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Posts Tagged ‘professor’

A professor at UC Irvine refuses to take sexual harassment sensitivity classes. Here’s why:

First of all, I believe the training is a disgraceful sham. As far as I can tell from my colleagues, it is worthless, a childish piece of theater, an insult to anyone with a respectable IQ, primarily designed to relieve the university of liability in the case of lawsuits. I have not been shown any evidence that this training will discourage a harasser or aid in alerting the faculty to the presence of harassment.

What’s more, the state, acting through the university, is trying to coerce and bully me into doing something I find repugnant and offensive. I find it offensive not only because of the insinuations it carries and the potential stigma it implies, but also because I am being required to do it for political reasons. The fact is that there is a vocal political/cultural interest group promoting this silliness as part of a politically correct agenda that I don’t particularly agree with.

The imposition of training that has a political cast violates my academic freedom and my rights as a tenured professor. The university has already nullified my right to supervise my laboratory and the students I teach. It has threatened my livelihood and, ultimately, my position at the university. This for failing to submit to mock training in sexual harassment, a requirement that was never a condition of my employment at the University of California 30 years ago, nor when I came to UCI 11 years ago.

I also found this bit interesting:

I am not normally confrontational, so I sought to find a means to resolve the conflict. I proposed the following: I would take the training if the university would provide me with a brief, written statement absolving me of any suspicion, guilt or complicity regarding sexual harassment. I wanted any possible stigma removed. “Fulfilling this requirement,” said the statement I asked them to approve, “in no way implies, suggests or indicates that the university currently has any reason to believe that Professor McPherson has ever sexually harassed any student or any person under his supervision during his 30-year career with the University of California.”

The university, however, declined to provide me with any such statement.

(Hat Tip: Instapundit)

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Before Barack Obama decided to run for President, he spent twelve years as a highly popular lecturer at the University of Chicago law school. The New York Times has a fascinating account of Obama’s time there. (A free registration might be required to view the linked article) 

Prof. Barnett, writing at the conservative-libertarian blog The Volokh Conspiracy says that the materials show that “[Obama] is a smart guy, and an exceptionally fair-minded teacher” but “they tell us little about his core beliefs on the very sensitive issues covered by these courses.” Considering these materials are taken from courses he taught to students, I think that is a good thing.

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Randy Pausch died yesterday.

He was Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University and achieved worldwide fame for his September 2007 ‘last lecture’ — a warm, funny, inspirational 76 minute talk about achieving your childhood dreams and enabling others to do the same. Though the talk was really aimed at his kids, it has, over the last ten months, been viewed by over 6 million people.

I won’t say watching the video will change your life — no lecture has ever done that — but I do think you’ll be passing on something wonderful and precious if you don’t.

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Now, affirmative action based on political ideology!

The University of Colorado is considering a $9 million program to bring high-profile political conservatives to teach on the left-leaning campus.

CU officials want to create an endowment for a Visiting Chair in Conservative Thought and Policy.

The program would bring a rotating cast of scholars, historians, politicians and media personalities to a town often ridiculed by the political right as “the People’s Republic of Boulder.”

The first scholar could be on campus next year for a one- or two-year stint, CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard said. University officials said they hope the fund would yield the $200,000-plus per year necessary to provide a stipend and a staff person.

“A good campus is always trying to find ways to add diversity of thought and scholarship,” Hilliard said.

I can’t think of anything more ridiculous or unhelpful, but then, affirmative action is almost always unhelpful. I only hope this does not give Arjun Singh any new ideas.

Hat tip to the Volokh Conspiracy, where I saw this story. Also Ilya Somin discusses here why affirmative action based on ideology is a bad idea. An excerpt:

However, whether or not the discrimination is the cause of the problem, affirmative action for conservative academics (or libertarian ones) is a poor solution. Among other things, it would require universities to define who counts as a “conservative” for affirmative action purpose, a task that they aren’t likely to do well. Affirmative action for conservatives would also give job candidates an incentive to engage in deception about their views in the hopes of gaining professional advancement. Moreover, conservative professors hired on an affirmative basis despite inferior qualifications would find it difficult to get their ideas taken seriously by colleagues and students. They might therefore be unable to make a meaningful contribution to academic debate – the very reason why we want to promote ideological diversity in hiring to begin with.

Indeed.

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This case is so absurd that it is difficult to take it seriously. Priya Venkatesan, who taught writing this year at Dartmouth College, is threatening to sue former students under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act for criticizing her in course feedbacks. This report has the details along with snippets of Ms Venkatesan’s own writing, which should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind why she got so poor evaluations.

Oh, and Title VII, for those who are unaware, is the primary federal law that prohibits discrimination in employment. For the life of me I don’t see how that can be used to sue the students, who are neither Ms Venkatesan’s employers nor her colleagues. Besides, as any lawyer would point out, they have an obvious first amendment right to censure their professor in evaluations. Maybe Ms Venkatesan has a postmodernist explanation for all this…

Here’s a link to the Dartmouth blog coverage on the matter. Also, my thoughts on Title VII and other anti-discrimination laws.

(Link via Instapundit)

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