Monday, August 13, 2018

Christian Student Group Sues University for Rejecting It as Official Club

After expelling several religion-based student groups from campus for “discrimination,” the University of Iowa is being sued for religious discrimination.

The University of Iowa chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA was one of the student clubs kicked off campus for not conforming to a university rule that clubs must eliminate a faith-based precondition to serve in leadership.

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship consulted the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a nonprofit legal group, and sued the university Monday for violating its First Amendment rights.

The lawsuit states that on June 1, the university “abruptly emailed InterVarsity’s student leaders and instructed them that they had until June 15 to change their leadership-selection practices or be deregistered.”

The group responded by “emphasizing the importance of having Christian leadership” for the Christian club, the lawsuit says, but the school rebuffed it.

“The university further stated that InterVarsity student leaders could not even be ‘strongly encouraged’ to agree with InterVarsity’s faith,” according to the suit.

The university has disallowed numerous other clubs for the same reason, including Muslim and Sikh groups, it says.

Becket senior counsel Daniel Blomberg said in a formal statement that “banning religious groups from having religious leaders just flattens diversity and impoverishes the campus.”

While the university singled out religious groups for supposed nonadherence with its nondiscrimination policy, Blomberg said, the school “has exempted or ignored leadership and membership restrictions set by other student groups, such as sports clubs, fraternities, and political organizations.”

The university will not comment under its policy on “pending or ongoing litigation,” Anne Bassett, the school’s media relations director, told The Daily Signal on Wednesday.

Kristina Schrock, president of the university’s InterVarsity group, said in a prepared statement:

We’re grateful to have been part of the university community for 25 years, and we think that the university has been a richer place for having Sikh, Muslim, Mormon, Catholic, Jewish, atheist, and Christian groups. Because we love our school, we hope it reconsiders and lets religious groups continue to authentically reflect their religious roots.

Ryan T. Anderson, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation and co-author of “Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination,” called the case an example of “how our liberties hang—or fall—together.”

“Students should be free to associate around a common cause or mission, including religious ones,” Anderson said. “And they should be free to advocate for that cause and live out that mission, and that requires the ability to select leaders who support the cause and embrace the mission.”

“How sad that in the name of diversity and pluralism the university would seek to curtail the freedoms that protect true diversity and principled pluralism,” he said.


Condemning “Whiteness” and “Privilege” in Higher Education

The left’s war on whiteness might have been fought only in the shadows if its “long march through the institutions” hadn’t resulted in its takeover of American higher education in the 1980s. But with the university as its launching pad and megaphone, the left has set out to systematically demonize whiteness through the rapidly growing field of Whiteness Studies, which first began to appear in college curricula in the mid-1990s and since then has become a growth industry.

Whiteness Studies is like other group-identity-based curricula like Black Studies, Chicano Studies, and Women’s Studies only in its intellectual vacuousness. Whereas those other study areas often absurdly celebrate their respective groups and emphasize their status as innocent victims of oppression, Whiteness Studies programs programmatically stigmatize whites as malevolent oppressors of “people of color” and as authors of crimes against humanity. As Jeff Hitchcock put it in 1998 at the Third National Conference on Whiteness, “There is no crime that  whiteness has not committed against people of color…. We must blame whiteness for the continuing patterns today that deny the rights of those outside of whiteness and which damage and pervert the humanity of those of us within it.”[19]

The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education describes Whiteness Studies as “a growing body of scholarship whose aim is to reveal the invisible structures that produce and reproduce white supremacy and privilege.” Central to this definition is the notion that the average white person is largely unaware of his own racism, and that he therefore must be helped to overcome the dreaded “ignorance of one’s ignorance” which prevents him from even recognizing “racism as a system of privilege” that benefits him at the expense of others.[20]

Whiteness Studies professor Lee Bebout of Arizona State University, for his part, says that “white supremacy makes it so that white people can’t see the world they have created.”[21] Jodi Linley, a white assistant professor at the University of Iowa, says that she aims to “dismantle whiteness” in her “curriculum, assignments and pedagogy,” in order to battle “white supremacy” and “white privilege.”[22]

