Thursday, May 30, 2024

Campus Protests: Free Speech Needs Order

Hot takes of the pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel demonstrations on our college campuses quickly became common. But those with enough legal and historical context to properly assess the situation have been rare.

Some observers and participants wishfully called the protests a “Student Spring.” Others saw them as practice for the Democratic National Convention. Still others noted the broader anti-capitalist, anti-America rhetoric at some protests, and they suggested activists are ambitiously preparing to smash America in a socialist revolution.

Some protests have been peaceful and rule-abiding or, as at the University of Chicago, close enough to be tolerated for a time. (The Chicago activists’ demands came to include a call for disbanding the campus police and “decarbonizing the endowment.”) In contrast, the encampment at the University of California, Los Angeles, became increasingly violent, and “professional agitators” appear to have aggravated tension on many campuses.

The environment for Jewish students at many colleges and universities has degenerated into hostility since the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks inspired protesters who caused Cooper Union students to be barricaded in a library for their safety. Students have been assaulted. Police action has been required.

Violence, property damage and land takeovers by protesters are plainly inconsistent with respect for the rights of others. Coercive tactics have no place in institutions dedicated to the powers of reason and persuasion. Mahatma Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., champions of civil disobedience, acknowledged that nonviolent disobedience still requires appropriate discipline in a society that respects the rule of law. Today’s legacy is not theirs.

And some universities’ reactions against the protests might have gone too far, especially regarding protected speech. The right of expression on matters of vital international concern is sacrosanct.

America’s tradition of free speech ought to be the envy of the world. But recent events again remind us that it can thrive only in the context of an ordered society.

The free-speech scholar Thomas Emerson envisioned our tradition as a “system of free expression,” by which he meant that speakers, listeners and authorities have reciprocal rights and duties that ensure the rights of everyone—including protection of what Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes called “the thought that we hate.”

This system cannot prevail without the lawful order that protects all speakers—protesters and their critics—against being canceled, shouted down, coerced or attacked.

Alexander Meiklejohn, the great free-speech philosopher and educator who was one of the first to speak up against McCarthyism, wrote similarly that “to be afraid of an idea, any idea, is to be unfit for self-government.” He later wrote: “Political freedom does not mean freedom from control. It means self-control.”

Meiklejohn’s elaboration on the classic concept of “ordered liberty” contrasts with the mob rule of too many of today’s protesters. Protest is itself bounded by constitutional limits protecting the rights of others. When power replaces persuasion, freedom and society deteriorate.

While campus authorities are finally hearing the call for ordered liberty, many of them contributed to its precariousness in recent decades. Universities’ well-documented double standards have restricted and punished open inquiry as well as rule-abiding campus dissent.

Colleges and their diversity, equity and inclusion staff have enacted speech codes, Orwellian anonymous complaint programs, “bias incident” protocols, runaway DEI indoctrination and enforcement, and toleration of heckler’s vetoes and speech cancellations ad nauseam that have smothered free inquiry from within.

Many have also fostered an ideology pitting identity and other groups against one another. In so doing, they at least implicitly encouraged the misbegotten belief that duly constituted laws and rules should be differentially applied and should not stand in the way of favored political causes. This belief took root on campuses in the unrest of the 1960s, and it has spread in the decades since.

The Atlantic’s George Packer traces such betrayal to the famous five-building occupation of Columbia by students in 1968. A year later, one of us was at Cornell when students took over the student center with 20 rifles, then escaped punishment. It was no accident that Cornell’s leaders had previously elevated the promotion of social change to the top tier of its mission and vision, competing with the duty to educate and to teach students how to think.

An inevitable consequence of failing society in this manner is that society will push back.

Universities have squandered the institutional autonomy they used to deserve. State and federal legislators from the right, and internal activists from the left, who exploit campus leaders’ weaknesses—often greatly assisted by outside groups and funding—are, sometimes literally, shaking down the campus gates. Too many colleges have been losing control over their own destiny, from both without and within.

Higher education was in crisis long before Oct. 7. It will continue to be so until its leaders and students restore the dual commitment to the free inquiry and ordered liberty that makes freedom on campus—and for all of us—possible.


Against the Latest Student-Loan “Forgiveness” Scheme

The Martin Center opposes the Biden administration’s new loan-forgiveness rules for two basic reasons: They are outside of the Department of Education’s authority, and they will have adverse consequences.

Legal Authority

Economists often refer to special-interest legislation—bills passed to favor some politically influential group with benefits extracted from society in general. The nation’s Founders were well aware of that prospect and sought to prevent it in their writing of the Constitution. In Federalist 10, James Madison wrote about the evils that arise when “factions” can use governmental power to enrich themselves at the expense of others. The Constitution’s limitations on and division of federal authority were adopted to head off that problem.

The proposed loan-forgiveness “rules” clearly amount to the making of new law by unelected bureaucrats.

In the Department’s proposed student-loan regulations, we have something even worse than special interest legislation, namely special interest regulation. We say this is worse because, with legislation, it is at least possible to vote out of office those who passed the odious bill and replace them with representatives more committed to the general welfare. With regulations decreed by unelected bureaucrats, that possibility does not exist.

The Founders sought to minimize the chances for special-interest legislation by drawing a line between the legislative and executive branches. Only the former was authorized to make laws, and then only within strictly defined boundaries. The executive branch was given the authority to enforce duly enacted laws. The proposed rules, however, clearly amount to the making of new law.

Even if it were within the purview of Congress to pass a law relieving certain individuals of their obligation to repay debts owed to the government, it is not permissible for an agency of the executive branch to do so. (We say “even if” because the Constitution confers no authority on any branch of the federal government to lend money. While Article II covers the power to spend in detail, the Constitution is silent as to any power to lend. Had the Founders wanted to include such power, they would have said so and set forth rules for it. They did not.)

