Thursday, March 09, 2017

‘Chronically Upset’ Columbia University Faculty ‘Affected’ by Trump, Demand Campus Safe Spaces

“Stunned” faculty at Columbia University (CU), a prestigious Ivy League institution with a 2016-17 undergraduate tuition rate of $52,478, called for a website, “more open discourse,” and “physical space for conversations” to help faculty who are “affected by the Trump administration” and want to express their concerns “without fear of negative consequences.”

The CU Faculty Affairs Committee (FAC) made these requests at the Feb. 24 University Senate meeting, held to “support discourse” regarding the Trump administration’s impact on faculty members.

FAC co-chairs Robert Pollack and Letty Moss-Salentijn originally laid out these requests in February in a letter to University President Lee Bollinger, who defined the Trump presidency as “a challenge to what Columbia stands for.”

“We know no one at Columbia who is not upset, chronically and deeply, since the election,” Pollack and Moss-Salentijn wrote, claiming that Donald Trump’s presidency has resulted in a “malaise that sits like a fog over Columbia.”

They recommended repurposing certain areas on campus to provide space for “quiet, difficult conversations,” with Pollack adding at the meeting that “faculty are human beings, and as such, may feel intimated. There’s no point or place for the expression of that anxiety.”

The committee also requested that residence hall lounges be made accessible to professors, so they can converse with students who have felt “shock, disgust, and sadness” since President Trump’s election victory.

The morning following the presidential election, professors postponed midterm exams, canceled classes, and disregarded lesson plans.

“I know a lot of you guys are emotionally exhausted after tonight – I am too,” computer science Professor Jessica Ouyang wrote in an election-night email to her students. “Let’s take the weekend to get ourselves back to normal.”


College Campus Disgrace

Walter E. Williams

While college administrators and professors accept disgraceful behavior, we as taxpayers, donors and parents should not foot the bill. Let's look at some of that behavior.

A University of Washington Tacoma Writing Center press release told students that expecting Americans to use proper grammar perpetuates racism. The University of Nebraska Omaha will host a workshop for "anti-racist allies" to develop "action plans" that confront America's "foundation of systemic oppression" in the context of "the current political climate." The workshop was inspired by professor Tammie Kennedy's recent book, titled "Rhetorics of Whiteness." She will lead a discussion on "taking action against white supremacy."

Black students at the University of Michigan demand campus officials provide them with "a permanent designated space on central campus for Black students and students of color to organize and do social justice work."

Bob Lange is an associate professor emeritus of physics and an adjunct associate professor at Brandeis University's Heller School for Social Policy and Management. He says, "It is not terrorism to kill representatives of a government that you are opposed to." His remarks were reported by Canary Mission, a group of students who document people and groups who are promoting hatred of the USA, Israel and the Jewish people, particularly on American college campuses. It reports that Lange maintained that the 2012 terrorist attacks on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya — which killed four people and injured 10 others — were "not terrorism."

Orange Coast College suspended Caleb O'Neil for violating an obscure school policy against recording classroom lectures. It's what he recorded that was disturbing to the college administration. He recorded a human sexuality professor, Olga Perez Stable Cox, spending class time telling her students that Donald Trump's election was an "act of terrorism" because he is a "white supremacist" and Vice President Mike Pence "is one of the most anti-gay humans in this country." Additionally, the professor asked all of the Trump supporters in the classroom to stand up and be accounted for. In a relatively rare incidence of the education establishment's doing the right thing, the Coast Community College District's board of trustees overrode the college president and rescinded O'Neil's suspension and other sanctions. What the board did not do was to sanction Cox for being a thug and bullying her students.

Commentator Dennis Prager recently wrote a column titled "Why Professors Object to Being Recorded." Prager says: "Our colleges and universities (and an increasing number of high schools and elementary schools) have been transformed from educational institutions into indoctrination institutions. With the left-wing takeover of universities, their primary aim has become graduating as many leftists as possible."

He adds: "Most professors objecting to being recorded know on some level that they are persuasive only when their audience is composed largely of very young people just out of high school. They know that if their ideas are exposed to adults, they may be revealed as intellectual lightweights." These professors know that they are persuasive only when their audience is composed of very young people with minds full of mush. If their ideas are exposed to more mature adults, they will be seen as quacks, hustlers and charlatans.

