Freedom of speech on campus

by Sky

Two incidents involving freedom of speech on campus have made the news in recent days:


October 28: Dean Burgwell Howard and the university’s International Affairs Council sent an email to students, discouraging students from wearing costumes that featured feathered headdresses, turbans, blackface, and war paint, noting that “while students…have a right to express themselves, we would hope that people would actively avoid those circumstances that threaten our sense of community or disrespects, alienates or ridicules segments of our population based on race, nationality, religious belief or gender expression.”

October 30: Wife of the Silliman Master (the faculty adviser who lives in one of the undergraduate dorms) Erika Christakis sends an email to Silliman residents in response to students’ questions. The key excerpt:

Even if we could agree on how to avoid offense – and I’ll note that no one around campus seems overly concerned about the offense taken by religiously conservative folks to skin-revealing costumes – I wonder, and I am not trying to be provocative: Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious… a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive? American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition. And the censure and prohibition come from above, not from yourselves! Are we all okay with this transfer of power? Have we lost faith in young people’s capacity – in your capacity – to exercise self-censure, through social norming, and also in your capacity to ignore or reject things that trouble you? We tend to view this shift from individual to institutional agency as a tradeoff between libertarian vs. liberal values (“liberal” in the American, not European sense of the word).

Nicholas says, if you don’t like a costume someone is wearing, look away, or tell them you are offended. Talk to each other. Free speech and the ability to tolerate offence are the hallmarks of a free and open society.

Protests erupted on the Yale campus, and a confrontation with Erika’s husband Nicholas was filmed and posted on YouTube. The undergraduates surround Christakis and yell obscenities at him over his wife’s email.

Despite the efforts of the administration to quell the outrage, the protests continue and the students involved are now demanding that the university hire black psychologists for the campus health center and adopt more ethnic studies curricula. (Yale recently announced a $50M effort to hire more ethnically and racially diverse faculty.)

University of Missouri:

September 12: People in a passing pickup truck allegedly shout racial slurs at the student government president, who is black.

October 5: A drunk white student allegedly yells a racial slur at a group of black students. The university chancellor posts on a blog in response, condemning racism on campus.

October 8: Mandatory online diversity training for faculty is announced.

October 10: Black protestors block the University president’s car in the Homecoming Parade, demanding he talk to them about the incidents.

October 21: A student group called Concerned Student 1950 issues a list of demands, including an apology from the university president and his removal; diversity training for all faculty, staff and students; and more funding for black faculty and staff and for social justice centers on campus.

October 24: A swastika drawn in feces is found on a dorm bathroom wall.

November 2: A graduate student begins a hunger strike until the university president resigns. Students protest.

November 7: The football team announces that it will not participate in practices or games until the university president resigns.

November 9: The university president and chancellor resign.

* * *

The atmosphere at Yale was described to me as a “witch hunt,” even before the Halloween email controversy.

In My Day – which was not so long ago – even the most progressive students gave lip service to the value of diverse views. What has changed? Is this a return to the campus activism of the 1960s, or something different?


114 thoughts on “Freedom of speech on campus

  1. Sorry for the changing tenses in my post – I wrote it in bursts between doing other things, and missed that.

    I sent in the post before the video from Dartmouth came out.

  2. I think this has all been building for several years. I remember a few years ago the controversy over whether students had the right to dictate to administrations who their commencement speaker was (and most universities bent to the students’ demands). I think kids this age have been taught that they have a voice and an opinion that really matters, and while I think it’s great that they are voicing those opinions, the violence of it is troubling (these are probably our future leaders). I read the Atlantic article about what went on at Yale and there does seem to be no room for any alternative opinion or view point with the most vocal protesters (and I totally agreed with the woman who said that kids should be able to police themselves at a social event when it comes to Halloween costumes). The article Rio posted last night about the Dartmouth protesters seemed to be assault. Those kids who pushed and shoved other students should be punished instead of lauded for “making an impact”. I’m sympathetic to their complaints but their actions make it tough for me to fully sympathize.

  3. Also, my sister works in PR at Missouri State and they were getting a lot of angry calls. I mean people don’t even check that it’s the right university before calling to voice their displeasure.

  4. In every generation some percentage of kids really want to be freedom riding through the deep south in 1961 or disrupting the 1968 Democratic Convention. If there is no pressing issue at hand they will just make one up and blow it all out of proportion.

  5. Kids these days. It’s like they don’t know what “free speech” means!

    What would the reaction be to some Berkeley professor’s wife mimeographing her passionate defense of US policy in Vietnam c.1969?

