Kate Havard - St. John's College

“Frankly, one thing that worries me is that some people may be opposed to Teresa serving in any role, in part at least because they so despise her politics.”

Emails like this, from an Associate Dean at the University of Iowa College of Law, have produced a strong case for Teresa Wagner, a conservative Republican suing a former dean of UICL. Wagner contends that she was not granted tenure because of her political beliefs and activism.

A former professor of law at George Mason University and a lead counsel for amicus briefs to the Supreme Court, Wagner was passed over for both tenured and adjunct positions at the college several times, even though she was very qualified and came with the “highest possible” student evaluations.

If her suit is successful, the University of Iowa College of Law—and other schools tacitly applying a political litmus test to their hiring decisions—may have to reconsider what Wagner has publicly called their  “Republicans Need Not Apply” policy.

Though Wagner’s case was initially dismissed, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth circuit recently reversed the decision, ruling that there was enough evidence for the case to go to trial.

The Eighth circuit’s decision notes that  “the primary, vocal opponent to hiring [Wagner]” was a professor who “clerked for Justice Blackmun during the time Roe v. Wade was written, has written tributes to Justice Blackmun and his abortion jurisprudence, and has published legal articles advocating a pro-choice viewpoint.”

Wagner, on the other hand, has worked for National Right to Life Committee, and for the pro-life Family Research Council. Wagner also claims that the Associate Dean of UICL encouraged her to conceal the fact that she had been offered a tenure-track position at a conservative law school.

David French, senior counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice, notes that the Eighth Circuit Court’s ruling also cited the large ideological disparity at the college (out of the 50 members of the law school faculty, only one is a registered Republican) as a factor in their decision to allow the case to move forward.

This is the same kind of reasoning used by plaintiffs in cases of race or gender-based discrimination, French says, and that lends Wagner’s case a lot of validity. However, he adds, “It will take more than one case to turn the tables on the university community. It will be the cumulative weight of a lot of cases. This is a national, systemic problem. But there’s been a lot of successes so far.”

French cited Martin Gaskell’s lawsuit against the University of Kentucky, in which Gaskell, an astronomer with a PhD from UC Santa Cruz, was not hired in part because another professor feared Gaskell was “potentially evangelical.” Eventually Gaskell and the University of Kentucky reached a settlement of more than 100,000 dollars.

Of course, Ms. Wagner’s attorney, Steve Fieweger, insists that this is not just an important case for conservatives in academia: “It is important for everyone who cares about intellectual freedom and the First Amendment,” he says, “The hypocrisy, constant talk of ‘diversity’ and tolerance, while faculty only hire those who conform politically,  is obvious.”

Fieweger adds that even in the heavily Democratic county where the University is located, local Republicans “recently passed a few resolutions asking the legislature to appoint a special counsel to investigate university hiring practices. So the case is receiving attention and may prompt some change.”

When asked for comment, a University of Iowa spokesperson said, “The University is an Equal opportunity employer and adheres strictly to all federal and state requirements regarding fair hiring practices.”

The case is scheduled for trial on October 15 in Davenport, Iowa.

Fix Contributor Kate Havard is a senior at St. John’s College.

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In 2008, Obama took two thirds of the coveted 18-29 voting block.  With an eye to repeating these numbers in 2012, the Obama campaign has recently launched its youth arm, the “Young Americans– Greater Together” campaign, with a student summit at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Greater Together website is both sleek and youthful. The blog does its best to provide young Democrats with talking points for the dinner table while staying appropriately chatty: “When you go home this year, don’t forget to mention a few of the things that the President has done for you. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be talking for a while.”

There is also an online store, where the fashion-conscious young voter can pick up some Obama yoga pants, messenger bags, or their very own Joe Biden beer cozy.  (Hint: Stocking Stuffer!)

But all glitz and gloss aside, where does the President stand with young voters? Will he be able to count on their support the same way he did four years ago?

Read more

It’s a sticky afternoon in August and a storm is brewing. Ohio treasurer Josh Mandel is the featured speaker at a rally for Mike Wilson, who’s planning to run for the Ohio general assembly. We’re under a tent, but as the lightning flashes, the crowd eyes the wiring on the speaker system nervously. Still—Mandel is winning them over. When he tells his story, it’s clear he’s wasted no time getting things done.

