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June 3, 2024


President Saller’s Remarks About Recent Demonstration at Stanford


Editor’s note: On Monday, May 20, per the Stanford Daily and other news sources, a number of demonstrators entered Mechanical Engineering Building 570 and reportedly disrupted activities in the building. At the Faculty Senate meeting four days later, President Saller made the following remarks.


Full text:


“On Monday evening, as part of a protest march on campus, a group of individuals entered an engineering building where students were present and working in labs. The marchers who entered the building blocked entryways with constructed barricades they had brought with them and furniture from the building, and vandalized an interior wall and door with spray paint.


“We have learned that students who were at work in the building were frightened by the intrusion and were concerned for their research and lab equipment as well as their personal safety. A faculty member whose lab is in the building shared that the research in that lab was sensitive and dangerous to those unfamiliar with the safe operation of the equipment.


“The individuals who entered the building dispersed once public safety officers entered. Nevertheless, the actions that occurred on Monday evening threatened the health and safety of our community. The peaceful expression of viewpoints, which we value, can and should occur within the university's time, place, and manner provisions, without vandalism, and without jeopardizing the safety of our community members.


“Over the last three days, the university and the Department of Public Safety have been investigating what occurred and collecting evidence. We are beginning disciplinary proceedings based on the evidence collected, which included items left behind such as personal identification, hardware associated with the barricades, a respirator mask, and other items that indicated an intention to occupy the building. The investigation also is continuing. We will respect the privacy rights of those involved. However, I want to be clear that students responsible for actions that threaten the safety of our community, such as those that occurred on Monday, will face immediate suspension and the inability to participate in Commencement based on the president's authority in cases of threats to community safety. In addition to being referred to the Office of Community Standards conduct process, they may also be subject to criminal charges.”


At Reason Magazine and also at Campus Report


See also “Outgoing President Richard Saller Reflects on a Turbulent Year” interview at Stanford Daily (June 2, 2024). 


See also “Stanford Starts Disciplinary Referrals but Allows Encampment to Remain,” “Pro Palestine Students Want University to Drop Charges," "Some Campus Buildings Now Require ID” and "Some Students Felt Trapped" at Stanford Daily.


Harvard Will Refrain from Controversial Statements About Public Policy Issues


[Editor’s note: Subject to further clarification, the Harvard faculty report and related Q&A, linked below, leave unanswered to what extent Harvard departments, centers and similar entities can take official positions in the names of those entities and even publicize those positions as being official positions, as opposed to circulating or posting research and other papers as signed by individual faculty members. We believe the faculty report and related Q&A also seem to misunderstand that the University of Chicago's Kalven Report (now being adopted by colleges and universities nationwide, see our compilation here) has always upheld the concept that a university can take official positions on issues that go to the core of the university’s functions, such as admissions, standards for tenure, etc.]


Excerpt (link in the original):


“After months of grappling with a campus fractured by a polarizing debate over the Israel-Hamas war, Harvard announced on Tuesday that the University and its leadership will refrain from taking official positions on controversial public policy issues.


“The University’s new stance followed a report produced from a faculty-led 'Institutional Voice’ working group, which advised leadership to not ‘issue official statements about public matters that do not directly affect the university’s core function.’ Interim Harvard President Alan M. Garber ’76 wrote in an email that he accepted the working group’s recommendations, which were also endorsed by the Harvard Corporation, the University’s highest governing body.


“‘There will be close cases where reasonable people disagree about whether a given issue is or is not directly related to the core function of the university,’ the report stated. ‘The university’s policy in those situations should be to err on the side of avoiding official statements.’


“The policy will apply to all University administrators and governing board members, as well as deans, department chairs, and faculty councils, according to the working group....”


Full article at Harvard Crimson


A Q&A about the faculty report is here and includes a link to full text of the report itself.


See also Harvard Crimson editorial, “Harvard Must Learn Its Lesson; Institutional Neutrality Is Step One”.


UC Regents Again Postpone Vote on Policy re Statements on Department Homepages


Excerpts (links in the original):


“The University of California’s board of regents on Thursday [May 16] again postponed a vote on a controversial policy to restrict faculty departments from making opinionated statements on the homepages of university websites. The regents could next consider the policy at their July meeting in San Francisco.


The proposal was initially introduced after some faculty departments, such as the ethnic studies department at UC Santa Cruz, posted statements on their websites criticizing Israel’s invasion of Gaza in response to the Hamas assault in Israel. The potential adoption of the policy comes as pro-Palestinian protests and encampments have popped up across the system’s 10 campuses, with arrests of hundreds and, at UCLA, a violent counter-protest....


“Faculty across UC have criticized the policy, arguing that it would infringe on academic freedom and questioning how it would be enforced. But supporters of the policy, led by regent Jay Sures, say it is needed to ensure that the views of faculty departments aren’t misinterpreted as representing UC as a whole. Sures could not be reached for comment Thursday about why the item was delayed again.


“Under the latest version, political and other opinionated statements would not be allowed to appear on the homepages of departmental websites. They would be permitted elsewhere on those websites, but only with a disclaimer stating that the opinions don’t represent the entire campus or university system....”


Full article at Ed Source  


Stanford and the Rise of the Censorship Industrial Complex


Excerpts (links in the original):


“This summer the Supreme Court will rule on a case involving what a district court called perhaps ‘the most massive attack against free speech’ ever inflicted on the American people. In Murthy v. Missouri, plaintiffs ranging from the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana to epidemiologists from Harvard and Stanford allege that the federal government violated the First Amendment by working with outside groups and social media platforms to surveil, flag, and quash dissenting speech -- characterizing it as mis-, dis- and mal-information -- on issues ranging from COVID-19 to election integrity.


“The case has helped shine a light on a sprawling network of government agencies and connected NGOs that critics describe as a censorship industrial complex. That the U.S. government might aggressively clamp down on protected speech, and, certainly at the scale of millions of social media posts, may constitute a recent development....


[Followed by discussion of and links to what have become known as the Censorship Files and the Twitter Files.]


“If there is one ever-present player in this saga, it is the storied institution of Stanford University. Its idyllic campus has served as the setting over the last 70-plus years for a pivotal public-private partnership linking academia, business, and the national security apparatus. Stanford's central place, particularly in developing technologies to thwart the Soviet Union during the Cold War, would persist and evolve through the decades, leading to the creation of an entity called the Stanford Internet Observatory that would serve as the chief cutout -- in critics' eyes -- for government-driven censorship in defense of ‘democracy’ during the 2020 election and beyond....


[Followed by discussion of alleged interactions of Stanford with government agencies and companies including the creation and use of Stanford Research Institute after WWII and the more recent roles of the Stanford Internet Observatory, the Election Integrity Partnership, the Virality Project, Graphika, DARPA, the Atlantic Council and others.]


“As RCI [Real Clear Investigations] previously reported, the project had two main objectives:


“First, EIP [Election Integrity Partnership] lobbied social media companies, with some success, to adopt more stringent moderation policies around 'content intended to suppress voting, reduce participation, confuse voters as to election processes, or delegitimize election results without evidence.' …


“Second, EIP surveilled hundreds of millions of social media posts for content that might violate the platforms' moderation policies. In addition to identifying this content internally, EIP also collected content forwarded to it by external ‘stakeholders,’ including government offices and civil society groups. EIP then flagged this mass of content to the platforms for potential suppression....


“Among those targeted by the government for silencing, and who social media companies would censor, in part for his opposition to broad pandemic lockdowns, was Stanford's own Dr. Jay Bhattacharya -- one plaintiff in Murthy v. Missouri (Dr. Bhattacharya and [Matt] Taibbi were recipients of Real Clear's first annual Samizdat Prize honoring those committed to truth and free speech). As he sees it, the Virality Project helped ‘launder’ a ‘government … hit list for censorship,’ which he finds ‘absolutely shocking’ and at odds with Stanford's past commitments to academic freedom and general ‘sort of countercultural opposition to government overreach.’ …


Full article at Real Clear Investigations


See also “Stanford’s Roles in Censoring the Web” at our Stanford Concerns webpage. See also Part 4 of our Back to Basics at Stanford webpage regarding the need for better oversight of the various centers, accelerators, incubators and similar entities and activities at Stanford.


A Black Man's Concerns About DEI




“Am I not good enough to compete? Am I being hired because I'm Black and fulfill some quota, or do I stand out from the crowd because of my competency? …


“I understand the motivation for wanting to help people that some feel are disadvantaged by ensuring a fairer environment for everyone, no matter their ethnicity, sex, or sexuality. But the problem with DEI is that in practice, it is inconsistent with the message that discrimination is bad because it engages in discriminating against some to elevate others. And in so doing, they aren't setting an equal playing field for all but skewing the field to create an ideologically satisfying outcome. And no one likes it when there are favorites in a competitive market, including the people who didn't ask to be anointed....”


Full op-ed by Adam B. Coleman at Newsweek


Alternative viewpoint: "I Saw the Importance of Affirmative Action at My Ivy League University Firsthand" at Truthout.


Former President Casper on the Purposes of the University


Excerpts (from statement dated October 4, 1995 re affirmative action):


“... Let me begin by speaking about what Stanford has stood for since its founding. When Leland Stanford and his wife, Jane, lost their 15-year- old only child, Leland Jr., in 1884, they decided to use their wealth to do something for ‘other people's’ sons and daughters. This sentiment led to the founding of our university.


“In a 1902 address, which formally amended the Founding Grant, Jane Stanford stressed that the moving spirit of the founders was ‘love of humanity and a desire to render the greatest possible service to mankind.’ I quote: ‘The University was accordingly designed for the betterment of mankind morally, spiritually, intellectually, physically, and materially. The public at large, and not alone the comparatively few students who can attend the University, are the chief and ultimate beneficiaries of the foundation.’ The university's ‘chief object’ was to be ‘the instruction of students with a view to producing leaders and educators in every field of science and industry.'


“The university's initial policy of not charging tuition was adopted, I again quote Jane Stanford, to ‘resist the tendency to the stratification of society, by keeping open an avenue whereby the deserving and exceptional may rise through their own efforts from the lowest to the highest station in life. A spirit of equality must accordingly be maintained within the University.’ I point out that Stanford admitted women when many of its peers would not even have considered the possibility....


“This evocation of our institutional purposes is helpful in reminding us that it would be exceedingly narrow-minded to assume that the pursuit of the university as envisioned in the founding documents calls for a one-dimensional approach in choosing those to whom we give the opportunity to study at Stanford. As we look for the leaders of tomorrow, if all we considered were capacities measurable on a scale, without taking into consideration other aspects of being ‘deserving and exceptional,’ we would be betraying the Founders. We would be betraying the Founders if we disregarded their stated concern about ‘the tendency to the stratification of society.’” …


Full text at Stanford website


Other Articles of Interest


The Battle Over College Speech Will Outlive the Encampments

Full op-ed at NY Times Magazine 


We Argue About Campus Free Speech Because We Forget What the University Is For 

Full op-ed at Washington Examiner


Private Thought and Public Speech

Full op-ed by Yale Prof. David Bromwich at Compact Magazine


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 Lab Introduces Students to Cutting-Edge Biomedical Research Tools


Stanford Researchers Study the Role of Plankton in Regulating Natural Systems


Stanford-Led Study Links School Environment to Brain Development


Humans Use Counterfactuals to Reason About Causality. Can AI?


Meditations on a Meaningful Education

“To do their work well, universities need a protected sphere of operation in which free speech and academic freedom flourish. Scholarship and teaching cannot achieve their full potential when constrained -- externally or internally -- by political, ideological, or economic agendas that impede or displace the disinterested process of pursuing truth and advancing knowledge.” – From Princeton Principles for a Campus Culture of Free Inquiry

May 27, 2024

The Crisis of Confidence in Higher Education Will Not End with the

Student Protests 


Excerpts (links in the original):


“Another day, another no-confidence vote for a university president.  


“On Thursday [May 16] the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University approved a no-confidence resolution of the school’s president, Nemat Shafik. It did so after concluding that her handling of pro-Palestinian demonstrations and her public pledge to a congressional committee to discipline several faculty members who had espoused similar views violated the 'fundamental requirements of academic freedom and shared governance’ and engaged in an “unprecedented assault on student’s rights.’ 


“But Shafik is not the only university leader who has lost the confidence of significant constituencies on their campuses.... [followed by discussion of Barnard, NYU and Emory]


“But as the academic year ends, and with it the season of campus protests, the broader crisis of confidence in higher education will not end. Colleges and universities, especially those branded ‘elite, will have to work hard to win back the goodwill of many Americans who no longer trust them.  


“Evidence of that loss of trust is plentiful. 


“In 2019, a Pew survey found what it described as ‘an undercurrent of dissatisfaction -- even suspicion -- among the public about the role colleges play in society, the way admissions decisions are made, and the extent to which free speech is constrained on college campuses.’ 


"Pew noted that when asked whether the American higher education system is generally going in the right or wrong direction, most Americans (61 percent) said it’s going in the wrong direction....” 


