Fix Features

social justice

Conservative female investigative reporters Katie Pavlich and Ann McElhinney are unimpressive nonacademics whose speaking honorariums are too high and credentials too unremarkable to pay to have them give talks at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill this fall, members of the school’s student government have agreed.

Despite pleas from College Republicans to finance the speeches, which would have cost about $8,000 from UNC’s student programming coffer of $124,000, a majority of student government members voted Tuesday night against funding the campus visits, with several members voicing concerns that Pavlich and McElhinney aren’t worth the price.

On the same night, UNC student government representatives tapped the anarchist group “UNControllables” to receive $4,000 to fly in a social justice crusader/academic from South America to speak on campus, and the feminists group Siren Womyn Empowerment Magazine was allocated $5,100.

Pavlich is news editor for the popular conservative website Townhall.com, as well as the award-winning author of the New York Times bestseller “Fast and Furious: Barack Obama’s Bloodiest Scandal and Its Shameless Cover-Up.” As a reporter, she broke the so-called fast and furious scandal, and has also covered the White House, the 2012 presidential election, and Second Amendment and border issues.

McElhinney, co-producer of the feature documentary “FrackNation,” is well-known as a debunker of extreme environmentalist claims. As a filmmaker and investigative journalist, she has produced documentaries for BBC and written for various newspapers covering countries including Indonesia, Romania, Vietnam, Cambodia, Uganda, Madagascar and Uzbekistan. She has appeared on an array of international media organizations including ABC, BBC, CBC (Canada), ABC (Australia), RTE (Ireland) and Fox News, and is a regular guest on talk radio shows and at conferences across America.

Several UNC Chapel Hill student government representatives, however, dismissed the women as lackluster, and said they would serve no educational purpose by visiting the campus and talking to students.

“My concern why I supported removing this is that the educational value – her work has been called  … ‘unreliable as a Wikipedia page,’” ​ vice-chairman of the student congress finance committee Austin Root said regarding McElhinney, citing a two-paragraph review of “FrackNation” in the New York Daily News.

Another member of the finance committee, student Rep. Harrison Touby, took a shot at the women by saying “we’re talking about $5,000 for a lady who made a movie, and $3,000 for a contributor to Fox News. That is a lot of money for two non-academic speakers to come to an academic university to speak.”

“It has nothing to do with political party,” he added. “I couldn’t support even spending $3,000 on a contributor to any news organization; you can get professors, political campaign runners, politicians – you can get them for much less than $3,000. … We’re cutting what we believe to be the cost of a speaker that may not actually be beneficial to the university.”

The amount of their speaking fees and the validity of their biographies became the recurring theme during the contentious meeting, with phrases such as “non-intellectual,” “no value,” and “costs too much” often tossed around.

But at least one student government representative on the finance committee, Chairwoman Brittany Best, defended the conservative female investigative reporters, telling her peers their fees don’t seem exorbitant, adding: “I think we need to caution ourselves … These are well-known speakers in the conservative community and I don’t think this is a large amount to pay for speakers that would bring a lot of interest.”

Best suggested paying for both speakers wouldn’t bankrupt the student congress budget, that after doling out cash to plenty of campus groups already they still had about $90,000 left in the bank.

College Republicans leaders also pitched intellectual diversity to student campus leaders as they pleaded their case.

“What we set out to do is promote intellectual diversity and bring more opinions to this discussion,” said 21-year-old junior Peter McClelland, president of the College Republicans at UNC Chapel Hill.

He went on to cite the university’s student code, which calls on campus leaders to promote a diversity of ideas and opinions with its student-fee-bankrolled budget. The student congress oversees how student government fees collected annually – $39 from each of the university’s 29,000 students – are used.

McClelland, a member of the student Congress who abstained from voting on the issue, said he believes well over 100 students of all stripes would attend each speech – not just College Republicans.

“We are one of the few groups that promotes this opinion, and getting every side is what liberal arts is about,” McClelland said.

