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On Colleges Losing Their Minds (or Other Tales of Small N Inferences)

According to the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics there were 7,236 Postsecondary Title IV institutions in the US as of 2013 (two- and four-year institutions).  That translates into thousands upon thousands of classes on a given day.

Hence, it makes perfect sense to draw grand conclusions about higher education in America from a handful of cases.

By the way:  many of those thousands of courses taught each day are basic stats classes.  You know, if anyone is interested.

Related Posts:

About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. John Peabody says:

    The plural of “anecdote” is not “confirmed data”.

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  2. @John Peabody: Weird, isn’t it?

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  3. DrDaveT says:

    What the hell is Evergreen State College? I have only ever heard it mentioned twice in my life — both times related to this blog. Once was in a predictably obtuse comment from our favorite Indiana Jones anagram, and now again in the article you linked to.

    Is there some backstory here that only Breitbart readers know about, but assume the rest of the world is familiar with (and probably covering up)?

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  4. DA says:

    @DrDaveT:
    Evergreen is known as a very lefty, hippy place. The kind of college that doesn’t believe in grades.

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  5. DrDaveT says:

    @DA: Evergreen is known as a very lefty, hippy place.
    OK, but why should I care what is happening at hippy dippy Evergreen State? What makes it nationally relevant to the extent that people assume that merely invoking its name in a blog makes a point that will be widely understood?

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  6. James Pearce says:

    Point taken about drawing grand conclusions based on puny data, but we can draw some inferences from this specific incident, can’t we?

    Is it a good thing when an ignorant mob hopped up on ideological stimulants and the ignorance of youth barge into a classroom and demand that they stop teaching a humanities course? Or is that actually kind of bad?

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  7. @James Pearce: Hijacking classes is not a good thing, but a given event like this is not evidence that US colleges are losing their minds or are doing anything other than doing their jobs. There is a weird fixation by many on the right to denigrate higher ed and they act like a handful of examples proves their point while ignoring tens of thousands of counter-examples.

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  8. James Pearce says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    There is a weird fixation by many on the right to denigrate higher ed

    Is it any weirder, though, than the left wing fixation on removing all “white man” stuff from the curriculum?

    I don’t think it’s difficult to decide which side to reject, the anti-intellectualism of the right or the abject stupidity of the left: Reject them both.

    (They canceled this class, by the way.)

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  9. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “Is it any weirder, though, than the left wing fixation on removing all “white man” stuff from the curriculum?”

    That fixation does not reside in the left wing so much as it does in your mind.

    Read more: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/on-colleges-losing-their-minds-or-other-tales-of-small-n-inferences/#ixzz4sg6Qbo1X

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  10. James Pearce says:

    @wr:

    That fixation does not reside in the left wing so much as it does in your mind.

    Are you trying to gaslight me?

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  11. grumpy realist says:

    @DrDaveT: it’s one of the colleges that does things that send people like Rod Dreher over at TAC ballistic and convinced that Western Civilization is DOOMED. Always good for money-raising by the socons.

    (I note that Rod never posts anything about what places like MIT or Caltech do. Nope, it’s always these obscure lefty colleges that no one has ever heard of and no one of any importance will graduate from that supposedly represent all US colleges.)

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  12. Gromitt Gunn says:

    People raised in priviliged environments behave in priviliged ways. News at 11.

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  13. @James Pearce:

    Is it any weirder, though, than the left wing fixation on removing all “white man” stuff from the curriculum?

    Actually, very much yes. First, while there are those who are concerned with an over-focus on dead white guys (and yes, even some zealotry on the subject), there is no wide-spread left-wing fixation on this topic.

    Second, there is a conservative/right-wing narrative that has taken on a lot of life lately about how colleges and universities are just left-wing indoctrination centers.

    For example: Partisans Differ Widely in Views of Police Officers, College Professors

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  14. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @DrDaveT: Evergreen State College is in Washington State. It had it’s first day of classes in 1971 and while at first the self-directed study model that it uses was a little shakey, the school has gone on to distinguish itself.

