Two interesting articles about higher education in America *UPDATED*

Harvard Gay and Lesbian ReviewYesterday I briefly wrote about Emmett Rensin, a University of Chicago grad who is deeply, abjectly in love with socialism.  Yesterday was also the day that Bruce Bawer looked closely at Sandra Y. L. Korn, a Harvard student who makes Rensin look like a stodgy banker:

Who is Sandra Y.L. Korn? The contributor’s note identifies her as a member of the class of 2014, a Crimson editorial writer and columnist, and “a joint history of science and studies of women, gender and sexuality concentrator in Eliot House.” “Concentrator” is apparently Harvardese for “major.” Ms. Korn’s college education consists, then, of courses in Women’s Studies and in “History of Science,” which, according to Harvard’s website, “offers students the possibility of studying the history and social relations of science” but “does not require students to take science courses.” (Which, of course, is ridiculous: how can you begin to understand what science is without actually studying a science?) Ms. Korn, I also discovered, is working on a thesis about “how biologists have tried over and over again to explain gender difference by invoking ‘science.’” In other words, she’s learned about science – without really learning any science – in order to discredit “science,” a word she puts in scare quotes. (Her project is, note well, entirely consistent with Women’s Studies dogma, which teaches that science is “masculinist.”)

Ms. Korn, I further discovered, is not only a prolific columnist – writing regularly for both the Crimson and the Harvard Political Review – but an active member of Occupy Harvard, the Progressive Jewish Allliance, the Student Labor Action Movement, and BAGELS, “Harvard’s group for bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgendered Jews.” In her columns, she’s paid tribute to the Black Panthers, celebrated the Occupy movement, and chided those who cheered Kim Jong-Il’s death. She’s opposed allowing ROTC back onto the Harvard campus, one reason being that “[i]nternational students…from countries not allied with the United States” might object to their presence. She’s criticized Harvard’s plans to distribute lecture courses on the Internet as the latest development in “a long history of imperialism in which U.S. elites have told an increasingly globalized world that what they thought was best.” She’s written that “[w]hile violent resistance through Hamas is not right,” it’s “not incomprehensible,” given that “non-violent resistance cannot make the international community pay attention to the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza.” And she’s dismissed as “Islamophobia” any statement of the objective fact that anti-Semitism is a core element of contemporary Palestinian identity.

Read the whole thing here.  It’s a superb insight into why I’m grateful neither of my children will probably have the grades to get into Harvard, and why a small part of me wishes that they wouldn’t have the grades to get into anything.

Animal HouseFor a completely different view of college issues, check out Caitlin Flanagan’s in-depth article about college fraternities.  It’s long, but I found every word riveting, and because it stirred up college memories, not of being in a sorority (I wasn’t), but of seeing Greeks in action.  I arrived at Cal shortly after Animal House had revitalized the Greek system.  Often, because I commuted, I found myself walking past fraternity row to get to and from my car.  It was an edifying look at binge drinking and chronic alcoholism.  Too many fraternities still seem to suffer from those plagues, and all that flows from them:  rank stupidity, dangerous and deadly falls, and rape.  Anyway, how could you help but love an article that starts this way:

One warm spring night in 2011, a young man named Travis Hughes stood on the back deck of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house at Marshall University, in West Virginia, and was struck by what seemed to him—under the influence of powerful inebriants, not least among them the clear ether of youth itself—to be an excellent idea: he would shove a bottle rocket up his ass and blast it into the sweet night air. And perhaps it was an excellent idea. What was not an excellent idea, however, was to misjudge the relative tightness of a 20-year-old sphincter and the propulsive reliability of a 20-cent bottle rocket. What followed ignition was not the bright report of a successful blastoff, but the muffled thud of fire in the hole.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds was less impressed by the fraternity story than I was. Maybe I looked at it differently because I remember being a non-Greek on campuses with heavy Greek presences and because I have children who are nearing college.

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  • Charles Martel

    Korn is now and will be useless for any sort of productive work or mature insights. At age 21 or 22, she has pretty much effectively lobotomized herself. Aside from the scorn and irritation I feel at such self-delusion, I feel pity. Unless something radical happens, she will be lost for the rest of her life.
    But she also scares me. People like her, if given power, become tyrants. In her current manifestation, she’s probably only a petty tyrant, heaping abuse on the politically incorrect, but, thankfully, far from any levers of real power. But what if the Obamaist movement gains final sway over the rest of us? Couldn’t you just see Korn trundling over the countryside in a railroad car, like Strelnikov in Dr. Zhivago, stopping wherever there’s a white Christian to condemn, or a straight woman to humiliate, or an Orthodox Jew to execute?