  6. I would add that in 1968 some professor’s wife supporting the domino theory would have most like been in the form of some drunken cocktail party rant and gone no further. But, today you can e-mail everyone or post on Facebook and it can blow up a lot easier.

  7. Looking at the larger political environment in which these protests are just a small part, I feel like we’re seeing what will later be recognized as the last throes of Peak Political Correctness. These things are cyclical, and if the commentators who talk about this sort of thing can be believed, and the 1980s represented the backlash against the cultural and campus excesses of the prior, say, 12 years, then I think we’re right around the same point for that.

    There are mini-peaks and backlashes, too. Between 2000 and 2004 was probably the high-water mark for the other side, when, for example, the idea of a Constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage could still command serious Presidential debate discussion.

    But now the pendulums have swung so far, it seems like every day there’s a new grievance group desperate to have their demands heard. It’s no longer about ending any particular offenses; it’s moved into the realm of exerting power by controlling and limiting thought and speech. And the more extreme it gets, the more of a joke it’s become, even among groups and publications that one would expect to be sympathetic, like the Atlantic riding a series of articles on Coddled Minds and lambasting “trigger warnings.”

    So rest easy. This won’t last much longer.

  8. I have a problem lumping together the Missouri and Yale issues. Missouri you have real, live people doing real, live racist things — following on a long, not-so-well-hidden history of these kinds of things. Fully sympathize with the protests.

    Yale, man, I am with the wife who got pilloried. I thought she asked a perfectly reasonable question about the extent to which we should trust the power structure to dictate to grown adults how to dress for a party. She is completely right that Halloween in particular has always held an element of subversion, and that testing (and sometimes crossing) boundaries is an important part of growing up — and learning to deal with being on the receiving end of that in a constructive way is *also* an important part of growing up. Honestly, I don’t have a problem with the Administration reminding people to be culturally sensitive — but I also don’t have a problem with her questioning whether the Administration should be the Decider on those sorts of things. It’s the difference between defending racism and defending someone’s right to make himself look like an insensitive, idiotic tool — I may not like the choice, but it’s his to make. I would think that the Import of Halloween Costumes would be the perfect subject for a reasoned campus debate at a school known for its intellectualism. I am absolutely horrified at the response.

    Now, I have also heard that there are underlying problems at Yale with racism, so to the extent those have not been addressed appropriately, there would certainly seem to be cause for anger. But, if that’s what’s driving this, boy, did they pick the wrong target.

  9. My freshman dorm also housed the university president’s office, so the blingedy-blangedy law students who were all up in arms about divesting from South Africa at that time (still apartheid then) would march around yelling slogans at all hours. I doubt the president was in his office at 7 am on a Saturday but they sure succeeded in waking up a bunch of freshmen! Turned me off student activism for life.

    Buuut, I agree with Rhett, this is just what students do. (At least, when they can spare a little time from binge drinking and angsting and pairing up.) Any campus worth its salt is at least a little crazy.

  10. When I was back for a reunion, students (probably grad students) kept buttonholing me to sign petitions about divesting from tobacco stocks. It will be a relief if the next time I’m back everyone is yelling about institutional racism for a change.

  11. HM – my sister lived in that dorm. :)

    Maybe it was just because I went to college in the 90s and apathy ruled, but I have a hard time remembering any protests when I was in college, except for the grape protests (the grape pickers have bad working conditions so the dining halls shouldn’t serve grapes).

    LfB, I also agree with you that the 2 campuses aren’t an apples-to-apples comparison.

  12. I’m not a leader,
    I’m not a left-wing rhetoric mobilizing force of one,
    But there was a time way back,
    Many years ago in college, don’t laugh,
    But I thought I was a radical,
    I ran the Hemp Liberation Group with my boyfriend,
    It was true love, with a common cause,
    And besides that, he was a Sagittarius.

    We used to say that our love was like hemp rope,
    Three times as strong as the rope that you buy domestically,
    And we would bond in the face of oppression from big business and the deans,
    But I knew there was a problem,
    Every time the group would meet everyone would light up,
    That made it difficult to discuss glaucoma and human rights,
    Not to mention chemotherapy.

    Well sometimes, life gives us lessons sent in ridiculous packaging,
    And so I found him in the arms of a Student Against the Treacherous use of Fur,
    And he gave no apology, he just turned to me, stoned out to the edge of oblivion,
    He didn’t pull up the sheets and I think he even smiled as he said to me,
    “Well, I guess our dreams went up in smoke.”

    And I said, No, our dreams went up in dreams, you stupid pothead,
    And another thing, what kind of a name is
    Students Against the Treacherous Use of Fur?
    Fur is already dead, and besides,
    A name like that doesn’t make a good acronym.

