Tuesday, November 06, 2007

From the Comment Thread

This blog has generated more than 90,000 comments. Few have offered a more intriguing perspective than the one below, offered for yesterday's post. The discussion of how universities operate is, in my opinion, absolutely correct:
The ratio of nastiness to illumination in this thread of comments is too high for my taste. I suppose it is inevitable that the comments section of this blog should from time to time dramatize the dialogue of the deaf that passes for “political discourse” at many levels in our land. But it is reduced to its sad essence in the brilliant exchange that begins, in effect, “Your are an idiot,” to which the devastatingly witty response is “No, I am not an idiot. You are an idiot.”

I’d like to return to the subject of the post: namely, the effect of what has happened so far to various people at Duke/

The expectation of Apocalypse Now on the Duke campus is and will remain unrealistic. “Why don’t they fire Brodhead?” “Why don’t they ‘clean house’ in this or that department?” “How can they make an 88-er a dean?” To this list of supremely naïve questions I’ll add another one that shows up in various forms: “Why don’t they hire KC Johnson?” Such questions betray a serious lack of understanding of the operations of large and complex educational institutions. They move rather ponderously and within the confines of strict protocols. Our universities have a “business” aspect to them, but it is only one aspect, and the models of business reform or restructuring frequently brought forward are largely irrelevant to them. Duke and many other wealthy institutions are also large charitable entities that view their mission in terms of the redistribution of wealth—first in the relatively paltry manner of handing out scholarships and fellowships, but much more importantly in the creation of lasting “social capital” in their graduates. Most parents are incompetent to judge the actual intellectual quality at a given institution, but they know, rightly, that an average college graduate will have a lifetime income far greater than that of an average non-graduate, and that the average Duke graduate will do considerably better than the average graduate of Western Kentucky State Teachers’ College.

Universities are staffed by faculty members who for the most part enjoy the protection of appointment with continuing tenure. The institution of academic tenure has defensible aims but often-lamentable results. It is nearly impossible to fire a tenured professor, however deep that person sinks into sloth or incompetence. To be fired for “moral turpitude” in today’s climate presupposes a level of sexual athleticism requiring long, arduous Olympic training beyond the capacities of most of us. Hence a university faculty, though highly and self-consciously professionalized, has many of the characteristics of a voluntary organization, like a civic or church committee, or a campaign organization, or a baby-sitting pool. There is seldom a very good match between the need as seen from a center and the competence, willingness, or availability of someone to fill the need. The administration has to cajole people into taking on necessary but perhaps irksome jobs. “Madge, would you be willing to be recording secretary this year? Oh, you’re tied up with the Garden Club?...Well, Tom, how about you? I can teach you to write…” I have not perused a Duke catalogue, but from what has come up incidentally in this blog I get the impression that many Duke faculty (a) teach very little, and (b) teach pretty much what they want to teach, which is (c) two or three variations on an esoteric theme.

A university president may and does have very great power, but is almost guaranteed to fail if he cannot at least achieve a state of uneasy non-belligerence with his faculty. Hence the strange gyrations and even stranger silences of Richard Brodhead. He is a prudent and experienced fellow. If you want to consider what happens when a self-identified political conservative is brought in with powerful board support to “clean up” an institution with a faculty run amok, and is imprudent enough to try to do so, review the sad history of Boston University under the presidency of John Silber. So don’t look for swift actions and dramatic gestures that feature so prominently among the desiderata in these comments. But don’t go to the opposite extreme and suppose that “nothing has changed”. A good deal has changed because of this Rape Hoax.

1. Richard Brodhead’s is a failed presidency. Everybody in higher education knows that, which is why practically nobody in higher education will say it. He will not disappear immediately, but he will disappear. And I mean disappear—not reappear as the president of some other institution. This may not be fair to Brodhead, who is an able person, and his successor is unlikely to be better. But nobody who has presided over such a genuine “social disaster” can recover. And people will in the future reflect on why and how he failed.

2. Another development on the local Duke scene is the “raised consciousness” of sensible alumni and institutional friends. There is a large effort from various sources trying to blunt the effect of this blog and what it has represented. To paint Duke’s critics as neocon, reactionary, racist “blog hooligans” will now work for only a very diminished audience. There now is a very detailed, circumstantial, well researched and well written book that needs to be answered. The one attempt to answer it to date—Piot’s—is so pathetic as actually to amplify the work’s power by giving such a vivid example of the intellectual quality of its opposition. Any intelligent Duke alumnus of whatever age should now realize that he or she probably has more sensible and constructive ideas that many prominent Duke faculty.

3. Do not underestimate the power of the derision and opprobrium heaped on various faculty members through various posting and especially the “Group Profiles”. These were particularly effective, because they were not name-calling but intelligently collected anthologies of the individuals’ own written opinions. It is one thing to shout out that “the Emperor has no clothes”. It is another to present the Emperor in the buff before our own horrified eyes. Professor Piot undoubtedly still has his clannish friends at their unread and unreadable academic journal. But for literally thousands of other people, not to mention hundreds of silent colleagues on his own faculty, the man is now a public fool. This is the result not of name-calling but of self-advertisement. There probably will not be immediate professional effects. But I think it very unlikely that even with a deck of fifty-two race cards Professor Baker, for example, will today seems such a hot property to anybody else as he did to Vanderbilt before the publication of his racist diatribe.

179 comments:

AF said...

I agreed with you until the bitter end. Those like Houston Baker will be revered by the far-leaning leftist radicals because he embodies their perception of "brilliance". Far from the truth, the best thing that can happen is a real "Shut up and teach" attitude. The legitimate academic departments (economics, engineering, medicine) have been smeared by the wannabees (cultural anthropology, anger studies). Those called professors in these departments do exactly that--profess that their pet areas have validity. Me thinks they do protest too much. Oh do they profess to much. They hide behind the veil of academia giving it a black eye.
Colleges are for education not indoctrination. What will it take to return them to this intended mission rather than being hotbeds of social reform. Alas, another day in Wonderland.

Anonymous said...

What made Prof. Johnson compare Duke with Western Kentucky State Teacher's College (since 1966, Western Kentucky University)? The schools are very different. Of course, students from a local/regional school (some 80 % of WKU's undergraduates hail from Kentucky) that has traditionally focused on primary and secondary teacher training are going to make less money than those who major in fields that send them to law school, med school, and/or MBA programs. (There are also various other undergraduate programs at WKU, but no law school or med school and no PhD program so far as I know.) A more apt comparison to Duke might have been a school of similar size and course offerings. Even Brooklyn College...

Prof. Johnson's choice of WKU does point out an issue that should concern all of those who are concerned about their children's educations: elementary and secondary education in the US lags behind other countries, in part because it's difficult to get really good people to go into/stay in these fields, not least because of low salaries.

Prof. Johnson's posts that highlighted particular professors at Duke were helpful in ways he might not have intended. They provided information on fascinating readings and course offerings that might be new to many readers. I found the Latin American studies/literature and Cultural Antropology postings particularly useful. They encouraged me to look up books and articles on similar topics. Thank you so much, Prof. Johnson.

Duke students are lucky that their professors offer them such a wide choice of courses. Presumably, they have already had plenty of American constitutional, diplomatic, economic, and political history by the time they arrive at Duke. Ditto American literature. They may be ready for more variety.

Perhaps, Duke students also get good jobs and make lots of money of the course of their lifetimes because they are broadly educated.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the best, or perhaps the most eloquent, of the 90,000 comments on this most brilliant of blogs, a role model for Internet real-time investigation and analysis.

Ed Sodaro MD

KC Johnson said...

To the 6.42:

This post (except for the first paragraph) quoted a comment made in the previous thread.

The comment was not made by me.

I'm fascinated by your point that "Presumably, they have already had plenty of American constitutional, diplomatic, economic, and political history by the time they arrive at Duke. Ditto American literature." In history, they also would have had "plenty" of women's, African-American, and social history--yet that hasn't stopped such fields from prolferating.

They also would have had heavy doses (at most good high schools, anyway) of physics, chemistry, and math. Perhaps Duke should, therefore, defund those departments on the grounds that high school instruction is all that's necessary.

As to comparisons between Duke and Brooklyn College: I have been critical, sometimes in a very outspoken manner, of some Brooklyn policies. That said, to my knowledge, 88 faculty members at Brooklyn have never taken out a guilt-presuming ad denouncing some of the institution's own students at a time when those students were in harm's way.

Ralph Phelan said...

"If you want to consider what happens when a self-identified political conservative is brought in with powerful board support to “clean up” an institution with a faculty run amok, and is imprudent enough to try to do so, review the sad history of Boston University under the presidency of John Silber."

I'd like appreciate a summary. I remember a lot of sturm und drang in the news. I remember him being around for quite a while, and some notable victories, such as the removal of Mary Daley for refusing to allow men inn her class ... why is this history regarded as "sad"?

I certainly hope this guy is correct about the damage done to Brodhead, Baker, etc. But there is no evidence of this so far - as KC pointed out in his previous post, within the context of Duke itself, the political radicals not only haven't suffered, they continue to be actively rewarded.

I don't expect anything to change quickly at a big institution. But the presence of change in the wrong direction does not inspire patience.

Anonymous said...

Today's eloquent comment re the reality of such institutions as Duke is both enlightening and encouraging. For many of the intellectual miscreants I'm sure that public ridicule and more private peer embarrassment is a fate worse than removal. I hope that is true. Thank you.
Vince

bill anderson said...

I would say that 6:42's post is pathetic, but that would be giving it too much credit. It is obvious that the poster is a Duke professor who operates under cover of anonymity.

First, K.C. did not write that post; he only was giving someone else's post some up-front coverage.

Second, the "wide choice" of courses really is more of a "wide choice" of propaganda. I have talked to a number of students from Duke and other "elite" institutions who say that the value of their degree as a whole is what enables them to endure the stupid harangues of their professors. Furthermore, there are a lot of "standard" courses at places like Duke that students appreciate far more than the "courses" that are little more than three hours a week of political propaganda.

The real problem is that political extremism now is part-and-parcel to every facet of modern life. Ours is a thoroughly politicized society, and the radical faculty members at Duke (including whoever posted at 6:42) are only disappointed that it is not even more politicized.

When I was in college, I had classes that were little more than full worship of people like Mao and Castro. (Stalin was worshiped in the 1930s and 1940s.) We were told in one religion class that Mao had worked an "economic miracle" in China. Well, I guess it is a "miracle" like someone saying hocus pocus to the blind man -- and then making him lame. Who else could have foisted "policies" that led to mass famine and starvation -- and still be worshiped by college professors?

It is hard to know if this will have any affect on Duke, other than to empower the worst elements on campus. Houston Baker and his friends are frauds, pure frauds. They are like the "tailors" in "The Emperor's New Clothes," and they go into a rage whenever someone notices that the emperor is naked.

I also will add that people like Baker are not simply frauds; they are very bad people. For example, when Baker wrote his "who cares if anything happened" email, Reade, Collin, and David still were under indictment.

Baker WANTED them to go to prison, even though he knew nothing had happened. Only an evil person would have an attitude like that, a person with no conscience and no human decency whatsoever.

And Baker has plenty of idols at Duke, at least among the radical faculty. These are bad people, people who would want to see someone imprisoned or even killed just for their own entertainment. And they make up the heart of modern "elite" higher education.

Anonymous said...

To Anon. @ 6:42: You failed to read and/or comprehend the first two sentences of K.C.'s post. These two sentences read as follows:

"This blog has generated more than 90,000 comments. Few have offered a more intriguing perspective than the one below, offered for yesterday's post."

If you teach at Duke, what kind of example is that? You wrote:

"Duke students are lucky that their professors offer them such a wide choice of courses. Presumably, they have already had plenty of American constitutional, diplomatic, economic, and political history by the time they arrive at Duke. Ditto American literature. They may be ready for more variety."

