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Archive --  Past Newsletters

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February 12, 2024

 

Medical Schools Should Combat Racism, but Not Like This

 

Excerpts (links in the original):

 

“Throughout my career, I have been aware of the disturbing history of racism and bias in medicine. Though much has improved in this regard, important problems remain. As dean at Harvard, I worked with colleagues to combat those problems. And so, when I saw a 2020 paper in the journal Academic Medicine authored by my alma mater’s educational leaders about their efforts in ‘addressing and undoing racism and bias’ in medicine, I was eager to read about the work. 

 

“I was soon disappointed. Instead of a scrupulous analysis of an important problem, the paper consisted of dramatic, if unsupported, generalizations about the inherent racism in medical education and practice, and promises of sweeping but vague changes to come....

 

“Mount Sinai has positioned itself as a leader in the field when it comes to combating racism at medical school. Eleven other medical schools have joined them as ‘partners’ in their Racism and Bias Initiative program. And yet what they have actually accomplished is not clear. 

 

“There are some parallels to this story at Harvard Medical School. In spring 2021, the school announced a task force to review racism in medical education and devise responses to counter it. Last spring, the school announced that the review and recommendations were completed in the form of a 72-page report. To my surprise, this report has never been made public....

 

“The goal should not be performative discussions and empty virtue signaling; it should be better healthcare outcomes for all. Medical education, when done correctly, should give future physicians the tools they need to treat patients effectively, without racism or bias. But as the focus drifts from evidence-based practices to ideological dogma, we risk graduating doctors who excel in social justice jargon while faltering in the expert delivery of care.

 

“The Hippocratic Oath tells us to ‘do no harm.’ This oath extends beyond surgical theaters and clinical wards into medical education, where the principles of science and the virtues of care combine to forge the next generation of doctors, and they’re the inspiring goals that motivated me to serve as dean of a great medical school. Sadly, I fear that diluting rigor and precision with ideological agendas will degrade the quality of medical education. In a rush to embed vague, contestable, and potentially harmful versions of social justice into medical education, we risk compromising the very foundation of medical training, and ultimately, patient care.”

 

Full op-ed by former Harvard Medical School Dean Jeffrey Flier at Free Press

When Are Appeals to Campus Safety an Excuse to Suppress Speech?

Excerpts:

 

“On November 15, the president of Indiana University at Bloomington received a letter from Rep. Jim Banks, a Republican. Banks expressed shock at ‘pro-terrorist protests’ occurring ‘on numerous U.S. college campuses’ and warned that IU could lose access to federal funding if administrators there tolerated any antisemitism....

 

“The next day, the administration denied permission for a talk by a former Israeli soldier critical of Israel that the Palestine Solidarity Committee had organized. A month later, the university imposed sweeping sanctions on the faculty adviser for the student group, Abdulkader Sinno, and canceled an exhibit of abstract art by Samia Halaby, a Palestinian artist and refugee....

 

“University leaders say the decisions had nothing to do with beliefs; rather, each situation posed a serious security risk to the campus community. They have not explained exactly what those risks were....

 

“While colleges need to ensure the safety of the campus community, going as far as to cancel an event imposes a dangerous, undue burden on speech, says Jonathan Friedman, director of free-expression and education programs at PEN America. If an event could cause public disagreement, colleges need to adjust for that, not eliminate the situation altogether, Friedman says.” …

 

Full article at Inside Higher Education. See also Stanford Shuts Down Overnight Sit-ins “based on concerns for the physical safety of [the] community” at Stanford Daily and Save the Tents at Stanford Review. And a copy of last week's original notice from Stanford is posted here

 

More About Princeton Libraries’ Trigger Warnings

 

[Editor’s note: Last week we posted an article about Princeton Libraries having their staff cull though text and photos in order to warn faculty, students and others if they might come upon items that might be offensive or otherwise alarming -- and remember, this is taking place at a major U.S. research university to protect what supposedly are highly educated users. The following more recent article provides additional information about what is involved in this process.] 

 

Excerpts (links in the original):

 

“In late January, library archivists hosted a focus group study about ‘harmful content’ within the Princeton University Library’s online archives, according to a Jan. 16 post on the university’s Special Collections blog....

 

“‘In particular, we are interested in hearing from those who identify as member(s) of marginalized communities as well as those who are interested in archives, archival research, and social justice,’ the post states. The researchers said they hope the study will help the library be more effective in moderating its archives for content that may hurt or offend people....

 

“Trigger warnings have become commonplace at many universities in recent years. Advisories about potentially troubling content have appeared on everything from course descriptions and campus crime alerts to popular novels like ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ and classic literature such as ‘1984’ and ‘The Old Man and the Sea.’

 

“In 2021, Brandeis University’s Prevention, Advocacy and Resource Center even considered the term ‘trigger warning’ to be problematic because ‘the word ‘trigger’ has connections to guns,’ The College Fix reported. The center suggested the phrase ‘content note’ be used in its place.” …

 

Full article at College Fix. See also “Study Finds Trigger Warnings May Cause More Harm Than Good” at Medical Express and “A Meta-Analysis of the Efficacy of Trigger Warnings” at Sage Journals.

 

See also our prior posting of Stanford's Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative including a PDF copy of Stanford's own list of proscribed words and phrases.

 

Alternative Viewpoint From AAUP: Landscapes of Power and Academic Freedom

 

Excerpts:

 

“The landscape of higher education in the United States is now radically changed: academic freedom is no longer guaranteed across the entire country. Professors self-censor their lectures and publications; students cannot engage with key explanations and discussions about the history of their very institution, state, and country; and books have been banned from local libraries. In multiple US states, concepts such as ‘structural racism,’ ‘environmental racism,’ ‘intersectionality’ and the open study of the ‘relationship among race, racism, and power’ (Delgado, Stefancic, and Harris 2017, 3) have been terminated after being characterized as ‘divisive’ and ‘controversial’ by a cascade of gag laws and executive orders. The impact of these political encroachments into the autonomy of institutions of higher education to produce knowledge and to freely understand the workings of settler colonialism, of the lasting impacts of slavery and of racial segregation, will haunt the United States for decades to come. These overt forms of censorship will have long-lasting effects on the ability of US citizens to understand the racial legacies of this postplantation, postcolonial society....

 

“Within the United States and internationally, we have witnessed the deleterious effects that authoritarian governments, unchecked corporate interests, reactionary movements, and partisan politics have on academic freedom. We could cite a wide range of impacts, from tenure denial, dismissal, and (self-)censorship to imprisonment, political exile, and ‘brain drain.’ By observing the real threats autocracy and authoritarianism pose to academic freedom we can better grasp the contemporary precarity of both democracy and academic freedom....”

 

Full article at AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom

 

Congressional Hearing on Free Speech, AI and Regulatory Capture

 

Excerpts (links in the original):

 

“Earlier today, I served as a witness at the House Judiciary Committee’s Special Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, which discussed (among other things) whether it’s a good idea for the government to regulate artificial intelligence and LLMs [large language models]. For my part, I was determined to warn everyone not only about the threat AI poses to free speech, but also the threats regulatory capture and a government oligopoly on AI pose to the creation of knowledge itself....

 

“It was profoundly frustrating for me to see the Democrats appreciate that the governmental powers I was warning against are those they would be terrified to grant to a future Trump administration -- but not be similarly alarmed by that same potential for overreach on our [Democrat] side....

 

“[Part of my testimony:] We have good reason to be concerned. FIRE regularly fights government attempts to stifle speech on the internet. FIRE is in federal court challenging a New York law that forces websites to 'address' online speech that someone, somewhere finds humiliating or vilifying. We’re challenging a new Utah law that requires age verification of all social media users. We’ve raised concerns about the federal government funding development of AI tools to target speech including microaggressions. And later this week, FIRE will file a brief with the Supreme Court explaining the danger of 'jawboning' -- the use of government pressure to force social media platforms to censor protected speech.

 

“But the most chilling threat that the government poses in the context of emerging AI is regulatory overreach that limits its potential as a tool for contributing to human knowledge. A regulatory panic could result in a small number of Americans deciding for everyone else what speech, ideas, and even questions are permitted in the name of ‘safety’ or ‘alignment.’" …

 

Full op-ed by Stanford alum and FIRE’s president Greg Lukianoff at Substack. See also testimony of investigative journalist Lee Fang at Real Clear Politics. See also our prior postings of Stanford’s Roles in Censoring the Web.

 

Learning About How to Think

 

Excerpts:

 

“If you’ve taken a college tour lately, either as an applicant or as the parent of an applicant, you may have noticed that at some point -- usually as you’re on the death march from the aquatic center to the natural-sciences complex -- the tour guide will spin smartly on her heel, do the college-tour-guide thing of performatively walking backwards, and let you in on something very important. ‘What’s different about College X,’ she’ll say confidently, ‘is that our professors don’t teach you what to think. They teach you how to think.’

 

“Whether or not you’ve heard the phrase before, it gets your attention. Can anyone teach you how to think? Aren’t we all thinking all the time; isn’t the proof of our existence found in our think-think-thinking, one banal thought at a time? ...

 

“To the extent that I have learned how to think for myself, it’s because my father taught me. Usually by asking me a single question. For the love of God, I hated that question. And for some reason I always, always forgot to see it coming. My father was an academic and a writer who cared a great deal about teaching, and he was never off the clock.... There would be a moment of silence. And then my father would say -- gently, because there was zero need to say it any other way: ‘And what is the best argument of the other side?’" …

 

Full op-ed at The Atlantic

 

On the Positive Side -- Samples of Current Activities at Stanford

 

Click on each article for direct access; selections are from Stanford Report and other Stanford websites. 

 

The Business Case for Sustainability

 

Stanford Study Reveals Significant Discrepancies in Measurements of Poverty

 

Precision Medicine Helps Address Premature Births

 

Advocating for Individuals with Disabilities Is Personal for This Stanford Med Student

  

Other Articles of Interest

 

Too Much Corporate-ness for Members of the Harvard Corporation?

Full editorial at Harvard Crimson. See also list of current members of Stanford’s Board of Trustees. 

 

From Stanford Daily: Picking a President for Stanford, What Really Matters

Full editorial at Stanford Daily

 

Convinced by the Data, Dartmouth College Reinstates SAT Requirement

Full article at College Fix

 

Federal Judge Issues Warning Over the Role of DEI, Allows Professor’s Lawsuit Against Penn State to Move Forward

Full article at Campus Reform

 

Sage Journals Adds DEI to Its Own Peer-Review Process

Full article at Campus Reform

 

Law Schools Must Adopt Free Speech Policies to Maintain ABA Accreditation

Full article at The Hill. See also ABA Journal.

 

NLRB Rules That Dartmouth Basketball Players Are Employees

Full article at Inside Higher Ed

 

Lists of Top Producers of Minority STEM Bachelor’s Degrees

Full lists at Diverse Issues in Higher Education (note that Stanford ranks 56th in computer and information sciences, 78th in engineering and 33rd in math and statistics)

 

Fake Scientific Papers Push Research Credibility to Crisis Point

Full article at The Guardian

 

Why Campus Antisemitism Matters

Full article at Tablet

 

The Meltdown of the Universities and Ideas for Rebuilding Them (Video)

Jonathan Haidt presentation at YouTube

“Unless teachers, students, and researchers can inquire and speak freely and fearlessly, innovation will stall, questions will be left unasked and unanswered, and students will be ill-prepared for life, career, community, and citizenship.” -- American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA)

February 5, 2024

Political Solidarity Statements Threaten Academic Freedom

 

Excerpts (links in the original):

“Barnard College has become the site of the latest flare-up in an ongoing struggle between faculty and university leaders for the control of university communication platforms. On October 23, the department of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies posted a statement of solidarity: ‘We support the Palestinian people who have resisted settler colonial war, occupation, and apartheid for over 75 years, while deploring Hamas’s recent killing of Israeli civilians.’ The statement was to be followed by links to resources for understanding the ‘genocidal violence and ethnic cleansing that we are now witnessing.’

“Shortly afterward, the university removed the statement from the departmental website. The move was in pursuit of the university’s ‘website governance policy’ (established in November, after the department’s initial statement), which specifies that all subdomains of barnard.edu Internet domain are property of the college and all of its content ‘constitutes speech made by the College as an institution.’ Barnard resources such as ‘College letterhead, College website, College-sponsored campus communication tools or systems’ may not be used to ‘post political statements.’

 

“Members of the department created a private website where they republished their statement of solidarity and protested the ‘increasing curtailment of free speech and academic freedom at colleges and universities across the U.S.' They and their supporters issued a public letter decrying the 'overt act of censorship' by the university in removing the statement from the departmental website. The New York Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to Barnard’s president characterizing the website policy as a form of 'prior restraint' inconsistent with academic freedom....

 

“It is a fundamental tenet of American principles of academic freedom that individual scholars must be afforded the fullest freedom to engage in research and publish scholarship and to introduce controversial but germane material into their classes without fear of university reprisal or censorship. Likewise, members of the faculty are not to suffer institutional consequences for their private political expression or activities.

 

“Given these longstanding principles, Barnard College unsurprisingly exempts from its restrictions on 'political activity' the creation and publication of faculty research or 'academic materials' and allows the posting of research and 'academic resources' on its website. It likewise protects political activity 'in a personal capacity' that is 'not attributable, in reality or perception, to the College.' There are no doubt some gray areas in such policies, and it is essential that universities apply them in a consistent and content-neutral fashion....

 

“[In the end,] universities protect a realm of academic freedom and free expression by limiting the domain of institutional speech. The institution as such does not weigh in on either scholarly or political controversies. Individual members of the faculty should be left free to develop and express their own views -- because the university does not elevate orthodoxies. [However,] when universities [themselves] cross that line and expand the realm of institutional speech, they threaten to shrink the freedom of the scholars who work within those universities.”

 

Full op-ed at Chronicle of Higher Education by Princeton Prof. Keith Whittington, who next year is moving to become a professor at Yale Law School and also director of a new free speech and academic freedom center there. Bracketed text added. See also our compilation of the Kalven Report regarding a university's involvement in political and social matters.

Some Stark Numbers Regarding Political Contributions by University Professors, Employees and Trustees

[Editor’s note: We present the following excerpts and links not to favor one political party or another but because these numbers raise still more concerns about the apparent lack of diversity of thinking in higher education in recent times and as compared to 20 or more years ago.]

 

Excerpts from Yale Daily News: 

“Nearly 100 percent of the money Yale professors donated to political campaigns went to Democrats in 2023.

“The News analyzed over 5,000 Federal Elections Committee filings from 2023 with Yale University listed as an employer, 3,041 of which were professors. Professors donated a total of roughly $127,000, of which 98.4 percent went to Democratic candidates and groups....

“’Yale is nearly fully disconnected from much of US society,’ Edward A Snyder, a School of Management professor wrote, referring to the contributions made by professors. ‘The data speak for themselves.’ …

“Carlos Eire, a professor of history and self-described conservative, said that he was ‘not surprised at all’ by the 98.35 percent figure. ‘Right now, it is extremely difficult for Yale or any other institution of higher learning to create greater political diversity,’ he said. ‘American academia is an echo chamber when it comes to politics.’ …”

Excerpts from Harvard Crimson: 

 

“Members of the Harvard Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, contributed more than $1.5 million in political donations to federal candidates and political action committees in 2021 and 2022. Of that number, just $12,900 went to Republican political causes....”

 

See also the chart at The Conversation showing political contributions by all higher education employees between 1985 and 2023 as compared to the U.S. population as a whole.

 

Looking Back on a Decade of Cancel Culture

 

Excerpts (links in the original):

 

“In January 2015, New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait called attention to the reemergence of political correctness and speech-policing in an article entitled Not a Very P.C. Thing to Say. Shortly thereafter, British-American journalist Jon Ronson published his book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, compiling stories of early internet cancellations.

 

“In September 2015, Jonathan Haidt and one of us (Greg Lukianoff) co-authored an article for the Atlantic, The Coddling of the American Mind, arguing that the same habits of mind making campuses unfriendly to free speech were also making people depressed and anxious. Professors and public intellectuals, from essayist Meghan Daum to bioethicist Alice Dreger were ringing alarm bells...."

 

Full op-ed at Quillette. See also Greg Lukianoff, “Yes, the Last 10 Years Really Have Been Worse for Free Speech at Substack.

 

Princeton Adds Trigger Warnings for Library Researchers

 

Excerpts (link in the original):

 

“Princeton University is in the practice of adding warnings to its library documents to protect researchers’ sensitivities. 

 

“The Ivy League institution in New Jersey has reportedly been adding ‘trigger warnings’ to library archive documents over the course of several years.

 

National Review reports that Princeton has been adding such warnings to these documents since at least 2022.

 

“An email obtained by National Review reveals the existence of a recruitment effort for a focus group on ‘mitigating harm in archival research.’ The email describes 'recent efforts at Princeton University Library to protect researchers from accidentally stumbling on archival materials that are offensive or harmful,' which is done primarily through ‘the use of content mediation, warnings, and descriptive notes in the Finding Aids website.’

 

“The email, written by a student advertising the focus group, reportedly suggests that this practice is not unique to Princeton, and is an accepted practice at many universities in order to protect researchers from viewing potentially upsetting content." … 

 

Full article at Campus Reform. See also Princeton Library's Statement on Harmful Content and our prior posting of Stanford's Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative including a PDF copy of Stanford's list of proscribed words and phrases.

 

Why Campus Life Fell Apart

 

Excerpt (link in the original):

 

“Three years after the pandemic’s peak, its lingering effects continue to impede the full revival of student organizations -- a vital factor underpinning retention, graduation, and belonging.

 

“When Covid-19 shut down campuses in March 2020 and clubs moved online, colleges reported sharp drops in participation as institutions and students went into survival mode. Even as public-health restrictions receded and students returned to campuses, however, the fabric that kept the clubs operating and smoothly passing the torch from year to year remained frayed.

 

“Faced with the challenge of rebuilding what was once the beating heart of campus involvement, some colleges are rethinking their approaches to engagement in big ways. The cost of student disconnection is too high to ignore.

 

“Based on conversations with over a dozen experts in student affairs and engagement, here’s an overview of how clubs fell apart during the pandemic, why it matters, and what some colleges are doing about it." …

 

Full article at Chronicle of Higher Education

 

On the Positive Side -- Samples of Current Activities at Stanford

 

Click on each article for direct access; selections are from Stanford Report and other Stanford websites. 

 

Update from Stanford’s Presidential Search Committee

 

Stanford’s Leadership Clarifies Free Speech Boundaries

 

Sixth Year MD-PhD Student Working on New Cell Therapies for Blood Cancers (Video)

 

Solar Power Data Software Can Increase Clean Energy Generation


Ten Years of Team Science in Brain Research

 

Tradeoffs in Aquaculture

 

DNA Helps Map Migration During the Roman Empire

 

Other Articles of Interest

  

The Impact of “Name Image Likeness” on Stanford Sports 

 

 

College Presidents Are Quietly Organizing to Support DEI

Full article at Chronicle of Higher Education

 

There’s Always Been Trouble in ‘The Groves of Academe’

Full op-ed at NY Times

 

FIRE and Anti-Defamation League Weigh-In on No-Contact Orders Against Student Journalists

Full article at Daily Princetonian. See also FIRE’s update that Princeton has subsequently amended its rules for no-contact orders.

