Friday, April 03, 2015

Catholic university officials caught on secret video approving student club devoted to raising money for ISIS, saying: 'We're here to get that done.'

Administrators at a Catholic university in Florida agreed to help an honors student start a campus club that would send money and supplies to the ISIS terror army.

Hidden camera footage released Monday morning shows officials and faculty at Barry University advising a senior – identified only as 'Laura' – about the best way to secure funding for a club she called 'Sympathetic Students in Support of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.'

'I want to start fundraising efforts on campus, and what I want to do is raise funds to send overseas,' she told Derek Bley, the school's Coordinator for Leadership Development and Student Organizations.

Bley offered to help her create the organization and agreed with her request to 'pass out Islamic State flags and educate people' at an annual student 'Festival of Nations' fair.

The video is from Project Veritas, a conservative 'guerilla film-making group' that last week captured a Cornell University dean agreeing that ISIS and Hamas would be welcome at the Ivy League school.

Barry University, based in Miami Shores, has received more than $112 million in federal grants and contracts, and another $109 million from Florida taxpayers since 2000, Project Veritas said Monday, citing figures from

It also once received tuition money from retired NBA great Shaquille O'Neal, who graduated in 2012 with a doctorate in Education. His final 'capstone project' – a load-lightened version of a doctoral dissertation – focused on 'humor and seriousness in leadership styles,' according to the Miami New Times.

The school's mission statement says 'all members of our community' must 'accept social responsibility to foster peace and nonviolence.'

Yet Bley was enthusiastic about Laura's terror-funding venture. 'We're not here to limit people and their clubs, he said. 'If there a demand or a need, or an interest that students have to do this, we're here to support that.'

'If you've got ... people who are interested, and this is something you want take and run with,' he added. 'we're here to help you get that done.'

Laura put the murderous ISIS army's credentials front-and-center.

'They are terrorists,' she told Bley, 'but, like, we're trying to help them. We're trying to, like, educate them and give them funding so that they don't have to be impoverished and get involved in acts of violence.'

'You should create jobs and help promote education in the Islamic State,' she added later, 'because that's what helps reduce terrorism.'

That was a subtle jab at U.S. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf, who said last month on MSNBC that 'we cannot kill our way out of this war' with ISIS.'

The Obama administration, Harf said, should instead 'go after the root causes that lead people to join these groups' – including 'lack of opportunity for jobs.'

At one point Laura expanded her fictional club's mandate to include providing paper and pencils to the 'widows and orphans' of dead ISIS jihadis.

Barry University is a Catholic institution founded in 1940; its enrollment includes more than 9,000 students, about half of whom are undergrads like Laura

Another part of her pitch to college officials was a mission that included providing flashlights to ISIS fighters and their families.

'A lot of the facilities have been destroyed' in Iraq and Syria, she said, 'so there is not a lot of electricity and power.'

'A lot of the fighters, they can't see at night, you know?' she continued. 'So, like, people are attacking them and they can't see at night. And because they are so poor, like, they don't have night vision and stuff.'

Bley explored the idea, speculating about the 'thousands of dollars' it might cost to send 'bulk shipments' of flashlights to the Middle East, 'like the ones at Costco and stuff.' 

The only objection Laura encountered was related to the group's proposed name.  'The only thing, as far as the name [goes],' she heard from Frederique Frage, the university's associate director of international and multicultural programs, is that 'technically our country is at war with ISIS'.

Frage was quick to add: 'I am not saying that – at all – ISIS represents Islam.'

But students might have 'some reservation' supporting a group engaged in a 'humanitarian effort' aimed at the terror group, she said. 'It's just unfortunate.'

Another multicultural program administrator, Daisy Santiago, chimed in that Laura should rename her group 'Students in Support of the Middle East' – 'as opposed to having the 'ISIS' [name].'

A professor who runs the university's honors program later agreed to serve as the pro-ISIS club's faculty advisor.

Laura explained that despite a less focused name that didn't include any mention of terror groups, her organization's mission would remain 'raising money and sending it to the Islamic State.'

Professor Pawena Sirimangkala responded: 'I'll sign. I'm glad to do it.'

Laura, an email from a Barry University administrator confirms, is set to receive an award on Monday from the school, as the 'outstanding senior in the Communication Department.'

In December the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal government agency, named Barry University to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

The distinction acknowledges universities that place a premium on community service efforts.

Daily Mail Online has contacted the university staff named in the video and has not received a comment from them.

In a statement provided to Daily Mail Online by the university, Scott Smith, vice president for student affairs, said, 'There has been no formation of an ISIS-related humanitarian aid group at Barry University' and that ' no paperwork' has 'ever' been filed to create such an organization.

'If a student or students are interested in forming a recognized student organization, they are advised on the established processes to follow for approval,' Smith stated. 'However, submitting a request does not guarantee approval since the purpose of all student groups must be in accordance with Barry University’s Mission Statement and Core Commitments.

'Barry University would not approve any group supporting a terrorist organization.'


UK: Let teachers mark their own work, say Labour: Ofsted should just 'oversee' school inspections system

A Labour government would overhaul school inspections in favour of a ‘light-touch’ system allowing teachers to assess each other, the party’s education spokesman has said.

Tristram Hunt said a new peer review system would free up teachers from an ‘avalanche of bureaucracy’ and increase confidence in the regulation process.

The proposals, which would result in Ofsted taking a less hands-on approach, could be a reality by 2020 if Labour was elected, he said.

Mr Hunt acknowledged that the regulator had been a vehicle for progress, but said it was beginning to ‘choke something far more precious’, and threaten the ‘joy’ of schooling.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers in Liverpool, he said: ‘We can begin the process of “mass devolution” where important powers over professional standards, quality assurance, curriculum development and peer review are handed over to profession-led bodies – and we will.

‘Ofsted needs to move towards a supportive, light-touch, profession-led, centrally moderated, peer review system of inspection.  ‘I want this conference to hold me to account for moving towards it over the course of the next Parliament.’

The proposals would see teachers and head teachers helping to assess the performance of other schools.

Ofsted would regulate this process, although the details of how the system would work have not been finalised. 

Mr Hunt said: ‘Let nobody tell you this is a soft touch. Let nobody tell you this is a threat to standards. Rather this is the embodiment of trust, collaboration and a 21st-century approach to rigour and under-performance.’

He added: ‘I want to see an inspectorate that moves beyond box-ticking and data-dependence.  ‘I want to see an inspectorate that allows heads with a strong track record the space to innovate and develop a richer criterion of school achievement.’

Priya Dutta, spokesman for the Campaign for Real Education, said: ‘The system needs an overhaul, and in general we would welcome proposals for this.  ‘But the problem with peer review is that it’s so open to abuse.

‘We would be sceptical about how impartial this peer review would be, so these things would need to be planned very carefully.

‘I’m slightly wary of Ofsted taking a step back because I think there needs to be an independent teaching review body. I wonder how effective peer review would be in practice.’


Australian Education Minister, Christopher Pyne, asks al-Taqwa principal to explain himself after Islamic State comments

Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne has asked the principal of al-Taqwa College to explain why he told students that Islamic State was a Western plot.

The move comes as a former teacher at the school said principal Omar Hallak also told students that Israel did not exist and Jews were horrible people.

Mr Pyne condemned the principal's controversial statements on Wednesday and said he would write to al-Taqwa, which is the largest Islamic School in Victoria, seeking an explanation.

Mr Pyne will also write to Victorian Education Minister James Merlino to ask what action the Education Department is taking.

"The comments of the al-Taqwa College principal are wrong and damaging," he said. 

Ajit Somers taught at the school in 2001 and said Mr Hallak had "shockingly" anti-Semitic views.

He said the principal came into his class and set an assignment in which students had to research a country of their choice. When the principal discovered one student had chosen Israel, he became furious, Mr Somers said.

"He said there is no such thing as Israel and how dare you say Israel. He said Jews are horrible people."

After Mr Hallak left the room, Mr Somers said he told students Israel existed and was a member of the United Nations.

A number of former al-Taqwa teachers have raised concerns about the principal's views following revelations by Fairfax Media last week that he told students not to join Islamic State because it was a plot by Western countries.

He then went on to say that he believed IS was a scheme by Israel and the US.

Another former teacher at the Truganina school in Melbourne's outer west, who did not want to be named, said teachers who were not Muslim were treated as "second-class citizens".

The teacher said she was told off by the principal after she drew a star on a whiteboard to reward good work.

"He said 'that is a Jew symbol. If you do it again I will kick you out'."

Mr Hallak has been called to a meeting with state government officials to explain why he told students that IS was a plot by the West.

State government officials  will meet the college after the school holidays to "develop a program of cross-cultural understanding".

Mr  Merlino said earlier this week that the principal's comments were "a real concern".

"The comments made have no place in our schools and we look forward to working with the school community to address the issue."

Mr Hallak did not respond to questions.

The Truganina school received $11.2 million in federal government funding in 2013, and $4.7 million from the state government, according to the My School website.

In 2005 The Sunday Age reported that a visiting imam told al-Taqwa students that Jews were putting poison in bananas and they should not eat them.


Thursday, April 02, 2015

PA Students Needed Permission Slip to Eat One Oreo Cookie

Sixth-grade students in one public school in Narberth, Pennsylvania had to obtain a signed parental permission slip before being allowed to eat a single Oreo cookie.

In a March 23rd letter sent home with Welsh Valley Middle School students by teacher Darlene Porter, parents were warned that students would each be given one Double Stuf Oreo cookie in order to illustrate the movement of the earth’s tectonic plates.

“The students may eat the OREO after the investigation if this is okay with you,” the letter said. “The students do NOT have to eat the OREO if they do not wish to do so,” it continued.

The authorization read, in part, “My child has permission to eat the OREO after the science investigation on 3/27/2015. Without a signed permission slip, my child understands that he/she will not be able to sample the OREO.”

