Friday, October 04, 2019

A biased federal trial judge has ruled in favor of Harvard University in a lawsuit challenging its use of race-conscious admissions

Her description of Harvard admissions as a "very fine admissions program" reveals her biases

Harvard University does not discriminate against Asian American students through its use of race-conscious admissions, a federal judge ruled in a decision released on Tuesday. Writing that the university’s system “passes constitutional muster,” Allison D. Burroughs, a U.S. district judge, added that the court “will not dismantle a very fine admissions program … solely because it could do better.”

The verdict closes the first chapter in a case that was filed against Harvard in 2014. The university was sued by Students for Fair Admissions, a membership organization that says Harvard’s admissions policies discriminate against Asian American applicants. The organization’s founder is Edward Blum, the same activist who was behind the case that claimed the University of Texas at Austin’s admissions policy discriminated against a white student.

That case made it up to the U.S. Supreme Court, where UT-Austin’s policy was upheld in 2016. Legal scholars say the case against Harvard could wind up there as well, and if it does, it will be decided by a much more conservative bench. A new ruling could have serious implications for how and whether colleges can consider a student’s race when making decisions about whom to admit.


Boston Globe comment: Harvard ruling is a defiant defense of affirmative action in higher education

It is also a defiant defense of nepotism.  Around 40% of Harvard admissions are to "legacy" students.  Harvard has built its vast endowment by doing favors for rich donors

In upholding Harvard’s race-conscious admissions policy, federal Judge Allison Burroughs issued what can be read as a defiant ruling to the forces that have been trying to undermine affirmative action in higher education.

“In 2003, the Supreme Court articulated its expectation that in twenty-five years, it would not be necessary to use racial preferences to achieve a diverse student body,” Burroughs wrote. “As time marches on and the effects of entrenched racism and unequal opportunity remain obvious, this goal might be optimistic and may need to change.”

In other words, America isn’t ready to roll back affirmative action. We have a long way to go.


Overlapping Magisteria–A Review of Anthony Kronman’s ‘The Assault on American Excellence’

In his new book The Assault on American Excellence, Yale law professor Anthony Kronman traces many of the current woes of American universities back to the use of one word in one opinion in one court case.

That word is “diversity” and the opinion was Justice Lewis Powell’s in the 1978 Bakke case about minority admissions. To consolidate a five-vote majority, Powell’s opinion allowed race to be considered as one factor in the admissions process but ruled out the use of racial quotas or separate minority admissions programs.

Powell’s opinion has, Kronman says, “reshaped every aspect of educational policy and experience. It has bred bureaucracies and changed the mood on campus in ways that undermine the ideas of academic freedom and individual self-discovery that Powell puts at the center of his defense of diversity as an academic good.” Kronman himself supports affirmative action, which he regards as constitutionally permissible “in order to help cure the lingering effects of past discrimination in society at large.” But he argues that Powell’s particular argument for race-consciousness is catastrophically wrong.

The problem, Kronman argues, is that Powell conflated two quite different things.

On the one hand, democracy depends on a premise of equality. As a matter of civic principle and racial justice, all are created equal. But a university is not a democracy. It has teachers and students. It has better students and worse students. It has hierarchy. It is, in a word, an aristocracy—not a social or hereditary aristocracy, but an institution in which individual quality matters and comparisons and rankings require no apology.

It was a tragic mistake, Kronman argues, to impose the rules of democracy in academia. The alleged consequences of this conflation ripple through the book, through its discussions of excellence, speech, diversity, and the renaming of memorials.

Paleontologist Steven J. Gould proposed to resolve the tension between science and religion by declaring the two to be “nonoverlapping magisteria,” each estimable on its own, but sowing confusion when melded. Similarly, Kronman in effect argues that Powell confused civic and academic magisteria by treating race as one of several educationally relevant forms of diversity.

Improperly using a democratic ideal to justify racial preferences, Kronman argues, caused many of the harmless quirks and serious pathologies of the modern university.

The renaming of “Masters” of the residential colleges at Yale had less to do with alleged reminders of slave-owning than with a simple mistrust of hierarchy. The classroom speech of both blacks and whites is distorted because the mere fact of a student’s blackness was said to add something educationally important—but interracial dialog crashes to a halt once it is posited that only a black student can know how it feels to be black. The premise that black students, whatever their talents, are valued particularly for increasing the diversity of the student body puts a burden on those students to represent their race, and in class to defend positions identified with blacks generally. It is then only a small step to conclude that those students would be intolerably uncomfortable in buildings named for defenders of slavery.

Most of all, Kronman argues, Powell’s pretext for considering race in college admissions has created a generation of academic liars, who are doing pretty much what Powell said they couldn’t with admissions while using his loophole as an excuse for doing it.

Some of Kronman’s examples are more persuasive than others. But there can be little question that “diversity”—now generally coupled with the folksy “inclusion” and “belonging”—has become the Swiss Army knife of academic rationales. Almost any program can be justified on the basis of “DIB.” At Harvard, DIB has even been used to shut down single-gender clubs because they preclude gender diversity. (A federal judge has indicated that Harvard’s policy may violate Title IX, so, bizarrely, DIB is being used to justify what may be an unlawfully discriminatory social policy.)

And diversity is big business, well beyond the admissions offices that spawned it. On the day I am writing, more than 100 open job descriptions at Harvard specifically mention it, including one for a “Senior Diversity Talent Sourcer,” whatever that means. And people wonder why higher education costs so much!

Diversity has both sensitized and numbed the ears of everyone on campus. Whether or not “the most qualified person should get the job” is offensive speech, “I hope a diverse person will get the job” is abominable. Diversity training is ubiquitous, never mind that that such crash courses, part of a multibillion-dollar diversity industry, seem to have little lasting effect and may even be counterproductive.

Kronman’s argument makes good reading and invites us to revisit Emerson, Whitman, and de Tocqueville to remind ourselves what democracy means in these crazy political times. But Kronman stretches his central thesis beyond the breaking point in some examples—just as I found Gould’s nonoverlapping magisteria an unconvincing way to make peace between Genesis and Darwin. Kronman’s disdain for the effects on today’s colleges of what he calls “the vocational ideal” is a throwback to the culture of a socially aristocratic university. When students are brought to campus from families that have never had money, can one really be surprised that many will prioritize commitment to family financial security over reading the Great Books?

Today’s college curricula tend to glory in their own intellectual diversity and thereby fail to convey a uniting sense of educational purpose. Students recognize the curricular emperor’s nakedness and seek employability as the sure thing they can take with them when they graduate.

