Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Big Yawn: Oxy Goes Halfway to Meet Demands of Slumber Party Protesters

Students block President Jonathan Veitch from his own office on the 
Occidental College campus.

It looks like President Jonathan Veitch and the Occidental College Board of Trustees have met the student protesters halfway. As I count them, they agreed to meet at least five of the protester's 14 demands.

1. Resignation - No.
2. Chief Diversity Officer Promotion - Yes.
3. Chief Diversity Office Budget Increase - Yes.
4. More Diversity and Equity Board Funding - No.
5. Black Studies Program - No.
6. Increase Tenured Black Faculty - No.
7. Funding for Harambee - Yes.
8. Mandatory Training for Staff - Yes.
9. Demilitarization - No.
10. Removal of LAPD - No.
11. Intercultural Affairs Maintenance - Yes.
12. Elimination of First Year Education Program - No.
13. Physician of Color - No.
14. Coalition @Oxy for Diversity and Equity Demands - No.

If you score this differently, please add your comments in the space below.

What Veitch does not understand is the anti-white hostility embedded in this protest. The BLM protesters will not give up even though they got some of what they wanted, because what they want fundamentally is to eliminate white liberals from positions of power. I suspect this will come as a disappointing shock to Veitch and the rest of his administration.

The larger issue remains: The shortage of intellectual diversity at Occidental College. We will not have a real, vibrant, influential intellectual community at Occidental College until at least half the staff and faculty are conservatives. Luckily, conservatives do not worry about the race or gender of their ideological adherents.

John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.

Fighting Back: Dartmouth College Republicans Complain About Discrimination

I saw today that the Dartmouth College Republicans issued an open letter to the president and trustees of Dartmouth College. As a former Williams College political science professor, I experienced the same sort of hostility and unfair treatment indicated in this open letter. My sense is that conservative students and professors are the targets of profound discrimination in much of the academic world. This letter is worth reading, in full: 
It is with great sadness and the utmost disappointment that we find ourselves having to write this letter. As the Dartmouth College Republicans, we often feel discriminated against by the administration and unwelcome on this campus. As conservative students, we have often felt marginalized in this community. In light of an especially toxic campus environment, a seriously concerning incident has come to our attention: at a recent public event held on the evening of Monday, November 16, Vice Provost Inge-Lise Ameer stated, “There’s a whole conservative world out there that’s not very nice.” Furthermore, students at that meeting repeatedly violated Dartmouth’s Principle of Community by referring to conservatives by slurs such as “f***ing racists,” which Ameer did little to stop. 
Unfortunately, her recent comments and actions are only the latest manifestation of a campus culture that dismisses conservative voices. We are now at the point where the vast majority of conservative students on campus do not feel comfortable expressing their views. Even self identification as a conservative can invite serious backlash. Many of us have been called bigoted, racist, and homophobic — among other epithets — for simply stating our opinions. Thus, it is especially concerning that a senior administrator would casually encourage a culture of prejudice against conservatives on this campus. 
At the same public event, Vice Provost Ameer also stated, “If you’re feeling unsafe and you’re not feeling like you are getting responded to then contact me directly and we will deal with it because that is not right.” We feel unsafe, and we feel that we are not being responded to. The same resources made available to the Black Lives Matter protesters, including regular meetings with senior administrators, should be made available to conservative students on campus. An open and polite dialogue is essential to any college campus.
It is difficult enough to be a conservative on any college campus, and it is simply unacceptable that any administrator would reinforce such a hostile climate. We urge Vice Provost Ameer to condemn the actions and words of protesters and to send an open and public apology to all of campus, retracting her previous statements on conservatives and reaffirming the need to respect conservative students and their opinions.
 The intellectual influence and credibility of our liberal arts colleges is being reduced to nothing because of the open hostility to conservatives and conservative thought expressed by so many staff, faculty and students at places like Dartmouth and Occidental College. Given the mistreatment of conservatives on college campuses, I think it is time to fight back, establish new institutions, or move education to a fresh, on-line model that will allow for a higher level of freedom of speech.

John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.

Up Dates: How About Some Free Speech? My Response to Oxy Protesters' Demands

Oxy sociology professor Lisa Wade
claimed that it was horrifying 
to see a booklet on how to confront
a liberal professor. No
conservatives welcome here.
Since students at Occidental College seldom, if ever, hear from a conservative political science professor, I
thought it would be a public service to respond to their demands. I'll do so from my independent perspective. This will be, I expect, a useful example of uncomfortable learning.

Demand #1 Immediate removal of president Veitch.

