Friday, July 21, 2017

Harvard’s Proposed Policy Would Punish Students for Having Normal Social Lives

For the second time in less than two years, Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana is expanding paternalistic restrictions and sanctions on the student body based on whom they choose to be friends with.

In an email to the student body on July 12, the dean reported that the “USGSO Committee”—which handles policy on “unrecognized single-gender social organizations,” and which the dean co-chairs—released preliminary recommendations to be reviewed by the faculty and then approved by Harvard University’s president, Drew Faust.

These recommendations outline a new policy that exceeds the bounds of a prior, already overreaching policy, which will remain in place unless Faust approves the new policy.

The first policy, begun in 2016, targeted all-male and all-female organizations, including fraternities, sororities, and final clubs, all of which are off-campus, self-funded, and unrecognized by the university.

It stated that starting with the class of 2021 (this fall’s freshmen), members of those organizations will be barred from receiving prestigious scholarships (like the Rhodes Scholarship), athletic team captaincies, and leadership positions in recognized student organizations.

In response, some clubs, like the traditionally all-male Spee Club and the traditionally all-female Seneca, decided to transition to being co-ed.

The new policy goes even further.

Claiming that its initial goal of ending gender segregation and discrimination was “too narrow,” the committee’s new policy extends its sanctions to any “private, exclusionary social organizations that are exclusively or predominantly made up of Harvard students, whether they have any local or national affiliation,” single-gender or otherwise, so that the clubs that attempted to adhere to the first policy cannot escape sanction.

Perhaps even more distressingly, it recommends that students who choose to join these clubs will face suspension and expulsion from the college.

The faculty committee is seeking to model this policy on those adopted by Williams College and Bowdoin College, including a policy that requires students to pledge that they will abide by the school’s “Social Code,” a code that prohibits joining, pledging, rushing, or even attending events sponsored by the prohibited groups.

Faust, who will be stepping down at the end of this academic year, seemingly has nothing to lose.

The groupthink mentality of the importance of “diversity and inclusion” is apparent throughout the committee’s report. As it continually emphasizes the importance of making all Harvard students feel “included,” it then asserts, in bold letters: “It is important to note that no one has suggested doing nothing.”

This is simply untrue. Numerous students have suggested allowing students to retain their rights to freedom of association, and professors like Harry Lewis have publicly condemned the administration’s intervention in students’ private lives.

In addition, a student referendum on the policy, referenced in the committee’s report, showed that nearly double as many students voted to repeal the sanctions as voted in support.

Further, the definition it gives for the outside groups affected by this policy is far too broad.

While it lists several clubs that the policy is intended to apply to today, it also applies the policy broadly to any similar organizations that are made up primarily of Harvard students, and which are private, exclusionary, and social in nature.

The logic of this policy could be more far-reaching than even the administration realizes.

Could a group of friends at Harvard fall subject to this policy if they exclude others from a private party they host? What about a private game night? Does this group of friends need a formal name in order to be subject?

By targeting such a broad swath of “exclusionary” actions, the administration of Harvard College has resorted to treating adult students like some elementary schools have treated first graders, requiring that everyone in the class be invited to each child’s birthday party.

It is paternalistic, hypocritical, and frankly insulting that administrators have imposed this policy. As one of the most exclusive universities in the world, Harvard has claimed to select only those with the brightest futures and best judgment for admission.

If this is so, then the administration should allow students to make their own choices of outside affiliations, rather than becoming a nanny state intent on scrutinizing the details of students’ social lives.

For these reasons, it is imperative that Faust reject the faculty’s new policy and reconsider the existing policy regarding students’ outside affiliations. Freedom of association is paramount to American society and basic liberty, and Harvard is mistaken in abandoning it.


Claremont McKenna College disciplines seven students for blockade that shut down Heather Mac Donald speech

Here’s a statement just released by Claremont McKenna College (about the incident blogged about here):

Claremont McKenna College has completed the full conduct process after students blocked access to the Athenaeum and Kravis Center on April 6, with the expressed intent to shut down that evening’s speaker, Heather Mac Donald, the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

Findings and Outcomes

On the evening of April 6, a group of approximately 170 individuals from the Claremont Colleges and others outside our community organized, led, and executed a blockade of the Athenaeum and the Kravis Center. They breached the perimeter safety and security fence and campus safety line, and established human barriers to entrances and exits. These actions deprived many of the opportunity to gather, hear the speaker, and engage with questions and comments.

The blockade breached institutional values of freedom of expression and assembly. Furthermore, this action violated policies of both the College and The Claremont Colleges that prohibit material disruption of college programs and created unsafe conditions in disregard of state law.

Through a review of available video and photographic evidence, the College initially identified twelve CMC students as potential participants in the blockade. After further review, the College charged ten students with violations of College policy. Three of those students were then found not responsible for any violation. After a full conduct investigation and review process for the remaining seven students, an independent community panel found each student responsible for policy violations.

Three students received one-year suspensions.
Two received one-semester suspensions.
Two were put on conduct probation.
All sanctions include strong educational components.

The College followed a full, fair, and impartial student conduct process before the determination of findings, sanctions, and the resolution of appeals. Efforts to politicize and interfere with this process had no influence on timing or decisions. Students had an opportunity to be heard, pose questions, ask for further investigation, and raise objections throughout the process. The independent panel of three (one panelist each from the faculty, staff, and student body) determined their findings of responsibility on a preponderance of video and photographic evidence and a limited amount of witness testimony. Sanctions were based on the nature and degree of leadership in the blockade, the acknowledgment and acceptance of responsibility, and other factors.

CMC has also provided evidence of policy violations by students of the other Claremont Colleges to their respective deans of students. Consistent with inter-college policy, CMC has asked each campus to review this evidence under their own conduct processes. In addition, CMC has issued provisional suspensions of on-campus privileges to four non-CMC students who appear to have played significant roles in the blockade.

Our Reinforced Commitments

Last September, President Chodosh and Dean Uvin wrote: “[f]reedom of speech and diversity of opinion are foundational to the mission of the College. Both the faculty and our Board of Trustees have endorsed the University of Chicago’s Principles of Free Expression as consistent with our own.”

They emphasized further:

[T]o benefit fully from the free exchange of challenging ideas, we must ensure that all people with different viewpoints, experiences, and analyses are included in our conversations…. We reject exclusion and ad hominem attacks as barriers to learning. All of us — students, faculty and staff — must commit to high standards of civility, respect, and appreciation for differences.

In President Chodosh’s August 2016 convocation address, he said:

If we are to cherish free speech, we must support and hear the speech with which we most disagree. The most persuasive arguments anticipate opposing viewpoints. Free expression without listening is of little use.

In the aftermath of the blockade on April 6, the College learned important lessons that must further strengthen our resolve. Our Athenaeum must continue to invite the broadest array of speakers on the most pressing issues of the day. Our faculty must help us understand how to mitigate the forces that divide our society. Our students must master the skills of respectful dialogue across all barriers. Our community must protect the right to learn from others, especially those with whom we strongly disagree. And Claremont McKenna College must take every step necessary to uphold these vital commitments.


