Latest News and Commentary: National

August 30, 2022
By Eugene Volokh
The Volokh Conspiracy, Reason Magazine

Excerpt: I very much enjoyed participating in this Federalist-Society-organized webinar, together with Prof. Brian Soucek (UC Davis). As is common for such Federalist Society programs, the panelists were chosen to present different views (though I think it's fair to say that Prof. Soucek and I agree on some things as well as disagree on others), and were not chosen exclusively from within the Federalist Society: Prof. Soucek is generally not at all a Federalist, to my knowledge.

I hope you find it as interesting as I did!

August 30, 2022
By Jonathan Turley
Res Ipsa Loquitur

Excerpt: University of North Carolina Study Finds Conservative Students Engage in Self-Censorship on Campus

With the start of classes at George Washington Law School, I have already had visits to my office of conservative and libertarian students asking if I thought they could speak freely in other classes without being penalized by professors. Despite teaching for decades, it is a question that I never heard from students until the last few years. It is now routine.

August 28, 2022
By Maya Sulking
Common Sense, Substack

Excerpt: It’s time to make some Important Choices. By now, your new “.edu” inbox is overflowing with emails from administrators asking you about your preferred dining options—Are you vegan? Do you want your meals to-go? Are you sure you’re not a vegan?—and roommates—How do you feel about night owls? How clean do you expect your new BFF to be? Is it okay if this person smokes?

They’re not important because they’re not real. They might feel like actual choices—I know they did to me when I started school. But I have come to understand them as fake ones—ones that distract us all from the fact that college has become a place where students no longer make real intellectual and moral choices, the choices that actually matter.

August 27, 2022
By Robby Soave
Reason Magazine

Excerpt: Toni Morrison's Pulitzer Prize–winning 1987 novel, Beloved, is a ghost story that forces readers to confront America's legacy of slavery—of racism, subjugation, and murder—and consider how it still haunts us today. One Virginia mother's quixotic bid to remove the book from her school district's Advanced Placement English curriculum indirectly led to the election of Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

Education's move to the forefront of modern culture war politics has a great deal to do with Beloved.

August 27, 2022
By Sarah Mervosh
New York Times

Excerpt: Erin Brown, a teacher in St. Johns County, Fla., typically keeps a gay pride flag hanging up in her classroom. As the faculty sponsor of a Gay-Straight Alliance club at her high school, she wants her students to know they are safe with her. But this year, Ms. Brown found herself quietly repurposing the flag.

No longer on full display, it now hangs as a “rainbow background,” partially obscured among posters, photos, a calendar and other trinkets on her class bulletin board.

August 26, 2022
By James Call
Tallahassee Democrat

Excerpt: Survey says: University students have little interest in participating in a campus intellectual freedom viewpoint diversity survey mandated by the Florida Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis.  

A draft of the findings of a poll required by a 2021 law was presented to the Board of Governors of the State University System Friday though there was little discussion. A lawsuit challenging the measure is currently before the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeal, after federal Judge Mark Walker in April allowed the survey to be e-mailed to 368,0120 students enrolled at the state’s 12 university campuses. Fewer than 9,000 students, or 2.4% of students responded to the survey required by HB 233.

August 26, 2022
By Scott Jaschik
Inside Higher Ed

Excerpt: A survey of faculty members at the University of Florida found widespread dissatisfaction, The Tampa Bay Times reported. The survey, with 623 responses, was conducted by the faculty chapter of the United Faculty of Florida, the faculty union.

More than 67 percent of respondents said they somewhat or strongly disagreed that they could “openly express a dissenting opinion about the administration’s policies without fear of reprisal.”

August 26, 2022
By John Sailer
City Journal

Excerpt: Last month, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees passed a resolution reaffirming the Chicago Principles on free expression and adopting the Kalven Committee Report on institutional neutrality. In doing so, UNC became the first institution other than the University of Chicago to adopt both sets of principles, which together provide an unequivocal articulation of the value of academic freedom. Such a statement should prompt us to ask: What’s next? How will this newly clarified commitment to academic freedom play out?

One obvious measure presents itself. The university should take aim at an egregious policy widely adopted in academia—the use of diversity statements for hiring, promotion, and tenure.

August 25, 2022
By John Warner
Inside Higher Ed

Excerpt: When I read the op-ed by Claremont McKenna professor Christopher Nadon in The Wall Street Journal discussing what he believes are sanctions he’s received for using the full utterance of the N-word in a class when illustrating a point about censorship and Huck Finn, I thought two things.

First, I thought that if Nadon’s self-account was accurate, he did not merit sanction. I accept the use/mention distinction on slurs like the N-word as meaningful. While there may be some professors out there who get a little psychic zing when they can contrive a way to use the word while being protected by the use/mention shield, my hope is they are extremely limited in number, it would be very difficult to discern someone’s motive for use and hopefully those who are doing it to experience that little zing will reveal themselves as problematic in other ways.

August 25, 2022
By Mike Hixenbaugh
NBC News

Excerpt: A little more than a year after former Trump adviser Steve Bannon declared that conservatives needed to win seats on local school boards to “save the nation,” he used his conspiracy theory-fueled TV program to spotlight Patriot Mobile, a Texas-based cellphone company that had answered his call to action.

“The school boards are the key that picks the lock,” Bannon said during an interview with Patriot Mobile’s president, Glenn Story, from the floor of the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, in Dallas on Aug. 6. “Tell us about what you did.” Story turned to the camera and said, “We went out and found 11 candidates last cycle and we supported them, and we won every seat. We took over four school boards.”