Today’s college protests were predicted in 1969

Yale students and faculty rally to demand inclusion on Nov. 9, 2015. At center is associate professor Crystal Feimster. Photo: Arnold Gold, New Haven Register

Yale students and faculty rally to demand inclusion on Nov. 9, 2015. At center is associate professor Crystal Feimster. Photo: Arnold Gold, New Haven Register

Racial preferences marginalize black college students, argue Jonathan Haidt and Lee Jussim in the Wall Street Journal. “Many students spend four years in a social environment where race conveys useful information about the academic capacity of their peers.” Furthermore, creating “ethnic enclaves” such as identity studies centers and departments, and diversity training, is likely to backfire.

Today’s college protests were foreseen in 1969, adds Haidt, a NYU psychology professor, in Heterodox Academy.

Macklin Fleming, Justice of the California Court of Appeal, warned Yale Law Dean Louis Pollack about lowering admission standards to meet racial quotas. (Go here.)

If in a given class the great majority of the black students are at the bottom of the class, this factor is bound to instill, unconsciously at least, some sense of intellectual superiority among the white students and some sense of intellectual inferiority among the black students.

Fleming predicts that “black students, unable to compete on even terms in the study of law, inevitably will seek other means to achieve recognition and self-expression.”

Demands will be made for elimination of competition, reduction in standards of performance, adoption of courses of study which do not require intensive legal analysis, and recognition for academic credit of sociological activities which have only an indirect relationship to legal training.

“To overcome feelings of inferiority caused by lack of success in their studies,” less-qualified students will demand “the employment of faculty on the basis of race, a marking system based on race, the establishment of a black curriculum and a black law journal, an increase in black financial aid, and a rule against expulsion of black students who fail to satisfy minimum academic standards,” Fleming predicted.

“If you read Judge Fleming’s predictions after watching the videos of student protests, and then reading the lists of demands posted at TheDemands.org, the match is uncanny,” writes Haidt.

In The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf analyzes Brown’s $100 million plan to meet protesters’ demands.

Yalies agree to repeal 1st Amendment

Fifty Yale students signed a petition to repeal the First Amendment, according to video maker Ami Horowitz. It took less than an hour, he says.

“I think it’s really awesome that you’re out here,” one man says in the video.

The video doesn’t show students who refused to sign. And it’s possible students were spoofing the spoofer.

Still, writes Reason’s Elizabeth Nolan Brown, “calls to trash the whole U.S. Constitution have become cool in certain lefty circles.”

Yalies “responded with a mix of embarrassment, sadness and literal disbelief” to the video, reports Fox News.

“Besides the fact that the First Amendment lists the most fundamentally important rights we hold as Americans, it is rather embarrassing to think Yalies could not see the irony that they were petitioning away – their right to petition,” wrote freshman Grant Richardson in an email to Fox.

“It’s a sad commentary on the present state of public opinion,” said Bruce Ackerman, a law professor.

Tom Conroy, a university spokesman, called it a “heavily edited prank video.”

Yik Yakkers kicked out of college

In response to a Yik Yak post that read “#blackwomenmatter,” a Colorado College student wrote, “They matter, they’re just not hot.” Thaddeus Pryor, a junior, was “suspended for two years” for “abusive behavior” and “disruption of college activities,” reports The Catalyst. 

His house mate, Lou Henriques was expelled for posting a screenshot from a South Park episode showing a character on Wheel of Fortune  incorrectly answering a “People Who Annoy You” question with the letters N_GGERS displayed. (The correct answer was NAGGERS.) Another Henriques’ post referred to a South Park character running down the hall yelling “RACE WAR.”

Yik Yak is anonymous, but someone tipped off the administration that Pryor and Henriques were responsible.  Within 24 hours, they were kicked out of school. Two deans made the decision.

Both students have appealed.

“I apologized” for the six-word comment, Pryor told the Colorado Gazette.  However, the deans accused him of writing earlier Yik Yak posts that he agreed were “racist and hateful.” Pryor said he didn’t write the earlier posts or know who did.

