Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

Give Us 22 Minutes, We’ll Give You The “Go” Signal


My lovely weekend discovery is that my college provides the al Jazeera “news” network twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, in its unfiltered form, from a satellite feed. Seems to me there’s a legitimate security risk, though I don’t reckon much can be done.

Porn Again


At Harvard, Yale, the University of Chicago, and other leading schools, students can learn how to become pornographers.


Image Problem


I’m not sure whether this is sick or sad or both: A person who judges his own worth on the basis of where U.S. News ranks his college — “my value as a human being feels like it’s dropping,” complains one recent alumnus of Cornell, in NYT.

A Tasteless Display


Students at the University of Chicago staged an unseemly stunt to protest on-campus military recruiters. Their military targets, incidentally, never showed. From the Chicago Maroon:

The protesters, made up as corpses with fake blood on their faces and clothes in order to ‘make immediate’ the casualties in Iraq, distributed pamphlets with graphic pictures of torture and death and invited passers-by to put on similar shirts in a show of support.

They also set up a mock recruitment board ‘for the dead’ with a roster of the soldiers killed in Iraq and spaces beneath for students to sign up to become ‘one of the dead.’

I’d wonder how many of these students would still insist, if challenged, that they “support the troops”?

Red Yale


I woke up at 7:30 this morning, planning to make it to the 8:00 minyan at the Yale Hillel. I walked bleary-eyed into the bathroom, and suddenly became aware of music, wafting in through the open window. I thought that someone on an upper floor was listening to opera (at 7:30 in the morning?) but this music had more of a military sound to it.

I got dressed, took my book bag, wallet and keys, and stepped out of Bingham hall onto the Old Campus. As I walked out through Phelps Gate onto College Street, I saw something that made my jaw drop.

Dozens, hundreds, of red communist flags, thousands of people on the corner of the New Haven Green, loudspeakers blaring away with Chinese communist music (and other loudspeakers blaring away in Chinese). I stopped and stared.

The signs they carried:


Campus Conformity


There is an interesting article in the Chronicle of Higher Education this week about

Administrators Hit Bottom


Although it is well known that courageous young journalists at the Dartmouth Review played a seminal role in launching the student-conservative movement on campuses, the extent of the efforts of Dartmouth administrators to censor those journalists has been less publicized. As The Wall Street Journal recounts [subscribers only], these officials litigated against the publication and punished the editors after

TDR at 25


As conservatives, it’s easy to knock the prevailing orthodoxies at our institutions of higher education on a regular basis: There’s just so much offered up. But it’s also nice, on occasion, to savor some of the very real inroads campus conservatives have made in the past few years, and to consider their beginnings. In so doing, one would be hard-pressed not to trace the roots of this movement back to those feisty conservative journals that began to crop up on campus in the early Eighties. There are now around 100, and the number continues to grow each year.

Tonight The Dartmouth Review, perhaps the most (in)famous of the lot, will celebrate its 25th anniversary at the Union League Club in New York City. William F. Buckley Jr., Mark Steyn, and Laura Ingraham will be in attendance, as will a number of current and former staffers from TDR, and loyal Dartmouth alums. It will assuredly be an unforgettable event, one celebrating not only the paper’s numerous past successes, but the future ones that will assuredly keep it–and the campus conservative movement–afloat as a lively forum for conservative ideas. Even the Wall Street Journal took notice:

As the Review tonight celebrates its 25th anniversary with a black-tie gala in Manhattan, we’d like to raise a glass to conservative student papers across the country. What once was a lonely voice challenging campus orthodoxy is now a boisterous chorus.
. . .
[T]he American campus is no longer a liberal mausoleum. A lively debate has started, and we have intrepid young journalists to thank.
Congratulations, and a hearty thanks, to all who have contributed to TDR over the years.

In Loco Parentis, cont’d


Carol: Perhaps I was not clear with my previous post, but what I meant to ask was, What would be the visible manifestations of

Harvard Crimson Reverses on Hamas Aid


The editorial board of the Harvard Crimson in its end-of-week editorial reverses an earlier position, now opposing the flow of aid dollars to the Hamas-run Palestinian Authority. It’s a refreshing air of open-mindedness from the Harvard students, although I suppose its opening sentence indicates that the editors haven’t exactly been paying close attention to Hamas over the past handful of years: “Following Monday’s suicide bombings in Tel Aviv, for which Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility, Hamas announced its support for this murder of innocent civilians.”

Yale, Hu and Human Rights


Today President Hu Jintao addresses students at Yale, which has long engaged in scholarly exchange with China. Robert Bernstein, chair of Human Rights in China, calls on Yale leaders to inform Hu

Homeland and State: Out of Sync on Terrorism


The Centro Studi Americani, described by John Cabot University as

Re: In Loco Parentis


To respond to Alston below, my idea of real in loco parentis would be to start from premises different from those that are advertised on campuses today. The current premises go something like this: Men and women are exactly alike, human nature is basically good, young people know what they are doing and behave with reason, no one has the right to tell anyone what to do, who can decide what is right behavior anyway. But, as things stand now, when all these premises fall like a house of cards, which they inevitably do, the exact opposite premises take hold: Women need special protection, men are beasts, for some strange reason young people do not always act reasonably and therefore have to be restrained, certain people must definitely have the right to draw boundaries, and what is acceptable behavior must be enforced. So the first set of hypotheses is simply the liberal dream about reality, utterly unsustainable, utterly divorced from reality. When it breaks into nightmare, in steps the strong-arm crowd to assert its own version of order (which may have been the object of the game to begin with). Then, instead of being governed by a healthy respect for reality and agreed-upon rules, we have the bureaucratic enforcement of the PC commissars. It’s a kind of tyranny because nothing is really spelled out. The first set of premises continue to be the official story, while the second is what really comes into play, and those subjected to it are never sure of things.