    According to U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 college rankings, Evergreen is ranked #32 in Regional Universities West, and #4 in Best Undergraduate Teaching.[19] Evergreen is also among the top colleges in the nation for offering the best first-year experiences to freshmen, which entails building into the curriculum first-year seminars or other programs that bring small groups of students together with faculty and staff on a regular basis.[20] Author and former New York Times education editor Loren Pope cites Evergreen as one of two public colleges in the United States in his book Colleges That Change Lives. (Wikipedia)

    While it is not a model that I advocate, Evergreen provides good educational opportunities for well disciplined and single-minded students (in fact, I don’t advocate the model because so many students continually show little adaptability to reduced structure programs). As to why Evergreen is in the news, it is a site of a significant battle in the ongoing Social Justice Wars [TM pending]

    Every April since the 1970s, Evergreen has held a daylong event called Day of Absence, inspired by the Douglas Turner Ward play of the same name, during which minority students and faculty members stay off campus to raise awareness of the contributions of minorities and to discuss racial and campus issues.[5][6] As of 2017, approximately 25% of Evergreen students belonged to racial minorities.[7] Since 1992, the Day of Absence has been followed by the Day of Presence, when the campus community reunites.[5]

    In 2017, the Day of Absence was altered: “white students, staff, and faculty [were] invited to leave campus for the day’s activities,”[8] while events for students of color were held on the Evergreen campus.[5][6][9] Bret Weinstein, a professor of biology at Evergreen, wrote a letter in March to Evergreen faculty explaining his objections to the change in format.[7] In late May 2017, student protests—focused in part on the comments by Weinstein—disrupted the campus and called for a number of changes to the college.[6][10] Weinstein says he was told that campus police could not protect him and that they encouraged him not to be on campus, which caused Weinstein to hold his biology class in a public park.[11][12]

    Following the protests, a threat conveyed to campus police led to a temporary evacuation and closure of the campus.[13] Vandals with sticks and baseball bats caused approximately $10,000 in damage to the campus and forced closure of the school for an additional day.[14] Evergreen’s 2017 commencement ceremony was also moved off-campus because of safety concerns.[15]

    In response to the protests, Michael Zimmerman, a former Vice-President and Provost of Evergreen, described the school as “a place where identity politics takes precedence over every other aspect of social intercourse…where it is acceptable to shout down those with whom you disagree”.[16] The Seattle Times warned that The Evergreen State College has become a “national caricature of intolerant campus liberalism” and that the future of Evergreen is in question because the college falls 300 students short of Washington State’s funded enrollment target despite “wide-open admission standards”.[17] (Wikipedia)

    Hope that helps.

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  15. James Pearce says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Nope, it’s always these obscure lefty colleges that no one has ever heard of and no one of any importance will graduate from

    No one has heard of and no one of any importance will graduate from….

    Maybe once there’s more awareness and acceptance that this kind of anti-racist lefty activism is actually hurting the cause of racial equality we can stop minimizing and excusing this kind of behavior.

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    there is no wide-spread left-wing fixation on this topic.

    There isn’t? If there was anything I’d consider a “left-wing fixation” it’s this very topic.

    there is a conservative/right-wing narrative that has taken on a lot of life lately about how colleges and universities are just left-wing indoctrination centers.

    I’m aware of that. Are the Reedies Against Racism aware of how they play into the “left-wing indoctrination centers” when they complain about Plato’s misogyny and Aristotle’s whiteness?

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  16. @James Pearce: More significantly, I would not consider “Reedies Against Racism” to be a wide-spread, significant movement of any consequence.

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  17. James Pearce says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    More significantly, I would not consider “Reedies Against Racism” to be a wide-spread, significant movement of any consequence.

    A small blessing, to be sure.

    Not only for the students who would benefit from studying these classics, but also because this kind of thing is not helpful if you want to combat actual racism.

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  18. Grumpy Realist says:

    @James Pearce: the next time we get a POTUS whose undergrad is Evergreen College, then you can call me.

    I’m not surprised that a Republican POTUS little known for his brains graduated from another university few people have heard of. So I don’t see what you’re getting at.

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  19. James Pearce says:

    @Grumpy Realist: I don’t know anything about Evergreen College. Like nothing. I’ve seen it mentioned but have no idea how it connects to what I’m talking about, which is the protest over the Humanities course at Reed College.

    And yes, Trump is a piece of shit, but he graduated from Wharton.

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  20. Mister Bluster says:

    Yet another American college is suffering an “unexpected” plunge in enrollment and a massive budget deficit after a series of outbursts by radical fringe protesters and professors.

