January 10, 2012

NYU student emails her outrage about being forced to do an ethnography of Occupy Wall Street...

... and now it's in the news, which is full of insinuations about her mental health.

More — including all the email — here:
Sara Ackerman’s beef with NYU started over an assignment that involved going down to Zuccotti Park and writing an ethnography on the Occupy Wall Street protestors. Sara says she refused to go down because of ethical disagreements and concerns about “the criminals, drug addicts, mentally ill people” that were there. She requested an alternative assignment, but wasn’t granted one by CAS Dean Kalb until, she had already gone down to OWS “with two other young girls, who are quite attractive and thin, and don’t look particularly physically fit enough to take on a potential predator, rapist, paranoid schizophrenic, etc” and felt like she “escaped an extremely dangerous — and even, life threatening — situation.”
IN THE COMMENTS: Jay said...
Ackerman sent seven very long e-mails and a total of 4,000 words to everyone in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis

Gee, what could go wrong?
Here's an idea for an "alternative assignment": do a "social and cultural analysis" of the 4,000 words of email. If we're doing "ethnography," step back and see the larger picture of the 5-foot-1-inch, 105-pound female forced by her elders into a rough city milieu. She's an interesting object of ethnography as she resists being an ethnographer to people she feels intimidated by. And whatever happened to feminist analysis? There is formal equality when all students receive the same assignment, but in a more subtle understanding of equality, there is discrimination against tiny women.

104 comments:

rhhardin said...

I can't define ethnography but I know it when I see it.

Jay said...

Ackerman sent seven very long e-mails and a total of 4,000 words to everyone in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis

Gee, what could go wrong?

edutcher said...

Since the Occupation has a body count and is affiliated with such sterling types as ACORN, SEIU, and the current Administration, what "ethical concerns" could she have had?

Felix Derzhinsky and Lavrenti Beria are smiling somwhere.

clint said...

Was that the same "Occupy" protest that had to set up special "rape-shield" tents to keep female protesters safe?

What's NYU's position on requiring students to place themselves in harm's way?

Does NYU have insurance that covers the next student who gets raped or otherwise attacked on such an assignment?

William said...

It does seem that she has the kind of personality that would fit right in with the folks at Zuccotti Park. There's something deeply satisfying about self righteous histrionics being applied to the Dept of Social & Cultural Studies. She was probably responding to the implied sexism of being asked to "go down" to Zuccotti Park.

Mary Beth said...

One of the emails mentioned the professor's rating on Rate My Professor. The emails were sent during the early morning hours of January 4. Compare the ratings that begin that day with the ones from last year.

The article says that she complained about a guest lecturer failing to call on her despite having her arm raised for a minute and 15 seconds. That sounds kind of nutty until you find out that the speaker was a grad student working under the professor's husband, Eric Klinenberg, also a professor at NYU.

I didn't read all of the emails, but I think she may not be crazy. I'm basing this mostly on the lack of exclamation points.

Smilin' Jack said...

...the 5-foot-1-inch, 105-pound female forced by her elders into a rough city milieu.

Oh, boo hoo. Who is she going to feel comfortable doing ethnography on, midgets? An ethnographer who feels uncomfortable around people should try another field, like, say, accounting.

David said...

I read the emails. The actions of the professor and the school administration are quite ugly.

The reasonable solution--allowing Ackerman some sort of alternative assignment--was rejected by the professor. They expected Ackerman to fold, as most people would, but she did not.

Then Ackerman ups the ante by demanding dismissal of the professor. That's out of line but the school administration could firmly reject that and still deal with the underlying student-teacher problem.

Instead, they treat Ackerman's anger and distresses as a violation of civility and a mental health issue. They are saying that questioning their authority in a persistent and demanding way is uncivil, and evidence that Ackerman is unhinged.

Ackerman may be intemperate, but she is also correct. She had valid reasons for not wanting to complete the assignment, and proposed rational alternatives, which were rejected out of hand. Than she was branded as violating school policies and possibly mentally ill.

My social and cultural analysis here is that the professor and the administration are thugs. A thug being someone who exercises raw power in a attempt to confirm authority, without regard to the merits of the situation.

