UNH Should Make It Official

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Jerry Coyne relays the news: Harvard Committee apes the University of Chicago, recommends institutional neutrality.

One of the reasons Claudine Gay didn’t come off so well in the Congressional hearings was that Harvard had no concrete policy on free speech, and thus applied it unevenly, in an almost hypocritical fashion. Further, it was unclear what the university’s own stand was on issues like genocide. Were they officially against it, or did calls for genocide of the Jews constitute free speech? In this case Gay answered using Constitutional principles, and her answer, “it depends,” was technically correct.

But the whole mess, including the involvement of MIT and Penn, could have been avoided had these universities adopted two policies that we have at the University of Chicago: the Principles of Free Expression (in effect, First-Amendment-like freedom of speech), and institutional neutrality, as embodied in our Kalven Report. This report mandates that, with very few exceptions, neither the University itself nor its units, including departments and centers, can make official pronouncements on moral, political, or ideological issues. (The exceptions include rare issues that affect the very working of the University itself.)

Not everyone is impressed with Harvard's move. See, for example, the NYPost's editorialists. They suggest skepticism: Don't be fooled: Harvard's neutrality pledge is just lefty butt-covering.

Harvard University has announced it will stop using its institutional voice to weigh in on “matters that do not directly affect the university’s core function.”

We’d love to applaud this as a return to sanity, but the move looks purely cynical.

Look: There’s no earthly reason a university should ever comment as a school on contentious social issues.

Harvard has one mission: to educate.

In other words, Harvard is doing exactly what the NYPost demands, but …

I've mentioned this before, but I think the University Near Here has (at least informally) decided to adopt a Kalven-like policy.

Back in June 2020, then-President Dean and the Provost, Wayne Jones found it necessary to weigh in on George Floyd's death. Read for yourself; the statement is full of self-righteous pontification and tendentious assertions.

In contrast, the silence of UNH officialdom in the wake of October 7 was noticeable.

UNH will have a new president as of July 1. I hope she stays Institutionally Neutral.

However, I should point out her 2020 article in Inside Higher Ed on "cluster hiring"; it shows her to be a cheerleader for "diversity" (22 occurrences of diversity/diverse/diversify in a short article; 17 of inclusion/inclusive; a couple "equity"s). So getting rid of "diversity statement" requirements for USNH job applicants might not be on the table for her.

Also of note:

  • A strange collaboration. Goodness knows I'm no Trump fan, but I'm pretty convinced that his "hush money" trial in NYC is a dreadful miscarriage of justice. I've been hoping the Trump defense team has been reading Andy McCarthy's articles at National Review for pointers.

    But now it appears that McCarthy has given up hope for an acquittal or even a hung jury. Because: Merchan and Trump Conceal the Holes in Bragg’s Case.

    OK, we know Judge Merchan has been Trump-hostile throughout. But‥

    Let me preface this by saying that the fix is in here, so maybe it didn’t matter what the defense did in this case. Still, strategically speaking, Team Trump has presented one of the most ill-conceived, self-destructive defenses I have ever seen in decades of trying and analyzing criminal cases. The reason for this is clear: Trump insisted that his lawyers subordinate his defense at trial to the political narrative he wants to spin in the 2024 campaign. In this instance, the legal and political strategies cannot be synced. Hence, Trump is helping Bragg get his coveted convictions.

    Against the weight of evidence and common sense, Trump insists on telling voters that Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal — respectively, the porn star and Playboy model who quite credibly allege to have had flings with Trump circa 2006 — are lying. But no one with even passing familiarity with Trump’s combative and parsimonious nature would believe for a second (a) that he would agree to pay $130,000 to Stormy and $150,000 to McDougal if they were falsely claiming to have had affairs with him, or (b) that Cohen would have paid Stormy, and Trump’s pal David Pecker would have paid McDougal, unless Trump had green-lighted the payments and assured them of repayment. Since Trump knows that, if he acknowledges being complicit in the payment arrangements, voters will conclude his denials of the affairs are lies, Trump has decided he must distance himself from the NDA payments.

    For an R-rated version of a similar theory, see Jeff Maurer: Trump Might Be Convicted Because He Can Never Admit a Mistake

  • A contrarian take. Walter E. Block writes an op-ed in the WSJ: Libertarians Should Vote for Trump. If you are a single-issue voter on one very specific issue, then maybe:

    Mr. Trump promised that if elected he will commute the prison term of Ross Ulbricht on Inauguration Day. Mr. Ulbricht, 40, was sentenced to 40 years without parole for running the darknet website Silk Road, which enabled the sale of illegal narcotics.

    Libertarians regard the purchase, sale and use of drugs as “capitalist acts between consenting adults,” in the words of philosopher Robert Nozick (1938-2002). Additionally, Mr. Ulbricht’s sentence is unjust because it is disproportionate to his crime. Murderers have received more lenient sentences. If inviting Mr. Trump to speak to the Libertarian Party accomplishes nothing more than helping free this victimless criminal, it will have been worth it.

    But I go a step further and urge Libertarians to vote for Mr. Trump. Not all Libertarians—only those in swing states. Libertarians are too few to help him carry Massachusetts or California, so they might as well vote for Chase Oliver, our party’s nominee. And he’ll easily win Tennessee and Idaho without our help. But in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, we could make the difference. Libertarian nominee Jo Jorgensen received roughly 50,000 votes in Arizona in 2020, when Mr. Trump lost the state by about 10,000 ballots.

    If we pull the lever for Mr. Trump in these swing states, we may get a slightly more libertarian president and help free Mr. Ulbricht. If we vote Libertarian everywhere else, we make a statement and help preserve our ballot access.

    Block fails to note Trump's general incoherence on the slightly broader issue. For the details on that, see Jacob Sullum: President Trump Freed Drug Offenders. Candidate Trump Wants To Kill Them.

  • In fact, it's a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham. Betsy McCaughey doesn't go quite that far, but almost: Biden's vote-buying schemes make a mockery of democracy.

    To bet on the upcoming presidential election, don’t just rely on polls.

    Look at the billions of taxpayer dollars President Biden is pouring into “community organizations” in “disadvantaged communities” to tip the election scales.

    The community organizer who became president, Barack Obama, was a master at machine politics. He used federal tax dollars to turn community organizations — left-wing not-for-profits — into a fourth branch of government.

    Their staffs, paid using taxpayer money but not tied to government rules, could hit the streets at election time and build turnout.

    Joe Biden has scaled up Obama’s playbook, using billions of dollars instead of mere millions.

    Ms McCaughey notes one egregious example: the $50 million grant to the "Climate Justice Alliance". They are almost a self-parody. Their 2022 Annual Report, for example, starts out with:

    White supremacy and capitalism are the undercurrents of climate change and continue to exacerbate the climate crisis, especially in these challenging times. This year, we have striven to keep our communities, families, and each other safe during an ongoing global pandemic, wars, a growing empowered right wing, voter suppression, and a general neoliberal push to support false solutions in exchange for our communities’ wellbeing. Our work continues to be to make Just Transition real on the ground by ensuring true liberation for both people and planet; we simply can’t afford to sacrifice one for the other. Environmental and climate justice is about ensuring both.


Last Modified 2024-05-30 8:04 AM EDT