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Marxists Obituarized Admiringly: Andrew Glyn

April 30th, 2009 No comments

(April 30–revised, see below)
From National Review:

Andrew Glyn is not a household name, and until I read his obituary yesterday in The Times of London I had never heard of him. But what an illuminating document that obituary proves to be, a perfect little insight into the age. The opening sentence informs that Glyn “was one of Britain’s most prominent Marxist economists who produced searching critiques of capitalism,” going on to salute him as “one of the finest of Oxford dons.”… Think of the abuse of privilege. Think of the false pretences. Think of the damage he did spouting rubbish year after year to students who would be expected to parrot it back to him. To one student, he is supposed to have said, “the three greatest men who ever lived were Lenin, Trotsky and Charlie Parker,” – a sentence that the obituary writer hilariously links to “his depth of knowledge.” Some of the unfortunate students will have recovered freedom to think for themselves, but some will be permanently damaged. The obituary writer does in the end concede that Glyn “will to some extent be deemed to have backed the wrong ideological horse” — that “to some extent” is a qualification that goes so far beyond hilarious that it is almost majestic.

Dr. Stern writes in an AER article:

This is dedicated to my close friend,
distinctive and distinguished economist and fine man,
Andrew Glyn, who died on December 22, 2007, and whose
funeral took place in Oxford, UK, on the same day as the
Ely Lecture, January 4, 2008.

I decided to delete my strong comments on Dr. Glyn. I don’t believe in De mortuis nil nisi bonum,
but I don’t know why he was divorced. I am skeptical, though, of how good and kind a person is if I then discover that he is divorced. Lots of people are charming when being charming has low cost and aids their social position, but cheat on their wives, molest their children, and neglect their parents.

I also think it is important not to praise someone as a good teacher when he teaches pernicious rubbish, even if he teaches it persuasively. A person can be nice and still be a Leninist, just as he can be nice and still be a Nazi. The comparison is by no means too strong. In fact, there is much more excuse for someone who was a Nazi in the 1930s than a Leninist in the 1980s. In the 1930’s the Nazis were thuggish and autocratic, but the horrors of WW 2 and the Holocaust were still to come. By now the excesses of Communism– not just the political murders, but the millions killed by collectivization– are well known. In fact, even by 1922 the crimes of Lenin and Trotsky were well known. I can understand why Communists would praise Dr. Glyn, but those of us who fall into one of the categories of people his heroes liked to kill shouldn’t praise him.

Categories: economists, liberals, universities Tags:

Organizing Conferences

April 4th, 2009 No comments

This blog post will collect ideas on how to run conferences. It is adapted from an old post on my old blogsite.

I should remember to send this to the organizer of every conference I attend, well in advance. There is a lot of personal potential benefit from doing that.

1. The conference website should have maps showing the location of the conference buildings and hotels, as well as airports, highways, and the relevant exits. This this should be provided to participants *before* they arrive, since that is when it is useful.

2. The conference website should post all papers as submitted and then allow authors to make updates. This will both ensure that participants can view the papers in advance and prevent authors from submitting work that is too unfinished.

3. Get wireless computer access for anyone who wants it. I find that this is much more common at motels than at universities, for guests.

4. There should be second-tier sessions of successive 5-minute presentations for papers that weren’t good enough to get in the first-tier sessions.

5. A day before the conference, the organizers should email participants telling them the temperature and humidity.

6. There should always be a coffee urn near the session rooms. Coffee is especially useful *before an 8 a.m session*— not as a coffee break in the late morning.

7. Each building should have a big swinging sign outside and one inside with arrows towards the various rooms. The conference program should be on it, taped open to the appropriate page. Each session room door should have a list of the sessions inside.

8. A lot of these items take some time for the organizer. Think of hte economies of scale, though. It is better to spend 30 minutes of organizer time than 100*6 = 600 minutes of participant time trying to find rooms, buy coffee, figure out the weather report, etc.

9. Make sure there are good spaces for standing around in talking, and a good place to congregate (with chairs and tables and blackboards) for people who are skipping sessions.

10. Email each participant a one-page list of tips on how to give a good presentation. I’ll write such a list later and link this to it. It should have things such as “Have a handout”.

11. Have a way that participants can do last-minute xeroxing of handouts and scanning in of handwritten diagrams. One way to do this would be to have a box for such requests with folders, a form to fill out requesting the service, and a person to accept money. The payment should be simple so as not to require change– say, minimum 1 dollar that will xerox 5 copies or scan 5 pages, then 5 dollars for up to 25 copies and 25 pages.

12. Have a list of all participants give out IN ADVANCE so participants can be warned of who is coming that they should know but whose face they might have forgotten. Even better, have this on the web and link to every participant’s homepage. This will take care of giving out a list of all email addresses, which should be done if the homepage-link idea is not adopted.

13. Have a box lunch at the end, so people who need to catch planes can take it with them.

14. Each session chair should have a big, cheap, battery-powered clock to put in the room. Again: the cost of the hardware is small relative to the value of the time saved. He shouldn’t have to use his attention to make hand gestures or raise signs to the speaker. He should just cut him off at some point, even if that humiliates the speaker.

15. Have long extension cords for electric power
for laptops, trailing into the center of the room. Again: the cost of the hardware is small relative to the value of the time saved.

16. For each paper, next time, have the abstract up on the Web, so listeners can cut-and-paste them into their notes.

17. Send out presentation tips to all speakers.

18 Putting one’s name as a footer to slides is a good idea for young
people, as advertisement.

Categories: organization, universities Tags:

Are There Any Law Professors Who Do Pro-Death Penalty Scholarship?

March 31st, 2009 No comments

Orin Kerr asks:

Who are the legal scholars who write on the death penalty on a regular or semi-regular basis but who do not write from the perspective of opposition to the death penalty? Stuart Banner might be one: I’ve only skimmed his book on the death penalty, but it struck me as largely neutral in tone. Are there others? I realize that most legal scholars who write on the death penalty are against it; I’m just curious about who the outliers are….

Paul Cassell):
In my pro-con book of the deasth penalty [mentioned above], I had a hard time tracking down pro-death penalty scholars from the legal academy. We ended up using Louis P. Pojman,a professor of philosophy at the U.S. Military Academy for one of the pieces.
3.30.2009 5:59pm

OrinKerr:
Thanks, Paul.

Yes, I’m reminded of the panel at the AALS mid-year meeting 2 years ago on how you could bring a diversity of different views of the death penalty to enrich the debate. The panel was made up only of death penalty critics, who had their own different takes on how to oppose the death penalty (using statistics, history, etc.).

Teaching Business Ethics: A Practical Approach

March 14th, 2009 No comments

In the shower this morning I thought of a way to teach business ethics to our undergrads (and MBA students too maybe). I actually like the idea of teaching it as all or part of a course. But what is far more important is to stop any student from getting into the habit of cheating, and to teach them all that any cheater gets into big big trouble.

We have an honor code already, which is a good start. But what we really ought to do is to list any cheating incidents on the student’s official transcript, a moral grade to go with the intellectual grade. Or, if you like, an “asterisk” of the same kind that casts doubt on a baseball player’s batting average if he is found to have used steroids. If I were hiring a student, such information would be as important to me as his grades. It might even be more important, since I could give the student an interview or a test to see how smart he is, but I won’t know before hiring him how honest he is.