They would love to send Ackerman to a Gulag, if there were one available.

Lesson: Question Authority (unless it's the academic administration's authority.)

Geoff Matthews said...

Ethnography is just a waste of time. Who'd pay you to do that (apart from a University)?
Sure, some bleeding-edge marketing team might use ethnographic methods two years before they go out of business, but who cares?

David said...

Althouse, I agree with your further comment in the main post, but what came across to me most strongly was the authoritarian impulse of the professor and administrators.

I expect that they see themselves as good liberals but they look to me like thugs.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

First, if she has chosen a line of study which might include ethnography, she should have thought of this possibility beforehand. Such studies always include dealing with real people, operating by and committed to their cultural rules, not yours.

Perhaps an immediate shift of major is called for - such as 'peace studies'. That's an academic subculture devoted to PC interactions, regardless of what real people do outside of class.

Scott M said...

Than she was branded as violating school policies and possibly mentally ill.

Seriously. Isn't this how the Soviets handled things?

Alex said...

Than she was branded as violating school policies and possibly mentally ill.

My social and cultural analysis here is that the professor and the administration are thugs. A thug being someone who exercises raw power in a attempt to confirm authority, without regard to the merits of the situation.

They would love to send Ackerman to a Gulag, if there were one available.


That immediately reminds me of the USSR. They branded you as "crazy" if you refuse the state and they send you off to the gulag or a mental hospital which is a glorified chamber of horrors. What's really scary is you know the dean would send her there if he/she had the power.

Alex said...

Comments from the story(be prepared to be very frightened):

Zarrakan, http://Zarrakan.com INFORMATION -> AUTHOR
Sara Ackerman is insane, and needs to be locked in a padded room far away from the rest of humanity never to be seen again.
Like Reply
18 hours ago 1 Like

Zarrakan, http://Zarrakan.com INFORMATION -> AUTHOR
Collapse
Sara Ackerman sounds like an uppity elitist Republican piece of @#$!.

OWS is your next door neighbor.

OWS is you mother, your father, and your extended family.

OWS is your children.

OWS is fighting for a better future for America.

People like Sara Ackerman need to leave.

DADvocate said...

I'm all for not forcing people into situations in which they feel physically threatened or thier life may be in danger. As a big guy, I find it easy to forget that much smaller people may be threatened by things I'm not.

It's not always my place to decide if the threat is legitimate or not. Part of ethnography is "...to collect data in such a way that the researcher does not impose any of their own bias on the data." Sending someone into a threatening situation defeats the nonbias part right from the start. There is plenty of ethnography to be done that is not threatening to a 5'1", 105 lb person. An alternative assignment would have been reasonable.

Matthew said...

"Ackerman told NYU Local that after she sent out the mass e-mails, she was offered an "A" grade if she promised to keep quiet."

-- If that's true, whoever made the offer should be fired. Then, their dean, if they knew about it, should be fired. All the way up and down the food chain.

Matthew said...

If the teacher, if true, lied about the student making threats -- this is a lot more interesting than I thought. This isn't about OWS any more, it is about a teacher who thinks they should be a tyrant.

If it is all true. Ackerman has a social worker's card that says she's not crazy. So, you know.

Simon said...

No one comes out of this story looking very good, but it was indefensible for the professor to acknowledge the existence of OWS in her syllabus (let alone to put a student in the position of being obliged to attend it), and it was indefensible for the school to fail to overrule the professor.


The academy's fixation on relevance has actually made it less relevant by focusing it on the transient. But that's a big picture thing; to place students in physical danger in pursuit of that relevance fetish, especially after the student has voiced concern, is real, concrete, and contemptible.

Matthew said...

I've never had an official email from a school refer to me by my first name. Always Mr.

It's the little signs of disrespect I like finding the most.

Scott M said...

No one comes out of this story looking very good, but it was indefensible for the professor to acknowledge the existence of OWS in her syllabus

Why? Isn't the "community" that was at the center of OWS worth sociological study? Sure, one might argue it was more anthropological...