Mandel looks maybe half of his 33 years, but he’s already accomplished more in his decade-long career in public service than many politicians have in a lifetime. He’s a Marine Corps veteran who served two tours in Iraq. A former city councilman in Lyndhurst, a suburb of Cleveland, he led the fight for the first property tax rollback in the county’s history. As a state legislator, he won landslide victories in a heavily liberal district. When he ran for state treasurer, he got more votes than Governor John Kasich.

Now he’s set on unseating incumbent U.S. senator and prominent liberal Democrat Sherrod Brown. A career politician, Brown was in the Ohio House of Representatives before Mandel was born. And after 35 years at the top, Mandel says, Brown is out of touch.

Read the full story at the Weekly Standard.

The Maryland DREAM act passed on May 11 — but for Brad Botwin, the in-state tuition for illegal immigrants bill is a nightmare.

“This [law] is a lackadaisical, incremental way for the government to encourage breaking the law,” he said. Botwin is the founder of “Help Save Maryland,” an organization “for citizens otherwise frustrated by Maryland policies which encourage illegal immigration.”

The Maryland DREAM Act would grant in-state tuition to illegal immigrants who, attend at least three years at a Maryland high school, graduate or get a GED from Maryland, and file Maryland taxes from the time they are in high school through the time they graduate from college. The bill that passed is different from the original in that it requires a student to attend community college before continuing on to a four year institution.

Along with state Delegate Neil Parrot, Botwin is leading a the fight to get the bill on the ballot for referendum in 2012. Botwin is going statewide this summer to collect the 58,000 signatures necessary.

Botwin argues the state DREAM Act has serious financial problems.

“[The Maryland DREAM act ] not affordable,” Botwin said. “A lot of community colleges are struggling—They have open enrollment, so they won’t be able to turn anyone away. Instead, they’re cutting budgets, and getting rid of scholarships and other aid programs to legal students. This bill will only add to their woes.”

An independent financial analysis in the The Washington Examiner found that the Maryland DREAM act will cost taxpayers $3.5 million by 2016.

“Out of state tuition is $24,000 a year, and in-state is $8,000,” he said. “A single out of state student pays for three in-state students—but now we [taxpayers] will be making up the difference on behalf of people who are breaking the law. ”

Laurie Ignacio, a representative for Presente.Org, contends that the bill is both necessary and beneficial.

“It’s a first step for DREAMers for more affordable education,” she said. “It doesn’t just benefit immigrants, but acknowledges the valuable contributions they make to Maryland’s economy.”

Ideally, Ignacio would partner the Maryland dream act with a federal DREAM act, one that would provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who went to college or served in the military.

“Since the federal DREAM act requires a certain amount of years  in college to provide a path to citizenship, its important to  help undocumented residents get into college,” she said. “When the DREAM act passes, they don’t just want to work legally, they want to do skilled work legally, in programs like engineering or medical assistance. ”

But even if their degrees do not help them become citizens, Ignacio argues the degrees have other benefits.

“These students value their education, they have worked hard in school to go to college,” Ignacio said. “After graduation they can still hold internships and do valuable non profit work in their communities, while they wait for immigration reform.”

While she admitted that many would work illegally after graduation, she insisted, “This is a reason why we need a federal DREAM act to pass.”

When asked about the efforts to block the bill, Ignacio was unconcerned. “It’s a cynical effort,” she said. “We don’t think they’ll get anywhere with it.”

Botwin, however, claims they are well on their way to success.

“We are on track to getting the signatures we need,” he said. “If this makes it onto the ballot, [the Maryland DREAM act] will be overwhelmingly defeated in November. The response has been very good. I’ve had Republicans and Democrats sign, black, white, and Hispanic. This is not a Democrat or a Republican issue, it’s about right and wrong.”

Kate Havard is a senior at St. John’s College. She is a Student Free Press Association summer fellow at The Weekly Standard.

This year, 60 percent of college applicants will be female. For these women, getting into college is now harder than ever.