According to information provided by the school to the local Allentown Morning Call, one student in the sixth-grade class has an allergy plan requiring parental notification if there is food in the classroom. The student’s parents sent gluten-free Oreos for the project.

However, notifying the other parents – or requiring their written permission to eat cookies in school – is not required by school policy.

The letter went viral on Twitter after it was disseminated by an anonymous mother in the Lower Merion School District who identifies herself by the handle @mainlinewife. The account is now protected, which means that only approved followers may view it. contacted Welsh Valley Middle School for a comment, but was told that the school’s public relations person is currently on vacation.


Banning Haddad in Britain: universities are doing the Home Office’s bidding

A controversial Islamic preacher has been banned from speaking at the University of Kent, less than two months after the university was ranked among the worst in the country for freedom of speech. Last week, Haitham al-Haddad, criticised for his homophobic beliefs and defence of domestic violence, was due to speak as part of Kent Islamic Society’s ‘Discover Islam’ week. However, at the last minute, the university prevented him from doing so.

Banning speakers such as Haddad from campus is an insult to free speech. Free speech is not something that can only be extended to those who we, as a society, deem to be right – to place conditions on free speech is to undermine it entirely. The fact that the Islamic Society even considered inviting this man to speak raises some serious questions about the organisers. But banning people him outright only buries students’ heads in the sand, and stops them from taking on his arguments in the open.

Universities are supposed to be places of higher learning and thinking; places where views are explored and challenged. While the UK home secretary Theresa May recently abandoned her proposal to oblige universities to ban extremist speakers, the banning of Haddad – both at Kent, and, before that, at Westminster – shows that universities are already more than willing to do the Home Office’s patronising censorship on its behalf.

Students are intelligent enough to be able to engage with such people in open debate; it is time universities stopped treating us like children. The case of Haddad shows that students’ right to free speech is being eroded from within, and that universities are displaying an intolerance to rival that of the man himself.


UK: Battle against the union blob

It is not surprising that teaching unions are objecting to the proposed 2% pay rise for England’s top teachers. Unions have long protested against performance-based pay for teachers and now they pose another barrier to the School Teachers Review Body. In the STRB’s latest submission (pdf) to the government, highlighted is the need for a wages increase to encourage the desired competition in the teaching profession.

Arguments against pay incentives are that they encourage ‘teaching to the test’ and orchestrated cheating by teachers and schools. Performance gains are accepted to exist but said to be short-lived. While the long-term benefits, they say, are non-existent and there may even be damage done in the long-run.

But the latest research examining their impact on pupils demonstrates the opposite as being true. Pay for performance schemes are becoming increasingly implemented and contemplated in many developed and developing countries and have re-emerged at the top of the policy agenda in the U.S. They are not just a brilliant way of distinguishing the strivers from the shirkers in schooling systems. Such schemes are reaping good long-term labour market outcomes, too.

Research (pdf) published last month by Victor Lavy looks at a study conducted a decade and a half ago in Israel to determine if there are improvements to future education enrolment, earnings and probability of claiming unemployment benefits.

The study is the first of its kind to follow students from high-school to adulthood to examine the impact of a teachers’ pay for performance scheme on long-run life outcomes. It found:

    "A decade after the end of the intervention, treated students are 4.3 percentage points more likely to enrol in a university and to complete an additional 0.17 years of university schooling, a 60 percent increase relative to the control group mean. The road to higher university enrolment and completed years of schooling was paved by the overall improvement in high school matriculation outcomes due to the teachers’ intervention".

So merit-based pay actually improves students’ lifetime well-being, judging by school attainment, annual earnings and welfare-dependency, as well as recognising the hardworking, high-flying teachers and making it a more attractive profession.

If we could achieve a similar flexibility in what the best teachers can be paid in the UK, like proposed in the STRB’s report, it would mitigate the pressures being faced by schools experiencing increasingly competitive graduate labour markets, tightening budgets and demographics driving up pupil numbers.

A difficulty in recruiting NQTs and experienced classroom teachers in this country has been identified by head teacher unions. A key cause being that salary progression is faster for able graduates in other professions, with the opportunity to reach higher levels of earning as their careers progress, than for the teaching profession.

Ideologically-driven unions are the main enemy of change as they still make it difficult to get rid of timeserving teachers and are hostile to the ambitious reformers in schools and policy-making. It is time to start thinking about the market value of teachers’ talents and penetrate the dogmatic ‘blob’ that the old hat education establishment represents


Wednesday, April 01, 2015

New playground safety requirements are absurd

The chances of a child dying or seriously hurting himself in a playground fall are infinitesimal.

A combination of government regulations and free market innovation has created playgrounds that are incredibly safe for kids... except if they die of boredom. All the fun stuff is gone, but boy is what's left non-lethal!

The CDC reports that in the 10 years from 1990 to 2000, there were just 31 deaths from playground falls, and 70 percent of these were at playgrounds in someone's backyard. This means that on public playgrounds, there was an average of about one death per year from falling. With about 40,000,000 kids in America under age 10, that means the chances of a child dying or seriously hurting himself in a playground fall are infinitesimal.

Nevertheless, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has proposed new standards that would revamp the surfacing materials on playgrounds. ASTM's stated mission is to prevent concussions and head injuries. But with the chances of these accidents already so low, you have to wonder about their true intentions.

The ASTM has established important standards in a range of areas throughout its 100-year history. It is a private organization, but local and state governments often require public areas to meet ASTM standards. Through this process, the government essentially requires submission to standards approved by non-government forces. The potential conflicts of interest in the ASTM are glaringly apparent since it is mostly made up of engineers and business owners, and that goes double when one considers the opaque process by which new playground surfacing standards become law.

Very soon—on or around April 1st—an electronic ballot will be opened to all committee members of what is less-than-felicitously called the "F08 on Sports Equipment, Playing Surfaces, and Facilities" task force, as well as "subcommittee F08.63 on Playground Surfacing Systems." Tim Gill, author of the blog Rethinking Childhood, says that even after several conversations with committee members, he still doesn't have a clear picture of what exactly the voting process entails and how proposals are approved. The ASTM does not make committee membership public. Likewise, committee papers and voting records are also hard to come by. And so, says Gill:

    “I don’t know for sure why the [surfacing] standards are being pushed so hard. It is clear that some committee members have a commercial interest in the topic (for instance, they have a financial interest in a supplier of playground surfacing that would meet the new standard, or in a surface-testing service). It may be that in some cases, their company would benefit from the change. In the absence of membership details, papers, voting records or public debate, it is hard to say too much more.”

Even if all the members of the ASTM have only the best interests of kids in mind, it is still hard to say that these new standards would do anything to improve the safety of playgrounds. In fact, the case can be made that this attempt to make playgrounds safer may actually backfire and increase the risk of injury.

How's that? Consider the current concerns about extremely safe football helmets. The fear is that they may encourage adolescents and adults to lead with their heads when making a tackle, increasing the risk of brain injuries. Jay Beckwith, a playground expert, writes on his blog, “[Developmental physiologists] also are concerned that the lack of consequences when falling may retard the child’s ability to form proper assessments of their skill, i.e. reduce their judgment.”

David Ball at the Centre for Decision Analysis and Risk Management just published a paper called “Observations on Impact Attenuation Criteria for Playground Surfacing.” That's a mouthful, but basically he wrote that even though the ASTM’s proposed changes seem rational on the surface, there are potential negative ramifications that need to be taken more seriously:

    “There is concern that an intervention of this nature might have significant and unintended consequences for play provision with knock-on implications for overall child welfare, because play is an essential constituent of growing up.” 

In other words: Kids need to play. If we have to shutter playgrounds because the local park district can't afford new surfacing—or new surfacing inspectors—kids will sit at home getting fat, depressed, and diabetic.

How much safer is that?


Are colleges turning our young adults into infants?

When I was a little girl, I used to dream about going to college. I was fascinated by the notion that I would be living away from home, carrying my state-of-the-art laptop around to each one of my interesting classes, mingling with other students at the campus bar, and having the time of my life. The moment I reached high school, I began researching colleges in my area, trying to determine which one of those extraordinary institutions of academia and young adulthood I wanted to attend.

College symbolized maturity, and maturity meant I would no longer be an awkward, emotional child.

Finally, after years of waiting, I received my letter of acceptance to a school on the other side of the province. It was there that my fantasies of young adulthood were shattered.

Post-secondary institutions are no longer about bringing together young adults to learn in a mature, intelligent, and open environment. They are no longer about preparing students to live in the real world as independent, contributing members of society. They are about coddling children in an era rife with political correctness, a scourge that has infantilized an entire generation.

This infantilization takes many forms, but is perhaps most easily understood through the context of “safe spaces.”

“Safe spaces” are areas of college campuses designed to prohibit any and all speech deemed “offensive” or “triggering” by students. At Brown university, these safe spaces include coloring books and bubbles, as well as staff trained to deal with trauma.

Writing in the New York Times, Judith Shulevitz describes safe spaces as:

    “…an expression of the conviction, increasingly prevalent among college students, that their schools should keep them from being ‘bombarded’ by discomfiting or distressing viewpoints. Think of the safe space as the live-action version of the better-known trigger warning…”

Ms. Shulevitz goes on to list examples of the kind of infantilization that creates “safe spaces”, including Oxford University’s cancellation of an abortion debate because both participants were men and Smith College’s apology for a panelist using the “n-word” in context of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

In hindsight, I should have known college wasn’t a haven for young adults when my ninth grade English teacher forbade us from uttering the “n-word” in the context of “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

Both novels are a reflection of the time period in which they are written, and both novels have suffered through historical revisionism in the name of political correctness. History is only acceptable when it’s not offensive, you see.

Most recently, Britain’s National Union of Students requested participants at a women’s conference refrain from clapping and switch to jazz hands, as clapping was “triggering anxiety” in some attendees.

So where did this infantilization come from?