I would suggest reading comprehension (especially since you claim to have read, and claimed to gain something from, some of the Gang of 88's stuff)! Finally, you wrote:

"Perhaps, Duke students also get good jobs and make lots of money of the course of their lifetimes because they are broadly educated."

Do you think the "lots of money" comes from an Economics or Business degree or from graduate work in African and African American Studies? Or, are the big bucks in Women's Studies?

Anonymous said...

John Silber's presidency of Boston University is not a good example of getting the administrative job right. I have known faculty there and I can assure everyone that the man was a very poor academic administrator.

One of the disasters of political correctness run amok is that people forget that universities are schools. The fact that at this point most of the offenders are on the left doesn't mean that right wingers with their own agendas aren't ready to pounce. For that matter, there are more than enough administrators with non-political agendas that can sabotage the educational process.

How about the promiscuous use of teaching evaluations as the major criteria for advancement. This empowering of students has created a consumer sovereignty in which students now can dictate what can be put on exams, how much advanced information is given out in preparation for the exams and even what is actually taught.

How about the star system. Paying a few well known academics huge salaries to teach two courses a year and spend one day a week at the campus while ignoring the rest of the faculty who teach the courses, do the advising and take care of the chores of overseeing the curriculum and enforcing academic integrity.

Silber is very popular among conservatives because he pushes the right political buttons but he was an awful academic administrator.

miramar said...

Extraordinary post. I too believe that Houston Baker will survive, and perhaps even officially flourish, but there is no question that he is damaged goods. It's not just that his comments revealed him to be the true hooligan in the case, but his emails even demonstrated that the man can't spell! Some English professor.

Most of the others will not be as fortunate because they had little academic capital to fall back upon. They lived in the dark side of the academy, communicating only with the like minded, yet curiously considering themselves to be public intellectuals. Once KC brought out their own words into the public arena, they were revealed to be the fools and frauds that they are.

No, they won't lose their tenured gigs, but they have made fools out of themselves and they know it.

no justice, no peace said...

CCI and the University of Delaware of the South?

"Well, I was horrified when I read the materials, these are the Residence Life’s own materials, which they were very proud of, in which they describe how R.A.’s would get close to students so that they were able to persuade them. They bring students in on these one-on-one sessions, which are supposedly required. They ask them the most–ask them intimate questions that I would get fired for asking a student—certainly behind closed doors—“when did you first discover your sexuality”…so, they were intruding on their personal beliefs, they were demanding in public that they state them and give reasons for them. They would have them in some of their exercises, floor meetings, require students to move to one side of the room or the other: “Yes or no on do you agree with rights for homosexuals to marry or abortions. No in between allowed. Yes or no…they would also have to give their reasons. So there was enormous pressure—this was just one example– to toe the line, the ideological line, which was very clear, I think, to all the students what it was…"

Great insight from one of the faculty, Dr. Linda Gottfredson (archive and audio)...

University of Delaware Professor speaks out...

She actually has some concerns about free speech and civil rights. What novel concepts.

maria horvath said...

Pardon the nit-picky correction:

Mary Daly, the super-radical feminist and man-hating theologian, was finally removed from her post at Boston COLLEGE, the Jesuit institution. John Silber was president of Boston UNIVERSITY, the secular institution across town.

Debrah said...

Quite a comprehensive analysis.

I haven't been through all the recent posts and had not seen this one.

I can agree with a majority of points here; however, I don't think anyone--even one so ostensibly experienced in the dynamics of academia--can say for sure what will happen inside the Duke administration in the near future.

"Do not underestimate the power of the derision and opprobrium heaped on various faculty members....."

I certainly do not.

Their constant need to follow DIW and comment anonymously is evidence of that.

Anonymous said...

The Duke Chronicle has another piece about Brodhead today. Apparently, the Editorial Board of the Chronicle thinks it is speaking for the other students when it says "we" wanna keep Brodhead. Please join me in responding. Here is what I posted:

"[A] students' president" is a nice comedic touch. A little too over-the-top for my tastes, but it would probably play well on MadTV. Wasn't one of the French monarchs also the peoples' king? I think the people wanted to behead that one, as I recall. Maybe I'm confusing history with a Mel Brooks movie, though.

Are you offering the "students' perspective" for those 1,000 or so who actually signed a petition denouncing the current administration? Do you have a petition of 1,000 or so students who want Brodhead to stay? [Laughing to himself, the author continues ....] Does your "students' perspective" include those students on the male and female lacrosse teams? Or, is this just more of the Chronicle shamelessly kowtowing to the administration?

I think we may be in for a whole series of these lame editorials/articles. My concern is that the on-line version of the editorial does not have the required, "Paid for by the Brodhead Wants to Stay President PAC," at the bottom of the page. Folks, this was Brodhead's Vietnam, and he mishandled it to the great shame of Duke University.

On a final note, where is the message board? With a message board, you would not have to provide a SINGLE voice as the "students' perspective"; rather, everyone could hear what the students think. Or, are you concerned that the "students' president" might get scalded by the students' commentary?

Anonymous said...

"The ratio of nastiness to illumination in this thread of comments is too high for my taste."

A very strange remark, in my opinion. Much like the Duke 88 who flailed against UPI without bothering to read it. It suggests the poster has a relationship with one or more of the disgraced parties at Duke.

If anything, the DIW blog has offerred a variety of useful opinion and fact checking that rivals the best blogs on the web. To characterize these posters' opinions as nasty, signals a level of ignorance that undermines the poster's follow on comments.

Ken
Dallas

no justice, no peace said...

Russell Complex Diversity Executive Summary

"This year the Russell complex will educate students on issues of diversity and social justice."

WILL educate...I bet. How could they ever achieve that while sucking all of the oxygen out of the room?

Notice the 1:1 and floor meetings listed on page 80...

I've not had time to wade through the entire document and think I'll need to do so on an empty stomach.

Ironically two of the references cited are "Where Colleges Fail; a study of the student as a person." and, "Essays on Moral Development, Vol. 2, The Nature and Validity of Moral Stages".

One suspects that the terms "Moral" and "Fail" are used in the most Orwellian way possible.

Julian said...

Piot's work was so pathetic, every time I see his name I chuckle.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately if KC is right, and I am understanding his writings clearly. The University system cannot and will not change by any force currently available in the short term or maybe even longer.

What then does one do to save the universities, and the country as a whole?

Fortunately, I do not believe that all minds are twisted by the brain mushing of so called intellectuals who try to indoctrinate everyone into their sick little world view. History is full of individuals fighting the collective.

But, with that said look at all the waste of resources even if 50% of students are not brainwashed that results in 50% of students who can achieve little else then to continue the same.

How far does one go? The extreme of Mao or Pol Pot forcing all proffesors to a farm to shovel pig manure or die?

OR simply stop giving money?

I think either one will work one in a year the other in four or five generations as the endowments give out.

Tom E.

Ralph Phelan said...

Duke and many other wealthy institutions are also large charitable entities that view their mission in terms of the redistribution of wealth—first in the relatively paltry manner of handing out scholarships and fellowships, but much more importantly in the creation of lasting “social capital” in their graduates.

The following is pure speculation on my part, and any information to either support or disporve it is welcomed. But here goes anyway, in conscious ignorance:

I would guess that the faculty, administration and board of trustees of Duke or Harvard circa 1907 would see their mission as transfering knowledge between generations rathers than wealth between classes.

That the latter appears a common-sense description of current affairs is another victory for Gramsci.

Anonymous said...

A most interesting and thoughtful comment. Thank you whoever took the time to share those thoughts.

I appreciate that presumably Vanderbilt would not have been so eager to get Houston Baker had the University known of his racist tirades. I also understand that tenured professors (but not quite so much university presidents) are almost as fixed in any university as a granite statue of the university founder. And I especially enjoy the analogy of universities generally to charitable organizations--with example scenarios.

Here's what still bothers me: (1) renewal of Kim Curtis' contract along with (apparently) those of all non-tenured faculty in the G88, (2) the Lisker/McClain appointments, (3) Grant Farred's appointment to Cornell and Karla Holloway's appointment to Harvard.

How can we explain these things even within your excellent and well developed framework? The Garden Club or the governing body at church would have understood the issues and responded better than has Duke, Cornell or Harvard.

On the subject of why President Brodhead failed...he was not able to "achieve a state of uneasy non-belligerence with his faculty" (love that phrase). The G88 was quite belligerent, but they directed the belligerence toward the students, not toward the most patient, accommodating, and supportive president they could ever hope for...and in the process, they have most likely destroyed him.

Observer

bystander said...

"It is nearly impossible to fire a tenured professor, however deep that person sinks into sloth or incompetence."

Humm. A valid point. However, it misses the real problem with tenure.

Freedom from being punished for what you say attracts those who want to avoid being punished for what they say more than most. This would be people who are more afraid than most people, and people who are aware that what they say would normally be punishable -- usually because it is a nutty thing to say.

Neither trait is really desirable in a teacher.

(To be sure, this applies to those who chose the job because of tenure. The job does have other attractions that might attract people not having these traits. But tenure means that academia will disproportionately have the sort of people attracted by tenure.)

jamil hussein said...

Unfortunately, Klan88 is the future of higher indoctrination (formerly known as education) in this country. Pres. Brodhead no doubt has great future, perhaps a president of Harvard or Sec. of Education in Hillary admin. His CV show will state that he showed
"leadership in difficult times".

Univ. of Delaware indoctrination camp ("all whites are racist") was shut down, but it was only a temporary setback for Klan88.

Combination of far-left liberal hiring policies, tenure system, racial privileges (with orwellian name affirmative action) and support from the Democratic party has resulted far-left academic environment. It cannot be repaired anymore.

anon said...

Thank you for this post which is a refreshing reminder of how the world really works. (it is always useful to hear from the grown-ups in discussions like these) That said, expressions of outrage in the comment section of the blog perform a useful purpose as well. KC's approach revealing the mettle and character of the Group of 88 was especially useful in exposing them to folks who had no idea this kind of "thinking" is so prevalent on our university campuses. Our outrage is only matched by our lack of patience. Still, we do fail to recognize the degree of our progress and we need to do that if only to keep us on mission and enthused. For example, when reading the back cover of my copy of UPI, I scoffed at some of the commenters, several of whom IMHO are leftists who buy into the philosophy of the Group of 88. I later realized that Stuart and KC were trying to head off the expected dismissal of their book as a work of right wing propaganda by involving "luminaries" from the left to lend credibility to the work. Yes, I know the issues raised in UPI are not really liberal or conservative issues but rather issues all of us who believe in our wonderful republic and its cherished tenets should concern ourselves with. The left is abandoning these tenents with frightening regularity and this phenomina may well harm our nation perhaps in a way that cannot be repaired. We all have our role to play in preventing this from happening and we must play it with passion and intelligence. Change though takes time, much more time than we know and we must remain vigilant and tireless in our efforts whenever we see the opportunity to do so. Thanks for giving us that opportunity, KC and thanks for yours and Stuart's efforts as well.

Anonymous said...

To the 6:42

They provided information on fascinating readings and course offerings that might be new to many readers. I found the Latin American studies/literature and Cultural Antropology postings particularly useful. They encouraged me to look up books and articles on similar topics


Are you joking? You must be a COMMUNIST.

Anonymous said...

I especially liked the poster's mention of the power of derision and opprobrium. It seems to me that those at Duke, who made it their "job" to try to railroad Collin, Reade and Dave, are especially vulnerable to derision and absolutely cannot stand to be the objects of laughter. Nor can Duke itself.

I don't quite understand the reference to John Silber. He was at UT when I was there and still Chancellor at BU when my daughter received her masters. As I recall, he did an outstanding job of increasing BU's reputation as an academic institution. He may not have been beloved, but he was respected- which I imagine was his goal. Though retired, I suspect that Silber would be an excellent choice to clean up Duke in the short term.

