A philosopher in the University of Wisconsin sytem writes:
I'm writing to ask if you'd be willing to host a thread focused specifically on the question about strategy, raised by harry b in a comment on The Republican war on public higher education: it's now the law in Wisconsin, concerning "what we [who want to protect public higher education] should be doing to change the minds of voters so that they put the break on the politicians." I'd be very interested to see discussion of this pressing issue, which should be of broad interest and concern.
This case from California. Unfortunately, we'll no doubt be seeing more such cases once professional jurists with some regard for process are increasingly asked to scrutinize how universities (mis)handle these matters.
Via IHE. I'm very pleased to see that he will have gainful academic employment, I hope it will turn into something more permanent, assuming that the University of Illinois is not required legally to rehire him.
Signatories include, besides Sarkar, John Dupre (Exeter), Paul Griffiths (Sydney), Samir Okasha (Bristol), Alex Rosenberg (Duke), and Rob Wilson (Alberta), among others. The letter offers a variety of considerations, some political, some practical/logistical. I am opening this for (substantive) discussion.
UPDATE: The jury found against the instructor, presumably meaning they did not find there was enough evidence that she was denied the job because of her political viewpoint. She certainly had enough evidence in her favor to warrant a trial, but unlike the Salaita case, the evidence was decidedly more mixed. (Thanks to Thomas Gallanis for the pointer.)
...since, after all, if your views are offensive, you are not entitled to be employed, right? Peter Singer is, by my lights, a pernicious presence in philosophy, but my lights or the lights of disability activists are irrelevant to whether he should be employed. This is what academic freedom means: academics can hold views that you think are appalling, stupid, worthless. Maybe you are right, and maybe you are not. But the lifeblood of the academy is insulation from such outbursts of indignation.
This latest outburst doesn't really matter, of course--Singer has weathered worse. But it is symptomatic of something dangerous.
...she had asked if I wanted to post more about this, and I declined (she found a taker, needless to say). Kipnis was wronged by the frivolous Title IX retaliation complaint. The students responsible are suffering for their unfortunate decision. No good will come of prolonging this. The comments on Kipnis's response are mostly and predictably stupid (though there are a few adult responses later on, see, e.g., "DC" and "Andy Metz"). (ADDENDUM: Just to be clear, I fully understand why Prof. Kipnis wanted to reply, given the misleading accusations being made against her.)
UPDATE: Philippe Lemoine writes:
While I understand why you didn't want to publish Kipnis's reply to the student who filed a complaint against her, I wish you had and had opened comment for people to discuss it, for the way in which Prof. Weinberg has been moderating this discussion is quite scandalous. Several of my comments have been censored and, when asked why by email, Prof. Weinberg gave me reasons that were patently fallacious.
I was in particular noting that, despite what many people assume (including apparently Kipnis), nothing in the public record indicate that the graduate student who accused Ludlow of rape denied that she had previously been dating him. Not even Pogin, in the ridiculous letter that she sent to Kipnis, said that. Yet, if the graduate student had denied that she had at some point been dating Ludlow, Pogin would presumably be in a position to know that.
In fact, in his complaint against Northwestern and the graduate student in question, Ludlow claims not just that he was in a relationship with her, but that she admitted as much both in her complaint against him and in answering the questions of the private investigator hired by the university to investigate it. Of course, he could lie about that, but it strikes me as rather unlikely given how easily this could be verified.
Prof. Weinberg justified his decision of censoring the comment where I was making this point by claiming that I was suggesting that the graduate student was lying about the nature of her relationship with Ludlow, when it's clear that I did nothing of the sort, since the central point I was making is that nothing in the public record indicates that she denied that she had previously been dating him.
When I read so many established philosophers defending the anonymous graduate student who justified the frivolous complaint that s/he filed against Kipnis on Daily Nous, I have to assume that they only do so out of a misguided desire to protect a student and not because they actually agree with the complete nonsense s/he wrote, otherwise this profession is really in trouble.
One small comment: since no one has a presumptive entitlement to their comment appearing here on any other blog, I don't think "censorship" is the relevant issue. But I do think, given that I've heard from others that certain points are being excluded from the debate elsewhere, that it is worthwhile to open comments here, though I will edit and/or moderate for relevance and constructive content. Comments on either side of this issue are of course welcome.
