March 10, 2005

Ward Churchill's Loyalty Oath

David Kopel at VC points out that Colorado has a loyalty oath for its professors, which Ward Churchill presumably signed

Although CU professors are required by state law to sign an oath to support the Constitution of the United States and the Colorado Constitution, Churchill has repeatedly called for the violent overthrow of the U.S. government, and has urged his audiences to perpetrate 9/11 type terrorist attacks in the United States. In doing so, he has provided explicit instructions about where the attacks should take place, and how the attacker should dress so as to be able to get to the target.

If so, it would seem that Churchill has violated his oath, and could be fired for that.

It's interesting that such oaths are still around.

I've blogged before on the California loyalty oath controversy of around 1950 (though my blog's Movable Type search engine seems to be disabled too-- maybe this weekend I'll do the big technology switch to new software). I was reading a book on academic freedom controversies of that time. If I remember rightly, the controversy was the exact opposite of what I would expect-- professors were not upset that they had to swear an oath of loyalty to the U.S. Constitution, but that they had to swear not to join the Communist Party (I might be wrong in my recollection, though).

My views are the opposite. I oppose an oath of loyalty to the U.S. Constitution, because that does limit the kind of faculty we can have, and I see no reason not to have a few anti-Americans on the faculty-- or a lot, for that matter. Who cares if some math professor would like to see the U.S. Constitution overthrown? Also, of course, we don't enforce that kind of oath, and it is hard to. Every law professor who supports Roe v. Wade is subverting the U.S. Constitution, after all.

On the other hand, forbidding a professor to join the Communist Party is something objective and easy for him to comply with. If our physicist has to drop out from his political activities, he will have all the more time for his physics, and be a better professor. The same is true even for a communist political scientist-- he will have to give up party affairs, and do more writing if he wants to the further the Revolution, and writing is what the university hires him for.

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March 08, 2005

Susan Estrich on Writing a Column Critical of VP Gore

I've recently blogged on how Laurence Tribe falsified history in telling the story of his first Supreme Court brief. Susan Estrich appears to be an equally unreliable source of personal history. This article from the American Spectator tells how she had written an op-ed column attacking the Clinton Administration, but...

Estrich was then faced with an etiquette dilemma unknown to Post or Baldrige: "USA Today wants to run the column on Monday....On Monday, I am taking my children to the Easter Egg Roll at the White House. Then we're spending the night there." If she ran the column first she might by uninvited to the sleepover, but if she ran it afterwards she risked looking snarky and manipulative. And if she didn't run it at all one might get the impression she had been bought off or bullied. It was, she recalls, an easy decision for a woman of her integrity. "The only thing to do," she writes, "was to send it in and let the chips fall. I told my children we might be uninvited, but this was a matter of principle, and power. I sent the column to my syndicate."

But did she? She waffles a bit about it all in the next paragraph, disingenuously claiming that she "didn't know if any of the papers who take my column ever bothered to run it."

That is an incredible statement, of course. After all that worrying, she didn't bother to see if she had offended the most powerful man in the world?

The story continues, because thanks to computers, we can check on these things easily.

Contemporary accounts, as well as NEXIS, are more certain on this point: it was never published. According to the New York Daily News, Estrich in fact killed the piece after being yelled at by Al Gore. She also admitted that she withdrew a separate column intended for USA Today after a White House meeting where Clinton, just as Kinsey did in regards to his own office, admitted the campaign had a woman problem. Clinton's acknowledgement was enough for her to call off the dogs still unaccounted for, and when the campaign made only lackluster attempts to assuage her she kept her mouth shut even after her spiked column was reported in the press two months later. In the meantime, Gore did little to increase the number of women on the senior staff.

During the last Presidential campaign, Estrich publicly called for a smear campaign against Bush. She doesn't seem to be unduly extreme in her esteem for truth.

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March 07, 2005

Academic Misconduct: Laurence Tribe and his Green Bag History

Romesh Ponnuru wrote a Feb. 25 piece for National Review detailing how Professor Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School, already caught an one instance of plagiarism, seems to have manufactured a personal story about the Supreme Court. In essence, Ponnuru says that in an article in the journal Green Bag Tribe says that he pushed a daring and successful 9th Amendment argument onto the Supreme Court in his first oral argument in 1980 in Richmond Newspapers, 448 U.S. 555 (1980) , a case about whether courts had to let reporters in to observe trials when the defendant had waived his right to a public trial. Rather, Ponnuru says that Tribe made other arguments, but the 9th Amendment argument of an amicus brief was what drove the Supreme Court's ruling.

A critic of Ponnuru, Scott Goldstein, has a new website set up on the matter at At VC, Juan Non-Volokh on March 4 said,

For what it's worth, I thought the initial Ponnuru piece on Tribe cam up a bit short. Even accepting everything at face value, it hardly seemed like scholarly misconduct. At most it demonstrated that that Tribe engaged in a bit of puffery, so it hardly seemed worth all the space in National Review.

Given the generally poor reputation of Harvard faculty when it comes to plagiarism, I thought I'd look into it. The charges seemed serious enough to me-- in effect, lying about the historical record-- but of course sometimes accusations of lying aren't true. One needs to look at the Green Bag article and Tribe's Supreme Court briefs, and, if one is to be complete (which I wasn't), the transcript of the oral argument. This is hard for people who don't have Lexis, so I've excerpted the important parts of the document below.

The first question is whether it mattered to the Green Bag article that Tribe says he argued the 9th Amendment and won. i think it does. The article essentially says, "My father was dying during my first Supreme Court oral argument, but I withstood the stress and won using an innovative 9th Amendment argument." The two central points are that Tribe won despite the personal stress and that he won using a daring 9th Amendment argument.

The second question is whether Tribe actually did rely on a 9th Amendment argument. Here, Ponnuru is correct, at least as far as the briefs are concerned (I didn't look at the oral argument transcript): Tribe does make that argument, but puts 90%+ of his weight on other arguments, throwing the 9th Amendment argument in rather carelessly towards the end. Instead, most of his brief is devoted to two other arguments: a 1st Amendment argument and a 6th Amendment argument.

Some objective evidence might help. The Ninth Amendment is mentioned 10 times in the Green Bag article. The word "father" is mentioned 24 times. The First Amendment is mentioned 3 times, all 3 times only to say that the First Amendment argument was very weak in this case. The Sixth Amendment is mentioned twice, in the introduction to say that the defendant had waived his rights under that amendment.

In Tribe's Supreme Court brief-- his written argument for the Court-- the Ninth Amendment is mentioned only twice--once as "Ninth", once as a cite to "IX". The First Amendment, in contrast, is mentioned 53 times (this requires a careful search, since "first" is used in other ways too). The Third Amendment is mentioned 4 times. The Fourth Amendment is mentioned 4 times. The Fifth Amendment is mentioned twice. The Sixth Amendment is mentioned 52 times. The Fourteenth Amendment is mentioned 9 times.

In terms of amount of space, the 9th Amendment argument section which I quote below is 4558 characters out of 142,953 in the entire brief-- about 3.2% (noting that not the entire section IID is 9th Amendment-- only its first third or so, so the "seven pages" claimed by Goldstein is not accurate). Double or triple that if you like, since much of the brief is made up of introduction, remedies, and suchlike, but you won't get the 9th Amendment argument to be prominent.

Thus, I think Juan Non-Volokh has it wrong when he says Goldstein has the best of it. Not at all!

Does this matter? I think so. Tribe's piece is not what would count as research for a tenure review, but it is published in a scholarly journal as a historical account of relevance to other legal scholars and to increase their esteem for Tribe's legal talents. If they rely on it, they will get history wrong and they will overestimate Tribe.

Below I have quotations from the Tribe article and brief that pertain to the 9th Amendment argument.

Well, in a way. But there was one problem, at least as I saw the case: To make an argument based on the First Amendment freedoms of speech and press, one classically needed to have a willing speaker: the right to observe and hear is just the flip side of a right to broadcast or speak, and in this case nobody in the courtroom wanted to speak to mere spectators -- not to the Richmond Newspapers, and certainly not to the victim's family. So the First Amendment didn't completely suffice -- unless one treated it as a very broad structural guarantee of access to information in an open society, a guarantee not enumerated anywhere in the Bill of Rights, but one reinforced by the Ninth Amendment's mandate that the Constitution's "enumeration ... of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

But the Ninth Amendment, I learned as I briefed Richmond Newspapers and as I found myself being lobbied hard by the pillars of the media bar, was barely to be mentioned in polite society, much less was it ready for prime time.

Who was I, an utter novice at Supreme Court advocacy, to buck the conventional wisdom on something so basic? Well, I was a lawyer who'd taken a case because he believed in it, who'd been teaching and would teach generations more of law students about the kinds of questions the case raised, who'd gone on record a couple of years earlier in a treatise, American Constitutional Law (1st ed. Foundation Press, N.Y. 1978) (now in its third edition as of 2000), on most of the issues the case touched, and who cared a lot more about keeping faith with what he'd feel bound to write and teach in years to come, and with how he thought the Court should be approached, than with what the Pooh-Bahs of the establishment thought of him. That's who I was. And am. So the Ninth Amendment argument stayed in. And, I'm happy to report, in the end it hit its target.

