College Today: Exercise by going to your twice-weekly COVID-19 test

“Amid COVID Outbreak, UMass Amherst Prohibits Students From Leaving Dorms for Walks” (NBC):

For the foreseeable future, all UMass Amherst classes will take place remotely, and students in dormitories and off-campus housing are instructed not to leave their residences except for meals, COVID testing twice per week and medical appointments.

The university says students can use trips for food and twice-weekly COVID testing at the Mullins Center as opportunities to take walks to support their health. Another option is virtual fitness classes.

Students living in the same residence hall are not allowed to hang out in each others’ rooms, and no guests are allowed in residence halls until further notice. Students are also not allowed to gather in any spaces during this time, UMass Amherst says.

All athletic practices and competitions have been canceled.

Students who violate campus restrictions or fail to comply with directives will face disciplinary action, according to the university’s website. Punishment may include removal from residence halls and/or suspension.

And on the other coast… “UC Berkeley bans campus residents from outdoor exercise as part of clampdown after COVID surge” (Mercury News):

The lockdown, imposed on Feb. 1 and expected to be lifted on Feb. 8 before being extended that day, even bans students from getting outside exercise. And to enforce it, the university is increasing its security presence.

The new restrictions will affect about 2,000 students, a “significant number” of whom are in quarantine, according to the university.

Under the restrictions, students can only leave their rooms for medical care, in case of emergency, to comply with testing requirements, to use the bathroom on their floor and to get food from a nearby outdoor kiosk, according to an email sent to students from the UC’s medical director and other campus officials.

Additional campus security officers will be patrolling outside the residence halls and students may be required to show their campus IDs more frequently. All students must be tested twice a week.

“Be aware that students are subject to serious residential conduct sanctions for not complying with campus directives including being disqualified from housing and suspended from the University,” the email stated. “We don’t wish for residents to be alarmed by this increased UCPD presence, but we must ensure the health of our community.”

If back in April 2020, a few weeks into coronapanic, someone had said that Americans would one day pay $50,000+/year for this experience (surveillance, regular medical testing for an infection that is typically irrelevant to the young, periodic absolute lockdowns), would we have believed him/her/zir/them?


  • COVID-19 and the MIT community: “I hope that Ms. Meredith is never sentenced to prison here in the Land of Freedom (TM), but if she does become part of the world’s largest imprisoned population, it sounds as though she has the right attitude for life in the Big House.”
Full post, including comments

Our apolitical science-driven physicians

From the New England Journal of Medicine, i.e., the folks whom we can trust to give us science-informed advice on masks and vaccines, untainted by a political point of view… “Failed Assignments — Rethinking Sex Designations on Birth Certificates” (December 17, 2020):

We believe that it is now time to update the practice of designating sex on birth certificates, given the particularly harmful effects of such designations on intersex and transgender people.

Recognizing that the birth certificate has been an evolving document, with revisions reflecting social change, public interest, and privacy requirements, we believe it is time for another update: sex designations should move below the line of demarcation.

Designating sex as male or female on birth certificates suggests that sex is simple and binary when, biologically, it is not. Sex is a function of multiple biologic processes with many resultant combinations. About 1 in 5000 people have intersex variations.

Assigning sex at birth also doesn’t capture the diversity of people’s experiences. About 6 in 1000 people identify as transgender, meaning that their gender identity doesn’t match the sex they were assigned at birth. Others are nonbinary, meaning they don’t exclusively identify as a man or a woman, or gender nonconforming, meaning their behavior or appearance doesn’t align with social expectations for their assigned sex.

Moving sex designations below the line of demarcation wouldn’t imperil programs that support women or gender minorities, it would simply require that programs define sex in ways that are tailored to their goals.

Moving sex designations below the line of demarcation may not solve many of the problems that transgender and intersex people face. Controversies regarding bathrooms, locker rooms, and sports participation will continue, regardless of legal sex designations.

Today, the medical community has a duty to ensure that policymakers don’t misinterpret the science regarding sex and that medical evaluations aren’t being misused in legal contexts.

Also, “A Test of Diversity — What USMLE Pass/Fail Scoring Means for Medicine” (June 18, 2020):

The stakes are high for all students taking this first Step examination of the three required for medical licensure. But students from racial and ethnic groups that are underrepresented in medicine experience great angst.