In recent years, the Supreme Court has taken an interest in abuses of authority by executive-branch agencies. In West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency (2022), the Court ruled that “major questions” of public policy have to be decided by Congress, not by agencies. We maintain that the new rules on student-loan repayments are of such importance that they constitute “major questions” and therefore cannot be implemented by agency rules.

The Department of Education is no more able to waive student-debt payments that are owed to the government than it or any other executive-branch agency could waive taxes for select groups. The power of the purse belongs to Congress, and the Education Department cannot forgive billions of dollars owed by student debtors. This transparently political action constitutes another assault on the concept of representative democracy.

Adverse Consequences

Turning to the substance of the rules, we find them equally objectionable.

One proposal is to waive all interest accrued for student debtors up to $20,000. Since many student debtors with accrued interest are able to continue paying down their balances, this amounts to nothing more than a gift to successful people, at the expense of many Americans who never borrowed for college or who paid back their debts. Such vicarious generosity is plainly unfair.

No legitimate public-policy goal is furthered by this gift.FacebookTwitterEmailPrintShareAnother proposal would forgive debt balances for student borrowers who have been paying on their loans for 20 years. Again, many of those individuals are successful and quite able to continue paying back their loans. No legitimate public-policy goal is furthered by this gift.

Another proposal allows the secretary of education to forgive student debts where the borrowers are “experiencing hardship.” This vague provision would be unjustified even if it applied only to individuals on the verge of default, since paying the costs of poor borrowing decisions is a part of adult life. There is no policy reason why poor educational borrowing should be singled out. But this open-ended power in the Department is apt to be used to reward more and more borrowers who can’t easily repay what they owe.

Another proposal would automatically enroll all borrowers in the government’s income-driven repayment (IDR) program whether they have applied or not. The IDR rules are so extremely favorable that they amount to virtually free college for many individuals who will earn moderate incomes. Automatically enrolling every borrower will mean that more Americans who choose to borrow for college will be able to slough off most of their cost onto the taxpayers.

That exacerbates the serious disadvantages of these easy IDR plans.

One disadvantage is that students will be less cost-conscious than otherwise, knowing that they won’t have to worry about their college costs. Some will undoubtedly borrow more heavily to afford a more pricey school and lavish lifestyle than they would if they knew their choices would come at their own expense. Milton Friedman’s line that no one spends other people’s money as carefully as he spends his own applies here.

Another disadvantage is that colleges and universities will have less incentive to minimize their costs, knowing that more and more students will be counting on a largely free education.

In sum, these proposed rules will do nothing to encourage students or schools to be cost-conscious, thus ensuring that still more borrowers in the future will be clamoring for relief from the government when their educational “investments” don’t turn out well.


Trade qualifications offer a better future than most university qualifications

It’s a question parents often ponder when considering their children’s education: what skills are required now to deliver job security in the future?

This is a bit like wondering what jobs might be needed in 2024 from the vantage point of the year 2000. The answer is nearly all skills and ever more workers are required today.

This is because at the turn of the century we didn’t envisage record levels of immigration triggered by a resources boom and the delivery of education services – at scale – to overseas students. Our cities surged as a consequence. More accommodation was required for students as well as a burgeoning bulge of Millennial knowledge workers.

No one connected the dots: more students, more knowledge workers and more (skilled) migrants results in a need for more housing. If this is to be Australia’s trajectory, we need the trade skills to deliver housing and city infrastructure.

In 2000 we did not question the logic of trade routes based on unfettered access to global supply chains. And, seemingly, nor did we consider the idea of buying and/or building nuclear-powered submarines. A pity, because such a project over the past 20 years could have deepened an engineering skills base aligned with the needs of a resources boom.

We need to be bold and lateral in our thinking about the future. I suspect we have followed a line of “safe future thinking” largely based on issues such as climate change and not enough on left-field events like a pandemic or a seismic shift in our strategic position.

Australians need to have confidence that someone, somewhere, is thinking about – is scenario planning, and actively war-gaming – a range of impacts that could shape our nation. It’s not enough to say “Oh, this is unexpected.”

What does Australia look like by the middle of the 2030s, when half of the Baby Boomer cohort is 80-plus? A decade of post-pandemic amped-up immigration, required to offset retiring workers, changes Australia.

We are focusing on the ramifications of artificial intelligence (AI) rather than scoping the need for jobs of the future. In the early 2030s we will need vastly more aged/disability carers, to the extent that this could replace shop assistant as this nation’s largest single occupation.

I have a contrarian view of the future of work: less focus on tech wizardry, more attention on delivery of basic human needs, such as security, care and shelter.

Repetitive jobs will continue to be replaced by technology. Petrol-pump attendants and ticket sellers disappeared a generation ago. Checkout operators are shrinking.

If Australia is to grow, defend itself, house its people and care for its aged, we need to allow a greater role to be played by those who deliver vocational training. The past 25 years have been the era of the university and knowledge worker (and the hipster); maybe the next 25 will be the era of the trade college and technical worker (the tradie).

This shift could start with parents being as supportive of their child choosing to pursue an apprenticeship or trade certificate as a university degree. I see an even greater need for technical skills in an Australia of the future.




Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Erudition Is the New Ticket to Success

I largely agree with prominent libertarian Jeffrey A. Tucker below but I am rather surprised by his definition of erudition. To me erudition is having a deep knowlege of at least some subjects. What he calls erudition I would simply call eloquence.

I also think he is rather hard on people who use "like" a lot. I does convey uncertainty but being uncertain is not always a vice. Some people are TOO certain of themselves. So I see frequent use of "like" as self effacing. And Jesus did after all say: "Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth." Not a bad inheritance

I would never speak that way but I do reserve my words for matters I am fairly certain about. And I am formally erudite: I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation in 6 weeks. But I think a good heart is much more important and desirable than formal erudition

Investor Peter Thiel makes an exceptionally compelling point concerning Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its impact on the future of professional skill.