One of the complainants apparently believes that factual errors in Kipnis's first article--which the complainant believes were significant and harmful, but which seem to Kipnis (and many other readers, myself included) minor and largely beside the point--somehow justify the filing of a Title IX "retaliation" complaint. They do not, and they should not. This student is getting terrible advice, and only digging her hole deeper. The only sensible response to events of the last week is a mea culpa for having abused Title IX by filing a frivolous retaliation complaint against lawful speech by a faculty member with no professional or other connection with the graduate student victim of sexual harassment.
...this time at CHE (behind their paywall). It does contain some new information (new to me, at least, I had not seen this previously) about the rape complaint against Peter Ludlow: it says "the university found him responsible for sexual harassment" but not rape. It also reports that, "Northwestern has banned him from the campus, [Ludlow] said, and has scheduled a hearing for next month on whether he should be fired."
The University of Wisconsin System would see $250 million in cuts and sweeping changes in its operations, under a proposal put forward by GOP lawmakers Friday that would still be less dramatic than changes proposed by Gov. Scott Walker.
Lawmakers on the Legislature's budget committee are poised to reduce Walker's controversial proposed cuts to the UW System from $300 million over two years to $250 million, which UW System leaders praised, but faculty members on campuses said was not nearly enough. The extra $50 million would be distributed to campuses around the state that are judged by UW leaders to be hardest hit by the cuts, according to a GOP motion.
The Joint Finance Committee would continue for another two years the freeze on tuition for undergraduate state residents that was proposed by the governor and likely 2016 presidential candidate.
In addition, the provisions of academic tenure for professors would no longer be included in state law. The UW Board of Regents could choose to retain tenure under its rules or decline to do so, which would allow it to lay off any faculty in cases of budget difficulties or changes to academic programs.
The hypocrisy is that they reduce funding but freeze tuition: they should take their own neoliberal ideology seriously. Let the University of Wisconsin be a private university, which is what it's becoming. Let it charge what the fabled "market" will bear, but don't slash its funding and freeze its tuition, that's just hypocrisy and cowardice. Let the universities raise salaries to compensate for eliminating tenure, since tenure is the single most important form of non-monetary compensation faculty receive.
Unless the Neanderthal Scott Walker and the Repugs in Wisconsin are soundly defeated, this is America's future.
UPDATE: More on the legislative attack on tenure and other mischief. Comments open for more information, insight, perspective.
A wise decision, though the comments of the student suggests she still does not understand the wrongfulness of her conduct; Prof. Eisenman's observations are interesting:
"I don't blame any students who brought charges against me," Eisenman told The Huffington Post on Monday. "They're just students, they're learning, they're smart, they're trying things out, they make mistakes." He continued: "I do hold responsible the administrators overseeing Title IX. It was well within their prerogative to examine the charge and to determine it was without merit...."
The student, who didn't want her name publicly revealed, said part of the reason she withdrew her complaint against Eisenman was that investigators had begun to probe the case without getting her full statement.
"I cannot continue to be so naive as to hope that internal complaint processes can safely be made use of in good faith. It's clear that they cannot," the student wrote in withdrawing her complaint on Sunday....
Eisenman said he believes Title IX is essential, but the law's protections must "be treated with respect." He said he worries that unfounded investigations weaken the law. "This makes it much more [susceptible to] attacks with from the right," he said.
I don't usually link to right-wing crazy blogs, but this bit of satire is too good to let pass. Indeed, it's such good satire that the person who sent it to me thought it might be real (it is not, I assure you).
My colleague Geoffrey Stone discusses two recent cases at Northwestern, including the one involving Kipnis. (I should note that we did not discuss these cases prior to either of us writing about it, but his view was wholly predictable given his past work.) It's truly depressing to see some philosophers who should really know better trying to rationalize Kipnis's mistreatment and the abuse of Title IX. Read Prof. Stone's article! (That some other philosophers are on the wrong side of this issue is not surprising, but still depressing, and it bodes ill for the future of this 'profession,' such as it is.)
...a Northwestern radio, television and film professor had a Title IX "retaliation" complaint filed against her after writing an opinion piece in CHE about sexual politics and paranoia on campus; her chilling account of this appalling Kafkaesque ordeal is behind a paywall [UPDATE: A free version, for 24 hours is here], but here is an excerpt:
When I first heard that students at my university had staged a protest over an essay I’d written in The ChronicleReview about sexual politics on campus — and that they were carrying mattresses and pillows — I was a bit nonplussed. For one thing, mattresses had become a symbol of student-on-student sexual-assault allegations, and I’d been writing about the new consensual-relations codes governing professor-student dating. Also, I’d been writing as a feminist. And I hadn’t sexually assaulted anyone. The whole thing seemed symbolically incoherent.
