Yale's med school is jumping aboard the bandwagon for increasing diversity in its student body, aiming to include more LGBT students. I can't see how aiming at quotas (or "goals" or some other euphemism) for this or any other type of student will improve the overall competency of the medical profession. I can see the reverse of that.
This summer has been a pretty rough ride for students and faculty whose religious convictions run counter to campus PC trends concerning homosexuality. We've recently seen the summary dismissal (and subsequent reinstatement) of professor Kenneth Howell at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. This came on the heels of a federal judge's ruling last month upholding Eastern Michigan University's right to drop a student from its counseling program because her religious beliefs prevented her from endorsing the lifestyes of gay clients. Now, a virtually identical ruling has just been handed down by a federal court in favor of Georgia's Augusta State University ( read about it here at Inside Higher Education), where a graduate student in a counseling has been given the option of swallowing her religious convictions or leaving the program. That's what both students ended up doing, since they did not want to attend Gay Pride celebrations as a means of correcting their retrograde views of homosexuality. Here again, the court ruled that the university and its program were simply acting within wholly acceptable bounds of professional standards and non-discriminatory conduct, which did not restrict any student's freedom of conscience. As I noted previously, I can't really believe that an agnostic gay counselor with reservations about Christian evangelicals would be required to attend church or Bible study sessions in hopes of altering his negative perspective. I wonder though: what happens when someone comes along who objects to these Orwellian requirements on purely clinical grounds? It's not likely, I know, but a few such people are out there, and it would be interesting to see how the PC forces that presently monopolize the "helping" professions would handle that one. They'd think of something, I'm sure.
Yesterday, good news, since we were elated to acknowledge FIRE's victory for academic freedom at a California community college. Today, back to the more familiar bad news, since a federal judge has upheld the right of Eastern Michigan University to expel Julea Ward, an evangelical Christian student who was training as a high school guidance counselor. Ward, as we've reported previously, was just shy of graduating from EMU's counseling program when she was mugged by PC ideology. Because of her religious convictions, she could not agree to counsel prospective homosexual clients in the affirmative manner required by EMU's program. Should such a case arise, she said, she'd simply refer gay clients to other counselors able to accomodate their needs. Oh no, said EMU, that's not good enough, not by a mile. Sign this paper, or out you go. I can't, she insisted; you' re gone, they replied. Supported by the Alliance Defense Fund (read the ADF's press release here and an Inside Higher Education article here), she sued the school, contending that her First Amendment rights had been violated. Ordinarily, you'd expect First Amendment claims to weigh especially heavily in a case such as this, but the judge, alas, bought the university's argument about needing latitude in designing its curricula and programs, and the courts have always deferred in such instances, etc., etc. This isn't about thought control, insisted the counseling program's directors, it's simply a matter of recognizing the need to deal with a wide variety of clients, including those with beliefs different from one's own. Who could disagree? Maybe I'm cynical, but I somehow don't think a gay atheist will be required to declare that he's willing to counsel Southern Baptists in a manner that affirms their beliefs. ADF is appealing the case, and we wish them well. Increasingly though, it seems that the acceptable parameters for discussing homosexuality on campus these days are narrowly one-dimensional. And if you don't see the issue that way and you're a faculty member without tenure, or if you're a student and want your degree in counseling or social work, better keep quiet or go elsewhere.
California taxpayers are now on the hook for $100,000, which the San José/Evergreen Community College District (SJCCD) has agreed to pay an adjunct professor in lost earnings in exchange for dismissal of her First Amendment lawsuit. The background of the lawsuit? Sheldon had led a short discussion about the nature/nurture debate regarding sexual orientation in her Human Heredity course. She was then fired due to a student complaint and went to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for assistance. "This welcome settlement demonstrates that colleges cannot get away with punishing a professor for teaching relevant class material, even if a student finds it offensive," said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. An aspect of this case worthy of the attention of NAS afficionados is the SJCCD's contention that Sheldon was teaching non-scientific material as science. In any event, congratulations to Sheldon and FIRE for persevering in this good fight. And condolences to CA taxpayers.
Our friends at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education continue their stellar work defending the academic freedom and First Amendment rights of college faculty members - especially untenured adjuncts - who collide with stifiling campus political orthodoxies. This time, they've scored against the San Jose/Evergreen Community College District, which will have to pay 100K in lost wages to an adjunct instructor who was terminated in 2007 after a student complained that her brief classroom discussion of the origins of homosexuality was "offensive." The district will have to pick up the tab for legal expenses as well. Too bad for them - and the taxpayers who will carry theses costs - that they didn't simply respect the instructor's academic freedom in the first place. But while I'm glad that FIRE was able to intervene successfully in this case, I also wish that they and other organizations such as the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) didn't have so much work to do. This is getting to be a depressingly familiar scenario: 1) Instructor in a psychology or ethics course examines homosexuality or sex differences, says something that a student finds "offensive." 2) A complaint is forwarded at the speed of light to the administration, cc to the campus women's center, the dean of multicultural affairs or the LGBT office, who don't necessarily need to interview the instructor, but nevertheless agree that yes, yes, the classroom discussion was indeed "offensive." 3) The administration informs instructor that she's outta here. 4) Board of directors upholds administration, unimpressed by quaint ideas about academic freedom or First Amendment protections. Honestly, I wonder what the worst aspect of cases such as this one is. It's appalling, of course, that such an Orwellian intellectual climate exists on so many campuses, and the examples of outrages such as this one seem to pop up weekly. See Ashley Thorne's recent post detailing the latest incident involving a socal work student whose religious convictions ran afoul of a counseling program at Augusta State University in Georgia. But what about boards of trustees, such as the one in the San Jose/Evergreen case? What could they, as the governing bodies at a public institution have been thinking? Apart from the deserved embarassment their school has incurred and the hefty settlement costs they've handed to taxpayers, what does academic freedom or First Amendment protections mean to them? Not much, I have to conclude, since they upheld the administration's outrage, without apparently seeing it as such. Kudos to FIRE once again, which seems to have a much firmer grasp of the academic enterprise and its mission than do many of the people to whom it's been directly entrusted.
FIRE president Greg Lukianoff has an article in the Huffington Post about Yale' s qualms over a t-shirt with an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote: "I think of all Harvard men as sissies." Lukianoff wrote:
Unfortunately--and is it any surprise these days?--a couple of Yale administrators decided that the word "sissies" was too offensive because some people interpreted it as a slur against gay men. This was news to the Yale freshmen who, like me, see "sissies" as being funny primarily because it is such a ridiculous, silly, old-fashioned put down, somewhere between "cad" and "toots" as far as insults go. Besides, in context, Fitzgerald actually wrote, "I think of all Harvard men as sissies, like I used to be." Does anyone really think Fitzgerald was coming out as a success story of the ex-gay movement, or was he simply calling Harvard men, well, a bunch of sissies (modern translation: wusses, wimps, etc.)? The administrators were gearing up to ban the T-shirt, but the students backed down and changed the design.
In this Pope Center piece released today, Charles Johnson, a student at Claremont McKenna College, writes about the contrast on his campus: Lots of attention for the Stonewall Inn incident of 1969, but no interest at all in the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The Berlin Wall was a testament to the dismal failure of socialism. It's easy to see why campus leftists would rather forget about it.