Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

Low Graduation Rates Among College Hoops Players


It always comes up during the college-basketball tournament season — the low graduation rates for players at most competitive schools. The LA Times has an opinion piece on this subject, noting that among the Final Four teams, North Carolina is tops with a graduation rate of 60 percent. At the other schools, it’s about half of that.

They say that this is a problem because, “in order to ‘go pro in something other than sports,’ that athlete needs a college degree.” My question is this: Why suppose that a degree is going to make any difference for these particular students? Were the lack of a degree a serious problem, more athletes would choose to take a few more classes when their playing eligibility is up. Colleges bend over backward to make it easy for athletes to graduate.

If a large number of them don’t go this route, that tells us something. I think it tells us that the degrees athletes tend to obtain aren’t particularly beneficial in the labor market.

The Washington Post Joins Our Side!


Today the Washington Post urges that college officials simply select the “best group and let the chips of racial composition fall where they may.” To be sure, the “college officials” it has in mind are basketball coaches, and the “best group” being referred to is their starting team. And, of course, the Post is also referring to March 19, 1966, when Texas Western started five black players in the NCAA finals against Kentucky, and won. But the principle’s still the same for, say, admitting students to the university or hiring history professors, right? Right??


Mead’s New Grad-School Ruled Notebook


The Onion:

The notebooks are currently available in several special grad-school-edition colors, including alabaster, saffron, vermilion, and, for girl graduate students, periwinkle.

Perfect for women’s studies!

Auspicious AHI Debut


Students from Harvard, Hamilton College, and Colgate University will attend the first, academic star-studded event of The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization, Inc., titled Liberty and Slavery: The Civil War between Gerrit Smith and George Fitzhugh.

The conference will feature the unpublished correspondence between Geritt Smith, a leading abolitionist, and George Fitzhugh, a slavery apologist. Sessions will focus on major themes in the correspondence: the nature of Man, Christianity and slavery, the meaning of freedom, property and property in Man, capitalism and its alternatives, and race and slavery.
Eat your heart out, Hamilton College leadership, for having shamefully closed the door to this distinguished scholarly undertaking on campus. Long may the AHI flourish, serving generations of students and this nation — without, to your disgrace, your succor.
More information about the program here.

Admit Rates at All-Time Low


So the Wall Street Journal reports. Harvard remains the most selective, with an admittance rate of 7.1%, down from 8.9% last year.

The increased selectivity is linked, the article speculates, to some schools’ decision to end early admittance programs, as a number of Ivies did last year.


Extremist Muslims Have Infiltrated Higher Ed


. . . to great advantage.

“Jihadis have inserted into the Western education system tens of millions of dollars in campuses, think tanks, and beyond,” says Walid Phares of the Heritage Foundation. “That has created a systemic change that created one or two generations of analysts and experts who impact decision-makers who did not see the threat coming because they were under the influence of the money.”

New York Prof to Participate in MOA Event


According to a local newspaper report, Diane O’Heron, a professor at Broome Community College in Binghamton, N.Y., is scheduled to speak after a parade there this Saturday in celebration of Muhammad’s birthday.

The paper mentions the group sponsoring this downtown public celebration, Muslims of the Americas, but avoids the group’s controversial nature. The Anti-Defamation League has followed the organization and has this to say:

The group’s Web site and e-mails have featured writings by notorious anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers, including Michael Hoffman and former Klansman David Duke. . . . The available evidence strongly suggests that MOA has served as a corporate front for another group [with the same founder], the terrorist organization Al-Fuqra, which has committed firebombings and murders on U.S. soil.

What motivates O’Heron and her fellow speakers to join in these suspect festivities? Will other academics or campus groups participate? If so, are they, and O’Heron, aware of the MOA’s dubious pedigree? The answers to these questions are not yet apparent.

Hat tip: Northeast Intelligence Network

Review of O’Neil’s Book on Academic Freedom


In this week’s Pope Center Clarion Call, I review Professor Robert O’Neil’s recent book Academic Freedom in the Wired World.

It is a learned book that probes every corner of the realm of academic freedom, but I think the author is too inclined to want to make “academic freedom” a trump card for policy disputes having nothing at all to do with the freedom of scholars to investigate, write, and speak. One example is affirmative action. Should courts (and everyone else) just stay out of the debate over admission standards on the grounds that choosing which students to admit is a matter of “academic freedom?” I think not.

MSA Part of Long-Range Jihadist Strategy


FrontPage unveils an important booklet that delineates how, as early as the 1980s, operatives from the Muslim Brotherhood, which gave birth to al-Qaeda and Hamas, devised a twofold “jihadist process” for sabotaging the “miserable house” of the U.S.