According to our campus newspaper, the mattress-carriers were marching to the university president’s office with a petition demanding "a swift, official condemnation" of my article. One student said she’d had a "very visceral reaction" to the essay; another called it "terrifying." I’d argued that the new codes infantilized students while vastly increasing the power of university administrators over all our lives, and here were students demanding to be protected by university higher-ups from the affront of someone’s ideas, which seemed to prove my point....
Things seemed less amusing when I received an email from my university’s Title IX coordinator informing me that two students had filed Title IX complaints against me on the basis of the essay and "subsequent public statements" (which turned out to be a tweet), and that the university would retain an outside investigator to handle the complaints....
I was being charged with retaliation, it said, though it failed to explain how an essay that mentioned no one by name could be construed as retaliatory, or how a publication fell under the province of Title IX, which, as I understood it, dealt with sexual misconduct and gender discrimination....
I wrote back to the Title IX coordinator asking for clarification: When would I learn the specifics of these complaints, which, I pointed out, appeared to violate my academic freedom? And what about my rights — was I entitled to a lawyer? I received a polite response with a link to another website. No, I could not have an attorney present during the investigation, unless I’d been charged with sexual violence. I was, however, allowed to have a "support person" from the university community there, though that person couldn’t speak. I wouldn’t be informed about the substance of the complaints until I met with the investigators.
Apparently the idea was that they’d tell me the charges, and then, while I was collecting my wits, interrogate me about them. The term "kangaroo court" came to mind....
I replied that I wanted to know the charges before agreeing to a meeting. They told me, cordially, that they wanted to set up a meeting during which they would inform me of the charges and pose questions. I replied, in what I hoped was a cordial tone, that I wouldn’t answer questions until I’d had time to consider the charges....
I’d plummeted into an underground world of secret tribunals and capricious, medieval rules, and I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone about it....
Both complainants were graduate students. One turned out to have nothing whatsoever to do with the essay. She was bringing charges on behalf of the university community as well as on behalf of two students I’d mentioned — not by name — because the essay had a "chilling effect" on students’ ability to report sexual misconduct. I’d also made deliberate mistakes, she charged (a few small errors that hadn’t been caught in fact-checking were later corrected by the editors), and had violated the nonretaliation provision of the faculty handbook.
The other complainant was someone I’d mentioned fleetingly (again, not by name) in connection with the professor’s lawsuits. She charged that mentioning her was retaliatory and created a hostile environment (though I’d said nothing disparaging), and that I’d omitted information I should have included about her. This seemed paradoxical — should I have written more? And is what I didn’t write really the business of Title IX? She also charged that something I’d tweeted to someone else regarding the essay had actually referred to her. (It hadn’t.)
Please pause to note that a Title IX charge can now be brought against a professor over a tweet. Also that my tweets were apparently being monitored.
Much of this remains puzzling to me, including how someone can bring charges in someone else’s name, who is allowing intellectual disagreement to be redefined as retaliation, and why a professor can’t write about a legal case that’s been nationally reported, precisely because she’s employed by the university where the events took place. Wouldn’t this mean that academic freedom doesn’t extend to academics discussing matters involving their own workplaces?
As I understand it, any Title IX charge that’s filed has to be investigated, which effectively empowers anyone on campus to individually decide, and expand, what Title IX covers. Anyone with a grudge, a political agenda, or a desire for attention can quite easily leverage the system.
And there are a lot of grudges these days. The reality is that the more colleges devote themselves to creating "safe spaces" — that new watchword — for students, the more dangerous those campuses become for professors. It’s astounding how aggressive students’ assertions of vulnerability have gotten in the past few years. Emotional discomfort is regarded as equivalent to material injury, and all injuries have to be remediated....
I’d been asked to keep the charges confidential, but this became moot when, shortly before my campus meeting with the investigators, a graduate student published an article on a well-trafficked site excoriating me and the essay, and announcing that two students had filed Title IX retaliation complaints against me. She didn’t identify her source for this information or specify her own relationship to the situation, though she seemed well versed on all the inside details; in fact, she knew more about the process than I did.