Full op-ed by Amherst Prof. Austin D. Sarat at The Hill


Yale Tells Hopeful Scientists They Must Commit to DEI


Excerpts (links in the original):


“Want to be a molecular biologist at Yale? Well, make sure you have a ten-step plan for dismantling systemic racism. When making hires at Yale’s department of molecular biophysics and biochemistry, faculty are told to place ‘DEI at the center of every decision,’ according to a document tucked away on its website


“Meanwhile, every job advertised on the site links to a DEI 'rubric' that tests candidates’ ‘knowledge of DEI and commitment to promoting DEI,’ their ‘past DEI experiences and activities,’ and their ‘future DEI goals and plans.’ …


“Applicants for professor and lecturer jobs, currently advertised on the site, will get ‘zero’ points if they:


  • Have ‘no knowledge or awareness about DEI issues’ 

  • Do ‘not feel personal responsibility for helping to create an equitable and inclusive environment’ 

  • Were ‘not involved in activities that promote DEI’ 

  • Have ‘no goals or plans for promoting DEI’ …”


Full op-ed by John Sailer of National Association of Scholars at Free Press


See also how Cornell uses DEI statements to weed out candidates who don’t sufficiently support DEI, including in STEM, at College Fix.


See also a copy of Cornell’s rubric for hiring faculty, including notes from the Cornell Free Speech Alliance (CFSA).


See also “UNC System Spends at Least $90 Million per Year for 686 DEI Staffers” at College Fix.


See also Washington Post editorial, “The Problem with Diversity Statements and What to Do about Them”. Excerpt: "The last thing academia -- or the country -- needs is another incentive for people to be insincere or dishonest. The very purpose of the university is to encourage a free exchange of ideas, seek the truth wherever it may lead, and to elevate intellectual curiosity and openness among both faculty and students. Whatever their original intent, the use of DEI statements has too often resulted in self-censorship and ideological policing."


Updated ACE Report Reveals Progress, Persistent Disparities in Higher Ed


Excerpts (link in the original):


“Though the number of Hispanic and Black students enrolling in undergraduate programs has increased in recent years, completion rates continue to lag somewhat behind, according to a report released by the American Council on Education (ACE).


“[Led by Stanford alum Dr. Ted Mitchell,] ‘The Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education: 2024 Status Report’ comprises updated data showing significant disparities in attainment levels among underrepresented groups by race and ethnicity despite growing diversity. It examines over 200 indicators to determine who accesses a variety of educational environments and experiences, to explore how student trajectories and outcomes differ by race and ethnicity, and to provide an overview of the racial and ethnic backgrounds of faculty, staff, and college presidents....


“Bachelor’s degrees were mainly earned by Asian, white, and multiracial students, while other minority groups earned a larger share of associate degrees and certificates, according to the report....”


Full article at Diverse Issues in Higher Education 


The Diversity Leadership Fallacy


Excerpts (links in the original):


“Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion has taken America by storm. It’s in almost every public school, college, corporation, and organization you can imagine, including pharmaceutical companiesentertainment companies, and even the United States Department of Defense....


“Diversity researchers Alice H. Eagly and Jean Lau Chin are typical of scholars who attempt to justify DEI initiatives based on broad assumptions about identity. In arguing that surface-level diversity leads to better leadership, they say that ‘leaders and followers from diverse identity groups generally face some degree of pressure to behave like leaders from the majority group’ while continuing to ‘express their own cultures to some extent’ and this increases their multicultural competence while explaining some of the challenges that hold minorities back....


“All of these claims rely on broad generalizations about beneficial leadership characteristics that supposedly flow from identity.  But we have evidence that the surface-level diversity that Eagly, Chin, and others like them are obsessed with does not necessarily contribute to good leadership on its own.


“For example, in a rebuttal to Eagly and Chin, University of Maryland researchers Kristen M. Klein and Mo Wang provide four reasons why surface-level diversity does not equate to strong leadership.... [followed by discussion of the four reasons]


“However well-intentioned DEI initiatives may be, they rely on fundamentally flawed assumptions and broad, unfounded generalizations about identity, which reinforce old negative stereotypes and create new ones. Competence, not identity, should be the primary criteria for hiring, promotion, and leadership, not arbitrary surface-level qualities like race, ethnicity, or gender.


"Every time an organization encourages people to divide themselves by these surface-level characteristics, the organization entrenches stereotypical thinking and all but guarantees negative organizational outcomes. We shouldn’t encourage people to shackle themselves to stereotypes and call it liberation. Instead, we should hire and promote people based only on their job-relevant experience, knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics that have real value....”

Full op-ed at Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR)

Stanford Panel Discusses Mandatory Diversity Statements Versus the Challenges of Achieving Real Diversity 


Excerpts (links in the original):


Brian Soucek, a professor at the U.C. Davis School of Law and an advocate of D.E.I. statements, started the panel off by making his case. Mere statements of belief in D.E.I. are not enough, he said. In an effort to reach consensus on what a D.E.I. hiring statement should look like, in lieu of U.C. Davis’s current required statement, he proposed an abbreviated version that asked candidates specifically about D.E.I. shortcomings and gaps in their fields of discipline and concrete steps they’ve taken or plan to take to address them.


“The rest of the panel wasn’t having it.


Amna Khalid, a historian at Carleton College, endorsed the goal of diversifying staffs. The problem isn’t principle or legality, she said; it’s practice. Diversity according to whom? And in what context?


“‘It’s always ‘historically excluded and underrepresented,’ she said. ‘But historically when? Conservatives could argue they have been historically excluded. What’s underrepresented at Hillsdale College will be different from what’s underrepresented in the U.C. system.’ ...


“Simply requiring D.E.I. statements gives a pass to universities for not fixing existing problems, added Carol Sumner, the chief diversity officer of Northern Illinois University. She then raised another question: ‘Is the statement the problem, or is it the subjectivity of the person reading the statement you don’t trust?’


“Ralph Richard Banks, a professor at Stanford Law School, expressed concern that poorly designed D.E.I. encourages essentialist thinking -- the idea that all women or members of the group have similar views or experiences. In his view, D.E.I. programs can be ‘a way to offload responsibility from the rest of the university and take pressure off them for what actually could be substantive policies that are harder and more expensive.’


“One thing on which everyone agreed: Schools are failing at real diversity. D.E.I. statements aren’t necessarily helping. Instead of potentially creating problems, academia needs to fix existing ones.” ...


Full article at NY Times (3/7/24)


Stanford Prof. Jay Bhattacharya: The Impact of Censorship on Free Speech and Scientific Inquiry




“As things stand, the situation regarding free speech is dire in the Western world. The Missouri v. Biden case is currently under consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court. It has the promise to limit the government’s power to censor, but I do not know how the Supreme Court will rule. In any case, it is not enough. The whole scientific community and the public need to understand the stakes because I do not believe the suppression of scientific ideas and debate will die with the pandemic. Without a concerted political program to restore free speech, the American civic religion of free speech and the very nature of our republic may not survive.”


Full text of speech at Washington Examiner


See also “Stanford’s Roles in Censoring the Web” at our Stanford Concerns webpage. See also Paragraph 4.d. at our Back to Basics webpage: “Under no circumstances may any of these [centers, accelerators, incubators or other Stanford entities], whether on or off the core campus, be engaged in censorship activities, either directly or in coordination with government entities, and especially regarding members of Stanford’s own faculty.”


Debt-Free College Is More Important Than a Flashy Piece of Paper


Excerpt (links in the original):


“It’s hard to make the right choices about college when so much messaging is coming from so many corners. That’s why it’s important that parents help their kids keep perspective, and show them how to look past the brightly colored fliers, and focus on what’s most important: getting a degree that’s debt-free.


“This goes against generations of cultural conditioning, which encourages spending whatever it takes to get the most prestigious four-year degree you can find. But as billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban told me last year, ‘Every college has strong programs that can educate you,’ and ‘Nothing will hinder your ability to use your college education (more) than debt,’ because ‘debt pushes you to take a job that pays your loans rather than picking a job you love.’...”


Full op-ed at DC Journal


Editor’s note: Stanford’s Office of Financial Aid recently reconfirmed that 80% of Stanford’s undergraduate students leave Stanford with zero student loan debt. Also, per Stanford Report, starting with the 2023-2024 academic year, undergraduate families with under $100,000 income pay no tuition, room or board at Stanford.


Other Articles of Interest


The Litigation After the Protest Storm

Full article at Inside Higher Ed


CUNY and Columbia -- A Tale of Two Campuses

Full article at The Nation


Knives, Bricks, Bowling Ball, Pellet Gun Found at DePaul Encampment

Full article at Campus Reform


Protesters Target Officials with Body Bags, Cockroaches

Full article at Inside Higher Ed


Samples of Current Teaching and Research at Stanford

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


Five Surprising Facts About the Sun


Stanford AI Projects Greenlighted in National AI Research Resource Pilot


Student-Run Service Offers a Safe Ride


From Undergraduate Course, "Democracy and Disagreement." A Discussion About Meritocracy (video)

“The only way that we can have true inclusion and belonging for everyone is a radical openness to the free exchange of ideas, carried out respectfully and civilly, accepting that others will disagree with us, accepting that we have different moral understandings about right and wrong, and accepting that we may find some ideas painful and hurtful.” – Harvard Prof. Tyler J. VanderWeele

May 20, 2024

The Wrong Way to Fight Anti-Semitism on Campus


Excerpts (links in the original):


"The House of Representatives passed the Antisemitism Awareness Act last week in a bipartisan vote of 320 to 91. 'Antisemitism is on the rise,' it declares, and is 'impacting Jewish students.'


"Bigotry against Jews is vile and warrants the nation’s attention. As President Joe Biden said Tuesday at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, 'This hatred continues to lie deep in the hearts of too many people in the world and requires our continued vigilance.' But the Antisemitism Awareness Act is the wrong way to fight those ills....


“Earlier this week, the Department of Education published a 'Dear Colleague' letter suggesting that protected speech alone can give rise to a hostile campus environment that requires administrators to respond in some way, even if they cannot punish the speech in question. It states that 'a university can, among other steps, communicate its opposition to stereotypical, derogatory opinions; provide counseling and support for students affected by harassment; or take steps to establish a welcoming and respectful school campus.' This seems to create an incentive for preemptive crackdowns on protected speech by administrators who want to avoid federal investigations. The guidance could lead to the hiring of still more administrators assigned to police speech, manage student concerns about it, and lead DEI-style initiatives aimed at anti-Semitism as distinct from anti-racism....


“The First Amendment expert Eugene Volokh offers a hypothetical example in a post explaining why he opposes the Antisemitism Awareness Act. Imagine that Kamala Harris is president, he writes, and enacts a statute that codifies examples of anti-Palestinian discrimination -- such as denying Palestinians their right to self-determination, and comparing Palestinian attitudes toward Jews to those of the Nazis. Many people would be concerned that these examples ‘were likely to (and probably intended to) deter people from expressing their political views about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,’ Volokh points out....”


Full op-ed at The Atlantic and also republished at Real Clear Education 


From a Leader of Former Campus Protests: We Have a Mass Movement of Young People Advancing Horrifying Ideas


Excerpts (link in the original):


“In 1968, Paul Berman was a freshman at Columbia University and a central organizer of the protests that convulsed that university and then spread to other campuses across the country and around the world. He was part of the group that seized Hamilton Hall; he occupied the office of Columbia’s president, Grayson L. Kirk; he was arrested -- though not beaten, as many others were -- by the police. ‘The uprising of 1968 receded into the past, and, even so, the embers went on smoldering,’ Berman wrote in the foreword to a collection of remembrances of those events, A Time to Stir, published by Columbia University Press in 2018.


“Berman, who has taught at Columbia, New York University, Princeton, and the University of California at Irvine, went on to become one of the most astute chroniclers of the ’68 generation. In two books -- A Tale of Two Utopias (1996) and Power and the Idealists (2005) -- he traced those smoldering embers around the world and through the decades, showing how the insurrectionary spirit of ’68, in time, morphed into political movements both laudatory (gay rights, the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia) and deplorable (the Baader-Meinhof Gang, the Weather Underground). Berman has aptly been described in The New York Times as ‘not only an alumnus of the rebellion’ but ‘the keeper of its yearbook and its funeral director.’ ...


“Berman: ‘The real meaning of the ‘river to the sea’ is that the state of Israel should not exist, that 50 percent of the world’s population of Jews should be rendered stateless. And the real meaning of ‘globalize the intifada’ is that there should be a globalization of the events that introduced the word ‘intifada’ to the world, namely the intifada of circa 2001, which was a mass movement to commit random acts of murderous terror. But people don’t want to acknowledge that.'


“‘I blame the professors for this, not the students. I know from personal experience that students can be uninformed. But the professors have created a climate in which this stuff can go on. The professors for the most part don’t use these slogans. But they find ways to defend them. So I see a tremendous intellectual crisis.’ ...”


Full interview at Chronicle of Higher Education 

Colleges Have Strayed from Their Higher Purpose and Are Now Paying the Price


Excerpts (links in the original):


“There was a time when colleges and universities had enough sense to stay in their lanes and focus on their historic mission to teach, learn and do research. 


