Category Archives: Education

Higher Education is so enlightening! U.C. professor has students pose naked for final exam

Attention: California taxpayers!

This is what your hard-earned tax dollars are subsidizing!

Ricardo Dominguez U.C. San Diego

Alexandra Samuels reports for USA Today, May 12, 2015, that Ricardo (Dick) Dominguez, associate professor at the University of California-San Diego who teaches a course called “Performing for Self,” is asking students to pose naked for a final exam as a “nude/naked gesture,” whatever that means. Reportedly, the gesture takes place in a dark room lit by candlelight.

Dominguez’s rationale for the assignment is that nudity has been a core part of performance art since the mid-20th century. He says, “The core canvas for many performance artists has been, and continues to be, the nude or naked body. If students are to learn about performance art as practitioners, this history of the medium is crucial for them to experience.” Blah, blah, blah.

After some current students in the course complained, Dominguez defended himself in an e-mailed statement that students were “aware from the start of the class that (the gestures are) a requirement” and that he has taught the class for 11 years without complaint. Dominguez says students who feel uncomfortable with the assignment or feel the gesture “will be too hard for them to do,” can drop the class since it’s not a degree requirement. He insists “I have always been willing to work with students to help them navigate the process, during my office hours and in the context of the class.”

Dominguez also cryptically offers that “Our advising team is also very willing to discuss the options for doing the performance without having to be actually nude or naked.”

Jordan Crandall

Jordan Crandall, chairman of the university’s visual art department, also defended Dominguez and described the class as an “extremely successful one” in the visual arts department.

In an email, Crandall said that while the gestures are necessary to complete the course, getting completely naked isn’t the only way to pass because students can do the gesture in a number of ways without having to remove their clothes because “One can ‘be’ nude while being covered” — whatever that means. Crandall adds, “the ambiguity around the question of ‘nudity’ and ‘nakedness’ is intentional. It is intended to be provocative, to raise issues. That is what performance art does.”

Shanise Mok

Shanise Mok, a former student who had taken Dominguez’s naked course in 2012, also leapt to his defense, insisting that the nude “gesture” allowed her to “challenge” herself “intellectually.”

Mok said, “It was clearly outlined in the first class (just like any other first day where professors go over the syllabus) that the final gesture would be a ‘naked’ one and what we could expect that day. We were not ‘forced’ to do anything. I was only…forced to think about how I can take my own art to another level. We all had the choice to drop or to find our own creative way to meet the nude or naked prompt as artists should. I personally feel strongly about making the human body an okay thing to talk about. We all have a body — nipples, butts and pubic hair in all their glory — and it doesn’t need to be sexualized by the news – which is why artists step in to desexualize it and turn the human body into something we can love and appreciate as an art form.”

Mok’s LinkedIn page says she presently is unemployed and that her most recent job was a 6-month stint as a “teen education & recreation specialist” at Redwood City Public Library, which ended in February 2015.

Call me a cynic, but I doubt Shanise Mok making national news saying she was “intellectually challenged” by stripping naked is going to help her find gainful employment.

While searching on the Internet for Dominguez’s naked class, I also came across this other piece of weird higher ed. news from October 2012.

A math professor at Michigan State University (MSU) stripped naked, ran naked through his classroom and down the hallway, screaming “There is no fucking God!” before police apprehended him.

Students said online that the professor, who was not charged with a crime and whose name was not released by the university, was “eccentric” and that they “could probably have seen this coming.”

A Redditor shared this (see below) grainy cell phone picture of the professor in the Engineering Building’s hallway as authorities restrained him. (Source: Huffington Post)

naked Michigan State Univeristy math professor

According to a chat-thread on Reddit, the professor is John D. McCarthy, Professor of Mathematics at MSU.

~Éowyn

Christian student punished for disagreeing with militant atheist professor

Last Sunday, I did a post on the 2014 movie “God’s Not Dead,” which I highly recommend.

The movie is mainly about a college freshman named Josh Wheaton who is commanded, as all the other students in the class are, by his atheistic philosophy professor to write “God is dead” on a piece of paper and affix his signature to it.

