Buzz

An op-ed by the USC Daily Trojan’s Nathaniel Haas has been one of the more “popular” articles on that publication’s website over the last few days.

In it, Haas argues that the hypocrisy of “some” campus College Republicans “knows no bounds” … because of some commentary from the group’s Facebook page regarding radical Angela Davis’s speech last Monday.

One of these statements said “[Davis] has no place on our campus and should have never been invited to speak” and had an accompanying graphic which read “Shame on the groups responsible for bringing murderer communist Angela Davis to USC tonight.”

These have since been removed from the College Republican Facebook page.

Haas continues:

The College Republicans hosted Ann Coulter on campus two years ago, a speaker whose bigotry toward race, the Muslim religion and sexual orientation is well known. Viewed in the most positive light, their statements about Davis are blatantly hypocritical. At worst, they are a gross form of offensive character assassination.

The worst thing about arguing that Davis should not have been invited is that it places disagreement with Davis’ opinion on a higher pedestal than a defense of her First Amendment right to express that opinion. Given their devotion to the Constitution, one would expect the College Boat Shoe Club to be extra-staunch defenders of Davis’ right to free speech, but the only support they gave to those seeking to be heard was to their own members:

“It is important that the voices of those students who do not agree with Davis, and her presence on campus are heard!” another Facebook post read.

Haas goes on to compare the group to the notorious Senator Joseph McCarthy, and highlights the opinion of the former director of the Black Student Assembly, Ama Konadu, who said the campus group’s statement — that “The African-American students in the USC College Republicans are particularly disheartened that Davis has been branded as a leader in the Black community …” — reminded her of the saying “I’m not racist, I have black friends.”

Konadu went to say “Black Republicans are so prideful in the country and systems that have oppressed our people since day one and that continue to do so.”

The College Republicans released a statement on their Facebook page in response to Haas’s column.

The group notes that their main objection was the use of student fees — which every student pays to the university — to compensate Ms. Davis for her appearance:

Mr. Haas furthered his already false argument by calling into question an event held by the USC College Republicans in which Ann Coulter spoke. We would like to point out that this event was paid for in full by our own club, through generous donations, and from grants. At no point did we ask to University Student Government, the Program Board, or any of numerous student assemblies, all of which are funded by USC tuition dollars, to pay for our event. This is in stark contrast to the Angela Davis event, in which the entire student body was forced into paying for her speaking fees.

They also point out that they removed the aforementioned photo (and graphic) of Davis from their Facebook page due to “numerous comments attacking African American members of [the] club.”

“We felt that these comments were distracting from our official statement expressing our displeasure with Davis’s presence on campus, and with the fact that the student body was forced to foot the bill for her speech,” the statement says.

Read Haas’s full column and the full College Republican statement.

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The United States Department of Justice wants to know if what your college is doing about sexual assault is effective.

It’ll give you some cash to figure that out.

The DOJ’s National Institute of Justice, “alongside the Office on Violence Against Women and Office of Justice Programs,” has now opened the application process for researchers to obtain grants to study the issue.

The Daily Californian reports:

The justice institute hopes to shed light on newer, more promising methods of addressing sexual assault on college campuses, the proposal said.

The program comes in response to the April 2014 White House Task Force Report to Protect Students From Sexual Assault, which advocated improved understanding of campus sexual assault investigations and adjudications on campuses.

In May of last year, the White House released a list of universities, including UC Berkeley and three other California schools, under investigation for possible violations of federal law over the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints.

According to the proposal, applicants for the grant must be the entity with primary responsibility for conducting and leading the sexual assault research.

UC Berkeley senior Aryle Butler, a member of the survivor advocacy organization End Rape On Campus, says that “the DOJ grant is a good initiative to analyze our campus more objectively.” But, she added, if Berkeley decided to apply for a grant, “there should be an additional layer of oversight and protection to the research to ensure that statistics are not deflated or inflated.”

Of course, this is the same federal government that told us one in five women are sexually assaulted while in college, a rather dubious statistic, to say the least.

Read the full article.

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Two members of the US Commission on Civil Rights, Pete Kirsanow and Gail Heriot, have written to congressional leaders urging them to reject the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights proposed thirty-one percent budget increase.

In their letter, Kirsanow and Heriot note that they “have noticed a disturbing pattern of disregard for the rule of law at OCR,” and “[t]hat office has all-too-often been willing to define perfectly legal conduct as unlawful.”

Though OCR may claim to be under-funded, its resources are stretched thin largely because it has so often chosen to address violations it has made up out of thin air. Increasing OCR’s budget would in effect reward the agency for frequently over- stepping the law. It also would provide OCR with additional resources to undertake more ill-considered initiatives for which it lacks authority. We strongly encourage Congress to take into account this troubling pattern of over reach in deciding whether to support the President’s proposed increases to OCR’s budget.

The letter goes on to reference how OCR has expanded the definition of “bullying” and “harassment” — an “error” which “is entirely unforced”:

No federal civil rights statute requires OCR to undertake such an expansive initiative. Insofar as there is statutory authority allowing OCR to regulate bullying at all, it is much more limited than OCR’s initiative. Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 … states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance …” This provision has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to make schools civilly liable for failing to remedy student-on-student sex harassment but “only where [the school districts] are deliberately indifferent to sexual harassment, of which they have actual knowledge, that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it can be said to deprive the victims of access to educational opportunities or benefits provided by the school.” By analogy, those who advocate federal intervention into bullying argue that a school district that is deliberately indifferent to bullying based on sexual orientation should be liable if the circumstances match those in Davis.

