aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, April 16, 2005
College Republican campus recruiting
From the sidewalks on campus this week:
“Phil Kent on The dark side of liberalism: unchaining the truth”
“How to become a millionaire: saving and investing”
College Republicans aren’t the biggest group on campus but they are up there. (The Baptist Student Union is the largest, then there’s also the Diverse Body of Christ.) The Architect (a past chairman, defeating Terry Dolan) would be proud. I walk across this every day at work. So much for the liberal academy.
Monday, April 11, 2005
There are liberals in the academy
Then last week Media Matters took it on:
Over the past week, The Washington Times ran one news report and columns by Suzanne Fields and Cal Thomas about a recent study indicating that more self-identified liberals than conservatives are serving as professors at U.S. colleges and universities, a conclusion reached by comparing data from faculty surveys taken in 1984 and 1999. Two of the articles repeat the claim that the study demonstrates a profound “ideological shift to the left among college faculty” and a pervasive anti-conservative bias in hiring and tenure decisions. In fact, neither conclusion is warranted based on the study itself.
The 1984 data was from 5,000 respondents at a broad range of schools; the 1999 data is from 1,643 respondents from a much narrower range of schools. One survey was multiple choice; one was choose from a ten-point scale.
Oh, and it was funded “by the Randolph Foundation, a private philanthropy that funds many conservative organizations, such as Americans for Tax Reform, the Independent Women’s Forum, and right-wing pundit David Horowitz’s Center for the Study of Popular Culture.”
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Teaching in the age of belief
Last night on the Newshour they had a segment on creation conflict in schools. The video and the transcript are available on the web, very well done and worth watching. But what I carried with me today were these student comments:
STUDENT: I believe that God created the Earth and put life on this Earth. I don’t really believe in the whole evolution theory…
STUDENT: I believe that God also made us. I just think it’s a lot easier to believe then the big bang theory, or any of the other theories about apes.
STUDENT: I believe God molded man from the dust and he breathed life into it, and I believe we came out with two legs and thumbs and the thought capacity better then any other animal.
I thought that what we are supposed to be doing is teaching students, not catering to their beliefs.
I went to Catholic schools through high school. I learned religion and I learned science. Even today this doesn’t seem to be an issue in Catholic schools. My guess is they’ve dealt with this eons ago, in a different time, and have come down on the side of education.
It makes me wonder again, is this undermining of science an unintended consequence of the separation of church and state?
At a party recently I had a conversation with a Georgia Military College biology teacher. A Brit who’s the son-in-law of the Commandant, he spoke of the problems teaching biology here. For example some students flat out refuse to even listen in class. He believes the problem is Constitutional and boiled it down to this: the lack of religious education in school. He believes religion should be taught in school. All religion. World religion. Christian, Muslim, Hindu, you name it.
And what of faith? Catholics hold faith in high regard. There’s plenty that the believer is not expected to understand or explain but rather to accept as a part of one’s faith. How does that square with the fundamentalist adoption of Intelligent Design and the need to have their beliefs taught as fact in schools? Have they no faith?
With certainty in place of faith, it strikes me as reasonable for them to try in every way they can to get it taught. It’s what they believe. If science is undermined, what does it matter to them? They don’t believe it. I don’t blame them. (I do blame the Discovery Institute: “From the science, we argue that you can tell that intelligence played a role. But we don’t think from the science you can tell the nature or the identity of the designer.” huh? That’s science?)
But America is with them; only a third of Americans believe in evolution. Now that’s a shame.
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Remember David Horowitz (of scary “Academic Bill of Rights” fame) flacking the made up story regarding a student’s purported allegations of political bias against her criminal justice professor at the UNC? Turns out she’s real and has been found!
...while a Northern Colorado spokeswoman acknowledged Monday that a complaint had been filed, she also said that the test question was not the one described by Horowitz, the grade was not an F, and there were clearly non-political reasons for whatever grade was given. And the professor who has been held up as an example of out-of-control liberal academics? In an interview last night, he said that he’s a registered Republican.
