Tuesday, December 23, 2008
First step: Make free speech, leafleting, and the rest possible across campus. Currently, such speech is confined to a "zone." In the 1990s, colleges enacted speech codes and were swept back by groups like FIRE, ACLU, and the National Association of Scholars. (Disclosure: Together with ACLU Southern Illinois, the moderator, as president of the Illinois Association of Scholars, cosigned the FIRE letter to Chancellor Goldman).
Readers may recall that this was an issue in 2004 when a student protested outside the designated "speech zone," thus resulting in an outcry over free speech. That incident involved an antiwar protest but it could be almost any other kind of peaceful demonstration.
Monday, December 22, 2008
We feel pain, certainly, and if there is any time to rush in for "free money" it is now. We shall see where higher ed comes in the priority list of the Obama administration. The Christmas tree is already laden with many ornaments (tin cars, wooden-nickel banks, and tinsel to cover any bare spots in the tree).
I'm not "Green" but if the infrastructure money is spent on green buildings, I'll take a move out of the East Berlin architectural style of Faner Hall.
On the other hand, if the money moves quickly in block-grant form to our esteemed governor and Chicago pols, one can only imagine the possibilities. Will the money trickle down to southern Illinois?
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Cry Wolf is a 21st-century update on George Orwell's Animal Farm. Political correctness, upside-down notions of "fairness," and the prodding of the sophistical Owl ("the Professor") lead the orderly "Green Pastures Farm" from good intentions to a total breakdown of society and a return to the wild. Any one who inhabits academia, with its identity politics and speech police, will appreciate this fast-paced novel.
But you don't have to be in higher education to appreciate how Cry Wolf satirizes larger trends in American society. The peddler of iPhones, Steve Jobs, insists that "people don't read anymore." For those who do read books, check out Cry Wolf at Amazon or your local bookstore.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
When SIU fights a case, it generally loses (witness the 7th Circuit Court decision on religious freedom or the DOJ consent decree on racial nondiscrimination).
In other cases, SIU surrenders to avoid further embarassment or legal prosecution. With such a track record, there is a lot to learn in crisis management. Alas, the university lurches from one faux-pas after another like a computer program looping from one error message to another. Call it the long, slow "Blue Screen of Death."
The latest surrender involves General Ulysses S. Grant, the warrior-turned-president who pummeled the Confederacy and later sent the U.S. Army to quell the Ku Klux Klan. Today, SIU surrendered the General's papers to an academic institution in the heart of Dixie, Mississippi State University.
In its own small way, SIU has relinquished a historical remnant of that Union victory over secession and slavery. Transferred from the "free soil" of Illinois, Ulysses S. Grant will rest in Mississippi, now free in part because of his actions. Mississippi's gain is SIU's loss.
Rest in peace, General.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
The NAS membership includes thousands of faculty committed to high standards and free inquiry. (Disclosure: I am president of the Illinois state affiliate and we have many members on the SIU campuses). NAS reports have analyzed General Education requirements (woeful decline) and the current state of various disciplines. The web site contains this information gratis. "Know your rights!"
FIRE is focused on civil liberties of all concerned with higher education, with primary focus on student freedom to speak, demonstrate, and learn from faculty who are not chained by the speech police. They have many projects, including: videos on Youtube, a fast-growing Campus Freedom Network, Traffic Signs rating schools on freedom (see SIU's to the right), and Guides on various topics (available in PDF on their web site).
If you can't be in Washington, D.C., then join either group. Students ought to join the Campus Freedom Network of FIRE (click here). Or volunteer for NAS's Argus Project.
Both groups have email listservs keeping you abreast of the fight against absurdity on campus. As they say down here, the NAS and FIRE folk are "good people."
Thursday, December 4, 2008
When President Glenn Poshard was under attack for plagiarism, I was one of those who supported his presidency, regardless of the plagiarism.
However, the policy draft to protect the "Office of the President" from charges of plagiarism is outrageous. It sets a double standard for the President's Office. What is good for the President ought to be good for the rest of us, including protection from "frivolous or malicious" accusations.
There is a double standard within the draft plagiarism policy (read on to "frivolous or malicious" charges).
More important, there is a double standard between the plagiarism policy and the draft harassment code.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT CODE (draft):
1. Intent does not matter:
"The fact that someone did not intend to sexually harass another individual is not a defense. . . In most cases, it is the characteristics of the behavior and how that behavior is perceived by the victim that determines whether sexual harassment has occurred."
[Harassment is in the eye of the beholder]2. Context is enough to convict the accused:
The context -- "pattern of conduct," circumstances, a set of instances-- are proof of harassment.
[Circumstantial evidence is proof of guilt]3. False, but not frivolous reports are punishable: "False reports" made in "bad faith" are subject to punishment. Frivolous or malicious accusations of sexual harassment are not covered.
DRAFT PLAGIARISM CODES (draft):
There is a general policy for "Faculty, Staff, and Students" that takes steps to mix justice with mercy -- the mercy and consideration of intent, context, etc. that is lacking in the draft harassment policy.
A second draft applies to the President's Office. The section on punishing those making "frivolous or malicious" accusations is something that critics (myself included) have called for in the sexual harassment code -- but it appears only to defend the Office of the President. That double standard is what set the Daily Egyptian off in its editorial today.
1. Intent is all that matters
"Intentional Plagiarism: Conscious and deliberate plagiarizing of a source or sources.
Unintentional Plagiarism: Plagiarism that is due to carelessness, a misremembering . . . , a misreading of context . . . , or an inadequate understanding of the citation requirements. . . .
Developmental Plagiarism (in written communication, called patchwriting): An unintended plagiarism that is caused by the plagiarist’s effort to produce work that mimics that of a particular community while she or he is not adequately familiar with the ways of expression of that community. This kind of plagiarism can be seen as the product of an intermediate stage in the plagiarist’s development from being an outsider to being an insider....
[This clause is embarrassing to a doctoral granting institution. If we pass a dissertation that is flawed and in the "developmental" stage, what does that say about SIU? "Developmental" smacks of special education, not fully developed, immature]An act of plagiarism can either be intentional or unintentional....
2. Context excuses the charge:
In providing an appropriate response to any accusation of plagiarism, then, the following factors should be taken into account.
a. Context: that is, whether the context was institutionalized or competitive....
[Here we enter "what is the meaning of 'is' territory]b. Intent: that is, whether the plagiarist intended to plagiarize in order to fraudulently advance his or her status within the academy....
[Apparently, it is o.k. if you planned on a career outside the academy? Is plagiarism determined by a person's career choice?]c. Seriousness of the offense: that is, how substantial and significant the plagiarism was.
d. Engagement with the source material: that is, whether the plagiarist adapted the source material with a recognizable intent to integrate the content honestly within his or her own work or mindlessly adopted the source material without a recognizable intent to integrate it.
[When does the plagiarist get a "do-over?"]e. Extenuating circumstances: that is, whether there exist circumstances that mitigate punishment for the offense....
". . . [T]hose allegations that are deemed to be of substance shall be handled in accordance with the following procedures:"
"An individual who has a good faith belief that plagiarism may have been committed by a member of the Office of the President shall report the allegation to the Office of the President."
[Must the individual identify themselves? Or will plagiarism committees consider third-party, redacted complaints, as with the sexual harassment code?]3. Frivolous reports punishable to the full extent of university "law" and civil action (think twice, sucker):
"11. Frivolous or Malicious Charges:I sincerely wish the President's Office had quit while it was ahead. SIU has enough trouble without "protesting too much" an unpleasant past incident. One can attempt to rewrite history but in cases like this it is better to move on. Let's hope this draft policy remains in the "In" box gathering dust.