Ms. Shulevitz writes,

    “The theory that vulnerable students should be guaranteed psychological security has its roots in a body of legal thought elaborated in the 1980s and 1990s and still read today. Feminist and anti-racist legal scholars argued that the First Amendment should not safeguard language that inflicted emotional injury through racist or sexist stigmatization.”

Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of students haven’t quite realized that college is not forever. One day, they will graduate and be forced out into the real world. If they think their bosses are going to create a safe space at work where they can eat glue and finger paint whenever they receive criticism, they’d better think twice before finding themselves lining up for unemployment.

Because right now, that’s precisely what these people are: unemployable.

They are not mature adults with a wealth of knowledge sealed inside their skulls. They are not rational people capable of handling the often inexplicable cruelty of the world beyond their college classrooms. They are not enlightened individuals craving to learn new things, even if those things contradict their existing beliefs and ideas.

They are children, and if that’s what they’re happy to be, then that’s how we should be happy to treat them.


“The Hunting Ground”: Reaping profit from rape hysteria

When the 'documentary' "The Hunting Ground" premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, it was advertised as a "piercing, monumental exposé of rape culture on campuses." In fact, its objectivity and perspective have been systematically dismantled since then. The film is best understood as a volley in the campus consent wars now raging across North America. It is part of a manufactured and coordinated hysteria about campus rape that imposes a politically-correct agenda and strips accused male students of due process rights.

Peel back the panic and you will often find profit. Some PC advocates profit from the power and prestige that being a savior can bring. The New York Times article "An Unblinking Look at Sexual Assaults on Campus: 'The Hunting Ground,' a Film About Rape Culture at Colleges" (Jan. 25, 2015) quoted the Democrat Senator from California, Barbara Boxer, as declaring "[Y]ou're going to see it in response to this film. Believe me, there will be fallout." The article indicated that Boxer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) are pushing legislation that could ride into law on a wave of emotion created by "The Hunting Ground."

Political careers, administrative jobs, government grants, book and lecture contracts are just some of vast financial benefits that rest upon continuing the "rape culture" crusade on campus.

The Hunting Ground offers a rare glimpse into what may be a subtle "other financial benefit." The profit is not likely to come from box office magic. As of March 19, the revenue tracking site Box Office Mojo ranked the film at 60th in current ticket sales, with a total take of only $95,783 after a three-week run. Of course, the $500 licensing fee paid by each campus that runs the 'documentary' will soften the blow. The 'documentary' will be considered to be almost mandatory for screening on thousands of campuses; it will be immediately sponsored by Women's Studies Departments and other 'progressive' voices.

What is the subtle profit? It arises at the end of the 'documentary.' After heart-breaking and rapid-fire accounts of rape on campus, which offer no mitigating perspective, viewers are exhorted to "Take Action!" The "Take Action" button on the left-hand side of "The Hunting Ground" website takes a visitor to a page that reads, "Donate. THE HUNTING GROUND is proud to partner with NEO Philanthropy to ensure that your tax-deductible donation supports student-led campaigns, public education, policy reform, and prevention approaches."

NEO Philanthropy is a "transformative" foundation. Its media kit explains that NEO is "a national leader in innovative philanthropic solutions. We lead large-scale collaborative grantmaking funds on a range of social justice seek transformative social change." The organization focuses on four areas: the Four Freedoms Fund to promote immigrant and refugee rights; the Just and Fair Schools Fund to address discipline and bullying problems in K-12; the State Infrastructure Fund to mobilize the public on social, political and community fairness; and the Sunrise Intiative for Human Rights in the U.S. to "respond to some of the most serious human rights crises in this country's history." There is no mention of rape or sexual assault. There appears to be no track record on these issues.

The NEO site lists the organization's income for 2013 at $41,567,576 and its expenses at $38,578,027. Two income tax forms are disclosed – a 2012 and a 2013 Return of Organization Exempt for Income Tax. One of the expenses is explained; namely, the impressive salaries and other income benefits enjoyed by NEO officers. Two presidents are indicated. The 2012 form states that President Michele Lord received $272,269 over the year; President Berta Colon received $266,973, including over $90K from related organizations. The 2013 form states Lord received $251,769; Colon, $234,761. Five other officers listed made between $162,884 to $191,747 (p.63). More employees are introduced to visitors on the NEO site but their salaries are not disclosed.

The 2012 form discloses the many organizations that were funded by NEO along with the amounts disbursed (pp.29-53). The following are typical of the recipients listed under "Public Interest Projects":

Alliance for Justice: $200,000

America Votes Education and Action: $655,000

National Council of La Raza: $500,000

Project Vote: $50,000

Rock the Vote: $380,000

Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition: $310,000

The Voter Participation Center: $275,000

Voto Latino: $200,000

Overall, the emphasis is on immigrant rights, implementing social justice goals and getting out the vote. It is a fair assumption that NEO does not promote Republican candidates or ballot issues.

The most remarkable aspect of the recipient list, however, is the apparent lack of any grants to groups that focus on preventing rape or sexual assault. The names of recipient organizations drive this conclusion. A single grant to Planned Parenthood is as close as NEO seems to come to funding sexual health or safety. And, yet, the "Take Action!" cry from "The Hunting Ground" states that NEO ensures "that your tax-deductible donation supports student-led campaigns, public education, policy reform, and prevention approaches." Wouldn't that goal best be ensured by an organization with an established track record on sexual assault? There are many of them out there.

The 2013 form is similar in its disclosed disbursements; no apparent grants go to organizations that address rape and sexual violence, let alone rape on campus. The vast majority of recipients reveal that NEO has an entirely different focus. Only a few recipients have sufficiently ambiguous names to allow the possibility that they deal with rape in some manner.

No wonder the iconoclastic website SAVE (Stop Abusive and Violent Environments) inquired after "the propriety" of "The Hunting Ground" being used to fund raise for NEO. SAVE asks, "exactly how much of movie-viewers' donations will be used to underwrite Michele Lord's excessive salary?" Or used by NEO to pursue partisan issues like immigrant rights? Or used by NEO to encourage people to vote Democrat?

Another question needs to be answered. If, in fact, NEO is using "The Hunting Ground" as a fund raiser, did NEO finance its development in any manner? Is there a connection between director Kirby Dick and NEO? The source of funding is difficult to uncover. Indeed, even how much the 'documentary' cost to make is something of a mystery. Mojo lists the budget for "The Hunting Ground" as "N/A." Other sources claim it was $1.8 million.

The possibility of "The Hunting Ground" being a fund-raiser for social justice causes unrelated to rape is disturbing. The 'documentary' is emotionally jarring. The New York Times article notes, "At the premiere here on Friday, audience members repeatedly gasped as student after student spoke on camera about being sexually assaulted." It leaves viewers in the sort of angry turmoil that not only drives legislation but also opens wallets. If the donations are going to a transformative grantmaker with priorities other than preventing rape on campus, then "The Hunting Ground" appears to exploit that issue and to do so for profit.


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Fascist British education authority bans HOME playing of Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty games

Parents are in danger of being reported to police by their children's head teachers if they allow them to play video games for over 18s.

A letter sent by a group of schools in Cheshire raised concerns about the 'levels of violence and sexual content' young people are being exposed to by playing games such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto, which are renowned for their violent characters and have an 18 classification.

It warns that if teachers are made aware their pupils have been playing these video games they will contact police and social services.

The letter, sent by Nantwich Education Partnership, said allowing children to play these type of games on Xboxes and Playstations is deemed 'neglectful'.

It comes amid fears children could be left more vulnerable to grooming and abuse by being exposed to early sexualised behaviour as well as extreme brutality, often seen in video games in the upper age classifications.

The letter says: 'Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Dogs of War and other similar games, are all inappropriate for children and they should not have access to them.

'Nor should they have Facebook accounts or interact on sites or media or messaging sites like WhatsApp that are not designed for their age.'

Nantwich Education Partnership covers 16 primary and secondary schools in Cheshire.

The letter also warns: 'If your child is allowed to have inappropriate access to any game or associated product that is designated 18+ we are advised to contact the Police and Children’s Social Care as it is neglectful.'

There is now more pressure on teachers and social workers to report concerns about children after David Cameron announced they could face up to five years in prison if they do not speak out about suspicions children are being neglected or abused.

Department for Education guidance on safeguarding also urges school staff that they have a responsibility to identify children who are likely to suffer significant harm. 

Headteacher Mary Hennessy Jones, who helped draft the letter, told the Sunday Times: 'We are trying to help parents to keep their children as safe as possible in this digital era.'

Call of Duty allows players to take on the role of a blood thirsty soldier in a number of violent scenarios - arming themselves with an arsenal of weapons including rifles, pistols and grenades.

The game has been mired in controversy, with Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik claiming he had trained himself to kill his 77 victims through playing the game.

Grand Theft Auto is well known for its violence which includes carjacking, gambling, killing and simulated sex with prostitutes. Last year Grand Theft Auto V was removed from the shelves of Australian stores Target and Kmart amid fears that the game glamorises violence against women.

However the message from Nantwich Education Partnership has been criticised by parents as going too far, and threatening parents rather than helping them.

Margaret Morrissey, of Parents Outloud, told the newspaper: 'Accepting the huge concerns about these violent games and their effect on children, I think the schools are stepping outside the realm of what is probably acceptable.'

But she acknowledged that there is now a 'huge pressure' on teachers to report safeguarding concerns, placing them in an impossible situation. 


Multiculturalism – A Cancer on College Campuses

David L. Goetsch in his book, “Liberal Tyranny in Higher Education”, sees multiculturalism as the leftist code for a worldview that seeks the destruction of Christianity and traditional American values. 

Although everyone and everything is supposed to be equal, universal equality is preached but not actually believed. Multicultural elitists not only reject the values of those who pay their salaries, they do everything in their power to subvert their values.  Elitists in academia go beyond just advocating multiculturalism, they worship at the altar of this misguided, socially cancerous worldview.

