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):

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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

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RFID chips in the necks of college students

“A University Had a Great Coronavirus Plan, but Students Partied On” (NYT) is about how humans did not behave the way that the scientists assumed they would:

At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, more than 40,000 students take tests twice a week for the coronavirus. They cannot enter campus buildings unless an app vouches that their test has come back negative. Everyone has to wear masks.

Enough students continued to go to parties even after testing positive, showing how even the best thought-out plans to keep college education moving can fail when humans do not heed common sense or the commands from public health officials.

What the scientists had not taken into account was that some students would continue partying after they received a positive test result. “It was willful noncompliance by a small group of people,” Dr. Goldenfeld said.

Some of the students who tested positive even tried to circumvent the app so that they could enter buildings instead of staying isolated in their rooms, university administrators said in a letter to students.

Attending university is a privilege, not a right. Why not an RFID chip in the neck of everyone who chooses to attend a school? With sensors over each door, each student can be tracked, even if he/she/ze/they fail to carry his/her/zir/their phone. It works well for dogs. Mindy the Crippler has never complained about her chip. The universities can buy kits on Amazon for $14 each, which includes a one-time-use syringe. From a consumer:

Chances are, you are planning to use this kit to microchip your animal yourself and skip the vet visit. If so, you are going to be very pleased. It is super easy to use – implanting the chip takes just a few seconds and registration takes about 5 minutes online (the chip also comes with a snail-mail paper registration form if you prefer). You may feel a little squeamish about the process but as long as you implant the chip quickly and confidently, your animal will probably barely notice. I just chipped my 7 week old Lab puppy and she barely even flinched. It would be a good idea to have somebody hold the animal still so you have both hands free – the needle is EXTREMELY sharp and you don’t want to risk jabbing too deep or potential jabbing yourself.

So the chipping of undergrads could be done by the graduate students who live in their dorms and whose job is keeping them out of trouble. If a student who is marked COVID-19-positive in the database tries to go through a door with a reader, Campus Police is summoned automatically to shepherd the errant soul back to quarantine. (Or, to cut down on policing encounters and costs in the Age of BLM, doors on campus could be covered in plywood and replaced with PetSafe dog doors that open only in response to a recognized RFID chip. The 11×16″ standard size opening would give students an incentive not to load up at the dining hall.)

Mindy the Crippler proudly displays her chipped neck:

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Can a university fire a professor who admits to not being Black?

“Professor Jessica Krug admits she lied about being black: ‘I cancel myself’” (New York Post):

Despite publicly living as a black woman for years, George Washington University associate professor Jessica Krug admitted Thursday that she is actually a “culture leech” — who is white.

“For the better part of my adult life, every move I’ve made, every relationship I’ve formed, has been rooted in the napalm toxic soil of lies,” Krug, 38, writes in a brief but life-shattering Medium post titled “The Truth, and the Anti-Black Violence of My Lies.”

The self-proclaimed “historian of politics, ideas, and cultural practices in Africa and the African Diaspora” goes on to detail a lengthy trail of public deception.

Krug has a Ph.D. and is the author of the book “Fugitive Modernities: Kisama and the Politics of Freedom,” which “interrogates the political practices and discourses through which those who fled from slavery and the violence of the slave trade in Angola forged coherent political communities outside of, and in opposition to, state politics,” according to her GW faculty profile.

Can the university, which I attended as a 14-year-old back in the Jimmy Carter malaise years, fire her? If so, on what grounds? Can they say “We hired you because of your skin color and we would never have hired such a weak thinker and scholar with white skin”?

(The Medium essay is pretty awesome. I think she deserves her job:

I have eschewed my lived experience as a white Jewish child in suburban Kansas City under various assumed identities within a Blackness that I had no right to claim: first North African Blackness, then US rooted Blackness, then Caribbean rooted Bronx Blackness. … my continued appropriation of a Black Caribbean identity is not only, in the starkest terms, wrong — unethical, immoral, anti-Black, colonial — but it means that every step I’ve taken has gaslighted those whom I love.

as the story unfolds, I think we will learn that she is primarily a victim:

When I was a teenager fleeing trauma, I could just run away to a new place and become a new person.