  • Matt_SE

    “…science is “masculinist.””
    Funny, as a prolific writer I assume Korn uses a computer. And there’s no piece of hardware more “masculinist” than a computer, what with its incorporation of multiple types of engineering, mathematics and physics.
    So the next time she sits down to write something, I hope she realizes her fingers aren’t dancing over keys, they’re dancing over tiny peni$e$.

  • bkivey

    At the last school I attended, it wasn’t uncommon to see articles in the student paper written  by neo-Luddites. I wrote a not-very-nice letter to the editor (and it was published!) pointing out that every one of those people was using tech to disseminate their rants.
    “…why a small part of me wishes that they wouldn’t have the grades to get into anything.”
    There’s always trade school. When I finished my first degree, the job market was abysmal, and rather than go the grad school route, I went to the local trade school. It made all the difference. I learned a trade and stayed gainfully employed while many of my peers were casting about for jobs. When I did get a job in my field, my trade experience set me apart from the crowd and led to opportunities I wouldn’t have otherwise had.

  • JKB

    The Greek system is just middle class gang culture.  Fortunately, they only victimize those who associate with them and a few campuses where they dominate.  
    As a non-joiner I never concerned myself with fraternities.  

  • Ymarsakar

    There’s a lot of potential in student run councils and organizations.
    While I wouldn’t dare say that this applies across the board to a “certain country” in Asia, there are some ideas I’ve had after observing certain things.
    1. The relationship between students and teachers should be parallel to that of senior master and junior apprentice.
    2. Clubs should be run by student leaders, whether voted in by acclaim or positioned as a result of power or influence. This serves as an authority that those on the bottom of the social ladder can recognize and eventually become leaders themselves as they become seniors in high school. The authority of teachers is parallel to that of the authority of the clubs. Teachers advise and travel with the club’s activities, but do not directly interfere in club decisions. Teachers are there to advise, much as Aristotle advised Alexander the Great. His decisions were still his, and so were the negative consequences.
    3. School organizations should have a direct hierarchy, in which the seniors and more experienced students mentor the younger ones, in return for power and authority. This trains them to be useful for society. As in 3 years of school, they can play the part of the low totem pole student with no experience or authority, being ordered around by legitimate authority to do tasks. Then as they become older, their seniors whether they liked them or hated them, are now graduating and won’t be seen again on campus (much). Thus the juniors now become the seniors, those who followed orders now issue them to a new generation of freshmen. This is very similar to the meritocracy and rank system in the US military, although only somewhat. The recognition of legitimate authority and illegitimate authority is very important for those students under peer pressure and authority. They need to tell the difference, and the difference isn’t “if they are popular, they get to treat you like cra.”
    4. The school system can easily make it in the interest of the student body to nurture and support freshmen, rather than terrorize them, beat them, take their lunch money, rape them with alcohol, or etc. This is based upon a simple expediency of the free market: club funding. The club’s power, freedom, and funding will come as a direct result of how many active members they have and a direct result of how many accomplishments they have shown to the greater society at large. The adults will select for either individual free will accomplishments or accomplishments beneficial to society.
    However, in order to implement massive and complete reform of the youth education in America, certain classes and groups of individuals must be terminated. That’s because they keep sitting on the Throne of Power, and unlike the system I outlined, will never leave it.  The Cycle of Justice in a feudal system has a circular consequence system between the lower and upper classes: they are tied together, their fates rely upon each other. When this cycle is broken, where the powerful think they can oppress the powerless while getting rich and plenty of food, there’s a problem.

  • Ymarsakar

    America’s values of liberty for all, has often blinded people to the benefits of authority and legitimate authority. Which is why when they came up against the Left’s activism on campus in 1960s and the communist teacher’s unions in 1930s, people ignored it or thought it would go away in time. It didn’t. They saw the illegitimate authority of the Left, and they Ignored it, putting their heads in the sand hoping the tsunami will pass them by.
    It didn’t work, as we all know by now. It will never work. Authority can be a very useful tool in molding and conditioning the new generation. The Left knew this. Americans ignored it. Now we are here. With neither “legitimate” authority protecting our interests nor any real “individual free will” to contest those with authority. This is the natural result of not taking either Authority or Free Will to their natural logickal conclusions.

