Sweet Briar College Is Closing

by SWVA Mom

This article touches on some typical Totebag topics: STEM vs. liberal arts, rural vs. urban, having a variety of choices to find the right college fit, and the soaring cost of higher education.

Shocking Decision at Sweet Briar

This story caught my eye because I worked on a design & construction project at Sweet Briar many years ago. The campus is so beautiful – I hope someone will find a new purpose for the property. Another small, historically women’s college in Virginia was purchased by the Mormon Church several years ago and seems to be thriving, and a well-known Evangelical Christian university in Virginia has been growing both its online presence (recently hit 100,000 enrollment) and its campus ($400 million construction program), so maybe a church will step in and make a go of it.

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305 thoughts on “Sweet Briar College Is Closing

  1. I wonder what the faculty deference will be. The job market for positions beginning in August is pretty much over now. I’m surprised they aren’t announcing now that spring 2016 will be the last term.

  2. The campus is so beautiful – I hope someone will find a new purpose for the property.

    Assisted living.

  3. I agree w/Saac – think that they should have announced Spring 2016 being the last term. They have enough of an endowment to do so and that is tough for faculty, staff and students. What a mess that is going to be dissolving the endowment. I would guess they return portions of it to the original donors but I really have no idea how that would work. My alma mater is in a rural location but seems to be doing well. I loved it and the social life was definitely centered around campus, but we were also relatively close to Baltimore and D.C.

  4. I feel so awful for the students. Now they have to transfer with little notice, even rising seniors. How could they go from running a normal admissions cycle this fall to announcing that they’re already in the final semester the school will operate this spring?! Finances and the higher education landscape don’t change THAT fast. I know much less about the inner workings of higher ed than some of you, but this just seems like a poorly executed wind-down.

  5. There was an article in the Atlantic the other day about repurposing malls that was interesting. In a lot of the cases, it seemed as though either universities or city hall type enterprises were redeveloping them. Private school maybe?

  6. Sweet Briar is still advertising for fall 2016. DD got some admission brochure stuff from them last week. Which, as it happens is the only way I knew what sweet briar was or even that it existed

  7. Atlanta – if there were restrictions on the gifts, they may have to return them. If they go through a dissolution, a cy pres petition will probably be needed to transfer the unrestricted funds over to another similar college.

  8. but this just seems like a poorly executed wind-down.

    I agree. The most elegant option would be to not admit any new freshman and then close down 4 years later after the last seniors graduated. But, operationally maybe that would be difficult as the overhead during year 4 would be astronomical as so much would still have to kept running but you’d only have 1/4 the students?

  9. Several VA colleges are extending their transfer deadlines for Sweet Briar students, but I still can’t imagine having to make that decision so quickly. And S&M is right on about faculty – there’s a definite hiring schedule in higher ed, and I know the campus interviews just wrapped up here in the last couple weeks.

    I sent this article in when the news first broke, but I’ve seen a lot of reactions to it in the week since then. As someone who considered a women’s college, I’m concerned about the loss of that option. Did anyone here go to to an all-male or all-female school? Sweet Briar had a history as something of a “finishing school” – do other women’s colleges have an advantage with more rigorous academics that will help them remain relevant?

  10. Not admitting freshman, encouraging sophomore transfers, and speeding up the degree program for students who would be juniors and seniors in fall 2015 is another option. Most degree programs are planned on only fall/spring semesters. By turning summer into another semester, they could potentially graduate the 2016 and 2017 classes at the same time or one class in May and the other in August. Some similar acceleration was done at some schools during WW2. My mom’s program was affected by this. The amount of financial aid for juniors might need to grow, as those who needed to work in the summer would not have that option. However, if you are winding down, what’s wrong with spending the money on your last class of students?

  11. Murphy-that is interesting about your DD receiving info from Sweet Briar. That is about the only private school in VA that my DD has not gotten unsolicited information from.

    Virginia has an abundance of single sex schools. My guess is that there are just too many in this area of the country for only a small group of students who want to be educated at a single sex school. Some of schools that used to be single sex now admit both men and women. Washington and Lee used to be all male until the mid 80s. W&L realized that if they wanted to survive they needed to increase their applicant pool; now it is a thriving school with a good repuation. Same with Randolph Macon Women’s college (now just Randolph college) that started accepting men less than a decade ago. Not sure how it is going for them. As a state school, VMI was forced by the courts to accept women.

  12. I will be surprised if more colleges do not make this decision in the next few years. Tuition rates are unsustainable for many colleges, which are having trouble filling their classes.

  13. I went to a women’s college. It was a very good option for me. There was an interesting mix of students who had been in a single-sex environment for their entire education, and women who went there because it was the most liberal/radical option. I would imagine that the proportion of the former has decreased over time.

    As these colleges like to quote, there are statistics that show graduates are much more likely to get doctorates, start companies, run for president, etc. There is likely a large component of selection bias there — the kind of person that goes to a single-sex institution is different at baseline than someone choosing a co-ed institution. However, it does make for a rich college environment.

  14. I read the article at the Chronicle, which is unfortunately behind their payroll, about a week ago. Their article is extensive, and the comments, some of which were from Sweet Briar alums and faculty, were illuminating. Basically, this is a finishing school more than a college. Students can board their horses, and they are famous for their equestrian team. Unfortunately, as one commenter put it, most young women who choose single sex schools are looking for something more strongly feminist in character. Sweet Briar is simply out of step for its time.

    In many ways,this reminds me of what happened to Antioch College, another very niche school (though I just saw that they managed to reopen in 2011 after 3 years of being closed).

  15. So I quickly looked at Sweet Briar’s Form 990. For the most recent year, 2013, their deficit was approx. $3M on total revenue of $41M. Probably about $50M all-in accessible cash & investments, net of debt outstanding. It’d be a squeaker, but yeah, they most likely could have held on financially until commencement 2016 so as to provide easier exits/landings for their students, faculty and staff.
    But, I would expect the current 1st and 2nd years to bolt as soon as possible + maybe some current juniors, dragging down revenue, and as the next 14 months pass those faculty and staff with offers to work someplace else would be jumping ship, barring incentive clauses to stay around and turn off the lights at the end. Clearly, there’s not going to be any pension money, if that were the case anyway, unless that has been separately funded and unavailable to creditors or for use running current operations.
    So that last semester, Spring 2016, there would have been ~100-150 students trying to wrap things up (if I were a current junior with any possibility of graduating in Fall 2015, I would be doing that if the school were still open), faculty, now on the correct hiring timeline for Fall 2016, trying to get another job, and staff probably decimated, mostly temps now.
    Bottom line, better to cut the cord, at their board decided to do.

  16. They had a fair amount of money but evidently a lot of it had restrictions on how it could be spent.

  17. I also remember when Upsala College closed. They had the coolest college radio station ever. When they closed, it was another period when everyone thought higher education was going into demise. The early to mid 90’s were a dreadful time to be in higher ed – I remember since I was doing that! But none of the dire predictions of the era came to pass.
    http://www.nytimes.com/1996/01/07/nyregion/on-campus-sold-piece-by-piece-upsala-college-vanishes.html

  18. Off topic: to all of you who said the next crash they are putting money into the market. Well, there is a crash, in the oil services industry.

    Transocean (symbol:RIG) closed at 46 on Jun 23, 2014. Today it’s at $14.26 with a 21% dividend yield.

  19. Fred, I agree with most of you scenarios except for faculty jumping ship because they got a job offer. Faculty jobs start in summer, usually towards the end of summer, and are negotiated up to one year in advance. There are occasionally openings in January, but only rarely and very few.
    For other workers on campus, I think you’re right–a cook or custodial worker doesn’t have to move to start a new job, and would likely start searching asap.

  20. Did they look into naming rights? “The Verizon College at Sweetbriar” has a nice ring to it.

  21. Generally faculty searches are run in the late fall. CVs come during Dec/Jan. Interviews happen in the early spring (we are interviewing a candidate tomorrow in fact).
    However, 1 year appointments are usually just cropping up now. Most likely that is what the facultry at Sweet Briar will have to do. Some of them actually bought houses from the school to live on campus (yes, it is the kind of school where faculty are encouraged to live “among the students”). They are totally out of luck.

    For the other workers, the big issue is that it is a rural area, without a lot of jobs. Sweet Briar was evidently a major employer in that area.

  22. Milo, when I taught at the R1, we moved into a fancy new building my second year. Get this – the school had actually sold off naming rights to each of the offices. So you could be placed in the Merck office or the Shoprite office or the Hazel and Ira Leibman office (names strictly made up, but similar to what they really were). We all laughed about it.

  23. “the school had actually sold off naming rights to each of the offices.”

    That’s awesome.

    I was thinking that with the stables and the equestrian center you mentioned, all they would need to do is send their brochures out to the elementary school set. Let those girls convince some of their parents to start paying tuition credits early at a discount, and lock in their enrollment.

  24. Milo, another women’s college that closed actually did that. I think they were called St Mary’s, and they are now a prep school.

  25. I don’t really see the selling off of the offices naming rights to corporations as all that different from what most colleges do – which is essentially selling off the naming rights of the buildings to big donors. Most college buildings are named after a big donor, no?

  26. I mean the actual individual offices INSIDE the building. There was a little plaque next to each office door.

  27. There you go. And that takes care of the faculty, too. Just say “Oh, by the way, Dr. Benson-Clark, next year instead of teaching your usual sections of Modern British Lit, you’ll have 6th Grade Language Arts.”

  28. The big fancy building of course had a name too, some company that gave megabucks. And the first floor was a manufacturing engineering center, complete with little robots, which also had a coporate name attached.

  29. MM – I have never seen faculty offices being named – hilarious. I wonder how much that went for? I’ve seen conference rooms, classrooms, library rooms, etc, but never individual offices. I suppose if companies are willing to do it, why not?

  30. This is going to be very challenging from an economic impact to the town and the surrounding communities. I feel terrible for the faculty and all of the support staff. The school provided 350 direct jobs, but many other jobs in nearby towns are very dependent on the money that flows from the students and faculty to restaurants, shops, even public utilities.

  31. Rhett – bricks are typically named by annual fund type donors. I would think an office would have to be at least $25K.

  32. Although, if Darlene Shiley only gave $1million to sponsor Downton Abbey maybe they some of these sponsorships are cheaper than you’d think.

  33. I mentioned that I see family names on buildings all the time here. It is very visible and to tie in to our last discussion if you want to give away your money to some charitable purpose you can do that and still have your family name in the “lights” or maybe your descendants will silently curse you as they see “their” money when they pass the building :-).

  34. Oh, OK, that’s kind of funny, Mooshi. I wonder how they even sell the companies on that. What is the ROI on spending marketing dollars on an office inside an academic building? It’s not quite naming an NFL stadium, is it?

  35. Louise – A comical and colorful billionaire alumnus of my school (and 1992 Independent Presidential candidate) has given them tons of money, including the funds to build a gleaming visitors center, but he had it named for his roomate who was killed in Vietnam.

  36. Update from yesterday – 1700 employees laid off today, but DH remains. A day of mixed emotions and survivors guilt. It brings back memories of my own layoff 12 years ago. At least it is 60 degrees and sunny!

  37. but what’s the ROI?

    Presumably it comes with a sticky note attached to your child’s application at some future date? Might be better to just give them the $25k vs. spending years getting up an the ass crack of dawn for swimming or hockey or some such.

  38. but he had it named for his roomate who was killed in Vietnam.

