November 14, 2007

"Why should a school even bother with something like a 'Think Campaign' or a 'bias reporting mechanism'?"

Asks Wisconsin 1L Robert Phansalkar, analyzing the "Think. Respect." program at UW, which we've talked about on this blog here and here. I was critical of the program, which enlisted students to file reports on other students when they felt disrespected. What is heartening is that the students didn't go for it. They didn't file reports!
There has to be some reason for why this program simply did not take off. Apathy seems to be the traditional culprit of this kind of botched experiment, but, alas, the program would not have even started had this been the case. Rather, the real culprit behind this newly forgotten campaign and policy’s fall from grace is that they were ill-conceived from the get-go....

[W]e simply do not rush to a computer to fill out a form online when someone has offended us — we confront the person. We do not go to counseling to discuss an offensive remark — we talk it through. And when someone’s actions are so egregious that we can’t deal with the action ourselves, we turn to others, namely, the police.

The assumption that students simply cannot take care of themselves is the root of the very kind of paternalism that the “Think Campaign” perpetuates. The campaign and reporting forms advance the mentality that we cannot deal with these problems on our own.

But, as lack of enthusiasm and disuse of these programs plainly show, we are more than capable of dealing with the racism of today on our own.
Great.

ADDED: At least Wisconsin didn't go to the crazy extreme seen at the University of Delaware:
Delaware students have been not only inculcated with the lunatic view that all white Americans are racists (and that "REVERSE RACISM" is a "term ... created and used by white people to deny their white privilege") but also:

* Told to confess their "privilege" or lament their "oppression";

* Informed that "white culture is a melting pot of greed, guys, guns, and god";

* Required to "recognize that systemic oppression exists in our society" and "recognize the benefits of dismantling systems of oppression" (whatever that means);

* Instructed to purge male residents' "resistance to educational efforts" and "concepts of traditional male identity";

* Challenged to "change their daily habits and consumer mentality" for the sake of "sustainability";

* Pushed to display on their dorm doors politically approved decorations proclaiming support for (e.g.) "social equity" (whatever that means);

* Subjected to other "treatments" designed to alter their beliefs and behaviors and inculcate university-approved views on politics, sexuality, moral philosophy, and more;

* Ordered to attend residence-hall training sessions and submit to one-on-one sessions with RAs, who filed reports to their superiors about individual students' "level of change or acceptance" of the thought-reform program.

One such report, for example, classified a young woman as one of the "worst" students in the residence life education program for saying that she was tired of having "diversity shoved down her throat" and responding "none of your damn business" when asked "when did you discover your sexual identity?"
Oh, good lord. They've really lost all grip on common sense and ordinary decency. Why would anyone want to go to a school that treats students like that?

63 comments:

MadisonMan said...

When I leave my building by the back door, I see into a neighboring office, and she has a Think Respect poster on the back of her door. I wonder if she'll take it down now. Good riddance to GroupThink.

Who was visitor 11,111,111? I was 130some visitors late.

former law student said...

Nowadays, racism has been redefined as simply being white. If you're white and you're not actively working to end racism, you are a racist. White people have white privilege because they've never had to define themselves in relation to a majority group.

Randy (Internet Ronin) said...

I wonder if she'll take it down now.

I doubt it. The true-believers I've known rarely give up the cause.

P. Rich said...

Good on the students.

But the responsible idiots will continue the campaign in other guises. And their attitudes won't change. And there will be no consequences for them, other than positive ones. Not so good, I think.

JohnAnnArbor said...

I'm a little surprised no one sued them for the program. A publicly-funded school sets up a program to report "offensive" comments? How could that be in any way legal?

Randy (Internet Ronin) said...

I don't know, John. Look at what the University of Delaware has been doing for a number of years now and how long it took for anyone outside the university to notice.

pst314 said...

Back in the 70's, some people noted with concern the growing presence and influence in the UW system of Maoists and Stalinists and other radical leftists. The Milwaukee Journal never missed an opportunity to mock anyone who worried about this.

Pawn Shaman said...

What happens if your offended by the program?

JBlog said...

Who do you complain to if you're offended by the "Think. Respect" program itself and it's Orwellian tactics?