Wheaton, a Christian, refuses to do as the professor ordered. So the professor challenges the student to defend his faith before the class — a challenge that Wheaton accepts, at the cost of alienating and losing his girl friend.

Here is a real-life “God’s Not Dead” at Polk State College in Winter Haven, Florida.

Polk State College

A student enrolled in a humanities course at Polk State College received four consecutive “zero” grades for disagreeing with her atheist professor’s anti-Christian stance.

Grace Lewis16-year-old Grace Lewis is a high school student who took an Introduction to Humanities course at Polk State from Professor Lance “L. J.” Russum, through the Florida Virtual School Full Time program.

Lewis says that at the beginning of the course, Russum declared that all religions are fictitious and are products of the “human imagination.” By week four, Russum’s essay assignments became increasingly opinionated, with questions like “Why did Christianity, and its male gods [sic], seek to silence…women?” In another assignment, Russum referred to “Hercules, Apollo and Jesus” on equal footing as “myths.”

Although Lewis has a 3.9 grade point average, she was given “zero” grades on four essay exams because she did not agree with Russum who opined that Michelangelo’s sculptures and paintings communicated that “same-sex relationship is not a sin,” and that Christianity is “the most violent forms of religion the world has ever seen.”

Lewis sought the assistance of Liberty Counsel, a non-profit law firm dedicated to “restoring the culture by advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the family.”

Liberty Counsel filed a complaint with Polk State College that Russum had discriminated against Lewis by failing her on assignments because of her Christian beliefs and his “pervasive, anti-Christian bias.” Russum also “assaults the sensibilities” of his students by including a close-up image of the penis on Michelangelo’s David and by highlighting other phallic and potentially homoerotic symbols in Renaissance art. “Russum then uses Michelangelo as [a] … stand-in for his own beliefs about homosexuality, stating that ‘in the 16th century, Michelangelo is claiming that being in a same-sex relationship is NOT A SIN and WILL NOT keep someone out of heaven’,” Liberty wrote.

Liberty says that Russum has “forfeited his academic integrity” and should be fired.

The college administration doubled down and defends Professor Russum.

This is the response to Liberty Counsel’s complaint by attorneys Donald H. Wilson and W.A. “Drew” Crawford of law firm Boswell & Dunlap in Bartow, Florida, which represents Polk State College:

[T]he College affirmatively asserts that your allegation of discrimination is baseless, without merit, and absolutely lacking any factual support. The overall fallacy of your position rests singly on the premise that that an instructor should not require a student to consider, discuss or present arguments that are contrary to his/her personal beliefs. Your only substantive allegation with a connection to the college is that the professor allegedly discriminated against your student when he gave her zeroes on four essay assignments…. Your entire letter, which is based upon this hollow and indefensible allegation, legally fails to establish any claim against either the college or its employee.”

In their letter in defense of the college and Russum, Wilson and Crawford also argue that many of the issues Liberty Counsel raised “are clearly intended to be inflammatory, but none of which are evidence of religious discrimination.”

Polk State College also defends Professor Russum’s grading, saying that while Lewis was a strong student when she was on task, she failed entirely to address the question at hand in 4 of 15 essay assignments that together counted for 40% of the class grade (a final assignment counted for 60%). Polk State says that “several other faculty members” independently came to the same conclusion about Lewis’ performance.

Despite Lewis receiving “zero” for 40% of the class grade, she received a final grade of “A” for the class, on the basis of which the College’s attorneys claim that Grace has not suffered any discrimination.

But Kristin Lewis, Grace’s mother, maintains that her daughter “only received that grade after we spoke with the Dean and obtained the support of Liberty Counsel…. Her final paper was excellent; but so were the four essays that received zeros. Why the turn around? Working behind the scenes to give Grace an ‘A’ to make us go away is not bringing resolution to our concerns and it does not insure that this same thing will not happen to other Polk State students in the future.”

According to Liberty Counsel, Professor Russum wrote in an email that Adolf Hitler “wasn’t violent enough.”

