University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania administrators are worried about some provisions in the federal Campus Accountability and Safety Act, introduced by a bipartisan group of senators in July.

The Daily Pennsylvanian reports that President Amy Gutmann told the paper the legislation has too many regulations:

“There shouldn’t be more regulation than there is known to be effective because if you have too much regulation, you stifle creativity and progress,” Gutmann said. “I think it is yet to be shown whether the new regulations pass that test, or fail that test.”

Provost Vincent Price told the paper the part of the bill mandating an annual sexual-assault survey wasn’t helpful:

“If you take any pressing problem — and sexual violence is fairly considered to be a pressing matter of health — you have to attack it by having systems in place to help people who need help,” Price said.

“Surveys are not the answer,” he added. “Surveys are defective instruments for all kinds of reasons … but my fear is that it just becomes a drumbeat to do certain things, and I don’t know where this would go.”

The American Association of Universities said it’s also talking to the office of lead sponsor Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., about changing the bill so that campuses don’t “focus so much on the reporting that they lose sight of the larger purpose.”

The group said it expects McCaskill to reintroduce a new version of the bill in January.

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IMAGE: Senator Claire McCaskill/Flickr

 

It’s one thing to lament that black Americans historically have not gotten much credit for the transformative music they created – and another to say that non-black musicians are somehow racist because they won an award.

That’s the thrust of a tweet by Anthea Butler, a University of Pennsylvania religious studies professor, responding to the award winners at Sunday night’s MTV Video Music Awards.

As The Blaze notes, Butler was apparently offended that pop star Ariana Grande – who is of Italian descent – won a VMA. Her fellow nominees included two black musicians, Pharrell Williams and Jason Derulo, Campus Reform notes.

racistVMAtweet.twitter.screenshotThat tweet apparently drew immediate scorn, because she quickly deleted it (“I don’t have time for BS”) and started backpedaling moments later, tweeting that “white appropriation of black culture is applauded by awards” but blacks are “vilified for same sometimes [sic].”

She even suggested that she drills her racial views into her students: “I’m not going to lose my job over something I teach in classes everyday.”

Butler’s Twitter feed is now marked private.

Read the full Blaze post here.

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IMAGE: Melissa Rose/Flickr, Twitter screenshot

Responding to a hilariously ironic Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed by the University of Pennsylvania’s Peter Conn that says religious colleges shouldn’t be accredited because they are hostile to “skeptical and unfettered inquiry” (where Penn excels), Baylor University humanities professor Alan Jacobs writes in The New Atlantis:

Could anyone affirm with a straight face that English studies in America has for the past quarter-century or more been governed by “the primacy of reason”? I seriously doubt that Conn even knows what he means by “reason.” …

I taught at Wheaton [College] for twenty-nine years, and when people asked me why I stayed there for so long my answer was always the same: I was there for the academic freedom. My interests were in the intersection of theology, religious practice, and literature — a very rich field, but one that in most secular universities I would have been strongly discouraged from pursuing except in a corrosively skeptical way. …

Some of Wheaton’s most famous alumni have strayed pretty far from its theological commitments, though I think Wes Craven has done a pretty good job of illustrating the consequences of original sin. But even those who have turned aside from evangelicalism, or Christianity altogether, often pay tribute to Wheaton for providing them the intellectual tools they have used to forge their own path — see, for instance, Bart Ehrman in the early pages of Misquoting Jesus. The likelihood of producing such graduates is a chance Wheaton is willing to take. Why? Because it believes in liberal education, as opposed to indoctrination. 

Read the whole article here. See our previous articles on the academic freedom College Fix contributors experienced at Grove City College and Seattle Pacific University, both Christian schools.

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IMAGE: Pisto Casero/Flickr

Residents and activists in Philadelphia’s West Philly neighborhood, home to the University of Pennsylvania, recently gathered to embarrass the school, calling attention to its refusal to contribute “payment in lieu of taxes” (PILOT) to the city.

That’s a voluntary arrangement with local governments in which institutions that are exempt from property taxes pay for “essential services” they use, “such as police and fire forces and construction on roads,” the Daily Pennsylvanian reports:

Penn was previously involved in a PILOT agreement with the city spanning from 1995 through 2000, but it was not renewed after that period.

Today, Penn and Columbia are the only two Ivies that do not pay PILOT contributions to their local governments.

The PILOT fund fell from $9 million in 1995 to just $687,000 in 2009, in part because of a 1997 state law that gave a “more clearly defined definition of how to obtain tax-exempt status in the act,” the paper said.

Last year “Penn and 11 other area institutions of higher education released a report citing the ways Penn benefits the city financially in other aspects,” the paper said, but one UPenn professor at the neighborhood forum claimed “They vastly overestimate what they contribute” in volunteer time.