To rue this is to hark back to the plaint of Harvard’s Charles Eliot a century and a half ago: “The practical spirit and the literary or scholastic spirit are both good, but they are incompatible. If commingled, they are both spoiled.” In fact, these magisteria do overlap, and if students don’t understand that, it’s because they aren’t being inspired to respect the beauty, power, and importance of the life of the mind. That failure may be the most grievous deficit of the modern university.

There can be little question that “diversity”—now generally coupled with the folksy “inclusion” and “belonging”—has become the Swiss Army knife of academic rationales.
Others will have their own quarrels with the details of Kronman’s argument. But the question raised by his title is not easily dismissed. Has the slavish obeisance to “diversity,” in all its questionable range of meanings and implications, amounted to an assault on excellence? It is commonplace now to hear the question reduced almost to a tautology: Diversity drives excellence. True in some ways, but not others:  the first-place math team is no less excellent if it is ethnically homogeneous. Such claims must be parsed, and that conversation can be risky in a diversity-dominant culture.

A striking tension does exist between one form of diversity and one form of academic excellence. It is very hard—in my university, and I suspect in others—for students from socioeconomically disadvantaged school and family backgrounds, no matter how talented and ambitious, to get the nearly straight-A four-year record required for Phi Beta Kappa, degrees summa cum laude, and the like. Thresholds for top academic honors are astronomically high, and it is hard to get over the bar with even one B on the record. This preparation bias is unfair but does not excite outrage, even though nothing makes students feel less “included and belonging” than to lack the educational background of their classmates.

Fighting preparation bias seems elitist, a breach of what Kronman calls the anti-subordination principle that prevails in academia (don’t say one person is better than another). Arguably, grade compression is another example of anti-subordination. But the resulting unfairness is the product of layers of social neglect, especially the inequality of America’s high schools—itself a consequence of regional income inequality—and the failure of faculty to take responsibility for educating a student body of varied backgrounds. Under assault or not, academic excellence is an awkward notion in institutions that celebrate diversity and assemble a cross-section of society in their classrooms.

Kronman here missed an opportunity to light a candle to excellence while cursing the darkness. Grading systems have long since fallen to Goodhart’s Law, that a measure ceases to be useful as a measure once it becomes a target. So, to some degree, have standardized tests, because of differential access to AP courses, test prep, and the like, for which holistic admissions processes are in part intended to compensate. Colleges themselves have made few comparable educational adjustments.

Few care about any socioeconomic divide among summas because that summa won’t mean much to anyone after graduation day. It’s not a good measure of anything important. The best engineer, doctor, or scholar is not the one who had microscopically higher grades. Academic souls are multidimensional and not easily ranked. How can today’s colleges both represent the breadth of society and incentivize and reward real excellence?


Thursday, October 03, 2019

The University of Texas Belatedly Helps Poor Kids

Of all the major public universities in America, the one I have found consistently the most frustrating and behaviorally maladroit is the University of Texas at Austin (UT). UT has easily the largest endowment of any American public university—double any competitor. It is in the second most populous state, one that is booming, rapidly gaining human and physical capital resources. By now it should have easily become one of the top three state universities in the country. But UT, although a very good school, is generally considered not quite the equal to at least a couple of the University of California campuses (Berkeley and UCLA), not to mention flagship universities in states such as Michigan, Virginia, North Carolina and Illinois.

Besides buying prestige and hopefully academic excellence, a large endowment and a booming economy should allow Texas to provide essentially tuition free education to large numbers of students. Most of the endowment’s operating funds are constitutionally earmarked for the Austin campus, and I have previously argued that UT has the ability to make the Austin campus tuition free for all undergraduates (just as private Harvard, Yale and Princeton could). Given its endowment size of well over $20 billion, the school should have roughly one billion dollars annually in endowment income to spend, and total tuition payments of undergraduate Texans attending Austin surely do not exceed $300 million or so annually.

The UT Board of Regents has approved a plan reducing tuition to zero for all in-state undergraduate students from families making under $65,000 annually, with some tuition assistance for others making up to $125,000. A new endowment, initially funded with $160 million taken from the massive main Permanent University Fund, will finance the program (although I do not think that would be enough to permanently finance tuition remissions). About 8,600 in-state undergraduate students (about 25% of the total ) will be impacted. The University of Michigan, nicely but less opulently endowed, did something similar last year. Rice University has recently gone tuition free for many of its students, returning to its roots (it was originally a tuition free school). Several Ivy League schools did a similar thing more than a decade ago.

Thus the Sanders/Warren call for free tuition is nothing new for many high quality universities. Here is the dilemma: the best and brightest kids from lower income families can go to those schools tuition free, while less academically capable low income kids go to schools that are not only less good academically, but often more expensive because they are poorer institutions with less generous financial aid. Some might argue this exacerbates the already huge differences between the haves and have nots: institutional and student inequalities. While progressives find this offensive, there are defensible arguments for providing free tuition for the best of our lower income students but not for others. Such a scheme combines dimensions of both merit (high academic performance gets the best students into rich schools like Harvard or UT) and need— financial assistance is earmarked for lower income kids but not more affluent ones.

The new Texas tuition plan revealed that UT students are mostly from affluent families—surprise! Some of the 25% who will be receiving free tuition actually come from households with income above the Texas median—meaning more than 75% of Texas residing undergraduates come from families that range from moderately affluent to downright rich. In this, of course, UT is similar to many other flagship universities. The correlation between family income and student high school academic performance is highly positive.

The hard truth is higher education does not promote income equality in America, nor can it do so without significantly reducing the academic quality (learning) at our nation’s leading universities. Many kids who are poor are economically disadvantaged because of a unproductive family culture: an environment of less hard work, less discipline. The poverty rate is very low (2.1 % in 2017)) for full-time year-round workers, vs. 21.4% for those not working. Thus most poor kids are probably not surrounded by a strong work ethic. Not surprisingly, these kids struggle academically. So while UT is reaching out to those who are both very good students and poor, this is a small minority of low income Texans


Trans Crusade: Teacher Fired for Not Using Male Pronouns to Refer to Female Student

On Monday, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a lawsuit on behalf of a high school French teacher who was fired after he refused to use male pronouns to refer to a female student who identifies as transgender. Peter Vlaming gladly referred to the student by her preferred traditionally masculine names, and he avoided using pronouns in class. Rather than accepting this compromise, the school board fired him for refusing to use male pronouns.

"Peter went out of his way to accommodate this student as he does all his students; his school fired him because he wouldn’t contradict his core beliefs," ADF Legal Counsel Caleb Dalton said in a statement. "The school board didn’t care how well Peter treated this student. It was on a crusade to compel conformity."

