Thursday, June 02, 2005

Tales of Academia

Here are three recent news items that reflect on the broader state of academia, each in its own way:

-Here in North Carolina, Professor Jane Christensen of North Carolina Wesleyan has become the object of controversy for teaching a course that argues that the 9/11 attacks were the result of a US/Israeli conspiracy. In a recent interview with the Rocky Mount Telegram, Professor Christensen was asked about her views on the Holocaust:

Do you believe that the Germans and their allies engaged in a systematic program to kill Jews during World War II?

"If there was a systematic program to kill Jews, it was done in collaboration with the Zionists," Christensen answered.

Well, I think that answer more than speaks for itself.

-Via Powerline, comes yet another study showing the left of center dominance of academia:

Although George Bush claimed a bare majority of votes in the actual election, John Kerry trounced him in donations received from colleges and universities. In fact, John Kerry received the lion's share of donations from workers at all twenty-five schools featured in U.S. News and World Report's annual survey. At one school (Dartmouth), Kerry posted an infinite advantage: FEC records show 39 donations to Kerry but not a single Dartmouth employee donating to George W. Bush'’s campaign.

According to Federal Election Commission records, five of the top twenty institutions of all types from which donors made contributions to John Kerry's campaign-—the University of California, Harvard, Stanford, the University of Michigan, and Columbia-were universities.[1] The UC system and Harvard actually gave more than Viacom, JP Morgan, CitiGroup, and other corporate behemoths. In contrast, no university ranked in George W. Bush's top twenty contributors.

The buzzword on campus is diversity. The reality on campus is conformity.

I can't put it any better than that.

-Finally, Opinion Journal's Best of the Web brings word of an academic study on one of the most pressing issues of the day:

We invite contributions for the edited collection Toilet Papers: The Gendered Construction of Public Toilets.

Public toilets are amenities with a functional, even a civic, purpose. Yet they also act as the unconscious of public spaces. They can be a haven: a place to regain composure, to '‘check one'’s face,'’ or to have a private chat. But they are also sexually-charged and transgressive spaces that shelter illicit sexual practices and act as a cultural repository for taboos and fantasies.

This collection will work from the premise that public toilets, far from being banal or simply functional, are highly charged spaces, shaped by notions of propriety, hygiene and the binary gender division. Indeed, public toilets are among the very few openly segregated spaces in contemporary Western culture, and the physical differences between 'gentlemen'’ and '‘ladies'’ remains central to (and is further naturalized by) their design. As such, they provide a fertile ground for critical work interrogating how conventional assumptions about the body, sexuality, privacy, and technology can be formed in public space and inscribed through design.

The gendered nature of public toilets? Ooohkay. You can just feel the postmodern jargon. Personally, I recommend sticking with the "banal", "simply functional" thesis. Oh well, such is the state of contemporary academia.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, the point of this is. The more education you have the less likely you were to have voted for George W. Bush.

4:24 PM  

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