Professor Williams explained this multicultural hypocrisy in a recent column entitled “Multiculturalism, a cancer on Western society”:

“Western values are by no means secure. They are under ruthless attack by the academic elite on college campuses across America. These people want to replace personal liberty with government control; they want to replace equality with entitlement; they want to halt progress in order to worship Mother Earth. Personal liberty and private property are anathemas to people who want to control our lives. This is part and parcel of the multicultural and diversity movements infecting the western world.”

Colleges and universities, hotbeds of multiculturalism

It is not surprising that colleges and universities across this nation have become hotbeds of multiculturalism.  In the social environment that currently prevails on most of these campuses, young students are targeted for being taught the philosophy that no one and nothing is supposed to stand out. Everyone and everything is to be equal.  Not so, however, if the action in question is for the purpose of liberal indoctrination, such as when a college mandated LGBTQ training for all campus groups.   When one group requested an opt-out from the indoctrination, it was labeled a hate group, thus exemplifying the expected intolerance of the Left.  It goes without saying that if we don’t agree with Liberals, we’re part of a hate group. If Liberals don’t agree with us they are the enlightened ones, and have no trouble spewing angry, insulting comments to silence us.

Unfortunately on college campuses we have an ever-growing group of young men and women who no longer understand what it means to be an American.   A story that received national news attention a few weeks ago took place at the University of California, Irvine (U.C.I.), located in Orange County, which is one of the few remaining conservative Republican counties in California.   A student government group decided to ban flags from being displayed in a prominent place on campus, particularly the American flag, because as they were quoted: “it is a symbol of oppression.” 

In all likelihood the students who created the firestorm have no clue as to what oppression really feels like.  They would be well advised to examine real oppression that exists in many countries throughout the World, such as Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia.  The UCI students might feel differently about the United States if they witnessed real, not imagined, oppression.   Odd that they ignore the countries that forbid women to go to school, drive a car, show their hair or faces in public, or vote;  countries in which women are the property of their husbands, and where one can justifiably kill another who denounces a specific religious belief.

College students have the legal right to dishonor our American flag. Ironically they do so without considering that our flag is the symbol of the very freedom that gives them that right.  However, they are not immune to criticism for doing so, and their decision, once leaked to the media, caused American patriots everywhere to be outraged.  Thousands expressed their distaste and anger, wondering what caused this utter disrespect for “Old Glory”.  Some wondered if the students’ lack of patriotism originated from their home, their families?   Questions arose as to whether the 6 students were born and/or raised in America or whether they were foreign students whose loyalty lies elsewhere?   How could they be oblivious to the freedom and opportunities our flag represents?   Had they not been taught brave men and women died for the country that flag represents?  Citizens from all over wanted to know if the U.C.I. students in question were among those who have received federal (American) grants for their education, which have grown to around $30 million a year.  In this case, likely due to the resultant public outcry, the decision to remove the American flag was quickly overturned by school authorities.

Flag’s removal not an end all to U.C.I. controversy

Despite the removal of the flag, the firestorm of controversy created by the “flag flap” continued.  But what happened next on the U.C.I. campus provided the most glaring explanation as to the thought process that produced the six student’s attitude towards “Old Glory”, and why it was targeted for removal. The first clue that caught the public’s attention was that students were not as shocked by the removal of the flag as they were the accompanying controversy.  The second major clue came several days later when it was reported that a letter of support for the six students had been circulated on campus, apparently by Rei Terada, a professor of Comparative Literature at U.C.I.  The petition included 1,200 signatures, sixty of which were from professors who, by signing, declared their approval of the decision and support for the six students.

The following is an excerpt from the letter:

“We admire the courage of the resolution’s supporters amid this environment of political immaturity and threat, and support them unequivocally.”  “We write to support the six members who offered the resolution to remove national flags from the ASUCI lobby,” the letter reads.  “The university ought to respect their political position and meet its obligation to protect and promote their safety.  The resolution recognized that nationalism, including U.S. nationalism, often contributes to racism and xenophobia”

As more information and facts unfolded, it became apparent to observers that the source of the student’s disrespect for our American flag originated not with their families, but with a philosophy born in classrooms by exceedingly liberal professors who had the audacity to spew their liberal agenda into classrooms of vulnerable, open-minded young students, eager to please the authority over them. 

It is about a creeping liberalism that has been dominating, not just U.C.I., but colleges and campuses all over America for decades. Students, our children who are the future of America, have become victims of professors with an extreme agenda.  The unpatriotic action of six U.C.I. students uncovered a far more serious problem that requires the attention and action of every American parent and patriot. The realization that the U.C.I flag incident was only discovered due to a “leak” , believed to have been reported to the media by a student and then fortunately given to a conservative media source to bring to the attention of the public, there is every cause to wonder how many similar college incidents go unnoticed throughout the country?

Influence of liberal professors in American classrooms

The obvious concern should be to what extent U.C.I. professors and others in prestigious universities use their position of authority daily to infuse a liberal philosophy into American classrooms, thus indoctrinating rather than teaching vulnerable students.   An article in the L.A. Times entitled “Leftism at UC Leaves Many with Unbalanced Education” quotes a study that concluded: “Cal is a hotbed of leftist faculty and politically correct thinking, where many students are receiving a weak education”.  Students who only learn one viewpoint on controversial issues are not prepared for a society in which they will be challenged with differing perspectives.  With a compromised outlook, students risk succeeding in specific fields, only to find themselves at a disadvantage because of their one-sided frame of reference.

There have been astute students who have complained that professors continually point out America’s perceived failures without balancing the negative with this nation’s many achievements, many of which have propelled this country into becoming the great nation we now enjoy.  Such students are not easily influenced with rhetoric, but look at facts for their conclusions.  They respect our country and its accomplishments and know our borders do not prohibit people from leaving, but instead are challenged to manage the huge number of foreigners who want to enter America.  Just observing that one fact alone indicates we must be doing something right!

Notwithstanding, it is difficult for vulnerable young minds to resist the power of persuasive professors who convey and encourage students to resist national pride and thus consider themselves as “citizens of the world”, not citizens of the United States.  No wonder those six U.C.I. students wanted to remove the flag; they have been indoctrinated with anti-patriotic philosophies in favor of a one-world concept that discourages loyalty to one’s country.

Perhaps the “flap” over the flag has opened a door for all to see that a one-sided, exceedingly liberal political and philosophical perspective in classrooms can prove detrimental. An obvious conclusion is that it is not only the professors, but also school administrations that perpetrates the liberal indoctrination.  That seems logical when we realize most universities hire liberals over conservatives at a ratio as high as seven to one. The solution may be for taxpayers, parents, students, and donors to demand fair and equal hiring practices; one that creates a balance of conservatives to liberals, and which would provide students the opportunity to hear and learn a more fair and diverse political perspective. All students benefit when equipped with a better understanding of all political thought, provided without prejudice.

Equality a byword only when benefiting liberal ideals

Although equality is a byword among university professors, it appears to apply only if that equality benefits liberal ideals.  Recent revelations indicate school administrations are reluctant to make any changes to correct the liberal bias permeating their schools.  In fact they tend to excuse or justify the inequality when exposed.  The bias is not only witnessed in the Universities’ unfair hiring practices, but also in their choice of commencement speakers.  Liberals are favored seven to one over conservatives, which may be largely due to the backlash liberal professors create on the campus when a conservative speaker is selected.

Consider Rutgers University.  Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was invited to give the school’s commencement speech, but soon after her acceptance a group of faculty members led by Rutgers Chemistry professor Robert Boikess and Rutger student Carmelo Cintrón Vivas began a campaign to force the school to disinvite the former United States official. Protestors gained national attention by an intensive effort to malign the former official, and liberal media sources slanted the story in favor of the protestors by citing quotes regarding Rice’s role in the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and U.S. interrogation policies. To Rutgers credit it refused to disinvite Rice, but not wanting to create more controversy, Rice graciously rescinded her acceptance, stating: “Commencements should be a time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families.  Rutgers’ invitation to me to speak has become a distraction for the university community at this very special time.”

In actuality, liberals were grateful for the opportunity Rutgers gave them to malign our former Secretary of state and in the process promote their own leftist agenda not only at the university but throughout the nation.

Can this nation tolerate centers of higher learning engaged in indoctrination?

America can withstand unfair protests.  Our country can overcome the rhetoric spewed from the Left.  We can tolerate an occasional professor who has the same liberal mindset as former terrorist Bill Ayers.  What we cannot tolerate is for our nation’s college and university system to become learning centers where our children are indoctrinated by a majority of self-professed liberal professors whose goals are not that of our forefathers, the student’s parent, or the community in general.  The condemning of American policies, practices, laws, leaders and traditions must stop.  Our children deserve a fair and balanced education void of intentional leftist indoctrination.

It is time for each of us to demand real equality in all our schools, from elementary to the University level, which would include everything from hiring practices to the curriculum taught in each classroom.  Students deserve a balanced education, citizens should demand it, and the health of our nation requires it.   We must join together and demand fair hiring practices, then request they drop the controversial Common Core, eliminate the federal Department of Education, and detach from all unions.  Now, that would be real progress; the type our brave and wise forefathers would have applauded!


The modern university risks becoming a cocoon of self-indulgence and anti-intellectualism

The universities, under the banner of hollow diversity and the even more hollow and self-contradictory banner of tolerance, are mutating into thought-suppressing machines

Lighthouses of reason, or beacons of  folly? Which more readily applies to some modern universities? If you have been happy enough to read a New Statesman piece recently, there would be little hesitation in opting for the latter. The column discussed that only-in-a-university puffball of a controversy over The Vagina Monologues. The VM, for those fortunate enough not to have heard of it, is an Eve Ensler opus/art project that offers soliloquizing genitals as an avenue to feminist empowerment, a concept kitten-cute in all its daring and originality.