As Justice Stevens was to write in his concurring opinion, "never before had [the Court] squarely held that the acquisition of newsworthy matter is entitled to any constitutional protection whatsoever." Where was that protection to be found in the Constitution's text? Nowhere, exactly, but the plurality opinion of Chief Justice Burger made a point of recalling how James Madison -- responding to widely voiced concerns at the time of the Founding that adding any finite list of rights to the Constitution to assuage the fears of some about potentially excessive government power might perversely backfire, carrying a negative implication about rights not mentioned -- had spearheaded a move that "culminated in the [*291] Ninth Amendment," which was to operate as a "constitutional 'saving clause,' ... to foreclose application to the Bill of Rights of the maxim that the affirmation of particular rights implies a negation of those not expressly defined." The right recognized in Richmond Newspapers, although it was later described simply as a First Amendment right (and might thereby be said to have emerged with free speech wings that had shed the Ninth Amendment chrysalis from which it sprang), became the first of only two rights ever grounded by a Supreme Court majority or plurality in an analysis that spelled out its debt to the Ninth Amendment as a rule about how to construe the Constitution. The other such right was that of reproductive choice, whose reaffirmance in a 1992 plurality opinion, Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992), was also expressly linked to the Ninth Amendment as a rule of construction.

. . .

I know that urgent phone calls imploring me, above all else, to forget that "crazy Ninth Amendment argument," didn't even scratch the surface of what I was feeling. Literally all I recall [*294] about writing the reply brief -- which ended (I've just reread it) with a call upon the Court to vindicate "a tradition ... demonstrably central to the public awareness and institutional accountability that define our form of government" -- is that I refused to use that brief as a vehicle for backing away from the Ninth Amendment,...

. . .

Reflecting now on my resolute commitment to arguing the case in Ninth Amendment terms -- and thus in terms of the Constitution's "tacit postulates," which my opening brief had reminded then-Justice Rehnquist and Chief Justice Burger that they had only recently described as no less "engrained in the fabric of the document [than] its express provisions," Nevada v. Hall, 440 U.S. 410, 433 (1979) (dissenting opinion) -- I think my grief may have permitted me to see a bit more clearly through the fog of superficial arguments and objections and may have steeled me against the kinds of eleventh-hour distractions and importunings that co-counsel, meaning to be helpful, are prone to inject as a Supreme Court argument nears.

Here's the entire mention of the 9th Amendment in the reply brief that Tribe says he re-read in writing his Green Bag article:

Nor have appellees addressed any of the reasons offered by appellants for concluding that the First, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments, in conjunction with the Sixth, have long secured a right to attend and observe criminal trials. Id. at 27-43, 51-59.

So much for "I refused to use that brief as a vehicle for backing away from the Ninth Amendment,..."

From Tribe's original brief we this summary of his entire argument. This, his own summary, never mentions the 9th Amendment by name, but the 9th Amendment is part of the argument of the last paragraph, which I've boldfaced.

Summary of Argument


For centuries, it has been an axiom of every just society that the people may enter freely into its halls of justice. The right to attend and observe criminal trials was taken for granted by our Constitution's Framers as well. No single provision of the Constitution expressly and unambiguously confers that right, but each of several provisions plainly implies it, and its existence is demonstrably entailed by those provisions' interrelated meaning and structure.

A guarantee that criminal trials will be open to orderly public attendance and observation is, first of all, implicit in the First Amendment. That the freedoms of speech and press include the freedom to observe and learn, and not only the freedom to talk and publish, is beyond doubt. Self-government presupposes knowledge; and knowledge of the administration of justice lies at the core of any society dedicated to the rule of law.

Although the First Amendment does not unseal government records or unlock private files, its central meaning requires that people remain free to seek understanding and information in those forums that have traditionally been open to the public, at least when their function depends vitally upon access by the public. This nation's courthouses are the clearest illustration: open from the beginning, and unable, if sealed from view, to fulfill their mission of displaying as well as doing justice.

The case for a First Amendment right of access to criminal trials is uniquely strong, for such trials are public by constitutional command. Even if the Sixth Amendment were thought to confer only on the accused the right to demand a public trial, the very fact that the accused has that right automatically removes criminal trials from the realm of proceedings the state is free unilaterally to treat as wholly internal and confidential, and from the realm of places that the state is empowered unilaterally to cordon off. In this special context, it matters not that the freedoms of speech and press are being invoked against the wishes of the trial's participants: since it is settled that the accused has no right to demand a secret trial, government's action making it secret is simply a form of censorship.

Entirely apart from the First Amendment, the Sixth confers standing on members of the public to invoke the public trial guarantee. No one doubts that the constitutional norm of open trials does more than protect defendants from oppression. It also protects the public from prosecutorial and judicial malfeasance and ineptitude. Because the public's interest in enforcing the Sixth Amendment's public trial clause is independent of, and often conflicts with, the perceived self-interest of the participants in a trial, vindicating that public interest requires recognizing standing for members of the public who have been denied access. Doing so not only serves the purposes of the Sixth Amendment; it also fully meets this Court's constitutional and prudential tests for determining who may assert a claim under the Constitution.

Nor is the norm of open trials one that could better be vindicated politically than judicially. Like the right to vote or the right to speak, the right to watch silently the operation of our courts must be held securely beyond the reach of pluralist interest-group compromise.

Although dicta in the majority opinion in Gannett point in a different direction, nothing this Court has ever held -- not even in Gannett -- either requires or implies that the public trial clause is unavailable to persons ejected from a criminal trial at the behest of its participants. Gannett, as the majority noted and the Chief Justice stressed, involved only pre trial suppression hearings. To find no public right of access to such proceedings under the Sixth Amendment says nothing about access to trials as such, since both in history and in purpose suppression hearings and criminal trials are poles apart. The aim of the first is to keep inadmissible information from the jury; of the second, to present admissible information to the jury -- and to the community that the jury represents. It is only in the context of the pretrial suppression hearing that openness and fairness are in tension. At trial, where a battery of devices may be deployed to keep any improper evidence from the jury, the two norms converge -- even though the personal interests of the accused, the accuser, or the judge may at times be advanced by concealment.

Thus the Sixth Amendment, like the First, guarantees that criminal trials will be open to public attendance and observation. But even if the inference from these two texts seemed problematic, a judicially enforceable norm of open trials would follow from the role such trials play in the Anglo-American regime of ordered liberty and in our Nation's history and traditions. Like the right to vote, which the Constitution does not expressly mention, the right to attend criminal trials is fundamental because it preserves all other rights. And, like the right to demand proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt, the right to observe criminal trials is constitutionally protected because it is indispensable to public confidence in the legal system. Plainly, the time-honored right to observe criminal prosecutions in progress was among the rights "retained by the people" when the Constitution was adopted.

The bulk of the argument has two parts, one based on the 1st Amendment and one based on the 6th, both rather weak. The last section of Section II of the brief, the section with the constitutional arguments, makes the 9th Amendment argument, crowded in one section with two other arguments. The 9th Amendment starts the section, is followed by a 14th Amendment argument, and that is followed by an argument that the rest of the Constitution, as a whole, requires a right to observe trials. Here is the 9th Amendment part:

D. Even if Not Otherwise Enumerated, the Right Is Implicit in Ordered Liberty and Is Among the Rights or Privileges "Retained by the People."

Even if this Court should conclude that the right of members of the public to be present as observers at criminal trials finds insufficiently specific "enumeration in the Constitution," that fact alone could "not be construed to deny or disparage" the existence of such a right, as one "retained by the people." U.S. Const., Amend. IX.

On the contrary, a Ninth and Fourteenth Amendment right, privilege, or immunity of access to criminal trials would follow directly, even without more specific textual enumeration, from the central role of such a right in the "Anglo- American regime of ordered liberty," Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U.S. 145, 149-50 n.14 (1968) -- a role at least informed, even if not unambiguously guaranteed, by the First and Sixth Amendments, and one undeniably revealed in "this Nation's history and tradition." Moore v. City of East Cleveland, 431 U.S. 494, 503 (1977) (footnote omitted). Cf. Duncan v. Louisiana, supra, 391 U.S. at 148-149 & n.14; Johnson v. Louisiana, 406 U.S. 356, 372 n.9 (1972) (Powell, J., concurring). n46 Just as the expressive "use of the streets and public places has, from ancient times, been a part of the privileges, immunities, rights, and liberties of citizens," Hague v. C.I.O., 307 U.S. 496, 515 (1939) (opinion of Roberts, J., joined by Black, J.), so, too, the observational use of the Nation's halls of justice has, from time immemorial, been among those same privileges, immunities, rights, and liberties. See, e.g., 3 W. Blackstone, Commentaries n* 373 (6th ed. 1681); 2 E. Coke, Institutes of the Laws of Englandn* 103 (1765-1769).

n46 To hold that due process of law must be open process of law would entail no elevation of a substantive zone of personal autonomy into a newly-recognized right against the majority, cf. Moore v. City of East Cleveland, supra, 431 U.S. at 537 (Stewart, J., joined by Rehnquist, J., dissenting); id. at 549 (White, J., dissenting); it would require little beyond the quintessentially procedural recognition that accessibility to the public is a characteristic "inhering in the institutional process by which justice is administered." Estes v. Texas, 381 U.S. 532, 588 (1965) (Harlan, J., concurring). For a public trial implies nothing about the permissible content of a state's criminal laws or sanctions; it "implies only that the court must be open to those who wish to come, sit in the available seats, conduct themselves with decorum, and observe the trial process." Id. at 589.