In the end, the student Congress voted 21 to 1, with three abstentions, to allocate only $3,000 to College Republicans, $5,000 less than what the group sought. Now College Republicans are scrambling to determine how to continue with their plans to bring in the two guest speakers.

Fix contributor Ben Smith is a student at UNC Chapel Hill.

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Ben Velderman at EAGnews.org reported Monday on a 286-page book aimed at K-12 educators called “Rethinking Mathematics,” which explains how to teach kids math with social justice lessons.

“The book is a mix of math lesson plans and essays from activist educators who explain how they’ve used their classrooms to advance a progressive political philosophy,” Velderman wrote.

How does something like that work, you ask? Instead of Suzy having five apples, and she eats two, how many does she have left? – it goes a little something like this:

In a chapter titled, “Write the Truth: Presidents and Slaves,” “Rethinking” editor and Milwaukee teachers union President Bob Peterson explains how he used Freire’s approach with his fifth-grade students:

“Specific objectives for this mini-unit (about slave-owning U.S. presidents), such as reviewing the use of percentages, emerged as the lessons unfolded. But its main purpose was to help students critically examine the actions of early leaders of the United States and become skeptical of textbooks and government websites as sources that present the entire picture.

“I figure that if kids start questioning the ‘official story’ early on, they will be more open to alternative viewpoints later on. While discovering which presidents were slave owners is not an in-depth analysis, it pokes an important hole in the godlike mystique that surrounds the ‘founding fathers.’”

… In another chapter, geometry teacher Andrew Brantlinger chronicles how he turned an ordinary lesson about calculating the area of a circle into an analysis of the South Central Los Angeles community that rioted after the 1992 “Rodney King” verdict.

During Brantlinger’s lesson, students learned that in 1992, South Central L.A. had no movie theaters or community centers, but it had 640 liquor stores. That led one student to conclude, “All they want them to do is drink.”

…“Rethinking Mathematics” is filled with similar anecdotes, all of which suggest activist teachers are transforming an untold number of our students into future “change agents.”

There are plenty more egregious examples. K-12 schools (and colleges) have become indoctrination camps, and they don’t even hide it, they flaunt it.

“In their introduction, editors … acknowledge that some school administrators and parents won’t like this radical approach to math education but they advise social justice teachers to make no apologies for their efforts,” Velderman wrote.

Read the full story.

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A racially motivated prank against white male students is ignored. Conservative professors are vilified. White male students are labeled oppressors, perpetrators of rape, or willing bystanders.

That’s part of a shocking list of examples of extreme leftist bias at Amherst College detailed recently by a student in an opinion column published in the school’s student newspaper.

“Though it may not be the worst amongst its peers, Amherst College is notorious for putting the liberal in liberal arts education,” junior Katrin Marquez, a Cuban-American studying political science at the small, liberal arts college in Massachusetts, wrote in her Amherst Student campus newspaper op-ed.

“From anonymous attacks on The Student website after Andrew Kaake’s pro-life article last year, to gleeful comments concerning the retirement of conservative professors and distinguished scholars Hadley Arkes and Walter Nicholson, to private ridicules of the Amherst College Republicans regardless of their impressive work in the last few months, hostility against conservative ideals is rampant on our campus,” Marquez wrote in the piece, published last month.

Marquez’s column was titled “Social Justice,” and its main thrust was to argue against talk on campus of hiring someone with a social justice background to head up the school’s Multicultural Resource Center. She argued that would only make the divisive atmosphere on campus worse.

“Already the campus promotes liberal ideas in the way in presents certain issues to its students, but to continue this pattern with the one person whose primary purpose is to promote inclusivity on campus is going much too far,” Marquez wrote. “This move will serve as the College’s way of saying that conservative values and ideologies are not really welcome here, that notions of inclusivity go only as far as race, ethnicity and socio-economic status will allow.”

In her piece, she also cited several recent examples of how white male students are targeted and vilified.

