cu boulder

A story in the Daily Camera on Tuesday described how some “CU Boulder alums” are upset about the school’s upcoming “Football 101 For Women” clinic. The story then proceeds to quote three feminist alumni who are insulted at the very idea!

Yeah, because every woman can easily articulate the difference between a 3-4 defense and a Cover 2 defense.

As a woman, I am not ashamed to admit that most men who grew up watching, playing – and in some cases living and breathing – football, know more about the intrinsics of the game than I do.

But one woman, a talent agency VP, called the clinic a “slap in the face.” Another “brand strategist and lifelong athlete,” chimed in with: “It seems very medieval or backwards.” Said the third feminist, a LGBTQ activist:  “Being a woman, I know I need some education in football, but I also have several male friends who need education in football. I don’t think we stand alone.”

OK, that last comment is at least a coherent response. But ultimately, is it so wrong to offer women a class that, let’s face it, many if not most could benefit from? As someone who has watched NFL games nearly every Sunday for the last umpteen years, of course I get the basics, but so much of the nuances of the game and its complexity are over my head.

Being a strong woman is also being willing to admit when you don’t know something. And why do feminists always have to presume to speak for all women?

CU athletic department spokesman Dave Plati told the Daily Camera the university has hosted the class since the mid-1990s and has never received complaints about it. Many other campuses across the nation offer similar clinics, including Notre Dame and the University of Southern Mississippi.

“You won’t hear about the very basics of the game, such as a touchdown is worth six points,” Plati told the Camera.

The three-hour class includes a film study, and it taught by Coach Mike MacIntyre and other CU football coaches.

“The ladies really enjoyed it, it gives them more knowledge of the game,” MacIntyre said in a newsletter advertising the clinic, according to the Daily Camera. “They’ll learn a lot about the game, and they’ll be able to meet our staff. Some will know a lot about football, and some won’t, but either way it really helps them watch and understand the game and understand what our players go through.”

Sounds like fun – and educational – to me.

Jennifer Kabbany is editor of The College Fix. ( @JenniferKabbany )

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A “social climate” survey recently released by the University of Colorado found that while most students and faculty feel respected in general, when it comes to their political affiliation, they often feel attacked.

Underscoring those findings, nearly two-thirds of faculty across the CU system as a whole, which includes four campuses across the state, described themselves as “liberal,” while only about 13 percent called themselves “conservative.”

The survey also found only 6 percent of CU Boulder professors identify as Republicans, while 41 percent identify as Democrats.

This disparity – a seven-fold one – is not sitting well with Sue Sharkey, a Republican who sits on the Board of Regents for the University of Colorado system.

In an interview with The College Fix, Sharkey said universities “are better places if they promote a diversity of thought across the political and philosophical spectrums, and if they engage in spirited discussion that reflects varied viewpoints.”

While there were positive findings among the survey, what worried the board, Sharkey said, is that significant numbers of students said they experienced prejudice or discrimination “sometimes” or “frequently.”

In addition, particularly on the flagship Boulder campus, many students said they are not respected when it comes to their political affiliations and political philosophies.

Even more troubling, she said, an average of 61 percent of students across all University of Colorado campuses said they would not know how to report a complaint of discrimination.

“It is my hope with the policy we have in place, any student who experiences discrimination will report to the non-discrimination and harassment office at the university,” Sharkey said.

Meanwhile, the overwhelming majority of University of Colorado students and faculty reported they have not faced any type of discrimination, and Sharkey added that evidence of discrimination against conservative students and faculty has been mostly anecdotal.

But Sharkey said a lack of philosophical or political diversity on campus “denies students a rich and deep knowledge of ideas and thought, as well as an understanding of where, or why these ideas were born.”

“To be in an echo chamber of ideas, and opinion, is not education,” she added.

As for what actions the Board of Regents may take to curb the disparity between the numbers of Republicans and Democrats on campus, Sharkey says it’s too early to speculate on such endeavors.

“We need to process the results and prioritize action steps,” she said. “We intend to begin the process soon among the Board of Regents and our campuses.”

The study found that 96 percent of students agree that faculty members provide a respectful learning environment, and 94 percent of students said professors are tolerant of diverse opinions in the classroom.

Sharkey, whose position is elected from the 4th Congressional District of Colorado, said she is proud that the university is working to create an environment that induces learning, not discrimination.

When asked to comment on the disparity of political affiliation among students and faculty, CU’s VP for Communication Ken McConnellogue said in an email to The College Fix that the university is not responsible for the disparity among faculty.