Eviscerating the nation, these operatives foresaw, could be optimally achieved through the use of:

  • The Muslim Students Association on college campuses, where it would advance the cause of radical Islam and lead the effort to stigmatize Israel and
  • The Council on American Islamic Relations, designed to work in the legal-cultural realm, posturing as another of the minority rights groups functioning in the public square.

Re: Harvard Gym Matter


Sahil K. Mahtani — whom I lauded here — has an interesting piece at The New Republic regarding Harvard’s decision to ban men from one of its gyms during certain hours. Seems that the policy was not a concession to Muslim student demands, which were almost nonexistent, but a kind of anticipatory assessment by Harvard’s politically correct administrators.

A Know-It-All Free-for-All at NAS


The National Association of Scholars justifies its decision to conduct an online symposium on “Wikipedia and Higher Education” as follows:

Whether because teachers fear that Wikipedia-research scants deeper and more wide-ranging inquiry, or whether ivory-kneed fact-peckers sound alarm at the encroachment of the information superhighway into the Great Piney Woods of academe, the resistance to Wikipedia is undeniable . . .

We at the National Association of Scholars face a conflict of values here. For although we take traditional stands in favor of reasoned inquiry and authoritative evidence, we also support free institutions, of which Wikipedia is one . . . we also reflect on the “all-are-welcome” notion that invites everyone to become a contributor. Clearly some kind of gate-keeping is needed . . . Ideally, the university is an institution that upholds rigorous standards of intellectual authority yet remains open to all who would willingly abide by and compete within those standards. Is Wikipedia an embodiment of that spirit or a conflation of it?

Do the wikis know it all or not? Join what promises to be a savvy discussion here.

More Political Silly Stuff


Politicians always need “issues” these days so they can show voters how concerned and involved they are in improving the nation. Inside Higher Ed has a story today on a new one — the supposed need to get more rural kids into college, but not in such a way that they’ll want to leave the hinterlands and get “one of them big city jobs.”

This is much ado about nothing. People living in rural areas probably understand much better than politicians whether they can learn what they really need to without earning a degree. They also do not see that it’s a “problem” that a smaller percentage of kids from rural areas go to college than do kids from urban areas. Furthermore, why suppose that there is a need to deter bright rural kids from leaving? The nation’s rural areas will survive the exodus of some people. No social engineering is necessary.

Many politicians like to treat farms and rural life like little pets to be trotted out and groomed occasionally. Years ago when I lived in Michigan, a legislator was pushing anti-development legislation on the grounds that if farms were sold and developed, city folks would find it too hard to take their kids out to the country to see cows and sheep and goats and chickens.

Rachel’s Law Passes


Halleluiah! Yesterday the New York state legislature passed the Libel Terrorism Protection Act, as indicated in this press release posted by Bruce Kesler, who has also been closely following the events leading up to the law’s adoption.

The legislation is being dubbed “Rachel’s Law” after Rachel Ehrenfeld, who fought tooth and nail for its passage to protect American journalists and authors from foreign defamation lawsuits that infringe on their First Amendment rights.

Academic writers throughout the nation, and especially those engaged in telling the truth about terrorism and its perpetrators, should hail the law for fortifying their rights — and join Ehrenfeld in her fight for similar legislation at the federal level. In the words of New York Assemblyman Rory Lancman, who co-sponsored the law, at YouTube:

This law will protect our journalists and authors from trumped-up libel charges in kangaroo courts in overseas jurisdictions which don’t share our commitment to free speech and freedom of the press . . . This law will give New York’s journalists, authors, and press the protection and tools they need to continue to fearlessly expose the truth about terrorism and its enablers, and to maintain New York’s place as the free speech capital of the world.

Another Pol Who Thinks HIgher Ed Boosts the Economy


This one is Ohio governor Ted Strickland. According to a story in the Chronicle, Strickland “sees higher education as key to reinventing the state’s flagging economy.”

Strickland looks at the statistic that only about one in three Ohio adults has at least an associates degree and jumps to the conclusion that the state’s economic fortunes would improve if that percentage were increased.

This is another of those political gimmicks that sounds good to most people and pays off a significant support constituency, but won’t matter in the least. Luring more mediocre to weak students into college won’t make Ohio a bit more attractive to investors.

Britain has been trying the “let’s boost the economy by producing more college grads” for more than a decade, with the result that they now have lots of degreed people doing work previously done by non-degreed people.

If Governor Strickland wants to improve Ohio’s economy, he should think about emulating Hong Kong with its low taxes and regulations rather than Great Britain. But low taxes and deregulation would upset a lot of his voting constituencies. So I’d bet on the flagging economy to keep on flagging.

