Chicago Vs. Smith College

As is well known, you aren’t allowed to criticize Black Lives Matter (still less say anything as offensive as “All Lives Matter”), Critical Race Theory, or any aspect of transgenderism. And it seems increasingly difficult to criticize the orthodoxy of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) in any way.

Witness the case of Dorian Abbot, a professor of geology at the University of Chicago, who has criticized the DEI orthodoxy. He’s spoken out about it, offering some presentations complete with slides, which you can find here, here, here, and here. Here are four of them as a sample if you don’t have time to chase down these links:

And Prof. Abbot’s three-page account of the matter is here.

You can guess what happened next: indignation that Prof. Abbot was making the campus “unsafe.” A statement denouncing Abbot garnered 162 signatures (mostly from graduate students, and each one of them making sure to include their preferred pronouns), charging among other offenses that “The contents of Professor Dorian Abbot’s videos threaten the safety and belonging of all underrepresented groups within the department and serve to undermine Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion initiatives driven by the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Coordination Team (EDICT).” 

As a tenured professor, Abbot can’t be fired, but the statement demands that Abbot be subjected to numerous punishments, each couched as “protections” of students who now feel “unsafe” being around such a bigot.

Fortunately, the University of Chicago’s president, Robert Zimmer, isn’t having any of this, and issued a statement, which reads in part:

From time to time, faculty members at the University share opinions and scholarship that provoke spirited debate and disagreement, and in some cases offend members of the University community.

As articulated in the Chicago Principles, the University of Chicago is deeply committed to the values of academic freedom and the free expression of ideas, and these values have been consistent throughout our history. We believe universities have an important role as places where novel and even controversial ideas can be proposed, tested and debated. For this reason, the University does not limit the comments of faculty members, mandate apologies, or impose other disciplinary consequences for such comments, unless there has been a violation of University policy or the law.  Faculty are free to agree or disagree with any policy or approach of the University, its departments, schools or divisions without being subject to discipline, reprimand or other form of punishment.

In other words, lump it you whinny grad students. By the way—Memo to academic departments and businesses: keep this list of grad students handy as a short cut for identifying who you definitely don’t want to hire.

By contrast, Smith College in Massachusetts follows the usual pattern. A Smith administrative staff member, Jodi Shaw, objected to the ideological fanaticism of the critical race theory-based “sensitivity training” required of all staff members. Ms. Shaw appeared on Tucker not long ago; here’s the short segment:

You can find several of Shaw’s original YouTube videos that started this controversy here.

Aaaannnnd you can guess what happened next: the president of Smith College, Kathleen McCartney, unloaded on Shaw with a formal statement:

This past week, an employee of the college posted a personal video to express their concerns about the college’s programming to promote racial justice. Since the video was posted, members of the President’s Cabinet and I have heard from many in the Smith community who disagree strongly with the content of the post. This employee does not speak for the college or any part of the college. Further, we believe the video mischaracterizes the college’s important, ongoing efforts to build a more equitable and inclusive living, learning and working environment.

You should know that the employee has not violated any college policies by sharing their personal views on a personal channel. The National Labor Relations Act protects employees who engage in concerted activities, including speech, with respect to workplace conditions. All members of any workplace, including Smith College, have the freedom to criticize the policies and practices of their employer.

Nevertheless, I am writing to affirm that the President’s Cabinet and I believe we have a moral responsibility to promote racial justice, equity and inclusion at Smith College. To the people of color in our community, please know our commitment is steadfast. And especially to our students of color, please know we are here for you always.

Translation: We can’t fire Shaw, but she should indeed be regarded as a pariah on campus.

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