    I am older now, I know the rise
    And gradual fall of a daily victory.
    And I still write to my senators,
    Saying they should legalize cannabis,
    And I should know, cause I am a horticulturist,
    I have a husband and two children out in Lexington, Mass.
    And my ex-boyfriend can’t tell me I’ve sold out,
    Because he’s in a cult.
    And he’s not allowed to talk to me.
    Songwriters: DAR WILLIAMS
    The Pointless, Yet Poignant, Crisis Of A Co-Ed lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

  13. I remember the biggest travesty in my college career was when my sorority got a “social suspension” for two months for something or other (no parties with fraternities for what seemed like an eternity). The 90s ruled!

  14. “Amherst students also asked administrators to excuse them from coursework and classes so they could participate in protests and sit-ins”

    Asking to be excused from your classes kind of undermines the subversive nature of things. Like they want to protest but aren’t willing to make and REAL sacrifices to do so. They are so cute.

  15. “It’s moved into the realm of exerting power by controlling and limiting thought and speech.”
    Excellent Point.

    In My Day, the biggest student protest was over the banning of kegs at a particular tailgating field. The protest then required tear gas to disperse the riot crowd.

  16. When I hear about the freedom-of-speechers squelching those whose views they disagree with I think back to introductory Poli Sci when the prof said something like “and, at the very extremes, the most liberal and the most conservative meet.” Seems right on this issue to me. The conservatives may be against radical/liberal (free) speech all the time and the liberals clamoring to have their “radical” points of view heard eventually seem to want to shut down any who speak against them.

    I’m in agreement with “I-disagree-with-your-point-but-I-will-defend-your-right-to-express-it”. The trouble is, too many people only take the speaking part seriously and ignore the listening part which is where the exchange of opposing ideas gets people thinking and can actually drive change.

  17. “Asking to be excused from your classes kind of undermines the subversive nature of things. Like they want to protest but aren’t willing to make and REAL sacrifices to do so. They are so cute.”


  18. “Cute”? I think they are entitled little twits.

    I, too, see a big difference between the MO protesters and the ones in Amherst and at Yale, who appear to be asking that free speech rights be limited to those who agree with them.

    And those students at Dartmouth who pushed the girl against the wall during their “protest” ought to be charged with assault and probably expelled.

  19. On the ISIS topic, I liked this article. The author has confirmed for me a sneaking suspicion that I’ve had for years but have been too afraid to admit: I kind of like Obama on foreign policy.

    The best part of the article, on what needs to happen to defeat ISIS:

    Understanding ISIS’ methods can help us counter its aims. One key for us: to step up the grim war of attrition against ISIS on the ground. Life for the average ISIS fighter has to become a miserable affair of holing up, getting shot, running out of food, and putting up with bad medical care and low supplies even as the higher-ups live it up in the ruins of Raqqa. That word needs to filter out across the jihadi grapevine. To cut the flow of recruits and funds to ISIS, we must make ISIS look unattractive and weak—drab. If at the same time we work aggressively to reduce its ability to repeat the Paris attacks, ISIS will continue to fade.

    I like it. There’s a little bit of William Tecumseh Sherman in there.

  20. In course of protesting if you push or shove someone can’t you not only get charged with assault but won’t you get sued as well ? I feel like the Missouri campus had definite problems but other campuses are jumping on the bandwagon. I feel that a lot of these kids need a teflon coating to be able to deflect perceived slights, insults, negative feedback. There will be plenty of this later in life and most times it has nothing to do with what race or gender or whatever you have idenitified in your mind. I think it is imporatnt to know the difference. For instance older kid mentioned the horsing around but in poor taste that goes on at school. I was concerned because my instinct was to think “bullying”. On further probing it wasn’t bullying just obnoxious and a little bit inappropriate.

  21. “I’m in agreement with “I-disagree-with-your-point-but-I-will-defend-your-right-to-express-it”. The trouble is, too many people only take the speaking part seriously and ignore the listening part which is where the exchange of opposing ideas gets people thinking and can actually drive change.” +1

    The other part of this is that we seem to have this idea that no one should ever be offended. While I do not think that people should purposefully attempt to offend another person or group, the fact that we have different beliefs and opinions makes it likely that words I use or actions I take to support my point of view has the potential to offend someone else.

  22. There were a few (very few) people who protested things at my university, but everyone I knew was pretty focused on coursework. Many students had a strong secondary interest in ethanol applications and remaining employed at their part-time jobs.

    If kegs had been successfully banned, people might have protested, but issues of racism and university investment weren’t going to pull anyone away from his McCabe-Thiele diagrams.

    Do you think that the protesters are mostly students whose parents are paying for college and who have too much time on their hands? They seem mildly concerned about missing their classes but not about missing time at their jobs.

