Friday, December 18, 2009

Is Scandal Inevitable when Scientists Become Activists?

Crosspost from a new blog on science policy by SIU graduate Alex Berezow,

Was ClimateGate inevitable? Moreover, with all the negative attention given to corporate-funded research (supposed conflict of interest), what about government-funded research? If you research global warming and conclude there is no (or little) problem, how much will the government throw at a problem that doesn't exist? On the other hand, if your research scares the bejesus out of government officials (and the public), how much will various government spend?

To paraphrase Carl Sagan, "billions and billions . . . “

Monday, November 23, 2009

Climate Conspiracy: U.K., U.S. "ClimateGates" Call into Question Peer Review, Politics

My friends at have posted on the “Climate Conspiracy” that broke when hackers revealed global warming scientists had apparently manipulated data, organized attacks on skeptics, and much more. Surprise, surprise.

The timing couldn’t be worse for those who would cripple economies with the plaintive cry: “Do as we say or we all die!” Worldwide there is growing skepticism about the benefits of micromanaging every aspect of daily life while measuring “carbon footprints.” The Wall Street Journal even contributed to this Nanny Project with a long piece measuring the carbon footprint of various common products. I was relieved to see that beer had the lowest carbon footprint.

How far have we gone when we decide whether or not it is “good for the planet” to drink beer? Now we must ask: Did German scientists manipulate the beer data to preserve their national beverage? (I'm kidding). It's a good cause(beer drinking) but who studies this stuff? And when is enough enough?

To read more, click here.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Student Blogs: Speaking Truth to Pooh-bahs

In a previous post, I noted how military bloggers are writing the "first pages of history." Likewise, student bloggers are offering a place to speak out against the abuses on their campuses: from official racial segregation (in the name of Diversity) to expulsion for being pro-life and much more.

During the 1990s, many upscale universities had students who said "Enough!" and established newspapers to advocate for academic freedom, mock the Mickey Mouse courses taught on campus, and generally play the role of watchdog. Needless to say, those newspapers were not welcomed by administrators or the PC thugs who "police" what happens on campus. Blessed by administrators who looked the other way, the thugs stole newspapers en masse and otherwise bullied these reporters in a style worthy of the Ku Klux Klan.

Flash forward ten years: the Internet offers students, alumni and faculty the opportunity to watch and report on the crazy shenanigans of those in power and those who feel empowered to act as foot soldiers in the "long march through the institutions" that has done so much damage to academic rigor and freedom.

(Disclosure: I have my own blog, FreeU, focusing primarily on Illinois issues).

Here I'd like to profile one excellent student blog:

(The blogroll includes many alternative blogs by students, alumni, community members from Left to Right and "just for fun").

Issues of interest to academic readers include the following:
*Thought reform

*Expulsion for the "wrong" views

*Racial segregation promoted by the administration.
The military bloggers have a central directory; perhaps it is time to gather a EDUblogging directory? Meanwhile, search and you will find someone blogging about your campus, whether the pooh-bahs approve or not.

Postscript: Alumni need to get into the act. They have nothing to fear--and administrators sometimes listen to them. Using the web, I got alumni at my alma mater to pressure the administration and get rid of a mandatory "white guilt" seminar for freshmen.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Will Layoffs be based on Diversity?

In recent weeks, the USA Today and National Public Radio have crowed that this recession is different: most of those losing jobs were men (and predominantly white). This is “encouraging” according to these news outlets.

Why is it good? Because a majority of the workforce is now made up of women; and blacks have not been hurt as much as whites (the media seem to have forgotten about Asians and Hispanics but what else is new?). This is an advance in gender, if not racial, diversity. Whooo. One wonders how those women married to unemployed men think about their gender’s “advance.”

Is this recession different? We won’t know until later but with “diversity accomplishments” now part of our academic job descriptions, there is reason to think that we may be evaluated accordingly when (or if) layoffs occur. After all, what better way to “diversify” the faculty than to adopt the slogan:
“First thing we do, fire all the white males!”
Employers are fearful of employment-related lawsuits and this is the first recession to seriously threaten academic jobs since 1982. The Diversity Machine has grown enormously since 1982, when it was only a glimmer in the eyes of campus social engineers. Today it is an industry that influences accreditation bodies, professional associations, and university practices (think of the money set aside for “diversity hires”).

If universities can make diversity hires, why not make the same decision when firing people?

Time to dust off your computer screen and search for labor relations law in your state. Those of us with unions ought to contact them too if the proverbial four-letter word “hits the fan.”

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

“I am Woman”: Sharia is OK with Me

[Crossposted from NOTE: The original post has links to the video, transcript and other relevant material]

Surprise, surprise: multicultural dogma and concern for “the Other” have seeped from college campuses to the highest corridors of power (again).

To wit: The first veiled female appointee in the White House, Dalia Mogahed, member of the Presidential Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Mogahed recently appeared on an Islamic television show in the UK touting her Gallup poll purporting to show that women are OK with sharia. Westerners just don’t get it, she says:
“the majority of women around the world associate gender justice, or justice for women, with sharia compliance. Whereas only a small fraction associated oppression of women with compliance with the shari`ah.”**
For the transcript, click here. There was little news coverage, except for this British article.

Imagine if a president appointed a strict Christian adviser who stated: “gender justice means obeying the Bible and church rulings on it.” Can you imagine the uproar?

The key point: Christians are not “the Other.” The dominant or majority group is held to a different standard. “Others” get a pass because “it’s an ‘Other thing,’ you just wouldn’t understand.”

Where is Western-style feminism when you need it? We don’t lack for Women’s Studies Departments that issue secular fatwas when they feel the pea of oppression through their seats in the Ivory Tower. Surely, they have something to say about treatment of women in Muslim countries? Alas, we must seek out a Yemeni feminist to criticize the appointment of Dalia Mogahed.

I can hear the comebacks: feminist critics of sharia are a minority (the abolitionists were a minority too). Or: “those uppity women need to read Dalia’s surveys and tighten their hijabs!”

**For Mogahed’s puffed-up survey results, go to “Who Speaks for Islam?” For criticism of Gallup “spin” see Jihadwatch More to the point, read the conditions under which pollsters labor in Muslim countries, given the many restrictions on women and the watching eye of government and family. Do these restrictions lend themselves to representative opinion surveys?

