Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

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:

Campus Grievance Procedures Awry


At the recent Students for Academic Freedom conference, I noted that students discriminated against on the basis of their political views find it hard to find justice.

“Did Not Mesh”


Over at FIRE’s blog, there’s a good dissection of an incident of censorship at Penn State University. School officials apparently cancelled the opening of a student art exhibit because it was “based mainly on the conflict in Palestinian territories, raises questions concerning the destruction of Jewish religious shrines, anti-Semitic propaganda and cartoons in Palestinian newspapers, the disregard for rules of engagement and treatment of prisoners, and the indoctrination of youth into terrorist acts.”

Rather than admitting to censorship, of course, those responsible for it attempted to explain away their repression with a euphemism: “Charles Garoian, professor and director of the School of Visual Arts, said [the exhibit's] controversial images did not mesh with the university

Another of Larry Summers’s Sins


I looked at the article George Leef links below, from a site called Diverse Online (billed as “Your Portal to Diversity”). Summers nixed a Latino Studies department and also a department devoted to immigration studies, which was offered as an alternative. I know from what I’ve read that Summers had an appreciation for real scholarship. At one point he specifically referred to the kinds of discoveries about the ancient world that modern technology is making possible, where you can learn reams about a civilization from a fingernail. We see some of this scholarship at work in various PBS documentaries. No doubt he could sense the direction in which the Latino Studies and immigration studies departments would go–the same direction that all the other area studies of recent decades have gone: one-sided, tendentious, propagandistic, and not devoted to serious balanced research aimed at the truth. The two proposals were even presented as efforts “to boost multicultural research,” something which no doubt raised the red flag for Summers. Too bad Harvey Mansfield and Samuel Huntington and the handful of other sensible people at Harvard couldn’t have done more for Summers. Clearly he was on the side of the angels in many things. He did support the University of Michigan in the affirmative-action cases, but evidently any deviation from the diversity agenda is totted up as grounds for dismissal.

Professor Discretion is Advised, Part Two


I posted here several weeks ago on the case of geography professor Karen Murdock at Century College in Minnesota. In the thick of the Mohammed cartoon controversy, she had posted the images up
(behind a curtain) so that students debating the cartoons would actually know what they looked like. She faced administrative threats, icy colleagues, and lots of torn paper as a result. Professor Murdock recently sent me an e-mail to update me on her situation. I’ve posted the whole thing here, but here is the real crux of the thing:

What I wonder is: what is happening at other colleges?? I have to say that, when I first posted the Muslim cartoons (on February 7th, when the story was freshly in the news) I assumed–I just assumed without giving it much thought–that thousands and thousands of college teachers all over this land would be doing exactly what I was doing at exactly the same moment I was doing it–finding the cartoons online, printing them off, and posting them up so people could see them. Why didn’t this happen??

The Genderlovin’ Future


John, the core of the leftist academic camp will part with its crusade to metamorphose the sex divide into the gender spectrum when you pry it from its cold, tenured fingers. And you’ll have to kill its little dog, Equality, too. The voluntary end will come only when all women are womyn, all men are masculine-womyn, and every job, every dollar, every consumer good, and every Army-issued M16A2 falls into precisely half womyn hands and half masculine-womyn hands.

Also? Womyn must sponsor exactly one half of the parties. That’s according to the Harvard Crimson this bright, gender-neutral morning. They’ve done a study that has disturbingly revealed “[a] gender imbalance among super party suites,” which “may translate into a disproportionate number of male-sponsored campus parties.”

Those males. They’re out of control.

Gender Gap?


Bet you didn’t know this: “Between 1900 and 1930, male and female enrollments were roughly at parity. And relatively few of the women enrolled (about 5 percent) were at elite women

Take That, Sudan!


I’m not a big fan of divestment, but I must say that I’m quietly cheering on these students who are getting their universities to shed their endowment assets in companies that do business with the Sudanese perpetrators of genocide in Darfur. The activists will always be with us. Some protest Coke. Others protest Sudan. This isn’t a close call. The NYT has a summary of the anti-Sudan effort:

At least seven universities have gotten rid of some of their assets, including the 10-campus University of California system, Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Brown. Divestment campaigns are under way at several other universities, including the University of Maryland, Indiana University and the University of Virginia.