“There have been shorter suspensions and lesser punishments for things related to sexual assault and physical violence,” he said.

In a campuswide assembly to discuss the Yik Yak posts, some students said they were offended. OK, maybe they were.

If making a lame joke and quoting South Park are grounds for suspension and expulsion . . . How can any college educate children so frail?

FIRE reminds Colorado College about free speech in this letter.

Erika Christakis, who set off a flap over racism by suggesting that Yale students could pick their own Halloween costumes, will no longer teach child development at Yale.

“I have great respect and affection for my students, but I worry that the current climate at Yale is not, in my view, conducive to the civil dialogue and open inquiry required to solve our urgent societal problems,” she said in an email to The Washington Post.

Tantrums in the quad

“Halloween – traditionally a day of subversion for children and young people – is also an occasion for adults to exert their control,” wrote Erika Christakis, wife of a house master at Yale, in an email that inflamed  students.

Have we lost faith in young people’s capacity – in your capacity – to exercise self-censure, through social norming, and also in your capacity to ignore or reject things that trouble you?

. . . Nicholas says, if you don’t like a costume someone is wearing, look away, or tell them you are offended. Talk to each other. Free speech and the ability to tolerate offence are the hallmarks of a free and open society.

Writing as a child development specialist, she asked: “What does this debate about Halloween costumes say about our view of young adults, of their strength and judgment?”

She asked: Do you want to be treated like babies? A large number said: Yes, we do.

Nicholas Christakis listened to angry students, but told them he disagreed. “It’s not about creating an intellectual space,” a student shrieked. “It’s about creating a home.”

Overprotective parents are raising “fragile” kids who need an authority figure to settle any conflict, writes Jonah Goldberg.

When kids play, they have to “negotiate rules among themselves,” he writes. Parents or teachers may “short-circuit that process by constantly intervening to stop bullying or just to make sure that everyone plays nice.”

In Japan, preschoolers learn to work out their conflicts, writes author Alan Jacobs (no relation). Teachers watch but don’t intervene, even if children are fighting, unless it’s necessary.

Imagine if university students were “dependent on authorities to ease every instance of social friction,” Jacobs writes. “What a mess that would be.”

Yale’s “idiot children” tried to shout down a panel on freedom of speech, writes Kevin D. Williamson. Greg Lukianoff of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education had said that students hysterical about the Halloween e-mail were acting as though Professor Christakis had burned down an Indian village.

“Genocide is not a joke!” they screamed.

“Yale doesn’t make them into hysterical ninnies,” concludes Williamson. “Their families do.”

Hans Bader’s roundup uses “cry-bullies,” which I think is an apt term.

We Dissent is a gutsy editorial in the Claremont Independent attacking the “spoiled brats” who forced a Claremont-McKenna dean to resign for a well-intentioned but poorly worded email.

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Why I’ve stopped doing interviews for Yale

Ben Orlin at “Math With Bad Drawings” explains — with bad drawings — why he’s stopped doing alumni interviews with Yale applicants.


“In the last 15 to 20 years, Yale’s applicant pool has gone from ‘hypercompetitive’ to ‘a Darwinian dystopia so cutthroat you’d feel guilty even simulating it on a computer, just in case the simulations had emotions’,” writes Orlin.

The Common App’s demands are endless: “Write me a confessional essay. Document your leisure activities in meticulous detail. Muse on a philosophical question. Tell me what you love about my school. Give me testimonials from your teachers.”

Yale is either “peering into your very soul” or “gathering the data to build your robot doppelgänger,” he writes.

After all that, 94 percent of applicants are rejected, writes Orlin. “We’ve got a random process, disguised as a deliberative one.”

Psychologist Barry Schwartz proposes college admissions by lottery. “Every selective school should establish criteria [for admission],” writes Schwartz. “Then, the names of all applicants who meet these criteria would be put into a hat and the winners would be drawn at random.”