Mentally or Culturally Crazy?


Attorneys for convicted al Qaeda terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui say that mental illness mitigates his guilt. Moussaoui himself jeered at this claim, saying he has a

“I Hate Christianity”


Northwestern University’s student newspaper published a column today that amounts to little more than an angry diatribe against Christianity. An NU freshman penned this venom:

I hate Christianity. There, I said it. Since its creation, it has mostly caused violence and death, despite espousing the doctrine of compassion and love.

As a Jew, I have always been taught to respect and tolerate other religious beliefs. And for the most part, I do. But I draw the line at Christianity.

First of all, the concept of Jesus dying for “the sins of humanity” is ridiculous. I am responsible for my own actions, and I am angered at the thought of someone being killed for them before I was born.

I can’t help but think that this type of invective would never be tolerated, let alone printed in a major college paper, if its target were any other religion.

A Judge Misses Key Point


A federal judge ruled Tuesday against the Christian Legal Society, a student group denied recognition by the University of California’s Hastings School of Law because it bars membership to students who engage in “unrepentant homosexual conduct”. As reported in Inside Higher Education, Judge Jeffrey S. White, a Bush appointee, cited the recent unanimous Supreme Court decision in Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, arguing that the Hastings requirement against anti-gay discrimination was “directed at conduct not speech”.

Judge White has evidently missed a critical distinction in conflating these cases. The quid pro quo of the Solomon Amendment was that if a university or law school accepted federal money it had also to allow military recruiters campus access. The feds were not, however, insisting that these recruiters serve on university or law school boards–that is to say, take part in their internal governance. Had they done so, every aspect of institutional policy would have become subject to federal influence, including institutional speech. Against such an imposition the Forum law schools would have had a powerful, not risible, First Amendment defense. On the other hand, opening membership in a Christian Legal Society to those morally at odds with its principles does subvert its governance and, hence, its ability to hold and propagate its opinions. No organization representing minority views can remain safe under such a regime.

It’s hard to imagine this decision being upheld should it reach the high court.

Man Bites Dog


Some judges in California have gotten something right. Unanimously. Over on the Volokh Conspiracy, law professor David Bernstein comments on a decision by the California Supreme Court that may have some positive, if indirect, repercussions for free speech on campus. Bernstein explains:

The court’s reasoning is summed up in the following sentence: “While [California law] prohibits harassing conduct that creates a work environment that is hostile or abusive on the basis of sex, it does not outlaw sexually coarse and vulgar language or conduct that merely offends.”
This is precisely the issue that is at the heart of many college free-speech controversies, in which various “minority-rights” groups invoke the language of “harassment” and “hostile environment” in order to advocate for the censorship of words and ideas that they consider offensive or “oppressive.”

The Untidy French Riots


From the Sorbonne to Toulouse, Montpellier, and Grenoble, students demonstrating against youth-job-law reform left behind millions of dollars in damage–wall-to-wall graffiti, stolen or vandalized computers and other equipment, shattered furniture, and what one onlooker described as

The Full Scoop on Horowitz’s Academic Freedom Conference


There was indeed, as Mal Kline of Accuracy in Academia says, a

Culturally Correct Cartography


The Modern Language Association has rolled out a new device to persuade Americans of their lack of peoplehood. A recently revamped, interactive “Language Map” displays state-by-state, county-by-county, and zip-code-by-zip-code, answers to the census question, “Does this person speak a language other than English at home?” All the user need do is plug in a language–there are 300 to choose from–and select a location. A map then appears, say a state divided into counties, with the counties distinguished by a color code indicating the percentage of various language speakers located therein.

The map design contains elements that could mislead the unwary about the degree of America’s linguistic fragmentation. The color code, for example, is not used consistently language by language. With respect to English speakers, the dark red indicating the highest degree of concentration only kicks in when the level reaches 94.11%. For Spanish speakers it does so at 61.88%. For Greek speakers at 0.678%.

The map will tell you, if you care to press for “more detailed information”, how many of these foreign language speakers also speak English well–a fact which changes initial impressions considerably. At first glance, my home town of Princeton, New Jersey has 14.03% of its population listed as foreign language speakers–quite counterintuitive to a resident. But only about a fourth of these admit to not speaking English well, or to not speaking it at all. The figures for Los Angeles County suggest that 57.83% of the population aren’t English speakers. Yet upon searching through “the details,” it turns out that the figure is actually about 19%.

Let’s hope that high-school students doing their prescribed multiculturalism research pay close attention.


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