 

The Real Problem with American Universities

Full op-ed at The Atlantic and also at MSN

 

DC’s American University Bans Indoor Protests

Full article at Inside Higher Ed

 

American Miseducation (Video)

Full video at Free Press and also at YouTube

 

Stanford Prof. Jay Bhattacharya: Free Expression and Unsettled Science (Podcast)

Full podcast at Higher Ed Now

“I think that future generations are going to look back on the recent past and compare it to the McCarthy era as a period when campuses which should be the bastion of robust and civil discourse and viewpoint diversity, unfortunately, have not been living up to that mission." – Nadine Strossen, former President of ACLU and currently professor emeritus at NYU Law School

January 29, 2024

College Is All About Curiosity, and That Requires Free Speech

 

Excerpts:

“True learning can only happen on campuses where academic freedom is paramount -- within and outside the classroom.

 

“I have served happily as a professor at Yale for most of my adult life, but in my four-plus decades at the mast, I have never seen campuses roiled as they’re roiling today....

 

“The classroom is, first and foremost, a place to train young minds toward a yearning for knowledge and a taste for argument -- to be intellectually curious -- even if what they wind up discovering challenges their most cherished convictions. If the behavioral economist George Loewenstein is right that curiosity is a result of an ‘information gap’ -- a desire to know more than we do -- then the most vital tasks of higher education are to help students realize that the gap always exists and to stoke their desire to bridge it....

 

“This process of testing ideas should be encouraged, particularly among the young. But it carries risks, not least because of what we might call influencers, who wind up dictating which ideas it’s fashionable to wear and which should be tossed out. When large majorities of college students report pressure to self-censor, this is what they’re talking about. Surveys suggest that the principal reason students keep controversial ideas to themselves is to avoid the disdain not of their professors but of their peers.

 

“That is unfortunate, not least because it tells us how badly the educational process has failed....

“My undergraduate education at Stanford in the 1970s was full of serious argument over controversial propositions. Little was out of bounds. In my history courses, we eagerly debated such subjects as whether slavery was more efficient than wage labor, or whether the influence of Christian missionaries on Asia and Africa and Latin America had been a net negative or net positive. When the great Carl Degler solemnly told a lecture class that slavery in Brazil had been harsher than slavery in the United States, nobody got mad, nobody circulated an outraged petition; instead, a group of Black students, myself among them, went to the lectern afterward to question, argue and learn....

 

“This, I thought then and think now -- this is how one lives the life of the mind! No, not everyone on campus need see things this way; but no one should interfere with those who do.... If telling students and faculty what they must not say is bad, telling them what they must say is often worse." … 

Full op-ed by Stanford alum and Yale Law School Prof. Stephen L. Carter at NY Times Magazine 

 

How Universities Use DEI Statements to Enforce Groupthink

 

Excerpts (links in the original):


“Yoel Inbar must not be allowed to teach psychology at UCLA -- or so a student petition informed the California university's administration this past July.

 

“Inbar is an eminent, influential, and highly cited researcher with a Ph.D. in social psychology from Cornell University. There is no question that he is qualified. Anyone worth their salt doing work on political polarization knows Inbar's name. Inbar also jumped through all the hoops UCLA put up for the job, including submitting a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) statement, which is currently all the rage in colleges and universities. He even shares the politics of the majority of the psychology department. But on his podcast, Inbar had expressed relatively mild concerns over the ideological pressures that DEI statements impose and wondered aloud whether they do harm to diversity of thought.

 

“As a result of this petition -- signed by only 66 students -- UCLA did not hire Inbar. And he's not the only academic this has happened to. Far from it....

 

“Here's something you probably don't know unless you've learned it the hard way: There are secret hearings at universities all over the country, and too often they are focused on investigating and/or punishing professors for protected speech.

 

“The Kafkaesque nature of these hearings has been highlighted by authors such as The Atlantic's Anne Applebaum and Northwestern University media studies professor Laura Kipnis, in her 2017 book Unwanted Advances. Readers may recall that Kipnis was herself subjected to a secret hearing after she published an article saying Title IX was being used to squelch speech on campus. Ironically, she was subsequently investigated by Northwestern's office of Title IX.

 

“With that ever-present threat, it shouldn't be a surprise, then, that faculty reported enormous concerns over academic freedom in FIRE's most recent faculty survey....”

 

Full article by Stanford law school alum and president of FIRE Greg Lukianoff and his co-author Rikki Schott at Reason. See also Laura Kipnis' book "Unwanted Advances" and Anne Applebaum's article at The Atlantic (August 31, 2021) "The New Puritans".

 

The Future of Academic Freedom

 

Excerpts (links in the original):

 

“On January 2nd, after months of turmoil around Harvard’s response to Hamas’s attack on Israel, and weeks of turmoil around accusations of plagiarism, Claudine Gay resigned as the university’s president. Any hope that this might relieve the outsized attention on Harvard proved to be illusory....

 

“Over the years, I learned that students had repeatedly attempted to file complaints about my classes, saying that my requiring students to articulate, or to hear classmates make, arguments they might abhor -- for example, Justice Antonin Scalia saying there is no constitutional right to same-sex intimacy -- was unacceptable. The administration at my law school would not allow such complaints to move forward to investigations because of its firm view that academic freedom protects reasonable pedagogical choices. But colleagues at other schools within Harvard and elsewhere feared that their administrators were using concepts of discrimination or harassment to cover classroom discussions that make someone uncomfortable. These colleagues become more and more unwilling to facilitate conversations on controversial topics, believing that university administrators might not distinguish between challenging discussions and discrimination or harassment. Even an investigation that ended with no finding of wrongdoing could eat up a year of one’s professional life and cost thousands of dollars in legal bills. (A spokesperson for Harvard University declined to comment for this story.)

 

“The seeping of D.E.I. programs into many aspects of university life in the past decade would seem a ready-made explanation for how we got to such a point. Danielle Allen, a political philosopher and my Harvard colleague, co-chaired the university’s Presidential Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging, which produced a report, in 2018, that aimed to counter the idea that principles of D.E.I. and of academic freedom are in opposition, and put forward a vision in which both are ‘necessary to the pursuit of truth.’ Like Allen, I consider the diversity of thought that derives from the inclusion of people of different experiences, backgrounds, and identities to be vital to an intellectual community and to democracy. But, as she observed last month in the Washington Post, ‘across the country, DEI bureaucracies have been responsible for numerous assaults on common sense.’ Allen continued, ‘Somehow the racial reckoning of 2020 lost sight of that core goal of a culture of mutual respect with human dignity at the center. A shaming culture was embraced instead.’ …

 

“The post-Gay crisis has created a crossroads, where universities will be tempted to discipline objectionable speech in order to demonstrate that they are dedicated to rooting out antisemitism and Islamophobia, too. Unless we conscientiously and mindfully pull away from that path, academic freedom -- which is essential to fulfilling a university’s purpose -- will meet its destruction....”

 

Full op-ed by Harvard Law School Prof. Jeannie Suk Gersen at New Yorker

 

Obstacles to Adopting Institutional Neutrality

 

Excerpts:

 

“University leaders are responsible for advancing their institutions’ interests. Adopting the Kalven principles [regarding a university’s role in political and social matters] has various potential benefits: It frees university leaders from taking a stand on divisive topics; it may help slow the decline of institutional trust; and it better aligns the university with the mission of promoting diversity of thought. But . . . there are significant obstacles to sincerely adopting the Kalven principles. A history of following the norm of consistently issuing political statements creates expectations of what university leaders can and will do. Adopting the Kalven principles requires recalibrating these expectations...."

  

Full op-ed at Heterodox. See also our compilation of the Kalven principles, part of the Chicago Trifecta that has long been posted at our website and which we have long advocated that Stanford adopt.

 

Third-Rate Governance of First-Rate Universities

 

Excerpts:

 

"Governance at elite universities is insular, unaccountable, and marred by conflicts of interest that prevent it from being focused on the historic mission of the university, encapsulated on Harvard’s coat of arms: seeking truth. Many nonprofits face similar structural difficulties that create a gap between the performance of their leadership and the fulfillment of their mission, but elite universities face added difficulties. They are so wealthy and market forces in elite higher education are so weak that there is no continuous pressure disciplining their behavior. Moreover, the returns in prestige and other benefits from being on an elite board of trustees are so substantial that members pull their punches to stay in the good graces of their fellows.

 

"Only when some cataclysmic event like the Hamas massacre prompts campus upheaval, and only when a group of activists like Christopher Rufo, Aaron Sibarium, and Bill Ackman take advantage of it will the boards of these universities be called to account. And a reckoning is in order. Better governance structures would help improve universities without the dangers created by direct intervention by the state or periodic, short-lived populist eruptions."

 

Full op-ed by Northwestern Law Prof. John O. McGinnis at Law & Liberty

 

DEI Is an Ideology for the Privileged

 

Excerpts:

 

“My community is so far behind that I no longer look at the data showing how we’re on the bottom of every education and socioeconomic chart. I see the evidence every day. That’s why it sickens me whenever I read news of our culture war over DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion), most recently during the public trial of Claudine Gay. What struck me was that several DEI advocates, in their defense of Gay, claimed to be fighting for communities like mine. They talked of how not everybody is born equal, how systemic racism is in the DNA of America, how white supremacy keeps us down at every turn, and the absurd oppressor-oppressed binary that leaves no gray area for nuance.

 

“This experience was disembodying. It was like listening to people who don’t know you talk about you as if they knew you from way back when. Sometimes this disconnect between this DEI ideology and the realities of my community was so deep that it was laughable.

 

"For instance, while DEI ideologues and beneficiaries like Gay may share the same skin color with us, there is very little, if anything, that my community had in common with a woman born to a wealthy Haitian family and schooled at the best of America’s schools. These DEI advocates were exploiting the pain of my community to gaslight their opponents and this troubled me the most because it hurts and hinders our efforts to truly make lasting progress.

 

“The reality is that DEI is an ideology for the privileged. It helps people like Claudine Gay who exploit race for power and prestige and it hurts communities like mine by exploiting them for poverty-porn.

 

“Let me give you an example of what my life as a pastor to my struggling community is actually like....” [followed by detailed discussion of social actions and outreach]

 

Full op-ed by Chicago South Side Pastor Corey Brooks at Tablet

 

More About Stanford’s Alleged Roles in Election Censorship

 

Excerpts:

 

“A series of internal documents obtained via open records request by America First Legal (AFL) show that the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which falls under the Department of Homeland Security, was aware of the risks associated with unsupervised mail-in voting in the months leading up to the 2020 election....

 

“CISA’s use of Deloitte to flag so-called ‘disinformation’ online further confirms the findings unearthed in an interim report released by House Republicans in November. According to that analysis, CISA -- along with the State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) -- colluded with Stanford University to pressure Big Tech companies into censoring what they claimed was ‘disinformation’ during the 2020 election. At the heart of this operation was the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP), ‘a consortium of disinformation academics’ spearheaded by the Stanford Internet Observatory that coordinated with DHS and GEC ‘to monitor and censor Americans’ online speech’ ahead of the 2020 contest.

 

“Created ‘at the request’ of CISA, EIP [at Stanford] allowed federal officials to ‘launder [their] censorship activities in hopes of bypassing both the First Amendment and public scrutiny.’ As documented in the interim report, this operation aimed to censor ‘true information, jokes and satire, and political opinions’ and submitted flagged posts from prominent conservative figures to Big Tech companies for censorship....”

 

Full article at Federalist as also posted at Real Clear Politics

 

See also Part 4 of Back to Basics at Stanford regarding the need for better oversight of these sorts of activities at Stanford.

 

Two Faculty Friends -- One Jewish, One Muslim -- Have an Answer to Campus Conflict

 

Excerpts:

 

“On Oct. 26, we organized our first event together, called Pitt Community United in Compassion. Faculty, staff, students, and community leaders -- including religious leaders -- gathered from across the region. We yearned to create a supportive environment where people could gather, focus, meditate, foster meaningful connections, care for each other, and find solace amid the chaos of our lives.

 

“We asked participants simple questions: What does compassion mean to you? How do you define compassion? Is there something from your own personal background -- religion, upbringing, experiences -- that has taught you compassion? Finally, we asked: How can our community at Pitt be more compassionate? 

 

“Our motivation in organizing this event stemmed from seeing so many campuses torn apart by hatred and an inability to find common ground. Our antidote was to create a kind of prophylactic that would guide our community to celebrate our shared humanity and to prevent us from falling into the same vicious cycle....

 

“Universities are wracked with debates over the role of freedom of expression. But what is missing from these conversations is any discussion about civil discourse. Universities will never be able to solve the world’s problems unless we see those with divergent perspectives as human first and worthy of respect and care. …We do not want people to walk away with one worldview, but instead we seek that they have the confidence and compassion to deal with those who disagree.”


Full op-ed by University of Pittsburg Professors Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili and Abdesalam Soudi at Tablet

 

How Civics Can Counter Antisemitism on Campus

 

Excerpts:

 

“The shocking scenes of college students, faculty, and staff defending Hamas’s October 7th massacre of Israeli civilians as a ‘legitimate act of resistance’ have rightly been called antisemitism.

 

“Our father’s antisemitism was the centuries-old hatred of Jews just because they were Jews, different in their beliefs and customs. But this new form of antisemitism is different, and there are reasons why we’re seeing it revealed on our college campuses today. It’s an antisemitism based on an ideology of the oppressed versus the oppressors, which is also being used against people of other races and ethnicities. Because Israel is seen as strong it is viewed as the oppressor, and Hamas, because it is weaker, is seen as the oppressed....

 

“Civics education rightly understood counters this new form of antisemitism, and all identitarian philosophies, as it promotes an American “unum” through a non-ideological (yet still critical) teaching of the American project....”

 

Full op-ed by Pepperdine Professor and Dean Pete Peterson and non-profit leader Jack Miller at Real Clear Education

 

On the Positive Side -- Samples of Current Activities at Stanford

 

Click on each article for direct access; selections are from Stanford Report and other Stanford websites. 

 

The Incredible Journey of Stanford's Transfer Student Cameron Black

 

The Impact of Atmospheric Rivers

 

Stanford Medicine’s First Health Equity Symposium Focuses on Improving the Health of Marginalized Populations

 

Possible Major Enhancements in Computer Memory

 

Stanford Football’s First Year Schedule in the ACC

 

Other Articles of Interest

 

Text of Letter from Former Cornell Trustee Demanding Major Changes at Cornell

Full letter by former Cornell trustee Jon A. Lindseth at Ivy Excellence Initiative website

 

Harvard’s Recent Statement on Rights and Responsibilities

Full statement at Harvard website

 

AAUP’s Recent Statement on Eliminating Discrimination and Achieving Equality in Higher Education

Full statement at AAUP website

   

DEI Boomerang

Full op-ed at New Criterion

 

Nebraska Legislation Proposes an End to Tenure

Full article at Higher Ed Dive

 

Microcredentials Are on the Rise, but Not at Colleges

Full article at Inside Higher Ed

 

Georgia Universities Rebrand Diversity in Response to Anti-DEI Regulations

Full article at College Fix

"Professors should not be carrying their ideologies into the classroom. Our job as teachers of 'citizens and citizen-leaders' is not to indoctrinate students, but to prepare them to grapple with all of the ideas they will encounter in the societies they will serve.”

-- Harvard Professor and former Dean of Harvard College Harry R. Lewis

January 22, 2024

  

Why I Left Harvard

 

Excerpts (links in the original):

 

“Since early December, the end of my 20-year career teaching at Harvard has been the subject of articles, op-eds, tweets from a billionaire, and even a congressional hearing. I have become a poster child for how the growing campus DEI -- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion -- bureaucracies strangle free speech. My ordeal has been used to illustrate the hypocrisy of the assertions by Harvard’s leaders that they honor the robust exchange of challenging ideas.

 

“What happened to me, and others, strongly suggests that these assertions aren’t true -- at least, if those ideas oppose campus orthodoxy.

 

“To be a central example of what has gone wrong in higher education feels surreal. If there is any silver lining to losing the career that I found so fulfilling, perhaps it’s that my story will help explain the fear that stalks campuses, a fear that spreads every time someone is punished for their speech....” [followed by a detailed summary of events that transpired]

 

Full op-ed by former Harvard Prof. Carole Hooven at Free Press

 

Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts

 

Excerpts:

 

“Sometimes in this job I have a kernel of a column idea that doesn’t pan out. But other times I begin looking into a topic and find a problem so massive that I can’t believe I’ve ever written about anything else. This latter experience happened as I looked into the growing bureaucratization of American life....

 

“Once you start poking around, the statistics are staggering. Over a third of all health care costs go to administration.... The growth of bureaucracy costs America over $3 trillion in lost economic output every year, Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini estimated in 2016 in The Harvard Business Review. That was about 17 percent of G.D.P....

 

“This situation is especially grave in higher education. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology now has almost eight times as many nonfaculty employees as faculty employees. In the University of California system, the number of managers and senior professionals swelled by 60 percent between 2004 and 2014. The number of tenure-track faculty members grew by just 8 percent....

 

“I’ve found the administrators’ code of safety first is now prevalent at the colleges where I’ve taught and visited. Aside from being a great school, Stanford used to be a weird school, where students set up idiosyncratic arrangements like an anarchist house or built their own islands in the middle of the lake. This was great preparation for life as a creative entrepreneur. But Stanford is apparently now tamed. I invite you to read Ginevra Davis’s essay 'Stanford’s War on Social Life' in Palladium, which won a vaunted Sidney Award in 2022 and details how university administrators cracked down on student initiatives to make everything boring, supervised and safe....”

 

Full op-ed by David Brooks at NY Times

 

See also our prior articles “Stanford’s Ballooning Administrative Bureaucracy” and where Stanford now has nearly 17,000 non-teaching personnel, considerably worse than the numbers cited above for MIT, University of California and others; “Stanford’s War Against Its Own Students”; and “Back to Basics at Stanford where we have long proposed a major reduction in Stanford’s counter-productive bureaucracy and that the savings, dollar for dollar, be devoted solely to undergraduate scholarships, research grants and independent projects and graduate student fellowships.

 

From Stanford Law School Dean Paul Brest: Reviving Campus Belonging and Community

 

Excerpts (links in the original):

 

“Critical discourse was in critical condition on American campuses even before reactions to the war between Israel and Hamas left it with no discernible pulse.

 

“At Stanford Law School, where I have taught for many years, students across the spectrum of beliefs and identities have become increasingly reluctant to engage each other productively on controversial issues. As the College Pulse/FIRE 2024 College Free Speech Rankings and the 2021 Stanford IDEAL survey reveal, many students feel excluded from classroom discussions and fear ostracism should they say the wrong thing. Far from being unique, Stanford sadly turns out to be typical....

 

“If the choice were only between toughing it out and comforting the afflicted, inclusive discourse would create a paradox: One can either promote open discourse among the willing at the cost of other students’ exclusion, or remove barriers to inclusion at the cost of drastically narrowing the range of permissible discourse.

 

“Fortunately, there’s a third option available, which I’ll call everyone belongs. The idea is to facilitate critical discourse while creating the conditions for inclusive participation. This approach promotes interactive discussions designed to make students with many different identities and viewpoints grapple with difficult issues, even when the process makes them uncomfortable. For this to succeed, however, students must feel that they are genuinely included in those discussions -- that they belong at the table.