Read the whole article here.

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IMAGE: Anthony Helm/Flickr

A statue of Benjamin Franklin at the University of Pennsylvania was apparently used as a urinal for some drunk undergrad, prompting outrage from a fellow student from the Republic of Macedonia who observed the indecent behavior.

Stefan Ivanovski, a graduate student in the school of design, wrote an op-ed in The Daily Pennsylvanian student newspaper that Franklin – who founded UPenn – is a revered academic role model, one he hopes to emulate when he returns to his home country to help create and sustain economic viability there.

That’s why Ivanovski said he was insulted and furious at what he witnessed.

“This Saturday night, I was confronted with an image of appalling proportions,” he wrote in his Sept. 29 op-ed. “As I was coming back to my apartment after meeting with a friend, I biked past the Benjamin Franklin statue seated on a bench right by Locust Walk. I was shocked to see a drunk, American college-aged male urinating on Benjamin Franklin’s statue, while his friend was checking his phone, waiting for him as if nothing unusual was happening. When I asked him what he was doing, he just told me to ‘shake it off,’ and he continued about his business. I was outraged, so I immediately phoned public safety to report the incident.”

Ivanovski went on to note that, for one, it’s gross and unsanitary behavior for a popular campus bench, one on which many a picture is snapped.

“Second of all,” he added, “I am not an American and I felt disgusted that somebody would show disrespect to Benjamin Franklin and everything he embodies. I really look up to Benjamin Franklin for the legacy he has established. He is a true role model for me (as I assume he is for many others). I aspire to leave a legacy like he did, so this is why I felt very offended on a personal level.”

Read more.

IMAGE: PSGreen01/Flickr

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University of Pennsylvania associate professor of religious studies Anthea Butler, who infamously called God a “white racist” after George Zimmerman was found not guilty, made another round of controversial statements over the weekend, saying she can’t get fired thanks to tenure and that she was “coming after the god they worship … white supremacy.”

The Ivy League professor made her comments while serving Saturday on a panel at the Harlem Book Fair, which CSPAN filmed and posted online.

The panel, called “The New Jerusalem: Black Life, The Church, and the Struggle for American Democracy,” was focused on religion, political activism and the “black church,” and included several African-American pastors, scholars and authors.

Forty minutes into the nearly 90-minute panel, Butler – who described herself as a “progressive Christian,” cited the recent controversy and the sharp criticisms it generated:

I got attacked by the right.  I got attacked by Fox, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh — I’m saying all you all’s names out loud — Daily Caller. All of them, they came at me this week. I didn’t have no church people to clean up my Twitter feed.  These people call me the B, the C, everything else they could call me except a child of God. Okay?  And why did they do that?  Because I had the nerve to critique this American god. Small G now. Not big G. But they like, ‘Oh, no! You comin’ after God!’

But, see, I was coming after their god. I was not coming after the God of the scriptures, the God that we know, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I was coming after the god they worship, Mammon; the god they worship, racism; the god they worship, white supremacy. …. Thank God I got a great institution that takes care of me.  I have tenure. I can’t get fired. (At which point the audience clapped).

And for the people that e-mailed … to try and get me off this panel: I hope you enjoyed the show.

Rush Limbaugh, who aired her comments Monday, said during his show in response to being called out by Butler that after a detailed search his staff could find no proof of her being called a “B” or “C” word, adding: “Anyway, this woman, she’s just as most liberals are, just filled with rage and anger.”

Limbaugh went on to note:

It’s impossible for her to be happy. She’s gotta corrupt. She’s gotta pollute. She has to twist minds. She has to revise history to make her feel worthwhile, I guess.  She went on to say that all of us white racists out there, we misunderstood what she was attacking. She was just attacking our god, not the God.  She was just attacking the god of all the white racists out there. And there’s nothing we can do about it ’cause she’s got tenure. Here’s the last sound bite, Anthea Butler, professorette at the University of Pennsylvania, or whatever they call it. …

You know, I never heard of this, the god of racism? Have you ever heard of Mammon? Do you know what that is? Snerdley, what is Mammon? The god of Mammon is the god of white racism? And that’s who we supposedly worship. All we did was react to what this professor said in her rage and her anger. But then she flips everybody off: you can’t do anything about it because I have tenure. Mammon is material wealth or greed.  Mammon is personified as a deity, the god of wealth and greed and so forth. Never heard of it. Anyway, I don’t know how much you spend to send your kids to this school, but it’s a waste of money if your kid’s taking a course taught by this woman.

Click here to read more from Limbaugh on the subject.

Click here to watch a video of the panel discussion during which Butler made her recent comments.

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