“That objective has been derailed over the years, with higher education institutions now smugly assuming they should indoctrinate the nation on a laundry list of sociopolitical hobby horses. That misguided and self-righteous repositioning has turned out to be a blunder of great proportion....


“Whether it’s immigration, abortion, globalism, climate, gun rights, gender or diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), college administrators have been eager to express their approved opinions. Curricula reflect the campus mob mentality, as course titles and syllabi clearly show. Hiring practices make sure all employees, from professors to dorm coordinators to groundskeepers, salute the prevailing mindsets. 'Diversity offices' keep an eye out for wayward thinkers, making sure everybody stays of one mind. 


“Check out the list of invited speakers to any campus and odds are there will be no presenters with views contrary to the accepted campus dogma. And if an unapproved speaker does show up, be ready for shout-downs and disruption.... 


“College administrators have been misreading the market for years, stifling free speech at their respective campuses and wanting to become sociopolitical provocateurs. They are now holding a losing hand. A recent survey from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression indicates a majority of Americans disapprove of colleges taking stands on political fashions. It is, indeed, sad to see how American higher education has deteriorated under the condescending 'leadership' of highly educated, but not very smart, administrators.”


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


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

From Stanford Review: Stanford’s High-Cost War on Parties


Excerpts (links in the original):


“On April 20th, the Olive neighborhood, one of Stanford’s eight arbitrarily created housing groups, held an all-campus partywhere students could ‘enjoy fine dining, a live band, and a dance floor.’ Attendance was lackluster, as only around 100 people showed up over the course of three hours. The kicker? This mild party cost Stanford around $60,000, or $600 per student that attended.


“The party was organized by a group of Stanford administrators ‘in collaboration’ with the rest of the Olive neighborhood council, a group of student representatives.... As it turns out, student representatives weren't so well represented. They originally had plans for an Ancient Greece-themed party, where people could show up in togas to a field with large columns and other ornamentation, but this harmless idea for a community-bonding event was vetoed because it was deemed to be ‘culturally insensitive.’ ...


"Stanford has over 10,000 administrators, some of whom are responsible for organizing events like this for students....


“Silicon Valley giants like Google, Tesla, and Meta recently performed significant layoffs to increase operational efficiency and become more nimble, and Stanford should take note. Instead of throwing more money at the problem and further bloating our cumbersome bureaucracy, we need an administration which can facilitate natural socialization and take it upon themselves as a priority to serve students and, by extension, the future of Stanford....”


Full op-ed at Stanford Review

See also Stanford’s official “Party Planning Guide” as well as the highly detailed “Student Party Policy & Guidelines”. 

See also “Stanford’s Ballooning Administrative Bureaucracy” at our Stanford Concerns webpage, including data and charts.


See also “Control of Student Life Must Be Restored to Stanford’s Students” at our Back to Basics webpage.

Newly added: "Clips of the Party Planning Committee" from The Office, at You Tube.

Other Articles of Interest


Harvard Alumni Report Includes Startling Testimony from Students and Faculty re Campus Antisemitism

Full editorial at WSJ

Divesting Endowments Is Easier Demanded Than Done

Full article at The Conversation and also republished at Real Clear Education  


How Diversity Became the Master Concept of Our Age

Full article at Chronicle of Higher Education and also republished at Real Clear Education  


Complaint Alleges MIT Hired Six New Diversity Deans, and that Two of Them Are Serial Plagiarists

Full article at Free Beacon


Will Chicago Stand by Its Principles?

Full op-ed by Holy Cross Prof. Emeritus David Lewis Schaefer at Law & Liberty Magazine


Three Actions We Can Take Now to Heal Our College Campuses

Full op-ed at Greater Good Magazine


The Leadership Industrial Complex Is Setting Up Academic Leaders to Fail

Full op-ed at The Hill


The Public Stands with Shutting Down the Encampments

Full op-ed by Stanford alum and Sarah Lawrence Prof. Samuel Abrams at Real Clear Education


ChatGPT Is Really Helpful

Full interview at James Martin Center


Samples of Current Teaching and Research at Stanford

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


Meet the Robot that Learned to Sauté Shrimp 


What the Ancient Greeks Can Teach Us About Democracy


Decoding Stanford’s Arches 

“Critical thinking is the foundation of intellectual growth and progress. It is the ability to analyze information, question assumptions, and evaluate evidence, leading to deeper understanding and better decision-making." – Former Stanford President John Hennessy

May 13, 2024

No One Knows What Universities Are For


Excerpts (links in the original):


“Last month, the Pomona College economist Gary N. Smith calculated that the number of tenured and tenure-track professors at his school declined from 1990 to 2022, while the number of administrators nearly sextupled in that period. ‘Happily, there is a simple solution,’ Smith wrote in a droll Washington Post column. In the tradition of Jonathan Swift, his modest proposal called to get rid of all faculty and students at Pomona so that the college could fulfill its destiny as an institution run by and for nonteaching bureaucrats. At the very least, he said, ‘the elimination of professors and students would greatly improve most colleges’ financial position.’


“Administrative growth isn’t unique to Pomona. In 2014, the political scientist Benjamin Ginsberg published The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters, in which he bemoaned the multi-decade expansion of ‘administrative blight.’ From the early 1990s to 2009, administrative positions at colleges and universities grew 10 times faster than tenured-faculty positions, according to Department of Education data. Although administrative positions grew especially quickly at private universities and colleges, public institutions are not immune to the phenomenon. In the University of California system, the number of managers and senior professionals swelled by 60 percent from 2004 to 2014.


“How and why did this happen? Some of this growth reflects benign, and perhaps positive, changes to U.S. higher education....


“But many of these jobs have a reputation for producing little outside of meeting invites. ‘I often ask myself, What do these people actually do?,’ Ginsberg told me last week. ‘I think they spend much of their day living in an alternate universe called Meeting World. I think if you took every third person with vice associate or assistant in their title, and they disappeared, nobody would notice.’


“In an email to me, Smith, the Pomona economist, said the biggest factor driving the growth of college admin was a phenomenon he called empire building.... As Tyler Austin Harper wrote in The Atlantic, university administrators have spent years ‘recruiting social-justice-minded students and faculty to their campuses under the implicit, and often explicit, promise that activism is not just welcome but encouraged.’ …


“Complex organizations need to do a lot of different jobs to appease their various stakeholders, and they need to hire people to do those jobs. But there is a value to institutional focus, and the past few months have shown just how destabilizing it is for colleges and universities to not have a clear sense of their priorities or be able to make those priorities transparent to faculty, students, donors, and the broader world. The ultimate problem isn’t just that too many administrators can make college expensive. It’s that too many administrative functions can make college institutionally incoherent.”


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


See also “Stanford’s Ballooning Administrative Bureaucracy” at our Stanford Concerns webpage.

See also our “Back to Basics at Stanford” webpage.


Stanford Review Special Series: Censorship and Academic Freedom

at Stanford


Excerpts (links in the original):


"'Die Luft der Freiheit weht,’ translated as ‘The Winds of Freedom Blow,’ sits boldly on Stanford University’s insignia as its guiding motto. Yet in the past several years, Stanford has become notoriously intertwined with academic censorship and the suppression of free speech. To adjust our sails correctly, we must first understand where and how we went wrong....


“In November of 1900, [Stanford Economics Professor Edward] Ross was forced out of the University at the demand of Jane Stanford, and his resignation initiated a stunning chain of events at Stanford and across the country. While seen as a villain by a few on campus, he quickly emerged as an American hero to the working class and supporters of academic freedom alike. As one op-ed in the Oakland Enquirer proclaimed, ‘When it is known that science in a university is under bonds to prejudice or dogmatism, the usefulness of that university is at an end and its further existence is without reason.’ …


“Fast forward over sixty years to when Bruce Franklin, like Ross, was a young and outspoken Stanford professor in the 1960s and early 70s....


“A few years after Franklin’s dismissal, a Stanford PhD student of anthropology named Steven Mosher had an exclusive opportunity to travel to China. On his expedition to the Guangdong province, Mosher documented something striking: forced abortions and sterilizations thrust upon women living under the Chinese government and its now notorious one-child policy....


“The Chinese government leveraged Mosher’s case to pressure American institutions to comply with stringent demands when sending researchers to its country. Eventually, the committee of eleven Stanford anthropology faculty members, possibly as a result of this Chinese pressure, unanimously voted to expel Mosher, stating that he was guilty of ‘illegal and seriously unethical conduct.’ His research methods and style were deemed dubious and said to jeopardize the integrity of his research, but Mosher maintained that Stanford expelled him to placate China.


“In 1992, Stanford President Gerhard Casper stated that ‘A university's freedom must be first of all the freedom that we take mostly for granted, though the humanists had to fight for it and others must still do battle for it even today: the pursuit of knowledge free from constraints as to sources and fields.’...”


Full article at Stanford Review, first in the series


See also second article in the series, “An Interview with Dr. Jay Bhattacharya,” and third article in the series, “An Interview with Dr. Scott Atlas.”


See also “Stanford’s Roles in Censoring the Web” at our Stanford Concerns webpage.


See also Gerhard Casper, “The Winds of Freedom -- Addressing Challenges to the University," read sample at Amazon.


Stanford to Review U.S. Department of Education’s Revised Title IX Regulations


Excerpts (link in the original):


“The Biden Administration released revised Title IX regulations on Apr. 19, impacting policies across educational settings. The main changes include increased protections for LGBTQ+ students and sexual assault survivors. These changes, which Stanford and all universities are required to implement, will take effect on Aug. 1.


“The Stanford Sexual Harassment/Assault Response & Education (SHARE) Title IX Office started its review process. SHARE is ‘just now beginning to review these new regulations, comparing them to what was originally proposed, and determining what is needed in order to comply,’ wrote Patrick Dunkley, vice provost for Institutional Equity, Access, and Community, and Stephen Chen, director of the SHARE Title IX Office, in a statement published in the Stanford Report....”


Full article at Stanford Daily

See also from our April 29 Newsletter:


  • “The Civil Rights Rollback” at Free Press

  • "Education Department’s Final Title IX Regulations Draw Mixed Reactions" at Higher Ed Dive

  • "New Title IX Rules Erase Campus Due Process Protections" at Reason


The Problem with America’s Protest Feedback Loop


Excerpts (links in the original):


“The country is stuck in a protest feedback loop. In recent months, students opposed to the Israel-Gaza war have occupied lawns and buildings at college campuses across the country. Emulating climate activists who have stopped traffic on crucial roadways, pro-Palestine demonstrators have blocked access to major airports. For months, the protests intensified as university, U.S., and Israeli policies seemed unmoved. Frustrated by their inefficacy, the protesters redoubled their efforts and escalated their tactics.


“The lack of immediate outcomes from the Gaza protests is not at all unusual. In a new working paper at the National Bureau of Economic Research, Amory Gethin of the Paris School of Economics and Vincent Pons of Harvard Business School analyzed the effect of 14 social movements in the United States from 2017 to 2022. They varied in size: About 12,000 people marched against a potential war with Iran in January 2020; 4.2 million turned out for the first Women’s March. Pons told me that these large social movements succeeded in raising the general public’s awareness of their issues, something that he and Gethin measured through Google Trends and data from X.


“Yet in nearly every case that the researchers examined in detail -- including the Women’s March and the pro-gun control March for Our Lives, which brought out more than 3 million demonstrators -- they could find no evidence that protesters changed minds or affected electoral behavior.


“The Gethin and Pons study about the inefficacy of modern American mass movements identified one glaring exception: the protests over George Floyd’s murder [and Black Lives Matter]….


“Still, other stances taken by protesters -- such as pushing universities to divest from companies with ties to Israel or, in some cases, calling for an end to Israeli statehood -- have scant support among the general public. And the college protests themselves are widely frowned upon: In another poll from May 2, when asked whether college administrators had responded too harshly to college protesters, just 16 percent of respondents said administrators had responded too harshly; 33 percent thought they weren’t harsh enough....”


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


See also “I Was Once a Student Protester; the Old Hyperbole Is Now Reality” by Princeton Prof. Zeynet Tufecki at NY Times and also republished at DNYUZ.


Other Articles of Interest


See also our May 9, 2024 Special Edition Newsletter re National Campus Unrest.


MIT Becomes First Elite University to Ban Diversity Statements

Full article at College Fix, as republished from UnHerd


DEI Ideological Litmus Tests Have No Place in Academia

Full op-ed by Harvard Law School Prof. Randall L. Kennedy at Harvard Crimson as also previously excerpted at our April 8, 2024 Newsletter


Tracking Higher Ed’s Dismantling of DEI

Full article at Chronicle of Higher Education


Universities and Colleges Search for Ways to Reverse the Decline in the Ranks of Male Students

Full article at Hechinger Report


Samples of Current Teaching and Research at Stanford

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


Why Exercise Is So Good for You


Stanford Medicine Delivers First FDA-Approved Cell-Based Therapy for Solid Tumors


Photos from Stanford’s Global Studies Photo Contest

The university has an obligation to protect all lawful speakers and to sanction those who violate the rights of others by materially disrupting speakers. The ‘heckler's veto’ is a form of denying ideas and opinions to those who choose to hear them, including those who disagree with the speaker but have chosen to listen to a speech.” -- From Princeton Principles for a Campus Culture of Free Inquiry      

May 9, 2024

Special Edition - National Campus Unrest


Editor’s note: Because there are so many issues to cover, we are circulating this Special Edition a few days earlier than normal and will circulate a regular Newsletter next Monday afternoon with other items.