Feds Spend $224,999 on ‘Clean Water’ Video Game

The National Institutes of Health is spending over $200,000 on a video game about clean water.

The computer game will help children "right the environmental wrongs" of a fictional town. A grant for the project was awarded last month to Meadowlark Science and Education, a company that makes STEM video games in Missoula, Mont.

The target audience of the new environmental health video game is 5th and 6th graders, who will use the game to sharpen their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math skills while increasing their "awareness of the importance of clean water."

"Improving STEM-focused curriculum is a primary objective of the current U.S. administration and is crucial for ensuring that upcoming generations receive the training and skills necessary to compete in the existing global economy," according to the grant for the project. "To that end, there is an urgent need for additional effective teaching tools able to reach a generation that requires instant access to information and advanced technology."

"Of particular interest to this proposal is the development of a highly effective, marketable, and interactive educational video game (iEVG) that focuses on STEM topics and targets 5th and 6th grade students—the age at which interest in STEM subjects is developed or lost," the grant states.

The goal of the study is to create a computer game with "significant commercial potential that increases awareness of the importance of clean water in human health."

The project, which began in July, has received $224,999. Research will continue through 2018.

Meadowlark Science and Education announced an upcoming project on its website for a computer game entitled "Water Follies." The objective of the game is for children to convince politicians on the importance of environmental issues.

"You play as Clark Flyer, a meadowlark who works together with a diverse cast of lovable animal characters, to solve and correct environmental issues plaguing their town," the company said. "Clark's goal is to convince the reluctant politicians in power that clean, lead-free drinking water should be everyone's top priority."

"Using your knowledge of STEM, you will solve puzzles, conduct experiments, and develop hypotheses to right the environmental wrongs that have affected the community," Meadowlark Science and Education said. "By interacting with the townsfolk, you will make many new friends and learn about their lives. With the help of your new buddies, you can make Holian Falls a town where everyone would want to live!"

The company has a disclaimer on its website listing government funding and that the content is "solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health."


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Colleges Pay Diversity Officers More Than Professors, Staff

Top public universities pay administrators with jobs related to diversity initiatives an average of  $175,088 per year, substantially more than other professors and faculty members, according to a Campus Reform investigation.

A sheet compiling the salaries of the top diversity administrators at 43 of America’s top public universities shows that virtually all are paid at least $100,000, with some going well beyond $300,000.

The average of $175,088 per year is more than three times the average American’s salary of $44,980. The lowest salary identified by Campus Reform is $83,237, still almost twice as much as the average American salary.

A 2016 report by the American Association of University Professors found that the average professor salary across ranks was $79,424.

In one example, an administrator at Rutgers University named Jorge Schement, vice chancellor of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, made $253,262 in 2016, while most faculty at Rutgers in 2015 made less than $50,000 a year.

The same 2015 review found that the median salary of tenured professors at Rutgers was $121,467, which makes for more than a $100,000 difference between the average Rutgers professor and the vice chancellor of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Some have suggested that giving diversity initiative administrators high salaries is ineffective.

“It is crucial for boards and leaders to ask whether spending on new administrative salaries will serve the genuine needs of students or just fulfill the wishes of certain administrators,” Michael Poliakoff, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, told Campus Reform.



Ideological Tribalism: Graduating Stepford Students

Freedom of speech is foundational. Without freedom of speech there are no other freedoms.

In a stunning new guide to colleges that ranks  "a diversity of viewpoints and a culture of free and open discussion" New England colleges and universities are exposed as the most close-minded in a comparison of diversity of political and cultural points of view. Considering that the New England colleges and universities are some of the most prestigious in America and that they graduate future leaders and "authorities," the study results are particularly disturbing.

The silencing of Conservative voices on campus is a deliberate strategy to expand the widening echo chamber of left-wing liberal tenets of political correctness, moral relativism, and historical revisionism. Parochial schools are very clear in their mission to educate students in the particular tenets, customs, and ceremonies of their chosen religion. Religious schools freely and unapologetically attempt to perpetuate their religions through education. There is informed consent - the parents and students being fully aware of the purpose of their education.

The problem today is in non-parochial schools because parents believe their children are receiving a secular American education not a parochial education. The reality is that American students from pre-school through college are being indoctrinated in left-wing liberalism by their Leftist teachers. Leftism is the new religious orthodoxy of the Democratic Party and the Democrats are busy proselytizing their religion in the classroom. There is no informed consent and no consumer protections. There is only buyer beware.

Slowly parents are beginning to examine the content of the curricula their children are being exposed to and are rightfully alarmed by the anti-American, anti-establishment, anti-democracy lessons being taught. Their children are being propagandized toward anti-American collectivism and socialism every day all day.

When liberal professors outnumber their conservative colleagues 28:1 a culture of ideological tribalism is created and freedom of speech ceases to exist. Conservative voices are silenced because the academic and social tyranny of the Left demands conformity. It is an ideological war that demands submission.       

Tyranny cannot tolerate freedom of speech because in ideological wars words are the weapons. The Left is engaged in a very undemocratic effort to silence any voices of opposition. The tribal mind focuses on membership in the tribe as the absolute value which explains the malicious shunning and disparaging of anyone who disagrees. To be in the tribe one must demonstrate loyalty to the tribe and adhere to its cultural norms.

Instead of participating in the proud American tradition of open debate the Leftist leadership of the Democratic Party has adopted the tyranny of censorship, intimidation, and intolerance. Instead of encouraging respectful discourse for the merits of ideas to be debated the Left silences its opponents with its tyrannical demand for compliance to its tenets of political correctness, moral relativism, and historical revisionism. The Leftist orthodoxy silences any heterodoxy. The Democratic Party has devolved into ideological tribalism where membership in the group is determined by adherence to its orthodoxy.

Outside the classroom the left-wing activists organize campus protests where academic cry-bullies shut down buildings and intimidate speakers to silence opposing voices. They demand safe spaces and Play-doh to calm and "protect" them from opposing ideas. These protesters are not burning books because the curriculum has already been censored and manipulated to eliminate opposing ideas. Instead of an education the students are being indoctrinated in the left-wing liberal orthodoxy of political correctness, moral relativism, and historical revisionism designed to produce another generation of Stepford students to join the widening echo chamber of orthodox Leftists who reject any heterodoxy.

The general public is being similarly indoctrinated because their news and information has been censored to eliminate opposing ideas and to silence opposing voices. The colluding mainstream media moguls of television, movies, print media, and the Internet, all have common cause to participate in the echo chamber of manipulative information designed to indoctrinate the public into accepting their left-wing liberal orthodoxy.

What is the purpose of the ideological tribalism of the Democratic Party? Just like the student curricula the public indoctrination by the leftist Democratic Party is part of the widening echo chamber designed to transform American democracy into socialism.

The Left organizes content designed to break down traditional American cultural norms that encourage individualism, achievement, the meritocracy, and critical thinking skills. The Leftist narrative promotes collectivism and passivity to produce an unaware and compliant public. The Leftist Democratic Party in America supports or is an apologist for Linda Sarsour, BDS, FGM, open-borders, illegal immigration, sanctuary cities, and the fiction that Islam is a religion like any other.

