Dump the blue books!
The always-thoughtful David Perry of How Did We Get Into This Mess and on Twitter @Lollardfish) has given his last blue-book, in class, timed exam. Those of you who know his writing will not be surprised that he’s doing this because of the inequities and exposure in-class exams mean for students with disabilities:
I’ve been inching away from the blue book for years, but it’s time to go cold turkey and match my praxis to my principles. Whatever pedagogical gains the in-class test might bring — and I’ll argue they are few and increasingly less relevant — I can no longer justify forcing people with disabilities to disclose their conditions in order to receive basic test-related accommodations.
Although protections for disabled students date back to Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act spurred widespread change throughout academe. Compliance with the ADA and with Section 504 — for any institution receiving federal funds (including financial aid) — requires providing reasonable accommodations to students with diagnosed disabilities. It’s become routine, rather than rare, for students to begin the semester by presenting their professors with documented requests for accommodation.
That it’s become routine is great but far from perfect. Not only do students have to disclose disability to their professors —who are no more immune to ableism than to any other sort of bias — but the most common form of accommodation extends the disclosure to classmates. Many students with invisible disabilities (such as anxiety disorders or ADHD) require quiet rooms and extra time to work on a test. I’m thrilled to provide both. On the other hand, when the whole class gathers to take an exam, with one student conspicuously absent, everyone notices.
Right on, David! (Be sure to read the whole article.) He comes to his conclusion about canning the in-class, timed exams based on his understanding of the concept of universal design. Perry explains, “That term — coined in the 1970s around architecture and public space —advocates that systems be designed to accommodate the widest range of function and ability possible. Universal design asks us to try and build accessibility into the fabric of our institutions and culture, rather than wait until individuals make their needs known.” I’m sure you’ve seen evidence of it in buildings of recent construction–the extra-wide doorways and hallways, the paddle-handle door pulls that have replaced traditional doorknobs because they don’t require the number of fine motor skills to operate. Continue reading
Ugh. Disgusting! As if we need more proof that we need professional standards that prohibit sexual relationships between faculty and students at all levels. (As in most of life, the solution is just don’t be an a$$hole, isn’t it? We can avoid so very much trouble in life if we put up this little sampler in our offices, kitchens, and living rooms and obey.)
I’ve made the point here before about how these relationships poison other faculty-student relationships as well as the learning climate in general. But here’s something else that’s ruined when faculty-student sexual relationships are tolerated, something I have direct and sad experience with myself: the notion that faculty interest in young women’s brains and careers isn’t tainted by sexual motives.
When I read Fernanda Lopez Aguilar’s experiences as an undergraduate student of Thomas Pogge’s at Yale University, I was reminded of something that happened to me as I was finishing college. What happened to me was much less dramatic, but it was I think very related to the feelings of confusion and humiliation she recounts in the linked Buzzfeed article.
Sadly, although women are now the majority of college students (and have been for two decades at least), young women frequently have their intellectual ambitions questioned and have to wonder about the interest that senior faculty–especially senior male faculty–have in encouraging them. Lopez Aguilar thought Pogge was interested in supporting her intellectual work, when it turns out his interest was mostly just sexual and prurient: Continue reading
First woman U.S. Secretary of State, or “War Criminal?”
Scripps College (the women’s campus of the Claremont Colleges) has invited Madeleine Albright to be their commencement speaker, and some students and faculty don’t like it. These students and faculty accuse Albright of being a “war criminal.” I think that’s a ridiculously overblown charge. My guess is that she’s a proxy receptacle for leftist resentment of Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy, but the accusation that anyone who complains about a choice of commencement speaker is somehow against free speech or are not “letting her speak” is equally hysterical. So let’s rehearse:
- Students who write op-eds for campus newspapers (or any newspapers) aren’t “silencing” anyone. They’re exercising their right to free speech.
- Faculty who sign letters of protest and/or promise to boycott graduation because they dislike the speaker are not “silencing” anyone. They’re exercising their liberty of speech and association.
Repeat until no longer outraged! Continue reading
A Woman Writing a Letter (1680), by Frans van Mieris (1635-1681)
UPDATED 12:30 p.m. MDT, with details from my syllabus below the original post.