For one:

Everyone at Amherst has been excluded at some point or another, even those within groups that are generally thought of as privileged. This past weekend, a presumably racially-motivated prank occurred on campus. At approximately four in the morning on Saturday, a student discovered that piles of white powder were left in front of the doors of the white male students living in the second floor of Moore dormitory. Because the resident counselor responded quickly to the incident, the police wrote a report and the powder was cleaned up before many knew anything had happened. That was it. No campus-wide email. No discussion. Having spoken to a student that actually witnessed this event, I know they were deeply troubled, but no one else seemed to care. Last semester, there was a huge backlash when the n-word was found written in snow, and rightfully so. Why is it, however, that attacks against students that are generally labeled as privileged do not garner such attention?

She also noted:

Last semester, as one of the discussion leaders for the Day of Dialogue, I saw how calls to dismantle privilege put certain peoples on the defensive. The group I co-led was composed primarily of white, affluent male athletes and it was easy to see that they felt attacked by Professor Cobham-Sander’s presentation on privilege; even the white male facilities staff member in our group seemed uncomfortable. At first all discussion was stifled because these men felt labeled as oppressors, as perpetrators of rape or willing bystanders. As soon as the conversation moved away from the accusatory tone of privilege, these students opened up and had insightful recommendations for needed changes. As a community, we need to make sure that our campus promotes inclusive dialogue, not the blaming and awkward floor-staring that results from the politically-motivated perspective of social justice.

To back up her point that a diversity of ideologies is not welcome at Amherst, Marquez also wrote about reactions to a piece she penned in which she criticized affirmative action:

When I wrote an article last semester criticizing affirmative action, I received emails from students and professors alike that felt as I did, but could not articulate those feelings because they feared being publically attacked as people who could not understand the struggles of minority students. One alum wrote a caustic blog post about me in which he argued my ideas were wrong simply because I looked too white to actually understand what it means to be a person of color in America; he had never seen me in person or spoken with me. When it comes to issues of diversity and inclusivity at Amherst, we need to move beyond what we know will only perpetuate the divisions on campus. We need to do this because it matters, because it is of dire importance that we create one community, not many disparate ones.

Click here to read Marquez’s entire piece.

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The dark side of chocolate is a social justice cause de jour at many universities across the nation.

They’ve devoted informational websites, guest lectures, public relations campaigns, and entire courses to highlight chocolate’s bittersweet origins, promising to generate outrage against Big Chocolate and ruin the M&M experience for college kids forever.

Oft-cited statistics note that child labor runs rampant in West Africa, where roughly 70 percent of the world’s cocoa is grown. And the three big American companies that buy the allegedly ill-gotten cocoa – Mars, Hershey’s and Nestle – become the villains.

“Is my chocolate slave-free?” asks a UC San Diego “Stop Chocolate Slavery” website, which notes under its “take action” page that “if you are angered, shocked, sickened … by the use of slave labor to make a luxury product for the world’s rich, then say so. … Tell the chocolate companies that exploit the slavery, and the feckless legislators who have thus far let them get away with it … that you won’t be buying their products or giving them your votes until they’ve changed their ways.”

An October 2012 event at Georgetown University dubbed “Chocolate & Environmental and Social Justice Issues” delved into the perceived evils of Big Chocolate.

A Santa Clara University “Truth About Chocolate” website argues that the three biggest chocolate manufacturers in America should be held accountable for child labor in West Africa.

Critics also often dismiss Big Chocolate’s efforts to address child labor issues as largely half-hearted, ineffective, and lip service, among other complaints.

But a 2012 Fair Labor Association report on Nestle’s West Africa dealings found the company is “well positioned to make a large, positive impact on the livelihoods of workers in the cocoa supply chain.”

Hershey’s recently introduced a line of so-called fair-traded chocolate, and also launched an outreach and educational program in West Africa to teach farmers best practices and child labor laws.

In 2011, Mars Chocolate partnered with Fairtrade International and announced a commitment to use only certified cocoa by 2020 and to “invest heavily in (West Africa) and other major cocoa producing countries over the next decade to provide hundreds of thousands of farmers with the tools, material and training necessary to dramatically increase yield and, by extension, farmer income.”