Is there a form for that?

Ronald Coleman said...

What law would the policy violate, John?

trollsmyth said...

former law student said: If you're white and you're not actively working to end racism, you are a racist.

Actually, simply being white defines you as a racist. What you think, profess, or do is irrelevant. See todays http://nationaljournal.com/taylor.htm.

christopher said...

former law student said...

Nowadays, racism has been redefined as simply being white. If you're white and you're not actively working to end racism, you are a racist.


You're certifiable. For starters...

Ann Althouse said...

"Who do you complain to if you're offended by the "Think. Respect" program itself and it's Orwellian tactics? Is there a form for that?"

You complain to the Committee for Academic Freedom and Rights, CAFAR, which I happen to be a member of. Led by Professor Donald Downs. We're vigilant about these things.

rasqual said...

Quite relevant, 14 years after it was first published, this essay by Judith Martin ("Miss Manners"). A brilliant piece, and it's given me cause for much somber reflection on issues of just this kind in years since. The situation has not improved. The implications are not good, unless people can learn how to reconcile with others face to face, instead of write others off, alienate them, then expect some third party (read: the state) to resolve everything.

http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=5127

JohnAnnArbor said...

What law would the policy violate, John?

The First Amendment.

Who do you complain to if you're offended by the "Think. Respect" program itself and it's Orwellian tactics? Is there a form for that?

There's also FIRE. They recently revealed UDelaware's thought reform program to the world.

jeff said...

A similar program was beta-tested in East Germany for 40 some odd years. I understand the penalties there were somewhat more strict, but I am sure there was someone in this program working on that.

ricpic said...

Ya mean we're not the Soviet Union yet? What a disappointment to the Left.

barry said...

How much of the high cost of higher education can be attributed to bureaucracies planning and administering such programs?

Kyle said...

To randy,

I'm a UD staff member, and I'm hopping mad over this stupid program that res life instituted, but in the interest of facts, the current, super bad, incarnation of the program only started this semester.

So it really only took 3.5 months for people outside the University to notice.

JohnAnnArbor said...

How much of the high cost of higher education can be attributed to bureaucracies planning and administering such programs?

They always get funded, too, even as the universities whine to their legislators for more money and jack tuitions up at rates higher than inflation.

former law student said...

christopher -- just go to trollsmyth's link. You'll find I've captured the UDel anti-racism policy fairly well.

Here's another quote regarding racism, which incidentally illustrates the internecine warfare on the left. From This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. Editors Cherrie Moraga, Gloria Anzaldua. Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press New York, 1981


Bar: I also want to say that I don’t think that white lesbian separatists are more racist than any other white women in the women’s movement that we deal with. I just think it takes different forms. White lesbian separatism has almost a studied obliviousness to instances of oppression whereas another group of feminists, for example, socialists, are even more sectarian. The way their racism would manifest itself-they would know that racism was an important issue but they wouldn’t be dealing with it in any way except as a theoretical radical issue. Their discomfort in dealing around women of color would be just as palpable; that attitude would be just as apparent. All white people in this country are victims of the disease of racism.
There is no such thing as a non-racist. Sometimes it’s as simple as who you can laugh with, who you can cry with and who you can share meals with and whose face you can touch. There are bunches of white women for whom these things that I’ve mentioned are unknown experiences with women of color.

Fen said...

Ya mean we're not the Soviet Union yet? What a disappointment to the Left.

Ah, but they have a "Stalin" about to be elected:

Stonewalling, evasive non-answers, abuse of executive authority by Bush = tyrant

Stonewalling, evasive non-answers, abuse of executive authority by Hillary = strong leader

Kirk said...

rasqual,

Thanks for the link to the First Things article. IMO that journal gets far less attention than it deserves.

Randy (Internet Ronin) said...

Thanks, Kyle. As I'm not a big fan of thought policing in any form, I doubt I would have liked their previous incarnation any better ;-)

Randy (Internet Ronin) said...

Still predicting a military coup if Hillary is elected, Fen?

jeff said...

"Stonewalling, evasive non-answers, abuse of executive authority by Bush = tyrant

Stonewalling, evasive non-answers, abuse of executive authority by Hillary = strong leader"

While I am no fan of Hillary, one benefit if she is elected is the 180 turnaround of the BDS Left opinion on any number of policies.

