Quillette’s top examples of colleges behaving badly

September 20, 2021 • 10:30 am

I know there are those who dismiss everything written on Quillette as “alt-right”, and won’t read it, but if you’re one of them, you’re doing yourself no favors. The site is not “alt right,” though it sometimes defends conservative positions. But it also criticizes fulminating wokeness and says things that are correct but taboo to say for “progressive liberals.” And it has some good articles. I glance at it about every ten days, though I don’t often highlight it.

This week they’ve made a list of the “best on campus crises,” many of which you’ve read about here. I’ll just list the crises and give the links,  which go to the relevant Quillette description, but you may want to weigh in below about which “crisis” is the most egregious. Click on the screenshot below to read the piece.  I will make a few comments, and those will be flush left.

The Hysterical Campus | Heather Mac Donald

This describes her cancellation while trying to give a speech at UCLA.

Workers vs. Wokeness at Smith College: Campus Social Justice as a Luxury Good | Jonathan Kay

Smith College was accused of racism after the police accosted a black student/worker resting in a closed-off lounge (they didn’t know she was black when they were called). Smith’s own investigation showed that no racism was involved, but Smith refuses to admit this repugnant conclusion. Kay also talks about the well known situation of Oberlin College versus Gibson’s Bakery (see below).

Smith is where employee Jodi Shaw resigned after her run-in with the authorities that wanted participate in what seems like a “struggle session.”

Ideology and Facts Collide at Oberlin College | Daniel McGraw

Here’s another case where a college refused to admit it did wrong, and its refusal cost Oberlin $25 million, which, as far as I know, it still hasn’t paid to Gibson’s Bakery.

A Student Mob Took Over Bryn Mawr. The College Said Thank You | Minnie Doe

A police shooting in nearby Philadelphia caused a student strike, a campus meltdown, and the caving-in to student demands by one of the most cowardly administrations I’ve ever seen.

How a Single Anonymous Twitter Account Caused an ‘Indigenized’ Canadian University to Unravel | Jonathan Kay

I wasn’t familiar with this case, which took place at Brock University in Ontario. This is a mess, involving “indigenization and colonization” efforts, Vice-Provost for Indigenous Engagement Robyn Bourgeois, criticism of her statements, and her attempts to suppress that criticism while portraying herself as a victim.

Race and Social Panic at Haverford: A Case Study in Educational Dysfunction | Jonathan Kay

Haverford is loosely affiliated with Bryn Mawr, and, like Bryn Mawr above, the school melted down after the police shooting in Philly. And Haverford’s President Wendy Raymond not only gave in to some ludicrous student demands, but abased herself with some self-flagellating statements.

Georgetown’s Cultural Revolution | Lama Abu-Odeh

A professor was caught on video bemoaning the low performance of black students in her class, which the students and many faculty chose to interpret as a racist statement rather than a statement of frustration about the performance differential between races. (We don’t know what was in the professor’s mind.) The professor, an adjunct, was forced to resign.

The author, Abu-Odeh, is a professor of law at Georgetown, and he follows the incident with a long (and a bit tedious) discussion of the clashes of ideology on campus and throughout the U.S.

A Declaration of Independence by a Princeton Professor | Joshua T. Katz

Katz is a professor of classics at Princeton, and this article, criticizing a faculty letter, was his “declaration of independence.”

A large group of Princeton professors signed a group letter accusing the school of structural racism and demanding more equity. To me, some of their demands for change are reasonable, but this demand for a Star Chamber to police speech, behavior, and even research and publication wasn’t:

Constitute a committee composed entirely of faculty that would oversee the investigation and discipline of racist behaviors, incidents, research, and publication on the part of faculty, following a protocol for grievance and appeal to be spelled out in Rules and Procedures of the Faculty. Guidelines on what counts as racist behavior, incidents, research, and publication will be authored by a faculty committee for incorporation into the same set of rules and procedures.

(There are other demands that seem invidious as well.) The students followed with supporting letters demanding that the Princeton campus police be defunded.

Evergreen State and the Battle for Modernity | Michael Aaron

We all know about the dissolution of dignity and liberal humanism at Evergreen State, the worst case I now of in recent years. The article above was written in 2017, and you can read my many posts on Evergreen State here. It’s too familiar to many of us to go into detail; read the piece if you’re unfamiliar with this odious college.

Finally, there’s a summing-up essay by an associate professor of sociology at California State University, Los Angeles.

The Free Speech Crisis on Campus Is Worse than People Think | Bradley Campbell

This describes the “victimhood culture” involved in so many of the incidents above. And remember, don’t think these incidents are limited to campus. We already know they’ve spread widely: into the media, into entertainment, and into politics. As Andrew Sullivan said, “We’re all on campus now.”

24 thoughts on “Quillette’s top examples of colleges behaving badly

  1. That is correct: Quillete is not an “alt-right” site (or “online magazine,” as Wikipedia calls it). I, too, also check it every few days.

    1. My impression is that “alt-right” is used to mean conservative generally, and that conservatism is now viewed as aberrant (Thanks, Trump!).

      1. Conservatism viewed as aberrant precedes Trump. Forty years ago, many of us thought Reagan’s conservatism was aberrant. I’m not sure I’ve let that notion go.

  2. I think the Oberlin story relating to Gibson’s Bakery is the worst of the lot, because it took the bizarre, woke world-view out on the street, and tried to destroy a family business. That said, they are all terrible.

    1. Yup, I pointed out to my lower case w (hopefully!) woke sister just yesterday, the fake accusations of racial profiling by Oberlin’s privileged students (fees over $82,000 per year, all in) and administrators and also that 33 out of 40 people arrested for theft from Gibson’s bakery (a true “mom and pop” family business) were Oberlin students.

      1. This is not at all surprising. Whether it’s Jews or ‘witches’ or student reporters writing about the administration’s errors, it is common and easy to use the language of a good cause or social movement to cloak retaliation/revenge. If a thief doesn’t want to get caught or punished, reporting their victims for communism or other mindcrimes is a good way to do it.

    2. Yes, DrBrydon, for once I agree 100%: the action against the Gibson Bakery takes the cake. And that they are all terrible (a good choice of words, because of its relatedness to ‘terror’).

  3. It’s interesting to me the number of friends I have, progressives, who dismiss media that is not the “mainstream media”, i.e. left wing. I read broadly and also do spot checks on all media for my own curiosity.

    Some of these friends are substantial Democratic Party donors/bundlers, super well educated, etc. etc.

    It’s really amazing to talk to them and see the gaps in knowledge that they have regarding events and history. And I have to be careful in our conversation, because being contradicted, given their status, will lead to acrimony and even people I’ve known for years refusing to speak to me.

    So, there is a big cost to people who cosset themselves only in “respectable” media. Which forfeited much of that respectability a while back.

  4. Here’s another case where a college refused to admit it did wrong, and its refusal cost Oberlin $25 million, which, as far as I know, it still hasn’t paid to Gibson’s Bakery.

    The Gibson Bakery and Oberlin College case is still pending in the mid-level Ohio state appellate court. The case has been fully briefed and argued, but a decision has been delayed because, before an opinion was forthcoming, one of the judges on the three-judge panel assigned to the case lost her reelection contest. (All Ohio judges are elected rather than appointed, unlike in some other jurisdictions.)

    As is standard in such proceedings, Oberlin has been required to post a bond for the full amount of the judgment as a condition of pursing its appeal. In the meantime, several media organizations have petitioned the Ohio Supreme Court to direct the trial court to unseal the evidence submitted at trial. That petition has been referred by the Ohio Supremes to a mediator.

    The wheels of justice sometimes grind slowly, particularly in civil cases.

    1. “The wheels of justice sometimes grind slowly, particularly in civil cases” – Indeed. Didn’t the oldest Gibson die without receiving the benefit of the original legal victory?

  5. I have another idea about the campus victimhood culture. In late July and August, I watched more television than usual while recovering from surgery, and I was struck by one thing: pharmaceutical commercials. It seemed to me that every other TV advertisement was for a pill to cure one condition or another, with pills for new terrors turning up continually. The latest is a pill for tardive dyskinesia, which for many years I thought was a phrase S.J. Perelman had invented as a funny line.

    Could it be that the ubiquitous hunt for microaggressions to complain about is a facet of the same culture that leads TV viewers to worry about whether they might suffer from this, that, or tardive dyskinesia, and badly need the latest pill? If so, then the obsession with victimhood is just the campus version of this century’s broad cultural elevation of le malade imaginaire. As to what caused this shift, I haven’t a clue. But we could hope that the drug industry will come up with a pill to cure it.

    1. Well if you consider wokeness to be international, then probably not. AIUI most other western countries do not have such advertisements on TV, but they still have wokeness. IIRC the Brits, in particular, consider it quite bonkers that we have drug companies going directly to the public with the message ‘ask your doctor for this…’

      1. From memory only NZ and the US have drug advertisements on TV. It is an abomination and directly responsible for the over-prescription rate (70% of Americans take at least one prescribed medication).


  6. I used to follow and enjoy Quillette when I was on Facebook, and I still enjoy their podcast. Just don’t read the comments section. It was full of “own the libs” mentality, or complaints that Quillette wasn’t far enough right.

  7. With all these and so many other cases, it does seem that the idealistic young people really need to channel their energy to something constructive. Like volunteering to work in a soup kitchen, or to assist in schools with at-risk students.

    1. Have I shared my Fantastic Plan? Meant to be taken with a bit of humor, but also, why not?
      Make high school year round. Make the kids follow whatever local agricultural season there is, working in a variety of capacities, harvesting, in the office, in QA, etc. Have the federal govt. pay them a pittance that is pre-tax and tax-free if they save it for college. This will a) fix the farm labor shortage b)reduce the incentive for undocumented labor c)build character d)teach them the value of the food that ends up on their table e)help them decide if they want to continue of a post K12 academic track, etc. When the season is over and they are back in class, structure their lessons around the content of their work. Have them doing soil science, double entry bookkeeping, precision irrigation calculations, payroll taxes. Now, obviously this would be a big endeavor, but in the long run, I could see it being really beneficial.

      1. It won’t work. Just consider for a moment the labor cost of having adults supervise millions of kids out in the boondocks. There is busing, housing, feeding…
        But I was wondering about having some kind of domestic Peace Corps program (I think there is one), but this version could have offices on campus, making itself known to these privileged students that if they really want to make a difference, then here is a ladle and an apron and a hairnet. Get to work.

      2. hahahah. The Khmer Rouge AND the USSR did exactly that! I don’t think we need more farmers (currently 2% of the workforce)… but we need lots of other stuff we could put the whippersnappers to. And keep them off PCC (E)’s lawn!

  8. I’m intrigued by the photo of the chinese statue (Confucius?) being vandalised. Has anybody some more information what that was about?

  9. I believe that’s Egerton Ryerson. He is widely blamed for the design of the Indian residential schools system in Canada. He has been increasingly unpopular here since the reckoning over the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves on the grounds of residential schools all over the country in 2021. Hence the vandalism of his statue in Toronto.

    In some ways, the blame is unfair because (per his wikipedia page) the residential school system was established (in the 1890s) long after his death. But while alive he advocated (in 1847) for vocational, Christian, English-language boarding schools for Indigenous kids.

    At the time, this was considered a progressive view (the conservative view at the time was that Canada would have been better off if we’d just brought in more of Lord Jeffery Amherst’s tuberculosis blankets). But in hindsight it’s obvious the residential schools were based on the racist kidnapping of Indigenous children, many of whom died at the hands of the nuns and priests who ran most of the schools on behalf of the Catholic and Anglican churches.

  10. To be honest, my impression is that Quillette is pretty right wing. Do they report on, say, all the alt-right bogosity about critical race theory or the recent firing of a principal for being suspected of teaching CRT (after someone complained about a photo he pasted on Facebook)?

    FWIW, my understanding of the term ‘alt-right’ is that it was a movement started during the Obama administration to give fascists and white-supremacists like Richard Spencer a veneer of respectability.

    1. Well, just because they don’t report on everything, including what you note, doesn’t mean they’re right wing.Like this site, they are niche publications often highlighting the excesses of the left. Many of their authors are liberals.

  11. Quillette’s articles give no credence to the belief that Quillette itself is right wing, but there are two
    things that suggest it: their mindless promotion of the fraudulent Michael Shellenberger and his
    completely ignorant articles on energy and environment; their consistent omission of ANY articles supportive of ANY environmental issue or critical of climate change deniers. Add on the letters to Quillette which, to a man (and woman) are among the most stupid uninformed letters ever written anywhere. They are uniformly and explicitly anti environment and anti left, pro capitalism and all it stands for. We can’t blame Claire Lehmann for these letters but there is no doubt in my mind that she is playing to the conservative anti environment crowd. I have requested space to rebut Shellnberger and expose his sheer ignorance of energy and nuclear power, as well as to write other pro environment issues but she never responded. On the face of it Quillette is libertarian but leans
    right…definitely NOT pro environment, and therefore, for that reason, I think one is justified in describing it as right wing. However, it has good writers and many good articles, and I especially appreciate its strong position against Identity Politics, wokeness, censorship and all the jazz. I wish we had such a defender in the US…..but all we have are timorous liberals afraid of being called racist and thus recusing themselves from one of the most important issues of our day with regard to the future of the republic and our Constitution.

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