Texas Mom

Anonymous said...

The comment about Boston University is strange and without merit. The history of John Silber at Boston University is sad, indeed, for the left-leaning, non-productive faculty there. Others view it differently.

When John Silber arrived from Texas in the early seventies BU was a commuter school with close to 100% acceptance rate. Under his leadership there was a profound improvement in faculty quality and productivity, funded research, number and quality of applicants, and national reputation. The school had three Nobel prize winners until last year when Saul Bellow died.

The history of his tenure is sad for those who wished the university to remain as it was - a third-rate institution across the river from two first-rate institutions.

Ralph Phelan said...

"John Silber's presidency of Boston University is not a good example of getting the administrative job right. I have known faculty there and I can assure everyone that the man was a very poor academic administrator."

And the faculty at Columbia hated Eisenhower, too.

I am long, long past caring if the faculty are happy, or unquestioningly accepting their view of the "way things should be.". In fact, I consider their squeals of outrage a sign of positive change.

You baldly assert that Silber was a a "poor academic administrator." Please give us specific criticisms, and evidence to back them up.

Ralph Phelan said...

"I appreciate that presumably Vanderbilt would not have been so eager to get Houston Baker had the University known of his racist tirades. "

Yet even before the Duke LaCrosse Burning that was what he was known for - try googling his name and the phrase "water buffalo." This was the second time this guy helped turn what should have been a local news item into a national embarrassment. That he's still employed tells me that there is some very strong force impelling universities to hire diversity racists even when they have obvious institutional interests not to.

Ralph Phelan said...

How far does one go? The extreme of Mao or Pol Pot forcing all proffesors to a farm to shovel pig manure or die?

OR simply stop giving money?

I think either one will work one in a year the other in four or five generations as the endowments give out.

Tom E.


If we also stop giving them our tax money it'll go a lot faster.

Ralph Phelan said...

Repeating myself, but with I think a good analogy:

I understand that an institution like Duke changes course with the agility of a supertanker rather than a kayak. What disturbs me is that all external evidence indicates that they have only turned their rudder even harder to the left.

Anonymous said...

Well written post. Agree with point 1--although he will disappear after a long enough time that you will not be able to tell if it was pressure or simple age-related retirement. I am less optimistic about points 2 & 3. Yes, alumni are more watchful, but only for the time being. And too many of the 88 are getting promoted--because their peers are loyal to them.

Turning around the ideological stance of the supreme court will be quicker than turning around an academic institution.

Ken said...

The comment does present an interesting viewpoint and the arguments are well put and logical. That being said, it does not address the core problem. Academics are free to be fools and bullies because they have absolute job security through tenure. No one dissenting from the standard left wing political religion, with a few exceptions, has a chance at tenure. Conservatives have stopped even trying.

The tenure system protects the secure comfort of any number of people who couldn't hold a job in the real world. It needs to be abolished. Let academics compete for jobs like everyone else. To those who say tenure is necessary to attract good people to teaching, I have to ask is the current cop of academics anything near acceptable?

I also feel that the commenter is far too kind to Brodhead. He should have been fired, if not for his pathetic performance during the scandal, at least for bring members of the lynch mob of 88 to Duke. in no other business would such a performance be tolerated.

Anonymous said...

It is true that the average Duke graduate will probably "... do considerably better than the average graduate of Western Kentucky State Teachers' College."

The author implies a causal relationship between the intellectual quality of an institution and lifetime earnings. That is an intuitively appealing conclusion but not a valid one.

There are probably multiple factors influencing subsequent earnings, including the selection process and family connections.

One way to test the author's assertion would be to take all those who plan to attend Duke and randomly assign them to Duke and to the other school. That test won't happen.

Gary Packwood said...

Even sausage factories need regulations and standards.

The comments from yesterday and today helps demonstrate that if the faculty does not watch over their own unique sausage making operations, the government will jump in and squeeze the academies across the country into little homogenized SPAM factories.

It's the facts and not the management of disasters that matter when you are in the kid business.

Duke faculty, you are under the microscope.

Is the juice worth the squeeze?
::
GP

traveler said...

Tenure limits could accomplish the same goal as term limits would to politicians. A sort of natural cleansing process every now and then.

Tenure review every five years, and any proven student complains of off-topic rhetoric, carrying a heavy weight toward probationary status return. How easy is that?

Professors and students both taping every lecture, transparency at no extra cost. No loss of intellectual freedom within the stated syllabus subject. A win-win?

Anonymous said...

Dear Traveler at 10:20,

How are you going to prove student assertions against faculty? Record every class session? Have bi-annual trials and hearings? Great for pre-law, maybe, but lousy for teaching. How easy is that? What kind of classroom would be created?

You--and others who post here--have IMHO a distorted conception of academia as some left-wing Leviathan. Not true in my experience. And sometimes students--not unlike Chrystal, who is so rightly reviled on this blog--have caused problems for some faculty. Why? How? Sometimes, they misunderstand discussions. Other times, they have misrepresented them. Occasionally, they lie. In any case, universities have processes in place for complaints. This is not a left or a right issue.

I work in a university and I've never seen or heard of the kinds of classroom abuses so often described here. It may be a matter of persepctive.

When my child goes to university, I hope s/he is exposed to a variety of viewpoints that s/he won't have had in high school, at home, or seen in the IMHO center/right news media. Communists?!! Bring 'em on. I find them far less frightening then the creationists who want to dictate what kids learn in science class.

Debrah said...

Don't walk....run over to Johnsville News for the Piot cartoon.

Hilarious!

Debrah said...

After just returning from a long and exhilarating Diva run this morning, I now have a somewhat different opinion of the comment featured in this post.

While I was gratified to read such thoughtful dialogue--as I always appreciate a good turn-of-phrase--I believe this commenter is someone who is so woven inside the academy that even though he/she illuminates the blemishes in bold relief......

.....he/she (G/d, how I hate anonymous comments!).....doesn't really want things to be shaken up in any meaningful way.

Just think if all these thoughtful effulgences had been aimed toward a design for change instead of preaching doom and gloom.

I'll borrow a century-old line and just say that...."Can't never could".

Richard Aubrey said...

There are guys who went to community colleges and, in a few years, owned a tire store, and in a few years more, a chain of tire stores. Or fast-food franchises.
They did okay.
Somebody, I think P. J. O'Rourke, mused on the question as to who has done more harm to the US. Graduates of the Ivies, or grads of community colleges.
The Duke diploma is a valuable brand, but it would be interesting to see just how much a Duke business grad knows about bond trading, as opposed to a "state" grad.
Part of what makes these people valuable as rookies is connections.
The "state" grad doesn't have any and is doomed to start out with cold calls.
Once people figure out, to the extent they haven't, that the Duke $40k fee is buying only an imprimatur that they Belong, which they would anyway without Duke, the value of the brand will drop.

There are certain military academies whose primary function is to generate an old boys network, into which the new grads move, to their great advantage. Sometimes military service ensues, many times not.
It would be interesting to see the actual extent of the education in those schools.
IMO, or perhaps it's wishful thinking, the elite universties' brands are going to drop in value.

Also, as somebody said, compound the cost of a college education over forty years at, say, 5% and see whether skipping the entire exercise leaves you behind your graduate buddies when you retire.

inman said...

This is a bit off topic but I was just reading an article about the rising rate of home foreclosures in the US, the losses being incurred by the banking system, the potential for further credit problems -- and then saw in the margin a quote from none other than --- oh my god -- Robert K. Steel, who is now US Treasury Under-Secretary for Domestic Finance and who has been involved in various plans to avert a crisis.

I think the we (and the rest of the United States) just jumped from the Duke lacrosse frying pan into the mortgage crisis fire.
_________________________________

I wonder what the mortgage foreclosure rate is in Durham?

I wonder if Bob Steel is still wearing his blinders and ear plugs?

Ralph Phelan said...

"Tenure review every five years, and any proven student complains of off-topic rhetoric, carrying a heavy weight toward probationary status return. How easy is that?"

Not at all easy given current management structures at universities. The whole way universities are run is based on trusting the faculty to do their jobs competently and fairly. The end result has been that the lunatics now run the asylum.

If you no longer trust the faculty (which based on their performances at Duke, Harvard, the University of Colorado, and many others, is the case for me) you need to change university management and hiring structures to reduce faculty independence from outside forces. When that happens, the faculty will scream about the loss of "academic freedom." When they do, remember that those screaming the loudest never cared about the freedom of anyone they disagreed with, only their own freedom to get paid for "teaching" their own political views.

Nicole said...

This is not a rhetorical question. I had my formal education in a communist country and did not have a choice of courses, therefore, I had to take Marxism-Leninism, Russian language, Stalin about Linguistics, Political Economy and other "useful" courses, comparable to Women's studies or AA studies.
My question is: are these students REQUIRED to take such non-sense courses in order to graduate? Why cannot these impostor-professors be ignored and, thus, classes cancelled because of lack of registrants?
I hope someone can enlighten me. I have been following this extraordinary blog for almost a year and am indebted to Professor Johnson and most of you for helping me understand this complicated society that has been my country for almost 39 years.

Anonymous said...

11:03 on harm to America. I vote for the Ivies, hands down. Graduate George Bush and the war in Iraq make 'em a winner for me.

Anonymous said...

A question for Nicole at 11:13:

How long ago did you study? Wasn't "Stalinist" linguistics gone from most curricula for years before 1989? In the East Bloc, I mean.

No, many of the courses people discuss here are not required.

And, undersubscribed courses don't necessarily have a particular political bent. Some courses may be undersubscribed one semester or quarter and not the next. Students don't like Friday courses (gets in the way of Thursday night drinking binges) or early morning courses (meaning anything before 11), for example. There are numberous variable.

mac said...

Institutions change when their products fail to sell - eventually.

I don't see a day when Duke's better programs won't sell, but employers - who buy Duke's "products" - are surely going to be more discerning. and not just from Duke.

Programs that ought to be eliminated probably will be - like a study in eugenics or phrenology from past generations. Ridicule and market forces - and science - did them in, ultimately.

I've noticed that UVA now advertises need-based (rather than race-based) grants for qualified students. The change is already occuring.

People like Houston Baker are anachronisms, living (in their own minds) in a day when race (or Jewishness) was used to keep students out of higher education. Now that there is a burgeoning population of AA students who either are adults returning to school, or who have opportunities not available in the past, the racialist hand-wringing seems that much more pathetic. The people who have been left behind deserve to be left behind.

Notice that CGM never took Jesse Jackson up on his offer.

Yes, KC, the poster is right: ships take a long time to right themselves. I disagree that the changes won't result in some immediate "Apocalypse Now," though: Harvard had theirs (albeit the wrong kind of purge.)

Brodhead and the 88 and their brethren have steered their ship into a typhoon, the sharks are circling and the water is getting shallower and the shoals are almost visible.

traveler said...

Flashback: Discussion - PC = Politically Correct (No real meaning)

Looking into a bowl of Halloween candy, I see M&M‘s. Two words come to mind to replace Political Correctness: Malevolent - Manipulation
If people use M&M’s candy to remember it, so be it.

Malevolent
1 : having, showing, or arising from intense often vicious ill will, spite, or hatred
2 : productive of harm or evil

Manipulation
1: to manage or utilize skillfully b: to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one's own advantage
2: to change by artful or unfair means so as to serve one's purpose

Malevolent - Manipulation (That has real meaning)

(If someone already said MM, then I am just seconding the motion.)

Anonymous said...