Such a plan has about a .002 chance of being adopted by the university as a whole. Administrators don’t, I think, care that much about cheating, but they do care a lot about having more record-keeping work to do and about exposure to litigation.

At IU, however, the business-school has higher standards than the rest of the university, and maybe we could do it. We have that Honor Code, after all. I don’t think we can require students to sign onto it,but they all do. We could do something like this:

Any student may voluntarily agree on becoming a Business major that any disciplinary actions against him will be publicly available (or, perhaps, available to anyone to whom he releases his transcript, or to any registered recruiter). If he does not agree, a note to that effect will be put in his records. Recruiters will be notified of the possibility of getting the disciplinary records, and of the optional nature of the release.

I have not had any trouble with cheating in any of my classes of business majors at Indiana (I did have some trouble at UCLA with MBA students). I had a lot of cheating in a large business prerequisite course I taught, though, including from students who clearly were or were likely to become majors. I think a new release policy would have a substantial effect on instilling ethical behavior in our students, and that might be as important as any of the coursework we teach– not just morally, but as a contribution to the economy.

Categories: morality, teaching, universities Tags:

Miss Gay Indiana University

March 11th, 2009 No comments
Categories: homosexuality, pace, universities Tags:

Do You Need a College Degree

March 4th, 2009 No comments

Someone at the NR blog notes that the military hires people without college degrees and gives them harder, more technical jobs than the private sector gives to college graduates.

Categories: Economics, education, universities Tags:

Personal Attacks on ID Proponent

March 3rd, 2009 No comments

Bradley Monton recounts an amazing unfair attack on him by another philosophy professor, Robert Pennock, for supporting intelligent design. Monton has lots of links and sounds as if he’s not lying. This is additional evidence of the emotional and anti-intellectual response of many scholars to the idea of intelligent design.

See also this discussion of an ad hominem
counter-lecture
to a lecture on ID he gave.

Homosexual Orientation versus Homosexual Behavior

March 2nd, 2009 No comments

Here’s a comment I posted at Prosblogion:

The distinction between “sexual orientation” and “sexual behavior” is
absolutely crucial, and I was thinking on blogging on this myself, so
I read this with interest. I see that the lawyer quoted above didn’t
understand the distinction. I too would like to know if city
regulations do.

Someone commented:

“If I owned a business, I’d discriminate in my hiring practices, quite
reasonably I think, against non-sober alcoholics. The view of those
who are supporting the original petition appears to be (and someone
please correct me if I’m wrong about this) that I would thereby
discriminate against an alcoholic who has been sober for ten years.
Isn’t this just absurd?”

That’s right. I’m sure Christian colleges are happy to hire people
with homosexual orientation who are strongly opposed to homosexual
behavior. The former alcoholic is the best crusader against drink, and
it is common to encounter reformed homosexual pastors who specialize
in work with homosexuals. If anybody finds a case where a strong
advocate of anti-sodomy laws is denied a job because he used to
practice sodomy, please let us know.

In fact, orthodox Christian belief is that everyone has a “sin
orientation”; it is just that some of us control our outward behavior
better than others do. This is really the same as the idea that we
are all potential criminals— murderers and thieves, for example—
but some of us, including most people with college degrees, are
better at restraining themselves in light of their material incentives
and the chance of getting caught.

There is something I don’t think any other commentor has mentioned:
the “legislative history” of anti-discrimination rules. If a judge
were to rule on whether the rule were literally against homosexual
orientation or were against orientation and behavior, he would first
look at the text. The text is clear— it’s just orientation— but
commonly even a fair-minded judge wouldn’t stop there. He would go
on to look at intent and at whether the words had a broader meaning
in the particular context. A big part of that is to look at
legislative history. If *everyone* in the debate over enactment– both
proponents and opponents— talked as if the words included behavior,
then it would be reasonable to read the words that way. If everyone
just talked about orientation, or, even better, proponents explicitly
said that the rule was written purposely to allow discrimination
based on sexual behavior, then the words ought to be read literally.
(If the legislative history is mixed, then it isn’t much use.)

I could be wrong, but I bet most anti-discrimination rules were
enacted by means of arguments based on orientation, not behavior. If
so, it’s not fair to switch the meaning afterwards to include
behavior. An argument such as “we shouldn’t allow discrimination on
the grounds of characteristics a person can’t alter” argues for a
rule against orientation, but implicitly concedes that discrimination
on behavior is okay.

To be sure, forbidding sodomy hurts people who are tempted by sodomy
more than those who are not, and in that sense discriminates on the
basis of orientation. But that is a false sense. It is equivalent to
saying that forbidding sexual harassment, or even rape, discriminates
against men, and so a university should not punish it if they have a
policy against sex discrimination.

In the courts, the “disparate impact” argument is treated in
complicated ways, and in ways that are different depending on the type
of discrimination. Race effects are scrutinized much more closely than
gender effects, for example.

I’ll repeat what earlier comments said: If anyone knows what courts
have said on whether the term “sexual orientation” includes “sexual
behavior” please let us know.

Categories: homosexuality, law, religion, universities Tags:

Liberals at a Conservative College

February 28th, 2009 No comments

The
Baylyblog found out that even a very conservative Presbyterian denomination’s college has many liberal faculty. (For those of you who say, “So what?”, keep in mind that there are far more Democrats at this college, which explicitly has a religion requirement for faculty, than there are Republicans at any Big Ten university.)

… thirty-five percent of Covenant’s faculty members say they’re
likely to vote for Senator Obama. That’s one third of the faculty
supporting the presidential candidacy of the most radically pro-baby
slaughter politician in Washington D.C.

… Covenant’s faculty was asked to rate “issues for their importance
in selecting a (presidential) candidate,” and among those listed were
“campaign finance reform,” “education,” “global warming,” “health
care,” and “social justice.” And yes, “abortion” was there, but no
mention of sodomy or sodomite marriage.

Interestingly, only half the faculty members considered “abortion” to
be “Very important” in their selection in their anticipated vote for a
presidential candidate. This means half of the faculty members made a
conscious decision to respond that abortion was not “Very important.”
What got a higher rating than abortion?

“Social justice.” Abortion had a rating average of 3.23 whereas
“Social justice” won with 3.40. (Ten faculty members responded that
abortion was either “Not important” (2) or only “Somewhat important”
(8), but only one faculty member responded that social justice was
“Not important” and just two that it was only “Somewhat important.”

For the top rating, “Very important,” three issues tied in the
faculty’s vote: “Abortion,” “Health care,” and “Social justice,” with
“Social justice” taking the honors.

Categories: abortion, obama, religion, universities Tags:

My Co-Authors

February 24th, 2009 No comments

After going to Ian Ayres’s excellent 50th Birthday
Co-Authors Conference
I
decided to count up my own co-authors. Stars indicate that what we’ve
written is not yet published (and maybe never will be). I don’t
include co-editors.