    HA!
    When I started classes at Sleepytown U in 1968 the enrollment was approaching 20,000.
    The current events of the day, the Vietnam War and the Selective Service System that filled the 1400 body bags a month that were airlifted back to the states at the height of the “conflict” led to marches, mass demonstrations and confrontations with Campus Police.
    By 1970 full blown street riots involving the Illinois State Police, Illinois National Guard and local vigilantes vs. thousands of students resulted in the total trashing of the town and forced the early closing of the campus not long after the Kent State killings and Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia.
    The consequence of all this upheaval?
    In 1975 enrollment increased to 21,000+ and by 1980 there were 23,000.
    The anarchy continued during the Halloween riots of the 80’s.
    Enrollment increased again!
    By 1990 enrollment reached 24,089 (The 1990 city census was 27,000.) and peaked in 1991 at 24,869!
    Since those heady days the city and the University have collaborated to end the annual October melee. The school established a Fall Break and shut down the dorms and sent everyone home the week of Halloween.
    The result of the supression of all the hooliganism?
    Since 1991 the enrollment has dropped by 10,000! Yes TEN THOUSAND.
    Final stats for Spring semester 2017 were 14,636 and early numbers for Fall 2017 are “under 15,000”.
    I don’t call this place Sleepytown for nothing.

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  21. DrDaveT says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:

    Hope that helps.

    Yes, it does. Thanks.

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  22. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce:

    There isn’t?

    Yes, that’s what he said. Do you have evidence to the contrary?

    So far, you’ve cited two instances of the thing that gripes you, out of the 2000+ 4-year colleges in the US. I’m sure that it wouldn’t be hard to get that total up to 5 or 6, with a little digging.

    Does anything you can find 5 instances of counts as a “wide-spread fixation”? Or, to put it a different way, do you generally characterize groups by the behavior of the most annoying half a percent of their members?

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  23. James Pearce says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Or, to put it a different way, do you generally characterize groups by the behavior of the most annoying half a percent of their members?

    I would be quite content if these protests were part of some small, isolated lunatic fringe, but they’re part of a much larger movement that has, over the years, found every venue to be the appropriate venue to address these issues. The Oscars, the National Anthem at the football game, every weekend at the park.

    I kind of feel, at this point, that we’d all be better off if they shut up and went home and just lived it.

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  24. @James Pearce: Are you now suggesting that Colin Kaepernick was protesting “Plato’s misogyny and Aristotle’s whiteness?”

    Your position here is rather difficult to follow.

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  25. James Pearce says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Not the guy to ask about Kap, to be honest.

    I think he’s a privileged millionaire coasting through life on athletic talent, raised with a sense of entitlement to be a superstar, and when he got caught protesting the fact that Blaine Gabbert took his job, he made something up. He tapped into the BLM zeitgeist and, not only did sooo many people believe him and support, they still can’t tell me to what end? He didn’t get his job back. He’s become virtually unemployable in the NFL. And after his piggy socks and his “I didn’t vote” stuff, no intelligent person is going to ask his opinion on political matters.

    Donald Trump is in the White House, white nationalists marched on Charlottesville, and the predominant issue during this week’s Monday Night Football is “Man, I hope no one takes a knee during the national anthem on the 9-11 anniversary.”

    And I get it, my constant criticisms on this subject can be tiresome. But are they as tiresome as the habits of an activist left that has yet to figure out that blocking highways and taking knees and disrupting classrooms is not helpful and may, in fact, be counter-productive?

    If these activities are counter-productive (and I believe they are), should they be encouraged and defended?

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  26. Mikey says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Your position here is rather difficult to follow.

    It’s basically “brown people may protest, but only in ways approved by white people.”

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  27. James Pearce says:

    @Mikey:

    It’s basically “brown people may protest, but only in ways approved by white people.”

    Is that your attempt to understand and accurately summarize my point?

    Brown people can protest in any way they want. They can be like Kap, self-destructive and divisive, or they can be like the Broncos’ Brandon Marshall, who did take a knee for a while, but then sat down with the Denver chief of police (a black man, too) to discuss the issue and came back saying, “Going forward, I will be standing for the National Anthem-not because everything is perfect, or because I’m changing my stance on things. But because of my hope for what we can become.”

    John Elway, a conservative Republican who campaigned for Trump, quoted on Marshall, said, “He didn’t just make a stand on the field before the games. He actually went out in the community and did something and talked to different people and went and talked to law enforcement. I was proud of Brandon and the fact that not only did he show his support for what it was last year, but also he went out and did something in the community about it.”

    This is why I’m in favor of the Marshall approach and critical of the Kap approach. One actually works. One leads to further understanding.

    And the other leads to straw men comments like ” “brown people may protest, but…”

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  28. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce:

    I would be quite content if these protests were part of some small, isolated lunatic fringe

    Then you should be quite content, because they ARE part of some small, isolated lunatic fringe, by any sensible measure. What fraction of liberals participate in these actions that so annoy you? What fraction of public events are disrupted?

