Sunday, January 29, 2017

Singing “California Girls” = Sexual Harassment

By Professor Doom

     Having been part of, and victimized by, the kangaroo campus court system, I nevertheless am perpetually amazed at just how bizarrely it runs, from how piffling the “crimes” are that merit convictions, to how far reaching the penalties can be.

     Of particular interest to the kangaroo court system are sex related cases. Before moving on, I suppose I should explain my own history of sexual harassment, as I was accused one time (I was cleared of the charges, however):

Me: “You look quite made up today.”
--a student walked into class late, making a
 bit of a show of it. She was wearing quite a bit of makeup. Yes, I was investigated for sexual harassment based on this one comment. Admin could have destroyed me over this, but at the time I was playing ball, and so received a pass.

      The latest insanity comes from the University of Kentucky. Like many institutions, the school is on a something of a witch hunt when it comes to sexual harassment:

“…university looked into 57 sexual harassment and discrimination complaints about employees from 2011 to 2016, finding enough evidence to recommend firing the employee about 40 percent of the time.”

     A charge of sexual harassment is a great way for admin (who runs the entire kangaroo system) to get rid of faculty they don’t like (i.e., faculty with any integrity). 

      Let’s look at what a recent case:

     Now, I’m sure the charges were piled on here, but I want to focus on this one. The man was literally thousands of miles away from campus, singing a song in China, at a public event, a song which is played on the radio regularly. 

      Ok, it wasn’t an identical song, as he changed some of the words to reflect China (using Chinese locations instead of states, for example), but that’s beside the point. The kangaroo court’s ruling on this issue would be enough to nullify any other rulings the court ever made, in a sane world:

“ruled that the song ‘California Girls’ included ‘language of a sexual nature’ and was somehow offensive, though no victims were identified.”

     It really is nuts working in higher education. Things you say off campus, things said every day on the radio, can be enough to get you fired, even if nobody complains about it, or even makes the slightest claim of being harmed by what you said.

     Is it any wonder why most faculty just keep their heads down and, if they dare to comment at all about the madness of higher education, they do so anonymously?

      Part of what makes the kangaroo system so foul is the defendants generally have no idea of the machinations being wielded against them:

Ryan said the university’s three-month investigation of his case revealed no student complaints, and that he’s never faced a complaint of a sexual nature from a student in 30 years of teaching. When he sent an email to administrators asking to know the exact complaints against him, he said, “My message was turned into an open-records request by UK’s legal office. A few days later I received a two-page letter denying my request.”

     Imagine: a 30 year career besmirched, if not outright ruined, based on singing a Top 40 hit in a different country…that nobody complained about. Yes, there could be more to it, but this kangaroo system doesn’t provide for the victim knowing the exact nature of the charges.

      I know our public system of justice has issues, but I assure the gentle reader it is superior in every way to the campus court system.

      Having been found guilty, punishment was meted out:

“Despite not knowing the exact charges against him, Buck said he was, as punishment, banned from receiving international travel funds and stripped of a teaching award worth thousands of dollars. When he asked about due process, the provost allegedly said that because there is no constitutional right to represent Kentucky abroad or teach a particular class, the university didn’t owe him any.”

     I encourage the gentle reader to consider the above paragraph: the man is convicted on charges, some flimsy, some secret, and punished based on those convictions. When asked about “due process,” admin basically laughs in his face.

     Again, I saw the like a few times when I was at a skeezy community college, but I understand the gentle reader has little reason to believe a simple blogger such as myself. Thus, I feel compelled to list documented cases of sleaziness that were little different from what I’ve seen with my own eyes, many times. Across the country, this sort of thing goes on regularly. Most faculty are too disenfranchised, too impoverished, to do anything about it. In my years of higher education, I’ve been told about the site I’m getting this information from exactly one time, privately, by another faculty member.

      I guess I should mention the University’s side to this:

“..Blanton said that faculty members shared “deep concerns” about Ryan’s conduct and both Jilin and Shanghai Universities also had complained about him. “Our Title IX office investigated the complaints at length and interviewed Ryan as part of the investigation, as well as the faculty who accompanied him,” he wrote. “The faculty were unanimous in their complaints and their concerns, in which a preponderance of evidence concluded that he engaged in ‘inappropriate touching’ and ‘language of a sexual nature.’”

       Wonderful! It should be a simple matter to get those complaints from the other universities. None have been provided, of course.