Loosely related…

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Rich college kids immune to coronaplague?

A friend who is a professor at NYU told me that so far they’ve found only five students who test positive for coronavirus. He says that this is a population of 24,000 undergraduates who converge from all corners of the U.S. (there are additional foreign students, ordinarily, but presumably they are being barred from entry to the U.S. due to the Trumpenfuhrer’s cruel entry bans that were imposed in February and March).

From an official NYU update:

7,772 COVID-19 PCR diagnostic tests were performed on students (including those who arrived early for quarantining) at the two NYU testing centers — Gould Plaza and 6 MetroTech — established for testing students. Five tested positive; all are in isolation, are being monitored by the COVID-19 Prevention & Response Team, and will not be permitted to enter NYU facilities until cleared.

and regarding the prison camp that they’re running…

Last week, some 2,700 students moved into residence halls to begin a two-week quarantine period, which the University sought to support by opening the residence halls early and delivering meals (both at no cost to students).

The move-in went well; the meal service less so. The food service was an unprecedentedly complex undertaking for the University and its food vendor, Chartwells, involving delivery of three meals per day to the door of each of the 2,700 students’ rooms, a substantial percentage of which were individualized, specialized meals. We fell short of the plans we had in place. Chartwells has taken a number of measures to correct the initial missteps — including doubling the food preparation and delivery staff — that have helped, and we are continuing to make efforts to improve meal service for the quarantining students in the residence halls.

So the $80,000/year “hybrid” education starts with two weeks of incarceration!

American Pravda says that the U.S. has roughly 40,000 new cases per day. That’s nearly 300,0000 per week (reasonable length of infection for a 20-year-old?). Assume that there are two people who would have tested positive, but didn’t get a test, for every actual positive test? That’s close to 1 million. Based on a U.S. population of 330 million, we should have at least 1 in 400 people currently infected with coronaplague, right? But NYU had at least 7,772 tests and only 5 positives, only 1/4 the expected rate. What can we infer from this? The U.S. actually is testing everyone who might conceivably be positive? Asymptomatic infection is less common that we thought? Families that are rich enough to pay $80,000/year for an education that is no better than what is available at the local State U are not infected? What?

(How does the $80,000/year education actually work? Roughly one third of the students show up in person to any given lecture. The teacher tries to manage a forest of newly installed Zoom monitors so as to be able to interact with the two thirds of the students who are present via Zoom. There is a tech support hotline number in case the teacher is not a desktop computer system administration wizard. Classes start today.)

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American colleges and universities transition from providing education to spreading coronaplague

I have been asking Harvard undergraduates how their online learning experience was. “Terrible,” was a typical response. “I stopped watching after a month or so.” I asked a math major if she had been able to get help with proofs from teaching assistants during the purported virtual learning portion of last semester. “Only if I knew someone and arranged it privately,” she answered. “There was no structured tutoring provided.”

Asking around the rest of the U.S., the consensus seems to be that the bricks and mortar universities are nowhere near as good at delivering online education as the schools that have been doing it for decades, e.g., Western Governors University. Occasionally a student will praise an individual professor for being good at delivering an online experience, but that was never due to any institutional commitment.

How about for the fall? What have the brilliant administrative minds backed up by multi-$billion endowments managed to arrange? An Oberlin professor told me that the school was switching to trimesters and telling students to show up for only two out of three. He complained that it was a lot of work to redesign the curriculum, but said it was necessary due to a lack of dorm space. “We want every student to have a single room,” he explained.

Now that I’ve been defriended for heresy by everyone on Facebook I need to offend people before we are even friends. So, on this group video chat I said “The Chinese built a hospital for 5,000 patients in 10 days. Oberlin is sitting in the middle of farms and can’t set up a few extra dorm rooms in six months?” This was, I learned, a completely unfair comparison.

