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FLINT, Mich. – A former Communist Party USA candidate whose weapons were used to kidnap a judge in 1970 told a packed university crowd to “stand up for access to good, organic non-GMO food,” among other progressive causes.

Angela Davis, who was once associated with the Black Panthers and acquitted of conspiracy in the kidnapping, received a standing ovation Friday from the capacity crowd of 400 at the University of Michigan-Flint, with another 300 people viewing from another auditorium, said Pam Zemore, community relations specialist at the school.

Davis encouraged the audience to recognize the “interconnected nature of justice struggles” throughout the world.“

“If we want to put an end to anti-black, anti-Chicano, and anti-Latino racism we will also have to speak out against economic exploitation, against war, against the destruction of the environment, against anti-Muslim racism, against anti-Semitism, against gender bias, against homophobia, and against ableism,” said Davis, whose speaking fees range from $10,000 to $20,000.

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A former UCLA professor, Davis was recently honored in the school’s “Optimist” marketing campaign, as The College Fix has reported. The professor was fired in 1969 by the UC board of regents for her Communist Party USA membership, and after that rationale was struck down in court, the board fired her in 1970 for using “inflammatory language” in speeches.

She returned to UCLA to teach last spring for the first time in 45 years. Davis is currently a distinguished professor emerita in the “history of consciousness and feminist studies” at UC-Santa Cruz.

Beyond food that’s not tainted by genetically modified organisms, Davis asked the enthusiastic UM-Flint crowd to demand “free education” and “free health care,” and to “recognize the degree in which this contemporary racism” in police forces “is inflected with the ideology of the so-called War against Terror.”

Seeing that “makes us understand the really important connections between anti-Arab, anti-Muslim racism, anti-black racism, anti-Latino racism,” Davis said. “If we do not understand these connections we will not be effective in our struggles to eradicate racism.”

AssataShakur.NJDeptofCorrections.WMCDavis described Assata Shakur, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1977 for her role in the killing of a New Jersey state trooper, as a “major hero of the black liberation movement.”

Shakur has been “studying, teaching, working, and being very constructive and productive” since her escape from prison to Cuba more than 30 years ago, Davis said.

“This makes you think about what is this thing called terrorism? What is it they are really trying to capture?” Davis asked rhetorically, answering that “we should recognize that this is a retroactive criminalization of the black liberation movement.”

President Barack Obama’s recent overtures toward Cuba have led New Jersey authorities to hope Shakur, whose legal name is Joanne Chesimard, could be captured and returned to finish her prison sentence, NJ.com reported in December. She was the first woman to be placed on the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list, in 2013.

Davis referred to the Equal Justice Initiative’s new report on the history of lynching in America, which she said is important because “it urges us to see lynching as an act of terror and to think about the domestic terrorism upon which this country was created.

“There has been an unbroken line of racist killings, vigilante killings, police killings since the era of slavery,” she said, arguing that recent “mobilizations” are simply a response to these issues.

Get involved with “communities that are struggling,” Davis encouraged the audience. “We cannot pivot to the center, we cannot be moderate.”

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UM-Flint student Elena Sobrino told The Fix after the lecture that Davis “made a really good impression on me as somebody who I wasn’t really directly familiar” with her.

“I love when they bring controversial figures,” said another UM-Flint student, Thomas Mann, of the school’s invited speakers. “They shouldn’t bring anyone but controversial figures as long as they’re controversial figures of the Left.”

“When you start thinking about race and injustice as far as the proportions of people of color in our prison-industrial system or our corrections system, I think those things have been prevalent the past couple of decades,” UM-Dearborn student Keith McCallum told The Fix. “The fact that she’s here and speaking on it … hits home.”

CORRECTION: Angela Davis did not graduate from UCLA. The article has been amended to reflect this.

College Fix reporter Mariana Barillas is a student at the University of Michigan-Flint.

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IMAGES: Mariana Barillas, New Jersey Department of Corrections/Wikimedia Commons

Feminist workshops gave him ‘fresh paranoia and self-hatred to last me through another year’

When an MIT professor defended a disgraced colleague’s work and its importance to students, he sparked a 610-long comment thread and viral debate on white-male privilege, feminism and nerds.