      I love the “unanimous” complaints here. I had such a charge leveled at me, only to have several of the “unanimous” committee members tell me, off the record, that they disagreed with the ruling. Trust me, the university isn’t particularly special in its confusion about what the word “unanimous” means.

     Now, when I’ve covered these cases before, the administration is always perfectly confident they are in the right. The professor can try to get recourse in the system, but it’s not going to work there because admin holds all the cards in the kangaroo system. They are judge, jury, executioner, and they do it all in secret without the professor even knowing a trial regarding his future ever happened.

     So, my advice to the professor is simple: waste no further time trying to get justice in the campus kangaroo court system. Take them to “real” court. It’s worked well before. Honest, that’s the way to go.

      Or keep asking admin for due process and continue to have them laugh in your face.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

U of Penn: Shakespeare OUT, Lesbian Author IN

By Professor Doom

     The dementation of higher education is in real time. From one eyeblink to the next, it seems one more thing happens to debase higher education. So we have Shakespeare being taken down, and a new author, Lorde, in his place. Before moving on to the latest slip into the abyss, I reckon I’d best answer the question that’s on most reader’s minds right now: “Who is Lorde?”

     I’ll just steal from Wikipedia:

Audre Lorde (February 18, 1934 – November 17, 1992) was an African American writer, feminist, womanist, lesbian, and civil rights activist.

      I grant summarizing one’s life in a sentence is no easy task, but one of these things is not like the other here.  It’s easy to see that being a writer, feminist, womanist (for those not in the know, a “womanist” is basically a feminist that specializes in black women), and civil rights activist can all be noble things, but why is “lesbian” even remotely on the same level as these other activities? I guess I shouldn’t pass judgement, but I hope when my life is summarized, what I’ve done, or not done, with my genitals merits no mention at all. More accurately, I hope to have done so many good things that genital-related activity has no chance of making into that one sentence summary. Whoever Lorde was, her memory is demeaned by this description.

      Anyway, a weird thing happened at the University of Pennsylvania:

     This really strikes me as an outrage. I’m not denigrating Lorde’s accomplishments here. Heck, I can’t denigrate her accomplishments, because I don’t know them. I suspect the vast majority of my readers are unfamiliar with her work, hence my need to mention what Wikipedia had to say.

     I remember as a child being told how degenerate the USSR was, how they quickly changed the city name of St. Petersburg to Leningrad, abandoning their history by dictatorial fiat. With the breaking of the iron grip of the USSR, the city voted to revert back to St. Petersburg, generations later. 

     I know the gray in my hair gives me a powerful reluctance and perhaps even a loathing of change but I don’t think my irritation here is simply grumpiness on my part. 

        For example, I’ll consider changing everything with regard to my major field of study. My area of specialization is statistics, and I’m quite aware that using a statistics as a method for making decisions is about one step past cracking open a goat and studying its entrails. The only reason we use statistics like this is because we don’t have anything better. Despite my resistance to change, once we have something better, I’ll happily support the abandoning of statistics as a means for decision making.

      The change from Shakespeare to Lorde, on the other hand, I find myself resisting on more than just principle.

      Is Lorde really better than Shakespeare, or is this simply yet another Marxist-type fiat where we’re abandoning history in favor of some fad. Shakespeare clearly has major influence on our civilization today, the English language is loaded with idiom that would not exist without him.  I don’t suppose Shakespeare will be forever (insofar as nothing is), but it just seems like his replacement should be someone most people have heard of.

     Removing The Bard and replacing him with a famous Lesbian (I’m going with the flow here) was a student initiated action. The department, the scholars, could use this as a teachable moment, explaining why Shakespeare was placed in a prominent position, and could concede that Lorde’s picture should be given a position as well, commensurate with her achievements.

      No chance of that:

Esty [department Chair], who declined to be interviewed, said in an email to the Daily Pennsylvanian, “Students removed the Shakespeare portrait and delivered it to my office as a way of affirming their commitment to a more inclusive mission for the English department.”
Esty added that the image of Lorde will remain until the department reaches a decision about what to do with the space.

     I know, one must pick battles to fight, but I sure don’t like the precedent here. Should students really be the ones to decide who, and more importantly, whose work, should form the basis of an education? Shouldn’t someone at the department have enough wisdom to say “Hey, let’s just have both pictures up?” Again, I find myself worrying about this. Why must the “old” things be utterly destroyed, to be replaced by the new fad? Is not even the possibility of sharing a spotlight on the table?