He says that AI’s primary skill is technical: math, calculation, coding, assembling various facts, winning at puzzles, and other achievements of eggheads.

What it cannot do is precisely what will be most in demand in the future, namely human skills including creative, wisdom, and good judgment. An employee can distinguish himself from AI with such skills.

In particular, he singles out verbal skills such as erudition. Erudition is the ability to think and speak clearly to the moment, on the spot, in ways that are compelling and persuasive, in the presence of others. Even now, and especially now, this is an irreplaceable skill and more rare than ever.

Another way to put this: AI is not and cannot be eloquent.

Think of people like Jordan Peterson, Elon Musk, Stephen Pinker, Bret Weinstein, or (on the other side) someone like Rachel Maddow. Another example is Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who has amazing recall and can engage audiences for hours.

What do they have in common? They all have the ability to express themselves at length with knowledge, confidence, clarity, conviction, and wide learning. They manage to be simultaneously human and authentic plus rather intelligent in ways that elicit interest and agreement.

These are skills that machines cannot accomplish. These are skills that everyone should seek to acquire and perfect as a path to professional success in an AI-dominated world. There is simply no substitute.

I’ve often thought about how I would handle grading today in college if I were a professor. It would be time-consuming but I would do the following. I would bring each student into a room and ask questions about the material, an end-of-semester oral exam. I would drill down as they spoke to ask details and push back and see how they manage themselves.

There is simply no way that AI could pass this test. It provides a genuine measure of mastery. Yes, the judgment and grading would be more subjective but perhaps that can be fixed by having another proctor or professor present. Regardless, it’s a perfect way to ferret out the fakes. Just having to prepare for such an exam would inspire the students in different directions. Drugs won’t help but hurt, and there is zero chance for cheating. If students had to achieve this in every class, they would develop a skill for life.

How to prepare for such a thing? In other words, how does one become erudite? Above all else, it means eliminating verbal tics. That, in any case, is a first step.

I cannot say this clearly enough: no one will ever take you seriously if you punctuate your language with a frequent use of the word “like.” This has become something of a massive modern disease of speaking. It personally drives me utterly nuts. It comes across to me like nails on a chalkboard, painfully annoying. Unbearable but ubiquitous. A person who speaks this way comes across as deeply ignorant and insecure, no matter the rest of the content.

I’m hardly alone in observing this. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, essayist Tevi Troy writes as follows:

“If you’re a college graduate looking for a job, here’s some advice: Beware the like-o-meter. It’s a simple device I invented. Before interviews with a prospective hire, I put a blank sheet of paper in front of me. I then make a hash mark every time the applicant uses the word ‘like.’ Too many and I’m already thinking about the next candidate. If the interviewee keeps his ‘likes’ to an acceptable number, he remains in the pool. When two finalists emerge, the person with the fewest ‘likes’ gets the edge in a tiebreaker. ... To the class of ’24: As you look for jobs, be aware of what you say and how you say it. The person interviewing you might be listening closely.”

He further reports that McKinsey & Co. uses the same tactic. I don’t doubt it. Certainly it makes a huge difference. You can learn to police yourself for the use of this word. Every time you use it, just make a mental note. Or assign a friend to do the same to you, marking every infraction on a piece of paper. This problem will go away within a day or two.

The key is speaking clearly is rather simple. It is to think briefly about what you are going to say before you say it. When you begin to speak, cut it out with the runway talk such as “That’s an interesting point, and you know, as I think about it and considering everything, I would say that ...” All that is unnecessary and makes you sound indecisive and essentially stupid.

There are other verbal tics that are common, and here I’m guilty. Getting rid of them is a constant battle: “You know” and “Ummm” and “The thing is” and many more besides. Ideally, you should eliminate all of this and only leave the meat of what it is you are trying to say. And please, no management talk, the deployment of meaningless blather you get in the corporate world that is structured to bamboozle but never communicate. It’s simply awful.

That leaves only the problem of saying something meaningful. Here is the path:

1. Reading deeply and widely

2. Knowing history

3. Being aware of the best thoughts of the best thinkers

4. Being truthful about what you know and do not know

5. Expressing yourself with honesty and sincerity and without fluff.

This is true in all walks of life. Erudition is key and ever more so in the future.

The goal is of course communicating in compelling ways. This can take many forms, but it is always about reading the room and connecting with others.

I will now offer an opinion that might strike you as ridiculous but hear me out. In my view, Donald Trump is a master of a certain form of human skills, among which a form of genius in communicating. Indeed he might be the king of it. It’s not erudition but it might obtain similar results.

Notice that he doesn’t have common verbal tics. He doesn’t use the word “like” or the phrase “you know.” He gets to the point. He speaks decisively. He speaks with knowledge. He is funny and clever, and quick on his feet. Above all else, he is authentic or seems to be.

Indeed, I would say that authenticity is Trump’s distinct contribution to public life. It’s not a small one. Over many decades, most politicians in the media age developed a media-savvy skill of having perfect talking points, mastery of detail, and a way of staying out of trouble by not falling into gaffes.

In 2016 and following, Trump blew up the whole system by not being over-prepared for debates, being sincere and authentic on stage, responding to the topic at hand, and speaking in ways (sometimes gritty and sometimes even rude) that compelled agreement. The combination creates the sense that he is not a phony but rather fearless.

In any case, his rhetorical skills, which seemed like no other politicians, is what carried him to get the nomination and the presidency. They will likely win it for him again.

I had supposed that every politician the world over would listen and learn, that he would change the way people spoke and engaged in politics, based on his very obvious and actually astounding successes. I had assumed that every aspirant to office would fire his or her team of coaches and handlers. Tragically that didn’t happen. Even now, Trump has a monopoly on these skills on a national and even international level (though Putin comes close).