On the professor’s Facebook page that has since been deleted after Liberty Counsel intervened on Grace Lewis’ behalf, Russum had posted a photo of Jesus with his middle finger raised in an obscene gesture (screen shot below), with the remark, “I finally have the answer to WWJD.”

Lance Russum's Facebook pageSource

Here’s a FoxNews video on Lewis and Russum:

Sources: Breitbart.comInside Higher Ed

~Eowyn

UW Grad student union contract includes right to be free of microaggressions

pc police

College Fix: The University of Washington’s “academic student employees” are voting this week on whether hurting someone’s feelings should be “grievable” under their union’s contract with the school.

If approved, it would be the first known university union contract in the country to protect teaching assistants, tutors, readers and similar student employees against “microaggressions” in the workplace.

The 78-page tentative contract between UAW 4121 and the university, which covers everything from wages and health benefits to “lactation” and “bathroom equity,” indicates that agreement on microaggressions came at the tail end of negotiations in late April.

According to a summary of the agreement, the university agreed to stronger contract language regarding gender expression and gender identity discrimination.

The language goes beyond procedures for dealing with gender or sexual orientation discrimination. Union members would be able to file complaints about “everyday exchanges – including words and actions – that denigrate or exclude individuals based on their membership in a group or class.”

One example of a microaggression at UW in recent memory involved a female Ph.D. candidate who “was consistently singled out for purely administrative tasks,” a spokeswoman for UAW 4121 told The College Fix in an email.

The spokeswoman said there were “numerous” examples of microaggressions on campus against academic student employees, enough to make it a “pressing” issue in the union contract.

Recognizing microaggressions as grievable represents “the next level of discourse in this country around racism, sexism, and homophobia,” and will advance the cause of “a more inclusive campus for all academic student employees,” the spokeswoman said. The union chapter did not address questions about what sanctions were possible for university employees who commit microaggressions against union members.

The tentative contract also pledges the university to meet three times a year to “discuss the joint goal of eliminating micro-aggressions and developing trainings for ASEs, faculty, and departments.”

It took just a few short weeks for the administration to cave on the issue of microaggressions, according to emails obtained by The Fix. “The University remains unmoved on micro-aggressions,” the union told members in an April 11 message. “They do not believe definitions and protections belong in a bargaining agreement and they are not open to training despite the preventative and proactive benefits of training.”

Negotiations reached a low point in the next few days: An email dated April 17 shows the union responding point-by-point to a “misinformation campaign to intimidate workers,” in which the school had warned student employees they don’t have the right to strike under state law.

The push for contract recognition of microaggressions goes back to at least this past fall, when the union laid out its “initial bargaining demands,” as The Fix reported.

While this appears to be the first union contract for academic student employees to explicitly make microaggressions “grievable,” it’s not uncommon for faculty unions to address this issue.

The California Faculty Association, which represents California State University professors and lecturers, sponsored a workshop on “unconscious bias” that was pitched as helping members become more “aware of unconscious biases, preferences, and micro-aggressions.”

Re-education for what you do not know is in your brain.

Re-education for what you do not know is in your brain.

Addressing these problems will “foster a CSU environment wherein we can recruit and retain a more diverse faculty workforce and decrease workplace toxicity,” the workshop description read.

The University of Washington did not return requests for comment on the tentative contract.

Read the rest here.

pajama boy

What a difference “higher education” and political correctness can produce.

DCG

Show your support for Baltimore! Um, by shaving your head?

This is what happens when your ego takes over…

Baltimore looter1

Mother Jones has some interesting facts about Baltimore:

  • Of the 100 largest counties in the country, they found, Baltimore was where children in low-income households faced the worst odds in terms of upward mobility
  • Life expectancy in 15 Baltimore neighborhoods, including the one where Freddie Gray lived, is shorter than in North Korea, according to an analysis by the Washington Post.
  • Baltimore teens between 15 and 19 years old face poorer health conditions and a bleaker economic outlook than those in economically distressed cities in Nigeria, India, China, and South Africa
  • In 2014, Baltimore—a city where the unemployment rate (8.1 percent) is nearly one and a half times than the national rate (5.5 percent)—had one of the largest gaps between the rich and poor in the country

How did Baltimore end up in such a sad sate? Must be that republican leadership they’ve had! Oh, wait:

cummings

Elijah Cummings (D-Part of the Problem) is the US Rep for Maryland’s 7th congressional district, serving since 1996.

Baltimore has been a Democratic stronghold for over 150 years, with Democrats dominating every level of government. In virtually all elections, the Democratic primary is the real contest.”

So how does a “celebrity” show their support for his devastated home town?

If only the media didn't have to portray this...

If only the media didn’t have to portray this…

“R&B singer Sisqo is joining the list of celebrities taking a stance against the media’s portrayal of his hometown Baltimore, Maryland. In doing so, he decidedly took a much different approach and sacrificed one of his ever-evolving trademarks: his hair.”

Sisqo proves he's "down for the struggle"

Sisqo proves he’s “down for the struggle”

I sacrificed my hair as a symbol of support for the struggle that Baltimore & most inner-city youth face everyday. My hair has been my signature around the world since our careers started hand n hand with being a Baltimore native good,bad, or ugly. It wrenched my heart when I saw the way that we were being portrayed to the world media. The fact that I was unable to march on the streets of my city with my brothers & sisters physically made me feel as if I needed to make a statement that couldn’t be tainted, twisted, or misconstrued. I have worked with local schools, churches & youth groups in the past. Myself & DRU HILL are working to do more in the future.* So hang in there young people…and remember think outside-of-the-box. Be better then the best & always remember intellect over emotion.”

Sisqo, who is worth $4 to $8 million, sure knows how to step it up for his community! Maybe his brothers and sisters  would be more appreciative if he gave them another “thong song“.

Intellect over emotion...

Intellect over emotion…

DCG

*I Googled “Sisqo and charity work” and came up with just one result, from 2000. He’d better get his PR person on that, stat.

Higher Education: Boston University professor tweets, “white masculinity is THE problem for america’s colleges”

 

grundy

Fox News: Critics say a newly-hired Boston University professor has crossed the line with recent tweets bashing whites, but the school says it’s simply free speech.

“White masculinity isn’t a problem for america’s colleges, white masculinity is THE problem for america’s colleges,” Saida Grundy, an incoming assistant professor of sociology and African-American studies at Boston University, tweeted in March.

In another tweet from January, she wrote: “Every MLK week I commit myself to not spending a dime in white-owned businesses. and every year i find it nearly impossible.”

In another, she called white males a “problem population.” “Why is white America so reluctant to identify white college males as a problem population?” she asked.

grundy tweet

The tweets were first noticed by student Nick Pappas, who posted them on his website “SoCawlege.com” and questioned how Grundy could be able to teach a diverse classroom given the racial hostility in her tweets. (Her tweets are now protected. She must be so proud of her free speech!)

“You have to teach college aged white males eventually, no?… this seems like you are unqualified to grade their work as you clearly demonstrate some kind of special bias against them,” he wrote.

Pappas, a junior at University of Massachusetts Amherst, told FoxNews.com that he hopes to “show the rest of America how nasty people on the far left can get at colleges.”

Those who follow campus politics say they are not shocked. “I’m not surprised that Boston University is hiring a racist to teach African American Studies,” David Horowitz, author of “Reforming our Univerisities” told FoxNews.com. “Anti-white racism is rampant in Black Studies programs which are generally indoctrination programs in left wing politics.”

Boston University stands by the professor, who will start working at the college in June.“Professor Grundy is exercising her right to free speech and we respect her right to do so,” Boston University spokesman Colin Riley said.

Grundy did not respond to a request for comment from FoxNews.com, and has made her twitter account private.

Horowitz said the university’s reaction betrays double-standards on race. “If she were a white racist rather than an anti-white racist, she would never be hired. Professors are supposed to be experts in some scholarly field, and professionals in their classroom discourse. They don’t have a license to indoctrinate students in their prejudices – whether those prejudices are right or left,” he said.