This demands appear to be completely feckless. Veitch has the support of the Board of Trustees. He is not going anywhere. By any measure he has outperformed the previous affirmative action presidents including a hopelessly incompetent female president and a rude, divisive black president. Veitch could have every protester removed from the campus and dismissed from the school and I don't think any of us would think the less of him. When student protester's over-the-top demands lose the support of even staunch liberals, I think it is fair to say they are done.

Demand #2 Promotion of the Chief Diversity Officer to Vice President level.

Yawn. What is a chief diversity officer anyways? It is generally a weak, symbolic figure who has little purpose except to give die-hard liberals the sense they are accomplishing something. The whole role is a waste of money that adds nothing of value to the educational process. What might make sense, however, is to appoint an Intellectual Diversity Officer (IDO). They would investigate charges of liberal bias among faculty members including Caroline Heldman and Lisa Wade. The IDO would be responsible for protecting freedom of speech on campus, making sure that conservative students and faculty were not subject to discrimination in any manner including hiring practices. Ideologically, the faculty should reflect the basic political divides in the nation. At least half the faculty members, for example, should be Republican. I can't think of anything that would more dramatically improve the quality of education at Oxy than hiring and promoting the most competent conservatives to all available jobs on campus.

Demand #3 Increase the budget of the CDO office by 50%.

The problem with this demand is what do you cut and who do you harm in the process. The protesters never tell us how to pay for this. Maybe Veitch could take a $50,000 pay cut to fund the CDO? Better yet, make the protester's pay for this if they want it so much. Each of them could pay an extra $500 in their tuition bill. If they aren't willing to pay for this out of their own pockets, then it is probably a waste of money for all students to pay for it.

Demand #4 $60,000 allocated to DEB to fund programming and provide resources for black and other marginalized students.

The Diversity & Equity Board is an official student-led branch of the Associated Students of Occidental College. It is supposedly focused on empowerment and improved conditions for structurally marginalized groups. To an outside observer like me, however, it looks like a slush fund for a small group of liberal students to spend as they please. Really, it is more efficient for them to spend their own money. I might support this if an equal amount was given to conservative students on campus. Since the major problem at Oxy is a lack of intellectual diversity, I think $60,000 would go a long way in righting the ideological balance on campus. This fund would pay for visits of prominent, articulate conservatives such as Suzanne Venker.

Demand #5 Creation of a fully funded and staffed Black Studies program, a demand that has not been met for over 40 years.

This looks like another, wasteful, adventure in identity politics. It is difficult for me to understand what sort of job you get after you graduate as a black studies major. In my experience, these Black Study programs end up being a way to get unqualified black professors on campus. The problem is everyone knows that they are unqualified so that sort of defeats the point of have more examples of black academics on campus. Overtime, I'm sure the black family will strengthen and more black families will produce scholars worthy of teaching at Occidental College. In the meantime, however, it seems silly and counter productive to artificially increase the number of black faculty on campus by creating a new, black only niche occupation.

Demand #6 Increase percentage of tenured faculty of color by 20% for the 2017-2018 school years, and by 100% over the next 5 years.

As long as black culture devalues fatherhood and disciplined education, we should not expect it to produce a greater number of black academics, certainly not enough who would be capable of holding their own at places like Occidental College. Oxy is already less prestigious and less elite than when I attended it. At that time, weaker female professors were replacing better qualified male professors. I don't think the school is doing itself any favors by adding unqualified or less qualified faculty members simply because they are black. It is feckless to blame racism for issues which are almost entirely due to structural weaknesses in black culture and the consequences of black identity politics.

Demand #7 Provide funding for Harambee, the student group for black men which has not received funding in 5 years. This seems like a waste of money. Plenty of black men would do better if they attended schools that were a correct match with their level of preparation. Thanks to affirmative action, too many of them end up at places were they are guaranteed to have lower GPA's, fail and drop out. The problems they face are a by-product of affirmative action. Get rid of the special treatment and the black men who remain will be more than able to hold their own.

Demand #8 Institute mandatory training for all college employees, especially Residential Education, Student Affairs, and Campus Safety, that provides tools to properly assist people from marginalized backgrounds. Again, this just seems silly. What exactly are these special "tools." If someone could explain to me what special tools need to be used with people from marginalized backgrounds, then I might be in favor of this. Otherwise, it looks like another waste of time and money.