Why did the politicians persist in being such phonies even after Trump? The answer must be that they are not up to the job. They simply lack the raw skill—one that AI cannot match—to do without coaches and advisors. They don’t sound like human beings, much less like people you meet in regular life who sound compelling.

As a result, they lose to Trump. It’s as simple as that.

If I had one piece of advice for any candidate for public office, it would be this: fire your communication handlers. Speak truthfully, insightfully, and from the head and heart.

Trump is one of a kind. AI would never be able to create or recreate him. That’s one secret to his success.

At the same time, impersonating Trump is not the right strategy. It’s too transparent. You can find your own path, and it might end up very different, even better. What matters is gaining the crucial things that AI lacks: erudition, authenticity, believability, social insight, quick and accurate judgment, wisdom, thoughtfulness, and genuine intelligence.

Listen to Peter Thiel. He is likely correct on this point. Investing in your own personal human skills might be your best professional investment ever.


Pro-Palestinian Activists Remove ANU Encampment Amid Deadline

Pro-Palestinian activists at the Australian National University (ANU) have moved their gaza solidarity encampments after being given a midday deadline on May 28.

This encampment is one of more than 130 across the globe demanding universities divest from any companies linked to Israel amid the Middle East War.

The ANU pro-Palestinian activists are demanding that the university disclose financial ties to weapons manufacturers. They claim their degrees should not be “covered” in the blood of Gazans.

ANU Students for Palestine moved their Gaza solidarity encampment away from the Kambri Lawns to University Avenue after being asked to vacate the lawns on May 27 due to safety and security concerns.

The group also organised a rally on May 28 to exercise their right to peaceful protest and warn the university not to be complicit in an “unfolding genocide.”

This comes amid the Israel-Hamas war, which is currently heating up amid Israel striking Rafah and negotiations on hostages set to resume.

A spokesperson for ANU confirmed to The Epoch Times that students had until midday to vacate the encampment site as directed by police and have since moved. The lawn is a primary evacuation zone for emergencies, the university noted.

“ANU has provided options for the protestors to continue their protests in ways that are respectful and safe for the entire University community and campus. The university will continue to discuss these options with protestors,” a spokesperson said.

The university highlighted it has facilitated, and continues to enable safe protest for everyone on the campus.

“As has always been the case, the students have always had the right to protest—so long as they do so in ways that are safe, are appropriate for our campus and which adhere to Australian law and our codes of conduct.”

ANU Deputy Vice-Chancellor Grady Venville said ANU has provided options for protestors to continue their protests in ways that are respectful and safe for the entire university community and campus.

This included a re-examination of university investments and its socially responsible investment policy.

“Protestors have been invited to meet with the University leadership to discuss this matter. So far, they have not taken up this invitation. The offer still stands,” she said in a statement.

She added students, staff and community have the right to protest on this issue—so long as they do so in ways that are safe, are appropriate for our campus and which adhere to Australian law and our codes of conduct.

“Our commitment to academic freedom and free speech is one of the many fine characteristics that define our University. Equally defining is our commitment to reduce and stop harm, not cause it,” she said.


Queensland University Omits ‘Merit’ From Hiring Strategy

The desperate Letist insistence that all men are equal again. They think that inequality will go away if they ignore it

The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has ditched the word “merit” from its hiring process, due to concerns of “bias.”

The university, instead, “does not want everybody to look the same” and will focus on hiring a diversity of personalities.

The policy will, however, require selection panels to consider the diversity of responses, including those from Indigenous, multicultural, and LGBT+ backgrounds.

Margaret Sheil, vice-chancellor at QUT, was concerned that “merit” could reflect a type of bias.

“When people say things like ‘We do this on merit,’ they’re actually reflecting the bias of their own experience,” she told ABC Brisbane.

She claimed, “There isn’t a way of being colour-blind that’s not got some form of bias into it.”

“I’ve been working in improving diversity in academic environments my entire career; it’s got nothing to do with contemporary politics,” she said.

“We need to access the entire talent pool, and we don’t want everybody to look the same.”

Liberal National Party Senator Gerard Rennick raised concerns about the policy in a post to X on Nov. 20.

“If it’s not on merit then some people will be discriminated against plain and simple,” he said.

The panel can also consider how a new hire achieves “equity, diversity, respect and inclusion obligations.”

One academic told the publication the policy to get rid of merit was “bordering on embarrassing.”

Meanwhile, the Queensland public service is also removing merit and will instead consider “suitability for the role,” 3AW reported on Nov. 7.

Panels in the public service will need to consider equity, diversity, and cultural background as part of the new directive.

Going Back to the ‘Dark Past’

In response, executive director at the Australian Institute for Progress, Graham Young, said “unfortunately I think that’s the way the world is tending to function.”

Mr. Young noted this is a trend not just in the public service and academia but also in multinational corporations, adding that “ultimately it’s going to be disastrous.”

“You want bridges to stay up, you want airplanes to fly, you want the best person,” he told 3AW radio.

“You should just want the best person, male or female, I don’t care, black or white or brown or brindle, it doesn’t really matter.

He said historically, merit became the key measure of Western societies to eliminate the class system.

“Now we are going to back to the dark past because some people aren’t able to get there on merit.”




Tuesday, May 28, 2024

‘Condescending and Contemptuous’: University Presidents Blasted in Antisemitism Hearing

“If I might correct the premise of your question” became the phrase of the day from university leaders Thursday in a contentious House hearing focused on antisemitism.

Appearing before the House Education and Workforce Committee were Michael Schill, president of Northwestern University; Jonathan Holloway, president of Rutgers University; and Gene Block, chancellor of the University of California, Los Angeles.