KC This is terrific. I have received a great education on your blog. I am Joe Average and for me, the writer's conclusions reflect the real world. Whenever anything good job wise happens in our family, we say "Thank you Chicago", "Thank you Harvard" etc. Thank you, KC.

inman said...

nicole @ 11:13

To be honest, some of the work of the Women's and AAAS studies (at Duke and elsewhere) is worthy of consideration and is properly deemed a valuable contribution to mankind's understanding of social structure, culture, history, etc. I'm certain that I would enjoy, for example, taking a class on the Southern plantation culture and slavery.

The problem arises when the attention to scholarship is subordinated to an agenda or an objective to be achieved -- and that often can occur, as it did at Duke, in the context of a class(es) that would otherwise have only a search for truth as the agenda. And in the particular instance of the Duke Lacrosse Burning, the intersection of race, gender and social class agendas with professors all too willing to subordinate truth to those agendas created the appearance, if not the fact, of indoctrination instead of teaching or truth seeking.

My opinion.

haskell said...

richard aubrey 11:03 am. Take a hard look at "Choosing the Right College". This book has been a godsend to me, the authors have done their homework. Many schools give you a better education than some of the "elite" institutions.

Choosing the Right College

R.R. Hamilton said...

I used to date a girl from the Northeast. About politics, I told her: "Your conservatives are the same as our liberals. Our conservatives aren't anywhere on your political spectrum, nor are your liberals on ours."

It still stunning to me that all one has to do to be a "conservative academic" in Massachusetts is to oppose hiring a known Communist like Herbert Marcuse and to oppose honoring sexual promiscuities as legitimate collegiate pursuits.

Silber seems to be a "conservative" in the KC Johnson-mold: "Under Silber, Boston University increased in size and stature but questions about his leadership style caused splits among faculty and alumni. In 1976, Silber survived an attempted ouster that was supported by 10 deans." Sound familiar?

Michael said...

re: 6:51

I grew up in Boston and have a masters degree from BU. My mother has a degree from BU as well.

I didn't pay close attentions to many of the controversies at Boston University while he was there but I do recall that he was generally credited with putting it back on a decent financial footing.

A parent that I work with is putting his son through BU at $43K/year and he has two other children to put through as well. I have a degree from Boston College as well and the two universities are like night and day with regard to alumni ties.

I went and read about the controversies and there's a lot of stuff there that I never knew about. But my general impression of BU and Silber were positive while he was there.

Anonymous said...

ralph phelan said of Houston Baker at Vanderbilt...

That he's still employed tells me that there is some very strong force impelling universities to hire diversity racists even when they have obvious institutional interests not to.

11/6/07 9:40 AM


Here's your "very strong force" -- as usual, it's the invisible foot of government.

RRH

Anonymous said...

Ralph Phelan, you are absolutely correct on the water buffalo caper, (how could I possibly have forgotten?), and Vanderbilt is now married without the possibility of divorce to Houston Baker and his wife. In case anyone missed this (like me who held onto the hope that Professor Baker was merely a visiting professor at Vanderbilt), I am sorry to report that Houston Baker is a TENURED DISTINGUISHED UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR at Vanderbilt University. His wife is also tenured in the Women's Studies Dept. So Vanderbilt very clearly has the seedlings for its own Gang of 88. Alas. The only hope is that Professor Baker will feel too much the prison he perceives the South (and all of the US) to be, and break himself free. If he hated Duke/Durham, I cannot imagine how the man could tolerate Vanderbilt/Nashville. The only improvement I can see for him in Nashville would be the airport--from which he could find easy transportation to yet a new university--if he hasn't used up all his easy landings.

The one bright spot in my search for more info on Professor Baker was the Wikipedia entry on him. It did not mince words and quotes directly from his famous letter and e-mail.

Chancellor Gee did a great disservice to Vanderbilt on this one, and I am sure he was well aware of the water buffalo affair!

Observer

traveler said...

Debrah said...
Don't walk....run over to Johnsville News for the Piot cartoon.

Hilarious!

11/6/07 10:50 AM
---------
You are right about hilarious, do you suppose the prune-faced troll we have is grimacing or laughing?

Silly question that- he/she is in that elite, rarefied air, with a stagnant stench. No laughter allowed there. Aren’t you sad for them?

R.R. Hamilton said...

Here's the real-world Leftwing response to "academic freedom":

CUNY Professor Sued for Libel [Candace de Russy]

A former head of the faculty senate at the City University of New York, Kingsboro Community College Professor Susan O’Malley, has filed a $ 2 million libel suit against her most biting critic, Emeritus Professor Sharad Karkhanis. The latter has accused her of recruiting terrorists to teach at the university and campaigning for administrative positions to avoid teaching classes herself.

Karkhanis made the accusation after O'Malley proposed to rehire Mohamed Yousry, an Arabic-language translator convicted of supporting terrorist activities. He was fired from York College.

Karkhanis also criticized O'Malley for defending the right of an adjunct lecturer at John Jay College, Susan Rosenberg, to teach at the school. Rosenberg was a member of a radical group, the Weather Underground, and had served 16 years in prison for keeping explosives in her apartment.

A professor of business and economics at Brooklyn College, Mitchell Langbert, maintains Karkhanis was acting within his rights. "Sharad is an extremely influential force," Langbert comments in The New York Sun. "The union, an ingrown left-wing group, has every motivation to try to silence him. Getting him embroiled in a lawsuit like this would be advantageous to the union leadership."

Robert KC Johnson, a professor of history at Brooklyn College cites the defamation suit as yet another example of the academic left’s lack of commitment to free speech.

10/31 01:28 PM

Ralph Phelan said...

You--and others who post here--have IMHO a distorted conception of academia as some left-wing Leviathan.

Not entirely composed of the left wing, just dominated by it.

Not true in my experience.

But true in many of ours. And you don't give any indication what your experience is.

And sometimes students--not unlike Chrystal, who is so rightly reviled on this blog--have caused problems for some faculty. Why? How? Sometimes, they misunderstand discussions. Other times, they have misrepresented them. Occasionally, they lie. In any case, universities have processes in place for complaints. This is not a left or a right issue.

In my experience it is a left/right issue, because investigation and enforcement are systematically unfair.

I work in a university and I've never seen or heard of the kinds of classroom abuses so often described here.

What university? If it really is free of PC madness many people would love to send their kids to it.

It may be a matter of persepctive.

How so? That your perspective presents you from hearing about these things, or that it causes you to think they're not so bad?

When my child goes to university, I hope s/he is exposed to a variety of viewpoints that s/he won't have had in high school, at home, or seen in the IMHO center/right news media.

Well, you've just defined yourself as way to the left of the average American voter, which will affect how I interpret your comments above.

Communists?!! Bring 'em on. I find them far less frightening then the creationists who want to dictate what kids learn in science class.

How many people have Christians killed in the 2000 years they've been around? Crusades and all, it's still orders of magnitude less than Communists have killed in under 200.

I don't want any Communists teaching a class I'm paying for, not because I believe their attempts at indoctrination will work, but because to still be a Communist in this day and age one must be both evil and stupid, and I don't like either quality in a teacher, much less both.

And while so far as I know the creationists have yet to successfully stifle any discussions at major universities, the PCists have made it impossible to talk about the latest research in cognitive differences between men and women. Just ask Larry Summers. In terms of current performance they are the bigger threat.

Ralph Phelan said...

R.R. Hamilton said...
Here's the real-world Leftwing response to "academic freedom"

Remember this, for when the assault on tenure starts and the doom and gloom about the loss of precious academic freedom begins.

Specifics of what "academic freedom" really means in practice will be very valuable then.

no justice, no peace said...

Inre: "...Change though takes time..."

The Czars, and later day Soviet communists for that matter, may both take exception to that comment.

Anonymous said...

Ralph Phelan, Which university employs you? Thanks.

Debrah said...

TO "traveler"--

That cartoon must be very annoying for the pronation-prone Piot.

What a nut he's made of himself!

People like Piot and his circle of incestuous creeps usually have no sense of humor; however, that cartoon has provided much-deserved humiliation.

Anonymous said...

To the 1:11, Creationists have, however, made inroads into high school education in some places. True?

How many people have the Christinans killed? I'd say a good plenty. Not just the Crusades, but also imperial wars, etc...

traveler said...

Julian said...
Piot's work was so pathetic, every time I see his name I chuckle.
11/6/07 8:23 AM
--------------------------------
Excellent, I am adding that to the name
Index: Piot, Chuckle

R.R. Hamilton said...

anonymous says ....

Ralph Phelan, Which university employs you? Thanks.

11/6/07 1:24 PM


I don't recall R.P. saying he works at a university, though it would be heartening to learn that he does. Are you asking because you want to offer him a job?



anonymous says ....

How many people have the Christinans killed? I'd say a good plenty. Not just the Crusades, but also imperial wars, etc...

11/6/07 1:32 PM

Put a number to it so that we may compare it with those killed by Communists.

And name the wars fought to advance Christianity so that we may compare these with the wars waged for Communism. Name the countries that were forcibly Christianized, so that we may compare these with those countries forcibly Communized.

For without comparisons no judgments are valid.

Anonymous said...

Is Duke a state school?

Anonymous said...

I thought the subject of this commentary knows a good bit about how universities work and I am in full agreement with most of what is said. I agree that if Brodhead leaves, it will not be soon but is inevitable. And lets don't shoot the messenger for pointing out that our language in this blog occasionally jumps the track!

Gary Packwood said...

Nicole 11:13 said...

...My question is: are these students REQUIRED to take such non-sense courses in order to graduate? Why cannot these impostor-professors be ignored and, thus, classes canceled because of lack of registrants?
I hope someone can enlighten me. I have been following this extraordinary blog for almost a year and am indebted to Professor Johnson and most of you for helping me understand this complicated society that has been my country for almost 39 years.
::
You question points out a dilemma we have here with this discussion of Duke, the Duke faculty and the Duke staff.

The G88 does not operate in a vacuum. There is the Duke Office of Student Affairs with their $30M annual budget that pulls off 'programming' for students that support many of the objectives of the G88.

They work together and they are supposed to work together with appropriate faculty oversight of their curriculum!

It is possible to avoid G88 courses but it is damn near impossible to escape all of those 'programs' on campus offered by the Office of Student Affairs.

Impossible except of course, if you are a group of white male athlete who know they are not wanted ON campus and thus create their own 'programs' OFF campus.
::
GP

Debrah said...

I just went back and discovered the post that KC has republished above.

Even though it is written very well, a major mistake for the poster was not creating paragraphs and double-spacing once and a while.

Readers have a much more comfortable experience when the entire post isn't posted in a long, single-spaced chunk.

I often scroll by those kinds of posts.....only to go back and read their entirety if I have the time.

I'm glad KC chose to revisit these comments. It resulted in an interesting conversation.

Anonymous said...

Is Baker a Communist?

Ralph Phelan said...

Anonymous 11/6/07 1:24 PM said...
"Ralph Phelan, Which university employs you? Thanks."

None. My experience with higher education has been entirely from the customer point of view.

I was curious because the anonymous commenter I was replying too claims to work at a university where there's no ideological bullying by the faculty. As I know some teenagers who are nearing college applications time, I would really like to know the name of it so I can pass it on.

Debrah said...

From Salon:

Feminists want "vagina" all to themselves?

"Vagina is a tough word that refuses to roll easily off the tongue. It has such a sense of taboo that nobody feels totally comfortable talking about it -- not even women, but especially men. So use of the word remains almost exclusively to the feminists.

"I can't quite put my finger on it, but it seems that vajayjay is different. Unlike the starkly clinical vagina, I see a vajayjay as a happy and inviting place, with a warm and fuzzy connotation. Vajayjay says 'hello ... welcome' and 'open for business.' 'Vagina' screams textbook. 'Vajayjay' says Facebook.

"In short, 'vajayjay' has got us thinking outside of the box, which makes the feminists nervous. They want to keep 'vagina' all to themselves. That is why they are vajayjay naysayers."

-- Radio host and Philadelphia Daily News columnist Michael Smerconish on the recent "vagina" vs. "vajayjay" debate.