Universities Face Misinformation Amid Pro-Palestinian Protests


Excerpts (links in the original):


False reports about a raised Palestinian flag at Harvard University. A misinterpretation of Muslim students gathering at the University of California, Los Angeles. Conflicting stories about a bike lock used during an occupation at Columbia University.


"As the pro-Palestinian protests continue, universities are contending with fake, conflicting and confusing reports about events on and off campus. Videos and photos of the protests have flooded social media sites, and some are altered or given misleading labels or headlines....


“Experts are torn on whether a university should address misinformation about events on their campuses. [Darren Linvill, co-director of the Media Forensics Hub at Clemson University] said universities, at the very least, need to put correct information on their websites to dispel false reports.


“‘They want this to go away and want no one to talk about it, but that ship has sailed,’ Linvill said. ‘You always want to be putting out the truth. I think sitting there and letting others tell your story often goes wrong.’" …


Full article at Inside Higher Ed


How Trustees Can Save Their Schools




“In an unprecedented display of leadership, the president, flanked by the provost and the chairman of the board of trustees, announced to the chanting and drumming students encamped in the South Quad: [followed by made-up text of a speech not given]….


“Colleges now reap the grim fruit of years of tolerating intolerable behavior. How many Middlebury College students were suspended for shouting down Charles Murray and violence that left a distinguished Middlebury professor seriously injured? Zero. How many Stanford Law School students were suspended for shouting down Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan? Zero again. Washington College students who shouted down invited speaker and Princeton University Professor Robert George? …


“The 1967 Kalven Report, which articulates the principle of institutional neutrality, offers a powerful preventative to the blackmail tactics of the protests. Institutional neutrality, as Chancellor Diermeier explained, means that politics do not enter into decisions about the institution’s investments and portfolio. Divestment is off the table. Student and faculty demands regarding the portfolio must be, to use a favorite phrase of protesters, ‘non-negotiable.’ 


“With a commitment to the rule of law, the campus will enjoy robust debate and academic freedom, unfettered by the mob rule that now substitutes for freedom. This is a time for firmness, not demoralizing compromise that invites more such protests and signals that the adults are no longer in charge.”


Full op-ed by Michael Poliakoff and Paul S. Levy for American Council of Trustees and Alumni at Real Clear Education


See also our compilation of the Chicago Trifecta, including the Kalven Report.


Age of Unreason




“Last week, a disruptive ‘Free Palestine’ protest broke out on my campus, the University of Southern California. As a philosophy major, I’m often curious to talk with people and ask them why they believe the things they do. So, I spoke with one of the protesters. He was outfitted in black jeans and a black shirt bearing the phrase ‘Free Palestine.’ He wore sunglasses and a mask emblazoned with the flag of Palestine. He carried a large Palestinian flag. I suspect that he was a student, but I could not confirm this....


“Continuing in attempted Socratic fashion, I asked: ‘So the morality of something depends on individual intuition? There is, as the saying goes, ‘no right or wrong, but thinking makes it so?’


“‘Yeah, morality is, like, just what people believe, and what people believe changes over time and across cultures,’ he said.


“‘If that is the case, then I don’t see why you are marching,’ I responded. ‘One person thinks genocide is bad, and the other thinks it is fine. In your view, both are equally correct because there is no correct answer. What right do you have, then, to march up and down this campus telling others to change their opinion to match yours, if yours is no more right or wrong than theirs?’


“At this point, the protestor offered several incoherent sentences before shouting wildly at me. This drew the attention of his fellow marchers, who accosted me similarly. I left to avoid a scene....


“In part, today’s campus protests are the fruit of our educational institutions’ failure to impart an appreciation of the humanities. They point to a troubled future: one where slogans replace arguments, contradiction is accepted as fact, and public disorder is mistaken for private virtue.


“We need to reverse course. Students shouldn’t be able to graduate from college without studying the Federalist Papers or Aristotle’s Ethics or having read Shakespeare and Tolstoy. Universities must once again transmit the best of the Western tradition, the ideas that have guided countless young people throughout the ages and taught them how to interrogate our world in search of truth. Only folly and arrogance prevent us from doing so once again.”


Full op-ed by USC undergraduate Chad Beauchamp at City Journal


Universities Consider Divestment Demands


Excerpts (links in the original):


“As pro-Palestinian protests have spread across college campuses nationwide two key demands have emerged: that colleges disclose how endowment funds are invested, and that they divest from weapons manufacturers and other businesses profiting off of the war in Gaza.


“Student stipulations vary by campus, often going beyond disclosure and divestment, but those two themes are universal. And while national news coverage focuses on the use of force to clear encampments, violent clashes with police and protester arrests, it belies the fact that some colleges are making negotiations on these demands....


“Brown University has arguably taken the biggest step in striking a deal with protesters who folded up their tents in exchange for face time with board members to make a pitch for divesting from companies profiting off the war. A divestment vote is scheduled for October....


“Elsewhere, Northwestern University has agreed to reestablish an Advisory Committee on Investment Responsibility, which will include student, faculty and staff representatives, and provide funding for both Palestinian students and visiting faculty members, among other moves....


“Mary Papazian, executive vice president of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, identifies the two responses -- meeting directly with protesters or arresting them -- as two points at opposite ends of a response spectrum. But she believes presidents can operate in the middle, engaging protesters indirectly and keeping order without mass arrests, depending on the situation....


“And regardless of what decision a president makes on encampment protests, they should be able to explain what led to their decision and discuss their positions clearly and transparently, Papazian argues.


“’There has to be clarity about whatever action it is that the president takes. There may be good reasons for it but it has to be articulated and explained clearly and consistently,' she said."


Full article at Inside Higher Ed


See also “What Does Divestment from Israel Really Mean?” at Vox


Articles of General Interest


The Consequences of Capitulation

Full article at Simple Justice 


Why the Campus Protests Are So Troubling

Full op-ed by Thomas Friedman at NY Times


Stanford Has ‘No Plans’ to Cancel Commencement

Full article at Stanford Daily


Berkeley Law School Dean Edwin Chemerinsky re Campus Speech

Full interview (one hour) at YouTube and also at Reason


Listen to What They’re Chanting

Full op-ed at The Atlantic


Specific Issues at Other Colleges and Universities


Pro-Palestinian GWU Student Tribunal Calls for Campus Leaders to be Beheaded

Full article at College Fix


Some UNC Faculty to Withhold Final Grades for All Students Until Suspended Protesters Are Re-Instated

Full article at Carolina Journal


Harvard Threatens to Place Its Occupiers on Involuntary Leave, Citing Indefensible Behavior

Full article at Campus Reform


Protesters March to Harvard President Garber’s Home and Demand Start of Negotiations

Full article at Harvard Crimson


Why I Ended the University of Chicago Protest Encampment

Full statement by University of Chicago President Paul Alivisatos at WSJ


U Chicago Says Free Speech Is Sacred, but Some Students See Hypocrisy

Full article at NY Times


Columbia Law School Students Send Menacing Email to Jewish Classmates: ‘You Threaten Everyone's Safety’

Full article at Free Beacon


A Message from Jewish Students at Columbia University

Full letter at Google Docs


Behind the Ivy Intifada

Full op-ed by Columbia Prof. Musa al-Gharbi at Compact


Columbia Custodian Trapped by Angry Mob Speaks Out

Full article at Free Press


Why I’m Not Calling the Police on My Students’ Encampment 

Full statement by Wesleyan University President Michael S. Roth at New Republic


Activist Groups Trained Students for Months Before Campus Protests

Full article at WSJ


UCLA, Yale and Michigan Up Next on Congressional Hot Seat

Full article at Inside Higher Ed


ACTA Survey Finds Texans Support Strong Actions at University of Texas in Response to Protests

Full article at ACTA website

“Though a university should not punish a student for holding up a placard, it has a legitimate interest in preventing a group from permanently repurposing its walls as political billboards or from forcing students to walk through a gauntlet of intimidating slogan-chanters on their way to class every day.” – Harvard Prof. Steve Pinker

May 6, 2024

Colleges Can Safeguard Both Free Speech and a Safe Campus Environment


Excerpts (links in the original):


“The First Amendment protects even subjectively harmful, hateful, and offensive speech -- and for good reason. When people face punishment for their words just because someone, somewhere, finds them distasteful, the window of public discussion becomes stultifyingly narrow.

"University leaders must not let this happen on campus. 


“If leaders at both public and private institutions want to preserve an environment where teaching, research, and learning flourish, they should staunchly protect even the most objectionable speech.


“Critically, as FIRE says in its “10 common-sense reforms for colleges and universities,” they should do so in policy and in practice, making the scope of speech rights abundantly clear....


“[On the other hand,] universities should be battlegrounds for ideas -- not literal battlegrounds. A campus where unprotected conduct and expression -- such as violence, true threats and intimidation, incitement, and discriminatory harassment -- go unaddressed is a campus where faculty and students will be afraid to speak....


“When people feel physically safe, they’re willing to express themselves. And when people express themselves, their peers feel comfortable doing the same. The resulting sense of comfort is not merely psychological: Knowing what those around us really believe, especially if it’s ugly, can help us take intelligent and informed action.


“When either freedom or physical safety is compromised, it undermines the other. When both break down -- well, then we have a crisis on our hands....”


Full article at FIRE


The Continuing Growth of DEI at Stanford


Excerpts (links in the original):


“Stanford University, its campus lined with redwoods and eucalyptus trees, has long been known as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. But in recent years, another ideological force has taken root: ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion,’ …


“I have obtained exclusive analysis from inside Stanford outlining the incredible size and scope of the university’s DEI bureaucracy. According to this analysis, Stanford employs at least 177 full-time DEI bureaucrats, spread throughout the university’s various divisions and departments....


“Stanford’s DEI initiatives are not limited to humanities departments or race and gender studies. The highest concentration is in Stanford’s medical school, which has at least 46 diversity officials. A central DEI administration is led by chief DEI officer . . . with sub-departments throughout the medical school. Pediatrics, biosciences, and other specialties all have their own commissars embedded in the structure. 


“In the sciences, DEI policies have advocated explicit race and sex discrimination in pursuit of ‘diversity.’ The physics department, for example, has committed to a DEI plan with a mandate to ‘increase the diversity of the physics faculty,’ which, in practice, means reducing the number of white and Asian men. Administrators are told to boost the representation of ‘underrepresented groups,’ or ‘URGs,’ through a variety of discriminatory programs and filters.


“Ivan Marinovic, a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, says that DEI programs have had a disastrous impact on campus. He describes DEI as a ‘Trojan horse ideology’ that undermines ‘equality before the law, freedom of expression, and due process.’” …


Full op-ed by Christopher Rufo at City Journal and also republished at Substack




See also "The Path to Hell Is a Sign That Says Diversity, Equity, Inclusion" by Niall Ferguson at YouTube




“I know these words sound nice and nobody wants to be against them, but I have to tell you that in George Orwell’s 1984, words mean the opposite of what they appear to mean.


“What diversity, equity, inclusion turned out to mean at Harvard was uniformity of thought, no equity, no due process for anybody who fell foul of the Inquisition, and exclusion of conservatives .…


"I feel passionately about this because I was a lucky young person. I got to think freely, speak freely, take risks in classrooms, say dumb stuff in tutorials, write stupid stuff in student magazines without the thought police, without the social media, without that sense that there would be terrible, irreparable consequences for my entire life.


"Today’s 18, 19, 20, 21-year-olds who are in undergraduate programs in the U.S. live in a climate that’s almost like a totalitarian life, fearful of what their comrades may say to the high authorities. Worrying if the Dean for Student Affairs or the Vice Provost for this or that, or the Diversity-Equity-Inclusion officers will send them the dread email saying would you please report, there’s going to be an investigation into the party that you held in which somebody wore an inappropriate costume. That stuff is like something out of Stalin’s Soviet Union. The secret letter of denunciation. I had one read to me once. It’s sick and we’ve allowed it to happen in the greatest universities in North America." …


See also:


Not in Our Name -- Politicians Are Using the Rise in Antisemitism as an Excuse to Curtail Free Speech; Jews Must Not Let Them


Excerpts (links in the original):


“Free speech is not a divisible concept. Either everyone is free to say what they want, no matter how noxious others find it, in order to create and sustain the free market of ideas -- or else speech isn’t free.


“Institutions that curtail speech -- that make people’s social media postings grounds for expulsion, that ban or suppress speakers they disagree with, that penalize dissenting opinions in classrooms and workplaces with bad grades and HR reports -- should not be allowed to then turn around and invoke the principles of free speech to defend problematic speech with which they happen to agree, let alone disruptive or illegal behavior.