 

“Belonging, in this context, does not imply the cozy feeling of being with like-minded people. Rather, as the social psychologist Geoffrey Cohen defines the term in his 2022 book Belonging, it refers to ‘the feeling that we’re part of a larger group that values, respects, and cares for us -- and to which we have something to contribute.’” …

 

Full op-ed at Chronicle of Higher Education

 

Lessons to Learn from University Presidents

 

Excerpts:

 

“What will come of the presidents of three of America’s most prestigious universities being called on the congressional carpet to explain their responses to Hamas’ brutal assault on innocent Israelis?  …

 

“The core questions posed by the congressional inquisitors were two: (1) Why did your university not condemn Hamas’ brutal October 7 assault on innocent Israelis?  (2) Does your institution’s code of conduct permit the pro-Hamas demonstrations that occurred?

 

“Implicit in the first question is that there is no acceptable explanation for not condemning Hamas’ actions -- that the presidents failed their responsibilities in not doing so. The second question implies that the schools’ codes of conduct should prohibit such demonstrations with severe consequences for violators. If those conclusions were drawn from this unfortunate saga, we would have missed an opportunity for essential reform....

 

“Two deeply embedded developments that have distracted higher education from the pursuit of truth and the conveyance of knowledge are institutional advocacy for favored public policies and the suppression of free expression in the name of student comfort....

 

“Silence is not violence, nor is it indifference. Failure to regulate offensive speech does not endorse the speaker’s message. On the contrary, both are essential to the pursuit of truth. Had the three presidents been able to say that they did not condemn Hamas because, when speaking for the institution, they remain neutral on matters of public concern and that they did not constrain the demonstrators because they embrace untrammeled freedom of expression, they would have been no less condemned but would have stood on two foundational principles that once made American higher education the envy of the world.”

 

Full op-ed by Lewis & Clark Law School Dean Emeritus James Huffman at DC Journal

 

See also our compilation of the Kalven Report regarding a university’s involvement in political and social matters and part of the Chicago Trifecta

  

Amid National Backlash, Colleges Brace for Fresh Wave of Anti-DEI Legislation


Excerpt:

 

“At least 14 states this year will consider legislation that could dismantle the ways college administrators attempt to correct historical and structural gender and racial disparities and make campus climates more inclusive, according to a Chronicle of Higher Education analysis.

 

“The Chronicle has identified at least 19 bills that will be considered in the coming months that seek to ban the employment and funding of diversity, equity, and inclusion offices; the use of pledges by faculty and staff to commit to creating a more inclusive environment on campus, commonly known as diversity statements; mandatory diversity training; and identity-based preferences for hiring and admissions.

 

“While college administrators argue that they have a legal, moral, and financial obligation to more aggressively tackle forms of discrimination on campus and provide extra resources to historically marginalized employees and students -- who will soon make up more than half of the nation’s population -- opponents say those efforts are ineffective, illegal, and, in fact, discriminatory....”

 

Full article at Chronicle of Higher Education

Pop Goes the DEI Bubble

 

Excerpts:

 

“Have we reached peak DEI? The unraveling of ‘diversity, equity and inclusion’ initiatives had already begun -- five states banning DEI programs; Google, Facebook and others cutting DEI staff; Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard -- well before Harvard President Claudine Gay was demoted.

 

“Author Christopher Rufo, echoing 1960s student activists, called the rise of DEI a ‘long march through the institutions’ -- a 50-plus-year ideology infiltration into universities, K-12 schools, government, media and corporations with the goal of telling us all how to live. That’s why I enjoy that the word ‘rot’ is back in style to describe what is happening inside the walls of academia....

 

“The new societal design, embedded in DEI and ESG, envisioned idyllic communal progress. History shows this never works because power corrupts. Diversity meant ideological conformity. Equity meant discrimination. Inclusion meant blurring the sexes. Men winning women’s athletic events would be considered normal. It was all theatrics, like the tampons I’ve seen in men’s bathrooms on Ivy League campuses. Somewhere George Orwell is rolling on the floor laughing....

 

“I, like most Americans, am for diversity, but not when it’s forced or mandated....

 

“Preferred pronouns are fading. College admissions, and maybe hiring, based on race is illegal. DEI departments are being deconstructed. But while the DEI movement may have peaked, like that Monty Python character, it’s not dead yet. The feverish whining of those grasping for the last reins of power will probably get worse before DEI eventually dies with a whimper.”

 

Full op-ed at WSJ 

Reasons for the DEI Rollback

 

Excerpt:

 

“When he took office in 2021, Utah governor Spencer Cox, a Republican, made advancing ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion’ a key priority. He appointed a high-level diversity officer to his administration. His senior leadership was put through a ‘21-Day Equity Challenge,’ which instructed them in microaggressions and antiracism.

 

“The universities were on board. Utah State’s annual diversity symposium featured talks such as ‘Decentering Whiteness.’ The university also required DEI statements from applicants to the faculty, explaining how they infused diversity and equity -- a focus on race, gender, sexual orientation, and other categories of ‘marginalization’-- into their work. Even for positions in fields such as insect ecology and lithospheric evolution.

 

“Then, in December, Cox announced a different priority: reversing the excesses of DEI. At a press conference he said, ‘We’re using identitarianism to force people into boxes, and into victimhood, and I just don’t think that’s helpful at all. In fact, I think it’s harmful.’ So harmful that he announced his intention to bar the use of diversity statements in faculty hiring, condemning the practice as ‘bordering on evil.’ …

 

Full article by National Association of Scholars Senior Fellow John Sailer at Free Press

    

Alternative Viewpoint: Excellence Isn’t Colorblind or Gender Neutral, In Either Direction, Nor Should It Be

 

Excerpts (citations deleted):

 

“As debate rages on about the forced resignation of Harvard President Dr. Claudine Gay, a familiar trope has surfaced yet again. As if to echo Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision in the Harvard affirmative action case, many have asserted that Gay got her job because of race and gender, contrasting that with a ‘pure’ merit-based selection of leaders. Aside from the insulting nature of this assumption, there is a stark irony to be considered here -- white men have similarly gotten their positions because of race and gender for centuries, originally by law and ultimately by tradition, precedent, and, one might add, the in-group tendency to choose familiar faces. If, after all, our norms were to choose leaders based on some (more fictional than real) colorblind or gender-neutral metric, would the statistics on CEOs, presidents, and other leaders look as one-sided as they do today? …

 

“Clearly, there are multiple dimensions that contribute to the excellence of a leader and a scholar -- and in this instance, multiple issues on the table beyond the focus of my comments here -- but it is absurd to suggest that white men never benefit from the ease with which they fit the prototype and thus can be taken ‘at face value’ as appropriate candidates for leadership to be judged on other dimensions. Even more important, it is fundamentally shortsighted to restrict our evaluations of quality and excellence to so-called colorblind and gender-neutral framings that miss the richness of intelligence honed by the lived experiences of identity, and of course, identity comes in many other forms also to be embraced as valuable to our collective power and leadership. Why don’t we test our own powers of perception and judgment to include the valuable nuances that diversity encompasses? Are we just too lazy to learn new ways of seeing merit before our very eyes? …”

 

Full op-ed by Stanford alum and Rutgers Chancellor Nancy Cantor at Diverse Issues in Higher Education

 

Higher Education Needs to Reform Itself; It Also Needs to Defend Itself


Excerpts (links in the original):

 

“These are turbulent times for universities. Rising incidents of antisemitism on campuses across the country -- highlighted in a disastrous hearing in Congress that contributed to the resignations of two Ivy League presidents -- have led to widespread calls to reform higher education, refocusing it on principles of pluralism and free expression.

 

“It’s true that higher education needs to reform itself. But more than ever, it also needs to defend itself.... [followed by detailed recommendations] ….

 

“The last three months have set higher education back on its heels, perhaps deservedly so. But these challenges also present an unprecedented opportunity. Universities must seize the initiative on two fronts: Reform the censorial culture that threatens free expression on campus, and defend themselves vigorously against the official government suppression of speech.”

 

Full op-ed at The Hill

 

On the Positive Side - Samples of Current Teaching and Research at Stanford

 

Click on each article for direct access; selections are from Stanford Report and other Stanford websites. 

 

The Hunt for a Vaccine That Fends Off Multiple Strains of Infection

If/Then: Business, Leadership, Society (podcasts from Stanford Graduate School of Business)

Study of Twins Indicates That a Vegan Diet Improves Cardiovascular Health

Stanford Scientists Reveal Why We Value Things More When They Cost Us More 

Other Articles of Interest

 

Dartmouth Launches Campus-Wide Program Encouraging Dialogue on Controversial Topics

Full article at Inside Higher Ed

 

To Revitalize Higher Education, Colleges Need to Refocus on Character and Why They Exist

Full op-ed by Pepperdine President Jim Gash at Newsweek

 

DEI Squelches Student Reporting at Yale, Penn

Full op-ed by current Yale undergraduate at Tablet. See also Stanford student op-ed from October at Jewish News Syndicate.

 

Why Antisemitism Sprouted So Quickly on Campus

Full op-ed at After Babel

 

How Private Colleges Are Grappling with Growing Partisan Divides

Full article at Higher Ed Dive

 

DEI Goes Quiet in Business and Elsewhere

Full article at NY Times

 

Growing Numbers Question Whether a College Degree Is Worth the Debt

Full article at NY Times

 

Large Percent of Graduate Students Question Whether It Was Worth It

Full article at USA Today and also republished at Yahoo

 

After Harvard and Penn Resignations, Who Wants to be a College President?

Full article at Washington Post and also republished at MSN

 

In Battles Over Offensive Speech, the Cure Is Usually Worse Than the Disease

Full op-ed by U Wisconsin Prof. Franciska Coleman at The Hill

 

Harvard Tries to Smooth Things Over with Silicon Valley

Full article at WSJ

 

Foreign Funding of U.S. Academia

Full PDF copy of report here

 

Can ChatGPT Get Into Harvard?

Full article at Washington Post and also republished at MSN

 

The U.S. Prevailed in the Space Race; With STEM, We Can Win the Earth Race Too

Full op-ed at The Hill and also republished at MSN

“My view is that, above all else, we must focus on returning American higher education to its original purposes: to seek the truth; to teach young adults the things they need to flourish; and to pass on the knowledge that is the basis of our exceptional civilization.” -- Bari Weiss, Journalist 

January 15, 2024

 

[Editor's note: Because of the timeliness and relevance of articles in this week's Newsletter, we are again issuing it slightly earlier than is our normal practice and might move to an earlier publication date in the future as well.]

 

From Stanford Daily: Petition Seeks Reinstatement of Suspended COLLEGE Lecturer


Excerpts:

 

“A petition circulated by students demands the reinstatement of COLLEGE 101 lecturer Ameer Loggins, who was suspended after reports of identity-based targeting last fall.

 

“Stanford opened an investigation following reports that Loggins targeted Jewish students based on their identity during two Oct. 10 class sections, following the Hamas attack on Israel three days prior. University president Richard Saller said at a Graduate Student Council (GSC) meeting last December that Stanford has hired external counsel for the investigation.

 

“Over 1,700 people have signed the petition as of Jan. 10, according to Jaeden Clark ’26, one of the students leading the effort....

 

“Kelly Danielpour ’25, a co-president of the Jewish Student Association who spoke with several Jewish students from the class and was involved in reporting the incident, wrote that the ‘only students who can speak to whether Loggins created an environment where they felt singled out, targeted, and pressured based on a power dynamic are the Jewish students in his class.’ ...

 

“Like Clark, Milo Golding ’26 is involved in the petition effort and previously sat in on Loggins’s lectures. He described Loggins as someone who created space for students to exchange different views on important societal issues....

 

“'I sympathize with the students who felt uncomfortable,’ Golding said. However, Golding argued, Loggins tried to help students understand the people and communities impacted by issues raised in the classroom. Golding said Loggins’s teaching style reflects his experiences growing up with a marginalized, low-income background and going ‘unheard.’” …

 

Full article at Stanford Daily

 

The Root Cause of Academic Groupthink

 

Excerpts:

 

“The shroud is coming off elite academia and America is not pleased with what it’s seeing. Its leaders have told us that genocidal antisemitism is too complex to recognize and that plagiarism is a problem for students, perhaps for junior faculty, but not for the president of Harvard. DEI policies elevated demographic considerations far above merit at our most prestigious institutions.

 

“How did this happen? What can be done to fix it?

 

“Those are tough questions. Major institutions don’t become corrupt overnight. The process is long, slow, and methodical. The solutions go far beyond the removal of a few high-profile officials....

 

"[T]he safest, surest, most common path to success in academia involves telling those already designated experts precisely what they most want to hear....The net result is a reinforcement of orthodox thinking and a field committed to moving further along whatever path it was already taking. I’ve termed this phenomenon ‘incremental outrageousness.’ It defines the basic incentive structure of academia....”

 

Full op-ed at Real Clear Education. See also former Stanford Provost John Etchemendy’s “The Threat from Within.”

 

Harvard’s Faculty Speak Up

 

Excerpts:

 

“[Law Professor J. Mark Ramseyer] criticized the growing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion bureaucracy at Harvard, noting in an email to The College Fix that ‘the DEI statements required of job applicants are a straightforward political loyalty oath.’ …

 

“Ramseyer described the current intolerance as a product of ‘an increasingly large fraction of our colleagues’ spreading their political ideologies across campus. He also placed blame on himself and other professors who were ‘scared to speak up’ and let it happen, while praising some alumni for ‘trying to rescue Harvard from what we let it become.’

 

“Similarly, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker published an op-ed last month in the Boston Globe in which he denounced Harvard’s ‘notorious incidents of cancelation and censorship’ over the past year and cited a ranking that placed Harvard last in free speech out of 248 universities....”

 

Full article at College Fix

This Is the Actual Danger Posed by DEI

 

Excerpts (links in the original):

 

“There are few national conversations more frustrating than the fight over D.E.I....

 

“Outside the reactionary right, there is a cohort of Americans, on both right and left, who want to eradicate illegal discrimination and remedy the effects of centuries of American injustice yet also have grave concerns about the way in which some D.E.I. efforts are undermining American constitutional values, especially on college campuses.

 

“For instance, when a Harvard scholar such as Steven Pinker speaks of ‘disempowering D.E.I.’ as a necessary reform in American higher education, he’s not opposing diversity itself. Pinker is liberal, donates substantially to the Democratic Party and ‘loathes’ Donald Trump. The objections he raises are shared by a substantial number of Americans across the political spectrum.

 

“To put it simply, the problem with D.E.I. isn’t with diversity, equity, or inclusion -- all vital values. The danger posed by D.E.I. resides primarily not in these virtuous ends, but in the unconstitutional means chosen to advance them....

 

“There is a better way to achieve greater diversity, equity, inclusion and related goals. Universities can welcome students from all walks of life without unlawfully censoring speech. They can respond to campus sexual violence without violating students’ rights to due process. They can diversify the student body without discriminating on the basis of race. Virtuous goals should not be accomplished by illiberal means.”

 

Full op-ed at NY Times. See also our Back to Basics at Stanford.

About Campus Activism

 

Excerpt (links in the original):

 

“In a thought-provoking essay, Len Gutkin, a senior editor of The Chronicle Review, digs into the evolution of campus activism this past decade. Citing several confrontations between administrators and students (including this infamous one involving the Yale professor Nicholas Christakis, who, along with his wife, Erika, oversaw student activities in one of the university’s residential colleges), Gutkin points out how DEI administrators came to be seen as prioritizing minority students’ feelings of belonging at the risk of censoring controversial speakers...."

  

Full article at Chronicle of Higher Education

 

About Preference Falsification, and Why Merit Is No Longer Evil

 

Excerpts (link in the original):

 

“Years ago, Harvard University Press published a book called ‘Private Truths, Public Lies' and explained the work and its author:

 

"'Preference falsification, according to the economist Timur Kuran, is the act of misrepresenting one’s wants under perceived social pressures…

 

“''A common effect of preference falsification is the preservation of widely disliked structures. Another is the conferment of an aura of stability on structures vulnerable to sudden collapse. When the support of a policy, tradition, or regime is largely contrived, a minor event may activate a bandwagon that generates massive yet unanticipated change. In distorting public opinion, preference falsification also corrupts public discourse and, hence, human knowledge.'

 

“This week on X, Mr. Kuran, a Duke University economist [and Stanford alum], writes: ‘Preference falsification has been central to the trajectory of DEI. People who abhor DEI principles and methods came to favor these publicly through a preference cascade. Every instance of preference falsification induced others to pretend they consider DEI just, efficient, beneficial to marginalized groups, etc. In time, a false consensus effectively displaced the search for truth as the university’s core mission.... Since October 7, the moral high ground has shifted. DEI has been exposed as a sham. Merit is no longer evil.'

 

"On X, venture capitalist Marc Andreessen suggests some homework: ‘Make a list of all the things you believe, but can’t say. Then a list of things you don’t believe, but must say.’ …"

 

Full op-ed at WSJ

  

Should DEI Be Expanded to Cover Jews?

 

Excerpts:

 

“Facing blowback for campus antisemitism, universities have proposed expanding their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs to encompass Jews. Not only does past (and present) persecution justify such expansion, they argue, but it seems politically advantageous. A recent survey showed 79 percent of college-age respondents support the ‘ideology’ categorizing whites as ‘oppressors’ and others as ‘oppressed’ (and deserving of special favor); furthermore, 67 percent concluded Jews ‘should be treated as oppressors.’

 

“Reconfiguring DEI programs to shift Jews into the ‘oppressed’ category seems highly desirable, but it is a Faustian bargain. DEI is not the solution. It is the problem....

 

“It is as if jurors decided a case based not on evidence but the litigants’ clothing. No wonder two-thirds of college students consider it acceptable to shout down a speaker; they do not need to hear speech to decide who is right,,,. Unlike Hammurabi’s Code, which based punishments on a matrix comparing the status of offender and victim, the Torah emphasizes conduct over status: ‘Thou shalt not favor the poor, nor honor the rich, but in righteousness shall you judge.’ [Lev. 19:15.] ,,,

 

“The diversity-industrial complex now decides which speech is ‘worth the squeeze’ and which is not....

 

“Viewpoint bias among faculty is no surprise; it is why they are chosen. Candidates must submit ‘diversity statements’ demonstrating how they will treat students differently based on their status. It is the most important part of the application; Berkeley rejected 76 percent of applicants based on their diversity statement alone, without even considering their academic record. And faculty must repeat this ‘loyalty oath’ to the DEI regime throughout their careers, in annual reviews. Ideological conformity is not a bug of this system but a feature....

 

“Universities should not expand the DEI infrastructure but dismantle it. Fundamental justice -- and their academic reputations -- require nothing less.”

 

Full op-ed by Stanford alum Mitchell Keiter at Jewish Journal

 

Enforced DEI in Faculty Hiring at the University of California

 

Excerpts (links in the original):

 

“From 2016 to 2022, most University of California campuses participated in an experimental program, funded by the state Legislature, to use diversity, equity, and inclusion statements as the first cut in faculty-applicant pools. According to UC’s guidelines, the purpose of diversity statements is for applicants to explain what they have done and plan to do to serve underrepresented-minority people on campus -- specifically, African Americans, American Indians, and Hispanics/Latinos.

 

“Such policies are informed by a series of politically charged assumptions. The first assumption is that such groups have been more oppressed than other racial or ethnic groups in California; the second is that oppression has caused the groups to be represented in numbers lower than their proportions of the California population; the third is that increasing their representation is central to UC’s mission; the fourth is that proactive, race-conscious policies are necessary to hire members of the groups. Each of these assumptions should be open to debate. Instead, the university has assumed that all have been proved and then jumped to a fifth and final assumption: that UC can and should refuse to hire otherwise-competitive applicants for insufficiently endorsing the preceding assumptions.

