Proving that crazy and absurd antics of college life are no longer confined to fraternities and sororities but have now expanded into the classroom and administration buildings, the Collegiate Network announces the 10th annual “Campus Outrage Awards.” Winning entries were chosen from nominations submitted to the Collegiate Network. The Grand Prize Winner will receive $1,000, and the four other prize winners will each take home $500.
“We use these awards to shed light on the most outrageous instances of intolerance and intimidation on the part of college officials and to let conservative students know they are not alone in battling political correctness on America’s campuses,” said Stephen Klugewicz, executive director of the Collegiate Network.
This year’s winners:
1. The College of William & Mary
In October 2006, William & Mary President Gene Nichol secretly ordered a college official to remove a two-foot gold cross from the college’s historic Wren Chapel, where it has been on display since the 1930s. When the episode came to light in the pages of the campus’ independent student newspaper, The Virginia Informer, Nichol was forced to explain his decision. He asserted that “the display of a Christian cross . . . in the heart of our most important building sends an unmistakable message that the Chapel belongs more fully to some of us than to others. That there are, at the College, insiders and outsiders.” Though Nichol told tales of students, alumni, and visitors who had complained to him about being offended by the cross’ presence, he produced only one actual letter of complaint and repeatedly denied Freedom of Information Act requests for correspondence he received about the cross. He also went to great lengths to evade an invitation to debate renowned author Dinesh D’Souza on the issue in an event sponsored by the Informer and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI).
Nichol’s actions in regard to the cross followed on the heels of his surrender to NCAA officials, who threatened to bar the college’s athletic teams from lucrative NCAA-sponsored bowl games unless William & Mary gave up its traditional Indian-feather logo. Though Nichol wrote in protest of the NCAA’s decision, he refused to fight it in court, as other colleges did. The feathers of the William & Mary Tribe are no more.
On Valentine’s Day 2007, William & Mary hosted a “Sex Workers Art Show,” featuring topless women, former prostitutes, and current strippers. Hundreds of people packed the college’s University Center to witness such edifying performances as a stripper with a sex toy in her mouth undress to the strains of the “Ave Maria.” Twelve hundred dollars in student funds were used to subsidize the event, and some 100 students enrolled in Women’s Studies and Performance Art courses were required to attend the performance. When asked about the propriety of the event, Nichol responded: “I don’t like this kind of show and I don’t like having it here. But it’s not the practice and province of universities to censor or cancel performances because they are controversial.” But apparently it is Nichol’s job to censor Christian symbols on William & Mary’s campus.
In early March, Nichol accepted the recommendation of his hand-selected Religion Committee that the cross be returned to Wren Chapel but placed under glass in “a prominent, readily visible” place in the chapel. The committee also recommended that “the Wren sacristy . . . be available to house sacred objects of any religious tradition.” Though he cannot be pleased about being forced to have this “offensive” object returned to permanent display in the chapel, Nichol must be happy that the committee carefully crafted the new policy in an open-ended manner, so that the Christian identity of Wren Chapel can slowly be eroded if, for example, a president who slavishly follows the credo of political correctness is in charge.
2. The University of California- Berkeley
Do you need money for college but were denied federal financial aid because of a recent history of illegal drug use? Perhaps you should consider attending the University of California at Berkeley, where special financial aid exists for convicted drug users. In January, Berkeley’s student government body, the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC), unanimously passed a bill—dubbed the Removing Impediments to Students’ Education (RISE) scholarship program—that provides $500 scholarships to students with prior drug convictions. Instead of rewarding students with clean and upstanding backgrounds, UC Berkeley’s student leaders decided, in effect, to encourage the illegal activities of their less responsible classmates. This flies in the face of California state laws on illegal substances and Berkeley’s own drug policy, which prohibits the “unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensing, possession, use, or sale of alcohol or of controlled substances” by University students and employees. The Berkeley administration has made no effort to impede the implementation of the RISE scholarship.
And who will be subsidizing this bad behavior? The students of Berkeley, of course, who currently pay the school a hefty $6500 a year in various fees. The RISE scholarship will be largely funded by the ASUC Carry Forward Account, which is generated from fees students pay upon enrollment at the school.
Subsidizing illegal drug use among students—only at Berkeley!