I’m now going to do something I hardly ever do: I’m going to tell you about something my students have done. I can’t restrain myself! I’m so proud of my women’s history students this semester. Six of them have written biographies of previously unrepresented or under-represented women in early American history, and they’re now published on English-language Wikipedia. Check them out:
Inés de Bobadilla (ca. 1505-43; first woman governor of Cuba)
Alice Clifton (ca. 1772 – unknown; as an enslaved teenager, she was a defendant in infanticide trial in 1787)
Rebecca Dickinson (1738-1815; American tailor and seamstress in Hadley, Mass.)
Elizabeth Hanson, captive of Native Americans (1684-1737; former Wabanaki captive from Dover, N.H. and the author of God’s Mercy Surmounting Man’s Cruelty, 1728)
Sarah Osborn (1714-96; Evangelical Protestant writer in Newport, R.I. and author of Memoirs of the life of Mrs. Sarah Osborn.)
Rachel of Kittery, Maine (d. 1695; enslaved woman murdered by her master whose case set a legal precedent in New England)
Just be completely unscrupulous! (What else should we expect from the bull$hit artist-auteur of Trump University?)
The article is mostly just sad, but this part is hilarious: Continue reading
Hillary Clinton had a big win last night. Even the professional Bernie Sanders-fluffers over at MSNBC had to admit it. It turns out that white men might as well have not showed up to vote! (And the younger ones didn’t. Is that why Sanders fans are so dismissive of Clinton voters and our preferences? Because we’re not white men?)
Hillary Clinton scored an overwhelming victory Saturday on the strength of nearly unified support from African-American and older voters in South Carolina, according to the NBC News Exit Poll. She captured nearly 90 percent among voters age 65 and older and about the same share of the black vote. She even narrowly beat Bernie Sanders among white voters. She ran up huge margins among all education and income groups, liberals, moderates and conservatives, late deciders and those who say they’ve long known who they were going to vote for.
She also ran very strongly among those who attend religious services at least weekly, and among the lowest income voters, both groups with large numbers of African-Americans. Clinton also ran better among women than men, but walloped Sanders among men as well. Only among white men did she fall short of a majority.
Given the thrashing Clinton administered Saturday, it’s hard to find a demographic group that Sanders won. As in earlier contests, Sanders showed some strength among young voters, winning a narrow majority of those under 30. He also edged Clinton among independents. Sanders received more than six in 10 among voters who said this was their first primary election, but this group was a very small share of the electorate (about one in 10). Not surprisingly, he won a majority among voters who want the next president to pursue more liberal policies than President Obama has.
The bottom line here is that Clinton is doing very well among people who actually show up to vote, even if they’re deeply uncool women, African Americans, old, or two or three for three. Oh, well: I think Clinton would rather be president than be considered cool in Williamsburg, Madison, or Austin. Continue reading
Do you feel lucky today? Well, do ya, punk?
Via (I believe) David Schoppik at NYU and Twitter, I found this petition against sexual misconduct in academia:
Sexual harassment and other forms of sexual misconduct have no place in academia. These kinds of unethical behaviors, which often involve powerful males and their female students or junior colleagues, traumatize the victims, impede equal opportunity in academia, and impoverish the intellectual landscape of our scholarly communities.
As recent highly publicized news reports have made clear, the institutional response to cases of sexual misconduct often contributes to the problem [1-3]. Fear of negative publicity feeds bureaucratic inaction, but as these reports also illustrate, the consequences of institutional indolence can be worse. For the victims of sexual harassment or abuse, it is far worse.
Tough new policies emplaced by universities and professional organizations are welcome, but they will not lead to the needed cultural change without the commensurate commitment of individuals to provide a safe, supportive environment for women and men to learn and work together productively. An individual commitment entails disseminating a message of zero tolerance of sexual misconduct; educating faculty, staff and students about norms of workplace behavior and reporting pathways for their violation; and, most critically, publicly supporting the victims who come forward to report incidences of sexual misconduct. The reporting of misconduct by victims and bystanders should be recognized as courageous actions that are key to making our communities safer and stronger.
Go read the whole thing and sign on if you like–I did. However, I think it’s offering only weak tea (or “spout water,” really) in its diagnosis and prescription. Continue reading