After a long paean to the wisdom of the two judges on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals who upheld the University of Texas-Austin’s race-conscious admissions process for a segment of applicants, New York Times op-ed columnist Linda Greenhouse – the paper’s former Supreme Court correspondent – explains why she thinks the Supreme Court won’t touch the case again.

A little background: The Supreme Court sent back Fisher v. University of Texas to the 5th Circuit last year with explicit instructions to give UT-Austin “no deference” and instead apply “strict scrutiny” to the school’s claims that its admissions policies are “narrowly tailored” to achieve diversity, as The College Fix noted last week.

Greenhouse says the two judges upholding the program – the third dissented – went to great lengths to make it “cert-proof,” meaning the Supreme Court won’t accept Abigail Fisher’s promised appeal:

The case is complicated because the Texas plan is complicated; Judge Higginbotham called it “a unique creature” that “offers no template for others.” This may be the opinion’s most brilliant stroke, reducing this high-profile case to an eccentric one-off — just the kind of case the Supreme Court ordinarily steers clear of. Abigail Fisher’s backers have vowed to take the case back to the Supreme Court. But unless the new appeal offers a plausible vehicle for getting rid of affirmative action — a goal for which, as last June’s decision demonstrated, there are not five votes, why would the justices bother? [emphasis added]

Greenhouse predicts the next plaintiff in a race-conscious program challenge won’t be white:

Edward Blum, the frontman for a network of conservative foundations that channel money to his Project on Fair Representation, is currently scouring the elite college landscape to find a new Abigail Fisher (he recruited the first one) willing to lend his or her (hopefully Asian, this time) name to challenge a more typical admissions plan.

Asian students may be the biggest losers in any plan that swaps out objective admissions criteria for bias-prone subjective reviews, as former College Fix editor Robby Soave writes at Reason regarding proposed changes to New York City elite public school admissions:

While I can understand the desire to assist groups that aren’t making the cut for selective public schools, it doesn’t seem fair—or morally justifiable—to stack the game against Asians seeking admittance merely because other Asians have fared well.

Of course, this is exactly what universities practicing affirmative action have done for years, using ethnicity-based admission systems that grade Asian applicants on a much higher curve. Should students be judged on their own merits or against the expected accomplishments of other people who happen to look like them?

Read Greenhouse’s full analysis here, and Soave’s review of the New York City admissions debate here.

CORRECTION: This post originally misidentified Robby Soave as a contributor to The College Fix. It has been updated to identify him as the site’s former editor.

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ABC News reports on the emerging details regarding the killing of Florida State law professor Dan Markel:

Investigators believe Markel knew his killer and may have literally opened his door to his own death.

“He was the intended target in this situation,” Tallahassee Police Department Officer David Northway said.

Police have released pixelated pictures of a silver Toyota Prius which they say was seen in the area on the day of the crime. A police tip line has netted 50 calls so far.

One potentially big clue is that there was no sign of forced entry into the house.

“There’s not enough information to suggest that this is a contract murder. It certainly could be,” said ABC News consultant Brad Garrett, a former FBI agent. “The most likely theory is that it it’s somebody that he knows.”

Markel was shot in the head at close range last Friday morning and died the following day. Police have questioned Markel’s wife, Wendi Jill Adelson, but she is not a suspect. There are no other suspects, at present.

Read the full article here.

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It was only a matter of time.

The University of Virginia offered a “Game of Thrones” English course this summer, a four-week seminar that divided its focus between the novels and popular HBO television series.

“One of the greatest lessons of ‘Game of Thrones,’ the class argues, is how life goes on after death,” according to a university press release describing the 24-student class.

Thankfully students have Game of Thrones to teach them such concepts!

“One of the goals behind this class was to teach students how the skills that we use to study literature are very useful skills for reading literature and TV in conjunction,” stated Lisa Woolfork, the associate professor of English who taught the class. “ ‘Game of Thrones’ is popular, it’s interesting, but it’s also very serious. There are a lot of things in the series that are very weighty, and very meaningful, and can be illuminated through the skills of literary analysis.”

For those who have not read the books, they are filled with sex, violence, death, murder, witchcraft, necromancy, depression, evil, manipulation, incest, betrayal, deep sadness, and much more. Good story lines, great writing. But very dark. Very disturbing.