Voters Want President to Do Something About Tuition Cost


This article in the Chronicle informs us that 42 percent of those polled think that controlling college costs is “extremely important” for the next president.

This is another depressing manifestation of the politicization of America. The president has no authority under the Constitution to do anything about college-tuition levels. Nor does Congress.

What the people polled probably mean is that they want the federal government to do more to subsidize the cost of going to college. That necessarily means taxing lots of relatively poor people who don’t send kids to college, as well as relatively affluent people who have saved enough to be able to afford what college costs, so that some parents can get more of a break on the expense of college for their kids. Americans have become government junkies, always looking for goodies, like children who want things from Santa.

Re: Politically Imbalanced Faculty


Mack Mariani writes:

I co-authored the study on indoctrination mentioned in a previous post. I couldn’t agree more with the statement that “the dominance of left-wing faculty has consequences.” Be that as it may, we are not looking at what professors do in the classroom; we are looking at the impact of faculty ideology on student ideology. We find no statistical association between the two, but from that we do not conclude that you can dismiss concerns about what professors do in the classroom. That’s just not something we are doing in this paper.

I don’t disagree with Klein at all on his points about opportunity cost. In my opinion, he’s right. I think there are many negative consequences that result from ideological imbalance — in terms of the questions we ask, the topics we study, the readings we assign, and the climate we provide for discussion and debate. (I can’t speak for my co-author on any of this, of course.) In the study, our goal was to assess the impact of an ideologically imbalanced faculty on student ideology.

We use the HERI dataset as a means of looking at changes in student ideology over the course of a four-year college career (we are tracking a single cohort here). We then tie that in with HERI data on faculty ideology.

On our findings:

First, the study confirms what everyone knows. The faculty is way to the left of the general population. In addition, more students move to the left than the right. The majority of the students don’t move at all, though, and another 40 percent move only one degree. The critical thing — and the focus of our paper — is that this movement does not appear to be related to faculty ideology. The factors that are statistically associated with changes in ideology include female gender (which is associated with a move to the left) and high family income (which is associated with a move to the right). Both of these relationships make sense to me.

We are very aware of the limitations of the study. We spend a lot of time talking about those limitations. This isn’t going to stop folks on the Left from embracing it as a shield to defend the imbalance of the academy. Likewise, it isn’t going to stop many on the Right from instantly dismissing it.

We did our best to ask an interesting question (albeit a narrow one) and try to answer it in as fair a way as possible. Other scholars will continue down this road with other, and we would hope, even better ways to approach it.

More on Orchestrated Hate Crimes


Yes, Robert, as you and Malkin show, the extent of staged hate crimes on campuses is shocking.

But Malkin’s sharp account of their causes and consequences merits further note. The former consists of a venomous commingling of “identity politics, multicultural studies, cowardly administrators and sympathetic media.” The latter weakens “the credibility of whistleblowers with bona-fide claims of victimization. They squander law-enforcement resources. They poison the academic environment.”

And the immediate answer to this insidious hate-lie hustling? No tolerance by campus leaders of those — minorities or otherwise — who fabricate these “crimes.”

Playing Rag and Bag Tag at CC


Consider the latest feminist antics cum backlash at Colorado College, as described by FIRE:

Colorado College’s “Feminist and Gender Studies Interns” distributed a flyer called “The Monthly Rag.” The flyer included a reference to “male castration,” an announcement about a lecture on “feminist porn” by a “world-famous prostitute and porn star,” an explanation of “packing” (pretending to have a phallus), and a quotation from The Bitch Manifesto.

As a parody of “The Monthly Rag,” [two students then] … distributed a flyer … called “The Monthly Bag” under the pseudonym “The Coalition of Some Dudes.” The flyer included references to “chainsaw etiquette,” the shooting range of a sniper rifle, a quotation regarding a sexual position from the website, and a quotation about “female violence and abuse” of men from the website

After administrators declared the two students guilty of violating the campus’s conduct code, FIRE got into the act, rightly calling on the college to “reject both double standards and censorship.”

But fairness and free expression aside, isn’t it pathetic that students across the country continue waste their precious minds on such trash?

Ward Connerly on the Move


Here’s a story in Diverse magazine about Ward Connerly’s efforts to introduce state ballot initiatives to discontinue racial-preference programs. The movement needs signatures to reach the ballot in Arizona, Missouri, and Nebraska, and it’s already on the ballot in Colorado and Oklahoma. For information, check out the Arizona, Nebraska, and Missouri Civil Rights Initiatives.

Malkin on Constantine


In the New York Post. She has a good rundown of past hate-crime hoaxes, though I’d like to chip in another from my alma mater.


Subscribe to National Review