    That’s classy. There was a show about the Concorde and the chief test pilot was about to take it above mach 1 for the first time. But, he said to his co-pilot, “Oh no, you can do the honors.” I was thinking, “Wow, that’s ever cooler than doing it yourself.”

  39. His intentions are to, or at least ramp up the networking. He’s curious to see how the re-org meetings shake out. There is speculation they’ll still cut once the dust of this one settles.

  40. Our HS has a very old sign outside to make announcements about meetings, plays, sports etc. The staff has to change the large block plastic letters to make announcements about plays, meetings, etc. They want a new electronic sign because the locks freeze in the winter and they can’t open it for a couple of months. An electronic sign is at least $10K, and the education foundation and the PTA said no to the request. They actually have local sponsors that would pay for the sign, but NY state does not allow the schools to have any type of advertising on school property or the buses.

  41. Lauren, our school had a road race to pay for a new scoreboard for one of the fields, and we have had fundraisers for other things like that. Could your school do that?

  42. @Lauren – our kids school got a new electronic sign in memory of someone who was connected to the school. He thought it was a neat thing for the school to have. His family donated the sign in his memory. There is no name on it but an announcement was made.
    Quite often when my kids are at an activity I have lots of time to gaze at the “Smith Family Sports Complex” signs or walk up pathways with donor bricks.

  43. yes, they will need a separate fundraiser. They are concerned about competing with the other four groups that raise funds for the schools; one is for the sports teams, a second for stuff that helps the community and other charities in the county, the PTA, and the school foundation. They should have just put the cost of the sign in a recent bond that was recently approved for all of the other capital improvements to the schools.

  44. Milo – He is a perfect example of a rags to riches story. I admire him greatly (I also used to work for his company!).

  45. When I was in HS a family donated money to redo the baseball fields(including infield grass). I think their children had already graduated, and the family was just so fed up with flooded fields that once they had the means, they wanted to take care of the problem. Their name was not even on the fields.

  46. Lauren, our district has had trouble getting bonds past the voters in our town, so they are very careful what they put into those bond initiatives. That is why the scoreboard hadn’t made it in.

  47. “Might be better to just give them the $25k vs. spending years getting up an the ass crack of dawn for swimming or hockey or some such.”

    LOL

    “Can the folks filming House of Cards turn the f-ing lights on?”

    I had to change the TV settings in the bedroom to “Sports” or “Performance” or something just to try to see it. And I have to sit up in bed to optimize the angle.

    “He is a perfect example of a rags to riches story. I admire him greatly (I also used to work for his company!).”

    To hear him give a speech in person, with his perfect delivery of classic one-liners and Texarkana accent is a real treat. “This was a guy I wouldn’t count on to lead a two-car funeral!” “He was so slow, he’d get in a race with a pregnant woman and come in third.”

    And I think I’ve mentioned that I’ve been to his Bermuda estate for the day. It’s a whole ‘nother level when you’re being hosted by a billionaire and there’s a small staff standing by to get you set up on whatever Waverunner or speed boat you want to take out.

  48. I wonder if that relates to the Bologna Process. There is a lot of angst in Germany over that, because they are having to significantly change a pretty successful higher education system to conform.

  49. Lemon, glad you get some temporary relief from the stress at least! I know how weird it can be to be one of the spared, though–sending good thoughts to both of you.

  50. Anon –

    “Perot was born in Texarkana, Texas, to Lula May Perot (née Ray) and Gabriel Ross Perot, a commodity broker specializing in cotton contracts. … He attended a private school called Patty Hill.”

    I don’t know if that really counts as “rags” :)

  51. Probably boring meetings, but big impact. Basically, the countries that have signed on are agreeing to standardize their university systems. For Germany, that is a tough process because in their traditional system, there really weren’t any bachelor’s degrees. Their degree was the equivalent of our masters degree. But now they have to create 3 year bachelors programs. I don’t know if this has the same impact in the Netherlands but it could be feeding into the sense that students and faculty are losing control of their universities, which was the point of the article

  52. The idea was to make it easier for students to transfer between universities in different countries.

  53. Milo – I was the anon – didn’t check to see if my name was there! I did not know about the private school, etc. I only had heard about paper routes, etc. as a boy and being a fantastic salesman at IBM. I only saw him speak via TV, when they would set one up in the office for us to listen – and boy, he was inspiring! Once you got past that Texarkana twang, he really made you want to work hard and do a good job.

    My sister was in college with some (or perhaps all) of his kids. When I told her I was having an interview, she said something like “oh, that’s Nancy Perot’s father’s company. If you get trapped in Iran he will come and save you.” That was my first introduction to him!

  54. My MBA class was the first in a brand new business school – we joked that they should have sold the naming rights to the bathroom stalls, they had sold naming rights to everything else.

  55. should have sold the naming rights to the bathroom stalls

    I would totally donate to that! Put a little bronze plaque on the door.

  56. “I would totally donate to that! Put a little bronze plaque on the door.”

    Put it on the inside, and that’s where people will stare at it the longest.

    “Once you got past that Texarkana twang”

    Get past??? That’s the best part. It’s every bit as essential to his delivery as Chris Rock’s mannerisms and inflections.

  57. Interesting article. Sounds like a global problem. How are universities in Europe funded? I recall in Ireland there were the public universities that were free or cheap if you were smart enough. And then privates that charged tuition for those that couldn’t get into, say Trinity. Is that still the case? And in Europe is the college degree being required for more and more jobs like it is here?

  58. Put it on the inside, and that’s where people will stare at it the longest.

    Maybe include a small yet tasteful portrait of yourself on the can looking back at them?

  59. “in Ireland there were the public universities that were free or cheap if you were smart enough. And then privates that charged tuition for those that couldn’t get into, say Trinity.”

    I’ve heard it’s similar to this in Japan, where the very top schools are public schools, extremely competitive for admission, but inexpensive for those who got in.

  60. It is true in Europe and Asia – private schools are for those who can’t get into the “real schools”

  61. Milo – I know what you mean, but it was hard to listen to him talk about software technology and customer service with his accent – but then I got used to it. I’m sure that “aw shucks” worked very well with his customers.

  62. And for wealthy Chinese, our private universities serve the same function! :-)

  63. “Virginia has an abundance of single sex schools. My guess is that there are just too many in this area of the country for only a small group of students who want to be educated at a single sex school. Some of schools that used to be single sex now admit both men and women.”

    The same thing is happening here with private schools in the K-12 grades. One recently closed, and other historically single-sex school have gone coed.

    Another issue for single-sex schools is the increasing acceptance of the concept that sex/gender is not binary.

  64. Total aside, but RMS, I hadn’t yet seen the news about the next Palo Alto suicide. I don’t have any idea why these things come in waves, but it’s so sad. (Responding to yesterday, so I guess not a total aside.)

  65. Universities in Europe are funded by the state. Students pay little tuition in general. There are problems, but they vary among countries. In the 90’s, I spent time at universities and technical institues in Germany, France and Switzerland. I was struck by how well funded the German university and Swiss technical institute seemed, and how utterly run down and sad the French university was. The university I spent a summer at in Germany seemed even more glitzy than an American R1, although as with many European universities, students did not live on campus. But that university in France – sad, sad, sad.

  66. “I’m sure that “aw shucks” worked very well with his customers.”

    Yeah, it’s really remarkable. I don’t know that I’ve ever met anyone else who just makes you want to be around him and hear more and more of what he has to say. I’m sure he could sell anything (Insert whatever your favorite quip is, like “He could sell ice to an Eskimo”), so that must have been the reason for his initial success.

  67. Ross Perot??? Granted, I never met him in person, but I had more than my fill of him in that presidential election. I never wanted to be around him and hear more of him. He always sounded like a flimflam man to me.

  68. “The same thing is happening here with private schools in the K-12 grades. One recently closed, and other historically single-sex school have gone coed.”

    Interesting. In several places I’ve lived the most elite schools in town have been single sex, and they still reject the overwhelming majority of applicants. This is new to me as the smallish town I grew up in didn’t have any single sex schools.

  69. I’m not familiar with European universities, but schools like Indian Institute of Technology are so well-known that even I recognize them.

    I’ve long thought that government funding of university educations is very logical, because it opens up opportunities to those with high ability but modest incomes, but I don’t think it would fly in the US, because the opportunities (because they are expensive and there are an approximately known number of limited openings in a profession) are open to only a few people with high aptitude and they usually are both “the more advantaged” and have high innate aptitude. The US strives to be more egalitarian than many other countries, preferring to invest resources to bring up the bottom. (Compare the percentage of education funding we devote to students with disabilities- 20%+- with other countries around the world.)

    It will be interesting to see what happens as the timeframe to a degree is compressed in Germany. Many people who can learn material with more time can’t learn it well quickly. At some level, you have to be able to learn fairly quickly in order to do most professional jobs, but the fastest learners aren’t necessarily the best at their jobs, especially if they have to interact with the full range of ability in the population.

    Like the question of whether family money should stay in the family or go to charity, it’s a question of values.

  70. Rhett, my husband and son share your misery. Reading the comments on the BBC site, none seem to think the show would be watched without Jeremy on there.

  71. I loved the episode I watched last night on Rally Cross.

    Speaking of international colleges – I recently watch House Hunters International in Grenada. The guy was moving there to go to med school. I’m curious what our resident Doc thinks about these island med schools. Are they any good? Or people only go there because they are cheap or they couldn’t get into stateside programs?

  72. WCE, it’s a different degree–a Bachelors–instead of a Masters shoved into a shorter period of time.

  73. I’m not the responder you’re looking for, Lemon, but when I was premed I only heard of Caribbean as a fall-back option if no acceptance letters arrive from US schools. Who knows, maybe things are changing as prices keep rising.

  74. @WCE – IIT was not on the radar for DH because there is considerable Test Prep and cost to get in. Actually I don’t personally know anyone who got into IIT growing up. Engineering programs are hard enough to get into, IITs were a whole other level. I had a tutor who also coached would be engineering students. He would only take on students who scored above a certain level. It was very high pressure and I decided to give it all a pass. Now years later, I know women who have decided not to use their hard earned engineering degree and I think – all that work to what end.

  75. saac, I don’t know if a 3 year engineering program is comparable to a bachelor’s here- my bachelor’s required 134 semester hours, which is more than the guidelines someone posted somewhere. Although the high school in Germany is more rigorous than here, so maybe it is.

  76. @WCE – you worked and continue to use your degree….you do not resemble that remark in the least…
    In the cases I am describing it was used to increase the prestige of daughters in the marriage market.

  77. WCE, there isn’t a high school to be more rigorous. You know that kids in German schools are broken into tracks long before they are high school age. The top track is college prep, and universities are assigned (or not) based on the exam at the end of that track. Adding it all together, Getman kids finish their Abiture (high school end exam) 2 years older than US students are at the end of high school.

  78. Rhett – I’m with you on House of Cards. We can’t even stay awake for a whole episode, it is so dark and sleepy! Maybe they are foreshadowing an energy crisis?

  79. “I know women who have decided not to use their hard earned engineering degree and I think – all that work to what end.”

    I also know women who have decided not to use their hard earned engineering degrees. IME, female with engineering degrees choose not to work as engineers at a much higher rate than males.

    Many of them just seem not to be engineer types, other than being very good at math and science. I think many of them were pushed to engineering, e.g. by HS counselors, because they are good at math and science. By contrast, most male engineers I know, as well as many male wannabes that washed out (typically in calculus or physics), were in engineering because they wanted to be engineers– they were guys who enjoyed tinkering and figuring out how things worked,, how to make things work, or work better.