Lawmakers asked the university heads to discuss their role in contributing to the disastrous anti-Israel protests and encampments on their campuses, which resulted in assault, battery, vandalism, intimidation, entrapment, theft, and other crimes.

Of the three, only Hollaway gave a definitive answer when asked how many students were suspended or otherwise punished for their illegal actions: He said Rutgers suspended four students.

Block gave a noncommittal answer regarding UCLA. Schill flat-out refused to discuss the possibility of removing any Northwestern student or professor from campus after documented incidents of assault, battery, stalking, and entrapment.

Lawmakers on the committee asked Schill the most questions, but he provided the fewest answers.

Northwestern University brokered deals to appease anti-Israel occupiers on campus, agreeing to give money to Palestinian students and professors. Northwestern administrators also agreed to launch an advisory committee to consider breaking ties with businesses that do business in Israel, among them Coca-Cola and Starbucks.

Schill would not tell the House committee why Jewish students or many members of Northwestern’s Board of Trustees weren’t invited to attend meetings in which deals with the anti-Israel protesters were brokered.

Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., chairman of the committee, and other GOP lawmakers demanded that the university leaders answer for what they considered a lackluster response to threats against Jewish students on campus during protests of the Israel-Hamas war.

Republican lawmakers asking tough questions included Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana, Elise Stefanik and Brandon Williams of New York, Bob Good of Virginia, Burgess Owens of Utah, Kevin Kiley of California, and Aaron Bean of Florida.

However, none of the three university heads took responsibility for crimes that occurred on their campuses during the protests. Nor did any agree that appointing openly antisemitic individuals to university committees might compromise Jewish students.

They refused to answer over 40 “yes” or “no” questions from committee members.

Schill refused to condemn the antisemitic statements of Northwestern staff and students, read to him verbatim by Stefanik. He also refused to confirm that definitive action—such as removing students or faculty who were documented committing crimes—would be taken to protect Jewish students.

Despite Stefanik’s pressing him four times, Schill refused to say whether he believed that the Israeli government is “genocidal.”

Israel’s government currently consists of an emergency “unity coalition” of left-wing, center, and right-wing factions in response to the Oct. 7 massacre by Hamas terrorists of about 1,200 Israeli civilians. The terrorists also took hostage about 250 civilians from over 15 nations, including the U.S.

Schill, Block, and Holloway agreed that they had done what they considered necessary as university heads to protect Jewish students: They authorized removal of the anti-Israel encampments.

Foxx, Stefanik, Banks, and Williams all pointed out that the three men dragged their feet. But Schill and Holloway both claimed that they were up in the early hours of morning to take phone calls about the encampments at Northwestern and Rutgers, respectively.

Regardless of when university presidents were awake to take phone calls, the tent cities at Northwestern, Rutgers, and UCLA were up for several days in a row, and criminal activity occurred in or near all three camps.

Schill refused to cooperate by answering almost any question from Republican lawmakers with a “yes” or “no.” He instead responded over 10 times with a variation of “If I might correct the premise of your question.”

Foxx, the committee’s chair, described Schill’s behavior at the hearing as “condescending and contemptuous” in an exclusive statement to The Daily Signal:

I was appalled by President Schill’s condescending and contemptuous attitude today, as he repeatedly refused to answer committee questions and gave multiple misleading answers about the shameful agreement he signed. This conduct is unbecoming of a university president and proves just how unserious he and his administration are about combating antisemitism at Northwestern.

The three university leaders’ responses to Democrats on the committee were more cordial. Each thanked the Democrats for their questions, which were aimed more toward Republican members than the anti-Israel encampments or the three university leaders.

Notably, Rep. Suzanne Bonamicij, D-Ore., spent her allotted five minutes criticizing Republicans for not denouncing former President Donald Trump for posting what she called a “Nazi” video. This was a false assertion.

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., drew immense criticism for appearing to make excuses for anti-Israel protesters who blocked Jewish students from using public walkways on campus, telling UCLA’s Block that it was still “possible” for Jewish students to find other ways to walk around.

Omar lambasted Block for not preventing the showing of video from the Oct. 7 massacre near the encampment.

Omar, who is Muslim, has been criticized repeatedly for using antisemitic language, which led to her removal from the House Foreign Affairs Committee in Feb. 2023.

In a moment that could spell serious legal trouble for the university leaders, Williams asked whether they were aware that ordering campus police departments to refuse to take and publish reports of crimes was a “violation of the Clery Act.”

The Daily Signal exclusively reported Tuesday on Northwestern’s apparent violations of that federal law during anti-Israel protests on campus.

The Clery Act, passed in 1990, is a transparency law requiring all universities, both public and private, to publicize all crimes that occur on or near campus.

Schill, Block, and Holloway responded that they weren’t aware of that—which is highly unlikely. Northwestern University, Rutgers University, and UCLA have dedicated Clery Act training that all staff are required to take. All three universities also have offices dedicated to ensuring compliance with the federal law.

In 2019, Schill was interviewed by Eugene Weekly about law firms investigating their own members. The Northwestern president demonstrated considerable knowledge of the law’s requirements and implementation of policies to satisfy them.


Dartmouth Faculty Censure School President for Shutting Down Pro-Hamas Encampment

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Dartmouth College voted to censor College President Sian Leah Beilock during a meeting on May 20.

According to The Dartmouth, school faculty voted 183-163 to censor Beilock over her response to the pro-Hamas protest May 1, where she had called on police to dismantle students' pro-Hamas encampments on campus. The meeting was held in the Hanover Inn Grand Ballroom with 200-300 faculty members and 100 observers attending in person, and 80 faculty members attending via Zoom.

“After conversation with student protesters hoping to find a solution that avoided the need for police proved unsuccessful, I made the decision to ask the Hanover Police Department for help taking down the encampment,” Beilock wrote in a letter published by The Dartmouth.

