Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

Harbinger of Change in Affirmative Action Campus Rulings?


Keep an eye on how the Supreme Court rules on two affirmative action K-12 cases. The Center for Equal Opportunity says the ruling will provide insight about what the Court’s new members, Justices Roberts and Alito, think of the University of Michigan cases that permitted campuses to continue to consider race in admitting students.

New Guidebook Tells Campuses to Prove Benefits of Diversity


The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the College Board has just published a manual on race-based admissions to help universities determine if their entrance policies are in compliance with the University of Michigan rulings. Its authors are right that race-conscious admissions policies need to be brought out in the open–out from behind the “closed doors” of admissions offices–and that campuses must give evidence of why these long-entrenched but sub rosa policies are needed.


Controversy Over Two Accreditation Groups and Diversity


Two accrediting organizations–the American Bar Association (ABA) and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)–are triggering a much-needed debate about the significance of the concepts of “diversity” and “social justice.”


It’s about time that these groups’ biased and manipulative cooptation of these terms is exposed. This exposure should have a ripple effect, that is, lead to an understanding of how they are misused systematically throughout much of higher education.

Students’ Fighting Options


Female students who have suffered from political bias are fighting back increasingly more boldly. At a recent Eagle Forum Summit, several of them vividly described how they exercise their “on-campus, legislative, and litigation options.”

“Moral Authority”


I have written before about the shameless tactics of the ridiculous “Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary” (or BAMN, for short). When they say they’re willing to employ “any means necessary” to achieve their political goals, they mean it. Their latest campaign has been to prevent Michigan’s citizens from voting on the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, which would ban racial preferences in the state. MCRI today sends out a press release regarding some of BAMN’s latest tactics:

Today, as a last ditch effort to try to keep the people from voting on the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming that while collecting signatures to get MCRI on the ballot we violated the Voting Rights Act.  It’s a frivolous claim that is meant to tie up resources and drain our funds. It should be noted that BAMN has brought these allegations to the Secretary of State, Attorney General, Michigan Court of Appeals, and the Michigan Supreme Court–all have found these allegations to be meritless and we expect the same with the federal court.
The press release also includes a bit of reporting from the Gongwer News Service on Shanta Driver, BAMN’s co-chair and spokeswoman, who has done some thinking outside the box to keep the MCRI proposal off of the Michigan ballot:

…if the courts do not remove the proposal, Ms. Driver said her organization has already begun talking to city and local clerks to not put the proposal on their ballots (ballots are, in fact, printed at the county level).

Asked how clerks could legally refuse to have the proposal on a ballot, Ms. Driver said they have the “moral authority” to take a stand.

Your daily dose of obtuseness…


The Trouble With Law School


A lawyer hits the truth with this WSJ article making the case that law school is horribly oversold.

As I argued here, law school is deliberately kept much more expensive than necessary to serve the legal profession’s desire to have a high barrier to entry around their cartel.

Almost everything a lawyer needs to know he learns after graduating from law school.

“Saving” Title IX


The Feminist Majority Foundation has it all wrong. For Title IX’s birthday (today) they’ve launched a donation campaign to “save Title IX.” You even get an ugly painting for your contribution.  What they want to save it from, I’m not sure. In reality, Title IX needs to be saved from radical feminists who demand equality of outcome over equality of opportunity.  Then maybe so many men’s programs wouldn’t be needlessly cut.

The Fighting Sioux


University of North Dakota President Charles Kupchella has posted another hard-hitting letter to the NCAA on the UND website over the school’s mascot controversy. I love Kupchella’s fighting attitude about the NCAA’s prohibition on Indian mascots. Kupchella is now considering legal action against the NCAA and the UND Alumni Association and Foundation has set up a NCAA litigation fund. Also, be sure to check out the history of both the logo and the name.

Overt and Covert Bias


Candace’s post below on the small number of formal grievances for political discrination filed in Pennsylvania is on the mark. That relatively few numbers of overt actions take place in the classroom is a good thing, of course, but it’s not a reliable measure of bias on campus. Bias in education can appear in many forms, and direct acts is just one of them. Another form occurs when a particular bias has become so widespread and longstanding that it seeps into the discourse, values, and norms of the system. At that point, its overt expression is redundant.

If a student enrolls in a class on “protest poetry,” for instance, and all the readings come from Left-wing positions, the student isn’t going to file a complaint. That’s just the nature of the course, and the student hasn’t been singled out for any reason. If the student does try to complain, he will look like he’s interfering with the academic freedom of the professor, who can point to the readings as legitimate subjects and deny any discrimination against the student individually.

The only way the complaint will make any sense is to put it in the context of the entire curriculum of the department–an impossible task for the student.

I actually believe that most professors do try to be fair and open-minded with students. But if they’re working in a system that does favor only a portion of ideological spectrum, if the books chosen, the traditions studied, and the theories assumed tend to fall into liberal and progressivist outlooks, they can’t help but be partial and partisan in their teaching. Unfortunately, this is a case no student can make.