Indeed, the right of public access to criminal trials seems an indispensable precondition of the system of government established by the Constitution. No less than the unenumerated right to vote in state elections, Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, 383 U.S. 663, 665 (1966), the right of access to criminal trials must be "regarded as a fundamental political right, because preservative of all rights." Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356, 370 (1886) (voting). No less than the unenumerated right to proof beyond a reasonable doubt, In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358 (1970), the right of access to criminal trials has won "virtually unanimous adherence" throughout our history, reflecting "a profound judgment about the way in which law should be enforced and justice administered." Id. at 361-62, quoting Duncan v. Louisiana, supra, 391 U.S. at 155. Indeed, much like the reasonable doubt requirement, our system of open trials has proven itself "indispensable to. . . the respect and confidence of the community in applications of the criminal law." In re Winship, supra, 397 U.S. at 364. n47

n47 Where the state forbids any extrajudicial resolution of a particular dispute, this Court has held that only the litigant's unimpeded access to court can make the state's "monopoly over techniques for binding conflict resolution. . . acceptable under our scheme of things." Boddie v. Connecticut, 401 U.S. 371, 375 (1971) (indigent divorce plaintiff entitled by the due process to waiver of court costs). So too, the state's monopoly, through the criminal law, over the legitimate use of force, see Ogden v. Saunders, 25 U.S. (12 Wheat.) 213, 346-47 (1827) (Marshall C.J., joined by Duvall and Story, JJ., dissenting), is acceptable only because all have access to criminal trial courts. For the victims of violent crimes, for example, the legitimacy of insisting that official prosecution replace private vengeance is ultimately linked to the victim's ability to enter the courthouse to see justice done.

All in all, it looks like Tribe is taking advantage of 20-20 hindsight, even though he has the briefs available to help out his memory and apparently even looked at them.

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March 01, 2005

Professor Fired for Heresy at Huntington College

The Chronicle of Higher Education tells us that Huntington College actually fired a professor for heresy. I don't find this unjustified, since it is a religious college; actually, it is rather encouraging that anybody cares about as purely theological a point as this.

The Board of Trustees of Huntington College, a United Brethren Church institution in Indiana, wants to get rid of John E. Sanders in the worst way. Mr. Sanders, 48, a research professor of philosophy and religion, has been at the college for seven years.

The board spent much of a three-day retreat in Carefree, Ariz., last month considering the large outpouring of support for Mr. Sanders from Huntington's president, faculty members, and students, before offering him a one-year paid sabbatical next academic year and at least one more year's salary if he agrees to resign.

The problem is that Mr. Sanders is a prominent proponent of Open Theism. That minority approach within evangelical theology maintains that the future, rather than being foreordained, unfolds through a continuous give-and-take between God and humans.

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February 24, 2005

University Misbehavior Archive

I've collected links to various posts on university misconduct, incompetence, and academic freedom here. I know I should combine some of the posts now, rather than stringing things out chronologically, but I probably won't get round to it for some years, if ever. . . . . . .
  1. Hans Hoppe 2005, Nevada libertarian economist, homosexuality and Feb. 17 link collection and three Feb. 8 links and the Feb. 6 story.

  2. Ward Churchill 2005, Colorado lefty activist,, Feb. 8 smallpox blankets lie , and consideration of possible reasons to fire him. good and bad, and my doubts about those claiming he is *not* an Indian, and Colorado College republicans, other complainers.

  3. Hans Muller, fellow traveller Nobel laureate biologist, 1940s

  4. FERPA, Buckley Amendment, stupid privacy rules

  5. ADA, test-taking special privileges for rich kids

  6. Nona Gerard Penn State Case, 2003, lesbian theatre professor, Primary Documents Scanned In and Neutral 1930's Germans and 21-Century Professors; Nona Gerard Penn State Case; Michael Berube; Donors of Theatres to Universities and Harvard's Lack of Used Bookstores; Norms; Procedural Protections; Michael Berube and Erin O'Connor on the Nona Gerard Case at Penn State. Penn newspaper articles from March 3, January 21, and some other day. ; Nona Gerard Stripped of Tenure and Fired at Penn State-Altoona for Criticizing Colleagues. 04.03.02a.htm ; Nona Gerard's Tenure Loss at Penn State; Tenure and Hurting Your College; Ole- Lena- PennState-Murderer on What to Disclose. 04.03.05a.htm . Nona Gerard Stripped of Tenure and Fired at Penn State- Altoona for Criticizing Colleagues. 04.03.02a.htm ; Brian Leiter on Penn State-- note dean's 5-0 claim March 3 on Penn State from Erin O'Connor

  7. An article by Professor Demingin which he mentions his favorable evaluation for praising President Boren.

  8. Classroom bias at Yale, Yale Free Press Survey 2004

  9. Arizona discrimination against white males 2004

  10. The Old UCLA Daily Bruin Rooster Campus Censorship Incident (1980s); James Taranto; Rasmusen Letter

  11. Gollin, 2003, Illinois physics prof, diploma mills. Affair Update: Legal Angle. and The Gollin Case of Weblog Suppression at Illinois. and Gollin Academic Freedom Affair: Facts and Gollin Academic Freedom Affair: Commentary

  12. Murderers As Professors.

  13. Controversy Over The Rasmusen Weblog (2003)
  14. The Affirmative Action Loyalty Oath at UCLA (2004) Medical School

  15. Penn Psych case about tenure denial.

  16. Professor Jack V. Matson, Environmental Engineering,Penn State's University Park campus, on Nona Gerard and other evidence of problems at Penn State.

  17. "Columbia U. Releases Edward Said Chair Donors: Names Arab Government, " Front Page on a chair funded by foreigners and given to a political activist to help administer U.S. federal funds.

  18. Martin Kramer on how a professorship donated by someone to counter anti_Israel sentiment was, predictably, given to an anti-Israel intellectual.

  19. Title VI; African Studies Boycott of Wisconsin; Anti- Americanism on Campuses. 04.04.02d.htm

  20. Organizational Incompetence: U. of Texas Can't Update Its Webpages, from Leiter

  21. The Dillon Law School Data Theft Affair (2003) and The Dillon Affirmative Action Story

  22. Georgetown Law School's Suppression of the Catholic Position on Homosexuality. 2003/03.12.23d.htm

  23. Does Yale Law School Discriminate by Religion in Condemning Discrimination by Religion? 2003/03.12.19a.htm

  24. Tom Smith on the Prejudices of Duke Faculty; Poli Sci Chairman Munger's Story. 04.02.16b.htm

  25. Indiana University Tops in Administration Response to Affirmative-Action Bake Sale. 2003/03.12.16d.htm

  26. Stanley Kurtz, Anti-Americanism, and Title VI. 04.04.11b.htm

  27. Naomi Wolf, Harold Bloom, Yale, and Accusations Against Professors. 04.02.28b.htm

  28. A Backdoor Hate Speech Code at IU? Faculty Governance; Voting Order; Sneaking New Clauses into Contracts or Legislation. 04.03.03a.htm

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    February 23, 2005

    Ward Churchill Admits He Is not an Indian

    UPDATE: Well, don't believe everything you read in the newspapers. Instapundit tells us that the Honolulu Star-Bulletin blatantly misquoted Ward Churchill. Probably some stupid reporter (a) misheard him, (b) omitted lots of words that he did hear, and (c) failed to check with Churchill on whether he had really said the surprising thing the reporter thought Churchill said. Here's the correction:

    "Let's cut to the chase, I'm not," the quote in yesterday's paper continued.

    But a review of video and audio tapes of the speech shows that Churchill actually said: "Is he an Indian? We really care. We're trying to protect the rights of Indians to divine for themselves, say this circle of flies in the form of white reporters circling a manure pile like it's of all consequential importance. Cut to the chase on that."

    Ward Churchill is shrewd. He has admitted that he is not an Indian, this Feb 23 newspaper article reports. With all the attention focussed on him, the truth was sure to come out anyway, so he is smart to have it come from his own mouth first, so he can spin it. (Via Instapundit)

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    February 21, 2005

    Hoppe Academic Freedom Case: University Surrenders

    The President seems to have reversed the university's punishment of Professor Hans Hoppe, the economist who lost a year's pay for saying in class that homosexuals have higher time preference (see my page of links here). . . . . . . From February 19 UNLV: Case Closed, we read

    This matter has finally reached the level of presidential appeal, and I have completed my review. As a result, I have directed that the letter of instruction and related materials be withdrawn from Professor Hoppe’s personnel file and that no further action on this complaint be taken by the University. Attached below is a statement which further details my rationale for this decision.. . .

    "I have reviewed the report of the Executive Vice President and Provost regarding the discrimination complaint filed by a student against Dr. Hoppe. Professor Hoppe is represented by the ACLU and counsel. I have written to his counsel today regarding my review.

    Professor Hoppe has consistently held the opinion that his classroom materials consist of scholarly and relevant theories that have support in the academic economics community. I believe professors are entitled the freedom to teach theories and to espouse opinions that are out of the mainstream or are controversial.

    It is my understanding that Professor Hoppe does not assert that materials he presents are the opinions of UNLV, nor has he ever purported to speak for UNLV. Whether anyone in the University agrees or disagrees with Professor Hoppe’s theories or his opinions is not ultimately relevant. . . ."

    I found the letter above because has a February 15 page of links.

    The Feb 19 Review Journal reports on this, and says

    But Hoppe and his attorneys weren't satisfied with the proposed resolution. They said they also want an apology and a year-long sabbatical for the professor.

    Attorney Al Marquis said the sabbatical is appropriate compensation for the year of persecution Hoppe suffered at the hands of UNLV administrators. "He just wants the time to pursue his research," Marquis said. . . .

    Marquis praised interim Chancellor Jim Rogers, who met with Harter on Thursday, for negotiating the removal of the letter and supporting freedom of speech. He said he plans to meet with Rogers, system Chief Counsel Dan Klaich and hopefully Harter on Tuesday to discuss the matter further.

    "We're trying to resolve the matter without the need of going to court," Marquis said.

    Hoppe seems to be a good bargainer-- when the other side makes a concession, press for more. I doubt he'll get it, though. It will be interesting to see if he suffers unofficial punishment. If you recall from my first post on this, the official punishment was going to be a year without a salary increase. It would be pretty easy to retain that punishment, even after removing the official letter from his file. At some point, maybe I'll blog on my own history of salary increase-- substantial every year for ten years till the year of my weblog controversy, when it fell, without comment, to 1%.