While the majority of college applicants are women, the ratio of men to women at many competitive schools remains around 50-50, leading to concerns that schools may be lowering standards for male applicants, and turning away female applicants.

According to Mary Dee Wenniger, editor of the journal Women in Higher Education, the majority of college students are going to be women in 2011 — and it’s not a surprise.

“Young women make stronger college applicants. They have higher GPAs, write better applications, volunteer more, and have fewer behavior problems, to name a few,” she said. “All things being equal, most schools will have more women than men—two women for every man. And some schools don’t like that.”

Some schools, like the College of William and Mary, have adopted, in effect, affirmative action policies for young men.

In a Nov. 2009 op-ed in the Washington Post, Henry Broaddus, Dean of Admissions at William and Mary, defended his admissions policy.

“[C]ollege-bound women overwhelmingly prefer coed institutions,” he wrote. “At some ambiguous tipping point, an institution may begin to appeal to a narrower demographic if it begins to appear more like a single-sex environment.”

Others say gender imbalances create undesirable social dynamics on campus, with a greater proportion of women on campus accelerating hook-up culture. According to some social scientists and people like Richard Whitmire, author of “Why Boys Fail,” when women outnumber men, they compete for the male attention in less than ideal ways.

But those arguments are unconvincing to some, like UCSD Law Professor Gail Heriot.

“This sort of argument is the same one used to discriminate against Jews applying to colleges in the 1920s,” she said. “You know, ‘The Jews don’t want to go to a school with too many Jews.’ That sort of thing, it just doesn’t pan out.”

In 2009, Heriot, an appointee to the US Commission on Civil Rights, began an inquiry into 19 different schools, to assess the scope of any discrimination taking place against female applicants.

“We know that this discrimination is out there,” Heriot said. “Some schools, like Kenyon, the University of Richmond, and the University of Georgia …have basically admitted, publicly, that they will sometimes give priority to male applicants. The point of the study was to figure out how widespread this practice is.”

On March 16th, the US Commission on Civil rights voted (4 to 3) to suspend the investigation, citing a staff memo highlighting problems in data collection.

Professor Heriot calls this complaint a “fig leaf,” stating that the objection to the investigation was its subject, not its methods.

“The problems [they cited] were the kind of problem that turn up in any investigation–they said because some of the schools were not forthcoming with data, our findings would be incomplete,” she said.

Heriot said the commission sent more requests for data than needed, and actually received more data back from schools than expected.

When asked what she thought might be under the “leaf,” Heriot responded, “I think people worry that this study will undermine affirmative action for minorities, so they don’t want to talk about the negative effect it could be having on women.”

Heriot insists that this practice isn’t just bad for women, but also for the men who get a leg up on their way in. She pointed to a study performed by the US Commission on Civil Rights on minorities in the science, math, and engineering majors: “It turned out that affirmative action actually decreases the number of minorities in these fields,” she said. “At schools where the students had received affirmative action, they were more likely to switch into different majors or even drop out altogether than they would at schools where their GPA and SAT scores matched their fellow students.”

“It’s hard to thrive at the bottom of your class,” Heriot added. “We want all students to be successful, and we don’t want admissions officers to handicap them by putting them in places where they won’t thrive.

Kate Havard is a rising senior at St. John’s College. She is a member of the Student Free Press Association.

The pro-Palestinian “Never Again for Anyone” tour is midway through its 13-city run across the United States and Canada, leaving at least one controversial incident in its wake.

The tour, which features Holocaust survivor Dr. Hajo Meyer, is designed to, “honor those who perished in the Holocaust by advocating for the human rights inherent to all people—and particularly for Palestinians living under Israel’s occupation,” according to a video put out by the tour.

At Rutgers, the tour stop was met with a large protest from Jewish and pro-Israel students on campus—where some students claim Jewish and Zionist attendees were deliberately barred from the meeting.

Prior to the day of the event, the NAFA panel was described as “free and open to the public.” When people showed up, a donation of $5 to $20 was required for entry.

“The fee was a last minute response to the overwhelming amount of Jewish students and supporters who showed up,” said Ariel Bucher, a senior at Rutgers who attempted to attend the event.

