Mandatory ‘diversity’ training for all students is in full bloom, having begun this semester. It follows similar training, also mandatory, for all faculty and staff. Read about it here.
This training may not satisfy any of the non-negotiable demands of the student protesters of last November, but it is a good step backwards towards full retreat. Fortunately the cost of this training is being paid for by a grant from the City of Ferguson funneled through the Black Studies Department.
On to the training itself. It is good to be informed that Katy Perry dressed as a geisha is ‘cultural appropriation,’ which sounds like theft. You wouldn’t want to do that, even if you believe that all appropriation is appropriate, at least grammatically.
Even more interesting, if you are thinking of dressing as a taco next Hallowe’en, you should be apprised that this too is cultural appropriation, unless your costume includes lettuce. Lettuce in tacos is not Mexican, per the professor from the Women’s and Gender Studies department, so of course this diminishes the Mexican component of the cultural appropriation.
Forthcoming: given that white and black Western sopranos portrayed an ancient Egyptian princess in Aida and an icy Oriental Chinese princess in Turandot, not to speak of the long history of pants roles in grand opera, Verdi and Puccini may no longer be studied by music students. Henceforth only faculty and students in the soon to be created Oppression Studies Department will be free to study these offensive works. Playing recordings of them in one’s dorm room is disallowed because it would undo the beneficent effects of the diversity training. Don’t do i: you might be overheard and reported.
After the ugly events of last November at the University of Missouri at Columbia (MU,) legislators have been bombarded with demands from constituents to “do something” about MU, which is out of control and clearly ungovernable. For a summary of these events click here, here, and here. The problems at MU are typical of those at many American universities. Click here for more information.
Let’s first list some suggestions for legislative action in 2016 and follow them with a few observations filling in the background.
What should the Legislature do?
- The problems are deep-rooted; solutions will be difficult in the face of institutional resistance to change and MU’s barely concealed scorn for the legislature and the Missourians it represents. The sooner the legislature acts, the easier reform will be before the state of our public universities becomes irreversible.
- Let us stipulate at the beginning that the University of Missouri at Columbia (MU) is not autonomous. It is owned by the people of Missouri and accountable for its actions through the Board of Curators and ultimately the General Assembly, representing the people. MU’s tripartite mission is teaching, research, and service such as through the Extension division. Social engineering is not a fourth mission. State government has the obligation to ensure public colleges and universities maintain high academic standards and are fair, unbiased, and truly open to all, with no coercion, indoctrination, or litmus tests. Repairing MU’s and the state’s reputations should be a very high priority.
- We recommend enacting the following first steps during this 2016 legislative session.
- Protect all legally permitted speech.
- Go beyond Senate Bill 93, signed into law last summer, which banned the creation of campus free speech zones. It should be made crystal clear in new legislation that public colleges and universities may not ban, punish, or inhibit legally permitted speech. It should also be part of this legislation that diversity of intellectual expression and free inquiry are mandated. Encouraging anonymous reporting of ‘offensive’ speech so those singled out may be punished should be unequivocally illegal. The goal of a university is to educate, not spy, indoctrinate, change hearts and minds, or insist on uniformity (the opposite of diversity).
- Discrimination for or against because of race should be illegal. No single race may be privileged above the others.
- Control demonstrations, occupations of public property, and harassment.
- Demonstrations are exercises of free speech and should be respected. But shouting down lecturers should be meet with immediate ejection from the lecture hall; resistance should be a misdemeanor offense warranting expulsion. There needs to be legal clarity about when demonstrations become illegal “occupations” of public property and harassment of university faculty, administrators, and guest speakers. “Occupations” obstruct students’ pursuit of their education or the normal work of university employees. They should not be tolerated and met with possible arrest or expulsion. Violence should trigger immediate expulsion or termination of employment.
- Appeasement of protestors’ demands has over decades only created more resentment and renewed pressure for even more radical demands; it should not be tolerated. The MU police department should enforce order on campus, not advise students to report legal speech to campus administrators for punishment.
- We expect a see-no-evil, self-justifying response from campus administration. If there is substantial resistance and foot-dragging in implementing the needed reforms, more drastic action should be taken.
For not a little hilarity on this first day of the new year, click here for the mea culpa awards, issued to news media for the funniest corrections of 2015. Hit tip to the Powerline blog.
Troglo (L. H. Kevil)