Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

The Economic Outlook for the Class of 2008


The Wall Street Journal paints a bleak picture of job opportunities for the class of 2008:

As the credit crunch roils financial markets and the U.S. economy sputters, new college graduates are plunging into the rockiest job market in recent years.

The bleaker picture is in stark contrast with last year, when colleges and employers reported robust hiring, and students in finance, accounting and other hot fields were choosing among numerous offers. Now, companies that just a few months ago were planning substantial increases in entry-level hiring have scaled back their plans as economic conditions have worsened. In turbulent areas such as financial services, some firms are slashing the number of fresh graduates they intend to employ, and students are curtailing expectations of finding their ideal position.

The article also has an up-to-date chart of average starting salary broken down by major (hint: tell your kids to be engineers).

CMC Professor to Resign as Holocaust Center Director


Over at the Claremont Independent, Elise Viebeck has an update on the professor/stolen art/Nazi controversy I posted about last month:

Claremont McKenna College history professor Jonathan Petropoulos will resign as director of the Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights effective summer 2008. Dean of Faculty Gregory Hess made the announcement to CMC professors at a meeting on April 8.

The announcement comes amid controversy surrounding an effort by Petropoulos to restitute a Nazi-looted painting to its rightful owner in which his associate, a Munich art dealer, has been investigated for blackmail. The painting was looted in 1938 from the childhood home of Gisela Bermann-Fischer, now a resident of Zurich, shortly after she and her family escaped the Nazi Anschluss.

More here.


Romantic Benefits for Philosophy Majors


There’s more to the intellectual and pragmatic pluses of pursuing the examined life, as students are increasingly doing.

Jenna Schaal-O’Connor, a 20-year-old sophomore, says “many male philosophy majors [are] interesting and sensitive.”
Flashback to the Sartean days: “That whole deep existential torment,” O’Connor observed perceptively. “It’s good for getting girlfriends.”

Text Messages


The political problem with America’s textbooks isn’t that they’re too conservative, or that a few of them have a couple of sentences that arguably slant rightward. The problem is that they’re too liberal. For more information, spend some time with the American Textbook Council.

Another Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week II Underway


IFAW II, as FrontPage indicates, aims at educating the public about the threat of radical Islam, and will take place this week at more than 100 campuses. Congresswoman Sue Myrick is one of the featured speakers.

The theme of this year’s drive, Declaration Against Genocide, urges student and Muslim organizations to condemn terrorist groups, and “repudiate the saying of the prophet Mohammed that redemption will only come when Muslims fight Jews and kill them, when the rocks and trees cry out Oh Muslim there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.”

How can you get more counter-cultural than asking students, as IFAW II does, to espouse hoary concepts such as:

  • The right of all people to live in freedom and dignity
  • The freedom of the individual conscience: to change religions or have no religion at all
  • The equal dignity of women and men
  • The right of all people to live free from violence, intimidation, and coercion

Sadly, a hundred Muslim Student Associations, when asked, failed to sign the Declaration.

FrontPage tells why they have not done so and what befell last year’s supporters of IFAW. The details are frightening.

May the movement fructify.


Re: College-Textbook Plot


I caught that post and story as well, and actually used the textbook in high school. To be fair, they do seem to have found some pretty slanted statements, most importantly this one (which was fixed in a subsequent edition but is still in many schools):

The book shows a picture of kids praying in front of a Virginia high school and states, “The Supreme Court will not let this happen inside a public school.” . . . The textbook goes on to state that the court has ruled as “unconstitutional every effort to have any form of prayer in public schools, even if it is nonsectarian, voluntary or limited to reading a passage of the Bible.”

It’s a dangerous and common misconception that prayer-in-school court rulings apply to all prayer in school. In fact, they only apply to prayer that is funded or advanced by the school or its officials, or public prayer during official events (which the court takes to be school-endorsed, even when it’s delivered by students). Students are free to pray on their own without disrupting others. A textbook that encourages this error, whether out of political agenda or simple incompetence, deserves a second look.

Also this:

The authors wrote that the Supreme Court decision [declaring sodomy a constitutional right] had a “benefit” and a “cost.” The benefit, it said, was to strike down a rarely enforced law that could probably not be passed today, while the cost was to “create the possibility that the court, and not Congress or state legislatures, might decide whether same-sex marriages were legal.”

Why in the world would a textbook declare a controversial decision to have “benefits” and “costs,” rather than “effects”? Presuming the AP paraphrased it fairly, this is poor writing and sloppy editing.

For what it’s worth, as I recall, my fellow AP Government students got 4s and 5s on the exam, so the book can’t be all that bad. And I really doubt the same level of media attention would find its way to a similar example of liberal bias.

