Campus Reform OP-ED: Universities should reject fossil-fuel divestment campaigns

This Sunday marks the start of my weekly Campus Reform column. My first post is about the nationwide fossil-fuel divestment campaign plaguing universities.

Below is an excerpt from my op-ed piece:

Many institutions of higher learning are taking a wrong turn in embracing calls for divestment from the fossil fuel industry.

Radicalized students, faculty, and officials at universities across the country are demanding administrators divest school endowments from profitable oil companies such as Exxon Mobil, Conoco Phillips, and others.

For instance, students at Vassar College, Swarthmore College, Cornell University, and 260 other universities have called upon their financial administrators to divest from fossil fuels.

Although it is unclear how many of these schools have, or actually will divest, one thing is clear. If schools pursue investment strategies based of the feelings of their most radicalized students, faculty and administrators, the consequences could be disastrous.

Continue reading at Campus Reform.

 

Introducing Campus Reform Online’s Opinion Columnist

logo_header

Wonderful news – I will pen weekly op-ed columns on Campus Reform Online (CRO)–Leadership Institute’s news publication–each Sunday starting May 19, 2013. For those of you who don’t know, CRO is the #1 source for campus news.

Here’s more about Campus Reform:

Campus Reform, a project of the Leadership Institute, is America’s leading site for college news.

As a watchdog to the nation’s higher education system, Campus Reform exposes bias, abuse, waste, and fraud on the nation’s college campuses.

Our team of professional journalists works alongside student activists and student journalists to report on the conduct and misconduct of university administrators, faculty, and students.

Campus Reform holds itself to rigorous journalism standards and strives to present each story with accuracy, objectivity, and public accountability.

They will focus on higher education and leftist abuses on campus. Many CRO stories have caught the attention of the Drudge Report and similar news outlets. Be sure to look out for them starting next Sunday and to follow stories my co-workers report on at CRO.

If you’re a college student and want to send a tip about a leftist abuse on campus, email contact@campusreform.org.

LIKE Campus Reform on Facebook and follow them at @CampusReform.

College Students Launch “TheCollegeConservative” to Combat Political Correctness, Liberal Bias in Media

Cross-posted from TruthAboutBills:

Contrary to popular belief, not all young people are “skulls full of mush.” Although many of our Generation Y peers bow to Obama and have been coerced by the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, there is a silent majority of young conservatives ready to take back this country through media and journalism.

Conservative college students from all across the nation have come together to write for TheCollegeConservative (TCC)–an online journal for conservative college students, by conservative college students. The website states, “TheCollegeConservative was launched in November 2011 with one mission: to give young conservative activists a platform to be heard across the nation.  Our organization is comprised of conservative college writers from across the United States who are tired of being pushed around by “the ninety-nine percent” and the world of academia.””

Founder and Editor-in-Chief Zachary Freeman writes more about the publication’s mission statement:

On this basis, TheCollegeConservative was created:

a.) we believe that young conservatives across the United States have something to say,

b.) young conservatives need a platform to be able to get their message out, and

c.) the faithful conservatives in America need to see that there is a generation of conservative leaders that is preparing to lead our great nation back to prosperity.

Zach (freeman_zachary) is also joined by three assistant editors: Sydney Phillips (@sydphillips), yours truly (@Gabby_Hoffman), and Kevin Reagan (@O_JoseCanYouSee). Nearly 20 student writers have signed on, and that number is expected to grow.

Be sure to like TheCollegeConservative Facebook page and follow it on Twitter @Blog_TCC.

If interested in applying to write for us, inquire here.

Student Bloggers Desired for National School Choice Week (January 22-28, 2012)

Along with the looming debt crisis, destruction of international relations, and equally deliberate attack on American morals and values, education is a hot button issue that commands equal attention.  Members of our generation must participate in the education debate. Americans depend on our input.

As one who put up with a public school education (then Capistrano Unified School District 1996-2009, now UCSD 2009-2012) mired by teacher protests and scandals  involving corrupt district officials, I have concluded that school choice is the only option that ensures education reform. Nevertheless, the fight doesn’t stop there: we must defeat and undermine powerful, yet equally selfish, teachers unions.