Northern Arizona University: Affirmative Action’s Convoluted Effects


A federal court says that NAU must pay a hefty sum to a group of white male professors who argued they were discriminated against when the university gave raises to minority and female faculty members in the early 1990s but not to white males.

Opinion Journal writes: “The lawsuit and its outcome are yet another striking illustration of the perils of affirmative action, with its often contorted logic of redress and blame and its tendency to commit exactly the sort of discrimination that it was designed to prevent.”

The Facts Will Out


The Chronicle of Higher Education comments on a new report that tries to discredit David Horowitz’s book, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America.


I stand by my praise of the book on its jacket cover: It provides important and insufficiently reported proof of the widespread anti-American and anti-Israeli poison at work on our campuses. How ironic that the report is titled “Facts Count.” For the facts in Horowitz’s 448-page tome indeed count–they are opening the eyes of countless Americans. And this is what’s riling the Free Exchange on Campus, the union-dominated blob of leftist campus activists that created the report.  



That Dartmouth story from yesterday is currently the most e-mailed story at–beating out depression and suicide .

Vacations of the Mind


A couple of good stories, one by Stanley Crouch on how summer has become a time for kids to have fun–and stop reading and thinking. Another story in the Miami Herald examines a ban on several textbooks about Cuba.

You’ve Got to Be Kidder-ing


John, as you know, I’m one of the people attacked in the Kidder study you referenced yesterday:  “…Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity–a leading advocacy group working to dismantle affirmative action–cast the issue in starkly (and falsely) divisive terms:  ‘If eliminating race-based admissions results in more Asian students or fewer African-American students being admitted to top schools, so be it.’” 


Now, Kidder’s point is not that race-based admissions don’t result in SOMEONE getting denied admission because of race; his claim is just that it’s mostly white students rather than Asians who are discriminated against because of affirmative action, and that many Asians are discriminated against the old-fashioned way (i.e., in favor of white students).  I will read the study, but I have to admit that my likely reaction will be a shrug.  I won’t be surprised if the same p.c. mindset that believes you should use racial discrimination to make sure that you don’t have “too few” blacks and Latinos leads ineluctably to believing that you should also use racial discrimination to make sure you don’t have “too many” Asians.  I’m opposed to white students OR Asian students being discriminated against in favor of blacks and Latinos; I’m also opposed to Asian students being discriminated against in favor of whites OR blacks and Latinos. In fact, I’m opposed to anybody being discriminated against in favor of anyone else because of skin color or what country their respective ancestors came from. 


In the quote that Kidder uses, I say that I’m opposed to racial discrimination, and it doesn’t matter to me who the winners and losers are–I’d let the chips fall where they may.  How is saying that “divisive”? And I’m not the person who favors divisive policies: Kidder is.

Pay Up


A debate over student aid, between lefty blogger Anya Kamenetz and Cato’s Neal McCluskey, who writes:

It’s really fairly simple: As long as government is willing to increase student aid, colleges will inflate their prices to capture it. Moreover, as long as states continue to subsidize public postsecondary institutions with taxpayer dollars, we will see public colleges and universities waste massive amounts of money. Finally, as long as those subsidies continue, we will keep seeing tuition at public colleges and universities buffeted by the boom-and-bust cycle that governs most state budgets.

Flag Day


Arizona is about to pass legislation that would require public schools, from K-12 through higher ed, to display American flags in classrooms. Because most secondary schools already do this, the law won’t have much of an impact on them. But the same isn’t true for colleges and universities, and they’re already griping. Some complain about the cost of this unfunded mandate (the state supplies no money for the flags, and the law also stipulates, protectionist-style, that they be manufactured in the United States); others worry about vandalism because professors don’t take ownership of specific classrooms the way K-12 teachers do, and there’s apparently an abundance of America haters on Arizona’s campuses. The most entertainingly outrageous responses, however, come from faculty members who don’t care about the cost so much as the symbolism:

Reyes Medrano, professor of business at Paradise Valley Community College and president-elect of the faculty association for the Maricopa Community College District … said that while he doesn’t object to anyone flying a flag, he doesn’t see why it should be forced on college classrooms, especially when its meaning isn’t entirely positive to everyone. “I’m not anti-U.S. or anti-any country,” he said, but flags equate with nationalism, which “creates separatism and unnecessary conflict.”

Focusing on the flag, he said, can encourage people to “place our values in an institution rather than in humanity.”

Another One Bites the Dust


Title IX celebrates its 34th birthday this Friday. The law’s latest victim is the wrestling program at Fresno State University. The program had a great track record, producing 33 All-Americans, including 2004 Olympic silver medalist Stephen Abas. 

Wrestling is the sixth men’s sport to be cut at Fresno State since 1992. In the same time, only swimming and diving has been cut on the women’s side. It’s a shame to see a law crafted with good intentions be used so often as a vehicle for taking opportunities away from men, instead of providing opportunities for women. As IWF’s Vice President and NRO contributor Carrie Lukas pointed out last year on Title IX’s birthday: 

The only winners from cutting men’s teams are radical gender ideologues fixated on mathematical parity between men and women. It certainly isn’t a victory for female athletes. Many college women who had run track or swum with their male counterparts were saddened to see those teams killed. Anyone who loves sport for both genders should desperately want an alternative to the perverse Title IX quota system.  