Michael said...

re: 12:27

Regarding the Northeast:

We moved from MA to NH two decades ago when NH was far more conservative, both fiscally and socially than it is today. Many residents of MA liked the lower taxes and higher quality of life in NH and moved in and then wanted the services that they had in MA in NH and of course, it's pretty easy to guess what happened next.

Of course a conservative in MA would be a liberal in NH and a liberal in NH would be a conservative in MA.

John Silber ran for governor as a democrat and loss to Bill Weld. Bill Weld was on track to become the Ambassador to Mexico with an appointment by Bill Clinton but I think it was derailed in the Senate. At any rate, the labels of conservative and liberal can be quite sloppy.

Merril Lynch and Citigroup just fired their CEOs. You lose enoug billions and some people start to care about it.

Anonymous said...

Julian said...
Piot's work was so pathetic, every time I see his name I chuckle.
__________

Julian, you made me laugh. So true/succinct! MOO! Gregory

Anonymous said...

3:09/Ralph Phelan,

I'd like to pose the question to you in the reverse: where do you know, first hand, of ideological bullying by faculty? I mean, other than the military academies, where it's not just ideological...

None of the kids I know in college or recent graduates have complained of such. Off the top of my head, they've attended schools in California, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Pennsylvania, so a variety. Some private; some public. Some well-known, some less so. Their complaints were more about quantity of work, especially reading. They haven't giped about quality of reading other than "boring."

You may be over worrying.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 3:39 wrote

"I'd like to pose the question to you [Phelan] in the reverse: where do you know, first hand, of ideological bullying by faculty?"

I'll loan Phelan my first-hand experiences.

I've taught at colleges on both coasts since the mid-80s, and since the mid-90s at Duke. I've lost count of the number of students who've come to my office to complain -- some nearly in tears -- about professors ridiculing and chastising them in class for daring to defend the superiority of Western civilization, or Israel, or big business, or the Founding Fathers, or daring to argue against feminism. In my book, that's "bullying."

Duke Prof

Anonymous said...

michael said at 3:35 PM ...

We moved from MA to NH two decades ago when NH was far more conservative, both fiscally and socially than it is today. Many residents of MA liked the lower taxes and higher quality of life in NH and moved in and then wanted the services that they had in MA in NH and of course, it's pretty easy to guess what happened next.

At least that was Yankees tormenting Yankees. Down in Texas, the refugees from Yankeedom came down and within 20 years you couldn't buy cigarettes from your restaurant waitress, drive with a cold beer between your legs, execute more than about one crook per week, or shoot your wife's lover cuz he was too slow jumping out the window. Four centuries hasn't changed those Puritans one bit.

RRH

Ralph Phelan said...

"where do you know, first hand, of ideological bullying by faculty?"

I was at MIT in the early '80s, during the early days of PC. There was a great on-campus controversy about the showing of x-rated movies (complete with, among other things, a test case engineered by one Adam Dershowitz, nephew of the Harvard law professor.)

I remember a great big "teach in" run by a group of students and faculty, which turned into bullying and humiliation of anyone who stood up and made a comment deviating from the "party line".
I remember Dean for Student Affairs Shirley McBay (who at the time I thought an inexplicable freak, but now recognize as the precursor of the professional diversity racists who staff "student affairs" departments all over the country, including the University of Delaware) doing things like:

Calling meetings of student government committees and only telling the members who she knew were going to vote "her" way.

Making a rule that if a movie was declared "pornographic" by a student committee she had designated it could only be shown in a certain smaller hall, refusing to get around to reviewing a specific movie, then trying to discipline the Lecture Series Committee for showing it in the designated hall, because she hadn't reviewed it yet.

Demanding that a specified fraction of the student budget be given to the Black Students Union.

Generally throwing her weight around and reducing the autonomy students had previously had.



A couple of years later, as a new teaching assistant I was asked to attend a training class in not being sexist in our teaching methods. A lot of the "research" we were shown supposedly proving the existence of the problems we were there to address seemed kind of dodgy, but at the time I assumed that was due to the general incompetence of the social sciences.

Then we started discussing a study that alleged that teachers tend to call on male students more than females, and ask different sorts of questions. Being still a good liberal at the time who thought this stuff was meant in good faith, and a problem-solving engineer type at heart, I suggested we be videotaped so we could rate ourselves by counting interactions and correct the problem if it existed. The instructor looked gobsmacked, came up with some hurried lame excuse why that couldn't be done, and went on to the next thing.

It was at that point that I started to figure out that fixing problems was not the point. Making white males feel guilty was the point.

Ralph Phelan said...

"None of the kids I know in college or recent graduates have complained of such."

I remember social conservatives being told: "You say you don't know any gay people? Well you're wrong - they're just telling you they're gay." I suspect a similar phenomenon is operating here.

Or maybe they're just so used to it they don't bother mentioning it any more.

Gary Packwood said...

traveler said 11:39 ...

...Flashback: Discussion - PC = Politically Correct (No real meaning)
...Looking into a bowl of Halloween candy, I see M&M‘s. Two words come to mind to replace Political
...Correctness: Malevolent - Manipulation
...If people use M&M’s candy to remember it, so be it.
...Malevolent - Manipulation (That has real meaning)
...(If someone already said MM, then I am just seconding the motion.)
::
Yes. M&M is good. I like.

Malicious-Manipulation would work also.
::
GP

One Spook said...

I would echo KC and others' assessment of this post. It was excellent.

The poster no doubt has intimate knowledge of how universities operate, and characterizes them by stating, "They move rather ponderously and within the confines of strict protocols. Our universities have a "business" aspect to them, but it is only one aspect, and the models of business reform or restructuring frequently brought forward are largely irrelevant to them.

In reading that, I was struck by how that comment so closely resembled the same observation made by the "establishment" of university administrations during the late 60's when I was on campus as an undergraduate.

In those days, students and other "activists" wanted change and they were told that the big old universities just couldn't change that quickly.

So, those groups rioted, burned buildings, had sit-ins and forced some of the very changes we see today.

What I believe many commenters here contend, however succinct and "supremely naive" their observations might be, is that perhaps the pendulmn has swung too far.

I sense that what many people want at our educational institutions today is a return to high quality scholarship among the academy and administrative leadership that is highly professional and that neither the academy nor administration will sacrifice those goals on the altar of political correctness or this very odd and dangerous obsession with everything race, class, and gender based.

I believe that most of us who comment here actually thought we were getting a high quality educational product at our schools.

The Duke hoax caused the soft and infected underbelly of that institution to be exposed for what it really was and for the profound damage it has caused to the body of the university as a whole.

Alums don't want to hear that this problem can't be fixed; they want to hear academics and administrative leaders tell them how it can be fixed.

I also believe that most reasonable people recognize the unique aspects of university culture and elements such as academic freedom, tenure, and the like. But, in return for accepting those unique features of the academic profession, is it unreasonable to expect that professors should abide by their own "Faculty Handbook?"

I do not think most people believe that a university professor has a unilateral contract, but it seems many professors believe they do.

If nothing else, this incident has at once exposed the damage that is caused when the academy tolerates among them those who do not live up to the traditional standards of the American academy, and Boards who have not executed sufficient accountability and oversight of the institutions they purport to lead.

The Duke hoax, brilliantly illuminated by KC Johnson, and the many incidents highlighted by FIRE have exposed some of the problems, and the internet permits the facts to receive wide dissemination.

People are rightfully angry.

The handwriting is on the wall. The academy can police itself or government will do it for them.

Leadership needs to happen.

One Spook

anon said...

Back when I was in college there were probably just as many leftist professors with radical ideas similar to the Group of 88. What is different now is the lack of ethics and restraint shown by so many college faculty.

For example, I remember taking part in a discussion on the American Revolution in an American Colonial History class where I expressed indignation at England's withholding the "rights of Englishmen" to inhabitants of the colonies. In response to my comment the professor said, "I looks like you would have had a lot in common with Sam Adams."

His point was to refrain from taking a position on the controversy of those times and instead allow students to not only make their own judgements but also to support those judgements. He left me frustrated and I only realized his intention much later.

Many professors today fail to understand or adhere to this standard and instead use their position to advocate. This is a kind of conceit but it is also a breach of ethics. It demonstrates a lack of maturity not exactly welcome or appropriate in a university setting. The Duke Group of 88 exhibit this lack of maturity and professionalism in much of what they say and write and several have punished students for not agreeing with their politics, another breach.

Nicole said...

To anon @11.32: I attended university in the late 50s. My first course in Linguistics mentioned Stalin's contribution to this discipline. It was then politically correct to metion Stalin's wisdom in all domains: agriculture, architecture.. you name it. Stalin was a genius :-)and professors played it safe.
------------------
To Inman @11.56: If, absurdly, a course in Southern plantation culture and slavery would have been offered (one did not have a choice then) it would have been so imbued with Communist ideology of exploitation of the working class, so warped.. you cannot imagine how "they" managed to twist history in order to prove the superiority of a socialist society..There was indoctrination in ALL our courses, even in medical school.

Nicole said...

gary packwood @2.39pm:
"It is possible to avoid G88 courses but it is damn near impossible to escape all of those 'programs' on campus offered by the Office of Student Affairs"
------------
So, in order to graduate, one has to take one of these 'programs' offered by OSA. Isn't this a way to indoctrinate a young person with an ideology suitable to the Gang of 88?

Anonymous said...

"And Baker has plenty of idols at Duke, at least among the radical faculty. These are bad people, people who would want to see someone imprisoned or even killed just for their own entertainment. And they make up the heart of modern "elite" higher education."

"11/6/07 7:06 AM"


The very lamentable fact is that certain members of Group of 88 are so blinded that they see no harm in the sacrifice of innocents to further their goals. As long as those people are of a certain race, social standing, and sex, they are not people who deserve due process. They are to be dehumanized, treated like "farm animals" and sacrificed at the altar of political correctness.

No matter how they rationalize the Lax hoax with their tortured, arcance, arrogant, multisyllabic language, the message that the group of 88, the Duke Administration, and the City of Durham has delivered to us common folk is clear.

What they can't stand about this blog is that KC has "factualized" their words and actions in such a clear and concise manner that they can no longer hide, have no credible rebuttal, and have been exposed to the blinding light of truth. From this they can never hide.

Anonymous said...

Is Baker a Communist?

11/6/07 3:00 PM

Think the question should be: Is Baker a racist ?

a Duke Dad said...

Anonymous 3:49 PM said:

"I'd like to pose the question to you in the reverse: where do you know, first hand, of ideological bullying by faculty?"

My daughter's required Freshman Composition class at Duke required students to toe the mark on PC. Quotes had to be changed to be gender neutral: "....self evident: All PEOPLE are created equal" "Human Kind" ... and it went on and on.

My son at Princeton, as well as his classmates, resented the political commissar attitude of the left wing faculty. One public lecture supporting Israel had an unannounced change of room (to another building); no notice posted. After 20 minutes, half the audience had left, as it was uncertain if the event was going to be held (it was... just 'someone forgot' to post the new location).

As we can see from the desperate 88'ers posting here as "Anonymous" , the left fervently believes The Ends Justify the Means.

Anonymous said...

Catotti is leading in the election, unbelievable! More years of Durham in Wonderland ahead!

R.R. Hamilton said...

This is a comment from an apparent professor at insidehighered.com. The full story and other comments of which this is a part may be found here.

Personal story:

We had a search for someone in Modern Middle East History. The Chair of the Search Committee was a famous feminist.Whenever any member of the faculty brought up the issue of the lack of rights of women under Islam to any of the candidates—one of whom dealt with gender issues; one of whom dealt with Saudi Arabia, where gender is totally imbricated with masculinity—what that faculty member got was a SCOWL. How dare we bring up such an impolite topic? Didn’t we understand that different cultures have a right to be different?

