Everyone who lives on campus signs a pile of papers that restrict everything from candles to pets to “fire-like conditions” (does that include opening the window in August?). But how much of these restrictions serve to foster the community, as ResLife claims, and how many of them are manipulated to violate the basic rights of students, such as rights to property and rights to due process?
In solid reporting by the Wildcat, we get yet another glimpse into the sinister process by which dorm residents are cited for alleged conduct violations:
Each semester some students are put on deferred eviction for violating the Residence Life code of conduct, yet some say they were wrongly accused of any misconduct.
Chris Fauntleroy, an undeclared freshman, said he was placed on deferred eviction because his dorm room in Hopi Lodge smelled like marijuana. He said one day last semester he heard a knock on his dorm room door, and opened it to find University of Arizona Police Department officers waiting outside. The officers came in because they said the room smelled marijuana. After they searched his room and found nothing, Fauntleroy said he was still punished and placed on deferred eviction. (Emphasis added)
This site has long been interested in how ResLife and UAPD handle marijuana possession allegations, especially with regards to personal property. In this incident, the student’s room was searched and nothing was found — and the student was still cited. Deferred eviction is something like a probationary warning resulting in an eviction if the student is found in violation of community standards again — but it still undue punishment for an incident with absolutely no evidence to support the officer’s allegation that marijuana was present. These incidents are apparently not uncommon:
Another student claimed a similar thing happened to her. Angelica Luczak, a nutritional sciences freshman, said she wasn’t even in her dorm when officers said they smelled marijuana. She said one day while she was in class, UAPD officers came and knocked on her door, and her roommate opened it for them. When she got back, she was informed by her hall’s resident assistant that she had been written up, and soon after she was placed on deferred eviction.
“Just because it allegedly smelled like weed I got put on deferred eviction,” Luczak said.
Unless the UAPD has some new innovation that can prove presence of marijuana based on a funky smell, this is an overreach of the already fairly harsh standard set by Residence Life. If you are on deferred eviction, whether for a legitimate reason or because the UAPD officer your RA called thinks you and your Biggie poster are shifty-eyed, you can be evicted from your hall for everything from graffiti to “harmful speech” to having a “large amount” of alcohol in your room, even if you are over 21. Neither “harmful” nor “large amount” is clearly defined by ResLife.
If you’re looking to get rid of your loud suite mate, ResLife offers a much easier way than the long, tedious reassignment process: plant a bottle of Boone’s Farm in her closet. According to ResLife, “If alcohol, drugs, paraphernalia or weapons are in your room, your pocket or anywhere else under your control, they are considered to be yours.”
Perhaps even more curious here is the relationship between ResLife and UAPD. Theoretically, these students could only be punished for marijuana possession if an officer had found marijuana, which would result in a criminal citation and not just a ResLife sanction. In this article, UAPD claims they have no influence on ResLife sanctions:
“We don’t have anything to do with Residence Life punishments,” said Juan Alvarez, UAPD’s public information officer. Alvarez said that if they find sufficient evidence of a student smoking marijuana, then that student will be punished in congruence with Arizona law.
– Are universities vital to a city? This article includes a quote from ASU President Michael Crow who doesn’t think so, but it’s worth noting that Tempe and vast squirming ordinariness that surrounds it are the opposite of a college town. If, as Crow argues, universities will serve to bolster the rise of conglomerate cities like Phoenix to be known as “megapolitan” areas, it’s a decent argument for getting rid of them.
– UA News reports that “More than 30 recruiters and admissions counselors work full-time for the UA to spark the interest of in-state and out-of-state students, transfer students and students who meet equity, access and inclusion markers.” This article also reports that “the goal of PAWS is to advance the University’s stature by recruiting the best and brightest students from across the country.” Depending on how they define “equity” and “access,” this is very nearly against state law. Also we’ve said before, the best way to advance the goal of making the UA a destination for the smartest students is by not admitting students that are not the best and brightest.