It wasn’t me alone on the chopping block. She also excoriated our university’s president for his op-ed essay on academic freedom, which, she charged, was really a veiled commentary on the pending Title IX charges against me and thus subverted the process by issuing a covert advance verdict in my favor. (He’d obliquely mentioned the controversy over the essay, among other campus free-speech issues.) She didn’t seem particularly concerned that she herself was subverting the process by charging that the process had been subverted, and by revealing the complaints in the first place.
She was also surprisingly unconcerned about how effectively her article demolished its own premises about the asymmetry of institutional power. If a graduate student can publicly blast her own university’s president, mock his ideas, and fear no repercussions, then clearly the retaliatory power that university employment confers on anyone — from professors to presidents — is nil. Nor had my own essay exactly had a chilling effect on anyone’s freedom of expression....
At the end of the interrogation, the investigators asked if I wanted to file my own retaliation complaint against the student who’d revealed the charges. I said that I believed all parties involved were using the process for political purposes. I declined to press charges against anyone....
Nothing I say here is meant to suggest that sexual assault on campuses isn’t a problem. It is. My concern is that debatable and ultimately conservative notions about sex, gender, and power are becoming embedded in these procedures, without any public scrutiny or debate. But the climate on campuses is so accusatory and sanctimonious — so "chilling," in fact — that open conversations are practically impossible. It’s only when Title IX charges lead to lawsuits and the usual veil of secrecy is lifted that any of these assumptions become open for discussion — except that simply discussing one such lawsuit brought the sledgehammer of Title IX down on me, too....
What’s being lost, along with job security, is the liberty to publish ideas that might go against the grain or to take on risky subjects in the first place. With students increasingly regarded as customers and consumer satisfaction paramount, it’s imperative to avoid creating potential classroom friction with unpopular ideas if you’re on a renewable contract and wish to stay employed. Self-censorship naturally prevails. But even those with tenure fear getting caught up in some horrendous disciplinary process with ad hoc rules and outcomes; pretty much everyone now self-censors accordingly....
As of this writing, I have yet to hear the verdict on my case, though it’s well past the 60-day time frame. In the meantime, new Title IX complaints have been filed against the faculty-support person who accompanied me to the session with the investigators. As a member of the Faculty Senate, whose bylaws include the protection of academic freedom — and believing the process he’d witnessed was a clear violation of academic freedom — he’d spoken in general terms about the situation at a senate meeting. Shortly thereafter, as the attorneys investigating my case informed me by phone, retaliation complaints were filed against him for speaking publicly about the matter (even though the complaints against me had already been revealed in the graduate student’s article), and he could no longer act as my support person....
A week or so earlier, the investigators had phoned to let me know that a "mediated resolution" was possible in my case if I wished to pursue that option....The students were willing to drop their complaints in exchange for a public apology from me, the investigators said. I tried to stifle a laugh. I asked if that was all. No, they also wanted me to agree not to write about the case.
I understand that by writing these sentences, I’m risking more retaliation complaints, though I’m unclear what penalties may be in store (I suspect it’s buried somewhere in those links). But I refuse to believe that students get to dictate what professors can or can’t write about, or what we’re allowed to discuss at our Faculty Senate meetings. I don’t believe discussing Title IX cases should be verboten in the first place — the secrecy of the process invites McCarthyist abuses and overreach.
UPDATE: True to form, Justin Weinberg (South Carolina) actually comes to the defense of Northwestern's treatment of Laura Kipnis. By selectively quoting from the original Kipnis article, he obscures the fact that in the passages in question, Kipnis was clearly talking about the lawsuit by the undergraduate against Ludlow, not the graduate student. Kipnis's article says almost nothing about the allegations by the graduate student, and never names anyone, not even Ludlow. Nowhere in the article does Kipnis accuse the graduate student of lying. The only useful thing Weinberg manages to do is link to the Title IX "retaliation" provisions, which makes clear that for a "retaliation" claim to have merit, Kipnis would have to have "subjected the person [the complainant] to adverse action, treatment or conditions." If Kipnis's opinion piece about sexual paranoia on campus, in which the graduate student is not even named and barely referenced, constitutes adverse "treatment," then there is no right for any faculty member at any institution receiving federal funds to offer any opinions, however indirect, about any question surrounding allegations of sexual misconduct at the institution. Even in the Title VI context, I am aware of no decision finding that speech like that of Kipnis--who has no power over any graduate student in philosophy, or their professional situation or opportunities--could constitute "retaliation" (feel free to correct me in the comments with a citation to such a case). The quite plain answer to "what's going on" at Northwestern in this instance is that graduate students have misused Title IX, and the University, fearful as all universities are of running afoul of those currently policing Title IX, aided and abetted this abuse. Fortunately, some commenters have already called out Weinberg's misrepresentations.