The best way for feminists to help Muslim women is publicly to protest their oppression. Put pressure on the hideous reactionaries who run these places. But multiculturalism trumps feminism all the time. Now , it appears, helping oppressed third-world women—including, for instance, protesting genital mutilation—is considered western cultural imperialism. And it’s SO “unsophisticated.”

At Columbia University, as Andrew Sullivan has pointed out in outrage, the Queer Theorists actually and explicitly SUPPORTED Ahmedinejad on homosexuality: there are no homosexuals in Iran. it turns out that being homosexual as a solid identity is MORE western cultural imperialism—the imposition of a western style identity on third world polymorphous sexuality.

I wish I were making this up. A good place to start, aside from Andrew Sullivan’s outrage which you can find by googling, is Joseph Massad, “Re-Orienting Desire: The Gay International and the Arab World” (2002). Here Massad attacks as western imperialists who wish to destroy an unchanging and authentic Muslim culture those western gays who wish to help the oppressed and heavily-closeted gays in the Muslim world, people who are threatened with constant death. He even creates “the Gay International,” not unlike “The Isreal Lobby.” That’s not surprising: Massad, like Hamid Dabashi, is one of the famous anti-semites in the Middle Eastern Studies program at Columbia University.

Only in America—or Britain.

I think it is a serious intellectual point that fashionable multiculturalism is leading important elements of the modern bien-pensant Left to coddle, protect and “understand” violent and grotesque religious reactionaries out of the seventh century A.D. I guess it’s the most powerful anti-Western game in town.

Anonymous said...

It just struck me: KC is a "historian of Congress".

I have a book idea -- one that I would not only buy, I'd fund. And I think it's a book whose time has come.

There is much talk lately about the "New Hitler-Stalin Pact", in which the Left has allied with the Islamists in a copy of the Leftist pact with the Fascists in 1939-1941. Over at that site that I mentioned earlier, the Lefties are saying that American women without the ERA are worse off than Saudi women. (I'd love for the ERA to pass and rid us of segregated restrooms and sports, and end lower car insurance rates for women.)

Here's what I'd like to know, but it's very hard to find: My understanding is that FDR's pro-British program -- things like Lend-Lease, the Draft, etc. -- were only possible because of the support of Southern Senators. I know the Lefties on June 22, 1941 dropped their "Stop This Imperialist War!" placards and changed them to "SECOND FRONT NOW!!!!" I would like to see a book that exposed just how completely allied the Left was to Hitler in the 1939-41 period, and how the American (and British and Aussie and all the Anglosphere) Right was the only serious opposition to Naziism. A mention of Joe Kennedy wouldn't be out of bounds.

KC, are you game?

RRH

Anonymous said...

To the 4:46pm--Can you accept the possibility that some students just don't feel or think about this the way you want them to? Or even believe they do? What if this is a bigger deal to you and a few ideologues than to many college students? How do you measure your claims? Is a complaint or two or ten enough?

Anonymous said...

Duke Prof said....

I've taught at colleges on both coasts since the mid-80s, and since the mid-90s at Duke. I've lost count of the number of students who've come to my office to complain -- some nearly in tears -- about professors ridiculing and chastising them in class for daring to defend the superiority of Western civilization, or Israel, or big business, or the Founding Fathers, or daring to argue against feminism. In my book, that's "bullying."

11/6/07 4:30 PM


DP, I don't know if this will help you with your crying kittens, but here it is.

When I was in college, I had some prof say that bullshit about how "Americans are anti-intellectual". I shot back to him in front of the class, "That's cuz the intellectuals are anti-American". (He reluctantly agreed.) At a faculty-student party, I told a prof that he and I were fixing to do the three-legged race down to Brackenridge Hospital so the doctors could get my foot out of his ass if he kept up his anti-American bullshit. He ended up crying and falling down drunk in a closet later on.

The thing was, I had been in the military before college. Though I spent only three years, I was nearly 21 when I started college. To get in the military, I took an oath to take a bunch of bullshit from the "officers appointed over me". Later, after law school, I took an oath to take bullshit from the "judicial officers". But in between the Army and law school, I never took no goddamn oath to take bullshit from undergraduate professors. Tell your kittens that they didn't either.

RRH

Anonymous said...

RRH at 1:37,

I think you can find a number of books that address how "allied" some elements of American business remained with the Japanese until December 7, 1941. There was also post-September 1, 1939 trade between the US and Germany, since they weren't immediately belligerents. Neither hurt the Axis war effort.

Equally, Joe Kennedy, was long willing to give Adolf Hitler the benefit of the doubt. In so doing, he was like any number of British Conservatives, chief among them Neville ("Peace in Our Time") Chamberlain, whose name is inextricably linked with Munich. (The destruction of Czechoslovakia, a sovereign state at the hands of its allies France & Britain, together with Italy and Germany, which were not, in autumn 1938.) The word used was "appeasement."

Beginning in March 1941, FDR employed the Lend-Lease Act to supply Britain, China, THE SOVIET UNION, and other allies, with war materiel. That instead of out-right loans, which was the case in WWI, I believe. The Lend-Lease Act was not ennacted without opposition from isolationists, many of whom were "conservative." You can find out who opposed this act, and you will find names of some conservative Congressmen, politicians, and public figures prominent among them. Kansas Republican and 1936 GOP Vice Presidential nominee Alf Landon was one.

True, Stalinist left had to flip-flop on the Nazis. However, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939 was among other things, an agreement of non-aggression. Given that the Soviet Union was an important ally during the war, one might consider Molotov's negotiations with Ribbentrop to be a straight forward attempt at preservation. While one can and, people do, debate how much this Pact or the Nazi military detour of spring 1941 into the Balkans helped the Allied war effort, I think it did help.

The topics you mention have been, if not from your particular vantage point, the subject of historic research for several decades.

mac said...

I looked up the Baker reference in Wikipedia. He claimed to have been called "N" many times. Maybe so. Probably not more than I have been called "white m'f" and even "N" (which was actually funny.) Unfortunately, I had a bottle thrown at my head recently by one of these little bastard-boys that Baker loves so dearly.
Maybe one day, the kid who threw a bottle at my head and called me a "N" will visit Houston and his wife at Vanderbilt. One hopes not.

I took a class in a local college years ago - (over 10.) I was an older student, well above 30. It was a history class; The prof was an angry, bitter alcoholic, allegedly a closet-queen and he had a nasty habit of bullying the students. He actually could have made the course meaningful, because, in spite of his shortcomings, he had some real teaching talent. Sadly, he used all his energy to spew his venom at the young men and women.

Being older, I dropped the class, and I told him that I was too old to put up with his bullying crap, and that it might work on 18 year olds, but I didn't have to listen to it.

So much for finishing my degree. I figured I was wasting my time. As it turns out, it really isn't important in my work after all.

With colleges and universities charging more and more each year for tuition, I suspect that they may eventually be bypassed - or in the event of a depression, they may end up like Soviet academics, doing menial work. There is the potential, unfortunately or not.

Th only positive side of seeing such an academic depression is that we'd see people like my abusive small-college prof and Houston Baker having to work in an all-night donut shop, pushing coffee to truckers and weary police officers.

Anonymous said...

This well written and thought out article is all the more reason to keep pressure on this entenched mind-set at Duke and in the main stream medias, a mind-set that caused a near lynching. This DukeGroup88 are narrow minded bigots whatever the academic considerations of tenure and so-called university prestige that they have manipulated and hidden behind. These people play both advocate and victim, and their attitudes were not dormant before the hoax nor were their grading schemes. Many of them, these small-minded academics, are just nasty and self-righteous in their dogmatic approach to just about everything . . . and in this instance they were found out. Apologize.

Richard Aubrey said...

Is it academic bullying if the kids don't pay any attention to it?

One Spook said...

RRH @ 2:10 AM writes:

To get in the military, I took an oath to take a bunch of bullshit from the "officers appointed over me". Later, after law school, I took an oath to take bullshit from the "judicial officers". But in between the Army and law school, I never took no goddamn oath to take bullshit from undergraduate professors. Tell your kittens that they didn't either."

I love that! A statement like that needs a follow-up line like the one by David Huddleson, as Olson Johnson (possibly related to KC Johnson), in one of the great movies of all-time, "Blazing Saddles"

""Not only was it authentic frontier gibberish, but it expressed a courage that is little seen in this day and age."

Bravo to you, Hamilton! ^ 10!

One Spook*

(*one of those "officers appointed" over others who took an oath to take bullshit from "officers appointed" over him)

Anonymous said...

To the 5:50, Was the problem with your small college professor his politics, his sexual identity, or his alcoholism? Unclear.

Anonymous said...

7:8,

Indeed, is it academic bullying if they don't pay attention? Doesn't bullying need a victim or it isn't bullying?

Same with student bullies (say, loud-mouth conservative males) in class. Are they bullies if the other students and or the teacher ignore them?

no justice, no peace said...

Inre: "...Is it academic bullying if the kids don't pay any attention to it?..."

At $48,000 per year it is criminal.

There is no transparency regarding what the consumer is receiving.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Is Baker a Communist?

11/6/07 3:00 PM

Think the question should be: Is Baker a racist ?

11/6/07 7:16 PM


Read Baker's racist screed, where he told one of the Lacrosse Moms their sons are "farm animals", and mentions their race no less than 17 times during his rant.

Pretty self-evident that Baker is a full-on, full-blown mirror image Grand Knight.

Only difference is Baker doesn't wear a sheet, so his racism gets a pass.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
7:8,

Indeed, is it academic bullying if they don't pay attention? Doesn't bullying need a victim or it isn't bullying?

Same with student bullies (say, loud-mouth conservative males) in class. Are they bullies if the other students and or the teacher ignore them?

11/7/07 8:26 AM


Oh my--touched a nerve with the 88er. LOL.

Give it up already--nobody takes you people seriously anymore.

ROFLMAO. Thanks for starting my day off with a laugh! :)))

AMac said...

Anon 11/7/07 5:36am responded to RRH's earlier 1:37am comment. RRH had noted Western leftists' support of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact from September 1939 through the summer of 1941.

Anon 5:36am offered one of those history lessons that's true enough, if the reader already knows the events under discussion and their context. For everybody else, it's not so valuable.

Example:

--- begin excerpt of 5:36am comment ---

Equally, Joe Kennedy, was long willing to give Adolf Hitler the benefit of the doubt. In so doing, he was like any number of British Conservatives, chief among them Neville ("Peace in Our Time") Chamberlain, whose name is inextricably linked with Munich. (The destruction of Czechoslovakia, a sovereign state at the hands of its allies France & Britain, together with Italy and Germany, which were not, in autumn 1938.)

--- end excerpt ---

Chamberlain (wrongly) appeased Hitler at Munich. He was also re-arming Britain, especially the RAF, despite the constraints imposed on military spending by the Great Depression. Chamberlain (wrongly) thought that appeasement would work to the relative advantage of Britain and France by buying time. Yes, he was instrumental in the "return" of the Sudeten and the destruction of Czechoslovakia, but in the role of a weak and foolish man, not in the role of the wolf, or as a member of Hitler's pack.

All of this is besides the point raised by RRH. The many Western leftists under the control of Moscow as well as the many under its spell abruptly abandoned "Anti-Fascism" in September 1939, and held to those orders until Operation Barbarossa--Hitler's epochal double-cross of Stalin--was launched in July 1941. Did this weaken Western democracies in their time of direst peril? You bet.

Don't learn history from Anons in comments, get a book from the library instead. Perhaps Paul Johnson's Modern Times.

Gary Packwood said...

Nicole 6:54 said...