Postscript: Apologies to Helen Reddy: “I am Woman” is the title of her best-selling song (1972). Reddy did not have sharia on her mind.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Freedom from Fear: Crime and the Diversity Hustle

[This is a crosspost from As an officer of the National Association of Scholars, and president of the Illinois affiliate, they asked me to become a regular contributor to the national blog. NAS is committed to academic excellence, freedom, and restoration of common sense in higher education. No small task. If interested in joining, email me at]

By now, most Americans have watched the newscast on the brutal killing of Chicago honors student Derrion Albert.

FDR made "freedom from fear" one of his Four Freedoms. Many Chicago students flee to my rural university to secure "freedom from fear." They escape gang violence and the prospect of ending up in jail. They are the Derrion Alberts of the world--kids who want to start over.

Alas, college administrators--in the name of "diversity"--promote gang magnet events such as our Player's Ball: a fraternity-sponsored event with "pimps," "hoes," and "bitches."

Guilty white administrators cave to demands for "urban culture." After all, "it's a black thing." Diversity officials remain silent (privately, they do not approve but "what are we going to do?").

The same administrators ban credit card vendors on campus, squelch "hate speech" (a term never applied in this context) but will not lift a finger to "do the right thing." At the very least, campus officials could use their bully pulpit and authority to criticize these events.

One of my former students escaped his gang, became an honors student and attended the "Ball" in his second year. At the Ball, gang members searched him out and put a "hit" on his head for leaving them. Several of us found a way to relocate him but ultimately this student left for another university.

That is not education, it is exodus.

Since administrators and diversity deans do nothing, say nothing, hear nothing, I call them out: "Shame on you!"

Derrion Albert could have been one of my students, if he lived to attend college. For the Derrions of the world, those of us who teach or lead need to speak up.

R.I.P. Derrion Albert

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sexual Harassment Procedures: You Have the Right to . . . (mumble mumble)

Everyone knows the famous Miranda decision requiring the accused to be informed of their rights. This decision became one of the keystones of modern liberal due process. If the accused is not informed of their rights, a police state may run rough shod over those alleged to have committed crimes.

Forget Miranda and all that "innocent before guilty" nonsense. Welcome to the wonderful new world of "Sexual Harassment Procedures." In the latest phase of obfuscating the rights of the accused, Southern Illinois University has produced a "Working Draft" entitled "Sexual Harassment Complaint and Investigation Procedures." Since this is "comment period," here are my criticisms of the Not-So-New Procedures. For a full history of the events leading up to this point, read the following provocative posts:
The one by law professor Leonard Gross is relevant here.

The criticisms that follow apply not only to Southern Illinois University Carbondale but to many (most?) college campuses. Hence the need for groups like FIRE, NAS, and certain ACLU chapters.

Silver Lining in SIU Procedures Draft:

The SIUC draft streamlines the harassment procedures by channeling everything through an "Associate Chancellor." Got to give them credit for efficiency. This might help reduce the odds of double jeopardy.

Devilish Details:

Let us move on to find the "devil in the details." A rigorous analysis of the draft uncovers
*the "guilty before innocent" principle,
*extreme preemptive action,
*vagueness concerning the "rights of the accused."
The rights of the accuser are spelled out in great detail but when it comes to the accused ("Respondent") we find "not so much" information. If you accept the procedures at Guantanamo Bay, you'll love the approach taken here.

The Procedures state that the accuser:
"should include as much relevant information as possible, such as the name of the alleged victim, the name of the individual who allegedly violated the Policy (hereinafter “Respondent”), and a factual description of the incident(s) (including dates, times, places, and the names of any witnesses)."
This sounds good: full and complete information so that the accused might respond without being left in the dark, as has been documented in past horror cases at SIUC. But will this "full and complete" information be relayed in full to the accused? There are reasons to doubt anything has changed based on the following:

Verbal complaints allowed with no explanation of transcription process:
"Individuals are encouraged to make complaints in writing; however, written complaints are not required. Consistent with the University’s obligation to investigate complaints, and to the extent permitted by law, these records will be kept confidential."
Recommended Revision 1:

The procedures need to clearly state WHO and HOW verbal complaints will be recorded. There are always problems with oral statements, particularly when they can be changed, the person can be "coached," etc. Does any one recall the Duke Lacrosse fiasco and the harm that did to Duke University? I recommend that all verbal complaints be taped (precedent for this with Judicial Affairs) and taken down in writing so that the accused may respond in his/her defense.

Recommended Revision 2:

Make clear that "confidential" does not mean "anonymous" accusations. Later in the document there is talk of redacting and providing only "relevant" information. This places the accused in a terrible position of not knowing WHO is accusing them, who is an alleged witness, etc.

Destroy Reputation, Finish Investigation Later:
"if the Associate Chancellor finds it necessary to ensure compliance with applicable laws and/or University policies, he or she . . . may place the Respondent [accused] on temporary paid administrative leave, or otherwise temporarily bar such individual from campus pending the investigation . . . ."
Whoa! These preemptive strikes can devastate a person's reputation, even if the facts are later found to be "insufficient" (you are never declared "innocent," the facts are just "insufficient" to bear the charge!). Why do the Procedures jump to the "nuclear option" without offering milder, sensible alternatives such as a "restraining (or no-contact) order?" One reason, I suspect, is that a restraining order is impossible if the accused is kept in the dark as to WHO is accusing them!

Recommended Revision 1:

Lay out something short of an action that will destroy a person's reputation before there is a finding.

Recommended Revision 2:

Spell out that such drastic action will only be taken if the person constitutes a "clear and present danger" (or similar language).

Confidential Report: what does that mean?:
"Upon completion of the investigation, the investigator(s) shall prepare a confidential report of the findings and any recommendations, to the Associate Chancellor."
Again, does confidential mean that this report will not be made available to the accused? As I recall, this issue came up in the John Y. Simon case and incidents on other campuses.

False Reporting

This is the only mention of "false reporting":
"disciplinary proceedings shall be conducted for violations of the Sexual Harassment Policy (including sexual harassment, retaliation, and false reporting)."
No definition of "false," no recourse for the accused, no consequences for frivolous or false reports, no reasonableness standard. Nothing, nade, zip. Accuse all you want because these procedures give the accused no recourse. The feminist upholders of sexual harassment justice will assert that "false reports" are "rare" and of no concern. Surely, however, they do occur and these procedures, by providing no recourse, only encourage false reporting.