If school choice concerns you or if you feel inclined to tackle this issue, be sure to sign up to blog about school choice from January 22-28, 2012. Check out this opportunity below and be sure to sign up by July 1, 2011:

National School Choice Week is looking for college student bloggers to write about such topics as personal experience, particular school choice options in their community, interviews with school choice leaders, etc. Each student will be asked to blog a minimum of once per month beginning in September through National School Choice Week, which is January 22-28, 2012. A retreat will be held in mid to late August to familiarize the students with the coalition leaders and the variety of issues surrounding School Choice Week.

Additionally, the students will be invited to attend one of National School Choice Week’s planning meetings closer to the week, where they can get to know the broader group, as well as report on their activities. During National School Choice Week, students will be encouraged to attend an event and blog about it. If you are interested in helping NSCW become a great success in 2012, please contact Alisha Meneely at alisha@schoolchoiceweek.com by July 1, 2011.

UCSD Calls for Freedom of Speech in E-mail

A campus-wide email sent on April 21st, 2011, to UCSD students calls for reverence for the First Amendment and freedom of speech.

I presume this comes after the University of Iowa incident where a gender studies professor told the College Republicans to “F*** off”.

Let’s hope that our administration respects the First Amendment rights of conservatives, pro-Israel advocates, and those that are often silenced on campus. Activist groups like the SJP, MSA, ASU, etc. wrongly accuse them of hate and try to suppress their right to express their viewpoints. Remember, practice free speech–not hate speech.

UCSD
CAMPUS NOTICE
University of California, San Diego

                        OFFICE OF THE CHANCELLOR

                OFFICE OF THE EXECUTIVE VICE CHANCELLOR –
                             ACADEMIC AFFAIRS

                    OFFICE OF THE VICE CHANCELLOR –
                             STUDENT AFFAIRS

                             April 21, 2011

ALL ACADEMICS, STAFF AND STUDENTS AT UCSD

SUBJECT:  Respect for Our Colleagues During Discourse and Debate

As an internationally recognized institution of higher learning, UC San
Diego thrives on the spirited exchange of ideas as we prepare tomorrow’s
leaders and discover new knowledge to benefit society.  Discourse and
debate are natural in the halls of our great university, with those
discussions grounded in the principles of freedom of thought and freedom
of speech. During our discussions, it is imperative that we remain civil
and professional in order to preserve the integrity of our educational
environment and to ensure that our dialogue contributes to and enriches
the diversity of our campus.

Each of us bears the responsibility to respect and conduct ourselves
with civility toward our academic and student colleagues, especially as
we discuss issues that are politically charged and that touch us deeply
and personally.  The purpose of higher learning is to open our minds, to
challenge our long-held views, and to advance the pursuit of knowledge.
 From early morning classrooms to late night meetings of student
organizations, UC San Diego provides myriad avenues for these
discussions. As we listen and learn from one another—whether or not we
agree with differing perspectives—we aspire to the ideals embodied in
our Principles of Community.

We affirm our commitment to the First Amendment and Academic Freedom, as
envisioned by the founders of our country and our university. We
strongly urge all members of our campus community—students, faculty and
staff—to be guided by reason and respect as we debate the issues of our
complex world.

                           Marye Anne Fox
                           Chancellor

                           Suresh Subramani
                           Executive Vice Chancellor –
                           Academic Affairs

                           Penny Rue
                           Vice Chancellor –
                           Student Affairs

“Repugnant” Anti-Asian Video From Airhead Draws Attention

A girl who calls herself Alexandra Wallace aired her grievances about Asian people. If you watch the video, Wallace–who’s enrollment at UCLA is questionable according to some reports–flaunts her cleavage and rants about Asians during preparation for finals week. It’s finals week–don’t you have anything better to do than to be an airhead?