Orlin calls it “so crazy it’s gotta be right.”

Wouldn’t it work just as well — with a lot less angst?

Know-nothings at Yale

Yale students are “as smart as any in the world” and they’re also “ignorant,” David Gelernter tells Bill Kristol.

. . . it’s very hard to grasp that the person you’re talking to, who is bright, articulate, advisable, interested, and doesn’t know who Beethoven is. Had no view looking back at the history of the 20th century – just sees a fog. A blank. Has the vaguest idea of who Winston Churchill was or why he mattered. And maybe has no image of Teddy Roosevelt, let’s say, at all. . . . We have failed.

They know nothing about art. They know nothing about history. They know nothing about philosophy. . . . They know nothing about the Bible. They’ve never opened it. They’ve been taught it’s some sort of weird toxic thing, especially the Hebrew Bible, full of all sorts of terrible, murderous, prejudiced, bigoted. They’ve never read it. They have no concept.

Previous generations also didn’t know much, Kristol responds. “There was a lot of faking it.” In “middlebrow culture,” people felt they should know the name of an artist, even if they didn’t really know anything about his work.

Today, “there’s not even that sense of lack or of not knowing or knowing that you don’t know or admiring the people who really know.”

In the past, students “would know nothing about Beethoven in any deep sense but they would have heard a phrase from the Fifth Symphony, they would have heard a phrase from the Ninth Symphony or the Moonlight Sonata,” says Gelernter. “Doesn’t mean they know Beethoven, but it means if they love music, the door is open . . . If you are the sort of person who responds to painting or who loves history or cares about writing or poetry, you still know it’s there.”

A professor of computer science and an author, Gelernter has written a “refreshingly judgmental” book, America-Lite. It attacks “imperial academics” who “preach disdain for mere facts and for old-fashioned fact-based judgments like true or false.”

Elite colleges ask more of homeschoolers

Are Elite Colleges and Universities Discriminating Against Homeschoolers? asks Paula Bolyard, a recently “retired” homeschooler, on PJ Lifestyle.
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Homeschooled student “enter college with significantly higher test scores than their public (and even private) school peers,” she writes. “They graduate from college at a higher rate­—66.7 percent compared to 57.5 percent—and earn higher grade point averages while in school, according to one study.”

Princeton seems to get it, she writes. Applicants who can’t supply a traditional transcript can submit an outline of the homeschool curriculum.

Yale wants to make sure homeschooled kids are not socially awkward:

We look for evidence of social maturity from all our applicants and especially from home-schooled students. Your personal statement, interests and activities, and letters of recommendation should speak to your ability to integrate well with other students and tell us about your non-academic interests.

But elsewhere Yale says “academic strength” is the “first consideration” with “motivation, curiosity, energy, leadership ability, and distinctive talents” in second place.

“We’re going to want to know what the reason for homeschooling is,” a Dartmouth admissions official told Lindsay Cross at the Mommyish blog.

“Was the student busy with another demanding pursuit, like playing music? Were they traveling with their family? Was there a lack of resources in their area? Somewhere in the application, they’re going to need to explain.”

Private school students aren’t asked to explain why they didn’t attend public school, Bolyard points out.

Some elite colleges ask homeschooled students to submit additional SAT II test scores. That strikes me as reasonable. A straight-A student who’s been graded by Mom will need objective evidence of achievement.

But what about a teacher’s recommendation when Mom is the teacher?

In addition to a “not-so-subtle interrogation about the family’s choice to opt out of public education,” Brown also asks for “letters of recommendation from instructors who have taught you in a traditional classroom setting and who can speak to your abilities and potential in an objective way.”

Brown “would prefer not to receive letters of recommendation from your parents, immediate relatives, or from academic tutors in the paid employ of your family,” unless the applicant has no classroom instructors to ask.

Ha-Ya or community college?