Recommended Revision:
Define false reporting, lay out procedures for the accused to file a countercomplaint.
Rights of the Respondent:

"1. To be informed of the allegations against him or her in a manner that will provide the Respondent an opportunity to respond;" (italics added).

Does "in a manner" mean full and complete disclosure of the complaint, investigation report, testimony of witnesses, etc.? It suggests something less than full disclosure.

Later in the report (p. 8), the draft states the Associate Chancellor will protect "the privacy of the alleged victim and witnesses" (does that mean they will not be revealed to the accused?). Privacy and anonymity are two very different things. The former keeps the process private within the confines of the university, the latter prevents the accused from knowing WHO is accusing them and who is witnessing against them.

On p. 8 there is further discussion of "redacted reports, documents and other materials germane to the investigation." What will be redacted? This needs to be spelled out. If the names of the accuser, witnesses, etc. are redacted (the anonymity issue), then I am totally opposed to this illiberal proposal.

Disclosure to Third Parties:

"Any documents . . . shall not be disclosed to any third parties, unless required by law." Translation: creating a leak-proof university? This became an issue at SIUC when one person allegedly provided information to a lawyer who then took action against the university. Does the above language prevent either party from disclosing documents to legal counsel in preparation for possible legal action? Or is this the ultimate CYA or shield clause for the university to hide its dirty laundry?

The irony is rich: our campus, like so many others, has witnessed criticism of George W. Bush, the Patriot Act, Guantanamo Bay procedures on the grounds that due process is lacking and the government shields itself from scrutiny. Yet here we are with procedures that bear an eerie resemblance to the Bush-era action.

Recommended Revision:

The accuser must provide a complaint (to investigators) with names, dates, and witnesses. Why not simply state that the respondent has "the right to know his/her accuser," and a right to read the charges against him/her in full? We will hear the usual feminist objections that accusers won't be forthcoming if they know the accused will know them and their charges. But this is serious business when a person's life is at stake. Sexual harassment can harm the accuser but it can also have terrible consequences for the accused. Again, the incentives are structured to create an uneven field between the accuser and the accused.

Rights of the Respondent: Privacy

"the privacy of the Respondent will be maintained." But what of those barred from campus? How can we square privacy with an action that clearly marks them with a Scarlet S (for sexual harasser)?

Public Reporting::
"The Associate Chancellor shall, at the end of each fiscal year, provide the number of complaints and the disposition of such complaints to the Chancellor and the offices of the Illinois Department of Human Rights and the Illinois Board of Higher Education, pursuant to State statute."
Will this information be public record? If so, where would one find it? If not, why not?

Investigators and Panelists (judges):

There are procedures to make up a pool of investigators and panelists from "constituency groups."

Recommended Revision:

Information personnel (sexual harassment advisers) are available to both sides and should not be eligible to investigate or serve as members of appeals panels. There is a conflict of interest between their role as impartial advisers and judges.

Before signing off, this post is more than "pissing in the wind." It often seems that the Harassment Establishment will engage in rituals nodding to due process while letting the substance dribble away in opaque "procedures." Those who criticize the status quo are labeled (with some accuracy) PITAs (Pains in the Ass).

I take comfort in that I have offered not only criticism but suggested improvements to the draft.

I also take comfort in what George Orwell, one of history's great PITAs, wrote:
"Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Military Blogs: The First Pages of History

A crosspost from my policy blog deals with military blogging, something I stumbled on while teaching online courses:

"Military Blogs: The First Pages of History."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Low Graduation Rates: Are We Admitting Too Many Students?

Labor economist Richard Vedder has a provocative article discussing the waste and heartbreak associated with low graduation rates (my own university has a six-year graduation rate of 40% for incoming freshmen, not unusual and much higher than some other Illinois universities).

Vedder suggests that low graduation rates, coupled with underemployment of so many college graduates, translates into a society madly shoving students to go to college "or else" their lives will be miserable. Perhaps we need to rethink that proposition, not a popular one when colleges are desperately trying to scoop up any warm bodies to "stay alive" during these hard times.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

"Sustainability is a Waste: 10 Reasons to Oppose the Sustainability Movement on Your Campus"

The above link relates to issues I raised with the Sustainability Scam back in November 2008. See also "Plants Have Rights Too!"

Even in hard times, gullible people are willing to give up their money and their freedom to a radical movement that is "anti-rational." Let's stop the waste of money on "third circle" projects (see my link above) and devote it to students, books and learning.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Mohammad and Man at Yale: Burning Books (One Cartoon at a Time)

“Yale Press Bans Images of Muhammad in New Book,” by Patricia Cohen (New York Times, August 12, 2009)

In 1951, Bill Buckley published God and Man at Yale, a polemic arguing that the Christian God was no longer welcome at Yale University, a school founded to train Christian ministers and educate students about their Christian faith. That was too "biased" even in 1951.

58 years later, Yale University Press decides that they do respect religion -- the most biased, intolerant expressions of it. If Islam is a "religion of peace" and wisdom and tolerance, Western "progressives" are acting as if it were not. That is cowardly, yes, but also condescending, insulting to thinking Muslims, and suicidal to the academic enterprise.

[For those who are interested, Google "Danish Mohammed Cartoons" without the quotes and -- voila! -- the veiled is visible]

Book burnings horrify civil libertarians but this precensorship is far worse. Know-nothing book burners may burn a single book but copies of it remain and the ideas live on. Academic precensorship makes sure that the book the author wishes to write never sees the light of day.

What's next? Pre-clearance of academic monographs by Grand Ayatollahs?

I am sure Islamofascists would be offended by the photographs of Ms. Krausen without a hajib. We won't even mention the fashion spreads in the New York Times Magazine.

Or all the Jewish writers at the Times.

But perhaps Yale is right. The Wise and Wonderful Ayatollah Khomeini said

We are not afraid of economic sanctions or military intervention. What we are afraid of is Western universities
With another demonstration of chicken-sh** cowardice, Western universities have demonstrated that when it comes to Islamic threats, their only position is "prone."