Bucher waited in line for over an hour but refused to go in when she found out about the entrance fee.

“This event was advertised as free—they posted an advertisement for it on the message board of my Arab-Israeli conflict class saying it was free and open to the public,” Bucher said. “I genuinely wanted to go and listen, but there’s no way I would donate money to a cause that makes comparisons I believe to be anti-Semitic.”

Bucher said she tried to join BAKA, one of the groups sponsoring the event and whose members attended the event for free, but was denied membership.

Sarah Kershnar, the Never Again for Anyone tour’s co-coordinator, said the accusations of bias are false.

“It’s ridiculous that we would have a No-Jews Allowed policy,” Kershnar said. “There were Jews, Muslims, Atheists, and Christians in there.  Of course Jews were allowed. Two of us up there on the platform are Jews.”

Kershnar said the decision to make the donation mandatory happened after Rutgers raised the cost for renting the space to $1,200; also, anticipating a large protest, event organizers decided to hire extra Rutgers police, which added to event costs. Kershnar did not specify when the decision to charge a mandatory admission fee was made public.

Kershnar believes those who refused to pay the fee were not objecting to the price, but to the project itself.

“The crowd claimed to be upset about the fee, but they’re actually upset that we’re taking [the Holocaust] from them, we’re taking the justification they have for their apartheid policies,” she said. “The message of the tour is that all human lives are equally valuable, that the persecution of one group doesn’t justify the persecution of another. This message is upsetting to Zionists.“

Max Hockley, a junior, attended the event wearing a T-Shirt that read, “Don’t Politicize the Holocaust.”

“I got there pretty early, and when I registered, they asked me for a suggested donation. I said no thank you, and that was it,” he said. “When it was time to let people in, lots of Jews and Zionists had shown up, and the event organizers physically ripped the ‘suggested’ off of the  ‘suggested donation’ sign. It was definitely a last minute change.”

Because he had registered early, Hockley was allowed to enter without paying a fee.

“If they had asked me to pay, I would not have gone in,” Hockley said. “I would never give money to such a despicable organization.”

He found the presentation both offensive and inaccurate.

“[Never Again For Anyone] sells themselves as a high-road, both-sides organization but they’re simply not,” Hockley said. “Their message was not stopping injustice for all of humanity—they can say that, but the entire message was all anti-Zionist and what I believe to be anti-Semitic as well.”

The Anti-Defamation League has described the tour as “a blatant attempt to exploit the memory of the Holocaust as a tool to demonize Israel.” According to the group, speakers described Israel as an “apartheid” state, referred to Israeli solders as Nazis and compared Israel’s blockade of Gaza to a “concentration camp” or “ghetto.”

“They compared [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu to Hitler,” Hockley said, “but they don’t mention any of the rulers around the world who are committing actual genocide. They don’t say, for example that in Iran you have president Ahmadinejad, who says he wants to drive all the Jews into the sea.”

Kershnar said the message of the event has been misconstrued.

“We are not claiming what’s happening [in Palestine] is the same thing as the Holocaust,” she said. “All human rights violations that happen—in the Congo, in parts of India, at the US border, the Nazis—these are all unique historical experiences. But we’re talking about a common pattern that makes it possible for anyone to dehumanize another group.”

While the event might be divisive and upsetting to people, Kershnar said, she believes the Hedy Epstein and Hajo Meyer have a right to their opinions.

“You have to remember that the Zionists took it from us,” she said. “We had two speakers there who were Holocaust survivors—who has more of a right to speak about these things, than they? Who has more of a right to say, ‘Don’t you dare use my history, use a violation of my rights, to justify a gross human rights violation?’”

“It’s sad that we’ve gotten to the point where the statement, ‘I’ve had this experience, I don’t want others to have it’ is inflammatory,” she added.

Hockley maintains that while he wants to see an end to conflict in the region, this tour is not the way foster peace in the Middle East.

“To go to a meeting about ‘dialogue’ where the majority of my Jewish peers are barred,” he said, “where I have to be told that I’m a Nazi? It’s absurd and sad. This tour is about making the divide bigger, not smaller.”

Kate Havard is a student at St. John’s College. She is a member of the Student Free Press Association.