Grundy posted a number of other controversial tweets, for instance claiming that only whites enslaved entire generations of people. “Deal with your white sh*t, white people. slavery is a *YALL* thing,” she said.

racist

Free speech advocates say that Grundy should have a right to her speech, but say the university speech policy is hypocritical because it allows the university to censor offensive or bigoted speech if it wanted to.

“Professor Grundy should and must have the freedom to publicly express her opinions on controversial topics. Unfortunately, though, [she] could be punished if she were to send such tweets through the BU computer network, as the university bans ‘transmitting…offensive’ material,” Robert Shibley of Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) told FoxNews.com.

“In addition, if she were a student, she could also potentially be punished for violating policies banning ‘bigotry, hatred, and intolerance,’ and for not expressing her opinion ‘in good taste and decency.’ … [BU] should eliminate these policies so that it can defend every student and faculty member’s right to free speech – not just Professor Grundy’s.”

Just another day in the world of US “higher education”. See also:

 

DCG

Bedtime reading could disadvantage other children, academic says

bedtime story

9News.com: Could snuggling up in bed and reading a bedtime story to your children ever be a bad thing?

An ABC Radio National program about whether “Having a loving family is an unfair advantage” has questioned whether bedtime reading is causing an uneven playing field for more unfortunate children.

Adam Swift

Adam Swift

British academic Adam Swift told ABC presenter Joe Gelonesi the benefits of the time-honoured custom were greater than a private school education.

“Evidence shows that the difference between those who get bedtime stories and those who don’t — the difference in their life chances — is bigger than the difference between those who get elite private schooling and those that don’t,” Mr. Swift said.

According to Mr. Swift, the “devilish twist” was whether bedtime stories should be restricted.

are you serious

Ultimately the net good of bedtime reading in promoting strong family bonds outweighed any other downsides, Mr. Swift said.

“You have to allow parents to engage in bedtime stories activities, in fact we encourage them because those are the kinds of interactions between parents and children that do indeed foster and produce these (desired) familial relationship goods.”

But parents should be mindful of the advantage provided by bedtime reading, he said. “I don’t think parents reading their children bedtime stories should constantly have in their minds the way that they are unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children, but I think they should have that thought occasionally,” he said.

Mr. Swift told the Daily Telegraph the idea of evening the playing field by encouraging all parents to read to their kids was not discussed. The bedtime stories idea had been suggested by the ABC “as a way of getting attention”, he said.

Professor Frank Oberklaid, from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, told the newspaper he was “bewildered” by the idea of bedtime reading disadvantaging others. “It’s one of the more bizarre things I’ve heard,” he said. “We should be bringing all kids up to the next level.”

DCG

LAUSD charter group gave food contract to an employee’s firm

Jacqueline Duvivier Castillo

Jacqueline Duvivier Castillo

LA Times: A Los Angeles-based charter group awarded food-service contracts worth millions of dollars to a company partially owned by one of the schools’ high-ranking employees, a state investigation has found.

The probe involved Jacqueline Duvivier Castillo, who is the director of business and development for PUC Schools and a part-owner in Better 4 You Meals, a company that has provided food to the charter group for the last five years. Investigators said the charter failed to demonstrate that the contract was “awarded properly despite the apparent conflict of interest.”

Late Saturday, the charter organization said in an email to The Times that Duvivier Castillo would no longer be an employee of PUC. “This move will allow her to focus on her business full-time and will remove any perception of conflict with our schools,” the PUC statement said. “While we in no way believe that Ms. Duvivier influenced our decision-making process, full disclosure and transparency are of utmost importance to us as an organization.”

The state Department of Education, which released emails and documents about its investigation to the Los Angeles Times under the California Public Records Act, also found:

  • Duvivier Castillo failed to properly report her financial interests in the company.
  • The company was ineligible for the food contracts because it lacked a health permit and relied on a subcontractor to prepare meals.
  • PUC Schools did not select the lowest-priced bidder as required.

The education department recently ordered PUC Schools to begin a new bidding process under state supervision. The charter group must also adopt stricter conflict-of-interest guidelines, the department said.