 

“By making political values the sole criterion at the initial hiring stage, UC-faculty searches strayed from the American Association of University Professors’ bedrock 1915 “Declaration of Principles,” which states that scholars have a duty to remain neutral and not act in the interests of any particular segment of the population....”

 

Full op-ed at Chronicle of Higher Education

 

See also our prior posting "California Community College Professors Sue Over Newly Imposed DEIA Hiring and Performance Standards" including a PDF copy of the California Community Colleges' DEI glossary.

 

See also the Shils Report regarding the hiring and promotion of faculty and part of the Chicago Trifecta posted at our website.

 

What’s Bad for Harvard Is Good for America

 

Excerpts:

 

“Regardless of your perspective, Harvard looks bad right now -- and that’s good for America.

 

“Like all of America’s top universities, Harvard has taken on an unhealthy role in the US economy and society. America’s best universities need to return to their original mission: producing academic excellence, not just signaling it.

 

“These schools have used their reputations for excellence to form an oligopoly with outsized power. An Ivy League degree, or even just attendance at an Ivy League school, conveys a powerful signal that this person is among the smartest and best-connected this nation has to offer....

 

“This power to signal elitism also proved toxic for the universities themselves. A concentration of market power tends to result in less innovation, more waste and greater distortions. So it was with the Ivy League: Intoxicated by the idea that they were shaping the elite of America, these schools increasingly saw themselves not as educational institutions but as organizers of a vast social project. They were not completely wrong -- but it was a social project with little accountability....

 

“Reducing market power is never easy, but the U.S. has to find some way to make its elite schools less important....”

 

Full op-ed at Bloomberg. See also “Stanford’s Ballooning Administrative Bureaucracy” and “Back to Basics at Stanford.”

 

Harvard’s Board Is Guilty of Five Key Failures; Here’s How to Avoid Repeating Them

 

Excerpt:

 

“Harvard’s board implosion will become a classic case study of failed succession planning for colleges and universities everywhere, as well as for failed board governance across sectors. The profound damage to the venerable Harvard brand in terms of its reputation for academic integrity, with its school motto being 'Veritas' (Latin for truth), could have long-lasting consequences: a decline in student applications, diminished employer enthusiasm for Harvard graduates, discouraged fundraising, and a demoralized, fractured campus culture. But it can be corrected if the university acknowledges five classic corporate governance failures -- and then implements key needed remedies quickly....”

 

[The author then discusses in detail each of these five alleged failures:

 

  • Failed diligence

 

  • Poor responsiveness to key stakeholders worried about rising campus antisemitism

 

  • Failures of duty of care and premature denials of misconduct allegations

 

  • Failures to address the serious erosion of Harvard’s brand and institutional mission

 

  • Unexplained violations of collegial shared governance and presumptions of racial bias.]

 

Full analysis by Yale Management Professor and Senior Associate Dean Jeffrey Sonnenfeld at Fortune

 

Why the Shocking Campus Behavior Is Only the Beginning

 

Excerpts:

 

“I’ve been part of so many conversations over the past few months about the same weighty topic. People are struggling to understand why so many individuals and institutions have openly embraced antisemitic viewpoints, permitting hateful rhetoric they’d never permit against another identity group.... The truth lies in the development of a new and increasingly radical progressive orthodoxy, which has come to dominate many campuses, institutions, workplaces, and online spaces. 

 

“Under this belief set, extreme words and actions, including acts of violence, are considered righteous if employed by the ‘oppressed’. In contrast, words and actions that are far less damaging are rebuked if they come from those who are deemed ‘oppressors’. What’s fine for one group to say or do is completely unacceptable when it comes from another, and double standards are openly applied....

 

“History is complex, containing not only tales of oppression and injustice that should not be overlooked, but also stories of resilience, innovation, and triumph over adversity. These narratives include many individuals who defied challenges or societal norms and are remembered for their remarkable achievements and contributions....

 

“These universities’ incessant tuition increases predominantly fund sprawling layers of bureaucracy in their administrations as well as the construction of bigger and better facilities as part of an arms race against other schools.

  

“For example, the Wall Street Journal recently reported that Stanford University had more administrative staff and faculty than it did students. Specifically, there were 15,750 administrators, 2,288 faculty members, and 16,937 students. There is absolutely no data that shows better facilities and more administrators lead to better education outcomes; however, they are highly effective for branding and recruiting, and they create a lot of high-paying jobs for bureaucrats who don’t even teach students....

 

“Through the lens of the radical progressive orthodoxy, Jews are labeled as oppressors. This labeling is based on American Jews’ disproportionate wealth and perceived access to power, but it conveniently overlooks the constant, systematic oppression Jews faced for thousands of years. This same oppression culminated in the Holocaust, but that was just one horror in millennia of calamities....

 

“The path forward should not prioritize tearing down the structures of self-determination, success, and achievement; rather, it should attempt to make the starting line more equitable for everyone. This involves addressing systemic issues and biases while preserving the principles of freedom and merit that have been pivotal in fostering innovation, progress, and prosperity. By focusing on enhancing opportunities for all, rather than imposing uniformity of outcomes, we can create a society that is both fairer and freer, where merit and hard work are recognized and rewarded, and where everyone has a chance to succeed based on their abilities and efforts.”

 

Full op-ed at Friday Forward

 

Moral Outrage Is Consuming Our Universities; Moral Resilience Can Save the Day

 

Excerpts:

 

“As a therapist, clinical ethicist and trauma researcher specializing in moral injury and moral distress, I know well the damaging effects of when a person’s core moral foundations are violated in high-stakes situations. I also recognize when their integrity is compromised due to forces beyond their control or from repeatedly not having their deeply held values respected individually, collectively or institutionally.

 

“As a vice president of university relations and chief communications officer at California Institute of Integral Studies, I also know well the emotional minefield that college campuses have become. Every day, I survey the precarious landscape of moral offenses, complaints and activations, carefully assessing which ones might explode, sending the community into an uproar, and tiptoe through the harrowing task of crafting the appropriate ‘safe’ language, praying one of the chosen words won’t detonate some hidden trigger....

 

“Essentially, our rational, meaning-making mind shuts down, giving way to the older areas of the brain that are wired for protection. This shutdown not only diminishes the capacity for empathy, collaboration and clear thinking but also fuels destruction rather than solutions....

 

“Enter moral resilience.

 

“Moral resilience, still a nascent concept, focuses on the moral aspects of human experience, the complexity of decisions, obligations and relationships and the inevitable challenges that ignite conscience, confusion and distress....

 

“For colleges and universities struggling to manage gripping moral outrage, it would be a bold and courageous step forward to abandon the typical ‘contain and restrain’ or ‘damp and stamp’ responses, which require administrators, faculty and staff to tread with trepidation through today’s moral minefields.

 

“Instead, institutions should embrace a proactive and sustainable model of moral resilience. Here’s what that could look like: [followed by summary of steps to take] ….”

 

Full essay at The Hill

On the Positive Side - Samples of Current Teaching and Research at Stanford

 

Click on each article for direct access; selections are from Stanford Report and other Stanford websites.

 

A Salute to Longtime Women’s Basketball Coach Tara VanDerveer See also Go Stanford

 

New Research on Microbes Expands the Known Limits for Life on Earth and Beyond

 

Seven Economic Trends to Watch in 2024

 

How Psychoactive Drug Ibogaine Effectively Treats Traumatic Brain Injury in Special Ops Military Vets

 

Stanford Prof. Jay Bhattacharya re Government Censorship of Social Media (debate on YouTube)

Other Articles of Interest

 

Stanford’s Welcome Back Message to Students

Full letter at Stanford Report

 

Stanford’s Undergraduate Neighborhood Housing System Revised Once Again

Full article at Stanford Daily. See also our Back to Basics webpage that has long called for an end to the neighborhood system.

 

UCLA’s Medical School Divides Students by Race to Teach Antiracism

Full op-ed at WSJ

 

Johns Hopkins Medical School Rescinds DEI Memo Calling Whites, Christians, Males, Middle-Aged and Other People Privileged

Full article at College Fix

  

Jewish Students Sue Harvard, Claim Severe Campus Antisemitism

Full article at Harvard Crimson

  

Citing Campus Antisemitism, Popular Jewish Computer Scientist Resigns from MIT

Full article at College Fix

 

Group Prepares to Sue MIT Re Admissions Standards

Full article at College Fix. See also Title VI of the U.S. Civil Rights Act

 

The Flawed Test Behind DEI

Full op-ed by Ohio State Prof. Emeritus Hal Arkes at WSJ

 

Today’s Universities Are Incubators of Competing Visions

Full interview of Princeton Prof. Robert George at National Catholic Register

 

Dishonesty in University Research Is Undermining Americans’ Trust in Higher Education

Full op-ed at Josh Barro Very Serious

 

With Higher Education on Trial, Policy Changes May Be the Only Solution

Full op-ed at Real Clear Education

  

Promises and Pitfalls of AI Tool Usage

Full article at Diverse Issues in Higher Education

“In an age of information overload and easy access to superficial knowledge, critical thinking becomes even more vital. We must learn to navigate through the noise, separate fact from fiction, and think critically to make informed decisions." -- Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy 

January 8, 2024

 

From Former Dean of Harvard College: Reaping What We Have Taught

Excerpts:

"Let’s go back to how Harvard’s current crisis began: charges of antisemitism....

 

"Unapologetic antisemitism -- whether the incidents are few or numerous -- is a college phenomenon because of what we teach, and how our teachings are exploited by malign actors.

 

"The Harvard online course catalog has a search box. Type in 'decolonize.' That word -- though surely not the only lens through which to view the current relationship between Europe and the rest of the world -- is in the titles of seven courses and the descriptions of 18 more.

 

"Try 'oppression' and 'liberation.' Each is in the descriptions of more than 80 courses. 'Social justice' is in over 100. 'White supremacy' and 'Enlightenment' are neck and neck, both ahead of 'scientific revolution' but behind 'intersectionality.' …

 

“When complex social and political histories are oversimplified in our teachings as Manichaean struggles -- between oppressed people and their oppressors, the powerless and the powerful, the just and the wicked -- a veneer of academic respectability is applied to the ugly old stereotype of Jews as evil but deviously successful people.

 

"While Harvard cannot stop the abuse of our teaching, we, the Harvard faculty, can recognize and work to mitigate these impacts....

 

"Professors should not be carrying their ideologies into the classroom. Our job as teachers of 'citizens and citizen-leaders' is not to indoctrinate students, but to prepare them to grapple with all of the ideas they will encounter in the societies they will serve....

 

"The goal is not to give students a choice between courses reflecting different ideologies. Harvard should instead expect instructors to leave their politics at the classroom door and touch both sides of controversial questions, leaving students uncertain where their sympathies lie. Professors should have no more right to exclude from their teaching ideas with which they disagree than students should expect to be shielded from ideas they find disagreeable.

 

"All that is required is for faculty to exhibit some humility about the limits of their own wisdom and embrace the formula for educational improvement voiced by Le Baron R. Briggs, a Harvard dean, more than a century ago: 'increased stress on offering what should be taught rather than what the teachers wish to teach.'”

 

Full op-ed by Harvard Professor and former Dean of Harvard College Harry R. Lewis at our Commentary webpage and as initially published at Harvard Crimson

 

From Bill Ackman: How to Fix Harvard

 

Excerpts:

 

“I have always believed that diversity is an important feature of a successful organization, but by diversity I mean diversity in its broadest form: diversity of viewpoints, politics, ethnicity, race, age, religion, experience, socioeconomic background, sexual identity, gender, one’s upbringing, and more.

 

“What I learned, however, was that DEI was not about diversity in its purest form. Rather, DEI was a political advocacy movement on behalf of certain groups that are deemed oppressed under DEI’s own methodology.

 

“Under DEI, one’s degree of oppression is determined based upon where one resides on a so-called intersectional pyramid of oppression where whites, Jews, and Asians are deemed oppressors, and a subset of people of color, LGBTQ people, and/or women are deemed to be oppressed. Under this ideology which is the philosophical underpinning of DEI as advanced by Ibram X. Kendi and others, one is either an anti-racist or a racist. There is no such thing as being “not racist.” …

 

“The DEI movement has also taken control of speech. Certain speech is no longer permitted. So-called ‘microaggressions’ are treated like hate speech. ‘Trigger warnings’ are required to protect students. ‘Safe spaces’ are necessary to protect students from the trauma inflicted by words that are challenging to the students’ newly acquired worldviews. Campus speakers and faculty with unapproved views are shouted down, shunned, and canceled....

 

“So what should happen? The [Harvard] corporation board should not remain in their seats protected by the unusual governance structure that enabled them to obtain their seats.... The ODEIB [Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging] should be shut down, and the staff should be terminated. The ODEIB has already taken down much of the ideology and strategies that were on its website when I and others raised concerns about how the office operates and who it does and does not represent. Taking down portions of the website does not address the fundamentally flawed and racist ideology of this office, and calls into further question the ODEIB’s legitimacy....

 

“Harvard must once again become a meritocratic institution that does not discriminate for or against faculty or students based on their skin color, and where diversity is understood in its broadest form so that students can learn in an environment that welcomes diverse viewpoints from faculty and students from truly diverse backgrounds and experiences.

 

“Harvard must create an academic environment with real academic freedom and free speech, where self-censoring, speech codes, and cancel culture are forever banished from campus....”

 

Full op-ed by Bill Ackman at our Commentary webpage. See also our prior article "Stanford's Ballooning DEI Bureaucracy"

 

From Derek Bok: Why Americans Love to Hate Harvard

 

Excerpts:

 

“The public shaming and subsequent resignations of the leaders of some of America’s top universities may shock some observers.... Yet these same institutions are under intense attack from both ends of the political spectrum. Liberals berate them for not doing more to enroll low-income students, pressure them to divest from companies that pollute the environment, and urge them to pay reparations for their complicity with slavery centuries ago. Meanwhile, conservatives -- chiefly governors, legislators, and right-wing pundits -- accuse them of indoctrinating students with liberal beliefs and paying excessive attention to the welfare of minority and LGBTQ students....

 

“All of these trends have been aggravated by the growing discontent within the public over the state of the nation....

 

“So how can elite universities better protect themselves? … Universities with predominantly liberal faculties also need to take particular care not to indoctrinate their students or appear to be doing so.... [O]ne of the most effective ways to build the confidence of the public would be to embark on a visible effort to improve the education of students. Two such improvements seem particularly appropriate for elite universities, whose graduates are especially likely to eventually occupy positions of importance in government and the professions. One of these possibilities would be to devise a truly successful model of civic education, and the other is to develop an effective way to help all students acquire a knowledge of practical ethics and a proficiency in moral reasoning....”

 

Full op-ed by Derek Bok at Chronicle of Higher Education. Prof. Bok is an alum of both Stanford and Harvard and is a former president of Harvard.

 

From Claudine Gay: What Just Happened at Harvard Is Bigger Than Me

 

Excerpts:

 

“On Tuesday, I made the wrenching but necessary decision to resign as Harvard’s president. For weeks, both I and the institution to which I’ve devoted my professional life have been under attack. My character and intelligence have been impugned. My commitment to fighting antisemitism has been questioned. My inbox has been flooded with invective, including death threats. I’ve been called the N-word more times than I care to count.

 

“My hope is that by stepping down I will deny demagogues the opportunity to further weaponize my presidency in their campaign to undermine the ideals animating Harvard since its founding: excellence, openness, independence, truth.

 

“As I depart, I must offer a few words of warning. The campaign against me was about more than one university and one leader....

 

"I have never misrepresented my research findings, nor have I ever claimed credit for the research of others. Moreover, the citation errors should not obscure a fundamental truth: I proudly stand by my work and its impact on the field....

 

“College campuses in our country must remain places where students can learn, share and grow together, not spaces where proxy battles and political grandstanding take root. Universities must remain independent venues where courage and reason unite to advance truth, no matter what forces set against them.”

 

Full guest essay by Claudine Gay at NY Times. Prof. Gay is an alum of both Stanford and Harvard and was Harvard's most recent president.

How Not to Defend Claudine Gay

 

Excerpts:

“The resignation of Claudine Gay as president of Harvard University in the midst of a growing plagiarism scandal has invited predictably partisan reactions. On the right, figures like Christopher Rufo and Elise Stefanik have been taking a victory lap, claiming credit for Gay’s departure. On the left and in academic circles, others have — almost as a reflex — bemoaned Gay’s withdrawal as an act of capitulation to a right-wing mob and power-hungry donors. In a country in which everything is a matter of partisan polarization, a knee-jerk defense of Gay is perhaps understandable, but it is nonetheless misguided. First, the arguments mounted in her defense are demonstrably weak. And second, those arguments will do nothing to restore the American public’s confidence in academe, and will do even less to avert political interference in higher education....

 

“As others have observed, Harvard’s reaction to the plagiarism allegations was both heavy-handed (with its legal threats against the New York Post) and not transparent (with the public’s being informed about the university’s investigation only after it was already complete). The unsatisfactory arguments in defense of Gay are more consistent with a desire to cover up the allegations than with an attempt to honestly address them....

 

“Academics, of all people, should be able to hold two thoughts in their heads at the same time. It is entirely possible for Professor Gay to be a target of a right-wing smear campaign and to be guilty of plagiarism. By choosing to ignore the latter because of the former, we are succumbing to a kind of us-vs.-them mentality, and, worse, we risk being accused of a willingness to cover up and minimize the mistakes of our peers when it suits us. I can understand concerns about political interference in higher education, but we cannot possibly defend against such interference by calling plagiarism ‘duplicative language.’ When one is faced with politically motivated allegations of plagiarism, the best one can do is to not be guilty of plagiarism. And when allegations turn out to be true, the best that academic institutions can do is to admit it and move on. It seems as if Harvard has yet to learn that lesson.”

 

Full op-ed by Prof. Aleksandar Stević at Chronicle of Higher Education. See also National Association of Scholars Statement on Plagiarism

The Joke Is On Us

 

Excerpts:

 

“When I taught physics at Yale in the 1980s and ’90s, my colleagues and I took pride in our position on ‘science hill,’ looking down on the humanities scholars in the intellectual valleys below as they were inundated in postmodernism and deconstructionism.

 

“This same attitude motivated the mathematician Alan Sokal to publish his famous 1996 article, Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity, in the cultural-studies journal Social Text....

 

“Mr. Sokal’s paper was a hoax, designed to demonstrate that postmodernism was nonsense. But today postmodern cultural theory is being infused into the very institutions one might expect to be scientific gatekeepers. Hard-science journals publish the same sort of bunk with no hint of irony:

 

 

 

 

“Such ideas haven’t totally colonized scientific journals and pedagogy, but they are beginning to appear almost everywhere and are getting support and encouragement from the scientific establishment....

 

“The joke turns out to be on all of us -- and it isn’t funny.”

 

Full op-ed by ASU Prof. Emeritus Lawrence Krauss at WSJ
 

The Rise of the Sectarian University

 

Excerpts:

 

“But what really is the peril that these elite universities confront? Unlike lesser-resourced institutions, they face no real prospect of financial catastrophe, even if they lose some big donors.... However much right-wing actors might wish to remake these institutions in their own image, that eventuality also has little chance of coming to fruition....