3. Johns Hopkins University
In late May 2006 the independent student paper at Johns Hopkins University, The Carrollton Record, printed a story that reported on the appearance of a pornographic movie director on the campus at an event sponsored by a radical student group called the Diverse Sexuality and Gender Alliance (DSAGA). The DSAGA is a student funded organization and the appearance of the director was partially funded by a grant from a school dean. University officials immediately embarked on a campaign of harassment against the staff of the Record. First, the administration refused to investigate the theft of 600 copies of the issue of the Record that contained the story on the porn director. Then school officials confiscated 300 copies of the Record that had been placed in dorms, claiming the power to stop the distribution in dorms of anything they deemed offensive. The administration then informed the Record that only the mainstream paper would be allowed to distribute papers in dorms. When it became obvious that the school was continuing to allow the distribution of numerous other publications in dorms, the Record staff objected. The administration then announced that it had reverted to the policy of banning offensive material—this meant the Record— from dorms.
When the 2006-2007 school year began, the JHU administration instituted what it told the Record was a school-wide policy of only allowing publications to distribute in certain places on campus. The list included six dorms and nine other campus locations. The Record staff soon discovered that its paper was the only publication that was given a copy of the new rules. The mainstream daily and other publications were continuing to distribute in “illegal” dorms and elsewhere on campus with the tacit consent of the Hopkins Administration.
So, the Johns Hopkins Administration seemingly had no problem with funding the appearance of the pornographic movie director but does have a problem with this disgrace being brought to the attention of a wider audience by the intrepid reporters of the Record. JHU officials seem to oppose censorship except when the student press exposes its follies.
4. The University of Michigan
A public university shouldn’t have to obey state law. This certainly appears to be the position of the leadership of The University of Michigan. This past fall, voters in Michigan approved a ballot initiative, the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI), amending the state constitution to outlaw affirmative action and racial and gender preferences in, among other things, university admissions.
The University of Michigan, since its involvement in a pair of 2003 Supreme Court cases upholding the use of affirmative action, has been the chief apologist for “diversity” and affirmative action in the modern university, becoming involved in politics to an almost unprecedented extent. The day after the initiative was approved by voters, University of Michigan President Mary Coleman delivered a speech in the middle of campus, promising to devote the “full focus” of the University of Michigan to “defending diversity” and fighting the MCRI in court. President Coleman has made good on her promise: The university has challenged the MCRI in court and in the meantime worked to block its implementation on campus. Admissions officials, for example, pushed through as many minority applicants as possible between Election Day and December 23, 2006, the day when the ban on affirmative action took effect. The administration also created a task force on diversity, made up exclusively of noted supporters of affirmative action, whose sessions were held during school breaks and at other times when students were least likely to attend.
Who cares what the people of Michigan think? President Coleman and her ivory tower cohorts know better!
5. San Francisco State University
The College Republicans (CRs) at San Francisco State University found themselves in hot water following an anti-terrorism rally they sponsored on campus in October, 2006. During the rally, partakers stepped on effigies of Hezbollah and Hamas flags. The University stepped in to investigate the incident after a student filed a formal complaint, accusing the College Republicans of “attempts to incite violence and create a hostile environment,” and “actions of incivility.” The complainant was one of a group of students—who presumably understand Arabic— who were offended by the demonstration, as the makeshift flags contained the name “Allah” in Arabic script. The demonstrators—who do not understand Arabic— were unaware of the meaning of the script.
Political protest and the desecration of religious symbols are protected forms of speech in American jurisprudence, but university officials were undeterred by legal niceties and put the College Republicans on trial at a formal hearing. Though the panel considering the charges found the CRs not guilty, the SFSU administration’s heavy-handed tactics and outright intimidation of the College Republicans cannot help but have a chilling effect on free speech on campus.
Contrast the reaction of the SFSU administration in this case with its non-action in November 2004, when a mob of Arab students attacked a group of College Republicans who were handing out pro-Bush/Cheney campaign materials at a get-out-the-vote event at the school. Campus police apparently stood idly by while Arab women in the group insulted the students, Jews, and America in general, one even threatening to blow up the CRs. “You and the Jews want to kill all the Muslims!” one screamed at the CR president.
Why, in the eyes of SFSU officials, is it OK for Muslim extremists to threaten bodily harm to conservative students but wrong for conservative students to exercise their right of free speech against terrorism? Why is the SFSU administration so sympathetic to America’s sworn enemies?
For more information on the Collegiate Network and the Campus Outrage Awards, go to www.collegiatenetwork.org .