Randy (Internet Ronin) said...

While I am no fan of Hillary, one benefit if she is elected is the 180 turnaround of the BDS Left opinion on any number of policies.

Sounds like a repeat of a repeat showing due to the ongoing writers' strike. We already saw the whipsaw change in attitude when GOP and Dem hardliners switched their positions 180° after the 2000 election and then again after the 2006 election. Talk about predictable!

Robert Talbert said...

From earlier in the comments:

What law would the policy violate, John?

The First Amendment.


IANAL, but is reporting bias against any kind of law, or is acting on a report a violation? IN other words, is reporting a bias illegal if the administration doesn't treat such a report as an actionable item? Or does it only become a free speech issue if the report has consequences for the student being reported?

jeff said...

"We already saw the whipsaw change in attitude when GOP and Dem hardliners switched their positions 180° after the 2000 election and then again after the 2006 election. Talk about predictable!"

Yup. Neither side has a monopoly on it. Wouldn't it be interesting if politicians were not allowed to reveal which party they were in and people had to vote based entirely on policy positions?
No practical way to do that, I know. But still.

Ann Althouse said...

"From This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. Editors Cherrie Moraga, Gloria Anzaldua. Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press New York, 1981"

Everyone had that book in the 80s.

Methadras said...

The bottom line is that all of this nonsense is about money and as long as blacks and latinos, in general, view success educationally, professionally, and monetarily as being white, then this will be an ongoing problem. Americans and American culture is about dealing with problems when they are presented, not standing around crying that you are a victim. Even though many people do that, the ones that don't will kindly and sometimes not so kindly tell them to shut the f*ck up and get over it.

As long as people think that racism, hard or soft, is working in full effect against everyone in America, then America will never shake it's notion that some within it think that we are all raving racists. The whole thing is stupid and so blatantly forced.

JohnAnnArbor said...

IN other words, is reporting a bias illegal if the administration doesn't treat such a report as an actionable item?

I think the word is "chilling effect." There's no need for a reporting system if they don't plan to act on the reports.

glen said...

former law student quoted...

All white people in this country are victims of the disease of racism.

So it's a disease? Why hasn't ChimpyMcBushitler funded embryonic stem cell research so we can find the cure? And please, not adult or umbilical stem cells. Those are the ones that carry the racism in the first place. We need embryonic stem cells from a real minority (like defenseless little babies) to get the job done.

We can't use those "existing lines" of embryonic stem cells either. They were intentionally infected with a racism "vaccine" on 9/11 and the evidence was destroyed when Building 7 went down. That's WHY the Neocons knocked the towers down in the first place. It's a Cheney cover up (and if you don't see that then you are blind and no amount of stem cell research is going to cure it).

No Sir (sorry for the sexism) what we need is the pure, uncut cleansing power of embryonic stems cells. Not black, brown or Asian stem cells because those are incapable of racism. We need white people baby stem cells. Or baby white people stem cells. You know the ones.

Wait. Since we white people are all racist our little embryonic stem cells must be crawling with bigotry too.

OK. We're gonna have to use some real minority embryonic stem cells so we can grow little ears for the baby white people stem cells and reeducate them with that University of Delaware program BEFORE we inject 'em back into us to cure our racism. But we will pay reparations (I know, I know. But this time it's true m'kay?)

Wait. Now that I think about it -- all this time and money is going to be spent just to assuage the guilt of a bunch of white people? See we ARE racist!

glen said...

Oh... and who do I report all this to?

MadisonMan said...

Why would anyone want to go to a school that treats students like that?

In-state tuition?

lurker2209 said...

I usually try to avoid academic turf wars (my major is better than your major is so freshman year!) But I have a fairly strong hunch that the faculty members that enacted these sorts of programs weren't from science, medicine, or engineering departments. They're too busy solving problems or actually proving and disproving theories. I usually resist the urge, but this once I will say it: The humanities are often useless!

Beth said...

lurker, I have to disagree, but that's because I've had the pleasure of studying and working with humanities faculty who, like myself, do not support speech codes. We're not all sitting around reading Marx and waiting for the next revolution, despite the fevered imaginings of some of the right-wingers on this blog.