  80. “Maybe they are foreshadowing an energy crisis?”

    Well we haven’t seen any of that Midwestern billionaire this season.

    My Dad had an interesting comment about him and the show last season–TV has become so dark that it’s no longer enough to show a character’s ruthlessness simply by having him kill someone. At the same time, our society is so obsessed with pets as the equals of humans, if you really want to write someone as evil, just have him snap the neck of a parakeet.

  81. Finn, why do you think women choose not to work as engineers at a higher rate than men? My opinion is how inflexible the job is, in terms of expected travel and availability- my specialist OB office was shocked that I would get laid off rather than have an accommodating schedule after twins- but I am probably biased.

  82. “IME, female with engineering degrees choose not to work as engineers at a much higher rate than males.”

    What about compared to females in other professions? And by “not work as engineers” do you mean not work for pay at all, or work for pay but not as engineers? And if it’s the latter, is it because they’re looking for something that, while most likely is a family’s secondary income, is more accommodating in terms of schedule? And since you always say that male engineers make good husbands, and we know that female engineers are more likely than the average female to marry an engineer, is their decision not to work (or not to work as engineers) a direct effect of a positive, stable marriage? And are engineers more likely than many other professionals to live in parts of the country where a family can be comfortable on a single salary? And since engineers and those who marry engineers, as you often say, are more habituated to things like delayed gratification, does that also correlate with more traditional social and political values and therefore make female engineers less likely to want to work full time or at a all during early years of child rearing?

  83. Many of them just seem not to be engineer types

    Since we are dealing with offensive stereotypes … Maybe it’s because their engineering co-workers are so unpleasant to deal with in an unreformed aspie sort of way? At least that was my experience moving from consulting into development – very interesting work but the people you had to work with were just so unpleasant.

  84. My impression, from talking to a number of female engineers who’ve stopped working as engineers, is that most of them didn’t really enjoy being engineers.

    As I mentioned, many of them were directed toward engineering because they are very good at math and science, not because they wanted to be engineers. By contrast, most male engineers, as well as most males who attempted to major in engineering, really wanted to be engineers. This is also consistent with my observation that there’s a much higher washout rate among male engineering students than females, because a much higher %age of male students aren’t there because they’re good at math and science, so they wash out in calculus and physics at a higher rate.

    The factors Milo mentioned seem to come into play in actually pulling the trigger. Many of the female engineers who told me of their desire to do something other than engineering acted on that desire when they had kids. Some became SAHM, while others moved to other fields. And yes, many of them are married to male engineers.

    OTOH, I’ve not noticed a correlation with more “traditional” social and political values.

    All this is not to say that there aren’t a lot of female engineers who enjoy engineering and wanted to be engineers. Many of the female engineers I knew in college are the daughters of engineers, so they more likely went into engineering knowing what they were getting into.

  85. Not sure which is more astounding, the faculty: student ratio of this statement “Of course, faculty members aren’t the only employees who are taking a hit. Rainville suggested that nearly a third of the college’s hourly workers are descendants of the Fletcher plantation’s original slave community. Some of the staff members have worked at Sweet Briar their entire adult lives.”

  86. Rhett, I don’t think so. Engineers are some of the nicest people you will ever meet.

  87. Rhett, you’re assuming that everyone shares your feelings. I think plenty of people prefer people who just say what needs to be said over those who dance around things with unnecessary ritual.

  88. Milo, I don’t know how long & where your daily commute is, but I just spent 6 hours driving to your neck of the woods when it should have taken 4. The last 45 minutes were just to go 3 blocks! The only thing worse than DC traffic at rush hour is DC traffic in the rain. And was it still rush hour at 7 pm? I thought I would miss that by coming into the city after 5. I’m so tired I ordered room service instead of going out.

  89. I observed the same thing as Finn. My father an engineer, talk to me about the coursework he had. In my case, I would have to go through the gulag of test prep
    to secure a coveted seat in an engineering college. In talking to my Dad, I realized that though I could do the school work to get there, I would be wasting a spot because I was not really interested in the field. Many in my family are engineers but I am not ;-).

  90. WCE, I don’t attribute it to that. There are many different engineering jobs, and some are more flexible than others. I worked with several female engineers who took advantage of job flexibility to stay employed, including some who worked part time. Others moved to jobs that were more compatible with their family responsibilities.

    A very good friend did drop out of the work force for several years while her kids were young, but she enjoyed engineering (and is very good at it), and was back in the workforce when her all her kids were in school.

    One female engineer I worked with, married to another engineer, worked an early day, something like 7 to 4, while her husband worked later, more llike 9 to 6. He got the kids ready in the morning and took them to day care, and she picked them up.

  91. So the point of all this is don’t push your kids, especially daughters, into engineering just because they’re good at math and science.

  92. My school built a fancy new alumni/conference center a few years ago, and my aunt & uncle donated enough to have an office named after them. I have no idea how much it was, but I paid $1000 for a 12″ square paver in the courtyard, so I wonder if that’s the rate per square foot. I also know that companies paid for naming rights of rooms in the career center, but it was not permanent. They wanted $5000/year to keep the company name on an interview room.

  93. A lot of the women engineers I know have been quickly promoted away from straight-up engineering and more toward the management side of things. They’ve told me it’s a combination of diversity initiatives (corporate wants some female faces higher up in the company) and perhaps (to stereotype) having better written and verbal communications than many of their male counterparts.

  94. I was strongly influenced (I wouldn’t say pushed) into engineering because I was good at math & science. Since I had been interested in architecture, I ended up in civil engineering. After working in the field and getting into management, I learned that I preferred engineering the deal and the work plan more than the actual design details. I had a very flexible work environment for a long time, which probably kept me there longer than I should have stayed. I have participated a few times in a long-term study of women engineers and why they stay or leave engineering. I’ll see if I can dig up whatever they have published…

  95. SWVA, it once took me over 2 hrs to drive from downtown Fairfax to K Street in the rain. By the time I arrived, the reception was winding down. Worst of all, I brought the kiddo along because the invite said to bring families; there was no play area or anything for him to do, so every person I spoke to in rushed attempts to network assumed I was there as a wife and asked about my husband’s work. I hope whatever you’re there for goes better!

  96. I think plenty of people prefer people who just say what needs to be said over those who dance around things with unnecessary ritual.

    And those type of people are far more likely to be men than women.

  97. So Finn & Louise, you’re saying that it doesn’t make financial sense to push yourself into a major you don’t like, because once you start working, you won’t like it and won’t stay. Is that right?

  98. Rhett, I don’t know if you’re referring to the preferring or the preferred when you say they’re women. Then again, I’m both.

  99. Finn – maybe the men who are pushed into engineering but don’t really like it are more likely to make a change early on, perhaps even in college, whereas the women are more likely to think that’s a defeat.

    Saac – That’s certainly interesting. But many people do tend to stay put. On the tour of the Homestead, they made a big deal about this one gentleman, a black man, who had worked at the resort his entire adult life. He had lived there his entire life, because his father spent HIS whole working life there, too, including as a horse-and-carriage driver.

    So, I don’t know. To a cynic, it does seem to ever so slightly hint at a certain wistfulness for antebellum nostalgia, the reassurance of happy and contented negroes, where old times are not forgotten, look away…

    But to be totally fair about it, to take the cynical view is to be disrespectful and condescending toward the dignity of work. It’s not for me to say that this man shouldn’t be happy as a groundskeeper at the resort. There are certainly less-pleasant surroundings in which one can work. And at least there’s no traffic like SWVA was caught in.

  100. I suppose so. I was thinking more that most people would be more likely to be happy with jobs doing things they enjoy and/or find interesting. Also, I don’t know that a lot of the female engineers who leave because they don’t really like engineering knew that before they actually started to work. IOW, it may not necessarily be the major they don’t like so much as the work.

    OTOH, SWVA describes an alternate path that doesn’t necessarily ‘waste’ her engineering education. SWVA, did your degree, experience, and technical expertise make it easier (or perhaps even just possible) to move into your current position?

  101. Milo, the only males I can recall who were pushed (or strongly influenced) to major in engineering were the sons of engineers. I can’t think of any male I know who was pushed into engineering just because they were good at math and science, although I don’t doubt it happens.

  102. Finn, Plenty of Asian males are pushed into engineering, which along with being a doctor or professor, are considered to be the best professions.

  103. The continuity of race/class divisions is what got me about that quote. Granted, the environment is pretty, but to see one generation after another come through (because a college “generation” is 4 years) and not think that you or your children were any more likely to move ahead than your ancestors were is the thing that hits me.

  104. Isn’t it true that most boys still grow up believing they must support a family, whereas girls are more likely to be taught that they can work, but not that they must? Regardless of the realities of their lives, most kids are going to read books like Ramona and Ribsy, where it is just taken for granted that moms don’t go to work.
    (Related: I said something about SAHMs to my kid the other day. He didn’t know what I meant, or why I family could want that. He got pretty irate saying how stupid it is. Interesting for me to observe).

  105. saac – has he never seen a family with one parent staying at home with the children? You have been at home with him the past few years – would he have preferred to go to childcare in the afternoons instead of coming home?

  106. I would say women engineers are less conservative than men engineers and they are FAR more likely to be divorced, even excluding women who got engineering degrees after a divorce. I would guess at least a third of women engineers wind up divorced, compared with about 10% of men.

    I suppose the breadwinner assumption is both an advantage and a disadvantage. Lots of men- including Mr WCE- sometimes don’t like engineering but stay because of the living it provides for their families. Women engineers with SAH husbands (I work with several) have this same pressure. Meme has talked about how her ex had trouble accommodating himself to the expectations of employers even though he was technically very skilled. When I was expecting the twins while 40% of the department was going to be laid off, I could say “Forget this” and become reproductive rather than productive. Mr WCE was also pretty down about his job but we agreed that he HAD to stay in his job till after I had the twins, and then we could move- as Rhode so practically observed, even with a high risk pregnancy, “Someone has to bring in the income.”

    Perhaps the travel demands of engineering jobs have increased since Finn worked in this field, due to global manufacturing. My sister got back from a business trip to South America this week, my brother was in Korea a few months ago, my other brother complains about having to travel to Europe and New England for unnecessary meetings and Mr WCE thought he would have to go to Germany on short notice yesterday. (He will likely have to go another time on short notice, since they asked someone else to go this time.)

  107. sorry, I hit enter too soon!

    I don’t understand what he thinks of your family dynamic – you have put his welfare ahead of your own career, and when you guys are ready and able, you will go back to work. That seems like a positive family situation to me, and not stupid at all.

  108. Finn, both the engineering background and the experience with contracts, negotiations, and project management helped me get the job I have now in higher ed. In my recent job searches, I have learned how to spin engineering school as training to be a problem-solver.

    S&M – I picked a hotel that’s just a 5-min walk from where I have to be tomorrow precisely to avoid a drive like you described but at 7 am!

  109. Isn’t it true that most boys still grow up believing they must support a family, whereas girls are more likely to be taught that they can work, but not that they must?

    No. Certainly not the supporting a family part. As for women, “not that they must” is only a reliable option for those that are NMSF in terms of conventional attractiveness.

  110. WCE, is that 33% divorce rate based on people you know? Right off the top of my head, I can’t think of a female engineer I know who’s divorced.

    You’re right about the travel. A lot of the jobs I was thinking of were in manufacturing, when we still had a lot of manufacturing in the US. OTOH, I don’t think that’s unique to engineering.