– Breathe easy, cannabis enthusiasts: A recent article notes no negative lung health affects of marijuana use, and Governor Brewer’s abandoned her lawsuit against the medical marijuana dispensaries Arizona citizens voted to allow.
– A Washington Post blog states one of the top three most blatantly obvious facts about news websites: As popular as college ranking lists have become, sometimes they don’t make sense. These rankings are usually far from helpful for high-school stress cases trying to decide their Entire Future in the next few months. Here’s hoping the glut of articles on Top Thirteen Colleges to At Which To Look Rad in Ray-Bans subsides — then the Huffington Post would just be a withered husk of brightly colored terrible layouts.
– Almost everyone has arrived at their bike in a flurry of curses after finding the seat, wheel, or entire frame stolen. The author of this article had his commuter ride stolen in the middle of the day on a New York City street. The theft led him to investigate the greasy world of bicycle theft, which results in $350 million in stolen property per year.
Does being an economics students make you a grinch, or are those inclined to the field born wicked? In a column by a researcher from the University of Washington, the New York Times editorial page tackles this eternal question and concludes the latter. The basis for this conclusion is executed with the grace and sound rhetoric we’ve come to expect from mainstream political commentary:
The stereotypes about economists are well known: that we’re selfish Grinches; that we don’t read human interest stories because they don’t interest us; that the only reason we don’t sell our children is that we think they’ll be worth more later. But are the stereotypes true?
Academic research suggests that there’s a good deal of truth to the stereotype.
The columnist, Yorum Bauman, comes to that conclusion based on the following:
My recent research with the economist Elaina Rose, published in August in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, has looked at a real-life public goods situation faced by students at the University of Washington.
During our study period (1999 to 2002), when students went online to register for classes each quarter, they were asked if they wanted to donate $3 to support WashPIRG, a left-leaning activist group. Students were also asked if they wanted to donate $3 to Affordable Tuition Now (ATN), a group that lobbied for “sensible tuition rates, quality financial aid and adequate funding.” (Emphasis added)
Long-time readers of this site and those versed in current affairs will see the laugh-worthy tension in the researcher’s conceit immediately. PIRG, or the Public Interest Research Group, is indeed a “left-leaning activist group,” but it’s also one of the poorest examples these researchers could have chosen to stand in for a “real-life public good.” As this site has written about before, PIRG uses the money it gets from students — usually from mandatory fees muscled into place through nefarious means — to pay the salaries of professional, off-campus staff who lobby for more money for more professional staff. In addition to widespread criticism of conduct on campuses where PIRG has sunk its sinister claws, in 2009 the organization settled a $2.15 million class-action suit for underpaying its workers.
Yet those who don’t monetarily support the organization are heartless Scrooges, according to this report. Bauman writes, “In line with previous research, what we found supported the Grinch stereotype. About 5 percent of economics majors donated to WashPIRG in a given quarter, compared with 8 percent for other arts and sciences majors.”
This is evidence of miserly, freeloading behavior, not engagement with politics and world awareness, because of the following:
You may question whether these groups actually serve the common good, but that’s mostly beside the point. Regardless of the groups’ actual social value, a purely self-interested individual would choose to free-ride rather than contribute; after all, a single $3 donation is not going to make a noticeable difference in tuition rates.
PIRG’s actual public good is not at all besides the point. Students who choose not to donate to PIRG are not at all “free-riding” — they don’t want or believe in the “good” PIRG provides at all (because they provide only the opposite, if you ask this admitted curmudgeon). If economists are indeed “purely self-interested” individuals, society could use a few more. PIRG pays professional staff to lobby for whatever whim strikes the group as “public,” a special interest the student asked to donate could very well not support. In the words of my colleague (an economist, as it happens), “students simply should not pay…to support political activism with which they may disagree.” Read the rest of this entry »
When rising education costs make even instant noodles seem like a splurge, students might assume higher education leaders are trying every innovation to keep quality high and college expense low. But unconventional ideas aren’t always rewarded: University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere was fired in late November for, in part, his ideas about how to slow tuition increases without sacrificing the quality of his university. In the UA’s own search for a new president, the circumstances of Lariviere’s firing offer and interesting study in how state higher education leadership treats innovation — or, as they call it, insubordination.
