Welcome to the new (and now only) Fora!
Started by simpleSimon, December 08, 2023, 08:46:56 AM
Quote from: Ruralguy on December 08, 2023, 09:12:00 AMDuring the days of Title IX furor, many schools developed policies that included a full investigative process, a hearing, and now also ability to cross-examine witnesses. Many schools then also had discriminatory behavior fall under the same process. The reason I bring this up is that schools then also learned to be very careful about naming any person as victim or a perpetrator. They learned to be very general in saying that various claims would be "handled by the process." To me, it seems that is what most of them were doing at this hearing, but they were not handling it well. It reminds of the answer Michael Dukakis gave at a debate in 1988 when someone questioned him about what he would do with a criminal who (hypothetically!) raped his wife. He just gave a rote answer about the process. Its not that it was "wrong" then or "wrong" now, but there's a difference between technically correct and right in the moment. Its better to take a two pronged approach and say something like "Of course any act of antisemitism is horrendous and I would never tolerate such acts. However, when someone is accused of something , we have to investigate it thoroughly, otherwise there's too much of a chance that an innocent person can be falsely charged of this or anything else, and we wouldn't want that." They then could then go on to mention probable punishments for such acts. But Stefanik and others were just too interested in playing "gotcha" to make even such a nuanced approach seem reasonable.
Quote from: marshwiggle on December 08, 2023, 09:34:51 AMQuote from: simpleSimon on December 08, 2023, 08:46:56 AMUniversities Face Congressional Inquiry and Angry Donors Over Handling of AntisemitismBy Alan Blinder, Anemona Hartocollis and Stephanie SaulHarvard, M.I.T. and the University of Pennsylvania on Thursday faced threats from donors, demands that their presidents resign and a congressional investigation as repercussions mounted over the universities' responses to antisemitism on campus.At Penn, university trustees discussed the future of Elizabeth Magill, its president, whose congressional testimony on Tuesday set off a furor when she dodged the question of whether she would discipline students for calling for the genocide of Jews.One wonders if she would have been as non-committal if there were students calling for the genocide of Muslims, (or various other groups, for that matter).
Quote from: simpleSimon on December 08, 2023, 08:46:56 AMUniversities Face Congressional Inquiry and Angry Donors Over Handling of AntisemitismBy Alan Blinder, Anemona Hartocollis and Stephanie SaulHarvard, M.I.T. and the University of Pennsylvania on Thursday faced threats from donors, demands that their presidents resign and a congressional investigation as repercussions mounted over the universities' responses to antisemitism on campus.At Penn, university trustees discussed the future of Elizabeth Magill, its president, whose congressional testimony on Tuesday set off a furor when she dodged the question of whether she would discipline students for calling for the genocide of Jews.
Quote from: Ruralguy on December 09, 2023, 05:56:18 PMI would imagine the number of disciplined incidents of that sort of thing are small, but there are all sorts of incidents involving religious or ethnic discrimination/harassment at many, many schools. Even my tiny school with few Jews has had several antisemitic incidents over the years. There have also been a number of incidents against various other groups in the minority. So, I highly doubt there'd be a definitive "no" in any category (across the entire country, that is). I think it would help immensely if administrations completely divorced themselves from any external politics so that they could avoid playing these games, and just make a decision based on what exactly happens in a particular incident. But that's probably not practical and may not even be possible at public institutions.
Quote from: Ruralguy on December 10, 2023, 10:28:54 AMThat being said, if someone asks a university President whether antisemitism (or racism or sexism or ism-ism) is bad, she (or he in future cases) should probably say "yes."
Quote from: Ruralguy on December 10, 2023, 03:44:21 PMYes, but she should have answered the question as if she had simply been asked whether antisemitism is bad.
QuoteAfter parrying back and forth, Ms. Stefanik asked, "Calling for the genocide of Jews, does that constitute bullying or harassment?"Ms. Magill replied, "If it is directed and severe, pervasive, it is harassment."Ms. Stefanik responded, "So the answer is yes."Ms. Magill said, "It is a context-dependent decision, congresswoman."Ms. Stefanik exclaimed: "That's your testimony today? Calling for the genocide of Jews is depending upon the context?"