Vlaming "works hard to make his students feel welcomed. In his French class, he always calls his students by the name they choose. He even used the student’s preferred masculine name and was willing to avoid using pronouns in the student’s presence," Dalton added. "He just didn’t want to be forced to use a pronoun that offends his conscience. That’s entirely reasonable, and it’s his constitutionally protected right. Tolerance, after all, is a two-way street."

"I love French. It’s fascinating and beautiful," Vlaming said in a statement. "I fell in love with it while in high school. After that and spending 11 years in France after college, I saw more than ever how learning a foreign language opens doors to whole new worlds for people... I’m saddened that West Point Public Schools wouldn’t work with me to reach a happy situation for everyone on this matter so that we could all continue on with learning in mutual respect."

Vlaming is suing the West Point School Board, the superintendent, and the principal and vice-principal of West Point High School in West Point, Va. The fired French teacher sued them for violating his free speech, engaging in viewpoint discrimination, and retaliation against him, violating his free exercise of religion, violating his rights to due process and from government discrimination, breach of contract, and violating civil rights law by applying a non-discrimination standard that goes beyond Virginia law. He is asking for $500,000 in damages for lost wages and benefits and $500,000 for the loss of reputation and emotional distress, along with attorney's fees.

The dispute began in October 2018, when the female student asked to meet with Vlaming. She claimed others had told her that the teacher referred to her using female pronouns, and he promised not to use such pronouns. He spoke with the girl's parent over the phone and explained the situation, also taking time to express "his appreciation of the student's humor, wit, and intelligence." The parent shot back that "Mr. Vlaming should leave his principles and beliefs out of this and refer to the student as a male."

The French teacher spoke with the assistant-principal in person and called the principal over the phone to discuss the situation. They advised him to follow the parent's wishes. The assistant-principal gave him documents from the National Center for Transgender Equality that had been deceptively edited.

'The documents the assistant principal gave Mr. Vlaming were from a political advocacy organization and were based on a guidance letter from the Department of Justice and Department of Education that had since been repealed," the lawsuit explains. "The assistant principal stated that his non-use of pronouns was not enough: that he should use male pronouns or his job could be at risk."

"Mr. Vlaming believes both as a matter of human anatomy and religious conviction that sex is biologically fixed in each person and cannot be changed regardless of a person’s feelings or desires. Saying ‘he,’ ‘him,’ or ‘his’ objectively expresses the message that a person is, or the speaker believes them to be, male," the lawsuit explains. "Mr. Vlaming’s conscience and religious practice prohibits him from intentionally lying, and he sincerely believes that referring to a female as a male by using an objectively male pronoun is telling a lie."

Yet the principals refused his repeated requests for a compromise position. On October 31, they told Vlaming he "must use male pronouns to refer to this female student," and warned that he "would receive a letter of reprimand formally charging him with non-conformity with school board policy for not using male pronouns for this student."

Later that day in class, the girl took part in an exercise using virtual reality goggles. She had a partner to keep her from slamming into the wall, but her partner did not see that she was in danger. She was going to hit the wall, and Vlaming exclaimed, "Don't let her hit the wall!" He apologized to the student, but he was suspended later that day.

The superintendent gave Vlaming a directive, ordering him to refer to the girl using male pronouns. When he refused, the school board voted to terminate his employment on December 6. Students protested his firing with a walkout the day after.

"This isn’t just about a pronoun, it’s about what that pronoun means," ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom, said in a statement on the case. "This was never about anything Peter said or did; only about what the school was demanding he say. Nobody should be forced to contradict his core beliefs just to keep a job."

This French teacher was fired for refusing to speak in a certain way that violated his conscience. He had pledged to refer to this girl by her chosen name in order to avoid the pronoun fight, but the school's leaders deemed that insufficient. Instead, they pursued a transgender "crusade" against the heresy of biological reality and traditional beliefs about men and women.

Sadly, Vlaming is far from alone in facing steep penalties for opposing transgender ideology. The ACLU is suing a Catholic hospital for refusing to perform transgender surgery. Democrats have demanded Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson resign after the media twisted his words on transgender identity. A British tax expert was fired for disagreeing with transgender ideology. University of Louisville Professor Allan M. Josephson was effectively fired for the same reason.

Vlaming has a powerful case, and ADF has a long and impressive track record of success, including many Supreme Court wins like Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (2018).


Spare us the diversity divas and teaching gurus

James Allan

I want now to list for you just some of the more specific problems with Australian universities. I have already hinted at the astounding level of managerialism and bureaucratic overreach in just about all of them.

What you see are top heavy and noticeably overpaid university administrations — more than 60 per cent of employees at all Australian universities are administrators and bureaucrats, not researchers and teachers.

And yet there are basically no secretaries around to enter marks or file papers or put exams into alphabetical order after marking or anything that remotely corresponds with a basic understanding of comparative advantage.

No, a proliferation of administrators in Australian universities have jobs that fall largely into the category of what has been described as “bullshit jobs’’.

If they went on strike no one would notice; indeed, the organisation would probably run more effectively. They are not really needed, these “diversity divas’’ and “how to teach gurus’’.

And yet, in Australian universities, administrators significantly outnumber those in the class and those actually producing peer-reviewed research.

Moreover, these university bureaucrats love uniformity; they impose one-size-fits-all regimes on all parts of the university (because they simply cannot leave law schools or philosophy departments to decide for themselves what is best for law or philosophy, down to the nitpicking minutiae of how many assessments you absolutely must give, or whether you can opt to have an optional assessment in your course; no, you need some recently hired deputy vice-chancellor brought in from a former teachers’ college to issue uniform diktats for all parts of the university).

Uniformity is king in Australian universities. Or, given that this deputy vice-chancellor may well be in charge of “diversity’’, let us say that “uniformity is queen’’ and let us say it while cordoning off some computer lab that will be out of bounds for anyone who is not indigenous.

As an aside, notice, too, that in the bizarre world of “university diversity’’ that “diversity’’ boils down to struggling to impose a 1:1 correlation between two or three features you find in the world at large and what these social engineers want you to find in the same ratio among university academics and, to a lesser extent, within the student body — most obviously (a) the statistically “right’’ ratio of the type of reproductive organs on campus, or (b) the “right’’ ratio of skin pigmentation specimens, or (c) the “right’’ ratio of whether, plausibly or implausibly, students and professors can claim to be a descendant of a person who arrived here tens of thousands of years ago. You never, ever, ever see “diversity divas’’ trying to get a statistical match within the university and the wider Australian public as regards political and economic outlooks. Never.

Even though in general terms over time 50 per cent of Australians vote for right-of-centre parties it is nevertheless the case that right-of-centre conservatives in our universities are exceptionally rare.