  23. There were always protests at my university, generally beginning to occur once the weather became pleasant. The protests were always pretty low key. Anti apartheid stuff is all that I recall.

    I doubt that the protesters are paying their own way. Even at my low key university, the protesters were always kids with time and money looking for a cause.

  24. “Do you think that the protesters are mostly students whose parents are paying for college and who have too much time on their hands?”

    Given that racism is a strong component of the protests, my guess is that a lot of the protesters are URM. At a school like Yale, I would further guess that many of them are on financial aid.

  25. Finn, you are likely right. The African American electrical engineer in Tau Beta Pi and I were partners in a couple classes and his comment about such activities was, “I don’t have time for that sh&t.”

  26. The hunger striker at Missouri is from a very wealthy family. His dad is a railroad exec who made several million $ in 2014.

  27. There were always protests at my university, as well. Anti apartheid and pro-right to choose were the two main topics. However, they were peaceful and non-confrontational. Nobody ever shouted down an administration official, or tried to get someone fired.

  28. When I first read about what happened at Yale, my take was very similar to LfB’s.

    However, I heard a bit more about it from DS, who heard through his grapevine about the take of some kids from his school who are there now, and apparently there are some contextual issues that may not have been well captured in many of the media accounts and commentaries.

    Subsequently, I read an article written by a recent Yale grad that captured some of the contextual subtleties; if I can find the link I’ll post it. In that context, the actions of the students are more understandable. What I read in that was that Yale had sold the students that their colleges were safe spaces, sort of their home away from home, where they would be sheltered from certain types of unpleasantness as they would in their real homes, and many students perceived the email from the master’s wife to be inconsistent with that.

    But even with that, she did include a caution about how their costumes could be perceived as offensive and to be considerate of that.

  29. There were a lot of protests when I was in law school. Most were peaceful, except for the bomb which badly damaged the building but didn’t kill anyone.

    Since I disagreed with some of the protestors’ aims and would not sign their petitions, some of my classmates said I should leave the school and refused to speak to me again; a few were very angry. But I was never physically threatened. If I had been cornered like some of the Dartmouth students, I might have transferred.

  30. “The African American electrical engineer in Tau Beta Pi and I were partners in a couple classes and his comment about such activities was, “I don’t have time for that sh&t.””

    My guess would be that engineering majors in general don’t have time (and energy) to spare.

    When I was an undergrad, to my knowledge there were two African American engineering students, both retired vets.

  31. I’ve heard that the other issue at Yale was the end of the minority adviser program, which gave URM students someone to talk to about the social issues at the school. Particularly if you are on aid, it can be a tough adjustment.

    Yale ought to reinstate the advisory program, but I don’t think that that justifies the behavior we saw.

  32. In the home country student leaders and on campus protests were usually hijacked by one political party or other. In fact the student/youth wing was a place where many politicians got their start. And this is old style goon politics. So, the majority of the student body who wanted to graduate on time stayed as far away from any kind of protest. In my first year of junior college, the professors went on strike right after the academic year started so there were no classes held for almost two months.

  33. The last five words made me laugh:

    “Carson Is Struggling on Foreign Policy, His Advisers Say. The candidate’s remarks on the Middle East and national security have raised questions about his knowledge of the subject, and advisers say tutoring is having little effect.”

    From the NYT.

  34. I worked for the campus newpaper back when I was an undergrad. We noted among ourselves that many of the student protesters seemed to be “disciples” (probably too strong a word) of a few rabble-rousing faculty — if you looked back through the newspaper archives, over the years, the student protesters changed, the causes changed, but the faculty behind the “cause of the day” stayed the same. I don’t doubt that the students were very well-intentioned in their beliefs, but I think they were also prodded and encouraged by faculty who sometimes used the students as a means to their own ends. (I’m not at all sure I’m explaining myself well here.)

    I have more thoughts on this, but have to run for now. Will try to post later.

  35. Just quickly read a couple of articles about the Dartmouth incident, and that sounds far worse than what happened at Yale.

    This is all making me glad that neither school is on DS’ list, but has me wondering if similar stuff is going on, or will go on, at other schools.

  36. “a few rabble-rousing faculty”

    I believe our former governor was a rabble-rousing faculty member before that, which seems in line with Louise’s point.

  37. “I would add that in 1968 some professor’s wife supporting the domino theory would have most like been in the form of some drunken cocktail party rant and gone no further.”
    Y’all, I may be nitpicking here, but everyone keeps referring to Erika Christakis as a professor’s wife, and she is, but she’s also a lecturer at Yale and I think the comparison to a drunken “wife” spouting off at a party is off base. It bugs me that she’s referred to as her husband’s wife, and he’s not referred to as Erika’s husband.
    Or maybe I’m just overly sensitive.