“The law forbids hiring on the basis of protected class status,” he said. “So we could no more ask a job applicant’s political persuasion than their sexual orientation.”

College Fix contributor Andrew Desiderio is a student at The George Washington University.

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IMAGE: Wally G./Flickr

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A recently released social climate survey has found that there are seven times as many Democrat professors as Republican ones at the University of Colorado – Boulder.

Specifically, 5.7 percent of CU Boulder faculty members who took the survey identified as Republican, while 40.6 percent of professors stated they’re Democrats. The rest either identified as Independent (25.2 percent), other (10.7 percent) or declined to state (17.9 percent).

In total across the four campuses within the University of Colorado system, only 9 percent of faculty identified as Republican while nearly 42 percent identified as Democrat, the survey found. The rest either identified as Independent (24 percent), other (7.8 percent) or declined to state (17.3 percent).

A total of 9,301 participants took the survey – or more than 12 percent of the University of Colorado community, according to the pollsters who administered the University of Colorado Social Climate Survey, launched last year by the University of Colorado Board of Regents.

Specifically, the pollsters said the survey was taken by 1,984 faculty members, or 13 percent of total faculty; 2,247 staff, or 28 percent; and 5,070 students, or 10 percent of the student body.

When asked how they’d describe their political philosophy, nearly 60 percent of the faculty described themselves as “liberal,” while only about 13 percent called themselves “conservative.” About 14 percent said they were moderates, while the rest claimed “other.”

The survey was launched last fall by concerns among some Regents that the system’s academics are heavily influenced by left-leaning scholars, and that a diversity of opinions – especially conservative ones – are not allowed to flourish. They made those claims based on a large swath of anecdotal evidence.

For Regent Sue Sharkey, a Republican, the survey confirmed there is reason for alarm.

“Where is the diversity in our political affiliation or political philosophy among faculty?” Sharkey said, reports the Daily Camera. “That is a really small number, so that’s a concern. And the same with our students. As a Republican, that concerns me.”

When it came to students systemwide, 17.1 percent identified as Republican while 28.2 said they were Democrats, and coming in at first place – nearly 30 percent described themselves as Independent.

In addition to the flagship Boulder campus, the system includes the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs; the University of Colorado, Denver; and the Anschutz Medical Campus.

The survey found that most students felt the four colleges offered a “respectful learning environment” and that professors are “tolerant of diverse opinions in the classroom.”

Administrators touted these results in a campus press release, saying: “The University of Colorado has a tolerant, respectful social climate … though some areas present opportunities for improvement.”

Nevertheless, the survey found that “although in the minority, significant numbers of students, faculty, and staff, particularly students on the Boulder campus, disagreed with the premise that they are respected regardless of their political affiliations and political philosophies.”

When asked if they’ve had professors who used class time to express their own social or political beliefs completely unrelated to the subject of the course, 3 percent of students systemwide said frequently, 18.3 percent said sometimes, 35 percent said rarely, and the rest replied never.

Asked whether the University of Colorado has diversity among its students, faculty and staff when it comes to political affiliation, 65 percent of students agreed, while only 44 percent of the faculty did. But when the question was narrowed to ask specifically about whether there is diversity among professors when it comes to party affiliation, only 49 percent of students said yes, while 44 percent of faculty did.

As a result of the survey, regents are “asking the campuses and system administration to analyze the data and report on any efforts being made to address findings of concern,” CU officials state.

Meanwhile, to counter the fact that the faculty heavily leans liberal, CU Boulder has createdVisiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy program.

Jennifer Kabbany is associate editor of The College Fix. ( @JenniferKabbany )

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IMAGE: Wally G./Flickr


Conservatism is often misunderstood, maligned and manipulated, said Dr. Bradley J. Birzer.

Its “poor reputation,” said Birzer – recently tapped as the incoming Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy at CU Boulder – stems from many sources.

“It’s been hijacked by those who want to commodify it and narrow it for personal gain,” he said in an interview with The College Fix.

It’s often also identified as being “imperialist and fundamentalist, politically, though its origins are as rich as they are broad and far more often non-political than political,” he adds.

As Dr. Birzer heads into his new post, he said he hopes to illustrate that, at its heart, conservatism is rooted in the founding principles of America.