  1. Michael Alexeev
  2. *Maria Arbatskaya
  3. Ian Ayres
  4. F. H. Buckley
  5. *Luis Fernandez
  6. *Barick Chung
  7. *Christopher Connell
  8. Kenneth Dau-Schmidt
  9. *Richmond Harbaugh
  10. David Hirshleifer
  11. Jack Hirshleifer
  12. Maarten Janssen
  13. Thomas P. Lyon
  14. Richard McAdams
  15. * Kaushik Mukhopadhaya
  16. Robert Heidt
  17. Emmanuel Petrakis
  18. Ivan Png
  19. Richard Posner
  20. Manu Raghav
  21. J. Mark Ramseyer
  22. Timothy Perri
  23. Minoru Nakazato
  24. Santanu Roy
  25. Jeffrey Stake
  26. John Wiley
  27. *David Myatt
  28. *Young-Ro Yoon
  29. Todd Zenger
  30. Mark Zupan

Ian is up to 51, I think, with about 30 at the conference and 15 presenting papers there.

Brad DeLong Calls for Colleague To Be Fired

February 18th, 2009 No comments

Brad DeLong has posted a shocking letter calling for Professor Yoo of Berkeley Law to be fired for his work in the White House– the “torture memo”. I’d thought reputable economists wouldn’t write that kind of letter. It should be a warning to us all— the Left *does* want to criminalize conservatism. Liberals, you watch out— the Mensheviks come next.

High Pay for Administrators in Undemanding Jobs

February 18th, 2009 No comments

It looks as if it would be worth looking for corruption in the adminstration of the UC system. This reminds me of Michelle Obama’s high-paid job for the University of Chicago, a different UC.

UC Berkeley officials have acknowledged misleading the public in the controversial case of a high-paid executive aide who left her job at the university’s headquarters and the next day began a new job on the Cal campus – qualifying for a $100,202 severance check along the way.

Categories: corruption, universities Tags:

Pace Resolution Wrap-Up

February 18th, 2009 No comments

I should have been prepared to blog on the Pace Resolution, but I wasn’t, and I have to prepare for a presentation practice with my grad students in two hours. So I’ll revise this post later. For now:

The Bloomington Faculty Council passed the Pace resolution criticizing the business school for inviting a general who (a) said homosexuality was immoral, and (b) enforced the military’s don’t ask/don’t tell policy. The vote was 19 to 15, with many present not voting. I heard on the radio that a motion to table was rejected 14 to 21. The minutes of the February 17 meeting, which transcribe all the speeches of that day, are here. I see that 41 members were present, 3 were absent but had alternates present, and 20 were absent. Thus, of 64 members, 19 voted for the resolution, 15 were against, 10 voters present did not vote, and 20 members were absent.

I see this as a good outcome, if not the best. People are on record as being for or against university departments being able to invite speakers with conservative opinions. I was afraid that someone would make a motion to table the resolution, or just ask to withdraw it, and that professors torn between principle, politics, and timidity would welcome the chance to get out of the situation.

The February 4 meeting tentative BFC minutes have some of the arguments made. My November weblog post has lots more, from the first reading in that month. My Feb. 4 post has the first and second drafts of the resolution.

I should add my own letter to the BFC and the Kelley’s school’s letter later today. They talk about the substance of the resolution.

UPDATE My own opinions on the substance of the Pace resolution are in a letter I sent to the BFC on February 4. The Kelley School Academic Council sent a strong letter to the BFC on December 1, 2008

UPDATE: My own opinions on the substance of the Pace resolution are in a letter I sent to the BFC on February 4. The Kelley School Academic Council sent a strong letter to the BFC on December 1, 2008

Pace Resolution

February 16th, 2009 No comments

Here is an excerpt from the tentative draft of the BFC minutes from February 4 on the Pace Resolution.

University Policies (The Pace Resolution)

February 4th, 2009 No comments

A great quote from our b-school dean, Daniel Smith:

Some faculty members voiced concern with the precedent the resolution would set and the scrutiny future chairs or guests would face.

“This isn’t a policy,” Tanford said. “It says nothing about future cases. We’re saying this one, we thought, was not handled well.”

Smith said he would abide by such a policy if one existed.


“If the university is going to adopt a formal policy that requires administrators to, number one, screen all candidates for endowed chairs on their personal beliefs and, number two, submit that data to groups on campus for approval, then we would certainly abide by that.”

Some info:

  • BFC Membership, 2009.
  • The Pace resolution: Drafts of November 18, 2008 and January 29 2009.
  • Some past Poling Chairs: Dollens, Evan Bayh, Skinner,
  • February 3rd, 2009 No comments

    Brandeis University is selling its $350 million art collection. One interesting thing about this is that there exists a bad law saying that universities can’t spend the principal of their endowments. Cushioning bad times should be a major (maybe the only) reason for endowments. Precautionary saving is an excellent idea; merely piling up golden ducats is not.

    Brandeis’s endowment had plunged to $540 million at the end of 2008 from $712 million as of June 30 of that year, and it was earning significantly less than the 8%-plus annual return on investment it had posted on June 30. Some of Brandeis’s trustees are believed to have lost money from Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, limiting their ability to make up the difference. The school, which by law spends only its gains and not the principal of the endowment, reduced expenditures by $10 million and instituted various budget-freezing measures, but “we couldn’t do any more belt-tightening without fundamentally changing the character of the university,” said Peter French, Brandeis’s chief operating officer and executive vice president. He noted that, as the trustees looked ahead at the next four or five years, they could see operating deficits of $10 million to $20 million a year and little likelihood of Brandeis regaining its $700 million endowment and 8% interest income until 2015.

    What they could do instead is to pawn the art collection and redeem it when the endowment income is flowing again. Or, someone ought to come up with a self-liquidating security which pays out dividends until none of it is left. There’s some kind of Treasury security like that– is that what a Strip is?

    Categories: art, law, universities Tags:

    Martin Luther King

    January 19th, 2009 No comments

    Theologica has a good post on Martin Luther King’s plagiarism, adultery, and non-Christian religious beliefs. Samuel Francis has an even more negative essay that I haven’t read all the way through. In a quick look I couldn’t find a good listing of MLK’s accomplishments. He did some good things, I seem to remember, but Google gives me trivial lists and general praise.

    Here is an excerpt from a paper that King wrote in 1949 while he was an assistant pastor and taking seminary classes. He contrasts the liberal with the “fundamentalist”, to the disadvantage of the “fundamentalist”. It’s interesting that he acknowledges that what he means by “fundamentalist” is the Christian doctrine of Luther, Calvin, and the pre-1900 church in general.

    These men argued that there could be no compromise on the unchanging fundamentals of the Christian faith. To gain support for their stand, the fundamentalist claimed that they were reaffirming the faith as Luther, Calvin, Knox, and Wesley held it. Of course, in that claim they were undoubtedly correct. It was the Protestant Reformation which enunciated the doctrines which are now called “fundamentalist.”…

    Others doctrines such as a supernatural plan of salvation, the Trinity, the substitutionary theory of the atonement, and the second coming of Christ are all quite prominant in fundamentalist thinking. Such are the views of the fundamentalist and they reveal that he is oppose to theological adaptation to social and cultural change. He sees a progressive scientific age as a retrogressive spiritual age. Amid change all around he was {is} willing to preserve certain ancient ideas even though they are contrary to science.