  111. “Isn’t it true that most boys still grow up believing they must support a family,”

    We’ve heard a lot of anecdotes here about boys who didn’t grow up believing that, and I believe there are also a lot of statistics (e.g., deadbeat dads, families headed by single mom) that suggest it isn’t true.

    Perhaps one thing that separates totebaggers is that it may be true for most totebaggers’ sons.

  112. The 33% divorce rate is based on women I’ve known over a couple decades. In most cases, it’s before kids are involved. I suppose “lack of willingness to conform to expectations” is part of the problem in many cases- the highest ranking woman on our site got divorced after 3 kids. For women my age before kids, I’ll guess it’s because women got tired of men who were neither willing to be full-time SAH parents (with the associated support for kids, travel and career) nor to be equal contributors financially when they were capable. Some women get tired of the lack of romance/attention of being married to engineers. If addiction/abuse are involved, I don’t hear about it.

  113. “or why I family could want that. He got pretty irate saying how stupid it is.”

    That seems really strange, given that you are doing the things you do from home where you are available to him. It would seem that the value of that would be clear to him.

    On your other question, I have no idea what other people teach their children, but I’ve never explicitly taught my son that he will need to support a family, or my daughter that she has the option not to work. They have the example of my brother, who got married for the first time at 48, and worked and didn’t work as his industry had ups and downs, unrelated to his family status. My daughter is, at 21, focused only on her career, but I have mentioned to her recently after comments on this blog that I can see benefit to a family structure when one partner works as much as needed on their career while the other runs everything on the home front. But the risk to that arrangement is borne entirely by the SAHP, so that choice is something she should think hard about. (I say that after seeing a couple of 15- to 20-yr SAHM friends who ended up divorced and having to start at ground zero in the workplace.)

  114. That seems really strange, given that you are doing the things you do from home where you are available to him.

    That strikes you as strange?

  115. I am wasting my very expensive education! But I am in good company where I live. Every other SAHM is a former lawyer or doctor. We do throw a good school auction and luncheon, so perhaps it wasn’t all for naught.

  116. SSK, thanks! I hope he can look back on it from the perspective of adulthood and see it the way you do. I worked for the first 7 years of his life, so he recalls what that’s like. He also sees how good I feel when I do something related to career, like present a paper or put out a newsletter. When I was little, I did not see how my mom did much useful, but once I had a child, I could see how having all that stuff taken care of, and never having to think about it, would be really freeing and great. His attitude surprised me. I pointed out that his grandmother and an aunt were SAHM on purpose, and tried to explain that his grandpa wanted it that way. Right now it does not compute for him, but he has another decade or two until he needs to figure it out.

  117. Rhett, the 2 SAHMs I just mentioned are absolutely not winning –ahem –scholarship pageants. Neither is my college roommate, who dithers over whether she should go back to work, but doesn’t seem to be doing so.

  118. I was out all day and then the site wouldn’t load for several hours, so I’ll comment on a couple of things from the extended discussion on the Monday post.

    1. Thanks for the gifting discussion. I completely forgot to fill out a gift tax return for gift splitting (not in Turbo Tax) – I think I’ll write to them about that as a consumer suggestion. (The form is free on the IRS website, but the reminder would have been nice.)

    1a. There is a world of difference between helping the next generation around the edges – down payment, hands on relief childcare, paying for house cleaners or lessons/summer camp/spring field trip for the kids, contributions to the college fund – and providing steady and considerable income support to allow the family to live a lifestyle beyond the means that they have made life choices to earn for themselves. (Disability, tragedy, temporary need excepted, of course.) It is hard to train someone that money does not grow on trees if in their experience is actually does.
    2. Apple watch. I am told that the stainless with milanese bracelet is lovely. I have no use for the item for two reasons. a) I am going to wait at least three or four versions before taking a serious look. I want to see the sleeker more powerful consumer tested model, with the middle aged eyes display. b) As a woman, the reason to have a communication device on my wrist is so that I can ditch the d-mn phone, which is always someplace other than on or in the vicinity of my person. Right now the watch runs in conjunction with the phone, which defeats the purpose for me.

  119. I’m surprised the discussion about why women leave engineering is leaving out all the ugly sexism in the technology industry. There’s plenty of discussion about it on the Intarwebs should you choose to look for it.

  120. Now that my son has been formally introduced to the idea of SAHM, I hope he can react more acceptably the next time it comes up. We had never spoken about it before. There are a few couples whose relationships we will talk about as the way things should be (the closest I can come to providing a good example). Now that I think about it, both partners are working in every single one of those situations. I might have to find a couple who does it differently.

  121. It struck me as strange that she said that once she explained what a SAHM is that he responded that he thought it was stupid. It would seem that he would see the benefit of an adult being around and available during the day.

  122. Meme, I completely agree with you on the awkwardness of having the watch run in conjunction with the phone. Why didn’t they ask us?

  123. MBT, my young teenager thinks he can do anything. He told me recently that he only needs me for food/money and for hugs. That sounds arrogant, but considering where we are coming from, it is music to my ears.

    Rocky, oh-oh. I’ve been talking about clearing my cookies all week. Sorry!

  124. Saac, that doesn’t sound arrogant to me. I (rather embarrassingly) remember in high school being so incredibly insulted when my parents had the nerve to try to parent me. I never verbalized it, but in hindsight I think I just expected them to pay the mortgage, stock the fridge, and then let me run my life. With the comment that he thought it was stupid, though, it just made me think of my situation here where I went from working at home for so long to now being back in the office. My son definitely feels the difference, and when the shuttle service didn’t drop him off until almost two hours after school got out, certainly appreciated how my flexibility had made his life easier.

  125. the ugly sexism in the technology industry

    See Finn’s 6:00 comment – As if the fact that women just are cut out to be engineers is just self evidently obvious.

  126. It would seem that he would see the benefit of an adult being around and available during the day.

    He also sees all the down sides.

    Also, 11:20 should read aren’t cut out not are.

  127. What I know about overseas MD programs – the number has grown, they tend to be very expensive, while some have been around long enough to be considered stable and decent quality, every US MD program is considered to be a better program (fair or not). I have heard of people doing MD programs in the UK (and Poland?) because they can go straight through and be done in 6 or 7 years – that may make it more financially viable.

    All doctors practicing in the US have done at least some residency training in the US (and most have done a complete 3-year residency or fellowship). I trained with a neonatologist from England who was re-doing his residency so he could practice in the US.

    Just did a little Google — so, the cost tends to be around 20k per semester, which puts it on par with American private MD schools. You can take out federal loans. The price difference used to be greater, if I recall, however it would not be surprising if foreign schools were not increasing their tuition as fast as domestic (private and public).

    The schools have the ability to grow at a much faster rate than American schools. They are probably a good bet for someone who knew they wanted to do primary care — it would be risky to go to a foreign school with the plan of doing Urology.

    A few more stats for those of you still following along:
    Number of candidates entering the match (process for matching residency to graduate):
    34k
    19k US seniors/graduates
    7,5k Foreign MDs
    5,5k US seniors from foreign schools
    and a few thousand DOs (not representative of the total number of DO graduates – many go into a separate match) and 21 from Canada (who are neither counted as US graduates or foreign)!

    US-IMG (international medical graduates) get a position about 50% of the time, and Non-US-IMGs around 40% of the time. US graduates get a position about 95% of the time. The ones that do not get a position can wait until the next cycle and re-apply; there are not really other ways to get a position outside the official match (with a few exceptions). The 221-page report that the matching organization writes doesn’t even get into the competitive specialties (i.e. any of the surgical specialties that match directly from med school, derm) — so these numbers are somewhat inflated.

  128. Rhett, I’m not sure what you mean, but my comment wasn’t about women in general, or even female engineers in general; it was just about a subset of the females with engineering degrees who stopped working as engineers.

  129. “Isn’t it true that most boys still grow up believing they must support a family, whereas girls are more likely to be taught that they can work, but not that they must? Regardless of the realities of their lives, most kids are going to read books like Ramona and Ribsy, where it is just taken for granted that moms don’t go to work.”

    No – I didn’t believe this at all. Both my parents had always worked and my mother was very firm on having her own paycheck (she was taught this by her father). It was a big deal for her to continue working after marriage and go against her in laws on this issue. Later her father in law changed his view when he saw that her working didn’t impact her children, negatively.

    We are in a neighborhood where there are a majority of SAHM’s but also a few working mothers. I think my kids realize that different families make different choices for their own reasons.
    Their school has a few SAHDs who are active in the PTO and take care of the kids, similar to SAHMs. My kids have seen many cases where former SAHMs have taken up employment at their school. The school jobs are way for the women to earn a paycheck, and have child friendly hours. They see people working in all different ways and that the home front has to be taken care of whether you stay at home or employ people to help you manage.

    And WCE – “I could say “Forget this” and become reproductive rather than productive”
    Hehe – LOL!

  130. So I wasn’t the only one who had trouble getting on the blog yesterday … not sure what was going on. I should have cleared my cookies.

    About “most boys still grow up believing they must support a family”, this seems partly true:
    “Perhaps one thing that separates totebaggers is that it may be true for most totebaggers’ sons.”
    It’s not just totebaggers, but most families with successful outcomes. (Your definition of “successful” may vary.)

    Someone mentioned this the other day, but kids don’t typically appreciate what their parents do for them until they’re older. That goes for SAHP or those who work long hours at a “real” job.

  131. The information in the posts about women engineers and women in tech remind me of the finance industry. The difference (imho) is that banking went through this 15 to 20 years ago. The lawsuits we’re seeing now in tech are similar to the past lawsuits in finance.
    It’s not a picnic for women in finance, but there are more women in the industry, and some of the sexism and discrimination has started to disappear. Some.

  132. Lauren – I think finance and law are similar – some of it is better but the pipeline still gets stuck at around 15% or 20% representation at the high levels.

    Saac – Did he explain why he thought it was stupid? A lot of household work is “invisible” work if you’re not the one doing it. ;)

  133. Rhett – look at how expensive these cars were in the late ’80s compared to now. An Acura Legend would have been about $55k in today’s dollars!

    At that time, I remember accompanying my Dad to the Subaru dealership and him negotiating the price of a very base brand new wagon down to $9k.

    So in 25 years, the ratio has shifted from 9 : 55 all the way to about 25 : 38.

  134. It is interesting that S & M will not admit to being a SAHM, but she is a SAHM.
    The difference is that her father provides the income instead of a spouse.

  135. WordPress was under attack Monday internationally, which I discovered after I did everything to my own computer. I assume that there was some detective work going on or preventive regional shutdowns – there are numerous servers/hosts all over the world – I am not quite sure how the structure works.

    However, both my AMEX card and my husband’s Chase card have recently been tested by online billing services. They made charges on mine by styling everything a donation or a recurring subscription, which is apparently a known weakness at AMEX. (I was able to resolve all my issues to my satisfaction.) His was just a more straightforward test, which was declined by the issuer, from the main online billing service for adult sites. He got an email from Chase, forgot about it overnight, and when his card was declined the next day, called to get a new card.

    Travel info request. We are going to New Orleans soon. Where should we eat? Is there a particular jazz club anyone recommends? How about day trips out of the city – we have some time for that too. We will go out for a really nice dinner the day we land, so I might want to arrange that in advance. I will walk over to Cafe du Monde on the weekday mornings at least once. We are staying at a hotel by the convention center for price and convenience to our main activities, and because we couldn’t get a room at the one we really wanted. I have never been there, so this is a treat. Very glad we decided on this rather than Thailand.

  136. Meme: I love K-Paul’s for lunch. High quality, yummy food and much less expensive for lunch than dinner. Check out the bar–they have a champagne drink with Grand Marnier and lemon–something 54–that is wonderful.