How about other schools? Most of them seem unable to come up with the idea of renting out blocks of hotel rooms to serve as dormitories (has there ever been a better time to get a long-term lease on a 400-room hotel?). Harvard, for example, is telling most undergraduates that they can’t return to campus (but the ones with a compelling victimhood narrative are welcome!). So the undergrads will meekly isolate in mom and dad’s house (well, actually mom’s house under most U.S. states’ family law systems, even if dad may not realize it yet)? No! Boston-area landlords are now besieged by groups of 6 Harvard undergraduates seeking to crowd into 2BR apartments. So they’ll be in Boston and they’ll get infected with coronaplague, but Harvard can argue that their infections occurred off campus. (See “12 People in a 3-Bedroom House, Then the Virus Entered the Equation”: “Overcrowding, not density, has defined many coronavirus hot spots. Service workers’ quarters skirting Silicon Valley are no exception.”)

From Harvard Yard in March:

Answer: 4 of them are in a 1BR apartment in Porter Square.

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Looks like I picked the wrong week to sell stock in a coronavirus testing company (Harvard)

“Harvard will allow some students on campus this fall so long as they take coronavirus tests every 3 days” (CNBC):

Tuition will not be lowered from $49,653, although students enrolled remotely will not pay room and board fees.

Harvard said it hopes to invite seniors to campus for the spring semester assuming conditions allow the college to maintain 40% residential density.

Students will have to undergo Covid-19 testing upon arrival and every three days afterward.

Any exceptions in Victimhood Nation?

Upperclassmen will be able to petition to return if they don’t have sufficient technology at home or have challenging family circumstances.

Let the Victim Narratives compete!

Where will they get all of the swabs?!?

Harvard Yard on April 1:

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Professor Karen prefers to stay home this fall

“Expecting Students to Play It Safe if Colleges Reopen Is a Fantasy” (nytimes), is by a 67-year-old professor whose paychecks are guaranteed to keep rolling in. What does Professor Karen (a.k.a. “Laurence Steinberg”) say?

Safety plans border on delusional and could lead to outbreaks of Covid-19 among students, faculty and staff.

Most types of risky behavior — reckless driving, criminal activity, fighting, unsafe sex and binge drinking, to name just a few — peak during the late teens and early 20s.

First, this is the age at which we are most sensitive and responsive to the potential rewards of a risky choice, relative to the potential costs. College-age people are just as good as their elders at perceiving these benefits and dangers, but compared with older people, those who are college-aged give more weight to the potential gains. They are especially drawn to short-term rewards.

This is fascinating to me! The alter cocker calls the students reckless and implies that they are not properly weighing “dangers” when, in fact, healthy 18-22-year-olds don’t face any “danger” from coronaplague! Out of 7,647 people killed in Massachusetts by/with Covid-19 through June 15, exactly 15 were under 30:

Maybe those 15 were running around the soccer field the day before coronavirus struck them down? Not likely. 98.3 percent of Covid-19 deaths in Massachusetts are among those “with underlying conditions” (dashboard example).

The old cower-in-place advocate for Zoom continues to write with the assumption that young people are taking “risks” unreasonably.

Finally, college-age people show more activation of the brain’s reward regions and are more likely to take risks when they are with their peers than when they are alone. There are no such effects of peers among people who are past their mid-20s.

Not all adolescents are risk-takers, of course, and not all adults are risk-averse. But it’s hard to think of an age during which risky behavior is more common and harder to deter than between 18 and 24, and people in this age make up about three-fourths of full-time American undergraduates. … It’s one of those perfect storms — people who are inclined to take risks in a setting that provides ample temptation to do so.

The NYT reader will infer from this that two slender undergraduates meeting for coffee are taking roughly the same level of personal risk that Andy Green took while driving ThrustSSC at 763 mph.

My pessimistic prediction is that the college and university reopening strategies under consideration will work for a few weeks before their effectiveness fizzles out. By then, many students will have become cavalier about wearing masks and sanitizing their hands. They will ignore social distancing guidelines when they want to hug old friends they run into on the way to class. They will venture out of their “families” and begin partying in their hallways with classmates from other clusters, and soon after, with those who live on other floors, in other dorms, or off campus. They will get drunk and hang out and hook up with people they don’t know well. And infections on campus — not only among students, but among the adults who come into contact with them — will begin to increase.

