Thursday, June 18, 2015

Boston University Controversy has Become the Face of Modern U.S. Higher Education: The Once-Peaceful College Campus Now is a Permanent War Zone

By now, anyone associated with higher education in the USA has heard about the explosive entry of newly-minted Ph.D. Saida Grundy to the Boston University faculty. Before making her Twitter account private, Grundy blasted out: "why is white america so reluctant to identify white college males as a problem population?" and "every MLK week i commit myself to not spending a dime in white-owned businesses. and every year i find it nearly impossible."

Given that white (Caucasian) males make up about a quarter of BU's student body (and my guess is that Grundy would include Asian males in that mix as well), this new sociology and African-American Studies professor is saying that she hates at least 25 percent of the students at her new place of employment. Furthermore, she also is saying that she hates more than half of her faculty colleagues.

Not surprisingly, there has been a bit of outrage over Grundy's statements and the Internet has exploded. From CNN to Fox News, the condemnations have come fast and furious. (There also is a Twitter feed supporting Grundy.)

Boston University President Robert A. Brown felt compelled to issue an open letter when the whole thing exploded in part to mollify outraged alumni and also to bring some calm to the out-of-control situation. Of course, Brown defended free speech, etc., but added:
Boston University does not condone racism or bigotry in any form, and we are committed to maintaining an educational environment that is free from bias, fully inclusive, and open to wide-ranging discussions. We are disappointed and concerned by statements that reduce individuals to stereotypes on the basis of a broad category such as sex, race, or ethnicity. I believe Dr. Grundy’s remarks fit this characterization.
 (Grundy also allegedly told a victim of sexual assault, "go cry somewhere. since that’s what you do” while trolling on Facebook. It will be interesting if the academic community at BU also accepts her making light of sexual assault, since it is THE main issue on college campuses these day.)

As I see it, the Grundy situation, while a potential problem for BU, is a microcosm of what has been occurring in American higher education for the past few decades, and especially at the "elite" universities like BU, not to mention the Ivy League institutions and, of course, Duke University. In the name of "diversity" and "fighting racism and sexism," the Left has turned these places into outright war zones.

It is hard to explain to people who cannot conceive of the madness that has become "elite" higher education as to what is happening. Most people cannot imagine having a mob of mattress-carrying female students gathering outside one's office door demanding that the person in the office be fired for writing something that often is pretty innocuous. Laura Kipniss, a communications professor at prestigious Northwestern University and a woman of the Left herself, wrote an opinion piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education that took issue with her university's prohibition on professors dating students. (The article definitely is worth the read.)

Some female students took issue with Kipniss' position and protested outside her office, with two students filing charges that the professor violated Title IX standards. For those readers who are not familiar with Title IX, it is part of a the Education Amendments of 1972 which prohibits sex-based discrimination in funding education programs. It is especially famous in college athletics because the Clinton administration in the 1990s decided to interpret the law as requiring athletic quotas. The upshot of the Clinton decision was the elimination of a number of men's collegiate athletic programs like wrestling and track and field (men only) and the addition of sports like women's rowing in order to meet the requirements.

In Kipniss' case, the students claimed that her article not only was critical of females who disagreed with her, but that her words would have a "chilling effect" on women reporting sexual assaults at Northwestern. The accusations then brought an actual Title IX investigation against Kipniss, who fought back by writing about what was turning into a Kafkaesque ordeal. (The university finally cleared her.) 

Not surprisingly, the Obama administration has expanded Title IX enforcement by demanding that colleges and universities adopt policies that make it easier to find students (mostly male) guilty of sexually assaulting females, a move that has created no small outcry among civil libertarians and people who believe that due process of law should be something other than a government-mandated kangaroo court. Because they are addicted to federal money for survival, however, institutions of "higher learning" quickly jumped on the "sexual assault" bandwagon both to keep their hands in the federal till and also because it fit within the ideological views of increasingly-radicalized faculty and students.

The casualty lists continue to pile up, and now that colleges and universities are adding "microaggressions" to their list of the Deadly Sins, the atmosphere on campus has become utterly poisonous. (A "microaggression" is the utterance of a thought that is deemed Politically Incorrect, or the use of silence in order to avoid uttering something that is un-PC. In other words, one's presence by itself -- spoken or unspoken -- is considered to be a "microagression." Welcome to Hell.)

So, where does Saida Grundy fit in with all of this. First, and most important, I predict that she will make many people at BU sorry they ever hired her. I have no idea of her scholarship potential but something tells me that if she does not produce the requisite peer-reviewed journal papers that are the major contributing justification for tenure, she will be tenured, anyway, just because other faculty members and the administration will want to avoid the litigation that someone like her can bring about simply by alleging that the university discriminated against her on the basis of sex and race.

Second, she will further help turn BU into an academic war zone. I saw firsthand what the radical faculty at Duke University did to the university during the infamous Lacrosse Case nearly a decade ago. Since then, most of those radicals have worked their way into Duke's administration or to higher-paid and more-prestigious appointments elsewhere. Thus, they will continue to damage relationships on campus, not to mention impose ridiculous and anti-intellectual policies for years to come.

When an incoming professor attacks a large portion of what will be her students in the coming years even before stepping on campus, one only can imagine the horror stories that will follow. This is not about contrived controversies; this is a professor who hates many of her students, and she has told them up front that she hates them. What will follow? Grade retaliation? (That happened at Duke.) White male students being berated in class simply for taking space?

It is hard to know. Maybe Grundy has just been spouting off and actually will be fair to her students and an asset to the BU faculty, but somehow I doubt that.

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