As I said, I have run through this in a different publication, but let me here give readers a taste of the lack of conservatives in universities. In US Ivy League law schools, because donations to political parties are public information there, law professors who give to the left-of-centre Democratic Party outnumber Republican ones by more than 6:1, and it is worse at non-Ivy League law schools. (And that was before President Donald Trump was elected and the ratio probably got even worse.)

After 14 years working here in a top Australian law school, and being the editor of a peer review law journal, and hence with a pretty good knowledge of this country’s legal academics, I would say that the ratio is worse here in Australia. The ratio of conservative to progressive or non-conservative law professors is smaller in Australia than in the US.

Or read Jonathan Haidt on how many academics in psychology in the US identify as right-of-centre conservatives. It is less than 1 per cent. Haidt is himself “of the left’’ but says this sort of imbalance is a disaster for students and for universities. Do any readers want to bet that here in Australia in women’s studies departments or indigenous studies departments or, heck, even in most universities’ sociology and politics departments, the percentage of righties is any better than it is with psychologists in the US?

But let me return for a moment to the astounding level of top-heavy, top-down and overcooked managerialism in Australian universities. Now, someone might well say in reply to this charge of insanely too much managerialism and bureaucratic overreach that, in fact, you actually need this bureaucratic managerialism in our universities to make things better.

Collegiality in running tertiary education institutions was not working, goes this line of response.

In other words, or so goes this claim, you need to break a few eggs to make an omelette.

But this is precisely the sort of argument put forward by all one-size-fits-all centralists. There is no better answer to it than the one George Orwell mordantly threw back at the defenders of the Soviet system who relied on that sort of apologist’s claim.

Asked in response to this “need to break a few eggs’’ assertion, Orwell replied “OK, but where’s the omelette?’’


Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Activists Launch Effort To Stop Ben Shapiro From Speaking At Boston University

In yet another example of left-wing efforts to curb conservative speech on a college campus, student activists at Boston University have launched a petition to ban Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro from speaking at an upcoming student organization-sponsored event. The petition, which smears the mainstream conservative political commentator and bestselling author as a “racist hatemonger,” follows the university’s attempts to downsize the event by half and force the event’s host, the Young America’s Foundation, to pay exorbitant security fees to protect against potential leftist violence.

As Young America’s Foundation’s Kara Zupkus reports, the petition labels Shapiro a “notorious racist and misogynist” and condemns the university for allowing the mainstream conservative to voice his opinions on its campus. The petition paints the university’s free speech-suppressing move to dramatically reduce the audience size of the event and burden YAF with unreasonable security fees as simply a self-serving effort to protect the university’s “image” in light of progressive outrage over allowing conservatives to speak on campus.

“Recently, Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), a conservative political group, announced that it has plans to host the notorious racist and misogynist Ben Shapiro, at Boston University,” the petition reads. “The announcement came as the group was told to cut its audience size and pay for security costs. These measures by the University were supposedly put in place for ‘security reasons.’ However, the University is still open to giving Ben Shapiro a platform, they are simply concerned about their image. The cuts to audience size and security fees are token measure, an attempt to appease students while still allowing Shapiro to come and speak. As students and community members of BU, we stand opposed to the proliferation of hate-speech and we are opposed to the University granting a platform to the disgusting and backwards ideology promoted by Shapiro and his ilk. This is not simply ‘Shapiro exercising a right to free speech’, but constitute discriminatory hate-speech against whole sections of the population.”

As YAF points out, among the comments from those who have signed the petition are students citing their need to “feel safe on my own campus” and declaring their belief that “hate speech should not be free speech.”

As The Daily Wire reported, Boston University has cut by half the potential audience for the upcoming YAF-hosted Shapiro event and initially demanded an exorbitant security fee from the conservative student group. Boston University Young Americans for Freedom (BU YAF) told The Daily Wire two weeks ago that Boston University’s Assistant Dean of Students, John Battaglino, informed them that they must move the scheduled event to a location that can accommodate only about half the audience allowed by the preferred location. The university also initially asked the student organization to pay over $12,000 in security fees.

In a report on the university’s actions, YAF spokesman Spencer Brown provided some key takeaways from a 30-point list of “considerations, costs, and conditions” Battaglino sent to BU-YAF concerning the Shapiro event. “Among the stipulations presented in the list is the requirement that the event be relocated from a 1,500-person venue to one that only seats 700, the limitation of potential participants to members of the BU community who reserve tickets — rather than the event being free and open to the public, as originally proposed — and security fees totaling $12,720 the university expects YAF to cover,” The Daily Wire reported. “The conservative student organization notes that in the university’s explanation for the exorbitant security charges, administrators cite the need to ‘provide security for protestors,’ but notably do not cite the need to protect YAF or Shapiro.”

The letter from Brown included specifics about the massive security fee for the event, including paying 40 university police officers, 4 officers to direct traffic, 16 contracted security officers, and 2 explosive ordinance disposal K9 units.

After YAF and The Daily Wire reported on the letter from Battaglino, the university informed YAF that it would waive the security fee.

In response to Boston University’s suspect treatment of the conservative event, Shapiro told The Daily Wire that this is another example of campus administrators caving to Antifa’s “heckler’s veto.”

“As per the usual arrangement, it appears that conservatives are to be penalized for the not-even-yet-threatened misbehavior of intolerant Leftists,” Shapiro said. “The heckler’s veto is alive and well.”


The Educational Dysfunction We're Paying For

The most-often assigned college summer reading topics dealt with racism in America.

According to a 2017 Pew Trust analysis, the U.S. Government “provided nearly $80 billion, excluding loans, to pursue higher education” to assist our college-bound students. The federal government provided over $27 billion to seven million low-income qualifiers in Pell Grants alone in the 2018-2019 school year, according to Compared to other nations, the U.S. ranks #2 in per pupil spending in higher education spending, says a Forbes September 2018 review showing the U.S. average is over $27,000 per pupil.

Put simply, Americans pay a lot of money for their children to receive an education that will supposedly equip them for their future professions and careers.

So, when you see that the top theme assigned for summer reading by colleges during the summer of 2018 was racism and slavery, based on a study of 475 universities and colleges conducted by the National Association of Scholars, there are a few dots connected in seeing the failure of too many higher-education endeavors and the exploding prevalence of college-aged kids who are disgruntled and dysfunctional. What were the second and third most-often assigned topics for summer study? A couple of other subjects that stem from the race-tinged agenda of the educrats of academia: police and crime along with immigration, respectively. Almost 60% of the assigned books for reading in the lists offered stemmed from nonwhite people groups.

What’s wrong with diversity? Nothing. What’s wrong with the obsession and fixation on the differences that divide us with the sledgehammer of a growing population of activists hidden in the world of education constantly beating the wedge of race-baiting between our population? Everything.

