> Take Back Our Campus! <$BlogRSDURL$>

Thursday, November 11, 2004

TBOCLIVES.BLOGSPOT.COM 

Take Back Our Campus! has moved to tboclives.blogspot.com. The move was inspired by two shifts in the mode of TBOC!.

--The first is that the humble and attractive Christian Evangelist has delegated editorship to a board of (only occasionally) like-minded persons, of which he is a member. This fits much more to the (anarcho-socialist) temperment of the site. This may also mean that one may see disagreements between the editorial board members as to what content is appropriate for the site. We like this. This will be interesting. This will all be blogged.

--The second is that we wanted a new design to coincide with the addition of new contributors. We like the new design. We would marry it if such a thing was possible in the conservative climate of our country.

Go now to our new home.
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Saturday, August 28, 2004

TBOC Seeks New Editor and Contributors 

We are so honest and sincere. You are so honest and sincere. We would loan you up to fifty bucks and not even worry about it.

TBOC is currently seeking a new editor and any budding columnists who wish to report on politically oriented (orientated for our British friends) gossip and events at SLU.

Why? Following a cocaine-influenced decision to relocate below the Mason-Dixon and establish some working-class credibility before making millions in his grandfather's bank in Westchester, our current editor is busy. He rises at 6 am every day to earn enough to pay for a small room with a bathroom down the hall. He is besieged by charming southern debutantes who wish only to make babies. They are of all races and extremely fetching. Take our word for this.

Please send an e-mail, as short or as long as you want (and maybe a sample piece, paper, or something else cool), to us at takebackourcampus@yahoo.com. Please send from a SLU e-mail account, as we want SLU students and/or hourly wage staff to write for us. It may seem unfair that we know your identity before you know who we are.

We'll show you ours if you show us yours.
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Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Robert David Johnson and the Students for Academic Freedom-- Not Quite "Non-Partisan" 

Robert David Johnson's "Global Studies, Universal Bias," a dishonest piece of partisan vitriol, was recently reprinted by the Students for Academic Freedom. Unsurprisingly, he again refuses to make a full disclosure regarding his tenure difficulties when criticizing Roberta Matthews.

Johnson, a self-proclaimed "fairly liberal Democrat" keeps odd company. He publishes in The Weekly Standard and FrontPageMag.com, both notoriously conservative rags. During his fight for tenure with Brooklyn College, one of Johnson's biggest supporters was none other than ex-Leftist Ron Radosh.

Johnson learned an important lesson from Radosh-- it's much more profitable to be a conservative. Like Leftist apostate Christopher Hitchens, Johnson, the once-proud Hillary supporter, has found not only self-aggrandizing conservative "victimhood" (posited against a totalitarian Leftist elite) but also the big bucks invested in conservative ideology-- in 2001, over $2 billion was invested in conservative think tanks. [For a more detailed analysis of this last point, see either Matt Bai's "Wiring the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy" from the New York Times, 7/25/04, or Lewis Lapham's "Tentacles of Rage" in the September 2004 issue of Harper's.]

Thus Johnson's latest bedmates come as no surprise. We'd like to introduce our readers to Students for Academic Freedom. In their words, they are "a movement dedicated to the ideas that 1)a university is an educational institution and not a political party; 2) that its resources and authority should be used for learning and the pursuit of knowledge, not to indoctrinate students in a political ideology; and 3) that the principles of academic freedom and a good education require that students have access to a diversity of viewpoints in courses, required reading texts and in campus activities programs."

However, after reading SAF's handbook, we experienced a brief moment of deja vu. "Wait," we said to ourselves. "Isn't this a lot like another boring conservative treatise we've recently read?" Indeed, it was-- the College Republican National Committee Chapter Manual.

The two manuals are markedly similar, even down to the annoying tendency to add a comma to clauses connected by a conjunction. (e.g. "To separate clauses with a comma as well as a conjunction is redundant, and it is retarded as well.")

Page numbers referenced are the pages as viewed in Adobe Acrobat, not the pages listed on the printed versions of the manuals.