Recently, the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) decided to change score reporting from a three-digit numerical score for the Step 1 exam (the mean score for first-time takers was 230 in 2018) to a pass-or-fail outcome. … Although the effect on trainees from underrepresented groups remains uncertain, we believe that the change is a critical step toward diversifying the medical profession — particularly the most competitive, and simultaneously least diverse, medical specialties — opening a world of possibilities for physicians and patients alike.

The odds are stacked against students from underrepresented minority groups starting early in their scholastic journeys. Beginning in grade school, they may be subject to teachers’ racial and ethnic biases that can hinder their achievement. Socioeconomic factors such as neighborhood poverty and parental educational attainment may limit their access to high-quality schools, test-preparation resources, and supportive mentorship, widening the achievement chasm.

The medical examination system poses challenges that are especially burdensome to students of color and those with lower socioeconomic status. Step 1, much like the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), places a financial burden on students that includes the cost of the exam ($645 in 2020) and the study materials required to prepare for it.

As with the MCAT, scores on Step 1 are lower among black, Hispanic, Asian-American, and female students than among their white male counterparts. Although this disparity has multiple causes, historically disadvantageous early education in minority communities probably plays an important role for members of underrepresented minority groups.

… we believe that holistic review will be a tide that raises all ships equitably.

The last sentence is my favorite. There are a limited number of slots for training the most lucrative and cushiest specialties, but everyone will have a better chance of obtaining a slot after this change.

Full post, including comments

The $70 billion travel sports industry (rich whites and Asians getting their kids into college)

Playing to Win, a short Michael Lewis book that is free to listen to for Audible subscribers, is a fascinating look into a strange corner of the U.S. economy: the $70 billion/year travel sports industry.

The primary motivation for kids’ travel sports is the parental desire for their children to get into elite colleges, which may reserve 25-33 percent of their spots for recruited athletes. (I.e., white privilege permeates America, but it is available only to whites with degrees from elite universities). The statistics that we see for selective university admissions lump together athletes and non-athletes. The chance of a white or Asian child getting into without an athletic coach’s recommendation is actually worse than the statistics suggest.

What does it cost? Lewis describes the typical athlete starting at age 11 or 12 and the parents spend $20,000 to $30,000 per year (plus a huge amount of time driving, flying, and spectating). In other words, at least $150,000 of which a small percentage might be recouped via an athletic scholarship. These costs mean that only one sport remains open to the half of Americans whose families are below the median income: football. This is because football is the only sport in which the good teams remain associated with public high schools. Travel sports is how upper-middle-class and rich whites/Asians compensate in a world where college admissions starts with a sort-by-skin-color and victimhood status.

Can individuals tap into this river of cash? Oh yes! The best is volleyball. Lewis describes a volleyball coach who organized a weekend tournament and made $1 million renting a convention center and filling it with nets. Sports for “girls” (however that term might be defined) are better than sports for athletes who identify as “boys” because the parents of the “girls” are less likely to allow the “girls” to travel unsupervised. At least one parent comes along with the athlete and books an additional hotel room then buys a ticket to the event. From the web site, a presumably typical document requiring participants to book their hotels through the event organizer:

(LeagueApps says that they have processed more than $1 billion in payments.)

Lewis’s own daughter gets into the liberal arts college of her choice after a softball coach watches her play. What is a stressful admissions process for her classmates is a brief conversation with the coach in the spring of her junior year of high school.


Full post, including comments

“It is better to report someone who’s innocent than to not report someone who’s guilty.”

My mole at Penn State was sentenced to attend a mandatory-for-all-students sexual assault training program. After being shown this video (try to guess the skin color and gender ID of the perpetrator of the assault!), the assembled students were reminded “It is better to report someone who’s innocent than to not report someone who’s guilty.”

Full post, including comments

Life on campus during the plague

From a mole inside Penn State…

Email to students from a dean:

In response to reports of large gathering of students in off-campus apartment complexes in State College during this past weekend’s Penn State football game, the University announced joint planning, enforcement, and outreach measures designed to help prevent similar gatherings in the future. Large gatherings of mostly unmasked individuals not practicing social distancing are in violation of the State College Borough ordinance, which limits gatherings to no more than 10 people.