Not surprisingly, it’s been a huge hit on all sorts of enlightened campuses, its combination of vulgarity and Spice Girls feminism being a sure winner with those wishing to storm the barricades of privilege from a front-row seat.

The New Statesman piece contained this jewel of progressive reporting: “A U.S. women’s college recently announced it would be discontinuing its annual performance of The Vagina Monologues: it’s exclusionary to talk about vaginas when some women do not have one.”

The “women” in question were, by all the ancient indications we have so sturdily relied upon until the blaze of reason started to flicker and dim, men. But the men — on whose behalf students at the all-women university in question, Mount Holyoke, were protesting — were identifying (this is the term of art) as women, but had not yet “transitioned.” They were still, as it were, biologically on the other side of the fence. As was explained by the theatre board that cancelled Ms. Ensler’s vaginal ventriloquism:

“At its core, the show offers an extremely narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman … Gender is a wide and varied experience, one that cannot simply be reduced to biological or anatomical distinctions, and many of us who have participated in the show have grown increasingly uncomfortable presenting material that is inherently reductionist and exclusive.”

And there you have it. Biological and anatomical distinctions are described by the highly progressive as offering “extremely” narrow perspectives on what it means to be a man or a woman. And they make some people “uncomfortable.” If you were fortunate enough right now to be standing over George Orwell’s grave in the sweet garden of the churchyard at Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire, you would hear, piercing the roar of his revolving corpse, a plaintive, despairing voice crying out: “Bury me deeper. Now. Please.”


Monday, March 30, 2015

DeMint at Yale: Academic Censorship as a Political Weapon

The following are Jim DeMint’s prepared remarks delivered to the William F. Buckley Jr. Program at Yale University

I’d like to start out by telling you the story of a young guy named Omar Mahmood. He was in the news a couple months back. He’s a junior at the University of Michigan, and writes for both the mainstream campus newspaper, The Michigan Daily, and the University’s alternative conservative publication, the Michigan Review. At least he did, until he became one of academia’s latest victims of political correctness.

Omar recently wrote a short satire of the “check your privilege” fad. It was just a tongue in cheek article that described how a system of right-handed privilege was oppressing left-handed people everywhere through daily right-handed “micro-aggressions.”

The article was humorous, harmless and conservative.

In response, The Michigan Daily invoked a technicality to kick Mahmood out of his writing gig, claiming a conflict of interest. Much worse, a group of students vandalized his room, pelted the door with eggs and hot dogs, attached hateful messages calling Mahmood “scum” and told him to “shut up” and leave the school.

The editor of the Michigan Review said, “These progressive students attacked Omar because they felt that he, as a Muslim, cannot also be a conservative.”

I wonder whether more media networks would have sounded the hate crime alarm over the attacks on Mahmood if it weren’t for his political views.

Incidents like this—when someone says something unpopular then gets hounded out of business or bullied—can happen almost anywhere in modern America. But they are most likely to happen in our colleges and universities, where honest inquiry and debate are quickly becoming secondary to the “right” not to hear contrary opinions.

Recently, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) released a report determining that most U.S. colleges now violate free speech rights.

This applies both to students and those who are allowed to address them. As you know, a few months ago, Scripps College disinvited political and cultural commentator George Will from giving a lecture as part of its Elizabeth Hubert Malott Public Affairs Program.

Will’s “sin” was simply failure to toe the progressive line regarding statistics and rhetoric about sexual assault on campus. So instead of engaging with him or debating him, Scripps wouldn’t let him speak.

I wrote that before you announced him as the Guest of Honor at your upcoming “Dis-invitation Dinner” in April, which I think is a great idea.

Last year you also gave a platform to Hirsi Ali, when the forces of political correctness tied themselves in knots over whether to side with the feminist or the extremists she opposes.

A teaching assistant at Marquette University recently banned discussion of homosexual marriage in an ethics class—even though it would seem the perfect place for such a conversation—saying that mere discussion of such matters would be “homophobic.”

When tenured professor John McAdams spoke out against this censorship on his blog, the university responded by suspending him from teaching and banning him from campus.

So not only are students forbidden from talking about certain subjects, but a professor is now forbidden from complaining that the subjects are forbidden.

These instances of academic intolerance go hand in hand with a general revolutionary insanity among students which seems to be promoted more than actual education on campus these days.

At UC [University of California] Irvine the Student Council wanted to ban the American flag from its offices and common areas. At UCLA [University of California-Los Angeles], the Student Council debated for 40 minutes over whether being Jewish was a strike against a nominee for their Judicial Board.

It seems we hear a new story every week. When you put blinders on students to protect them from ideas that might hurt their feelings, they also become blinded to ridiculous and offensive behavior of their own.

This isn’t just an American problem. Academia spans nations, and its diseases can swim across oceans.

At one of the world’s most famous houses of learning, Oxford, a pro-abortion versus anti-abortion debate was canceled last Fall because, apparently, men aren’t allowed to have opinions on such things in an educational setting anymore.

For the record, even the pro-abortion debater thought this was ridiculous. When an academic debate is reduced to the identity of the speakers, you have officially declared that objective truth does not matter—if you even believe it existed in the first place.

Of course, private colleges have a right to determine their speakers and publications. But any institution of higher learning worthy of the name should be open to the free exchange of ideas.

Censorship in academia is being excused using the same justifications for all censorship through history: Those considered lacking in virtue don’t get a platform to speak. Free speech applies only to people saying the right things.

The Left knows that if there is honest and open debate, those who have the truth on their side will win out—and this happens to be the worst-case scenario for people who aren’t concerned with the truth as much as political power.

They’ve taken a page from Saul Alinsky: several pages, in fact. The famous community organizer’s book “Rules for Radicals” gives great insight into the progressive mind.

In his words, “You don’t communicate with anyone purely on the rational facts or ethics of an issue.” Instead, he famously wrote, the Left needs to “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”

So there you have it: don’t debate, don’t argue with the other side. Shut down the conversation, and cast anyone who disagrees with you as a monster.

This mania for censorship isn’t exclusive to campuses, although it finds its perfection there. You can see it in private business, mainstream media, social media, and the attitudes of our elected leaders.

Occasionally, a member of the wealthy elite gets thrown under the bus by members of his own class, almost as a sacrificial offering to the out-of-control radicals they have trained to win them elections.

You may remember what happened to the CEO of Firefox last spring, Brendan Eich, who was shouted into retirement because, years before, he supported California’s Proposition 8—affirming marriage between a man and a woman.

52 percent of his fellow Californians agreed with him at the time. And journalist Nate Silver reported that many other donors from Silicon Valley also supported the measure. But he was still thrown away by the ruling class, like a herd of buffalo letting the sick and weak fall to the wolves.

It’s cliché to hear about movie stars wearing Che Guevara T-Shirts while living in mansions, but it’s the same hypocrisy at play here: The elites foster a rabid hatred of traditional values, constitutional order, meritocracy, and honest debate in the segments of the culture under their influence, whether it’s a city, a campus, or an audience.

Then, when the uproar they help create turns to abuse and censorship, they sit by. They allow some people to soak up the abuse, and let their troops vent their rage at the innocent.

The issues have changed, and the venues have changed. The intimidation everyone fears no longer comes from radical gangs protesting government offices but gangs of radicals shaming you on Twitter.

Nonetheless, the underlying tactics have remained the same.

The last 15 years of tech innovations and near-universal adoption of social media have made it easier than ever to pick, freeze, personalize, and polarize an issue.

An unintended consequence of political debate being reduced to a tweet or a rant in a website comments section is that the real-world actions of progressives have become less rational, more indefensible, and more cowardly, because they are often anonymous. Perhaps that’s why Mahmood’s peers thought it was a great idea to taunt him with hot dogs and slurs—an act simultaneously outrageous and juvenile—because their thoughts have been reduced to 140 characters at a time.

But there is a wealth of intelligent, civil discourse on the internet. Technology doesn’t really control our minds—but blind ideology can.

That is the cause and the purpose of this phenomenon: Academic censorship, political correctness, saying who has the right to speak on a topic and who does not, bullying those who break the taboos of this new cultural Marxism—it all adds up to a means of control.

Control who gets to speak, and you control the debate. Control the debate, and you control how people think. Control how people think, and you control society.

After all, the easiest way to win an argument is to tape your opponent’s mouth shut. Too many educators today think this is a good idea. They think that their own righteousness sanctifies these tactics.

Whether it happens in the Ivy League or state colleges or even high schools, it affects the rest of the nation. The surrender of one institution sets precedent for the surrender of the next, and eventually most of academia.

Along with it, hundreds of thousands of bright minds will only hear one side of the debate—one that teaches them to despise their national heritage, to rebel for the sake of rebellion, and to profane the sacred on the belief that nothing is sacred, except for the idols that the elites themselves create.

They will live and act according to this narrow existence: passionate to say and think exactly what’s in fashion and careful to condemn all the “undesirables” who do differently. The truth will take a back seat to the whims of man.

That is not a country I want my children’s children to grow up in, and I don’t think you’d like it much either. All it takes is a few people with courage to change the course of history.

So it is all the more important that you dissent from this new culture of censorship, and offer clear, well-argued philosophical and political alternatives.

Many of your progressive peers have never even heard real conservative ideas beyond parodies on The Daily Show.

I encourage you to give them another way.

Let the abuse bounce off you, and always be of good cheer. A good character is a magnet for good conversation—and in those conversations you can reveal truths that indoctrinated students have never considered.

The work you do here at Yale, and the work of the William F. Buckley Jr. Program, is of paramount importance to your fellow students and your peers around the nation.

Never let anyone silence you—or the truth. Thank you.