    …but they’re part of a much larger movement that has, over the years, found every venue to be the appropriate venue to address these issues. The Oscars, the National Anthem at the football game, every weekend at the park.

    Are you seriously equating taking a knee during the National Anthem with shouting down invited speakers, or violent disruption of someone else’s demonstration? Seriously???

    John Elway, a conservative Republican who campaigned for Trump, quoted on Marshall, said, “[…] I was proud of Brandon”

    And there you have unconscious white privilege at its finest. John Elway has no standing to be proud of Brandon Marshall’s response, or to denigrate it. Elway is part of the problem, both personally (campaigned for Trump!?) and demographically. He is not Marshall’s father, or mentor, or spouse. Saying that he is proud of Marshall and disappointed by Kaepernick, or vice versa, asserts a right and worthiness to judge that he has not earned.

    If I were to assert that I was proud of you for some of the things you post, but disappointed by others, you would have every reason to get mad and tell me to piss off. Why don’t Marshall and Kaepernick have that right, too?

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  29. @James Pearce: I know this is stirring the pot, but it seems to me that your assessment of Kaepernick and Marshall fits “brown people may protest, but only in ways approved by white people.” If anything, because Marshall stopped protesting.

    Beyond that: how is any of this is related to the the events at Reed?

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  30. @James Pearce: In re-reading you post, it is actually exactly “brown people may protest, but only in ways approved by white people.”

    Note your narrative is about two African-Americans and the arbiter of which one is doing it the right way is a white guy.

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  31. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce: Did you seriously just use John Elway–a WHITE GUY–as the judge of whether a brown person’s method of protest is OK, and then call what I said, which was to point out EXACTLY THAT, a strawman?

    Dude, you have an absolutely Jupiter-sized blind spot when it comes to the reality of white privilege, and this proves it.

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  32. Gromitt Gunn says:

    Well, these comments have definitely been illuminating. But almost certainly not in the way that Mr. Pearce expected.

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  33. James Pearce says:

    @DrDaveT:

    John Elway has no standing to be proud of Brandon Marshall’s response, or to denigrate it.

    John Elway is the EVP of the Broncos, so you’re right, he’s not Marshall’s father or spouse, but he is kind of a mentor and he is most definitely his boss.

    And I think you misunderstand me.

    Why don’t Marshall and Kaepernick have that right, too?

    They do. The different results attest to the different approach. Again, self-destructive and divisive versus conciliatory.

    As for this:

    Elway is part of the problem, both personally (campaigned for Trump!?) and demographically.

    Just stow it. Elway is a Republican, yes, and active during election years, but rather than being a dick about it, he is by all accounts a decent guy, admired by millions and respected by the people who work with and for him.

    And what do you mean he’s part of the problem “demographically?” He’s a conservative white man and conservative white men are part of “the problem?”

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Note your narrative is about two African-Americans and the arbiter of which one is doing it the right way is a white guy.

    Are we not equal? Or are we going back to the world where what you can and cannot do is determined by your race?

    @Mikey:

    Dude, you have an absolutely Jupiter-sized blind spot when it comes to the reality of white privilege, and this proves it.

    I do? Three people now have objected to Elway’s praise of Brandon Marshall by appealing to Elway’s whiteness.

    What if the greatest example of “white privilege” is white people lecturing other white people over the proper way to treat black people?

    (For what it’s worth, Marshall’s reaction to Elway’s comments: “It felt good to hear that.”)

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  34. @James Pearce:

    Are we not equal? Or are we going back to the world where what you can and cannot do is determined by your race?

    This is not the point.

    I don’t think you are hearing yourself, so to speak.

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  35. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce:

    The different results attest to the different approach. Again, self-destructive and divisive versus conciliatory.

    From your comfortable perspective, I’m sure that’s how you see them. Others might characterize them as “confrontational, waking people up to the existence of a problem” versus “conventionally ineffectual”. I haven’t seen you cite any evidence, beyond your own reactions, to show that the net effect of the Kaepernick approach is harmful to his cause. You seem to be completely unaware of the “making people aware that there is an issue is the first step” factor.

    Are we not equal?

    We are equal under the law. We are not equal in opportunity, or ability, or experience. Men are not the equals of women when it comes to understanding sexism, because they have not had that experience. Similarly for whites and racism. Reading about it and hearing about, or even studying it as a serious scholar, isn’t the same as living it.

    John Elway is the EVP of the Broncos, so you’re right, he’s not Marshall’s father or spouse, but he is kind of a mentor and he is most definitely his boss.