Here’s the original, which was copied from Wallace’s account but later removed by her:

UPDATE: YouTube has since removed the video since it violates their “hate speech” policies.

Here’s the rebuttal, which is pretty hilarious:

Another spoof:

From the Daily Bruin:

A university spokesman called a viral YouTube video, titled “Asians in the Library,” “repugnant.”

The nearly 3-minute video shows a woman who claims to be a UCLA student making disparaging comments about Asian students.

The university has to yet to determine whether the woman in the video is a UCLA student, said university spokesman Phil Hampton. He added that the university is also looking into how the original video was posted.

“The comments on there are contrary to the values the university believes in,” Hampton said.

The original video was posted Sunday afternoon and has since been removed. Various copies have appeared on YouTube and other websites. Postings of the video say the speaker is a UCLA student named Alexandra Wallace. A number in the university directory listed under Alexandra Wallace was disconnected as of Sunday night.

As much as this petty rant is distasteful, free speech permits fools like this to talk. She didn’t do anything that would breach school code. FIRE has the details here:

The old saying is that when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Just about every university’s “hammer” of choice when it comes to unpopular expression is the set of rules prohibiting harassment on campus. Indeed, Robert Naples, UCLA’s associate vice chancellor and dean of students, wasted little time in telling the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s student newspaper, that “We’ll be taking a look at the language that she uses in the video to see if it violates any codes under the student code, perhaps regarding harassment.”

That should be a short investigation. In order for something to qualify as peer-on-peer harassment on a college campus, it has to be (among other things) action that is “so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive, and that so undermines and detracts from the victims’ educational experience, that the victim-students are effectively denied equal access to an institution’s resources and opportunities.” Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, 526 U.S. 629, 652 (1999).

There is simply no way that this video meets that definition. What is said in the video is not particularly severe, as she couches her language in a number of ways and even apologizes at the beginning for not being “politically correct.” It wasn’t pervasive, either; the video appears to have been originally intended for the amusement of Wallace’s friends and only became widespread after the controversy began and it was reposted by others. It’s also easy to avoid seeing the videosimply by not searching for it on YouTube or clicking on links to it. Whether or not it is “objectively offensive” is a matter for debate, but at that point it doesn’t matter; in order to be harassment, the video must meet all of these criteria. It does not. Anyone minimally qualified in the law should see that very quickly; if UCLA does not, chances are it is because the university is more interested in finding a way to punish the student for her speech than in fairly conducting an investigation.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block has also weighed in with a YouTube video of his own accompanied by a statement posted on the website of the UCLA press office. Block strongly condemns the video, which is his right to do. But his statement that “I recoil when someone invokes the right of free expression to demean other individuals or groups” is a bit mystifying, as Wallace did not “invoke” her rights in the video. Perhaps he just misused the word “invoke,” or perhaps he is responding to someone other than Wallace. Either way, it’s disappointing that Block has chosen to blame free speech here. Block continues by calling the video thoughtless, hurtful, demeaning, hurtful (again), shameful, intolerant, indefensible, hateful, and ignorant, all in the course of a short three-paragraph e-mail. It may or may not be all of those things, and again, Block certainly has the right to express his own opinions of the video, and to answer what he perceives to be as objectionable speech with speech of his own. But I know that if I were Wallace and were potentially facing a disciplinary hearing for the video, I would not feel very optimistic about getting a fair hearing about it.

Some students have also reacted in ways that aren’t particularly encouraging. A Facebook note purportedly from the Asian Pacific Coalition at UCLA asserted that “it is clear that this student’s comments can be considered a [sic] hate speech, an act of discrimination, harassment, and profiling,” and called for “disciplinary measures befitting of Wallace’s violation against the UCLA Student Code of Conduct and UCLA’s Principle of Community.” This significantly overstates the case. As discussed above, the video does not meet the legal definition of harassment by which UCLA, as a public university, is bound. It’s also worth noting that while people are free to label whatever expression they dislike as “hate speech,” the “hatefulness” of speech does not provide a legal justification for removing its Constitutional protection. Further, labeling a video like this as an “act of discrimination” dangerously confuses expression with action and, perhaps worse, is demeaning to those who suffer from real acts of discrimination. And even if UCLA did determine that the video violated some UCLA code or standard, the fact is that the expression in the video is constitutionally protected and UCLA is not free to punish Wallace for it.