“And yet, recent years have seen the emergence of two different speech regimes, one for alleged oppressors and one for the allegedly oppressed. Huge swaths of often innocent speech by the former is deemed out of bounds, even criminal, whereas any speech coming out of the mouth of someone with a claim to victim status -- including speech that actively incites violence -- is considered sacrosanct.


“As a result, there is now a great deal of confusion about freedom of speech, which is a very basic -- and very central -- principle of American history and society. For those interested in being de-confused, which we humbly submit should be all thinking American citizens, herewith: a primer.…


“What this looks like in practice is something that every American should be alarmed and repelled by: A small group of powerful people are now using public-private partnerships to silence the Constitution, censor ideas they don’t like, deny their opponents access to banking, credit, the Internet, and other public accommodations. (Here, for the skeptics, is a link to ten examples of times when Facebook, YouTube and Amazon passed censorship policies because the government told them to do so.)


“When a platform like Facebook, which currently accounts for a staggering third of all traffic to news sources, colludes with the federal government to suppress reporting on COVID-19, say, or when Twitter, a major digital reincarnation of the public square, kicks out an American political candidate for being too extreme while allowing users like the genocidal leader of Iran to remain, the rules have changed. 'Bad speech,' an old adage goes, 'is best corrected by good speech.' That was true until these public-private fingers hit the scales, making sure that fight couldn’t ever be fair.…


“The freedom and successes that Jews have enjoyed in America have been due to the protections afforded by our Constitution, and the respect for individual rights that became part of our culture. The most legitimate tax we owe -- to each other, to our fellow citizens, and to those who fought for our right as Americans to say whatever the f***we want -- is the work we are asked to put in, day in and day out, to protect that freedom.


“That’s where our strength lies. Don’t lose sight of it.”


Full statement by the editors of Tablet Magazine


See also “There Are Two Sets of Rules for Speech – Frat parties with offensive themes are swiftly punished. But publicly contemplate murdering Zionists? That’s a different story.” by Abigail Shrier at Free Press

See also “You’re Only for Free Speech if You Defend It for People You Hate” by Alex Gutentag and Michael Shellenberger at Public


See also "Some Jewish Students at Stanford Are Learning to Hide Their Identities” at Jewish News of Northern California and “Discriminatory Harassment at UVA” at Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism


See also “Stanford’s Roles in Censoring the Web,” “Stanford’s Program for Reporting Bias” and “Stanford’s Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative” at our Stanford Concerns webpage


U.S. Has Long History of College Protests; Here's What Happened in the Past




“USA TODAY revisited four monumental campus protests to explain how college protests have become a staple of American life and often influence the outcomes of political strife. Here's a look at how previous campus protests unfolded -- and whether they were successful in their causes.”


Full article at USA Today


Other Articles of Interest


What Makes a Protest Antisemitic?

Full op-ed at NY Times


Can the Current Universities Be Saved?

Full op-ed by Victor Davis Hanson at Real Clear Politics


America’s Colleges Are Reaping What They Sowed

Full article by Prof. Tyler A. Harper at The Atlantic


Drawing Comparisons Between Current Protests and Those of the Past

Full article at Diverse Issues in Higher Education


New Princeton Faculty Group Brings a Common-Sense Approach to Restoring Academic Freedom 

Full article at Princetonians for Free Speech


Samples of Current Activities at Stanford

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


Women’s Sailing Team Wins Fourth National Title


About Those Seasonal Allergies


Stanford and Bay Area Schools Launch National AI Literacy Day

“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.”  -- Stanford alum and Yale Law School Prof. Stephen Carter

April 29, 2024

The Pedagogy That Broke Higher Education




“. . . A university isn’t a state -- it can’t simply impose its rules with force. It’s a special kind of community whose legitimacy depends on mutual recognition in a spirit of reason, openness, and tolerance. At the heart of this spirit is free speech, which means more than just chanting, but free speech can’t thrive in an atmosphere of constant harassment. When one faction or another violates this spirit, the whole university is weakened as if stricken with an illness....


“A long, intricate, but essentially unbroken line connects that rejection of the liberal university in 1968 to the orthodoxy on elite campuses today. The students of the ’68 revolt became professors -- the German activist Rudi Dutschke called this strategy the ‘long march through the institutions’ -- bringing their revisionist thinking back to the universities they’d tried to upend. One leader of the Columbia takeover [in the '60's] returned to chair the School of the Arts film program. ‘The ideas of one generation become the instincts of the next,’ D. H. Lawrence wrote. Ideas born in the ’60s, subsequently refined and complicated by critical theory, postcolonial studies, and identity politics, are now so pervasive and unquestioned that they’ve become the instincts of students who are occupying their campuses today. Group identity assigns your place in a hierarchy of oppression. Between oppressor and oppressed, no room exists for complexity or ambiguity. Universal values such as free speech and individual equality only privilege the powerful. Words are violence. There’s nothing to debate....


“Elite universities are caught in a trap of their own making, one that has been a long time coming. They’ve trained pro-Palestinian students to believe that, on the oppressor-oppressed axis, Jews are white and therefore dominant, not 'marginalized,' while Israel is a settler-colonialist state and therefore illegitimate. They’ve trained pro-Israel students to believe that unwelcome and even offensive speech makes them so unsafe that they should stay away from campus. What the universities haven’t done is train their students to talk with one another.”


Full op-ed by George Packer in The Atlantic. Editor’s note: Mr. Packer is the son of Stanford Professor Emeritus Nancy Packer and the late Stanford Professor Herb Packer.

About the Cacophony on Campus


Excerpts (links in the original):


“As campuses continue to be plagued with protests and unrest in response to the October 7 attacks on Israel and the war in Gaza that followed, there’s a ton of hypocrisy projection going on....

FIRE’s recent survey at Stanford shows that three-quarters of Stanford students believe shouting down a speaker to prevent them from speaking on campus is acceptable, three-fifths believe blocking other students from attending a campus speech is acceptable, and more than a third believe using physical violence to stop a campus speech is acceptable to at least some degree....

"Universities need to take a long hard look at the 'anti-debate' certainty culture they’ve created, in which issues are dealt with by students locking arms, shouting others down, and sometimes even resorting to violence rather than talking to one another.

"That’s a terrible sign for the search for truth and cultivating habits people need in a democratic society. It’s also a terrible look for an institution whose primary purpose is cultivating precisely those values and habits in its student body....


"We’ve made a lot of suggestions for how colleges and universities can change course, beginning with “FIRE’s 10 common-sense reforms for colleges and universities,” and more:


"The solutions are right there. The only thing that’s missing is the collective will to act on the problem."

Full op-ed by Stanford alum and FIRE CEO Greg Lukianoff at Eternally Radical Idea. See also "Protest and Civil Disobedience Are Two Different Things" by Princeton Prof. Keith Whittington at Chronicle of Higher Education and "The Unreality of Columbia's Liberated Zoneby Michael Powell at The Atlantic.

The Civil Rights Rollback


Editor's note: The Title IX law, first enacted more than 50 years ago, bans sexual discrimination against individuals at schools that receive federal funding, including colleges and universities. In subsequent years, federal agencies have expanded the scope of Title IX through the issuance of "Dear Colleague" advisory letters and, under the Administrative Procedure Act, regulations. The Department of Education, after years of discussion and debate, has issued new regulations to take effect on August 1, 2024. This action, in turn, has stimulated numerous commentaries, including the following:


Excerpts (links in the original):


"One of the most concerning is the return of the 'single-investigator' model that was barred under [the prior administration]. This means 'one administrator can act as detective, prosecutor, judge, and jury on a Title IX complaint.'


"Justin Dillon, a D.C. attorney who has represented accused students for a decade, says of the rollback, 'You arrive at truth by asking hard questions. But single investigators have no incentive to do that, which is why they are the worst possible model if you want to get to the truth. This is going to lead to more erroneous outcomes, and more lawsuits.' ...


“'The new regulations are a self-promoting piece of political theater that diminish the rights of all parties,' says Samantha Harris, an attorney who represents both accusers and accused. They 'allow universities,' she adds, 'to violate students’ rights to due process and fundamental fairness in ways that have already been held impermissible by courts around the country.'" ...


Full op-ed by Prof. KC Johnson at Free Press. Among other things, Prof. Johnson co-authored the book "Until Proven Innocent" which exposed the hoax in the infamous Duke lacrosse case. See also "Education Department’s Final Title IX Regulations Draw Mixed Reactions" at Higher Ed Dive and "New Title IX Rules Erase Campus Due Process Protections" at Reason.


In Praise of Institutional Neutrality in Academia


Excerpts (links in the original):


"The free-speech organization FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression) defines institutional neutrality as 'the idea that colleges and universities should not, as institutions, take positions on social and political issues unless those issues ‘threaten the very mission of the university and its values of free inquiry.’ Instead, these discussions should be left to students and faculty.


"The propensity to take stances on every issue was reexamined by higher-ed leaders after the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack that killed hundreds of Israeli civilians and the disastrous House hearings featuring the presidents of Harvard, UPenn, and MIT. Pushback from alumni, donors, and the public, combined with internal tensions on the left that fractured the usual ideological unity, led many college presidents and chancellors to reconsider the wisdom of continually making political statements. …


"University leaders and governing bodies should formally adopt policies of neutrality to return our institutions to being bastions of diverse thought and debate and to restore trust among students, faculty, alumni, and the wider community. We can prioritize truth-seeking and intellectual freedom by adopting institutional neutrality today."


Full op-ed by UNC Prof. Mark McNeilly at James Martin Center


See also “Institutional Neutrality” from this quarter’s Democracy and Disagreement Series at Stanford (video of April 16, 2024 lecture featuring Stanford professors Emily Levine and Diego Zambrano and Yale professor Robert Post).


Other Articles of Interest


University Shares New Free Speech Policies with ASSU

Full article at Stanford Daily


Say 'Yes' to the First Amendment

Full article at Minding the Campus


In This Time of Chaos, Choose Stanford

Full article at Stanford Review

How to Reboot Free Speech on Campus

Full op-ed by David French at NY Times

College Protesters Want Amnesty; At Stake: Tuition, Legal Charges, Grades and Graduation

Full article at Associated Press

UC Berkeley’s Campus Is in Turmoil; It’s Unlike Anything in Recent Memory

Full article at Politico


Reluctance to Discuss Controversial Issues on Campus: Raw Numbers from the 2023 Campus Expression Survey

Full article at Heterodox Academy


If AI Takes Over More Work of College Graduates, Where Does That Leave Higher Ed?

Full article at Higher Ed Dive


How to Fix College Finances? Eliminate Faculty, Then Students

Full satire at Washington Post


Samples of Current Activities at Stanford

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


ChatGPT’s Latest Bot Behaves Like Humans, Only Better


Stanford Medicine-Led Study Identifies Novel Target for Epilepsy Treatment


A Greener Future Begins with Small Steps


Stanford Wins Fifth Consecutive NCAA Men's Gymnastics Championship

“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.” – Stanford Prof. Paul Brest

April 22, 2024

Punishments Rise as Student Protests Escalate


Excerpts (links in the original):


“Six months after the Israel-Hamas war set off a new wave of campus activism in the United States, students are still protesting in full force. And at some institutions administrators are responding to student demonstrators -- especially supporters of Palestinians -- with increasingly harsh discipline.


“In late March, Vanderbilt University police arrested four students and a local journalist after protesters took over the chancellor’s office, demanding the administration restore an Israeli divestment-related amendment removed from the student government ballot. Three students were subsequently expelled and others received suspensions or disciplinary probation.


“Less than two weeks later in California, 20 students were arrested at Pomona College -- and some have since been suspended --after masked protesters from the Pomona Divest from Apartheid coalition stormed the president’s office and allegedly hurled a racial slur at an administrator....


“‘The outside pressures are real, larger than they’ve been in my memory and are going to continue to build,’ said Tom Ginsburg, a law professor at the University of Chicago and faculty director of the university’s Forum for Free Inquiry and Expression. He noted that incidents of students shouting down campus speakers with whom they disagree in recent years is part of the larger context.


“‘That’s been building and it’s changed the academic culture in a bad way,’ Ginsburg said. ‘We’re seeing some backlash against that and university leaders are caught in the middle.’ …


Full article at Inside Higher Ed


Universities Must Be Freed from the Safe Space Bureaucrats




“Recent events have demonstrated the need to re-establish free inquiry, free speech and academic freedom at universities throughout North America. But current efforts by academic administrators to remedy the situation are often missing the point. You cannot restore free speech by creating further restrictions on what speech is appropriate, and by focusing on what sanctions may be appropriate and when.


“The United States has a legal system that not only enshrines free speech, but creates a strong barrier against the success of false or misleading accusations. Due process and evidentiary hearings with the right to confront accusers are central features of legal proceedings, that, while they may make it difficult for alleged victims to bring suits to seek the justice they believe they deserve, also protect the innocent. As English jurist William Blackstone famously put it, ‘It is better that 10 guilty persons should escape than one innocent suffer.’