    If your boss said publicly that he was proud of you for the way you’d raised your kids, would you get a warm fuzzy from that? I certainly wouldn’t. It’s a very different statement from just saying that I’d raised great kids; it smuggles in a lot of implied status.

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  36. James Pearce says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I don’t think you’re hearing me.

    I cited John Elway to show how Marshall’s approach can be appreciated even by “Trumpkins” and you guys got stuck on “But he’s a white man!”

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  37. James Pearce says:

    @DrDaveT:

    From your comfortable perspective

    Who says I’m comfortable? I do shift work for a wage. I own my own home, but it’s in a neighborhood that’s only 15% white. (I dig my neighborhood, for the record, and will never move to the vanilla suburbs, no matter how good the schools are.) I ride the train to work. I don’t have a Phd or an MD or a JD; I have a GED.

    Comfortable? Because I’m white?

    At any rate…

    the net effect of the Kaepernick approach is harmful to his cause

    Did you watch any of the games last week, specifically the Cleveland game or either of the MNF games?

    Also:

    Men are not the equals of women when it comes to understanding sexism, because they have not had that experience.

    To the contrary: “Men don’t experience sexism” is, in fact, a sexist remark. Of course they do!

    Why is that when the point should be “Women experience more sexism and POC experience more racism” it always devolves in to “Men don’t experience sexism and white dudes know nothing of racism?” Is it really that important to win the pain Olympics? Is it really that difficult to be an enemy of sexism/racism in all of its forms?

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  38. Grewgills says:

    @James Pearce:

    Why is that when the point should be “Women experience more sexism and POC experience more racism” it always devolves in to “Men don’t experience sexism and white dudes know nothing of racism?” Is it really that important to win the pain Olympics? Is it really that difficult to be an enemy of sexism/racism in all of its forms?

    Is it really that difficult for you to see that racism against non-whites in our society and sexism against women in our society are institutionally enshrined and therefor orders of magnitude more prevalent and a MUCH larger problem in our society? Why do you always insist on this ridiculous false equivalence? It is very much akin to Trump’s ‘both sides’ nonsense regarding Charlottesville. It is blind to context and to the larger reality that we all live in.

    I own my own home, but it’s in a neighborhood that’s only 15% white.

    Maybe you should talk about racism with your neighbors. You might learn something.

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  39. Grewgills says:

    @James Pearce:
    If you were having a family dinner and the person at the end of the table complained that there were only a few scraps of food left to them for dinner, would you tell them “We’re all hungry.” If it happened every day and that person wasn’t allowed to move from that spot at the dinner table, would you keep telling them that? If they refused to sit for dinner and it made other people uncomfortable, would you tell them their protest was counterproductive and they should find a way to protest that let everyone else have a comfortable dinner?

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  40. @James Pearce:

    I cited John Elway to show how Marshall’s approach can be appreciated even by “Trumpkins” and you guys got stuck on “But he’s a white man!”

    No, that’s not the point.

    @Mikey said “It’s basically “brown people may protest, but only in ways approved by white people.”

    Which, initially struck me as perhaps a bit harsh, or simplistic, and then you immediately provided an example of a black protest you didn’t like and one you did, and used a white guy as the arbiter in that case.

    Do you not see how that totally undercuts your claim of a strawman?

    Further, you are the one whose basis thesis is: these people (whether it is the Reed student group or Kaepernick) should simply stop complaining.

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  41. James Pearce says:

    @Grewgills:

    Is it really that difficult for you to see that racism against non-whites in our society and sexism against women in our society are institutionally enshrined and therefor orders of magnitude more prevalent and a MUCH larger problem in our society?

    Of course I see that. I just consider these protests to be part of the process that further entrenches racism into our system. It’s self-destructive and divisive.

    We had a black president last year. And now we have Trump, the guy who’s going to try and get an ESPN personality fired because he didn’t like her Tweet. He didn’t like her Tweet! We have already taken two steps back. Can we stop the retreat and advance beyond this white versus black dynamic that is, frankly, complete bullshit?

    Also…Colin Kaepernick is not the poor little guy at the end of the dinner table with nothing to eat. He won the genetic lottery that gave him enough athletic talent to make tens of millions of dollars. By any standard, aside from the asinine social justice one, this guy is privileged.

    Maybe you should talk about racism with your neighbors.

    It’s funny you say that, because I have.

    I mean, I’m not trying to be unfair, but I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 15 years and I’m one of the only white dudes here. The only companies that have invested here are rental conglomerates, weed stores, and Wal-Mart. There is no cavalry. There are no champions of the downtrodden.