If an unbiased book can ever be written by someone who was there from start to finish, I will buy and read it. I have my doubts if this will ever occur, though. Frankly, even while it was going on and human nature started asserting itself with a vengeance, I wondered how many budding sociologists thought about making a name for themselves by doing in-depth research on the ground as it happened.

phx said...

"I was immediately cleared by a social worker at the NYU wellness exchange after I was evaluated. I have the social worker's card and she recommended I call her if NYU pulls any of that again."

"So you're a social worker, what, am I crazy?"
"Well, gee, you know..."
"So what am I supposed to do if they pull that crap on me again?"
"Look. Here's my card. Give me a call if you find yourself in trouble. Bye!"

phx said...

What is it really? I'm a junior high school student and I'm too delicate to read Huckleberry Finn? I need an alternative assignment?

This is NYU fercrissakes.

bgates said...

Sara Ackerman’s beef with NYU started over an assignment that involved going down

"Whatever happened to feminist analysis", indeed?

Matthew said...

"What is it really? I'm a junior high school student and I'm too delicate to read Huckleberry Finn? I need an alternative assignment?"

Reading a book =/= going to a place where violent crimes are known to occur.

Maybe she was being silly. I don't know. What if she had been assaulted in the past and had a legitimate fear of being exposed to danger again?

It seems silly for her to complain about, but at least it has a shred of legitimacy, compared to complaining about foul language in books.

Simon said...

Scott M said...
"Isn't the 'community' that was at the center of OWS worth sociological study?"

If not "no" then at least "not yet." I would argue that few things are susceptible to academic study in media res; moreover, even if they were, only things of enduring value are worthy of academic study in the first place, and with rare exceptions—the collapse of the soviet bloc, for example—it's very difficult to accurately weigh the enduring significance of events without a reasonable passage of time. If OWS still seems worthy of study in, say, ten years, study it then.

What really drives the cost of higher ed is the proliferation of absolutely valueless courses.

Simon said...

phx said...
"What is it really? I'm a junior high school student and I'm too delicate to read Huckleberry Finn? I need an alternative assignment? "

When reports start arriving of students raped or assaulted by copies of Huckleberry Finn—quite a feat for an inanimate object—that may be a viable analogy. But not until.

The student's obviously a little unhinged, but you'd be unhinged too if, thousands of dollars into college, your graduation was suddenly made contingent on placing oneself in a situation that is both objectively and subjectively dangerous, and academically worthless to boot, and no one was listening to you.

Scott M said...

If OWS still seems worthy of study in, say, ten years, study it then.

Unlike the lasting effects, if any, I would be far more interested in how their little Animal Farm ended up really working while it was still there. That, to me, is the meat 'n potatoes.

phx said...

Do you think the point of the assignment is to help academia learn more about OWS? Or is the point to help students learn how to do an ethnography?

Matthew said...

"Do you think the point of the assignment is to help academia learn more about OWS? Or is the point to help students learn how to do an ethnography?"

-- If the point was B, then any other population would have worked, and the professor should have agreed to the change of topic without so much fuss.

Jess said...

@David:
Lesson: Question Authority (unless it's the academic administration's authority.)

Or, as they say, Question Authority and the authorities will question you!

phx said...

So Matthew, in your view students not teachers should decide which assignments they are willing to do?

Matthew said...

Actually, if the point was to learn to do an ethnography... shouldn't part of that have been the students picking a population? The teacher seemed upset at the student's negative bias; shouldn't part of the process been finding a population you can look at objectively?

It leads me to believe the choice of population was not purely academic.

Matthew said...

"So Matthew, in your view students not teachers should decide which assignments they are willing to do?"

-- In my view, teachers shouldn't give out poorly thought assignments, which is what this was.

Daisy Cakes said...

So, Matthew, should an 11 year old girl be assigned to read two books with abortion as plot points, and one with 7 full sex scenes (plus prostitution and drug use)?

Let me know soon, because the school said that they can't adjust to fit every parent's moral code.

Matthew said...

"So, Matthew, should an 11 year old girl be assigned to read two books with abortion as plot points, and one with 7 full sex scenes (plus prostitution and drug use)?

Let me know soon, because the school said that they can't adjust to fit every parent's moral code."

Books =/= this assignment

Daisy Cakes said...