 

“The real peril to elite higher education, then, isn’t that these places will be financially ruined, nor that they will be effectively interfered with in their internal operations by hostile conservatives. It is, instead, that their position in American society will come to resemble that of The New York Times or of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Which is to say that they will remain rich and powerful, and they will continue to have many bright and competent people working within their ambit. And yet their authority will grow more brittle and their appeal more sectarian....”

 

Full op-ed by Princeton Prof. Greg Conti at Compact Magazine

 

The Limits of Social Engineering at Harvard

 

“Where there used to be a pinnacle, there’s now a crater. It was created when the social-justice model of higher education, currently centered on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts -- and heavily invested in the administrative side of the university -- blew up the excellence model, centered on the ideal of intellectual merit and chiefly concerned with knowledge, discovery and the free and vigorous contest of ideas.

 

“Why did that change happen? I’ve seen arguments that it goes back to the 1978 Bakke decision, when the Supreme Court effectively greenlit affirmative action in the name of diversity.

 

“But the problem with Bakke isn’t that it allowed diversity to be a consideration in admissions decisions. It’s that university administrators turned an allowance into a requirement, so a kind of racial gerrymander now permeates nearly every aspect of academic life, from admissions decisions to faculty appointments to the racial makeup of contributors to essay collections....

 

“One of the secrets of America’s postwar success wasn’t simply the caliber of U.S. universities. It was the respect they engendered among ordinary people who aspired to send their children to them.

 

“Nobody should doubt that there is still a lot of excellence in today’s academia and plenty of good reasons to send your kids to college. But nobody should doubt, either, that the intellectual rot is pervasive and won’t stop spreading until universities return to the idea that their central purpose is to identify and nurture and liberate the best minds, not to engineer social utopias.”

 

Full op-ed by Bret Stephens at NY Times

 

See also “Stanford’s Ballooning Administrative Bureaucracy” and “Back to Basics at Stanford” all of which argue for a very significant reduction in Stanford’s bloated administrative staff and the counter-productive work that they do and a reallocation of the savings, dollar for dollar, to undergraduate scholarships, research grants and independent projects and to graduate student fellowships.

 

On the Positive Side - Current Research and Teaching at Stanford

 

Click on each article for direct access; selections are from Stanford Report and other Stanford websites.

 

Stanford Medicine’s Top Scientific Advancements of 2023

 

Martin Luther King Project at Stanford

 

Scientists Use High-Tech Brain Stimulation to Make People More Hypnotizable

 

Fungi and the Future of Forest Health

 

Other Articles of Interest

 

How Harvard’s Board Broke Up with Claudine Gay

Full article at NY Times

 

Wanted: New College Presidents. Mission: Impossible.

Full article at WSJ

 

Alternative Viewpoint - The Need for More DEI Efforts on College Campuses, Not Less

Full article and report at Education Trust; similar article at Diverse Issues in Higher Education

 

FIRE’s 10 Common-Sense Reforms for Colleges and Universities

Full list at FIRE’s website. See also “How Harvard Can Reform Itself

 

What Universities Have Done to Themselves

Full op-ed by Peggy Noonan at WSJ; also available at drive.google.com

 

U.S. Universities Are Pushing Political Agendas Instead of Excellence

Full video by Fareed Zakaria at CNN

 

The Dehumanizing Anti-Civilization Dogma Behind DEI’s Destruction of Universities

Full video and transcript by Michael Shellenberger at Public

 

October 7: A Turning Point for Free Speech?

Full op-ed at Reason Magazine

 

Policy Experts, Right-to-Left, Weigh In on Taxing University Endowments

Full article at College Fix

  

The Epitome of a Problematic Higher Education System

Full op-ed by Suffolk Community College Prof. Nicholas Giordano at Campus Reform

 

University of Michigan Creates a New Research Institute to Combat Antisemitism

Full article at College Fix

 

UMass Boston Removes DEI Requirements from Job Listings

Full article at College Fix

 

The Profession of Journalism Has Lost Its Way

Full op-ed by DePauw University Prof. Jeffrey McCall at The Hill

"America’s universities are no longer seen as bastions of excellence but as partisan outposts. American universities have been neglecting a core focus on excellence in order to pursue agendas clustered around Diversity and Inclusion…. They should abandon their long misadventure into politics...and rebuild their reputations as centers of research and learning." – Fareed Zakaria, global news and policy analyst, CNN commentator

January 2, 2024

 

[Editor's note: We publish these weekly Newsletters to help inform readers of issues that universities around the country are facing and, very importantly, to help assure that university leaders, including at Stanford, continue to protect free speech and critical thinking, both of which are essential elements for why schools like Stanford exist. This is not meant to detract from the extraordinary teaching, research and patient care that is taking place at Stanford, and we therefore call your attention to a new section, below, that includes examples of these activities.

[Also, this issue of the Newsletter was ready for distribution when we learned earlier today of the resignation of Harvard's President Claudine Gay. We have retained the two articles that had already been excerpted, each of which had been written prior to President Gay's resignation since, as those authors made clear a week ago, the concerns are less with President Gay’s alleged plagiarism and much more about the campus climate that she and other campus leaders nationwide have facilitated in recent years. Take a look and decide for yourself.]

It's a Pattern of Behavior at Harvard

 

Excerpts:

“Although she is my fellow political scientist, I cannot support the Harvard President’s behavior, as a card-carrying member of the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE). In Gay’s time as an academic administrator at Harvard, that university has plunged to dead last (238th) on FIRE’s free speech rankings of U.S. universities. Surveys show that many Harvard students fear to say what they think, perhaps because of what they see happening to their professors. FIRE reports that in recent years, Harvard sanctioned four scholars for their views and terminated three of them. Rumors suggest that many more have been fired or had their careers damaged....

 

“In recent years, I have noticed a disturbing pattern of behavior which seemingly started in elite institutions. Leaders weaponize their vast bureaucracies to selectively enforce rules against those whose ideas they oppose. As one Ivy League professor groused: ‘Many professors are punished for their findings, and this is kept under the radar. It’s common for deans to tell professors they are fired, the professor says they will go public, so then the university pays them to go away.’ …

 

“With more than its share of Ivy League alumni, the mainstream press has under-reported and even misreported the free speech recession. Now is the time for reporters to stop dismissing the critics of higher education and instead engage in real investigative journalism to see if we are right.”

 

Full op-ed by University of Arkansas Prof. Robert Maranto at The Hill

 

See also Stanford Prof. Jay Bhattacharya’s personal account of "How Stanford Failed the Academic Freedom Test" and Stanford Prof. Russell Berman "Does Academic Freedom Have a Future at Stanford?"

What Should Be the Priorities of a University?

 

Excerpts:

 

“Harvard faces a historic choice: Is its main mission advocacy for, advancement of, and indoctrination in a particular political and ideological cause, going by names such as ‘woke,’ ‘social justice,’ ‘critical theory’ and ‘diversity equity and inclusion’ (a chillingly Orwellian name since it is exactly the opposite)? Or is its main mission the search for objective truth, via excellence, meritocracy, free inquiry, free speech, and critical discussion, bounded by classical norms of argument by logic and evidence; and to advance and pass on that way of thinking? Even though yes, most of those ideas originated from dead white men whose societies had, in retrospect, some unpleasant characteristics? And to get there, given the BS spreading like cancer and the political and ideological monoculture that pervades the university, it needs a top to bottom cleanup....

 

“Stanford recently unseated its president, ostensibly over research conduct in his pre-presidential career. He was cleared by the official investigation, but ousted nonetheless. As with Gay, I sense that his enemies really didn't care a whit about just how photoshopped photographs appeared in 20 year old articles. A lot of Stanford didn’t like him because he wasn’t left-wing enough. Stanford has plenty of academic freedom horror stories, from censuring Scott Atlas and Jay Bhattacharya for actually following science on covid policy, to the [Stanford] Internet Observatory, specifically named in the Missouri v. Biden decision for politicized internet censorship, a DEI office every bit as pernicious as the one Harvard just scrubbed from its website, the Stanford Hates Fun outbreak and more. We were very lucky that our new interim president had only been in office a few months when Congress called and couldn’t be dragged in for interrogation! Stanford faces the same historic choice....” [Followed by detailed passages from the Congressional hearing transcripts and comments about parallel concerns at Stanford.]

 

Full op-ed by Stanford Prof. John H. Cochrane

 

Example of DEI Training at Another University

 

Excerpts:

 

“University representatives told students that they could under no circumstances miss the session and would be reprimanded if absent. The training was completed in small groups. Each group consisted of a residence hall along with the hall’s Resident Advisor (RA) and Peer Counselors. The session lasted around 2.5 hours....

 

“Students participated in an ‘Identity Compass’ activity, which involved signs placed around a room, each sign representing aspects of identity such as age, health, nationality, ethnicity, sex, gender, religion, and socioeconomic status.

 

“The facilitator asked questions including ‘Which part of your identity are you most open to exploring?’ or ‘Which part of your identity gives you the most privilege?’ Then, facilitators instructed students to stand by the sign that signified their answers....

 

“Presenters defined intersectionality as ‘the complex of reciprocal attachments and sometimes polarizing conflicts that confront individuals and movements as they seek to ‘navigate’ among the raced, gendered, and class-based dimensions of social and political life.’ …

 

“The presenters noted that women of color, in particular, manifest intersectionality, as their ‘layers of oppressed identities … that are not present in white women create a unique perspective on the actions and events surrounding various feminist movements.’ …

 

“Presenters asked students to volunteer to read portions of the slides. For one slide, the facilitator forced a student to read after no one had volunteered. When asked to read, the student replied: ‘I’d rather not.’ The presenter stated, ‘I’m going to make you.’ The student sighed and reluctantly read the slide out loud.” …

 

Full article by a freshman reporter at Washington & Lee Spectator. See also our prior article "Stanford's Ballooning DEI Bureaucracy"

 
Co-Chair of Stanford’s Committee to Address Antisemitism Steps Down

 

Excerpts:

 

“Stanford is one of several elite schools that have aimed to address hostility toward Jewish students by forming an advisory committee on antisemitism. But now the committees themselves, and their members, have come under increasing scrutiny from activists who fear they will succumb to the same university culture that allowed antisemitism to fester on campuses in the first place.

 

“’I was experiencing panic attacks trying to represent a community that did not want me to represent them,’ [Ari Kelman one of the original co-chairs of the committee] told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. ‘So I stepped down.’....

 

“The committee -- created alongside one for Muslim, Arab and Palestinian communities on campus -- has already planned out around 30 listening sessions with Jewish and Israeli members of campus. There are currently no Israelis on the committee, though the school says it is working to recruit them.”

 

Full article at Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Similar article at The Jewish Voice. See also Stanford’s original announcement of these two new committees

 

Americans Need to Be on FIRE for Free Speech

 

Excerpts:

 

“There’s a reason I call freedom of speech ‘the eternally radical idea.’

 

“After all, what do you call an idea that has a clear track record of promoting innovation, human flourishing, prosperity, and progress -- but is nonetheless rejected by partisans and authoritarians in every generation throughout history? …

 

“The fact is that free speech will always be opposed by the forces of conformity and the will of those with authority, because human beings are natural-born censors. It is simply too easy and too tempting to punish speech we disagree with and dislike, and to silence those who hold views contrary to our own....

 

“Campuses, in particular, have been trying it for decades now, and we know the result: a climate of chilled speech, cancel culture, and an abdication of the most fundamental principle undergirding American society. 

 

“This holds just as true off campus. Without freedom of speech, America as we know it ceases to exist.” …

 

Full op-ed by Greg Lukianoff, a Stanford law school alum and president of FIRE

 

Why Campus Leaders Cannot Confront Antisemitism

 

Excerpts:

 

“On Oct. 7, we witnessed the most deadly pogrom, excepting the Holocaust, against Jews in modern history, and thousands of people danced in the streets, not only in Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad, and Tehran, but also on campuses in Philadelphia, New York, Cambridge, Ithaca, and Berkeley. At the time, no university official on a major U.S. campus that I know of unequivocally denounced this action as a pogrom against Jews and excoriated their students and faculty for celebrating the occasion....

 

“Two months later, on Dec. 5, presidents of three major universities at which celebrations of the pogroms took place -- Harvard, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania -- were questioned at a hearing of the House Education and Workforce Committee. Their collective responses were even feebler than those issued immediately after the pogrom....

 

"This is not because they are anti-Semites or embrace the cause of Hamas. Rather, I think it is because they face the FDR dilemma: If they single out, and in no uncertain terms condemn, anti-Semites on their campuses, they run the risk of alienating a significant portion of the social justice constituency that they have helped to create and in part to whom they owe their positions....

 

“Caught in this dilemma, university officials obfuscate. Department chairs plead for civility. Deans issue insipid statements. University presidents remind Jewish students about free and robust speech, even as they muzzle their own powers of expression. All appoint task forces.” …

 

Full op-ed by UC Berkeley law school Prof. Emeritus Malcolm Feeley at The Hill

 

How ‘Antiracism’ Becomes Antisemitism

 

Excerpts:

 

“For decades America’s credentialed liberal elite thought of itself as uniquely immune to the appeal of racial bigotry. The rest of the country -- the right-leaning suburbs, the rural places, the Archie Bunkers -- were constantly prone, in the minds of America’s intellectuals and enlightened academics, to indulge in racial grievances. But not the university-educated, well-heeled elite. Not the exponents of mainstream-press conventional wisdom. Not the readers of the New Yorker and the Washington Post.

 

“Yet here we are. Over the past 2½ months, Jew-hatred has rocked elite college campuses. Tony neighborhoods in blue cities have witnessed marches calling for the elimination of the Jewish state and protests outside Jewish-owned businesses -- this in response not to the accidental killing of a Palestinian by an Israeli soldier, but to the systematic butchering and kidnapping of Israeli Jews by terrorists.

 

"To these expressions of bigotry, high-ranking public officials and university administrators have issued bland disavowals of ‘violence’ and ‘hatred in all its forms.’ The heads of three top universities, testifying before a congressional committee, couldn’t explain why their institutions prosecute every perceived offense against other minorities but can’t condemn calls for genocide against Jews." …

  

Full op-ed by Barton Swaim at Wall Street Journal

 

Declining Faith in Higher Education

 

Excerpt (links in the original):

 

“Students and their families are asking tough questions about the value of pursuing higher education. Research shows that the majority of college students say getting a good job is their primary motivation for pursuing a degree. Unfortunately, far too many institutions are struggling to deliver on those expectations. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 40 percent of recent graduates are underemployed and working in jobs that do not require their degrees. It’s no surprise that the public’s faith in higher education is on a steep decline.” 

 

Full article at Real Clear Education

 

Universities Can Do More to Prepare Students for the Workforce

 

Excerpt:

 

“One of the main goals of colleges and universities is to prepare students to enter the workforce, ideally in a manner connected to their fields of study. Likewise, a college degree has largely become the gold standard of baseline qualification for a majority of entry-level positions. While a degree continues to hold value, however, the ability of colleges to prepare students for workplace success may be on the decline.”

 

Full article at James Martin Center

More re USC’s Banning of Prof. John Strauss

 

Excerpts:

 

“Strauss is a tenured Professor of Economics, a specialist in development economics, and Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Economic Development and Cultural Change. He is an internationalist who rejects large-scale ambush massacres, gang rapes, and hostage takings as tools of statecraft.

 

“The protesters used smartphones to record their exchange with Strauss, who is Jewish. Strauss’s anti-Hamas remarks angered the protesters, so they worked to cancel him....

 

“Over the next three weeks, the administration walked back its response. An official statement to USC’s student newspaper reports that Strauss is not technically on administrative leave even though required to teach remotely. The Los Angeles Times viewed a letter to Strauss from USC Provost Andrew Guzman stating that the university was barring Strauss from campus during their investigation of the protesters’ complaints to the EEO and TIX office. The administration subsequently allowed Strauss to proceed with delivering his undergraduate course remotely. He was allowed to return to campus as of Dec 2." …

 

Full op-ed by USC Prof. Emeritus James Moore at Minding the Campus

 

On the Positive Side - Samples of Current Teaching and Research at Stanford (click on each article for direct access; selections are from Stanford Report and other Stanford websites)

 

Stanford Educational Events About Israel-Hamas War

 

Researchers Uncover On/off Switch for Breast Cancer Metastasis

 

Generative AI Can Boost Productivity Without Replacing Workers

 

The Future of Computational Imaging (podcast)

 

Other Articles of Interest

 

NAS Outlines Detailed Elements of What Constitutes Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty (Full article at National Association of Scholars)

 

Chronicle of Higher Education Discusses the New Pushback on College Wokeness (Full op-ed by University of Chicago Prof. Emeritus Jerry Coyne)

 

And again see our compilations of the Chicago Trifecta regarding freedom of expression, a university's involvement in political and social matters, and academic appointments and which could help put to rest all of these issues, now and going forward.

"When a university takes a public stand, it either puts words in the mouths of faculty and students who can speak for themselves or unfairly pits them against their own employer. It’s even worse when individual departments take positions, because it sets up a conflict of interest with any dissenting students and faculty whose fates they control." -- Harvard Prof. Steven Pinker

December 27, 2023

 

As we reflect upon this past year, Stanford continues to produce remarkable teaching, research and patient care:

 

Stanford Moments from 2023

 

Stanford-produced video at YouTube (two minutes, and more visual than substantive)

 

Ten Stanford Articles from 2023

 

Full articles at Stanford Report (as selected by University Communications staff)

************

 

Even as difficult issues continue to be debated, at Stanford and at colleges and universities nationwide:

 

The Hypocrisy Underlying the Campus-Speech Controversy

 

Excerpt:

 

“Despite these similarities [of the three Ivy League presidents being quizzed by a Congressional committee versus the ongoing White House attacks against the operators of social media], the two pressure campaigns have been received very differently. The Biden administration’s effort to influence social-media platforms’ content policies sparked a vociferous outcry from Republican officials, culminating in a First Amendment lawsuit that is now before the Supreme Court. The pressure campaign over university speech policies, by contrast, has generated very little alarm about the First Amendment interests of either the schools or their students. This is a problem, because the threat of government interference with free speech is very real in both contexts.”

 

Full op-ed by Stanford law school Prof. Evelyn Douek and University of Chicago law school Prof. Genevieve Lakier at The Atlantic; also posted at MSN News

 

See also "How Stanford Failed the Academic Freedom Test" by Stanford medical school Prof. Jay Bhattacharya and “Stanford’s Roles in Censoring the Web

 

The Future of Speech on Campus

 

Excerpts:

 

“Let’s start by clarifying what we are talking about. There are many settings on campus where no one has particularly robust speech rights. Even in public universities, which are bound by the highly speech-protective First Amendment, students are not permitted to plagiarize, repeatedly demand to discuss politics in physics class or physics in politics class, or shout down invited speakers. Any campus has restrictions on the time, place, and manner of expression meant to safeguard the fundamental research and teaching mission. What we are talking about, here, is speech undertaken consistent with such restrictions, within a university’s broad public spaces....

 

“I’m a Jew on campus. According to First Amendment jurisprudence, a member of my university community is not allowed to follow me around, pointing and yelling ‘kill all the Jews.’ But in a public university -- or any private university whose rules are broadly congruent with the First Amendment -- that same person is typically within their rights if they proclaim from a soapbox on the quad, without intent to produce imminent action and directed at no individual in particular, ‘Religion is the scourge of humanity. We will never be free until we break the shackles of superstition. Kill all the Jews. Kill all the Christians. Kill all the Muslims. Kill them all!’ That speech, by my lights, is offensive and vile. But absent harassment, threat, or imminent incitement, offense and even vileness are not sufficient to merit sanction. The First Amendment does not permit the punishment of advocacy, even of vile ideas. This is why context matters....