    You should come talk to my neighbors. They’ll tell you.

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    immediately provided an example of a black protest you didn’t like and one you did, and used a white guy as the arbiter in that case.

    It was the same protest. The only difference is that Kap brought the piggy socks and Marshall talked to the Chief. Same protest. Same issue. Different method.

    I brought in John Elway because, whatever his color, he’s EVP of football operations for the Broncos, voicing support for his player and how he conducted himself during the protest. He saw something constructive in what Marshall did. He didn’t mention Kaepernick at all.

    Some “arbiter.”

    Also:

    Further, you are the one whose basis thesis is: these people (whether it is the Reed student group or Kaepernick) should simply stop complaining.

    No, it is to do something constructive and helpful. Abandon the abstract, focus on goals other than canceling the Humanities course.

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  42. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce:

    By any standard, aside from the asinine social justice one, this guy is privileged.

    Be sure to remind us of that the next time he gets pulled over for Driving While Black. Or shot by a frightened cop who then is not charged with any crime.

    More immediately, why does athletic talent and wealth somehow disqualify Kaepernick’s experiences and opinions, but at the same time validates Elway’s? Why is John automatically right, and Colin wrong? Why does John’s opinion count for anything at all here, more than any other dumb redneck jock’s opinion? After all, he merely won the “genetic lottery” to get where he is…

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  43. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce:

    Who says I’m comfortable?

    Are you generally worried that the police might pull you over for no reason, and then maybe shoot you if they’re nervous?

    Are you generally worried that potential clients or employers will find an excuse to pick someone less like you for the job?

    Are you generally worried that the bank loan you get will have a higher interest rate, or the realtor won’t show you homes in the neighborhood you want?

    Those would all be reasons to be uncomfortable. Not having to deal with them is comfortable, by comparison. Not a free ride, but a definitely easier set of rules.

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  44. James Pearce says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Be sure to remind us of that the next time he gets pulled over for Driving While Black.

    Prior to his protest, the most likely result of Colin Kaepernick getting pulled over is the cop asking for his autograph. Now…yeah, he might get shot.

    To answer your questions, in order:

    Yes, although to a lesser extent now that I’m older. Getting pulled over for no reason was rather common, and a constant source of anxiety, when I was younger. Cops know white boys cause trouble, too, and we do. Oh, we do.

    Of course, I’m a white dude in his 40s, not a diversity hire.

    No.

    And I don’t mean to paint a bleak picture. I’m pretty comfortable. But if I have my “white privilege” to thank for it, let me tell ya, I’d rather just have Colin Kaepernick money.

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  45. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce:

    What if the greatest example of “white privilege” is white people lecturing other white people over the proper way to treat black people?

    See what I mean?

    There’s no point in discussing this with you any further. It’s like talking to a Republican about climate change. They simply deny reality, as you do here.

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  46. James Pearce says:

    @Mikey:

    They simply deny reality, as you do here.

    Mikey, I don’t mean to be too “Republican” here, but white privilege is an idea, an argument, and like any idea, including climate change, it can be challenged and questioned.

    Like any idea, it must be supported and defended, against skeptics and counter-arguments alike. Or it will just be accepted by the fundamentalists.

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  47. BTW: the issue isn’t whether Kaepernick, or for that matter the white kids protesting at Reed, are privileged or not. It is a false dichotomy that is no way relevant to ask whether one would rather have Kaepernick’s money or a middle-class income.

    The issue that the current conversation revolves around is @James Pearce‘s seeming position that protesters are annoying and therefore should find some other way of making their grievance known.

    The thing is: I get why having a class disrupted is a problem. I don’t get why quietly kneeling is a huge problem. Or, for that matter, why potentially offensive socks are utterly unacceptable.

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  48. Setting aside the fact that we are utterly off the original topic, I would state that the most vexing part of this interchange is that JP seems to not be willing to understand how his position comes across. It basically seems to suggest that persons of color/people who are concerned about racial justice should just be quiet and not annoy anyone. A position that is made all the more strange by the injection of John Elway’s opinion into the mix, especially in response to MIkey’s critique.

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  49. A final point:

    None of this supports James Pearce‘s contention that there isa “left wing fixation on removing all “white man” stuff from the curriculum.” Especially one that is similar to the current right-wing cable news/talk radio attacks on college education in general–to bring this back to the initial topic.

    Kaepernick is irrelevant to protests over humanities courses and is, instead, just an example of protest that JP finds annoying and is somehow equivalent to the Reed protest (I am not sure how, to be honest).