Matthew, my apologies - my comment should have been directed to PHX who brought up the "too delicate to read Huck Finn" meme.

Alex said...

I have to admit I'm immediately suspicious of any student who has 1000 Facebook friends. Doesn't sound like someone taking a serious major like engineering or hard science.

craig said...

Samuel Colt made her equal to the goons at OWS, it's just that New York City and New York State are denying her equality.

Alex said...

What I'm lamenting is no photos of her hots friends.

Freeman Hunt said...

Sometimes people who are inclined to be jerks take advantage of the fact that someone they're dealing with comes off as a bit odd. They think they can ride their less than credible charge out on a power trip, and no one will be the wiser.

But sometimes the odd one likes to document interactions and save emails.

"Oops," thinks the jerk.

She-Ra, Princess of Power said...

As someone who has blogged about Sara A's very public tantrum and has access to her FB Wall thru a mutual FB friend, I have to inject a note of compassion as this kid is clearly having some kind of mental/emotional breakdown. While I started off as miffed/incredulous/annoyed/entertained as everyone else, I now am concerned for her well-being. She is posting all kinds of persecution-related shizz to her Wall, likening herself to Matthew Shepard, Erin Brockovich and others. She is also hating on "psycho-liberals." As I wrote yesterday in my blog (Bungalow Babe in the Big City), one has to wonder where her loved ones (parents mostly) are at this time, keeping her at least from further humiliating herself online. This kid might be irritating, entitled, obnoxious and bigoted but she is also, sadly, losing her mind.

Jay said...

By the way, it was interesting to see the student describe the OWS protestors as "misogynistic."

So here we have a woman from a proudly liberal university forced to be subjected to misogynistic behavior and yet Torie Bosch is utterly silent.

bgates said...

I have to inject a note of compassion....This kid might be irritating, entitled, obnoxious and bigoted

I suppose you added the word "might" due to your phenomenal instincts for compassion.

wv 'neagm' - part of the consolidated superunion into which everyone will be enrolled by the end of Obama's second term, NEAGMSEIUOWS. Fringe benefits will include free psychiatric screenings and involuntary confinement for anyone named as an Enemy of the Union and the People.

RonF said...

I'll bet the problem here is that characterizing OWS as anything but peace and light is anti-message. That means that the radical (liberal is too light a term) University administration cannot acknowledge the facts as this young lady presents them. It denies the truth of what she's saying by persecuting her. This is why these folks are fighting her by saying "These are your mother, your father, your children."

In fact they are none of those people and her parents would never sink so low as to act as those louts in the park are. She damn well knows it, but by pointing that out she's blowing up the illusion that the writers want to promulgate.

Given that she IS being persecuted, it's no wonder she ACTS like she's being persecuted.

Matthew said...

"As someone who has blogged about Sara A's very public tantrum and has access to her FB Wall thru a mutual FB friend, I have to inject a note of compassion as this kid is clearly having some kind of mental/emotional breakdown."

Except, the expert who reviewed her case allegedly thinks she isn't. Remember -- some people have tantrums, others speak truth to power.

Tarzan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tarzan said...

She is also hating on "psycho-liberals."

Ah.

Explains all.

The Crime That Cannot Be Forgiven.

Tarzan understands now.

wv "coneism" - Comrades! Let us consume mass quantities in salute to the glorious and all-consuming power of the State!

Scott M said...

Tarzan understands now.

I always had a hard time doing Tarzan in sketches. The voice would invariably lapse into a Vaudvillesque version of Geranimo.

phx said...

So, PHX, should an 11 year old girl be assigned to read two books with abortion as plot points, and one with 7 full sex scenes (plus prostitution and drug use)?

I don't know about the particulars of the case. As I was trying to point out there is an assumed difference between the maturity levels of junior high schoolers and NYU undergrads.

My point is that the student under discussion seems to be acting more like a junior high schooler seeking alternative assignments because she isn't mature enough to deal with the standard assignment.

Matthew said...

"My point is that the student under discussion seems to be acting more like a junior high schooler seeking alternative assignments because she isn't mature enough to deal with the standard assignment."

It sounded to me like she had a reasonable dislike of the situation. And, since sexual assaults had actually happened, not a completely wrong dislike.

