URLs du University Follies

A collection of University related antics.

  • The heroes at FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) publicize the existence of racially-restricted classes at Arizona State. These are called the (I am not making this up) "Rainbow Sections" of their English Comp classes for freshmen, and are open to Native Americans only.

    What sort of self-respecting student of any hue would want to be in a course taught by such clowns? (Via Joanne Jacobs)

  • Or for that matter, who would want to subject themselves to the education program at Washington State University? The travails of one Ed Swan are described here.

    A national civil liberties group is defending a Washington State University undergraduate because the College of Education threatened to terminate him from the education program this fall after he expressed conservative religious and political views in class last school year.

    The group in question is FIRE again; their article is here.

  • I'm not exactly prompt with this one, but Evan Coyne Maloney has been all over the furor at Bucknell caused by an e-mail ad for an event sponsored by the university's conservative group:

    Where were you during the months following September 11? Major John Krenson was hunting terrorists.

    Administration (apparently) hit the roof over the "hunting terrorists" bit and called the responsible parties in on the carpet. Worse, they then tried to obfuscate their role in this bit of free-speech chillin'. Read all about it here.

  • Fellow denizens of the bottom rungs of university employment are often puzzled by the bizarre behavior and gross incompetence of higher-ups. It's kind of like watching Animal Planet with the sound off, so you can't hear the helpful British narrator explain what's going on. It will perhaps help to read an essay at the "Inside Higher Ed" website entitled "The Peter Principle in Academe" by Margaret Gutman Klosko, explaining where these people come from, why they act the way they do, and their inevitable destiny.
  • But, if you're interested in that, you should also read Arnold Kling's recent article at Tech Central Station on "'Economic Man' vs. 'Status Man'". Thesis: deep-thinking people like to look down their noses at folks with economic ("money-grubbing") motives. What deep thinkers leave unexamined are the non-economic motives to behavior: they can be, and often are, worse, as in status-seeking. The effects are magnified in Academia.

    Professors are fond of speaking of the higher motives of academic life, such as the pursuit of knowledge and truth. Accordingly, they would reject economic approaches such as tuition vouchers or giving credit on the basis of test results rather than institutional status. In reality, academic resistance to such ideas is driven by the basest of motives -- the drive for status. The status-serving myth is that colleges and universities are more "pure" to the extent that they operate on a basis other than economic motivation. However, I believe that the opposite is the case: economic motivation would represent a step up from status-seeking.

Last Modified 2012-10-26 6:21 AM EDT

Redundancy at Achenblog!

Joel Achenbach's blog at the Washington Post is an occasional read. He's smart and funny. But this entry contains an egregious blunder, referring to a recent column by George Will (referenced below):

You have to love Will: No one more multi-syllabic is gutsier, and no one gutsier is more multi-syllabic.

I thought that was extremely clever wordplay … for about a minute, then realized there was less there than met the eye. Precisely half as much, in fact.

Suppose we have a graph expressing multisyllabosity versus gutsiness. (Or should that be "multisyllabaciousness"? Never mind.) We'll arbitrarily rate both quantities on a zero-to-twenty scale, because 20 is the first number I thought of:

[Will One]

Let's, again arbitrarily, give George a score of 10 on both quantities:

[Will Two]

We could put other columnists on there, but that would be invidious.

That allows us to divide Punditdom into four regions, which we will pretentiously label with roman numerals:

[Will Three]

So in region I are the pundits who are more multi-syllabic but less gutsy than Will; inhabitants of region II are more multi-syllabic and more gutsy; region III holds the less-gutsy short-worded wimps, and region IV contains monosyllabic gutsier-than-George knuckle-draggers.

Now when Joel says

No one more multi-syllabic is gutsier …

that's the same as saying there's no pundit in region II of the graph. And when he says:

… and no one gutsier is more multi-syllabic.

that's, well, also saying there's nobody in region II. Hence, redundant, and unworthy of a professional writer.

Thank you, I'll be here all week.

Last Modified 2012-10-26 6:23 AM EDT