These businesses employ tens of thousands and contribute to the global economy. But whether college campuses, often critical of corporations, will give Big Chocolate a fair shake remains to be seen.

This spring, however, Harvard University is giving it a try, with a class called “Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food.”

Taught by Carla Martin of the Department of African and African American Studies, the course, according to online Harvard material, “will introduce the history of cacao cultivation, the present day state of the global chocolate industry, the diverse cultural constructions surrounding chocolate, and the implications for chocolate’s future of scientific study, international politics, alternative trade models, and the food movement.”

Course assignments “will address pressing real world questions related to chocolate consumption, social justice, responsible development, honesty and the politics of representation in production and marketing, hierarchies of quality, and myths of purity.”

The course promises to trace the history of cacao trees, a primary chocolate ingredient, from their Latin American origins, through cacao’s history in the West, and “its involvement in the slave trade, historical and modern.”

It will also “consider chocolate in relation to social issues” including race, gender, sexuality, labor rights, global trade, and “representation through advertising.”

Even though the full class description throws in a few nods to chocolate’s deliciousness, it mostly portends a harsh critique of Big Chocolate. This despite the Fair Labor Association’s noting in a 2012 report that the blame for child labor in West Africa does not fall exclusively on chocolate manufacturers.

“A realistic strategy to eliminate child labor in the Ivory Coast needs to start with the attitudes and perceptions of the various actors in the supply chain and communities at large,” the report stated, referring to indigenous Africans. “One company alone cannot solve all the problems of labor standards that prevail in the cocoa sector of the Ivory Coast.”

Fix contributor Jack Butler is a student at Hillsdale College.

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At Cornell University plans to force all students to take a diversity or social justice course have been advanced by the school’s student government, which hopes to have the requirement approved and implemented within the next two years.

The student proposals include either to develop a course all freshmen would have to take, force students to take an existing diversity elective, or insert diversity lessons into the core curriculum. Apparently, each school within the university would shape the requirement as it sees fit.

Students pushing the initiative have downplayed its significance and controversy.

“A lot of people here come from lots of different backgrounds … so it’s kind of one of those things where they introduce you to different things you might encounter, pointers on how to handle those situations,” senior Ulysses Smith, the school’s student vice president for diversity and inclusion, told The Cornell Daily Sun.

The effort to create the mandate launched in the spring and was led largely by a group of students who called themselves the “Assembly for Justice,” according to Alfonse Muglia, editor-in-chief of the Cornell Review, the conservative student newspaper on campus.

Muglia is also co-creator of a petition launched recently to halt the initiative. By Tuesday night, 248 students had signed it.

Conservative students on campus say it’s bad enough the mandate would create another academic burden, for many one that has nothing to do with their major. But the problem runs deeper than that, they note, arguing the proposal, if approved, would be akin to forcing a liberal ideology on students.

“Social justice is a highly controversial philosophical argument, not an objective truth,” states a Feb. 11 blog post on the conservative Cornell Insider website. “Many scholars and conservative thinkers alike argue social justice does not even exist. So why should Cornell students be forced to learn about a biased liberal ideology? Because the Student Assembly, in their ‘infinite wisdom,’ thinks it is appropriate to socialize students into their own beliefs.”

According to the Sun, the diversity mandate has fans and detractors.

“Why aren’t these students petitioning against the PE, freshman writing, swimming, and all of the other requirements needed to graduate from Cornell,” one student wrote on the Sun’s website. “Very interesting that they ignore those but get upset by a social justice/diversity requirement.”

Others students see it differently.

“I think that by adding more requirements, Cornell is limiting students’ ability to take classes they are genuinely interested in,” student Ashleigh Bowie, who signed the petition, told the Sun. “We can only take so many courses each semester and we should have the flexibility in our schedules to pursue courses that aren’t required by our majors.”

Jennifer Kabbany is assistant editor of The College Fix.

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A political science professor at Butler University asks students to disregard their “American-ness, maleness, whiteness, heterosexuality, middle-class status” when writing and speaking in the classroom – a practice the school’s arts and sciences dean defended as a way to negate students’ inherent prejudices.

