Why institutional neutrality is not possible and what to do instead
A related issue is how the university should deal with staff who feel that they should not be neutral. I am interested in your thoughts on that Roger. Specificaly when the staff member does so within their field of expertise.
In part a scholar takes his/her credibility from the institution they are attached to, but likewise the instituion gains prestige from the scholars it employs.
I really enjoyed this and benefit from the insight. I've been reading (so slowly) "Academic Freedom in the Age of the University" the second part to a larger, old study by Hofstadter and Metzger.
I don't know how common it is across universities but in my window on the institution, there is tremendous turn over in upper administration including one of the most important jobs at the university- provost, where the hiring of the position seems to be approached as bringing in "the Bobs." The jobs are approached as stepping stones to salary bumps rather than a genuine interest in universities as a novel type of institution and the responsibilities that go along with that.
Political positions shouted from university ivory towers are not unlike the medieval town criers telling the illiterate people of the town not to urinate or defecate in the river the day before water was drawn for brewing beer. Back in the day, the crier information was helpful, but now university political opinions are just annoying. Most people don’t need/want to be spoon-fed the “approved” approach they should take in a political discussion. Those who desire to be spoon-fed opinions can access their desired opinion makers via many forms of electronic media, rather from self-professed academic experts. So, I agree with the limits of institutional restraint. Let the universities concentrate on educating their students, and prohibit them from being the modern versions of the town criers.
To this lay person the phrases "institutional restraint" and neutrality are essentially the same or at best a distinction without a difference.
Universities who make pious statements about academic freedom but then declare certain topics to be off limits for research should do some soul searching. If a university encourages or at least tolerates unpopular topics such as social contagion amongst girls claiming gender dysphoria, skepticism about catastrophic climate change, origins of COVID-19, research on race and intelligence, and the role of slavery in indigenous tribes, then we can give them some respect on academic freedom. If unpopular topics are suppressed, then we know hypocrisy rules.
So many axes, so few grinders...
I see dean Jennifer Ruth as just one more facet of the censorship industrial complex, trying to eliminate debate;
"I cannot help but wonder whether they are best understood as attempts to neutralize institutions that might otherwise act as voices of reason in an age of climate-change denial, election deniers, and, yes, white ethnonationalism."
Do you see "voices of reason" anywhere today on campus? The Free Press has highlighted a lot of these voices of reason over the last three weeks, simply awful stuff.
Climate change denial first. I get called that all the time but i don't deny climate change. I deny we have any solid knowledge of how much humans are affecting it. So lets eliminate debate.
We know that the FBI/CIA had the Hunter Biden laptop over a year before the 2020 election, we know they knew it was real and that they war-gamed it with various media and "NGO's" to be ready to discredit it as Russian disinformation when it came out, as they knew it would come out. In polls millions of americans say they would have changed their 2020 vote or stayed home if they knew it was real, giving Trump a landslide. A "stolen election".
Am i an election denier?
Should that debate be shut down?
Maybe she can elaborate on her term "white ethno-nationalism" as that sure looks like an attempt to show israeli Jews as white oppressors keeping down the brown people.
The reality is that "woke progressive" ideology is a cancer in modern society, destroying everything it touches, because that is the entire point.
While I agree with the idea of "institutional restraint," I don't think it's enough. There are certain issues that seem to demand an official position (e.g., Hamas' butchering of civilians and hostage-taking). Do they or don't they? A missing piece is mentioned earlier in the post - a process for decision-making. For example, before taking a public position on any issue not included in Bowen's list, the Prexy should have the approval of the Trustees. This would provide a sanity check, and would have served UPenn and Harvard well.
Off Topic but as its Halloween, the day dedicated to irrational fears, maybe Roger should post a link to the most recent IPCC Synthesis/Summary Report?
Just thinking out loud here.
Students attend universities to gain knowledge and truths needed in modern life. The presumption is universities teach "truth" as well as that is known. So, when a university takes a strong political position that is held by only a subset of the population, do students accept that as truth? If universities teach truth in some areas and opinions in other areas, how does the student decide which is which? Would not the student fare better if he/she has access to various views (presented by individuals) but receives no "pressure" on what to believe from the institution as a whole?
I have been a lifelong Democrat, while at the same time I have been critical of a number of attitudes of the far left wing of the Democratic Party. That includes their excessive fear of climate change, their naive belief in solar and wind energy as the total solution, their preference of diversity over performance, many more, and perhaps most of all, their antagonism toward Israel and their blind favoring of Palestinian terrorists.
Biden distinguishes between the so-called "peace loving Palestinian civilians" and HAMAS; perhaps he might have distinguished between the peace loving Germans and the Nazis? The Palestinians elected HAMAS as their government. HAMAS flourished among the Palestinians. Gold Meir once said: “There will be no peace until the Palestine mother loves her child more than she hates Israel”.
See no evil. Many liberals, being nice people, are unable to imagine the depth of hate that can reside in others, particularly Palestinians. The Palestinians (not just HAMAS) as a group have a hatred for Israel that will endure for a thousand years. There is no two state solution. Liberals think that if they are given a territory of their own they will live in peace and harmony. Nah. That will just be a platform for further, more insidious attacks on Israel.
Is there a solution? I doubt it. Hate will persist.
The UN calls for a cease fire. The UN does not mention the word “HAMAS”. Cease fire? Then what?
Biden urges protection of “innocent civilians” – who are they?
What to do now? It is necessary for its own protection as well as psychological well being for Israel to wipe out HAMAS. Unfortunately, that will entail ancillary killing of thousands of “innocent civilians”. Is Israel or HAMAS to blame? HAMAS has been and is willing to sacrifice them for its own hateful purposes.
Will destroying HAMAS solve the problem? Nope. It will just buy time until the next episode.
Is the plight of the Palestinians Israel’s problem? Nope. Israel couldn’t survive taking in 2 million people that hate Israel. It’s an Arab problem and the Arabs outside of Palestine are not motivated to help.
Young Americans, brought up in the land of plenty, attending expensive schools (not Cooper LOL) and insulated from the real world see the Palestinians living in deplorable conditions and favor the underdog. It costs them nothing. They can attend their halls of ivy and blather whatever they want. Their tolerance for the brutality of HAMAS is almost unimaginable. The latest attack was so terrible that it turned our country around. At a NFL football game they had a moment of silence for Israel and a brief statement of support. I never thought I would see the day.
Americans by and large now see Israel as our ally in a world of hate by the Muslim world. Iran (like ancient Persia) uses Arabs as tools to further its hateful aims. Only now are we slowly willing to admit that Iran is the arsenal of terrorism and must be stopped.
The worst thing about liberals is that they think that all people are basically peace loving and given a decent chance, will live in peace with their neighbors. See no evil.
It's a little strange to me that none of these arguments talk about how the university positions would be developed.. what role students and faculty have in open dialogues about what that position would be. And finally that being fiscally responsible with students' money would mean that folks earning pay.. should focus on say... teaching them? Or with federal research funding... doing the research? Opportunity costs for taking the time to develop positions?
I agree with, of course they should have positions on things like more money for education and more visas .. and local decisions that impact the campus, employees, and/or students. It's the middle one.. somewhere between the Nazis and Vietnam, that I would prefer relegated to discussions in dorm rooms and not committees of officialdom.
Oh, please. Universities are politicized from top to bottom. They aggressively stomp out anyone or any opinion that challenges progressive dogma. They live by double standards and blatant hypocrisy.
Jennifer Ruth probably wouldn't allow Roger Pielke to speak at Portland State because he challenges the progressive orthodoxy on climate. She would only allow the "voices of reason" that she agrees with.