John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Occidental College President Jonathan Veitch Under Attack from Black Student Alliance and Coalition at Oxy for Diversity and Equity

Black student protesters at Occidental College are complaining about how the school mistreats and neglects them. Things heated up enough that on Tuesday of this week they staged a sit-in at an administration building on the Eagle Rock campus. They want the resignation of the school's president Jonathan Veitch.

Their demands include “an increase in faculty in staff of color, a black studies program, more funding for students of color to do more programming and bring more speakers” to the school, “and so we want that by Friday," said Mika Cribbs, vice president of the Black Student Alliance, which organized the protest along with the Coalition at Oxy for Diversity and Equity

Personally, I don't care for Veitch. He is a classic leftist. He ticked me off when he failed to respond to my complaints that I was abused by left-wing professor, Peter Dreier, who went off on me during a visit I made to the campus during the last presidential campaign

Ironically, I have been treated nicely by one of the most radical voices at Oxy, political science professor Caroline Heldman. I even spoke to one of her political science classes back in 2011. She has been among those most critical of Veitch in the past, particularly in regard to his efforts to reduce rapes among the students at Occidental College. For inexplicable reasons, my contacts with other political scientists at Occidental College have been frosty at best

Veitch has been in hot water for awhile among his liberal peers for his apparent failure to crack down on campus rapists. For a full list of the things Veitch did which look questionable to the protesting students, check out the image below. You can enlarge it by clicking on it. 

Occidental College was not on my radar screen at all today until I got this obsequious letter from the chair of the Occidental College Board of Trustees. It reads:

Dear John,

I sent the following message to the campus community this afternoon that I wanted to share with you.


Chair, Occidental College Board of Trustees

Dear Oxy Students, Staff, Faculty and Alumni, 
We live in a society that is divided by issues of racial injustice and other inequities. I deeply regret that Occidental is not immune from those problems. Despite our best intentions and collective commitments to creating a safe and welcoming environment, Occidental remains a microcosm of that society. 
We must, and will, do better. We recognize the personal pain of these experiences, and we support action to address issues of racism and discrimination in a meaningful way. Leading the way in diversity has been at the core of the College’s mission for many years, and it will continue to drive our actions for more to come. While we are listening to community members’ demands, it is our responsibility to act in the best interest of the College. We stand in full support of President Veitch and have no intention of changing the leadership of the College. 
Our community has flourished in a multitude of ways under President Veitch’s leadership, including working through some very challenging issues. We know that the only way that timely solutions will occur is under Jonathan’s leadership. The Board of Trustees is in a very good position to appreciate what the president does with his time. From the very beginning, Jonathan has focused on creating a more diverse and inclusive institution. He has been tireless in raising money for scholarships; hiring a diverse faculty and staff; and furthering the mission of the College. He has our full support. We believe that the only way forward is to focus on the meaningful work we share — making Occidental a more diverse, welcoming and inclusive institution.  
Sincerely, Chris Calkins
Chair, Occidental College Board of Trustees
There is something quite pleasant in watching the left devour itself. I'll keep a watch on this issue. My prediction is that the school will cave to the most absurd demands of the student protesters without any concern at all for how those demands impact the interest of white students and white professors. If the black protesters start acting out with violence against white/conservative students on campus, I will revisit this issue. 

If any of the conservative students on campus need assistance in getting out their message, then I would be glad to help with that too. Now days, you can do a lot with a blog and a Twitter account. It is particularly helpful is conservative students capture extremist moments on camera. This would be a good time, for example, to pretend to be a student radical, say extreme things, and see how the faculty and staff react. 

John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Should I Attend Williams College? Just Say No to Dangerous Icy Roads

Red Truck on an Icy Mountain Road by John C. Drew, Ph.D.
November 13, 2015.
I spend some time on the College Confidential website. I entertained myself by offering my matter-of-fact, truthful, comments regarding the most of the hot questions posed at the website including what are my chances of getting in? How does Williams compare to Stanford, Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth? Is Williams College a welcoming place for conservatives? It only took a matter of hours for the folks at College Confidential to delete the threads I was posting on and block my account. So much for the tradition of free speech...

At any rate, I thought it would be a valuable public service to offer my take on a Williams College education based on my personal experience of having taught there in the 1980's and subsequently following the school's history through various websites including the independent Ephblog. One of my most prominent negative memories of teaching at Williams College in the late 1980's was how dangerous it was to drive there in the winter. I suppose that memory may have inspired the oil painting I did this afternoon.

What are my chances of getting in? 