Horowitz now admits that Media Matters got it right.
UPDATE: Then takes it back.
Saturday, March 12, 2005
I hadn’t heard about David Horowitz’s scary “Academic Bill of Rights” until reading a Media Matters piece about a made up story he’s using to flack it that’s been picked up and repeated in the mainstream media.
Over the past two months, Florida, Indiana, Ohio, Rhode Island and Tennessee have also started considering bills that would codify Horowitz’s ideas by, say, not allowing students to be punished with a bad grade for their views. Georgia’s senate passed a similar nonbinding resolution last year [B mine], while Colorado’s version was withdrawn after state-university administrators signed a pledge to ensure that “political diversity is explicitly recognized and protected.”
So Georgia’s already in this story.
The [Utah] senators were worried about “the drift of the campus,” says UVSC [Utah Valley State College] president Bill Sederburg, who fielded complaints from them about an Oct. 20 campus speech by Michael Moore, a student production of The Vagina Monologues and a course on queer theory in literature. “The legislators are saying ‘We don’t want the college to go too far and lose touch with the community.’ But we have an obligation to protect academic freedom.”
We have a queer theory course here and the theater department did a production of The Vagina Monologues just last week. I guess we’re lucky Michael Moore has never heard of us and won’t be speaking here anytime soon.
For those on the right, true freedom requires more diversity--which, to them, means more conservatives in faculty ranks. “If the system were fair,” says Larry Mumper, sponsor of the Ohio bill, “Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity would be tenured professors somewhere.”
Michael “Are you kiddine me?” BÃƒÂ©rubÃƒÂ© imagines it were so: Professors Limbaugh and Hannity chair their weekly committee meetings and hold office hours…
Meanwhile, here’s tonight’s lineup on the Renard News Channel:
7 pm The BÃƒÂ©rubÃƒÂ© Factor
8 pm “Informed CommentÃ¢â‚¬Â� with Juan Cole
9 pm “Phun with Pharyngula” with P. Z. Myers
10 pm “Scribbling Woman” with Miriam Jones
11 pm “Preposterous Universe” with Sean Carroll
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Lower the drinking age
Morning Edition had a great story this morning on a Maine college that’s trying to instill healthy drinking habits in its drinking age students by allowing those who are over 21 to drink wine and beer with dinner in campus dining halls. I’m all for it. Every college knows the binge drinker/teetotaler dichotomy; there the idea is to model healthy drinking behavior.
That sent me back looking for this September 2004 NYTimes Op Ed piece by John M. McCardell Jr., president emeritus of Middlebury College. He wrote the piece upon retirement, when, as “a less vulnerable member of the faculty once more, I dare to unburden myself of a few observations.”
To lawmakers: the 21-year-old drinking age is bad social policy and terrible law. It is astonishing that college students have thus far acquiesced in so egregious an abridgment of the age of majority. Unfortunately, this acquiescence has taken the form of binge drinking. Campuses have become, depending on the enthusiasm of local law enforcement, either arms of the law or havens from the law.
Neither state is desirable. State legislators, many of whom will admit the law is bad, are held hostage by the denial of federal highway funds if they reduce the drinking age. Our latter-day prohibitionists have driven drinking behind closed doors and underground. This is the hard lesson of prohibition that each generation must relearn. No college president will say that drinking has become less of a problem in the years since the age was raised. Would we expect a student who has been denied access to oil paint to graduate with an ability to paint a portrait in oil? Colleges should be given the chance to educate students, who in all other respects are adults, in the appropriate use of alcohol, within campus boundaries and out in the open.
And please - hold your fire about drunken driving. I am a charter member of Presidents Against Drunk Driving. This has nothing to do with drunken driving. If it did, we’d raise the driving age to 21. That would surely solve the problem.
I agree with his observations on tenure and student/faculty ratios too!