I look forward to a time when we are able to return to campus and in-person teaching. But a thorough discussion of whether, when and how we reopen our colleges and universities must be informed by what developmental science has taught us about how adolescents and young adults think. As someone who is well-versed in this literature, I will ask to teach remotely for the time being.

In other words, “Science (TM) tells me to stay at home and watch the direct deposits stack up in my bank account while occasionally checking in via Zoom.”

In what other universe would a national newspaper run a plea by an old guy who wants to sit at home and do almost nothing, but still get paid at 100 percent?


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What I learned about teaching computer nerdism remotely

My favorite kind of computer nerdism class is the lab class. Software development is a skill and the only way to learn it is by doing. A lecture from a successful programmer will not turn beginners into successful programmers.

In mid-March we got kicked out off campus. We had been teaching successfully (at least from our self-serving point of view!) in a classroom at Harvard Medical School. Three groups of three students each in the same room. By walking around we could fairly quickly see what was on everyone’s screen, help as necessary, and talk either to the entire group of 9 or to one group of 3. Groups of 3 could talk amongst themselves without disturbing the others.

Using Webex and Zoom reduced productivity by at least 70 percent. We could work with only one student’s screen at a time and essentially only one team at a time. Switching from screen to screen is a cumbersome time-consuming heavyweight process.

Now that we’re going to stay home for the next 20-50 years (even if we cure coronavirus, we still have influenza as our mortal enemy, right?), what would the ideal infrastructure be for teaching our brand of computer nerdism?

In addition to a personal monitor or two, the teacher needs an array of 9 monitors, each one at least as large physically as a student’s screen (teachers have older eyes than do students, typically!). This will enable the teacher to see what each student is doing and interrupt with help as necessary. We need four voice chat channels: one for each student group and one for the entire class. Each student needs two physical screens. One for himself/herself/zerself/theirself to use for editing and running SQL and R code and one as a mirror of the teacher’s screen (how else will students know which sites teachers like to visit?).

If we had had this infrastructure, I think we could have been 80 percent as productive as we had been during our physical meetings.

Readers: What else would help for hardware and software infrastructure for teaching?


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Perfect illustration of the “Less is More” principle

“UCLA lecturer’s job in jeopardy after refusing ‘accommodations’ for black students”:

University of California-Los Angeles Lecturer Gordon Klein faces an online petition that asks UCLA to terminate his employment, following an email he allegedly sent to a student regarding “special treatment” for black students in light of the George Floyd protests.

The viral petition, signed by nearly 20,000 people, claims Klein’s “blatant lack of empathy and unwillingness to accommodate his students during a time of protests speaks to his apathetic stance on the matter.”

UCLA Anderson School of Management spokeswoman Rebecca Trounson confirmed to Campus Reform that Klein is “on leave from campus and his classes have been reassigned to other faculty.”

What the accounting expert do?

“Thanks for your suggestion in your email below that I give black students special treatment, given the tragedy in Minnesota,” Klein’s email read, according to the petition. “Do you know the names of the classmates that are black? How can I identify them since we’ve been having online classes only? Are there any students that may be of mixed parentage [sic], such as half black-half Asian? What do you suggest I do with respect to them? A full concession or just half? Also, do you have any idea if any students are from Minneapolis? I assume that they probably are especially devastated as well.”

Klein’s email continued, “I am thinking that a white student from there might be possibly even more devastated by this, especially because some might think that they’re racist even if they are not. My TA is from Minneapolis, so if you don’t know, I can probably ask her. Can you guide me on how you think I should achieve a ‘no-harm ‘outcome since our sole course grade is from a final exam only? One last thing strikes me: Remember that MLK famously said that people should not be evaluated based on the “color of their skin.” Do you think that your request would run afoul of MLK’s admonition?”

He/she/ze/they would still have a job if he/she/ze/they had followed the “less is more” principle by responding with the following:

Thanks for your suggestion.

(first four words of the above actual response)


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