“Unfortunately, this whole affair has blown up over the Internet in a way I never expected, so much that it runs the risk of overshadowing everything else in my life,” Scott Aaronson, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science and self-proclaimed feminist, told The College Fix.

It started when Walter Lewin, a professor emeritus whose online physics lectures have a worldwide fan base, was accused of sexually cyber-harassing some of his female students. Last month MIT revoked Lewin’s title and dumped his lectures from edX and MIT OpenCourseWare, the online platforms where they were posted, The Tech reported.

MIT President Rafael Reif justified the action by saying the school “must take the greatest care that everyone who comes to us for knowledge and instruction, whether in classrooms or online, can count on MIT as a safe and respectful place to learn.”

The professor who headed the Lewin investigation told The Tech this week that investigators feared the lectures “presented a [real] danger to people” who would contact Lewin and get an “inappropriate” response from him.

scott6-smAaronson criticized the university for taking down Lewin’s lectures in a blog post a few days after his punishment – a move that would come to define Aaronson’s reputation in the culture wars.

“By all means, punish Prof. Lewin as harshly as he deserves, but—as students have been pleading on Reddit, in the MIT Tech comments section, and elsewhere—don’t also punish the countless students of both sexes who continue to benefit from his work,” Aaronson wrote.

After 170 comments were posted, some criticizing his support of Lewin’s work, Aaronson responded with a mini-essay that went viral and came to be known simply as “Comment 171.”

Aaronson explained how feminism had made him “terrified” of being himself as a teen and college student, relating his personal struggle as a member of the “underprivileged” nerd class.

“I was terrified that one of my female classmates would somehow find out that I sexually desired her, and that the instant she did, I would be scorned, laughed at, called a creep and a weirdo, maybe even expelled from school or sent to prison,” Aaronson said.

He spiraled down into depression and suicidal thoughts and even thought about medically castrating himself to avoid hurting a woman.

The sexual-assault prevention workshops he had to attend “regularly” in college included “endless lists of all the forms of human interaction that ‘might be’ sexual harassment or assault,” Aaronson said. “I left each of those workshops with enough fresh paranoia and self-hatred to last me through another year.”

Aaronson said he fought to “maintain the liberal, enlightened, feminist ideals” of his childhood, and claims to be “97% on board” with these ideals.

To those who say that “women are being kept out of science by the privileged, entitled culture of shy male nerds,” Aaronson said they should consider his formative years and understand why he “might react icily” to that claim.

The feminist response was swift and harsh, with controversial blogger Amanda Marcotte calling Aaronson’s mini-memoir “a yalp of entitlement combined with an aggressive unwillingness to accept that women are human beings just like men.” His essay boils down to a belief that women are “a robot army put here for sexual service and housework,” she said.

Slate Star Codex, a blog centered on people’s self-evaluations of themselves, took on the conversation, bringing in all types of responses dealing with “nerd privilege” and feminist criticisms of Aaronson.

Aaronson’s department seemed startled by the attention to his personal essay: Chairman Anantha Chandrakasan declined to comment on how his colleagues or students feel about his raised profile.

Graduate students who have worked with Aaronson in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory – postdocs Michael Forbes and Alexander Belov and Ph.D. student Adam Bouland – did not comment either.

Aaronson himself wants to get past his newfound notoriety.

“[W]hile I stand by what I’ve said (with the addenda and clarifications on my blog), my main desire right now is just to put the whole thing behind me and get back to doing research,” he told The Fix.

College Fix reporter Courtney Such is a student at Furman University.

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 IMAGE:  MacQ/Flickr, Scott Aaronson’s website

In an exclusive interview, student tells The College Fix about how Marquette instructor and chair treated him

Marquette University, a Jesuit institution, is in hot water with both Catholic conservatives and free speech advocates for a philosophy instructor’s alleged discrimination against a student for privately disagreeing with gay marriage.

The student, who asked to remain anonymous, told The College Fix that the chair of the department is trying to cover up her own involvement in scolding the student and pressuring him to identify a university employee whom he asked for help in the dispute.

The accusations were first aired by Marquette political science professor John McAdams, who knows the student, on his blog, and picked up by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

CherylAbbate.websitePhilosophy instructor Cheryl Abbate’s “Theory of Ethics” class took an awkward turn a few weeks ago when Abbate, a graduate student at Marquette, declared to the class that “everyone agrees on” gay marriage, so “there is no need to discuss it,” unlike other modern issues such as immigration, civil rights and the death penalty, the anonymous student told The Fix in a phone interview.

