it has been primarily administrators and faculty members leading the leftist movements on campus, including cracking down on conservative thought, it is now students who have seized the reins.
What they have wrought is intimidating professors and administrators at major universities from Missouri to Georgia.
Fueled by modern progressivism and cutting-edge technology, today’s students are more militant, and have a far shorter “fuse,” than their professor predecessors. They join only with those who agree totally with their radical agenda and tactics, and demonize everyone else; including the very professors and administrators who once saw these students as their most prized accomplishments. “Things have changed since I started teaching, [t]he vibe is different,” writes a self-described “liberal” college professor, understandably under a pseudonym. “My students sometimes scare me — particularly the liberal ones.”
The latest incident at Emory University, a once-esteemed institution in Atlanta, demonstrates just how unhinged these students have become. When chalk messages supporting GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump appeared on campus sidewalks, rather than ignoring them, or even taking the simple step of using a bottle of water to remove the messages, students organized protests. They quite literally cried out to the Administration that they were “in pain,” and felt “threatened” by the scribbles. The sane response by the Administration would have been to tell the students to “grow up.”
However, in the wake of Missouri University President Tim Wolfe having been pressured to resign last year, after “failing to do enough” to appease student members of the Black Lives Matter social justice movement, it is clear who now has the upper hand; and it is not Emory President James Wagner. Wagner prostrated himself and declared the University would be “taking a number of significant steps” to respond to the Little Darlings in his care. Steps like what -- banning college students from possessing chalk, and declaring the campus a Chalk-Free Zone?
Apparently this is what higher education has been reduced to -- a four-year incubator for premature adults. Emory’s pathetic response to the Great Chalk Terror underscores how far it has sunk already.
A classical education necessarily requires an environment in which students are forced to study, to learn, and to question ideas and beliefs as a method of teaching them how to “think.” This simply is not possible in an environment where uncomfortable or controversial speech is not only eschewed, but punished.
The darkness at the end of this tunnel will be campuses devoid of independent thought; where the only acceptable speech and behavior is that pre-approved by committees of timorous regents and educators, under the watchful eyes of radical student overseers. It will be a Bizarro World in which students will spend up to $200,000 or more to graduate; knowing much about “gender types”and “white guilt,” but nothing of the genius behind the making of our Constitution or of the rewards of hard work and perseverance that drove Thomas Edison or Albert Einstein.
Should university administrators and state boards of regents fail to regain control of their institutions, state legislators should begin seriously to cut taxpayer funds to public institutions that refuse to fulfill their foundational purpose of actually educating students.
In the meantime – and thankfully -- students for whom college is still about challenging ideas, learning to think, and how to create, have at least one defender in their corner. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (“FIRE”), founded by Alan Kors and Harvey Silverglate, actively defends the First Amendment rights of students and faculty on college campuses across the U.S. And, recently, they have been busy.
The defenders of the Constitution at FIRE will be even busier in the wake of the Great Emory Chalk Scare. Already, Chicken Little administrators at the University of Kansas are fretting over how to protect their Little Darlings from a couple of scary Pro-Trump chalk messages that appeared on the sidewalks in their “Safe Space.”
Australian Labor party lies on schools
Labor’s letter of lies to schools across the country shows that Bill Shorten is wilfully ignoring facts in order to scare students, parents and educators. It is nothing short of a dishonest smear campaign.
"Mr Turnbull’s policy of cutting $30 billion from schools…" - Bill Shorten and Kate Ellis, Letter to schools, 6/4/16
FACT: There are no cuts. It is an utter lie to suggest that the Turnbull Government’s funding is doing anything but increasing each and every year, off of a record base, meaning there is no reason schools won’t be able to continue to support teachers and existing initiatives, such as specialist teachers or additional resources.
"…walking away from public education is one of the worst ideas ever put forward by a prime minister." - Bill Shorten and Kate Ellis, Letter to schools, 6/4/16
FACT: The Turnbull Government is not abandoning schools or public education and has never proposed doing so. We are putting a record $69.4 billion into schools and only ever proposed an alternative means to allow states to grow this by even more, if they wished (which all but WA rejected). This funding will continue to grow year on year into the future and builds on the growth of Commonwealth funding per student for public schools in real terms by 66.1 per cent over the past 10 years.
"Labor has made the difficult decisions on taxation and savings necessary to make sure our plan for schools is fully funded and fully costed over the next decade." - Bill Shorten and Kate Ellis, Letter to schools, 6/4/16
FACT: Labor’s education policy funding outlook is built on a ‘tax and spend’ approach and economic fantasy. Even ABC’s Fact Check unit sees it as "rose-coloured" at best.
"[The Turnbull Government is] not providing any certainty about schools funding." - Bill Shorten, Press Conference, 6/4/16
FACT: The Turnbull Government’s growing funding is locked in and clearly outlined in budget papers. The only people who seem not to understand that are the Labor Party and Bill Shorten. Schools, parents and students can be confident that the Turnbull Government’s record investment in education is only going to increase.
"What we're doing is Budget repair that's fair." - Bill Shorten, Press Conference, 6/4/16
FACT: What Labor is proposing is ‘Budget repair’ that adds to their $51.3 billion black hole at a time when the budget is already $36 billion in deficit. It’s not repair, it’s vandalism. Labor’s plans will only be paid for by higher taxes or greater debt, leaving fewer jobs and opportunities for students when they finish school.
"Well I’ll tell you what reform for…education funding looks like - needs-based funding in schools." - Bill Shorten, Press Conference, 6/4/16
FACT: Labor aren’t proposing reform. They’re just re-announcing unaffordable levels of spending with no reforms to how it is used. Needs-based funding is built into our existing and future funding models, ensuring students with higher needs receive more funding.
The fear being spread by Labor and the unions about schools funding detracts from the real conversation we need to be having. While funding matters, what you do with it matters even more. Evidence tells us to focus on the quality of teachers and teaching; the teaching of reading and maths; and the engagement of parents. That's exactly what the Turnbull Government is doing.
Press release from Sen. Birmingham
Posted by jonjayray at 12:43 AM