(Apologies to chickens)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Steal this Book": Students and Textbooks

[Crossposted from my eHistory web site]

One of my favorite technology sites, has an article on "how to save money on textbooks." The comments are more illuminating than the article. Students discuss how they scan (and share) textbooks, download them via torrent sites, and so on. Apparently this doesn't work too well with high school students because the illegal e-book crowd gets busted when the teacher asks to see their textbook. Oops.

As for me, I'm adopting a free e-book developed by the University of Houston. The site is rich and a PDF reprinting is a lot easier than stealing books or waiting to see if the prof is really going to used it. I make it a point to assign questions from the textbook, along with questions from lecture material and supplemental readings. If I were a student (I'm on the evil teacher side), I'd be teed after buying a $150 book that the professor didn't use.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Free to Fail

The dirty little secret of higher education is that governments at all levels are pushing young people (and older folk) to get a college degree, regardless of ability. Because it is so easy to get into some college, there is less pressure on high school students to learn the study skills, time management and work ethic needed to actually graduate.

The federal government requires all colleges to report their 150% graduation rate: the number of entering freshmen tracked over SIX years (150% of the traditional four year college curriculum). This information is buried in an IPEDs site at the U.S. Department of Education, and not surprisingly, schools do not like to advertise that their graduation rate is lower than low.

Disclosure: my university has a 39% graduation rate over six years; higher for transfer students. The rate varies greatly by sex and race -- white and black females are graduating at far higher rates than white and black men. The situation is so severe that the National Urban League has labeled it one of Black America's top problems.

Finally, the American Enterprise Institute has published the high cost of perpetuating failure. Why do "we" do this?

Every politician, Democrat or Republican is an "education" candidate. All voters, it seems, feel their children are "above average" and entitled to a college education. That Woebegone logic runs up against the high proportion of students who are not adequately prepared for college. All of the remedial programs in the world have not changed that basic fact. The Tocquevillian nightmare of democracy running amuck means that all are pulled (with financial inducements) to become "college material" whether or not that is true.

The following site contains an abstract and link to the full PDF, which is eye-opening, to say the least. Chicago State has a 16% graduation rate. Other schools scrape below ten percent!

The only political solution is to mandate graduation through social promotion (think of how many high school students get tracked into Special Ed and then "graduated").

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Free, Free, Free!

At my other site, eHistory, I have posted blog entries that put the fiscally "free" into FreeU:

"Free Textbooks in Our Future?"

"Best Freeware for Students (and Others)":

PC and Mac advice for every imaginable category of software. Why pay when there are good freeware alternatives?

Feedback and suggestions welcome.

PS: Don't waste your money on Kindle DX, the new Amazon product aimed at the textbook market. Not good, not free -- read here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

All Hail Caesar! Here and Abroad

In the USA, it is "All hail Caesar!" So it seems by the clampdown on students satirizing President Obama at Bucknell University. Readers may recall that during the election campaign the freedom-fighting (?) faculty of the University of Illinois got a reversal of a ruling that would require them to eschew political buttons bashing President Bush and/or candidate McCain. During that free speech fracas, the AAUP and ACLU rushed to join FIRE in protesting this restriction. The AAUP's professed commitment to academic freedom involved both faculty (its constituency) and students (read AAUP Joint Statement here under Student Affairs).

Now that the favorite of academe (Obama) is in power, we wait for the other shoe to drop. And the AAUP, ACLU are . . . silent as a tomb.

Civil libertarian David French opines on the Bucknell situation here. A Bucknell alum notes that his alma mater is a repeat offender.

At least FIRE is consistent: They have defended the right of campus groups to bring left-wingers like Bill Ayers and Ward Churchill to campus.

Speaking of speech tombs, the election in Iran shows how difficult it can be to get out the message. Twitter has emerged as the primary means, along with bloggers who are putting their lives on the line. Why? Because a 2008 Iranian law imposes the death penalty for all those who "disturb the mental security" of others. Hmmm. Have the mullahs been reading U.S. harassment codes?

Read on about the cyberwar being fought in Iran.

Lost in the election debate is the distinction between freedom and democracy. Democracy may be the means to an end but if women are beaten for showing their ankles, Lady Liberty is outraged, even if an election was "fair." The media (and presidential) focus on democracy misconstrues the individual yearning for freedom--the same desire that motivated minorities in this country to cite our natural rights tradition and Constitution protecting the right to deviate from the norm. But that's a subject taken up in my forthcoming book (due out next month), Race and Liberty in America: The Essential Reader.

One final note: there is no moral equivalency between the USA and Iran on matters of speech. Nonetheless, if tyranny has a tendency to spread, it is aided by the forgotten arguments for freedom.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

It can happen here (because it is happening here!)

Massachusetts was once a cradle of liberty. In researching my book Race and Liberty in America, how uplifting it was to read those freedom fighters who fled to the more hospitable climate of Massachusetts where they could speak their mind on slavery and other civil rights issues.

Flash forward to 2009 and the thought police are busy quashing "quaint" notions of free speech, free press, and freedom of conscience. For the latest assault on campus freedom, read

This incident, along with so many others, remind me of The Clash lyric:

"You have the right to free
Speech as long as you're not
Dumb enough to actually try it. . . "

"You have the right to remain silent
You are warned that anything you say
Can and will be taken down
And used as evidence against you."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Great Depression and College Life

With all the world abuzz with talk of the dreaded "D" word, this post discusses sources for the study of college during hard times. Nearly every college or university has an archive with records dating back to the 1930s. With modern scanning technology, it becomes easy to upload to your own online storage site and then share the 1930s college experience with the world.

Since my institution hired me to teach the Great Depression (among other courses), I grabbed photocopies of all Board and President minutes and reports. Last month I uploaded the entire era (1929-1942) to here. Download the root folder as a zip file, then open with your photo manager.

Google Books is digitizing the world's history of fiction and nonfiction (including newspapers). There is no reason why students and amateur historians can't "do their part" (the early New Deal slogan).

Another great site for documents from that era, including a high school newspaper and college material: "The New Deal Project."
It appears that allegations of liberal bias among the faculty ran rampant in that era too. They didn't call it Political Correctness because that term didn't come along, it seems, until the communist Mao wrote his Little Red Book.