Instead of news and information the general public is being indoctrinated in the left-wing liberal orthodoxy of political correctness, moral relativism, and historical revisionism designed to produce an unthinking Stepford population who will join the ever-widening echo chamber of orthodox Leftists who reject any heterodoxy.

Consider the long term effects of their echo chamber that begins in kindergarten, continues throughout college, graduates Stepford students who become leaders and "authorities" in government, politics, academia, Internet, media, statistics, books, art, medicine, law, theater, movies, every sphere that influences American life. WHY?   

Because the globalist elite mega-moguls and their mega-corporations have a long term plan. They are using the echo chamber of Leftists as useful idiots to create the social chaos and divisiveness necessary to destroy American democracy and replace it with socialism. Socialism's complete cradle-to-grave government control is the prerequisite for the globalist elite's own one-world government that features an unrestricted world market for their goods and a binary socio-political system of masters (the globalist elite) and their enslaved population (everyone else).

The ideological tribalism of the Leftist Democrat Party that graduates Stepford students and disinforms the public to become Stepford voters is a boomerang. Ideological tribalism will be used against the useful idiots by the globalist elite who will ultimately impose one-world government and enslave them all. There is no place for Leftist agitators in one-world government - there is only room for Stepford slaves.


Small private schools are struggling, but Merrimack has found its footing

NORTH ANDOVER — Across the country, from New Hampshire to Kentucky to California, small private colleges are struggling. They’re merging with neighbors, cutting programs and staff, and offering steep tuition discounts to get students into seats. Some are going out of business altogether.

But Merrimack College, in sleepy North Andover, has recalibrated its approach to move away from the traditional liberal arts offering — and the strategy is working.

By stressing health sciences, business, and engineering over humanities and by tailoring its financial aid to attract high school graduates that best fit the small school, Merrimack has managed to boost student enrollment, build facilities, and stabilize its finances.

The result leaves Christopher Hopey, the college president, unusually chipper.

“I’m not as pessimistic as most people,” Hopey said last week. “The key is to look different than others.”

Merrimack College is among a cohort of small, private institutions that have avoided drastic financial steps, despite the shrinking number of college-age students and growing resistance from families unwilling to go deep into debt for private college when a public institution will do. And it is succeeding in Massachusetts, where competition is especially stiff, with about 90 four-year private and public schools that families can select.

Merrimack — a Catholic college that started out as a commuter school for returning GIs after World War II and is best known as a small, ice hockey powerhouse — has found its footing, said Pranav Sharma, an analyst for Moody’s Investors Services.

“How many times do you see a college growing enrollment by double digits for several years?” said Sharma. “It’s run as a business. They are very good at understanding who they are.”

The solution at Merrimack has been multifold but has focused on shifting from the basic liberal arts track to one geared toward degrees with clearer job prospects in the current economy.

For years, Merrimack offered its students a wide array of classes from philosophy and English to education, political science, and business management. But in recent years, it has built up its courses and lab spaces in health sciences, finance, and engineering, in the hopes of competing with the likes of the University of Massachusetts Lowell and Wentworth Institute of Technology.

In 2016, more than 30 percent of students graduated with business degrees and about 20 percent finished school with degrees in health services, sciences, and civil engineering. Meanwhile, the popularity of English and general liberal arts degrees has fallen. In 2015, 10 out of 654 students graduated with English degrees, down from 19 just five years before. Even fewer finished with liberal arts degrees: six students, down from 19 in 2010.

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, called STEM fields, have become increasingly popular at colleges and universities nationwide as budget-conscious students gravitate to degrees most likely to land them jobs after graduation.

And in an environment in which most colleges are chasing the best and brightest, Merrimack has courted B students who are eager to attend; most of its students are from Massachusetts.

The effort has become so sophisticated that the college uses an outside consultant and computer algorithms to dole out financial aid, ensuring that students who visit often and want to come to the school get more money, instead of simply offering the biggest scholarships to students with the best grades who are weighing several options.

“They don’t fight for the students they aren’t going to get,” said Sharma, with Moody’s. “They are pretty disciplined about spending their scholarship aid.”

The sticker price at Merrimack was $55,620 last year, but with scholarships and financial aid most students pay about $33,000 on average. That puts Merrimack between other small private colleges in Massachusetts, such as Endicott College and Stonehill College, according to the US Department of Education.

Merrimack has worked to convince families that it’s money well-spent, highlighting partnerships with businesses, such as Raytheon Co. and New Balance, where students work and do internships, Hopey said.

The average earnings of a Merrimack student a decade after graduating are about $56,000 a year, above the national average of $33,500.

Many other small colleges are also trying their hand at reinvention, hoping to weather the shifting market.

Earlier this summer, Wheelock College in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood put its president’s house on the market and planned to sell a dormitory. It said it was examining its financial options, including eventually eliminating undergraduate degrees altogether.

Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire is eliminating its English and philosophy majors this year in favor of programs such as nursing, business, and sports management. Simmons College in Boston has turned to online graduate programs to boost enrollment and revenue. Schools such as Wentworth in the Fenway, which already have a strong presence in STEM education, have expanded to offer more profitable graduate-degree programs and are also marketing to more international students in Asia and the Middle East.

“There’s just not an obvious answer,” said Robert Zemsky, a professor with the graduate school of education at the University of Pennsylvania. “The market shifted out from under them. The market has moved more vocational, it’s moved to places with lots of options, and more recently, more to those with lower prices.”

Still, Merrimack’s efforts seem to be yielding results.

Enrollment at the college has been on the rise for the past five years — climbing by more than 60 percent from about 2,300 students in 2011 to 3,780 students last year — and it plans to welcome its second-largest freshmen class this fall.

This summer the campus is teeming with construction workers who are building a track and stadium and a tutoring center on the library’s third floor, and finishing a new business school. The school’s finances have improved in recent years, earning an upgrade for its debt from Moody’s Investors Services from negative to stable.

The school’s endowment grew from $35 million in 2011 to $50 million in 2015.

For Sara Puglielli, 17, a rising high school senior from Connecticut who is on the college tour circuit this summer, Merrimack’s combination of business and liberal arts placed it on the list of potential schools, along with Bentley University and Babson College, long-standing campuses for business majors.

“And I like the smaller atmosphere,” Puglielli said. “And everything is modern.”

But convincing some families that a Merrimack degree is worth the price is still a challenge.

Malcolm Frampton — who brought his 17-year-old son Jackson to Merrimack for a recent tour — said for the price tag, the college still lacks some amenities that many other public and private schools offer, such as fully-updated dorms, a large library, and generous meal plans.

“We are considering colleges that are $20,000 less that still offer much more than Merrimack,” Frampton said.

Ultimately, small colleges face an uphill battle, said Alice W. Brown, a North Carolina-based higher education consultant who used to lead the Appalachian College Association, a group of private liberal arts schools.

And Merrimack’s path may not work for all small colleges, she said.

