Excerpt: Across a polarized nation, governing bodies are restricting — and sometimes even halting — public comment to counter what elected officials describe as an unprecedented level of invective, misinformation and disorder from citizens when they step to the microphone. As contentious social issues roil once-sleepy town council and school board gatherings, some officials say allowing people to have their say is poisoning meetings and thwarting the ability to get business done.
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Excerpt: On Friday, the Hamline Board of Trustees released this statement (in part), “Upholding academic freedom and fostering an inclusive, respectful learning environment for our students are both required to fulfill our mission. We will move forward together and we will be stronger for it.”
But Hamline published the one-paragraph statement from the board underneath a 15-paragraph statement by the university’s president, Fayneese Miller, defending the university and elaborating on the decision not to rehire López Prater.
Excerpt: The recent tumult surrounding the Supreme Court’s ruling on abortion reminds us that the American body politic is closely and intensively divided on many contentious political, social, religious, cultural, and economic issues. One of those issues is the question of whether affirmative action, particularly in college admissions, passes constitutional muster.
Excerpt: Tulane University said last week it’s investigating a student’s op-ed expressing support for Kanye West, which “caused much distress” on campus. Student Sarah Ma’s opinion piece in the College Dissident, a blog for “Gen Z dissidents,” argues that West — who legally changed his name to Ye in 2021 — should not have been “canceled” for wearing a jacket reading “White Lives Matter” and saying he was going to go “death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE.”
The next day, Tulane announced in an email to the student body that its Office of Student Conduct was reviewing the matter.
Excerpt: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis's decision to overhaul the board of trustees at a progressive public college was his latest move in a larger movement against so-called "woke" education.
The shake-up is part of a years-long effort by DeSantis and a growing contingent of conservative leaders to chip away at what they view as higher education's liberal bias. They're shepherding legislation targeting diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and critical race theory, including bills explicitly addressing colleges through provisions that would reduce tenure. They're shaping higher education in more subtle ways, too, including through philanthropic giving.
Excerpt: Professor Natalie Gosnell has declared that astrophysics is a racist field. That itself is not unique. We have discussed how professors like Rhode Island professor Erik Loomis have declared math, statistics, and technology as “inherently racist.” However, Gosnell’s reason is that academia continues to focus on “individualism” and “exceptionalism.”
Excerpt: For the Hamline president, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) come before academic freedom. What do the majority of faculty think? Of course it’s very hard to generalize, and nobody can say with a super-high degree of confidence. My guess would be that most faculty (and administrators, for that matter) take both academic freedom and the need to think through how to reform higher education so that it is truly in service of a multiracial and multicultural democracy very seriously—and hope that the two priorities are reconcilable.
Excerpt: Professor López Prater’s contract has not been renewed, and she will not be returning to the classroom. The university strenuously denies that she was fired. Of course, colleges let adjuncts go all the time, often reluctantly. But this, to me, seems like something more.
I began my 35-year teaching career in the late 1980s and was once a tenure-track faculty member at an elite college, where I was one of a handful of registered Republicans among a mostly liberal faculty. So I think I have a pretty clear idea of what goes on in classrooms. I know what academic freedom means. I think I know what “fired” looks like, and it seems to me that López Prater was fired—a conclusion that seems especially likely in the wake of a highly defensive public letter the school’s president, Fayneese Miller, wrote about the whole business.
Excerpt: Catherine E. Lhamon is the current Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Despite the unassuming title, her position wields enormous power. The Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, at her sole discretion, can cut off federal funding (and has threatened to do so) from any recipient educational institution she deems unwoke or patriarchal. Lhamon once quipped about how she enjoys carrying the “big stick of the federal government” to further her agenda.
Now that the Biden administration has put Lhamon back in power, what is she up to?
Excerpt: Something happened, right here in Minnesota, that I find deeply offensive. On October 6, during a class on Islamic art that was part of a global survey course in art history, a professor at Hamline University offered students an optional exercise: Analyze and discuss a 14th-century Islamic painting that depicts the Archangel Gabriel delivering to the Prophet Muhammad his first Quranic revelation.
This case offends me on many levels. As a professor, I am appalled by the senior administration’s decision to dismiss the instructor and pander to the students who claim to have been “harmed.” This kind of “inclusive excellence” permits DEI administrators to ride roughshod over faculty knowledge.