President Lariviere was unpopular with the Oregon State Board of Higher Education because of his attempts to shift the structure of higher education governance away from the state and towards his university. The Board, appointed by the state, considered Lariviere’s policies a breach of trust and elected not to renew his contract. These leaders, who govern on behalf of the state, considered Lariviere’s attempts to raise faculty compensation and other UO-based changes as a threat to the Oregon university system as a whole.
Like once was the case in Arizona, the University of Oregon is a significantly bettter-regarded academic institution than Oregon State University — #101 to OSU’s #138 in the latest US News and World Report rankings. Lariviere’s goals were on behalf of his own university, not the system as a whole. Though his board did not favor these ideas, having diversity in a state college system — diversity of academic rigorousness, of tuition cost, of size, etc — might be a longer-sighted goal than the board is willing to realize. Not only does it give in-state students a better choice, it also allows for at least one high-level academic institution in a state. The Arizona Board of Regents has already significantly weakened its once-elite university by promoting the state system as a whole and choosing ASU-Everywhere over a more clear delineation between each university’s mission.
Though his ideas cost Lariviere his job, decreasing dependence on state-based funding and policy oversight could also be a timely shift for colleges. When a university relies heavily on funding from its state government, it is more vulnerable to cuts to that funding. If the state falls short of its budget, it must cut its university funding. Those cuts then must passed on to students in the form of tuition and fee increases.
Dependence on state funding was a significant factor in the tuition increases the University of California system announced in July. Due to a $650 million cut in state funding, students in the UC system will have to adjust to a 9.6% tuition increase – well over $1,000 extra per year. This increase is so dramatic in part because UC campuses rely on state funding for nearly a third of their budgets, leaving them vulnerable to fluctuations in state budgets and legislative priorities.
In contrast, in 2010 President Lariviere openly opposed the annual 7% tuition increase Oregon students had been asked to shoulder. He instead proposed a structure that would allow UO to fund itself more directly through investments and donations. Even though the state gives UO only 7% of its budget, the Board wasn’t pleased with the President’s bid for autonomy: Lariviere’s last day as UO President is December 28.
The UO community was ignited by the sudden – if not entirely unexpected – firing of its head duck. In addition to speaking out online, Lariviere supporters have publicized their ire at his termination during nationally televised UO sporting events. Fans were seen sporting posters and shirts reading “I Stand With The Hat” during the November 26 football game against rival Oregon State, in reference to Lariviere’s signature fedora. Oregon won the game 49 to 21, but the decision of the Oregon State Board remains.
Would Arizona’s own Board of Regents have the chutzpah and depth of vision to hire a controversial leader like Lariviere for the UA? Though they accused Shelton and Hay of insubordination, they also criticized the former president and provost for lack of clear vision. Lariviere certainly had that at UO — as well as the support of his faculty and defense from students for his policies, support no UA president within memory has enjoyed (Sander aside). Decreasing dependence on the state and slowing tuition increases are goals this site has endorsed repeatedly — and, one hopes, ABOR will consider endorsing as well. Lariviere, however, appears to have had his fill of administration: he plans to teach Sanskrit when his tenure as president ends.
Today in backwards progress, the Obama administration has issued a guidance asserting the importance of affirmative action in education, including college admissions decisions. The guidance is a reversal in White House policy from a 2008 letter issued by President Bush that called admissions decisions based on race “highly suspect” and noted numerous limitations to race-based opportunity rulings.