“I’ve spent the last fifteen years at a small but powerful college that proudly defends the liberal arts and the American tradition of liberty under law,” said Birzer, a history professor and the Russell Amos Kirk Chair in American Studies at Hillsdale College.BirzerInside

In a statement to CU Boulder, he added that: “To my mind, being a conservative has little to do with politics, but instead has much to do with identifying and preserving excellence in art, culture, literature and scholarship.”

“It means to identify and conserve the particular talents, dignity and freedom of each individual and, where possible, to connect all persons across time from the beginning of things to the end.”

Birzer will teach several western civilization courses at CU Boulder, and said he believes that conservatives “must not only embrace the western traditions of the Great Books, Stoicism, excellence in all things, individuality without community,” but also remember more recent voices often forgotten, including Irving Babbitt, Willa Cather, Russell Kirk and Christopher Dawson, among others.

University leaders say the point of the conservative post is to secure a highly visible scholar “deeply engaged in either the analytical scholarship or practice of conservative thinking and policymaking or both.”

As for the need for such a post at CU Boulder – which has a reputation as being one of the most left-leaning campuses in the nation – Birzer said it’s clear the campus is willing to engage in debate and diversity of thought.

He said there is an intensifying worry among many Americans that “a growing conformity exists in academia,” and that the humanities have endured a declining reputation over the last 20 years.

“From my limited perspective,” Dr. Birzer said, “this is not the case at CU.”

Upon visiting, he said he found the intellectual vigor to be “spectacular and addictive.”

If any concern is pressing in higher education, it’s that courses in western civilization have declined dramatically over the past 20 years or so.

“And, of course,” he added, “the liberal arts have been under attack since the 1880s.”

“When I was in college,” he said, “the debate revolved around what should be in a core revolving around western civilization.” But today, he said, the debate is non-existent because most colleges have “lost interest in the core, the Great Books, and western civilization.”

He said this development is “terrible, as western civilization has so much to offer at its best.”

“After all,” he said, “it’s pretty hard to do better than the ethics of Socrates, the sacrifice of Perpetua, and the philosophy of the Aquinas.”

Birzer’s love for the liberal arts is second only to that of his Catholic faith – “excluding family and friendships, of course.”

Birzer holds a PhD in history from Indiana University and has written many books, including “American Cicero: The Life and Times of Charles Carroll,” “Sanctifying the World,” “The Augustinian Life of Christopher Dawson,” “J.R.R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth: Understand Middle-Earth,” and “American West,” which he co-authored with Larry Schweikart.

The Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy is a pilot program supported by private funds. More than 20 donors raised $1 million to support the three-year program, according to campus officials.

During his one-year post at CU Boulder, Birzer said he hopes to continue the rich discussion launched by his predecessor and the visiting scholar’s debut appointee, Professor Steven Hayward, adding his voice to what he called “an already excellent conversation.”

Hayward’s inaugural year was widely considered a success, as he organized well over a dozen guest speaker appearances, debates and other events during his appointment. He also mentored students, and when the CU Boulder’s philosophy department came under attack, he defended it in the local newspaper.

Aslinn Scott, a CU Boulder student, campus Republican leader, and College Fix contributor, said she attended many of Hayward’s events and described the program as a vital addition to the campus.

“Having Steve at CU not only as a professor but also as a mentor to students across the spectrum was a unique opportunity,” she told The Fix. “The conservative thought program may have been in its infancy, but it made great strides for representing conservative thought on campus.”

Toward the end of the school year, Hayward was criticized by a couple of student leaders for an old blog post he penned, but the controversy was minor compared to the overall yearlong experience, which Hayward called “overwhelmingly positive.”

Birzer said he is eager to follow in Hayward’s footsteps.

“A year-long adventure awaits,” he said.

College Fix contributor Andrew Desiderio is a student at The George Washington University.

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IMAGE: CU Boulder


BOULDER – The notorious 4:20 marijuana rally usually held at a University of Colorado at Boulder quad was extinguished this year.

The rally once attracted about 10,000 marijuana enthusiasts, but it has been on the decline since the university administration took decisive action to prevent the event from happening in 2012. Security guards halted the entry of anyone who was not a student, and yellow tape blocked off Norlin Quad. Signs warned of the arrest of anyone who defied the orders. And for good measure, the grass was fertilized with a substance that reeked of fish.

This year, the continuation of strict enforcement of a closed campus, the statewide marijuana legalization, the Easter holiday, and competition with the annual Cannabis Cup, organized by High Times magazine near the state capital building in Denver, conspired to quash the controversial tradition in Boulder.