I wonder if the teacher forced people uncomfortable with the Tea Party to do an ethnography on them last year, or if we only do ethnography studies on certain protest movements.

phx said...

It sounded to me like she had a reasonable dislike of the situation.

Granted she has a reasonable dislike. IRL you don't often get to leverage a reasonable dislike over something into getting your own way all the time.

I have a reasonable dislike over a lot of things my boss asks me to do. Some of the things I have to do can be challenging even physically intimidating. I can't really ask my boss if I can not do something that other people are willing to do.

I'm not an expert on ethnography, but doesn't it just seem intuitive that people who do ethnographies have to learn to set aside their judgments about the groups they are studying - whether they love 'em or hate 'em, or they're Tea Partiers or OSWs?

Matthew said...

Setting aside one's biases, and willingly walking into a locale known for its need to set up rape-free zones are a bit different. I doubt your dislike of something is justified the same way hers was.

Maybe she could have handled it better; she's not the teacher. This is probably a case where everyone fouled up. If the teacher hadn't been so agenda-driven, which is what it appears this assignment was, she could have reached a middle-ground.

Freeman Hunt said...

I'm not an expert on ethnography, but doesn't it just seem intuitive that people who do ethnographies have to learn to set aside their judgments about the groups they are studying - whether they love 'em or hate 'em, or they're Tea Partiers or OSWs?

"I want you to go do an ethnography on male death row inmates in the prison yard."
"I want you to go do an ethnography on the Egyptian protests."

Yes, she should be able to do an ethnography, but she should not necessarily be expected to do it on any population.

I do not think that OWS was likely a good place for female coeds to visit. Her request for an alternative assignment was reasonable. If the point of the assignment was to assess the student's ability to complete an ethnography and for the student to gain practice in doing that, an alternative assignment shouldn't have posed a problem.

That is unless one is a bit of a tyrant and sees the student as someone no one will listen to if treated unfairly.

phx said...

Matthew I'll give you the last word if you want it after this. But it seems to me the concern should be with whether the STUDENT was agenda-driven, as the story said she had "ethical disagreements and concerns" about the OSW.

The deal is to get students to overcome THEIR biases in a disinterested search for truth.

Personally I think it would be a great idea to do an ethnograpy on Tea Partiers as well as OSW types. And if I was doing the teaching they would probably be randomly assigned and no bs about "I have ethical disagreements" followed by a bunch of lame excuses of being afraid for my safety.

When will this girl grow up?

Okay, go for the last word.

Alex said...

These so-called "teachers" make me sick. Can you imagine Socrates teaching one of his prized pupils like disposable crap?

Alex said...

When will this girl grow up?

When will you grow up and stop worshiping leftist professors? They are not gods.

virgil xenophon said...

Lots of good points made here, but our man RonF@01:54 captures the nub of the dispute..

Matthew said...

"The deal is to get students to overcome THEIR biases in a disinterested search for truth."

-- If that were true, they would have done what we did in debate, where everyone was forced to defend/study an idea they disliked. Since everyone was told to study the same thing, the deal was not to get the students to overcome their biases.

I think she went about it a bit... awkwardly, but I get her point. She needs to grow up a bit too; so too, does the teacher -- if everything alleged is true.

Matthew said...

Good discussion, by the way Phx! We were friendly; hooray friendly.

Alex said...

In what major is it legitimate for a student to go into an active protest zone where there have been beatings, rapes and other crimes? Maybe Ms. Ackerman should switch to engineering, much safer.

Dave said...

I'll take the last word. PHX you don't seem to understand what this girl understood...that her professor was ordering her into a dangerous situation.

DADvocate said...

in your view students not teachers should decide which assignments they are willing to do?

I had lots of professors give me choices as to how to fulfill an assignment. As a psychology major, I was required to be a subject in a study conducted by a graduate student working on his/her dissertation. But, I had the choice of any one of the available studies.

DADvocate said...

I have to admit I'm immediately suspicious of any student who has 1000 Facebook friends.

I don't know how old you are, but my three kids, 15, 18 and 23 have over 1000 Facebooks friends as do virtually all their friends. Plus Twitter acounts, etc. This is called "normal".