"Get rid of any cchairs (sic) around your table! Chairs encourage people to sit, and SAF recruitment table workers should remain standing-- ideally out in front of the table to intercept students as they walk by." (Students for Academic Freedom Handbook, p.44)

"Get rid of any chairs around your table! Chairs encourage people to sit, and College Republican recruitment table workers should remain standing-- ideally out in front of the table to intercept students as they walk by." (College Republican Chapter Manual, p.15)
"The best time for tabling is the first and second weeks of school between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday, at student club fairs, during registration and orientation, and during fraternity/sorority rush weeks." SAF, p.44)

"The optimal time for tabling is the first and second weeks of school between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday, at student club fairs, during registration and orientation, and during fraternity/sorority rush weeks." (College Republican Chapter Manual, p.15)
"Position literature and signs neatly. Dress neatly but casually, in keeping with campus standards." (SAF, p.45)

"Position literature and signs neatly. Dress neatly but casually, in keeping with campus standards." (College Republican Chapter Manual, p.15)

"Actively solicit! This is the key to the success of the table operation. The people working the table must get out and actively solicit people! There are several rules that should be followed to do it right:" (SAF, p.45)

"Actively solicit! This is the key to the success of the table operation. The people working the table must get out and actively solicit people! There are several rules that should be followed to do it right:" (College Republican Chapter Manual, p.15)

"Pick out the prospect. Maintain eye contact and smile as he or she approaches the table, and physically block his path. Ask him to join Students for Academic Freedom. Gain his attention-- look him in the eyes, and be sure to smile. Offer an SAF recruitment flyeror (sic) brochure and introduce yourself. Hi, I'm Sammy Student. Would you like to join the Students for Academic Freedom? This forces him to make a decision." (SAF, p.45)

"1. Pick out the prospect. Maintain eye contact and smile as he or she approaches the table. 2. Physically block his path. 3. Ask him to join the College Republicans. Gain his attention-- look him in the eyes, and be sure to smile. Offer a CR recruitment flyer or brochure, and introduce yourself. 'Hi, I'm Carol Conservative! Would you like to join the College Republicans?' This forces him to make a decision." (College Republican Chapter Manual, p.15)

"Do not waste time by arguing with a single individual who opposes SAF. You will sign up large numbers only in proportion to the number of people you ask. If you spend five minutes arguing with a particular student, fifty others will walk by. The purpose of the table is not to change people's minds. Your goal is to identify and recruit students who are willing to get involved and help you do SAF activities." (SAF, p.46)

"Do not argue or engage in a long conversation with one individual. Democrats and radicals should be ignored completely. You will sign up mass numbers of people only in proportion to the number of people you ask. If you spend five minutes arguing with a liberal, fifty good potential College Republicans will walk by. The purpose of the table is not to change people's minds. Your goal is to recruit the cream-of-the-crop; those who are already enthusiastic about the GOP." (College Republican Chapter Manual, p.16)

"Ask those recruits who are most enthusiastic to stay and help you at the table signing up new members. Pay special attention to those who stay and help. They are your top prospects for your leadership team! (SAF, p.46)

"Ask those who are most enthusiastic to stay and help you at the table signing up new members. Pay special attention to those who stay and help. They are your top prospects for your leadership team!" (College Republican Chapter Manual, p.17)



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Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Interview with Robert David Johnson 

The following is an e-mail interview with Robert David Johnson. The numbered questions are the original e-mail sent to Johnson. Replies to his response are noted as such:
I sort of responded to these questions in a posting
earlier today on the site, but will be happy to do so
directly here, as well.
Dear Dr. Johnson--

I'd like to interview you, at your convenience, preferably through e-mail. I have a few questions, though you're more than welcome to write at length about whatever you like. I promise to post your responses unedited.

1.) Did any of your editors [at either The Weekly Standard or FrontPageMag.com] ask for a full disclosure regarding your criticisms of Provost Matthews? If not, why didn't you offer one yourself?
I'm not sure what you mean by "full disclosure" on
this point. As I said in my response posting, it is no
secret that I have been a strong, public, and
consistent critic of Ms. Matthews' curricular and
personnel policies over the last 12 months, just as I
have been a strong, public, and consistent critic of
the Arts of Democracy program and the AAC&U's agenda.
I believe that the educational philosophy of Ms.
Matthews and the AAC&U--which calls for abandoning a
liberal arts education for a "liberal" education that
would prepare students for citizenship in a "diverse
democracy," with the implication that such preparation
differs from what citizenship in a "democracy" would
require--would badly serve Brooklyn's students, and
higher education in general.


