Monday, August 20, 2018

NY University offers free tuition for all medical students

New York University is offering free tuition for all of its medical students. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday the move is a first among major US medical schools.

Rising tuition and six-figure loans have been pushing new doctors into higher-paying fields and contributing to a shortage of researchers and primary care physicians.

The associate dean for admissions and financial aid, Dr. Rafael Rivera, said there’s a ‘‘moral imperative’’ to reduce debt.

‘‘Our full-tuition scholarships make it possible for aspiring physicians to choose a specialty based on their talent and inclinations to better serve the communities who need it most, and to more easily pursue scientific breakthroughs that improve how we care for patients,’’ the NYU School of Medicine said on its website.

Tuition was about $55,000 for the coming year. Most medical students will still need to pay about $29,000 for annual room and board and other living expenses.

The university will provide full-tuition scholarships for 93 first-year students — another nine are already covered through an MD/PhD program — as well as 350 students already partly through the MD-only degree program, the Wall Street Journal said.

NYU estimates it will need about $600 million to fund the tuition package in perpetuity. It has raised more than $450 million.


A new skirmish in Harvard admissions case

Privileged ethnics are protecting their privilege.  The old "I'm all right, Jack.  Too bad about you" attitude

Minority student and alumni groups at Harvard University are pushing back against what they consider an attempt to exclude their perspective from a lawsuit that seeks to eliminate race as a consideration in admissions, according to documents filed on their behalf this week.

This is the latest development in the suit, which is likely to go to trial in October and could dramatically change affirmative-action policies nationwide. The case is brought by the group Students for Fair Admissions, which argues that Harvard limits the number of Asian-Americans it admits.

Harvard has denied that it discriminates against Asian-American applicants and has sought to discredit the legal challenge to its admission policies in court.

Thus far, the university has sought to keep much of its admissions information under wraps, citing protection of its students and the exposure of potential trade secrets about how it determines who among more than 40,000 applicants will be offered fewer than 1,700 seats each year.

The high-stakes case could transform how colleges consider race in admissions and is being closely watched by university leaders, legal scholars, conservative and liberal interest groups, and the US Department of Justice. A host of other elite colleges have also filed briefs in support of Harvard. The case has divided many in the Asian-American community.

Harvard says the group suing the school over alleged admissions discrimination has created “900 paragraphs of supposedly undisputed facts — many of which are neither undisputed nor even facts.”

The minority student and alumni groups at Harvard first filed a brief in court last month, arguing for the importance of race as a factor in admission because it creates diversity on campus. But this week, Students for Fair Admissions sought to exclude declarations that the groups submitted along with the brief, which describe their personal stories of racial isolation on campus.

Edward Blum, who runs Students for Fair Admissions, said his group does not object to the student and alumni groups filing a brief, but only to the inclusion of personal declarations with that brief because he said the deadline for discovery has passed.

“We are not trying to silence anybody. The limited question at issue is whether they should be allowed to submit new evidence a year after deadline for fact discovery closed,” Blum said.

The 21 student and alumni groups that filed the brief include the Harvard Asian American Women’s Association, the Harvard Islamic Society, the Harvard Korean Association, and the Harvard Vietnamese Association. They are represented in court by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

“Ed Blum is attempting to silence the voices of actual students and alumni from diverse backgrounds who can speak to the lived experience at Harvard,” said Rachel Kleinman, an NAACP attorney working on the case. “This latest move further exposes [his group’s] hidden agenda. Rather than looking out for students, Ed Blum is simply focused on blocking programs that promote diversity, no matter the consequences.”

Harvard students and alumni echoed her sentiments.

“If [Students for Fair Admissions] is concerned about the experiences of students on our campus, it is important that [they] and the court be willing to listen to our experiences,” said Madison Trice, a rising Harvard sophomore from Houston and a member of the Association of Black Harvard Women and the Harvard-Radcliffe Black Student Association, which participated in the brief.

“Ed Blum is fighting to silence the very voices he claims to be defending,” said Margaret Chin, a Harvard College graduate who is now a professor of sociology at Hunter College.

Chin said it is ironic that Blum’s organization claims to be working on behalf of Asian-Americans when many Asian-American groups signed the brief opposing his suit. Chin, who is on the steering committee of the organization Coalition for a Diverse Harvard, said it is important for the court to hear the perspectives of many Asians, not just the ones represented by Blum.


Is it too late to save our universities?

