UO tells students what’s OK to say, write

4 Posters with biased comments crossed out and corrected.
University of Oregon’s Bias Response Team has designed posters showing what not to say.

At the University of Oregon, “thought police” step in when one person’s “constitutionally protected speech has offended” another person, writes Robby Soave on Reason‘s Hit & Run. The Bias Response Team, made up of seven administrators, is fond of staging “educational conversations” and is “not shy about referring its cases to university agencies with more robust enforcement powers.”

The BRT’s annual report lists 85 incidents, including a faculty member’s insulting comment on a blog, a poster that “triggered” bad feelings about “body size” and a complaint about a “culturally appropriative” party.

“Students, faculty, and staff who feel threatened, harassed, intimidated, triggered, microaggressed, offended, ignored, under-valued, or objectified because of their race, gender, gender identity, sexuality, disability status, mental health, religion, political affiliation, or size are encouraged to contact the BRT, writes Soave.

When a student reported that a sign in a dorm encouraging cleaning up after oneself was sexist, the BRT Advocate “empowered” the student to contact Housing staff. “A BRT Case Manager followed up to ensure that the sign was removed, and the program staff had an educational conversation about the issue.”

An anonymous person thought the student newspaper wasn’t providing enough coverage of  transgender students and “students of color.” So “university administrators had ‘an educational conversation’ with student-journalists about what kinds of stories they should be printing,” reports Soave, who finds it “positively Orwellian.”

These “conversations” the BRT sponsors reflect a massive power imbalance between students and administrators, since the administrators appear to have the authority to punish the students.

. . . Would a student in such a situation feel like he could invoke his First Amendment rights without facing reprisals?

“It’s troubling to see the university policing and micro-managing students’ every day interactions,” Azhar Majeed, an attorney at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, told Soave. “One can imagine the chilling effects this would have.”

A “swollen campus bureaucracy, empowered by intrusive federal regulation,” has usurped the faculty’s “prerogative to shape the educational mission and to protect the free flow of ideas,” writes Camille Paglia.

“The entire college experience should be based on confronting new and disruptive ideas,” she writes. “Students must accept personal responsibility for their own choices and behavior, and university administrators must stop behaving like substitute parents and hovering therapists.”

College encourages lively consensus

Trescott University encourages a lively exchange of one idea, president Kevin Abrams told The Onion.

“We recognize that it’s inevitable that certain contentious topics will come up from time to time, and when they do, we want to create an atmosphere where both students and faculty feel comfortable voicing a single homogeneous opinion,” said Abrams, adding that no matter the subject, anyone on campus is always welcome to add their support to the accepted consensus.

Counseling is available for any student made uncomfortable by the viewpoint.

Greece, Rome, Mali?

Hans Bader’s daughter is learning world history — the politically correct version — in third grade, he writes on Liberty Unyielding.  Our World Far and Wide, by Five Ponds Press, lists three great civilizations: Greece, Rome and Mali.

Timbuktu was the capital of the Empire of Mali.

Timbuktu was the capital of the Empire of Mali.

In black Africa, “Mali was far less significant than ancient Ethiopia (sometimes called the ‘cradle of mankind‘),” writes Bader.

Ancient Egypt was one of the world’s great civilizations — and some pharoahs were black, Bader writes. So why feature the short-lived empire of Mali?

The book also profiles seven great Americans: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Rosa Parks and Cesar Chavez.

All comedy is critical

Political correctness has run amok, says John Cleese on Big Think. The British comedian of Monty Python fame has been warned to avoid “most university campuses” lest he criticize someone. “All humor is critical,” he says. “If you start to say we mustn’t, we mustn’t criticize or offend them then humor is gone. With humor goes a sense of proportion. And then as far as I’m concerned you’re living in 1984.”

Halloween costumes scare college kids

Halloweeen is scarier than ever on college campuses, where dressing up as something you’re not could be “cultural appropriation.” Wesleyan is advising students on how to avoid holiday microaggressions, reports Inside Higher Ed.

(The) . . . Office of Student Affairs is hoping to help students avoid distasteful costumes this Halloween by posting signs around campus that feature a cultural sensitivity checklist to determine if a costume is offensive.

It encourages students to ask themselves whether their costumes mock cultural or religious symbols, attempt to represent an entire culture or ethnicity, or trivialize human suffering, oppression and marginalization.

So, no crazy people, hobos, jail inmates, Geishas, sexy nuns, leprechauns, rappers . . . Is “zombie” a disability?

Walmart’s super-sized “Sheik Fagin” nose — also suitable for parodying Jews — would be out too, I guess.

The University of Louisville’s president, James Ramsey, had to apologize for hosting a Mexican-themed luncheon with sombreros, mantillas, mustaches, maracas and a poncho.


Obama hits campus ‘coddling,’ but will he act?

President Obama called for open debate on campus at a Des Moines forum yesterday.

College students don’t need protection from different viewpoints, said President Obama at a Des Moines forum.

President Obama criticized political correctness on college campuses at a Des Moines town hall on college affordability, reports Vox.

“I don’t agree that (students) . . . have to be coddled and protected from different points of view,” said the president, who’s apparently read The Coddling of the American Mind in The Atlantic.

I’ve heard some college campuses where they don’t want to have a guest speaker who is too conservative or they don’t want to read a book if it has language that is offensive to African-Americans or somehow sends a demeaning signal towards women. I gotta tell you, I don’t agree with that either.

. . . anybody who comes to speak to you and you disagree with, you should have an argument with ‘em. But you shouldn’t silence them by saying, “You can’t come because I’m too sensitive to hear what you have to say.” That’s not the way we learn either.