Affirmative action, like most discussions related to race, has a long and sordid history. In recent years the debate about whether genetic composition should be a deciding factor in college admissions has skewed away from considering race and ethnicity in admissions decisions. Arizona, for example, passed a law last year that makes affirmative action illegal. Voted in by a 3/5 majority, the law states:
This state shall not grant preferential treatment to or discriminate against any individual or group on the bases of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting.
Many in the state, including former UA President Robert Shelton, were critical of this policy, saying it would limit the accessibility of education for ethnic minority students. This defense is vacuous for a few reasons, including that the number of ethnic minority students who graduate from the UA has not significantly increased in past years, despite affirmative action policies.
But more compelling than the fact that affirmative action doesn’t really work is the rationale behind the policy, and the harmful assumptions it promotes. From the guidance, via Inside Higher Ed:
Ensuring that our nation’s students are provided with learning environments comprised of students of diverse backgrounds is not just a lofty ideal. As the Supreme Court has recognized, the benefits of participating in diverse learning environments flow to an individual, his or her classmates, and the community as a whole. These benefits greatly contribute to the educational, economic, and civic life of this nation.
This document, like much pro-affirmative action literature, conflates a surface-level difference in skin with a meaningful difference in experience and opinion. While of course one’s appearance has bearing on one’s personality, it is borderline insulting to assume that one’s appearance dictates one’s opinion, and that people who look different must think different. This shallow consideration is related to the affirmative action thinking that people of different colors ought to be held to different testing standards — even if they went to the same school, came from households with the same income level, or are even from the same family.
To be held to a lower standard because a student is an ethnic minority discredits their achievements. Giving ethnic minority students favor because of their skin color — a factor they had nothing to do with, that does not at all dictate or indicate one’s actual life experience — automatically implies that they can’t compare to white students. Rather than promoting ethnic minority students by reinforcing affirmative action, the Obama administration is actually diminishing the achievements of minority students.
Painting a rainbow classroom of melanin levels does not dictate a wide spectrum of perspectives, as those in favor of this kind of “diversity” seem to believe. One’s personality and experience is not — according to science, psychology, and basic decency — dictated by the color of one’s skin. To allege that their is a singular experience of being Asian, or of being white, is far more harmful to promoting equality of opportunity than the notion that students of any race are capable of the same academic achievement.
The goal of both federal education policy and college admissions should be to offer fairness in decision and governance. Affirmative action is contrary to that goal — for minority students who deserve their achievements to be appreciated without asterisk, for individuals who deserve to be considered as more than an instant visual judgement, and for students for whom poor primary schools and lack of resources really does make college less accessible.
Do UA students deserve another elections cycle of undisclosed rules, violations doled out at the whim of the Elections Commissioner, repeated re-hashings of what rules means in the ASUA Supreme Court? Should presenting a free, fair election for student representatives include over-broad clauses that allow the Elections Commissioner undefined, unchecked power? The 2012 Elections Commission seems to think so — the few changes made to the first released draft of the 2012 Elections Code after it was considered by the Senate, the Wildcat editorial board, and this site include the following (the current draft of the Code here as a pdf):
The Elections Commissioner will have the discretion to determine whether the warning or correction system of enforcement is being abused by a candidate. To address this concern, the commissioner shall have the discretion to [sic] wave a warning or opportunity for correction to directly issue a strike.
Though whether the Commissioner can shake her hand a violation isn’t really of legal interest here, the Commissioner’s power to waive a candidate’s right to correct procedure as stipulated by these governing documents certainly is.
As far as we mere voters have seen, there is no mechanism for checks on the Elections Commissioner. If the Elections Commissioner has the ability to ignore the candidate’s ability to correct a reported strike or receive a warning before doling out strikes at her (or his) discretion, why have the language that allows warnings and corrections at all? The small acquiescence to free, fair elections is undermined by inserting a clause that allows the absolute power of the Commissioner.