This portal at the New Deal Project examines "Student Activism in the 1930s," with many documents and images from that time period. Most students, however, conformed to the "Joe College" and "Betty Coed" norms of their parents--particularly since the latter (Mom and Dad) sacrificed so much to send their kids to school.

OTHER SOURCES: I also recommend the following free online magazine archives:

The Nation: -- change search option to 1865-2002.

American Jewish Committee: -- everything from their archives and publications from 1900 onward. With the Nazi rise to power (1933), the AJC dealt with anti-Semitism overseas and at home.

FDR Cartoon Database:

EH.Net: -- this fantastic site combines economics and history and is useful for determining the present-day value of past sums or for its ever-growing encyclopedia, book reviews, economic data, etc. Search the site for Great Depression and you will come up with interviews with leading economists in the 21st century, and much more! It is no understatement to state that the Depression is to economics what the Big Bang is to physics. Entire schools of thought grappled (and still do) with the causes, the effects, and the various elements of economic life. Our current Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, for example, wrote some of his early academic essays on this topic.

Gulag: Lest we forget the other "class genocide" of that era, he are some choice documents (and English translations) of Lenin and Stalin ordering the extermination of property-owning peasants.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

God and Man and U., Part 2

For cases of religious discrimination on campus, readers may consult web sites operated by watchdog groups that defend religious freedom. For some of these groups it is a core mission, but for others it is one of many civil liberties issues:

FIRE: See their guide to religious liberty.

Alliance Defense Fund: One of the top lawyers for FIRE, David French, left to help with this aggressive organization. They can help you with a case of religious discrimination, find local counsel, or seek out similar public interest groups in your region of the USA.

Anti-Defamation League: ADL is actively fighting anti-Semitism on many fronts, including the campaign to battle academic boycotts of Israel. It is a sad state of affairs when thousands of scholars (myself included) have to sign a petition opposing a boycott of the country allowing the freest expression of opinion and religion in the Middle East. There is no such boycott of Iran or other Muslim nations that sharply restrict religious and academic freedom. Read this Freedom House report.

Here is Freedom House's report on Israel rating it "Free." Reports on Egypt and Iran are also available, along with annual reports on every country in the world.

Catholic League: Many years ago, someone quipped that anti-Catholicism was the "last respectable bigotry." The Catholic League is that religion's equivalent of the Anti-Defamation League. Search their site for "academic" (without the quotes) and you will find many items.

The oldest organization in America on this issue is the

ACLU: Often accused of promoting "freedom from religion" (rather than freedom of religion), the organization does take on cases that protect the rights of the religious, as well as the atheist.

Friday, February 20, 2009

God and Man and U., Part 1

Every crisis provides "teachable moments": lessons forgotten or neglected in more placid times. Americans are now (re)learning the dangers of

"Moral hazard": the notion that people take excessive risk if they know they will be bailed out. Think Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, banks, S&L's (1980s), and the housing industry.

"Too-big-to-fail" principle: hence, the first in line for bailout money are the titans of finance (Citigroup, AIG) or the "Big Three" (not so big any more). Is this moral? Pundits are embroiled in debates over this very question.

This crisis is no different when it comes to economics or academic freedom. That brings us to the concept of

"Crossover sanctions": "force the implementation of federal requirements in one area or the states risk losing money in another, similar area. For instance, states may lose highway grants if they failed to follow certain health or safety requirements imposed by the federal government."

Some well-known crossover sanctions include the federal requirement that all states lower their maximum speed limit to 55 (since repealed) or raise the drinking age to 21. Crossover sanctions grew enormously from the 1970s onward, as Congress discovered the splendid power of "attaching strings" to federal aid. This has worked a quiet revolution in the relationship between the federal and state governments. "He who pays the bills calls the tunes."

So, what does this have to do with higher education? A lot.

The latest stimulus act, with billions for higher education, has come with some "crossover sanctions." One of the issues was whether the money violated the religious freedom of students on campuses. Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC)introduced an amendment "to allow the free exercise of religion at institutions of higher education that receive funding. . . ."

DeMint was responding to the following section of the act (the Demint amendment failed on a 43-54 roll call vote):
(2) PROHIBITED USES OF FUNDS.—No funds awarded under this section may be used for—(A) the maintenance of systems, equipment, or facilities, including maintenance associated with any permissible uses of funds described in paragraph (1); (B) modernization, renovation, or repair of stadiums or other facilities primarily used for athletic contests or exhibitions or other events for which admission is charged to the general public; (C) modernization, renovation, or repair of facilities— (i) used for sectarian instruction, religious worship, or a school or department of divinity; or (ii) in which a substantial portion of the functions of the facilities are subsumed in a religious mission; or (D) construction of new facilities.
The usual suspects roared forth with the usual vitriol: The Right claimed that godless liberals and the ACLU were trying to scrub religion from the public square. The Left shouted back that the conservatives were a bunch of know-nothing theocrats.

The civil liberties group FIRE took a middle-of-the-road stance: Detailing concerns with the vague language, while urging a simple amendment--one that apparently was too "controversial" for passage.

The truth is state universities don't need this current law to restrict religious expression on campus. In fact, they have already found ways to punish, reprimand, and "decertify" Christian, Muslim, and Jewish groups on campus.

That is a story for my next post.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Right to Blog: The Law for Students and Staff -- and Cops

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has several good web sites explaining the right of students to express themselves on blogs:

and for state college faculty and staff:

Since one out of five students blog, and a great many faculty and staff blog as well, these are useful primers on First Amendment Rights.

EFF also discusses your right to an anonymous blog: the contentious issue challenged by police groups and others who do not like sites such as or

For more on the efforts of police to shut down cop-rating blogs, see this article.

Perhaps your campus newspaper could do a story on student and staff blogs? Do they educate? Go over the line? What role do they play in college student and faculty life? The new "virtual diary" of the 21st century? Or will all your "status updates" go up in smoke when you shut down your Facebook account?

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Big Brother and U, Part II: Is Your University Reading Your Email?

In a previous post, I discussed recent high-profile cases involving college surveillance and the use of email or Internet postings against students, faculty or staff. (Update: The Electronic Frontier Foundation effectively won its case defending the student leader who emailed her criticisms of Michigan State's calendar policy to faculty on campus. The university accused her of "spamming." FIRE referred the litigation to EFF, a civil liberties group specializing in electronic law).