    Accomplishments: One King accomplishment is the “I Have a Dream” speech, which is certainly a bigger deal in itself than anything I have done in my life.

    The BFC’s Proposed Resolution Criticizing the Business School’s Invitation of General Pace

    January 16th, 2009 No comments

    The Bloomington Faculty Council has been having some discussions
    of interest to those concerned about homosexuality and free speech.
    All boldfacings below are by me.

    Here are excerpts from the resolution (
    November 18 text
    ):

    WHEREAS in a March 12, 2007 interview with the Chicago Tribune,
    Gen.
    Pace said, “I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are
    immoral..
    . I do not believe the United States is well served by a
    policy that says it is okay to be immoral in any way… As an
    individual, I would not want [acceptance of gay behavior] to be our
    policy.”

    WHEREAS on March 13, 2007, Pace released a statement reading, “In
    expressing my support for the current policy, I also offered some
    personal opinions about moral conduct. I should have focused more on
    my support of the policy and less on my personal moral views.” He
    declined to apologize or to retract his statement equating
    homosexuality with immorality….

    NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that although we fully endorse the
    concept that speakers representing all viewpoints should be invited to
    campus, when speakers representing controversial viewpoints are
    invited, effort must be made to facilitate open discussion and the
    exchange of ideas. We therefore believe that during General Peter
    Pace’s visits to campus this year, the Kelley School should facilitate
    opportunities for Gen. Pace to be interviewed by the press and to
    appear at forums in which members of the community are welcome and may
    ask questions, and to invite a speaker of equivalent stature who holds
    contrary views concerning homosexuality. Efforts to date are not
    sufficient.

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that it was inappropriate to award Gen. Pace
    a
    university honor, the Poling Chair in Business and Government, when
    his views on homosexuality are so offensive to university policy and
    many members of the university community, without any advance
    guarantee that he would participate in an open and meaningful dialogue
    about his views.

    From
    the November 18 Bloomington Faculty Council Minutes:

    Brian Horne, Music:

    HORNE: Personally I’m bothered by this. I mean there are many details,
    you know, with which I sympathize but at the heart of the matter it
    seems to me what trying to punish somebody for something they
    believe.

    To me at the heart of the matter, I understand why people would be
    offended, but what we’re saying is ‘you have to believe what we
    believe or we’re going to make it hard on you.’ That’s not what we
    should be doing, and we certainly shouldn’t be saying ‘we’re a
    university, we’re open to all, we’re open to diversity, but if you
    don’t believe what we believe we’re going to make it hard on you to
    come here or to get an honor from us or to do anything else.’

    James Biles, Geography:

    BILES: … Yes, you know a diversity of views is appreciated, but
    I
    think morally and ethically, you know, there’s no requirement to
    tolerate intolerance and these views are intolerant.
    Personally,
    I’d
    like to see him dishonorably discharged from his, you know,
    appointment, but I guess that’s not going to happen.

    Bryan McCormick, HPER:

    MCCORMICK: Well, I’m just curious that this strikes me that we’re
    making as a campus body a dictate to that unit without inclusion,
    discussion, you know. I would be concerned in my school if I learned
    from the BFC something that we are being told we had to do without
    even knowing it was coming.

    Brian Horne, Music, and Alex Tanford, Law:

    HORNE: I’m sorry, one other question and I recognize this is
    stretching it quite a bit. Certainly in the School of Music we have
    people that are just world renowned musicians all the time some of
    which are given titles and some of whom just come and give masters
    classes, things like that. We don’t know their views on this issue or
    any other,
    because they were never in such a prominent, you know,
    position, but why is it different that it just happens that we know
    this issue. This issue is not what drove his appointment or what gave
    him this honor. It just happened that his previous appointment called
    upon him to answer questions regarding this. If Leonard Slatkin, you
    know, the world famous conductor is coming to join our faculty, we
    don’t know what he thinks about anything, and we don’t need to know.

    TANFORD: I don’t really have a response to your point, but certainly
    there are people who are highly distinguished in the music field,
    now
    many of them very elderly, if they’re still alive at all, who had an
    active association at one point with Nazi Germany, where their views
    would be clearly known. And I guess we saw this as the equivalent of
    giving one of them a distinguished honor
    which would be hugely
    offensive to the Jewish community or that was the way we saw this.

    Lucas Fields, IUSA President, student, and Alex Tanford, Law:

    FIELDS: I actually had a chance to speak with the general, and one of
    the things I asked him about was his recommendation to authorize force
    in Iraq, which he also did as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and I
    guess what I’m perhaps concerned about with this body is there a
    line
    that’s being drawn, that there are certain things that the faculty are
    willing to be concerned about but not others? Is his view on that war,
    which is controversial in a different light, something that should
    also be addressed? And are we singling something out versus a whole
    host of things I think could be found to be controversial on this
    campus?

    TANFORD: We are singling this out. We are the Diversity and
    Affirmative Action Committee,
    concerned about protecting the
    rights of
    minorities who are historically and currently, presently discriminated
    against and the gay and lesbian community is number one on that list.
    And that’s the reason. This is like race a generation ago.

    Patrick Harbison, Music, and
    Alex Tanford, Law:

    HARBISON: Will the School of Music have to stop programming
    Wagner?

    TANFORD: Only if – no. (laughter)
    HARBISON: I mean you see what
    I’m
    saying!
    TANFORD: Are you planning on giving Wagner a distinguished
    university honor?
    HARBISON: No, but I would say that a performance
    at
    the MAC is a fairly distinguished honor.
    TANFORD: But that’s the
    essence of the distinction. A performance at the MAC is an ordinary
    participation in the university process. If it is accompanied by Gwyn
    Richards coming out and giving the person a distinguished award, then
    it moves into a different level of symbolism and it is that second
    level that we are concerned about, not the first.

    Daniel Sloat, IUSA Vice President, student:

    SLOAT: I just wanted to say first as a Kelley student I felt that
    the
    school did a very good job in distancing themselves. I felt that they
    were in no way in the wrong. They made very clear that they did not
    support his personal beliefs, and most importantly to keep in mind he
    was invited to and subsequently awarded for his leadership experience.
    He was not brought as a controversial speaker, not as someone who has
    a certain view.
    If that had been the case, then it would certainly
    be
    encouraged and, I think, appropriate to bring someone with an
    alternative view. So being someone extensive leadership experience,
    I
    don’t think it’s fair to put him in the same kind of light that calls
    for ‘where’s the other viewpoint?’ because being brought as a person
    with leadership experience the other viewpoint would be someone
    without leadership experience.

    Padraic Kenney, History, and
    Alex Tanford, Law:

    …KENNEY: …Yeah, I know, but I feel like some of your responses
    have
    really come down, you know, to his personal views…

    TANFORD: No,
    no.

    KENNEY: … some rest more on professional and maybe clarifying the
    difference between the two…

    TANFORD: There is no…

    KENNEY: …and
    taking
    a stand based on one or the other.

