The theme for the summer 2016 issue of Academic Questions is “Infringements.” In the first section, we’ve included NAS’s statement, The Architecture of Intellectual Freedom. This report argues for the fostering of intellectual freedom in institutions of higher education. It also develops the contexts of academic and intellectual freedom so that those that desire its flourishing can take back the mantle from those that hold it only in word and not in deed.
With freedom framed and fresh on the mind, the second section contains six essays on “Infringements.” The subsequent collection of six essays on “Infringements” depicts intrusions on free inquiry, freedom of thought, freedom to teach, and freedom to learn that have been the concern of the National Association of Scholars from its inception. In this section, former president of St. John’s College in Santa Fe, John Agresto, takes on campus radicals, also known as “cry-bullies.” Donald A. Downs and Stanley G. Payne, professors at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, discuss the fight for academic freedom in Wisconsin. Princeton politics lecturer Russell K. Nieli explains the origins of student rage on campus and the havoc caused by affirmative action. Matthew Stewart, a professor at Boston University, questions why sociologists have failed to make the connection between the faulty statistics of rape as another “moral panic.” Sandra Stotsky, professor emerita of education reform at the University of Arkansas, discusses how shifts in reading curriculum have disrupted literacy. Next, Touro Law School professor Daniel Subotnik conveys how diversity training is detrimental to the crucial reciprocity entailed in the enjoyment of rights and freedoms. In the final essay, senior lecturer of English at Santa Clara University Jeff Zorn criticizes Johnathan Kozol’s brand of anti-establishment theorizing and its destructive effect on lower education.
NAS members will receive printed copies of this issue in the mail. (NAS members, click here for instructions on how to get full online access to all AQ articles.)
The featured articles from the summer 2016 AQ are listed below.
This issue also includes poems and review essays not listed here. Two of this issue’s articles (Donald Downs’ and Stanley G. Payne’s “The Wisconsin Fight for Academic Freedom” and Russell K. Nieli's “Snowflake Jacobins: Black Rage on Campus) are available for free through www.nas.org.
Issue at a Glance
The Architecture of Intellectual Freedom: A Statement of the National Association of Scholars
Peter Wood, National Association of Scholars
A For the Record entry, this statement of the National Association of Scholars responds to the current “cry bully” crisis in higher education and outlines the evolution of freedom on campus, clarifying the provinces and distinguishing the requirements of freedom of speech, intellectual freedom, and academic freedom.
Snowflakes and Stormtroopers
In the first entry of “Infringements,” this issue’s special section, John Agresto takes a hard look at student cry bullies and the motives and goals fueling their version of multiculturalism and diversity. Instead of young minds hungry for knowledge, or even affirmation and self-esteem, he finds anti-intellectuals seeking to stamp out what remains of free and open inquiry on campus.
The Wisconsin Fight for Academic Freedom
Donald A. Downs, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Stanley G. Payne, emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Donald A. Downs and Stanley G. Payne share the story of the Committee for Academic Freedom and Rights (CAFAR), organized at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1996 in response to harassing efforts to control the speech and curb the academic freedom of a senior faculty member. CAFAR’s twenty-year history exemplifies how freedom on campus can be successfully defended.
Snowflake Jacobins: Black Rage on Campus
Russell K. Nieli, Princeton University
Many outside observers find the egregious actions and demands of recent student campus protestors—cry bullies—baffling. In his Infringements entry, Russell K. Nieli offers a “six-factor explanation” for how the factions involved formed and what spurs them to demonstrate. He also considers the damage being done to civil discourse and open debate, and askes who must take responsibility for the current campus environment.
The Campus “Rape Crisis” as Moral Panic
Matthew Stewart, Boston University
New protocols are being implemented on the supposition, fueled by activists and ratified by the Obama administration and the U.S. Department of Education, that a sexual assault epidemic is sweeping American college campuses. This assertation arose over three decades ago as a component of second-wave feminism—the same period the study of “moral panics” emerged as an academic specialization—and has recently risen to new heights of awareness with studies purporting to show an alarming frequency of sexual assault in the college setting. Matthew Stewart examines why the alleged campus rape crisis remains absent from academic sociology devoted to moral panics.
What American Kids Are Reading Now
Sandra Stotsky, emerita, University of Arkansas
American students are not reading much at grade level, nor reading enough material that develops college-level reading and vocabulary skills. In her Infringements essay, education expert Sandra Stotsky discusses several sources that provide insight into reversing this decline and offers suggestions to teachers and education researchers for strengthen the secondary curriculum.
How Diversity Training Hurts
Dan Subotnik, Touro Law School
Defined as a “distinct set of programs aimed at facilitating positive intergroup interactions, reducing prejudice and discrimination, and enhancing the skills, knowledge, and motivation of people to interact with diverse others,” diversity training has commendable goals. But in practice, as Dan Subotnik argues, diversity training, typically damages rather than improves race and ethnic relations.
Duplicity at an Early Age: Johnathan Kozol’s Career
Jeff Zorn, Santa Clara University
His books condemning American education as racist and oppressive have been best sellers and “staples on education-course syllabi,” and made Johnathan Kozol a leftist icon as a school reformer. “It’s all so curious,” according to Jeffrey Zorn, given that Kozol was only very briefly a classroom teacher and has largely ignored curriculum and governance. Zorn dismantles the myth by revisiting Kozol’s first work, Death at an Early Age: The Destruction of the Hearts and Minds of Negro Children in Boston’s Public Schools (1967) and “by easy extension given how little tune has changed,” the rest of his output.