Sunday, November 20, 2016

University Of Michigan Students Protest Racism While Segregating Themselves

Hundreds of students at the University of Michigan (UM) joined a national campus walkout Wednesday, demanding their school fight racism and serve as a “sanctuary campus” for illegal immigrants.

Ironically, while demonstrating against racism, the protesters engaged in racial segregation themselves by restricting the roles white students were allowed to play in the protest.

Dozens of campuses around the U.S. are holding Wednesday walk-outs in support of illegal immigrants following President-elect Donald Trump’s victory. The protest organized by UM’s Students4Justice group was affiliated with the others, but had a notable quirk: A guideline to the protest explicitly tells white people they aren’t allowed in most protest roles.

The guide, currently posted publicly as a Google Doc, explains where protesters will assemble, suggests what chants to use (those focused on Trump are discouraged, to keep the focus on racism instead of the recent election), and includes a set of roles protesters will have to fill. Organizers warned potential white participants that only a handful of roles would be available to them:

A planning document for a University of Michigan protest notes that whites can only have certain jobs. [Screengrab]
Positions such as “demand reader” and “chant coordinator” were exclusively the purview of non-white students. The only posts white students were allowed to fill were “police people” (in charge of “deescalation tactics” to prevent police violence) and “crowd control.”

“We want visibly privileged folx. Let’s protect those around us!” the document said for the crowd control position. “[You are] supposed to be here for support, not to demand or to draw attention.”

The document urges white people to remember that they are there to be “behind” non-white protesters, in a philosophical and potentially literal sense.

In a separate document, Students4Justice laid out the demands it is making of UM’s administration. Like dozens of other campuses around the U.S., it includes a request that UM become a “sanctuary campus” that attempts to protect illegal immigrants. But other demands appeared as well, such as one for the school to purge “white supremacy” by renaming buildings and scholarships that currently honor supporters of eugenics and limited immigration. Another demand calls for the school to divest from companies connected to Israel, and to invest more money in programs dedicated to fighting racism.


Oberlin College Fires Professor Who Blamed 9/11, Charlie Hebdo Attacks on Israel

Joy Karega, an assistant professor at Oberlin College whose Facebook posts featured anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about Jewish global power and accusations that Israel was behind the 9/11 terror attacks and the creation of ISIS, was officially dismissed by the school’s Board of Trustees on Tuesday.

The Board of Trustees found that Karega’s posts, which were first reported by The Tower in February, were in violation of the American Association of University Professors’ Statement of Professional Ethics, which requires professors to “accept the obligation to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending and transmitting knowledge” and to “practice intellectual honesty.”

In a statement, the Board of Trustees explained that Karega was given “numerous procedural protections” during the review process, including being represented by counsel and able to present witnesses and cross-examine people testifying against her. During the proceedings, the statement alleged, Karega “attacked her colleagues when they challenged inconsistencies in her description of the connection between her postings and her scholarship. She disclaimed all responsibility for her misconduct. And she continues to blame Oberlin and its faculty committees for undertaking a shared governance review process.”

A majority of the General Faculty Council, the executive body of Oberlin’s faculty, found that Karega’s Facebook posts could not be considered part of her scholarly work, and had “irreparably impaired [her] ability to perform her duties as a scholar, a teacher, and a member of the community.”

“In the face of Dr. Karega’s repeated refusal to acknowledge and remedy her misconduct, her continued presence undermines the mission and values of Oberlin’s academic community,” the Board of Trustees statement concluded. “Thus, any sanction short of dismissal is insufficient and the Board of Trustees is compelled to take this most serious action.”

In a Facebook post reacting to her firing, Karega offered no apologies for her actions, instead writing thank-yous to her supporters and alluding to “litigation that is coming”:

I will be issuing an official statement soon. I could easily release a “Kiss My Ass” statement. I would be MORE than justified in doing so. But that is not my style. I choose my weapons CAREFULLY and STRATEGICALLY. And trust, I have done that. There will be a challenge and defense of my rights, using ALL the avenues I have available to me — litigation, public, etc. The pathway for that has already been laid.

The Tower’s exposure of Karega’s posts, which also included her questioning why President Obama had approved funding to support elderly Holocaust survivors, quickly became a national story in February. Karega, who was harshly condemned by many Jewish groups, subsequently wrote a post on Facebook thanking the website Veterans Today for its support. Veterans Today has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a website that “can slide pretty quickly into overt anti-Semitism,” publishing claims that, among other things, the Holocaust was exaggerated.

The following month, the chairman of the Board of Trustees, Clyde McGregor, issued a statement calling Karega’s Facebook postings “anti-Semitic and abhorrent,” and stating unequivocally that they “have no place at Oberlin.” McGregor called for reviewing the issues raised by Karega’s post “expeditiously.”

In April the majority of Oberlin’s faculty signed a letter that was harshly critical of Karega. “Bigotry has no place on the Oberlin campus (or anywhere),” the letter said. “It sullies the values of equality and mutual support that are embedded in our institutional DNA as the first coeducational college and the first to admit students of all races as a matter of policy. … As scholars and teachers who treasure all Oberlin has been and must continue to be, we condemn any manifestation of bigotry on our campus — especially from our faculty.”


Australia: Coding Will Be Mandatory In Queensland Schools From Next Year

This is of a piece with the bright idea that every kid should be given a school laptop computer.  It achieved nothing.  As a former programmer of statistical analyses, I can tell you that only about 2% of the population have the IQ to be a real coder.  Perhaps 5% will be able to do some sort of simple work, but, either way, this will waste the time of most students. If you have the requisite ability, you don't need to be taught it at school.  I learnt FORTRAN coding in just 4 mornings of teaching.

In every classroom from prep to Year 10, children in schools will learn coding skills and get hands-on with robotics in Queensland as the state becomes the first in Australia to mandate in-depth computer programming training.

The ABC reports that Queensland will join Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland, Estonia and England in bringing computer coding into the state's primary school curriculum. Parents won't be able to opt their children out of the classes if they disagree with the amount of screen time their kids are getting, either -- this is a full-force effort from Queensland's education system to educate kids in the skills needed to live and work online.

The classes that Queensland schoolkids take won't necessarily be aimed at getting them jobs in coding or software development, though; students will instead get a general knowledge of digital literacy that they'll use in every aspect of their learning from English to maths. iPads won't be completely replacing pens and paper, either. Coding and programming will be an integral part of the jobs that these kids eventually move into in the future.


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