During the anti-Israel protest, police arrested 89 students, two faculty members, and some community members. However, earlier in the day, officers from the school's Department of Safety and Security warned students who had set up tents on campus that they were violating college policy. By the end of the night, Safety and Security, Hanover Police, Lebanon Police, and New Hampshire state troopers flooded into the encampment to put an end to the students’ pro-Hamas demonstration.

Dartmouth's dean of faculty, Elizabeth Smith, opened up Monday's meeting by reflecting on her 14 years working at Dartmouth and the “escalating tension” on campus that had been allowed to balloon into the pro-Hamas encampment.

After Smith’s speech, Beilock briefly addressed the faculty. “I stand here knowing many of you have turned against each other in this divided time,” Beilock said. “For that, I feel profound sadness.”

Beilock also said the disciplinary process for arrested students has ended. No student will face suspension or expulsion, and the administration is “working hard” to drop charges for individuals who were "inadvertently" arrested.

Christopher McEvitt, a religion professor, introduced the motion to censor Beilock. History professor Annelise Orleck seconded the motion. Both professors were arrested during the May 1 protest.

During the meeting, each faculty member had the opportunity to give two-minute speeches either in favor or against the motion, or give commentary regarding the measure.

According to Jana Barnello, a college spokesperson, the remarks shared at the meeting demonstrated a divided faculty. Barnello wrote in an emailed statement to The Dartmouth that the faculty vote is a reflection of the world’s inexplicably divided feelings toward the war started by Hamas terrorists on October 7, and the school's concern about how to best keep Dartmouth’s community safe.

Classics professor Margaret Graver agreed with Barnello, stating the measure will only continue to divide the campus.

“Censuring the President will not bring anything good to Dartmouth,” Graver warned. “It will not bring closure.”


Half of UCLA Med School Students Fail Basic Tests Thanks to DEI Push

Over half of the students at UCLA Medical School failed basic tests after its dean implemented race-based, woke diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.

The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) David Geffen School of Medicine has seen a drastic drop in its rankings, with some faculty members citing admissions decisions that “prioritize diversity over merit” as the cause.

Since Jennifer Lucero was appointed to the dean of admissions in June 2020, the medical school’s ranking has gone from sixth place to 18th place. This was around the same time universities were trying to figure out how to implement "anti-racism" ideology into their curriculum.

The number of students who are failing tests on basic medical knowledge has increased 10-fold in several subjects since 2020.

Admitting students to schools based on their race has been barred in California since 1996 and outlawed federally since a Supreme Court ruling last year. However, faculty members are accusing Lucero of ignoring the rules, allegedly telling professors that she wanted a qualified white male candidate pushed down the residency rank list because “we have too many of his kind.”

In another instance, Lucero demanded that a black applicant be admitted to the school despite not meeting the criteria.

“Did you not know African-American women are dying at a higher rate than everybody else?" Lucero reportedly told an admissions officer. "The candidate's scores shouldn't matter," she continued, because "we need people like this in the medical school.”

Students spend roughly seven hours a week learning the “Foundations of Practice,” which has modules on “interpersonal communication skills,” telling students “how to be a good person.”

They are also forced to attend a lecture on “Structural Racism and Health Equity.”

“Race-based admissions have turned UCLA into a ‘failed medical school,’ a former member of the admissions staff said. “‘We want racial diversity so badly, we’re willing to cut corners to get it.’”

One official said that the standards for admitting white or Asian applicants into the medical school were higher.

According to Lucero’s bio, she prides herself bio on “actively” recruiting “underrepresented students to the profession of medicine through her work in pathway and outreach programs.”




Monday, May 27, 2024

I’ve taught civics for decades. Our kids have lost faith in our nation

I’m a teacher and have been for over 25 years. I’ve never seen apathy and unhappiness like I see in our kids today.

Graduation rates have soared as proficiency scores plummet. Fewer than half of all Americans can name the three branches of government. A sizable chunk of college graduates actually think Judge Judy sits on the Supreme Court.

But ignorance is just a symptom of a much bigger democratic crisis.

The real reason students are more ignorant than ever before is that many now believe the nation, its institutions and our history aren’t just imperfect — they’re beyond redemption.

Why learn about something that isn’t worth saving?

Ignorance can be easily remedied. Cynicism, on the other hand, breeds generational rot.

Sometimes the numbers leave normal Americans agog — 40% of Gen Z considers the American Founders to be “villains” and one in three view Osama bin Laden’s ideas as “a force for good.”

I have had students tell me that if they’d faced the choice of serving during World War II, they would rather leave the country than fight. Many of them think that America is uniquely bad on a number of fronts.

For most students, the cynicism isn’t grounded in thought — it’s reflexive.

Over the past few years a decent chunk refuse to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, but they can’t articulate why they refuse.

Here is what my younger teacher self would be shocked to find out: Sometimes it is so overwhelming I am tempted to be complicit. Not because I am cynical, but because I find myself worried about things I never used to worry about.

Should I stop celebrating the achievements of the Founders or Lincoln or other American heroes for fear of offending modern sensibilities?

Should I worry that the framed picture of Thomas Jefferson on my wall might elicit objections?

This isn’t simple paranoia, mind you. Here is a fairly recent development: I have received notes from former students in the past few years, students who I was once close to, softly chiding me for my patriotism, my optimism, my belief that America is more than a place but an idea worthy of perpetuation.

This atmosphere of cynicism has a root cause.

Cynics in high places try to ossify and cement America to a specific moment in time, usually anchored to a moment or event that paints the United States in the worst possible light, like say 1619. Never mind that that was more than 150 years before the Declaration of Independence.

Perpetuating this cynicism to kids is especially dangerous today because it exists in an era of unparalleled American unhappiness, especially in our young people.

The loneliness. The self-harm and digital addiction. The loss of faith in traditional pillars of life — the family, the church, the school.