It’s 2020. Harvard and Yale announce their merger. Ha-Ya’s new president, “tiger daughter” Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, pledges to slash tuition to attract students. Shanghai University is buying Princeton. Stanford is shedding its undergraduate division to focus on law, medicine and business schools.

Instead of attending a high-cost bricks-and-mortar college, debt-averse students are taking online courses, studying with freelance professors and using a portfolio of test results, essays and reports on activities to qualify for jobs without a college degree. It’s Jane Shaw‘s fantasy of the future of higher education.

It all started, Shaw writes, on May 28, 2010, when “Your Money” columnist Ron Lieber wrote about  Cortney Munna, a graduate of New York University who owed $97,000 in student loans and works for a photographer earning $22 an hour.

All it requires to become reality is an accepted way for people to certify what they’ve learned.

On Community College Spotlight: Where should collegebound students go in the fall: Harvard or their local community college?

Is a college degree worth the debt?

New Haven promises college aid

New Haven’s public school students will get free college tuition at any public college or university in Connecticut, if they maintain a 3.0 grade point average and 90 percent attendance. Graduates will get $2,500 a year to attend an in-state private college. Students will have to maintain a 2.5 grade point average in college to continue receiving the money.

Yale University is providing most of the $4.5 million a year needed to fund the New Haven Promise. It’s open to city students who’ve attended public school — district-run or charter — since ninth grade or earlier.

Only 200 of the 1,000 graduates last year would have qualified, city officials said. About 83 percent of New Haven graduates go on to college, but more than 70 percent dropout after two years.

(Mayor John) DeStefano said the program was intended to curb a citywide high school dropout rate of 38 percent and cultivate a college-going culture, as well as to provide an economic incentive for families to move to New Haven. Students will qualify for the financial aid on a sliding scale, with those who started in city schools at kindergarten receiving the most, 100 percent of their tuition. Students who arrived in the ninth grade will receive 65 percent.

In Syracuse, New York, enrollment in city schools has grown since 2008, when Syracuse University and the Say Yes to Education foundation began offering free college tuition to public high school students. However, the graduation rate hasn’t improved.

George A. Weiss, a Wall Street financier who founded Say Yes to Education in 1987, said the foundation had paid college tuition for more than 350 students in predominantly poor schools in Hartford; Philadelphia; Cambridge, Mass.; and Harlem in New York City. He said academic enrichment programs, counseling and other services had supplemented the tuition assistance.

“You can’t just give them an offer of money,” Mr. Weiss said. “They still have their day-to-day issues, and you have to help them.”

All college scholarship programs have learned this lesson:  Disadvantaged students need mentors, tutors and counselors to get them on the college track and keep them on track. A scholarship offer isn’t enough.

I also predict students with only 90 percent attendance aren’t going to need more than one semester of college tuition.

Update:  Why isn’t Yale offering scholarships to Yale? Chad Aldeman wants to know.

Chinese students, Ivy dreams

Obsessed with prestigious U.S. universities, middle-class Chinese parents have made Harvard Girl a best-seller, reports the Boston Globe. Other books on raising “high-quality children” include Stanford’s Silver Bullet, Yale Girl and Creed of Harvard.

“Harvard Girl,” written by the parents of one of the first Chinese undergraduates to enter the university on a full scholarship, chronicled Liu Yiting’s methodical upbringing, which the book says instilled the discipline and diligence necessary for academic success. The tome has a place in many urban households with high school-age children, and new parents receive the book as a present from family and friends.

All the parents’ hopes rest on their only child.

Liu’s parents challenged the young girl to hold ice in her hands for as long as she could bear it to improve her endurance and made her jump rope every day for increasingly longer periods until she won a school contest.

They put toys out of her grasp when she was a baby to make her work harder for them, timed the girl’s studies to the minute as soon as she entered elementary school and made her do school work in the noisiest part of the house to develop her ability to concentrate.

Liu was graduated from Harvard in 2003 with a degree in applied math and economics; she works at a New York investment firm. Last year, 484 Chinese students applied to Harvard; five were admitted.