“If Obama is actually opposed to the new scourge of political correctness on college campuses, he could prove his dedication to the cause by directing the Education Department to relax its relentless Title IX inquisition,” writes Robby Soave on Reason‘s Hit & Run. Federal “guidance” obliges universities to censor, he writes.

Hans Bader has more on how Obama’s Education Department has used anti-discrimination law to pressure schools and colleges to restrict free speech on campus.

Afraid of being a —-phobe

Political Correctness Means Living In Fear — even for high school students, writes Darren on Right on the Left Coast.

His statistics class is looking at adult smoking rates. Utah has fewer smokers than any other state. He asked students if they could guess why. No one said a word.

I could tell from the looks on their faces that it wasn’t an “I don’t know” silence; no, it was an “I’m afraid to say” silence.  In one class I called on a student and she was in obvious turmoil; “I can’t say it” was all she could get out.

Students knew that “Utah has a large population of Mormons, who in general don’t smoke,” writes Darren.  But they were “petrified to say that,” for fear they’d be branded “as some sort of  ‘-ist’ or ‘-phobe’.”

That’s sad.

Mormons have managed to laugh off the teasing in Book of Mormon without complaining of microaggressions, much less threatening to boycott or blow up theaters.

That’s not funny

U.S. undergraduates want to be entertained, Caitlin Flanagan learned at the convention of the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA). But comics seeking bookings on the lucrative college circuit must go for the bland.

(NACA reps) liked their slam poets to deliver the goods in tones of the highest seriousness and on subjects of lunar bleakness; they favored musicians who could turn out covers with cheerful precision; and they wanted comedy that was 100 percent risk-free, comedy that could not trigger or upset or mildly trouble a single student.

College students are seen as consumers “whose whims and affectations (political, sexual, pseudo-intellectual) must be constantly supported and championed,” she writes.

. . . it helps to think of college not as an institution of scholarly pursuit but as the all-inclusive resort that it has in recent years become—and then to think of the undergraduate who drops out or transfers as an early checkout. Keeping hold of that kid for all four years has become a central obsession of the higher-ed-industrial complex. How do you do it? In part, by importing enough jesters and bards to keep him from wandering away to someplace more entertaining, taking his Pell grant and his 529 plan and his student loans with him.

To get bookings on the college circuit, a comedian must be funny and “deeply respectful of a particular set of beliefs,” writes Flanagan.

These beliefs included, but were in no way limited to, the following: women, as a group, should never be made to feel uncomfortable; people whose sexual orientation falls beyond the spectrum of heterosexuality must be reassured of their special value; racial injustice is best addressed in tones of bitter anguish or inspirational calls to action; Muslims are friendly helpers whom we should cherish; and belonging to any potentially “marginalized” community involves a crippling hypersensitivity that must always be respected.

. . . The college revolutions of the 1960s—the ones that gave rise to the social-justice warriors of today’s campuses—were fueled by free speech. But once you’ve won a culture war, free speech is a nuisance, and “eliminating” language becomes a necessity.

Mario Savio led the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley more than 50 years ago, Flanagan recalls. Who’s challenging the thought police now? It’s “the moron over at Phi Sigma Kappa who plans the Colonial Bros and Nava-Hos mixer.”

In Academiaville, conform or flunk

Free speech? Not if you want to keep your job, writes Captain Capitalism, aka Aaron Clarey. “Employers act as a de facto fourth layer of government,” firing workers who make politically incorrect Facebook posts or (see Mozilla) back the wrong political cause.

Academia has become an “even more Orwellian fourth layer of government,” he writes. “Whereas the power of employers come from the fact you need a job, Academia’s power comes from the fact you need a degree to even get a job! (or so they say).”

“Professors, administrators, diversity officers and other worthless academic bureaucrats” enforce their “leftist, socialist, feminist, and anti-white anti-male ideology on the unfortunate and unsuspecting student-citizens of Academiaville.”

Students can attend conservative colleges, writes Clarey. Or they can bypass  a high-cost residential college and use certification, online courses and/or experience to qualify for a job.

Scary snowflakes: Why profs fear their students

I’m a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me, writes a university instructor — under a pseudonym — in Vox. In nine years of teaching, he’s seen students gain “the ability to claim Grievous Harm in nearly any circumstance,” writes “Edward Schlosser.”

“While I used to pride myself on getting students to question themselves and engage with difficult concepts and texts, I now hesitate,” writes Schlosser, who doesn’t have tenure. Consumers — formerly known as students — might complain.

All the old, enlightened means of discussion and analysis —from due process to scientific method — are dismissed as being blind to emotional concerns and therefore unfairly skewed toward the interest of straight white males. All that matters is that people are allowed to speak, that their narratives are accepted without question, and that the bad feelings go away.

So it’s not just that students refuse to countenance uncomfortable ideas — they refuse to engage them, period.

Oxford canceled an abortion debate because it would have imperiled the “welfare and safety of our students” to hear both sides of the issue, notes Schlosser.

Hampshire College disinvited an Afrobeat band band that included too many white people. It would not have been “safe and healthy” for students.

“Emotional discomfort is [now] regarded as equivalent to material injury, and all injuries have to be remediated,” writes Northwestern professor Laura Kipnis, who was accused of Title IX discrimination for an essay defending sexual relationships between faculty and students and a subsequent tweet. After an Orwellian investigation, Kipnis was cleared of charges she’d created a hostile environment for students who’d charged a male professor of sexual assault.

Campus censorship is the feds’ fault, writes Robby Soave.