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It Is Illogical to Assert That Death Threats Do Not Have a Chilling Effect on Free Speech

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Dear Ulf:

I generally find your posts to be very amusing. But I think that you have missed not just the bullseye but the whole target in your most recent post.

Regardless of how the writer of the piece may have slanted it, the core issue in this situation was that the speaker was scheduled, she received a death threat, and she then asked that those attending the scheduled talk be screened for weapons. That request was denied because weapons are allowed on campus, apparently whether death threats have been made to a specific speaker or not.

So this was not someone simply and irrationally equating guns with danger. This was someone recognizing the potential danger in the very explicit message that someone intended to shoot her if she spoke.

Unless you have actually received a death threat that was tied to your expressing a particular viewpoint and have nonetheless…

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The Most LGBT-Friendly and -Unfriendly Colleges and Universities in the United States

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

The Princeton Review’s list of the 20 most LGBT-friendly colleges and universities in the U.S.:
1. Emerson College (Boston, Mass.)
2. Warren Wilson College (Asheville, N.C.)
3. New College of Florida (Sarasota, Fla.)
4. Stanford University (Stanford, Calif.)
5. University of Wisconsin-Madison (Madison, Wis.)
6. Oberlin College (Oberlin, Ohio)
7. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering (Needham, Mass.)
8. Smith College (Northampton, Mass.)
9. New York University
10. Bryn Mawr College (Bryn Mawr, Pa.)
11. Wellesley College (Wellesley, Mass.)
12. Bennington College (Bennington, Vt.)
13. University of Chicago
14. Yale University (New Haven, Conn.)
15. Carleton College (Northfield, Minn.)
16. Sarah Lawrence College (Bronxville, N.Y.)
17. Macalester College (St. Paul, Minn.)
18. Pitzer College (Claremont, Calif.)
19. Marlboro College (Marlboro, Vt.)
20. Grinnell College (Grinnell, Iowa)

At the other end of the spectrum, here is the list of the 20 most LGTB-unfriendly schools. The schools in bold are new…

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ACTA’s 2014 “What Will They Learn” Rankings

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) has released its annual ranking of American colleges and universities. The ranking purport to reflect what students will learn at the institutions: specifically, whether they will be required to take core courses in composition, literature, foreign language, U.S. history, economics, mathematics, and science.

An article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer provides this summary of the results: “Of the 1,098 institutions studied, 23 received an ‘A,’ 389 received a ‘B,’ 329 received a ‘C,’ 259 received a ‘D’ and 98 received an ‘F.’” [The full article in the Plain Dealer is available at: http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2014/10/ohio_colleges_receiving_failin.html

Although institutions that generally rank high in national surveys might not necessarily rank high in all surveys, if a particular ranking seems an inversion of most other rankings, it should probably be somewhat suspect. Even a glance at the ACTA rankings for Ohio would seem to justify some skepticism…

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Ranking the Worst Colleges and Universities in the U.S.

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

This month’s issue of Washington Monthly includes a thoughtful article by Ben Miller in which he attempts to compile such rankings and, in fact, provides several alternative lists of the twenty worst colleges and universities in the U.S.

Worst Colleges 1

Worst Colleges 2

For analyses of the rankings, see the full article, which is available at: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/septemberoctober_2014/features/americas_worst_colleges051752.php?page=all.

Most of the institutions on these lists are quite small. I am curious how far down on these lists one would have to go to find the major online for-profit institutions.

In fact, it seems to me that there should be at least one other list, accounting for an institution’s size. One very large online for-profit institution can, after all, negatively impact as many students as—or even more students than—all of the small institutions on these lists, even if its percentages are not quite as bad. How, for instance, has Corinthian Colleges managed to escape these lists?

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“Organizing within Our Changing Profession”

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Two Stories from Oklahoma That Seem to Illustrate Skewed Priorities

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

The first of these stories, “Gun Activists Lobbhy for Weapons on Campus,” appeared in the Norman Transcript [http://www.normantranscript.com/news/article_52a58aa0-4b3d-11e4-89de-0f889f7b5efd.html].