It shall be a violation of this policy to allege, file or raise frivolous or malicious claims against members of the Office of the President or the Chancellors of the SIUC or SIUE campuses. If a violation of this section is committed, the University may initiate any and all appropriate action, including but not limited to disciplinary action against an employee or civil action against a member of the public."
In tomorrow's DE (5 December 2008), the plagiarism expert who consulted on the Poshard case said that frivolous or malicious accusations ought to be punished. Agreed. So why is that same standard not applied in the case of sexual harassment? To be called a "harasser" is certainly as "weighted" as being accused of plagiarizing!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
For the court documents, click here.
Colleges are increasingly being challenged in court when they act in an "arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable" manner. For many years, The Chronicle of Higher Education has highlighted the different ways that falsely accused, purged, and mobbed professors can "sue the bastards"--and win.
Why do university lawyers act as mouthpieces defending "egregious" actions? Do they give run-away administrators sound legal advice or simply defend the indefensible because they feel relatively immune as agents of the State? In the past, "sovereign immunity" shielded the government from lawsuits but those days are long past. Apparently old habits die hard.
Short of a lawsuit, there is adverse media attention (read FIRE's web site) and the mere prospect of being sued for improper attention to the law. As the Georgia case demonstrates, individual administrators may also be named in lawsuits.
This is a wake-up call for administrators and university lawyers. To date, their risk-aversion has erred on the side of Political Correctness: defending Star Chamber practices and adopting policies that they believe will scrub every instance of harassment, however slight or imaginary, from the face of the earth (or at least campus grounds). It is a dystopian project with a real downside if the person to be "executed" fights back.
Perhaps it is time for administrators to recalculate their risk aversion by balancing the rights of the accused with those of the accuser? What an old-fashioned concept.
To paraphrase Bill Clinton:
"it's due process, stupid."
Friday, November 28, 2008
[MODERATOR: The administration's proposal is a flat-out ban--no "ifs, ands, or buts." What does one do with those married and in a "power differential?" Presumably they need not divorce. Ah, but what of gay couples? Will they have to sign one of those domestic partner forms the university issues to "married-like" gay spouses? Furthermore, where does one find life partners, straight or gay? At work, of course, so my recommendation to any one hired at SIU-C is "BYOS." Bring Your Own Spouse before you place your boots on Saluki ground.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Faculty Senate's AmendmentsThis is progress but the Faculty Senate only went halfway. The overly broad definition of "sexual" harassment still includes everything but the kitchen sink, and still intrudes on the classroom.
1. Due process rights shall be afforded to all parties.
2. A Sexual Harassment Review Board shall be formed to work with the compliance officer.
3. A person shall be banned only if he or she poses an immediate threat.
4. Judicial Review board members may be appointed to the Sexual Harassment Panel for cases
5. The accused shall be notified about the complaint within five working days.
6. The accused and complainant shall have access to a redacted version of the preliminary
7. The accused and complainant shall have the right to appeal and present their own cases.
8. The Sexual Harassment Panel shall submit a report to the chancellor.
9. Records of cases shall be kept under strict confidentiality.
10. The definition of sexual harassment shall be consistent with the Illinois Human Rights Act.
The new code expands the definition of "sexual" harassment and adds to the laundry list of possible infractions. This is precisely the kind of "chilling" approach that the Office for Civil Rights (U.S. Department of Education) rebuked several years ago. The code's definition allows accusers to claim "hostile environment" in the face of innocent quips, humor, gestures, and "sexually-explicit" material that is "inappropriate." It extends the code to on and off-campus activities. I went over this ground in my "Open Letter."
If you think it can't happen here, it has happened here and on many other campuses. For example, I am currently reading Todd Tucker's Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan. This book examines a proud moment in anti-Klan activism, yet simply reading that book got one student-employee at Indiana University-Purdue into trouble ("a shop steward told Sampson that reading a book about the KKK was like bringing pornography to work").
I agree 100% with fellow civil libertarians, and the Faculty Senate, on the need for due process. Amen, I say, Amen! But nearly all these spurious allegations, treated ever so seriously, need to be short circuited at the definition stage. An administrator may dismiss such nonsense at the outset but there is no guarantee.
As our Founding Fathers noted when constructing the Constitution, if men (or women) were angels there would be no need for limits on government. That applies to university administrators who have every incentive to respond to each harassment charge that comes their way.
Let's draft a precise definition that deals with actual sexual harassment. That is something we can all agree upon. Anything less is unjust, anything more is cause for mischief.
Friday, November 21, 2008
We said it was like "Putting Lipstick on a Pig".
The enrollment issues at SIUC are well known and no amount of money thrown at overpaid bureaucrats like Valle will make a difference. We noted the plagiarism scandal, the 6 interim and fired chancellors since 1999, a bizarre Marxist Dean in Communications who drove off a world class faculty, not to mention the events surrounding Cal Meyers and John Simon.
Well, Ms. Valle the chickens are coming home to roost. In today's
Southern Illinoisan Interim Chancellor Samuel Goldman said that "Spring enrollment numbers look weak". How weak are they?
"Preliminary numbers show decreases in nearly each of the university's colleges, with some of the losses totaling as high as 15%".Some knowledgeable people are predicting a drop of 500 students this Spring semester and over 1,000 in the Fall. However, we're sure that the overpaid bureaucrat Victoria Valle and her posse will labor on with their misplaced and failed ideas.
At this point there is no other Illinois University predicting decreased enrollment, at least in public. Indeed, the University of Illinois is predicting even higher numbers as the slow economy takes hold.
This drop in enrollment might have a silver lining. Perhaps Interim Chancellor Samuel Goldman will decide to save a little money by axing Victoria Valle and her overpaid staff.
We can't do any worse than we're doing now.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
On college campuses, the far Left rarely engages in open debate on the issues of the day. Why debate the other side when you can charge students to support the causes you embrace? The key is dressing your agenda with warm and fuzzy terms like "diversity," "inclusion," and--most recently--"Green" initiatives promoting "sustainability." [Green in the generic sense, not the Green Party]
Troy fell to the ruse of a Trojan Horse and the analogy is apt in the case of "sustainability" and its third circle ("social justice"). In Europe, critics of the Green movement contend that "the Green tree has Red (socialist) roots." Translation: Green has a helluva lot more to do with left-wing politics than it has to do with the environment.
The pleasant-sounding talk of mandatory "green fees" pays for more than planting trees, recycling garbage and other noncontroversial initiatives. SIU-Carbondale raises $300,000 a year from student "green fees." If you don't like what they do with the $$$, "tough." Project Eco-Dawgs cleverly set up the fee to be permanent (at least five years) and repealed only if both student governments approve a reversal.
Watch out! The Eco Dawgs lobbied for money from students, and now are getting ready to slide fees by employees, create a salaried position for "Sustainability" and more! If you don't believe me, read here
What do students and staff get for this money? Part of the Eco Dawg agenda deals with energy conservation and Green issues on campus. Dig deeper and see how the Eco Dawgs ally SIUC with far Left activists--all without full disclosure, except to a handful of individuals on the Eco Dawg Task Force.
Project Eco Dawgs has already laid the groundwork by publishing a guide that embraces the Talloires Declaration by "university leaders" declaring the "environmental pollution and degradation, and the depletion of natural resources" . . . "are caused by inequitable and unsustainable production and consumption patterns that aggravate poverty in many regions of the world." The Red faction of the Green movement has been preaching this vision of apocalypse for decades, while market capitalism has actually diminished poverty in "many regions of the world" (China, India, and other countries that abandoned the myth of a zero-sum society). There is an "inequitable production and consumption" of doom and gloom on college campuses.
Keep your eyes on the "Sustainability" menu: lots of Greenery, with a healthy offering of "labor rights," "reproductive rights" (abortion), domestic violence, and assaults on "late capitalism."