...gary packwood @2.39pm:
..."It is possible to avoid G88 courses but it is damn near impossible to escape all of those 'programs' on ...campus offered by the Office of Student Affairs"
------------
...So, in order to graduate, one has to take one of these 'programs' offered by OSA. Isn't this a way to indoctrinate a young person with an ideology suitable to the Gang of 88?
::
That is the idea and just being exposed to the programming and the T-Shirts and the Chronicle Articles and the rumors and the posters...will accomplish the same end.

And there is one more subtle point about leadership that you can be studied by reading earlier comments today on this board.

All of these people who indoctrinate assume correctly that the focus on campus will be on ONE PERSON as T H E strong leader which can never be true. It takes a leadership team.

While everyone is focused on T H E one strong leader, the indoctrination team just operates in the background like the operating system on my computer.

There is one sure way to put a crimp in their plans however. Just build large private apartment buildings near the campus and bus the students to/from campus.

That has happened before and I would not be at all surprised if someone is planning to do just that in Durham.
::
GP

Anonymous said...

I think that NJNP has expressed one of the biggest problems in American academe today: the idea that the student is a consumer. I think everyone loses with this attitude. I don't want my children to believe they are consumers of education. They consume video games, fads, and Subway sandwiches. Education is different and far more important.


But he still didn't address the question asked: is it bullying if the recipient pays no attention? Could it be that some students don't feel they're being bullied?

I wonder if at least some of the student complaints we hear about, mostly second hand and anecdotal, might not be in part the result of desire to please mommy and daddy ("Oh, yes, it's a hotbed of COMMUNIST extremism. You should see my English lit professor. She teaches feminist Shakespeare!!") or an explanation for a grade? "Oh, yes, Professor Leftie gave me a C because I'm a member of College Republicans. Not because I missed class and didn't turn in my homework..."

You might want to consider a variety of explanations before running on about $48,000.

Anonymous said...

10:37,

Your history lesson is useful--altnough only for those who know you are providing but one interpretation.

Chamberlain wasn't just one weak man: he was the leader of Great Britain, which had pretty much unilaterally disarmed between the wars, and would, indeed, still be trying to rearm as late as the Battle of Britain. A lot of British Conservatives and other politicans believed as Chamberlain did: one of them spent part of the summer of 1938 in the predominantly German regions of northern western Bohemia before reporting back to Chamberlain and company about the maltreatment of the Czechoslovakia's Germans. It wasn't only Chamberlain, by the way, who signed the Munich Agreement. What about Czechoslovakia's French ally? France may have been buying time at the expense of a sovereign nation, a member of the League of Nations, etc., but it didn't need to rearm.

Do explain to the reader how Operation Barbarossa weakened Western democracies (which ones?) at their time of direst peril. Don't leave out that, in the end, Hitler couldn't defeat Britain, in part, because he was involved in the Soviet Union, and Germany eventually lost a world war it made the mistake of fighting on two fronts.

Finally, give the Soviets and so-called "leftists" credit for opposing the Nazis (Fascists) while many in the Western democracies were trying to "live" with them during the 30s. One really doesn't find a great deal of anti-fascist or anti-Nazi talk before September 1, 1939 among the Conservatives, not to mention most American politicans, for example.

I propose a different solution to this than AMac. I say, there are a variety of ways to interpret the data. I wouldn't limit myself to Kennedy's general survey; I'd read numerous books, including some interwar histories of the Comintern, France, England, and the intellectual left, just for a start...before I drew any conclusions.

Michael said...

re: 10:50

Ultimately students are consumers of the service of education. But vendors of products do have the choice in how they deliver their products and services and in universities, a lot of discretion is given to professors.

What I'd like as a parent is an attitude of education. In many cases, parents, teachers, schools and others spark this in their children. It really helps to have this before you get to college as internal motivation for learning carries you through the rough spots.

As far as the comments from parents go, perhaps sites like ratemyprofessor.com are more useful when measuring teachers.

Ralph Phelan said...

"Is Baker a Communist?"

No, but it's pretty clear that our (inconveniently unnicknamed) anonymous commenter is.

I can see why he's repeatedly dodged the question of just which "indoctrination-free" university it is he works it:
As soon as he names it, the laughter at the claim that it's not leftist-dominated will be deafening.

C'mon dude, name your institution already. Is it Columbia or Berkeley?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Is Baker a Communist?

11/6/07 3:00 PM
-----------------------------------
You're thinking of Bukharin. Or maybe Bakhunin.

Baker is a clown.

Anonymous said...

Much welcomed comment by poster. I wish he would start his own blog. There are many interesting questions out there. One is: "judging from the results of the local elections, how would the lacrosse players have fared if their case had gone before a jury?"

K.C., thanks for the great read.

Anonymous said...

To the 11:33: I have looked at Ratemyprofessor.com and take it with a grain of salt. The site might well tell you more about which professors are difficult graders or demand a lot of work. (or have just given someone a grade s/he doesn't think is correct...) While some students attack the alleged politics of the professor, these comments are all over the map. Some of them have more to do with what a professor looks like (HOT) than if said professor teaches well. Note that some of the most critical comments are written as if the person posting has not passed Composition I. Make that a cup of salt.

Michael said...

re: 12:36

Yes, you have to be discerning about posts. But professors that I've talked to think that the comments are fairly accurate. And the comments that I've read about for my son's professors are fairly accurate based on what my son has told me about the professors. Yes, some may say that the professor is too hard - for some, that's a positive and for others, that's a negative.

AMac said...

Anon 5:26am/11:26am wrote --

> [AMac at 10:37am,] Do explain to the reader how Operation Barbarossa weakened Western democracies (which ones?) at their time of direst peril.

I had written,

"The many Western leftists under the control of Moscow as well as the many under its spell abruptly abandoned "Anti-Fascism" in September 1939, and held to those orders until Operation Barbarossa--Hitler's epochal double-cross of Stalin--was launched in July [oops, June] 1941. Did this weaken Western democracies in their time of direst peril? You bet."

My mistake for the ambiguous antecedent. "This" referred to the 1939-1941 party line adopted by French, British, American, and other Western communists at the Comintern's behest, not to Operation Barbarossa.

> I say, there are a variety of ways to interpret the data. I wouldn't limit myself to Kennedy's general survey; I'd read numerous books, including some interwar histories of the Comintern, France, England, and the intellectual left, just for a start...

Agreed.

Anonymous said...

Various anons wrote:

"Only difference is Baker doesn't wear a sheet, so his racism gets a pass."

It's worse. He has a Ph.D., so his racism gets him academic prestige.

"Indeed, is it academic bullying if they don't pay attention? Doesn't bullying need a victim or it isn't bullying?"

I suppose you could say the same about a female who is bullied by a sexist boss.

"Same with student bullies (say, loud-mouth conservative males) in class."

Reminds me of a joke about formerly communist Russia. (Yes, it was a communist country.)

An American visitor was being shown the beautiful platforms, rails, trains of a Soviet subway.

Visitor: "But where are the passengers?"

Tour Guide: "And what about the poor in America?"

"I wonder if [blah, blah, blah]." "You might want to consider a variety of explanations before running on about $48,000."

Those "wonderings" are as substantiated as were O.J's claim that maybe it was Columbian drug lords.

Duke Prof

Anonymous said...

To Michael at 1:21: I am a professor and in the few comments about me on Ratemyprofessor.com, I have a couple of times recognized the author, because the complaints on line had earlier been the same to me. [Grades too hard. Too much reading.] There've been too few comments, positive or negative, about me--and they have been for several courses--to make many generalizations, however.

I have noticed several colleagues getting a few great reviews on this site, but being blasted in class evaluations. The reverse is also true. A couple of really easy graders have gotten glowing reviews. Moreover, long-term word on the ground differs hugely about some of the faculty...I think that the students who use that form of evaluation are often very, very angry at a professor or very, very pleased with the professor. Sometimes the students attack opinions provided in earlier posts.

Some of the comments are really, really funny. I think that the salt mentioned above may still be in order. Especially given the hot business.

Anonymous said...

Gee, my 1:37 AM woke up all the history profs... None of which answered my question though.

For One Spook at 7:59 AM, thanks, I guess. In my day (and I have no reason to think things have changed in this regard), if you were a Southerner who could drive and shoot well, you were probably gonna be a driver or RTO (aka "bodyguard") for an officer. So, I met a lot of officers. There were a few decent officers in the Army. Maybe you were/are one.

But if you are one, never confuse yourself about where an enlisted man's loyalties lie. I remember one particular officer who was a really good friend of mine. We drank together, played chess together, violated all the "fraternization" rules. But one day he asked me for information about the location of a large drug stash in the barracks. Even though I didn't do drugs and didn't know any of the people involved, I looked at him like he was from Mars. I'm going to inform on my fellow soldiers? I reckon not. And that's I guess what outraged me most about the 88 at Duke: They betrayed their own.

This comment forces me to address something that "Duke Prof" did recently. I love "Duke Prof", so I hate to say this, but here goes: "Duke Prof", recently you urged a "donor revolt" against Duke. In my opinion, it's one thing for you to go after the 88; it's something else for you to go after the institution that pays your salary, that puts food on your family's table. If you want to attack Duke, then resign and attack all you want. As long as you're taking Duke's money, I think you should restrict your attacks to those at Duke (the 88ers and their ilk) who are the real problem.

RRH

Ralph Phelan said...

Those "wonderings" are as substantiated as were O.J's claim that maybe it was Columbian drug lords.

Duke Prof


But in their own way more dishonest, and certainly more time-wasting. O.J. at least made a specific, falsifiable claim.

The "wonderings," like "something happened," are used to make those on the other side of the debate not only have to do the work of proving a negative, which is hard enough, but also first having to guess what negative it is they're supposed to be proving. Of course if we ever prove that some particular "something" didn't happen, or that some particular issue once wondered about turns out to go our way, the goal posts will immediately be shifted.

I do not believe this person is engaged in a serious discussion. On the rare occasions he's made a point specific enough to be refuted by evidence, he's just dropped that subject and thrown out some other unrelated "wondering." It appears to me that his primary goal is to waste our time.

Anonymous said...

"Is __________________ a Communist?"

Many threads ago there was some discussion about anonymous's intentions in re-posting this question on almost every thread, filling in the blank with the name of whoever was the subject of discussion.

Some felt that anonymous's purpose was altogether sinister: constant repetition of the same idiotic question in the most inappropriate contexts would imply that DIW's readership was comprised of paranoid John Birchers and dreadful neocons, and the repetitive question could be cited by the blog's foes as evidence.

If this was the original intention, the poster failed to account for the utter ineptitude of the blog's foes at marshalling and citing evidence or presenting reasoned arguments based on the facts, illustrated by their most ambitious failure to date, Professor Piot's pathetically-researched and written Transforming Anthropolgy "article." Or my recent favorite: "I have the facts but I'm not going to give them to you. I have them and you don't. You're an idiot and I'm not." Herein lies all of the eloquence and logic of a first grade schoolyard debate– with apologies to first graders. In other words, if anonymous was counting on a G88er to slog back up through 90,000 comments to retrieve "Is ______________ a Communist" as evidence of DIW's Neanderthaloid tendencies– with apologies to Neanderthals– anonymous was mistaken.

Others felt that anonymous's strategy was somewhat more subtle. That is, by scatter-shot questioning of the most obviously inappropriate targets, anonymous deflects attention from the real communists in the woodpile. In this regard, one may note that anonymous conspicuously has neglected to inquire whether Alger Hiss is a communist. (Note: Hiss is not one of the G88, although he has been medically certified as brain dead.)

But others believe that anonymous's intentions are completely benign. He is a puckish sprite who leavens these threads with recurrent drollery, known in the comedy business as "the running gag." "Is _____________ a Communist?" has been repeated so often that it is now, whether intended deliberately or not, self-parodying. It's funny just for being asked. (And in this aspect it may have a dual function as bait which, when seized upon by the humorless as evidence of the blog's right-wing malignity, reveals their own cluelessness– although, again, the assumption that a G88er is capable of "seizing" anything is beyond charitable.) It is entirely possible that while some unknown and now-forgotten anonymous from the distant past initially posed the "Communist" question in malice, he's been supplanted by the prankster read (and loved, by some) today.