The student said he raised the issue with Abbate after class and questioned her apparent dismissal of one set of views, which could make some students feel like they cannot share their opinion.

The student said he told Abbate he disagrees with gay marriage. Abbate suggested that gay students could be offended if he shared his view, and told him that he did not have the right to make “homophobic comments or racist comments” in class.

The student said he consulted with a trusted university employee, who suggested he reach out to Susanne Foster, the associate dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and a philosophy professor.
Foster referred the student to Nancy Snow, the department chair, the student said.

In their meeting, Snow pressured the student to divulge which university employee advised him, he said; wanting to protect the employee from retribution, the student declined to tell Snow, saying it did not have anything to do with the class dispute. Snow then opened the door and yelled at him to leave her office.

Later that day, Snow emailed the student: “I’ve been in touch with the Office of General Counsel and the Associate Dean of Students in the College of Arts and Sciences.  I would like to meet with you concerning your complaint.”

The student interprets that message as Snow’s attempt to create an email trail that suggests they had not previously met in person to discuss his dispute with Abbate.

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At their second meeting, Snow told the student he could drop the class but not transfer out of it. Telling Snow that he came to her because Abbate was not creating a conducive learning environment, Snow told him she would monitor his relationship with Abbate and warned him not to talk to Abbate in a “disrespectful manner.”

Snow did not explain what she meant by “disrespectful manner,” the student told The Fix.

The student said he only wants Marquette to acknowledge the instructor was wrong to tell him he couldn’t bring up gay marriage, and ensure that students in the future will be allowed to speak in similar classroom situations.

Snow did not return requests for comment from The Fix. Abbate referred the request to a university spokesman, Brian Dorrington, who told The Fix by email: “Marquette University informs and engages students on a 360-degree view of societal issues. Like colleges and universities across the country, debate and discussion are essential elements of our intellectual environment at Marquette, where our faculty and students have the ability to explore ideas, express opinions and participate in discussion.”

Dorrington did not respond to followup questions about the school’s procedures for handling student complaints of stifled debate. He gave the same email response to Catholic Education Daily, which is run by The Cardinal Newman Society.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education said the academics’ alleged behavior toward the student not only violates Marquette’s stated commitment to free expression in its student handbook, but their “hostility towards Catholic viewpoints is just bizarre.”

Marquette is already suggesting to faculty through a Title IX training course “that two friends talking about their opposition to same-sex marriage, overheard by a third party, might constitute harassment,” FIRE said.

The Marquette academics who tangled with the student are all avowed feminists.

According to McAdams, the political science professor, associate dean Foster previously filed a complaint against a male philosophy colleague for referring to a gathering of female professors as a “girls’ night out.”

That male professor eventually convinced the school to pay his legal fees when the previous department chair, acting on Foster’s complaint, placed a letter in his personnel file accusing him of “sexual harassment” and informing the human resources department that he showed a pattern of “sexism.”

Department chair Snow, a lesbian, helped establish the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, was the adviser to the Gay-Straight Alliance on campus, and headed several task forces relating to women and gender studies.

Snow spoke at a rally in 2010 after then-President Robert Wild rescinded an employment offer to a lesbian applicant who had written previously about lesbian sex stories. Both Snow and Foster signed a letter criticizing the decision.

Instructor Abbate refers to herself as a “Vegan-Feminist Philosopher” and writes on feminism and animal ethics.

College Fix reporter Matt Lamb is a student at Loyola University-Chicago.

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IMAGES: YouTube screenshot, Cheryl Abbate’s website, email screenshot

The student senate at Ohio University could look more like the parliament in a country coming out of deep ethnic and gender strife, under resolutions that would add new slots for senators from certain communities – notably, “women’s affairs.”

The Post reports that the senate is prepping for spring elections:

As decided by conversation at last week’s meeting, Minority Affairs, International Affairs, LGBTQ and Women’s Affairs commissions will all receive additional senators to better represent their populations on campus, if their respective resolutions are passed.

Minority Affairs, International Affairs and LGBTQ commissions could gain two senators, while Women’s Affairs could gain four, said Caitlyn McDaniel, senate’s vice president.