The State College Police Department is asking for help identifying 60 individuals who attended large-scale apartment parties last weekend. The individuals in question, compiled in this online document, allegedly attended parties at State College apartment complexes during Penn State football’s season opener against Indiana on Saturday, October 24. The document includes dozens of pictures that appear to have been taken from social media clips.

Anyone with information is encouraged to reach out to the department by phone (814-234-7150), by email, or through an anonymous tip line. Police ask that you note the location, case number, and image number when identifying an individual.

The dean proceeds to quote Emerson: “In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows.” Coronavirus is part of “nature”, isn’t it? Are the 99.93 percent of us who have yet to be killed by COVID-19 experiencing “wild delight” in the presence of coronavirus?

How about the gangstas whom the police are hunting?

How are they supposed to behave? Some of the dorm rules:

Department of Fat, Drunk, and Stupid IS a great way to go through life…

We write to tell you that Penn State University and the Borough of State College share a deep and growing concern about activities and allegations centered around a rental property located at 329 East Prospect Avenue in State College. This rental property served as a chapter house for Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity, which was suspended by the University in April 2017 for multiple alcohol, health, and safety violations. The fraternity’s national organization subsequently revoked the chapter’s charter, and Sigma Alpha Mu no longer operates as a recognized student organization at Penn State.

Despite the fraternity’s suspension, the privately-owned house at 329 East Prospect continues to serve as a rental residence, and men living there represent themselves as a fraternity. Yet from April 2017 until this semester, residents in this facility have been accused of or found responsible for various additional violations, including hazing and sexual misconduct. In the weeks since the current semester began at Penn State, residents of this property have repeatedly hosted large gatherings in violation of the Borough’s Covid-19 ordinance. The State College Police Department has visited this property at least ten times in that period for various offenses, taking enforcement action on numerous occasions. The Borough is considering additional legal action, and the University has already suspended two students living there.

It now has been alleged that residents of this property hosted another large gathering last Halloween weekend. An underaged female Penn State student who attended this gathering was found intoxicated and unconscious on a nearby sidewalk. Residents responsible for the gathering at 329 East Prospect are accused of placing her there in the early morning hours last Saturday. Fortunately, after transport to the Mount Nittany Medical Center, where she was treated for alcohol poisoning, the student fully recovered. Most recently, there has been an allegation of a sexual assault occurring at this property over the Halloween weekend.

Neither of us has ever issued a warning of this nature, which should indicate the seriousness of the behaviors allegedly occurring at this property. We share this information out of conviction that the best protection for public safety includes individual efforts to self-guard against such threats.

In short, residents at 329 East Prospect have demonstrated a pattern of behavior that is troubling and has not stopped despite the continuing efforts of local police and University authorities. For that reason, we strongly discourage any student from affiliating with the unrecognized group living in this facility, and we urge you not to attend activities there. Anyone who has additional insight about these concerns may notify either the State College Police Department at 814-234-7150 or the Penn State Office of Student Conduct at 814-863-0342.


Damon Sims
Vice President for Student Affairs
The Pennsylvania State University

Thomas Fountaine
Borough Manager
State College Borough

Full post, including comments

Diversity and Inclusion Training for MIT Students

One of my MIT undergraduate moles shared with me a September email from the Administration:

We are writing to you regarding the important topics of sexual assault prevention and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Two Required Trainings: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Sexual Assault Prevention Ongoing: Healthy Relationships (see instructions below)

The trainings will be available starting October 1, 2020 and must be completed by November 2, 2020. Instructions to access the courses are below. You will have a registration hold placed on your account and will be unable to register for IAP and/or Spring 2021 classes if you do not complete both trainings by the November 2 deadline.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion starts with a survey that contains unanswerable questions:

How is Student X supposed to know what Students Y and Z are trying to do in forming friendships? (especially given that everyone is dispersed and interacting only via Zoom) The student is also supposed to know what 1,000+ classmates value:

The survey is at least 40 gender IDs short of a complete list:

Department of Flexible User Interface:

The local Federal appeals court got it wrong!