     I’ve heard it said that our campuses are under the control of insane Marxists (at the risk of repeating myself), and I can’t help but see a parallel between the Shakespeare/Lorde debacle and St. Petersburg/Leningrad. Am I truly alone in seeing how this will play out? Don’t English faculty members know a bit of history?

      I seem to be in a small minority here, as the comments section of the article are far more supportive of this action than not. 

      The department caved to student demand here, of course, because they feel that’s the best way to get more students. I do wish they would consider the bigger picture. What’s going to happen when graduates from this English department are able to spout how lesbians are wonderful, but know nothing of literature? Isn’t that going to be a bit of a problem?

--from a different comments section.

     As always, the student loan scam is a big part of what happened here. In the olden days, students went off to college, but were supported by the parents. The parents held great interest in seeing to it that the students were getting a good education. The university was interested in making sure it was offering a good education, and so represented more conservative values, to satisfy those parents. You didn’t just toss works with centuries of established value behind them for whatever current fad was popular with the kids.

     But now it’s the kids who check the box qualifying them for student loans, and so it’s the kids that our universities now must satisfy. The kids don’t want Shakespeare, they want someone with the right skin color, who uses her genitals a certain way. This is hardly the first time I’ve covered this sort of inanity in my blog, and as long as the student loan scam exists, it won’t be the last.



Monday, January 23, 2017

Eastern Michigan U: Mandatory Black Studies

By Professor Doom

     Time and again I’ve often wondered about the honesty of what I’m doing in higher education. It isn’t the upper level, technical courses that repeatedly cause me to evaluate my morality, even though it’s easy to make a case that the more advanced courses are the least relevant to what anyone would use math for.

      No, my self-doubts are about the basic courses, such as College Algebra. The primary issue I have is it’s a mandatory course. Granted, the course is a prerequisite for just about every jobs-related degree higher education offers, but it’s also mandatory for many “useless” degree programs. I’ve often seen students in their 6th year of their 2 year degree program in Childhood Sexual Deviancy or other new degree program, struggling to finally pass this introductory math course.

“DEAR PRof, I jus wanted to ask u to pass me here cuz it’s the only corse I need for my degre. Ive done good in my other corses. Thanx!”

--typical 6th year student asking for help in College Algebra

     These students would often write me semi-literate notes explaining how they’ve got A’s in every other course, but just keep failing College Algebra, because it’s the only course that has in-class tests, as near as I could tell. 

Deanling: “The math department is an impediment to graduation, and we need to do something about it.”

     College Algebra isn’t the only mandatory course, students are also forced to take English, for example, as well as a few other courses. These “general education” courses form the foundation for a degree. Most other departments have long since caved in, as near as I can tell, but mathematics departments have at least somewhat tried to “hold the line” for being sort-of confident that college degree holders actually have at least a small measure of education.

      Ultimately, this is why I’m comfortable teaching mandatory courses—I honestly feel that a person cannot claim to be “educated” and still ignorant of the basic mathematics I learned when I was 15 (this, frankly, is the math we teach in college algebra today). I’d like college graduates to also be able to write, to know some history, and other things…but I’ll at least handle my own responsibility.

      For a century or more, scholars have more or less agreed that certain basic knowledge should be held by anyone claiming to have a proper (whatever that means) education. I’m open to changing what the foundations of scholarship should be, although naturally I think scholars should be the ones determining this sort of thing.

     Unfortunately, administrators, with no real interest in education, are now determining education. It’s why we can have people who cannot read, write, or do arithmetic even with a college degree. There’s been little faculty can do to resist the changes debasing the meaning of a college degree, which seem to become ever more meaningless year after year.

     The latest recommendation for change comes from Eastern Michigan University. Mandatory Black Studies courses, for all students, all majors. They have a 10 point plan for addressing this goal. Let’s look at their plan:

#1: Percent of Black faculty

New mandatory training for academic search
committee chairs and hiring authorities

Pro-active recruiting has been underway for

     I know it’s a bit self-serving to have mandatory math courses—I’d likely be out of work, otherwise--but I rationalize that teaching knowledge that’s been humanity’s birthright for centuries is an honorable thing to do. 