Duvivier Castillo did not respond to requests for comment.

The head of Partnerships to Uplift Communities denied wrongdoing, but said the charter organization is taking the state’s findings seriously and plans to comply.

“We have always run a competitive bid process that we believe is legal and is within the realm of how it’s supposed to be done,” said Chief Executive Jacqueline Elliot. “We were not aware of Jackie’s personal involvement in Better 4 You. All we were aware of was that the procurement process was done appropriately.”

better for you meals

No wonder they weren’t aware of Jackie’s personal involvement in Better 4 You: Their “Management Team” page states, “Coming Soon”.

The charter organization was co-founded by L.A. Unified school board candidate Ref Rodriguez. Rodriguez is on the charter group’s board of directors and works part-time as its treasurer. He is vying to unseat one-term incumbent Bennett Kayser in an expensive, hard-fought contest for a spot on the Los Angeles Board of Education. The election is May 19.

Candidate Ref Rodriguez

Candidate Ref Rodriguez

Better 4 You Breakfast, the company’s original name, contributed $2,200 to the Rodriguez campaign and Duvivier Castillo received $1,700 this year for work as an election consultant, according to campaign finance reports. The state investigation began before Rodriguez announced his candidacy.

Rodriguez declined to answer questions about the state investigation, but issued a statement saying that he backs the decision to terminate the agreement, particularly because he supports “public transparency around our schools and our decision-making.”

State officials did not determine who was at fault for the charter issues. Charter schools are publicly funded and independently managed. Most of PUC’s 16 schools are under the supervision of the L.A. Unified School District. Officials said Friday that the district had no record of PUC alerting it to the probe.

“I believe that PUC has a duty to report such an investigation,” said district General Counsel David Holmquist. “We look forward to reviewing those results as soon as they are available and will take the appropriate action.”

Elliot said Duvivier Castillo helped develop the charter group’s bidding process and oversaw food contracts at schools. But Duvivier Castillo had no role in deciding who received the work, Elliot said, adding that Duvivier Castillo’s job included making sure food vendors complied with legal requirements. Duvivier Castillo had made $96,597 annually.

“Just as Ms. Castillo failed to disclose her interests on the annual disclosure forms, she likewise has not recused herself from administration of the B4U contract. Henceforth, PUC will assign other staff to carry out this duty,” Elliot wrote to state officials in December.

Tax documents for 2010 list the company as a vendor in filings signed by Rodriguez or Elliot. PUC, the documents said, was “party to a business transaction” with a “key employee.” The charter’s tax returns for 2012, however, no longer listed the company as a vendor.

Company documents provided by the state show that Duvivier Castillo’s husband, Fernando Castillo, is a top official with the company, which provides meals for students at more than 100 charter and private schools. He could not be reached for comment.

Annual audits paid for by PUC and released by the state indicated charter officials knew of the alleged conflict of interest. “Additionally … PUC has signed a contract with a company that is one hundred percent owned by PUC’s director of business and development,” the PUC audit said. “PUC’s management believes that all transactions, including the bidding process, were done in arm’s length.”

According to these audits from PUC, the charter group paid Better 4 You Meals more than $339,000 in 2011, more than $947,000 in 2012 and about $970,000 in 2013. No figures were available for other years.

Charter officials reported to the state that Duvivier Castillo had a controlling interest in the company until 2014. She and her husband now have 19% stock ownership, charter officials said.

The company received several contracts from the charter organization, frequently failing to receive the highest score from panels reviewing the bids, according to a state analysis. Elliot said that other companies also received food contracts and that PUC hired Better 4 You because it had the best ideas and most complete understanding of how to run a breakfast program. The decision was not based on a track record; she said she was not aware of any work the company had done elsewhere and that it may have been a start-up.

The company did not make meals or have its own health permit until last year, instead partnering with another business that was responsible for food storage, handling and delivery. But Elliot said she was assured that the other company’s health permit would cover legal requirements.

L.A. Unified released an unrelated audit of a PUC school last week. The district’s inspector general found fault with financial operations and record-keeping at Lakeview Charter Academy.

DCG