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TCF’s Outrageously Dumb Campus Moments of the Week (March 16)

The College Fix presents a roundup of the top scandals, screw-ups, and stupid decisions involving college campuses. This week, affirmative action is illegal in Michigan but still practiced, and the NCAA thinks “The Fighting Sioux” is a racist nickname (the Sioux Tribe disagrees). But first…

3). Oakland University refused to reinstate a student who was expelled from campus for crushing on his professor in an open-ended creative writing assignment. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education maintains that Oakland violated the First Amendment rights of the student, Joseph Corlett. According to FIRE:

“Oakland University made up its own definition of the ‘law’ in order to punish a student for his creative writing,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “The special irony here is that Joseph asked several times if it was really okay to write anything, and several times he was told it was. Now, because he took that instruction seriously, he is being kicked out of school and facing mandatory counseling.”

TCF covered this story when it first came to light a few weeks ago. The university was mistaken—and now it has refused to correct that mistake. If you tell your students they can write about anything, you shouldn’t complain about the result.

2). The voters of Michigan banned universities from admitting students because of their race all the way back in 2006. Since then, the University of Michigan has been quietly muttering, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” In fact, illegal racial preferences have continued at U-M, according to a study by UCLA Law Professor Richard Sander.

Supporters of affirmative action in Michigan also sued the ballot initiative that rendered their favorite practice illegal. Even though many liberal commentators think the lawsuit is frivolous—the Detroit Free Press editorial board said it was “certainly headed for the legal trash heap”—it may have landed before a Sixth Circuit Court just crazy enough to overturn the will of the voters.

This development is frustrating for opponents of affirmative action. But even when they do have the voters, the law, and the courts on their side, universities will just secretly ignore them.

1). This week’s grand finale is one of those almost-too-zany-to-be-true stories. It begins many years ago, when the NCAA first announced it would penalize colleges for using Native American names and images as logos for their sports teams, arguing that these names are offensive to the tribes. The University of North Dakota, which uses the nickname “The Fighting Sioux,” held out for a long time, but the State Board of Higher Education finally decided to give in.

Next, North Dakota legislators voted to require UND to keep the nickname, overturning the board’s decision.

After that, the NCAA gently reminded North Dakota about all the sanctions its teams would incur, and the legislators backed off. The law came off the books.

But wait: The people of North Dakota put it to a statewide referendum, and voted to keep the law keeping “The Fighting Sioux.”

One might wonder what members of the Sioux Tribe think about all of this. Surely, they must be furious that racist lawmakers and citizens keep re-appropriating the use of their name and identity? As it turns out, no:

Frank Black Cloud of the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe has grown tired of the on-going battles in the courts and legislature over a nickname that isn’t offensive.

“Honor, respect tradition, culture and pride,” he said. “How can those values be considered hostile and abusive?”

The Sioux Tribe voted years ago to permit UND to be known as “The Fighting Sioux,” and have no problem with the nickname. And yet, the controversy continues because the NCAA won’t take “no, please, we’re not offended,” for an answer.

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