• Professor Wants to Drop “Rigor” in Engineering Education. Why? Because It “Reinforces White Male Heterosexual Privilege”

    Purdue professor, Donna Riley, has a great way to make the engineering profession more inclusive.

    No, my friend, it is not to recruit more widely and offer supplementary courses to bring everyone up-to-speed.

    No, it is not to offer mentoring to underrepresented groups.

    No, siree. (Ooops, sorry for that patriarchal phrase.)

    The leader of Purdue University’s School of Engineering Education recently declared that academic “rigor” reinforces “white male heterosexual privilege.”

    Defining rigor as “the aspirational quality academics apply to disciplinary standards of quality,” Riley asserts that “rigor is used to maintain disciplinary boundaries, with exclusionary implications for marginalized groups and marginalized ways of knowing.”

    “One of rigor’s purposes is, to put it bluntly, a thinly veiled assertion of white male (hetero)sexuality,” she writes, explaining that rigor “has a historical lineage of being about hardness, stiffness, and erectness; its sexual connotations—and links to masculinity in particular—are undeniable.”

    Hence, Riley remarks that “My visceral reaction in many conversations where I have seen rigor asserted has been to tell parties involved (regardless of gender) to whip them out and measure them already.”  –Donna Riley, Purdue Prof. of Engineering Education, quoted in Campus Reform (link here)

     

    If this kind of academic malpractice were rare, it wouldn’t be worth mocking.

    If this response to academic failure were rare, it wouldn’t be worth mentioning.

    In fact, these specious arguments, seemingly in favor of marginalized groups, are commonplace on campus. They need to be rebutted. They have also gained favor on among progressive politicians. Eric Holder’s Department of Justice made police and fire departments lower their standards–and pass students who had failed their competency tests–not because the tests were biased (they were not), not because the tests were irrelevant to performance (they were directly relevant), but simply because, in Holder’s opinion, too many of his preferred groups did not pass.

    Turning to the Purdue Engineering professor . . .

    1. Prof. Riley is not just any professor. She’s the head of the entire school of engineering education at a major research university, known for its science, math, and engineering.
    2. Notice the patronizing argument. The clear implication of Riley’s position is that “marginalized groups” cannot actually do difficult, mathematical work. Even if that were true, the right response wouldn’t be to lower standards but to remedy the underlying problem.
    3. Notice the ad hoc inclusion of different groups, mainly because they are part of Prof. Riley’s putative coalition. Is there any evidence that gays cannot perform engineering courses at the same level as non-gay students? I haven’t heard of any. Same for women. If they are underrepresented, then try and recruit them. If any other group is having problems–as a group–then figure out why and solve the problem. Don’t say, “Rigor is just too demanding for, say, brain surgeons.”
      • Btw, I just clicked on Purdue’s School of Engineering Education and the first picture is of a female student being named a prestigious Marshall School, a major national competition across all fields.
    4. “Whip them out and measure them already.” Is this Blazing Saddles or an academic journal? Moreover, ask yourself whether this phrase is itself a form of invidious sexism and even harassment. Ask yourself what would happen if any male professor made the same statement in print about women’s breasts? The over/under on that professor’s severe punishment and possible firing is 3 seconds.
    5. However laudable your aims, you marginalize your own position when your argue in favor of dangerously lowering standards. Moreover, you patronize the “marginalized” and offer ideological nostrums instead of real solutions.
    6. Finally, let’s assume that Purdue’s Engineering School does exactly what you say. How would potential employers cope? They would hire from other schools or demand real proof of competence beyond your degree. If every engineering school followed your silly advice, then employers would institute their own tests for competence and other schools would see a huge opportunity to enter the field and offer rigorous training.

  • Open anti-Semitism at one of Canada’s top universities

    McGill, one of Canada’s elite universities, is infected with virulent hatred of Jews and Israel, according to a new report from the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

    There have been repeated campaigns to “Boycott, Divest, and Sanction” Israel, the homeland of the Jewish People. The McGill Daily student newspaper has an established policy of rejecting any article supporting or defending Zionism, the national movement of the Jews, or presenting Israel in any but a negative fashion.

    Most recently, in response to the failure of the BDS movement to be validated at McGill, disappointed supporters voted down three nominated members of the Student Society Board of Directors, one Jewish and two not, on the grounds that their ties to Jewish organizations and supportive attitudes toward Israel made them biased–Philip Carl Salzman, report for FCPP

    The student paper is saying pro-Israel views are so far beyond the pale that they should never be expressed.

    The Student Society is saying, more bluntly, that Jews and Jew-lovers are not allowed.

    This, mind you, is in Montreal, in a major public university. The report is written by someone who knows the intimidating atmosphere well, a professor at McGill.