  38. “I’d be pissed if I spent $60K a year to send my kids to these schools and *this* is what they did with their time.”

    I’d be pissed if I were paying to send my kid to Dartmouth and he was harassed while studying in the library.

  39. Hour from Nowhere – there was an article in the NYT on how really accomplished women are often referred to as the wife of so and so, even if they are the lead writer on a paper or are the more well known figure in the field. Janet Yellen and her husband were given as an example. Very irritating.

  40. HfN, it’s probably because for the purpose of the the incident, she was acting as the house master’s wife.

  41. “Buuut, I agree with Rhett, this is just what students do. (At least, when they can spare a little time from binge drinking and angsting and pairing up.)”

    HM, as a student in the 60’s (like Hillary, but younger by a bit), I can guarantee you that protests were a great venue for binge drinking and marching on something was a great, cheap date. Trips to the White House or the UN were excuses for overnight trips with the GF.

  42. “At least, when they can spare a little time from binge drinking and angsting and pairing up.”

    Or in the case of engineering students, as WCE mentioned, studying.

  43. ITA with moxiemom and anothertwinmom on the irony of the protestors’ asking for a note to be excused from class.

    The reason that they don’t simply not show up is that absence from class might affect their GPA, which would affect their ability to get the internship of their choice this summer and the job/internship/graduate program of their choice when they graduate.

    I also agree that most of these students have way too much free time. So do the rabble-rousing faculty members who sometimes egg them on. At DH’s university, it’s always the usual suspects who sign every faculty letter protesting university actions with which they disagree. Very few of them are among the most productive and accomplished academics. Not many from the engineering or math or chemistry departments. But the departments with the word “studies” in their names are overrepresented.

  44. Missouri mainly demonstrates the power of Big Football. Expect more demands from football players

  45. There is nothing that is being said about today’s student protesters, many of whom are not particularly well informed or directly affected by what are often serious issues, that was not said about students protesters with equal validity in my and PTM’s day.

    However, as illustration of the general thin-skinned climate today, I offer the following example from the aftermath of last night’s Bengals-Texans game (the mediocre Texans defeated the heretofore undefeated Bengals).

    JJ Watt, Texans, 2014 Defensive Player of the Year, generally considered a good guy

    Our goal was to come out here and make the Red Rifle look like a Red Ryder BB Gun, and I think we did that. He is a great player, and they are a great team, but our coaches put together a great game plan, we executed the game plan, everybody did their job.

    Andy Dalton, Bengals QB, aka The Red Rifle

    I’m disappointed in him because of the integrity of this game. I have a lot of respect for him. He’s a really good player. There are a lot of kids and people who look up to him, and for him to make comments like that, he’s just showing that’s acceptable to say that kind of stuff.

    Good grief.

  46. BTW- When did camo become part of football team attire? I notice the Ravens coaches wearing camo this past Sunday. Umm guys its a game, not a battlefield or hunting ground.

  47. The NFL camo thing is a salute to service. It also promotes fundraising. I think it is a bit of a conflict of interest, but I thought it was nice because the NFL donated, or helped to raise awareness about fundraising for Pat Tillman Foundation (PTF), USO and the Wounded Warrior Project.

  48. The cammo makes them impossible to see, ATM. If you can’t see them, you can’t steal their calls. Blame Bill Belichick.

    Meme, you’re so delightfully right (as is frequent) on the Watts/Dalton thingee. I wouldn’t have pegged Dalton as a snowflake but I guess he is about that age.

  49. Tee, hee. Meme, can you imagine Vince Lombardi or Tom Landry dressing up in camo for a game?

  50. Lauren – Well at least its for a good cause. I only noticed the coaching staff wearing the camo. I don’t really like conflating games with military action. I have a no camo policy in our house, which my lovely BIL completely obliterated over the summer. Now I see it everywhere.

  51. Camo seems to have crossed into a lot of fashion for kids and even women. I researched this on Sunday when I saw it on TV. They have raised a lot of money for veterans, veteran’s families, and active military families by raising awareness. It was Veteran’s Day too, so it was a week that was focused on remembrance.

  52. My on campus job was in the library. I was very annoyed to read about the protesters invading the Dartmouth Library. The college library was a place of calm on campus. I was in awe of the amount of books and resources available having come from a place where such learning resources where scarce. I recall the one time a fellow student working the front desk was being stalked by a library visitor, he was escorted out by campus security. In addition to being a place to study, it is a place of work for library permanent staff and student workers – won’t they feel threatened by such a mob ?