“ageism” is not an “oppression”:

A confusing one:

(If Cian is a student at an engineering university, why do his friends expect him to be sexually active?)

Any time is a good time for a gender transition? No!

Whoever designed this survey does not seem very familiar with the American public housing, Medicaid, SNAP, and Obamaphone programs!


After the baseline quiz, it is time for the welcome video, which features seven students, none of them apparently identifying as “white male,” and with no apparent age diversity.

The next video introduces José, a double-victim: Afro-Latino. He says that both of his parents are doctors and that’s why he’s pre-med: “it’s in my DNA”. Is the learner supposed to consider the possibility that academic ability, conscientiousness, and other aspects of intelligence and personality are also in students’ DNA?

“Living our Intersectionality” features the following folks:

  • “I identify foremost as a very, like, spiritual queer person of color.” (a microaggressive person would say that this person appears to be an Asian female)
  • “I identify as ABC: African Black Caribbean. Female. I also have ties with the indigenous.” (She’s big enough that a chandler would likely recommend that any “ties” be at least 1/2″ in diameter, double braid, and secured with a cleat hitch.)

(nobody identifies at the intersection of “white” and “male”!)

Next slide:

“Many of our social justice problems like racism and sexism are often overlapping, creating multiple levels of social injustice.” … We can’t just look at a person’s race or gender (or any of their individual identities) as separate categories. It’s the intersections that truly shape a person’s experience and influence both their opportunities and their challenges. This concept is especially helpful when thinking about issues of fairness and how people are treated in the world.

Let’s hope that President Harris deports anyone who answers “I agree”!

Another remake of Sybil is around the corner:

Heading out to exercise can be just as dangerous as sitting next to the fridge in governor-ordered shutdown for 8 months:

For example, student athletes who identify as women may face conflicts between their identities as women, athletes, and students. They may face pressures to be more aggressive and practice-focused, based on their athletic identity, more feminine and nurturing, related to gender expectations, and more studious and intellectual, based on their student identity.

Student POV: A student who identifies as black says that being black is “incredibly challenging” and “I am constantly in fear for my life”.

We find José again being victimized by his white roommates and their friends. The LGBTQIA+ guy with a stereotypical lisp is fine, but the white girl pressures Jose to go to the BLM rally. The white guy says he expected Jose to look different (i.e., more Latinx and less Black) and that “No offense, but it seems that All Lives Matter would be a better way to bring people together. You’re saying that your [Latinx] dad’s family matters less than your [Nigerian] mom’s?”

What to do about the near-Deplorable?

You can’t proceed until you select the last one.

White people, even those who appear to identify as “women”, make a lot of stupid assumptions:

All Look Same rears its ugly head:

Math is hard:

Will this section be about charging $53,000+ for a few months of streaming video?

“Sometimes equality isn’t actually fair.”

Perceptions can be misleading…

Even the lowliest worm may have power:

Even if you think you personally don’t have power, you may still be participating in structural systems of power where you receive advantages or are considered the norm, while others are disadvantaged or considered outside the norm.

White males reappear in order to define privilege:

(Looks as though he is loving the phone that was developed for him by white and Asian engineers, but white male privilege won’t entitle him to a mobile data signal if he’s in the Boston suburbs!)

Did 9 out of 100 students go into the “wrong” bathroom by mistake or because it was actually the “right” bathroom?

But maybe the ASPCA should be called when a dog is forced to walk on three paws (the fourth being held by the human companion):

Not everyone is unhappy about our new all-virtual world:

There will be a lot of worries when students come out of Shutdown Joe’s multi-year shutdown, having raided the fridge every 15 minutes and never having exercised!

If God exists and is powerful and benevolent, why is it ever unsafe to pray?

Everyone can breathe easier starting January 20, 2021:

Who is oppressed? Someone who has made the mistake of not identifying as a white male…

If you’re morbidly obese and have sex with a different partner every night, you’re at risk of becoming a victim of “internalized oppression”:

One example from the Isms, Phobias, and Microaggressions section:

(Would it be okay to respond “Engagement? Wouldn’t it be a lot easier to pay back your student loans by having sex with your already-married dermatologist?”)