In Part II, I offer the following information to shock you into how little privacy you have via e-mail or the Internet. In short, if you use a university email account--even off campus--the university owns that electronic "property" and may archive it for years.

Most universities have network policies that forbid anything even remotely personal via email or the Internet on campus. Of course, everybody breaks this rule because a) they are not trained to understand the limitations on email; and b) most people believe that "emailing home" about getting dinner for the family is much like calling the family on a university phone. We all do it and yet that too violates university policy. A few campuses allow reasonable private use of university email but my university, like most others, does not carve out that space for students or staff. (Correction: The main Carbondale campus does not allow personal use but the Edwardsville campus does allow "personal use").

The following guide by Tina Murch, "E-mail Privacy? Only a 'Virtual Reality'" is the best wake-up call that I have read on the Internet. I highly recommend it to any one who uses university email or equipment. If you use your own laptop, Murch notes, you are still using university wireless and can be busted. Moreover, if you email from a non .edu account to someone with a non .edu account but that recipient receives it on campus, you are still busted! University discretion is enormous. Since most people are unaware of the pitfalls of email and computer use, even when off campus, Murch offers tips on how to survive this Brave New World.

Her tips are not enough. I urge you to contact university officials and request several things:

1. Training and transparency: The rules on most campuses sound good but there is discretion to do just about anything, particularly when information is archived (my university states that privacy is a "basic right" but there are loopholes, including the unstated "gotcha" category of punishing people for private use of email. Also the catch-all "disclosure made for the purpose of resolving internal disputes," etc.)

2. Question authority: ask questions of campus authorities:

*How many monitoring cases have there been in the past five years?

*How long does your university archive email and other Internet usage logs?

*Campus newspapers need to ask whether their email correspondence is subject to surveillance. In one case, a university fired faculty, in part, because of "private" email sent to a student newspaper editor. Accused of trying to "discredit" an administrator, the campus president fired two faculty members!

For more on that case, read here. Apparently, bringing truthful information to the president, following procedure, and then having the local AAUP investigate when the president did nothing about a serious matter = termination of two tenured faculty. This case, and so many others, is why I have lost my capacity to be shocked but not to be outraged.

So, if you think it can't happen on your campus, it has and will if good people do nothing. Even on my own campus, high-profile termination cases left a lot of questions about the use of past email. But the investigation reports are sealed and heavily redacted, or so we are told. Who knows how far back universities go when retrieving email in cases against students or faculty.

Student email has been punished at my university because it "harassed" the recipient, who was so shattered she published it on her web magazine! Although the email was in poor taste, taking out an ad to decry anti-feminist ramblings sounded like overkill to our campus newspaper. One wonders when a college president will take similar action against some wild-eyed feminist bashing Republican women as "fascist sex-traitors." My guess is: never.

3. Statute of Limitations: Since most people are clueless, and have violated strict network policies, almost any one can have their electronic past used against them. Officials need to set a statute of limitations for violations, as they do in other university code violations. Currently, university network policies set "forever" as the default statute of limitation. That makes the IRS sound like a friendly agency by contrast!

4. Reasonable private use: Some universities take the "chill" off students and staff by allowing reasonable private use. The alternative is for people to avoid .edu email altogether--and that is not good for the university! God knows, this professor has to look up the preferred email of students on Facebook because I assume that .edu is not their primary address. This is an unproductive use of my time.

5. Offense is defense: if you are a free thinker--and who doesn't think freely from time to time?--and feel you may become a target, make a habit of archiving all of your email for contextual defense. Campus prosecutors routinely "cherry pick" email to cast the accused in the worst light. Don't let them do it.

If you become involved in controversies (or not), you may wish to retain certain information in case Big Brother tries to terminate you. Keep this information and your email archive in a safe place, preferably in an encrypted online storage site. (My home was burglarized but I had a backup AND certain information I may need in the future is in a place where burglars cannot get it).

Remember the line: "do not go gentle into that good night!" (Dylan Thomas)

Again, just to let you know what universities can do to you, check out the cases in my prior post and this explicit statement by Temple University in its email usage guide: Scroll down to 14.6 to read this:

Temple University may authorize the use of reasonable surveillance and search measures as necessary to ensure an appropriate work environment or compliance with University policies and applicable law. Subject to legal requirements, the University reserves the right to inspect and search all work areas, desks, computers, file cabinets, lockers, lunch boxes, or other containers, and personal vehicles in University parking lots or public streets within campus boundaries or any other area within University control. In addition, all records contained in computers (including voice mail and e-mail) and storage devices (including removable media) are open to inspection by the University in accordance with University policies, subject to applicable legal requirements."

Got your attention?

Part III (forthcoming) will be a guide to protecting your privacy when you are completely free of campus life. Even at home, you may be vulnerable to keylogging and other privacy-invading practices. Yes, even if you use a Mac!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Big Brother and U, Part I: Is Your University Reading your Email?

For many years, I have fought restrictions on academic freedom. As President of the Illinois Association of Scholars, an affiliate of the National Association of Scholars (NAS), I deal with these issues across the state. As a historian I am researching the past record of civil liberties on college campuses.

In a word, I have lost my capacity to be shocked at what some will do to others within the Ivory Tower of higher education.

While the issues remain the same, the techniques used to restrict academic liberty change. It might be a new area of law (sexual harassment codes) or a new technology (should college libraries censor Internet content)?

This column deals with a new reality that shocks people when they find out that their university may be reading their email, watching their screen activity, or even punishing students, staff or faculty for what they write on Facebook.

Most people are shocked when they learn how vulnerable they are to electronic surveillance. Consider this a primer on learning the tactics of surveillance and how to avoid becoming a victim of it.

General advice: Assume that Big Brother is reading or watching everything you write on a campus computer or email account. Using a non-academic email account is wise (see next post) but does not provide 100% protection.

Case Studies:: here are some real examples of the problem:

*Campus email ends up as evidence in a recent lawsuit involving tenure and promotion. The email was up to TEN YEARS OLD. My campus, probably typical, archives all administrator email. The university policy toward non-administrator email is unknown (as IAS president, I will be sending out a questionnaire to all state universities asking this question, among others).

