A Promising Sign for Campus Due Process

Is the tide turning against political efforts to stem campus assault? E. Everett Bartlett, the head of Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE), just sent out an email that quoted prominent liberals displeased with recent federal and state initiatives:

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), Sept. 7:

“I do believe you do need, for the accused, you need to maintain due process rights. And then … I think this part of the [Campus Accountability and Safety Act] will probably require some additional review.”

Robin Koerner, Huffington Post, Sept. 8:

“The Californian bill would make the majority of such normal encounters punishable. Were this rule to be generalized beyond California’s educational institutions, then most men who’ve ever engaged in sex would be deemed guilty of having engaged in non-consensual sex.”

Velma Montoya, former chair of the California Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Sept. 9:

With the “Obama administration ordering colleges to determine responsibility using the ‘more likely than not’ standard of proof…students would be wise to learn their Constitutional rights. All members of campus disciplinary panels bring their own prejudices to the process, and in the case of administrators, a bias toward keeping their high-salaried jobs by satisfying their campus political bases.”

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Yale Muslims: Hurt Feelings but No Arguments

As Lauren Noble wrote two days ago here at Minding the Campus, Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s speech at Yale on Monday night was a success, despite the discomfort felt by the Yale Muslim Students Association (MSA).

I say “discomfort” because that is what the MSA itself emphasized in its September 10th letter to the Yale community protesting her visit.  Hearing about the invitation to Ali, a resolute critic of Islam, the MSA drafted this nine-paragraph statement and posted it on Facebook, and it circulated quickly throughout Yale and the conservative media.  The tone and content are worth examining because they mark the most illustrative aspect of the whole affair.

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Hirsi Ali at Yale—A Rare Victory for Free Speech

Ayaan Hirsi Ali spoke at Yale Monday to a packed auditorium of more than 300 people, with hundreds more turned away due to lack of space, and received many standing ovations. The speech’s success was especially heartening in light of the Yale Muslim Students Association’s (MSA) efforts to block it.

When the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program at Yale announced the lecture, one of MSA’s representatives, Abrar Omeish, initially requested that we disinvite Ms. Hirsi Ali. Told no, she asked if the Buckley Program would “be willing to have another speaker offer an alternative perspective that is more representative and qualified in the discussion.” Another suggestion was to restrain Ms. Hirsi Ali from discussing Islam.

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Screening of ‘Ivory Tower’ in NYC

ivory tiwerSee the highly praised new documentary Ivory Tower in New York City Thursday, September 25, 7:30 p.m. at AMC Loews  34th Street theater, 312 West 34th St. Tickets are $12  for the screening, sponsored by the National Association of Scholars. To buy tickets, to watch the trailer for the film, or to donate to NAS, visit the NAS event page.

The film focuses on the rising cost of college and how American colleges came to embrace a business model that often promotes expansion over quality learning.

It features profiles of Harvard College, Deep Springs College, Arizona State University, Spelman College, Cooper Union, and Wesleyan University, and several others. As tuition rates spiral and student debt passes $1 trillion, filmmaker Andrew Rossi (Page One: Inside The New York Times) assembles a portrait of a great American institution at the breaking point. The film also covers some college alternatives, such as Peter Thiel’s sponsorship of young people not going to college, and Coursera MOOCs.

After the screening Professor Andrew Delbanco will conduct a discussion of  the issues raised.

Goucher to Applicants: No High School Transcript, No Problem!

Goucher College is lowering its application standards even further. Having dispensed with the SAT requirement in 2007, it’s now making transcripts optional, too. Students can now apply to Goucher by sending in two assignments from high school, at least one of them graded, and a video, of no more than two minutes, explaining how the applicant will fit in at Goucher. As Goucher’s new promotional video, touting its “totally unique way of applying to college,” says, “We want to know how you want to change the world.” The jury is still out on this approach, but so far it sounds misguided.

The debate over going test-optional pitted those who thought that colleges were simply trying to increase their applicant pool, and hence their selectivity and U.S. News rankings, and those who thought that colleges were reaching out to a population of applicants who could not afford an SAT or ACT coach but had otherwise performed well in high school. Those who favored the test-optional approach had at least this going for them: there was some reason to believe that standardized tests did not add much to high school GPA in predicting college success. A Bates College study, for example, found no significant differences in graduation rate or GPA between those who submitted scores and those who did not. A more recent study of “123,000 students at 33 institutions” had similar results. Whatever you make of such studies, at least those who favor SAT-optional can claim that they are concerned not only with drawing in applicants but also with drawing in applicants who are likely to graduate, rather than applicants who will rack up debt and fail to graduate.

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