Some definitions on the topic that has consistently enriched this blog:

Transphobia is prejudice against transsexual or transgender people. Transantagonism includes hostility, aggression and violence towards trans people. Bathroom harassment is a form of discrimination that is experienced by many trans people, gender nonconforming people, and cisgender people who don’t fit stereotypical ideas related to their gender presentation.

There is no “I” in “Team” and there is no “I” (or “T”) in “LGBTQIA+”:

Know that LGBQA+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and asexual (plus many other associated identities).

Understand that asexuality is a sexual orientation. Asexual people generally do not feel a sexual attraction to others, though they may feel romantic attractions.

Be sensitive when talking with people about coming out stories. Remember that for some people these are traumatic experiences.

Language can create exclusion. Using identity-related words like “gay” to indicate that something is negative reinforces stereotypes.

If you have religious, political, or cultural objections to certain sexual orientations, remember that our community values include treating everyone with dignity and respect.

If a virtuous immigrant student follows a religion that condemns particular sexual acts, how can the community be said to be respecting this religion and the virtuous immigrant by covering hallways with posters celebrating those particular sexual acts?

The longest video is “How do you think about anti-blackness?” Maybe the problem wouldn’t exist if white people kept to themselves?

There is great diversity of experience among people of color. The term BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) is used to highlight some of these differences in history and experience. Respect spaces that are reserved for BIPOC people to discuss issues privately and safely.

At a minimum, white people should refrain from observing Halloween:

Usually marked by a sense of disrespect or superficiality, classic examples of appropriation include wearing the traditional clothing of a racially marginalized group as a Halloween costume, or using a group’s symbols of religious or spiritual significance as decorative accessories. Inclusive spaces reject cultural appropriation.

José returns to be victimized for 1:04 by a white professor who says, on the first day of class, “we don’t get many people like you in pre-med” (certainly a true statement at MIT, since there is no pre-med major!).

Now it is time for Communications and the Stupid White Man reappears to offer an opinion regarding Navajo jewelry:

The software won’t allow the learner to proceed until this answer is corrected. (American universities own vast amounts of land, all of it stolen from Native Americans. If they care about Native Americans, why not pay rent on the stolen land?)

The software reminds students at private universities that they don’t have a right to free speech:

Speech has a special role in higher education and in the United States. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects a person’s freedom of speech and expression from government interference (so it typically applies only to state institutions, though some states create additional legal protections that apply to private institutions).

Most colleges and universities consider freedom of speech and expression to be a critical part of the pursuit of higher education, and are also committed to creating a learning community where students from all backgrounds feel welcome and can concentrate on their studies without facing hostility and discrimination.

This is followed with a bunch of links explaining the difference between “free speech” and “hate speech”.

The next screen has some great drawings:

White men do bad things even before the party starts:

The learner cannot proceed without calling off the “Salsa and Sombreros” party (were Goya-brand products going to be served?). Correct answer:

By thanking Luca for calling out his behavior and dedicating himself to learning more about cultural appropriation, Tanner is respecting Luca’s perspective and behaving as an ally. Everybody makes mistakes — part of being an ally means being open to acknowledging when you’re wrong, and taking the necessary steps to continually check your privilege and your behavior in the future, even when it’s uncomfortable.

(see this 1993 story about a fraternity at University of California that scheduled a “South of the Border” party)

There is a video tutorial on how to apologize after using the wrong pronouns. This is followed up with some text:

Be sensitive to the situation and any histories of inequality. A great apology focuses on the harm that was done and not on the person who is apologizing.

The key to apologizing well? Remember, it’s about acknowledging your actions, not focusing on the other person’s interpretation.

Here’s the 2-minute Self-Care video:

José returns to be abused during a pickup basketball game by a white man who claims to have been fouled: “maybe that’s okay where you come from.” Bad White Man calls José a “thug.”

José considers leaving school, but he is rescued by brave student services staff and other administrators. He decides to stay and says “I’m going to make a difference.” (Like the med students that I teach! None say that they want to go into lucrative specialties and treat patients who have money and/or private insurance. It is a mystery to me where plastic surgeons and dermatologists come from.)