“University tribunals are famously not law courts, but that does not imply they shouldn’t uphold high legal bars when it comes to complaints about conduct. Rather, given that one of the purposes of higher education is to encourage intellectual discomfort as a means to motivate thinking and reflection, universities should be extremely hesitant to take any inhibitory actions at all. Even more so because of the recent pressure, in the skewed notion of what constitutes a safe environment, to adjudicate offenses that should never have required adjudication at all....


“There is no place for generic ‘safe spaces’ for students who, for one reason or another, feel victimized without them. Nor should students feel that they should control the educational direction of the institution they are attending. If they find the environment not conducive to what they are seeking in their education, they are free to work with faculty to try and improve it. But the final decisions on curricular issues should not be theirs, and if they are not satisfied, they are free to study elsewhere. Faculty should never be concerned about possible retribution for raising controversial issues within the classroom or while mentoring students.  Moreover, and perhaps most important, human resources, DEI and Title IX offices (which monitor compliance with U.S. prohibitions on sex-based discrimination in federally-funded education programs) should have no place in governing what faculty say in the classroom or think outside of it....”

Full op-ed by Prof. Emeritus Lawrence Krauss at National Post

Stanford Prof. Jay Bhattacharya’s Recent Lecture at MIT on How the Government, Silicon Valley and Even Stanford Had Censored Him


Description of the Lecture: 


“Stanford University medical school professor and epidemiologist Jay Bhattacharya, a co-author of the Great Barrington Declaration on pandemic response, spoke at MIT on April 4, 2024. Dr. Bhattacharya spoke of, among other issues, the censorship his research and commentary faced under pressure from the U.S. government, which later became the subject of a case recently argued at the Supreme Court. Dr. Bhattacharya was hosted by the MIT Students for Open Inquiry, with additional support provided by the MIT Free Speech Alliance.”


Full lecture including detailed slides now posted at YouTube 


See also “Stanford’s Roles in Censoring the Web” at our Stanford Concerns webpage and where we have asked, among other things, “How did it come about that Stanford has taken the legal position, in its own filings before the U.S. Supreme Court and elsewhere, that it is somehow ok for non-faculty members at Stanford, or anyone for that matter, to play a role in censoring Stanford's own faculty members and, still worse, in areas that are within the recognized expertise of those faculty members?” 


With State Bans on DEI, Some Universities Find a Workaround: Rebranding


Excerpt (link in the original):


“At the University of Tennessee, the campus D.E.I. program is now called the Division of Access and Engagement.


“Louisiana State University also rebranded its diversity office after Jeff Landry, a Trump-backed Republican, was elected governor last fall. Its Division of Inclusion, Civil Rights and Title IX is now called the Division of Engagement, Civil Rights and Title IX.


“And at the University of Oklahoma, the diversity office is now the Division of Access and Opportunity.


“In what appears to be an effort to placate or, even head fake, opponents of diversity and equity programs, university officials are relaunching their D.E.I. offices under different names, changing the titles of officials, and rewriting requirements to eliminate words like “diversity” and “equity.” In some cases, only the words have changed....”


Full article at NY Times


Other Articles of Interest 


Stanford Daily Suggests Specific Priorities for Incoming President Jon Levin

Full editorial at Stanford Daily


USC Cancels Valedictorian’s Speech After Jewish Groups Object

Full article at NY Times


Quinnipiac Law Scholarship Excludes Heterosexual Males, Faces Title IX Complaint

Full article at College Fix


Two-Thirds of U.S. Colleges and Universities Require DEI Classes to Graduate

Full article at NY Post


A Tale of Two Protests: UVA v. Berkeley Law

Full op-ed by David Lat at Substack. See also “No, the Berkeley Law Student Didn’t Have a First Amendment Right to Interrupt the Dean’s Backyard Party” at FIRE’s website


Annual Provosts’ Survey Shows Need for AI Policies, Worries Over Campus Speech

Full article at Inside Higher Ed


Introducing Harvard’s Values Statement

Full article at Harvard Crimson


Why I’m Leaving Clark University

Full article at WSJ


Samples of Current Activities at Stanford

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


Gossiping Can Give You an Edge


AI Improves Accuracy of Skin Cancer Diagnoses in Stanford Medicine-Led Study


‘Geoeconomics’ Explains How Countries Flex Their Financial Muscles


Two Key Brain Systems Are Central to Psychosis, Stanford Medicine-led Study Finds

"The right to search for truth implies also a duty; one must not conceal any part of what one has recognized to be true." – Albert Einstein 

April 15, 2024

Updated Responses to Reader Survey

Click here to see updated responses to our Reader Survey: What should be the two or three highest priorities for Stanford's current or next president?


For those still interested in responding, the survey form remains available here.


Stifling University Free Speech: A Tale of Two Campuses


Excerpts (links in the original):


“Last week, student demonstrators at the University of Michigan drowned out the University president’s speech during an Honors Convocation and brought an end to the event. The protest was organized by the TAHRIR Coalition, a group of 80 University of Michigan student organizations advocating for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel. Ironically, the Michigan student chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, once associated with free speech, is part of the coalition and helped to organize the protest.


“Also last week, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D) was at the University of Maryland to deliver the Irving and Renee Milchberg Endowed Lecture on the subject of ‘Democracy, Autocracy and the Threat to Reason in the 21st Century.’ Here, too, student protestors shouted down and heckled Rep. Raskin. Here, too, the event ended abruptly. Raskin had only been able to deliver a few minutes of his intended lecture.


“In Michigan and Maryland, we see two polar opposite responses to infringements on freedom of speech: one that endeavors to uphold free speech values and one, while using words that suggest otherwise, that fundamentally undermines campus speech.  We can only hope that the Michigan model prevails.


Darryll Pines, president of the University of Maryland, seemed positive about the outcome of the Raskin lecture. ‘What you saw play out actually was democracy and free speech and academic freedom’ [said Pines]. Professor Howard Milchberg, a professor of physics at the university, reiterated the president’s sentiments: ‘It didn’t go as planned…it was an actual exercise of democracy rather than a story of about democracy.’


“Back at Michigan, the response of the university president was, at first, to release a fairly milquetoast statement on the right to protest but not to disrupt. This was followed, however, by three students who had been identified as part of the protest being issued citations for trespassing. These students are barred from entering four campus buildings and may now be unable, in a poetic turn of events, to attend their own graduation....”


Full article at Real Clear Education


Campus Censorship Set for Record-Breaking 2024


Excerpts (links in the original):


. . . “2023 was the worst year ever for campus deplatforming attempts -- and 2024 is already on track to blow it out of the water. The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) has already recorded 45 deplatforming attempts as of 15 March, a pace of around 200 for the year, but I suspect that it will be even higher as shout-downs have become such a popular tactic among activists. Free speech on campus has been threatened for a long time, it’s not getting better, and anyone who can’t see that is being willfully blind.


“FIRE noted a record-setting 155 deplatforming attempts in 2023. Almost half (70) of those succeeded -- also a new record. These included the Whitworth University disinvitation of Chinese dissident Xi Van Fleet; the cancellation of multiple screenings of the film Israelism at Hunter College and the University of Pennsylvania; and the shout-down of 5th Circuit Judge Kyle Duncan at Stanford Law School....”


Full op-ed at UnHerd


Stanford’s Faculty Senate Postpones Motion to Rescind Its Prior Condemnation of Dr. Scott Atlas




“Stanford University’s Faculty Senate will weigh dueling motions [on Thursday, April 11] about whether to rescind its 2020 condemnation of Scott W. Atlas, a Hoover Institution senior fellow who was an adviser to former President Donald Trump about Covid-19.


“At the height of the pandemic, the Faculty Senate passed a resolution criticizing Atlas for promoting ‘a view of Covid-19 that contradicts medical science.’ It cited his remarks that discouraged mask-wearing and that encouraged Michiganders to ‘rise up’ against their governor in response to public-health measures, among others. The November 2020 resolution, which was approved by 85 percent of the senate membership and drew national attention, characterized Atlas’s behavior as ‘anathema to our community, our values, and our belief that we should use knowledge for good.’ …


“‘Our motion to rescind the censure of Atlas is not about relitigating the 2020 motion but about restoring due process, which everyone recognizes was not given to Atlas,’ John W. Etchemendy, a former Stanford provost and one of the faculty members behind the effort, said in an email. ‘I believe the great majority of senators acknowledges the flawed process and is in favor of correcting that mistake.’


“At the same time, the Faculty Senate committee that sets the agenda has proposed a competing motion: to table the call for a retraction until it undergoes further discussion....”


Full article at Chronicle of Higher Education. According to Stanford Daily, at last Thursday's Faculty Senate meeting, the motion to rescind the censure of Dr. Atlas was not adopted but instead was sent to committee.


Colleges Are Supposed to Make Citizens, Which Is Why Protecting the Right to Protest Is Essential


Excerpts (links in the original):


“In the now infamous December 5th Congressional hearing with the presidents of Harvard, MIT and UPenn, Republican Congressman Brandon Williams told Claudine Gay that ‘your mission is to educate’ but all he sees is ‘hateful and threatening anti-Semitic demonstrations.’ ...


“The shut-up-and-study crowd ignores the fact that virtually every college and university in the United States has a dual mission: the development of students’ critical thinking skills (via knowledge production and dissemination) and the preparation of students to be informed, engaged citizens....


“Appealing to safety concerns and community belonging, a number of universities, including Columbia, Cornell and Lehigh, have tightened their rules governing student demonstrations. At least three schools -- Columbia, Brandeis and George Washington University -- have suspended their chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). PEN America’s Jonathan Friedman noted that the failure of these universities to offer detailed justifications for the suspensions has ‘left the impression that they may be engaging in viewpoint-based censorship, and attempting to deliberately silence pro-Palestinian voices critical of Israel.’ …


“The administrative impulse to avoid controversy at all costs is making a mockery of higher education’s avowed commitment to preparing students for citizenship. When student free expression rights are trampled on, they are deprived of the opportunity to practice the hard work of living in community with people who hold diverse views. We are reminded here of Jacob Mchangama’s astute observation that ‘To impose silence and call it tolerance does not make it so.’ How will students learn to navigate the sometimes rough-and-tumble world of life in a pluralistic, multicultural democracy? When their future neighbors put up lawn signs with messages they oppose or find offensive, there will be no dean on call to remove them....


“To be clear, while colleges and universities should have a high level of tolerance for confrontational and disruptive student protests, there are some basic ground rules that must be followed. The targeted harassment of individual campus community members is, of course, verboten. So too is the heckler’s veto -- that is, shouting down campus events -- as happened last month at the University of Michigan when pro-Palestine student protesters derailed the university’s annual Honors Convocation. It’s also important for students to keep in mind that exercising their free expression rights does not extend to violating reasonable time, place and manner restrictions such as keeping clear of fire exits or prohibiting the use of megaphones in the library.”  …


Full op-ed by Carlton Professors Amna Khalid and Jeffrey Aaron Snyder at “Banished” on Substack 


Other Articles of Interest


Protestors Disrupt Dinner for Graduating UC Berkeley Law Students at Dean’s Home

Full article at Yahoo as reprinted from Telegraph. See also copy of Dean Chemerinsky’s letter as well as NBC News video of the incident. 


Poll Shows Americans Overwhelmingly Oppose Efforts to Roll Back Campus Due Process Rights

Full article at FIRE website


Legal Experts Say Pending Title IX Changes Threaten Free Speech and Due Process

Full article at College Fix

Employers Find Gen Z Is Failing in the American Workplace

Full article at Red Balloon. Compared to Washington Post Gen Z Needs to Be Treated Differently. 


Harvard DEI Office Plans Another Year of Segregated Graduation Ceremonies, Finally Adds One for Jewish Students.

Full article at Campus Reform


Harvard Students Form Academic Freedom Group Amid Debates Over Speech, Neutrality

Full article at Harvard Crimson


Tara VanDerveer Announces Retirement After 38 Seasons at Stanford

Full article at Go Stanford. See also Stanford Daily.


Samples of Current Activities at Stanford

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


Stanford Study Flags Unexpected Cells in Lung as Suspected Source of Severe COVID


Stanford Doctors Develop First FDA-Approved Gene-Editing Treatment


Generative AI Develops Potential New Drugs for Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria


Navigating the Nuance: The Art of Disagreeing Without Conflict

I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln 

April 8, 2024

Results of Last Week’s Reader Survey


Click here to see responses to last week’s Reader Survey: What should be the two or three highest priorities for Stanford's current or next president?


For those still interested in responding, the survey form remains available here.


More About Jonathan Levin, Stanford’s Next President


[Editor’s note: Last Thursday, we circulated a special edition of our Newsletter with a link to Stanford Report regarding the selection of Jonanthan Levin as Stanford’s next president, effective August 1. We are adding below some excerpts and links from other news sources.]


Excerpts from Stanford Daily, “Incoming University President Jonathan Levin ’94 Charts Optimistic Future” (links in the original):


“Graduate School of Business (GSB) Dean Jonathan Levin ’94 is charting a new direction for the University.... [Richard] Saller will continue to serve as president on an interim basis until Levin assumes office on Aug. 1.