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    February 19, 2005

    Law Schools at GMU, Michigan State, UMass: Why Acquire Rather than Build?

    I read in the Chronicle of Higher Ed that U. Mass is planning to add a law school by merging with the Southern New England School of Law, as this December 2004 press release says. This is like the strategy of George Mason University, which successfully bought a fifth-rate law school, and Michigan State, which is doing the same thing. George Mason was successful because it fired lots (most?) of the faculty, which makes buying the fifth-rate law school seem pointless. The Southern New England School of Law isn't even accredited-- it has twice failed to gain accreditation.
    "This is a win-win situation for the University of Massachusetts and the law school,’’ said Southern New England School of Law Chairperson Margaret Xifaras. "We are proud to have built a first-rate facility, a strong library, a talented faculty and an academic program that has already been endorsed by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. We have made measurable and documented progress toward attaining our next goal: national accreditation by the American Bar Association.
    Why, I wonder in all three cases, did a university of moderately good reputation choose to acquire a bad law school rather than start from scratch? I suppose the buildings are worth something. But why acquire tenured faculty who are worse than useless, and a history and reputation of low quality?

    Permalink: 07:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    February 17, 2005

    Hoppe Academic Freedom Case at Nevada

    I've blogged before on the case of Professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe at Nevada who was punished for casual classroom remarks on homosexuals and time preference, on February 6 and February 8. I haven't had time to develop the story, but I've accumulated some links. . . . . . .
    1. His own website,
    2. The UNLV punishment letter of February 9 (pdf)
    3. UNLV press release of February 10 with the standard bureaucratic plea that "even though all the evidence makes us look like disgraces to academia, we won't defend ourselves, even though we have secret evidence that we won't release that would make us look like angels":
      UNLV was following established procedures in this review process, which included a thorough investigation of all facts in the matter, as well as faculty and student review. In this particular case, the faculty member chose to release his name and interpretation of certain selected events to the public. In order to protect the rights of the faculty member and the complainant, as well as the integrity of the process, the university simply cannot disclose the facts surrounding this incident.
    4. Articles laying out the situation: The February 5 Review-Journal article, February 8 Nevada Sun article, Feb. 12 Nevada Appeal
    5. A February 10 editorial in the campus newspaper defending Hoppe
    6. My September 2004, pre-controversy, post on Hoppe's book, Democracy-- The God that Failed
    7. Weblogs:Mises Economics, History News Network, Bryan Caplan, Precinct 333
    8. Karen De Coster links page of February 6
    9. here and here on February 6
    10. A article
    11. Some sites which did NOT mention the case when I checked them on February 15:
      1. ACLU (even though they are defending him, and have press releases on most of their cases, I couldn't find this one listed)
      2. UNLV Faculty Senate and its Academic Freedom and Ethics Committee (which has no website; members are Joel Wisner BUS 2 EDU 2 To be elected. ENGR 2 To be elected. Cathie Kelly FA 1 Joan MacDonald HS 2 William Werner HOA 1 LAW 2 To be elected. Jennifer Ramsey LA 2 Cory Tucker LIB 2 Joe Nesbitt PROSTAFF 1 Donna Weistrop SCI 1 UC 2 To be elected. Dick McCorkle UA 2 Peter Bayer (SR)* (C))
      3. National AAUP and the NFA (Nevada AAUP affiliate)
      4. The National Association of Scholars (Nevada affiliate has no website. President is David Fott, Poli Sci UNLV, [email protected])
      5. The American Economic Association
      6. The Torch (FIRE weblog)

        Permalink: 09:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

        February 15, 2005

        Ward Churchill Update

        Not much is happening in the Ward Churchill case, I think, except for a growing amount of commentary. Here are some links I collected.

        A Horowitz Rocky Mountain News op-ed in favor of not firing Churchill

        Inside Higher Ed has more details on Ward Churchill's made-up Mandan story on Feb. 9

        Ralph Luker has a set of links up to Feb. 9.

        Clayton Cramer has good info on whether being an Indian was an essential part of Ward Churchill's job. This Feb. 8 left article says that DNA testing supports Indian ancestry.

        David Kopel talks about the newspaper response

        Permalink: 12:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

        February 14, 2005

        Academic Freedom; Hiring Anti-Americans; Herman Muller

        Much to my consternation, I've been coming across people who should know better who don't seem to understand the value of academic freedom. I'd like to explain why a university might want to hire someone who is anti-American and offensive. I won't say "someone like Ward Churchill at Colorado," because that is a case with special features, such as his already having a job, and with tenure, and the strong likelihood of academic fraud on his part. Instead, I would like to make the case that a university should be willing to hire (not just refrain from firing) a professor who repeatedly attacks America in print, and cheers the death of American soldiers in combat. . . . . . . I am opposing the position of those who might argue,

        "Freedom of speech is fine, but you shouldn't be anti-American if you are on the state payroll. Any state employee who says anti-American things should be fired."

        We must clear up one possible misunderstanding before proceeding. Remember that we are talking about speech, not criminal acts. If a professor kills someone, that is different from his saying that he hopes someone else commits the murder. So let's stipulate that the professor has done nothing that if proved beyond a reasonable doubt would put him in jail. It is legal to advocate violent revolution; it is not legal to actually blow up a building.

        (1) That cleared away, let's start with the easiest case: a professor whose scholarship is unconnected to his politics. Suppose Indiana University is considering hiring, for a $140,000 salary, a Nobel-prize winning doctor whose research shows promise of curing thousands of diabetics. He is, however, a Trotyskite, who writes about his advocacy of violent revolution in left-wing magazines and is openly happy when bad things happen to America.

        This doctor would be the most prominent scholar at Indiana University, at an amazingly low salary ($140,000 is low for such a doctor, much less a Nobel laureate), and would clearly improve its teaching and research, as well as helping sick people. We should hire him.

        Indiana University has already had a case something like this-- in the 1940's, with Herman Muller. Professor Muller was not a Trotskyite, but he was a Stalinist:

        In the 1920s, Muller performed his Nobel prize-winning research showing that X- rays could induce mutations and he became instantly famous. Muller used his fame to caution against the indiscriminate use of X-rays in medicine, but despite his warnings, some physicians even prescribed X-rays to stimulate ovulation in sterile women. His warnings angered many doctors and were largely ignored.

        Muller's outspoken views on socialism also got him in trouble with the Texas administration. He helped publish a Communist newspaper at the school, and the FBI tracked his activities. Feeling that U.S. society was regressing during the Depression, Muller left for Europe in 1932.

        A move to the Soviet Union in 1934 seemed to have cured Muller of his Communist sympathies, although he always remained a socialist. Initially happy with the progressive society, he wrote popular articles praising the friendly people and the initiative of collective farm workers. But he grew unhappy as Stalin's police state attacked genetics by pushing Lamarkian ideas of evolution. The state dictated who could work in his lab and questioned him for referring to the work of Germans or Russian emigrés. By the time he left in 1937, several of his students and colleagues had "disappeared" or been shipped to Siberia.

        Muller spent eight weeks in Spain helping the International Brigade develop a way to get blood for transfusions from recently killed soldiers, and then worked at the University of Edinburgh where he continued to work on X-rays and other mutagens like UV and mustard gas.

        World War II forced Muller to leave Scotland in 1940 and he eventually found a permanent position at Indiana University in 1945. A year later, Muller won the Nobel Prize for his work on mutation-inducing X-rays and he used the opportunity to continue pressing for more public knowledge about the hazards of X-ray radiation.

        Cases like Muller's are one reason I think loyalty oath requirements such as the University of California had back in the 1950's are a bad idea. We're hiring professors, not soldiers.

        (2) My doctor in case (1) had research and teaching unrelated to his political views. What if politics and employment mix? Suppose Indiana University is considering hiring a historian of the Arab World who is an outspoken supporter of Al Qaeda and admits that he hopes the United States becomes an Islamic state and that its Jews will be expelled. Yet this historian is, everybody agrees, a very good scholar, and presents Al Qaeda's side as well as anyone possibly good. Everyone also agrees that although both his writing and his teaching clearly display his Islamist views, he is scrupulously fair, and accurate, in presenting other points of view, including the Zionist one. In his classes, in fact, he often will present the argument for Zionism in a way that is utterly persuasive-- but then follow that with a critique which is also so persuasive that his students are left not knowing what to think.

        The standard arguments for academic freedom-- that it promoted free inquiry, and advances knowledge-- say that we should hire this scholar, and I agree. He is a good scholar and teacher, even though his logical talents will result in some students abandoning their preconceived ideas and believing something that I think is wrong. I trust, however, that in the marketplace of ideas his effect will be on net good rather than bad, and I will be much happier having him at my university than many of my present colleagues, who, though less talented, hold in my opinion equally erroneous. I would welcome the diversity such a person would add, and the fact that currently his views are so far out of Indiana University's mainstream is good, not bad. For one thing, it adds intellectual diversity, and will force us to examine our prejudices. For another, since his views are so rare, I don't worry that they will have a bad effect. It would be worse, in my opinion, to hire a conventional liberal of the kind that would not add diversity and instead would reinforce our prejudices and who would add to a group that already has significant and bad influence. (I would actually hire a liberal too, if he was a good scholar, but the case is less strong.)

        I thought this was the conventional wisdom at universities, but let me relate an incident that suggests it is not. I was on Indiana's faculty senate last year, and the issue of federal oversight of Title VI area studies centers came up. Congressmen have noticed that these federally-funded centers, designed to help American diplomacy, often end up actually hurting, because the people funded are opposed to American foreign policy. I was speaking in agreement with Congress, and referred, I think, to anti-American professors. The head of one area studies center (I forget which one), responded by denying strongly that any professors were anti-American, with the implication that no area studies center would hire such a person. I was so surprised, I forget how I responded. I took it for granted that any politically neutral scholarly center for area studies would end up hiring some professors who were anti-American--- it would be implausible that all of the best scholars were pro-American. In fact, I thought the only question was whether it was okay for a majority of a center's scholars to be anti-American, or okay for them to discriminate against someone who wasn't anti-American. But this center's head wasn't about to argue that anti-Americans can be good scholars too.