 

“Wherever one comes down on context dependence, it is hard not to conclude that the presidents failed to communicate their point of view effectively. I think they would have done better by focusing on principle, rather than context. They might have said:

 

“‘I deeply regret that members of my university community have caused pain and fear through their speech. I believe that we should speak civilly and respectfully to one another, especially when we strongly disagree, and that we should teach our students to do likewise. That said, universities are the social institutions in which the free exchange of ideas is most important. As such, we aim to minimize restrictions on speech -- it is not our job to tell our students what to say or think, it is our job to help them learn to think and speak for themselves. For that reason, if a statement is legal under the First Amendment, it is allowed on campus. I am no more of an expert than you, congresswoman, about when calls for genocide are protected by the First Amendment. But the yes or no answer to your question is: if it is allowed by the Constitution, it is allowed on my campus.’” …

 

Full op-ed by University of Chicago Prof. Ethan Bueno de Mesquita at Boston Review

 

The Battle for Higher Education

 

Excerpt:

 

“The incumbents have spread a gloriously self-serving myth system. In their telling, their institutions are bastions of liberal values, civil discourse, and the free exchange of ideas. They’re open to the finest representatives of every community, perspective, and viewpoint. They’re engaged in educating a new generation in the fine art of critical thinking. 

 

“The truth, however, is almost the polar opposite of that myth. America’s universities are country clubs for insiders who have dispensed with independent thought as the price of belonging....”

 

Full op-ed at Real Clear Education. See also former Stanford provost John Etchemendy "The Threat from Within"

 

The Silencing of Student Voices

 

Excerpt:

 

“For this series, five young journalists responded to our calls for articles detailing critical issues that impacted young people this year. The group of high school and young college writers pitched and reported on urgent topics like lack of access to mental health support for homeschooled students, student voices being silenced in schools, book bans, attacks on LGBTQ+ students, and school shootings. Of course, these are just a fraction of the issues that shape the lives, conditions, and experiences of young people -- not to mention how these issues intersect with each other. We received more important pitches than we could publish this round. As we close out the year, this package centers the work of young journalists reporting on what affected their schools, communities, and peers in 2023.”

 

Full article at The Nation

 

Other Articles of Interest

 

Elite U.S. Universities Face a Political Crisis They Can’t Control (Full op-ed at CNN)

 

Donors and Alumni Take Action; Is This a Moment or a Movement? (Full op-ed at WSJ)

 

Fewer Young Men Are in College, Especially at Four-Year Schools (Full article at Pew Research Center)

 

Censorship Leaders Play the Victim (Full op-ed by Michael Shellenberger and Alex Gutentag at Public. See also our prior posting “Stanford’s Roles in Censoring the Web”)

  

Harvard Early Applications Take a Dive (Full article at Insider Higher Ed; similar article at NY Post)

 

Attacks on Tenure Leave College Professors Eyeing the Exits (Full article at Center for Public Integrity)

 

An Open Letter from a Tufts Alum/Former Faculty Member (Full letter at Algemeiner)

 

‘From the River to the Sea,' but Students Don’t Even Know Which Ones (Full op-ed at College Fix)

 

Why October 7 May Mark a Turning Point for Universities (Full op-ed at New York Magazine Intelligencer; also posted at MSN News. See also our compilations of the Chicago Trifecta regarding freedom of expression, a university's involvement in political and social matters, and academic appointments.)

 

Policymakers Must Strengthen, Not Dismantle, the College Accreditation System (Full op-ed at Higher Ed Dive)

 

No, Campuses Are Not in Chaos Over Gaza (Full podcast at NY Times, 8 minutes in length)

“There can be order without freedom, but no freedom without some measure of order.” ― John W. Gardner, Stanford alum, former Stanford trustee, former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) and founder of Common Cause

December 19, 2023

 

A Note to Our Readers:

 

When we launched our website and these weekly Newsletters over 14 months ago, many current and past Stanford administrators and Trustees were questioning the value of these efforts. How times have changed, both locally and nationwide, and we hope Stanford will finally take the actions that have long been needed. See, for example, our Back to Basics at Stanford white paper and our compilations of the Chicago Trifecta which we believe would largely address the issues now in front of university leaders.

 

From the President of Heterodox Academy: Campus Hypocrisy

 

Excerpts:

 

“As many have noted, there was profound hypocrisy in the spectacle of prominent university presidents claiming to be staunchly committed to free expression, when their own institutions have been anything but. For years, a practice of silencing offensive ideas has run rampant on college campuses -- including at Harvard, MIT, and Penn. Just ask Carole Hooven, Tyler VanderWeele, Amy Wax, or the admitted Harvard students who were disinvited for sharing the wrong memes online. Any credible change in principles should start by acknowledging and rectifying such mistakes, not brazenly pretending they never happened.

 

“We have seen this same pattern of hypocrisy in universities’ enforcement of various speech-adjacent rules. Rules about putting up posters, or taking them down, about bullying and harassment -- such as obstructing the passage of students into and out of classes and events -- have been enforced selectively, if at all. At one Ivy League university, whose handbook explicitly forbids the shouting down of speakers, the university president was recently shouted down -- without disciplinary response.

 

“But the opposite hypocrisy is also visible. Some advocates of free expression have failed to distinguish between true threats and harassment (which are rightly banned), and debatable slogans or offensive ideas about geopolitics and war. As others have argued, asking university administrators to decide which slogans and arguments count as a ‘call for genocide’ – in the absence of a true threat or harassment – is ill-advised. For example, consider the opinions and slogans that could easily be cast as calls for ‘Gazan genocide,’ ‘trans genocide,’ or “genocide of the unborn.’ History shows that speech codes have a way of coming around to bite their advocates.

 

“Yet this moment is about more than free speech, because free speech is a low bar for a university. Excellence in research and education also requires a positive set of ideals, habits, and cultural norms. It is these norms that distinguish the academy from an ordinary place for clashing opinions. Without open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement, an institution of higher education can easily degrade into just another outpost for this or that constituency, worldview or monoculture.…”

 

Full letter from Brown University Prof. John Tomasi, who also is president of the Heterodox Academy, at Heterodox website including list of actions for college and university leaders to consider taking.

 

Colleges and Universities at a Crossroads

 

Excerpts:

 

“The Penn rebels have now upped the ante. They have drafted a new constitution for the school that makes merit the sole criterion for student admissions and faculty hiring. The new charter requires the university to embrace institutional neutrality with regard to politics and faculty research. The rebels want candidates for Penn’s presidency to embrace the new charter as a precondition for employment....

 

“The donor revolt could have broken out at any number of campuses, all of which featured ignorant students cheering on the deliberate massacre of civilians, those students’ faculty enablers and bureaucratic fellow travelers, and feckless presidents. But it first erupted at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard, perhaps because of the organization and self-confidence of their alumni.…”

 

Full op-ed by Stanford law school alum Heather MacDonald at City Journal. See also Part Two of Ms. MacDonald's essay and a similar article at FIRE

 

[Editor’s note: Rather than reinventing the wheel, as some Penn faculty seem to be doing, we suggest that Penn and other universities, including Stanford, simply adopt the Chicago Trifecta as long posted at our website.]

 

A Five-Point Plan to Save Harvard from Itself

 

Excerpts:

“For almost four centuries, Harvard University, my employer, has amassed a reputation as one of the country’s most eminent universities. But it has spent the past year divesting itself of tranches of this endowment. Notorious incidents of cancellation and censorship have contributed to a plunge in confidence in institutions of higher education, prompting me and more than 100 colleagues to found a new Council on Academic Freedom at Harvard. That was before Harvard came in at last place in the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression’s Free Speech ranking of 248 colleges, with a score of 0 out of 100 — originally less than zero, but Harvard benefited from a bit of grade inflation. (I’m a FIRE adviser but had no role in the rankings.) …

 

“Harvard is now the place where using the wrong pronoun is a hanging offense but calling for another Holocaust depends on context. 

 

“So for the president of Harvard to suddenly come out as a born-again free-speech absolutist, disapproving of what genocidaires say but defending to the death their right to say it, struck onlookers as disingenuous or worse.”

 

Full op-ed by Harvard Prof. Steven Pinker at Boston Globe and republished at MSN, including Prof. Pinker’s five-point plan re free speech, institutional neutrality, nonviolence, viewpoint diversity and disempowering DEI.

  

DEI Bureaucracy Fails the Stress Test at MIT

 

Excerpts:

“The recent outbreak of antisemitism at MIT and other campuses puts into stark relief the limits of administrative bureaucracies’ ability to solve the problems of human relationships and tribalism.

 

“. . . the [MIT] administration announced its massive Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiative which by some counts added up to about a hundred professional administrators with some variation of DEI in their titles.

 

“The employment site Glassdoor reports that the low end for salaries of Assistant Deans at MIT is about  $100K. Add up salaries of over a hundred people at this level, their support staff, benefits for all, and ordinary office overhead at average Institute burden rates, and a $20 million annual price tag for all this feel-good bureaucracy (on top of existing student support such as counseling, psychiatric services, etc.) seems like a very fair rough estimate of the total cost.…

  

“If current trends do not change, there is no apparent end to the creation of administrative bloat with ever more offices perceived to be responsive to discrete identities, denoted by ever multiplying acronyms. In the long run, I can only hope that we move back toward a culture that seeks to attract talent without discrimination from wherever it may come, and that counsels us all to respect each another simply as individuals who, in Dr. King’s words, ‘will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.’ And, along the way, let us reduce administrative costs so they are no more than those at peer institutions and add $30,000 or so in annual per student savings back into student aid!”

 

Full op-ed by MIT AFSA alumni leader Steve Carhart at The Tech

 

See also Stanford’s Ballooning Administrative Bureaucracy, including ten DEI administrators for every 1,000 students at Stanford.

 

From Four Harvard Undergraduates: Harvard's Double Standard

 

Excerpt:

 

“On Tuesday, we started our day by reading an email from the Harvard Corporation saying that President Claudine Gay's decision to copy-and-paste another author’s paragraph into her own work without citation did not violate Harvard’s plagiarism standards. Thirty minutes later, we signed an academic integrity pledge on an exam stating that it was against the Harvard Honor Code to misrepresent another’s work as your own. The whiplash was incredible.”

 

Full op-ed by four Harvard undergraduates at Heterodox STEM

 

Harvard’s President Gay Copied Entire Paragraphs

 

Excerpts:

 

“The Free Beacon worked with nearly a dozen scholars to analyze 29 potential cases of plagiarism. Most of them said that Gay had violated a core principle of academic integrity as well as Harvard’s own anti-plagiarism policies, which state that 'it's not enough to change a few words here and there.'

 

“Rather, scholars are expected to cite the sources of their work, including when paraphrasing, and to use quotation marks when quoting directly from others. But in at least 10 instances, Gay lifted full sentences -- even entire paragraphs -- with just a word or two tweaked....”

 

Full article at Washington Free Beacon

 

Progressive Education Isn't What You Think It Is

 

Excerpt:

“Educating students in progressive pedagogy involves learning how to establish truth, teaching resilience when mistakes are made, and demonstrating how to grow from errors and misfires. Current thinking involving the promotion of self-esteem and avoiding correcting or questioning students is regressive and harms their intellectual and personal development. This happens too often in too many schools. It has nothing to do with the classic model of progressive education.

 

“Indoctrination in classrooms is a pervasive problem nationwide and it damages our students and their authentic learning, and obfuscates their moral compasses. But that is a function of bad teaching and administrative oversight, not progressive education.”

 

Full op-ed by Sarah Lawrence Prof. Samuel J. Abrams at Real Clear Education

 

University Presidents and Trustees Flunk Out

 

Excerpt:

 

… “First came the speech codes. No, those came second. What began the long downhill roll in the 1970s was grade inflation. Students whose work deserved a C demanded an A or B. Professors who resisted this threat to standards gave up.

 

“That was an early inkling that traditional college norms could be pushed around and politicized. Speech codes emerged at many schools, not least Harvard, arguing that certain words were—another new vocabulary addition – ‘hurtful.’

 

“After establishing that words alone could bring reprimand by the university, the speech coders expanded the prohibitions to include something new called microaggressions, or inadvertent slights. Microaggressions had a fraternal twin, trigger warnings, which required profs to warn students that a text or even a thought might distress them.

 

“It sounds like a joke now, but we know it was no joke. This was the moment when the adults in the room -- presumably the universities’ presidents -- should have intervened to protect free speech and inquiry from being diminished. They did not. Virtually without exception, they were pusillanimous. Fellow ostriches included hundreds of spineless boards of trustees.…”

 

Full op-ed at Wall Street Journal

 

See also our article from many months ago about Stanford’s Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative including a PDF copy of the over 100 words and phrases that Stanford’s IT department somehow felt empowered to start censoring.

 

University Boards of Trustees in the Spotlight

 

Excerpts:

 

“University boards of trustees hold immense power over budgets, presidential picks and campus policies. They are also beset with longstanding challenges, including an often-unwieldy size, confusion over their responsibilities and limited relevant expertise.…

 

“Board members are volunteers, meet only occasionally, and often are asked to vote on complex issues with limited information. That can leave them heavily reliant on the management they are supposed to be overseeing.…

 

“But just as disengaged boards can cause problems at a school, there is also danger in trustees being too involved, noted some observers. Citing a common rule of corporate governance, [Morton Schapiro, former president of Northwestern,] said, ‘Not-for-profit boards are supposed to have noses in, fingers out.’”

 

Full article at Wall Street Journal

  

Why Top Colleges’ Professors Are Giving Up and Just Giving Everybody an A

 

Excerpt:

 

“Professors hand out A’s right and left. This is not because it gives their students a leg up in the job market or because our bosses at big universities require it, but because it is just so much safer.

 

“Grade inflation has been in the discussion at America’s top colleges for a long time, but even seasoned veterans were shocked by a recent study showing that nearly 80 percent of all the grades given to undergraduates at Yale University last year were in the A range.

 

“We started giving out trophies for participation in school sports, and now we are giving out A’s at top colleges -- heck, for even less than participation. (‘My mental health and social anxiety was too bad to ever attend class.’) The fight to give fair grades is just too much of a pain in the neck, and way too risky, for a mere lone professor to face.…”

 

Full article at The Hill

 

More About Stanford’s Alleged Roles in Nationwide Censorship

 

Excerpts:

 

“. . . records in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that show a close collaboration between DHS’s Cybersecurity and Information Security Agency (CISA) and the leftist Election Integrity Partnership (EIP) [based at Stanford] to engage in ‘real-time narrative tracking’ on all major social media platforms in the days leading up to the 2020 election.

 

“The records discuss ‘takedowns’ of social media posts and the avoidance of creating public records subject to FOIA [the federal laws that require disclosure of documents if created by, sent by or received by federal agencies].…

 

“The consortium is comprised of four member organizations: Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO), the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public, the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, and social media analytics firm Graphika. It set up a concierge-like service in 2020 that allowed federal agencies like Homeland’s Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and State’s Global Engagement Center to file ‘tickets’ requesting that online story links and social media posts be censored or flagged by Big Tech.

 

“Three liberal groups -- the Democratic National Committee, Common Cause and the NAACP -- were also empowered like the federal agencies to file tickets seeking censorship of content. A Homeland-funded collaboration, the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center, also had access....

 

“Setup: [Stanford Internet Observatory] will have dedicated Slack, something like Jira or Salesforce (will ask for donation), separate from Stanford and destroyed once over....”

 

Full article at Judicial Watch

 

Still More About Stanford’s Alleged Roles in Nationwide Censorship

 

Excerpts:

“According to the leaders of the Stanford Internet Observatory and the other groups, they simply alerted social media platforms to potential violations of their Terms of Service. What the platforms chose to do after that was up to them.

 

“But during the two years that these DHS-empowered researchers were asking social media platforms to take down, throttle, or otherwise censor social media posts, the President of the United States was accusing Big Tech of ‘killing people,’ his then-press secretary said publicly that the administration was ‘flagging violative posts for Facebook,’ members of Congress threatened to strip social media platforms of their legal right to operate because, they said, the platforms weren’t censoring enough, and many supposedly disinterested researchers were aggressively demanding that the platforms change their Terms of Service.

 

“It's true that social media platforms are private companies technically free to censor content as they see fit and are under no clearly stated obligation to obey demands by the US government or its authorized ‘researchers’ at Stanford or anywhere else.

 

“... In the case of the [Election Integrity Partnership] and [the Virality Project, both based at Stanford], four think tanks led by Stanford Internet Observatory, or SIO, and reporting to CISA, demanded and achieved mass censorship of the American people in direct violation of the First Amendment and the prohibition on government agencies from interfering in an election.

 

“AMITT [Adversarial Misinformation and Influence Tactics and Techniques] was a disinformation framework that included many offensive actions, including working to influence government policy, discrediting alternative media, using bots and sock puppets, pre-bunking, and pushing counter-messaging.... 

 

“I believe this dramatic situation requires the abolition of CISA. If it is doing good cybersecurity work, then it should be placed under the supervision of different leadership at a different agency free from the awful and unlawful behaviors of the last three years.

 

“The turning against the American people of counterterrorism tactics once reserved for foreign enemies should terrify all of us and inspire a clear statement that never again shall our military, intelligence, and law enforcement guardians engage in such a recklessly ideological and partisan ‘warfare against civilians.’”

 

Full testimony by Michael Shellenberger at Public

 

I Teach a Class on Free Speech. My Students Can Show Us the Way Forward

 

Excerpts:

 

“Free speech is very hard to get right, especially on campus -- as has been evident all fall at the University of Pennsylvania, where I teach a course on the history of free speech and censorship. If colleges and universities are best understood as microcosms of the larger world, they should be governed by the First Amendment alone. This would mean restricting only speech that directly incites violence, threatens specific individuals or constitutes targeted harassment.

 

“But if colleges and universities -- public or private -- are better understood as special spaces with missions distinct from the world at large, they need some special rules of operation, tailored to the

classroom, the student club and the college green.

 

“One problem is that neither the left nor the right knows which model fits, making it difficult to determine any fair boundaries for campus speech. The politics around free speech have also shifted. And norms about what counts as dangerous speech, and what ought to be done about its articulation, have been changing faster than any of us can keep up with them.

 

“No wonder students are confused when it comes to speech on campus right now. Frankly, so are faculties, administrators and, yes, donors and trustees....

 

“Students go to college largely to gain knowledge that will be useful in the here and now: the workplace, the democratic public sphere and private life. Importantly, that includes how to think about all sides of a given problem. It also includes how to get along with others across differences. But neither of these tasks is done without some informal rules. In my classroom, when we are conversing about the history of speech, we are also following a series of speech protocols that we’ve worked out in practice. No one, for example, can speak on top of anyone else, and no one can personalize the conversation in ways that draw attention to individuals rather than arguments. Free speech was never imagined, even by its earliest advocates, as a free-for-all. This is something that needs to be instilled.…”

 

Full op-ed by Penn Prof. Sophia Rosenfeld at NY Times

  

Don’t Create More Safe Spaces on Campus

 

Excerpts:

 

“I’m a Jew and, heaven knows, no one has been more critical of elite colleges than I’ve been, but the greatest intellectual threat of these times is neither antisemitism nor Ivy League schools -- it’s to academic freedom and the First Amendment’s protection of speech. Without a rapid course correction, [former Penn president Liz] Magill’s ouster will undermine the values of the American academy and the essence of what it means to be a college student....