TBOC Replies: As Johnson notes, he has been a critic of Roberta Matthews' policies "over the last twelve months," though apparently not prior to his 2002 tenure difficulties, in which Matthews, as Provost of Brooklyn College, played a part. Whether or not his critisms of Matthews are the result of a personal grudge is known only to Johnson. However, the mere appearance of such unseemliness would require a disclosure about his strained relationship with Matthews.

2.) While you offer plenty of examples of "Global Studies" programs across the nation, you don't offer an explanation as to why they are biased. The course at RIT offered counterpoints from Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington. Similarly, a course about the works of Edward Said is not inherently biased. It may be so if Said's work is treated as gospel, but every indication is that Said's work was treated with suitable academic rigor. If these courses are in fact biased, a more substantial critique is needed.
With regard to the RIT course, my quotations are from
the "learning goals" of the course, which are written
by the professor and are posted on the RIT "Arts of
Democracy" website. A statement that students
completing the course will understand the "Western
veil of ignorance" regarding Islam or recognize how
Islam has been the victim of a system of "global
apartheid" suggests a biased approach: there is no
academic consensus on either of these points, yet the
professor asserts them as facts that students will
take from the course.

With regard to the Said question, I would concur, very
narrowly, with your statement that a course focused on
Said is not inherently biased. A program calling
itself "global studies," however, that features Middle
Eastern offerings that all seem oriented around the
Said approach, and with nothing in Israeli or Jewish
history, is biased.

Consider, for example, the wording of the public
activity requirement from the Collins course: "using
what we have learned, we organize and produce a public
activity of some sort; with the goal of educating the
community about the importance of understanding what Edward Said has called ‘the question of Palestine.’”
Imagine if Collins had used the opposite of this
wording: "using what we have learned, we organize and
produce a public activity of some sort; with the goal
of educating the community about the importance of
understanding what Ariel Sharon has called ‘the
question of Greater Israel.’” I believe that most people would consider such wording suggestive of bias.
>TBOC Replies: We agree with Johnson that his Ariel Sharon example would constitute a biased approach. However, this is because Sharon, far from being a scholar, is a soldier, politician, and war criminal. To compare Said to Sharon is to confuse the advocacy of an academic with the maximalist demands of a brutal killer. Would Johnson be so quick to cry "bias" if the wording was instead, "what [militantly pro-Zionist historian] Benny Morris has called 'the Palestinian refugee problem'"?

Johnson claims that a course "oriented around the Said approach, and with nothing in Israeli or Jewish history, is biased," but what Johnson fails to see is that whatever the semantics, Palestinian history is Israeli history. Without the notion of Israel, the would be no "question of Palestine" or "Palestinian refugee problem"-- there would be only the land of Palestine as, pre-1947, it had been known since Herodotus. Israeli and Jewish history is bound up in any discussion of modern Palestine. Perhaps Johnson has a problem not with the exclusion of Israeli history, but with the fact that the history can now be told by the conquered as well as the conquerers.

3.) I'd like to interview whoever sent you the link to this site about his/her concerns with SLU's Global Studies department and the concept of "Global Studies" in general. If you could provide his/her contact information (or pass the word along), I'd greatly appreciate it.
No one sent me a link re St. Lawrence's "global
studies" site. I had never heard of the concept of a
"global studies" department until Ms. Matthews
produced a document in April 2004 advocating creation
of a "global studies" department at Brooklyn. As I was
already aware of how she defined "global studies"
courses because of the Arts of Democracy project, I
was alarmed by this news.

So I took a day in May going through the websites of
every four-year college and university in the country
to see how many had "global studies" departments.
There aren't, as I mentioned, all that many such
departments, and there are a few that fit what would
be a common-sense definition of "global studies":
i.e., heavy doses of international relations,
political philosophy, and diplomatic history classes,
along with requirements in foreign languages, to open
the possibility for intercultural communication.