        Do recall my initial caveat that we should not let professors get away with illegal activity. I would be quite comfortable with jailing the Islamist professor if he blows up a building. I would even be comfortable with having the FBI tapping his phone and monitoring his classes. If he is just talking, then having the FBI watch him is no great burden for him; if he is conspiring, the FBI catching him would be a good thing. But I wouldn't punish him until he acts.

        To conclude, I will grant one strong argument against hiring good scholars with bad beliefs: that they corrupt students. There is a tradeoff between having advances in knowledge and a better education for the students who are not taken in by the bad beliefs, and a worse education for those who end up being persuaded by the bad beliefs. Indiana University is a research university, so I think it should definitely make the tradeoff in favor of good scholarship. It isn't clear our students would be corrupted anyway; few or no undergraduates will take a class with our hypothetical evil professors. But if I were answering the question for a small liberal arts college, my answer would be different. Indeed, I think there is a place for religious colleges that do not even hire professors who are outside of a particular Christian denomination. Even so, however, when thinking about where I might send my own children to college, Islamists, Nazis, and Communists are the least of my worries. I am much more worried about the influence of hedonists and atheists than of professors with false politics. I expect all research universities have more bad than good influence on students' moral characters already, and that consideration would swamp the presence of a few oddballs on the faculty.

        Permalink: 10:38 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

        February 08, 2005

        The Latest on Professor Hoppe at U. Nevada

        Three sets of comments on the Hoppe homosexuality case at the University of Nevada: a Feb. 8 editorial by the Las Vegas Review-Journal; an opponent of Hoppe on other matters, Tom Palmer, defends Hoppe; a post in the History News Network.

        Permalink: 01:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

        Ward Churchill: Credible Claims of Academic Fraud

        Via Instapundit and Paul Campos at The Rocky Mountain News comes a new development in the Ward Churchill academic freedom case. It seems he has indeed done something that should cost him his job, if Professor Thomas Brown's convincing exposition of Ward Churchill's fraudulent writings on Indian history is to be believed. The problem here is not insensitivity or lack of patriotism, but academic lying:... ...
        This article analyzes Churchill’s fabrication of a genocide. Churchill invented a story about the US Army deliberately creating a smallpox epidemic among the Mandan people in 1837 by distributing infected blankets. While there was a smallpox epidemic on the Plains in 1837, it was entirely accidental, the Army wasn’t involved, and nearly every element of Churchill’s story is a total invention. My goal here was to show how and why Churchill engaged in such blatant fraud, and why no one has challenged him on it until now.
        As Instapundit says,
        At my institution, we don't hire people without reading their publications. We don't tenure people without reading them and sending them for outside review by leading scholars in the field. Yet Churchill was both hired and tenured -- and made department chair -- in the ethnic studies program at Colorado. I'm not sure what's more damning: If they didn't perform these checks first, or if they did, and if people on that faculty, and in that field , thought Churchill's work was just fine. As with the Bellesiles scandal, this suggests some serious problems with peer review in the discipline.
        This suggests a need to check out all the faculty at Colorado's Ethnic Studies Department, and to inquire into who hired Ward Churchill, who promoted him, and who made him chairman of the department. In particular, which administrators at the level of dean and higher are implicated in this?

        It remains true, of course, that Ward Churchill should not be fired for his writings on 9-11. As I have said before, we must be careful to separate out different issues. In particular, the hue and cry over his 9-11 writings may be his chief legal defense to being fired over other things. He can truthfully claim that nobody would have noticed the fraud claims if he didn't have unpopular political views. But the fact that the outside world didn't notice the fraud and force it upon the attention of the University until his 9-11 writings came to light should not exonerate him. If the University had been doing its job, it would have investigated the fraud claims earlier, without the glare of the public eye.

        Permalink: 12:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

        February 07, 2005

        The Ward Churchill Affair: A Poll of My Students

        I started my bus econ class (seniors) today with a poll. I asked the students to write Yes or No to the following question, and not to write their names. I told them I wouldn't give them more details, or my opinion (except after class), or give them more than a couple of minutes to think of an answer:
        QUESTION: Professor Churchill of the U. of Colorado said in print that the 9-11 victims deserved to die. Should he be fired?
        The responses:

        Yes: 3

        No: 19 (updated the next day from 17-- two votes slipped onto my office floor)

        That contrasts with the unanimous (with one exception) YES of the Colorado state legislature. UPDATE: As Doug Sundseth points out in a comment below, I'm wrong on this last point. The GOvernor called for firing Churchill, but the legislature merely said Churchill's views were deplorable, a reasonable thing to say. See,1299,DRMN_37_3517054,00.html

        Permalink: 05:33 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

        February 05, 2005

        Ward Churchill Affair: Various Possible Reasons to Fire Him

        I posted on Feb 4 and Feb. 2 on the Churchill affair. A couple of people have commented to me in emails that although the University of Colorado should not fire Ward Churchill maybe for his politcal views per se, he should be fired for other reasons, which may come up in the tenure-stripping investigation the University has started. This is what an editorial today in Colorado's main paper is saying, too. This follows strong political pressure. Gov. Bill Owens called for his firing. The Legislature more moderately condemned his views (they didn't call for him to be fired, as I said in my first version of this post)....


        Earlier Thursday, the state Senate passed a resolution denouncing Churchill's comments as "evil and inflammatory." The nonbinding resolution was identical to one passed Wednesday by the House.

        Democratic state Sen. Peter Groff cast the lone "no" vote, saying he disagreed with Churchill but that the resolution provides him with undeserved attention and attacks free speech.

        The fact that the politicians are calling for Churchill's firing for bad reasons is in itself a good reason *not* to fire him now. It is, of course, perfectly possible, though, that (a) he ought not to be a full professor at Colorado, and (b) there exist grounds for stripping him of tenure. Items (a) and (b) are two different things, as I will explain below-- essentially, the difference between (a) not hiring somebody, and (b) the person having done something bad enough to be fired for.

        Let's look at possible reasons for firing Churchill. The facts are described or linked to in my previous two posts.

        (1) Churchill incited a mob to shut down a Columbus Day parade, escaping criminal conviction but not guilt.

        This does sound like grounds to strip him of tenure. The University need not use "beyond a reasonable doubt", and this crime is particularly disturbing in a professor, more than tax evasion or burglary. But the University should have started the process back then, not now.

        (2) Churchill falsely claimed to be an Indian, maybe.

        In itself, race should not be the grounds for either hiring or firing, though we know that in fact there is tremendous racial discrimination by universities. (I discuss the facts in my Feb. 4 post.) If the lying is in academic writings, and crucial to those writings, then this would be grounds for firing. How it would be crucial is not clear but he might written something like the fraudulent book that got Rigoberta Menchu the Nobel Peace Prize.

        (3) Churchill got tenure under false pretences.

        If Churchill's publications did not really exist, or something like that, he should be fired. But I highly doubt that.

        (4) Churchill should not have gotten tenure, because he is not a good enough scholar.

        This is almost certainly true, from what I've seen on his website, but it must have been obvious to the tenure committee too. This goes back my distinction between (a) and (b). He should not have been given tenure, but it is too late for Colorado to back out of its contract now. It's very common for universities to have professors who got tenure 20 years ago but would not get it today. In fact, that is a sign of a successful university: that it has improved enough that it doesn't have to tenure the mediocrities it did 20 years before, and since those mediocrities have tenure, they are happy to see their departments improve. If I can hire new profs for my department that are better than me, I will, since we aren't in competition for the same job.

        Churchill's case is different-- he looks unqualified even by laxer standards than today's. But it still is not grounds for stripping him of tenure. It is, on the other hand, a good reason to buy out his contract. I would not be surprised if that happens-- he negotiates a $500,000 secret golden parachute and leaves everybody happy.

        (5) Churchill has improperly brought his politics into his classroom.

        I would not be surprised by this, though I haven't seen any evidence of it yet except for a claim by an activist that he gave her a bad grade for a political reason. Even if it turns out that he has been too political in his classroom, that doesn't rise to the level of being something for which the university immediately strips a professor of tenure. Instead, he should be given a warning and punished only later. Giving a student a bad grade for political reasons is a more severe offense, and perhaps justified firing, but I'd want very good proof.

        There are many, many, politically active, academically mediocre professors out there. Some departments are prone to hiring them, and some are not. The place to start dealing with this is not in firing, but in hiring, unless it is entire departments that are eliminated, which is a valid reason for firing people with tenure. That might be what should happen at Colorado-- disbanding the entire Ethnic Studies Department. But don't pick on just Churchill.

        Permalink: 02:32 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

        February 04, 2005

        Ward Churchill--Is He an Indian?

        As I hoped in my long post of February 2, the blogosphere has taken up the cause of academic freedom in the Ward Churchill case (even though I neglected to email VC, IP, and Bainbridge, as I ought to have!). Instapundit has a mention with links, Bainbridge notes that rightwingers, especially, ought to stand by Churchill, and Eugene Volokh has a detailed post stating the obvious-- that he should not be fired for his political views-- and the less obvious-- whether he should be fired if it turned out he lied about being an Indian....