    TANFORD: He was the one who
    attempts to characterize these as merely personal views, and that’s
    why to try to put in his version of it and put some balance is why
    those statements are in there.

    KENNEY: Well then let me draw
    attention
    to the last line in the fourth paragraph on the first page, “General
    Pace’s beliefs regarding homosexuality, which are grounded in his
    religious faith, reveal an inherent bias against homosexuality.” Why
    are we bringing in his religious faith? I’m looking at the quotes that
    are above there and while I don’t doubt that elsewhere in that
    interview he talks about his religious faith, he doesn’t in what has
    been quoted here. And so now we’re saying ‘well, actually this has to
    do with religious faith,’ but maybe they’re excusing, that, you know,
    you have to understand this is religious faith or it maybe a
    complicating or whatever factor, but I’m not quite sure, you know, how
    do you put that in there. That’s essentially saying ‘we are interested
    in his beliefs.’

    TANFORD: I would say the committee was persuaded
    by
    an argument made by some members of the committee that one could make
    a case that holding fairly extreme antihomosexual views based on a
    particularly narrow interpretation of religion is itself a minority
    viewpoint…

    KENNEY: But how is that relevant here?

    TANFORD:
    …and
    therefore needed to be mentioned in terms of the balance since we’re
    the Diversity and Affirmative Action Committee and that we are
    concerned about religious discrimination as much as we are about
    discrimination against homosexuality.

    Nick Clark, GPSO – Political Science, graduate student:

    CLARK:… it’s a discussion I’ve been a part of in several different
    committees on how to best recruit minorities to come here and increase
    the diversity of the campus and I have to think that this is relevant
    to that, in that if we include minorities that we want to recruit as
    gay and lesbian students, the fact that we bestow honors on someone
    that makes these statements, whether they’re right, whether they’re
    wrong, whether it’s the place of the Faculty Council or the university
    to take positions on it, but that we’re bestowing honors on it from a
    very pragmatic point of view I would think that that could deter
    certain gay and lesbian students from attending this university which
    is the exact opposite of what the campus seems to want to do in its
    recruiting initiatives.
    And I think that’s got to be at least, you
    know, minimally relevant to an issue like this.

    Herbert Terry, BFC President, Telecommunications:

    TERRY: Okay, I wasn’t on the (inaudible) subcommittee, but I hope you
    will consult with the faculty governance body of the School of
    Business. When we take this up again I would like to know what role
    they played in it, if any, and what their recommendations to the Dean
    were, what they think of it. The second thing is borrowing from my
    own
    experience in telecommunications, the Federal Communications
    Commission for a long time tried to enforce a kind of a fairness
    doctrine requiring that opposing views on controversial issues be
    presented by broadcasters. It eventually concluded that that
    backfired.

    The BFC membership list is
    here
    in case you’d like to check which professors and students
    vote on this.

    A footnote:

    Americans interviewed in Gallup’s 2008 Values and Beliefs poll are
    evenly divided over the morality of homosexual relations, with 48%
    considering them morally acceptable and 48% saying they are morally
    wrong.

    The BFC will not be voting on the resolution on January 20, since the committee is trying to redraft it. Presumably it will come up in the February meeting.

    SAT Won’t Report Low Scores

    January 9th, 2009 1 comment

    National Review’s blog reports that the SAT is changing so that only a student’s MAXIMUM score out of all the times he takes the test will be reported to colleges. What amazing favoritism to rich, stupid, applicants!

    Or maybe not so amazing. This will be a bonanza for the SAT company, since their tests will be taken so many more times. This is especially true nowadays, when many colleges have merit-based scholarships and your $45 retest fee might have a 1/10 chance of yielding you $1000 extra in tuition breaks.

    It also raises an interesting mathematical question. Suppose everyone ends up taking the test exactly 8 times. This will cost a lot more, of course, but will it yield more accurate evaluation of the applicants? Which provides more useful information:

    1. A single test score.

    2. The maximum of 8 test scores.

    The answer depends on the distribution of an individual’s test scores for his given talent. If someone with ability X scores X on the test with probability .9 and X-y with probability .1, the Maximum is a better measure (in fact, then it is even better than the average of 8 test scores).

    If someone with ability X scores X on the test with probability .8, X-y with probability .1, and X+y with probability .1, which is better? The maximum still, I think. In almost every case, person i will end up with a maximum of Xi+y, and we can simply subtract y and get a person’s ability.

    If someone with ability X scores X on the test with probability .999 and X+y with probability .001, then I think , the Single reported score is better. It is right with probability .999, whereas the Maximum will frequently be X+y (with probability 1-.999^8) so it will be right with only probability .992. (I haven’t phrased that carefully– what we care about is not the percentage of “right” answers but the variance of the measure minus the true ability, but in this special case the two criteria give the same answer.)

    What if the distribution of test scores around ability has a normal distribution? I don’t know. The answer might depend on the variance. I’ll ask our job candidate at lunch. He’s a couple of years out of grad school already, so he shouldn’t freak out at the question.

    Categories: Economics, math, statistics, tests, universities Tags:

    GRE Scores in Various Disciplines

    December 22nd, 2008 No comments

    From Mark Perry:

    Physicists are clearly the smartest, at a combined GRE score of 1899, then math at 1877, and then computer science and econ at 1862 and 1855. Chemistry and biology are down quite a ways. Philosophy is in the top league, with 1803. I’m surprised economists are so smart. It actually seems like a waste of talent.

    January 3. I just realized an implication of these numbers. Graduate students in pretty much any science are better with words than graduate students in English. Even engineering grad students are– though industrial and civil engineers are slightly worse. My chemistry/German double major roommate AJ would like to hear this. Also: going back to the original source, it seems these are Means, and that source has more info, including the actual number of students in the top 3% of each test score category in each discipline (which matters because some fields have many more students than others).

    Categories: Economics, universities Tags:

    Theft by Princeton

    December 15th, 2008 No comments

    Princeton seems to have been stealing from the Robertson Foundation on a large scale. The Robertson heirs sued, and in a settlement they have been given 40 million dollars in legal fees and 50 million has been put into a new foundation. The complaint is worth recording. Of interest too is this statement about other abuses by Princeton, from page 16:

    In 2002 and 2003, a Princeton employee named Jessie Washington conducted an investigation of donations to the University’s Office of Religious Life and concluded:…

    During my review of endowment accounts for the office of religious life, I discovered many problems with the management of the university’s endowed funds. … (T)hese problems affect every unit in the University that relies on endowment income.

    2/20/03 Washington memo to Kalmbach and McDonough. Her Summary of Findings states:

    I believe: 1) funding allocations are not in alignment with their intended purpose, i.e. the donors wishes have been ignored; 2) money intended for religious life -17- 925226.1 11/11/04 has been knowingly withheld;…

    As one example, a $5,000 gift to maintain a chapel organ was used instead, according to a handwritten note, “to relieve general funds.” Id. at Example 2. Another handwritten note states: “Dept. is not to know.”