“‘We want students to be comfortable with complexity and to hear many different views, and to think for themselves about complex events in the world,’ [Levin] told The Daily on Thursday.


“His position aligns with Saller and Provost Jenny Martinez’s public commitment to neutrality over their tenure. Levin said he would work closely with Saller and Martinez during his leadership transition.


“Over the past year, university presidents including Saller have contended with mounting political scrutiny over antisemitism, Islamophobia and free speech boundaries on campus amid the ongoing Israel-Gaza war. Lawmakers signaled at a congressional hearing last month that universities such as Stanford could face investigations....


“‘Universities should try to get out of the business of making statements on current events and focus on encouraging students to listen to different perspectives and engage in dialogue,’ Levin said.


“However, ‘that doesn’t mean abdicating responsibility -- it means that the responsibility of University leaders is to foster a culture of dialogue,’ he continued.


“Levin acknowledged that the challenges to higher education ‘are real and they’re going to need thoughtful attention, but the foundational strength that makes American universities the envy of the world endures.’” …


Excerpts from Stanford Review, “A New Day at Stanford” (links in the original):


“. . . We thank President Saller -- who recently sat down for a lengthy interview with the Review -- for his stability and sanity during a year of great upheaval. But as this tumult subsides, we are excited that 51-year-old Jonathan Levin, current dean of the Graduate School of Business has been named Stanford’s 13th president.


“Among many faculty members, Hoover fellows, and us at the Review, Levin was a highly anticipated candidate for the Stanford presidency. He has demonstrated exceptional leadership capacity, support for free speech, and a keen ability to balance academic success with administrative responsibilities. Unlike recent administrative picks at top universities, Levin was clearly chosen on the merits of his experience and capabilities, not his racial or sexual identity. For the past eight years, Levin has led Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. And in each of the five most recent years, Stanford has ranked number one on Bloomberg’s list of the best business schools based on surveys of students, alumni, and employers.


“Most importantly, Jonathan Levin has seen the inner workings of Stanford from every angle: as a student, a professor, and an administrator. He completed his undergraduate education at Stanford in 1994 with degrees in both English and Mathematics. Having a foot in both the humanities and quantitative subjects will ensure that Levin sees Stanford as more than a mere laboratory. He later taught in the Department of Economics, of which he became the chair in 2011. Then in 2016, Levin assumed his current role as head of the Graduate School of Business. He has experienced firsthand the frustrations of Stanford students, the bureaucracy dealt with by faculty, and the bloat that plagues our administration. Professor Jennifer Aaker, a member of the Presidential Search Committee, even claims that Levin is 'pro-fun.'


“As an academic, Levin is no slouch.... [He] has excelled in his field without taking shortcuts, earning the John Bates Clark medal in 2011. The Clark medal is given to the most promising economist under the age of forty and is widely regarded as one of the field’s most prestigious awards, second only to the Nobel Prize in Economics.


“He has also defended academic liberties in his leadership of the GSB. In November of 2022, Levin allowed the GSB’s Classical Liberalism Initiative to sponsor the controversial Academic Freedom Conference. On free speech, he stated, 'We’re trying to create a collision of ideas that gives rise to research and to learning, and we give faculty and students extraordinary freedom to that end to pursue that goal.' Based on his actions, Levin’s presidency promises a return to free expression and institutional neutrality in an era when the climate at universities is increasingly restrictive....”


See also:


“Renowned Economist to Take the Stanford Helm at a Time of Profound Upheaval at U.S. Universities” at WSJ, "Stanford Appoints Business School Dean As Its Next President” at Washington Post and “Dr. Levin Faces the Challenge of Guiding the University Through Politically Fraught Times” at NY Times.


One-Sided Departmental Statements Are a Threat to Academic Freedom




“In the post-October 7 world, many of the fiercest battles in the campus culture wars have taken a strangely Talmudic form: What is antisemitism? How should we demarcate the boundary between antisemitism and anti-Zionism? What is the meaning of ‘from the river to the sea’? All of these interpretive skirmishes are playing out on the shifting ground of the debate over free expression: What can be said? What is forbidden to be said? And what must be said?


“Nowhere have those ritual collisions been more charged than at my own institutions, Barnard College and Columbia University. And nowhere is the power of those battles to illuminate the limitations of the left’s newfound embrace of free expression more evident than in the fight that emerged after the Barnard administration removed the ‘Statement of Palestinian Solidarity’ from the website of the department of women, gender, and sexuality studies (DWGSS) soon after October 7.


“All of this underscores the problem with departmental political side-taking in the name of academic freedom....


“I absolutely support my colleagues’ right to hold, and to express as individuals, the views contained in the DWGSS statement, misguided though I think they are. But I do not support their right to impose those views on Barnard and Columbia students. Despite the sinister image of jackbooted administrators tearing down a website, the view of the statement’s removal as ‘censorship’ reflects a confusion about the varying speech rules and rights that should attach to speakers in different zones of the academic workplace. Properly understood, the prohibition on doctrinaire departmental statements doesn’t quash academic freedom -- it protects it.” …


Full op-ed by Barnard and Columbia Prof. Jonathan Rieder at Chronicle of Higher Education  


Mandatory DEI Statements Are Ideological Pledges of Allegiance; Time to Abandon Them




“On a posting for a position as an assistant professor in international and comparative education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, applicants are required to submit a CV, a cover letter, a research statement, three letters of reference, three or more writing samples, and a statement of teaching philosophy that includes a description of their ‘orientation toward diversity, equity, and inclusion practices.’


“At Harvard and elsewhere, hiring for academic jobs increasingly requires these so-called diversity statements, which Harvard’s Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning describes as being ‘about your commitment to furthering EDIB within the context of institutions of higher education.’


“By requiring academics to profess -- and flaunt -- faith in DEI, the proliferation of diversity statements poses a profound challenge to academic freedom.


“A closer look at the Bok Center’s page on diversity statements illustrates how.


“For the purpose of showcasing attentiveness to DEI, the Center suggests answering questions such as: ‘How does your research engage with and advance the well-being of socially marginalized communities?’; ‘Do you know how the following operate in the academy: implicit bias, different forms of privilege, (settler-)colonialism, systemic and interpersonal racism, homophobia, heteropatriarchy, and ableism?’; ‘How do you account for the power dynamics in the classroom, including your own positionality and authority?’; ‘How do you design course assessments with EDIB in mind?’; and ‘How have you engaged in or led EDIB campus initiatives or programming?’


“The Bok Center’s how-to page mirrors the expectation that DEI statements will essentially constitute pledges of allegiance that enlist academics into the DEI movement by dint of soft-spoken but real coercion: If you want the job or the promotion, play ball -- or else....


“It would be hard to overstate the degree to which many academics at Harvard and beyond feel intense and growing resentment against the DEI enterprise because of features that are perhaps most evident in the demand for DEI statements. I am a scholar on the left committed to struggles for social justice. The realities surrounding mandatory DEI statements, however, make me wince. The practice of demanding them ought to be abandoned, both at Harvard and beyond.”


Full op-ed by Harvard Law School Prof. Randall L. Kennedy at Harvard Crimson


Concerns Raised Over Universities Signing Over Students’ Private FERPA Data to Voter Data Companies


Excerpts (link in the original):


“A relatively new report outlines how universities nationwide have signed over students’ private FERPA data to a third-party vendor that reviews their personal information to help study college students’ voting trends.


“The nine-page report describes how a national voting study run out of Tufts’ Institute for Democracy in Higher Education gets university administrators from across the country to agree to release students’ Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, enrollment data from the National Student Clearinghouse, where it's kept, to a voter data company....


“For a university to participate, its leaders sign a two-page contract that states administrators are allowing the National Student Clearinghouse to release their students’ FERPA data to a ‘third party vendor,’ a company not named in the contract, according to the 2022-2033 reauthorization form.... More than 1,200 campuses participate in the study....


“‘The third-party vendor of choice from inception until recently has been Catalist, the Democrat’s exclusive voter data provider. Tufts maintains a relationship with Catalist but also has an agreement with L2 Political for analysis of the NSC data,’ the report states.” …


Full article at College Fix


Colleges Use His Antisemitism Definition to Censor; the Author Calls It a Travesty




“When Kenneth Stern drafted the working definition of antisemitism 20 years ago as director of the antisemitism division for the American Jewish Committee, he wanted to help researchers better understand the frequency of violence targeted at Jewish communities.


“Antisemitism, he determined, should include any rhetorical and physical manifestations of hatred toward Jews, their community institutions, and their religious facilities. He exempted criticism of Israel, ‘similar to that leveled against any other country,’ but said that ‘denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor’ and ‘holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel’ should count as antisemitism....


“Stern, who is now the director of the Bard Center for the Study of Hate, is alarmed by its use on college campuses. He believes colleges and politicians who adopt his definition into antidiscrimination policies could then censor anyone who criticizes or says something controversial about Israel. While the definition itself should help people identify clear harassment, using it in legislation allows colleges and lawmakers to clamp down on any protected speech, no matter if it’s harmful or offensive, Stern says.” … 


Full article at Chronicle of Higher Education. See also "The Problem with Defining Antisemitism" at New Yorker.


Other Articles of Interest


Stanford Department of Athletics Approves Name Image Likeness Collective for Stanford Athletes

Full article at Stanford Daily


While Other Elite Universities See Applications Spike, Harvard’s Applications Drop

Full article at College Fix. See also Just the News.


Protecting a Regime of Robust Speech on the Campus Without Falling into Relativism 

Full op-ed by Amherst Prof. Emeritus Hadley Arkes at Public Discourse 


The Fall of Critical Thinking

Full op-ed by Prof. Bruce W. Davidson at Brownstone 


The Triumph of ‘Equity’ Over ‘Equality’

Full op-ed by Dartmouth Prof. Darren M. McMahon at Chronicle of Higher Education


Samples of Current Activities at Stanford

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


SLAC Completes Construction of the Largest Digital Camera Ever Built for Astronomy


Stanford Prof. Michael Genesereth Is on a Mission to Bring Logic Education to High Schools


Are Long COVID Sufferers Falling Through the Cracks?


Old Immune Systems Revitalized in Stanford Medicine Mouse Study, Improving Vaccine Response

A four-minute spectacle will not repair the fabric of our country rent by years of mutual distrust, yet if enough of us stand in the path of the moon’s shadow on April 8, the eclipse may remind us of the unity we long to restore.”  — David Baron, former NPR science correspondent 

April 1, 2024


Editor's notes: We have included with this Newsletter an optional survey function, immediately below, and which is something we might periodically include in the future as well.


Second, for the past 18 months we have culled through as many as 80 articles a week to select a much smaller number that might be of interest to readers. This past week, we came upon two articles that are especially well written and very much on point regarding issues specifically at Stanford as well as nationally. We thus are posting only these two articles, with the additional suggestion that readers click on the links at the end of each article to read them in their entirety.


Reader Survey: Tell Us What You Think


If interested, please click here to answer the question, "What should be the two or three highest priorities for Stanford's current or next president?" Responses are anonymous.




From Stanford Student Theo Baker at The Atlantic: The War at Stanford




“. . . For four months, two rival groups of protesters, separated by a narrow bike path, faced off on Stanford’s palm-covered grounds. The ‘Sit-In to Stop Genocide’ encampment was erected by students in mid-October, even before Israeli troops had crossed into Gaza, to demand that the university divest from Israel and condemn its behavior. Posters were hung equating Hamas with Ukraine and Nelson Mandela. Across from the sit-in, a rival group of pro-Israel students eventually set up the ‘Blue and White Tent’ to provide, as one activist put it, a ‘safe space’ to ‘be a proud Jew on campus.’ Soon it became the center of its own cluster of tents, with photos of Hamas’s victims sitting opposite the rubble-ridden images of Gaza and a long (and incomplete) list of the names of slain Palestinians displayed by the students at the sit-in....


“‘We’ve had protests in the past,’ Richard Saller, the university’s interim president, told me in November -- about the environment, and apartheid, and Vietnam. But they didn’t pit ‘students against each other’ the way that this conflict has.


“I’ve spoken with Saller, a scholar of Roman history, a few times over the past six months in my capacity as a student journalist....


“When we first met, a week before October 7, I asked Saller about this. Did Stanford have a moral duty to denounce the war in Ukraine, for example, or the ethnic cleansing of Uyghur Muslims in China? ‘On international political issues, no,’ he said. ‘That’s not a responsibility for the university as a whole, as an institution.’ …


“In making such decisions, Saller works closely with [Jenny] Martinez, Stanford’s provost. I happened to interview her, too, a few days before October 7, not long after she’d been appointed. When I asked about her hopes for the job, she said that a ‘priority is ensuring an environment in which free speech and academic freedom are preserved.’


“We talked about the so-called Leonard Law -- a provision unique to California that requires private universities to be governed by the same First Amendment protections as public ones. This restricts what Stanford can do in terms of penalizing speech, putting it in a stricter bind than Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, or any of the other elite private institutions that have more latitude to set the standards for their campus (whether or not they have done so)….


“By March, it seemed that [Saller’s] views had solidified. He said he knew he was ‘a target,’ but he was not going to be pushed into issuing any more statements. The continuing crisis seems to have granted him new insight. ‘I am certain that whatever I say will not have any material effect on the war in Gaza.’ It’s hard to argue with that.