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  50. James Pearce says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    that protesters are annoying and therefore should find some other way of making their grievance known.

    Why is it not sinking in that while, yes, I find the protesters annoying, my principle objection is that these protest (the Reedies and Kaepernick) encourage and inflame racial grievance and does absolutely F all towards achieving racial equality. Self-destructive and divisive. Those are the words I’ve used. “Annoying” is the word that’s being put in my mouth.

    (Good word, though.)

    And hey, maybe I’m wrong about the “left wing fixation on removing all “white man” stuff” but the thread where John Elway’s whiteness becomes reason to dismiss him does not demonstrate that.

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  51. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce:

    Why is it not sinking in that while, yes, I find the protesters annoying, my principle objection is that these protest (the Reedies and Kaepernick) encourage and inflame racial grievance and does absolutely F all towards achieving racial equality.

    The irony, of course, is that this is EXACTLY the argument that was made by (white) critics of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, and pretty much any other (black) civil rights activist of the ’50s and ’60s. It’s such a cliché that there’s a famous song about it.

    I’m pretty comfortable. But if I have my “white privilege” to thank for it

    See, you just keep saying things that prove you really don’t understand the concept of “white privilege” at all. It’s not a guarantee; it’s not even a head start. It’s an easier set of rules. It doesn’t guarantee success, and it doesn’t override stupidity or cussedness or rotten luck or a lousy starting position. It’s kind of like being born tall and good-looking, in that regard.

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  52. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “Not only for the students who would benefit from studying these classics, but also because this kind of thing is not helpful if you want to combat actual racism.”

    Which is people being mean to white guys, right?

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  53. James Pearce says:

    @DrDaveT:

    that this is EXACTLY the argument that was made by (white) critics of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Tommie Smith and John Carlos,

    Why must every dumb protest be compared to MLK and Malcolm X? Those guys stood for a little more than canceling the humanities course because it focused too much on dead white dudes.

    MLK = All of God’s children
    SJW = Except the white dudes.

    you really don’t understand the concept of “white privilege” at all.

    I’ve heard this many times from folks who think to understand it is to agree with it, and yet I think that to truly understand it is to understand its limitations and to yearn for some better, more useful explanation.

    @wr:

    Which is people being mean to white guys, right?

    The left seems to think they can maintain a healthy balance between “being mean to white guys” and “achieving racial equality.” But what if they’re mutually exclusive?

    (Hint: They’re mutually exclusive.)

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  54. Kaepernick taking a knee isn’t being mean to white guys.

    Raising questions about the diversity of the curriculum is not being mean to white guys.

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  55. James Pearce says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Kaepernick taking a knee isn’t being mean to white guys.

    No, it’s just divisive and self-destructive.

    Raising questions about the diversity of the curriculum is not being mean to white guys.

    Raising questions? Like, “What if we’re going about this racial equality thing in a counter-productive manner?” Batted down immediately.

    These are the “questions” listed in the “Demands” section of the Reedies Against Racism Tumblr page :