The [Harvard Law School] committee ultimately proposed a set of procedures that closely resembled what Halley and her colleagues requested: it featured an independent adjudicatory body and attorneys guaranteed to both parties in a case, formally circumventing the central investigatory body that was then responsible for hearing complaints filed against all students at Harvard.
When Colin McGinn was forced to resign from the University of Miami, I can still recall Sally Haslanger's cry of victory on Facebook and shout-out to UM President Shalala; the lawyer for the victim does not see it that way, it turns out:
Feminist lawyer Ann Olivarius, who is representing the alleged student victim of sexual harassment in the McGinn case, says there's another side to Shalala's legacy. Olivarius compares Shalala's exit to the way the Catholic Church kept silent and moved its pedophilic priests instead of addressing the situation.
“For centuries, the standard way Catholic bishops handled child sexual abuse by priests was to move them quietly to a new job and keep mum,” she says. “Donna Shalala doesn’t quite look like a Catholic bishop, but I am astounded how much she seems to have borrowed from their playbook in steering the University of Miami after one of its graduate students.”
In 2012, after the student Olivarius is representing submitted explicit emails and text messages from her professor as part of a sexual harassment complaint, Shalala made sure the tenured and prominent professor was removed from the university. Shalala rerouted the proper firing protocol for a tenured professor by strong-arming the accused professor into resignation for “failure to report a consensual, romantic relationship” and avoiding a faculty senate hearing.
The student claims that as soon as the professor left, Shalala stopped caring about her well-being even though she had been complaining of retaliation as a series of blog posts sprouted up on the professor’s personal blog. She also says that having McGinn cop to a lesser offense allowed her alleged harasser to continue to claim that their relationship was consensual and romantic.
Olivarius contends that Shalala offered McGinn the “plea bargain” and a dignified exit to “avoid a long and ugly Faculty Senate trial that would have generated terrible headlines for UM. Shalala and other University officials threw the student under the bus knowing full well that McGinn had harassed her,” Olivarius says.
A curious website, I can not vouch for its reliability. Lawyers, doctors, pharmacists, occupational therapists, and college professors have very little chance of being displaced by robots (3% or less); economists, on the other hand, have worse odds (over 40%!). Go figure.
The full report. Briefly: Michael LaCour, a PhD candidate in poli sci at UCLA, got a lot of attention for a paper co-authored with Donald Green in 2014:
LaCour and Green (2014, Science) report a remarkable result: a ~20-minute conversation with a gay canvasser produces large positive shifts in feelings towards gay people that persist for over a year. The study’s design is also notable: over 12% of voters invited to participate in the ostensibly unrelated survey that formed the study’s measurement apparatus agreed to be surveyed; nearly 90% were successfully reinterviewed; and each voter referred an average of 1.33 other voters to be part of the study who lived in the study area. The paper is based on a dataset that allegedly describes two field experiments, LaCour (2014).
Other researchers, taken by the results, want to pursue the research further: "Hoping we could harness the same procedures that produced the original study’s high reported response rate, we attempt to contact the survey firm we believed had performed the original study and ask to speak to the staffer at the firm who we believed helped perform Study 1 in LaCour and Green (2014). The survey firm claimed they had no familiarity with the project and that they had never had an employee with the name of the staffer we were asking for. The firm also denied having the capabilities to perform many aspects of the recruitment procedures described in LaCour and Green (2014)."
Presented with this and other evidence of irregularities, Prof. Green "agrees a retraction is in order unless LaCour provides countervailing evidence." Prof. Green then reports that "LaCour has been confronted and has confessed to falsely describing at least some of the details of the data collection," and proceeds to post a public retraction of the 2014 paper.
Barring some further exonerating circumstances, I would imagine this is the end of Mr. LaCour's career as an academic political scientist.
Continental Philosophy Farhang Erfani, a philosopher at American University, provides a useful set of links to news, events, interviews, reviews, videos, etc. related to "Continental philosophy" (broadly construed)