  53. Below is a link about Sens McLain and Flake’s report on payments to sports teams by the uniformed services for events honoring the troops

    Bill Belichick , who grew up at the Naval Academy where his father was a coach, who is a military historian, and who has worked behind the scenes for year with service related charities, refused to wear the NFL marketing machine issued camo gear during the Salute to Service month. It has been a subject of discussion on talk radio, but he has not chosen to address it. Since his support for the troops is unquestioned, and he has in the past worn pink ribbons (so he is not just refusing to participate on football purity grounds), some think it might be a gesture of true respect for the uniform.

  54. Missouri is similar to Yale IMO.

    A professor of media/journalism threatened a student journalist with violence when he was trying to do his job of reporting on the demonstrations.

    “Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here?” she said in the clip. “I need some muscle over here.”

    She later resigned and supposedly apologized, but may face charges.

    The University of Missouri police department sent an email urging students to report offensive or hurtful speech – not because it is illegal – but so the Office of Student Conduct could take disciplinary action against these students.

    Offensive or hurtful language?

    … basically what is happening is that if someone’s feelings get hurt, police will crack down on the person that hurt the other’s feelings and that is terrifying because every day people have opinions that are different and could be seen as offensive or hurtful because they do not agree with them.

    The demands by student activists seem out of proportion to the events.  2 reports of black students being called the n-word, in one case probably not by another student, and the feces swastika (no photo, surprisingly) were the offenses.  And the president was supposed to do what?  The students demanded his resignation, but only after he wrote a letter of apology that affirmed his white privilege and admission of the existing system of oppression.  There were other demands, including curriculum changes.  There was also reference to the university not doing enough about the Ferguson incident.  I’m sure others disagree, but this all seems over the top.

  55. Hmm, one might think that it would be relatively easy to be a NMSF here. However, the historical cutoff is higher than the cutoff of many more states than it is lower than (by about a 2 to 1 margin).

    A quick glance at the data shows we have the largest negative deviation on the ACT of any state. This may be because all public school students are required to take the ACT, and from what I’ve seen, many private school students (a population that typically produces somewhere around 90% of the state’s NMSF) have taken the SAT and not the ACT (at least until this year).

    The negative IQ deviation may also be attributable in part to its source, a standardized test given to public school students. As the NMSF data suggest, that will skew that data low relative to states that do not have as high a %age of its kids going to private schools.

  56. Finn, why do you think so many academically strong students in Hawaii attend private schools, compared to other states?

  57. I’m skeptical of some of the campus hate crime claims, at least about to what degree you can claim a University has a racism problem based on a handful of isolated incidents. Anyone remember the KKK sighting at Oberlin that turned out to be a hoax by “progressive” students? There was a similar incident at my high school with a Swastika- someone faking a racist incident to try and show how bad racism is. Not that some hate crimes aren’t real of course, but I’d venture that less than 1% of Mizzou’s 35,000 students remotely support those hate crimes. A much higher percentage of European Muslims are sympathetic to ISIS, but we (rightly) hesitate to be too quick to generalize about Muslims and terrorism. But a couple of alleged offensive incidents occur on a college campus, and usually no one even gets anything more than feelings hurt, and it’s a sign that the institution is racist to the very core?

    Not that there aren’t real reasons for Black Lives Matter and campus protests. For instance, drug policy, the criminal justice system, police brutality, educational inequality, etc. I wish the campus protesters would focus on those things (and stop with the violent and crazy tactics).

  58. PTM, a few years ago, a couple of coaches wanted to wear suits on the sidelines and the NFL said they couldn’t because they had a deal with Reebok to supply all the coaches’ clothing. They finally reached an agreement where reebok supplied them with suits.

  59. WCE, I think a lot of it is historic, going back the the days of English Standard Schools, which were public schools set up largely for the benefit of white peoples’ kids.

  60. I’m surprised that some people see wearing camouflage as a distasteful appropriation of a military uniform. Personally, I think that the military wears it entirely too often. It’s all part of today’s casual culture. If you don’t expect someone to be shooting at you, and you’re not running around in field exercises, you should wear a proper uniform shirt and trousers, imho, with a tie from Fall to Spring. Also, the Navy has no business wearing camouflage at all, with the possible exception of SEALs and corpsmen deployed with Marine units.

    But anyway, I thought this was hilarious:

    It was custom made by Brooks Brothers, you know.

  61. DD, was that more than one coach? I thought it was just Mike Nolan, because his dad had always worn suits to coach games.

  62. ” I think that the military wears it entirely too often.”

    Walk into any military base her on most days, and all the active duty personnel will be wearing camo BDUs.