Just adding more STEM-related courses is likely not enough to stand out in a crowded market, Brown said.

“They have to be different and reinvent themselves,” Brown said. “It’s not that easy, there’s no simple solution. . . . There are no guarantees that just because you add the classes, students will come.”


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

San Francisco can’t stop illegal aliens, but by God they can keep chocolate milk out of schools

In the battle to provide nutritional choices for schoolchildren, isn’t chocolate milk better than no milk at all?

According to San Francisco legislators and school officials, the answer. apparently. is no.

Students from elementary through high school grades will no longer be able to enjoy this cafeteria staple in the coming school year, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Elementary and middle schools will have the devil’s brew known as chocolate milk eliminated when school begins in the fall, with the high schools being rid of this scourge some time in the spring. I suppose there were worried that the high school kids are more likely to be armed when the inevitable revolt starts.

I thought I remembered a similar story out of California before, and BPR dredged up the same thing. An identical program was tried in Los Angeles schools over a period of six years before it was finally abandoned. Here’s what they discovered:

Schools serving only white milk wound up with far less milk consumed and more thrown in the trash

Schools serving chocolate milk saw milk consumption increase by 12.5 million cartons per year across the district

Cornell University found that banning chocolate milk resulted in less milk consumed, more waste and fewer kids buying school lunch
Chocolate milk provided the same nutritional value as white milk and had no adverse effects on the childrens’ weight

San Francisco continues their proud tradition of employing the nanny state to save people from themselves. God forbid anyone actually ate or drank anything they enjoyed. Pretty soon the school menu will consist of pretty much nothing but kale, brown rice and room temperature water. At that point, the kids will probably just stop showing up entirely, and given the education they’re likely to get from the local school system, they’ll probably be better off learning at home anyway.

Well done, California. You continue to be a role model for the rest of the nation to emulate.


U.S. history no longer a requirement for history majors at George Washington University

George Washington University recently changed its requirements for history majors, removing previously key courses for the stated purpose of giving students more flexibility.

The department eliminated requirements in U.S., North American and European history, as well as the foreign language requirement. Thus, it is possible that a student can major in history at GWU without taking a survey course on United States history.

The new requirements mandate at least one introductory course, of which American history, World History and European civilization are options. Yet, like at many elite universities, the introductory course requirement may be fulfilled by scoring a 4 or a 5 on the Advanced Placement exams for either U.S. History AP, European History AP or World History AP.

Earlier this year, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni released a report revealing that fewer than one-third of the nation’s leading universities require history majors to take a single course in U.S. history. George Washington University now joins those ranks.

“A democratic republic cannot thrive without well-informed citizens and leaders. Elite colleges and universities in particular let the nation down when the examples they set devalue the study of United States history,” ACTA President Dr. Michael Poliakoff said in a statement announcing the report.

Some scholars dismissed the report’s findings, however, arguing that most students enroll in U.S. history classes regardless of whether it’s required, so handwringing over the lack of the requirement is moot.

GWU History Department Chair Karin Schultheiss, several history professors, and the university spokesman did not respond to repeated requests this month from The College Fix for comment.

At GWU, history majors must take eight to ten upper level courses: one on a time period before 1750, and three on different regions of the world, including Europe, North America, Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Previously, students were required to take two courses focused on Europe and North America and complete a thesis or capstone project. Though the thesis requirement still exists, students can choose to complete “digital capstone projects” instead.

This change was motivated by a need to “recruit students” and “to better reflect a globalizing world,” according to faculty comments to the George Washington University student newspaper, The Hatchet.

Faced with declining enrollment, from 153 majors in 2011 to 72 in 2015 to 83 in 2016, the history department decided changes were necessary, it reported.

Department chair Schultheiss told the Hatchet “the main gain for students is that they have a great deal more flexibility than they had before, and they can adapt it to whatever their plans are for the future. Whatever they want to do, there’s a way to make the history department work for them.”

The push for enrollment may also have been motivated by a new funding formula for GW’s colleges that began in 2016, the Hatchet reports. Money for each department is now linked to the number of students enrolled in a that major’s classes. Each school will now receive $301 for every undergraduate student in a class, incentivizing majors such as history to offer classes that will be popular.

Faculty said that the new system incentivizes the individual schools to create popular classes to attract students to boost revenue.

The previous funding formula was related to how many students were majoring in a college. But according to Vice Provost for Budget and Finance Rene Stewart O’Neal, that system did not give the fullest picture of how many students were taking classes in a specific school, as many students choose to take courses outside of their major.


Australian parents want to ban the hijab for young female students in fear Islamic headscarves will takeover classrooms

Tensions threaten to reach boiling point at a Queensland primary school as parents push to ban Muslim students wearing the hijab.

Benowa State School P&C President, Brooke Patterson, called for the ban after she claimed she was asked to design uniforms for young girls which provided 'sexual modesty coverings.'

'We need to debate this now, otherwise in three months there will be a Muslim uniform in state schools in Queensland,' she told the Liberal National Party state conference.

But Ms Patterson is standing firm, claiming allowing young girls to wear religious clothing effectively creates a separate uniform for Muslim students.

'Why would you be trying to do that in a secular state? We are not deciding at Benowa State School uniforms according to a Muslim culture,' she said.

'The people who are most vulnerable to this are the poor darling girls between the ages of five and nine. Their religion doesn't say anything about prepubescent girls wearing a sexual modesty garment.'

An emergency resolution at the LNP conference calling for a general ban on clothing which obscures the face was defeated.

But a second emergency resolution calling for a ban on headscarves for children under the age of 10 was passed. 

Another delegate, Wendy Ko, argued against the resolution and said the LNP should be in favour of freedom of religion.

'We shouldn't even be having this discussion, I don't think anyone has the right to tell an Islamic family how to raise their daughter,' Ms Ko said.

Ultimately the resolution was passed.

Queensland Labor frontbencher Leanne Enoch said she was disappointed by the result. 'I think it's absolutely appalling, we live in a multicultural society,' Ms Enoch said. 'They're talking about what children should wear in schools; that is the dark ages.'


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Sexism in alive and well among Leftist women

Two feminist geographers are encouraging their colleagues to be more mindful about citing the research of white males because doing so contributes to “the reproduction of white heteromasculinity of geographical thought and scholarship.”

Writing in “Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography,” Carrie Mott and Daniel Cockayne argue that considering an author’s gender, race or sexuality prior to citation can be an effective “feminist and anti-racist technology of resistance that demonstrates engagement with those authors and voices we want to carry forward.”

The authors point out that whether an academic’s research is cited by his peers has significant implications for promotion, tenure and influence. Therefore, to cite only white men “does a disservice to researchers and writers who are othered by white heteromasculinism.”

The authors define “white heteromasculinism” as “an intersectional system of oppression describing on-going processes that bolster the status of those who are white, male, able-bodied, economically privileged, heterosexual, and cisgendered.”

Academics should practice “conscientious engagement” when citing research, the feminists assert, “as a way to self-consciously draw attention to those whose work is being reproduced.”