I guess I ticked off College Confidential by encouraging a young student from Washington State to apply for admission to Williams College. Since the school values geographic diversity, it was often easier for a student to get into the school if they came from a western state. Due to this geographic affirmative action, I think there is a stereotype on the campus that teaches students from outside the New England area are less bright than those who grew up closer to the campus. I also indicated that the school was generally hostile to conservative and Christian students. I recommended that a conservative Christian student, a poor white male, keep his political views secret if he really wanted to secure a place at Williams College.

How does Williams compare to Stanford, Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth? 

The worse roads I ever drove on in the winter were the
ones leading in and out of Williamstown, MA. It still
puts my nerves on edge to remember  travelling
to Williams College in the winter.
Here, I just expressed my own preferences. I would pick Stanford over any of these other schools simply on the basis of climate and academic excellence. I shared that I liked Harvard and enjoyed Boston. I shared that Yale was in a depressing neighborhood and wasn't worth the time or money. I thought Dartmouth was more conservative than Williams, but as depressing as Yale. I would place Williams College at the bottom of any list simply because it is in a dangerous, rural, backward part of MA. The winters there were particularly terrible. The roads to the campus are these tiny, two lane death traps that become engines of mass murder during the winter months. I shared how one of my favorite students died in a car accident while traveling to a sister school for a weekend party. I never forgot that young man and how the terrible, dangerous roads of MA cut short what would have been an absolutely brilliant life.

For a student comparing Pomona and Williams College, I would -- without a doubt -- pick Pomona. I would make that decision simply on the weather factor alone. I also indicated that while Williams College is probably no more cliquish than other schools, it is virtually impossible to escape the cliquishness of Williams College. At Pomona, if you make a mistake, then you can always find friends at other nearby schools or in the larger community. At Williams College, however, you will find yourself trapped for a long time in a socially isolated place where there is no escape from cliquishness or social banishment. This, I think, is the sort of information which should be honestly shared with any student exploring Williams College using the resources of College Confidential.

In terms of the prestige of Williams College, I indicated that I had never heard of the school myself until I got the chance to interview there. While the school is famous among the East coast elite, it lacks the cache of a Ivy League school. Williams College students are seen as isolated, nerdy, and relatively unsophisticated compared to their Ivy League rivals. While most of us can name many famous people who graduated from Ivy League schools, I cannot think of any that came out of Williams College, except for Mika Brzezinski who graduate from William College the same year I resigned. If you do not know who she is, I am not surprised. She is the female co-host on Morning Joe.

In contrast, I can report I knew President Obama while he was at Occidental College prior to his matriculation to Columbia University. Meanwhile, Ann Coulter was one of my very first students when I taught at Cornell University.

Is Williams College a welcoming place for conservatives? 

Based on my personal experience and subsequent observations of Williams College, I can definitely report that it is extremely hostile to conservatives. Evidence of this hostility is immediately apparent in the school's hiring policies which have resulted in a faculty that does not contain a single conservative professor. Not one. For my take on what it was like to be a token conservative on the campus in the late 1980's see the interview I gave to The College Fix and the opinion piece I wrote for Campus Reform. One of the critiques of my perspective was that ex-MA governor Jane Swift teaches a minor leadership course on the campus. As I like to point out, I don’t think it is accurate to label Swift a conservative. After all, she is basically a pro-choice moderate. As you may remember, she was on the cutting edge of liberal Republicanism when she picked the openly gay Patrick Guerriero as her running mate for lieutenant governor. Given Swift’s political history, we shouldn’t pretend she is the MA version of Sarah Palin.

Williams College Weather: The Worst of the Worst

As a long-term resident of southern California, I cannot over emphasize how undesirable it is to live in Williamstown during the winter. I have already stressed how frightening it was to drive on small, windy, two-lane roads to get in and out of the Williamstown area. This discomforting fear was much worse during the winter when you faced the possibility of ice on the roads and the danger of going off a cliff as you climbed the mountains leading to the campus. What was most annoying to me was having to take little penguin footsteps for almost five months of the year or else risk falling backward on to an icy sidewalk. It makes my stomach knot up to remember the horrible climate of western MA. My first winter on the campus the snow came early while there were still leaves in the trees. The weight of the snow broke trees in half and caused heavy limbs to fall on cars. It was terrible. I remember thinking I made a mistake accepting that job the first day I arrived on the campus. 

All in all, I cannot recommend Williams College as a safe, pleasant or compelling place to go to school or work at. It is a great place to visit briefly in the summer. If you actually try to live there, however, you will feel as if you have gone backward in time to pioneer days. College is difficult enough without the added burden of wondering if you can get around and have a normal life every winter. 

John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.