    Don’t a lot of Navy personnel spend pretty much their entire careers being land-based? But I agree with your sentiment; they should come up with camo patterns to wear at sea that make them blend into the ocean. Or perhaps they should blend into their ships?

    I have a recollection of reading that studies were done, and the pixilated ones were found to help make people wearing them less visible in desert environments, e.g., Iraq.

  63. Didn’t any of your sons wear camo when they were young? I remember one of DS’ favorite pairs of pants, when he was a toddler, was his camo pants, and a lot of his friends also wore camo pants.

  64. Rio +1

    I went to undergraduate and graduate universities that were affiliated with a religion. I understood as someone raised Jewish that I would be a minority, but I chose this since the private universities defined themselves by their core religious beliefs. If you visit the web pages of these universities, the first sentence about each university defines the religion and the beliefs that the university values to build their communities and teach their students.

    I met many people at each institution that didn’t know any/many other Jewish people. Most people I met were just curious. They were not anti semitic. On my very first night in my freshman dorm, someone asked me why I didn’t have a big nose. I didn’t take offense. I just understood after she explained that I was the first Jewish person she ever met and this was her understanding of Jews.

    I hope that if I had selected the public, state university system and the same comment happened that I would have been as understanding. It is hard to say 30 years later, but I hope I would have tried to believe that people just need to be exposed to other cultures and different people to understand how similar we really are under the skin color, and our backgrounds.

  65. Finn, a lot of teenage girls and the trendy moms are wearing camo around the burbs. We even had a day during national red ribbon week that camo day for the kids in the middle school. boys and girls wore a t shirt or hat or PJ bottoms etc.

  66. It looks like a common demand is for more black faculty (the term used in the article CoC linked), which may fall into the category of “be careful what you wish for.”

    I would guess that one reason there aren’t more black faculty is a dearth of qualified candidates. We’ve discussed here how much tougher it’s getting to get onto the tenure track; encouraging more blacks to try for that may not be in the best interest of those people as individuals.

  67. Finn and HM, thanks for the background about schools in Hawaii. Public high schools started fairly early in the Midwest (think of the Betsy-Tacy stories) and three of my four grandparents completed high school. (One grandmother dropped out because she was already comptroller at a department store.) In rural areas, only the more academically inclined students went beyond eighth grade in the 1930’s, I think.

  68. “Public high schools started fairly early in the Midwest ”

    The oldest HS in the US west of the Mississippi is on Maui (founded in 1831).

  69. I demand that President Obama resign because he promotes institutional appropriation of religious symbolism during pagan festivals. Furthermore, I demand funding to help heal traumatized Catholics victimized by continual microaggression and deprived of their safe spaces.

  70. I saw some cool camo sweatshirts but didn’t buy them for kids because it would be very hard to spot them among the trees here. The neon colors OTOH make it easy to see them at a distance.

  71. “It’s all part of today’s casual culture. If you don’t expect someone to be shooting at you, and you’re not running around in field exercises, you should wear a proper uniform shirt and trousers, imho, with a tie from Fall to Spring. Also, the Navy has no business wearing camouflage at all, with the possible exception of SEALs and corpsmen deployed with Marine units.”

    @Milo: you forgot to end with “now get off my lawn.” :-)

  72. DH’s grandfather passed last night (he was in kidney failure). Thanks everyone that helped with my questions earlier in the year.

  73. “I would guess that one reason there aren’t more black faculty is a dearth of qualified candidates.”

    It’s a pipeline problem. Talented black undergraduates rarely aspire to academia unless they have good mentors. There aren’t enough talented black undergraduates to begin with, because of problems in the K-12 systems. First-generation college students are much more likely to aim for high-paying professions (even though academics in some fields are paid very well), and neither they nor their parents are familiar with the PhD process. Those who emerge with a PhD from a decent program have their pick of offers, and colleges in remote or extremely expensive or otherwise challenging geographical areas often cannot compete.

    DH says that every department at his university has at least one tenured female or person of color whose publication record is inferior to white males turned down for tenure, which makes for very tricky tenure decisions and great fear of litigation.

  74. Academics are often the scions of well-to-do families. One of my colleagues at another university was a Luce. I wouldn’t have gone into academia if I didn’t have comfortable family circumstances (and if I’d known what I was getting into, I wouldn’t have done it at all.) If you’re halfway bright, why wouldn’t you go into some higher-paying line of work? Well, if you kind of know that there’s a safety net, it makes for an easier decision. There are fewer wealthy black families for a variety of reasons. So if you’re a bright black kid, you’re less inclined to be a genteelly poor professor.