Then, of course, there are the death threats against Wallace that have kept her from taking her exams at their scheduled locations and times. She also has apparently shut down her phone number and Facebook page, as her contact information was being posted around the Internet by those angry about the video. Obviously, death threats, if credible, are not protected speech and should be investigated. (Wallace is reportedly consulting with the police about them.) While UCLA Vice Chancellor Naples’ statement that “If she’s received a death threat, I find that as deplorable as her original YouTube video,” is welcome insofar as UCLA is willing to condemn death threats, it seriously raises the question of how Naples could believe that Wallace’s video, as offensive as it might be, could be anywhere near as deplorable as credibly threatening to kill someone.

One of the common complaints about FIRE is that we don’t offer specific remedies for those who have been offended by others’ speech. This is only true if you believe that official institutional or governmental punishment is the only remedy available to those who are offended. What has happened in this case proves that social pressure is an extremely strong force as well. Wallace has apologized for the video, saying,

Clearly the original video posted by me was inappropriate. I cannot explain what possessed me to approach the subject as I did, and if I could undo it, I would. I’d like to offer my apology to the entire UCLA campus. For those who cannot find it within them to accept my apology, I understand.

Wallace has been criticized by thousands on the Internet. The chancellor of her university has condemned her in the strongest terms. At this point, she is undoubtedly something of a social pariah, and she seems to have gone “off the grid” at UCLA. You have to imagine that this will affect her career prospects. And all of this has happened without any official punishmentso far, anyway.

Is official punishment really going to do much more at this point? Does anyone really believe she will express these opinions again, if she even continues to hold them? The fact that in a free society it is not the government’s place to punish people for their protected expression does not mean that people are not held accountable for it, especially in the Internet age. We would be well advised to remember that fact before we call for official punishment for those who offend us.

UC-San Diego to Offer Gender-Neutral Housing Starting Fall 2011

Gender-neutral housing will be available at UC-San Diego starting Fall 2011.

All seven living areas on campus will offer a gender-neutral (or inclusive) option for students. The 2011-2012 housing application process–set to start in several weeks–will unveil this option.

Warren College unveils the option below:

Gender Inclusive Housing coming soon… Room Selection 2011

Gender Inclusive Housing will now be available for continuing groups of residents in all seven residential/apartment living areas at UC San Diego. This housing option is available only to groups of residents from the same college (except for the Village and International House).  If you are eligible for Housing Room Selection 2011, then that means you are eligible for Gender Inclusive Housing.

Application available here! Warren Gender Inclusive Housing Application (PDF)

The Washington Post notes that gender neutral housing options are commonplace at many American universities:

Gender neutral housing is offered by about 50 colleges and universities, including Stanford University, Dartmouth College and the University of Michigan. Just last month, Columbia University announced a pilot program in several of its upperclassmen halls, according to the Columbia Spectator.

While this might sound harmless, there are  implications that arise from this new policy.

Conservatives are concerned about this living arrangement since it permits a negative moral system. A Human Events article authored by Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute‘s Alyssa Cordova and Camille Hart details the danger of gender neutral housing below:

Parents send their children off to college to learn and prepare for adulthood. Many have no idea that universities have become Ground Zero for the anything-goes sexual culture. An 18-year-old student entering college is likely to soon face bowls of condoms at freshman orientation, coed living, sex fairs, and courses where students “study” pornographic films. It is common for students to not hear a single conservative viewpoint on sexual morals at their school in four years. Without a voice of reason, many students begin to question and sometimes reject the values they were instilled with growing up. Outrageous sexual behavior quickly becomes the norm for many young people.