The discretion of the Commissioner as employed in this clause is completely without a formal mechanism for checking that power. In the event that the candidate or anyone else believes the candidate’s right to a warning or ability to correct and alleged violation has been wrongfully waived by the Elections Commissioner, the only recourse is to appeal the violation (I think — last year it was disqualification they were appealing) with the ASUA Supreme Court. This is a tedious and logistically complicated process, given that the Court is made up of James E Rogers College of Law students. In addition, if last year’s violation proceedings are any indication, the Court further favors the discretion of the Election Commissioner. Should the Election Commissioner wield his or her power in a manner not everyone agrees with, there is no mechanism in place for dealing with the dramatic power allowed by this late-added clause. The Senate would do well to consider this factor before they decide whether to approve the document as it now stands.
After offering initial thoughts last week regarding ASUA’s currently-in-draft 2012 Elections Code, here are more in-depth thoughts regarding the still-plagued document. In the words of former ASUA Supreme Court member Brian Chase on last week’s post:
“The Code has problems…ASUA needs to read the Supreme Court decisions and consider those rulings when changing the code. They should also go back and look at the reporting of this site and the Wildcat (assuming their archives work) to see the issues that came up at the Court’s oral arguments. If they took sometime to understand those things, they could take great strides in fixing the code.”
The Wildcat archives are about as digitally available as previous ASUA Supreme Court decision (which is to say, not at all), but Mr. Chase makes a fair point that it is not entirely beyond saving. A few thoughts on the draft of the Code as it stands (here is the draft as a PDF):
1. The Elections Commissioner no longer has unlimited power to issue checks and consequent punishments. Instead, any such checks must be issued in accordance with the “three strikes” system spelled out in 9-1. (§§ 1-1.07; 1-4)
Why it’s good: Good government always emphasizes the power of laws over the power of men, and until this revision the Elections Code embodied the contrary principle. Elections Commissioners called elections, canceled elections, and issued checks out of spite rather than genuine harm to the elections process. Removing this unlimited discretion will not only return power to ASUA lawmakers, rather than its commissars, but will provide candidates themselves with a clearer idea of when, and how, punishment will be issued.
How it could be better: Remove entirely the section regarding “inherent power” in 1-4. Besides the inherent textual oxymoron (powers aren’t “inherent” if you have to spell them out), it continues to emphasize the “smooth running” of elections, rather than fairness or lawfulness. Exactly what constitutes a strike remains muddled (more discussion on that below).
2. Spending limits are increased from $400 to $600 (president), $300 to $500 (VPs), $200 to $400 (Senate), and $150 to $250 (§§7-1.01-.04).
Why it’s good: While national discourse is fixated on how much money is spent in politics, ASUA offers a very local example of what happens when there’s too little spending in elections. As we’ve noted before, “money in politics” is hardly ASUA’s most pressing problem; raising these limits only allows those without friendship endowments (campaign spending of a non-monetary sort).
How it could be better: Eliminate all spending limits. Until ASUA gets its Ross Perot, reform efforts are futile.
3. “Facebook/Social Media messages, email, text messages, and instant messages are allowed unless a student has requested to not be contacted to the Deputy Elections Commissioner.” (§8-2.04) All such messages must contain a link to ASUA’s “Do Not Contact” list (allowing students to sign up), and can only be sent from non-email.arizona.edu email addresses. (§§8-2.05-.06)
Why it’s good: The regime of prior restraint on online speech, facially unconstitutional and practically absurd, is finally being put to bed. The “do not contact list” represents a far more restrained approach to protecting students from obnoxious speech while not requiring candidates to limit theirs.
How it could be better: First and most importantly, this roll-back of prior restraint should be applied to analog speech as well. There’s no reason that students can post a picture online without approval, but requiring Commissioner approval for a non-virtual poster. Arguably, this new language contradicts with §8-1.17, which states that, “Candidates must have approval of each type of display used in the campaign before utilized.”
Though the “Do Not Contact” list is a good idea in theory, this will be troublesome in practice. Campaign emails may be obnoxious, but spam has ever been such and spam has always been inextricably tied with email. Students can readily block emails from the sender with the click of a button, far more easily than ASUA can police the same.