    Categories: law, universities Tags:

    Questions for Theorists

    December 14th, 2008 No comments

    From Econjobrumors, on a thread on the worst econ fields to be a candidate in:

    From the hiring side: The problem I see with many pure theorists (i.e. those who do not use any data) is the lack of connection between the research and any real-world issues. A lot of job applicants to my department and graduate students in my department have a difficult time answering (a) why is this relevant/important?, and (b) how would I know if you were wrong? If you are a theorist, you’ll do yourself a favor if you can answer those questions.

    Categories: Economics, teaching, universities Tags:

    The BFC "Support the troops" resolution of 2003

    November 22nd, 2008 No comments

    Here is reprinted a 2003 weblog entry, plus some new BFC material I found.

    Chancellor Brehm was helpful when the
    Bloomington Faculty Council passed a resolution on the War in Iraq last spring. Let me
    recount that, a good practice when annoyed by someone. I suggested a “support the
    troops” resolution to BFC President Eno, who gave me the good advice that he didn’t
    think it would have much chance of getting through with a strong enough vote to make it
    worthwhile. I asked him for an example of someone who he thought would probably be
    opposed, and he suggested Professor Marsh. She took my idea seriously, and rewrote my
    draft completely, but in a way
    that satisfied both of us:


    As in any democracy, a wide diversity of opinion exists among the faculty of Indiana
    University, Bloomington, concerning the War in Iraq. However, we wish warmly to extend
    our sympathy and support to those men and women whose lives are caught up in this
    conflict:

    First, the members of the IUB community — students, staff, and alumni — currently
    serving in Iraq. We commend their devotion to duty, grieve for their losses and those
    of their families, applaud their attempts to limit injury to innocent Iraqi civilians,
    and wish them a safe return to their country.

    Second, our thoughts go out to those thousands of innocents in Iraq — men, women, and
    (above all) children — whose lives, homes, and families have been lost in or damaged by
    this war. We hope humanitarian aid may be speedily and generously delivered for their
    assistance, and wish all luck to those members of the extended IU community who are
    involved in that effort.

    Third, we think also of the Arab and Iraqi students on this campus and on campuses
    across America, and of Arab- and Iraqi-American citizens of all kinds, for whom the
    conditions and precautions of war have created distress. We hope that our country will
    maintain its tradition of tolerance and respect for all.

    I told Chancellor Brehm that we’d like to introduce the resolution if there was time
    at the end of the meeting, but that if it looked like it would get bogged down in
    discussion, we wouldn’t pursue it. Since this was the last meeting of the year, with a
    heavy agenda, and this resolution was a last-minute idea, she could quite fairly have
    killed it simply by not giving it any time. But as it turned out, there was five minutes
    free at the end of the meeting, and the resolution’s wording was acceptable to pretty
    much everybody (I think maybe there were some helpful minor changes, but everybody was
    in a cooperative spirit).

    The lessons?

    1. Even liberal professors who opposed the war were willing to say nice things
      about American troops.
    2. It’s possible for a local organization to write a sensible resolution that touches
      on foreign policy. Note that we kept everything tied in to Indiana University, the idea
      being that such a resolution was appropriate because the war was having a significant
      effect on some members of the University. We weren’t trying to make foreign policy
      with the resolution.
    3. It’s possible for people with drastically different political viewpoints to work
      constructively together. I am very conservative; Professor Marsh is, I gather, much to
      my left, as Chancellor Brehm and most of the BFC probably is, but we came up with a
      worthwhile resolution anyway–one that was not even just a compromise, but that very
      different people could sincerely support in all its parts.

    Reading it again, the resolution looks even better than it did at the time, since it
    turns out that our soldiers are spending more time helping civilians than they did
    fighting the enemy.

    Today:

    Here’s what the April 15, 2003 Minutes say:

    NEW BUSINESS ITEM: RESOLUTION ON WAR IN IRAQ
    (Professor Eric Rasmusen)

    BREHM: Now, Eric, that leaves you 10 minutes.

    RASMUSEN: Okay, well that’s all I asked for. This is something that either we do quickly or we don’t do at all. And either is fine I guess. I was thinking it would be nice to have some kind of resolution on the Iraq situation. Not one on policy, which isn’t our business and could take a lot longer than 10 minutes but something in support of the IU people who are involved. And I’m passing around now a resolution to that effect and I’ll read it in a minute. I wasn’t going to bring it up at all if we didn’t have much time. If there’s a lot of opposition we’ll just table it and not consider it. It’s meant to be non controversial and if there’s a lot of changes to wording people want we’ll also have to just ditch it.

    But, I’ve mentioned this to Bob Eno and he said if this is controversial it will take too much time. And I said, who’s somebody who’s likely to be very opposed to the war? And he said, and you might not like this, Joss Marsh. Sorry Joss. So I went to her and said is there any kind of language you would support and she came up with basically this resolution and I’ve made a couple more changes. So we’ve got two votes for it. If we find that ten people don’t like it and need more discussion, then we’ll just wait until the next war. But I’ll read to you what we have now. This is meant to be something very IU oriented, so we would like to have as many names of individual people over there as possible and I’ve talked with the Registrar’s Office, they found from the Department of Education that they have permission, they do have permission to tell us which students are over there, but they wanted to have the lawyers look over the resolution first. So, where there’s XXX, YYY would be for whatever names of people we could get. Also we would put in whatever staff members we can get. The University doesn’t really know, doesn’t keep track of that very well. I’ll read this. Shall I read it out loud? Probably the best thing to do.

    “As in any democracy, a wide diversity of opinions exists among the faculty of Indiana University Bloomington concerning the war in Iraq. However we wish warmly to extend our sympathy and support to those men and women whose lives are caught up in this conflict. First, the members of the IUB community, students, staff and alumni currently serving in Iraq. We know this group includes—and we’re going to insert names—as well as the others. We commend their devotion to duty, grieve for their losses, for their families, applaud their attempts to limit injury to innocent Iraqi civilians and wish them a safe return to their countries.

    Second, our thoughts go out to those thousands of innocent in Iraq, men, women and above all children who’s lives, homes, and families have been lost in or damaged by this war. We hope humanitarian aid may be speedily and generously delivered for their assistance and wish all luck to those members of the extended IU community who are involved in that effort.

    Third, we think also of the Arab and Iraqi students on this campus and on campuses across America and Arab and Iraqi citizens of all kinds for whom the conditions and precautions of war have created distress. We hope that after hostilities cease our country will maintain its tradition of tolerance and respect for all.”

    BREHM: Yes, Deidre?

    LYNCH: I really appreciate the spirit of this but I’m very worried by the language of after “hostilities seize, we’ll maintain this tradition of tolerance and respect for all,” meaning that we won’t maintain it while hostilities are ongoing? Do you need the “after hostilities” why not just “that we hope that our country will maintain its tradition of tolerance and respect for all”.

    RASMUSEN: That very good. Friendly amendment that I accept.

    BREHM: Would someone like to move?

    CARR: So moved.

    BREHM: Yes?

    MALE SPEAKER: Second.

    BREHM: We have, it’s been moved and seconded. All of those in favor of the statement with the friendly amendment? Yes, Moira?

    SMITH: Not a friendly amendment, just an editorial thing in the third paragraph, the third line where it says grieve for their losses and for their families, I think we need to say, “grief for their losses and those of their families.”