The determination of some to literally split our nation into populations of colors, a growing list of gender categories, class warfare and any other factor that can possibly be used in the strategy of identify politics is truly staggering — and unhealthy. It’s time that we get value and actual education for our kids’ tuition, not indoctrination.

Americans, on the whole, are not racists. No, racism is not completely extinct in America, yet the prevailing thought being reinforced on higher-ed campuses, as well as throughout most of the politics of the Left, points to some raging pandemic of racism. The current culture is being treated as some cult of fearmongering to keep the combustible engine of politics ignited. Instead, America is witnessing the inferno of destruction of the Democrat Party. Race and the industry of race-baiting appears to be almost all that remains as tools on the Left.

Instead of choosing selections of reading that value the heroics of family, the dignity of personal achievement and excellence, or attempting to understand that everything from poverty to the increase of mental illness is tied to broken homes, these “institutions of higher learning” offered tomes with storylines sure to instill the social-justice narrative — must reading for the next generation of Black Lives Matters or antifa activists — highlighting the dreadful oppression of America that certainly is a rotten nation because some believe it’s great and offers the best way of life based on authentic Liberty. Let’s look at the five most frequently assigned readings in 2018, as noted in the study, Beach Books 2018-2019:

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson — “a pedestrian memoir that argues that America’s criminal justice system is fundamentally corrupted by racism” with open recruitment of readers to become activists aiming to free criminals from jail.

Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capo Crucet — a novel tied to the international Elian Gonzalez story with the main character in her “first year at a white, wealthy Rawlings College” where her Cuban heritage is a focal point of the story.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot — a nonfiction biography about a poor southern African-American woman whose cancer cells were used as the basis for cervical cancer research with the focus on medical ethics “specifically in relation to race and class,” so says the Sparknotes from the assignment that goes on to advocate for universal healthcare.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates — penned as a letter to the author’s son, the writing explains to his son “the racist violence that has been woven into American culture” and was inspired by a meeting with former President Barack Obama.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas — a novel about a teenage girl, according to Sparknotes, that “grapples with racism, police brutality and activism.”

Americans are paying for this garbage to be taught as truth and reality with little or no room for challenge, criticism, or debate. Instead of our young adults being offered readings of inspiration, challenge, and empowerment to excel on campus, too many of our college students are being force-fed activism with censorship as the only response if there’s disagreement. Yeah, we’re paying for this … and not just with money.


Australia’s temporary graduate visa attracts international students, but many find it hard to get work in their field

The number of international students who stay in Australia after graduating on the temporary graduate visa – often referred to as the 485 visa – is growing fast. There were nearly 92,000 temporary graduate visa holders in Australia as of June, 2019. That’s up from from around 71,000 in June 2018 – a 29% increase.

The 485 visa was introduced in 2008 and updated in 2013, taking on recommendations from the 2011 Knight Review, which recognised post-study work rights for international students as crucial for Australia to remain competitive in the education export market.

Under the visa, international recent graduates of a degree or qualification from an Australian institution can stay in Australia for two to four years, depending on the qualification. The government points to the visa as providing an opportunity for international students to remain in Australia for a limited period of time and gain international work experience.

In our recent study, we examined the effects of the 485 visa policy on international students in Australia and on the labour market.

Out of the visa holders we surveyed, 76% said access to the visa was an important factor in their decision to study in Australia. And the majority of past (89%) and current (79%) 485 visa holders in Australia participated in the labour force. (Past holders of the visa refer to either those who have returned to their country or remained in Australia but moved on to another visa).

But many graduates did not work full-time, and they did not necessarily work in their field of study. A considerable number of graduates were employed in retail, hospitality or as cleaners.

The numbers

We collected data through an online survey from 1,156 international graduates, some of whom are in Australia and others back in their home countries. We also conducted in-depth interviews with students and other key stakeholders such as employers.

Our analysis included that of government figures and policy.

The top five citizenship countries of 485 visa holders in Australia (India, China, Nepal, Pakistan, Vietnam) have also been the top five source countries of international enrolments in Masters by coursework (China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Vietnam) programs since 2013.

Up to 56% of current visa holders either worked outside their field of study (35%) or were unemployed (21%), which puts these groups at risk of financial stress and vulnerability.


Tuesday, October 01, 2019

The Progressive Rape of the Schools

“Who do we hate? Donald Trump!”

Public school children as young as five-years-old were recorded on video shouting anti-Trump slogans and exhortations to “tear it [the border wall] down” after being led to participate in a “Close the Camps: Free the Children” protest during school hours in San Francisco on September 16.

A video made by conservative filmmaker and producer Margaret Vandenberg, who also uses the screen name “Fog City Midge,” reveals children from public schools in San Francisco displaying signs and placards depicting President Trump with devil horns and chanting slogans including “Who do we hate? Donald Trump!” and “Brick by brick, wall by wall, the border wall will fall!”

“Four San Francisco public schools took kids as young as 5 out of class to march in a ‘Close The Camps’ leftist protest,” Vandenberg explained on her YouTube channel page. “Kids were told @realDonaldTrump is an evil racist that hates immigrants, had prepared protest signs at school & had scripts of anti-Trump chants. The event clearly pushed false leftist talking points regarding ‘Concentration Camps’ at the US-Mexico Border and had objectives that included abolishing ICE, granting amnesty to illegal immigrants, decriminalizing border crossings and boycotting any company that does business with Border Patrol.”

“The left is using kids to push their political agenda,” she added. “This is indoctrination and exploitation. Shameful.”

Vandenberg also uncovered a permission slip sent to parents by one of the participating schools, Buena Vista Horace Mann school. The notice explains that “as a school, we at BVHM have decided to participate in the September 16th march to defend immigrant rights.” It was accompanied by an explanation of the protest from the event organizers and their list of demands which include “Full amnesty NOW!,” “Boycott companies providing services to Custom Border Patrol (CBP),” and “Close the camps NOW! – Eliminate all contracts with private prison operators.”  A note adds, “We support all actions to close ICE offices across the country, permanently!”

“It’s unbelievable to me that we have this radical leftist agenda and these activist teachers in San Francisco public schools who see it as their job not to educate students but to indoctrinate them,” Vandenberg commented to Todd Starnes on Fox News Radio.

During the rally, Vandenberg attempted to interview students and their teachers on camera but was told, in the midst of a public protest, “you need to leave” by a teacher. Another teacher threatened to call the police and claimed that she was harassing them by calmly asking interview questions.