*Facebook censorship:: A student at Valdosta State criticized new student fees for the building of a parking garage on campus. He used his Facebook page to create a satirical collage criticizing the university administration's move to impose fees to build this garage. Result: The administration cited the Facebook page as evidence that the dissident student was a "clear and present danger" and banished him from campus. FIRE brought a lawsuit and immense publicity to bear on the university (including Youtube video, legislative lobbying, and a full-page ad in the U.S. News & World Report college rankings issue). The university finally admitted it was wrong, hired a new president, and apologized to the student.

*Michigan State retaliated against an undergraduate student leader for distributing a questionnaire via email to faculty asking for their responses to a new school calendar. The university had encouraged constituency input but did not like the student's criticism of the proposed calendar. By invoking the obscure campus networking policy, the university punished her for "spamming!" Her "crime" was distributing email to individuals without first asking their permission! If that is a crime, we are all guilty. Together with other groups, FIRE has taken her case. You can't make this stuff up.

*Rumors are flying on one Illinois campus that the general counsel is trying to track down "whistleblowers" who divulged information resulting in lawsuits that the university lost or settled. Institutions hate to be embarrassed and will (or might) take steps to spy on a P.I.T.A. (Pain in the Ass). Whether the rumors are founded or not, an ounce of knowledge is helpful to prevent "The Man" (or "The Woman") from coming down on you for electronic speech.

A cautionary word to college snoops: be careful becausee FIRE is not the only civil liberties group defending people from e-censorship; my friends at the Electronic Frontier Foundation are also diligent.

In cases like this, knowledge is power. Know what to do (or not do), and who to call if you need help against Big Brother.

The second part of this primer on electronic surveillance will educate readers as to how universities may read email and "log" (transmit) all of your keystrokes to their administrative office for review.

(To be continued)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: U.S. Grant Marches South Again

Subtitle: "SIU Loses Archives to Mississipi State University."

Read here

No human being is perfect but John Y. Simon was the most public face of SIU to the world. I said so before the controversy that led to his "not being fired" (he's fired, he's not fired, he's dead, the millions of dollars spent to build this collection are . . . gone to Dixie).

John Y. (as he was known) taught a subject enormously popular with students and the public at large: Civil War and Reconstruction history. Not as fashionable as gender or "queer studies." Yet I'm convinced that many students majored in History because they were "turned on" to it by JYS (so they told me during my five years as academic adviser to undergraduates).

Budget cuts and professional fads make it unlikely SIU will hire a Civil War or military or presidential historian any time soon. As the deep thinkers in my profession say, "that would be pandering." Why give the students a little of what they want? It's not as if they are going to influence much of our curriculum anyway. (In other colleges, if the demand for nursing is up, they hire more nursing professors. The liberal arts doesn't work that way. We are "different").

SIU will be different without the Grant Papers and John Y. Simon. What the school needs is scholars of stature who can reach out to the wider public, as he did. Many try, few succeed.

PS: The Ulysses Grant Association is still listed on SIUC's index of organizations. If you click on the link you will be "404'd":

NOTE: The moderator is busy going over his copyedited book manuscript. The pace will slacken in the next week but important news will be blogged about sooner rather than later. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

FIRE Fight: Heated Exchange on SIU's Academic Freedom Record

In today's Southern Illinoisan, Chancellor Sam Goldman lashed out at academic watchdog group F.I.R.E. Focusing solely on the speech zone policy, Goldman faulted FIRE for being "a group that does not do their homework whatsoever."

FIRE helped win a major court decision against SIUC on religious freedom (2006), it spoke out against the sexual harassment policy and due process treatment of Cal Meyers (2008) and continues to monitor all of its "Red Alert" institutions, including SIU-C. In a word, FIRE's interest in student and faculty rights is longstanding, whatever you think of their position.

Today, the group responded with a broad critique of SIU's "many existing policies, which violate the First Amendment." FIRE accused the chancellor of "deceit" in failing to announce that SIU had silently changed the RSO Handbook. FIRE also accused the chancellor of misleading the media about the reasons for SIU-C's "Red Alert" status. The FIRE statement comes before a promised second statement by Chancellor Sam Goldman defending SIU against FIRE's "Red Alert" rating of the school.

With the controversial sexual harassment policy due for review soon, FIRE will probably be watching the end result, not expected until February, if media reports are accurate.

For more on FIRE's monitoring of SIUC, click the Traffic Sign widget to the right of this blog, or click here.

See also "Attention, Chancellor Goldman: Here’s Why SIUC is a 'Red Light' School."

Monday, January 12, 2009

Race Relations at SIU: An Archive of "Dark Musings"

Recently, I stumbled upon an archive of Daily Egyptian articles dealing with race relations throughout SIU-C's history. The entries are reminiscent of those I found in black newspapers elsewhere, but these columns and society notes were written at a largely white institution.

The "Dark Musings" column of the World War II-era was particularly interesting. It echoed the Pittsburgh Courier's "Double V" theme: Victory over the Axis and Victory over Jim Crow (segregation, racism) at home.

See, for example, this 1943 column:

Earl Brooks, "A Better Relationship Between Blacks and Whites"

And another at the end of the war titled "A Better Relationship Between Negroes and Whites."

With renewed interest in the Great Depression (a course I teach), I have photocopied all of the presidential and Board of Trustee minutes and reports from 1929-1942. Soon, I hope to have that link available to readers.

Peruse these older columns to appreciate the hopes and aspirations of earlier generations. Let us hope that Great Depressions and world wars pass our generation by.

SIU's Response to FIRE: How to Dodge a Question

For the SIU response to FIRE's challenge, click here.

This response defends the Board policy, which no one is attacking. It ignores the language handed out to students and faculty advisers in the RSO Handbook. Apparently, a link to the full Board policy is enough to exonerate the contradictory language that follows which states: "Other campus areas will not be used as open forums." (RSO Handbook, p. 26).

As a RSO Adviser, I am bound by Board policy and RSO Handbook when counseling students. Likewise, students are given a RSO Handbook to "obey." Is the Chancellor saying that we don't "obey" the sections that conflict with the Board policy? If so, why doesn't SIU-C simply rewrite the Handbook?