“People tend to blame the campus wars on two villains: dithering administrators and radical student activists. But colleges have always had dithering administrators and radical student activists. To my mind, it’s the average students who have changed....


“The real story at Stanford is not about the malicious actors who endorse sexual assault and murder as forms of resistance, but about those who passively enable them because they believe their side can do no wrong. You don’t have to understand what you’re arguing for in order to argue for it. You don’t have to be able to name the river or the sea under discussion to chant 'From the river to the sea.' This kind of obliviousness explains how one of my friends, a gay activist, can justify Hamas’s actions, even though it would have the two of us -- an outspoken queer person and a Jewish reporter -- killed in a heartbeat. A similar mentality can exist on the other side: I have heard students insist on the absolute righteousness of Israel yet seem uninterested in learning anything about what life is like in Gaza.


“I’m familiar with the pull of achievement culture -- after all, I’m a product of the same system. I fell in love with Stanford as a 7-year-old, lying on the floor of an East Coast library and picturing all the cool technology those West Coast geniuses were dreaming up. I cried when I was accepted; I spent the next few months scrolling through the course catalog, giddy with anticipation. I wanted to learn everything.


“I learned more than I expected. Within my first week here, someone asked me: ‘Why are all Jews so rich?’ In 2016, when Stanford’s undergraduate senate had debated a resolution against anti-Semitism, one of its members argued that the idea of ‘Jews controlling the media, economy, government, and other societal institutions’ represented ‘a very valid discussion.’ (He apologized, and the resolution passed.) In my dorm last year, a student discussed being Jewish and awoke the next day to swastikas and a portrait of Hitler affixed to his door....


“As a friend emailed me not long ago: ‘A place that was supposed to be a sanctuary from such unreason has become a factory for it.’


“Readers may be tempted to discount the conduct displayed at Stanford. After all, the thinking goes, these are privileged kids doing what they always do: embracing faux-radicalism in college before taking jobs in fintech or consulting. These students, some might say, aren’t representative of America.


“And yet they are representative of something: of the conduct many of the most accomplished students in my generation have accepted as tolerable, and what that means for the future of our country. I admire activism. We need people willing to protest what they see as wrong and take on entrenched systems of repression. But we also need to read, learn, discuss, accept the existence of nuance, embrace diversity of thought, and hold our own allies to high standards. More than ever, we need universities to teach young people how to do all of this." …


Full op-ed by Stanford sophomore Theo Baker at The Atlantic. As noted above, we have presented here only a small portion of Theo’s article and we again urge readers to read it in its entirety.


The Coddling of the American Undergraduate




“. . . Today, the ‘college experience’ centered on a residential life that promises to envelope students in a warm, intimate community has hardened into something more totalizing than even the blundering late-20th-century project of enforcing political correctness. An expansive definition of ‘harm’ has fueled the prioritization of an equally expansive definition of ‘safety’ as the aim of student life. The newest iteration of campus paternalism, or perhaps its terminal acceleration, was precipitated in 2011 by a wave of campus activism in response to concerns about sexual assault....


“The ‘hostile environment’ was a repurposing of a concept from labor law to the new goal of measuring student perceptions of their safety and comfort.... To enforce a nonhostile environment, the new policies encouraged (and in many instances required) a campus culture of reporting on private interactions in which sexual misconduct was revealed or just suggested -- overheard conversations, social-media posts, rumors, confidential confessions -- even if the information was unverified or the alleged victims declined to make a report. The Title IX model was easily extrapolated to race-related offenses, with the creation of mechanisms that permitted anonymous ‘bias reporting’ of slights based on race and other group identities. Campus climate surveys, which regularly solicit anonymous student reports of real or perceived threats to one’s sense of safety on campus, all but ensure a regular stream of complaints that could be evidence of a hostile environment, and thereby license ongoing intervention into students’ interpersonal relationships.


“As colleges have increasingly come to view student life as an arena to be policed for hostility, their behavior-monitoring paternalism has given way to the behavior-prohibiting paternalism it was meant to replace. After information-technology groups at Stanford University launched an Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative discouraging the use of such offensive terms as ‘walk-in’ and ‘you guys’ in 2020, and the university imposed draconian restrictions on student gatherings, many complained, even forming a group called ‘Stanford Hates Fun.’ (After much criticism and even ridicule, Stanford removed the language-initiative document from the university website in January 2023.)


“Stanford has perhaps gone further than its peer institutions in its heavy-handedness.... The new imperative to avert hostile environments is different from the old paternalism. Like the old paternalism, it directs students’ personal interactions with faculty and each other, it surveils their speech, and it restricts their freedom of association. But under the old in loco parentis dispensation, such restraint was temporary, intended to prepare students for a future independence in which they could freely do what was prohibited on campus. The new paternalism holds out no such future independence. Instead, students are being prepared for a life of continued monitoring and restriction in professional and social life, a lifetime of dependence on the adult analogs of student-life administrators and grievance officers, located in human-resource departments and even in Facebook group-moderation policies....


“If genuine education is to remain possible at institutions that seem increasingly intent on strangling every spontaneous interaction within them, becoming a little more ungovernable might unfortunately become the means of attaining it.”


Full op-ed by University of Houston Prof. Rita Koganzon at Chronicle of Higher Education as republished from Hedgehog Review.




We also refer readers to these articles long posted at our website:


Back to Basics at Stanford, where we outline detailed proposed reforms to address the types of issues discussed in the articles above.


Theo Baker’s “Inside Stanford’s War on Fun” at Stanford Daily and Francesca Block’s “Stanford’s War Against Its Own Students” at Free Press.


Stanford’s Computerized Student Case Management System which has all too often replaced human counseling and judgment with a highly bureaucratized and even dangerous automated system and which we believe may be a significant cause in recent years for student disaffection as well as several highly publicized student crises.


Stanford’s Program for Reporting Bias, even anonymously, and which largely uses the same forms and automated case management software as are used on campuses nationwide and, in the process, have further contributed to the divisive cultures now found on campuses nationwide.


Stanford’s Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative and where we have been advised that, although the list (a PDF copy of which is posted at our website) is no longer available to the public, various departments may be using the list anyway. What also is of concern is that this and many of the other programs described above are largely if not exclusively the result of decisions by Stanford's non-teaching administrative staff, apparently now in excess of 13,000 in number.


Stanford’s Ballooning Administrative Bureaucracy and its Ballooning DEI Bureaucracy, all of which are not only very costly but we believe are a fundamental source of the problems discussed above.

I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.” – Socrates

March 25, 2024


Competing Perspectives of College Presidents - Their Campus Versus Everywhere Else




“The past five months have shown the world just how toxic speech is on college campuses. The climate for open inquiry and dialogue is under attack nationwide, and students are scared to speak, question, and express themselves freely. Using disparaging rhetoric, even violence, to prevent speech is now commonplace on campus, and thus, many students are turning inward, and genuine liberal learning is being interrupted. Yet, most college presidents believe their campuses are perfect examples of viewpoint diversity.


“The 2024 edition of Inside Higher Ed’s survey of college and university presidents sadly reveals that many higher education leaders are oblivious to the issues of free speech on their own campuses. This should give anyone interested in the state of our colleges and universities pause. The 2024 survey captured the voices of 380 presidents, 206 from public and 174 from private institutions. While presidents remain hopeful for the future of their schools, they clearly are unaware of what is happening outside their very offices....

"Nearly 82 percent of college and university presidents rate the climate for open inquiry and dialogue on their campus as ‘good’ or ‘excellent.’ 92 percent of presidents who have been in charge of their institutions for 10 or more years rate their campus’s dialogue as ‘good’ or ‘excellent.’ …


“Oddly enough, when these leaders were asked about open inquiry in higher education generally, just 30 percent of collegiate presidents believed that the climate for open inquiry and dialogue in higher education generally is good or excellent. And . . .  presidents with 10 or more years at their current institution . . . rate the overall collegiate speech climate poorly -- just 21 percent agree that it’s ‘good’ or ‘excellent.’ …”


Full op-ed by Stanford alum and Sara Lawrence Prof. Samuel J. Abrams at Minding the Campus. A copy of the survey itself is available for downloading at Inside Higher Ed.


The Censorship Activities of Stanford Internet Observatory and Its Virality Project


[Editor's note: The issues discussed in the following article were heard in oral arguments last week before the U.S. Supreme Court and are summarized, among many places, at Tech PolicyNY Times and Reason. Copies of the amicus briefs from the Twitter Files journalists and from Stanford as well as a transcript of the oral arguments are now posted at our Stanford Concernswebpage, and a recording of the oral arguments is available at C-SPAN. Note also two Supreme Court decisions a week before that, both of which concluded unanimously that officials who block critics on social media could conceivably be violating the First Amendment, although the pending Murthy case raises numerous other issues that could affect the court’s decision.] 

Excerpts (links in the original):


Initiated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and led by the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO), the Virality Project sought to censor those who questioned government Covid-19 policies. The Virality Project primarily focused on so-called ‘anti-vaccine’ ‘misinformation;’ however, my Twitter Files investigations with Matt Taibbi revealed this included ‘true stories of vaccine side effects.’ …


“Led by former CIA fellow Renee DiResta, the Virality Project functioned as an intermediary for government censorship. Ties between the US government and the academic research center were extremely close. DHS had 'fellows' embedded at the Stanford Internet Observatory, while SIO had interns embedded at CISA, and former DHS staff contributed to the Virality Project’s final report....


“The Virality Project hosted a launch with the US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy as part of the Surgeon General’s campaign against ‘misinformation.’ In the presentation, Renee DiResta also introduced Matt Masterson, former senior adviser at DHS, and now a ‘non-resident policy fellow’ at SIO.


“Murthy ends the presentation by telling Renee, ‘I just want to say thank you to you, for everything you have done, for being such a great partner.’" …


Full op-ed at Brownstone and also at SubstackSee also our updated article “Stanford’s Roles in Censoring the Web.

See also Matt Taibbi’s op-ed, “Why State Lies Are the Most Dangerous,” including his detailed discussion of the research done by, and screenshots of the efforts to censor, Stanford Medical School Prof. Jay Bhattacharya.  


See also Stanford Prof. Jay Bhattacharya "The Government Censored Me and Other Scientists and We Fought Back" as well as our proposed reforms in Part 4 of Back to Basics at Stanford including (at paragraph 4.d.) that Stanford must never again play a role in censoring members of its own faculty.


UC Regents Delay Vote That Would Ban Political Positions at Department Websites




“The University of California’s board of regents has delayed voting until May on a controversial policy proposal that would restrict faculty from using some university websites to make opinionated and political statements, such as opposition to Israel’s war in Gaza.


“The proposal would ban faculty departments and other academic units from using the homepages of their department websites to make ‘discretionary statements,’ which the proposal defines as comments on ‘local, regional, global or national’ events or issues and not related to daily departmental operations.” …


Full article at EdSource. See also op-ed at Chronicle of Higher Education arguing that the Kalven Principles should not apply to departments. See also our compilation of the Kalven Principles.


The Cost of DEI at University of Virginia


Excerpts (link in the original):


“Recently, our auditors at found that the University of Virginia (UVA) employed 235 people in roles related to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) costing taxpayers some $20 million for salaries and benefits last year.... UVA’s stunning headcount includes 82 student interns with many paid the equivalent of half to full tuition waivers....


“In April 2023, UVA told the New York Times it had only 40 DEI positions. In June 2023, the university told its governing body, the Board of Visitors, it has 55 DEI staffers....The administration is deliberately misleading its governing board, the public, Virginia’s taxpayers, and the media.... Again, all of our information comes from the university payroll produced to us by UVA itself and you can review it for yourself." …


Full article including detailed salaries and a link to the data base at Open the Books. See also our own prior article about “Stanford’s Ballooning DEI Bureaucracy.”


Other Articles of Interest


Is Running a Top University America’s Hardest Job?

Full article at The Economist


A Vision for a New Future of the University of Pennsylvania

Full statement at U Penn Forward


The New Campus Fanaticism

Full op-ed by NYU Prof. Robert S. Huddleston at Chronicle of Higher Education


Why Intellectual Diversity Requirements on Campus Won’t Work

Full op-ed by Princeton Prof. Keith Whittington at The Dispatch


The Affair of Yale and Rural China

Full op-ed at National Association of Scholars


It’s Harder to Hate the Other Side When You Come Face to Face

Full op-ed at Free Press


How This Ivy Tech Program Is Giving Formerly Incarcerated Students a Second Chance

Full article at Open Campus


Alternative Viewpoint: Evidence-Based Discourse on DEI

Full article at Diverse Issues in 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. 


Selected Trivia from Stanford's Tour Guides


Sustainability Accelerator Announces First Greenhouse Gas Removal Grants


What Makes a Super Communicator


How Low Humidity Could be a Boon for Viruses

“Our purpose in life is to help others along the way. May you each try to do the same.”  -- Sandra Day O’Connor, from a letter to her sons as quoted in STANFORD Magazine