        ... I'm not sure if I agree with Volokh that he should be fired for such lying if it turns out to really be lying. His academic credentials seem very slight-- not even a doctorate, just "B.A., M.A., Sangaman State University Communication" and from the little I've seen of of his publications, they aren't profound, though he also seems to be a smart guy. Wouldn't that be discriminating against someone on the basis of race-- hiring him only because you thought he was an Indian, and then firing him when it turned out he was white? I can't imagine a purer case. I've wondered, though, what happens to students who fraudulently check off "Indian" or "Black" or "Hispanic" on university applications.

        Volokh links to this article:

        At various times, according to press reports, Churchill has described himself as Cherokee, Keetoowah Cherokee, Muskogee, Creek and most recently Meti. In a note in the online magazine Socialism and Democracy he wrote, ''Although I'm best known by my colonial name, Ward Churchill, the name I prefer is Kenis, an Ojibwe name bestowed by my wife's uncle.'' In biographical blurbs, he is identified as an enrolled member of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokees. But a senior member of the band with access to tribal enrollment records told Indian Country Today that Churchill is not listed. George Mauldin, tribal clerk in Tahlequah, Okla., told the Rocky Mountain News, ''He's not in the data base at all.''...

        According to Jodi Rave, a well-known Native journalist and member of the Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara Three Affiliated Tribes, Churchill was enrolled as an ''associate member'' of the Keetoowah by a former chairman who was later impeached. The one other known member of the same program, since discontinued, was President Bill Clinton. Rave said that she made this discovery as a student in a journalism class at the University of Colorado. She was also in a class taught by Churchill. When her article came out, she said, he dropped her grade from an A to a C minus.

        "Meti" caught my eye because my wife is from Winnipeg, a Meti center. They are the descendants of the centuries-old mixture of French traders and Indians in Canada.

        That last sentence is important. If true, that is more serious than the other stuff. But it would need substantiation. These attacks on Churchill all need careful examination, because he is an active member of the little world of squabbling leftwing revolutionary groups. When a Trotskyite says a Stalinist beats his wife, you have to take it with a grain of salt. Similarly, when the American Indian Movement's "Ministry of Information" issues something like this 1999 press release attacking Ward Churchill and insinuating that he is part of an FBI war against their organization, it is not to be believed. The outsider's view of the American Indian Movement is perhaps like a Moslem's view of Christianity in 1580; he thinks about "Christians", but there are actually different people competing for the name. See this partisan website of "the International Confederation of Autonomous Chapters of the American Indian Movement and their supporters. Not affiliated in any way with National AIM aka Grand Governing Council of AIM or the Bellecourts." Jodi Raves is part of this tangle, so don't take her statements at face value; further checking is needed.

        But all this distracts. The fact is that (a) Churchill has a job contract with the state of Colorado, and the state can't back out just because it doesn't like what it signed on to earlier; and (b) academic freedom is about cases just like this, where a professor has unpopular political views and a lot of voters want to fire him. The Colorado legislature, governor, and newspapers seem to be barely aware of these two ideas-- binding contracts, and academic freedom-- which depresses me. The contract is treated as a mere roadblock, not an obligation to be honored, and academic freedom is not even addressed-- only freedom of speech.

        Permalink: 08:48 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

        February 02, 2005

        Prof. Ward Churchill--Academic Freedom at Colorado

        I hope the blogosphere and organizations such as the NAS and AAUP pick up on the case of Professor Ward Churchill of the University of Colorado quickly. There are serious calls for firing him from his tenured position there because of his political views as he expresses them outside of his teaching and administrative duties. He is anti-American and blames America and the victims for 9-11. Instapundit has a post on how kooky he is, as does Professor Bainbridge. Prominent people are calling for his firing because of this, saying that he has a right to freedom of speech, but not to employment by the state government. I've heard this on TV from conservatives, and I haven't heard opposition from liberals....


        Churchill does, of course, have a clear right not to be fired for his political views. It's part of the normal contract of a tenured professor, and I'm sure any court will back him on that. And that is a good thing. We want professors to be able to vigorously voice unpopular views. If they bring such views into the classroom when they are irrelevant to the course, or punish students for disagreeing, or make political views important to administrative decisions such as whether to tenure a colleague, then a professor should be punished, but I have not seen anybody claim that here.

        Professor Churchill has been chairman of the ethnic studies department, and I wouldn't object to relieving him of that position. Being chairman is as often a burden as a privilege, anyway, so this is not really a punishment, just a re-allocation. And, indeed, he has resigned on his own, the proper thing to do, as the Rocky Mountain News of February 1 tells us:

        CU officials late Monday acknowledged Churchill's resignation as department chairman. Interim Chancellor Phil DiStefano issued a statement endorsing Churchill's decision to step down.

        "While Professor Churchill has the constitutional right to express his political views, his essay on 9/11 has outraged and appalled us and the general public," DiStefano said.

        The CU Board of Regents has called a special meeting to discuss Churchill on Thursday.

        "If they're meeting to talk about what to do in terms of institutional damage control, and to define the institution's position on this, then I have no objection," Churchill said. "They're doing their job."

        Chancellor DeStefano should not criticize a member of his faculty for taking an unpopular political stance, however. That, indeed, is the kind of abuse I was talking about earlier.

        I've thought about this subject, as those readers who remember my weblog controversy know (I said that homosexuals should not be hired as schoolteachers, and got criticized by my chancellor and editorialized against by the local newspaper) . I was never in serious danger of punishment. My pay raise last year was about 1%, by far the smallest in my dozen years here, but I never investigated it, and that might well be unrelated. But it was curious how although I was overwhelmed by supportive and critical emails from townspeople, students, and low-level university staff (sorry: I didn't answer most before I lost most of them in a computer glitch), there was very little public comment by the faculty, either in support or against me. My sense was that everybody wanted to keep their heads down on a controversial issue, especially since it was all talk rather than official action.

        Although the Churchill case seems to be straightforward as a matter of the question of the University of Colorado punishing him for his views, it does have lots of interesting angles.

        (1) I looked for supportive statements. The Boulder Faculty Assembly has a moderate but correct statement.

        Today, the University of Colorado has been challenged again to defend the principles of academic freedom to a public that may not appreciate fully the essential requirements and benefits of debate and differing views in an institution of higher education. Professor Ward Churchill’s writings contravene accepted thinking and community sentiment. Reasonable people may consider them controversial, offensive, and odious in some of the examples used; indeed, many faculty are themselves offended. The widespread release of these writings through the media has brought calls for censure and punishment of Professor Churchill.

        The University, through its Regents and administration, must resist these pressures. If we stand for the dissemination of knowledge, of the freedom to question, and of freedom of expression, then we must protect all, including Professor Churchill and others, expressing the most unpopular sentiments. Anything less than an affirmation of academic freedom for all the University’s faculty is an admission that we are not truly committed to the University’s mission and philosophy.

        I couldn't find out if the faculty assembly actually voted on this, or whether its leaders just issued it.

        (2) The campus newspaper says that the College Republicans are sharply divided, and may have a schism:
        The College Republicans were at the UMC to collect signatures from students for a petition requesting CU President Elizabeth Hoffman fire Churchill outright.

        Courtney Bekter, the College Republicans' program director, chimed in: "He shouldn't be spreading rhetoric on taxpayer money."

        The College Republicans said an unidentified man stole sheets of signatures the group had collected.

        "He ripped it out of my hand, pushed me back and ran," Bekter said. ...

        Meanwhile, a smaller group of Republican protesters disagreed with the College Republicans' anti-Churchill stance.

        "This is whiny liberal tactics," CU political science student Aron Smith, a self-described conservative. "I don't even want my grandma to see me out here next to these signs."

        He pointed to a College Republican supporter who was holding a sign with Churchill's name crossed out.

        Smith said he supports Churchill because of the First Amendment - the freedom of speech and expression.

        He said he does not agree with Churchill's remarks.

        "I think his comments were a little insensitive, maybe a lot insensitive," Smith said.

        Smith and a few acquaintances were at the rally to collect signatures for support of a new Republican organization that might someday compete with the College Republicans.

        (3) Professor Churchill, who is an Indian, appears to be an ethnic studies academic "operator". He has an agent representing him and advertising him for speaking engagements. Hamilton College invited him to speak, for a hefty fee, and then cravenly disinvited him. A Wall Street Journal op-ed said Hamilton College should not have invited him, which is correct, by my thinking. That is a quite separate question from hiring and retaining him as a member of the faculty, though. My guess is that his scholarship is rubbish, but if I found it was not, and it was good enough, I'd hire him at Indiana University. It would even be fine to invite him to give an unpaid research workshop (paying for his plane ticket and hotel, as is customary). What is different is hiring him to give a public lecture. I wouldn't invite the head of Planned Parenthood either, as Hamilton College is doing. The public lecture is a sign that Hamilton College wanted to hear him give a public platform to express his views to its students, and was willing to pay a lot to do so.

        (4) It is interesting, but irrelevant to the question of whether he should be punished, that Professor Churchill favors the general principle of suppressing free speech. Via Professor Bainbridge and the ">Rocky Mountain News we discover that Professor Churchill believes that people have no right to hold Columbus Day parades because they offend his opinions:
        Fellow protester and CU-Boulder professor Ward Churchill told the gathering that the First Amendment doesn't protect hate speech, citing a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows states to ban cross burnings. But burning a cross with the intent to intimidate or instill fear is a far cry from Italian-Americans marching and dancing the tarantella to honor an explorer they consider a hero.

        We don't allow someone free speech as some kind of reward, as something to make him happy. We allow it because we think it's good for the rest of us to hear diverse views. Those views include the view that America should be destroyed, that conservative views should be punished by imprisonment, that homosexual marriage should be legal, and so forth.

        But enough for now. I hope someone picks up on this. I wouldn't have gone on at such length except that Churchill's situation is being neglected by bloggers.