The oddest requirement is that prohibiting the use of @email.arizona.edu addresses for such mass emails. If anything, it seems like it should be the other way. What here prevents a student from creating a “MorningHun4Prez@hotmail.com” account and sending messages to everyone on the “Do Not Contact” list? Requiring mass emails to be sent from the arizona.edu account serves as an effective policing mechanism, far more than prohibiting it.
1. Candidates will now be listed alphabetically on the ballot, rather than randomly (2-2.01).
Why it’s bad: Far from the worst sin of the elections code, this change is nonetheless one of the most demonstrably bad. From a recent study:
Specialists in the mechanics of voting have long recognized that the order in which candidates’ names appear on a ballot influences voters’ decisions. Typically, candidates listed at the top of a ballot earn a greater share of the vote than they would receive in any other position, regardless of their policies and personalities. Now research on voting patterns in local state elections coauthored by a Kellogg School researcher has taken the issue a stage further. It concludes that the first listing on the ballot also increases a candidate’s chances of actually winning office—by almost five percentage points.
Overseas authorities have already taken practical advantage of ballot order. Salant and Meredith quote the example from Russia’s regional parliamentary elections in March 2007. In a supposedly random allocation of parties to ballot positions in these elections, the then-President Vladimir Putin’s Unified Russia party appeared in the first ballot position in eight of the fourteen regions, a full six regions more than expected under a random allocation.
Perhaps President Allen has learned something on his Russian junket! Although Allen (presumably) isn’t running in next year’s elections, this proposal will merely serve to advantage those of similar surnames at the expense of the much-beleaguered zeds.
How it could be better: Retain the randomized system; it’s the only fair way. Read the rest of this entry »
The ASUA Elections Code is a broken mess — whether you consider it light of basic civil liberties, in context of running fair and sane elections, or in comparison to oppressive post-Soviet states (never mind peer institutions). To this everyone agrees, even ASUA officials that were once reluctant to see any problems with their elections.
Everyone, that is, except the Daily Wildcat‘s editorial board, which dropped this line in its editorial on this year’s proposed reforms:
The problem wasn’t the code as much as it was the candidates.
Such a statement requires such ignorance of the recent past as to suggest historical autism — one hopes that this reflects inherent blindness, rather than an intentional covering of the eyes. This conceit that there are two problems with ASUA elections — James Allen and Daniel Hernandez — completely forgets that before the 2011 problem there were the 2010 problems , which was in turn preceded by the 2009 problems (this site being the only source or record here, as the Wildcat archives remain unaccessible in non-analog forms).
More importantly, their interpretation of the 2011 election ignores entirely what precipitated under Elections Commissioner Colletti:
But let’s take it a step further. The problem wasn’t the code as much as it was the candidates. Allen and Daniel Hernandez read the code and knew full well what was in there. If they didn’t, they knew who to talk to for clarification. They disregarded the code and made a mockery of the elections process and ASUA.
Proposed revisions to the code make what Allen did last semester perfectly acceptable. To suggest that last year’s candidates were uniquely shrewd as to deliberately create such an elections clusterfuffle, or that they were uniquely confused by the Elections Code as to create it by accident, is to waffle between being silly and being more argumentatively self-indulgent than a gallon of real maple syrup.
What made this “mockery” of the elections process possible was the discretion of the Elections Commissioner, the same discretion that the Wildcat calls to be retained. Commissioner Colletti could have readily prohibited both candidates from competing in the special election, by virtue of his effectively unlimited power to ensure the “smooth running” of elections; instead, he allowed both candidates to compete. The Wildcat is attempting to blame this decision on the candidates, rather than the Commissioner that actually granted this effective imprimatur of wanton code violation.