The strong majority, however, were structured like
SLU's, with little or no indication of intellectual
diversity in the offerings. And so, since the
discipline of "global studies" doesn't exist, I went
to the Global Studies Association website and read the
papers presented at this year's conference. Academic
inquiry into international matters did not seem high
on the association's list of priorities; one-sided
political messages did. As someone who has attended
quite a few conferences of both History and PoliSci
organizations over the past 15 years, I've never seen
anything like the array of clearly non-academic papers
at the GSA conference.

I welcome the idea that students should know more
about the theories regarding international relations,
the history of world affairs, as well as the
background to inherently transnational issues such as
war or environmental change. In the academy, however,
we don't need to establish new departments to teach
about these issues, departments--as I point out in my
piece--that establish ideological litmus tests that
would exclude certain fields (foreign languages,
diplomatic history, mainstream economics, political
philosophy) that any reasonable understanding of the
world would have to include. Instead, we need to
ensure that colleges and universities continue to hire
professors in political science, economics, history,
and philosophy departments that teach about these
fields.

Hope this is somewhat useful--

KC
We appreciate the time you've taken to respond to our work.
Best,
Christian
Editor, Take Back Our Campus

With the link question, we were asking who sent Johnson the Take Back Our Campus link, as we're a small website not even available on Google. If whomever sent Johnson the link to our site sees this, please e-mail us at takebackourcampus@yahoo.com. We're still interested in an interview.

TBOC Replies: Johnson believes that previously established departments are more than adequately equipped to provide students with an understanding of the world, as if academic inquiry has reached some kind of penultimate stage. This view is not unknown to history. Prior to the Enlighenment, scientists functioned mainly as librarians, cataloguing the discoveries of the Greeks. The pre-Enlighenment scientists believed that all knowledge had been established. They thumbed their noses at newfangled ideas like "empiricism."

Similarly, Johnson refuses to consider that the advent of a new discipline could offer new modes of knowledge to our collective ken. Instead, he charges these departments with "bias," the ultimate ivory taboo, in an effort to bury these scholars. As empiricism was an affront to the teachings of the Church, Global Studies is seen as an upstart by the established "disciplines" of the academy. And in both cases, the offended zealots have attempted to silence those with whom they disagree.


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Sunday, August 08, 2004

Is SLU's Global Studies Biased-- Ask the Biased Expert 

Robert David Johnson’s “Global Studies, Universal Bias,” recently published by FrontPageMag.com, attacks the comparatively new discipline of Global Studies. What makes Johnson’s screed stand out, however, are his particularly vicious words for our very own Global Studies department at St. Lawrence.

“Global Studies, Universal Bias” is the extended remix of an article by Johnson, “School for Scandal,” published eight months earlier in The Weekly Standard. The two articles feature the same basic point—that Global Studies is a biased discipline—and Johnson has no compunction about lifting sentences virtually whole cloth from his earlier article, despite the fact he does not own the copyright to “School for Scandal” (the copyright is controlled by The Weekly Standard):
“The new curriculum will help students answer such questions as, ’Was September 11 contrived?’ and ‘What did the United States government know and when did it know it?’ and ‘Whose rights would be violated now?’” ("School for Scandal")

“Such questions included, ‘Was September 11 contrived?’; ‘What did the United States know and when did it know it?’; and ‘Whose rights would be violated now?’” (Global Studies, Universal Bias")
While complaining of bias in academia, Johnson shows his own intellectual dishonesty. The two articles also include similar attacks on Roberta S. Matthews, Provost of Brooklyn College, and a fairly minor figure in the face of the whole discipline of Global Studies. Matthews, one must note (though Johnson does not in either article), was Provost of Brooklyn College in 2002, when that institution denied tenure to Johnson. He twice attacks Matthews and deliberately does not disclose the fact that she (among others) denied him tenure. Neither publication's editors, out of ignorance or lack of integrity, insisted on a full disclosure. (Johnson was later granted tenure after charging that the liberal Brooklyn College was discriminating against conservatives. As such, the shrill tone of these pieces come as no surprise. Complaining got him tenure.)

Johnson is also riled (in both articles) about a course offered at the Rochester Institute of Technology that offers a discussion about the “Western veil of ignorance.” Though the course readings include noted conservatives such as Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington, Johnson seems particularly incensed about the term, “Western veil of ignorance.” Johnson misses (both in “School for Scandal” and again, eight months later, in “Global Studies, Universal Bias”) the obvious reference to John Rawls’ notion of the “veil of ignorance,” a staple of 20th century Western thought and a concept familiar to any second-year undergrad with even a passing interest in political science or philosophy.