UK: Save Gardies from the Stepford Students

Sexual-assault claims are being used to shut down a Cambridge fast-food joint

On Sunday, a Facebook page was created calling for the boycott of the Gardenia café – or ‘Gardies’, as the gown call it – in Cambridge. The café has long been considered an institution among Cambridge students and was even subject to a successful student campaign to keep it open, when it was threatened with closure in 2003. The new Facebook page was set up following an anonymous blog post in which the author alleged that she had been forced to kiss a member of staff at the café when she was drunk on a night out. At the time of writing, the page has received over 1,000 likes. The campaign claims that ‘everyone had a Gardies story’ involving sexual assault. There was, apparently, the ‘touching of women without consent’ occurring on endemic levels at the café, in which staff had the unenviable job of servicing the demands of pissed-up Cambridge students.

The campaign posted a series of ‘demands’ to the café, including ‘the installing of more HD (CCTV) cameras’ and ‘the suspension of any staff members involved’. Of course, the idea that a small business might not be able to magic the money for ‘HD CCTV cameras’ out of thin air, or the fact that sacked staff members might not immediately land another job at their daddy’s firm, seemed to bypass the blissfully unaware, reality-lite students behind the campaign, who were intent on ‘sending a strong message’ at any cost.

So what exactly is being alleged in the Cambridge Kangaroo Court? Having read the anonymous blog that led to the campaign, it’s obvious that, even if what is being alleged is true, Gardies is hardly the den of sexual assault that it’s being painted as. On the night in question, a member of staff apparently blocked a girl’s way down from the upstairs area and refused to move until she kissed him. She alleges that she tried to push past him, ‘which he took as an invitation to put his hands on me’. The girl then ‘panicked’ and did kiss him. Then, racked with guilt for ‘cheating on her boyfriend’ – who by the way had naffed off earlier in the night, leaving his girlfriend drunk and alone – she started to feel as though she had been ‘violated’ by the man.

Who knows what actually happened? Of course, the young woman involved could have made a complaint directly to the manager. If she really felt threatened, she could have called the police. Instead, she took to the blogosphere to write about her experience.

Contrary to the wild hysteria of his persecutors, the owner of Gardies has acted with remarkable dignity. If I was faced with this mob of pitchfork-wielding feminist toffs making ‘demands’ of the business I had strived to establish, I doubt I would show such restraint. Whereas the politest riposte I could muster would be to tell these little authoritarians to go fuck themselves and their Facebook page, the owner has calmly reminded the students, through an intermediary, that he has spent 26 years dealing with petty criminality on behalf of drunk students, from cleaning up their vomit to splitting up continuous fights between every Little Lord Cuntleroy who stumbles into his café after guzzling wine with his chums at the college formal. He even had his tip box stolen. Remarkably, he has not once complained to the police in case it would place the perpetrators’ education at risk. As a thank you, the student mob went straight – without apparently having the guts to raise the issue with him directly – to an internet-based campaign to deny him of his livelihood. Those making allegations have still not come forward with the dates of any incidents, as has been requested by the owner, so he can make investigations.

There is precedent for this brainless enactment of summary justice when it comes to rape. As has been argued before on spiked, the Ku Klux Klan used the unproven, un-investigated word of rape complainants to justify lynching young black men. KKK members, knowing that their allegations would not stand up to any degree of objective inquiry, chose to enact their justice in the absence of any due process. Today, the same tactics are used to punish the accused without having to bother with the burdensome processes of traditional justice. In the US, unproven and discredited allegations of sexual assault are often the launchpad for campaigns to have accused students suspended from their courses. The campaign against Gardies might not be racist, but, given the public shaming of the restaurant and its staff, it has adopted precisely those techniques that have been used throughout history to scapegoat and persecute minorities in the name of combating rape. Summary justice has always been the preferred forum for the unjust.

Now, as the ludicrous campaign builds momentum, Gardies appears to be bending over backwards to accommodate the absurd demands of the boycotters. Correspondence on the campaign Facebook page suggests that there could be sackings, and that the café was in the process of drafting a ‘code of conduct’ for dealing with sexual assault. Bizarrely, the students enacting the boycott are trying simultaneously to present themselves as being on the same side as the owner of Gardies, writing on the campaign page that ‘we know how much he gives to the community and how kind as an individual he is to students’. With friends like these, eh?

We should not ignore this campaign. It’s a nasty, vindictive attempt to ruin a man’s life on the basis of spurious allegations. People of Cambridge, particularly students, I implore you to go and buy a Gardies burger immediately. Show the owners that you support their business and its contribution to Cambridge over and above the narcissistic and vindictive campaigning of entitled students. Gardies needed you before and it needs you now. Show them that you will not tolerate the arbitrary enactment of summary justice by self-obsessed students. If this man’s business is damaged any further because of a bunch of uppity poshos, it would be an utterly unforgivable travesty of justice and a deeply problematic victory for mob rule. Let’s not let it happen.


The greening of the ivory towers

A National Association of Scholars report interrogates the tyranny of sustainability on campus

He was lanky, lantern-jawed, suave, decorated for his service in Vietnam. She was the wife of a senior Republican Party senator. They met briefly at the Earth Day rally in Washington, DC, in 1990, where he spoke. The next year, her husband died; the year after that, the two met again at the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. By 1994 the two were married, with a family net worth that’s now estimated at $250million.

However Senator John Kerry and Teresa Heinz, head of the Heinz Family Foundation (assets: $117million), had already done something else together, in 1993. They had launched a nonprofit organisation, Second Nature, which set out to ‘create a sustainable society by transforming higher education’.

Today, the US is far from a sustainable society, and not just in the green sense. But, as shown in a new in-depth report from the National Association of Scholars (NAS), entitled Sustainability: Higher Education’s New Fundamentalism, Kerry, Heinz and a whole rogues’ gallery of elite figures have, over nearly 25 years, succeeded in transforming much of the curriculum and the practice of US higher education. Indeed, they have significantly altered America’s national debate about climate change.

As the report notes, the sustainability movement ‘has become a major force in American life’, but has ‘so far escaped serious critical scrutiny’. The NAS’s report gives sustainability just that treatment. It incisively and brilliantly interrogates the Green movement’s ideological powerhouse – the university campus. This is where the movement ‘gets its voice of authority’, and where it ‘commands the attention of the young’.

The campus as living laboratory

The report is well written and balanced. But it is especially revealing about the dubious, feelings-centred educational methods that have overwhelmed universities in the US. These methods have allowed sustainability to become a whole way of life there.

As the report says, what it calls the campus sustainability movement (CSM) ‘spans global ambitions and micro-administration’. Whereas the old environmentalism focused on getting people to take better care of the natural world, the CSM focuses on every aspect of personal life: it wants people to ‘submit to a regime of nearly total social control’. In college canteens, the plastic bottles that Heinz ketchup comes in must be stamped out. Same for the plastic trays on which students carry their canteen food.

Of course, these efforts to turn campuses into living laboratories make virtually no difference to the overall condition of the Earth. But that’s not the point. The enforcement of tyrannical green gestures is a drive to habituate the student, over three meals a day, to ‘upfront inconveniences that jar him alert to the need for other, larger measures’.

With the CSM, American universities compete with each other to recycle the most waste. Northwestern University pays 60 ‘eco-reps’ to go about what it calls ‘empowering students that aren’t already engaged in the environmental movement, making sure they have the necessary resources to make greener choices’. Worldwide, nearly 700 colleges and universities, including Glasgow Caledonian University, London’s University of Greenwich and innumerable institutions in Canada, Mexico and the Netherlands, now compete for bronze, silver, and gold stars that are at the same time green.

They win points for growing organic gardens, for using napkins that are made of recycled paper, and for offering ‘housing options to accommodate the special needs of transgender and transitioning students (either as a matter of policy or as standard practice)’.

The ascent of green pedagogy

The CSM has brought about a world that now runs more than 1,400 educational programmes in sustainability. Yet, the report observes, sustainability is no longer just a subject students opt for. Cornell University, for example, is proud that it integrates education in ‘climate literacy’ with ‘freshman orientation, undergraduate club leadership development, residential life, and professional development training’.

Worse, the report adds, after the ascent of Green pedagogy, sustainability has become ‘an inescapable, automatic part of all disciplines and subjects’.

Emory University is an interesting case. The CSM has seen Emory ‘integrate’ sustainability into arenas far removed from environmental science. Emory invites you to pledge to use stairs, not lifts; to study only in well-populated places at night, so as to conserve energy for lighting; to take ‘some time for stillness once a week’. But more remarkably still, over 100 general faculty members at Emory have changed their teaching methods to include experiential learning and new outdoor exercises (1). Similarly, the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh believes that a battery of green pedagogical techniques, including place-based, problem-based, community and service learning, ‘encourages us to transform our thinking about learning at our institutions’.

It is the same story in the new, oh-so-interdisciplinary field of environmental humanities. Celebrated not just by the universities of Oregon, Princeton, Stanford, Utah and Vermont, but also by Oxford, Edinburgh and Leeds in the UK, environmental humanities hopes to subordinate the arts to environmental science. At Stony Brook University, environmental humanities means, the report says, ‘a hodgepodge of science courses mixed with boutique courses that sound, by turns, a little nouveau humanities, a little identity studies, and a little social science lite’. Here and elsewhere, the report contends, academics turn nature from mere subject of thought (for example, landscapes described in literature, or by the natural sciences) into the whole of thought itself:

‘The division between what is human (and therefore has complex self-awareness, moral agency, a sense of beauty, and intimations of the transcendent) and what is outside the human in a “state of nature” is to be abolished, according to this view, and replaced with a conception that the “human” is just an eddy in the larger stream of existence. The role of the environmental humanities is to rejoin the arts and the sciences in order to take off the disciplinary blinders, take in a 360-degree view of the new human/nature reality, and, in a kind of undoing of the Socratic turn, reunite natural science with moral philosophy.’