By the way, I've taught graduate and undergraduate economic theory for 36 years at George Mason University. At the beginning of each semester, I invite students to record my lectures. I have no idea who has listened to the lectures or where the recordings wind up. But I challenge anyone to find a lecture in which I proselytized students to my political or personal values. While professorial proselytization is accepted at most universities, I believe that to use one's classroom to push one's personal beliefs, particularly on immature students, is both immoral and academic dishonesty.

What's going on at the nation's colleges represents a threat to both liberty and academic excellence. It is a gross dereliction of duty for legislators, donors and decent Americans to allow it to continue.


Australian Muslim school: Student assault on teacher not reported to police

A student at a Sydney high school that has refused to take part in a deradicalisation program physically assaulted and threatened a teacher last year but the incident went unreported to police, an investigation has uncovered.

NSW Education Department head Mark Scott confirmed yesterday that the school’s ongoing reluctance to implement the state-funded deradicalisation program provided the catalyst for the investigation that culminated in last week’s shock removal of the principal and deputy principal.

The School Communities Working Together program — unveiled in November 2015 in the wake of the Parramatta terror attack in which police worker Curtis Cheng died — was designed to counter violent extremism and anti-social behaviour in schools by providing training and support to help identify students at risk.

It involved schools working closely with community leaders and local police and set out a protocol for schools to report incidents of violent extremist behaviour to the Education Department and police.

“The school was reluctant to have that program take place; they felt it was not necessary,” Mr Scott told 2GB radio yesterday morning. “So at the end of term four we made the determination at a senior level that we really wanted an appraisal of that school.”

The Australian understands that the school’s lack of co-­operation was a significant concern to senior departmental staff, given that a previous audit of its lunchtime prayer group — carried out as part of a statewide audit prompted by revelations that extremist interpretations of Islam were being preached within Epping Boys High School — showed up several red flags, including the failure of organisers to take a roll-call.

Punchbowl, in Sydney’s southwest, has a large cohort of Muslim students and teachers.

As The Australian reported last week, Mr Griffiths and deputy principal Joumana Dennaoui were dumped from their roles in light of the department’s investigation. Both are on leave and Mr Scott declined to say whether they would be redeployed.

Sources close to the school say staff morale plummeted towards the end of last year in response to female teachers being denied ­official roles in the Year 12 presentation and annual awards day.

Since then, a picture has emerged of a school that was increasingly shutting itself off from the ­community.

The school’s relationship with police, which once played an ­active role in helping the school overturn its previous reputation for violence, had soured and police liaison officers had been unable to access the campus for the past 2½ years.

Meanwhile, allegations have emerged about teachers being threatened by students claiming to sympathise with terrorists and of senior staff encouraging the disrespect of authority, with one known to describe police as “pigs”.

The Australian understands that the departmental audit picked up one case in which a non-Muslim teacher was seriously assaulted and threatened but the matter was not reported to police.

Mr Scott said yesterday that some allegations aired about the school, including claims that Mr Griffiths had wished to allow only Muslim students in, were untrue.

He also described claims about female teachers being excluded from official ceremonies as “unsubstantiated”, which is contrary to the accounts of various school and departmental sources.

However, Mr Scott said it was a “serious matter” to remove a principal and deputy principal from a school. “We sent a very senior team in there and found a number of matters that were a concern,” he said.

“There was a significant lack of staff unity and there were a number of policies and procedures that were not being followed. It does seem to have lost its way in recent times and become more isolated from the ­community.”

Parents are understood to have been blindsided by the decision. A petition, started by Ahmed El-Hassan, called for the Education Department to explain the “unfair dismissal”.

A spokesman from the department last night declined to comment on the assault allegations or provide further details on findings from the investigation.

He also declined to say ­whether the deradicalisation ­program would be implemented by the school’s new principal, former juvenile justice educator Robert Patruno.

“The school’s new leadership will implement the recommen­dations from the appraisal,” the spokesman said.


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