A Star Goes Out?


From Young America’s Foundation:

Herndon, VA – Liberal administrators at the University of St. Thomas, a Catholic university and private college in Minnesota, censored the appearance of prominent pro-life and black speaker Star Parker. On April 21, 2008, Star—the best-selling author of numerous books—was slated to speak on campus about the devastating impact abortion has on minority communities. UST Vice President of Student Affairs Jane Canney nixed the idea entirely, citing “concerns” that the lecture was being underwritten by Young America’s Foundation.

Full press release here.

Our Textbook Plot is Discovered!


An emailer writes in:

This item from yesterday’s CHE afternoon update: A textbook by “two well-known conservatives” is found to have “bias” because it makes mild and perfectly reasonable remarks about global warming and school prayer.  And one of those “conservatives,” DiIulio?  He’s a lifelong Democrat, though he did happen to work briefly in the current administration.

The other guy is James Q. Wilson — you know, the JQW of right-wing-hackery fame.

Add It Up


Charlotte Allen asks: Why do textbooks cost so much?

Affirmative Action and Abu Ghraib


We have long documented the disastrous effects affirmative action has had on higher education, but the deleterious extremes to which making a god of diversity can lead us go far beyond academia.  Heather Mac Donald writes in an NRO article:

Gender imperatives undoubtedly played a role in this debacle of leadership [at Abu Ghraib], ensuring that Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski was left in charge long after her inability to maintain order had become glaringly apparent. As the Abu Ghraib independent-review panel, led by former defense secretary James Schlesinger, delicately put it in its August 2004 report: Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez’s “attempt to mentor Karpinski, though well-intentioned, was insufficient in a combat zone in the midst of a serous and growing insurgency.”

But Ricardo Sanchez might have figured that the quickest way to jeopardize your standing in the U.S. Army is to question a woman’s leadership ability. Better to allow gross mistreatment of prisoners and blackening of America’s name than to go that route. And now we are scarred with the Abu Ghraib episode and the ammunition it has given to America-haters and the support it lends, however erroneously, to those who want to outlaw all types of stress-interrogation as torture, as Mac Donald details.

Columbia AWOL from Conference on Its ’30s Nazi Ties


None of the university’s administrators deigned to participate in the recent event, organized by the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.

University of Oklahoma professor Stephen H. Norwood described how then-Columbia president Nicholas Murray Butler welcomed Nazi Germany’s ambassador, Hans Luther, to the campus in December 1933, sought amicable relations with Nazi-controlled German universities in the mid-’30s, and punished some Columbia students and faculty members who criticized his position towards the Nazis.

“It’s sad and ironic,” commented a conference organizer, “that Columbia was willing to send its representatives to a celebration at a Nazi-controlled university in 1936, but was not willing to send a representative to a meeting of historians who were discussing Columbia’s relations with Nazi Germany.”

Brady Campaign to Demonstrate at Virginia Tech Anniversary


The Roanoke Times reports:

Gun control advocates planning to protest April 16 on Virginia Tech’s Drillfield said today that they hope to reach a compromise with the university that will allow them to protest without interfering with remembrance events.

Peter Hamm, spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Stop Gun Violence, said the group has been working with Tech students on the protest. It would involve a 32-person “lie in” at noon April 16, the one-year anniversary of shootings on the campus that resulted in the deaths of 32 people plus the shooter.

The Brady Campaign sent out a media advisory last Thursday announcing the event, planned in conjunction with the gun control group Hamm said the gun-control groups had not discussed the event with the university, but he was initially discouraged by what he saw as a hard-line stance by the university against issuing a permit. He said this morning that the event would go ahead as scheduled — permit or no permit. But by this afternoon, he was optimistic that Tech students involved in the protest would be able to reach a compromise with the administration. He said the goal of the protesters was never to interfere with memorial events.

Permit or no permit? Seriously?

By all means, a tragedy like this should prompt discussion about relevant policies — I’ve taken part in this discussion myself. But memorial services for innocent victims are no place for political actvism of any kind.

Hat tip: David Hardy’s Of Arms and the Law

Affirmative Action But One Goal of ‘Transformative Education’ Brainwashing


The N.A.S.’s Tom Wood has produced yet another masterful segment, “The Marriage of Affirmative Action and Transformative Education,” in his series about indoctrination in residence life, “How Many Delawares?” Wood’s research indicates that the U.D. “ResLife” scandal (which I update at Pajamas Media) exemplifies a much wider and insidious phenomenon. The totalitarian-style indoctrination and coercion of students at that campus is part of a national, progressivist, socially destructive “movement” intended, via behavior-modification techniques, to make “politically and culturally radical positions seem normal to campus life and uncontroversial.”