    Dh and I always go on a walking tour while we are in NOLA. There are a few (haunted house tour, architecture tour, historical tour, etc.) that give you a good feel for the local history and architecture.

  137. “the school was closing for good”

    I HATE this phrase. How many people really think this closure is “for GOOD?”.

    How about “FOREVER?”

  138. Meme, agree with Houston’s suggestions. We also drove ourselves around some areas like the Garden District to look at local architecture, and walked all over the French Quarter. We also stayed in a hotel near the convention center, but the walk to the French Quarter was pleasant. (There is also a train that you can take from riverfront over to French Quarter, but we never tried it.) Unfortunately we didn’t try a lot of local restaurants because we had our very picky eater with us. The WWII museum is a short walk from the convention center area, and we saw a lot of people doing bus tours. After our first day spent wearing ourselves out walking everywhere, I think I would try one of the bus tours as well. I booked us rooms with a balcony, not realizing that there was a bowl game the Saturday we were there, and a Saints game the Sunday, and that visitors to New Orleans are not on my sleep schedule. With the balcony room (2nd floor), all the 4am loud drunks on the street below were impossible to sleep through, so I might recommend a room on a higher floor. Have fun!!

  139. An Acura Legend would have been about $55k in today’s dollars!

    An RLX starts at $48,087.00, tech package $54,450 and Advance Package – $60,450. And, the MSRP of a 1988 Subaru GL wagon was $10,995.with the Acura being $21,010.

    The MSRP of the closest thing Subaru has to a GL Wagon is the Outback which is $24,895. So, the ratio of prices is basically the same.

  140. I think the book Colleges That Change Lives highlighted a lot of smaller schools – the small classes, committed faculty etc. that they offered.
    It seems to me that a lot more parents were open to sending kids to smaller schools, after this book came out. That may have saved some of the smaller colleges from closure. I am not 100% sure of this, but having looked at College Confidential and The Choice on NYT, I think this was the case.

  141. It’s all over my Facebook feed because a lot of my people have ties to and children at OU, but outside of my local sphere, did the obnoxious behavior of the OU student make news? The university has suspended two students, and I’m interested in the discussion as to whether or not they were within their rights. I agree that the national organization (being a private organization) had every right to shut the chapter down as they did. But I am less clear as to whether the university can rightfully expel them. I support their reasoning (creating a hostile environment for other students), but people really can’t be denied access to a college education at a public university just for being offensive and/or obnoxious. I’m curious to see where this settles out.

  142. Regarding offshore Medical Schools – The reality is that it depends on where you are trying to get licensed. Not all states have the same standards. Some states are much tougher. In some cases, even students from US schools/programs cannot be licensed in some of the states with higher standards.

  143. Rhett – I was thinking an ’89 Legend Coupe is more like a TLX. OTOH, that Subaru is probably more comparable to a base Fit. It’s hard to find a perfect with safety and tech changes.

    Fred- Wicked’s lyricist played with that “for good” distinction.: “Because I knew you / I have been changed for good”

  144. “outside of my local sphere, did the obnoxious behavior of the OU student make news?”

    Oh, yes. I’m following the situation with a mix of horror at the students and satisfaction at the response by OU and the national chapter of SAE. OU is actually on our list of potential colleges, as it has a strong engineering program and a decent number of merit scholarships.

  145. @Meme — Hard to go wrong with any of John Besh’s restaurants — I think he is best known for August (never tried it), but I had a fantastic dinner at Domenica last time I was there. It had a ton of fresh/local/organic vegetables that even I could eat and enjoy, so may be a good stealth option for the diabetic. I also love Café Soule for breakfast — it’s just a little place in the Quarter, it’s not famous or tied to anyone/anything, I just happened on it one day and go back whenever I am in town. Then again, I also love grits and tasso ham (not saying it’s the healthiest choice). :-)

  146. MBT, yes, we have heard about it here. Most campuses have offices of student organizations that all organizations, local to international, are required to register with, and that sign off on events on campus. Why wouldn’t that office be able to revoke this permission?

  147. 89 Legend Coupe is more like a TLX

    The modern day Legend is clearly the RLX the TLX inherits the mantel of the Vigor.

  148. CoC, I haven’t read the article yet, but if one person’s rights end where another person’s begin, then the right to free speech can’t trump others’ right to an education.

  149. Houston, if it helps any, I do not believe those racist attitudes are representative of the students at the university. By and large, there has been outpouring of disgust at the comments, and support for students of color. Some of the blog postings of students that are popping up on my feed have moved me to tears. They are young college students, and they don’t know how to fix this, but they care so much.

  150. Saac, “Why wouldn’t that office be able to revoke this permission?” Which permission? For the expelled students to attend school? I don’t think I’m following. (The bus ride was not a campus event, it was only for freshmen in the fraternity and their dates, so it wouldn’t have had to be approved by anything on campus, but I’m not sure if you’re referring to that. But the national organization pulled the local fraternity’s charter, and the house was closed as of midnight last night. All the boys have had to move out and find a new place to live, and they have ceased to be an organization in the eyes of the university, so no more events for them. Fraternal organization rules being what they are, none of these boys are eligible to join another house.)

  151. Sorry, CoC, not persuaded by the “slippery slope” argument. These kids were leading their peers in chanting “there will never be a nigger at SAE, you can hang him from a tree”– that’s just way the hell over the line. Schools shouldn’t have to sit on their hands until someone changes “you can” to a “let’s go.”

  152. CoC & S&M,

    I think it was Milo a long time ago spoke about being in the navy when one of the enlisted men referred to a Jewish person using the k word. They didn’t even really know what it meant they had presumably just grown up hearing it. I’m sure there are kids who show up at any school referring to gay people as the f word. Part of the educational process is having someone say it and everyone stop talking and stare at them and say, “WTF, did you just say?”

    These kids should get into a ton of trouble and be ridiculed and humiliated and be made outcasts but not expelled. Indeed, once they learn their lesson they should be welcomed back.

  153. My cousin’s kid goes to OU, from what I can glean from his FB feed, he is very supportive of how the university handled it.

    Ada, a friend of my sister’s went to medical school (can’t remember where but it may have been in the Carribbean) and then got a residency out in Utah. He then didn’t pass some test he had to pass so he was then more or less kicked out of the residency program. I was surprised there were more chances but he ended up being accepted into another residency at Yale and passed whatever test it was the second time around.

  154. LfB – Just to exercise the issue, where does that chant fall in comparison to the stereotypical 1960’s Vietnam protests and “baby killer” chants? Is that over the line, too, or should that sort of speech be protected?

  155. “Those are fighting words ”

    I agree, if it could be reasonably perceived as a threat.

  156. One of the arguments I’m reading is that “you can hang him from a tree” is a general (obnoxious) statement, but not a direct threat that we ARE going to go hang someone from a tree, so it does fall under the category of protected speech. In feeling bad for the boys kicked out of their home who were not on the bus, one of my friends repeated the argument that it’s not fair to paint the whole house as racist and punish those who weren’t on the bus. I call BS on that, because those freshmen boys were taught that song by someone, presuming the older members in the house. My thought was exactly the same as Rhett’s – if not one of those older boys had stood up and said “why the hell are we singing this song?’, then they all share in the responsibility. I read the blog post of the last black guy who was a member of that chapter 14 years ago, and he said they absolutely did not sing that song then. He was pretty hurt by the events.

  157. Much of the reporting hints at the naughty word, but ignores the threat of violence. I don’t know why that is.

  158. From my knowledge of fraternities, I think stuff like this has gone on for a long time, now they can just film it all for posterity. Men in college who are drinking a lot can just be douches. Now most of the fraternity guys I know are now nice, family guys so they do grow up.

  159. “those freshmen boys were taught that song by someone”

    One of those “teachers” is apparently the house mother. But the fact that the song even existed shows that it was not a strange one-off thing that some kids just started doing. If the brothers didn’t agree with racism, I am sure there were plenty of earlier opportunities for them to stand up and say something about it.

  160. Saac, still not following you. Who/what would be registering with that office? And is that in reference to the boys being expelled? The fraternity being shut down on campus is moot because it’s already been done by their national organization, although if they had not acted as quickly as they did, OU would have undoubtedly shut them down. No one is questioning the private organization’s ability to decide what consequences to impose. If this had happened at a private university, there would likely be no issue with the students being expelled. The issue here is that it is at a public university, and there is a lot of discussion that the university president overstepped his bounds in expelling them, which I think I agree with. As Rhett implied, the court of public opinion is pretty harsh. The boys, their parents, etc have received death threats, their tires have been slashed on their cars, the Catholic high school in Dallas that one of the boys attended has tweeted their embarrassment and disgust at his behavior. They both had packed up and left town before they were even expelled. For anyone, the national press this has generated would be crushing, but an 18-yr old is ill-equipped to handle it. If I were a parent of those boys, I’d have them on suicide watch. They wouldn’t be out of my sight.

  161. After reading about it (this is the first I’ve heard of it), I disagree with the expulsion from the university.

  162. The issue here is that it is at a public university, and there is a lot of discussion that the university president overstepped his bounds in expelling them, which I think I agree with.

    If it were just the n-word then he would have overstepped. But, the lynching threat? I don’t see how that could be tolerated.

  163. I disagree with the expulsion from the university.

    What should the punishment have been?

  164. I have mixed feelings on the OU decision. What they said was sick and I’m glad their house was quickly shut down. And even more glad that the student body is rallying around black students. The expulsions, I’m not so sure. Like Atlanta and others said, humiliation and death threats in the digital age seems to be plenty of punishment for these guys.

    I remember some of the chants I heard frat boys sing in college that were almost as bad as this, only it was about women and rape instead of race. I doubt many if any of the guys actually condoned rape- it was the kind of thing that 18 year old drunk boys thought was edgy and happened because alcohol and peer pressure cause a lot of people to do idiotic things. I think their behavior should have been called out, but ruining their lives over it would have been too much IMO.

  165. Rhett – “Not tolerating” does not have to equal expulsion.

    Basically, I just think that as we’ve all acknowledged the new delayed adolescence, the so-called science about frontal cortex development, how many of you don’t think your kids at this age can be trusted to stay home alone for a weekend, to take a long road trip, etc., it simply doesn’t align with the idea that one stupid incident like this should be grounds for expulsion.

  166. “What should the punishment have been?”

    Suspend the fraternity and some sort of conduct probation.

  167. +1 Rio. 18 year olds in general are idiots. I’m fine with the expulsion and shutting down of the chapter.

    And I think looking into SAE all over the country has an air of guilty until proven innocent. Chapters are all unique. A lot of pledges of all races are put through humiliating and derogatory things and for some reason 18 year olds sign up for this.

  168. MBT, check out article IV, section 2. Singing that there will never be a “n—–” in your organization violates that. http://www.ou.edu/content/studentlife/get_involved/student_organizations/register/jcr%3acontent/contentpar/download/file.res/Model%20Constitution%202012.pdf
    And recall that universities have responsibilities to many groups and individuals, not just to “borderline Teflon” frat boys. Songs about killing black people, raping women, or bringing physical harm to an entire group of people simply are not acceptable.
    I don’t agree with retaliation like slashing car tires, but see no reason why a school or other group one of these kids had been associated with in the past wouldn’t want to say “it wasn’t us that taught him that!” As far as their parents watching them closely, part of me wants to say that if their parents had done their jobs for the last 18 years, their offspring would have known that hanging black men from trees is recent in our country’s history and is not funny. But in reality, I know that racism is most frequently taught in families, so their parents may well have been very involved with these kids.

