William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Universities Crank Up The Insanity: Bad Grades For Saying ‘Illegal Alien,’ ‘Male,’ ‘Female’

Washington State University's home of Critical Culture, Gender, & Race Studies?

Washington State University’s home of Critical Culture, Gender, & Race Studies?

Last week we learned the University of Tennessee came thisclose to forcing students to cease using he and she.

Instead of standard English pronouns, the university at first “mandated”, but after complaints it fell back to only “recommending”, students and staff employ made-up words, nonsense syllables for pronouns so that feelings would not be hurt.

For instance, it hurts my feelings when I am not addressed by the pronouns your majesty and his majesty. Thus, you must use these else you are being insensitive.

What’s that? You won’t? You brute! You royalophobe!

It is axiomatic among the bien pensant that feelings trump truth. Now it is true that, sometimes, truth hurts. (Even this true statement causes anxiety among the well educated.) Therefore, since anguish, even in its exaggerated and false forms, is the worst possible pain or state of being, and that truth can cause anguish, truth must be blunted, and even avoided.

It used to be we locked up folks who claimed they were Napoleon. Now we must join Napoleon Pride parades—or else be seen as one who holds to truth, an unforgivable offense.

Truth is on the run at many universities. Campus Reform is reporting “Multiple professors at Washington State University have explicitly told students their grades will suffer if they use terms such as ‘illegal alien,’ ‘male,’ and ‘female,’ or if they fail to ‘defer’ to non-white students.” Being non-white (or being sexually non-chaste) confers a sort of superpower status on folks these days. Skip it.

One of WSU’s professors is Selena Breikss, and she teaches “Introduction to Comparative Ethnic Studies”. Her syllabus paints a woman I admire, at least in part. Why? Breikss is a hard-ass:

Note about the books: I will accept no excuses (i.e., “I’m waiting for it to come in from Amazon.”)…

1. NO Electronic Devices. No laptops, no phones, etc…Surfing the net, chatting, emailing, text messaging, listening to music, playing computer games are inappropriate classroom behaviors and WILL NOT BE TOLERATED. If I catch you texting or with some other electronic device, I will call you out and will deduct 25 participation points from your overall score without notifying you. The second time I catch you doing it, it will cost you 50 participation points and you will be counted absent…

3. Falling asleep in class results in being counted absent for the day.

4. Do not schedule doctors’ appointments or other engagements during class time…

[Many other military-like rules follow.]

She’ll also take away one point for saying ‘illegal alien’. But she’ll award credit for commenting sagely on her lesson “Read Tim Wise, ‘Honky Wanna Cracker: Examining the Myth of Reverse Racism'”.

And then there’s WSU professor John Streamas who teaches “Introduction to Multicultural Literature”. (“Multicultural” means non-white.) Campus Reform reports, “Streamas—who previously generated controversy by calling a student a ‘white shitbag‘ and declared that WSU should stand for ‘White Supremacist University’—also demands that students ‘understand and consider the rage of people who are victims of systematic injustice.'”

Streamas is also dictatorial in his class. “Your eighth absence results in an automatic F for the course…Your responses will be graded, and so be careful with grammar, punctuation, and spelling…[Etc.]” (Streamas isn’t too careful himself, but as one known for his typos, I am not casting stones.)

What is odd is that Streamass wants students to “Reflect on your own social location, your privileges and power.” But since he is all-powerful in his classroom—students have no say in his rigid rules—only Streamass has privilege. Only Streamass can be a racist. Unless, somehow, white students emit invisible power-racism rays because they’re white. Skip that, too.

Streamass can’t stop thinking about race. In his syllabus he says “To ‘earn’ the right to [the n-]word, [Glenn] Beck must first endure 500 years of racism.” But how could he? Beck might live to, say, 100 years max. To live to 500 is not possible—not even for non-whites.

Or is Streamass saying non-whites have somehow incorporated the effects of racism into their genetic makeup? If that’s so, wouldn’t that make race a real thing and not a cultural artifact or social construction?

Another prof, Bruce Lee Hazelwood, teaches “CES 209: Hip-Hop around the Globe”, and his syllabus is just as rule-drenched as his confreres’.

But don’t rules imply truth? Aren’t these professors abusing their positions of power and privilege to force students to do what they’d rather not?

It’s all very confusing.

Bonus

So I went to Billboard’s list of top Hip Hop songs, the subject of Hazelwood’s class, and grabbed one of the top 10 songs at random. Post to Be by “Omarion Featuring Chris Brown & Jhene Aiko.” Lyrics? Well, Glenn Beck isn’t allowed to sing them:

If your chick come close to me
She ain’t going home when she post to be
I’m getting money like I’m post to be
I’m getting money like I’m post to be
Ooh all my niggas close to me
And all them other niggas where they post to be

Ooh the hoes go for me
Have your chick send a pic like pose for me
That’s how it post to be
That’s how it post to be
That’s how it post to be
Everything good like it post to be

Pull up to the club and it go up
Make your girl fall in love when I show up
It’s not my fault she want to know me
She told me you was just a homie
She came down like she knew me
Gave it up like a groupie
And that’s facts, no printer

Cold nigga turn the summer to the winter
She save me in her phone as bestie
But I had her screaming oooh…

Hazelwood in his syllabus has this quote, “Giovanni, Nikki. Hip hop speaks to children: a celebration of poetry with a beat…”

Readers are reminded this site’s spam and profanity filters are set very high.