Last year, the Bush administration took steps toward common sense Title IX reform, providing options for schools to measure student interest in athletics and accordingly comply with Title IX. Bush’s actions were in line with the intent of the original law:  

Fulfilling student interest was always supposed to be one way to comply with Title IX. But given the threat of costly legislation, few universities have been willing to risk relying on compliance through such an inherently subjective measure.

Unfortunately, reform is hard to come by:

Hostility toward reform is likely based on fear of what an honest assessment may find: that more men are drawn to sports than women. And indeed, evidence that men have a greater interest in athletics abounds. Men’s participation in intramural leagues on college campuses dwarfs women’s; men spend more time watching sports; men spend more money on sports; and male athletes are more willing to sit on benches as second stringers than female athletes, who often quit when not regularly played.

The feminists and left-wing politicians who sing the praises of Title IX don’t want to face these facts. They envision a world in which men and women act the same and are equally represented in all walks of life. But that’s not how actual men and women behave. These social engineers want government to force that outcome anyway.

My advice to Fresno State wrestlers: Don’t go down without a fight. Programs have come back from the dead (like Bucknell’s wrestling program). Tell your story to every alumnus, student, parent, and donor you can talk to. And, if any Fresno State alums are reading this post, let the school know how you feel about their record of cutting men’s sports.

Fighting for Klocek


An online petition in support of Thomas Klocek has collected nearly 500 signatures (as of this minute). Klocek is a former DePaul instructor who lost his job “for allegedly offending Muslim students when discussing Christian interests in Israel, disputing that Israeli treatment of Palestinians was akin to the Nazi treatment of the Jews and then terminating the discussion when it appeared that the students were more interested in Israel-bashing than discussing the issue.” Go here to read the petition and sign it.

The “No Classroom Bias” Chorus: Pennsylvania


Public higher-education administrators in Pennsylvania recently testified before state legislators that in recent years there have been very few formal grievance complaints from students about leftwing political classroom bias.

In partial response to this latest “no bias” incantation from the higher-education status quo, I suggest that:   

  • To limit the review of bias to filed student grievances is, in and of itself, an exercise in deflecting from a thorough review. Any serious review must take into account the abundance of evidence of bias in institutional vision statements, course descriptions and syllabi, selection of speakers and awards recipients, surveys and studies, documented case studies, etc.
  • Regarding even this artificially limited review, however, campus establishments often put up roadblocks to filing and expeditiously vetting such grievance cases, thus ensuring there will be no or few cases filed. Specifically:
    • More cases are not filed because students, for example, in freshmen orientation, are not encouraged to know their rights regarding viewpoint discrimination (in contradistinction to the effort made to “sensitize” them in race and gender discrimination). For instance, students generally are not made aware of how to file, and the need to document, grievances involving political bias.
    • Dissident (i.e., non-left-leaning) students, fearful for their grades, and of not obtaining letters of recommendation, are intimidated into not coming forward with complaints.
    • Complaints easily get “buried,” that is, they are not expeditiously conveyed from professor to department head, provost, or university counsel. The process is thus dragged out, so that in many cases students “give up” or graduate before the complaint is resolved.
These assertions of “no bias” are, in short, disingenuous. In the face of them, campus presidents and boards have been known to wash their hands of the problem by not inquiring about filed cases or other evidence of bias, or by pronouncing they “don’t get down to this level of detail.”  

Pennsylvania and other state lawmakers must broaden their inquiries into campus bias to include all evidence and consider that students’ (and for that matter, faculty members’) grievances are not always dealt with in good faith.

Re: Negative Action


Like John, I am a bit skeptical about the argument that William Kidder makes that there is what amounts to a ceiling at many institutions on the number of Asian students they will accept and therefore the abolition of “affirmative action” will just mean more white students (at selective institutions, anyway). However, Kidder’s argument does seem to have a ring of truth to it. Admissions people clearly have it in their heads that membership in a population group that is deemed to be “disadvantaged” should count in favor of an applicant who can claim to be a part of that group.

(That’s true even if the individual has no evident disadvantages at all.) Thus all the emphasis on helping blacks, hispanics, and other “protected” groups by holding them to lower academic standards than other applicants.

But why assume that this only works in one direction? If there are unfairly disadvantaged groups, why shouldn’t there also be unfairly advantaged groups? If society benefits from admitting more students from groups where there would be too few in the absence of preferences, won’t it also benefit from keeping down the numbers of students from groups that are doing “too well”? If social engineering upward for some is a good thing, in order to give us a better “social balance,” why isn’t social engineering downward for others equally important?

Of course, this is all very foolish, and stems from two tendencies in leftist thought. First, they insist on looking at people not as individuals but as representatives of groups. Second, they believe that their tinkering with the world has enormous benefits, which is why they get all hot and bothered with someone like Richard Sander who argues that it’s actually harmful.


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