In his class called “The Problem of Whiteness,” University of Wisconsin professor Damon Sajnani explores how white people “consciously and unconsciously perpetuate institutional racism.” In November 2016, Sajnani posted to his Facebook account a picture of a white American family seated for a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day with the words “Genocide, terrorism, small pox, colonization, torture” written in blood over it.[23]

In a “White Privilege” course taught by Portland State University Professor Rachel Sanders, students learn that “whiteness is the lynchpin of structures of racial meaning and racial inequality in the United States,” and that “to preserve whiteness is to preserve racial injustice.”[24]

There is no virtue associated with whitenesss that is not a vice in disguise. In an article published in September 2017, Pennsylvania State University professor Angela Putman criticized “whiteness ideologies” that extol the virtues of “hard work” and “meritocracy.” Such values, she explains, are lamentable reflections of the fact that white students “are socialized to believe that we got to where we are,” particularly in classroom settings, “because of our own individual efforts” rather than through white skin privilege.[25]

Similarly, in a December 2017 academic article analyzing the racial attitudes of college students, University of Northern Iowa professors C. Kyle Rudick and Kathryn B. Golsan assert that “whiteness-informed civility” toward “students of color” is subconsciously rooted in a desire to “assert control of space” and “create a good white identity” wherein “white privilege” and “white racial power” can continue to thrive.[26]

At Scripps College in Claremont, California, all incoming students receive a “survival guide” designed to alert the newcomers to the racism lurking insidiously in the dark corners of white people’s hearts. One entry in this manual, titled “Dear White Students,” declares that “we as white students must identify the ways that we are engaging in the perpetuation of white supremacy and work to unlearn our racism”; that racism is often manifested in “subtle ways through language” and “the perpetuation of white supremacist values like perfectionism [and] individualism”; that “reverse racism does not exist because there are no institutions that were founded with the intention of discriminating against white people on the basis of their skin”; and that the “anger” of nonwhites “is a legitimate response to oppression, as is … a general distaste [for] or hatred of white people.”[27]

In an opinion piece in a Texas State University student newspaper, the University Star, student author Rudy Martinez writes that “whiteness in the United States” is a “construct used to perpetuate a system of racist power,” and that, “ontologically speaking, white death will mean liberation for all.” Toward the end of his piece, Martinez finally said what was really on his mind: “I hate you [white people] because you shouldn’t exist.”[28]

In 2016, Portland Community College designated April as “Whiteness History Month” — not, like Black History Month, as a time to examine the achievements or contributions of the featured group, but rather as a moment to explore how whiteness had “[emerged] from a legacy of imperialism, conquest, colonialism, and the American enterprise.” This exercise, said PCC, was expected to help “change our campus climate” for the better.[29]

In the spring of 2017 at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, a new “study group” was formed to provide a forum “where those who most often exhibit racist and sexist behavior — white males — can begin to be self-critical of the very dangerous, brutal, and depraved hierarchical pathologies of superiority, supremacy, and inferiority handed down to us by white Euro-American institutions.” Particular focus was placed on “the depravity of whiteness” and “the privilege of white people (especially white males).”[30]

At the University of Michigan, a group called the Coalition Against Anti-Blackness maintains that in order to make campuses safe for blacks, the “scourge of whiteness” must be removed altogether.[31]
                                                            Attacking Whiteness in Primary and Secondary Schools

With its stranglehold on higher education secure, in the last few years leftists waging a war on whiteness have opened another battlefront in K-12 schools. Its first target has been teacher-training programs, turning them into indoctrination projects designed to produce K-12 teachers who are committed to the leftist worldview, especially the idea that “white” values and traditions pose a mortal threat to the well-being of nonwhite minorities.

