Let’s Not Say ‘Freshman’ Any More

You can’t make this stuff up. Elon University in North Carolina has dropped the word “freshman” and replaced it with “first-year,” according to The College Fix. ”Freshman,” of course, has the deadly word “man” in it. Can’t have that. But there’s another reason for the change: “f——n” ” may contribute to sexual violence on campus because it labels the youngest students, causing them to be targets. (Whereas “first-year,” which also labels most new students as young, apparently does not increase the odds of sexual violence.)

Feminists have been explaining for a year that drinking yourself into a stupor does not have anything to do with rape, but apparently the word “f——n” does. That’s the analysis of Leigh-Anne Royster,  Elon’s “Inclusive Community Wellbeing Director.” (Irrelevant question: why do women with hyphenated names seem to gravitate to weird PC job descriptions?)

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Anti-Israel Activist to Students: What’s to Discuss?

In his fine essay in The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel, Russell Berman of Stanford University, says this of the boycott Israel movement in academe: “a hatred of knowledge and of reasoned argument pervades its prose.” I thought that characterization over the top until I read this account of a panel on Palestine at Conflict Kitchen, a Pittsburgh restaurant that “serves only cuisine from countries with which the United States in in conflict.” Conflict Kitchen is directed by John Rubin, a professor of art at Carnegie Mellon University, and Dawn Weleski, an artist and former student of Rubin’s. The panel, which also included a former West Bank resident, was co-sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh’s Honors College.

At the panel, Ken Boas, a part-time English instructor at the University of Pittsburgh, came out against debates and discussions of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. When an audience member proposed that Boas’s comments, equating Israel with apartheid South Africa and calling for an academic boycott, were one sided, Boas pleaded: “why do we continually have to have balance and get into debates and have discussions?”

Rubin justifies the one-sidedness of Conflict Kitchen’s treatment of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by claiming to air a point of view that is rarely aired.  Conflict Kitchen exists to “reveal a voice that isn’t given a forum” or, as Weleski says “to have a conversation that’s not already here.” That is why Rubin has ignored “pushback from members of the local Jewish community that aren’t in support of us presenting those types of viewpoints.” There are “plenty of other [forums]” for the Israeli side of the story.

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An Actual Debate at Brown

Debates on campus are now as rare as white truffles, and the reason is fairly obvious: as essentially homogeneous liberal outposts in a center-right nation, the campuses see no need to allow adversaries and dissidents to speak. So it’s a surprise to see that Brown University hosted a debate on “How Should Colleges Handle Sexual Assault?” The event, held yesterday, featured author Jessica Valenti, late of Feministing, who believes “Rape is a standard result of a culture mired in misogyny,” and Libertarian Wendy McElroy, an editor of  ifeminists.com and author of “The Big Lie of a ‘Rape Culture”.”

Since this is Brown, where then NYC police commissioner Ray Kelly was shouted down and prevented  from speaking, the planning for the debate came with several indicators as to how students are supposed to feel:

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Rubenfeld on Campus Rape

Last Saturday, Yale Law professor Jeb Rubenfeld had an important op-ed in the Times discussing the issue of how colleges respond to campus sexual assault. His argument? “Forced by the federal government, colleges have now gotten into the business of conducting rape trials, but they are not competent to handle this job. They are simultaneously failing to punish rapists adequately and branding students sexual assailants when no sexual assault occurred.”

Rubenfeld’s piece is noteworthy for three reasons. First, much of its content must have puzzled Times readers, given the paper’s utter disinclination to examine due process issues on campus. Expelled males suing their schools for due process violations. A Duke dean wildly claiming that when both students are intoxicated “assuming it is a male and female, it is the responsibility in the case of the male to gain consent.” Duke’s equally bizarre 2009 policy asserting that unintentional power disparities (as, between a senior male basketball player and a first-year female student could transform voluntary intercourse into rape. Who knew? Certainly not readers of the Times, whose news coverage has utterly ignored these issues, which have received extensive coverage at Minding the Campus.

Second, the piece prompted an interesting commentary from David Bernstein of Volokh Conspiracy. Bernstein raised three additional questions about the administration’s handling of the question—centered on whether the OCR’s anti-due process crusade is even lawful. One of Bernstein’s three points hasn’t received much attention. Under what rationale, he wonders, does OCR “totally forbid[] university disciplinary panels from considering an accusing student’s sexual history with anyone other than the accused”—a rape shield definition more comprehensive than that of any state, thus applying even to the rare cases “that such evidence is highly relevant.” This provision represents another violation of the “accused’s due process rights.”

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Harvard Sued Over Asian Admissions

There have been two major developments in the past week in the fight against racial and ethnic preferences in university admissions.

First, last week, in Fisher v. University of Texas, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied further review of a panel decision that had rejected the challenge to that school’s use of racial and ethnic admission preferences. So we are probably headed back to the Supreme Court in this lawsuit — which is not a bad thing, not a bad thing at all. A good decision in the Fifth Circuit would have been nice, but what’s really needed here is, of course, a Supreme Court decision that puts an end to this nonsense.

Which brings us to the second development. Harvard University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill have been sued this week for their racial discrimination in student-admission policies, as explained in this press release by Edward Blum’s Project on Fair Representation.  More lawsuits against other schools are promised. The press release also notes, “The plaintiff in both lawsuits — Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) — is a newly-formed, nonprofit, membership organization whose members include highly qualified students recently denied admission to both schools, highly qualified students who plan to apply to both schools, and their parents.”

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