Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

NKU Professor Charged


The Northern Kentucky University professor who infamously encouraged students to dismantle a pro-life display on campus–and allgedly participated in the vandalism herself–has been charged with criminal mischief and theft, according to the Associated Press.

Sally Jacobsen, who is currently on leave from the university, will appear in court on May 11 along with six student who also face criminal charges. Jacobsen’s attorney says her client will plead not guily.

A Notable Endorsement for the Academic Bill of Rights


The Academic Bill of Rights has been facing a chorus of opposition from the higher-education establishment. University presidents and professors, the AAUP, and legislative “friends of academe”, have been as one in asserting that the politicization of teaching is a myth concocted by McCarthyite wannabes. They’ll now find that claim a good deal harder to make. With the last returns counted, a version of the Academic Bill of Rights has been approved by a student referendum at no less a university than Princeton.

According to the Daily Princetonian, passage of the Student Bill of Rights (SBOR) has left campus observers “scratching their heads,” and all the more so because its sponsor, the College Republicans, numbering only 300 students, managed to prevail over the opposition of the College Democrats, boasting a membership of about 1,000. Little comment has come from the administration as yet, although the Dean of Faculty admitted that he was “studying the matter.” Others will too. No one can argue that Princeton students are dim, conservative, or uninformed about classroom realities.


Re: Student-Fee System


The mandatory-student-fee system is socialistic in nature and, not surprisingly, is used more effectively by socialistic organizations than those with an individualistic bent. It tells students that money comes to those who play the political game well. We’d be much better off if we could junk the mandatory student fee system and tell students that if they want funding for their activities, they should raise money on their own.

5 Reasons Not To Go To College


This Forbes article says something that’s really contrarian — that college might be a bad investment.

For many students, that’s right.

Paying Tribute to the Men on the Titanic


In her elegant review of Harvey Mansfield


Reform Student Fee System


As I noted earlier, the Catholic League is protesting the publication of vile cartoons of Jesus by a University of Oregon student newspaper. The League is now calling the response from UO President Dave Frohnmayer [my earlier blog was in error as stating his first name to be John]

Guarding the Guardians


Re: In Loco Parentis


A few quick thoughts in answer to Alston below: I meant the specific premises of liberalism and libertarianism as I defined them, and in application to student behavior, not in application to everything else in the world! Also, the reason drinking was more responsible years ago is that young people had better formation, lacking today. (Just compare how students dress today with years ago.) Separate dorms and restrictions on drinking will not immediately bring back polite behavior, but they could be a start toward the better formation that I think we need. Rules are better than suggestions in this regard, and really can help shape better thinking and acting in these areas. People do respond to reasonable rules and guidelines. (Sometimes even unreasonable ones–believe it or not, drinking did decline during Prohibition. But don’t worry, Alston, I’m not recommending a repeal of the 21st Amendment!)

Aristotle says that you can’t even discuss ethics with young people who have had little formation. You can’t begin from ground zero, but have to have a place to start. Allan Bloom wrote that in previous times, his job as an educator was to broaden students beyond their formation. Then after a time, he found that they had little formation to begin with. And it is always easy to say something won’t work, using present day circumstances for evidence. The point is to try to change things. I tend to reject slippery slope arguments because they would negate any rules anywhere. Also, as I said, drinking and sex are special areas of behavior.

And I can only repeat, that my ideas would not mean an alternative tyranny, because my rules would be based on clearly defined premises and would evince a better understanding of human nature. Naturally, there would still be misbehavior, but I think it could be minimized. Present loose behavior contributes to present day PC tyranny. Now we must suffer these lectures about how class and race figure into this Duke debacle. Masses of black people are ready to believe that if the boys get off, it’s because our society is unjust.

But I agree that we can agree to disagree.

Golden Apple


I’ve just learned that the University of Michigan, my alma mater, has given its annual teaching award, the “Golden Apple,” to English professor Eric Rabkin. For the second year in a row, the award has gone to someone with whom I took a class back in the late 1980s and early 1990s: Last year, it went to John Rubadeau, also of the English department. Both men are excellent teachers and richly deserving of the honor; two of my best courses at Michigan were ones they taught (Rabkin on science fiction, Rubadeau on argumentative writing).

We spend a lot of time criticizing higher education here at NRO and on Phi Beta Cons, and with good reason. But it’s also worth noting that there are a lot of great teachers working in the academy today–and the University of Michigan, for all the things it does poorly, has done something splendidly right in honoring these two.

In Loco Parentis, finis


Carol, my apologies for not responding earlier to your post, but I was caught up with a few things, and I wanted to take some time to collect my thoughts. I appreciate the detailed response; it is precisely the information I had been seeking.

