Politics & Policy

The Fools

The outrage of political correctness on campus.

We already have a frontrunner for next year’s Campus Outrage Awards, also known as “Pollys,” given each spring by the Collegiate Network in recognition of “political correctness, curricular decay, [and] violations of academic freedom and free speech.” His name is Nicholas DeGenova, and last week this Columbia University professor wished “a million Mogadishus” upon U.S. troops in Iraq. That translates into 18 million dead American soldiers, most of them probably the same age as DeGenova’s undergraduate students.

The vile DeGenova will have to wait until next April Fools Day to pick up his Polly award. This year, however, he can congratulate his Columbia University colleague Gayatri Spivak for capturing a piece of first place in the sixth annual Polly awards by uttering this lovely sentiment: “Suicidal resistance is a message inscribed on the body when no other means will get through. It is both execution and mourning, for self and other.”

Columbia shares the first-place prize with Duke University, where domestic terrorist Laura Whitehorn, who spent 14 years in prison for bombing the U.S. Capitol in 1983, informed students in a lecture, “It’s easy to do a bombing.”

The University of Mississippi earns a second-place Polly after announcing that the students responsible for scrawling racist graffiti on the dormitory doors of three black students would face “criminal charges, possibly a felony, or it could be a federal offense.” When it turned out that three black freshman were behind the incident, they were punished with “community service hours and therapeutic reflection papers.”

At Georgetown University, a death that was ruled a homicide by the D.C. Medical Officer compelled the administration to assign “a ten-page reflection paper” and counseling. For this outrage, Georgetown wins a third-place Polly.

The University of California at Berkeley won two Polly awards last year, and this year it shares a fourth-place Polly for channeling $9,000 in student fees to the UC Berkeley Queer Alliance, which maintains an online message board for students to “discuss campus locations where they can engage in illicit sexual activities.” The student code of conduct forbids behavior that “threatens the health of safety of any person,” and yet the administration has done nothing to rein in the Queer Alliance.

Speaking of health, Cornell University’s Gannett Health Center now sells vibrators to students. One school official says the decision represents “a commitment to affirming women’s sexuality.” This commitment also earns a tie for the fourth-place Polly.

Finally, the fifth-place Polly goes to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where professor Martha Lamb was pressured to resign her job after she used a racial epithet to describe a specific situation in historical context.

“We created the Campus Outrage Awards to expose the excesses of college administrators and professors who misuse their authority to silence dissent and impose their own political agendas on unwilling students,” says Collegiate Network president T. Kenneth Cribb.

The Collegiate Network is a consortium of 80 student-run newspapers on college campuses, and it is a division of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.

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