28 Comments

  1. I loathe rap and hip hop.

  2. I keep getting told to go back to school, but I think I am long past the Age of this nonsense. Beyond the social justice nonsense, anyone with time in the real world would just go “I’m paying you how much to bark absurd orders at me?”

    It works on 18 year olds, but no idea is going to put up with their power trips.

  3. Again, and again and as many times as it takes: Parents pay to indoctrinate their children into this nonsense. If parents want brainwashed, stupid children, and are willing to pay the universities to deliver this, this is going to continue on. Perhaps a bit more concern about one’s offspring is in order here.

    The courses offered by a university are what parents, alumni and the state want taught. If the parents, alumni and state want this and parents want their children indoctrinated, then you are not going to stop this. You can’t fix stupid, not even with duct tape.

    I had a professor like these who demanded you attend class to worship his greatness. I took the course pass/no credit and went just enough to pass. He was not worshipped by me.

    Funny, as you note, none of the nonwhites who cheerfully use the N word have lived 500 years either, yet they use the term frequently. Seems Streamas (a couple of your typos resulted in an interesting name change there….) doesn’t know the life span of whites and blacks are the same, if not shorter for the blacks due to high crime rates. Oops, there I go flunking another class.

    Hip hop does speak to children, especially those whose parents ignore them. It’s not a celebration of poetry with a beat, but I suppose it could be in say North Korea. Probably is appropriate fare for children in that country where the leaders feed relatives to dogs.

  4. Aren’t these professors abusing their positions of power and privilege to force students to do what they’d rather not?

    Well, of course, but it’s a bit more complicated. Students would rather avoid work and standards (it’s human nature) so some dictatorial power is necessary. But professors are engaged in multiple power struggles — with student intransigence, jealousy of colleagues, agendas of department heads and deans, and their own neuroses. Students are easiest to manipulate and their performance and, ironically, their favor via teaching evaluation surveys is a measure of faculty worthiness. There’s balance that should be struck, but some find it easier to be tyrants.

  5. Apparently the above mentioned professors are quite fond of a captive audience.

    My professors could not have cared less whether anyone attended their classes. Grades were determined by exam scores. Period. When I became a professor I followed suit, evaluating students on demonstrated competence rather than on attendance.

  6. Sheri,

    People have been convinced that their kids will be abject failures without a degree (any degree). They are also unfortunately oblivious to the degree of PC indoctrination going on.

    Much raising of awareness is needed.

    “You can’t fix stupid, not even with duct tape.”

    Blasphemy, duct tape can fix anything!

  7. Maybe the future of higher education is in online education–do a St. John’s College, Great Books, with webinars. Does anyone with money want to join up with me to do this?

  8. ‘ “You can’t fix stupid, not even with duct tape.”

    Blasphemy, duct tape can fix anything!’

    I know where it goes to fix stupid.

  9. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 31, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    ‘ “You can’t fix stupid, not even with duct tape.”

    Blasphemy, duct tape can fix anything!’

    Not everything. For some you need 3-in-1 oil. Decision rule:
    a) If it moves but it shoudn’t, use duct tape.
    b) If it doesn’t move but it should, use 3-in-1 oil.

  10. @John Cook
    Attendance is a primary indicator of a successful outcome in college courses. Like it or not, in loco parentis still holds when it comes to teaching the many students who for various reasons shouldn’t be enrolled, but are. Absolutely, students should be evaluated on demonstrated competence. However, our culture of managing students’ academic lives through high school and then abandoning them to their own self-motivation isn’t working in too many cases. When we went to college (the 70s for me) is was much less this way, but not now. The pedagogy is changing from learn-on-your-own-and-show-it-on-a-test to experiential-learning — a growing element of which is trial and error-correction in class. That requires attendance.

    Why is this happening? Two reasons: 1) students have been graduating without having learned essential skills, and 2) school are being made to demonstrate students are learning essential skills (ie, ability to communicate effectively, reason quantitatively, work in teams, etc.). Briggs justifiably mocks the loonier courses and faculty. The great majority of courses, particularly in STEM fields, aren’t that way. The idiotic and bizarre should be exposed, but not used to sully everything else.

  11. Okay. For the faithful that can’t believe duct tape is not omnipotent, how about “You can’t fix stupid, not even with duct tape, but you can muffle the sound”? 🙂

  12. Hip hop was my choice of music during high school, but today’s is more thuggish than those fun dance beats of the 90s.