Since the Greens scammed students already, the rest of us must be alert to efforts to impose mandatory fees upon employees--particularly for causes with which many might not agree. If you support (or oppose) these causes, then send your money voluntarily to the organization of your choice.
Meanwhile, beware of Greens bearing old wine in new wineskins.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Ignorance is no excuse for violating the law, but it will cost you big time if you want to read the laws passed by California.
I spent the past several years navigating the corporate welfare swamp of copyright but this has to top it all. Laws were the one area that was always public domain (read: copyright free). Now states charge citizens (subjects?) to read the laws that govern them? How much would the U.S. Constitution cost if they slapped copyright on it? Has any one informed Governor Blago that this is a revenue-raising device?
If you want to read the laws the government of California doesn't want you to read, go to http://public.resource.org
Malamud also persuaded C-Span to make its vast video archive of Congress available for free. Surely, he earns "Buy This Guy a Bud" points with me!
Monday, November 3, 2008
Wall Street Journal (excerpts):
"For years, Swiss scientists have blithely created genetically modified rice, corn and apples. But did they ever stop to consider just how humiliating such experiments may be to plants?Here is the English-language brochure put out by the Swiss ethics panel.
That's a question they must now ask. Last spring, this small Alpine nation began mandating that geneticists conduct their research without trampling on a plant's dignity.
'Unfortunately, we have to take it seriously,' Beat Keller, a molecular biologist at the University of Zurich. 'It's one more constraint on doing genetic research. . . .'
The rule, based on a constitutional amendment, came into being after the Swiss Parliament asked a panel of philosophers, lawyers, geneticists and theologians to establish the meaning of flora's dignity.
'We couldn't start laughing and tell the government we're not going to do anything about it," says Markus Schefer, a member of the ethics panel and a professor of law at the University of Basel. "The constitution requires it.'
In April, the team published a 22-page treatise on 'the moral consideration of plants for their own sake.' It stated that vegetation has an inherent value and that it is immoral to arbitrarily harm plants by, say, 'decapitation of wildflowers at the roadside without rational reason.'"
On the question of genetic modification, most of the panel argued that the dignity of plants could be safeguarded "as long as their independence, i.e., reproductive ability and adaptive ability, are ensured." In other words: It's wrong to genetically alter a plant and render it sterile. . . ."
"The Dignity of Living Beings with Regard to Plants"
Americans will undoubtedly usher in the Green Revolution with language far more resounding than that of the dull Swiss scientists:
U.S. Constitution (Amended, 2012):
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (and plants) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator (Gaia) with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness (and adequate nutrients)."
Stay tuned for androcentric (human) stories on what your SIU "green fee" money ($300,000) is funding. It's not what you think.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Yet another example of the barbarians -- Vandals -- within the academic gates.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
a) why free speech is important (its mission is to encourage debate); and
b) why some people—today’s Inquisitors—would ban objectionable speech in the spirit (if not name) of that "French twerp Herbert Marcuse."
Read Reilly’s account and make up your own mind]
So, today, I went to an anti-abortion rally.
As those of you who can see already know, there is a huge pictorial display called "Abortion as Genocide" currently up on the SIU campus. Sponsored by the pro-Yahweh RSO Warriors for Life, the display features the usual gory pictures of aborted fetuses and weeping non-mamas. The stated purpose of this exhibit is comparing abortion to historical genocides like the Holocaust. For the past two days, a group of 60 to 80 counter-protesters has been camped across the street from the display - carrying signs featuring bloody coat-hangers and unflattering descriptions of men.
Viewing this whole event as a living example of "conflict under law," I took my law class to see it earlier today. We spoke to both pro-lifers and pro-choicers, in order to hear them defend their respective positions. Our group talked to "pro-choice escorts" walking women around the display, pro-life advocates who had bused down to see the thing, and a brace of preachers. We politely questioned both sides. Almost everyone we hit up was willing to explain why they felt as they did; both conservatives and liberals were actually pretty difficult to quiet down.
But, there was one major exception to this rule. The very first group of people we spoke to was a bunch of liberal counter-protesters, dressed in typical "I'm-at-a-rally" gear. Two of them wore yellow "choice escort" signs stapled to their shirts. One had a piece of tape over her mouth - probably to symbolize that she was (like so many people at a public riot) unable to express herself. Another guy had a huge pink sign taped to his chest, with SIU Chancellor Sam Goldman's home number written on it. Apparently, passerby were supposed to call the Chancellor and demand that the anti-choice photos be taken down.
My students and I asked these liberal counter-protesters a few questions, mostly about whether demanding the photos be removed was anti free speech. The head of the liberal counter-protesters (let's call him the "Inquisitor") chased down a couple of my undergraduates and demanded that they give him my name and title. When I went back to confront him about this, he told me that he had been "horribly offended" by the questions I and my students had been asking. He noted that there was "no place at college" for questions like mine - much less speech like pro-life signs. Inquisitor told me that he planned to call the Chancellor's office and file a formal complaint about my "abuse" of him and his pals, and huffed off.
I called the Chancellor, who tells me that his office doesn't take too many unsolicited complaints from street protesters, but am still annoyed by this. The behavior of the liberal counter-protesters is a classic example of what French twerp Herbert Marcuse called repressive tolerance. In a famous essay, Marcuse argued that liberals should be totally tolerant of left-wing behaviors, but should feel comfortable not tolerating conservatives because conservatives are evil. Thus, the counter-protester and his friends expected people to be okay with them standing in the middle of a public road screaming about abortion, but literally attempted to fire me for asking whether his position made sense. Ah, sweet reason.
An additional note of humor is provided here by the fact that this self-appointed Inquisitor is in no position to push for limits on free speech. According to a brief Google search for the name of the person yelling at me, he's a well-known far-Left blogger. His blog is publicly available on MySpace and Blog-Spot. Even taking Marcuse into account, the Inquisitor would be one of the first victims were we to do away with the First Amendment. As I support his free speech rights, I will refrain from the ol' law school urge to post links to the most humiliating portions of the blog (here). I suggest that he and his friends extend the same courtesy to others.
In the interests of free speech from all directions, I will note that the Chancellor's number is 618-453-2341. Feel free to call him and criticize protesters, criticize conservatives, or note how awesome I am.
In today's letter, Chancellor Goldman called for "civil discussion and debate, [so that ] reasonable people can weigh the pros and cons of the position taken by this or any organization and form their own opinions and conclusions" [about abortion].
Goldman didn't think the graphic display produced civil discussion and debate. The next submission (by Will Reilly) suggests that civil debate did result from the display. Read Reilly and make up your "own opinions and conclusions."
1. Click on the numbered "Comments" link below a blog entry. If you are the first to comment, the "Comments" link will read "O Comments."
2. After clicking on the link -- type your comment in the "Leave Your Message Box."
3. Choose a Name (real or pseudonymous) or anonymous. The default is Google Blogger so you will need to change to Name or Anonymous if you are not a Google blogger or wish to remain anonymous.
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FreeSIU has been picked up by two sites with a national audience. Because contributors address general issues in higher education, I am renaming the site "FreeU." The web site remains the same (http://freesiu.blogspot.com).
"FreeU covers topics and current events in higher education, with emphasis upon Southern Illinois University (SIU). This site is open to a wide range of viewpoints. Just be respectful. Think of it as a big free speech zone."
As always, I'm open to submissions and encourage you to circulate or comment upon posts that interest you.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
A young zoology major, Elizabeth Hensley, constructed the subdued anti-abortion display. Hensley protested the destruction in the Daily Egyptian and was vigorously attacked online by the "free speech for me, but not for thee" crowd. You see, Hensley provoked "understandable outrage," etc. Their reaction was reminiscent of that phrase "blaming the victim."