Each of these commissions could have four voting spots, if approved by the body. The Women’s Affairs commission could have six.

In other words, “women’s affairs” would have three times the representation it currently has. It’s not obvious there’s any parallel commission for “men’s affairs” on the sadly uninformative senate website.

Not just any women, though, McDaniel says:

“We have a lot of women, and we’ve also decided to mandate that in the [women’s commission] 3 of those positions be held by women from minority groups, whether they be women of color, women with disabilities or differing abilities, or women from LGBTQ community.”

Let me suggest they allow for another minority group within the women’s commission: women who object to current feminist obsessions in academia.

Read the Post article.

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IMAGE: League of Women Voters/Flickr

 

Robby Soave writes for The Daily Caller:

Feminist groups at more than a dozen universities are planning to participate in another mass “edit Wikipedia day,” because the free, volunteer encyclopedia website is obviously horribly sexist.

Sarah Stierch, a Wikipedia contributor and researcher for the Wikimedia Foundation, said the problem isn’t just that most Wikipedia user are male. The layout of the website is itself “very masculine,” she said.

“It’s aesthetically very masculine in its design,” said Stierch in a statement to The Daily Dot, also noting that, “The average Wikipedia editor is a well-educated white male. Well-educated white males have been writing history and the story of the world since ancient times.”

(Image: nojhan.flickr)

On Thursday, The College Fix reported on a controversial event planned by feminists at the University of Cincinnati, in collaboration with Planned Parenthood, Inc.

Nearly a dozen billboard-sized photos of vaginas in various states – including shaved ones, others that are blemished, and still some with tampons inserted – are slated for display today and tomorrow at the University of Cincinnati as part of a student-sponsored “Re-Envisioning the Female Body” exhibit.

The female genitalia photos are in direct retaliation to an anti-abortion display hosted by prolife students at the university last May that included graphic images of aborted fetuses, its organizers state.

“Their billboard-sized photographs equated mutilated fetuses with genocide victims in an effort to shame women,” states Female Body exhibit organizers on their Facebook page. “Our demonstration serves to call attention to the vaginas as a site of conflict … its purpose is to incite conversation about the objectification, exploitation and discrimination of women’s bodies … it points to the negative disposition our society holds toward the vagina.”

University of Cincinnati’s student organizers included the following details on the event’s Facebook invitation:

Join us in our art display of vaginas on McMicken Commons! The display titled “Re-envisioning the Female Body” will show 12 billboard-sized photographs of vulvas. The group of photos represents a collaboration between a UC student photographer and 12 volunteer models from within and outside of the UC community. The images will be accompanied by posters sharing quotes from the models and from others about decisions that are made by us or taken from us concerning our bodies in areas of health care, queer sex, birth and abortion, and in stories of abuse and survival.

On the event’s Facebook page, reaction from online commenters was mixed:

One supporter named Jack wrote:

“I wish I wasn’t working, I’d really like to be there. I think vaginas are one of the most beautiful anatomical forms, especially when faithfully portrayed.”

Another supporter named Brian wrote:

“Proud feminist, and proud bearcat alum. Women have a right to the same freedoms as men in this world, and strong men have an obligation to support making that happen. Thank you for doing nothing less than the bold action necessary to spark the this much needed conversation.”

On the other hand, some others weren’t so impressed with the artistic value or political message behind the event.

One dissenter named Matthew wrote:

“I think any visual art that needs that many words to explain what it’s trying to communicate probably sucks as art. My best guess is it’s going to look an awful lot like porn and that’s good enough to get attention.”

Another named Erica wrote:

“This is the most ludicrous thing I’ve ever seen! I am a woman, I have a vagina, but my vagina is NOT my identity! It is a body part! And any woman who thinks her vagina has to be talked about because its a part of her, is a seriously delusional and sad excuse for a woman!”

Finally, one other commenter remarked on the event page photo, which featured a photograph of a vagina–presumably one of the images from the campus display:

“If you have a pic of a vagina as your event photo, might wanna make that shit private yo. Pretty sure it’s illegal to show porn to minors.”

At the time of publication, more than 800 people had confirmed on the event’s Facebook page that they would be attending. (Fair Warning: the event page features graphic imagery.)

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