23 Mai 2008

Death by PC

Why I fled academia: From an article in The Weekly Standard, about the decline and eventual collapse of Antioch College, once on the vanguard of all that is progressive and PC.

You might call the current sad state of Antioch College death by political correctness. The rigorous academic programs that fostered Nobel laureates such as Capecchi are no more: Antioch scrapped its 40-odd traditional majors in 1996 in favor of eight vaguely delineated interdisciplinary programs that allow the students themselves to design their courses of study. The civic activism of yore--registering African American voters, starting a proto-Peace Corps--gave way to in-your-face street theater at shopping malls. It has been a long, slow death, and it would be unfair (although certainly tempting) to blame the current crop of students for the pending demise of their alma mater. The blame might be more fairly placed on four decades of decisions made by Antioch College faculty and administrators in the name of keeping Antioch at the forefront of "progressive" academic fashion, which led inexorably to today's campus nearly bereft of students and treasury nearly bereft of funds.

The adults who could have and should have intervened to put a lid on the excesses of a culture created by 18- to 22-year-olds with little experience of the outside world in fact let that culture run untrammeled and amok, all in the name of Antioch's vaunted ideal of "community."

. . .

The Womyn-drafted sexual-offense policy read: "Verbal consent should be obtained with each new level of physical and/or sexual contact/conduct in any given interaction, regardless of who initiates it. Asking 'Do you want to have sex with me?' is not enough. The request for consent must be specific to each act." The penalty for even being accused of failing to obtain consent for one of the "levels" was immediate expulsion without a hearing or any other rights. Not surprisingly, when word leaked out (it took a while) that Antioch's board of trustees had actually approved the policy and made it official, the reaction of the non-Antioch general public was .  .  . laughter all around. One wag estimated that Antioch required a student seeking a home run in the baseball game of sex to ask for the consent of his beloved a total of 150 times. A few years later, after much media mockery and several threatened legal challenges over the lack of due process, Antioch modified the policy to bring it into line with other colleges' procedures for handling accusations of date rape and related sexual offenses.

Among other revolting developments, the college invited murderer and PC-cause celebré Mumia Abu-Jamal to speak at commencement, and boasted a student union with what one observer dubbed "crack-house" decor (having suffered the insufferably dirty, "boogie"-hating neohippies at UC Davis, I can readily envision what that must have looked like).

Bring back in loco parentis, curfews, escorts and the draft.