A mother interviewed by Vandenberg acknowledged that teachers had explained the purpose of the protests in class and helped students to make their posters. “I’m supportive of my daughter and this is what she learned in school,” the mother added.

Radio host Starnes later reached out to school leaders for their perspective on the protest but they did not return his calls.

“Can you imagine the outrage if this had been a conservative event, if this had been a Trump rally or an NRA event or a March for Life,” Vandenberg added. “The outrage would’ve been unbelievable, but these people seem to see no issue with what they’ve done.”

Watch Vandenberg's disturbing full-length video exposing this indoctrination.  Other videos exposing classroom indoctrination may be found at  Please consider forwarding this important message to family and friends.


University sending 'equity officer' to investigate conservative group over Ben Shapiro speech: Report

Baylor University, a Baptist university in Texas, has arranged to have an "equity officer" investigate the motivations behind Young Americans for Freedom's decision to host conservative commentator Ben Shapiro on campus in November, according to a statement by Baylor's YAF chapter.

According to a press release from the Baylor chapter of YAF, Gamma Alpha Ypsilon (GAY), an unofficial gay rights student group, is responsible for pushing the university to hold meetings about campus speakers. GAY was denied official charter status earlier this year following a May decision by the Board of Regents to uphold a ban on "advocacy groups which promote understandings of sexuality that are contrary to biblical teaching."

The Baylor chapter of YAF claimed that the school's president, Dr. Linda Livingstone, approached GAY to say that she was on its side — a contradiction of the ruling by the Board of Regents. Shortly after this meeting, YAF says, they were contacted by the school's director of student activities to arrange meetings with GAY.

YAF Chair Zachary Miller said he was told the meetings would be "co-facilitated" by Brittney Wardlaw, Baylor’s manager of equity and civil rights. According to the faculty profile for Wardlaw, she "conducts investigations for claims related to discrimination and harassment around protected characteristics such as gender, race, ethnicity, disability, and veteran status. She also educates faculty, staff, and students on topics including implicit bias, explicit bias, and diversity."

Miller told the Washington Examiner that Wardlaw was employed by Baylor’s Equity Office and not the Division of Student Life, which had planned the meetings between YAF and GAY.

Though GAY has not commented on Shapiro, several students associated with the group shared their displeasure at Shapiro's campus appearance.

Another student said that his soul felt sickened by the announcement of Shapiro's speech.

Shapiro, an Orthodox Jew who holds traditional religious values, is a prolific public speaker with mainly conservative beliefs. His campus appearances often draw public complaints from liberal student groups and protests.

The first meetings between YAF and GAY with the equity officer are tentatively scheduled for Thursday at Baylor University.


Revealed: The thousands of jobs young Australians don't want because of 'snobbery' as the government encourage school leavers to take up trades

An increasing number of young Australians are turning their nose up at thousands of well-paying blue collar jobs because of 'job snobbery'.

The federal government is encouraging students to drop out of school in year 10 and take up a trade instead of going to university.

Nearly 290,000 Australians started apprenticeships in 2008, but just a decade on only 156,000 people took up a trade in 2018.

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash is encouraging students to leave school in year 10, and said they could be better off than those who opt to finish school and go to university.

Senator Cash said she wants any negative stigma around blue collar jobs to be eradicated and thinks apprentices should be proud of being a tradie. 

But Labor is encouraging students to stay in school. 'You've got a much better chance of getting a job if you finish school than if you don't finish school,' Shadow Education and Training Minister Tanya Plibersek told 7 News.

More than half of the government's list of the highest earning careers are jobs from vocational training and not university degrees.

Construction managers can earn as much as $3,500 per week ($182,000 a year).


Monday, September 30, 2019

Boston College Student Accused of Sexual Assault Wins Over $100,000

Boston College has paid a former student over $100,000 after a federal jury sided with him on his claim that the school mishandled sexual assault allegations against him.

The suit deals with an incident that occurred seven years ago when the defendant, named John Doe in court documents, was a senior at Boston College, according to an account from Inside Higher Education. It was the first sex assault suit to reach a jury trial since the Obama administration implemented new rules in 2011 for how institutions of higher education should handle sexual misconduct allegations,

Doe was covering an event on a cruise ship for his college newspaper when he was accused of approaching a females student, referred to as AB in the suit, on the dance floor and penetrating her anally with his fingers.

A friend of Doe’s, known as JK in court filings, who was walking in front of Doe just before the female student began yelling, turned around and said to Doe, “Sorry, dude, that was my bad.”

Several minutes later, security guards took Doe into custody, and after the ship docked Massachusetts State Police arrested him and detained him overnight. He was charged with indecent assault and battery.

Later, a Boston College Police Department officer filed an error-riddled report describing those events, stating falsely that Doe was dancing with AB when the assault occurred and that she saw and recognized her assaulter. That was the version of the story passed among university officials.

Doe’s complaint states that he suspects JK committed the assault. During a recorded phone call between the two after the incident, Doe described the allegations to JK, who reportedly responded, “What a bitch. What kind of girl goes to a dance floor like that and doesn’t expect to get touched or grabbed?”

The college began an internal investigation of Doe before the criminal investigation was completed and opted to suspend Doe for over a year. He eventually graduated in 2014. The criminal charges against him were dropped after none of the victim’s DNA was found on his hands and the cruise ship’s security footage showed him several feet away from AB during the probable moment of the assault.

Since then, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled last year that Boston College likely broke state law by breaching its contract with Doe as well as denying him “basic fairness.”

Doe has won a total of $102,400 from his alma mater.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has since rolled back the Obama administration’s stricter rules dealing with sexual misconduct at universities.


UK: University of Edinburgh is accused of 'blatant racism' for hosting an equality conference where white people are BANNED from asking questions

Edinburgh University has been slated for hosting an event where white people will be banned from asking questions - which has been described as 'blatantly racist'.

A Q&A event - Resisting Whiteness 2019 - will bar Caucasian guests from speaking from the floor.

There will also be two 'safe spaces' - one of which white people are banned from entering.

University bosses have 'raised concerns' about aspects of the event.

The event will take place on Saturday at the prestigious university, with the intention of 'amplifying the voices of people of colour' and giving 'people of colour a platform to talk'.

The all-day event costs up to £20 to attend, and will be held at the Pleasance Theatre.

A blurb says: 'We will therefore not be giving the microphone to white people during the Q&As, not because we don't think white people have anything to offer to the discussion, but because we want to amplify the voices of people of colour.

'If you are a white person with a question, please share it with a member of the committee or our speakers after the panel discussion.'

And it explains why white people have been barred from one of the 'safe spaces' - for people to retreat if they feel 'overwhelmed/overstimulated or uncomfortable'.  It said: 'The Braid room is a safe space for only people of colour, and the Cheviot room is available for anyone who needs it.'