  13. Briggs,
    I assume that the switch part way through from:

    And then there’s WSU professor John Streamas who teaches “Introduction to Multicultural Literature”. (“Multicultural” means non-white.)

    to:
    Streamass can’t stop thinking about race. …Or is Streamass saying non-whites have somehow incorporated the effects of racism into their genetic makeup? etc.

    with the emphasis on the last characters of the educator’s name was no Freudian slip… 😉 Bravo!

  14. Here’s Lee Hazlewood with Nancy not Bruce (Not Hip Hop)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2PbG6KQKsE

  15. Sander van der Wal

    August 31, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    You have universities teaching Hip-Hop?

    Poor you.

  16. Help! help! I am being repressed. Did you see him repressing me?

  17. @Gary – I have my third in the brainwashing program called college presently and on characteristic I have learned that differentiates today’s learning versus, say the 70s and 80s, regarding classroom attendance, is that today students have access to years of material from their classes online. Notes, tests, TA sessions recorded etc. Every one of my kids has had notes from many people, some who did well, others who did not, who enrolled in any particular class. As well, students tend to interact on social media about classroom content and experiences to a much greater extent than was possible studying in a group in the library in 1976. So the experience of learning has changed… no doubt. While I’d like to think that for the $50K per year I’m spending, the kids would see fit to spend time – even at, gasp, 8AM, M, W, F, in close proximity to each other and to the professor in order to absorb as much information as possible, I’ve come to expect that they seem to be able to learn quite proficiently without physically being under the watchful eye of the professor, in class. To that end we have collaborations like that between MIT and Harvard to provide “quality” learning experiences through MOOCs where students are never in a classroom, ever. It’s a different world.

  18. Aidrienne S.

    NWA, Public Enemy, Ice T.

    Rap / Hip Hop has always had a thuggish side.

  19. Part of the price of freedom (speech/expression in this case) are the things freedom brings.

    Ironic, isn’t it, that some of that is fundamentally anti-freedom…

    “”I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign AND DOMESTIC; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same…”

    – The quote is the intro to the oath of office when one enlists in the military, accepts the next rank, etc. Most people have focused on the “enemies, foreign”, paying scant thought to the “domestic” facet of that oath. Until recently….

  20. “Participation Points”?

    What is this, tee-ball?

  21. “Mandated”? UT was very close to committing a macro microaggression.

    John Cook–Yes, but it’s not about learning except to be indoctrinated, and you have to be there for that.

  22. These may depress people, but here are two college websites covering the insanity on campus today:
    http://www.campusreform.org/news/
    http://www.thecollegefix.com

  23. “websites covering the insanity on campus today:” Another for the UK –
    http://www.spiked-online.com/free-speech-university-rankings#.VeTUDpefDim

  24. @Kevin – Some students are more independent than others. The truth is we all really just educate ourselves. The benefit of college is that it can increase the chances of encountering someone who can show us the shortcuts. The secret is we have to seek out these folks. College is seen by many parents and certainly the government as some kind of fairy godmother who bestows “knowledge” on all who enroll through osmosis or infection. We both know that’s a convenient fantasy. Absorbing information isn’t the answer; it’s learning how to find, evaluate, synthesize, and extrapolate information. That takes practice. Despite the availability of information, or maybe because of it, the average student (not the brilliant, self-motivated one) has a hard time developing these skills. MOOCs have an average completion rate of about 15% so a digital lecturer doesn’t seem to be working out any better than the live one who eschews attendance. I’m glad your children internalized your expectations about learning. I wish more parents understood they need to have the same influence.

  25. I was on the wsu faculty many years ago. The foundation came up with a slogan which, unfortunately, described the general attitude toward diversity as “many faces, one vision”, maybe a better slogan could now be “many faces, one brain”. One professor was lowering student grades for not agreeing with her politically, but some students made a Department of Justice complaint — students, like any other customer, need to push back sometimes. I think many students could make defensible civil complaints for everything from defective product to civil rights and equal protection.

  26. @Gary – well said! Funny how that old gaussian curve just keeps showing up no matter how we try to make everyone a winner.

  27. Fr. John Rickert

    August 31, 2015 at 11:22 pm

    Derived from what you’re saying, I think you’ve brought about an expression that needs to be employed -much- more widely: “Truth anxiety.”

  28. My academic experiences were fairly positive. I used to fight in every class with my lecturer (had a doctorate in Journalism I think). I don’t even remember what this particular course was about. But each class was a bloodbath as we agreed on nothing at all. I was expecting an F but got the highest grade in the class. Don’t know how the weasels and sycophants who agreed with everything the lecturer asserted went. Most of the class was so scared off by the brutality of the exchanges nobody else spoke up. Even today I appreciated the fact that one could disagree and so long as you’d done your research you were respected for that. The world seems to be a different place now. It’s all about rhetoric and if you’re lucky, sophistry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*

© 2016 William M. Briggs

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