The worst thing teachers can do is feed this cynicism.

To be clear: This doesn’t mean ignoring American mistakes. Far from it. But we should stop fetishizing cynicism and valorizing national self-loathing.

And it isn’t just the young people who are suffering. Broad swathes of American adults are experiencing a similar loss of faith in the nation and its institutions.

This is the time — the ultimate moment — when Americans from all walks of life need stirring models from the past, not debilitating pessimism.

This is when it would be beneficial to the body politic and the soul of the nation to remember that liberty requires wisdom and that freedom unmoored from inspiration can descend into frivolity.

We should unapologetically return to focusing on Americans from the recent and distant past who can demonstrate what it means to use freedom and use it well.

While conducting research for my forthcoming book about these American heroes, I came upon an extraordinary quote from the father of future Sen. Daniel Inouye that he uttered to his son when dropping him off for service: “America has been good to us . . . We all love this country. Whatever you do, do not dishonor your country. Remember: Never dishonor your family. And if you must give your life, do so with honor.”

Tragically, too few think and talk like this anymore.

As a long-time teacher, as well as a deeply worried parent and citizen, I know there is no question that we learn by example — we are improved or depraved by the examples before us.

We ignore them at our peril.

There is so much buried treasure in our past, so many American men and women from our rich history who can serve as moral leaders, political models and guideposts of our inner possibilities.

We can’t do that until we believe in America again. This renaissance can start in the classroom


Alan Dershowitz compares anti-Israel campus protests by ‘Hitler Youth’ to Nazi Germany

Former Harvard University professor Alan Dershowitz likened the antisemitism and anti-Israel protests on college campuses to the early days of Nazi Germany in the 1930s — and he’s worried that these “Hitler Youth” students could become America’s future leaders.

“This is much like what happened in Germany in the early 1930s, when Nazi students blocked Jews from entering universities. This is a lot like the lead up to what happened in the 1940s,” Dershowitz said Sunday on the 77 WABC’s “Cats Roundtable” radio show.

“[During] Harvard graduation the other day, students walked out. Students wore Hamas-supportive garb. Students were on Hamas’s side. They are our future leaders,” he told host John Catsimatidis.

“What worries me is 10, 15 years from now, these Hitler Youth will be members of Congress, will be on the editorial board of the New York Times, will be owning media stations … and substitute their own radical progressive anti-American craziness for the stability that our Constitution calls for,” he continued.

Dershowitz, a constitutional and civil rights lawyer who has been a vocal critic of the anti-Israel college protests, said he intends to start a group called “Hurt a Jew, we sue you.”

He referred to the wealthy professional agitator James Carlson — aka Cody Carlson, aka Cody Tarlow, “a longtime anarchist,” police sources said — who was a leader in the violent Columbia University protest.

“This is much like what happened in Germany in the early 1930s, when Nazi students blocked Jews from entering universities. This is a lot like the lead up to what happened in the 1940s,” Dershowitz said.

“It applies beyond Jews: The two janitors who were held captive, kidnapped by wealthy Columbia graduates and outsiders — like the kid who owns a $2 or $3 million home in Brooklyn — they should be sued and held responsible for what they’re doing,” he said.

“We have to fight back.”

He also said colleges and universities are “going to hell” by imposing diversity, equity and inclusion programs — a form of affirmative action — and de-emphasizing merit in hiring and policies.

“DEI — diversity, equity and inclusion — is antisemitic to its core and anti-intellectual and anti-progress and anti-meritocracy. The big enemy of the hard left today is meritocracy,” Dershowitz said.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology scrapped its DEI program and there is a push at Cornell University to do the same, as The Post reported last week.


First British Private School to Shut Ahead of Labour’s Tax Raid

Classroom doors at the £18,000-a-year Catholic Alton School will shut for the final time this summer as a result of Labour’s plans to charge VAT on private school fees. The Telegraph has more.

Sir Keir Starmer’s planned tax raid on private education has claimed its first victim with the closure of a private school where parents faced paying thousands of pounds extra every year.

Families with children at Alton School in Hampshire, which last week announced it would shut this summer, have blamed the Labour Party’s tax policies for forcing parents to remove their children and place them in the state sector.

The school said in a statement on its website that “adverse political and economic factors” had drained pupil numbers, leaving it “unviable” to run.

Classroom doors at the £18,000-a-year Catholic school, which caters for 370 pupils, will close for the final time at the end of the academic year.

The school has suffered from dwindling pupil numbers in recent years, but the likelihood of a Sir Keir victory in the general election is said to have exacerbated the issue, with parents describing it as the “final nail in the coffin”.

Labour has doubled down on its commitment to apply VAT “straight away” on private school fees if it wins the keys to No. 10 in July.

Parents and headteachers across the country fear the 20% tax will spark an exodus of pupils as families struggle to afford fees. The hike could have added as much as £3,600 to Alton’s existing fees.

A parent of two pupils at the school said: “Labour’s VAT plan has clearly had a pretty terrible impact on intake for September.

“It seems like it’s been the final nail in the coffin. It’s been a topic of conversation for quite some time, and with Labour looking more and more likely to get in, it’s become more relevant.

“I know a decent proportion of parents are now looking at the state sector.”

Pupils, parents and staff were told of the impending closure last week as headmaster Andrew Reeve informed them “it is with a very heavy heart that we cannot continue”.

Mr Reeve was hired last year in an attempt to steady the ship at the Alton, but a letter from trustees admits this “has not translated into higher pupil numbers”.




Sunday, May 26, 2024

A University System Just Repealed Its DEI Policy

This week, the board of governors for the University of North Carolina (UNC) System voted to replace its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies. The change will impact its 17 public universities across the state.

According to The Hill, the decision, made on Thursday, works to “ensure equality of all persons & viewpoints” and replace a previous policy implemented in 2019.