  169. This might be a good opportunity for parents to talk to teens about how alcohol and peer pressure can make people participate in awful things. How most of those guys probably don’t think of themselves as racists but went along with something horrible trying to fit in. And how if they aren’t careful something similar could happen to them. Maybe not racist chants, but perhaps vandalism like the fraternity at Michigan that trashed a ski resort last month last month. Or the plethora of other life-altering bad decisions 18 year olds can make.

  170. Atlanta, did you read the link about the specific history of this organization? Saying something is pervasive certainly doesn’t make it OK in my book.

  171. Hum, what would you do in the OU president’s position? Obviously, whether he expelled them or not they are never going back to OU – so it’s kind of a moot point. However, if he doesn’t expel them he will be forced to resign. So, I think he does what a lot of mayors and police chiefs do. He fires them and then it’s up to the person being fired to appeal the decision. In many cases they don’t bother or if they do the reinstatement happens years later when the whole thing has blow over.

  172. Strange about the relative in Utah – there is no high stakes testing in residency. That is a distinguishing feature of the medical school trajectory – one you get into school, most people go straight through to a six figure job without hiccups (in contrast to law school, where it believe less qualified people gain entrance, but are then filtered by the bar). There are three major licensing exams, and board certification, but those all have pass rates of 90+%.

    From the Anon above, there are no accredited medical schools in the US that prevent you from licensing in any state. The difficulty of licensing (and where states differ) is how much residency training is required (historically, you could get one year and gain a full license, that is one rare.).

  173. The question that I find a lot more interesting than how to deal with organizations with long histories of elitism is how others should respond to them. Does it make more sense for black students and star athletes to say “I want nothing to do with them” and walk away, or should they claim their rights to stay on a campus that offers many good things aside from the ugly pockets of racism?

  174. @Milo — well, a couple of things. And I’m still thinking this through, so caveat. The big thing that grabbed me was the implicit threat aspect. I think that pushes it over the line. But would I be ok if these guys were just standing on the sidewalk at the university yelling the equivalent of “baby killer” at their fellow students? No. So it’s not just the lynching bit. And the other aspect comes from the location — we are not talking about Nazis marching on the public streets in Skokie, we are talking about a group house at a university. And that university has an obligation to balance the rights of one group to free speech vs. the rights of other students to feel safe and participate in campus life.

    Does it matter that it’s public? Eh, not really, because there is no inherent right/entitlement to attend even your public university. If these kids had done this in HS, maybe gotten kicked off the school bus for it, you think they’d even have been admitted in the first place? Schools have a fair bit of discretion on character-type issues in the admissions process, so I don’t have much issue with them exercising that same discretion in the ex-admissions process, as it were.

    So I guess my list comes down to:
    — “Nigger” + implicit lynching threat = merits immediate expulsion for the ringleaders, lesser consequences for the others (note that just having their frat shut down might be sufficient for the rest, as that’s a big deal)
    — Name-calling, even really bad stuff = something less than immediate expulsion. Give kids a chance to learn the boundaries.
    — Honest discussion of offensive political positions (e.g., the “Hamas was right” in CoC’s linked article): not punishment-worthy. College is specifically for people to explore ideas and positions, all legitimate debate should be encouraged.

  175. Saac yes and we had SAE at my college. They are very strong nationally and have a strong alumni board. I just don’t think it’s an SAE specific problem, more of a dumb 18 year old boy drinking in groups problem. I’m betting you could find similar charges at different colleges/universities for a lot of fraternities. It seemed like at my college, most fraternities spent some time being kicked off campus and then they recolonize.

  176. “And I think looking into SAE all over the country has an air of guilty until proven innocent.”

    SAE chapters from all over the country have a history of racism. See Saac’s link from upthread. This is not an isolated incident. I think national had better lay out some new ground rules for all chapters, if they want to survive.

  177. I am wondering if anyone would object to firing a professor for saying the same thing?

  178. it simply doesn’t align with the idea that one stupid incident like this should be grounds for expulsion.

    Does expulsion mean a permanent exclusion from all higher education? Or, do they just have to apply somewhere else and lose a semesters worth of tuition?

  179. Rhett, that’s what I was trying to explain to my kid this weekend. He was offended that the thing went viral, thinks that instead of exposing it and letting the very tiny percent of people who agree with it get the idea to sing it, the video should have just been showed to the university president and whoever else would be required to see it in order to deal with it. I wish he was right, but expect that in reality these kinds of things happen often, university presidents are generally aware of their existence and don’t want to know the specifics, and are required to take big action only when there is public pressure. True change requires a much deeper, more systemic approach than that.

  180. Saac, I get your point now, thanks. That responsibility to other students is the basis for the decision to expel them, but from a legal standpoint, from what I’ve read, the courts have not considered that responsibility to trump the First Amendment rights of even the most vile and hateful of students. I agree with Rio and others that 18 yr olds do stupid things (I can be labeled Exhibit A here) because many of them had not permitted to have an original thought for the first 18 years of their over-scheduled, carefully managed lives. As for the comment “part of me wants to say that if their parents had done their jobs for the last 18 years” – I would be very careful of making statements like that until your own child clears that age group. ;)

    The young man from Dallas has issued an apology through the Dallas Morning News. In it he says he withdrew from the university on Monday. They have until this Friday to appeal the expulsion, so it doesn’t sound like they intend to.

  181. Atlanta, I am sure you are correct at 10:05 when you say that the problem is much more pervasive than simply this one incident. How do you think it should be dealt with?

  182. “I am wondering if anyone would object to firing a professor for saying the same thing?”

    Not I. Academic freedom is supposed to protect academic work. If he recites the chant in a class that is exploring the history of racism in America, in order to initiate a discussion of how racism manifests itself in 21st century America, sure it’s absolutely protected. If he’s doing what these boys did, he should be driving the bus out of town. At least the kids have youth and stupidity in their defense.

  183. College kids do a lot of stupid things. I can agree with that. Do people here really think that “doing stupid things” covers joining in a group chanting about racist violence? Ripping down curtains in your hotel room is stupid. Flashing your boobs to get Mardi Gras beads is stupid. Getting drunk the night before a major exam is stupid. Taking a crap on the quad is stupid. This is not “stupid” in that way. It is far more than that. Is the problem a lack of knowledge of the mid 20th century in our country, when mobs moved quickly from talking about “problems” to actually hanging men from trees, dragging them behind cars, burning them alive?
    MBT, if you are exhibit A for college kids doing stupid things, does that mean you took part in this kind of thing?

  184. I think what Oklahoma did is correct. As someone said upthread, taking your fraternity away is a big deal at that age. I think it is hard at that age to go against your peers when everyone is drinking and having a good time. These could have been good kids individually but they got swept up into the moment. I say let college kids grow up a little bit before being able to rush. My college moved rush to sophomore year which gives kids a little room to find a different identity than just fraternity member. There are good parts of fraternities too (lifelong friendships and connections) but there are just too many stories of kids doing dumb things that can impact their whole lives.

  185. Atlanta, again, I agree with you that this is not a unique incident. Do you think that makes it acceptable?

  186. “Do people here really think that “doing stupid things” covers joining in a group chanting about racist violence?”

    Yes.

  187. I was in a fraternity in college. That group was usually a voice of reason that lead underclassmen away from doing stupid things. I the SAE case, clearly the fraternity leadership was pointing in the wrong direction and should have been dismantled by the national governing body. As to expulsion for individuals, this is the more troubling question, as I can think of no better reason to go to college than to learn how not to be a jackass.

  188. Should kids at a private party singing along to rap lyrics that threaten violence against women also be expelled? Arguably that is hate speech that creates a hostile environment. What I read was that singing the lynching lyrics in a private bus did not constitute a direct threat, which would be needed to deny free speech rights. If the justification for expulsion is that these kids created a hostile environment, the door is open to a lot more cases for expulsion. Your kid could be next.

  189. Atlanta: DH was in a fraternity, and I agree that they are not all bad. I also understand that misogyny, bigotry, and stupid actions are not limited to SAE members.

    However, once you realize that this chant was used at multiple SAE chapters, the multiple racist parties, multiple racist hazing procedures, etc–once you get past the first 5-10 offences and see the pattern emerge, you start to wonder why this organization is still in existence.

  190. “Should kids at a private party singing along to rap lyrics that threaten violence against women also be expelled?”

    Check mate.

  191. Saac – no! My knuckleheaded behavior was more along the lines of drinking the night before an exam, and prioritizing school very low relative to other options. I can’t believe I’m about to make a statement defending these boys, because I believe without reservation that they were in the wrong. But I don’t think for a second that they were threatening to or in any way on the verge of lynching anyone. They were enthusiastically singing a song that they clearly should have recognized is completely offensive, and the fact that they were willing to sing it speaks volumes about their attitudes. But I absolutely do not believe they were singing that song as a threat, or that the singing of the song would indicate they were trying to incite any kind of violence. I think it was much more mindless, feeling “edgy” by being offensive, and going along with the group than any feelings of aggression. And that absence of a specific threat is what the articles I’ve read protect them legally from being expelled, which again is moot since the boy indicated he withdrew. But that is still the question that interests me, and I think Rhett’s answer satisfies me. The legal system does protect their right to say offensive, but non-directly threatening, statements, and court of public opinion needs to shame them into realizing how unacceptable that is to the group. That has not always happened in the past, but I think this time at OU it did. Their fellow students and the leadership at their university responded overwhelmingly with disgust.

  192. “Your kid could be next.” That’s exactly what I’m afraid of, looking at the history of violence against black men.

  193. I think the social media backlash is over the top and needs to be condemned, as well. I have no problem with closing down the chapter, but there should not be death threats against these boys and their families. The boys have learned their lesson. Time to move on. As several people have said, college is a learning experience. Even good kids do stupid things once in a while.

  194. CoC, don’t you think the link to the incident at Yale is more pertinent than what people do in an unorganized fashion at their house?
    Milo, how do you have CoC checkmated?

  195. ” Even good kids do stupid things once in a while.”

    One more time: this behavior is much, much more than “stupid”. Using language like that to try to present it as harmless is one of the basic problems in this debate.

  196. Saac, I don’t think anyone thinks it is harmless. I think a lot of people just remember doing stupid stuff in college and are glad they were a. not filmed and b. had the opportunity to grow up

  197. “CoC, don’t you think the link to the incident at Yale is more pertinent than what people do in an unorganized fashion at their house?”

    Yes, particularly in that the Yale students were yelling outside toward the women’s dorms. Did those kids get expelled?

  198. I agree with Rio that this is analogous to rude frat guys yelling crude sexual/rape threats when their drunk- stupid, but not a real threat. What has changed compared to 50 years ago is the nearly universal revulsion at the behavior, which suggests people are aware of the history of racism.

    My Dad was in the infantry almost 50 years ago (47 years ago) and he dealt with crude behavior in the airports (where he was required to be in uniform), other public places and, worst of all, when seeking employment after his honorable discharge. I’m glad that official discrimination against Vietnam veterans got outlawed but if it hadn’t existed, they wouldn’t have bothered outlawing it. Now that we’ve finally gotten around to agreeing that name calling soldiers is not OK, the few incidents are rare.

  199. Rocky, are you talking to me? Atlanta just said she doesn’t think it’s acceptable. I don’t see how that fits logically with saying it happens all over the place (unless one is trying to do something about it in all those places).
    WCE/ Rio, this isn’t random guys yelling crap–it is an organization, with a structure.