        Permalink: 10:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

        January 24, 2005

        FERPA; Silly Education Records Privacy Rules

        I gave a lecture today on how regulations are made and interpreted. Half the lecture was structured around the example of FERPA, the federal law regulating what teachers can publicly disclose about their students. The big theme was that there is a long journey between the law passed by the legislature and the internal rules imposed by an organization like a corporation or a university which is a little like the game "telephone" except with a bias towards silly caution.

        In this case, the end result is an Indiana University regulation saying explicitly that a professor cannot say in a recommendation letter that the student got an "A" in his class, because that would be unauthorized disclosure of grades to a third party. You'd don't believe it? Take a look at "Main Points for Faculty to Remember" (main points-- the picky ones are somewhere else)

        "I'm often asked to write letters of recommendation for students for awards, graduate school, or job applications. How does FERPA apply this case?

        Statements bas

        ed on your personal assessments and observations of the student are not derived from "education records" covered by FERPA. However, you must obtain the student's written consent if our letter includes such information as the student's overall GPA, or grades in specific courses....

        ... It gets worse. A January 10 memo to the entire IU faculty tells us to be sure not to disclose to anyone even that a particular student is enrolled in a particular class (as well as use shredders if possible-- not, I think, a wise use of money at a university where faculty must empty their own office garbage cans because we can't afford enough janitors). This implies that without written student consent, I am not allowed even to say that a student took my class-- unless I can say that (or his grades) are from "personal assessments".

        An example of stupid federal law, or stupid regulators, or stupid federal judges run amok? No. I don't like the federal law, but it doesn't look so unreasonable. Neither do the federal regulations, though the less official "opinion letters" issued by the Dept. of Education are an order of magnitude sillier. The only Supreme Court case I found is positively sensible; the Court unanimously rules that an appellate court was wrong to say that "peer grading", in which one student grades the paper of another, violates FERPA, and Justice Kennedy's opinion even makes fun of the appellate court, between the lines.

        No, the problem is Indiana University's interpretation of the federal law, an ultra-cautious one that sacrifices learning to the gods of the plaintiffs' bar.

        References: Here is the Buckley Amendment, or FERPA, from the United States Code. Falvo v. Owasso 534 US 426 (2002) is perhaps the leading Supreme Court case interpreting it, a case in which the U.S. Solicitor General supported less regulation. The Dept. of Education has made regulations, of which the definitions are key, and issued opinion letters saying no grades allowed on postcards and no use of the last 4 digits of SS number for posting grades. Also, I've linked the Dept. of Education FERPA site and Indiana University's "Main Points for Faculty to Remember". My own hmtl overheads are here.

        Permalink: 08:17 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

        January 23, 2005

        The Liberal Consensus in Universities

        There is a revealing quote from an article in New York magazine about Columbia University's Middle East Studies Department (MEALAC):
        "The university should have looked at MEALAC five or ten years ago," says Richard Bulliet, a historian and colleague of Khalidi’s. "It’s become locked into a postmodernist, postcolonialist point of view, one that wasn’t necessarily well adapted to giving students instruction about the Middle East." He adds that politicizing a curriculum, or what some call "advocacy teaching," isn’t always a bad thing. "We’ve had advocacy in the classroom for a long time," he says. "But in the areas where it’s most visible, like black studies and women’s studies, the point of view tends to coincide with the outlook of the Columbia community--no one feels you have to give the slaveholder’s or male-chauvinist pig’s point of view." He pauses for emphasis. "But here," he concludes, "we have an area where no consensus exists. And that’s the problem."
        What is revealing is that he takes it for granted that there is consensus about the positions advocated in black studies and women's studies. Maybe in universities, but not in America!

        Permalink: 02:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

        January 18, 2005

        The Scandal of Test-Taking Privileges Under the ADA

        Gail Heriot tells an interesting story about the Americans with Disabilities Act at The Right Coast. This Act, as interpreted by universities, is a limitation on academic freedom and an opportunity for corruption that favors the rich. Students who can show that a psychologist has diagnosed them with a mental problem can get 50% extra time on tests. The result is what you'd expect. As Heriot describes, though, we professors don't have to dirty our hands too much. The University will administer the test for us.
        While I am sympathetic to many of the aims of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I’ve never been a fan of the ADA itself. But I’ll save my litany of complaints for another day. Right now my problem is not with the Act but with its implementation. On some college campuses, ADA accommodations for the learning disabled are administered by people who have never taken a similar exam and are unaware of what the professor is attempting to accomplish in giving the exam. And they don't ask. ...

        How can the ADA commissar know whether the student should be given 50% more time than other students or 100% more time if he's never looked at the particular exam? One size doesn't fit all. Some exams require the student to do a lot of reading and a little writing. Others require a little reading and a lot of writing. If a particular student has a reading problem that makes him read half as quickly as the rest of the students, he would need only 5% more time on one test and 75% more time on another in order to "erase" his disadvantage.

        ...A few years ago, one of my colleagues commented to me that she had heard that at some colleges as many as one third of students are receiving ADA-mandated accommodations on exams. At the time, neither of us had any reason to believe that this was true at USD (and I still don’t), but I had noticed that each semester one or two of the essays seemed much longer than anyone could humanly write in the time period I had allotted, and I wondered whether the total number of accommodations could be much higher. I therefore asked at the records office how I could find out how many of my students were receiving accommodations and what kind. The word came back to me in precisely these terms: "It’s none of your business."

        It was an odd response, since it seems to me that it is precisely my business. I’m a law professor. Among the many things that I do, I draft and grade exams that test law students on what they have learned and how well they can apply it. It's my job t make sure those exams are the best they can be.

        Part of what I test for is the ability to spot legal issues quickly. ... But if a large fraction of the class is getting extra time it certainly does, the results of such an exam are apt to be quite random. Before that point, it’s probably better to beat a retreat and devise an exam that doesn’t test for speedy analysis, even though something is lost with such a change. The problem is that if "[i]t’s none of my business," I don’t know about it, and I cannot adjust the exam accordingly.

        Why am I bringing this up now? While grading exams this past week, I ran across an essay in which a student had written considerably more than any other student. But this time I didn’t have to wonder whether the student had gotten extra time. The student had carefully written on the exam the amount of time that had been allocated--50% more than the rest of the class.

        Obviously, the amount of time given this student was too high. ...

        There's actually an easy way to decide whether the ADA special provision for the student is legitimate or not: Ask whether it would benefit a student who wasn't disabled.

        For example, suppose the special treatment is to allow the student to have a special desk that would fit his wheelchair. Would normal students benefit from that desk? No. We could even say that any student who asks for one can get one. The effect of the ADA would then just be to say that the professor *must* provide one to a disabled student.

        Professors, of course, do this kind of thing even without a federal law. It is common to allow a foreign student to use a dictionary in tests. The professor wants to test economics knowledge, for example, and making the grade depend on English ability as well would make the test less informative. Using my rule, this is an ok accommodation because the professor could allow all of the students to use dictionaries, if they wanted to.

        How about allowing 50% extra time? Well, that is bad, according to my rule. All the students would like to have that special treatment, because a normal student can benefit from it too. There is an opportunity for fraud, and, of course, the very fact that all students would benefit shows that ability to work under time pressure is something that the teacher is testing.

        Permalink: 03:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

        December 18, 2004

        Classroom Bias at Yale: The Yale Free Press Survey

        When I was at Yale from 1976 to 1980, I don't remember the kind of unseemly classroom bias reported by the The Yale Free Press, of which these quotes are sample:

        "My teacher came into class the day after the election proclaiming, ‘That’s it. This is the death of America.’ The rest of the class was eager to agree, and twenty minutes of Bush-bashing ensued. At one point, one student asked our teacher whether she should be so vocal, lest any students be conservatives. She then asked us whether any of us were Republicans. Naturally, no one volunteered that information, whereupon our teacher turned to the inquisitive student and said, ‘See? No one in here would be stupid enough to vote for Bush.’ "

        "Last year, my Spanish teacher only presented readings against Bush’s trade policy in Latin America. My Economics professor this year mocked Bush. My Spanish teacher also actively silenced people who disagreed with her. I could list many more occasions, but I have to run to class."

        "In my German class, the teacher was expressing her political views and said, ‘They [people who vote for Bush] are sheep! They’re blind sheep!’ When someone protested her comment, she said in front of the class, ‘How could you vote for him?! He’s so scary!’ The following assignments were translating German articles that bashed G.W. I’ve had other experiences in my chem class as well."

        I could well believe that political correctness has gotten much worse over the past 25 years. One part of it may be the increased use of non-tenure-track faculty. I can imagine this kind of behavior much more from my foreign language teachers-- often part-timers hired and fired casually-- than from professors.

        Classroom bias must be looked at carefully. These examples seem to be ones in which it is unrelated to what is being taught. What is less of a problem, even if the bias is as extreme, is when the bias is integral to what is taught. We want to have faculty teaching subjects on which they are experts, and they will have opinions on the right and wrong way to think about those subjects, and even about policy conclusions. Thus, I don't mind the Marxist teaching sociology as much as the Marxist who lets his politics come into his engineering class.

        Permalink: 02:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

        October 24, 2004

        Discrimination Against White Male Professors in Arizona

        It's hardly a secret that in America racial and sexual discrimination is practiced on a massive scale, more overtly (in the North if not the South) than ever in history. But a federal court ruled in July 2004 that Northern Arizona University discriminated against white male professors....

        Northern Arizona University violated the civil rights of 40 white male faculty members by giving raises to female and minority professors and not to them, a federal judge in Phoenix ruled last week.

        The male faculty members had sued the university and the Arizona Board of Regents in 1995, claiming violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of race or sex. They contended that they had been treated unfairly because members of minority groups at the university had received one-time pay increases that averaged $3,000, and women had received increases averaging $2,400, while the white men had received no raises.