Alex said...

I don't know how old you are, but my three kids, 15, 18 and 23 have over 1000 Facebooks friends as do virtually all their friends. Plus Twitter acounts, etc. This is called "normal".

If that's the new normal, heaven help us. When someone can claim to have a 1000 friends, I can claim they have none.

phx said...

Matthew I agree. I'm a real fan of constructive argument. I try to bring respect to a discussion with someone who has different opinions. If it's not returned then I generally don't want to argue.

prairie wind said...

If that's the new normal, heaven help us. When someone can claim to have a 1000 friends, I can claim they have none.

Yes, the world is going to hell in a handbasket because some teenagers have 1000 Facebook friends.

MarkD said...

It's not Vietnam, under a dozen dead and just a few rape-rapes so far, so what's the beef? This an NYU degree we're talking about, not something that will qualify her to be a part of OWS, right?

Anyone?

Sometimes the lessons taught are not obvious.

DADvocate said...

Except, the expert who reviewed her case allegedly thinks she isn't.

Social workers aren't experts. At the mental health center where i worked, they weren't allowed to make a diagnosis. They could screen patients, but not diagnose. They are not considered expert witnesses in court. Personally, I would question the competency of any social worker until finding adquate evidence of competence.

Alex said...

For all you people bellyaching about the "bad, disobedient" Ms. Ackerman, would you send your pretty young sister into that crowd?

DADvocate said...

If that's the new normal, heaven help us. When someone can claim to have a 1000 friends, I can claim they have none.

Yeah. Every generation wants to think the next is going to Hell in a hand basket. My kids and the large majority of their friends are high acheivers, intelligent, talented and quite sociable. My parents hated me talking on the phone over 15 minutes and watching TV more than 2 hours a night. Get over it.

Robert Cook said...

"For all you people bellyaching about the 'bad, disobedient' Ms. Ackerman, would you send your pretty young sister into that crowd?"

Why not?

I don't have a sister, but I went down there one day on my lunch hour and walked around. It was colorful but uneventful...no one accosted me or bothered me, and everyone seemed involved in their own activities. It had a positive vibe.

I'd rather any sister (or daughter) I had go into that crowd than into a crowd of police officers in full rut--(i.e., itching to bust heads)--any day!

Freeman Hunt said...

It was colorful but uneventful...no one accosted me or bothered me, and everyone seemed involved in their own activities. It had a positive vibe.

Going down there as a pretty, young coed might be a little different than going down there as Robert Cook.

Ben (The Tiger on Politics) said...

I'd've taken the A, but I see her point.

~N. said...

Oh, dear Lord...another situation in which both sides are equally annoying.

Um, first of all, as someone said, seems like she needs to find another major.

Secondly, her insinuation that rapists only target the young, thin & attractive makes her look like a spoiled, insensitive idiot.

However, I'm sure NYU could have dealt with this better, too.

Either way, another non-story about spoiled people being brats.

Robert Cook said...

"Going down there as a pretty, young coed might be a little different than going down there as Robert Cook."

Possibly...but I don't think I would have missed it if there had been a sleazy or dangerous vibe. And then, I was there in the middle of the day, when Ms. Ackerman presumably would or could have gone, and the area was filled with people who were not part of the OWS crowd...pedestrians passing by, onlookers coming to see what was going on, police, media, street traffic, lunch hour workers, etc.

I find Ms. Ackerman's concerns unconvincing and histrionic. I do not know whether her instructor or other NYU personnel treated her well or badly, appropriately or inappropriately, but her emails reflect badly on her, absent any additional information.

~N. said...

How is the OWS movement in NYC even close to the same as Egypt during the riots or a high-security male prison?

What a bunch of weenies y'all are!

New York City, daytime, with other students, probably with a camera...really? Egyptian protests? Locked up in a prison yard at the state penitentiary?

No wonder the world is such a hot mess with all you shrinking violets quivering and cowering in your white suburban towns.

The girl is clearly a loon. Not saying her professors or the administration at NYU is much better, but really, ppl, time to grow some cojones already.

bgates said...