The syllabus of the course at Butler, a small Midwestern liberal arts institution in Indianapolis, spells out that students should use “inclusive language” because it’s “a fundamental issue of social justice.”

“Language that is truly inclusive affirms sexuality, racial and ethnic backgrounds, stages of maturity, and degrees of limiting conditions,” the syllabus states, referencing a definition created by the United Church of Christ.

The syllabus of the class, called Political Science 201: Research and Analysis, goes on to ask students “to write and speak in a way that does not assume American-ness, maleness, whiteness, heterosexuality, middle-class status, etc. to be the norm.” It is taught by a black, female professor.

In an interview with The College Fix, Jay Howard, dean of Butler’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, denied this practice essentially presumes every student who walks through the door is a racist or misogynist.

He said students must be told not to assume such prejudices because such assumptions are ingrained into the culture and remain there until questioned. With that, a liberal arts education questions these assumptions, and such questions can make for uncomfortable situations, he said.

“Sometimes in order to broaden the conversation and broaden the understandings you’ve got to risk making people uncomfortable,” Howard said. “There’s nothing about a college education that guarantees you won’t be made uncomfortable. As a matter of fact, if you’re never made uncomfortable in your college education, you’re not really getting a college education.”

Howard said the college he oversees does not want students to continue to harbor such assumptions without question, “but neither do we want to exclude the dominant group in society in our attempts to make sure that we’re leveling hierarchies.”

In twenty years, white people will no longer be the majority, but they will still be the largest ethnic group, Howard said. He said using inclusive language would help students prepare for a changing world as America becomes more diverse.

He added that American culture makes speaking inclusively difficult, and the English language is partly to blame.

“Our language doesn’t make it easy to write in ways that are inclusive,” Howard said. “We don’t have a generic singular, I mean we have he and she. There is no pronoun that is gender-neutral there.”

However, not all writing- and language-intensive classes at Butler University mandate students use such “inclusive” language.

Nancy Whitmore, director of the journalism school in the College of Communication, said in an interview with The College Fix that students in her department are encouraged to use diverse sources with a wide variety of opinions, but are not mandated to use so-called inclusive language.

Whitmore said she is unsure what educators in Butler’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences mean when they ask students to write without assuming certain things to be the norm.

“I don’t think I could ever write from a black woman’s point of view because I’ve never been a black woman,” Whitmore said.

Indeed.

My name is Ryan Lovelace, and I dropped that politically correct political science class.

Clearly, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Butler University believes its students were raised as racist and misogynist homophobes who have grown to harbor many prejudices, a stance that is both offensive and hostile to any student’s ability to learn.

As a student at an institution predominantly focused on the liberal arts, I expected to hear professors express opinions different from my own. I did not expect to be judged before I ever walked through the door, and did not think I would be forced to agree with my teachers’ worldviews or suffer the consequences.

Being judged and forced to act a certain way is antithetical to how any institution of higher education should conduct itself.

As a journalism major, I will now strive to avoid the liberal arts college as much as possible, not because the college fails to provide its students with any practical knowledge, but because the college seeks to indoctrinate its students with a hostile paradigm that views people like me—an American, white, heterosexual male from a middle-class background—as evil; whitey-righty need not attend.

Many consider higher education to be in turbulent waters because of rising tuition costs and student loan debt, but students who actually graduate may struggle even more if they view the world as Butler’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences does.

The liberal arts college seeks to include people, but someone will always be excluded, as it is impossible to always include everyone. Furthermore, I’m not sure how to write assuming any other persona but my own. Any attempts to do so would only be offensive to people different from myself.

Lastly, the idea that people have different views from mine is not what makes me uncomfortable. The idea that I must walk, talk and act as the liberal arts college pleases does. I’ll speak as I always have and conduct myself in the way I deem fit. I think paying $40,000 a year should give me that basic right.

Fix contributor Ryan Lovelace is a student at Butler University.

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