There is a final exam, with pretty much the same questions as the pre-exam:


With 16 wrong answers out of 16, the undergraduate is qualified to join the Delta Tau Chi fraternity:

Full post, including comments

Free to identify as Albanian American or a Girl Who Codes at GWU

From my beloved alma mater, George Washington University, “Student groups required to update bylaws to meet GW inclusion policy” (The GW Hatchet):

More than 20 student organizations were found to have violated GW’s gender, race and religion nondiscrimination policy, according to an email officials sent to those organizations last month.

“The University does allow organizations to choose between open and selective criteria for membership – however, selective criteria for general membership into the organization must abide by University policy, including its nondiscrimination policies,” the email states.

Graham said officials contacted 23 student organizations like Girls Who Code College Loop, the League of United Latin American Citizens and the Albanian American Student Association.

“Queens Movement is focused on women’s empowerment – how can we be more open and inclusive within our organization if our organization is meant to support women?” Morrisey said in an email.

“Despite these concerns, we remain committed to remaining a safe and empowering place for all of our sisters, regardless of their gender identity, and are confident that these new measures will not infringe upon our ability to do so,” Ades said.

“Title IX tried to protect students from discrimination, and sometimes the best way to do that is to create a space specifically for minority voices,” Mobarhan said in an email. “Orgs like DPE sorority, Women in Finance, GW Women of Color, Women in Computer Science and so much more are necessary for equal opportunity.”

So much great stuff here! GWU is 62 percent female (US News), but those who identify as “women” are examples of a “minority”. It is possible to be a “sister” even if one identifies as a “man”, for example. One will soon be able to identify as a “girl who codes” without identifying as a “girl”. Most confusing: How exactly does a person identify as an Albanian American?

(Readers who thought that I was merely an MIT nerd: I attended GWU as a 14-year-old growing up in Washington, D.C, then transferred to MIT as a 15-year-old sophomore. In other words, I transferred from a school that is now 62 percent female to one that was 17 percent female and called myself intelligent. Also fun: during my attendance there, a dispute arose among the trustees regarding how to make the school more “selective”. One trustee was quoted as responding, “There is a place for a mediocre university in this country and GW is it”. I personally had a great experience there. The professors were passionate about teaching and weren’t consumed with their labs, postdocs, graduate students, etc.)

Full post, including comments

How are Californians doing in restoring their race-based university admissions scheme?

“A Detailed Look at the Downside of California’s Ban on Affirmative Action” (NYT, August 21):

Twenty-four years ago, California was consumed by debate over affirmative action. A charismatic Black businessman named Ward Connerly led support for Proposition 209, a ballot initiative to ban racial preferences in admission to the state’s world-renowned public universities. The measure passed with 55 percent of the vote and inspired similar changes in nearly a dozen other states.

This November, with an initiative to repeal Proposition 209 on the ballot, California voters will have the opportunity to change their minds.

How are the polls on this one? The New York Times says we need to go back to state-run racism and it will actually be the best thing for the Asian kids who don’t get into the colleges of their choice:

Ending racial preferences in a state university system harmed Black and Hispanic students while doing little to lift whites and Asian-Americans, a study asserts.

Buried in the middle:

Of course, selective university admissions is a zero-sum game. For every Black and Hispanic student excluded by Proposition 209, another student, probably white or Asian-American, took their place. But in focusing on those who got into the most selective U.C. campus at Berkeley, the study found that white and Asian-American students received little concrete benefit from the policy. Mr. Bleemer’s study suggests they would have otherwise enrolled in an equally selective college elsewhere, and had the same chances to graduate and begin successful careers.

The Asian kids weren’t harmed because they earn a lot of money anyway even if they don’t get to attend UC Berkeley at a low cost. But maybe this is just a restatement of what economists have found, i.e., that being smart enough to get into an elite college is a great predictor of income, but attending an elite college isn’t that relevant (summary: what is taught in college is of minimal economic value).

Readers: What’s your prediction about how the California righteous will vote on this one? Will there be a rush to hire Victimhood Studies graduates to restart the sort-by-skin-color system for college applications?