None of these even touches on the issues of imbuing appointed officials with effectively limitless power to decide the outcome of elections — nor the absurdity of defending the integrity of an “elections process” that exercises prior restraint as a modus operandi, that begets absurdities such as “debates with debating,” and that fields uncontested seats as often as contested ones.
The Wildcat says, “If you read the code, you know what is and what isn’t allowed. If there’s a gray area, ask the person who wrote the code. It’s that simple.” As this site was the first to note, it’s all a gray area. If the Wildcat had read the code, it would know that speech is priorly restrained. If the Wildcat had read the code, it would know that there are no rules. If the Wildcat read the code and seriously considered its argument, it would know that what is black and what is white is currently at the immediate, unmitigated discretion of the Elections Commissioner, who can decide at will what is and isn’t allowed.
This is not to say that the proposed code is a white knight sent to slay last year’s dragons. But contrary to the Wildcat’s indignation, it is the Code that remains the problem — not the candidates and voters that must suffer its absurd outcomes.
Is an adult woman of the same capacity of intellect, self-determination, responsibility, or power of foresight as a child? Should she be treated as such by public consideration, and by the law?
The thundering force of feeling superior and scolding people that is the Internet has descended with impressive wrath upon Penn State in the last few weeks. This is, of course, not without reason — but as with most incidents that inspire large-scale condemnation by all the morally upstanding citizens on the outside, those who consider this event should be cautious what conclusions we allow ourselves to draw from these events. This is made especially clear by a column in the Chronicle of Higher Education, in which Professor Claire B. Potter of Wesleyan University alleges that the alleged crimes at Penn State require “a feminist response”:
The mistake Penn State made was, in many ways, a simple category error: they mistook these pubescent boys for women. They forgot that children occupy a very different status in the law than do the female students, faculty and staff who are most frequently the object of unwanted sexual attention and/or violence.
The point Potter is making here seems to allege that because women have no advocates for their sexual safety, the crimes would never have been uncovered if the victims had been adult women. This is a dangerous comparison to frame for many reasons — the issue of consent, the issue of age, and so on. The most egregious aspect of Professor Potter’s argument, however, is that she seems to believe that adult women need an outside structure of reporting crimes against them. Sexual crimes against women on campus should demand, according to this argument, of the same nature as the “mandated reporter” structure in place for those obligated by law to report abuse against children.
According to Wikipedia:
“[M]andated reporters are professionals who, in the ordinary course of their work and because they have regular contact with children, disabled persons, senior citizens, or other identified vulnerable populations, are required to report (or cause a report to be made) whenever financial, physical, sexual or other types of abuse has been observed or is suspected, or when there is evidence of neglect, knowledge of an incident, or an imminent risk of serious harm.“
It is a disservice both to women and to actual “identified vulnerable populations” to suggest that adult women, of sound mind and body, need to be protected by a mandated obligation to report to authorities when an outside observer suspects a woman might be engaging in activity the reporter thinks might be harmful, or that the reporter identifies as abuse. Further, there is no reason abuse against a woman should be mandated to be reported, but violence against a man should not. Equality between genders ought not involve requiring men by law to “protect” women by reporting suspected abuse, yet not “protecting” men in the same fashion. (This framework also skews heavily towards heterosexual relations; both law and society ought to allow that this is far from the only incarnation of sex, or of sexual aggression.) Read the rest of this entry »
If there is one certain result of the Occupy Wall Street movement and its many metastases, it is the increasing smugness of its opponents. Whether or not you agree with the one or any of the many divergent cardboard signs or shouted epithets of the movement, this — like any articulation of discontent — deserves a respectful, well-reasoned consideration. However, as is becoming evermore typical in digital media, opponents of OWS are far more likely to deride the protestors than to thoughtfully consider the protest.