      Isn’t it nice that this plan is blatant in its racism? I promise you, that “mandatory” training includes a memo about how search (i.e., hiring) committees need to get with the program and hire black faculty. I promise you, again, that if any institution in this country said they were pro-actively hiring white faculty, that institution would be hit with so many lawsuits that it would simply shut down.

      I’ve mentioned a few times the racism and sexism on our campuses. Please, gentle reader, take this published document as further proof that I’m not exaggerating how bad it is. Even half a dozen years ago, it was all done with winks and nods, but now there’s no shame to putting it in writing.

2: Mandatory course on racism as part of
General Education (“Gen Ed”) curriculum

     So, there it is. This is a goal, but I can’t help but notice that no justification is given for why this “knowledge” is critical for every educated person to have. I find the goal particularly tone-deaf in light of the first goal.

3: Black studies included in every major

Black student leaders will continue
meeting with University leadership

Significant overhaul of courses and
resources required

     I concede that “black studies” might well be a worthy academic topic, but I don’t see why everyone needs to know it. I know I risk drawing some heat, but which of the following ability seems more important for an educated person to have:

1)    The ability to discuss the achievements of George Washington Carver in detail
      2) The ability to read and understand directions for taking medication

     I honestly believe everyone educated should be able to perform #2. I grant that this is merely my opinion, and I might be biased…but the Black Student Union might be a little biased in their opinion, as well. We’re producing graduates that can’t do #2, because our college coursework is changing into things that, at best, only a small segment of the population could actually benefit by knowing.

#4: Mandatory cultural competency training

     It’s really worth noting that a typical “4 year” degree recipient takes around 6 years to get that degree. We can’t just tack on mandatory (is the gentle reader sick of that word yet? I hear it many times in my profession…) courses in Black studies, in Multiculturalism, and whatever fad we have, without sacrificing teaching our graduates some more useful knowledge.

      Just barely, the US higher education system is still considered among the best in the world, and receives many foreign students wanting to come here and learn in what was once a great system. In the rest of the world, university degrees don’t contain many hours of this ridiculous “mandatory” training. How long until the rest of the world realizes that coming to the US for an education is a mistake?

      If any administrators are reading this, hear my plea: please stop debasing the system. If simple integrity isn’t a good enough reason, keep in mind that when our higher education system loses foreign students, we lose money, and at some point that will come out of administrative pockets.

#5: Designated space

     The country has been collectively laughing at the whole concept of “University as Safe Space,” but there’s nothing to stop it. Students demand it, and admin, instead of being adults showing leadership, just cave in, because making the students happy is pretty much all their job is today.

     I’m not saying all parts of the plan are ridiculous, but let me zip ahead to a few more:

#9: BSU-appointed committee for Black

      I’ll again point out the extremely offensive racism here, I dare any campus to have a White Homecoming…

#10: Master’s/Doctorate programs for
Africology & African American Studies

     There is a massive, massive, glut of Ph.D.’s, and has been for decades now. Even in fairly technical and supposedly in-demand fields, you can find unemployed doctorates driving cabs or operating microbreweries or…whatever it takes to get by.

     Now, I grant, if “Black studies” becomes mandatory, there will be a new demand for faculty to run the courses…but where’s the discussion about the need for this new field to become mandatory? Across the country, African Studies departments have a reputation for minimal scholarship (it’s why the UNC scandal succeeded for so long, as nobody expected the students coming out of that department to be capable of much). 

     With this kind of reputation, maybe it would make more sense to do the real work of making this field respectable…instead, EMU intends to use the magic word of “mandatory” to just force people to become involved in a field that, bottom line, very few people really want to be in, and even fewer think is legitimate.

     And now I come to my favorite point of this 10 point plan:

#11: Women’s Resource Center to hold
three events per year

     Seriously, this is point 11 of the 10 point plan, I’m not making it up.

     So, yeah, I honestly believe basic math is important to education, so that our colleges don’t look like fools. Unfortunately, admin has watered down “college” math to the point that their 10 point plans have 11 points in them, and nobody on campus has the scholarship to see something isn’t right about this, on any level…

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Colleges Attack “Toxic” Masculinity

By Professor Doom

     As a white male, it’s been long made clear to me that I have little future in higher education….my skin color and gender preclude advancement, you see.

     I’ve mentioned the “white” part of campus bias before, but I want to address the “male” part a bit more today. It isn’t just evidenced at the faculty level, where there are whole departments where males are not welcome…I suspect it’s a factor in why such a clear majority of our college students are female, but only a small factor.