Sustainability could have enquired a little further into the New Scientism of the greens – their deification of The Science of climate change so that it becomes a guide to everyday moral action. Yet the report’s opening charge stands. Environmentalism has tried to turn universities into 24/7 ‘living laboratories’ of sustainable behaviour, and has corrupted the curriculum:

‘Harnessing higher education into the service of sustainability seriously undermines its purpose. It treats other disciplines as mere material for sustainability to interpret or vehicles by which sustainability can be taught. It forces habits and disciplines based on reflection, dialogue, and careful consideration into the mold of urgent political and social advocacy. It divorces the classroom from the goals of understanding and comprehending reality and yokes them to activism and ideological conformity. It cloaks the dogmas of environmentalism as necessary, foundational premises of higher education, setting them up as pillars that are above rational debate. And in refocusing the college curriculum on a popular politically correct fad, it deprives students of a connection to a greater tradition of thought and culture.’

The origins of the CSM

How did we get to this place, where sustainability can pretend to be both the substance and the procedure of education? At the end of Sustainability’s first chapter, the report makes clear the influence, on US education, of Stephen Sterling, today a senior academic at Plymouth and London South Bank universities. Sterling has stressed not education about sustainability, or education for immediate sustainable practice, but rather education as sustainability – embedding, embodying and exploring sustainability as an intrinsic part of the general learning process. More importantly, in 2003 the United Nations declared 2005-14 the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. Then, in December 2007, led by Arizona State University and the University of Florida, 12 presidents signed Second Nature’s American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, pledging to buy energy only if it was renewable, to go for buildings and appliances that were energy-efficient, to get staff and students to stop using cars, and to eliminate or offset all campus emissions of CO2.

Now the CSM began to find its moment. Why? According to Sustainability, because of two factors: ‘burgeoning Western consumption’, and increasing public concern over global warming – concern that was compounded by a series of extreme weather events: the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami (2004), Hurricane Katrina (2005), the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill (2010), the meltdown of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (2011), and Hurricane Sandy (2012).

This account of events is very useful. But, if we go back to the birth of the CSM, it’s clear that a key factor behind it was capitalism’s pyrrhic conclusion to the Cold War. That rupture didn’t just make the left, worldwide, morph into environmentalists. In the US, both Democrats and Republicans also found themselves bereft of an organising, anti-Soviet narrative, and fearful of untrammelled capitalist growth. They therefore rallied round something new: a green, technocratic centre that was pro-capitalist, but ethical, responsible and critical of ‘market failure’.

That’s why John Kerry and Teresa Heinz got together in the early 1990s. That’s why just four days elapsed between media-savvy NASA scientist James Hansen sounding the alarm on climate to the US Senate on 23 July 1988, and Ronald Reagan meeting Margaret Thatcher and five other G7 heads of state to affirm, in Toronto, that climate change required ‘priority attention’.

From such a watershed, and the formation, again in 1988, of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it took nearly 20 years for climate and sustainability really to have their way with popular and campus consciousness. Yet it was the redundancy of the old Cold War’s left-right framework, and the emptying out of forward-looking visions of the future, that generated sustainability and its advocates. It was that constellation of events that led to the catchphrase ‘sustainable development’, coined by Our Common Future, the 1987 report of Norwegian premier Gro Harlem Brundtland, replacing ‘development’, leaving only a sustainability that was about lowering consumption and the greatest kind of caution.

Sustainability devotes some pages, and an appendix, to the precautionary principle. Here again we are dealing with the blue funk that infected the West after the end of the Cold War, and here again sustainability is confirmed as a top-down phenomenon – drafted by German lawyers, made prominent at the Rio Summit, enshrined in the European Court of Justice’s 1998 judging of Britain’s conduct around BSE. So though sustainability doctrinaires deserve just the cutting, independent scrutiny that Sustainability provides, it’s useful to remember that, as a militant outburst, they were created by, and remain subordinate to, the manoeuvres and strategy of the elite – of government, of regulators, and of businesses interested in corporate social responsibility (2).

Diversifying the movement

Our Common Future worried about inequalities between people today and our old friend, ‘future generations’. But Brundtland was already concerned, too, about inequalities within today’s population. However as Sustainability rightly points out, the 1,000 organisations now grouped around action/2015 are, nearly 30 years on from Brundtland, much more strident about current inequality (3). They insist that a UN Special Summit, to be held in September this year, adopts the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – goals that include ending poverty ‘in all its forms everywhere’, empowering all women and promoting ‘peaceful and inclusive societies’.

Commendably, in chapter two, the NAS shows how, here and elsewhere, sustainability has tried, with the utmost cynicism, to attach itself to anything that’s fashionable. It has diversified its appeal for ‘environmental justice’ into campaigns for social and economic justice. In America’s new, glib, post-Ferguson sustainababble:

‘Racial discrimination is seen as an enabler for industrial pollution by perpetuating the low wages that make cheap production viable. Environmental degradation is perceived as entrenching racial injustice by condemning poor minority communities to blighted, barren lands.’

It does not matter that, in the West, racial discrimination, like industrial pollution, no longer has the force it did; that low wages in the developing world often jostle with automation there as the source of cheapness in production; that those low wages are typically on the rise in China and elsewhere; that many of the blighted, barren lands of the developing world, though in need of urgent action, have recorded some impressive achievements in agricultural yields and in reforestation. No, the thing to do is take your cue from… President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency! In the best traditions of the affirmative action enacted by Richard Nixon, the regulator can only be right to say that environmental justice demands: ‘[F]air treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, colour, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.’

In promiscuous style, sustainability taps, channels and diverts the anger of the exploited and oppressed. Meanwhile, liberals love it. As the report says:

‘Diversity, with its demands for racial reconciliation, affirmative action, multicultural sympathies, and tokens of reparation, finds in sustainability a metanarrative that links its specific grievances to a larger circle of global oppression that must be smashed. Social justice finds justification for its communitarian fervor in sustainability’s calls for a new economic and social order. Feminism fawns over sustainability’s firm expression of support for birth control, abortion, and its calls for gender equality and female empowerment.’

Is debate on climate ‘over’?

Sustainability does a good job of presenting the protagonists’ views from both sides of the debate on climate. Its purpose is to challenge sustainability’s illiberal assertion that the time for debate is over, and the CSM’s still more illiberal call for ‘climate deniers’ to lose their position on campus, be tried for their crimes, and so on.

The NAS is right to note that the ‘debate is over’ position is directly at odds with intellectual freedom. In February 2015, backed by the Natural Resources Committee’s Democratic delegation, the ranking member of the House of Representatives Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, Arizona Democrat Raúl Grijalva, demanded to know everything about the funding and the communications of seven American academics who write about climate. To its credit, the American Meteorological Society protested, and so did some environmentalists. Still, the fact remains that what Sean Collins described, in 2007, as the dogma of ‘transparency’ now permeates everywhere. Sustainability has helped make pursuit of the corrupt through ‘transparent’ information come to be regarded as a human right and an essential part of democracy.

In fact, however, those who now cry that ‘debate is over’ on climate change are an affront to democracy. In Obama’s second term, they now like to subject climate dissenters on campus to the McCarthy treatment.

When colleges and universities stop investing in fossil fuels

Alongside mounting a forthright defence of free speech, the NAS also looks at the business costs of the green operational measures taken by US academic institutions. Sustainability finds that such institutions spend more than $3.2 billion a year on biomass boilers, sustainability administrators and environmentalist lecturers. In straitened times, this seems like a fat sum, and is, as the NAS says, rather a waste; yet in the scheme of American political economy, it is not so large. Anyway, while advocates of sustainability seem always to get worse, even biomass boilers may one day get better enough to pay their way.

But it’s the final chapter of Sustainability that really fascinates. It concerns the campaign begun at Swarthmore College and then led by the journalist, academic and founder of, Bill McKibben, whose popularisation of global warming, The End of Nature, was published in 1989. The campaign was to get colleges and universities to take their endowment funds out of coal, oil and gas. Today that campaign is, as the NAS accurately says, driven by two anxieties: ‘Angst over global warming, and frustration with the perceived insufficiency of environmental regulations. Its preferred solution to political standoff is to boycott private industries.’

Campus divestment is a fundamentally conservative tactic. As the NAS points out: ‘When one college divests from fossil fuel companies, any number of investors will eagerly buy up the stocks.’ It also turns out to be tricky and costly to implement. But then it isn’t really about practical wins, since only Stanford and Dayton have plans really to do something. No, campus divestment is about absolving colleges of direct moral culpability for climate change. It is also about turning the fossil-fuel companies that fund the Republican Party into social pariahs, so that they are no longer able to gull the stupid masses with their political lobbying.

The old, tired Democrats remain the political Alpha and Omega of the CSM. Acutely, however, Sustainability also notes the debt that the divest-from-fossil-fuel movement of the 2010s acknowledges to the divest-from-apartheid movement of the 1980s. In Rolling Stone in July 2012, McKibben quoted South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s plaudits to the old divesters – and Tutu soon returned the compliment to the new ones.

In all the McKibben-Tutu backslapping, nobody talked about using technological innovation to deal with climate change. Worse, the struggles of the black masses in South Africa counted for nothing – just like the intelligence of American voters when confronted with oil-funded Republican politicians.

We can be sure that sustainability and divestment always and everywhere remain strategies tied to Western statecraft. They are, after all, doctrines as samey as the state. Environmental injustice is social and economic injustice, all got up by Big Oil, Big Coal and the frackers. The same story, repeated over and over again.

Concluding remarks

Sustainability is a tremendously valuable report. It is a long but fascinating – and also disturbing – read. It calls for educational institutions to stop ‘nudging’ people into sustainable practices, and wants them to stay on topic and stop arm-twisting faculty members to make every course a sustainability course. In this, it can only be right.

I do have a couple of quibbles. Like its opponents, the NAS recommends that colleges ‘open the books’, and make their pursuit of sustainability ‘financially transparent’. And nor, despite one’s concerns about green operations and scholarship on campus, can one be too comfortable with the recommendation to ‘pull back the sustainability hires’.