        In January 2003, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had found that a 1993 pay-equity plan developed by the universitys former president, Eugene Hughes, had not unnecessarily hampered the rights of professors who did not receive raises. But the judges concluded that a jury should decide whether the raises were higher than necessary to make up for past inequities.

        The plaintiffs, on advice from their lawyer, Jess A. Lorona, chose to have a fact-finder review and rule on the matter instead of a jury.

        The fact-finder, Senior Judge Robert C. Broomfield of the U.S. District Court in Phoenix, ruled that in awarding the raises, Northern Arizona had failed "to attain a balance" and "went beyond attaining a balance." He noted that university data showed that when experience, rank, discipline, and tenure status were taken into account, male professors at the time made only $750 more per year than females, on average, and white professors only $87 more than members of minority groups. Judge Broomfield also noted that in determining raises, Mr. Hughes had failed to consider doctoral status and performance.


        A. Dean Pickett, general counsel for the university, said that in 1994, after Mr. Hughes left the university, a new set of raises, totaling about $700,000, was given to white male professors and female professors. Those raises, he said, made up for any discrepancies. He also noted that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined in 1995 that those raises constituted "full relief" for the alleged discriminatory practice.

        The two sides will return to court on July 26 to set a date for a trial that will determine potential damages.

        I wonder who could sue universities about the practice of going into the hiring process having decided only to hire women?

        Permalink: 09:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

        September 17, 2004

        College Admissions; Hormesis-- A Little Poison Strengthens You

        At the Law and Econ Lunch yesterday, we were discussing how hard it is to get data. I'd asked if anybody knew of evidence as to how whether if two college applicants appeared with identical high school records, we would expect the student from a poor family to do better in college than the one from a rich family. Admissions offices have the data to find this out, but they are secretive. Have they done the studies themselves? We speculated as to whether they had the expertise. Professor Stake is an expert on these things, having done more than anyone to figure out how US News rankings of law schools works and having authored "The Ranking Game" website. He thought it quite possible the studies hadn't been done, and knows from experience that it is hard for even quasi-insiders (e.g., the chairman of a faculty admissions committee) to get the data.

        At any rate, Dr. Stephen Peck, a first-timer who is visiting SPEA for the year, brought up his difficulties in getting health data from the nuclear power industry. He'd wanted to study cancer incidence at low levels of radiation, but couldn't get the data. That made me think about hormesis-- the idea that often low levels of poison seem to increase health rather than reduce it. He would have had a good test of it, and, indeed, some studies conclude that low levels of radiation reduce cancer rates. Whether the studies are right is a different matter-- one oughtn't to trust that kind of study without seeing what they actually did, since epidemiological estimates, even ones published in reputable journals, are often quite worthless because they so often omit relevant variables....

        So I googled "hormesis", mainly for future reference. "An Introduction to Radiation Hormesis", by S. M. Javad Mortazavi is poorly written but has good content:

        It is a general belief that low doses of ionizing radiation produce detrimental effects proportional to the effects produced by high-level radiation. Over the past decades, however, some pioneer scientists reported that low-dose ionizing radiation is not only a harmless agent but often has a beneficial or hormetic effect. That is, low-level ionizing radiation may be an essential trace energy for life, analogous to essential trace elements. It has been even suggested that about one third of all cancer deaths are preventable by increasing our low dose radiation.


        In the early 1940s C. Southam and his coworker J. Erlish found that despite the fact that high concentrations of Oak bark extract inhibited fungi growth, low doses of this agent stimulated fungi growth. They modified Starling's word "hormone to "hormesis" to describe stimulation induced by low doses of agents which are harmful or even lethal at high doses. They published their findings regarding the new term "hormesis" in 1943 (Bruce M. 1987).


        In 1927 Herman J. Muller,a Nobel Prize winner, found that X-rays are mutagen and there is a linear relationship between mutation rate and dose.

        According to UNSCEAR report (1994), among A-bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki who received doses lower than 200 mSv, there was no increase in the number of total cancer death. Mortality caused by leukemia was even lower in this population at doses below 100 mSv than age-matched control cohorts.


        Although still we do not know the entire mechanisms of radiation hormesis, the following theories may explain this process:

        1- D...NA repair (Mollecular level)
        According to this theory, low doses of ionizing radiation induce the production of special proteins, that are involved in DNA repair processes (Ikushima 1996). ...

        2- Free radical detoxification (Molecular level)
        In 1987 Feinendengen and his co-workers indicated that low doses of ionizing radiation cause a temporary inhibition in DNA synthesis (the maximum inhibitionat 5 hours after irradiation). This temporary inhibition of DNA synthesis would provide a longer time for irradiated cells to recover (Feinendengen et al. 1987). This inhibition also may induce the production of free radical scavengers, so irradiated cells would be more resistant to any further exposures.

        3- Stimulation of immune system (Cellular level)
        Despite the fact that high doses of ionizing radiation are immunosupressive, many studies have indicated that low doses radiation may stimulate the function of the immune system. In 1909 Russ first showed that mice treated with low-level radiation were more resistant against bacterial disease (Russ VK 1909).

        Another article is "Nietzsche's Toxicology: Whatever doesn't kill you might make you stronger" (Scientific American, 2003)

        This idea may sound bizarre, but such adaptation to stress is common, says physiologist Suresh Rattan of rhus University in Denmark. Exercise, for instance, plays biochemical havoc with the body : starving some cells of oxygen and glucose, flooding others with oxidants, and depressing immune functions. "At first glance, there is nothing good for the body about exercise," he notes.


        The definitive rat study that linked high doses of dioxin to cancer, published in 1978 by Richard Kociba of Dow Chemical and his colleagues, also found that low doses reduced the incidence of tumors.

        Finally, see "Radiation Hormesis"

        Permalink: 04:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

        September 14, 2004

        The Ogletree Plagiarism at Harvard Law

        Via Volokh, The Weekly Standard tells us that Prof. Charles Ogletree of
        Harvard Law doesn't even read what's published under his own name, assembled by
        research assistants.

        Despite his very limited scholarly credentials, Charles Ogletree was granted
        tenure at Harvard Law School in 1993 as an expert in race relations during the
        peak of the agitation--sit-ins, marches, accusations of racism--to diversify the
        school's faculty. Rumors swirled about the writing, editing, and placement of
        his tenure-winning essay in the Harvard Law Review, but, by any measure,
        Ogletree was hired precisely because race cases like Brown v. Board of Education
        were his specialty. He's not supposed to need other sources. He's a Harvard law
        professor; other sources are supposed to need him.

        AN ANONYMOUS NOTE, sent to Yale's Balkin and Ogletree's dean at Harvard shortly
        after All Deliberate Speed was published in April, prompted an investigation,
        which the dean assigned to former Harvard president Derek Bok and former dean
        Robert Clark. The only result so far is Ogletree's public explanation on the
        Harvard website. In the end, Bok told the Boston Globe, the investigators
        decided that though there was "a serious scholarly transgression," they found
        "no deliberate wrongdoing at all." Ogletree merely "marshaled his assistants and
        parceled out the work," Bok explained, "and in the process some quotation marks
        got lost."

        It looks like affirmative action strikes again, in this case aided perhaps by the bad influence of judges who rely on clerks. Or maybe Ogletree has spent time in government, where one of the rules for top bureaucrats is "Never write anything you sign and never sign anything you write." Academia is not like that, so Harvard should bounce him down to Washington.

        Of course, the Democrats now seem to advanced the maxim a bit. "Never write anything you sign, never sign anything you write, and if it's incriminating, sign it using the name of a dead National Guard officer."

        Permalink: 08:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

        September 08, 2004

        Should Poverty Be a Plus in College Admissions?

        Should Poverty Be a Plus in College Admissions? I'm thinking about writing an op-ed on that subject, and would be interested in anybody's response.

        More precisely: If a college has two applicants with identical test scores, extracurriculars, and so forth, but one boy's family earns $30,000/year and the other's earns $300,000, should it choose the poor boy or the rich boy, or be indifferent? If it should choose the poor boy, why-- and should this consideration make much difference (that is, if the poor boy's SAT is the 80'th percentile, below the college's average, while the rich boy's is 90th percentile, average, should the poor boy still be admitted?)

        Permalink: 03:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

        August 23, 2004

        Public Posting of Grades; Buckley Act, Cambridge, Accountants

        I've long thought that it's foolish to keep university grades secret with the hypersecurity of the Buckley Act. Why not post student names and grades, so the students can find them out easily? (especially before email made this less important) Why should a slacker be entitled to keep his D a secret? Why shouldn't the top student get public recognition? Isn't it good for students and professors to be able to find out that a particular professor gives all A's?

        England is more sensible, as this BBC report explains:

        For 300 years students at Cambridge University have learned their exam results from public notice boards.


        Until recently, the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICA) published all interim and final results in a Saturday edition of the Times newspaper.

        This led to many anxious students cutting short their Friday evening fun to seek out an early edition of the paper at a late-opening corner shop. Saturday's hangover was either tinged with relief or despair.

        The institute still publishes its results in the Times, but now also offers text message and e-mail.

        Permalink: 10:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

        July 09, 2004

        Student Evaluations and Grade Inflation

        From a Management study of professors that I saw recently:

        75% of our faculty is recognized by teaching awards. This is very positive. It says we have a great many excellent teaching faculty. It also says we are not stingy in our reward system.

        This reminds me of a self-congratulatory remark I heard at a recent faculty meeting, in which someone said that our business school had made great progress because the student evaluations of professors had increased so much. Nobody else commented, so I interjected that our students had done even better--- their grades had increased remarkably over the past 20 years, and it was just wonderful that they were so much smarter than earlier generations of college students.

        Permalink: 11:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack