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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Achieve college student skin color diversity via image processing?

MIT has already hinted that the plan for Fall 2020 is to pocket full tuition $$ while providing students with an educational experience that fits within the screen of an iPhone 11 Pro Max. A May 15 letter from President L. Rafael Reif (first one in a while that does not feature Jeffrey Epstein!):

All of us dream of getting back to life on campus. But with Covid-19 still very active in Massachusetts, for some time to come it will only be possible to bring back a fraction of the usual campus population. … One baseline fact is that it is more feasible to bring graduate students back safely because, unlike undergraduates, nearly all live in apartments with private kitchens and baths. They can therefore practice safe distancing without enormous effort.

In other words, if you liked Zoom as a 12th grader in your taxpayer-funded high school you will love it while paying $50,000/year to MIT! Perhaps the freshmen will enjoy professors talking with a background of this photo from a recent helicopter flight with Tony Cammarata:

Back in 2018, the Economist published “The rise of universities’ diversity bureaucrats”:

AMERICAN universities are boosting spending on “diversity officials”. At the University of California, Berkeley, for example, the number of diversity bureaucrats has grown to 175 or so, even as state funding to the university has been cut. Diversity officials promote the hiring of ethnic minorities and women, launch campaigns to promote dialogue, and write strategic plans on increasing equity and inclusion on campus. Many issue guidance on avoiding sexist language, unacceptable lyrics and inappropriate clothing and hairstyles. Some are paid lavishly: the University of Michigan’s diversity chief is reported to earn $385,000 a year. What explains their rise?

Despite this boom in spending on PhDs in Comparative Victimhood, the elite colleges have failed to achieve their dreams of having 100 percent of their students fit into at least one victimhood category.

Maybe coronaplague provides a solution! If everyone is online using a video conferencing service set up by the university, the university can simply apply Justin Trudeau(TM)-brand blackface and brownface filters to whatever percentage of the students has been determined to yield an ideal learning environment.

Readers: What do you think? What better way to make a white or Asian student understand his/her/zir/their privilege than to have this person go through an entire school year with a dark skin tone? With a little more advanced technology, perhaps drawing on the Animoji codebase from Apple, students who failed to self-identify as LGBTQIA+ can be electronically forced into the transgender category.

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Coronavirus enables elite universities to pull off the ultimate scam?

“Stanford cancels in-person classes due to coronavirus”:

In-person classes at Stanford University will be canceled beginning March 9th, as a faculty member has tested positive for coronavirus, and two students have self-isolated after “possible exposure.” Neither student has tested positive for the virus yet, according to a statement from the university, but Stanford provost Persis Drell said late Friday that the university will move some classes online “to the extent feasible.”

First the big research universities figured out that they could charge more than $50,000 per year in tuition for in-person classes taught by graduate students with a tenuous hold on the English language. Now they’ve figured out that they can charge $50,000 per year without having to deliver in-person classes at all!

How about our local universities here in Boston? Our class at Harvard Medical School has been moved online. The result is a terrible loss of efficiency. Helping small teams with SQL queries via Webex takes about 3X longer compared to wandering around a room and being able to look at the same physical screen. The core undergrad and graduate classes are Harvard are going to be moved online starting on March 23, after Spring Break is over (and students are being asked not to come back to campus). MIT is following a similar protocol (WCVB).

Meanwhile, despite coronavirus, the big issues of our day are still waiting to be resolved by our brightest minds. A poster cluster in Harvard Yard, afternoon of March 10, 2020:

My favorite poster above is the “when it all goes wrong” in an election context poster. Presumably this is defined by the wrong candidate winning and one learns that in a course titled “Bad things Deplorables do when you forget to take away their right to vote.”

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Advocacy for women is a sign of racism?

Emailed to me by the MIT Powers that Be… “Women in mathematics aim for an equal sign” (MIT School of Science news):

“It is crucial to recruit and attract more women at all levels in the department, but also that more of our women math majors consider going into graduate school in mathematics,” says Michel Goemans, department head and professor of mathematics. “Last year only 13 percent of our graduate applicants were women, and this is clearly not enough. The department is happy to support the activities of the MIT Women in Mathematics, and this group helps create a vibrant, supportive community in which more and more female students might pursue or continue a career in mathematics.”

[Let’s ignore the issue of whether this say-gooder is guilty of promoting gender binarism. Let’s also ignore the issue of why the say-gooder does not use MIT’s massive endowment to become a “do-gooder” and hire the women that he/she/ze/they says he/she/ze/they wants to hire.]

I wonder if the focus on female victimhood is a sign of antipathy toward mathematicians of color. Why not focus on the underrepresentation of black and Hispanic mathematicians, for example? Could the motivation be that the white/Asian mathematicians would rather share an office with a white woman from a wealthy family than share with an African-American from the ghetto?

Advocating for “women” is less likely to expose the advocate to ridicule for not having any friends or relatives who are in the featured victim class. Since even the most hidebound human who identifies as a “man” is likely to have a mother and/or sister, there won’t be the awkward search for a friend of color with whom to attend Black Panther and get a selfie.

The article is also fun for revealing the existence of gender traitors:

Staffilani recalls that when she invited female mathematicians to speak with MIT women, sometimes the offer was declined. Invited academics preferred to be seen as “mathematicians” rather than be singled out as “female mathematicians,” separate from men. It’s a dilemma Staffilani says she understands; gaining extra notice as a woman — or any underrepresented group in a particular field — doesn’t feel like “equality,” she says. … she was surprised when a female physicist asked the room, “Why do we want diversity?”

Speaker of diversity, let’s have a look at the folks MIT has selected to teach subjects featured on the “Women’s Studies” poster board in the Infinite Corridor (if you visit the teachers’ biographical pages, you’ll find them referred to using “her” and “she” as pronouns):

Another initiative of the Women and Gender Studies Department:

Within the same poster board, some tips on organizing your bookshelf:

Nearby, a poster remembering MIT’s most famous donor:

There is room in the Infinite Corridor to provide the biography of one MIT graduate:

(See also “RPI alumni stop donating amid concerns over leadership, campus climate” (2018) and “America’s Highest Paid College President is Dragging Her School Into Crippling Debt” (2014).)

Unrelated… a poster regarding procrastination:

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