    BREHM: Okay, all those in favor please signify by raising your hand.

    BOBAY: I got 34.

    BREHM: All those opposed [none]. Abstentions [3]? The motion passes. Not hearing any objections, I’m about to adjourn us for this year. However, we’re not really adjourned because you are all invited to my house and I hope I’ll see you very shortly. So we are sort of adjourned. Thank you very much.

    I don’t know, by the way, if the names ever did get filled in,a nd whether the resolution was publicized for quietly put away to hide, which is a standard way of getting rid of something one doesn’t like.

    Categories: universities Tags:

    The Value of Human Life in Pennsylvania

    November 20th, 2008 No comments

    It seems economist Rafael Robb has gotten 5 to 10 years in prison for killing his wife. He gave a talk here a couple of years ago, and did seem a tough guy– is he the one who was an Israeli paratrooper? In any case, I expect he will be a model prisoner and be out after 5 years. As an economist, I can see then that the value put on a human life by the Pennsylvania state government is a 5-year prison term.

    He admitted he “just lost it” during an argument that erupted at the couple’s Upper Merion Township home in December 2006. Ellen Robb had been planning to end their 16-year marriage, and her husband feared he would see less of their daughter and possibly suffer financially if they divorced.

    I wonder if Professor Robb has gained financially, overall? He has lost 5 years of salary completely, plus a hard-to-estimate reduction in future salary. He will lose his tenure at Penn, but he can get a job somewhere else– he’s a good economist, and he can keep publishing while in prison– indeed, he will have more time for research, and he’s a theorist, so lack of RA’s, computers, etc. won’t hamper him. He has gained alimony he would have had to pay– say, 20% of income for a 30-year period. He has also gained his half of the household assets– perhaps 6 times his annual income.

    Categories: crime, law, universities Tags:

    A Community College Political Correctness Story

    November 19th, 2008 No comments

    From a VC comment:

    Since we are telling college stories.

    I started school at a community college and transfered to a four year. While at the CC, I did a paper on the different types of rape. At the time, womyns groups were pushing different types from actual unwanted sexual contact to my favorite–a woman is in the area of a man and without saying or doing anything he thinks of her as a sexual being without consent (psychic rape).

    I did a paper for criminal justice class I was proud of, breaking the subject down into five types, and got an A. I buffed it up and turned it in for english comp, too. I got an E, and in front of witnesses the professor accused men like me of being the reason women get raped.

    I appealed, and the dean stated the paper was of poor quality. Other profs suggested requesting a formal hearing in front of the college president with the class called as witnesses, I did make a request and the dean excused me from the rest of the class and gave me an A.

    Categories: liberals, universities Tags:

    Textbooks versus Packets

    November 15th, 2008 No comments

    I’m planning my courses for next semester. Textbooks cost a lot. Viscusi, Vernon and Harrington’s regulation text costs $88, which is typical. Are they worth it? Yes, probably. The cost of me, the professor, and the time cost of the students is much higher, and a good text is valuable. But there is one big problem. Students don’t keep their texts. They resell them. This loses them one of the most important parts of their education. If they realized this, they wouldn’t sell them, even at the current high prices, but they don’t. It might nonetheless be important. If I assign them a packet of readings instead, will they keep the packet? If they do, maybe that is enough of a teaching improvement that I should do it.

    Categories: thinking, universities Tags:

    Chicago Faculty Opposing Its Friedman Institute

    July 22nd, 2008 No comments

    Here are the signers of the letter opposing the Friedman institute at Chicago. Fred Donner and Marshall Sahlins are the only names I recognize.

    Categories: universities Tags:

    Cambridge v. Patten

    June 16th, 2008 No comments

    Justia has the complete collection of documents for Cambridge v. Patten, the case where Cambridge and Oxford’s presses are suing Georgia State for copyright infringement. I’ve read the complaint. Georgia State lets professors post readings for their students, and gives them very liberal Fair Use guidelines. The presses are objecting even to single chapters being posted that way. Some interesting bits:

    1. The presses are suing university administrators personally, as well as the organization.

    2. The presses are not asking for any damages, just costs. The main thing they want is declaratory relief and an injunction.

    I think the presses should win by law, though the law is very bad.

    Categories: copyright, law, universities Tags:

    Male and Female Majors at Yale

    June 10th, 2008 1 comment

    Dan Gelerntner at Yale has a weblog post listing the most male and the most female majors at Yale. It’s interesting that Music makes the male list, and history of science and cognitive science make the female list.

    Categories: thinking, universities Tags:

    ABA Threatens GMU with Loss of Accreditation

    April 30th, 2008 No comments

    Gail Heriot has a shocking WSJ op-ed telling how the American Bar Association forced George Mason Law School to admit unqualified applicants in order to retain its accreditation— and thus its access to federal funds. Racial discrimination of this kind has been declared illegal by the Supreme Court, so the ABA is acting illegally. Is there a suit to bring?

    If you have ever wondered why colleges and universities seem to march in lockstep on controversial issues like affirmative action, here is one reason: Overly politicized accrediting agencies often demand it….

    In 2003, the ABA summoned the university’s president and law school dean to appear before it personally, threatening to revoke the institution’s accreditation.

    GMU responded by further lowering minority admissions standards. It also increased spending on outreach, appointed an assistant dean to serve as minority coordinator, and established an outside “Minority Recruitment Council.” As a result, 17.3% of its entering students were minority members in 2003 and 19% in 2004.

    Not good enough. “Of the 99 minority students in 2003,” the ABA complained, “only 23 were African American; of 111 minority students in 2004, the number of African Americans held at 23.” It didn’t seem to matter that 63 African Americans had been offered admission, or that many students admitted with lower academic credentials would end up incurring heavy debt but never graduate and pass the bar.

    Categories: law, race, universities Tags:

    Political Persecution at Northwestern Law School in 2007

    February 12th, 2008 No comments

     Free Speech Scandal at Northwestern Law School.  [I have redacted using the name X]

    Yet another example (from 2007) of a law school punishing unorthodox speech. Or, perhaps, for not giving patronage to minorities in this case. It’s curious how law schools, with their worship of the abstract concept of Free Speech, so commonly suppress it.

    There is a useful thread of emails posted. From Student Bar Association President X, who was intimidated into resigning:

    I have only resigned my title because the administration and the SBA Executive Board have forced my hand. The SBA Executive Board and school administration asked me to step down as SBA President with only a month left in my tenure, largely because I have expressed beliefs that are unpopular with some members of our community. Some think that my expression of these beliefs makes me unfit to perform the duties of my office. I disagree with those who have asked me to step down, and initially refused; offering instead to accept a dramatically reduced role in the SBA’s decision making process in recognition of the impact of my expression of these beliefs. The administration and Executive Board did not accept my offer. I was told that if I did not step down the administration would have stripped me of any official duty that it could strip me of – they would cease meeting with me as SBA President, and would have prohibited me from representing the school at graduation, law board meetings, admitted student weekend, and other events where the SBA President traditionally plays a role. In addition, the administration would have released a letter to the public explaining these restrictions – and describing my words (discussed below) as “derogatory remarks.” Cliff Zimmerman [faculty administrator] showed me two different versions of this letter; the version to be released if I stepped down being significantly kinder in its wording. The administration reached its conclusion to take this course of action without once bringing me, the Executive Board, administration members, and complaining parties into the same room. Finally, the Executive Board would have conducted a plebiscite on whether I was fit to hold what would have been left of the office of SBA President – the title. Given the costs of going through with this process, it should be clear that I have only “stepped down” from my position in the most technical sense.