Some of Johnson’s complaints are unfounded and sophomorically sensational. Selecting a passage (almost at random) from “Global Studies, Universal Bias”: “The ‘intent of the course,’ Professor Robina Bhati states, ‘is that a better understanding of global political economy will lead to an improvement in the rationality and justice of our everyday life.’ Students’ grades are based on the professor’s “measurements” of their progress in achieving this goal.” [Emphasis added] While Johnson does his best to make this sound sinister (e.g. “’measurements’”), he seems genuinely baffled by the academic grading process. Small wonder he was initially denied tenure.

The new material in “Global Studies, Universal Bias” consists of an opening few paragraphs about the 2004 Global Studies Association conference and a concluding attack on “[t]he most fully developed ‘Global Studies’ department, at St. Lawrence University….” However, Johnson does not abandon his paranoid readings of Global Studies material in the tired retread of his earlier piece, claiming that the SLU Global Studies department “openly imposes an ideological litmus test for new hires, who must be familiar ‘with the theoretical debates surrounding area, global, development; ethnic, native, or post-colonial studies,’ fields know for their strong ideological bias.” One wonders why Johnson suffers so much consternation at a department’s modest requirement that faculty must know the discipline in which they teach.

“This year, St. Lawrence’s ‘Global Studies’ major featured a special seminar on Palestinian activist and theorist Edward Said.” Johnson is wrong on a minor account here—the seminar was an interdisciplinary Senior Seminar, taught by Global Studies’ John Collins and Patricia Alden of the SLU’s English department. However, Johnson provides no evidence as to why offering a course featuring the works of a premier polyglot of the 20th century is proof of “bias.”

At the conclusion of the FrontPageMag.com piece, Johnson focuses his poorly rifled barrels on SLU’s Professor John Collins: “The course [Collins’ ‘Palestinian Identities’] concludes with a forced political activity: ‘using what we have learned,’ Professor John Collins notes, ‘we organize and produce a public activity of some sort; with the goal of educating the community about the importance of understanding what Edward Said has called “’question of Palestine.’”” Collins does not call for the explicit advocacy of Said’s political views—only a “public activity” to introduce the Israeli-Palestinian issue to the rural community of Canton, New York.

What is clear to even the dullest reader is that Johnson is not writing to convince anyone of his claims. He writes for an audience already convinced of his assertions. He makes irresponsible charges of “bias,” declines to offer any evidence in furtherance of his assertion and lazily relies on his partisan readership to mentally fill in the blanks.

While Johnson is not above pandering to his audience or using his pen to settle a few old scores (with Provost Matthews), St. Lawrence is an odd choice for his vitriol. He couldn’t have come across it on his own-- his world consists of the same few tired points and old grudges. What spook resides among us, on our quiet hill, amidst our planned foliage? What disgruntled student or faculty would implore Johnson to dust off an old piece, affix a closing attack on the SLU Global Studies department and republish it on FrontPageMag.com? Rather than engage SLU's Global Studies department in open debate, this specter has chosen to secure the services of a hack columnist always willing to lash out at perceived liberal bias.

If any of our readers know who this might be, post in our comments section or send us a note at: takebackourcampus@yahoo.com. We're dying to find out.
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Thursday, August 05, 2004

We Get Letters! We Get Lots and Lots of Letters! Vol. 4 

In response to yesterday's question-- Are the SLURs really as stupidly classist and bigoted as they seem? Or as they claim, are rich kids smarter than those on financial aid?-- we received this letter from correspondent "Public School Trash," who wrote to us at takebackourcampus@yahoo.com.
First, it seems to me (and to the professors I've discussed this with) that rich kids tend (not always the case, as I've known several rich kids who aren't trust fund brats, they have trust funds but work hard) not to care particularly about school.

One thing that the professors I've spoken to told me repeatedly is that they'd prefer a class of north country kids and lower-income kids. You know why? Because they work hard, they came to SLU to learn. Not to get a free diploma. Yes, we are scholarship kids, yes we have TAP grants, but let me tell you something about how financial aid and slu's tuition hurt lower-middle-class students.