  75. Agree that academics seldom come from poorer families (though DH did). But I don’t know many who had academic parents. After seeing how much DH works, none of our kids has any interest in an academic career.

  76. Both of my BILs are college professors but they both come from pretty comfortable families (and both of my one BIL’s parents were professors). I do not understand putting yourself through years of schooling to make $50K per year. The university I work with has a ton of first generation students of all races and having talked to a few of them, there is an expectation that they “give back” to their families once they have a good job, so I can’t imagine them going into academia.

  77. DD, was that more than one coach? I thought it was just Mike Nolan, because his dad had always worn suits to coach games.

    There was a second one. I think it was Jack Del Rio, but I’m not positive.

  78. “After seeing how much DH works, none of our kids has any interest in an academic career.”

    That’s certainly how it worked for me.

    My mom was a first-generation college grad (her mom had gone for a year or two before dropping out to get married; but this was also back in the era when a HS grad could go to work as a designer for GE, so they were firmly MC growing up). But her choice goes back to a point Finn has made repeatedly: she grew up being told she could be a teacher, nurse, or secretary; she was smart and ambitious, so she chose the ladder that seemed to have the highest potential (in terms of respect/influence/independence); and then she aimed at the highest rung on that ladder (college professor). Conveniently, that also came with its own “safety net,” a/k/a “tenure” (useful for a single mom).

    20 years later, I saw how much she worked to make $22K a year (not a lot of money, even in the 1980s). And I said, well, hell, if I’m going to work that hard, I’m going to get paid a lot more for it.

  79. Talented black undergraduates rarely aspire to academia unless they have good mentors.

    And good mentors should be discouraging anyone, regardless of race, not to go into academia :)

  80. “But I agree with your sentiment; they should come up with camo patterns to wear at sea that make them blend into the ocean.”

    Why would anyone want to blend into the ocean? If I’m going into the ocean, I want to be wearing neon yellow.

  81. I’m sorry for your loss, Winemama. Losing a grandparent is hard.

    Really like your thoughts about your experience with stereotypes, Lauren. The world would be a better place if people would try to assume good intentions behind innocent but ignorant questions rather than jumping straight to “microaggressions.”

  82. I am a first generation college graduate, and aimed for an academic career. I was certainly aware that it was very tough for a woman to achieve the level of professor. I never thought about the money at all, but as someone once said on this site, if they don’t pay you to go to grad (as opposed to professional) post undergrad, maybe that is not the place for you. I lost interest after my child died, but when I searched years later to find a new course of study to re-enter the workforce ROI was at the top of my list.

  83. Rio, I agree. We are obviously from very different backgrounds, but I’ve learned so much from you. I have to remind myself all of the time to stop jumping to conclusions about people before I really know them.

    Meme, tax professors earn big bucks compared to some of the other profs!

  84. Why would anyone want to blend into the ocean? If I’m going into the ocean, I want to be wearing neon yellow.

    LoL !

  85. My colleagues have kids in college and I am surprised that parents haven’t talked to their kids about how much they can expect to make should they go into a given profession. For example, one colleague’s DD who is graduating from the flagship in the media/communications field has had unpaid internships with PR companies, radio stations and is thinking of doing an internship in LA. Her intention is to be a screenwriter. I wished I could have LA girl talk to this kid about that whole field. Then, there are other colleagues with two equally bright kids who have chosen to go into fields with a big income difference leading to resentment among siblings (think teacher vs. investment banking).

  86. “Nice weather rots your brain. #2 Minnesota. Coincidence? I think not.”


    I know that this blog is populated by overachievers, but don’t most college kids have a lot of time on their hands? I know I sure did, and so did most of my friends, even the ones who majored in the hard sciences.

    I don’t know about the specific incidents at Mizzou being overblown, but Missouri in general is not a kumbaya, everyone-hold-hands, “we are all the same on the inside” kinda place. The racial tension has built up over 200 years at this point, and the Ferguson situation is pretty fresh in people’s minds. (and also not really all that isolated) So in that context, it makes more sense to me that people would have outsized reactions to what seem like a few isolated incidents. I imagine that there is a lot more too it if they were asking for the chancellor’s head, but I don’t really know.

  87. “don’t most college kids have a lot of time on their hands? I know I sure did, and so did most of my friends, even the ones who majored in the hard sciences. ”

    I sure didn’t. Part of it was the major I chose, but I also figured that since full-time tuition was the same no matter how many courses I took above the minimum to be full-time, as were room and board, I would get the most I could out of my parents’ money, and always took a full enough load to keep me busy.

  88. “assume good intentions behind innocent but ignorant questions”

    People from here deal with these all the time, and apparently so do people from New Mexico. They are a great source of material for local comedians.

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