I'm looking forward to an exciting event on campus tomorrow, hosted by a collection of our humanities departments. Jirina Siklova, a sociologist and gender studies prof, was a member of the democratic opposition in the Czechoslovak Soviet Republic and imprisoned for her activities against the regime. She's a great speaker.

The reason these idiotic speech and thought control movements stand out is because across America, the average campus isn't a communist re-education camp.

M. Simon said...

Ann asks:

Why would anyone want to go to a school that treats students like that?

Because it pays well.

ZZMike said...

I followed the U Delaware flap as it came to light. What most people are missing is that one of the prime movers behind the program is a certain Dr Shakti Butler (the doctorate is from an obscure university). One of the lines in her "teaching material" mentions George Washington:

"In 1784 George Washington, famous Indian fighter, large landholder and slave owner, ..."

Well, maybe she knows that everybody knows that he was President, father of his country, general of the army, chairman of the Constitutional Convention, and that these things are just too trite to mention. On the other hand, it's more likely that she thinks those things are irrelevant considering his natural inbred racism.

Revenant said...

Why would anyone want to go to a school that treats students like that?

Eh, college is just a hoop you jump through to get a diploma. When you want to learn and do useful things, you graduate and get a job.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

One such report, for example, classified a young woman as one of the "worst" students in the residence life education program for saying that she was tired of having "diversity shoved down her throat" and responding "none of your damn business" when asked "when did you discover your sexual identity?"

Good for her!!! I would have accompanied the statement with some eloquent hand gestures as well.

Laika's Last Woof said...

"... latinos, in general, view success educationally, professionally, and monetarily as being white ..."

There's a picture you need to see. It's a boat made out of styrofoam, scrap metal and an old pickup truck, built by a group of Cuban machinists trying to escape Castro's Communism for a better life here in America.

Do you think they went to all that trouble to get here just to complain about how bad America is?

There are a few Aztlan and La Raza types making a bad name for everyone else, but if you think "latinos" come from a culture of complaint that discourages success you need to get out more.

Kyle said...

Yeah, the "worst case" girl is something of a folk hero around campus (in some quarters). Everyone knows her as Opera Girl because when asked if she had experienced persecution she talked about people hating the opera and making fun of her for liking it!

That was awesome.

Randy: I totally get not liking any thought police, but the previous program was basically a, "you're going to live with these people in your dorm for the next year, it'll be more pleasant if you get along." It was basically ice breakers and stuff like that.

reader_iam said...

She didn't happen to be a FHP [Freshman Honors Program], did she? (Do they still call 'em that? Does that program even exist anymore? Do they still have to live together in the same dorms?)

Ah, memory lane.

Kyle said...

Reader: Yes, she was in the honor's program. And the freshman honors kids live in a dorm complex that's about %70 honors freshmen.

For whatever it's worth it seems like most of these bad stories are coming out of that one, honors freshman, dorm complex. Although the program was at every complex on campus.

reader_iam said...

Wow! It's not still Dickinson, is it?

reader_iam said...

God, I'm not sure whether I feel older or younger now. Weird.

Earlier, I was thinking ... damn, can it be going on a quarter-century since I finished undergrad at UD?

lurker2209 said...

Beth, you're quite right that there are a large number of humanities faculty who contribute excellent scholarship and oppose speech codes. Which is why I usually dismiss the impulse to raise this point as territorial. Still, I do think that the wackjob faculty that propose these sorts of things are more likely to come from the humanities departments. Maybe the committee votes that decide this sort of thing are a matter of public record and we can let the facts be the arbiter.

reader_iam said...

Kyle: I'm not sure what that means. Are you saying no one else complained?

reader_iam said...

Or that the RA's there were more obnoxious?

Or, what?

Truly, I'm just curious: the questions aren't intended as loaded.

reader_iam said...

I did notice and follow this story when it first broke (I have certain Google alerts up of generally only personal interest), by the way. It matters to me, and in more ways than just the general.

tc said...

