Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Other Examples of the Orwellian Shift in Higher Education

I've been following the excellent work FIRE! has been doing for some time now. Their exceptional campaigns to protect the freedom, liberty and individual rights of students and tax-payers in higher education through increasing public awareness and direct communication with the various fascist left-wing nutwits of academia has been nothing short of impressive and admirable. Yesterday, I posted a blog entry about the chilling reeducation camps that are the dormitories on the poorly run University of Delaware campus, another case of a clear violation of individual rights by unprincipled liberal university administrators brought to national attention via FIRE!

While keeping up-to-date on this latest vileness to be spewed forth from the darkening ivory tower, I ran across another thought-provoking editorial on the FIRE! site. One thing it provides is a disquieting summary of a few of the other horrifying attempts at brainwashing by freedom hating, mind-control freakjobs infecting US university administrations and faculty which FIRE! has come across:
At Michigan State University, for instance, students were subjected to the Student Accountability in Community (SAC) seminar, a pseudo-psychological “early intervention” for students who used “power-and-control tactics,” such as “male/white privilege” and “obfuscation,” which in the eyes of the university constituted “any action of obscuring, concealing, or changing people’s perceptions that result in your advantage and/or another’s disadvantage.” Amazingly, students could be required to attend SAC merely for, among other things, playing a practical joke or engaging in constitutionally protected speech. Not only were students required to participate in SAC sessions, at their own expense, or else risk being unable to register for classes, they also were forced to answer a series of questionnaires to describe how they were taking “full responsibility” for their actions, until they used language the session director deemed acceptable. Under pressure from FIRE, the university finally put an end to its controversial program in May 2007.

In another memorable recent case, FIRE exposed the fact that Columbia University’s Teachers College utilizes an ideological litmus test for its students, requiring them to demonstrate a “commitment to social justice” and to recognize that “social inequalities are often produced and perpetuated through systematic discrimination and justified by societal ideology of merit, social mobility, and individual responsibility.” Teachers College has to this point failed to heed FIRE’s suggestion that those “dispositions” be dropped altogether as a requirement for students. Columbia’s attempt at thought reform has been covered everywhere from The New York Times to, in an article written by Greg Lukianoff, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and its ultimate resolution will certainly be tracked closely by FIRE.

Other cases abound. At Washington State University, a student was threatened with dismissal from the College of Education in 2005 for espousing “incorrect” political beliefs, such as the idea that white privilege and male privilege do not exist. The university, by contrast, required its education students to demonstrate “an understanding of the complexities of race, power, gender, class, sexual orientation and privilege in American society.” The student was therefore subjected to diversity training and ordered to sign an agreement to follow all program “dispositions” to his professors’ approval. Only when FIRE intervened did this chilling episode of compelled speech reach a satisfactory conclusion, as the university agreed to rescind the contract and subsequently agreed to refrain from forcing students in the future to abide by the same program “dispositions.”

Likewise, in 2005, Rhode Island College’s School of Social Work attempted to force a conservative student to publicly advocate for “progressive” social changes if he wished to continue his pursuit of a master’s degree in social work policy. In response to the student’s inquiry about a possible liberal ideological bias in a particular class, his professor admitted to holding certain biases, suggested that anyone who held views antithetical to his own might not be fit for a career in social work, and even told the student that if he found himself disagreeing with the school’s political philosophy, he should consider leaving or finding another line of work. Not only did the student receive a failing grade for a paper in which he advocated the “wrong” viewpoint, he was told that he could no longer pursue a master’s degree after he chose an internship of his liking rather than one that met the school’s ideal of advancing “progressive” policies. It is almost inconceivable that a school would intrude to such a great extent into one’s personal beliefs and ability to pursue the career of one’s choosing.

Finally, in 2003, a professor at Citrus College in California gave her students an assignment to write letters to President Bush, but only gave credit if they expressed opposition to the war in Iraq (no credit would be given for letters expressing any other views, including support for the war). As if one instance of compelled speech were not enough, the same professor required her students to again write letters with a specific viewpoint, this time to a state senator. To their credit, the college’s administration recognized the problem after being contacted by FIRE, moving quickly to remedy the situation. Specifically, they sanctioned the professor, apologized to the students, assured them that their grades would not be affected by the assignments, and vowed that such a scenario would never arise again on their campus. If only every college administration were that responsive and prudent!
Lest you think these are only a few isolated cases, check out this page, on which is compiled a much longer, more comprehensive list of links to similar cases FIRE! has dealt with. Obviously, these Orwellian policies and programs are a growing concern on our nation's college campuses - and likely in K-12 systems as well. It also makes you wonder, how many other similar attempts, perhaps smaller and more isolated, have not yet come to the attention of nation's public?

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