In any case, the question now functions as Abbott to Costello, or Burns to Allen. Anonymous, intentionally or not, is the "straight man"– with apologies to feminists and GLBTs– whose question, "Is ____________ a Communist," sets up the amusing and often illuminating response by another anonymous (or maybe they're one and the same, such is the genius of blog anonymity) downthread. A classic example was posted earlier @ 11/07 12:08 PM:

Anonymous said...

Is Baker a Communist?

11/6/07 3:00 PM
-----------------------------------
You're thinking of Bukharin. Or maybe Bakhunin.

Baker is a clown.


The response is thought-provoking, informative, and clever. And Baker is toast.

Personally, whenever anonymous poses the "Is ______________ a Communist" question, I eagerly anticipate the dropping of the other shoe, whether it's his or someone else's. This recurring featurette is just one of the many bonuses of this blog.

dave

Anonymous said...

To Duke Prof @11/06 4:30 PM:

I've taught at colleges on both coasts since the mid-80s, and since the mid-90s at Duke.

If it's not being too nosey, may I ask where you taught on the left coast (or roughly where)? And are you sorry that you abandoned us to our fate?

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Won't it be interesting if someone who has endured indoctrination at the hands of RAs at the University of Delaware are selected to be speakers at their graduation, and after keeping their intentions private, speak loudly and forcefully against the educational rape they've endured? Others, too, from any number of universities, having been abused or force-fed the offal from 88-alikes?

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I knew I shoulda gotten my book off the shelf before I opened my (figuratively speaking) big mouth:
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Ralph Phelan said...

re: "Is ____________ a Communist?"

One thing I've found cumulatively striking over time is just how often a little digging shows that the answer is yes.

I didn't know there were still so many Communists around.
(When I do encounter one I'm always tempted to make some crack about "Your sad devotion to that ancient religion....")
But I guess if you want to find the last pathetic stragglers of a discredited cult, among college-level faculty is the place to look. Heck, some of them still take Freud seriously, too!

Ralph Phelan said...

Is Baker a Communist?

11/6/07 3:00 PM
-----------------------------------
You're thinking of Bukharin. Or maybe Bakhunin.


No, Bakunin was an anarchist. Had he been alive at the time of the Russion Revolution he would have been really, really old. Actually, what I meant to say was that had he lived at the time of the Russian Revolution he probably would have wound up getting executed, like the Kronstadt sailors.

Gary Packwood said...

mac 3:09 said...

...Gary Packwood 10:48
...Won't it be interesting if someone who has endured indoctrination at the hands of RAs at the University of Delaware are selected to be speakers at their graduation, and after keeping their intentions private, speak loudly and forcefully against the educational rape they've endured? Others, too, from any number of universities, having been abused or force-fed the offal from 88-alikes?
..Pink Floyd's "Animals" LP should be nice background music, as the animals rise up and bite the buggers back.
::
GREAT and clever idea.

I wish they would post comments here or create a new blog so I won't have to be so momentarily stunned every time I run across new examples of indoctrination from the Office of Student Affairs and the G88 alikes.

I remember that album very well. It was (is) great.
::
GP

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To RRH

Re: I love you, but

Back at you.

I am willing to argue the merits of a donor protest. However, whether it is proper for me to express an opinion on that topic is, to be polite, not open for discussion.

Duke Prof

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RRH @ 2:15 PM writes:

"But one day he [a superior officer] asked me for information about the location of a large drug stash in the barracks. Even though I didn't do drugs and didn't know any of the people involved, I looked at him like he was from Mars. I'm going to inform on my fellow soldiers? I reckon not. And that's I guess what outraged me most about the 88 at Duke: They betrayed their own."

Wow.

Apart from the fact that possession of illegal drugs (I'm assuming the "drugs" weren't caffeine and nicotine) is a violation of civilian and military law, it is also a violation of honor NOT to report it.

I'm afraid I would have done exactly what your superior officer did, RRH.

Here's why.

As your superior officer I am responsible if you end up dead because your "fellow soldiers" are affected by drugs to the extent that they are unable to do their duty properly.

I couldn't bear to send your personal effects together with a letter to your mama and daddy that said I regretted your death, knowing that if I had done my duty and acted with honor, you would be alive.

No thanks.

The Group of 88 didn't "betray their own." They betrayed their honor and fidelity to the academy and to their students.

One Spook

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ralph phelan @ 11/07 3:24 PM said:

I didn't know there were still so many Communists around. (When I do encounter one I'm always tempted to make some crack about "Your sad devotion to that ancient religion....") But I guess if you want to find the last pathetic stragglers of a discredited cult, among college-level faculty is the place to look.

Back in 1949 six disillusioned ex-Communists (including Arthur Koestler and Native Son author Richard Wright) contributed essays to a collection entitled The God That Failed. The race/class/gender agendists just erected new gods in the same image. There's more than a family resemblance to the old god– as the Durham/Duke scandal revealed.

dave

Search for Meaning said...

Most of the readers of this blog recognize that there is a problem with PC extremist at Duke and at other intuitions. The problem was made clear in KC’s book and in his other assigned reading.

Ok so we are better off then before- we have recognized a problem. The next step is to try to solve the problem and this is tricky. Campus politics and tenure are part of the equation and they can prove difficult to politically maneuver around. If the problem is only addressed at Duke then not much has been accomplished.

The next question is then what can an individual do to help resolve the problem of PC extremism?

As far as some of the comment being naive, this is probably true, but in some case posters were simply expressing frustration as opposed to having an intellectual dialogue.

Ralph Phelan said...

"The next step is to try to solve the problem and this is tricky. Campus politics and tenure are part of the equation and they can prove difficult to politically maneuver around."

If they are part of the oroblem then they need to be changed rather than maneuvered around.

Anonymous said...

KC> as always you get to the point.This blog was enlightening. My thoughts are mostly with the guys and their families as I continue to hope they are safe, happy and healing from the pain caused by the abuse of authority by so many at Duke and Durham. I worry about the kids I know still there, that they graduate without harm from their school. I hope the blogger is correct esp. about Pres. Broadhead's future. As a parent of current college students on the east coast, I believe as some have posted, that there are enough core courses and decent faculty to come out with a good education from most schools.
What Pres. Broadhead allowed the G88 to do collectively, that amount of disregard for their students,the facts as they did not know them then, the lack of presumption of innocence until proven guilty> it makes me so mad every time I think of what they all joined in on.The ideology I may not agree with, but see as a discussion point as a function of a free society. The actions against students that were totally unfair, even cruel and an abuse of their position> that is unforgiveable. I hope someday they receive the same treatment they gave to these students.Each and every one of them.
KC, keep shining the light, it is having an impact.

Ralph Phelan said...

"Broadhead allowed the G88 to do collectively, that amount of disregard for their students,the facts as they did not know them then, the lack of presumption of innocence until proven guilty it makes me so mad every time I think of what they all joined in on. The ideology I may not agree with, but see as a discussion point as a function of a free society."

(1) Certainly all ideologies, however evil and/or stupid, should be discussable in a free society. But do they have to be represented by tenured professors at institutions that receive large amounts of government largesse?

(2) Ideas have consequences, and the actions you decry were a consequence of those ideologies.

Anonymous said...

One Spook, I think KC considers my reply "off-topic". Anyway, he didn't publish it. If you'd like to see it, just give me your e'mail address.

RRH

Gary Packwood said...

Search for Meaning 12:24 said...

...Most of the readers of this blog recognize that there is a problem with PC extremist at Duke and at other institutions. The problem was made clear in KC’s book and in his other assigned reading.
...Ok so we are better off then before- we have recognized a problem. The next step is to try to solve the problem and this is tricky. Campus politics and tenure are part of the equation and they can prove difficult to politically maneuver around. If the problem is only addressed at Duke then not much has been accomplished.
...The next question is then what can an individual do to help resolve the problem of PC extremism?
...As far as some of the comment being naive, this is probably true, but in some case posters were simply expressing frustration as opposed to having an intellectual dialogue.
::
How about for starters... the Office of Student Affairs must have a curriculum approved by the faculty before they launch any programs for students that are designed to change behavior. Secondly, Universities can not enforce campus rules and regulations that are not approved and printed in the student handbook (That includes 'Hook-Up' behavior), Thirdly, students should be allowed to live off campus. Fourthly, charges made against student for nuisance behavior must be made in writing and be factual in nature with appropriate evidence and my fifth and final suggestion is that faculty members without students to teach or advise should be retired from the teaching faculty.
::
GP

One Spook said...

RRH @ 1:39 PM writes:

"One Spook, I think KC considers my reply "off-topic". Anyway, he didn't publish it. If you'd like to see it, just give me your e'mail address.

I'm guessing KC didn't approve it because it was probably nasty, vile, crude and rude.

Go ahead and post it in the comments at my Blog here:
Reply Space for RRH

I'll read it and reply ... I'm a big boy.

One Spook

Anonymous said...

For the officer and gentleman's eyes, I've posted my nasty, vile, crude, and rude reply here.

Anonymous said...

One Spook said...

The Group of 88 didn't "betray their own." They betrayed their honor and fidelity to the academy and to their students.

11/7/07 7:13 PM


It's not about "honor and fidelity". If it were, then the 88 could claim they were acting in accordance with their view of that. It's about loyalty and loyalty alone. When someone who is not on your team makes a serious allegation against your team mates, and your team mates vigorously deny the allegation -- then your only "honorable and fidelity" action is to stay loyal to your guys. The 88 failed the loyalty test, and it didn't have shit to do with "honor and fidelity". Any questions, sir?

RRH

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Dear KC,
I'm not employed in academia.I won't make the obligatory,"Thank God",because wwhen offered a position several years ago,it was a tough call.But,one thing has perplexed me .There are comments about how Presidents Broadhead,Summers,et al must keep the unruly faculty members placated.(Well,I'm summarizing,but you get the gist.)Why?
If I were LawrenceSummers and Cornell Wilde quit,the first thing I'd do-after pinching myself to be certain I was awake ) is to wonder how the funds this had freed could be spent on things of substance.
Similarly with the bulk of the Group of 88;students aren't taking their classes.(You documented in UPI the enrollmeents of Prof.Lubiano's classes and the numbers of unfilled slots.)They aren't publishing.
I assume "accepted for publication" is like "pregnat",but I've never seen gestation lengths like this.
And they're a source of derision-at best-and a huge financial liability for the U-at worst.
So,why not either ignore them or starve them out?
Sincerely yours,Corwin

Anonymous said...

A black Minister at the 9/11 Ceremony right after the event, was able to put in words what we were all feeling. "We will get through this = Together". Cornell is a terrific public and probably private speaker. Having him as an employee must be a real pain in the neck.

Debrah said...

TO 11:30 AM--

Cornel Wilde?

He was an actor.

Cornel West might be the person you mean to reference.

I used to enjoy him on WFB's Firing Line...along with Christopher Hitchens.

West can be a bit much when he starts his histrionic movements and over-enunciated dialogue which get too preachy; however, he is often a good speaker.

He began to go downhill when he took up his "Thug Neal" schtick of bringing rap into university classrooms.

Anonymous said...

Debra,Thanks for the correction.Now would someone please address my question?What is the advantage to a U in having academics who produce no scholarship.
I'm a good speaker;that's not what people want when they see me professionally.
Corwin

Debrah said...

TO Corwin--

Please read KC's latest post with the column by Stuart Taylor cited.

Many answers will be there.

Sue said...

Our universities have a “business” aspect to them, but it is only one aspect, and the models of business reform or restructuring frequently brought forward are largely irrelevant to them

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