 

“[At the Congressional hearings,] it would have been worth noting that even the advocacy of genocide -- however abhorrent -- would be protected speech. The touchstone here should be the University of Chicago’s free speech principles, which were created following a series of disputes over controversial commencement speakers and have been adopted by over 100 universities and endorsed by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), the nation’s leading defender of campus speech. Neither Harvard, Penn, nor MIT, have adopted what’s known as the Chicago Statement, though the free speech code at Harvard contains several similar elements and a petition at MIT to adopt the Chicago Statement has 163 faculty signatories....

 

“Our job is not to promote intellectually safe spaces but rather to challenge students with controversial ideas and views. As the Chicago Statement puts it, ‘education should not be intended to make people comfortable, it is meant to make them think.’ It is from engaging with people and ideas with which they disagree that people learn and evolve. This is the essence of the value of college.

 

“No professor would protect a student who expressed a hateful view with the aim of disrupting a class or making a fellow student uncomfortable. But any teacher worth their salt would die to protect a student trying to articulate their honest conception of justice.”

 

Full op-ed by Johns Hopkins Prof. Evan Mandery at Politico

 

Other Articles of Interest

 

You Could Not Pay Me Enough to Be a College President 

Full op-ed at Chronicle of Higher Education

 

What Universities Have Done to Themselves

Full op-ed by Peggy Noonan at Wall Street Journal

 

Education Department Is Investigating Six More Colleges Regarding Campus Discrimination, Including Stanford

Full article at NY Times

 

Finding Solutions to America’s Civics Crisis 

Full article at Real Clear Education

 

Diversity Year in Review

Full article at Diverse Issues in Higher Education

 

Cheering Hamas on Campus, Too Uneducated to Grasp How Grotesque That is

Full op-ed by George Will at Washington Post

 

The Coming Wave of Freshman Failure

Full article at James Martin Center

 

Nearly Half of Companies Say They Plan to Eliminate Bachelor’s Degree Requirements in 2024

Full article at Higher Ed Dive

“Faith-based calls for violence do not meaningfully contribute to the free exchange of ideas on campus. Categories of speech like threats, harassment and incitement to violence are not protected, and will not be tolerated at Stanford.”  -- Stanford Provost Jenny Martinez

December 12, 2023

 

Stanford Condemns Calls for Genocide of Jews or Any Peoples

 

Excerpts:

 

“Stanford ‘unequivocally’ condemned ‘calls for the genocide of Jews or any peoples,’ in a statement released through social media posts on Instagram and X (formerly Twitter) Thursday night [December 7, 2023].

 

“The University wrote that such statements ‘would clearly violate Stanford’s Fundamental Standard, the code of conduct for all students of the University.’” ...

 

Full article at Stanford Daily

 

Copy of this social media posting by Stanford is available here


See also former Stanford President Gerhard Casper’s statement regarding the decision in Corry v. Stanford (1995) after the court had concluded California’s Leonard Law prohibits private colleges and universities such as Stanford from disciplining students for speech and actions that are protected under the First Amendment – at least in our view, issues that will likely arise again if Stanford pursues overly legalistic methods as opposed to seeing this as an opportunity for campus-wide discussion and education.

 

From Bari Weiss: How to Really Fix American Higher Education (links in the original)

 

Excerpts:

 

“My view is that, above all else, we must focus on returning American higher education to its original purposes: to seek the truth; to teach young adults the things they need to flourish; and to pass on the knowledge that is the basis of our exceptional civilization.

 

“To do that, four things must be done.

 

"End DEI

 

"...The solution to present discrimination isn’t more discrimination. And it is certainly not for the Jews who have been discriminated against inside the current DEI regime to beg for better placement inside its corrupt hierarchy....

 

"...the only meaningful response starts with dismantling the DEI regime that has enforced an illiberal (and antisemitic) worldview at nearly every American university. That means stopping the hiring of DEI administrators and reallocating the budgets of DEI offices. It means banning the loyalty oaths professors must pledge to earn a job or tenure. It means dismantling the entire DEI bureaucracy, as some stateshave started doing.

 

"Diversity, equity, and inclusion are important virtues. But the DEI bureaucracy is none of those things. For more on this, please read my essay, End DEI.

 

"End double standards on speech

 

"...The point is that university administrators selectively and unevenly enforce codes of conduct depending entirely on the viewpoint being expressed and the identity of the person expressing it. It’s a nasty business and the congressional testimony the other day went a long way toward exposing it. We shouldn’t stop there.

 

"Hire professors committed to the pursuit of truth (and allergic to illiberal ideologies)

 

"To return academia to its mission, professors themselves must be committed to the pursuit of truth. Specifically, universities should hire without prejudice toward political affiliation. It’s not incidental that only 1.46 percent of Harvard’s faculty identifies as 'conservative,' while 82.46 percent of faculty describes themselves as 'liberal' or 'very liberal.' ...

 

"Eliminate the ideology that replaced truth as higher education’s North Star

 

"What is that ideology? And how did it come to supplant truth -- the very mission of higher education? Don’t ask me. Ask current Harvard president Claudine Gay, who laid out her vision for institutional transformation, now on full display, when she was dean of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. ..."

 

Full op-ed by Bari Weiss at The Public

  

Why University Presidents Are Under Fire

 

Excerpts:

 

“When one thinks of America’s greatest strengths, the kind of assets the world looks at with admiration and envy, America’s elite universities would have long been at the top of that list. But the American public has been losing faith in these universities – and with good reason.

 

“Three university presidents came under fire [last] week for their vague and indecisive answers when asked whether calling for the genocide of Jews would violate their institution’s code of conduct. But to understand their performance we have to understand the shift that has taken place at elite universities, which have gone from centers of excellence to institutions pushing political agendas. ...

 

“American universities have been neglecting excellence in order to pursue a variety of agendas -- many of them clustered around diversity and inclusion. It started with the best of intentions. Colleges wanted to make sure young people of all backgrounds had access to higher education and felt comfortable on campus. But those good intentions have morphed into a dogmatic ideology and turned these universities into places where the pervasive goals are political and social engineering, not academic merit. ...

 

“The ever-growing bureaucracy devoted to diversity, equity and inclusion naturally recommends that more time and energy be spent on these issues. The most obvious lack of diversity at universities, political diversity, which clearly affects their ability to analyze many issues, is not addressed, showing that these goals are not centrally related to achieving, building or sustaining excellence. ...

 

“What we saw in the House hearing [last] week was the inevitable result of decades of the politicization of universities. America’s top colleges are no longer seen as bastions of excellence but as partisan outfits, which means they will keep getting buffeted by these political storms as they emerge. They should abandon this long misadventure into politics, retrain their gaze on their core strengths and rebuild their reputations as centers of research and learning. ...”

 

Full op-ed by Fareed Zakaria at CNN

 

See also our compilations of the Chicago Trifecta which address all of these and related issues and that we again urge Stanford to adopt.

 

See also Stanford's ballooning administrative bureaucracy, including what was reported by a third party to be "12 DEI administrators for every 1,000 students -- a ratio that far exceeds every other American university, including Harvard and Yale.”

 

See also our prior postings about Stanford’s programs that have the result of censoring Stanford’s students and faculty through, among other things, its Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative (Stanford's home-grown version of Newspeak) and its Protected Identity Harm Reporting forms and procedures.

   

The Politics of Campus Free Speech Draw Scrutiny

 

Excerpts:

 

“The jurisprudence surrounding free speech and the First Amendment is complex and nuanced, having evolved over 230 years. Often the line between free speech on the one hand, and harassment and intimidation on the other, can be difficult to discern.

 

“Still, [Will Creely, legal director at FIRE] and others pointed to examples in recent years in which private college and university presidents seem to have embraced free-speech arguments in some contexts, but shrink from them when asked to defend politically unpopular ideas or scholarship. ...

 

“’The track record of these schools is terrible, absolutely terrible,’ said Nadine Strossen, professor of law emerita at New York Law School, [former president of the ACLU] and author of ‘Free Speech: What Everyone Needs to Know.’ She added: ‘The problem with all the deans and presidents who have not defended free speech is not that they are activists, it’s that they are spineless.’

 

“Meanwhile, many students are engaging in self-censorship to avoid being punished for views considered problematic on campus, according to numerous surveys. A 2023 survey by the Buckley Institute at Yale found that 61% of students said they often felt intimidated in sharing beliefs different from their professors in class. In the same survey, 46% of undergraduate students said they thought it was appropriate to shout down or disrupt a speaker on their campus.” ...

 

Full op-ed at Wall Street Journal

 

What Universities Should Punish and What They Shouldn't

 

“Talia Khan, an MIT graduate student, had a detailed and powerful statement about what she sees as anti-Semitism on campus (apparently written in response to an invitation from Reps. Fox and Stefanek).

 

“And I think it well reflects how many different things are being mixed together here. For instance, the statement refers to ‘a radical anti-Israel group at MIT called the CAA’ whose members have ‘stormed the offices of Jewish faculty and staff in the MIT Israel internship office. Staff reported fearing for their lives, as students went door to door trying to unlock the offices.’ If this is accurate, then it should certainly be punished. Likewise as to ‘Jewish students being physically blocked from moving through the anti-Israel crowd through the main MIT lobby.’

 

“Similarly, this allegation, if accurate, would show serious and improper viewpoint-discriminatory enforcement of MIT's rules: ‘I was forced to take down my Israeli flags and a poster that said "No Excuse for Hate" and "We Stand With Israel" in my office window after a new banner rule was created 6 days after I put my flags up. Other banners, such as those for "Black Lives Matter" are still hanging proudly in office windows today. A rule was created by the MIT administration to appease bigoted students who can't bear to see that Israel exists.' ...

 

“I appreciate that many universities have indeed tried to police a wide range of comments by their students. That was wrong in those cases, and it would be wrong in cases such as the one Khan describes. It's unpleasant when students hear offensive things from classmates, and to have to find a new study group with more decent classmates. It's much worse when students have to live in fear of university punishment for the views they express to each other.

 

"Again, there is plenty of misconduct that should be punished, whether because it breaks content-neutral rules preventing trespassing or blocking pathways, or because it involves unprotected speech such as threats. Universities shouldn't discriminate against pro-Israel messages. ..."

 

Full op-ed by UCLA Prof. Eugene Volokh at Reason Magazine

 

Stanford’s DEI Team Wants ‘Diversity of Opinions’ but Details Are Unclear


Excerpts:

 

“Stanford University officials want to see a ‘diversity of opinions’ on campus as part of their new ‘Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access’ plans.

 

“But they won’t answer questions on how they plan to do that, particularly as its DEI plan and other projects includes initiatives that appear to support cancel culture or could limit open debate. ...

 

“None of the five DEI leaders at Stanford contacted for comment responded. The Fix asked about specific ways Stanford would increase the diversity of opinions and how efforts to reduce bias (i.e. microaggressions) would possibly undermine the goal of open debate.

 

“The Fix did not receive a response after multiple media inquiries over the past two weeks.” ...

 

Full article at College Fix

 

See also Stanford's ballooning administrative bureaucracy

  

Other Articles of Interest

 

The Treason of the Intellectuals

Full op-ed by Stanford's Niall Ferguson

 

Higher Ed’s Hypocrisy Fully Exposed for Refusal to Condemn Calls to Eradicate Jews

Full article at College Fix

 

Pushback Against Lawmaker’s Calls for Antisemitism Inquiry

Full article at Inside Higher Ed

 

Colleges Can Recommit to Free Speech or Double Down on Sensitivity

Full article at Chronicle of Higher Education

 

Moral Controversies and Academic Public Health: Notes on Navigating and Surviving Academic Freedom Challenges

Full op-ed by Harvard's Public Health Prof. Tyler VanderWeele at Science Direct

 

Campus Safety Cameras

Full article at Campus Safety Magazine; see also articles at Stanford Daily and Stanford Review regarding Stanford's installation of hundreds of cameras where students congregate

 

Fitch Ratings Issues Deteriorating Outlook for Higher Ed in 2024

Full article at Higher Ed Dive

 

Pending Federal Legislation Would Require More Transparency for Gifts and Grants to U.S. Universities from Foreign Entities

Full article at James Martin Center

“. . . calls for genocide are monstrous and antithetical to everything we represent as a Country.... Any statements that advocate for the systematic murder of Jews are dangerous and revolting -- and we should all stand firmly against them, on the side of human dignity and the most basic values that unite us as Americans.” – White House Spokesperson Andrew Bates

December 7, 2023

Congressional Testimony re the Censorship of Stanford’s Prof. Jay Bhattacharya 

and Others

 

Excerpts:

 

“Exactly one year ago today I had my first look at the documents that came to be known as the Twitter Files. One of the first things Michael [Shellenberger], Bari Weiss and I found was this image, showing that Stanford’s Dr. Jay Bhattacharya had been placed on a 'trends blacklist' [screenshot deleted but available in the testimony linked below].

 

“This was not because he was suspected of terrorism or incitement or of being a Russian spy or a bad citizen in any way. Dr. Bhattacharya’s crime was doing a peer-reviewed study that became the 55th-most read scientific paper of all time, which showed the WHO initially overstated Covid-19 infection fatality rates by a factor of 17. This was legitimate scientific opinion and should have been an important part of the public debate, but Bhattacharya and several of his colleagues instead became some of the most suppressed people in America in 2020 and 2021.

 

“That’s because by then, even true speech that undermined confidence in government policies had begun to be considered a form of disinformation, precisely the situation the First Amendment was designed to avoid. ...

 

"Former Executive Director of the ACLU Ira Glasser once explained to a group of students why he didn’t support hate speech codes on campuses. The problem, he said, was 'who gets to decide what’s hateful… who gets to decide what to ban,' because 'most of the time, it ain’t you.' ...

 

"This leads to the one inescapable question about new 'anti-disinformation' programs that is never discussed, but must be: who does this work? Stanford’s Election Integrity Project helpfully made a graphic showing the 'external stakeholders' in their content review operation. It showed four columns: government, civil society, platforms, media [graphic deleted but available in the testimony linked below].

 

"One group is conspicuously absent from that list: people. Ordinary people! Whether America continues the informal sub rosacensorship system seen in the Twitter Files or formally adopts something like Europe’s draconian new Digital Services Act, it’s already clear who won’t be involved. There’ll be no dockworkers doing content flagging, no poor people from inner city neighborhoods, no single moms pulling multiple waitressing jobs, no immigrant store owners or Uber drivers, etc. These programs will always feature a tiny, rarefied sliver of affluent professional-class America censoring a huge and ever-expanding pool of everyone else."

 

Full testimony by Matt Taibbi at Racket News, including the screenshot and graphic referenced above. See also our prior posting of Prof. Bhattacharya’s op-ed, “The Government Censored Me and Other Scientists. We Fought Back and Won

 

See also Stanford's own programs that have the result of censoring its own students and faculty through its Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative and its Protected Identity Harm Reporting forms and procedures

 

The Censorship Industrial Complex, Part 2

 

Excerpts (links in the original):

 

“Nine months ago, I testified and provided evidence to Congress about the existence of a Censorship Industrial Complex, a network of government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, government contractors, and Big Tech media platforms that conspired to censor ordinary Americans and elected officials alike for holding disfavored views.

 

“I regret to inform the Subcommittee that the scope, power, and law-breaking of the Censorship Industrial Complex are even worse than we had realized back in March.

 

“Two days ago, my colleagues and I published the first batch of internal files from 'The Cyber Threat Intelligence League,' which show US and UK military contractors working in 2019 and 2020 to both censor and turn sophisticated psychological operations and disinformation tactics, developed abroad, against the American people.

 

“Many insist that all we identified in the Twitter Files, the Facebook Files, and the CTIL Files were legal activities by social media platforms to take down content that violated their terms of service. Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and other Big Tech companies are privately owned and free to censor content. And government officials are free to point out wrong information, they argue.

 

“But the First Amendment prohibits the government from abridging freedom of speech, the Supreme Court has ruled that the government 'may not induce, encourage or promote private persons to accomplish what it is constitutionally forbidden to accomplish,' and there is now a large body of evidence proving that the government did precisely that.

 

"What’s more, the whistleblower who delivered the CTIL Files to us says that its leader, a 'former' British intelligence analyst, was 'in the room' at the Obama White House in 2017 when she received the instructions to create a counter-disinformation project to stop a 'repeat of 2016.'

 

“Emails from CISA’s NGO and social media partners show that CISA created the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP) in 2020, which involved the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) and other US government contractors. EIP and its successor, the Virality Project (VP) [also based at Stanford], urged Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms to censor social media posts by ordinary citizens and elected officials alike.

 

“But the abuses of power my colleagues and I have documented go well beyond censorship. They also include what appears to be an effort by government officials and contractors, including the FBI, to frame certain individuals as posing a threat of domestic terrorism for their political beliefs. …

 

“I encourage Congress to defund and dismantle the governmental organizations involved in censorship. …"

 

Full testimony by Michael Shellenberger at Public

 

FIRE’s Greg Lukianoff Fights Efforts to Silence Controversial Voices

 

Excerpts:

 

“With the war in Gaza dividing college campuses across the country, Greg Lukianoff [a Stanford law school alum and president of FIRE] believes this difficult moment reveals the depth of the free-speech crisis in higher education.... Lukianoff, 49, says that the job of civil libertarians is not to agree with what everyone says but defend the right to say it ‘You have to be consistent.’ ...

 

“Instead of muffling troubling ideas, Lukianoff argues that we should be debating them – especially in places that are meant to encourage critical thinking and a spirit of free inquiry....Universities across the country began introducing codes of conduct aimed at curbing potentially hurtful speech. By the mid-2010s, students armed with social media had become empowered censors themselves, demanding ‘trigger warnings’ and policing microaggressions while insisting that colleges disinvite speakers, ranging from Condoleezza Rice to James Franco.

 

“Ballooning campus bureaucracies merely reconfirmed student concerns that they needed protection from verbal ‘violence’ .... He hopes that colleges seize the chance to steer students with conflicting opinions toward a more constructive dialogue and that university presidents who struggled to appease both donors and students with their recent political statements rethink the impulse to weigh in on politics at all. ‘Institutional neutrality is the bedrock of a free and open campus culture’ he argues.”

 

Full profile at Wall Street Journal; Lukianoff's book “The Canceling of the American Mind” is available at Amazon

 

See also our compilation of the Kalvin report regarding a university’s role in political and social matters and our prior articles about Stanford’s Ballooning Administrative Bureaucracy, “Stanford’s Program for Reporting Bias” and “Stanford’s Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative”  

 

The Latest Victims of the Free-Speech Crisis

 

Excerpts:

 

“Protecting free speech requires defending the rights of both sides of any conflict. That will only get harder if we ignore just how long colleges have been falling short. Today’s headlines can distract from the fact that campuses have been in crisis for the better part of a decade....

 

“Indeed, ideology plays an important role in how campus speech is treated. The specifics of each case vary significantly, but FIRE data show that pro-Palestinian speech has generally been more likely to trigger campaigns to get professors fired, investigated, or sanctioned than pro-Israel speech has. Campaigns targeting pro-Israel speech, however, have been more likely to succeed. Similarly, more attempts have been made to deplatform pro-Palestinian speeches on campus, but attempts against pro-Israel speakers have been more successful. In fact, all substantial and successful disruptions of campus speeches that FIRE has recorded on this issue have targeted pro-Israel advocacy. This might partly be explained by the fact that pro-Palestinian -- and even pro-Hamas -- sentiments are relatively common on campus and among college-aged Americans.