The article, titled “Citation matters: mobilizing the politics of citation toward a practice of ‘conscientious engagement,’” was first reported by Campus Reform.

Ms. Mott told Campus Reform that “white men tend to be cited in much higher numbers than people from other backgrounds.”

“When it is predominantly white, heteronormative males who are cited, this means that the views and knowledge that are represented do not reflect the experience of people from other backgrounds,” she said. “When scholars continue to cite only white men on a given topic, they ignore the broader diversity of voices and researchers that are also doing important work on a that topic.”


UK: Inspectorate warns about impact of new junior school exams

Schools facing tougher GCSE exams, taken for the first time this summer by about 700,000 pupils, are threatening children’s chances of getting a “broad and balanced education”, the chief inspector of schools warns today.

Amanda Spielman said she was concerned that schools were drilling pupils too narrowly for GCSEs and were already extending courses from two years to three years to try to ensure good results.

Spielman said this meant subjects such as art, music, sport, humanities and drama were being squeezed as children were forced to decide which subjects to study or drop aged just 13.

In one school she visited she was horrified — and said parents would be “surprised” — to see a class of 11-year-olds taken through GCSE mark schemes instead of being taught geography.

“The real substance of education is getting lost in our schools,” she told The Sunday Times. In her first significant report at Ofsted she has ordered inspectors to review what is being taught in lessons.

Experts have long warned that the UK has some of the most tested and stressed children in the developed world, yet ministers have pushed through exam reforms in an effort to raise standards.

This summer 16-year-olds in England have been guinea pigs for the tougher maths and English GCSEs, which will be graded on a 9-1 scale, replacing the previous A* to G grading system. Far fewer children are expected to score the top grade of nine than achieved an A* in the past, and more than half are not expected to reach new national benchmarks.

Already, according to one poll last week, 10% fewer pupils in half the maths departments surveyed have signed up for A-level maths next year after sitting the new GCSE. Schools are also being encouraged to enter most pupils for more academic subjects and are being measured on the results.

In the face of the exam pressures, schools were finding it “hard to make sure they put children’s interests first and think children, children, children”, said Spielman, who worked in the City before helping establish the chain of Ark academy schools.

She praised a handful of head teachers who had started drawing up lists of 100 great books children should read, poems to learn by heart and pieces of music they should listen to as a counterpoint to narrow exam study.

“I think it’s a great idea. It is a really encouraging sign that schools are thinking about the whole experience that all their children should have at school, and what the children should come away with,” she said.

The “teaching to the test” mentality had spread even to primary schools, she added, where eight and nine-year-olds face two or three years of mock papers to prepare them for national tests they would not take until the age of 11.

Children drilled for exams might get “cracking grades” but that did not mean they were properly prepared for university or the workplace, she said, and it could even damage their life chances. “That is not something any of us should be happy with.”


Conservatives in the Australian State of Queensland promise  to BAN Muslim schoolgirls from wearing hijabs and burqas in the classroom

Muslim schoolgirls will not be allowed to wear hijabs or burqas inside the classroom if the state opposition come to power at the next Queensland election.

The Liberal National Party voted to ban 'Muslim modesty garments' at all Queensland state schools for girls aged younger than 10, at its annual convention on Sunday.

But despite their strong stance against religious headwear, the LNP voted against a motion to call on the federal government to ban immigration from countries where sharia law is practiced.

A day after deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce spoke to the convention, the LNP's leader Tim Nicholls fronted a full house in Brisbane to deliver a keynote address.

During his speech, Mr Nicholls ruled out any formal coalition with One Nation, before the LNP base voted on the issues of Muslim headwear, sharia law and immigration.

The urgency motion to ban headscarves for young girls was passed, but a similar call to ban headscarves across the whole of Queensland was defeated.

Also voted down was the resolution to ban immigrants from sharia law countries.

Despite those in favour calling it 'culturally incompatible' with Australian values, LNP members arguing against said immigrants should be judged on a case-by-case basis.

It comes after the LNP announced a strategy to tackle terrorism should they govern including allowing police to hold terror suspects such as Mohammed Elomar (pictured) for 28 days

Under a Mr Nicholls-led government Queensland would also become the first state in the country to have a counter-terrorism minister.

Bail and parole laws will also be strengthened in an effort to safeguard against those with known terror links re-offending.

'We can't take for granted the freedoms we all enjoy,' Mr Nicholls said on Saturday. 'International terrorist groups have proven adept at using their extremist ideology to motivate 'lone wolves' or small groups to use violence in their home countries.'


Monday, July 17, 2017

Rollback of Obama regulations on sexual assault beginning

Obama made men guilty until proven innocent.  That must change

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has indicated that she will loosen Obama-era guidance and practices on the department's pursuit of campus sexual assault cases. She met Thursday with survivors' advocates and feminist groups, as well as three so-called "men's rights" groups, to advise her on this process, drawing criticism and concern from the survivors and advocates.

As Slate reported, one of these, the National Coalition for Men, has published the personal information of women who have accused men of rape, and its leader has labeled women the instigators of domestic violence. The second, SAVE: "Stop Abusive and Violent Environments" has lobbied against domestic violence protections. And Families Advocating for Campus Equality takes the position that current campus sexual assault guidelines are skewed against the accused.

Candice Jackson, whom DeVos appointed as the top enforcer of sexual assault cases at the Department of Education, seemed to agree with that position in remarks to The New York Times on Wednesday. Campus rape "accusations — 90 percent of them — fall into the category of 'we were both drunk,' " she said in part. She apologized later that same day, calling the remarks "flippant."

In a rare press availability after Thursday's meeting, DeVos told reporters that "lives have been ruined" by allegations of sexual assault.

"No student should be the victim of sexual assault," she added. "No student should feel unsafe ... and no students should feel like the scales are tipped against him or her."

Last month, DeVos walked back two Obama-era regulations aimed at protecting student borrowers. Beginning with two public hearings this week, in Washington, D.C., and in Dallas, the Education Department has reopened the "negotiated regulation" process, or "neg reg" as insiders call it. As we reported:

    The "gainful employment" rule sanctions individual programs at colleges and universities based on how many students are able to pay back their loans.

    The "borrower defense to repayment" rule smooths the way for students to get their loans forgiven if their college is found to engage in fraudulent behavior, a situation that has befallen tens of thousands of students at Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute, among others, in the last few years.

Consumer advocates and students spoke in favor of upholding the existing rules, while groups representing for-profit and community colleges spoke in favor of relaxing them.


Schools 'brainwash' pupils to see Tories as 'evil' and support Labour, says teacher who fronted Department for Education recruitment drive

Pupils are being 'brainwashed' in Britain's classrooms to believe that Tories are 'evil', a high profile teacher has claimed.

Calvin Robinson played a major role in the Department of Education's 'I Chose to Teach campaign, appearing on posters, adverts and online.

But the IT teacher has now come out said pupils were being 'indoctrinated to a left wing mentality' and encouraged to see the Conservative party as 'evil'.

Mr Robinson is head of computer science at St Mary’s and St John’s Church of England School in Hendon, north west London.