I Am Free At Last!


My freedom to speak about students

British Leftists Speak Up


In a document named The Euston Manifesto, some leftist British scholars et al are rejecting those who

Rocky Report


The Rocky Moutain News, home to one of the better editorial pages in America, weighs in on the UC tenure report: “Tenured faculty have a near-guarantee of lifetime employment, about as much job security as a federal judge or a French factory worker. … Unfortunately, the panel’s final, 116-page report disappoints.”



CNN reports that a school board in Pennsylvania has decided to reinstate its International Baccalaureate program, after axing the program just two months ago under a cloud of controversy:

[Originally,] Board members said they cut the program primarily to save money but cited a number of reasons, including the International Baccalaureate Organization’s relationship with the Earth Charter, a collection of global principles created in France in 2000.

Critics have said that the program’s multicultural themes promote values that conflict with traditional Judeo-Christian values, and some have said it smacks of Marxism because of the link to the Earth Charter.

EdWatch points out that the International Baccalaureate Organization has indeed publicly endorsed the Earth Charter, which is . . . well, exactly what you would expect out of “a collection of global principles created in France in 2000.” It urges us to:
–”Take action to avoid the possibility of serious or irreversible environmental harm even when scientific knowledge is incomplete or inconclusive.” [6a]
–”Ensure universal access to health care that fosters reproductive health and responsible reproduction.” [7e]
–”Promote the equitable distribution of wealth within nations and among nations.” [10a]
–”Require multinational corporations and international financial organizations to act transparently in the public good, and hold them accountable for the consequences of their activities.” [10d]
–”Demilitarize national security systems to the level of a non-provocative defense posture, and convert military resources to peaceful purposes, including ecological restoration.” [16c]
IB programs, of course, are not limited to Pennsylvania school systems but are spread widely across the country. The actual nature of IB courses probably varies dramatically from classroom to classroom and teacher to teacher, but, to the extent that an endorsement of the Earth Charter principles really is reflected in the IB curricula, what we have here is a K-12 version of the pathology that critics usually identify in institutions of higher education: raw political indoctrination masquerading as progressive, sophisticated education.

Give a Hand Up the Ladder


Wealthy colleges are getting wealthier and doing little for poor students. Former Princeton president William G. Bowen says these institutions should give admissions preferences to low-income applicants. My view is they should dedicate full scholarships to meritorious poor students (cf.

The Campus “Starbucks” Model


John and Christine Cavanaugh, administrators at the University of West Florida, get the

Home-Grown Terrorism


Walid Phares, senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and recent winner of a Bradley Prize, said on Oprah some time ago that our chief problem with Islamic terror in the future will come from American-born Muslims who become radicalized at mosques. He might have added Islamic schools as a source of radicalization, where students are taught that Islamic theocracy is the highest form of government. Although we say we are a nation built on an idea, no one really checks to see if the idea is being taught and transmitted. And he might have added as yet another source of Islamic radicalization our college campuses, where students may imbibe any amount of anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-Semitic propaganda, and may grow to hate the society they grew up in. We already have one example in Mohammed Taheri-Azar, the Chapel Hill student who has been living in the U.S. since age two and was educated here, who tried to kill fellow students by running them down with an SUV. The note he left clearly lays out his fury at America. An excerpt follows. The whole thing was published online on March 24, 2006, at, but the link no longer seems to be working. (The number 19 has some special cryptic significance in the Koran.)

Due to the killing of believing men and women under the direction of the United States government, I have decided to take advantage of my presence on United States soil … to take the lives of as many Americans and American sympathizers as I can in order to punish the United States for their immoral actions around the world. In the Qur’an, Allah states that the believing men and women have permission to murder anyone responsible for the killing of other believing men and women. I know that the Qur’an is a legitimate and authoritative holy scripture since it is completely validated by modern science and also mathematically encoded with the number 19.


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