Its all bullshit; see below:


jewsyonkersislam # 440 Address on Yonkers schools to Yonkers Board of Education and supporting newspaper documentation

ADDRESS BY THOMAS J.P. COURTNEY BEFORE THE YONKERS BOARD OF EDUCATION ON WEDNESDAY,11-14-07

" We're getting old, retiring. Yet you teachers have done such a poor job teaching that we have no competent-enough workers to help pay our retirement costs. All you teachers with cushy retirement packages, you who have failed utterly, do not deserve such largess. And you will be one of the first groups targeted to have your benefits reduced. According to your own statistics, Yonkers Public School students are 82% minority. But despite billions, Yonkers schools continue to fail -more and more each year. Special Ed students are now 16% or more and cost far more than regular students. Everybody knows it is harder to teach kids from single-parent -fatherless- families. But why do we have these problems ? Harvard Medical School Psychiatrist Dr. Alvin Poussaint noted that 80% of black children born in 1940 were to 2-parent families, but that percentage dropped to 30% in 2003. Commedian and TV star Bill Cosby said "lower income people are not holding up their end of the bargain". Why ? I'll tell you why. It is the nonsense you teachers teach. Male and female, boys and girls are not equal. "

Taken from Westchester Times Tribune,10-31-07; supporting documentation.

" Status of the Yonkers Public Schools
The Trustees are absent and disengaged.The Superintendent is simply
the Mayor's de-facto department head Mayoral / City Council actions
continue to politicize the school system for obvious personal gain....
Funding shortages persist and funding allocations are being misdirected or covered up.... Collapse of the Adult Basic Education program... no audit by Phil 'see no problem'  Zisman, the same I.G. who found nothing in the YPA/college scamming tuition program. Overstaffing at Central Office of political friends on the business side and personal friends of the Superintendent on the academic side... Return to yesteryear, as Pierorazio pulls in every retiree from his
bygone days into his inner circle to watch his back as the ***school system
slowly deteriorates.*** Senior Central Office staff, along with senior administrators with experience, are nearly all gone; Pierorazio's answer is to restaff with out of towners.Teachers continue to run most schools, especially the elementary."
Is there hope for the Yonkers BoE. Not with the feminist way they're going.

Kyle said...

Nope, the freshman honor's program isn't in Dickinson anymore, They moved it to Russell at least 9 years ago (when I was a freshman), but I'm not sure when exactly it got moved to Russell.

Anyways, from what I'm hearing around, it seems like the program was in all of the complexes. Basically an education prof discovered the course documents on the webpage and brought them to Fire's attention.

It kind of seems, though, that most of the worst stories and anecdotes came from the freshman honors dorm. UD being super apathetic about most of this stuff, it seems like it was mostly the honors kids who were the ones that were the most passionate about it one way or the other. Everyone else just ignored the whole program.

At least that's my take on it after talking to people. Oh, and when this broke the faculty senate was PISSED! Mostly not because of what the program consisted of, but because there was any kind of educational program that hadn't been vetted by the senate in the first place.

Revenant said...

The funny thing about campus speech codes and indoctrination programs and the like, to me anyway, is that when I was in college I just figured "hey, that's California I guess". I'd always heard California was liberal, and I certainly was sick of being surrounded by Southern conservatives. It wasn't until years after I graduated that I realized that pretty much all the other universities have the same silly crap. I thought it was just a local cultural thing, like using "the" when referring to freeways or bitching about the cold when it drops below 70.

Personally I was just like "yeah, yeah, ok, white men are evil, yeah yeah. Can we wrap this up? I've got a beach volleyball game in ten minutes."

David Eaton said...


Everyone had that book in the 80s.


I remember that book- one of my buddies had some psych class or something where it was used. I never thought to open it, though.

I missed all the good controversial stuff as a science student. We had women and minority students in our department, but everyone was being similarly oppressed by physics and mathematics, so I don't remember any issue like PC or speech codes ever being mentioned. Ever. It's like I didn't even go to college or something. I remember the occasional harrangue by some people, often as not with tattoos, body piercings and funny hair.

I remember once or twice actually worrying a bit about what the government was up to in Central America but I was too busy with homework and labs to give a shit for long. Grad school kept me even more blinkered. I found out that universities were radical hotbeds from the internet. Where I lived, I had no idea.