QuoteAs I watched the presidents of Harvard, M.I.T. and the University of Pennsylvania struggle last week to respond to harsh congressional questioning about the prevalence of antisemitism on their campuses, I had a singular thought: Censorship helped put these presidents in their predicament and censorship will not help them escape.To understand what I mean, we have to understand what, exactly, was wrong — and right — with their responses in the now-viral exchange with Representative Elise Stefanik, Republican of New York. The key moment occurred when Stefanik asked whether "calling for the genocide of Jews" would violate school policies. The answers the presidents gave were lawyerly versions of "it depends" or "context matters."There was an immediate explosion of outrage, and the president of Penn, Elizabeth Magill, resigned on Saturday. But this is genocide we're talking about! How can "context" matter in that context? If that's not harassment and bullying, then what is?But I had a different response. I'm a former litigator who spent much of my legal career battling censorship on college campuses, and the thing that struck me about the presidents' answers wasn't their legal insufficiency, but rather their stunning hypocrisy. And it's that hypocrisy, not the presidents' understanding of the law, that has created a campus crisis.First, let's deal with the law. Harvard, Penn and M.I.T. are each private universities. Unlike public schools, they're not bound by the First Amendment and they therefore possess enormous freedom to fashion their own, custom speech policies. But while they are not bound by law to protect free speech, they are required, as educational institutions that receive federal funds, to protect students against discriminatory harassment, including — in some instances — student-on-student peer harassment.Academic freedom advocates have long called for the nation's most prestigious private universities to protect free speech by using First Amendment principles to inform campus policies. After all, should students and faculty at Harvard enjoy fewer free speech rights than, say, those at Bunker Hill Community College, a public school not far from Harvard's campus?If Harvard, M.I.T. and Penn had chosen to model their policies after the First Amendment, many of the presidents' controversial answers would be largely correct. When it comes to prohibiting speech, even the most vile forms of speech, context matters. A lot.For example, surprising though it may be, the First Amendment does largely protect calls for violence. In case after case, the Supreme Court has held that in the absence of an actual, immediate threat — such as an incitement to violence — the government cannot punish a person who advocates violence. And no, there is not even a genocide exception to this rule.But that changes for publicly-funded universities when speech veers into targeted harassment that is "so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively bars the victim's access to an educational opportunity or benefit." The First Amendment scholar Eugene Volokh has helpfully articulated the difference between prohibited harassment and protected speech as often the difference between "one-to-one speech" and "one-to-many speech." The legal commentator David Lat explained further, writing: "If I repeatedly send antisemitic emails and texts to a single Jewish student, that is far more likely to constitute harassment than if I set up an antisemitic website available to the entire world."As a result, what we've seen on campus is a mixture of protected antisemitic (as well as anti-Islamic) speech and prohibited harassment. Chanting "globalize the intifada" or "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" at a public protest is protected speech. Tearing down another person's posters is not. (My rights to free speech do not include a right to block another person's speech.) Trapping Jewish students in a library while protesters pound on library doors is not protected speech either.So if the university presidents were largely (though clumsily) correct about the legal balance, why the outrage? To quote the presidents back to themselves, context matters. For decades now, we've watched as campus administrators from coast to coast have constructed a comprehensive web of policies and practices intended to suppress so-called hate speech and to support students who find themselves distressed by speech they find offensive.The result has been a network of speech codes, bias response teams, safe spaces and glossaries of microaggressions that are all designed to protect students from alleged emotional harm. But not all students. When, as a student at Harvard Law School, I was booed and hissed and told to "go die" for articulating pro-life or other conservative views, exactly zero administrators cared about my feelings. Nor did it cross my mind to ask them for help. I was an adult. I could handle my classmates' anger.Yet how sensitive are administrators to student feelings under other circumstances? I had to chuckle when I read my colleague Pamela Paul's excellent column on the Columbia School of Social Work and she quoted a school glossary that uses the term "folx." Why spell the word with an "x"? Because some apparently believe the letter "s" in "folks" renders the term insufficiently inclusive. I kid you not.Moreover, each of the schools represented at the hearing has its own checkered past on free speech. Harvard is the worst-rated school for free expression in America, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression. (I served as the group's president in 2004 and 2005.) So even if the presidents' lawyerly answers were correct, it's more than fair to ask, where was this commitment to free expression in the past?That said, some of the responses to campus outrages have been just as distressing as the hypocrisy shown by the school presidents. With all due apology to Homer Simpson and his legendary theory of alcohol, it's as if many campus critics view censorship as the "cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems."Universities have censored conservatives? Then censor progressives too. Declare the extreme slogans of pro-Palestinian protesters to be harassment, and pursue them vigorously. Give them the same treatment you've given other groups who hold offensive views. But that's the wrong answer. It's doubling down on the problem.At the same time, however, it would be wrong to carry on as if there isn't a need for fundamental change. The rule cannot be that Jews must endure free speech at its most painful, while favored campus constituencies enjoy the warmth of college administrators and the protection of campus speech codes. The status quo is intolerable.The best, clearest plan for reform I've seen comes from Harvard's own Steven Pinker, a psychologist. He writes that campuses should enact "clear and coherent" free speech policies. They should adopt a posture of "institutional neutrality" on public controversy. ("Universities are forums, not protagonists.") They should end "heckler's vetoes, building takeovers, classroom invasions, intimidations, blockades, assaults."But reform can't be confined to policies. It also has to apply to cultures. As Pinker notes, that means disempowering a diversity, equity and inclusion apparatus that is itself all too often an engine of censorship and extreme political bias. Most importantly, universities need to take affirmative steps to embrace greater viewpoint diversity. Ideological monocultures breed groupthink, intolerance and oppression.ADVERTISEMENTSKIP ADVERTISEMENTUniversities must absorb the fundamental truth that the best answer to bad speech is better speech, not censorship. Yesterday I watched and listened to a video of a Jewish student's emotional confrontation with pro-Palestinian protesters at Columbia University. Her voice shakes and there's no doubt that it was hard for her to speak. I'd urge you to listen to the entire thing. She seeks a "genuine and real conversation" but also tells her audience exactly what it means to her when she hears terms like "Zionist dogs."Confronting hatred with courageous speech is far better than confronting hatred with censorship. It is obviously important to protect students from harassment. I'm glad to see that the Department of Education is opening numerous Title VI investigations (including an investigation of Harvard) in response to reports of harassment on campus. But do not protect students from speech. Let them grow up and engage with even the most vile of ideas. The answer to campus hypocrisy isn't more censorship. It's true liberty. Without that liberty, the hypocrisy will reign for decades more.
QuoteBut I had a different response. I'm a former litigator who spent much of my legal career battling censorship on college campuses, and the thing that struck me about the presidents' answers wasn't their legal insufficiency, but rather their stunning hypocrisy. And it's that hypocrisy, not the presidents' understanding of the law, that has created a campus crisis.
Quote from: ciao_yall on December 11, 2023, 06:39:01 AMThe issue is that people conflate anti-Semitism with criticism over the government of Israel.Bombing innocent citizens in Gaza is not defending Israel's right to exist.