Gun-rights activists are pushing for legislation that will allow guns to be brought onto the state’s 25 public college and university campuses. Don Spencer, Vice President of the state’s Second Amendment Association, is promoting the legislation in these terms: “’Anywhere you can carry your Bible, which is your First Amendment right, you should be able to carry your gun, which is your Second Amendment right.”

But the university presidents seem largely united in their opposition to such legislation. Glen D. Johnson, the Chancellor of Higher Education for the state, has stated: “;We strongly believe that there is no scenario where allowing the carrying of weapons on college and university campuses does anything other than create a more dangerous environment for our students, faculty, staff, and visitors.”

The author of the…

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Should Campus Police Be Using Students as Drug Informants?

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Here are the opening paragraphs of an article that appeared in yesterday’s Boston Globe:

“The University of Massachusetts Amherst announced Monday that it will review aspects of a campus police department program that uses students as confidential drug informants, after a disclosure that an informant for the university police died of a heroin overdose.

“The university defended the program, but said it will review whether to require informants in drug cases to get help for possible addictions and whether to notify parents when a student is recruited into the program.”

From just these two paragraphs, any clear-thinking observer can very readily deduce that this “program” creates so many inherently problematic possibilities that they cannot possibly be outweighed by whatever positive results it might produce.

But it’s actually worse than those first two paragraphs might lead you to suspect. The student was initially arrested for possession of LSD, and the…

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Pearson Knows Where the Revenues Are in Undergraduate Education

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

In the mid-1990s, Pearson, which, to that point, had been a media conglomerate, set out to become the world’s largest publisher of textbooks. Within a decade, it bought up most of the most recognizable imprints—and most of those that it didn’t buy up have been bought up by its major competitor, McGraw-Hill. In the early 2000s, Pearson recognized the profit potential in standardized testing at the K-12 level and quickly became the world’s largest provider of standardized tests.

If nothing else, this massive corporation, which was founded in Victorian period in the U.K. as a construction company specializing in public works projects and transitioned into a major newspaper and periodical publisher in the interwar period before becoming a media conglomerate in the 1970s and 1980s and then, in very quick succession, a textbook publisher and a test provider in the 1990s and 2000s, has shown the ability to anticipate new…

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Trying to Reduce Higher-Ed Costs without Addressing Administrative Bloat Is Only Making Things Worse

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

John T. McNay, a professor of history at UC-Blue Ash, is president of the Ohio Conference of the American Association of University Professors. The following op-ed appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer on September 28 and is available at: http://www.cincinnati.com/story/opinion/contributors/2014/09/28/opinion-bloat-driving-uc-miami-costs/16410479/

We appreciate the column by David Hodge, president of Miami University, and Santa Ono, president of the University in Cincinnati, in the Aug. 29 Enquirer. They touted results from a poll commissioned by the Inter-University Council (IUC), and we are equally encouraged that Ohio voters so strongly support higher education and funding it. We agree with Hodge and Ono that higher education is critical for the future prosperity of Ohio. However, their editorial stopped short of how to address the most pressing problems Ohio’s public higher education system faces.

We applaud the efficiencies that Hodge and Ono mentioned because there is work to be done. In a U.S. Department of…

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Please Steal This Idea. (I Did.)

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Hank Reichman, the First Vice-President of AAUP and a frequent contributor to this blog, is marking his retirement by teaching a seminar on the history of academic freedom in the American university.  Unprompted, his provost handed him a sizable check and invited him to organize a broader symposium, a speakers series, on the history of academic freedom and the current challenges to it.

This struck me as a perfect way to celebrate the centennial of AAUP and to honor the contributions of faculty who have served both their institutions and AAUP over their long and productive careers.

At my own university, the recent retirees have included many who have contributed in significant ways to our AAUP chapter. But, coinciding with the centennial of AAUP, those retirees will include two individuals who have served in leadership positions since the chapter was first being organized and who deserve special recognition.

One of…

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