  200. I don’t see why it’s inconsistent. As far as I can tell unacceptable shit happens all the time, all over the place. It’s still unacceptable. Maybe there’s an equivocation on “unacceptable”? It’s unacceptable to me and to all right-thinking people. There are a lot of wrong-thinking people out there too.

  201. I said that it’s sick and that I’m glad the frat was shut down. Just because I’m not sure they should be expelled from a public school (because of free speech protections) doesn’t mean I think what they did was remotely acceptable or not a big deal.

    I also think if you took the worst thing that any person has ever done or said in their life and made it public on the national scale, you could find something pretty awful for almost everyone. Not necessarily racist, but that isn’t the only form of evil in the world.

  202. Rocky, right. But it sounded to me like she was saying everyone else is doing it, so it’s OK. That’s why I asked.

  203. “It’s unacceptable to me and to all right-thinking people. There are a lot of wrong-thinking people out there too.”

    See the post at 10:22

  204. I don’t think the 10:22 comment is saying that it’s all right. Taking it in the context of the conversation, he was saying that it’s wrong but within the realm of other stupid things that young people do when they are first away from home, exercising poor judgment while drinking, and caught up in a group of stupid people. That is not excusing his behavior, but he has already been the recipient of some major consequences. We have a clear difference of opinion because I do not think he was threatening violence and you do, but I won’t argue my point because it sounds like I’m defending him, and I do not choose to defend him.

  205. MBT, I don’t think it’s a question of if they were going to jump up and lynch someone right then, but that they set up an environment in which talking about lynching isn’t a big deal. There are events like the kid hung from a swingset bar, but there are also the myriad ways that this kind of racism takes effect–someone on the hiring committee makes a quick face and everyone knows what it means, that sort of thing. Still today, there are reports coming out showing that when names on resumes “look” black, candidates are less likely to get calls than candidates with identical resumes except for the name. This is directly tied to that. And if the 10:22 comment isn’t saying it’s the sort of minor mischief that should best be overlooked, I don’t know what it is.

  206. “See the post at 10:22”

    Oh, yeah, that’s me.

    I think MBT said it already. Unacceptable behavior can fall within the realm of stupid behavior. I’m not sure why you insist otherwise.

  207. “And if the 10:22 comment isn’t saying it’s the sort of minor mischief that should best be overlooked, I don’t know what it is.”

    No, the 1022 comment did not say it should be overlooked. If you don’t have anything to argue against, don’t start making up straw men. Pay attention and read carefully.

  208. “that they set up an environment in which talking about lynching isn’t a big deal”

    How do you reconcile this with CoC’s point that, by the same logic, fraternity members who sing along to certain rap music are setting up an environment in which talking about (and making light of) rape isn’t a big deal. And what do you think should be done about that?

  209. On the topic of recent campus incidents, why is no one calling for expulsions over the Anti-Semitic incident at UCLA the other week? While they didn’t threaten violence, they did IMO directly harm a Jewish student by initially voting to deny her a spot on the board directly because of her Jewish background and affiliations. And it wasn’t at some drunken frat party, it was stone cold sober at the Student Council Judicial Board hearing. And they tried to cover it up by hiding the video. IMO this was at least as threatening to the Jewish community as the OU incident was to the black community.

    But instead of outrage, the chancellor called this “a teachable moment.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/06/ucla-jewish-student-video_n_6817918.html

  210. Milo,see my 11:17 and 9:48 posts and “If you don’t have anything to argue against, don’t start making up straw men. Pay attention and read carefully.”

  211. Rio, I hadn’t head of that. From what you’ve just said, I agree with you. Slaps on the wrist aren’t working, because they ultimately give the impression that these sorts of things are really that bad.

  212. Rio, I read that earlier this week, and I agree with you. I don’t know why it didn’t generate as much outrage. It certainly should have.

  213. Saac – I’m not following what you’re trying to say by refer to previous posts.

  214. Milo, the snark about read carefully is your own words being directed back at you. In the same comment in which you wrote them, you also asked questions that I had already answered in those earlier posts.

  215. Rio– That’s horrific.

    The OU thing to me is interesting. I don’t read it as a threat (since it wasn’t directed at anyone), but as an organization? It’s a giant statement that they will deliberately exclude black students. Phrased in the most repulsive, violent way possible. That’s the difference from random rap lyrics. I’d first seen headlines and figured it was rude behavior/name calling. But that crosses the line. And at a public university– where discrimination by race is absolutely not allowed– allowing a bunch of students to sit around and loudly discriminate other students by race is way over the line. I’m not sure how I feel about expulsion, and I see CoC’s concerns, but i don’t know what else would have taken it seriously enough. I’m also not sure how it compares, but public high schools expel students regularly for things that are a much smaller thing.

    Rhett– To your point, expulsion is just from that particular school. They are free to re-apply to another school (maybe even to that school in the future, depending on the policies and their ability to write an “I learned from my giant, boneheaded mistake” sort of essay). Denying anyone an education entirely based on a mistake would be a huge first amendment problem. But expulsion? It’s a delay and a blemish on your record, but not lifetime banishment from education.

  216. Just noticed an error in my 1:02 comment to Rio–letting these things go by with a wink or slap on the wrist gives the impression that they are NOT important, which is the opposite of what should happen.

  217. Saac – but the posts you refer to don’t answer the questions.

    Tulip – how is it different than a group of guys in a fraternity organization singing about how they’re going to rape women? Isn’t that equally disgusting?

  218. Question isn’t disgusting. Of course it’s disgusting. The question is whether it’s discriminatory in a way that a public entity is categorically not allowed to do. Singing along with a song that implies it’s a-ok to rape women is reprehensible. Singing a song (and without having done my research I’d guess that chant goes back a long way in certain circles) that categorically states your preference to kill people rather than admit them to your group? Reprehensible and discriminatory. I don’t see why a college can’t punish discriminatory behavior. I could argue that they have to punish discriminatory behavior, otherwise they are allowing discrimination to flourish on campus, and thus are allowing students to be harmed on campus.

    Like Laura said, done by a professor it would be a firing offense in my book. (The adult having, ideally, even more judgment and a duty owed to the students as an educator.)

  219. interesting discussion here. I just read Lord of the Flies for the first time (was never required reading in school). Made me think how all the boys were quickly chanting ““Kill the pig! Cut his throat! Kill the pig! Bash him in!” How quick to follow along the youngsters were to hunt and try to kill Ralph

  220. “a public entity is categorically not allowed to do”

    Is the fraternity a public entity?

  221. I meant the public university. Not the fraternity. At any rate, the fraternity came down on this, but I believe the issue raised is whether or not the public university could “punish” the speech of the students because we could consider the public university a government actor. But that also cuts in the direction of the university not being able to discriminate.

  222. “The question is whether it’s discriminatory in a way that a public entity is categorically not allowed to do.”

    Let’s even assume that’s true. It’s bad for them to sing about discriminating against black fraternity applicants, because discriminating on the basis of race is illegal. Well there’s no question that rape is illegal, too. So how is it not explusion-worthy to sing about raping women?

  223. Not singing about discrimination v. singing about rape. A group collectively singing that no minority would be welcome into their group and they’d kill them first is more than singing about discrimination. I suspect the equivalent would be a group of guys sitting around singing that women who enter their particular frat house will all be raped. Which I’d consider similarly threatening, whatever the “appropriate” punishment from administration might be. This isn’t a “gosh, you hear this on the radio everywhere and of course it wasn’t aimed at you.” Community standards and all that.

  224. I feel like I’m getting cross-examined here a bit! I never claimed to have all the answers. It’s in bad taste, and it’s incredibly offensive to law enforcement. Sing it in the wrong quarters and you’ll probably pay in a different way *from* law enforcement. But from a university? Law enforcement isn’t a protected class. Sing cop killer to campus cops while carrying a weapon? You’re toast, but because of your actions/context, not the speech. Sing it out loud along with music at a party nowhere near any police? Just an issue of taste. Like many other things.

    I don’t think the OU thing is “just a matter of taste” and it’s a very specific statement that certain people are not welcome on risk of death. There aren’t many examples of that happening out in the world that are *not* subject to serious penalties. And that’s leaving aside the entire historical/cultural context, which makes it all worse.

  225. Ok, so singing to the rap music isn’t worthy of expulsion because killing cops isn’t as bad as killing blacks,

    “I got my twelve gauge sawed off
    I got my headlights turned off
    I’m ’bout to bust some shots off
    I’m ’bout to dust some cops off

    I’m a cop killer, better you than me
    Cop killer, fuck police brutality!
    Cop killer, I know your family’s grieving
    (Fuck ’em!)”

    as cops aren’t a protected class. Now women are a protected class, but simply raping them isn’t as bad as killing them, so we’ll give you a pass if you want to sing about that. Of course, homosexuals are also a protected class, and there’s rap music against them:

    “Somebody mad at my hash tag /
    Instagram, Black man lookin’ half a fag/With a blazer and vest, I’m just amazed at the mess/Pioneer of this queer shit is Kanye West/He introduced the skinny jeans to the rap scene/Then he wore a fucking skirt on the video screen/Then he wore it again at a memorial/I can’t pretend that this shit ain’t deplorable/I bet this nigger a thinkin’ he lookin’ adorable/Your music’s good but your ego is horrible…”

    So he uses “nigger,” he insults homosexuals (protected class, bad history, etc.) but in this case he doesn’t say he’s going to kill them. So that would be acceptable, also.

    Or, maybe we could just acknowledge that there’s a hypocritical double standard in what’s considered merely tasteless and what’s worthy of expelling someone from a university.

  226. Gay people are not part of a federally protected class. Milo, do you honestly think there’s no difference between protected classes and non-protected classes? Don’t try to get a job as an employment lawyer. Or a civil rights lawyer.

  227. Greek organizations are repeat offenders. Not every organization is putting on these kinds of events every day, but there is a clear pattern. Short-term punishments like kicking them off campus for a few years obviously don’t work. Is there a better way to deal with it than showing the students that they can be held individually viable for their behavior, no matter what is happening around them? If students stop this kind of thing in university-sanctioned organizations, will they also stop thinking it’s “cool” and therefore not be amenable to the type of thing Rio referred to and “casual” discrimination in everyday life? http://m.mic.com/articles/112240/12-incidents-that-prove-fraternity-and-sorority-racism-isn-t-just-an-oklahoma-problem?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000047

    Note to Milo: becoming a protected class takes several centuries of abuse by those in power. It is nothing to be envious of.

  228. Yes, it is. That guy is using “protected class” to mean “suspect class”. You can’t pass a law that targets gay people, but they’re not a protected class under Title 7.

  229. Saac – your link is a list of a bunch of party themes. And that will bring us back to the same argument asking why it’s unacceptable to have a “black MLK” party, but it’s ok to have a party with a redneck theme. And then we’ll be debating your Dad’s story about sticking a piece of straw in his mouth for shits and giggles.

  230. Not being a lawyer, I don’t know all the legal ins & outs (ew, that pun was not intended!), but I do know that is quite a few states it is still possible to lose your job for being gay. Oh, and there are quite a few states in which gay people still can’t get married.

  231. Milo, the whole thing about my dad’s friend centers on whether you believe farmers ought to be somehow protected because you think they are ignorant, impoverished hicks or not. They are in any event not an impoverished class; perhaps the people who decide these things have a clue about how much a combine costs and the other complicated issues, financial and otherwise, involved in farming, and has decided that even though priveleged, self-indulgent young asswipes might occasionally wipe out a crop just for shits & giggles, farmers in general have not been subjected to the kind of serious loss of income, threat to life, and other abuse that leads to the creation of a privileged class. As for that article, slow down and read the intro a bit more carefully.