Writing on the Conservatives for Liberty website, he said that schools were training kids 'into a lefty way of thinking'.

He wrote: 'Our young people are being indoctrinated to a left-wing mentality from a very young age.

'Pretty much throughout their entire educational career, young people are being trained into a lefty way of thinking.

'I've seen this first hand on too many occasions and it leaves me constantly concerned.

'Some of the behaviour I've seen from teachers is outright disgusting - a very evident bias not only in their teaching practices, but in the way they present their arguments.

'I'm not talking about the obvious party political biases of 'Labour = Good, Tory = Evil', although that does happen, but most teachers take a less obvious approach along the lines of tolerance being a good thing, so long as you agree with their way of thinking.'


Britain's strictest school gets top marks from Ofsted

Katharine Birbalsingh’s ‘no excuses’ Michaela school praised by inspectors for behaviour policy and exemplary attitudes to learning among pupils. Birbalsingh is a courageous and straight talking person of mixed African and Indian ancestry.  Her father and grandfather were educators and she herself graduated from Oxford

Michaela Community School – a controversial free school renowned for its “no excuses” behaviour policy – has been judged outstanding in all categories by Ofsted inspectors.

The school in north-west London won top marks in its first inspection since opening in 2014, with Ofsted inspectors praising the school’s “lively and engaging teaching” and “exemplary” attitudes to learning among pupils.

“Since the school opened, leaders and governors have worked very effectively together with staff, pupils, parents and carers to establish a strong sense of community at the school. Pupils typically commented that they feel part of a close-knit family,” the inspectors wrote.

The school’s tough behaviour policy, which includes disciplinary action for even minor infringements of school rules, was also highly praised.

“The behaviour of pupils is outstanding. Pupils are polite, well mannered and very respectful,” the report notes.

“Pupils behave responsibly and are highly self-disciplined. They follow the school’s conduct guidelines conscientiously so that lessons run very smoothly and without interruption. The school is an extremely calm and safe learning environment.”

The Ofsted rating will come as a relief for the school’s head teacher, Katharine Birbalsingh, who left a job as a deputy head after criticising school behaviour policies in a high-profile speech to the Conservative party conference in 2010.

“All of us involved at Michaela – staff, pupils, parents and governors – are united in our determination and aspiration for our school. It is always great to receive feedback like this about what we are doing and I’m very proud of everyone at Michaela,” Birbalsingh said in response.

Birbalsingh was given approval by the Department for Education to open Michaela under the free school policy championed by Michael Gove as education secretary. But it was not until September 2014 that Michaela opened its doors in a converted office block close to Wembley football stadium.

The school prides itself on its “no excuses” disciplinary approach, with pupils given demerits or detention for forgetting to bring a pencil or pen, for grimacing at teachers or for talking in corridors when moving between lessons.

More than a third of the school’s pupils are eligible for free school meals, and the large majority of them are from ethnic minorities. The school also has a higher than average proportion of pupils with special educational needs.

The Ofsted inspectors were impressed with the progress they saw among the pupils at all levels.

“Disadvantaged pupils make substantial progress and achieve as well as other pupils. Leaders and teachers have equally high expectations of all pupils,” the report said.

“The most able pupils, including most-able disadvantaged pupils, make exceedingly strong progress over time. They are challenged by demanding work that motivates them to meet their teachers’ expectations.

“Pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities are encouraged and supported effectively. They make similar exceptional progress from their starting points at a similar rate to all pupils.”

The school currently has 360 pupils in years seven, eight and nine, and has yet to have a cohort sit GCSE exams.

The inspectors’ major complaint was the school’s lack of sporting facilities or outside space, noting that except for playing table tennis or basketball, “other sporting activities are limited”.

The school has often become a cause for bitter debate on social media, especially after reports that children whose parents had failed to pay for their lunches were made to eat away from their classmates.

But Ofsted described the school’s efforts to promote pupils’ personal welfare as “outstanding”.

“Pupils are readily appreciative and caring. They acknowledge enthusiastically what members of the school community have done well and generously celebrate the successes and achievements of others,” the report notes.

Suella Fernandes, the Conservative MP and chair of governors, said: “It is testament to the dedication of our leadership and staff and the pupils themselves that we have received this grading and it is an excellent stepping stone to our future success as a school.”


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Is educational discrimination ruining America?

I see it as a thinly disguised propaganda sheet so I rarely read the NYT.  The following article by David Brooks has however come to my attention.  He is apparently their token conservative.

There are two subjects which are just about "verboten" in the popular press and even in most academic journals:  Social class and IQ. And, for my sins, I have done academic research into both. Both offend mightily against the Leftist dream of equality so are "incorrect".  But both factors form part of the explanation for many things, so ignoring them leads to a very imperfect understanding of those many things. 

The black/white "gap" in educational achievement is a prime example of that. Educationalists for many years have been turning themselves inside out trying to explain and eliminate it, but with no real success. Were they to look at the IQ research they would immediately understand it and recognize it as intractable, which would save a lot of wasted effort.

So David Brooks is to be congratulated in tackling social class in his essay below.  And much of what he says is reasonable.  But I am afraid that once again IQ is the elephant in the room and causes Mr Brooks to miss a lot of what is going on.

All the studies of the subject, notably the famous/infamous Herrnstein & Murray study, show IQ to be a substantial factor in social class.  Put simply, high IQ people tend to get rich and even do so when coming from an unpromising background.  So what are perceived as social class attributes are in fact IQ attributes.  Newly rich people may sometimes have to do a sort of apprenticeship and change their accent before being accepted into the "best" circles but eventually money talks.

The British situation is a bit different due to the presence there of an hereditary aristocracy but even there intermarriage with successful middle-class people leads to a similar endpoint.

My favourite example of all that is breastfeeding. There is a lively literature on that subject.  Google records 71 million mentions of it. And a clear theme of it is that breastfeeding is now "correct".  Middle and upper middle class mothers breastfeed and look down on those who do not. And that can be a considerable grief to women who have difficulties with lactation.  No "excuses" are usually accepted.  There was of course a time not so long ago when the class polarity was the other way around

Now one does understand why breastfeeding is so in fashion among the more affluent.  It is in part a Greenie belief that "nature knows best" and doctors do recommend it as best for the child. But there is something else going on beneath the surface that few people are aware of. The major influence on breastfeeding is in fact IQ. We read, for instance, that "The mother's IQ was more highly predictive of breastfeeding status than were her race, education, age, poverty status, smoking, the home environment, or the child's birth weight or birth order".  What looks like a social class effect is in fact an IQ effect.

Taking that finding in conjunction with the Herrnstein & Murray findings, we have to suspect that a lot of what passses as social class characteristics is in fact an IQ effect.  So in his discussion of social class differences and it effect on education, Brooks is failing to see the wood for the trees.  He sees as causative some things that are not. He mistakes the surface for the substance. 

And in education IQ is a very powerful influence indeed.  Correlations of around .7 between IQ and educational attainment are commonly reported.  Putting that together with the fact that IQ is highly hereditary (on some estimates 80% of IQ is genetically determined) we have a pretty complete explanation of the phenomena that Brooks describes.

So the fact -- set out by Brooks -- that educational attainment is largely hereditary can be explained much more simply than by seeing it as the result of an informal conspiracy theory -- which is what Brooks sees.  Top educational achievement is hereditary because IQ is hereditary.  All those things that Brooks sees as causative of social success -- such as shopping at Whole Foods -- are in fact epiphenomena rather than  causative.  They correlate with education because both correlate with IQ.

So I am not denying the sort of correlation that Brooks observes.  I am rather saying that the things he mentions are a minor source of  barriers compared to IQ status.  Given high IQ, the apparent barriers will melt away.  Either the high IQ person will have the nominated characteristics in the first place or his/her IQ will enable such characteristics to be adopted to whatever degree is needed.  The one essential is that high IQ.

Let me give a personal anecdote to illustrate what I mean. I was born to a distinctly anti-social mother in a very working  class household.  My father was a red-headed lumberjack with all the fight in him that you would expect of that.  But both my parents were avid readers and part of families that did well in the schools of their day.  So I inherited a high IQ.  And that both got me a Ph.D. -- I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation in six weeks and much of it was published -- and got me ready acceptance in the "best" British social circles when I spent some time in Britain in the 70s. Despite my origins, I simply had a lot in common with upper and upper-middle class people in Britain.  And if you think social class matters in America, it matters much more in Britain.

So at the end of the day, are there significant barriers to educational achievement for people of humble background? There undoubtedly are some barriers.  Hereditary or "legacy" admissions to the top universities are a reality that sometimes give an applicant from an affluent family an "unfair" advantage at admission time.  Even there however, the applicant will be unlikely to be really dim.  But be that as it may, what college or university you went to does have a big influence when you are applying for certain jobs. But, again, the Ivy League and other top universities do tend towards educational excellence so that may be fairer than it looks

But it must be borne in mind that the level of education that Brooks is talking about does require a substantial IQ advantage.  Without that advantage you will probably go nowhere and with it you will probably do fairly well most of the time or maybe later rather than sooner.  You may miss out on going to an Ivy League school but State universities will usually give you what you need to know about your given subject.  And if your IQ is really high, you will usually have all of life's options before you. That may be unfair but it is not going to change

Over the past generation, members of the college-educated class have become amazingly good at making sure their children retain their privileged status. They have also become devastatingly good at making sure the children of other classes have limited chances to join their ranks.

How they’ve managed to do the first task — giving their own children a leg up — is pretty obvious. It’s the pediacracy, stupid. Over the past few decades, upper-middle-class Americans have embraced behavior codes that put cultivating successful children at the center of life. As soon as they get money, they turn it into investments in their kids.

Upper-middle-class moms have the means and the maternity leaves to breast-feed their babies at much higher rates than high school-educated moms, and for much longer periods.

Upper-middle-class parents have the means to spend two to three times more time with their preschool children than less affluent parents. Since 1996, education expenditures among the affluent have increased by almost 300 percent, while education spending among every other group is basically flat.

As life has gotten worse for the rest in the middle class, upper-middle-class parents have become fanatical about making sure their children never sink back to those levels, and of course there’s nothing wrong in devoting yourself to your own progeny.

It’s when we turn to the next task — excluding other people’s children from the same opportunities — that things become morally dicey. Richard Reeves of the Brookings Institution recently published a book called “Dream Hoarders” detailing some of the structural ways the well educated rig the system.

The most important is residential zoning restrictions. Well-educated people tend to live in places like Portland, New York and San Francisco that have housing and construction rules that keep the poor and less educated away from places with good schools and good job opportunities.

These rules have a devastating effect on economic growth nationwide. Research by economists Chang-Tai Hsieh and Enrico Moretti suggests that zoning restrictions in the nation’s 220 top metro areas lowered aggregate U.S. growth by more than 50 percent from 1964 to 2009. The restrictions also have a crucial role in widening inequality. An analysis by Jonathan Rothwell finds that if the most restrictive cities became like the least restrictive, the inequality between different neighborhoods would be cut in half.

Reeves’s second structural barrier is the college admissions game. Educated parents live in neighborhoods with the best teachers, they top off their local public school budgets and they benefit from legacy admissions rules, from admissions criteria that reward kids who grow up with lots of enriching travel and from unpaid internships that lead to jobs.

It’s no wonder that 70 percent of the students in the nation’s 200 most competitive schools come from the top quarter of the income distribution. With their admissions criteria, America’s elite colleges sit atop gigantic mountains of privilege, and then with their scholarship policies they salve their consciences by offering teeny step ladders for everybody else.

I was braced by Reeves’s book, but after speaking with him a few times about it, I’ve come to think the structural barriers he emphasizes are less important than the informal social barriers that segregate the lower 80 percent.

Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.

American upper-middle-class culture (where the opportunities are) is now laced with cultural signifiers that are completely illegible unless you happen to have grown up in this class. They play on the normal human fear of humiliation and exclusion. Their chief message is, “You are not welcome here.”

In her thorough book “The Sum of Small Things,” Elizabeth Currid-Halkett argues that the educated class establishes class barriers not through material consumption and wealth display but by establishing practices that can be accessed only by those who possess rarefied information.

To feel at home in opportunity-rich areas, you’ve got to understand the right barre techniques, sport the right baby carrier, have the right podcast, food truck, tea, wine and Pilates tastes, not to mention possess the right attitudes about David Foster Wallace, child-rearing, gender norms and intersectionality.

The educated class has built an ever more intricate net to cradle us in and ease everyone else out. It’s not really the prices that ensure 80 percent of your co-shoppers at Whole Foods are, comfortingly, also college grads; it’s the cultural codes.

Status rules are partly about collusion, about attracting educated people to your circle, tightening the bonds between you and erecting shields against everybody else. We in the educated class have created barriers to mobility that are more devastating for being invisible. The rest of America can’t name them, can’t understand them. They just know they’re there.


Harvard’s proposed ban on social clubs is overkill

By Nathaniel Brooks Horwitz  (student)

A Harvard University committee’s recommendation to ban all social clubs at the college goes too far.

The draft policy, released on Wednesday, imitates policies at Williams College and Bowdoin College, which forbid undergraduates from joining social clubs. The policy is intended to reduce discrimination on campus, where a subset of organizations, particularly the all-male final clubs, have stratified the student body by gender, family income, and to a limited extent race. In a particularly heinous case last week, the briefly co-ed Fox Club kicked out all of its female members, just for being women.

Fighting this discrimination is a worthy goal. Yet by implementing the proposed policy, which plans to phase out most social clubs on campus by May 0f 2022, Harvard would introduce its own flavor of injustice, infringing on expectations of free association and dealing collateral damage to several newer communities that enrich campus life. Though Harvard is entitled to implement the policy as a private institution with voluntary membership — college students are not a protected class — the proposal is misguided and counterproductive.

In an e-mail to all undergraduates, Dean of Harvard College Rakesh Khurana announced the preliminary recommendations of the Committee on Unrecognized Single-Gender Social Organizations. USGSOs include the seven ignominious all-male final clubs, as well as four less-objectionable all-female final clubs, five frats, and four sororities. Despite the committee’s name, its recommendations also extend to several co-ed social clubs.

The committee was established to review recently-implemented sanctions that would prohibit students who participate in USGSOs, starting with this fall’s freshman class, from holding leadership positions on campus or receiving crucial endorsements for scholarships like the Rhodes or Marshall.

The recommendation from the faculty committee is the culmination of months of research about how best to punish students who join the organizations.

The committee was expected to weaken those sanctions following criticism by students and faculty who accused the university of overreach. Harvard’s fledgling but popular sororities, which accept almost everyone and offend almost no-one, were particularly indignant. Instead of alleviating discontent, today’s recommendations go much further, guaranteeing a severe backlash.

When I arrived at Harvard as a freshman in 2014, the eight all-male final clubs dominated the scene (one, the Spee, has since gone co-ed). The clubs, which are essentially glorified frats, hosted the best parties on campus in their exclusive Harvard Square mansions. Freshmen women were encouraged to attend.

Any first-year men who made it past the door were blacklisted from “punching” the club the fall of their sophomore year, which is when the clubs slide embossed invitations under your door in the middle of the night, inviting you to successive rounds of increasingly-selective social events. The few who make it past the black-tie “final dinner” pay a hefty membership fee and are inducted into the wealthy, well-networked old boys’ club.

As sophomores, my roommate Sam Koppelman and I received several such punches, from clubs with names like Delphic, Fly, and Porcellian. Swept up by campus activism and a dollop of self-righteousness, we burned our invitations and wrote an op-ed in the Crimson that called on the clubs to accept women and match Harvard’s financial aid. Starting senior year next month, I stand by that op-ed: the final clubs must integrate, both in terms of gender and socioeconomic status. Just going co-ed is not enough. The clubs must also abandon their anachronistic elitism. However, the new policy — if implemented — will probably not accomplish either goal. Instead, it will further polarize students and faculty. It will also likely ignite legal battles between Harvard and the clubs, a few of which had already retained counsel to combat the current sanctions.

The all-male final clubs have been controversial ever since they nominally disaffiliated from Harvard in the 1980s to avoid going co-ed after the college merged with Radcliffe. Around this time, similar groups like the secret societies at Yale and the eating clubs at Princeton began accepting women. At Harvard, however, just one of the original eight all-male clubs has gone co-ed. This disparity has had consequences: in a 2015 survey by Harvard’s Task Force on Sexual Assault Prevention, 47 percent of women who visited final clubs said they had experienced “nonconsensual sexual contact.”

In the wake of the report, the (since-resigned) alumni president of the Porcellian claimed last year that going co-ed would increase opportunities for sexual assault. Statements and statistics like that justify Harvard’s effort to reform the all-male clubs — as today’s report noted, “no one has suggested doing nothing” — but at this point there is no justification for these excessive measures against all social groups, which is just one of many reasons the committee is likely to be rebuffed.

The new policy would be wrong independent of practical considerations. Several of the affected groups have taken tangible steps to become more accepting by going co-ed or providing support for the increasing number of students at Harvard who receive financial aid.

I am not a member of any of the affected clubs — the good or the bad — but many of my friends consider them an essential part of their college experience. Prohibiting an entire swath of organizations that contribute to Harvard’s social scene is unfair, unnecessary, and unlikely to succeed. This started with the all-male final clubs, and that’s where it should end, too.


Australian Education Minister rebukes Sydney University's Sharia push

SYDNEY University has been rebuked by federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham after it was revealed law students were learning that elements of sharia law should be recognised in the mainstream legal system.

Mr Birmingham yesterday said religion had no place in the law.

It comes after The Daily Telegraph revealed course material said there should be recognition in Australia for elements of sharia law like polygamy and lowering the age of consent.

The course material also takes aim at judges for ignoring conservative Muslim values, and police discrimination.

"Equality of the law, under the law and before the law should be one of the first principles in our law schools," Mr Birmingham said.

"We all operate under the one legal framework in Australia, applied consistently to all and that is not a matter for negotiation."

Islamic solicitor Ghufran Alubudy - from Shine Lawyers - also spoke out yesterday to say she did not think sharia should be" recognised at all". "You cannot do this for one group and not another," Ms Alubudy said.

"We have developed the legal system for many years and if we made exceptions for Islam we would need to do it for Jews, Buddhists and Christians.

"Laws are not based on religion and religion is not based on laws - for me the two are very separate things."

Ms Alubudy, 27, pointed out strict Muslim countries where sharia law did apply did not change their laws for other religions.

"If you go to an extreme country like Saudi Arabia they force you to wear a scarf and adopt their laws," she said. "In Australia you are free to do what you want. "You have freedoms."

Mr Birmingham's office also warned universities about using taxpayer funds to promote ideologies at odds with the Australian public.

"Universities must keep in touch with Australian community expectations and that includes respect for and adherence to Australian law," a spokesman said.

"Universities operate under a social licence and we rightly expect that the taxpayer funding going to those institutions is being used to deliver benefits to all Australians."

The comments came after The Daily Telegraph yesterday revealed University of Sydney academics Salim Farrar and Dr Ghena Krayem were teaching law students a course called Muslim Minorities and the Law, based on a textbook they authored: Accommodating Muslims Under Common Law.

Neither academic responded to calls for comment, but their book claims "sharia and common law are not inherently incompatible" and that the failure of police to accommodate Islamic religious identity was hampering the fight against Islamist terrorism. The text also takes aim at judges for denouncing "conservative Muslim values" during sentencing.

And it calls for research into whether polygamy should be formally recognised in Australia because "anecdotal evidence suggests that this is an increasing practice in Muslim communities".

Addressing Islamic family law, the authors write that a man has the "exclusive" right to divorce his wife and states that sharia does not recognise minimum age in marriage: "There is no minimum age for a contract of marriage, but it should not be consummated if that would cause harm to the putative spouse."

It also criticised the Australian legal system for not recognising the religious significance of paying a woman a fee to marry her, a practice known as mahr.

A University of Sydney spokesman said a subject introducing students to Islamic law formed part of "numerous law degrees throughout Australia" and was common in major international universities such as Harvard in the US, and the UK's Warwick and University of London.

"Introduction to Islamic law is an optional course that provides a basic understanding of the sources of Islamic law and its interpretation," he said. "Enrolled students also gain a valuable understanding of Islamic banking and finance law and practice in many major Islamic countries.

"These nations are important to the global economy and many of them are vital trading partners for Australian businesses.

"Students can choose this course from more than 50 optional courses at the University of Sydney Law School."

The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils spokesman Ali Kadri said sharia was often "misunderstood", but there was no need to change Australians laws to accommodate it.

"I think there is nothing within Australian law which stops me from following my religion as I am supposed to and I would not be compromising anything within my religion by following Australian law as it is," he said.

"I don't think we need to have religious connotations with any law because we are a secular country."