Anti-racism campaigner Jane McColl, 42, of Glasgow said: 'This event is blatantly racist. 'It sets back the battle to achieve equality and fairness by decades, all because of the actions of a tiny group of extremists, whose perverse sense of logic has led them to belittle white people, not by who they are as individuals, by merely because of their skin colour.

'Imagine if this event was called 'Resisting Blackness' and non-white people were told they could not ask questions, nor access a room because they were the 'wrong' colour.'

A spokesman for the University of Edinburgh said: 'Tackling racism is an important topic for debate and the University is supportive of events addressing this issue. 'However, we are an organisation that places great value on issues around equality and voice.

'Consequently the University has met with the event organisers to ensure the event is compliant with our values.  'We have expressed our concerns to them about certain aspects of the format of the event and they are revising their 'safe space' policy for the conference as a result.'


College Admissions Scandal Ensnares 52nd Defendant and Counting

Fifty-two defendants and counting. That’s how many people have been indicted or otherwise charged in the college admissions and testing-bribery scandal.

When the story first broke last spring, we wrote that the first round of indictments had to be the tip of the iceberg, because over time, those in the government crosshairs would sing like a bird—and boy, have they ever.

So, what has happened since the story first broke, and where does this sordid saga go from here?

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts took the lead in these cases. As we detailed here and here, the case broke wide open in March, when the government unsealed an indictment and criminal complaint against scores of parents who were desperate to get their kids into colleges they otherwise could not get into on their own merit, passing them off as recruited athletes.

The 52nd defendant is Xiaoning Sui, from British Columbia, Canada. She was arrested in Spain this week and charged by indictment in federal district court in Boston. Extradition proceedings to get her back to the United States will start soon.

According to the indictment, Sui conspired with the ringleader William “Rick” Singer to get her son into UCLA as a soccer recruit, and paid Singer $400,000 to accomplish the task.

Singer took photographs of Sui’s son—a tennis player—and worked with co-conspirator and government cooperator Laura Janke, who pleaded guilty on March 14 and will be sentenced Jan. 18. Janke fabricated a soccer profile for the boy, passing him off as an ace player for two private soccer clubs in Canada.

Singer, in turn, worked with the head men’s soccer coach at UCLA, Jorge Salcedo, to pass the boy off to the UCLA admissions office as a top recruit for Salcedo.

It worked. The boy was admitted as a soccer recruit, and was awarded a 25% scholarship as part of his recruitment.

Singer reportedly mailed a check to Salcedo for $100,000. Salcedo was indicted and arraigned in federal court in March, pleaded not guilty, and has a status hearing with the judge in Boston on Oct. 1.

Like all defendants, Salcedo is presumed under the law to be innocent, unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Recall that Singer was the “fixer” who the parents worked with to get their children into college by the “side door”—the phrase that he used when working with parents, accepting their money, fixing test scores, and bribing college officials.

Apparently, the “front door,” the standard way of trying to get into college—get good grades, take the SAT/ACT on your own, apply to college, and see if you are admitted—wasn’t good enough for these defendants.

Nor was the “back door,” which apparently is to give huge sums of money to a college for a dormitory, sports field, or endowment, because there was no guarantee that your progeny would be accepted by the admissions office.

The Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s Office has created a handy webpage that lists each defendant, the charges, the case status, the sentence the government has recommended, and the sentence the district court judge imposed.

As you can see from the chart, there are two categories of defendants: those charged by an indictment (which is returned by a grand jury) and those charged by an information (a charging document filed by the U.S. attorney, in which the defendant waives his or her right to have the charges presented to a grand jury, which often happens when a plea agreement has been reached).

Twenty-three defendants have pleaded guilty to an information, including actress Felicity Huffman. Huffman was one of two defendants to date who have been sentenced. Six defendants, including Singer, have agreed to cooperate with the government’s investigation.

Twenty-five defendants have pleaded not guilty, including another actress, Lori Loughlin. Two defendants have not yet pleaded, and two others have filed motions to dismiss their indictments.

The next date to watch is Oct. 2, when several of the defendants have status conferences with the trial judge.

Behind the scenes, government prosecutors no doubt have been providing defense lawyers with a preview of their case against each defendant, who in turn will discuss with their attorneys the pros and cons of contesting the charges or pleading guilty.

The fact that Singer has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the government strengthens the government’s hand in many, if not most, of these cases.

Expect to see more guilty pleas by those indicted, and likely more charges filed against new defendants as this sordid tale continues to unspool.


Sunday, September 29, 2019

Did You Know? Repaying Student Loans Isn’t Onerous for Most Graduates

College students have taken on so much debt that many political leaders are declaring a “student debt crisis.” Certainly, many former students are facing a crisis as they struggle to pay back their loans several years after graduation. Even graduates from low-earning fields of study, however, see their salaries improve to the point where their debt-to-income ratio isn’t onerous. Though what field of study students choose can determine their post-graduation salaries, the important thing for students is to make sure they finish college with a degree.

One rule of thumb for students who need a loan is not to borrow more than they expect to make in the first year after graduating. On average, earning a college degree pays off in the long term, but a graduate’s field of study can mean dramatic differences in earnings.

The difference between first-year earnings and fifth-year earnings also matters. Median earnings typically increase by 65 percent over that period. Some majors yield relatively low salaries in the first year after graduation (such as fine arts, nutrition and sports, and therapy professions), requiring students to put aside more of their paycheck to repay student loans. However, six years after graduation, even students who studied low-paying majors such as ethnic and civilization studies typically experience enough of a salary increase that, on average, their loan repayment falls from 25 percent of their income to only 8 percent.

It’s important to remember, too, that students who drop out of college and don’t earn a degree still must repay their student loans. For those drop outs, repaying the debt is more difficult.

Of course, some majors can mean a high salary right away, and for students in those fields (such as engineering, computer science, and finance), taking out large student loans will likely prove to be a worthwhile investment. But for others, it is important to take a good look at not only projected first-year earnings, but how these earnings grow.


Don’t Write Off the Power of a Few Intimidating Undergraduates

A vocal, tyrannical minority of students can easily threaten or damage the careers of professors with whom it disagrees.
While most undergraduates want to be exposed to a variety of viewpoints, it only takes a small number of vocal, well-connected students to meaningfully threaten a professor’s reputation and career. Thanks to the power of social media — and progressive college administrators who act as campus thought police — small numbers of outraged or even uncomfortable students can create tyranny on a campus. Many professors, most notably those who are conservative, are well aware of this threat and very deliberately conceal their ideological views to avoid it.