Oh, dear Lord...another situation in which both sides are equally annoying.

Oh, mercy - another commenter with no sense of proportion.

The college administration which threatened a student for not agreeing to a professor's demand that she put herself among a crowd of people who are known to have committed several felonies (though, admittedly, none of them victimized Robert Cook) is worse than the student whose response included the insinuation that she would be an easier target for sexual assault because she's tiny.

~N. said...

Sorry, but she totally showed her hand when she added the "thin" and "attractive" qualifiers to "tiny".

I agree that NYU behaved just as badly, but this girl is a joke.

A virtually unemployable joke, too, given that her idiocy is forever documented on teh interwebs.

~N. said...

Okay...I just read through a lot of the reporting on this, plus the emails, and, sorry, but Ackerman is batty. She may not be technically insane, but she's a nut.

First of all, when one voluntarily chooses to go to a private university, and then voluntarily chooses a major, and then voluntarily signs up for a class in that department, one is not "forced" to do an assignment.

She's free to not do it and take the F she deserves.

The other stuff, regarding not getting called on and all that nonsense points to a seriously spoiled little brat who thinks she can throw a tantrum and get her way.

I'm surprised she was so wary of the OWSers. Seems like she and they would get along swimmingly!

Matthew said...

"Possibly...but I don't think I would have missed it if there had been a sleazy or dangerous vibe."

Was this pre- or post-rape free tents?

~N. said...

This blog pretty much says it all.

SunnyJ said...

Well Ms Ackerman...just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean everyone isn't picking on you!

Student may have issues, but her points on the assignment, the schools response and their conduct since stands on it's own.

Ron at 1:54 has it down to the nitty gritty...wrong narrative, so no cigar.

The hypocracy of the liberal elites and their 99% nonsense, is demonstrated by this school and it's faculty response to being challenged. Little Miss Ackerman is speaking some serious truth to power and the enthroned Alinskyites are not liking it one bit.

Clyde said...

I don't see what the problem is. Ms. Ackerman's description of Zuccotti's motley crew was spot-on accurate. Anyone who has his/her panties in a twist over this is probably of the same ilk.

M Wallace said...

The were some marginal characters at Zuccotti Park during OWS, but let's remember the place was surrounded by police 24/7 (more so during the day). I am no fan of OWS, but doing a study, whatever ethnography is, down there should not have been dangerous to anyone, even a skinny, pretty coed.
Mark

~N. said...

Oh, puhleeze. What a pathetic statement -- if we don't all mindlessly follow the group with the rest of the sheeple at Althouse and hail this nutty brat as a hero and ALL OWSers as maniacal murderous rapists, we're "of the same ilk" as the OWSers?

For a minute, I thought Althouse was a serious site, but it's clearly just another fringe loner with a blog and a handful of followers who parrot the same groupthink/groupspeak over and over.

Kind of like the OWS crowd.

I guess your children all have public tantrums over having to do their homework like this silly little twat. Nice job, parents. Good going!

Jay said...

M Wallace said...

The were some marginal characters at Zuccotti Park during OWS, but let's remember the place was surrounded by police 24/7


Um, and?

See, they still had:

a women-only safe-space sleeping tent. According to the Post the 16-square-foot metal-framed tent will be watched by female members of the de-escalation team, and can sleep 18 people. "This is all about safety in numbers," 24-year-old protester Becky Wartell says.

Despite being surrounded by police.

Voltimand said...

My take as a former professor in the humanities at a PhD-granting private institution:

There's a kind of methodological double-bind here, where two--in this case arguably incompatinble--scholarly reportorial models--are in play.

(1) "Ethnographical report" is a phenomenon where the writer/investigator treats herself as existing in a time-space context assumed to be "sealed" off" from the reality being reported on. As a methodological premise this assumption is normal. It's all called, roughly, "scholarly objectivity."

(2) Then there's the real world, including the "real" world of contemporary acting-out political maneuvers, where people like the occupiers are not only threatening but are threatening by design and intention. "Objectivity, schobjectivity: we do what we want because doing what we want is doing what we want. You come in here 'reporting' on me, baby, and you're toast." Or some such: any of it is within the reach of reasonable probability.