As for the TV series, has there ever been a movie that’s better than the book? Yet the professor argues the popular series enhanced the books “in a world where the major sources of storytelling are increasingly visual.” Sigh.

Let’s add this GOT class to the growing pile of pop culture-worship glamorized as serious academic scholarly pursuit.

Similar university classes in the recent past include ones on: 50 Shades of Grey, Harry Potter, Mad Men, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, and Jay Z.

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h/t: Huffington Post


You’ve decided to participate on your college’s “conduct board,” meaning you will help adjudicate cases in which a student has allegedly violated university standards. These can range from harassment to sexual assault.

If this first-person account of getting trained for a conduct board is indicative of other schools’ processes, then heaven help whoever gets hauled before these quixotic juries of their peers.

Southern Oregon University student Stephanie Keaveney, a summer intern for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, describes going through “a few hours of training” to join a pool of “specially trained students” who decide if their accused peers were “more likely than not” to have violated university standards:

What the training didn’t include was information about the rights of students. The training did not impress upon us the importance of academic freedom, nor did we learn how to tell the difference between constitutionally protected and unprotected speech.

So when we were asked to decide cases involving students accused of violating harassment policies, irresponsible use of technology, or other violations involving constitutionally questionable community standards, we, like the accused students, were ill-equipped to decipher the difference between actual harassment and protected speech.  As those who follow FIRE’s work have seen, many college conduct boards have a great deal of discretion in their proceedings and usually don’t strictly adhere to the principles of due process or freedom of speech on campus. …

It is imperative that all members of university conduct boards, especially students, are trained to understand due process as it pertains to university proceedings and constitutionally guaranteed individual rights. Without adequate training, it is impossible for conduct board members to decide properly that a student in fact violated university policy and is not being punished for expressive actions or speech which may be protected.

Read her whole entry here.

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Did the approval of a new honor code make a difference in the wildly different results on self-reported cheating between class years at Harvard?

Probably not.

The Harvard Crimson‘s senior survey found that 17 percent of Harvard seniors said they cheated while at Harvard. Plus:

Just 15 percent of all respondents admitted to cheating on a homework assignment or a problem set—less than half of the rate reported in a similar survey of the Class of 2013. …

Seniors were much more likely to suspect cheating among their peers than to admit to cheating themselves. On average, surveyed seniors guessed that 53 percent of the class had cheated on a homework assignment or a problem set, 32 percent on a paper or take-home exam, and 14 percent on an in-class exam.

Seniors weren’t particularly moved by approval this spring of a first-ever honor code, which won’t take effect for another year:

While the newly approved honor code will go into effect long after the Class of 2014 has left Harvard, just 12 percent of surveyed seniors said an honor code would have changed the way they approached academic integrity during their time as Harvard students.

The survey included 758 people, nearly half the graduating class, though not all answered every question, The Crimson said. The school suffered through a major cheating scandal two years ago.

There’s much more in the survey results, including non-straight students (15 percent of the class), non-theists (a whopping 38 percent), and males who regularly consume porn (48 percent), here.

h/t Campus Reform

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In a recent civil rights lawsuit, the son of legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, along with a fellow former assistant coach, claim their reputations were “destroyed” when the school fired them during the sordid Jerry Sandusky investigation.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

In the civil rights suit, filed Monday in federal court in Philadelphia, Joseph “Jay” Paterno and Bill Kenney say they suffered collateral damage from the siege of bad publicity for the university after Sandusky was indicted for child sex abuse in November 2011 and the elder Paterno was dismissed after decades as head coach.

Jay Paterno and Kenney were fired in January 2012, shortly after the announcement that the school had hired a new head coach, the suit alleges. At the time, it had been reported that Jay Paterno and the new coach “reached the conclusion” together that Paterno would leave Penn State.

The lawsuit, which seeks at least $1 million in damages for emotional distress and loss of earnings, argues that although the assistant coaches were never implicated of wrongdoing in the Sandusky investigation, their firings stigmatized them in the eyes of potential employers.

All Penn State has offered in response is “It is common practice for incoming head coaches to select their own coaching staff.”

The lawsuit notes that the school “terminated each of them (Paterno and Kenney) at the height of the Sandusky scandal’s dark shroud,” and that no attempt to “preserve the reputations” of the former coaches was made.

Read the full article here.

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