My prediction: Census data show that California is 39.4 percent Hispanic. There’s another roughly 6.5 percent who are Black (and whose lives therefore matter!). Ignoring that these categories may overlap to some extent, my prediction is that 45 percent of Californians vote for to bring back race-based admissions out of self interest (since it is designed to help Black and Hispanic applicants; this number might be off if a lot of the folks in the designated victimhood categories are ineligible to vote due to not being citizens). Then add 15 percent of the remainder. These could be white people who aren’t going to have children, for example. Voting to restore race-based admissions can make them feel good without any personal sacrifice or sacrifice for anyone they care about. That’s 8 percent. So the ballot Proposition passes by 53-47.


  • “Kamala’s America?”: California today boasts a fabulously rich technology elite; it’s also home to the highest poverty rate among the states, adjusted for costs, according to the U.S. Census. Under its largely one-party regime, notes liberal economist James Galbraith, California has seen inequality grow at among the fastest rates in the country. The state endures the widest gap between middle and upper incomes in the country—72 percent, compared with a national average of 57 percent.
  • “Prop 16 confusion: Affirmative action ballot measure struggling in polls” (NBC): … despite the recent political wave in favor of social justice, the ballot measure isn’t polling particularly well. Why? It may have something to do with the measure’s confusing wording. … “Watching a focus group with Black voters from Los Angeles, they all said no we won’t vote for this as it was read to them,” said Eva Patterson, who co-chairs the Yes on 16 campaign. “Then we explained that it was in favor of affirmative action and equal opportunity, and they all said, ‘Of course we’ll vote for this.'” … The latest polling on Proposition 16 shows 31% of Californians in favor, 47% opposed and 22% unsure. In the Bay Area, the numbers are a bit more in favor of the measure: 40% for, 41% against and 19% not sure. [It is “equal opportunity” because opportunity is based on skin color and anyone who wants to can follow Justin Trudeau’s lead in adjusting skin color?]
Full post, including comments

Princeton case highlights the need for immunity after public confession of racism?

American Great Awakenings have tended to require public confessions of sin. Stand up in front of the congregation, admit that you’re a sinner, and let the healing and forgiveness begin. This was extended to Alcoholics Anonymous. Stand up and admit that you’re an alcoholic. More recently, this has been adapted for the Great Awokening: stand up and admit that you’re a racist.

Princeton tried this collectively, via a letter from its president, and was not rewarded with the conventional “Hello, Princeton,” but instead with a letter from the Feds demanding to know if Princeton was lying in past years about not being racist (or maybe Princeton is lying now about being racist?).

From a 2008 coast-to-coast helicopter trip (ferrying a Robinson R44 from the factory):

Full post, including comments

Can University of Chicago expel students who lose interest in Black Studies?

The home page of the University of Chicago’s Department of English currently contains the following statement:

The English department at the University of Chicago believes that Black Lives Matter, and that the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Rayshard Brooks matter, as do thousands of others named and unnamed who have been subject to police violence. As literary scholars, we attend to the histories, atmospheres, and scenes of anti-Black racism and racial violence in the United States and across the world. We are committed to the struggle of Black and Indigenous people, and all racialized and dispossessed people, against inequality and brutality.

For the 2020-2021 graduate admissions cycle, the University of Chicago English Department is accepting only applicants interested in working in and with Black Studies. We understand Black Studies to be a capacious intellectual project that spans a variety of methodological approaches, fields, geographical areas, languages, and time periods. For more information on faculty and current graduate students in this area, please visit our Black Studies page.

I’m wondering how this can be enforced. Suppose that an accepted student, a few months after enrolling (which means turning on Zoom from his/her/zir/their mom’s house?), decides “In demography and in the workforce, Blacks in the U.S. are being replaced by Hispanic and Asian immigrants, so in looking toward the future I would rather do a thesis in Hispanic Studies.” Can the university then expel the student? The department says:

all scholars have a responsibility to know the literatures of African American, African diasporic, and colonized peoples, regardless of area of specialization, as a core competence of the profession.

What if, after a year of reading these literatures, a student says “these authors are terrible compared to what Japanese-Americans and Chinese-Americans have written in English; I want to do my thesis on the lyrics of K-pop”? Does that student similarly get expelled?

From a cross-country trip in the Robinson R44:

Update, September 22: the home page has been edited to remove the Black Studies-only limitation. But the brave language lives on at

Full post, including comments