Last week, Alex Taborrok of Marginal Revolution presented that frustration over student debt expressed by some Occupy Wall Street protestors is invalid because those protestors, according to him, studied the wrong subjects:
Educated people have higher wages and lower unemployment rates than the less educated so why are college students at Occupy Wall Street protests around the country demanding forgiveness for crushing student debt? The sluggish economy is tough on everyone but the students are also learning a hard lesson, going to college is not enough. You also have to study the right subjects. And American students are not studying the fields with the greatest economic potential.
It is not only a personal moral failing to study liberal arts or “soft sciences,” according to his column, but also a dastardly weakness in future American power: “Most importantly, graduates in the arts, psychology and journalism are less likely to create the kinds of innovations that drive economic growth.”
Mr. Taborrok’s sentiments that apparent limp sciences like psychology should not neither be subsidized for considered in any way legitimate in concerns about student debt and employment are echoed rather unfortunately by Josh Barro for the National Review. In reaction to a column in the Washington Examiner defending the worth of studying classics:
[Majoring in classics] is reasonable advice for students at certain colleges–highly selective ones–but is bad advice for the general public. Only if you’re at a top 10 or 20 school do you have the luxury of picking a major that does give you job-specific skills and still being confident that you will find a good job after graduation.
[M]ost students can’t rely on a combination of natural aptitude, writing skills and diploma prestige to land a good job. If you’re at Arizona State, majoring in Greek is probably a big mistake.
In his derision of the choices of everyone who didn’t go to Harvard, Barro illustrates exactly the kind of unholy binary critics of the current system of higher education would protest, from tents in parks or from the turrets of academia. Is only the 1% fit for studying liberal arts? Read the rest of this entry »
What amount of freedom should a governing body take from a citizen in the interest of protecting that citizen? At what point should a person’s independent choices be limited in order to protect himself and others from consequences potentially incurred by those choices?
Last week, this site featured an article pointing out the uneasy comparison between a government that bans smoking to prevent its citizens from increasing their chances of cancer and a government that bans its citizens from dressing in provocative clothing to prevent those citizens from increasing their chances of being the victims of sexual assault. That article was featured by The College Fix, a campus news-aggregation site that is now features a rebuttal to the column by contributor Zach Wahls. Mr. Wahls writes:
The link between the two, Ms. Swenson asserts, is that colleges ban smoking to prevent its students from developing cancer and that a college might ban its female students from wearing skirts in order to prevent them from being raped. I hope you immediately recognize how silly this argument is. It’s almost immediately dismissible for at least three reasons.
The purpose of the column was to draw conversation towards the issue of smoking on campus and the limitations on autonomy placed on that act by college administrations. In that regard, I thank Mr. Wahls for engaging with this issue — this site is always flattered and eager to engage in a respectful discussion on nearly any issue. The post was certainly dramatic, and Mr. Wahls has a point that droll, deliberate overstatement isn’t always the most even-handed, clear-eyed manner in which to make a point.
The argument is not that a college administration might, should, or ever will ban dressing in a manner that police have said increases chance of rape. I agree with Mr. Wahls point that this idea is silly, and is indeed dismissible for the very reasons he lists. However, the comparison between provocative clothing and lighting up was an attempt to frame a metaphor, one that illustrates that banning a certain kind of clothing is as ludicrous and audaciously predatory on personal autonomy as limiting a person’s right to smoke on a college campus. Read the rest of this entry »
Since October 15, Tucson’s Armory Park has been filled with hundreds of demonstrators representing Occupy Tucson, the local branch of the nationwide Occupy Wall Street movement. When I visited the park on the first day of the demonstration, I was impressed by the seriousness and substance of the demonstrators’ message. A demonstration where more than one sign calls for the re-enactment of the Glass-Steagall Act can scarcely be dismissed as ignorant or sophomoric. As a whole, the Occupy Wall Street movement represents “one of the most inspiring and important political developments of the last several years,” as Glenn Greenwald has rightly written.
Unfortunately, Occupy Tucson has allowed itself to become sidetracked by a dispute that not only has nothing to do with its message, but that would completely contradict its message were they to triumph in the dispute. Read the rest of this entry »