A Plan to Remake Dartmouth

This is the headline today on Joe Asch’s Dartblog, an established and very readable blog about Dartmouth:

Breaking: Frats Survive (for now); Hard Liquor Goes; Moral Education Returns

The reference is to a plan by University president Phil Hanlon to deal with Dartmouth’s outstanding reputation for binge-drinking, feminist accusations of “rape culture,” and angry faculty demands that fraternities be eliminated. The frats can stay, at least for now, but each must have “active advisors of both genders,” and “third-party” bartenders must be hired for parties. Hard liquor not be served on campus in an effort to eliminate ”extreme behaviors.”

Joe Asch writes: “The Greeks will not be abolished (what chaos that would have brought us — a full two thirds of upperclassmen are in a house), nor will they be forced to go co-ed (over the years co-ed frats have occasionally made it onto the College’s list of problem houses, too, and Phil understands that sorority women decidedly do not want to move into fraternities). Phil also wisely noted that schools with/without Greeks, and those who have abolished their fraternity/sorority system, all suffered from the same social pathologies as the College.”

All students, including those in fraternities, Continue reading

Student Debt Harms the Economy, but is Only a Symptom

These days, Americans are talking a lot about underinflated footballs and overinflated student debt loads. In the latter camp you’ll find the president of Purdue University (and former governor of Indiana) Mitch Daniels. On January 28, he contributed an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled “How Student Debt Harms the Economy.”

Daniels points to the fact that the average college graduate in 2014 left school with a debt load of $33,000, then links that to evidence that many young Americans are delaying marriage and childbearing. They are also postponing the purchase of homes, cars, and other big ticket items due to the drain of having to make college loan payments.

Furthermore, Daniels maintains that the student debt burden is impinging on entrepreneurship. He cites data showing that the percentage of younger adults who own at least part of a new business has been dropping for the last ten years. “Common sense says that the seven in 10 graduates who enter the working world owing money may be part of this shift,” he writes.

Daniels is no doubt correct that Continue reading

An Slanted NPR Report Generates Bad Policy


Bad things can happen when an agency (like the Education Department) throws caution to the wind and regulates based on slanted media coverage from National Public Radio, rather than facts and evidence.

Checks and balances exist for a reason. When agencies impose new obligations on the institutions they regulate, they are supposed to first give the public notice of their proposed rule, and an opportunity to comment on it. This requirement, mandated by the Administrative Procedure Act, enables members of the public to point to legal or factual mistakes that may have precipitated the agency’s proposed rules.

But under the Obama administration, the Education Department has ignored these requirements. In “Dear Colleague” letters and “guidance” documents issued without any prior notice or comment, it has imposed on colleges a series of detailed, prescriptive, and controversial rules for responding to allegations of sexual harassment or assault—rules very much at odds with the deferential tenor of the Supreme Court’s Gebser and Davis decisions.

Those rules include procedures, time tables, and evidence rules that sharply contrast with those previously used by many colleges for all categories of offenses. This has pressured colleges to Continue reading

A Slight Nod to Due Process

Last year, when the White House campus sexual assault task force issued its due process-unfriendly recommendations, the document excluded one critical item: how colleges and universities should coordinate with local law enforcement agencies. That item was promised at a later date; it now has appeared. As expected, the document gave little reason to believe that the administration will ease up its campaign against campus due process.

Local police could, and should, play a critical role in investigating any campus sexual assault—in part because they have the experience in investigating serious felonies that colleges don’t, and in part because working with prosecutors they have the tools (subpoenas, compelling testimony under oath) that colleges lack. Yet strong resistance to maximizing the police’s role exists from “victims’ rights” figures—whether to maintain the fiction that college rape hearings are somehow only educational and not punitive in design (Suzanne Goldberg) or to ensure that accusers avoid the criminal justice system, where their claims must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt after a trial featuring cross-examination (Michele Dauber). Given that the administration seems to share the Goldberg/Dauber hostility to ensuring due process for accused students, there was little chance the recommended memorandum of understanding (MOU) would call for allowing the police, rather than college bureaucrats, to investigate serious felonies on campus.

That said, the proposed MOU does feature some promising items Continue reading

The ‘Rape’ Disaster at Washington and Lee

In the latest college to settle a due process lawsuit instead of defending its policies in court, MassLive reports that Amherst College reached a settlement with an anonymous male student who sued the school after Amherst withheld his degree. The case was unusual in a couple of respects: first, the allegation involved a same-sex rather than an opposite-sex encounter; second, the college enacted a punishment (a one-year de facto suspension) and welcomed the accused student back to school thereafter. According to the lawsuit (and not denied by Amherst), he had a strong record and no disciplinary problems, but when the accusing student complained a week before graduation, the college effectively decided to impose a second penalty for the same offense, denying the accused student a degree and withdrawing an offer to work for Amherst.

An Amherst spokesperson offered the following Orwellian statement to the confidential settlement: “Previously, hearing board panels were comprised of Amherst students, faculty and staff. Under the new system, cases are decided by well-trained and experienced professionals from the other four colleges in our community. We made this change because students requested it. They did not want adjudication of sexual misconduct allegations to include individuals whose classes they might be taking or whom they might see on campus. That change made a lot Continue reading