    To provide some background: There was a breakfast last Thursday with Chief Justice Roberts to which a number of academic and student-government leaders were invited. The administration asked me to recommend a list of 10-15 “academic and community leaders” to attend this breakfast. The administration had the final word on the invitees; this should be obvious given the nature of the event, the addition of 10 students to my initial recommendations, and the fact that my recommendations had to be cleared with the administration. I was never told that the intent was to invite the leaders of every student organization. The students at that breakfast were an undeniably diverse cross-section of the Northwestern Law community. These students were invited not as racial representatives, but because of their leadership on the law journals, in student government, and in student organizations with leadership positions open to members of any ethnicity. Nonetheless, the leader of one of the ethnicity-oriented student groups – a person I have always considered a friend – shouted me down in the Atrium for overlooking the leaders of these groups. He told me that I took the opportunity of a lifetime away from him. I should have walked away. I had been up the better part of the previous evening and early morning answering student complaints about the invitation list, and had continued to field such complaints throughout the day. During what can only be described loosely as a conversation, I stated my belief that our community would be better off if all student organizations were organized around ideas, and not ethnicity. It is this off-hand remark that is the primary justification for my being forced from office.

    I’ve omitted the rest of his email, which consists of musings about free speech and grovelling humbly for having dared to question the orthodox position.

    The postscript is useful, though:

    * The complete list of students that I recommended for the breakfast: The SBA Executive Board and 1L Rep, Law Review board members, 2 Editors-in- Chief of academic journals, Federalist Society President, Fed Soc Board Member who has been exceptionally active on SBA Committees and in SFPIF, ACS President, STMS President. After two students responded that they could not attend, and in response to concerns that only two 1Ls were included in a group of 28, I recommended two 1Ls active on SBA and in student organizations. Of my 18 recommendations, at least 6 were of diverse ethnic background. The administration approved ALL of these recommendations in addition to inviting at least 10 students without my recommendation.

    The “ person I have always considered a friend” who got X in trouble is unrepentant about doing so, and still miffed that he didn’t get to have lunch with the judge. He is Latino group leader Kevin Strom:

    X,

    I’m saddened by your comments. You and I both know that is not why I was upset about the invite list. I did not say that you took an opportunity of a lifetime away from me. I said, while describing the impact of your decision, that it was not a small event, that it was the chance of a lifetime for anyone to go. I wrote down the conversation you and I had shortly after we had it, simply because I knew this might come up, and then I confirmed it with a respected 3L who was standing by during our conversation.

    Here is what I have:

    After Chief Justice Robert’s speech to the general student body Thursday, the President of the SBA approached me during the reception. He was unaware of many of the complaints and meetings that he had sparked. He was unaware that I, and many others had spent the majority of the day with Cliff and Audra because his actions were a reflection of the administration. He asked me how I was doing. I said, “fine.” He asked if I was sure, because I seemed upset. I told him that was probably not the best place and time to have this discussion. When he pushed on, I told him that I believed the way he handled the selection of “relevant student leaders” was ridiculous and unacceptable. He defended his actions saying that he chose the most relevant groups based on who would impress CJR. He said it didn’t matter because “we impressed him” and the breakfast went fine. I asked how he could ignore a group like BLSA, during Black History Month, with such a huge student base, and an entire month’s worth of programming. I asked him how he could ignore LLSA, another group with a month of programming that won Best Student Group of the Year last year, how we could be less relevant.

    His response blew me away:

    “I would dismantle all of your groups. If it were up to me there would be no LLSA, BLSA, Salsa and Apalsa, because they don’t bring anything to the community, and they contribute to racial identity politics.” He kept going, telling me that he doesn’t get caught up in racial politics and doesn’t believe in race based groups.

    I responded by telling him he was doing a *’super’* job of representing the students he was elected to serve. I told him he couldn’t separate his political views from his Presidential role, and those views shouldn’t affect the decisions he makes on behalf of us. This is especially true when the administration makes the error of allowing one student to make unilateral decisions as to who should attend an intimate breakfast with a figure such as the Chief Justice of the U.S.

    To the student body: That is what happened between X and I the night the Chief Justice spoke to the student body. I was not going to publish this information to the listserv, if you’ve seen my personal email to the Latino Law Student Association, you know that I toned down my words and paraphrased X when describing what transpired. I’ve included that email below. Obviously the administration and SBA felt that this, along with X’s other actions in the past month warranted removing him from the board, or at least stripping his ability to speak at any events. I’m available to answer any questions.

    Sincerely,

    Kevin Strom

    The SBA student leadership wanted to fire X too, even without faculty pressure perhaps:

    In light of recent events at Northwestern Law, the SBA Executive Board has asked X to step down from his role as SBA President, and he has agreed to do so, effective immediately. … Let’s hope that we all learn from recent events and continue to strive to make our law school more accepting and more open.

    Dean David Van Zandt and administrators Cliff Zimmerman, Audra Wilson, and Don Rebstock wrote a letter about “Xs decision to resign”:

    Dear Students,

    … Student groups are given great latitude to create programming and opportunities for their respective constituencies and the community as a whole; students are also given wide latitude and responsibility to pursue these activities with the support of, rather than intervention by, the Law School. However, when actions undermine the Law School’s mission or values or cause harm, the Law School must weigh the value of student autonomy and responsibility against the necessity to counter those actions that compromise our efforts to maintain a diverse, collegial, and supportive community.

    We have investigated the chain of events which led to the omission of several student group leaders from last week’s Student Leadership Breakfast with Chief Justice John Roberts. While part of the problem was administrative in nature, that mistake has been overshadowed by X subsequent comments that dismissed the value of the organizations of the uninvited leaders. Having acknowledged the serious affront to the student leaders in his comments,Xs decision to resign is the right one for himself, for the SBA, and for the Law School.

    The student newspaper has the Administration claiming it had not “played any role” in forcing X to resign:

    Both Dean Zimmerman and Director Wilson denied that the Administration played any role in forcing Mr. X to resign. Dean Zimmerman said that he simply informed Mr. X that he would not be asked to speak as a representative of the school. Although historically the SBA president has spoken to the Law Board, at Diverse Admit day, at Day at Northwestern, and at Graduation, these speaking opportunities are at the discretion of the administration….

    Although Director Wilson and Dean Zimmerman both admitted that the substance of Mr. X’s comments warranted further discussion, neither was yet sure how.

    “We need to move forward together in a constructive way,” said Zimmerman. “But I am still talking with several groups, both student and administration, about how best to address this issue.”

    “If we can’t have candid talks about race and ethnicity, our commitment to diversity is hollow,” Wilson said. “But we need to have the discussion with civility and tact.”

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