(Keep in mind that i'm not deliberatly attacking anyone at this point, i'm just pointing out things i've noticed)

SLU has a scholarship for north country kids called the Augsbury Scholarship. They also have their big awards of 15k, 12.5k, and 10k. I was second in the running for my school's Augsbury, and I instead got the 12.5k. When tuition was 32k, it was a good chunk of the tuition. When I graduated, it was 38k and rising still. 12.5k doesn't go too far, especially when your family has lost their jobs due to the economic crash of the Bush regime (my parents worked for Ames. Yeah, I'm a north country kid). I was told by fin aid that, sure, I could pay 8k a year. So much for free diplomas, huh? Sorry, I don't have a trust fund or Mommy and Daddy's gold credit card to fund my tuition. Seriously, I swear some people need a good slap in the face to realize that not everything is in black and white.
Actually, as anyone who's ever partied with Paris and Nicky knows, gold credit cards are for losers. Today, all the cool kids carry platinum credit cards. The really cool kids possess the secret black credit card, which allows one to buy anything. An anonymous poster wrote in yesterday's comments:
in theory, the rich kids could go anywhere, right? if you can pay 40k at slu, you can pay 40k at harvard. why would anyone choose to go to slu? because slu is nothing more than a finishing school for the dumb rich kids. if you had a choice between like harvard and slu, or williams and slu, or even middlebury and slu, what good reason would anyone have for picking school number 60-something in the ranks? otoh, most of the lower income students and those on financial aid get the best deal at slu and so have little choice but to attend. the good thing is that the no-choice-but-attend students dilute some of inbred stupidity of the rich. that makes being in class easier.
Anonymous
Agree? Disagree? Leave a note in our comments section or drop us a line at takebackourcampus@yahoo.com.
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Wednesday, August 04, 2004

NYS Temporary Budget Passed-- TAP Awards Unmolested, HEOP Still in Danger 

The New York State Legislature passed an emergency spending bill on Monday. Prevailing were liberal efforts to keep the Tuition Assistance Program unmolested by Pataki's budget cuts. TAP Awards serves 310,000 New York state residents and is crucial in providing access to higher education to children of middle- and lower-class families. We're kind of happy-- at least things didn't get worse.

However, the future of the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP, created in 1969), remains up in the air. Gov. Pataki's proposed budget seeks to cut the program by more than 5 percent, bringing its state funding from $22 million to $20.9 million. The lack of a nominal increase to account for inflation means that HEOP's budget is effectively cut an additional 3-4%.

The HEOP program costs $168 million to run annually, with $82 million coming from federal funds and $64 million from the private colleges and universities that choose to participate in HEOP. But that's a pittance when one considers that HEOP services over 5600 students per annum, which breaks down to less than $30,000 per student per year-- less than the $32,000 per year New York state spends to incarcerate a single person.

Our sources in the SLU Republicans wrote us: "What is it, 70 or 80% [of students] have financial help at SLU. An unmentionable minortity (sic) I am sure come (sic) from the Bronx and get full rides. Because they can play basketball and use other words besides dawg, they are let into fine schools like SLU." (Go here to see the post and the SLURs' nearly endless invective of racism in its original context. This is highly recommended).

In this spirit, we present the following to our SLUR friends: 80% of HEOP students (across the state) have cumulative averages of more than 2.0. 30% of HEOP students have averages above 3.0. [Wow! That exceeds the academic performance of the average SLU student! And of the average SLUR!-- ed. Is that true?-- CE. Yeah. I went to their meetings. They call each other "Mr." and "Ms." to sound distinguished but otherwise they make George W. Bush look literate. They refuse to accept any facts that don't agree with their worldview and get angry instead of arguing.-- ed.]

[Source for HEOP facts is the 2003 Annual Report to the Governor.]

I can't argue with my editor. [True!-- ed.] But I'd like to ask our readers: Is this true? Are the SLURs really as stupid and racist as they seem? Or are rich kids smarter than those on financial aid? Give us your thoughts and stories in our comments section or send them to: takebackourcampus@yahoo.com. We promise to post them unedited.
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