The University of Michigan Vindicates Chris Rock

One of the most revealing statements of 2014 was made by comedian Chris Rock, who told interviewer Frank Rich that he no longer appears on college campuses because “everything offends students these days.” (Read about that here.)

In case you think Rock was exaggerating, a recent incident at the University of Michigan shows how correct he is.

Omar Mahmood is a junior, majoring in literature and anthropology. His religion is Muslim. He also happens to dislike the pervasive “Help, I’m an oppressed victim” mindset he finds on campus and had the unmitigated gall to write a satirical Continue reading

No Free Speech at Marquette

Marquette University, the Jesuit school in Milwaukee, has shot itself in the foot again. Weeks ago in a “Theory of Ethics” class, philosophy instructor Cheryl Abbate listed several possible topics of discussion, but said one of them –gay marriage—could not be addressed because any opposition argument would offend homosexual students, and besides society has already agreed that gays can marry. This is a strong pattern for the campus left: topics they want to talk about (e.g., the Keystone pipeline, abolishing fraternities) are discussed endlessly, even in classes where the topics have little or no relevance. But topics they don’twant discussed are banned as “already settled” or as harassment.

Did Marquette overrule Abbate and say that gay marriage can certainly be discussed in class?  Or that Catholic Continue reading

Jackie’s Story and UVA’s Stalinist Rules

The collapse of the Rolling Stone rape story had an important byproduct—it showed the stunning unfairness of UVA’s proposed new sexual assault policies.  UVA’s proposed guidelines, like those of many colleges, are heavily pitched toward accusers, minimize due process and all but ensure that key evidence will not come before the university, especially if that evidence might contradict the accuser’s version of events.

By now, thanks to excellent reporting from the Washington Post and Slate, we know that Jackie has told three (mutually contradictory) versions of the alleged assault. As a result, few people beyond the most doctrinaire ideologues could believe that Jackie’s case should have ended with UVA vindicating her.

But what if, instead of speaking to Rolling Stone’s Sabrina Erdely, Jackie had bided her time, and filed a complaint under the proposed new procedures? Would this non-credible accuser have been able to persuade the university to brand one or more of its students a rapist? The preponderance of evidence says yes. In this respect, Jackie’s case offers a terrifying perspective Continue reading

A Harvard Dean’s Strange Comment on Racial Protests

The people who run Harvard College rarely wade into intensely controversial public policy issues. Their personal views may not be at all representative of the Harvard alumni whose contributions are needed to keep the endowment growing.

It is thus somewhat surprising that the Harvard administration has been so unhinged by the deaths in Ferguson and Staten Island that the Dean of the College has circulated a remarkable letter to the college’s students. The views he expresses would not be noteworthy if they came from some random professor. Lots of my former colleagues think this way. But the Dean of Harvard College is not a run of the mill professor; his office produces the rules and regulations that govern campus life.

Here is the text in full. Read it and weep.


Note that this is not Continue reading

Triple Jeopardy and No Lawyers at SMU

Southern Methodist University has become the latest target of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), signing an agreement admitting to violations of Title IX and adopting new policies. As with all such agreements, due process for accused students is the loser. But this agreement has a few unusual clauses.

While the SMU OCR complaint dealt with three issues, the sexual assault case involved two men. While the current OCR leadership has been extraordinarily aggressive in redefining Title IX into a statute that allows the federal government to micromanage university sexual assault policies, it’s done so on grounds that sexual assault constitutes gender discrimination. Whatever else can be said for how SMU did or did not handle this case, it’s hard to argue that SMU’s behavior indicated gender discrimination. Moreover, there’s little evidence in the resolution letter that SMU didn’t take the issue seriously: the SMU police investigated the allegation and arrested the alleged perpetrator, suspended the accused student, and issued a no-contact order with the accuser. OCR nonetheless objected, on two grounds: first, that SMU hadn’t done enough to address alleged harassment of the accuser by the accused student’s friends (there were no witnesses to this alleged harassment); and second, by allowing the SMU police (which had full law enforcement training, plus subpoena power) to conduct the investigation, SMU had violated the accuser’s Title IX right to a simultaneous investigation by Continue reading