Heather Hackman, a former professor of multicultural education at St. Cloud University, exhorts schoolteachers to become political activists who reject “the racial narrative of White,” which, by her telling, aims to develop children who are “honest, hard-working, disciplined, rigorous, successful,” and capable of speaking “proper English.” These goals, says Hackman, are actually the racist objectives of what she terms a “Super-Whitey” mentality that disrespects the cultural values of nonwhites.[32]

Robert Holland and Don Soifer of the Lexington Institute have studied the attempt to insert leftist propaganda into teacher-training curricula. They write that the instructional methods taught to aspiring K-12 teachers at many teacher-training universities focus on “inducing white guilt and causing teachers to acquire the dispositions of leftist activists who believe in government-enforced redistribution.” Further, Holland and Soifer report that two of the most influential forces in K-12 classrooms across the United States are Paulo Freire, the late Brazilian Marxist who believed that schoolteachers have a duty to turn their students into political revolutionaries, and Howard Zinn, the late Marxist historian renowned for his deep contempt for America. Both Freire and Zinn  emphasize the idea that racism and “white privilege” pervade American society.[33]

Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Sol Stern concurs: “One by one, the education schools are lining up behind social justice teaching and enforcing it on their students — especially since they expect aspiring teachers to possess the approved liberal ‘dispositions,’ or individual character traits, that will qualify them to teach in the public schools.” Among these is a commitment to “an education centered on social justice” that aims “to transcend the negative effects of the dominant [white] culture.”[34]



Who will teach the teachers when the teachers are dummies?

ASPIRING teachers in Victoria [Australia] are being accepted into university teaching courses despite shocking academic ­results of their own.

One student with an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) of just 17.9 out of a possible 99.95 secured a place in an initial teaching course.

Aspiring teachers in Victoria are being accepted into university teaching courses despite shocking academic ­results of their own.
The rank is almost 50 points below a minimum benchmark the state government set to raise teaching standards.

The worrying data, ­obtained by the Sunday Herald Sun, last night prompted Victorian Education Minister James Merlino to order an ­immediate investigation. “I will not stand for universities who are attempting to undercut or bypass our reforms and minimum ATAR standards,” he said.

He warned universities that didn’t comply could lose ­accreditation to teach future educators.

Federal Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham has written to Mr Merlino, calling on him to ­explain why Victoria is the worst-performing state in the country.

Tertiary admission centre figures released through Senate Estimates reveal Victoria University admitted students with the lowest scores in Australia to an Initial Teaching Education course, with ATARs of only 17.9, 19.8 and 21.3.

The university this year introduced a Bachelor of Education Studies degree to circumvent new rules.

Students who enrol in the degree, which has no minimum standard, can then transfer to the Bachelor of Education in their second year.

Victoria University’s Tim Newhouse said the students enrolled with the lowest ATARs in Australia “are not going into teaching”.

He instead insisted they were doing a “Diploma of Education Studies or Bachelor of Education Studies, which can lead to many ­careers”.

Mr Newhouse said these could include “mentoring and tutoring, community programs, public and welfare services, after-school care and teacher aide positions”.

However, the Victoria University website states that its ­Diploma of Education Studies program will help students “achieve your dream of becoming a teacher … this education course prepares you to enter the second year of a teaching degree”.

Federation University Australia, also in Victoria, accepted the second-lowest ATARs in the nation, including 22.1, 23.6 and 24.3, followed by NSW’s University of Wollongong with a 25.7 ATAR.

A spokeswoman for RMIT — which had the fourth-lowest entry scores in Australia — said admissions “with an ATAR that is lower than the recommended level” were based on complex issues that could include student finances or health problems.

“Admissions under these circumstances are undertaken to ensure that otherwise talented and hardworking students, who faced serious adversity during their final years of school, are not disadvantaged,” she said.

Mr Merlino said while universities had always been able to take special consideration into account for all courses, “it isn’t good enough that some universities are looking for ways around the rules purely to boost their numbers to make money”.

A minimum standard of 65 was this year introduced, rising to 70 next year.

Australian Education Union Victorian branch president Meredith Peace said: “We have to raise the standard. We don’t support these backdoor entry programs, which allow people to come in without a suitable academic level.”

Opposition spokesman Tim Smith said Mr Merlino had been “caught out lying over the lack of education standards”. “This minister needs to spend less time on smearing political opponents and more time on his real job of giving children a good education,” he said.

The Turnbull Government will introduce a website within weeks where universities must publish admission information, prerequisites and ATAR scores of previous students as part of new transparency reforms.

Mr Birmingham said: to achieve the best student outcomes “we need the highest calibre teachers in the classroom”. “With more admissions transparency, we’re ensuring unis are held to account for the students they enrol,” Mr Birmingham said.


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