WHEN university teaching assistant Lindsay Shepherd showed her students a clip of a TV debate about the use of gender-neutral pronouns, she was accused of “epistemic violence”.

An LGBT centre official claimed her activities led to a surge in assaults on transgender people. When asked to prove the allegations, he said he didn’t have to “perform his trauma”.

A professor in Ms Shepherd’s own department wrote an opinion piece for the local paper saying the campus “had become unsafe”.  “Is freedom of speech more important than the safety and wellbeing of our society?” he asked.

Ms Shepherd, a graduate student at Canada’s Wilfrid Laurier University, made international headlines late last year after she released an audio recording of her interrogation by university officials over the tutorial lesson.

She was told her decision to air the clip featuring University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson debating Bill C-16 — a law making it illegal to refuse to refer to transgender people by their preferred pronouns — had created a “toxic climate” and an “unsafe learning environment”.

She was accused of violating the university’s gendered and sexual violence policy for transphobia, the Ontario Human Rights Code, and even Bill C-16 itself simply by presenting criticism of the bill.

“Most shockingly, I was told that by playing that clip neutrally and not denouncing Peterson’s views, this was akin to neutrally playing a speech by Hitler. So it was my neutrality that was the problem,” the 23-year-old told a gathering at the [Australian] Centre for Independent Studies on Thursday night.

Ms Shepherd, who has since launched a $3.6 million lawsuit against the university over the “inquisition”, was speaking alongside Quillette magazine founder Claire Lehmann and sociologist Dr Tiffany Jenkins at an event titled “The Snowflake Epidemic”.

Conservatives have held up her case as a emblematic of a radical left-wing takeover of universities, where safe spaces, “micro-aggressions”, trigger warnings and censorship of ideological opponents are now commonplace.

For many, the universities are a lost cause after decades of postmodernism — which holds that there is no objective truth — eating away at the intellectual foundations of most disciplines.

Melbourne University now teaches a course in “whiteness studies”, pushing concepts like “white privilege”, “white fragility” and “toxic whiteness”.

In 2013, two whiteness studies “scholars of colour” published a peer-reviewed paper exploring their lack of empathy for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings and the Sandy Hook massacre — because the victims were white.

“Why does this matter? Students who get inculcated into this ideology graduate and enter the professions, enter the media and enter corporations,” said Ms Lehmann, whose online magazine bills itself as a “platform for free thought”.

Quillette founder Claire Lehmann, an Australian psychologist.

The panel warned that it only took a small number of aggressive activists to force the majority to acquiesce. “The radicals are definitely a minority,” Ms Shepherd said.

“The thing is, the vast majority of students on campus are totally disengaged. They don’t do their readings, they barely come to class, they don’t care about anything, they just want to pass with the lowest grade they can get, so they don’t care what happens. That’s why the minority is so powerful.”

Ms Lehmann said the noisy minority had power. “You can see the impact in Australia through the corporate world with all of this virtue signalling on diversity and inclusion and implicit bias training,” she said.

“Implicit bias training doesn’t have any solid scientific evidence backing it up. These ideas have impact. They waste money. They waste people’s time.”

Ms Shepherd said the only way to fight the activists was to get a “critical mass of people who will speak out, but when you look at my situation it’s not very inspiring for other students”.

“Other students were publishing op-eds saying I put hate speech in my classroom, I’m a transphobe, I committed gendered violence,” she said.

Dr Jenkins said the “bottom up” censorship that came as a result of identity politics already “seeped into our everyday lives”. “The interesting thing about it is it doesn’t announce itself in the way censorship used to,” she said.

“How we deal with each other, second guessing, seeing each other through the prism of difference. It encourages people to see each other as harmful.”

She said educators had a responsibility to the younger generation and she “would not necessarily encourage people to go to university anymore”.

“They’re not going to learn, they’re not going to be challenged,” she said. “I genuinely think we need to set up different universities and encourage people to take the ideals of the old academy out.”

Ms Lehmann agreed that the universities were lost. “A lot of us are trying to build intellectual spaces online,” she said.

“We try to have serious, thoughtful, complex discussions on difficult topics. There is quite a robust community of us who are scattered all over the world but we come together to talk about things you would have ordinarily talked about in a university tutorial setting but we can’t anymore so we talk about it online.

“We have to carry on the spirit of learning and the values of western civilisation, and the love of learning and books. That’s all we can really do is keep that flame burning. Universities are an institution, but institutions die.”


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