 

“If we want to defeat cancel culture and preserve free speech and academic freedom on campus, we need to recognize it regardless of its victims. Those decrying today’s so-called new McCarthyism will have to acknowledge just how long it’s been going on -- not only for the past 40 days, but for the past nine years.”

 

Full article at The Atlantic 

 

Science Has a Censorship Problem

 

Excerpts:

 

“Censorship is widespread in academe and has grown worse in recent decades. Indeed, the expressive environment in higher ed seems less free than in society writ large, even though most other places of employment have basically no protections for freedom of expression, conscience, research, etc. ...

 

“Moral motives have long influenced scientific decision-making. What’s new is that journals are now explicitly endorsing moral concerns as legitimate reasons to suppress science. Following the publication (and retraction) of an article reporting that the mentees of male mentors, on average, had more scholarly success than did the mentees of female mentors, Nature Communications released an editorial promising increased attention to potential harms. A subsequent Nature editorial stated that authors, reviewers, and editors must consider the potentially harmful implications of research, and a Nature Human Behaviour editorial declared the publication might reject or retract articles that have the potential to undermine the dignity of particular groups of people. In effect, editors are granting themselves vast leeway to censor high-quality research that offends their own moral sensibilities, or those of their most sensitive readers.”

 

Full article at Chronicle of Higher Education 

 

Other Articles of Interest

 

National College Completion Rate Stagnates at 62.2%

Full articles at Diverse Issues in Higher Education and at Higher Ed Dive

 

Alternative Viewpoint: In Defense of DEI from UCLA’s Interim Vice Provost for DEI

Full op-ed and comments at Yahoo News/LA Times

 

Model Legislation Would Reform General Education Requirements at U.S. Colleges and Universities

Full article at College Fix

 

Campus Dysfunction Easy to Recognize, Difficult to Cure

Full article by Stanford's Peter Berkowitz at Real Clear Politics

 

Jewish Groups Sue UC System Over Alleged ‘Unchecked Spread of Anti-Semitism’

Full article at Higher Ed Dive

"The vitality of civil and political institutions in our society depends on free discussion.... It is only through free debate and free exchange of ideas that government remains responsive to the will of the people and peaceful change is effected." -- Stanford Alum Sandra Day O’Connor, BA '50, JD '52

November 30, 2023

 

From American Association of University Professors: Polarizing Times Demand Robust Academic Freedom

 

Excerpts:

 

“Since its founding in 1915, the American Association of University Professors has been the most prominent guardian of academic freedom for faculty and students....

 

“The AAUP therefore calls on college and university administrations to:

  

  • “Recommit themselves to fully protecting the academic freedom of their faculties to teach, conduct research, and speak out about important issues both on and off campus, as called for in Academic Freedom in Times of War.

 

  • “Protect the freedom of students to express their positions on such issues on and off campus. Students should be free to organize and join associations to promote their common interests, and students and student organizations should be free to examine and discuss all questions of interest to them and to express opinions publicly and privately, in the words of the AAUP’s Joint Statement on Rights and Freedoms of Students.

 

  • “Safeguard the independence of colleges and universities by refusing to comply with demands from politicians, trustees, donors, faculty members, students and their parents, alumni, or other parties that would interfere with academic freedom....”

 

Full text at AAUP website

Whistleblower Highlights More Alleged Censorship Activities Based at Stanford

 

[Editor’s note: We have been regularly posting articles about alleged censorship activities being done directly at Stanford by people on Stanford's payroll (along with volunteer students), using campus buildings and even using Stanford’s name. The following is among the latest articles about these alleged activities.]

 

“A whistleblower has come forward with an explosive new trove of documents, rivaling or exceeding the Twitter Files and Facebook Files in scale and importance. They describe the activities of an 'anti-disinformation' group called the Cyber Threat Intelligence League, or CTIL....

 

“Emails from CISA’s NGO and social media partners show that CISA created the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP) in 2020, which involved the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) and other US government contractors. EIP and its successor, the Virality Project (VP), urged Twitter, Facebook and other platforms to censor social media posts by ordinary citizens and elected officials alike....

 

“The documents also show that Terp and her colleagues, through a group called MisinfoSec Working Group, which included [Renee] DiResta [on the Stanford payroll], created a censorship, influence, and anti-disinformation strategy called Adversarial Misinformation and Influence Tactics and Techniques (AMITT). They wrote AMITT by adapting a cybersecurity framework developed by MITRE, a major defense and intelligence contractor that has an annual budget of $1 to $2 billion in government funding....

 

“The AMITT framework calls for discrediting individuals as a necessary prerequisite of demanding censorship against them. It calls for training influencers to spread messages. And it calls for trying to get banks to cut off financial services to individuals who organize rallies or events....

 

“Breuer went on to describe how they thought they were getting around the First Amendment. His work with Terp, he explained, was a way to get ‘nontraditional partners into one room,’ including ‘maybe somebody from one of the social media companies, maybe a few special forces operators, and some folks from Department of Homeland Security… to talk in a non-attribution, open environment in an unclassified way so that we can collaborate better, more freely and really start to change the way that we address some of these issues.’... It is here that we see the idea for the EIP [Stanford’s Election Integrity Partnership] and VP [Stanford’s Virality Project] . . . .

 

“Despite their confidence in the legality of their activities, some CTIL members may have taken extreme measures to keep their identities a secret. The group’s handbook recommends using burner phones, creating pseudonymous identities, and generating fake AI faces using the ‘This person does not exist’ website.'” . . . .

 

Full article at Public

 

See also our prior article “Stanford’s Roles in Censoring the Web” and Stanford Prof. Jay Bhattacharya's essay “The Government Censored Me and Other Scientists. We Fought Back and Won

  

Where Free Speech Ends and Lawbreaking Begins

 

Excerpts:

 

“Those who care deeply about free speech are asking themselves many questions at this urgent moment: What should we make of the calls to punish Hamas apologists on campus? After all, this is America, where you have the right to say even the vilest things. Yes, many of the same students who on October 6 called for harsh punishment for ‘microaggressions’ are now chanting for the elimination of the world’s only Jewish state. But Americans are entitled to be hypocrites. ...

 

“I would put my free speech bona fides up against anyone. I’m also a lawyer and sometime law professor who recognizes that not all speech-related questions can be resolved by invoking the words First Amendment.

 

“Much of what we’ve witnessed on campuses over the past few weeks is not, in fact, speech, but conduct designed specifically to harass, intimidate, and terrorize Jews. Other examples involve disruptive speech that can properly be regulated by school rules. Opposing or taking action against such behavior in no way violates the core constitutional principle that the government can’t punish you for expressing your beliefs.

 

“The question, as always, is where to draw the line, and who’s doing the line-drawing....”

 

Full op-ed at The Free Press

From Wall Street Journal: Inside Ohio State’s DEI Factory

 

[Editor’s note: Author John Sailer is the director of university policy at the National Association of Scholars. As a result of a public records request, Sailer obtained more than 800 pages of Ohio State’s Diversity Faculty Recruitment Reports that were required as part of the university’s hiring process. More recently, Ohio State’s Board of Trustees ordered the termination of these hiring practices.]

 

Excerpts:

 

“A search committee seeking a professor of military history rejected one applicant ‘because his diversity statement demonstrated poor understanding of diversity and inclusion issues.’ Another committee noted that an applicant to be a professor of nuclear physics could understand the plight of minorities in academia because he was married to ‘an immigrant in Texas in the Age of Trump.’ 

 

“These reports show what higher education’s outsize investment in ‘diversity, equity and inclusion’ looks like in practice. Ohio State sacrificed both academic freedom and scholarly excellence for the sake of a narrowly construed vision of diversity....

 

“In some cases, committees evaluated diversity statements through an explicitly ideological lens. A committee searching for a professor of freshwater biology selected finalists ‘based upon a weighted rubric of 67% research and 33% contribution to DEI.’ To evaluate the statements, the committee used a rubric that cited several ‘problematic approaches’ for which a candidate can receive a zero score -- for example, if he ‘solely acknowledges that racism, classism, etc. are issues in the academy.’ It isn’t enough for a freshwater biologist to believe that racism pervades higher education."

  

Full op-ed at Wall Street Journal

 

See also our November 16, 2023 Newsletter excerpts of an article by Bari Weiss who starts her op-ed that “it is not about diversity, equity and inclusion” but rather the bloated and often anti-intellectual bureaucracies that have been created in the name of DEI.

 

See also our prior article "Stanford's Ballooning DEI Bureaucracy" that compares the number of fulltime DEI administrators at Stanford with schools that are twice and triple Stanford’s size.

  

From Stanford Daily: Installation of 240 More Cameras Raises More Privacy Concerns

 

Excerpts:

 

“As students returned to campus this fall, many noticed new infrastructure in their residences: security cameras.

 

“A $2.35 million project to bolster security at Stanford is driving 240 new security camera installations per year, including at select student residences and dining halls.... The cameras have been subject to intense scrutiny in light of privacy concerns on campus....

 

“Temporary covert cameras may be used when deemed necessary for a police investigation, according to the VSSS [Video Safety and Security at Stanford] website. The site further acknowledges that, although the University does not employ any facial recognition tools, other government agencies may use such tools upon retrieving footage.

 

“‘A thorough security vulnerability assessment [of an area] is performed by DPS,’ [Stanford spokesperson] Rapport wrote, in order to pinpoint any safety and property risks. Non-covert camera installations are accompanied by ‘conspicuous, standardized signage,’ she wrote, to alert passersby of the cameras’ presence....

 

“‘[Stanford undergraduate Kayla] Myers said she wished Stanford was more transparent about how the use of security camera footage: ‘If anything, knowing that security cameras are around dorms makes me feel a bit uneasy because it’s like a reminder that students’ regular daily behavior is being surveilled.’”

 

Full article at Stanford Daily. A copy of Stanford's 13 pages of video surveillance standards is here; see also our prior posting from Stanford Review, “Stanford’s Security Regime Takes Root”. We also note that the administrative group that is overseeing these student surveillance activities is the same group that oversaw the now-discredited "Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative" and its lists of proscribed words and phrases.

 

Other Articles of Interest

  

Just Stop Making Official Statements About the News

Full article at New York Magazine Intelligencer

 

University of Southern California Relegates Professor to Remote Teaching for Expressing Anti-Hamas Sentiments

Press release from FIRE

 

College Leaders Refocus Attention on Their Students’ Top Priority: Jobs After Graduation

Full article at Hechinger Report

  

Powerful Forces Are Fracking Our Attention. We Can Fight Back.

Full article at NY Times

 

Our Institutions of Higher Education Are Waging a War on Truth 

Full article at The Hill

 

At MIT, Fear, Frustration, and Flailing Administrators

Full article at Chronicle of Higher Education

 

Report Shows Blacks and Hispanics Lag in STEM PhDs

Full article at Diverse Issues in Higher Education

 

Student Data Lead Black, Hispanic Parents to Action

Full article at Gallup

We recognize that words can sometimes cause offence, but we reject the idea that hurt feelings and discomfort, even if acute, are grounds for censorship. Open discourse is the central pillar of a free society, and is essential for holding governments accountable, empowering vulnerable groups, and reducing the risk of tyranny.” -- From the Westminster Declaration

November 21, 2023

 

From Michael Bloomberg: College Presidents and Trustees Need to Take 

More Responsibility

 

Excerpts:

 

“The barbaric attack by Hamas against Israel -- the intentional slaughter of defenseless civilians, including children and babies, and the taking of hostages -- should have been a unifying moment for America. Shamefully, it has become something else: a wake-up call about a crisis in higher education....

 

“For Americans, this isn’t a matter of defending Israel but of defending our nation’s most sacred values. One can support the Palestinian people and still denounce the intentional slaughter of civilians.

 

“Why have so many students failed to do so? The answer begins where the buck stops -- with college presidents. For years, they have allowed their campuses to become bastions of intolerance, by permitting students to shout down the voices of others. They have condoned ‘trigger warnings’ that shield students from difficult ideas. They have refused to defend faculty who run afoul of student sentiment. And they have created ‘safe spaces’ that discourage or exclude opposing views....

 

“As part of addressing this crisis in higher education, presidents and deans should make a priority of hiring faculty with greater viewpoint diversity to teach students how to engage in civil discourse, while challenging and expanding their minds. Professors may resist, but administrators must make clear that such diversity is a requirement of academic freedom.

 

“Trustees have a crucial role to play in holding presidents accountable for this work. Running a school and managing professors is difficult and complex, as administrators well know, but organizational complexity can’t be an excuse for faculty conformity.”

 

(Full op-ed at Wall Street Journal; see also our Back to Basics white paper)

 

From David Brooks: Universities Are Failing at Inclusion

 

Excerpts:

 

“. . . Eboo Patel is the founder and president of Interfaith America, which over the past 20 years has worked on about 1,200 campuses to narrow toxic divides and build bridges between people of all faiths or no faith. Over these decades, he has concluded that far from creating a healthier, more equitable campus, this ideology demonizes, demeans and divides students. It demeans white people by reducing them to a single category -- oppressor. Meanwhile, it demeans, for example, Muslim people of color, like Patel, by reducing them to victims.

 

“Patel doesn’t believe we should try to ‘end D.E.I.,’ as some have proposed. That’s not going to happen anyway. Besides, in a liberal society we beat bad ideas with better ideas. Patel does argue that we’re at a paradigm-shifting moment when we can replace a destructive form of diversity, equity and inclusion with a better form -- one that actually includes people, instead of excluding them.

 

“The right intellectual framework for effective diversity work is pluralism. Pluralism starts with a celebration of the fact that we live in one of the most diverse societies in history. The job of the university is to help young people from different backgrounds learn to work and live together. (Would you really want to hire someone who spent his college years learning how to demonize, demean and divide?)” ....

 

(Full op-ed at NY Times)

 

A Free-Speech Fix for Our Divided Campuses

 

Excerpts:

 

“The American university has been the envy of the world not just because of its excellence in research and scholarship but as an incubator of democratic citizenship -- a place where students learn to live with peers from vastly different settings, to forge friendships and professional networks that transcend social, economic and ideological divides, and to open their minds to new ideas and disciplines.

 

“Grappling with the current crisis on campus demands more than open letters to alumni or action plans to combat antisemitism or Islamophobia. It requires a comprehensive rethinking of how American universities can fulfill their role as a free market of ideas and a factory of pluralism, teaching students the values and skills they need to resist polarization and ensure the survival of our teetering democracy....

 

“At the same time, certain conceptions of diversity and equity have hardened into orthodoxy. Students who question the ideas of identity groups or the aims of social-justice movements can be stigmatized, and debates over topics like abortion, immigration and affirmative action may be effectively shut down because students fear offending someone or being publicly accused of racism or bias. A team at Stanford University was ridiculed earlier this year for promulgating a list of terms, like ‘chief’ and ‘manpower,’ that it considered potentially harmful because they might reinforce stereotypes.”

 

(Full op-ed at Wall Street Journal; see also "Stanford's Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative" that includes a PDF copy of Stanford’s 17-page list of proscribed words and phrases)

 

Federal Judge Rules Against Mandatory DEI Policies at California Community Colleges

 

Excerpts

 

“Judge Christopher Baker recommended blocking California Community Colleges’ leaders and Kern Community College District trustees from enforcing mandatory diversity, equity and inclusion policies in a report issued this week in response to a lawsuit filed against the district by a professor....

 

“In his 44-page report, Baker rejected administrators’ arguments that the DEI regulations are just suggestions.” …

 

(Full article at College Fix; see also "California Community College Professors Sue Over Newly Imposed DEIA Hiring and Performance Standards," including a PDF copy of the California Community College official guide to words and phrases)

 

Other Articles of Interest

 

More Re Stanford’s Roles in the Censorship Industrial Complex

(Full article about the alleged bias at Stanford Internet Observatory and its affiliates the Election Integrity Partnership and the Virality Project at Public; full article about President Saller’s and Stanford’s responses in a separate article at Public; see also "Stanford's Roles in Censoring the Web")

 

Government Gives Billions Each Year to Elite Universities

(Full articles at Substack and at Reason)

 

College Presidents Debate When to Speak Out and When to Keep Quiet (Full articles at Diverse Issues in Higher Education and at Chronicle of Higher Education

“Freedom of speech is essential to autonomy, to artistic expression, to self-government, to holding power accountable. And it allows society to divert the energy that would once explode into violence instead into robust arguments.  – From The Canceling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Rikki Schlott 

November 16, 2023

 

Speech Is Still Worth Fighting For


Excerpts:

 

"Freedom of expression is probably the most widely acknowledged human right in the world. Lip service is paid to it even in totalitarian states. Freedom of expression is not worth much in Russia or North Korea, but their constitutions guarantee it in very similar terms as the United Nations. And yet, it is today under greater threat than any other human right. This is happening even, perhaps especially, in liberal democracies. How are we to explain this paradox? ...

 

“Tolerance does not come naturally to human beings. For most of human history, what people believed about the natural world, about government and society and about the moral codes of humanity was laid down by authority, usually by people claiming to speak in the name of God. Pluralism and diversity of opinion have only been accepted as desirable for the last three or four centuries. They are essentially the legacy of the Scientific Revolution of the 17th century and the European Enlightenment of the 18th....

 

“The basic principles of rational discourse on which all this depended are now under challenge. Reason is rejected as arrogant. Feeling and emotion are upheld as suitable substitutes. Freedom is treated as domineering, enlightenment as offensive to the unenlightened. Current campaigns to suppress certain opinions and eliminate debate are an attempt to create a new conformity, a situation in which people will not dare to contradict, for fear of provoking their outrage and abuse. These things are symptoms of the closing of the human mind and the narrowing of our intellectual world. Something in our civilisation has died.”

 

(Full article at Unherd)

 

From Bari Weiss: About DEI

 

Excerpts:

 

“It’s not about diversity, equity, or inclusion [boldface added]. It is about arrogating power to a movement that threatens not just Jews -- but America itself.

 

“Twenty years ago, when I was a college student, I started writing about a then-nameless, niche ideology that seemed to contradict everything I had been taught since I was a child....

 

“Of course, this new ideology doesn’t come right out and say all that. It doesn’t even like to be named. Some call it wokeness or anti-racism or progressivism or safetyism or Critical Social Justice or identity Marxism. But whatever term you use, what’s clear is that it has gained power in a conceptual instrument called “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” or DEI....

 

“In theory, all three of these words represent noble causes. They are, in fact, all causes to which American Jews in particular have long been devoted, both individually and collectively. But in reality, these words are now metaphors for an ideological movement bent on recategorizing every American not as an individual, but as an avatar of an identity group, his or her behavior prejudged accordingly, setting all of us up in a kind of zero-sum game....

"We have been seeing for several years now the damage this ideology has done: DEI, and its cadres of enforcers, undermine the central missions of the institutions that adopt it. But nothing has made the dangers of DEI clearer than what’s happening these days on our college campuses -- the places where our future leaders are nurtured....

 

“It is time to end DEI for good. No more standing by as people are encouraged to segregate themselves. No more forced declarations that you will prioritize identity over excellence. No more compelled speech. No more going along with little lies for the sake of being polite.

 

“The Jewish people have outlived every single regime and ideology that has sought our elimination. We will persist, one way or another. But DEI is undermining America, and that for which it stands -- including the principles that have made it a place of unparalleled opportunity, safety, and freedom for so many. Fighting it is the least we owe this country.”

 

(Full article at Free Press)