You would repudiate the ideals of libertarianism and liberalism right off the bat. That seems awfully harsh, and a little one-dimensional: Universities should be places of learning, where views are expressed and debated, facts presented, and students left to make their own choices about their respective validities. While I understand that this is your starting premise, it strikes me as a rather extreme position from which to arrive at rules concerning the governance of our institutions of higher education. I think I

On Insurgencies, Pt. 2


It turns out that the University of Oregon has tried to punish a conservative student paper for publishing material it found objectionable. Details here. Why can’t the school just let the kids write and publish as they please, no matter how political or sophomoric or objectionable? Is that too much to ask?

The questionable value of college “diversity”


On Monday, I had the pleasure of hearing Duke University economics professor Peter Arcidiacono speak. His subject was research he’s done on the impact of the minimum wage (raising it tends to displace poorer people with lower skills with wealthier people who have better skills but weren’t in the market at lower wages, he concludes), but during the discussion, he mentioned a paper he’s written entitled “Does the River Spill Over? Estimating the Economic Returns to Attending a Racially Diverse College” (co-authored with Jacob Vigdor of Duke).

I downloaded the paper and read through it. His conclusion is that the degree of collegiate diversity has no effect on an individual’s productivity or life satisfaction. When he gets to the discussion of findings, he offers that “diversity capital may not exist. That is to say, two individuals’ ability to profitably interact in the marketplace is not impeded by any racial or ethnic differences between them.”

I think that’s a bullseye and it destroys one of the favored justifications for “diversity,” namely that American students need a big dose of multiculturalism if they’re going to be able to compete in an increasingly globalized marketplace. When people see the opportunity for gains through trade, they set aside differences.

On Insurgencies


Candace: The content of that student paper at Oregon sounds awful, and its name, The Insurgent, is unfortunate (though it may have been in place before the word has taken on its wartime meaning). Having said all that, the administration’s seizure of issues, and the given explanation (something having to do with postal rates), sound extremely fishy. This is exactly the type of nonsense that is used to harass and censor conservative student journalists. My view is that The Insurgent should be free to publish and distribute its garbage — and that critics such as Bill Donahue should be free to condemn it.

Defiling Jesus in the Name of “Dialogue”


The Insurgent, a University of Oregon student newspaper, has published an obscene assault on Christianity. William Donohue, president of the Catholic League, comments:

This explosion of hate speech was a response to a decision reached by one of the Insurgent

When Faculty and Governing Boards Fail to Liberate Their Campuses


Section 103 of the new higher education bill before the Senate reads in part as follows:

“Cherry, diet or vanilla: Coca-Cola is a killa.”


UCLA student columnist Alec Mouhibian has churned out a gem of an article that would be utterly hilarious if the phenomen it captures weren’t so depressing. He begins: “In order to ride a high horse for any considerable length of time without getting sore, you need a fancy saddle. A group of righteous high horse hobbyists on campus has chosen the accusation of murder as theirs.”

He goes on to chronicle the parade of absurdities put forth by a student group called “Coke-Free Campus,” which “wants to ban Coca-Cola products from UCLA because some of the casualties of the ongoing civil war in Colombia have allegedly included union leaders and Coca-Cola factory workers.”

In a classic case of campus activism for activism’s sake, these anti-Coke student protestors have taken an issue about which they know very little and used it to build a pyramid of anti-capitalist platitudes. They rail against the sinister profit motives and corporatism of Coca Cola, even as the company has acted as a beacon of stability and productivity in a war-torn country. One Colombian professor familiar with the situation calls the company a “rare force for saving lives.”

Mouhibian chronicles some priceless banalities from the anti-Coke crowd: comparisons of the company to “apartheid, Vietnam, the genocide of black people in the Sudan region”; “We support workers, we don’t support Coke”; “It’s all for profit!”

And then there is this sequence:

[One of the protestors] admitted Coke isn’t the one doing the killing. . . . The paramilitary in Colombia is the one causing all these deaths, massacres and tortures.” Two minutes later, she was chanting: ‘Cherry, diet or vanilla: Coca-Cola is a killa.’”
Maybe they can get partial credit for lyricism.

Harvard’s Crisis


“Does the world

Time To Fess Up, Roger


The American Association of University Professors rushed to the defense of Sami Al-Arian when the University of South Florida attempted to fire him for what turned out to felonious conspiracy to assist a terrorist organization. Yet, as The New York Sun notes, the AAUP has so far failed to



Last week I highlighted an anti-Christian screed that had appeared in the pages of Northwestern University’s student newspaper.

Evidently I was not the only person offended by the column’s contents. Since its ill-advised publication, The Daily Northwestern has received dozens of angry letters and online complaints (some of which now appear beneath the original column itself).

In today’s edition, the Daily’s public editor condemns his newspaper’s decision to publish the column in the first place, calling it “immature and excessively inflammatory.” The apology, while overdue, is a welcome sight.

More Debate of the Academic Bill of Rights


…at George Washington University, where two salient points were made:


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