The commissioners also address problems with “racially proportionate” discipline measures.

The College Fix previously reported on a controversial (racial) discipline policy in the Minneapolis Public Schools, which Commissioner Kirsanow said was “legally suspect.”

Read the full letter from the commissioners.

h/t to Hans Bader.

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The mere mention of the words “Koch brothers” is enough to send the media into a paroxysm of angst.

The University of Delaware’s David Legates, a geography professor and former (Delaware) state climatologist, “is entangled in a widening controversy over possible undisclosed industry support for attacks on reports about human-caused global warming.”

Democratic Representative Raul M. Grijalva of Arizona sent a letter to U. of Delaware President Patrick Harker requesting info on the sources of Legates’ funding.

The representative noted that Harvard professor Willie Soon, another global warming skeptic, “had received funding from the conservative Koch Foundation that was not disclosed when he testified before a House science committee …”

The News Journal reports:

In his letter to Harker, Grijalva wrote: “I am hopeful that disclosure of a few key pieces of information will establish the impartiality of climate research and policy recommendations published in your institution’s name and assist me and my colleagues in making better law.”

In June 2014, Legates testified at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee about droughts and agriculture.

“My overall conclusion is that droughts in the United States are more frequent and more intense during colder periods. Thus, the historical record does not warrant a claim that global warming is likely to negatively impact agricultural activities,” he testified.

He went on to tell the committee about efforts to silence climate change dissenters.

Legates and the University of Delaware aren’t the only faculty or institutions under scrutiny.

Letters also were sent to the presidents of MIT, Georgia Tech, Pepperdine, Arizona State and universities of Alabama and Colorado. All of the schools have had a researcher appear before Congress.

A spokesperson for UD said that its (financial) disclosure forms “are not public.”

In 2007, Legates was chastised by former Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner and told “to stop using his state climatologist title in statements challenging climate change science.”

“Your views, as I understand them, are not aligned with those of my administration,” Minner had told Legates.

The News Journal notes that some of Legates’ work has “had ties to organizations supported by Koch and oil industry interests.”

Gasp!

Read the full article.

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The show went on at the University of Chicago Thursday night when Zineb El Rhazoui, a Franco-Morrocan cartoonist for Charlie Hebdo and human rights activist, spoke to the campus French Club, The Chicago Maroon reports.

But security was ramped up owing to a “massive Twitter campaign under threatening hastags against El Rhazoui in which ISIS supporters called for her assassination”:

[Attendees were told they] would be searched and would be required to present valid identification that matching their names on a restricted RSVP list. Large bags were not allowed into the hall and a coat check was enforced. Law enforcement officers were visibly armed within the Law School premises, and the auditorium was watched by at least seven officers at all times during the talk.

Most disturbingly, the school canceled the “annual winter Humans vs. Zombies game, in which students chase their opponents across campus with Nerf guns,” and players were warned they “could face University and legal punishment if they participated on Thursday.”

The event organizer praised the school for its willingness to jump through hoops to make the speech a reality:

“The common realization was that canceling this event would be a defeat,” [French Club president Eve] Zuckerman said.  She further emphasized that saying security costs and risks were too high to invite El Rhazoui would be giving up on the University’s commitment to freedom of speech. “How many Charlie Hebdo journalists have been invited to speak in the U.S.? Zero.”

Read the Maroon article.

The University of North Carolina board of governors voted unanimously today to close three liberal-leaning academic centers that study poverty, “biodiversity” and “social change,” WUNC reports:

Dozens of students and others attended the Board meeting and protested the decision. Several spoke out during the discussion and were removed from the meeting. Board Chair John Fennebresque eventually had to recess and move the meeting to another room as protestors shouted and chanted outside the door. …

The full Board vote followed a review by a Board committee that investigated all 247 academic centers and institutes. That probe began after the General Assembly, in its budget passed last year, called for the review in an attempt to save $15 million.

“State funding was a component of review,” said Jim Holmes, who chaired the committee that reviewed the centers. “But it was not the only consideration.”

The three academic centers set to close receive a total of $6,000 in direct state funding.

The proposed move drew outrage in some quarters, with critics claiming the Republican-led Legislature was targeting ideological enemies, but it was the right move, according to Jay Schalin, director of policy analysis for the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

Writing in the Herald-Sun, Schalin says these centers serve more as “advocacy agencies with political agendas rather than centers of objective scholarship,” violating the American Association of University Professors’ 1915 Declaration of Principles on “intemperate partisanship”:

The right to free speech guarantees that individuals can say pretty much whatever they choose, but not that individuals have the right to state funding or state imprimatur to do so. And there has been no denial of academic freedom: No professors have lost their jobs or suffered censure.

The poverty center in particular was “born of partisanship as a thinly veiled political springboard for John Edwards to mount his 2008 presidential campaign and has maintained a one-sided stance ever since,” Schalin says:

By ignoring outraged criticism by a vocal and self-interested few, the legislature and [board of governors] exhibited the leadership needed to maintain UNC as a system of excellence. Rather than attacking them, North Carolina should thank them for upholding the spirit of free and open inquiry and not letting the university system become a playground for partisans.

Read the WUNC report and Schalin’s op-ed.

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