    Paid day for 9/26 for all Reed staff in honor of the boycott.
    Transparency and long-term reform regarding Reed’s involvement in exploiting prison labor and their investment in companies(i.e. Wells Fargo) that profit from the incarceration of black and brown people, (i.e. NSA and GEO stocks).
    Reform CSO, AOD Review Panel, and JBoard practices and sanctions to move away from carrying out racial profiling and requiring community service, and move towards restorative justice policies.
    Transparency regarding the demographics of students given AODs.
    The creation and implementation of appropriate scaffolding to bridge the gap between low-SES high schools and Reed through improving the educational services already provided.
    Revise the system of outreach that Reed implements within marginalized communities. Ensure that the amount of visits to low-SES and/or predominantly POC high schools match the amount of visits to predominantly white high schools.
    Alter the Housing Lottery to explicitly prioritize low-SES, international, and students with disabilities.
    The adjustment of Meal Plan costs for students in need, so that students are only responsible for meal plan dollars and Reed covers building costs as well as the fixed costs of Bon Appetit.
    A transparent yearly review of the off-campus housing budget in relation to inflation.
    The creation of a paid student position for a black student in the MRC that is specific to tending to the needs or concerns of black students.
    The establishment of a paid staff position to participate in the maintenance and organization of the Black Student Union.
    More transparency from the admissions office regarding graduation and retention rates by race, gender, and SES.
    The required freshman course should be reformed to represent the voices of people of color. Lecturers should structure delivery and analysis of content that is sensitive to and proactive for inclusive practices. There should be an articulated understanding that “foundational texts” are subjective and that the importance of the course is to foster student’s abilities to read, write, and listen/respond. Before this is accomplished, Hum 110 should be conscious of the power it gives to already privileged ideas and welcome critique of that use of power. This could be done by 1) allowing alternative readings that critique texts on the current syllabus, 2) making Hum 110 non-mandatory until reform happens or 3) alternate options for Hum lecture.
    Every HCC counselor should have a background in talking about race and queer issues. Counseling positions in the HCC are to be held by at least one black person, who has competence in addressing black bodies, with the express priority of serving black students.
    Mandatory conferences for building race sensitivity for staff and faculty that includes the input and participation of Students of Color. Contracting a qualified educator to lead continuous mandatory workshops and conduct check-ins with students and professors.
    The hiring of more tenure-track black faculty, with a greater quantity of dialogue at more consistent intervals between students and faculty search/hiring committees.
    Increased funding for Peer Mentor Program (PMP), ensuring that the amount of mentors and general resources correspond to the need, i.e. the number of marginalized students in the incoming class.
    The passing and implementation of the CRES proposal by CAPP, with the understanding that CRES is to be taught by people of color. The administration/faculty is responsible for the construction of a one-year plan for funding CRES, while seeking long-term funding for the program that will be incorporated into the endowment.
    The alteration of Reed’s Operating Principles and Diversity Statement, to reflect a focus on anti-racism/anti-oppressive rather than diversity.
    Revision of the process of investigating racial bias against tenure-track faculty through CAT.
    The inclusion of a question on professor evaluation forms about the general openness of professors and their handling of racial topics, gender topics, and queer topics. The addition of an optional question that allows students to indicate their race.
    Annual anti-oppression workshop for all students, faculty, staff, and administration.
    In addition to the existing grievances process, allowing Honor Cases to be brought against faculty by students, adjudicated by a review board consisting of students and faculty.
    Expand options for international students’ employment opportunities.
    Improvement of financial aid, especially the creation of particular scholarships for black students.

    So many questions, not one question mark.

    Did you see that part where they don’t want any white people teaching any Critical Race and Ethnic Studies classes?

    One more thing, and I’ll let it go, I promise. I love, LOVE this paragraph from the Reedies “Open Letter to Faculty.” It is so blindingly weird that you almost think this person would benefit from more life experience, some extra reading and perhaps some travel.

    I am a low SES non-black Latinx nonbinary femme at Reed College AKA a poor brown woman who has managed to get herself into higher education at an institution full of white people in one of the whitest cities of one of the whitest states in the United States. Also, I unequivocally believe that based on the history of colonialism, imperialism, chattel slavery, systemic and institutional racism, as well as the prevalence of anti-black thought and sentiment in the development of multiple academic disciplines that black students at Reed, and black people across cultures in general, are the most underrepresented, undervalued, and underprotected.

    First of all, this poor lady appears to be glaringly aware that she doesn’t fit into any of the boxes society wants to put her in, but instead of rejecting the concept of boxes entirely, she wants to stuff herself into like 4 or 5 of them.

    Secondly, she seems to be glaringly aware that white enclaves, like those up in the Pacific Northwest, as liberal as they may get, are no refuge for people of color.

    Thirdly, points for noticing that European white people are closest to us when it comes to “the history of colonialism, imperialism, chattel slavery, systemic and institutional racism,” but if she would take this damn class, she would know that tyrants come in all colors and may yet come again.

    Fourth, I am not the only one or the latest one to notice the irony of a “non-black Latinx non-binary Femme” presuming to speak for the “underrepresented” and “undervalued.” Might they not all agree with her?

    At any rate, that’s all I got on this one. It’s Sunday and Von Miller is going to sack Dax Miller a few times, I’m sure of it.

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  56. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “The left seems to think ”

    I’m not “the left.” I am a commenter here who is frequently astonished by your seemingly complete lack of self-awareness. That’s the perspective from which I’m commenting.

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  57. @James Pearce: what do you want to argue? The specific. Of Reed, the specifics of Kap, the overall notion of white privilege, your criticisms of protest? At this point you are all over the place and you rarely answer direct issues.

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  58. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce:

    Why must every dumb protest be compared to MLK and Malcolm X?

    Dude, I’m not the one who resurrected the argument — you are. I’m not comparing anything to MLK; I’m comparing YOU to the morons who criticized MLK for being “divisive and counter-productive”. I’m sure you see the difference.

    When you can explain why it is that you equate “the left” (all of it, without exception) with a specific group of idiot children at Reed College, be sure to get back to us.

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