       Having an anti-male department isn’t really good enough to entirely explain the shortage of males on campus. Most males have enough sense to avoid Women’s Studies courses, or at least to know what they’re getting into when signing up.

      No, this department by itself doesn’t scare away the males. In a similar vein, a male prospective college student isn’t going to be turned off of college just by seeing the registrar, the dean, and many other positions are filled by females. He’ll probably not even notice that, nor should he.

     There is something, however, that an incoming college student will notice, because he has no choice in the matter: student orientation. Every student coming on campus is subjected to “orientation.”

      In the old days, student orientation was exactly as it sounded: the student was provided with the opportunity to orient himself on campus, to know where everything is. Those were the old days, before the Cultural Marxist takeover happened to so many of our campuses, and these new masters never miss an opportunity for indoctrination.

     Imagine coming on campus, and having the first thing you learn be “you’re a male, and that’s a problem.” It’s so funny, time and again faculty are told about every little microaggression they supposedly make, and it’s their fault enrollments are down because of all their microaggressions, such as speaking using the English taught in school.

     Meanwhile, admin-sponsored hate speech is telling half the people who come on campus that their very genetics make them less equal than others. How can it not occur to admin that this sort of indoctrination is chasing students off far more effectively than using proper English in class?

     Part of the indoctrination is students are forced to watch the film, The Mask You Live In. Now, certainly gender is something worth study, and students that want to learn about this should be allowed to do so…but what does this have to do with orientation? We’re supposed to be showing them where the library is, what to do if they need help…not tell them how much they suck because they are male, and force them to watch movies reinforcing what is nothing more than indoctrination.

     They really lay it on thick about how being male is a problem:

Other headlines that peppered the trailer apparently link shooting massacres to masculinity; images included stories about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, in which 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and six staff members, and the shooting in Aurora, Colo., in which James Holmes killed 12 people inside a movie theater.

     Yes, males are more likely to be murderers and drug addicts…but males are also more likely to be musicians and physicists. To only address one side is as vile as damning females because they’re more likely to be crack-addicted prostitutes than males (I know, that sounds a little judgmental, bear with me). How does anyone present this biased “orientation” with a straight face?

    “…following the film, the group of students engaged in a small discussion about how the film made them feel. Additionally, the student moderators “attempted to tie Sandy Hook and the Aurora shooting into being a result of toxic masculinity,” Goodman said.
Moreover, it was expressed during group discussion that “video games and movies make us violent” and that “kids are becoming violent because they can’t talk about their feelings,” he said.”

      I only vaguely remember my orientation, beyond a sales pitch to live in the dorms on campus and a daylong walk around campus in the blazing Florida sun. I suspect many of my readers had no idea “student orientation” now involved this sort of silliness.

“…green, yellow or red dot stickers on pictures of various popular culture images. The green dot was intended to symbolize something good and acceptable, yellow was more moderate, and red as completely inappropriate and unacceptable behavior.
The students were given choices such as Barney Stinson, a misogynistic character from the “How I Met Your Mother” television show, and Grand Theft Auto, among others.
“The entire movie and lesson made it seem like masculinity was an unacceptable human trait. That it’s something males should avoid. It was completely pointless. It did nothing to help anyone. I got absolutely nothing out of the experience, other than a headache,” 

     I grant that the student above thinks it was just a big waste of time, and I imagine it was, for the most part. Nevertheless, the indoctrination plants a seed: “I’m worth less, because I am male.” 

     A few months down the road, when this student is struggling in a college course, can anyone conjecture that having male student initiation into college being such a kick in the teeth that he’ll be motivated to try harder? Or is it more likely that the thought “I’m just a male, this stuff isn’t for me…” will make it harder to succeed?

      Maybe I’m wrong about the effect of the indoctrination, but then I keep coming back to administration’s insistence that even the tiniest microaggression should be avoided, because it might scare kids off campus. They can’t have it both ways, you see, either microaggressions are a real problem on campus (and not just a stupid make-work project to justify hiring more admin), or insulting half the students who come to campus by telling them how inferior they are is a great idea (and not just a stupid make-work project to justify hiring more admin).
     Admin gets it both ways because there’s nothing to stop them from doing whatever they want, but the parenthetical explanations I provide do seem to be an easier explanation for this additional example of insane behavior on campus.