Steve Donohue said...

Perhaps right on cue, here's an e-mail I received just today (I attend the University of Illinois):

Graduate Upper Division Hall Residents,

Our uniquely diverse community brings a wealth of knowledge, backgrounds, and opinions. While this can help each and every member of our community understand and experience new ideas and perspectives, it can also cause conflict.

In the past month, three separate incidents of intolerance have occurred in and around Sherman and Daniels Halls. These actions point to a greater need in our community to discuss openly the issues of race, sexual orientation, religion, and ethnic origin.

Inclusiveness is a major core value of the entire staff of the GUD Halls and Family & Graduate Housing. Therefore, we strive to create an inclusive environment for all our residents, while also recognizing and respecting differences. Please help us in this endeavor by reporting any intolerant behavior to a staff member and we will respond appropriately.

In response to those most recent events, we have already set up meetings with particular community members who have been affected. Others who are concerned are encouraged to discuss the issue with appropriate staff members. Our staff have also documented and reported these incidents to appropriate University administrators. In addition, we are actively planning programming around the related topics beginning in the spring semester.

Please keep us informed of your concerns and your suggestions as we continue to maintain an inclusive environment in our halls.


I find a great deal of this creepy. First, I have no idea what these "acts of intolerance" were. If they were assaults or something of that matter, than I can understand. Something tells me though that if they were assaults, the e-mail would have said assaults. Acts of intolerance sounds rather innocuous. I want details.

Second, the reporting of any acts of intolerance in the residence halls is beyond creepy. What is to be reported? Un-PC conversations? Ethnic jokes? Where, exactly, is the line?

This isn't a problem at one or two institutions. It is everywhere.

From Inwood said...

Beth

Glad that you for one do not support such speech codes (the Groves of Academe have gone from McCarthyism to neo McCarthyism) found on many campuses. But sad to see that you feel that you just have to take a shot at some straw man, OOPS, person, when you conjure up

"the fevered imaginings of some of the right-wingers on this blog."

Who, right, center, or left winger, needs to resort to imaginings, much less fevered imaginings when there are so many real examples of this "East Germany has much to teach us" stuff on college campuses today?
Some of us right-wingers, even those with vivid imaginations, even those given to flights of fancy know that what happened happened; that a fact is a fact. And that you are minimizing or trivializing.

“As imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.”

These are not "things unknown" to thoughtful people.

Brad V said...

Rob was in Downs' seminar with me a few years back. It's good to see he still has the column with the Herald.

I believe the surname's "Phansalkar" - with an "r" at the end.

Beth said...

And that you are minimizing or trivializing.

Nope, I'm not trivializing, just keeping a sense of proportion. The average U.S. campus is more geared toward churning out good middle management fodder than fomenting Marxist revolution and repressing speech. Even the humanities grads are only dabbling in activism, in between a full class load and one or more jobs.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Brad. Corrected. Bad cutting and pasting by me.

Pogo said...

More european soft fascism, university style.

Beth, it's far more common than you seem to realize. If schools were indeed just focused on churning out employees for the workforce, these things wouldn't occur. This is typical Marxist class war propaganda gussied up as "Resident Life" diversity training. It's widespread and deletirious.

And it has to be stopped.

pst314 said...

"The bottom line is that all of this nonsense is about money"

I have to disagree. I've known many leftists who had only a limited interest in money, but were obsessed with power and lusted for the opportunity to tell others what to do--while requiring that they be thanked for it.

Laika's Last Woof said...

"Opera Girl ... experienced persecution ... for liking [Opera]!"

The Opera Girl drama queen anorexic on a hunger strike is our top story tonight, displacing, "Don't taze me, bro!" Those two should get together.

"... sick of being surrounded by Southern conservatives."

Yeah, nothing makes you liberal like being around conservatives ... and nothing makes you conservative like being around liberals.

"... everyone was being similarly oppressed by physics and mathematics ..."

Nothing says, "We're all in this together," like shared suffering under the brutal lash of a multivariate differential equation.

"... limited interest in money, but were obsessed with power ..."

Now that you've baked the bread I'll explain why I should be the one who decides who eats it.