Regrettably, this point was ignored by the piece Heterodox Academy managing editor Musa al-Gharbi recently published in National Review, “Ideological Discrimination in Academia Is More Complicated than You Think,” which argued that faculty feel generally less threatened by the opinions of undergraduates than by those of Ph.D. students and other faculty members.

Al-Gharbi was absolutely correct in noting the transient nature of undergraduate students vis-à-vis embedded graduate students and faculty peers. He was also right to point out that many professors do not want to stand in the way of student success and are reluctant to fight with students, as they see “differences in perspectives as products of students’ relative youth, inexperience, ignorance, or unexamined beliefs.”

Unfortunately, al-Gharbi’s piece neglected to consider that in today’s collegiate “cancel culture,” a handful of engaged students can organize with administrators and disseminate attacks on heterodox faculty, jumpstarting mobs of protesters, in a matter of minutes. Even when most students want open discourse and are frustrated by such mobs, tyranny of the minority is still allowed to win out in too many cases, as I found out the hard way earlier this year. While students are generally not on tenure committees or the various professional review boards, a professor’s faculty peers can become easily alerted to his bias and do his career real harm.

The empirical evidence backs this up: I recently ran a nationally representative survey of 900 faculty members, and the data reveal that a considerable number of conservative professors still regularly censor themselves in front of students.

In the survey, I asked if faculty had ever felt intimidated in class by a student’s strong political views. In aggregate, just 18 percent said they had, compared with 67 percent who said they hadn’t. But once ideology is considered, the numbers look appreciably different. Among liberal and moderate professors, fairly small numbers — 16 percent and 18 percent respectively — claimed to have felt intimidated by students’ political leanings. But that figure jumped to 24 percent among conservative professors. Professors with tenure appeared to be generally less intimidated, but here again there was a significant gap between those who are conservative and those who are liberal. On the left, 21 percent of untenured professors and 16 percent of tenured professors said they’d been frightened by a student’s politics in class. On the right, those numbers jumped to 44 and 31 percent, respectively.

Going further, I asked respondents if they had ever seen a faculty colleague belittled due to his or her heterodox views. The responses were not particularly comforting. While 59 percent said that they had never had such an experience, 16 percent said they had, and 25 percent said they were unsure if they had. When broken down by ideology, the numbers are even more unsettling. Twenty-five percent of conservative respondents reported being aware of cases where unpopular views were disparaged, compared with just 12 percent of liberal respondents.

This is not to say that faculty are not worried about ideological discrimination from their colleagues, as opposed to students; they absolutely are. Almost half of conservative professors in my national sample report being afraid to express their political beliefs to their colleagues for fear of negative consequences, compared with just under a quarter of liberal faculty members. And 40 percent of conservative respondents believed that their colleagues would discriminate against them based on their political views, compared with just 19 percent of liberal respondents. While 40 percent is not a majority, any form of ideological discrimination in the academy is unacceptable.

In short, faculty are dealing with ideological threats from all sides: their peers, administrators, and students. Viewpoint diversity lies at the heart of higher education and should be protected, but to safeguard faculty accordingly, those who work in and care about higher education must accept that undergraduate complaints can have a very real impact on a professor’s career and approach to teaching. It is critical that the power of student intimidation not be overlooked.


Intellectual Gerrymandering: ‘E Unum Pluribus’ on Campus

About two-thirds of the way through (page 373 specifically) his magisterial assessment of contemporary life and its foundations, The Conservative Sensibility, George Will drops a great bon mot deserving special note: “intellectual gerrymandering.” Will speaks about the highly successful efforts of various groups to significantly alter academic curricula and campus life by creating allegedly new fields of study, part of infusing identity politics into the academy. It is the belief that people should be identified and rewarded not by their individual traits such as their academic performance, intelligence, honesty, diligence, virtue, etc., but rather by some group to which they are assumed to be part of: a race, a gender, an ethnicity, etc.

The Great Seal of the United States features the motto “E Pluribus Unum”—out of many, one. Our nation is a melting pot of immigrants from throughout the world who assimilated and became members of one glorious tribe—the Americans. Contrast that to college campuses. The motto there perhaps should be E Unum Pluribus—Out of One, Many. Within university communities, identity consciousnesses often reigns, and people are identified by their race, their gender, their sexual orientation, and so forth. Most large campuses have women’s or gender studies programs, centers for LGBTQ issues, black studies majors, etc. Colleges even sometimes have separate graduation ceremonies for African-Americans and Hispanics, space reserved exclusively for nonheterosexual individuals, and so forth. In his great new book The Assault on American Excellence, former Yale Law School dean Anthony Kronman points out Yale has over 60 full-time staff playing some “pro-diversity role”—about one for every 200 students.

Much of this is unfortunate in my judgment. People are increasingly identified by things mostly beyond their control, such as their skin color. Merit and individual accomplishment are downplayed, group identity emphasized. This is precisely the opposite of the “E Pluribus Unum” policies that have made America large, rich, and great partly because of generally high tolerance of physical differences between persons. How should things change? Perhaps schools should have Principles of Free Expression and Tolerance declaring that “we accept and welcome persons into our learning community regardless of race, gender, sexual or political orientation, or religious views. The prime qualities for admission to our community are potential for academic excellence as measured by the absorption, dissemination and creation of knowledge and creative endeavors, combined with honesty, integrity, a strong work ethic, capacity for leadership, and tolerance of others.” We are not into classifying people by biological group characteristics, but care a lot about academic excellence and personal integrity.

My experience generally has been that a lot of rent-seeking goes into ostensibly highly principled attempts to make the school more “inclusive” by creating new special interest centers focusing on group characteristics. Often people promoting new centers end up working there, maintaining the joys of college life while getting nicely paid with job security. My bigger problem is that these centers are too often not genuine places of intellectual inquiry, but rather ideologically based advocacy groups doing little to expand the frontiers of knowledge.

That said, there are legitimate academic interests in studying specific cohorts of the population. I teach American and European economic history—region-specific topics—and think the study of Asian, African or Latin American economic history is also appropriate, as is the study of English, Chinese or Nigerian literature, or even the broader study of Western civilization. We can study people of differing groupings—even “History of the Jews,” or “the origins of Islam.” We can study differences in peoples and maybe even gain insights from them.

But the new forms of intellectual gerrymandering seem far more ideologically based, not a dispassionate evaluation of a core body of knowledge but an exultation of peoples based on group characteristics. Universities spend too much effort trying to be sure decision making is “inclusive”—defined as representing different group characteristics—rather than getting the best and brightest persons to do jobs independent of skin color, religion, ethnicity, sexual preference, etc. The downplaying of an appreciation of individual human accomplishment is lamentable.