Others came to Hensley's defense--online--but the silence from the administration was deafening compared to its overreactions in other instances. Examples: the Marc Torney case (where the entire campus came justifiably to Torney's free speech defense). Or the single "anti-feminist" email that resulted in immediate action by the chancellor's office (suspension of email, Judicial Affair charges, and more--read below). Then there was the rush to praise "diversity" when black suspects mugged a white person. A great teachable moment about law and order on campus -- and it became more gruel for prattling the mantra of diversity. Clearly, the campus pooh-bahs will defend some more vigorously than others.
One can imagine the reaction if some person violated Muslim or Jewish property on campus, much less a Black History display. We would hear that "Klan thinking" is just below the surface of our serene campus. Chancellor Goldman would take out a half-page advertisment in the Daily Egyptian (as he did last year when a student emailed a drunken rant about feminists to an off-campus web site editor). Student Judicial Affairs would go into action, and if the SIU Police located the culprit, the full force of the Student Conduct Code would come swiftly down upon him or her.
***Historical note: The last great flowering of the Ku Klux Klan in southern Illinois violently targeted Catholics and led to the destruction of a Catholic hospital in Herrin. Better dead than alive by Catholic hands was the thinking.***Yesterday, there was a far more explicit anti-abortion display on campus. With SIU Police watching, there was no destruction of property. Later that night a debate followed between pro-choice and pro-life speakers. So, what began as an ugly trampling of free speech, ended in vigorous debate over an issue that isn't going away.
Tonight there is another campus debate dealing with pornography. Last week, we had a high-level debate on the merits of a state constitutional convention. Add the ACLU/Law School debate over the Student Conduct Code.
Kudos to the sponsors of these debates. Let them continue.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
What do these buzz words have to do with Bill Ayers? He is part of the movement for "revolutionary" education--and his work, and that of like-minded activists, is assigned in required "School and Society" courses at SIU and other colleges.
I first encountered the unbalanced, far-Left reading some years ago. SIU required education majors to read the Mao and Castro-worshipping Pedagogy of the Oppressed, a "classic manifesto" that has sold nearly one million copies. (For a description of the pedagogy, click here). I was stunned at the time warp: surely, Education Schools are not offering warmed-over sixties radicalism as the only source on "School and Society?" There is nothing wrong with assigning works from a Marxist or "critical pedagogy" perspective but that was all that was offered in a class that future teachers must take. When I searched other schools, I found much the same thing. Apparently, "queering" the curriculum, assaulting capitalism, and denouncing "color-blind racism" is de rigueur.
Flash forward to 2008. The name of Bill Ayers is in the air. Former member of Weather Underground and still committed to revolution--through the education schools. Read his blog: http://billayers.wordpress.com/
The troubling thing about Bill Ayers isn't his connection with Barack Obama (I'll leave that up to readers) but the fact that his approach to education is the only thing taught in many "school and society" courses. Check the reading list at SIU and elsewhere. There may be exceptions but judging from Amazon.com and course assignments, "teaching for social justice" is rampant.
It got so bad that FIRE and NAS had to successfully fight accreditation requirements that future teachers have the right "dispositions" (see here and here). I suspect we haven't heard the last of this indoctrination requirement.
Balance, not bias, is the issue. We are all "biased" which is why the curriculum ought to include opposing viewpoints, particularly in courses required to enter a profession. The notion that the classroom is a play tool for revolutionaries, Left or Right, is pernicious and disrespectful of the individual dignity of students.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
What a difference a month of education and agitation makes when the administration is trying, by all appearances, to rush through a sexual harassment code that is even worse than our old code. Update:
I attended the Faculty Senate meeting, where University Legal Counsel (Phyleccia Cole) presented her office's proposed sexual harassment code. Professor Mary Lamb (English) made a brief, sharp presentation assailing the code. Then the senators started to say how "atrocious" the code was and Lamb asked for a show of hands whether people were as "hot" as the speakers (herself included)--most hands went up (the administrators did not raise their hands. LOL). Lamb posted a questionnaire for professors and everyone else to make their feelings known.
The constituency heads were there and one said his constituency was "very strongly" against the code and they didn't realize how bad it was until now. The senator from the medical school cited the NAS Statement I ran in the Daily Egyptian and used it to criticize the code and propose common-sense guidelines.
Professors were a bit taken aback by the Powerpoint slide indicating that Legal Counsel would hand over documents to the accused IF A COURT ORDERED THEM TO DO SO. Otherwise, everything is secret. Look up "Star Chamber".
The feminist president of the Faculty Senate (Peggy Stockdale) pooh-poohed the "legal" and emphasized the "psychological" -- even a "sexist joke" was on the slippery slope to x, y, z, then sexual assualt. Lordie, bring us back to the 1950s when comic books were a gateway to drugs, deviancy, communism!! Shades of "Reefer Madness!" It starts with Seinfeld jokes and leads to the worst of all sexual crimes.
The president then went on to say that we had to make it "easy and unrisky" for victims to file complaints without having to reveal their identity or even the location of the "crime." The hazier the better.
In the end, President Stockdale had to stew as the senators challenged the assumptions of the code and the abuse of power. Many feared a real "chilling effect." After the show of hands, the Faculty Senate agreed to draft a resolution strongly opposing the code revisions, to be presented at the next meeting.
Professors with pitchforks!
Saturday, October 11, 2008
OMW asks for greater understanding from an academic establishment that is tone deaf to the meaning of religion. The regulators of religious freedom hide their ignorance behind a doctrinaire wall of church-state separation that violates the religious freedom clause of the First amendment. In social work, education, and law, students and staff are harassed for exercising their religious faith on campus. This is unconstitutional. But once again it has taken a major court victory to order SIU to "do the right thing": Christian Legal Society v. Southern Illinois University (2006). The following links show how FIRE and the Alliance Defense Fund (a religious freedom group) won this important precedent--a case now studied by SIU Law students! Click here, here and here. For a case involving the School of Work, see this Daily Egyptian editorial.
The root of this discrimination is ignorance of the law and the vital role religion plays in the public square. For more, see FIRE's guide to religious liberty: http://www.thefire.org/index.php/article/5061.html As always, if you feel your religious liberty is under assault, educate yourself and contact, FIRE, ADF, or the ACLU.]
"Old Man Winter" writes:
Anti-"Christian" rhetoric at SIU is little more than unawareness--a polite term--of its historical, theological and cultural complexity. In fact, there is not one "Christianity," but several. As Christians, we share the kergyma or proclamation that we somehow experience "God" in the historical figure of Jesus from Nazareth. After that proclamation, disagreements reign with far more frequency than agreements.
For academics to be unaware--for whatever reason--of these disagreements and the controversies behind them is simply inexcusable. Such unawareness, however, provides a vehicle through which ideological and political agendas that have nothing to do with intellectual discussion or academic freedom can occur. In short, pronouncing that "the Christians" will raise complaints about GLBT issues and that we intellectuals need to anticipate ignorant rantings about "sinful behavior" is simply wrong at best and offensive at worst.
Ignorance is not necessarily harmful in itself. When it is used, however, to label, categorize, shun and even attack colleagues, students and other human beings, such ignorance needs to be renounced as firmly as possible. To those who are so busy defending "rights," perhaps it may be necessary to ask them to become morally consistent. We who are people of Judeo-Christian faith have the right to practice our faith, explore our own issues, meet in peaceable assembly with our fellows and even debate the merits of our own assertions without fear of retribution, castigation, exclusion or stereotype. We as people of faith have something to offer the intellectual dialogue that can take place on a college campus and, in my experience, did until about 30 years ago.
We also have the right to raise questions about the claims of those who express different opinions in the spirit of intellectual give and take without having our inquiries narrowly labeled as "religion and (sexual) morality." For there to be any question of our intellectual part of the "search for truth wherever it may lead" only heightens the problems facing SIUC and, I presume, many campuses across the country.
Surely with the brain power present at a research institution like ours, we can do better. In fact, if we really believe what we say about justice, equality and academic integrity, we must.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
[BACKGROUND: Cal Meyers was ousted for alleged violations of the sexual harassment code, accusations which Meyers never got to see until after he filed a multimillion dollar lawsuit, according to his attorney Rebecca Whittington. Even then, the charges were undated and he claims he still does not know his accuser. See http://www.thefire.org/index.php/article/9590.html
Certainly, SIU isn't a police state but the police are busy with Professor Meyers, per the orders of "someone above." If Meyers is a "clear and present danger" to the campus community, why haven't workaday Salukis seen a poster warning that he poses a risk? Something along the lines of Public Enemy Number One? A report reading "The suspect is 81, bearing loose dentures and must be escorted off campus IMMEDIATELY. Persons with information shall contact 1-800-BUST-DOC."
I've seen Professor Meyers and chatted with him while he ate lunch in the Student Center, should I report him to the police? I can't imagine they enjoy carrying out this duty. But what is my/our duty? Am I an unwitting accomplice to his crime of being on campus? Inquiring minds need to know.
Daily Egyptian, 9 October 2008: http://tinyurl.com/4jec2z
Call off the goons
This letter is directed to interim Chancellor Goldman. Last week Cal Meyers (the retired chemistry professor who was banned from campus for alleged sexual harassment charges, much like the recently deceased John Simon) approached the law school to visit a colleague. He never saw him. Two security police escorted Meyers off campus instead. What a sight that must have been! Two burly guards, each taking an arm of this 81-year-old man, whose weight has dropped to 130 pounds, and who is obviously in poor health.
I am sure you would want such unfortunate events to cease. Who would want to assume moral responsibility for the bad effects on the health of an 81-year-old man? Is this the way you, or anyone at SIUC, believes we should treat an old man, who has given many years of his life (and $2.5 million) to SIUC? And, while we are at it, if you continue to ban him from his chemistry lab, funded by his own $2.5 million, at least give him a substantial portion of his money back! As Chancellor, you are ultimately responsible for what happens on campus. So call off the goons!
Professor in the English Department
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
The application of many civil rights laws ends up contested in court. On the issue of sexual harassment, the U.S. Supreme Court set down a "severe, persistent, or pervasive" standard for determining when behavior rose to the level of violating the law. This standard is missing from SIU's code but is present in most other sexual harassment codes. This doctrine, as expressed in Davis v. Monroe (1999) would go a long way to guide people's actions and reactions to "offensive" speech or behavior.
NOTE: For those who can't bear reading long-winded court opinions, U.S. Supreme Court cases come with a syllabus (brief summary). Read it short or long.
On student conduct codes, see the previously cited opinion of Justice Harry Blackmun.
Monday, October 6, 2008
If you are scratching your head about this one, you don't know either
a) Illinois politics and the level of arrogance in office; or
b) academic administration and the level of incompetence. . . .
but there is a happy ending and precedent for university presidents to demonstrate some common sense and independence. Read on:
1. The state requires all employees to pass an ethics exam to keep future governors and their friends ethical and out of prison. Oops. Let me rewrite: The state requires all employees to pass an ethics exam so THEY remain ethical (governors will still be convicted of crime in grand Illinois tradition).
2. The ethics law--passed after Governor George Ryan went to prison--forbids partisan political activity on state property. The exam tests whether you know promising a contract to your neighbors, the Sopranos, is illegal. Also, you must not show political favoritism by using your university phone to fund raise for Mike Rezko or his friend Barack Obama (not being partisan here, just keeping an Illinois focus).
3. Faculty are really revved up about this election. Obama is their guy and they wear his button on their lapels (or t-shirts, if they got lost somewhere in the Sixties time zone).
4. University of Illinois Ethics Office issues newsletter reeducating employees about the ethics law and even extends it--if only hypothetically--to campaign buttons and bumper stickers! No word on whether a strong-felt wink reveals (illegal) support for Sarah Palin.
5. Inspector General Gilbert Jimenez, the same schmuck who busted employees for passing their ethics exam too quickly, backs this interpretation of the law. U of I students lead a "civil disobedience" rally for Obama (who else?) and it makes the Chicago Tribune.
5. FIRE, ACLU, and your intrepid moderator (as president of the Illinois Association of Scholars) blast the University of Illinois for being on the wrong side of common sense, the Constitution, and a lot of pissed-off professors (Jimenez even extended the ban on campaign buttons to students!).
HAPPY ENDING: University of Illinois president B. Joseph White issues a "simple message" that actually defends free speech and challenges the state to define its problematic ethics law. Yippee!
Saturday, October 4, 2008
SIU-Carbondale is a "Red Alert" school. Here is the description of "Red Alert" status:
"FIRE adds a college or university to its Red Alert list when an institution acts with severe and ongoing disregard for the fundamental rights of its students or faculty members. While abuses occur on many campuses, Red Alert campuses have policies and/or practices that pose a particularly dangerous threat to basic freedoms; they are the 'worst of the worst' when it comes to liberty on campus."But SIU-C can change its ways and avoid becoming a U.S. News poster child for suppression of "fundamental rights." One of the ways is to emulate the policies and practices of "Green Alert" schools. After reading the sexual harassment codes of "Green Alert" schools, I award the "best model for SIU-C" prize to . . .
Bucks County Community College! For its policy on sexual harassment, click this link.
(Honorable Mention: University of Pennsylvania)
Under the "Hostile Environment" category--the area resulting in the worst abuses by colleges--Bucks clearly defines what it is and is not: It is a "pattern" of severe, persistent, or pervasive behavior. It is NOT " every act that might be offensive to an individual or a group." Under both categories of sexual harassment, the code offers clear examples.
By contrast, SIU-C's current and proposed code is
*Expansive to the point of absurdity. Moreover, there is no discussion of what behavior is NOT sexual harassment.
*SIU's code does not include the "severe, persistent, or pervasive" legal standard. That standard must be hammered into the code and follow-up training.
*SIU's proposed code bans consensual relationships--a great way to deter potential hires who happen to be single. Where do people meet others for dating and mating? The workplace, of course. I suppose we will be treated next to a pre-dating contract requirement of what a person may or may not do on dates that fall in a gray zone?
*SIU's proposed changes add "sexually-explicit music" and computer images to the code. (Legal Counsel apparently copied this language from the SIUE code). Grab your Nanny Filter, men and women, and make sure you don't join a Facebook or Myspace group that is "sexually-explicit!" If uncertain, check with the bluenoses over at the proposed Office for Compliance.
The Sexual Harassment Working Group, SIU Legal Counsel, and constituency groups ought to "buck up" and read the model code discussed above.
Friday, October 3, 2008
The town of Alva made a bold decision. They would raise sales taxes 1% and turn over much of the money to scholarships at the University. The supporters of the plan reasoned that with more people in town, more money would be spent locally, returning the city's investment. The town dedicated the rest of the sales tax increase to developing parks and recreational areas in the city.
Did it work? Well, during the 2003-2004 academic year, 49.6% more students were awarded bachelors degrees than in 1999. By all accounts the school is doing well. They have added special veterans programs, out of state tuition waivers, and they share athletic facilities with the local high school, cutting down on infrastructure costs. According to the school's president at the time, Dr. John Beran, “not only are we attracting more students, but they are staying and earning degrees. We’re no longer an institution where many students come and get the basics and then transfer. We are now truly fulfilling the mission of a four-year regional university.”
In the fall of 2007, in spite of wide spread community opposition, the City of Carbondale imposed a sales tax increase to support a football stadium, along with Saluki Way. President Glenn Poshard spoke passionately in favor of the proposal that would direct up to $1 million a year for 20 years to a stadium that is used a half dozen times or so.
This is why there is a crisis of leadership at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, or "Southern" as Victoria Valle, the 6 figure income bureaucrat named as the assistant vice Chancellor for Enrollment, prefers to call it. The administration at Northwestern Oklahoma, along with the city, came up with a truly innovative use of the sales tax money. And their first thought wasn't to put out an expensive full color brochure while nicknaming the college "NorWest".
What if SIUC had put all that money into scholarships? And why didn't the enrollment managers or the "outstanding faculty" that have led all the failed searches for failed chancellors fight for an idea like that?
Here's the news for those who may have not gotten the memo: All universities have great faculty, in that they care to choose from the literally hundreds of applications for tenure track positions. When SIUC has a bad academic department, and there are quite a few, it is because the departments have been hijacked by crazed academics - often in thrall to theory, or political correctness, or Marxist/Gramsci/Foucault/Derrida madness. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
And the students turn away in droves.
When a university burdens students with fees to build a football stadium that they won't see for years, converts local sales taxes to the same project, it is not fulfilling its mission.
And the students turn away in droves.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
The committee cited Harry Blackmun, most famous for his Roe v. Wade opinion. In Esteban v. Central Missouri State College (415 F. 2d 1077), Blackmun wrote:
". . . school regulations are not to be measured by the standards which prevail for the criminal law and for criminal procedure; and that the courts should interfere only where there is a clear case of constitutional infringement."
Read, compare, and make up your own mind.
[The Student Conduct Code reads:]
"3) . . . The responsibility for selecting an advisor is placed on the charged student. The advisor may be any individual except a principal or witness in the hearing. The advisor shall be limited to advising the student and shall not participate directly in the hearing except by permission of the hearing agent and then only when the hearing agent finds special circumstances such as a party’s inability or difficulty communicating;"
Jonathan—this is a response to your questions about my thoughts on the above provision of the Student Conduct Code stating that “the advisor shall be limited to advising the student and shall not participate directly in the hearing except by permission of the hearing agent.” I can only guess what harm the drafters were concerned with but that guess is that they were concerned that attorneys [who are not mentioned in the provision]would interfere in the proceedings by raising frequent and irrelevant objections and numerous technical legal points. If this was the fear it reveals an astonishing ignorance of legal reality. Few students could afford to pay attorneys. Several years ago, I heard that attorneys in this area charged $150 an hour and it is doubtless more now. Moreover, the vast number of cases considered under the Student Conduct Code (SCC) do not require and probably would not benefit from an attorney’s skills and the potential penalties are not severe enough for a student to ask for an attorney’s assistance.
But some cases do. I will recite the facts involving a case I handled that illustrate these problems. I was called on by the faculty members of the Chinese-American Friendship Association, a campus organization, to represent two married Chinese students who were engaged in marital dispute while living in Evergreen terrace. The facts were simple. During an argument, the husband reached for a necklace the wife wore, and after a struggle that involved no physical injury, the wife called the campus police, who arrested and charged both husband and wife. This act resulted in criminal charges in the Jackson County Criminal Court and charges under the SCC.
It so happened that Sheila Simon was the state’s attorney assigned to the case. I explained the facts to her and that there were no injuries. She agreed to dismiss the case against both.
Turning to the SCC case, I explained to my clients that because there were cross claims I could not represent both of them and ended up representing the husband. The wife did not choose to have an attorney. I asked that the case be dismissed but the hearing officer refused. We had a full trial in which witnesses testified and at the end,the hearing officer dismissed the charges against both parties.
As I indicated earlier, one of the most frustrating features of this proceeding was that there were then no copying facilities available, and documents could not be taken from the hearing room, and so it was necessary for me to hand copy all documents.
Returning to the question of the need for a political advisor: in this case, my clients were foreigners, spoke poor English and were unfamiliar with American court procedures and so at least in cases of foreign students, of which there are many on the SIUC campus, adequate legal counsel is necessary.
Unfortunately, a fairly large number of American students are ignorant of such procedure. I taught courses of criminal justice and criminal procedure for years to undergraduate students and I can testify that on entering these courses their knowledge of the fundamentals of the American legal system was minimal.
As far as I know, the University makes no effort to teach these fundamentals to all students unless they take these special courses. Therefore, one can suppose that the vast number of students accused of a violation of the SCC will have only the vaguest idea of how to mount a defense to a charge.
I think that if the university is serious about wanting to provide procedural due process to students, it should:
1) provide a sort of pre-trial hearing in which some legally trained person, perhaps a third-year law student, would review the charge against the student to determine if there are “special circumstances such as a party’s inability or difficulty communicating;” or where the case is of such complexity that the student needs legal assistance;
2) In such a case, a law student would be assigned to aid the student, with full ability to call and cross-examine witnesses and to argue the case in favor of the accused;
3) This assistant or another should also be allowed to continue the case on to appeal.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
From my experience with students and the conduct code, the first four criticisms are accurate: in this day and age, why can't Judicial Affairs allow copies of written complaints or tape recordings of a hearing? Listing a nominal charge is also fair and reasonable.
Mr. Robinson's last criticism puzzles me because it arises again and again without careful explanation as to what role a lawyer could play in these conduct proceedings. It reads:
"5) Students do not have the right to have an attorney or legally trained person of their choosing to represent them at the hearing. They may only have an adviser who whispers advice in their ears, which by definition cannot be part of the record. . . ."
I witnessed the Marc Torney hearing in which the anti-war protester, charged with unauthorized demonstrating, had lawyer Rich Whitney whisper advice in his ear.
Several questions (I have an open mind, I just don't know what a lawyer would do):
1. What role, besides "whispering in the ear," would a lawyer play?
2. If legal counsel's role is greatly expanded (again, how?), would or should that expanded role be limited to the more serious violations?
3. Where are the lawyers? A local lawyer or FIRE or the ACLU might take a high-profile case but southern Illinois lawyers don't have thriving practices that allow many of them to serve as "angel" counselors.
4. Would a system of student advisers and/or examiners augment whatever Robinson proposes? At other universities, students (often graduate students) with flawless social and academic records can volunteer to be trained and serve on hearing boards. (I know, I trained for this role at Ohio State University and a friend served on one of those hearing boards).
The chief problem with the Student Conduct Code seems to be the lack of a paper trail. If you find yourself in trouble, keep a record of everything. Contemporaneous notes are best: email events to yourself because that puts a time/date stamp that shows you actually wrote it at the time of an alleged incident. This is all common sense. If you can afford it, consult an attorney or seek the help of FIRE or the ACLU. Keep in mind that those groups tackle a limited range of cases but they might point you to a lawyer who could help.
All in all, be assertive. Meanwhile, I'll ask Mr. Robinson if he has time to answer my questions. I'm sure I'm not the only one who wants to know.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Inspired by this example, here is my working list of "Twelve Steps to a Better SIU." I haven't made it to twelve yet, which is a good thing -- add your input and I will consolidate a list of "steps" to make SIU better.
1. University Statement on Intellectual Diversity and Academic Freedom: What makes SIUC stand out? We have diversity statements, just like the other guys. We have months dedicated to Latinos, African Americans, Women--just like the other guys. What we don't have in the plethora of statements on the SIUC web site is a bold assertion that SIUC is committed to intellectual debate and diversity. This is remarkable because SIUC has THE BEST debate team in the nation!! We should toot that horn and work from that strength. One way is to set up a regular
2. Debate Series: college campuses have become intellectually stale refuges for scholars to pursue narrow scholarly topics, and students to pursue narrow technical degrees. "Back in the day," colleges hosted rockus debates with outside or on-campus speakers addressing the issues of the day, scientific disputes, and so on. As a B.A. graduate of the Class of 1984, I returned years later to see that debates--meaningful disputation--had vanished. Even worse, colleges spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on speakers that offer only one side of hotly-contested issues.
"The sound of one hand clapping." We need TWO points of view set off against each other, sponsored or hosted by the university, resulting in the audience clapping TWO hands and getting engaged.
Believe me, this would make SIUC stand out, even as our debate champions stand out as the best in the nation.
3. Reading benches:
Recently I traveled to a private college out of state. I was struck by the abundance of benches, with students sitting and READING. iPods out of their ears, no flicking to their cell phones, but simply reading. God knows the uncomfortable hallway seating on campus does not encourage reading. Our beautiful campus would look even more collegial with more benches. Call it the "missing bench" theory (after the "broken window" concept) but a college without benches is like a town without sidewalks: soulless.
4. Promote religious study:
As a state university, SIUC cannot promote a religious point of view. But it can promote the study of religion. Years ago, SIUC, like many major universities today, had a Religious Studies Department. My retired colleague Dale Bengston taught an enormously popular "Religious Diversity in America" course. Heck, even Harvard is requiring its incoming freshmen to take one course on the study of religion. Judging from the popularity of these courses, this would be a splendid way for SIUC to connect with many people of faith across the state (Christians, Jews, Muslims, others). Moreover, you don't need to believe in any religion to understand the importance of studying it. After all, I spent many hours reading about communism when I was a graduate student but I don't embrace the philosophy!
5. Eliminate or cut "special admits":
Our general admission requirements allow a below-average high school student to attend college. "Special admits" are those who fall below the ACT/GPA standards of SIUC. This translates into an abysmal graduation rate* and burdensome expenditures on remedial education. Are we doing these admits a favor or is this the type of "kindness that kills" the spirit of those ill-prepared for college?
*The six-year graduate rate for incoming freshmen hovers below 40%. The four-year graduation rate is below 30%. That is intolerable and it forces instructors to lower standards for students who need to be challenged.
6. Multicultural Center:
The Student Center is the focal point for mid-day activity at SIUC. Every day, faculty, staff and students head there for lunch or to study. The Center has come a long way in its offerings of food and free wireless access.
What does this have to do with a "Multicultural Learning Center?" Dr. Joseph Brown, S.J. (chair, Black Studies) noted that young black students had to congregate ("hang out") at the intersection near McDonalds. What these young people needed, Dr. Brown argued, was a multicultural center. The idea went nowhere (and I doubt it would eliminate "hanging out" at the Student Center). However, my immediate thought was that we already DO have a Multicultural Center:
Call it the "Morris Multicultural Learning Center (MMLC)" and encourage students of all races to "hang out" there to study! Remember to have benches surrounding the newly renovated, spiffed-up MMLC. That's a "multicultural" idea I can get behind.
7. Home school outreach:
Kudos to President Poshard for acting swiftly on my proposal to reach out to home schoolers. SIUC Admissions is now ready to process applications from home school students. SIUC was named one of the most "Home School Friendly Colleges" in the Midwest. The next step is to reach those students. Misconceptions abound: many people home school for religious reasons but many do not. The assumption is that bright home schoolers migrate to Christian colleges but many wish to remain close to home, or cannot afford an expensive private college. Remember: Home school families make a real sacrifice in income when one spouse quits her job to educate the children. SIUC's affordability and rating as a "home school friendly college" are selling points.
8. Law and Order:
I have the highest respect for the SIU Police but they have never received the backing they need. We should not exaggerate the crime problem on campus but it is real and it keeps many students--particularly women--from attending SIUC. Nationwide, the ratio is 55% women:45% men. Here at SIUC the numbers are reversed. If SIUC had the same ratio of women, we should be 3-4,000 students "richer!"
There is no sidestepping the race and crime issue. Gangs follow students to SIUC. Indeed, last year a bright young black man with high grades came to me for advice on dealing with his former gang--now targeting him (and by "target," I mean "target"). This student had "escaped" from one of the worst schools in Chicago and was flourishing at SIUC. Here was an instant reminder that crime VICTIMS come in all skin colors. Alas, when "diversity" and crime conflict (as they did in a high-profile mugging two years ago), the crime victim is forgotten. Be consistent, forceful and do not "go wobbly" on law and order (or, if you prefer, "campus safety").
9. University 101:
SIU students vary greatly in their readiness for college, an understatement given that half will never graduate. Currently, SIU offers a University 101 course on how to succeed in college. These courses discuss the basics, such as notetaking, organization, time management. Because SIU relies on faculty/staff volunteers, the course is largely limited to our least well-prepared students. As an instructor, I know that even the average-to-above-average students need training in notetaking and in asserting themselves with instructors, who sit during their mandatory office hours waiting for students who never come for help. (I date myself by referring to these as my Maytag repairman hours). Recommendation: Student interns earn academic credit for staffing these primer courses. They may be graduate students (who need one-on-one teaching experience if they wish to enhance their teaching portfolio). Or they may be our best and brightest undergraduates. Other schools require a University 101 of all incoming freshmen. To limit the staffing and building space requirements, waive the course for graduates of community colleges. They have already "made the cut" and have a much higher graduation rate.
10. Reduce Legal Liability:
SIU Legal Counsel has lost several major lawsuits in recent years. Even worse, those cases involved high-profile media publicity that did not reflect well on SIU. Many cases get farmed out to firms that later hire former SIU staff counsel ("revolving door?"). How well does the office perform when audited? The public has a right to know because we taxpayers are footing the bill.
Don't ask Legal Counsel to be "yes men" and women. Case in point: When the Supreme Court handed down its "Michigan decisions" on affirmative action (2003), staff lawyer Peter Ruger and Vice President John Haller proposed mild, sensible changes to SIU's statement on affirmative action. As a member of the Affirmative Action Advisory Committee, I supported the Ruger recommendations. Apparently, however, Ruger told the diversity office what it did not want to hear. SIU refused to change anything. Ruger left for Tueth, Keeney, one of the firms on retainer to SIU. Two years later, the U.S. Department of Justice slapped SIU with a complaint and the university made the headlines by being forced to sign a consent decree agreeing not to discriminate. It didn't have to happen but the top brass ought to demand straight shooting from legal counsel and not let the Diversity Establishment interfere with their work.
Those are my first ten, more to come, but feel free to chime in with your own ideas, or call some of the above just downright wrong. Beware: I may debate you, or I may admit I was wrong.
"He that refuses correction despises his own soul" (Proverbs 15:32)
(To be continued)
Saturday, September 27, 2008
With regard to reforms of SIUC’s sexual harassment policy proposed by the Office of Legal Counsel:
SIUC constituency groups have been asked to comment on the proposed changes to SIUC’s policy, even though Legal Counsel offers no insight into the problems that both complainants and respondents experienced with the administration of the previous policy. These problems caused constituency groups, in 2006, to propose reforms that Legal Counsel saw fit to ignore in its new proposed policy. Let me admit that reforms to the policy, even were they to remedy the destructiveness of those proposed by Legal Counsel, will be of little effect, since SIUC administrators consistently ignore policies when it suits their interests. But further context might be helpful as the community responds to current proposals by Legal Counsel that lack context.
Fortunately, the SIUC Faculty Association described two cases in which complaints by women faculty against male administrators were ignored by supervisors. I know of another in which a woman faculty member filed a “hostile environment” charge against her chair. Being apprised of it, the Dean of the College, Shirley Clay Scott, immediately commiserated with the chair and indicated that legal advice to fight the complaint would be provided—all this without knowing the specifics of the complaint. [Diversity Chancellor] Seymour Bryson, upon advice of the Office of Legal Counsel, declined to investigate the complaint, the existence of which was, far from being kept “private,” announced in the departmental newsletter (sent to alumni around the world) as part of the Chair’s campaign of harassment against the faculty member, who was named as the complainant. So much for Interim Chancellor Goldman’s interest in “privacy.”
During 2005-06, I served on both University committees that recommended reforms to the policy. When the Sexual Harassment Subcommittee of the Affirmative Action Advisory Committee forwarded proposals for reform to Seymour Bryson, he demanded a rationale for them. What follows is the response that the committee provided him in 2006. While it is very long, it should add significant context necessary to an intelligent discussion of reform proposals.
[MODERATOR: Last year, coauthor Leonard Gross and I posted a link to this report in the Daily Egyptian but the advantage of the Internet is that you can click below for the full report and Schneider's final letter to Diversity Chancellor Seymour Bryson]
Readers mights be particularly interested in the case study that begins with the bracketed [***] inserted by the moderator (p. 2). If "war is the continuation of politics by other means" [von Clausewitz], the warfare here is based on a sexual harassment code twisted for political agendas, or so it would seem. No names, no report--who can tell?]
The Committee report: click on this link.
Schneider's final letter to Diversity Chancellor Bryson: click on this link
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Enrollment is down, SIU is being sued, but "take me out to the old ballgame."
As the t-shirt says, "life is good."
Ms. Valle began feathering her nest down here in Carbondale last year after having been a short term "enrollment manager" at the San Francisco Art Institute. She also spent time at SIUE, Mudelein College in Chicago, Penn State, UC- San Diego, Spelman College in Atlanta, Loyola University - Chicago, Elmhurst College, and Cal State Sacramento. According to our count thats 10 institutions. One thing about the management geniuses at SIUC, when you find someone like Victoria Valle who has made more pit stops than Kyle Busch, then you just gotta get her on your team.
So our peripatetic Ms. Valle has been studying the enrollment issues. She's got big ideas. For instance, she was quoted in the DE saying that she wanted this place to be called "Southern". "We feel that 'SIUC' kind of puts us in a place we don't want to be". And she has another groundbreaking idea: a full colored brochure extolling the wonders of "Southern".
Ms. Valle, this is called putting lipstick on a pig.
The news you may have missed is that the decline in enrollment happened among students FROM Southern Illinois. In other words the people that already know us. Maybe no one told you but here are some more factors in the enrollment decline that your brochures won't help.
(A) 6 acting/itinerate/interim/fired Chancellors since 1999.
(B) A plagiarism scandal that swooped back and forth between SIUC and SIUE before ensnaring the President of SIU, Glenn Poshard. You probably didn't see it, but the Chicago Tribune (which may be read by potential students and their parents) called for the resignation of President Poshard. Luckily we have expert faculty like Peggy Stockdale, a psychologist and Faculty Senate President, who investigated and came up with the felicitous phrase, "inadvertent plagiarism". We understand that Dr. Stockdale is now listed as an expert on sexual harassment and is advising on the new guidelines. No doubt there will some more English language barriers broken. But I
(C) A bizarre Marxist Dean of the College of Mass Communications, Manjunath Pendakur, who drove off some of the best journalism faculty in the University and replaced them with lunatic deconstructionist/jargonist "theoreticians". Aside from a revolt by alumni who withdrew millions of dollars in donations, the entire network of SIUC journalism was enraged by the actions of this Dean. Which means fewer recommendations to students to attend SIUC.
(D) Most recently there has been the issue of John Simon and Cal Meyers, long time faculty who were driven off campus by the sexual harassment secret police. That has led to the US Grant Association taking its archives elsewhere, many lawsuits, and non-stop, inane comments by the interim Chancellor Sam Goldman. Just today Goldman said that Simon was not fired, even though he received a notice of termination from the university. Goldman's analogy? "You know the line, until the fat lady sings nothing happens". What in God's name goes through Goldman's mind before it passes his lips?.
So you've got a terrific environment to pursue your work at your six figure salary - you can put out all the full colored brochures you want - and the rest of the university will be driving students away. You may have found lifetime employment after all.
I am a law professor here at SIU but I write strictly on my own behalf and as chairman of the local chapter of the ACLU. I agree with Professor Bean that the proposed sexual harassment code does a very poor job of defining what constitutes various offenses. As a result, there is a risk that people will not have adequate notice of what is an offense.
I also am very concerned that the proposed sexual harassment policy does not accord accused individuals due process rights. Individuals accused of sexual harassment do not have the right to learn the name of their accuser. They do not have the right to cross examine either the accuser or any other witnesses. The right of cross examination is considered fundamental to our system of justice because it is believed that is the best way to learn the truth. Accused individuals do not even have the right to counsel. Furthermore, at the appeals stage, they do not even have an absolute right to present evidence on their own behalf.
This process contrasts sharply with the Judicial Review Board process (I am a JRB member). For grievances that are subject to the JRB, grievants can present evidence, cross examine witnesses and have the assistance of an advocate. The SIU Law School’s Honor Code also provides a better model. We pick a neutral outsider to conduct hearings to determine whether a student has committed an honor code violation. If a student is found to have committed an offense, a sanction is recommended but the final decision as to the appropriate sanction is up to the Dean. Students have the right to counsel, the right to cross examine witnesses and the right to present evidence on their own behalf. Discipline can be imposed only if there is "clear and convincing evidence," unlike the lower standard of "preponderance of the evidence" under the proposed sexual harassment code.
Individuals may rightly feel that the proposed process gives them so little opportunity to be heard fairly that they have no recourse but to resort to filing a lawsuit in federal court as Dr. Meyers has done.Professor Leonard Gross
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Ten years ago, Professor Patai spoke at SIUC campus to a packed University Museum auditorium. The topic was her book Heterophobia: Sexual Harassment and the Future of Feminism (1998).
In Heterophobia (pp. 29-30), Patai mentions SIUC as representative of the problems with then-current codes:
"In their voluminous writings, the proliferating group of experts in this new field blur major and minor infractions, conflate gross offensiveness with a mere word or gesture that made someone--perhaps only a bystander--"uncomfortable," and even suggest that rape is implicit, if not inherent, in every unwanted touch or look. The connection is made explicit in a typical brochure, distributed at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, which states, 'Sexual harassment can be as subtle as a look or as blatant as rape.' And even lawyers specializing in sexual harassment write without embarrassment about the difficulty of defining the offense. . . ."
[Patai summarizes sexual harassment lawyers' view that "they know it when they see it"]
"The power of the charge of sexual harassment is, at the present moment, enormous. It can unleash formidable institutional forces against an alleged harasser, often with a complete absence of due process. Institutions, which, . . . are required by law to take allegations seriously, go into action as soon as the words 'sexual harassment' are uttered. Southern Illinois's brochure, for example, contains not a single word of warning about filing false charges of this extremely subjective offense. To the contrary, it promotes vigilantism: 'All members of the university community are encouraged to speak out when they see, hear of , or experience incidents of sexual harassment.''"
NOTE: This was a year before the U.S. Supreme Court laid down the "severe, persistent, or pervasive" standard which is lacking in SIU's new (proposed) code.
Dr. Patai has granted me permission to post links to
1) her critical analysis of SIU's code ten years later; and
2) her essay "Women on Top" (a lengthier read; readers strapped for time might scroll down to the last two pages where she describes a typical witchhunt at University of Wisconsin and the forces that sap the accused, even if found innocent, of the will to fight universities that go back to doing what they did before.
For other independent women against sexual harassment codes, see the Independent Women's Forum (http://iwf.org/) and search for "sexual harassment" stories.