Now, what to do? Academe is hopeless because it never has to say it's sorry: that's called "professionalism." Check in on Duke University of recent history for a good example. Probably an intellectually-responsible academic department wouldn't require such a thing, because it recognized that, within the parameters of "normal" investigative procedures normal investigative procedures were impossible here. Thinking otherwise could arguably be called professinally irresponsible, comparable to requring a student to descend into a currently active volcano. ("Tell us what it's like down there.")

Karl said...

I read most of Ackerman's stupid shit. Zero sympathy here.

I reckon her folks are paying substantially for her non-education in a worthless degree. Only now the light goes on?

She should switch majors to something easier - say engineering.
Oh.... My bad. She sucks at math. Bummer for her.

DADvocate said...

Going down there as a pretty, young coed might be a little different than going down there as Robert Cook.

A point too many people seem to be missing. I tried to make it earlier. There are a lot of places I'd feel pretty comfortable that I wouldn't want my daughter to be. Predators skillfully pick out the weak and frightened. The school's bullheaded reaction betrays mean spirited authoritarianism. The girl's whiny attitude is not relevant.

DADvocate said...

BTW - I see a "new" commenter with a profile not available has shown up.

Karl said...

The girl's whiny attitude is not relevant.

Really? Me thinks it's the nut of the story.

DADvocate said...

Really? Me thinks it's the nut of the story.

Just because she has a disagreeable personality doesn't make her wrong. 5' 1", 105 lbs says a lot more to me. That's tiny. My 15 yr old daughter is 5' 9" and 145 lbs and wouldn't have a chance against most young men. It's supposed to be college, not fright night.

phx said...

Can I get a special exception too?

Based on my size? Yeah, that's it, and my weight.

phx said...
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phx said...
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DADvocate said...

People get exceptions based on size all the time. Nothing new there. When I worked at the mental health center they always wanted me and certain others to help deal with potentially violent patients because we were big. They gave themselves an exception for being little and/or soft wimps.

Police departments typically have minimum size and strength requirements. We teach people to avoid being crime victims by not going into questionable situations in which they're not comfortable. But, the only thing that matters to the great professor at NYU and the administration is exercising their power and intimidating a student.

I prefer Uriah Heep to Imogen Heap.

Karl said...

Just because she has a disagreeable personality doesn't make her wrong

That is what makes this a good story.
There are no angels here.
Getting righteous at this point in her *education* is telling.

Matthew said...

"That is what makes this a good story."

That and being able to shovel out blame with a shotgun and not be wrong no matter who you hit!

Synova said...

In my one class where the instructor talked about our Occupy demonstrations near campus he specifically said that he was NOT saying any of us should go down there. He was excessively clear that it could very well not be safe.

But then, he's a lawyer so he undoubtedly was thinking about covering his *ss, should someone get hurt.

Abdul Abulbul Amir said...

.

"I expect that they see themselves as good liberals but they look to me like thugs."

This is a learning experience. Often the difference is slim.

.

Tarzan said...

This blog pretty much says it all.

Yes. It says she's not a friend of the Leftist Establishment.

Unforgivable Sin in the eyes of Compassionate Liberals(TM) everywhere. She's insane! Throw her to the dogs!

Tarzan said...

I am no fan of OWS, but doing a study, whatever ethnography is, down there should not have been dangerous to anyone, even a skinny, pretty coed.

Offering an alternative topic of study should not have been threatening or otherwise complicated to anyone, even a snide, lock-step Liberal Communist professor.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

phx,

IRL you don't often get to leverage a reasonable dislike over something into getting your own way all the time.

Look, college assignments do not ordinarily involve risk of serious bodily harm. This isn't reasonable.

wv: antho.Supply the "logy" yourself.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

phx,

Matthew I'll give you the last word if you want it after this. But it seems to me the concern should be with whether the STUDENT was agenda-driven, as the story said she had "ethical disagreements and concerns" about the OSW.

The deal is to get students to overcome THEIR biases in a disinterested search for truth.

Personally I think it would be a great idea to do an ethnograpy on Tea Partiers as well as OSW types.


Occupy Street Wall? Or is it an abbreviation for Oswego?