The disappearance of the 4:20 event at CU appears to have had some negative effects on the local economy. In previous years, the area immediately west of campus called “the hill” was packed with out-of-town customers on April 20. This year, the hill looked no more crowded than on an average week day.

“It’s pretty much been an ordinary day,” said Christopher Tew, an employee at The Root, a “hip-hop shop” across the street from the University of Colorado that sells marijuana paraphernalia. This despite a sale touted in a full-page advertisement in Rooster magazine, and the gift of a free glass pipe to every customer.

“I’ve actually sold more records than pipes today,” he said.

Melissa Zak, the chief of police of the University of Colorado Boulder Police Department, was among the law enforcement presence on campus, which remained empty save the few officers and a few students going to and from Norlin library.

She said that the combination of law enforcement and the Denver events “has effectively contributed to the decline of 4:20 at CU Boulder” to the point that she hoped it would “be a non-event for the university this year.”

Speaking less than an hour before 4:20 pm, she said that she reduced the number of police officers on campus from what they had been earlier in the day. The officers weren’t needed there, she explained, and their presence did not contribute to a healthy academic climate.

“There’s no need to introduce the police state to the campus,” she said.

Fix contributor Spencer Case is a philosophy graduate student at the University of Colorado. He is a U.S. Army veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and an Egypt Fulbright alumnus.

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IMAGE: 4:20 celebration in its heyday – 2009 (YouTube screenshot)


Three female College Republicans at CU Boulder on Tuesday were denied their request for financial support from their student government to travel to CPAC, putting their plans in the lurch with the event just a week away.

Leaders of the campus College Republicans decried the decision as a violation of the school’s funding bylaws and an example of viewpoint discrimination in interviews with The College Fix.

College Republicans President Olivia Leyshock said she and her peers just wanted to “educate ourselves in something we find a passion and interest in, and that is what diversifies our campus.”

Leyshock said she’s not sure how she’ll get to the Washington, D.C.-based event now.

“As a student, I am living paycheck to paycheck,” she said. “I don’t have the money to do this sort of thing.”

CU Boulder student Aslinn Scott, chairwoman of the Colorado Federation of College Republicans and a regular contributor to The College Fix, said she is upset by the decision.

“Here we have women stepping up to be the leaders of the College Republicans,” she said. “We all pay into the system, it’s all our student fees.”

“They are denying us a great opportunity. It’s inconsistent and unfair.”

CU Boulder College Republicans sought $800 to help shoulder the travel costs for Leyshock, Scott and another female student to get to the Conservative Political Action Conference, a three-day event that launches March 6. They planned to pay registration fees out-of-pocket. A fourth female student from CU Denver was set to come along.

Last week, the Arts and Sciences Student Government initially approved the funding request. But on Saturday, CU Boulder College Republicans were told that the decision would be overturned.

In denying the request Tuesday, student government leaders cited a campus policy which states that “fees may not be used in support of or opposition to political candidates or for political parties. Requests for student fee support of partisan political activities will not be entertained.”

“Unfortunately, your funding request does not satisfy this requirement,” Jerome Castillon, president of the Arts and Sciences Student Government, stated in an email to Scott. “I am aware that other student groups have received funding to attend partisan conferences and other political functions, but they were not funded by student fees.”

In response, Scott emphasized the money was sought only for travel, not to support a political candidate or party, adding no student-fee dollars would go toward supporting CPAC directly. She also told Castillon that CPAC is not an official event of the Republican Party.

“The conference tends to draw people from all over the political spectrum; whether they are liberal, libertarian, or conservative leaning,” she stated. “The Republican Party may promote this event, but so does the Libertarian Party and independent groups.”

“I have heard from friends they had their Democrat friends attend to give a perspective on leaders in the conservative movement. So this does not fall under a partisan political activity either.”

The argument did not pass muster with the student government.

Scott said it’s frustrating because other campus groups with political leanings get student fee-based support. Indeed, some CU Boulder students were recently given funding to attend the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference, scheduled for this weekend in Washington, D.C.

What’s more, Scott – a former CU Boulder student government legislative treasurer – said that everything from the Vagina Monologues to student groups that support legalizing marijuana and same-sex marriage get student-fee funding. Student fees help fund attendance at gay-straight alliance conferences and pay for immigration reform and atheist speakers on campus, she added.

But the College Republicans get denied.

“It’s ridiculous,” Scott said. “They fund liberal events all the time.”

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