  232. Arg! That should, of course, be “protected class”, not “impoverished” And I meant to work in Justice O’Conner, who certainly had her share of agricultural experience.

  233. Saac -that’s a perfect example of what most of us have been saying today: many of us did a couple things here and there when we were 15 or so that we regret, that were stupid and uncharacteristic.

  234. Milo, I wasn’t sure who it was with the anons popping up recently.

    I’m not at all convinced that this is uncharacteristic. Someone is making those decisions that lead to one study after the next showing that people who “sound”‘ black on paper are less likely to get the job, the loan, the apartment than people who could be assumed to be white, based on their resumes. Frats sure do have a long history of this sort of thing, as evidenced in that list and as many of us know from personal experience (I understand that you don’t have that experience, as these organizations don’t exist at military academies). What other training grounds are there for that sort of behavior? How else would they learn that it is “(smirk) not ok, but really, not a big deal”? Given the pattern that had been established over centuries, it only takes occasional actions by those not strongly opposed to racism to hold up the overall structure. Just because someone only acts on these impulses rarely, or in the presence of peer pressure or intoxicants does not lessen the overall impact of the group (and I don’t mean the group on the bus or the whole frat–I mean all the people who snicker at racist jokes, who raise their eyebrows when someone with dreads waits on them, or who otherwise signals that, despite its long and horrific history on our continent and elsewhere, racism could somehow be no big deal.

  235. “Oh, and there are quite a few states in which gay people still can’t get married.”

    Not exactly. Historically, throughout the country, gays have gotten married.

    Gays getting married is not quite the same as same-sex marriage.

  236. This thread pretty much wrapped up, but I’m having a hard time finding any sort of response to Milo I think I’ve been pretty clear that I find it all reprehensible– talk of rape, cop killing, or racism– but that’s not what we’re discussing. The statement that I somehow think it’s ok because it’s “just cop killing” is snide and misses my point. We’re talking about penalties for behavior we all agree is reprehensible, and what are the limits on those penalties that can be enacted by a government institution. On the one hand is the responsibility *not* to discriminate against a legally protected class (which Rocky covered). On the other hand is the responsibility not to violate free speech. There are important rights involved on both sides, and so I don’t think throwing out “free speech” really answers the question entirely.

  237. Tulip – the question is still why singing about discriminating against (and murdering) a legally protected class is worthy of expulsion, but singing about raping members of a protected class is not worthy of expulsion.

  238. Milo, I’ll acknowledge the hypocrisy you’re calling out. But I still don’t oppose the expulsion, even though I believe it likely violates those boys’ rights. Things in this country will not change until the majority group decides it needs to change. It’s unfortunate for those young men that their timing was such that they became the example, but I think it’s well past time for men and women of strong character who are members of the majority group to indicate clearly that we really do not think this is okay. I think that’s the same premise behind the HeForShe campaign. Without men making it happen, real change for women won’t happen.

  239. MBT – Would you support your son being made an example of, even if it violated his rights, as you say?

  240. Saac – Sure, but woud a black fraternity be shut down for singing along to:

    “I had to rape his b*tch cause the hoe was stacked
    I f*cked her from the back, with my gun to her back
    I left up out his crib, with dolla and purple hat” – DJ Paul”

    or

    “It’s Big L and I’m all about taking funds
    I’m a stone villain known for killing and raping nuns…
    This kid that owed me dough, I didn’t take his life
    Instead I tied him up and made him watch me rape his wife” -Big L

    or

    “You know who you fucking with? A nigga who got shit to lose
    I got niggas that rob you and rape yo bitch if they in the mood” -Gibbs

    or

    “Tired of my face
    Telling lies gettin’ niggas wives tied up and raped
    Similar to the mob
    Deeper than the rap
    All you niggas gettin’ robbed” – Rick Ross

    or

    “”Tryin’ to send the bitch back to her maker
    And if you got a daughter older then 15, I’mma rape her
    Take her on the living room floor, right there in front of you
    Then ask you seriously, whatchu wanna do?” -DMX

    or

    “Looking through her window, now my body is warm
    She’s naked, and I’m a peeping tom
    Her body’s beautiful, so I’m thinking rape
    Shouldn’t have had her curtains open, so that’s her fate” – Bushwick Bill

    or

    “We be, thuggers, stunners, hustlers
    Kidnap mothers, rape with no rubbers” (Lil Wayne)

    or

    “Look she tired of the same old basic, let’s face it
    This is how she wants to be laced, I’m raping it
    Anywhere, I’m taking it” – Masta Killa

    or

    “And once the def dicks on the loose
    So bitch you can’t escape
    So hold this feelin, cause if you don’t, I’m thinkin rape” – Krayzie Bone

    or

    “Never fucked but you ate that
    My niggas fucked and we raped that
    Then gave a buck like ‘take that'” – Vado

    or

    “We gonna take this, Point Blank range in your Range Rover
    Pistol with the kids and rape your stray ho”- Ja Rule

    or

    “Beat niggas till they have concussions (woah)
    Rape wives and then laugh at husbands” (woah) -Hopsin

    or

    “”If I ever go broke, I’mma take yo money
    Have my nigga snatch yo bitch and rape yo honey” – Meek Mill

    or

    “”In limbo I lamp
    Rape the lady, kill the tramp” – Ras Kass

    or

    “”Who else in a hurry to murk
    We kill girls, rape em’, bury their skirts” – Cam’ron

    or

    “Sit down girl, let me get you a drink
    I’mma buy you a mink, and rape you on the sink” – Bizarre

    or

    “Now sue me ock, I just lay and smile
    I’ll rape your child
    They won’t make the trial (Killa)” – Cam’ron

    or

    “Raped a Vegas hooker, told her pimp he should pay me
    At OJ’s house and creepin’ out with his Lady
    Before he shaved me I’d holla, ‘Kali Baby!'” – Krizz Kaliko

    or

    “”Bitch, go send bobby to get me, or get your ass beat the fuck up by Cindy Obie don’t temp me, or I’ll rape this bitch and use no fuckin’ jimmy” – Bizarre

    or

    “Murder astrologist, mad cases of manslaughter
    I rape this man’s daughter, then put the shit on camcorder” – Bloodshed

    or

    “Nigga, I’m taking yo lover
    I mean I’m raping yo lover
    Leave her taste in my rubber” – Lil Wayne

    or

    “Night time is the right time for creepin
    Vandalize your crib, rape your wife while she’s sleepin
    I been off the deep end, since I was semen” – DMX

    or

    “”You call this shit kids, well I call these kids cum
    And you call this shit rape but I think that rape’s fun” – Tyler

    But yeah, the enlightened progressive community has decided that we should simply shake our heads at anyone chanting any of that and say “Oh yes, that’s tasteless.”

    But if white frat kids sing a chant, well, then we need to make an example of them, regardless of their rights and free speech, otherwise nothing will change.

    Give me a break.

  241. “Things in this country will not change until the majority group decides it needs to change.”

    Things will not change until we stop making excsuses for the minority group while periodically and hypocritically making examples of the majority group.

  242. We had a spirited discussion on the OU topic at my house last night.

    The students were expelled on the basis of creating a hostile environment, not on discrimination. If you argue that this incident, in a private gathering, created a hostile environment for a protected class, then all sorts of similar incidents would be grounds for expulsion on the same basis. This has actually happened in the overreach many see for Title 9 enforcement, which requires schools to prevent a sexually hostile environment. Schools have become judge and jury, requiring lower standards of evidence to harshly punish men caught in situations where no regular court would ever convict them of wrongdoing. If two drunk people have sex, then the man can be a rapist but never the woman.

    In the OU case, there’s been discussion of failure to provide due process.

    Maybe on balance it’s better to overreact, but it’s also possible that sometimes overreach in the name of justice causes more harm than good. It’s a version of the “soft bigotry of low expectations”, something I can speak about from personal experience.

  243. Milo, no I wouldn’t. I realize that’s hypocritical. I do not always live up to my own ideals, but I’m trying. But at least one of the boys withdrew before being expelled, so at this point discussion of the expulsion is more hypothetical. I don’t think its possible for the university to balance the rights of the people on each side of this issue to the satisfaction of the public. But without having been expelled, those guys could not have made it through the semester there, in my opinion. They just got their fraternity thrown off campus. Their support system was gone and they were the recipients of incredible hostility. Cars on campus bearing Greek letters are seeing vandalism and tires smashed. Guys formerly in that house are being threatened on campus and over social media. This was not the “teachable moment” people are calling it where we can all discuss rationally and learn from it. They would have had to leave. So the next time something like this happens, what is the right course of action? I don’t know, but I’m sure we are going to get the chance to see it again.

  244. MBT – You’re making a pretty good argument for not allowing James Meredith to attend Ole’ Miss. I mean, yeah, sure, not allowing him to attend is a violation of his Constituational rights (just like ignoring the right to free speech is a violation of these boys’ Constitutional rights) but look at the way the people were reacting on campus. And it was not possible to make people on each side of the issue happy. Meredith was being threatened, and he didn’t have a good support network. He was a recipient of incredible hostility. He couldn’t make it through the semester, imo.

    And you still agree with expulsion? Not for your son, of course, but for someone else’s son?

  245. MBT, given what you’ve just said about reactions to the guys at OU, I’m wondering if similar is happening to the kids from Flower Mound in the video I posted. Do you know?

    Milo, black fraternities are very different from white fraternities. They do not have the history of violence and drunkenness have, so they are nowhere near the “last straw”.

  246. Milo, I don’t know the right answer. I’m deeply bothered by this. I spent a lot of time on that campus visiting friends, have good friends who were members of that house, have a husband and brother who were fraternity members, and a son who is not past the age of doing stupid things. But I also am a member of the greater community who is sick of the ongoing, just under the radar, racist crap. Depending on where I am at working through the arguments, my opinion leans just this side or that side. It is not as clear to me as it seems to be to you or Saac.

  247. MBT, the only thing that’s clear to me is that the under the radar racist crap you refer to has to end. If moving against the fraternity quickly is part of a real change, great. But as I mentioned to Rhett yesterday and as I discussed with ‘saac, I’m afraid that it is a or move that intimately serves to prevent them from having to do anything real about underlying, pervasive racism.

  248. “It is not as clear to me as it seems to be to you or Saac.”

    It’s actually not very clear to me, either. I’m just exercising different lines of reasoning. I do believe in the idea that it’s easy to protect fundamental rights for people that you like, but it’s much more important to be mindful of violating those rights for people that you don’t like, or who aren’t very popular.

    “They do not have the history of violence and drunkenness have”

    I don’t even know any black fraternities, so this is not a targeted argument. But rape is obviously a very big issue, and it’s a hell of a lot more timely than lynching.

  249. “the under the radar racist crap you refer to has to end”

    So does shooting cops. And that just happened in Ferguson. Does that mean you would suddenly support unjust treatment of black protestors now in order to “make an example”?

  250. Milo just reminded me of another thing I’m certain of: there is no need to compete for the title of “most mistreated”‘or whatever. Women and black people are discriminated against, sometimes violently. The point is to stop that, not to fight each other.

  251. “The point is to stop that, not to fight each other.”

    Saac – I agree. I think the answer is to truly strive for equal treatment and equal standards. But my personal opinion is that you move away from that when you start comparing notes about which group had it worse when, therefore behavior that is unacceptable from one group is shrugged off from another.

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