And just in case any one is wondering, FIRE approached SIU on its own initiative. I did not even realize that section of the RSO Handbook existed until FIRE brought it to my attention, and I asked questions -- questions that Chancellor Goldman said we did not ask (see Daily Egyptian, 12 January 2009). If mild requests for clarification get met so testily, what are students to think when deciding how to proceed on the basis of conflicting policies?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

FDR and Dirty Dancing: The Porn-to-School Act (or, What I Learned While Studying the New Deal)

With bailouts for banks and Big Business, the media is snickering at the porn industry’s plea for a federal bailout. Sales of pornographic DVDs have plummeted as Americans zipped up their wallets and spent money on other necessities. But the media refuses to feel the pain of sex workers. Apparently, “too big too fail” governs their thinking but there are industries “too small to matter.”

This is wrong. We can fashion a model for economic recovery from the porn plan. Moreover, we can do so in a way that draws upon the New Deal’s efforts in two areas:

Click here to read more.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Committee Member Responds to Speech Zone Issue

I heard from a committee member who clarified the policy on Demonstrations. It is this person's understanding that the whole campus IS a free speech zone and that designated areas were for those who needed amplified sound and the like. Events outside the forum areas are open to speech, as governed by the "Standards of Respect and Civility."

If that is the case, and I hope the administation clarifies, then the issue is the RSO Handbook that FIRE challenged. The Handbook directly contradicts the Board policy by stating that no areas outside the zones can be used as public forums. It also fails to list Morris Library as a designated area where amplified sound is available.

NOTE: FIRE challenged the RSO Handbook rules. As a faculty adviser to two RSO's over the years, I rely upon the Handbook to counsel students on what to do -- or not to do. Moreover, if a student -- or faculty adviser -- searched for "protest policy" on the SIU-C web site, the first hit would be the RSO Handbook, not the Board policy.

I hope the administration supports this committee member's interpretation of the matter and seeks to change the wording of the RSO Handbook.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

SIU Speech Zone: What's Right? What's Wrong?

When students were away on break, SIU Chancellor Sam Goldman received a letter from F.I.R.E. challenging the university's "designated public forum areas" (labeled "Free Speech Facilities" in the handbook for Registered Student Organizations). ACLU-Southern Illinois, and the Illinois affiliate of the National Association of Scholars (NAS) cosigned the letter from FIRE.

As I noted at the time, this issue erupted in 2004 when an anti-war group protested outside the then-designated speech zone. The administration acted swiftly by forming a committee and then issuing a revised policy entitled "Demonstrations: Regulations and Procedures."

There is a lot of good in that demonstrations policy but one major flaw: the presence of special zones for speech. Here is my rundown of the good and bad:


1. The demonstrations policy approved by the Board of Trustees begins with a strong statement in support of academic freedom.

2. The section "Standards of Respect and Civility" offers common-sense guidelines for protests, demonstrations and other individual or group speech on campus. Don't block traffic, don't disrupt classes, don't break the law: Golden Rule 101.

3. The Designated Public Forum Areas are in high-traffic areas (but see below).


1. "Events within Designated Public Forum Areas": designate implies that this is a special area set aside for "free expression." Only one group may be present at a time. There are two areas designated for demonstrations: adjoining the parking garage and parking lots near Anthony Hall; and in front of Morris Library. WHY is "free expression" given a "designated" area? What can one do outside those zones?

2. "Events Outside of Designated Public Forum Areas": The previous section setting aside "free expression" areas conflicts with the short section allowing events outside of designated areas. The natural question: why have a designated area at all? The "events outside" section ought to be applied to all the public plazas and walkways of the campus. Simply put, the "Standards of Respect and Civility" govern speech in these outside areas. So, once again, why have a designated area that leads students and others to think that there -- and only there -- they may protest or demonstrate?

3. The RSO Handbook (see pp. 25-26): RSO's are among the groups most likely to speak out on campus. That is why the handbook language is so troubling:

a. The Orwellian phrase "Free Speech Facilities" is substituted for Designated Public Forum Area.

b. The handbook lists only one of the two designated areas listed in the Board of Trustee policy.

c. "Other campus areas will not be used as open forums." This conflicts with the Board policy of allowing individuals or groups to assemble outside designated areas.
If all of this is clear as mud, you are right. But the simple question is "why have a forum at all?" Is SIU-C for or against "events outside" the designated areas?


Abolish the zone and all will be well. The "Standards of Respect and Civility" are enough.
There is no need for a forum area, particularly since

a) SIU-C cannot make up its mind about speech outside that area; and

b) limiting demonstrations to a "zone" makes SIU vulnerable to a lawsuit.

SIU-C has a good policy -- if it abolishes the zone. Let's hope that this is resolved in good faith without the usual circus surrounding any challenge to standing policy. I believe the administration wants to do the right thing. But, if it does not, it will certainly face a challenge from FIRE.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Credentialism and Civil Rights in Higher Education

In a Washington Post article, columnist George F. Will discusses the unintended credentialism flowing from the Supreme Court decision Griggs (1971).

Many years ago, I prepared for a federal exam only to learn that it had been scrapped because it had a "disparate impact" on "disadvantaged groups." As a substitute, the government (like other employers) required a Bachelor's degree plus three years of relevant professional experience OR a Masters degree. This credentialism disadvantaged "underrepresented" groups even more than the original requirement. How ironic. Civil rights activists had sued to scrap these exams--a classic case of "beware what you ask for, you might get it."

In a graduate course on public policy history, I assign Steven F. Gillon's collection of case studies, That's Not What We Meant to Do: Reform and its Unintended Consequences (2001). Gillon begins by displaying his liberal credentials ("don't blame the messenger!") but the examples of unintended consequences (welfare, deinstitutionalization, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, immigration) offer insight into the fascinating twists and turns of policies promoted by both the Left and Right.

Is credentialism a problem in higher education? Would all Americans, regardless of race, be better off if they could compete for jobs through examinations rather than the credential of a college degree?

The Proposition 209 initiative overturned the Griggs decision in the state of California. The goal was to return California to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, both in language and intent. The state supreme court upheld Proposition 209 in a decision written by Justice Janice Rogers Brown, a libertarian jurist.* Only time will tell if her decision will have unintended consequences.

*I discuss Proposition 209 and Janice Rogers Brown in Race and Liberty: The Essential Reader.