  • Danny Lemieux

    I know that our esteemed commentator on these very pages will blush (don’t Hammer, it’s unbecoming of a warrior) when I post this personal history of his accomplishments, but it is relevant to his posting regarding parallels between Korn and Rensin’s world view and his first posting on this thread. There has been a historical linkage between Nazis, Progressives, Communists and Radical Islam that is playing itself out, once again, today. The question is, “why?”. This article begins to address why:
    And, for much greater detail on the subject,
    Underneath all the headlines of today, there is something much, much deeper at work that I fear will soon explode on the world scene. History does repeat itself because, in the end, history is all about our human nature and a battle that has been raging since the beginning of time.

  • JKB

    The underlying article to this post over at Maggie’s Farm (The Post-Protestant Ethic and Spirit of America)  gives insight into out young socialists from elite universities.  Or as the author of the post posits, the new “Christianity without the Christian”, i.e, socialism.  Christianity was/is the only form of socialism that has merit as it sought to change men’s hearts rather than use coercion by force to get people to do right.  
    Now, that wasn’t always so.  The Catholic Church has a long history of using violent coercion and the “mainstream” Protestants do as well.   Ever heard of Salem or read ‘The Scarlet Letter’.  The “elite” universities have returned to their roots as seminaries only now without Christianity as their guiding principles.  To me, that fits.  
    I also found the Miracle Whip commercial I linked to in my comment the MF post to be telling.  Using the symbolism of Puritan intolerance to make fun of the neo-puritan intolerance of delicious condiments.  That same theme could be used to make fun of their other intolerances.  I’d love to see it used for electronic cigarettes.  Perhaps a witch trial for a user of fossil fuels.  
    But Book, do be aware of which church of neo-puritanism you let your kids attend when they go to seminary.  

  • Ron19

    Ymarsakar is praising and promoting Authority now?
    What happened?

    • Ymarsakar

      Nothing happened.
      Like any tool, there are good and evil uses for it.
      JKB, I often call the Left a death cult or religion. People, especially theologians, are severely disadvantaged when they mistake the nature of the enemy. What a person would do against an enemy god’s religion is very different than what they would do in the presence of a neutral or atheist. America’s hopelessness is partially because even now the majority of Americans have no real concept of the true nature of the Leftist alliance.

  • lee

    I wasn’t impressed by Caitlin Flanagan’s article either. I love when “journalist” talk numbers and stats. They tend to get a little hysterical, and also fail to do the math. She mentions that since 2005, 60 young men have died in fraternity incidents. While it’s terrible when any young person dies, particularly unnecessarily, and especially through utter stupidity, and I have complete sympathy forthe families of those 60 young men, let”s do the math and put the numbers in perspective. That comes down to 6.66 lives lost per year. According the IFC, in a given year, there 

    • Ymarsakar

      That doesn’t include the collateral damage like Duke Lacrosse or the production of zombies and what that means for a nation.

  • lee

    … I mean some other Greek organization, there are 1,000,000 fraternity and sorority members. For simplicity, let’s assume half are fraternity members. That puts the death rate by fraternity mis/mal-adventure at 1.3 per 100,000. A quick perusal of the 1372 pages from the CDC on death rates in the US, has that at about the same for deaths by fall for white men, ages 15-24.  And at about a third of the death rate for whute men, ages 15-24 from cancer… The suicide rate for the same cohort is abut fourteen times that…

  • lee

    It’s roughly one thirtieth the death rate for the same cohort in motor vehicle accidents, and it’s one tenth the death rate of the same cohort by murder (which is itself about one eight the murder rate for young black men, ages 15 -24.)
    BTW, sorry to break this up, but when I use my xoom, I wind up being limited to the text box.

  • lee

    Oh, yeah… and this is only ONE thing out of OODLES Ihad problems with in her article.

  • Michael Adams

    The Scarlet Letter was fiction, written a hundred years after the made-up events would have happened, by a Unitarian minister. (Shortly after the schism in which Unitarians split off from Congregationalists. ) The Salem trials, which can be seen as an excess of the group solidarity that made survival in a harsh land possible, were ended when a group of other Puritan ministers from nearby towns came to “reason with” the people of Salem. The tradition of appointing a committee to “go and reason with” someone is deeply embedded in Congregational polity churches, including Baptists. In my preAnglican life, I served on some of those committees.

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