All this, however, is to take nothing away from the report’s analytical achievements. In closing, I just want to touch on a simple question. Is sustainability, as its questioners suggest, ‘fast becoming the dominant ideology at colleges and universities in the United States’?

Not quite. In America, it may well be that, as the NAS says, feminism ‘fawns’ over the hip postures on gender affected by sustainability. Yet perhaps the relationship is more interesting than that.

Climate science and sustainability have an integrated, global hinterland of academic research and practice bigger even than that of feminism. Corporations are more interested in greenness than feminism. Greenness is the default position not just of many women on campus, but also of many men.

However, if sustainability now gives campus anti-capitalists a respectable pedigree in terms of its literature and its global summits, feminism has helped the CSM in terms of codes of conduct. Intolerance toward climate ‘deniers’ is enormously assisted by those who, in their intolerance of ‘rape culture’, rush to unmask anyone who begs to cavil at their kangaroo courts. The default position of taking offence and demanding bans, so rife on campus and so promoted by feminism, dovetails perfectly with the censorious logic of ‘debate is over’ on climate change. And this is true as much in the UK as in the US.

On campus, in fact, sustainability rubs shoulders with feminism as ‘the dominant ideology’. One offers The Science as moral compass; the other, intolerance as a principle. We have sustainability in content, and feminism in form.

How wonderful are the West’s cathedrals of learning these days!


Sunday, March 29, 2015

UVA Fraternity Exploring Legal Options to Address 'Extensive Damage Caused by Rolling Stone'

Phi Kappa Psi at the University of Virginia told ABC News today that the fraternity feels vindicated after Charlottesville, Virginia, police said their investigation found "no evidence" of an alleged rape at the fraternity house.

Stephen Scipione, president of the Virginia Alpha Chapter of Phi Kappa Psi, said in a statement, "These false accusations have been extremely damaging to our entire organization, but we can only begin to imagine the setback this must have dealt to survivors of sexual assault.”

He continued, “We hope that Rolling Stone’s actions do not discourage any survivors from coming forward to seek the justice they deserve.”

Phi Psi has been working with the Charlottesville police throughout the investigation, the statement said.

"Following the publication of the defamatory article, the chapter launched an extensive internal investigation, which quickly confirmed that the horrific events described in the Rolling Stone article did not occur," the statement said. "Both the Virginia Alpha chapter and Phi Psi’s national organization adhere to a strict zero tolerance policy in regards to sexual assault."

Phi Psi said it is "exploring its legal options to address the extensive damage caused by Rolling Stone."

The woman, identified as "Jackie," alleged in a Rolling Stone article that she was gang-raped by seven men at a UVA Phi Psi fraternity party on Sept. 28, 2012.

But police said today they were not able to conclude that an incident occurred at Phi Psi that night.

Police said "we can't say something didn't happen" to her, but they have "no basis" to conclude anything happened at Phi Psi.

During the investigation, police talked to about 70 people, including Jackie's friends and fraternity members, Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo said. Investigators talked to nine of the 11 Phi Psi members living in the house at the time, and none of them knew Jackie or had any knowledge of the alleged assault, Longo said, also noting that Jackie declined to be interviewed by police for the investigation.

Police also found no evidence that a party or event took place at Phi Psi on Sept. 28, 2012, noting that a time-stamped photo from that night shows the house practically empty, Longo said.

In January, a police investigation cleared Phi Psi of any involvement in the alleged rape and the fraternity was reinstated on campus.

Longo noted today that the case is not closed, but is suspended until they are able to gather more information.


Professor and his wife sacked by failing British University  'for blowing whistle on £100,000 mis-spending

A lecturer and his wife have been sacked from a struggling university after being accused of leaking embarrassing stories about its controversial £200,000-a-year vice-chancellor to the Press, it emerged yesterday.

Damien and Jenny Markey were summarily dismissed by the University of Bolton after articles in the Daily Mail highlighted how the institution spends public money, a union said.

The couple, who have three young children, deny being the source of stories revealing that the university was lending vice-chancellor Professor George Holmes £960,000 to buy a new house and spending up to £100,000 on staff away days to the Lake District.

Critics had branded the expenditure a waste of money from an institution which has spent much of the 11 years since it became a university near the foot of national league tables.

The latest case demonstrates how harshly public bodies treat those even suspected of being whistleblowers, let alone those who are proven to have leaked information to the media.

It comes amid mounting alarm that staff in all organisations are not being protected from punishment if they report their concerns to the Press.

The sackings were also branded a worrying blow against the tradition of free speech on campuses.

Mr Markey, 42, was dismissed as a senior lecturer in visual effects for film and television after a 45-minute disciplinary hearing last Friday for ‘leaking information to the Press aimed at damaging the university’.

According to his union he was told he had been overheard talking on his mobile phone using the words ‘boats’ and ‘lakes’, and accused of being the source of the story that the university was sending its 700 staff to a Lake District hotel in a series of away days for pep talks by Professor Holmes, who has a yacht moored nearby.

The article first appeared in Times Higher Education, which yesterday said neither Mr Markey nor his wife were the source.

Details of the trips had been sent to all staff, while the two-year loan to Professor Holmes appeared in university accounts.

Mr Markey was also accused of making malicious statements about colleagues and bringing the university into disrepute for highlighting concerns about a shortage of equipment following an £800,000 flagship project, the union said.

His 36-year-old wife, an academic administrator in the health and community studies department, was dismissed on Monday over similar allegations which she also denies.

Mr Markey, who is said to have had an unblemished disciplinary record, was secretary of the local branch of the University and College Union (UCU) and led a walkout in 2013 in protest at a planned 1 per cent pay rise.

The couple had been advised not to comment yesterday as the union insisted it would be appealing against the dismissal. General secretary Sally Hunt said: ‘These sackings are completely unjustified. Nobody likes looking a bit silly in public, but to start axing staff without evidence is the response of a desperate despot, not a university vice-chancellor.’

Bizarrely, the university’s official Twitter feed briefly ‘favourited’ a UCU tweet branding 53-year-old Professor Holmes a desperate despot.

Mrs Markey is a member of Unison whose regional secretary Kevan Nelson said: ‘We are alarmed that the university has taken this arbitrary and vindictive decision. We will challenge this by all available means.’


NY: The Ithaca Stasi

The Ithaca College Student Government Association passed a bill March 16 to create an online system to report microaggressions, which sponsors of the bill said will create a more conducive environment for victims to speak about microaggressions.

The bill, sponsored by Class of 2018 senator Angela Pradhan, calls for the implementation of a campus-wide online system to report microaggressions to “make Ithaca College a safer, more inclusive and diverse community for all students.”

Pradhan said the online system would fill what she sees as a lack of an adequate system to report microaggressions.

“I know a lot of senators are working on microaggression stuff within their respective schools, but I felt that there was a need for something to happen schoolwide,” Pradhan said. “And if there was a concrete way to document [microaggressions] online, it would provide students a way to kind of state what’s going on.”

The system would allow individuals reporting microaggressions to remain anonymous. However, junior Kyle James, vice president of communications and co-sponsor of the bill, said those reporting a microaggression would likely have to reveal their identity if they wanted to pursue any legal action.

James said in addition to a space to report the particular incident, the online system would track the demographics of those reporting microaggressions as well as those accused of committing them.

Pradhan said the way the demographic information would be tracked is not set in stone, but it will likely be based on a temporary pin and coding system. She said the system would note the gender, race, age and school within the college and year of both the person reporting the microaggression and the person being reported.

The system would also contain a way to distinguish between staff, faculty members and both international and American students, as well as a mechanism to include where the microaggression took place, Pradhan said.

She said the demographic information would be used as data regarding the issue of microaggressions. Currently, Pradhan said there is no data system tracking microaggressions at the college.

The bill does not currently state that the names of people accused of committing microaggressions will be reported. While Pradhan said she believes the names of alleged offenders should be reported, she said there could be possible legal barriers.

James said the college’s legal affairs representatives are looking into potential legal roadblocks regarding the online system. However, he said he is not sure exactly what parts of the bill are coming under legal scrutiny.  “There’s a lot to sort through,” James said. “They haven’t told me the parts that are worrying them.”

However, he said in his initial conversation about the bill, the question of anonymity in the online reporting system came up as a potential legal problem. But he said it was indicated that there is a way for the bill to be legal.

The bill calls for a committee to be created to begin the process of creating and implementing the online reporting system.

Junior Elijah Breton, senator for the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance, said he supports the bill.  “Just like any other resolution that we want to pass with microaggression and diversity in the institution, what it does is it helps to make people think a little more before they do or say something,” Breton said.

Breton co-authored a bill addressing microaggressions within the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance in October 2014, leading to a series of similar bills in the other schools.

Pradhan said the bill is not meant to be a cure-all solution to the issue of microaggressions. She said it is meant to work in tandem with bills the SGA has already passed to address microaggressions in the individual schools of the college. Class of 2015 senator Taj Harvey said this is one of the main reasons he supported the bill.

“I thought this was a very effective means of trying to navigate [microaggressions] because having separate schools just kind of doing their own thing … kind of takes away from the larger effort,” Harvey said.

Sophomore Joshua Kelly, senator-at-large, was the only SGA member to vote against the bill.  Kelly said he was taken back by mentions of taking legal action against people who commit microaggressions.  “The very definition of a microaggression is that it isn’t intended, so the very idea of taking legal action against somebody for not intending to say something that happened to be harmful is not my idea of living in a free society,” Kelly said.

He said microaggressions are not something that can be stamped out by administrative action, but instead need to be addressed through educating people about the issue. Harvey agreed and said saying more information about the issue would help to prevent microaggressions.

Harvey also said there should be involvement from the general student body, as well as departments such as the Office of Student Engagement and Multicultural Affairs and the Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity.

“We need to make this more than just an SGA-run committee,” Harvey said. “Because I don’t think that’s going to be enough.”