Here are the eligibility requirements for the gender inclusive option at UC-San Diego:

Eligibility Requirements – If you meet one of the criteria below, you are eligible for Room Selection 2011:
1. Traditional Eligibility: A first year student residing in Housing who met the housing application deadline of May 1, 2010, all other subsequent deadlines, and housed as of September 23, 2010. A lapse in student status (even for one quarter) or moving off campus for any length of time (other than for a university-sponsored program), negates the 2-year housing guarantee for these students.
2. Scholars Eligibility: Regents Scholars, Chancellor’s Entering Freshman, Jacobs School of Engineering Scholars who are currently residing in on-campus housing are guaranteed and eligible to participate in Room Selection 2011. A lapse in student status (even for one quarter) or moving off campus for any length of time (other than for a university-sponsored program) negates the 4-year housing guarantee for these students.
3. Newly Eligible Student: A current student residing in on-campus housing who does not already meet the two definitions above. (This would include current residents who will be 3rd or 4th year students in Fall 2011)

The application process is detailed below:

Application Process
1. Decide with whom you want to live, and have initial conversations about what it would mean to live in housing that does not consider gender, gender identity or gender expression in terms of placement. In other words, men, women and people of all gender identities and expressions live together. This is in contrast to the gendered living arrangements throughout the rest of housing, where women and men live in separate residences.
2. Groups will be required to have a full household for application to be considered. A full household is described as follows:
a. Warren: 4-person apartments (2 double rooms)
b. Muir: Tuolumne Apartments, 4-person apartments (1 double room, 2 single rooms) or 5-person apartments (1 double room, 3 single rooms)
c. ERC and I-House: 4-person flats (4 single rooms)
d. Sixth: 900’s building. Combinations of 3, 4 and 5 person apartments. All singles and doubles.
e. Village: Tower West, 4 person apartments (2 double rooms) s or Village East Building 2 or 3, 5-person apartments (1 double room, 3 single rooms)
f. TMC: Lowers, 4-person apartments (1 double room, 2 single rooms)
g. Revelle: 6 person apartments: 2 singles , 2 doubles
3. Same gender required within a bedroom (i.e. a double room may not be mixed gender)
4. Visit the website of your living area, and download the application for Gender Inclusive Housing (applications are also available from the Residential Life office)
2/8/2011
5. Get an endorsement/reference from your RA/HA- only one is needed for each group.
6. Sign a Gender Inclusive Living Agreement- one per person.
7. Applications will be screened to be forwarded to an interview process with Residential Life Staff.
8. Groups selected and notified.
9. Groups selected will need to accept in writing.
Successful groups will:
a. Demonstrate and articulate motivation for living in a gender inclusive household.
b. Group presentation/interview would address how they will deal with conflict (including intimate relationship conflict) and demonstrate examples of cooperative living lifestyle.
c. Will have demonstrated commitment to current relationships. (We would expect that they have a previously established relationship, and have reflected upon potential group dynamics.)
d. Demonstrate commitment to remain in apartment together.
e. MUST Apply for Housing during designated application period (April 5 – 7) and make $650 pre-payment.
Please note:
 Applications will be restricted to the college of registration for placement (except at I-House and The Village)
 Not all applications may be forwarded to the interview process.
 Room changes or room swaps are not allowed (including apartment changes). Changes to group commitment will be subject to reevaluation. The apartment group will be disbanded and only offered a late room selection time slot and may be placed in any available space on campus.
 IF a student cancels AFTER they have paid their $650 BUT before room selection or being pre-placed, they will receive a full refund of $650. If a space is not selected or the student does not notify Housing of cancellation or the student is pre-placed, they will be subject to the cancellation policy and therefore may lose $100 (administrative fee if pre-placed) or $250 (the $250 is the first deduction after Room Selection Day).

The full application can be found here.

This living arrangement will boast many problems– from bad behavior to promiscuity to lewd conduct to poor health. In such, a co-ed/gender-neutral environment will expose kids fresh out of high school to odd, unfamiliar living situations. One must ask, why would a university neglect or deprive students of their well-being?

Stay tuned for more developments from UC-San Diego on this subject.