    The report adds that vitriolic hatred of Israel is now commonplace on the left, especially on college campuses. On campus after campus, the cheerleaders are Palestinians, Muslim extremists, and a hodge-podge of leftist groups. The atmosphere is even worse, and more threatening, in Europe, which adds deep veins of traditional anti-Semitism to the modern coalition of Palestinians, Muslim extremists, and cultural Marxists.

    This hatred goes beyond criticism of particular policies; it attacks the very existence of the Jewish state. As the repeated chant says, “Palestine, Palestine must be free. From the Jordan to the sea.” Since that is also where Israel is, the chant is a call for the state’s destruction.

    In the 21st century, anti-Semitism has taken a new form, hatred of the Jewish collectivity, of the Jewish people in their collective representations, particularly hatred of Israel. This is not a matter of criticism of government policies of Israel, as one might make of policies of the U.S., Russia, or China. Rather, this hatred of Jews is reflected in the demand and intention that Israel be destroyed. We hear this regularly from Iran, from Palestinian Hamas, from Hezbollah, and, more stealth fully from Palestinian Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, as well as from the supporters of these organizations.  –Salzman at FCPP

    The whole piece, troubling as it is, is well work reading (link here).

    The problem, alas, extends far beyond McGill.

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Monday, November 6

    Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
    Linked articles in bold purple

    Trump in Asia: What Matters about the Trip (a comment)

    The trip has three main goals, all important but in tension with each other

    • Contain or eliminate North Korean nuclear threat to US and US allies (depends on China’s cooperation)
    • Reduce China’s trade surplus with US, ideally by opening China’s domestic market to US exports
    • Deter an expanding Chinese threat in South China Sea (reinforce America’s partnership with nations surrounding China)

    Trump is also likely to meet with Putin, with North Korea, Syria, and Iran as major topics

     Texas church shooting: A crazed, well-armed guy furious with his former in-laws, who worshipped at the church he attacked

    That’s the report from local news outlets in the San Antonio area (KSAT in San Antonio)

    Comment: Some commentators will stress his beliefs (“he was an atheist”). That is not what drove him. Anger and crazed impulsiveness, not ideology, are the drivers here.

     Mueller Leaking: NBC reports he has enough evidence to charge Mike Flynn, Trump’s former National Security Adviser

    Special ZipDialog commentary here

    Another college attack on free-speech: Vassar students smear Wm. Jacobson (of Legal Insurrection blog) because he supports free speech (USA Today)

    Comment: Vassar, like so many small, elite colleges, is suffused with hard-left ideology.

    They should call these schools “Illiberal Arts Colleges.”

    Chicago nearing 600 homicides, most since 2003 (Chicago Tribune)

    How bad is it? The city has instituted a new program to show people how to stop bleeding from gunshot wounds (Chicago Tribune)

    Comment: N

    Investigators suspect US journalists were paid to spread materials from the Clinton/FusionGPS/Russian Dossier (Washington Times)

    In U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Fusion GPS, the dossier’s financier via the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign money, is fighting a House committee chairman’s bid to find out if the opposition research firm paid journalists.

    In U.S. District Court in Florida, a self-described dossier victim wants a judge to order the news website BuzzFeed, which published the dossier in full, to disclose who gave it to them. –Washington Times

    Comment: Fusion GPS is fighting so tenacious to prevent any disclosures of their receipts and expenditures, you can’t help but think they might have something to hide.

    Pleading the 5th Amendment before Congress was also a hint.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Hat Tip to

    ◆ Tim Favero for the Vassar, William Jacobson story

     

  • Cambridge students given trigger warnings: Shakespeare plays may distress them

    The delicacy of these students pales beside that of theology students at the University of Glasgow. More on that in a minute.

    At Cambridge, one of the “distressing” Shakespeare plays is named perfectly: Comedy of Errors.

    According to The Telegraph (link here):

    English literature undergraduates have been advised that a lecture which focusses on Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus and The Comedy of Errors will include “discussions of sexual violence” and “sexual assault”.

    The trigger warnings were published in the English Faculty’s “Notes on Lectures” document, which is circulated to students.  –The Telegraph

    As is so often the case, the warning were included by the ubiquitous bureaucrats and administrations that now attempt to control academic life.

    The best response came from David Crilly, artistic director of the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival:

    If a student of English Literature doesn’t know what Titus Andronicus contains scenes of violence they shouldn’t be on the course.

    This degree of sensitivity will inevitably curtail academic freedom. If the academic staff are concerned they might say something students find uncomfortable they will avoid doing it. –David Crilly, quoted in The Telegraph

    The Topper???

    You think the Shakespeare warning is bad?? Oh, you delicate soul.

    Wait for this gem:

    The University of Glasgow alerted theology students that they may see distressing images of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and gave them the opportunity to leave the room. –The Telegraph

    To assist these students, I have xxx’d out the discomforting parts of these images.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