As summarized in the “Editor’s Introduction” to Wood’s latest essay:

The ideological force-feeding of undergraduate students that characterized the University of Delaware’s residential life program had numerous components: radical environmentalism, an attempt to stigmatize traditional moral sentiments, foregrounding questions of sexual orientation, efforts to promote deep distrust of American society, promotion of identity politics, and an aggressive focus on racial grievance. As we looked at other colleges and universities, we found this combination of themes to be widespread, but organized in a variety of ways. Residence halls aren’t the only venue. Many campuses have a contingent of administrators whose job seems to be to turn late adolescent social anxieties into radical alienation from American society … .

Outright Indoctrination at the University of Delaware


PBCer Candace de Russy takes a look at an “under-review” program, over at Pajamas Media:

Program materials for this ideological reeducation, which have been removed from the U.D. website, included race/gender/class/sexual orientation “trainer” Shakti Butler’s definition of a racist as “all white people living in the United States” and her edict that “people of color cannot be racists.” An intrusive rating instrument, “Discovery Wheel,” was used to prompt students to admit to their putative racism, and they were instructed that the U.S. is as “an oppressive society” whose “structures of oppression” it is their “duty” to eliminate.

“The treatment” was also mandatory and punitive. Students were required to attend training sessions, group floor meetings, and one-on-one meetings with their Resident Advisers (RAs), who, having been coached in interrogating vulnerable freshmen, plied them with invasive questions. Thereafter students were rated on a scale of “best” to “worst,” according to how they complied with the prescribed campus orthodoxy. For example, students were grilled about when they first discovered their sexual identity. One resistant student who replied, “That is none of your damn business,” was written up as having one of the “wors[t] one-on-one” sessions, and identified by name and room number.

We’ll be keeping tabs on the review. 

Does Federal Higher-Ed Tax Policy Make Sense?


In a recent paper Prof. Richard Vedder took a piercing look at federal tax policy, and in this week’s Clarion Call I comment on it.



deserves credit for bucking the feminist pack. There’s this this weekend. And Conservative Women.

Who or What is Killing Literary Criticism?


An article in the Nation occasioned by the 20th anniversary reissue of Gerald Graff’s Professing Literature states that the profession of academic literary criticism is slowly dying.

If this is true, it is akin to a situation in which I burn down my house and then find its property value plummeting. If literature studies is dying, it’s because a large part of the professoriate gave up on literature long ago. They denied it was anything special and declared it no more deserving of study than television and street signs. They politicized it and claimed it either promoted so-called progressive ideas or was disgracefully reactionary. They deconstructed its meaning and found it to be about nothing. And now and again they would declare its total irrelevance.

I recall one wise person saying after a faculty meeting: Do these people realize that they are arguing themselves out of existence — actually promoting ideas that would obviate the need for them to teach what they have been trained to teach, and that would mandate the hiring of people who would teach entirely different things, most prominently various newly-formed area and interdisciplinary studies in which the specific value of literature is downgraded? Cultures die from within, when they no longer believe and promulgate their highest principles.

Keep Your Adam Smith Out of Our Coffee


Here is a hilarious and, in a way, sad Wall Street Journal piece showing that political sensitivities go far beyond the campus. When Roger Ream of the Fund for American Studies applied for a personalized Starbucks gift card with the words “Laissez Faire” on it, the company refused.

The Struggle Continues


Two items were in the news yesterday, both highlighting the continuing struggle against racial preferences in university admissions. First, the National Association of Scholars posted an interesting analysis by Terry Pell, who heads the Center for Individual Rights, on it website. Pell discusses the powerful empirical evidence uncovered during recent litigation that the use of racially preferential admissions to the University of Michigan “was directly causing racial disparities in grades, majors, graduation, and professional examination results.”

Second, the University of Texas has been sued for its use of race in undergraduate admissions. The lawsuit, backed by the Project on Fair Representation, argues that, since UT was achieving plenty of diversity without using preferences (via the state’s Ten Percent Plan), its use of race fails to meet the “narrow tailoring” requirements laid out by the Supreme Court in its 2003 University of Michigan decisions, and specifically Grutter v. Bollinger.

Kudos to CIR and PFR! It’s great that universities’ use of preferences continues to be challenged. Ultimately, of course, Grutter delenda est, but in the meantime, demonstrating that schools cannot justify their policies, even accepting Grutter, will limit its damage. And, by doing so and by showing that preferences are not only unnecessary but also counterproductive, litigation like this will make it easier for the Court to jettison Grutter in, one hopes, the not-too-distant future.

Good News From the National Association of Scholars


They’ve launched a spiffy new design for their website. Have a look.


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