“Campuses shall continue to implement programming or services designed to have a positive effect on the academic performance, retention, or graduation of students from different backgrounds, provided that programming complies with the institutional neutrality specified in Section VII of this policy and/or other state and federal requirements,” the new policy reads.

ABC 11 noted that two board members voted against repealing the policy. One of them, Sonja Nichols, told the outlet that some voices were not heard during the process.

"DEI is for everybody," Nichols said. "As (someone who's) Black, as a woman, I've just always wanted to be (in) a situation where all the voices are heard. Everyone has an opportunity to express why they feel that the DEI policy was so important. It's been so important over the years."

Board of Governors Chair Randy Ramsey, who supported the repeal, told ABC11 in a statement that repealing DEI programs would promote intellectual freedom.

Before the decision, UNC Chapel Hill reportedly decided to divert its DEI funding to public safety.

The UNC system is the latest to reverse its decision to implement DEI. Earlier this month, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced that it will no longer require prospective faculty to submit a “diversity statement” during the interview process.

As Townhall covered, in their statements, candidates were required to explain how they would enhance the university’s commitment to diversity. These statements were generally a page long.

“My goals are to tap into the full scope of human talent, to bring the very best to M.I.T. and to make sure they thrive once here,” MIT President Sally Kornbluth said in a statement. “We can build an inclusive environment in many ways, but compelled statements impinge on freedom of expression, and they don’t work.”

In January, the Florida Department of Education approved a new rule that would prohibit state colleges from using public funding towards initiatives surrounding DEI.


Missouri School District Spends $61,000 to Ensure Math Class Is ‘Free of Bias’

A Missouri school district spent more than $61,000 on a new math curriculum that prioritizes “cultural, racial, and gender diversity.”

Webster Groves School District plans to roll out a new elementary math curriculum from Imagine Learning Illustrative Mathematics this fall. The school board approved spending $61,450 on the change at an April 25 meeting, according to a PowerPoint presentation posted on BoardDocs and reviewed by The Daily Signal.

The district chose the program for its “balance of images or information about people, representing various demographic and physical characteristics.” The district, in the wealthy suburbs west of St. Louis, has 10 schools and 4,409 students.

The selection criteria for the kindergarten through fifth-grade curriculum included that the “materials prioritize cultural, racial, and gender diversity and supports the Webster Groves School District Equity Resolution.”

The equity resolution, adopted in 2017, advertises Webster Groves’ commitment to “confront issues of bias and social injustice.”

The district used EdReports’ research in making the choice, which helped Webster Groves determine the curriculum encourages teachers to “draw upon student cultural and social backgrounds to facilitate learning.”

The curriculum “represent[s] different races and portray[s] people from many ethnicities in a positive, respectful manner, with no demographic bias for who achieves success in the context of problems,” according to Susan Bergman, the district’s math curriculum director, citing EdReports’ review.

“Characters in the program are illustrations of children or adults with representation of different races and populations of students,” the EdReport review continues. “Problem settings vary from rural to urban and international locations.”

EdReports, a nonprofit that reviews instructional materials, is partially funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


Sydney pro-Palestinian students suspended after classes ‘significantly disrupted’

Two Sydney University students have been suspended after classes were “significantly disrupted” by protesters last week, as the encampment on the institution’s quad lawns enters its fifth week.

In a letter of support, the Sydney University Student Representative Council (SRC) said the university was attempting to silence protesters by handing the two students immediate one-month suspensions.

The SRC said the suspensions were a result of the students making announcements at the start of classes about the university’s ties with Israel and encouraging students to be involved in the campaign for Palestine.

“Such announcements before classes begin do not seriously disrupt teaching activities and usually finish before staff are ready to begin class,” the letter read. “They are a routine part of campus life and have been given around many political issues in the past.”

In a letter to staff and students last week, the university said some individuals had gone beyond the bounds of acceptable political announcements before classes began.

This included deliberately covering their faces to conceal their identity, not allowing classes to commence at the scheduled time, and acting in a way that was considered intimidating.

It said it was also aware of counter-protesters allegedly engaging in intimidatory behaviour towards the encampment overnight and was co-operating with police in their investigations of this behaviour.

A university spokeswoman on Thursday confirmed that two students had been temporarily suspended pending disciplinary proceedings, after two incidents of classes being significantly disrupted last week.

One affected subject has had its in-person lectures for the remainder of the semester cancelled.

“We continue to be very clear about our expectations of behaviour on our campus, writing to students and staff again last week about acceptable and unacceptable conduct,” the university spokeswoman said.

The students are demanding the university disclose and end all ties with weapons manufacturers and Israeli universities over the war in Gaza. Members of the local branch of the National Tertiary Education Union earlier this month voted overwhelmingly to support an institutional boycott of Israel in alignment with the student encampment demands.

Protesters at the university’s encampment have vowed to continue until their demands are met. Vice Chancellor Mark Scott has said he would meet protesters this week, but an agreement is yet to be reached.

‘Too little, too late’

It comes as University of Melbourne protesters agreed to end their encampment after the institution agreed to provide more transparency around its research partnerships.

Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-chief executive Peter Wertheim said the suspensions were welcome but were “far too little and come far too late”.

“The constant noise from their shouted slogans and incessant beating of drums has disturbed and disrupted classes and created a pervasive atmosphere of fear and anxiety among students and staff,” he said.

“Today, a number of buildings went into lockdown. Under state legislation, the university senate has the management and control of all university property, including crown land, but the university has been too timid to use its powers to order external demonstrators to leave its grounds.

“This has emboldened the protesters and made the situation progressively worse.”

A few dozen students and external protesters have been camping out each night, with the university moving to cancel some ID cards that have been shared with non-student campers to give them access to facilities, including bathrooms, overnight.