Thursday, April 18, 2013

Palermo’s Confronts Student Activists in Campus Forum

Something unusual happened on campus last night. Leftist student activists got to confront representatives of a business they have been demonizing, and the business got to respond.

It happens very infrequently on this campus that people on two sides of any debate face off before an audience that gets to hear both sides.

The carnage, in fact, was considerable.

The representatives from Palermo’s Pizza were Chris Dresselhuys, Vice President of Marketing and Tom Branigan, who teaches part time in the College of Communication. They faced a student audience, a substantial portion of which consisted of activists from Youth Empowered in the Struggle, a branch of the leftist, pro-illegal immigration group Voces de la Frontera, which has been trying to force Palermo’s employees into a union.

Also present were two members of the Marquette administration, Vice President for Administration Arthur Scheuber and Vice President for Student Affairs L. Christopher Miller.

Given that the discussion was dominated by questions from student activists, the intellectual level was . . . well, not the most erudite.

Student activists asked the same questions over and over, appearing not to have noticed that they had been answered two or three or four times already. They often rambled incoherently during their stint at the microphone. And they made some absurdly bogus arguments.

One young woman, for example, stated that, since the Palermo’s representative was constantly denying wrongdoing, that indicated that Palermo’s was indeed guilty of wrongdoing!

Franz Kafka, call Palermo’s and place your take-out order.

Scheuber and Miller explained that they had examined all the charges against Palermo’s and found them to be without foundation. Palermo’s had been forced to fire workers who were in the country illegally (or at least, could not prove their right to be in the country to the satisfaction of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which had audited Palermo’s).

Voces de la Frontera lied to the fired workers, claiming that if they joined a union, their immigration problems would go away.

Chris Piszczek, a member of Voces de la Frontera who approached the microphone in attire reminiscent of Berkeley, Class of 1968, insisted that the mere fact that allegations were made should cause Marquette to want to distance itself from the company.

Piszczek claimed to have been thoroughly immersed  in Catholic Social Thought, with its concern for the poor and the marginalized.  After the event, we asked him whether he thought abortion ought to be illegal, and he responded that “that’s not part of Catholic social thought.”

Miller and Scheuber gave coherent answers to student questions – and indeed repeated them multiple times as questions were repeated multiple times. Miller, unfortunately, pandered a bit to the activist students. Actually, he pretty much kissed ass. He commended the students for their “passion,” when they should have been scolded for their callow, uninformed moral preening.

It’s not clear any minds were changed. The Youth Empowered in the Struggle contingent, easily identified by the applause they gave the standard activist talking points, numbered perhaps 15 students. The rest of the audience was hard to read, but at least one member said it was embarrassing how poorly the student activists fared.

According to the Marquette Tribune:
Marisa Galvez, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences and one of those who called for the panel, said the administration still needs to take more notice to the issues students have with Palermo’s as a company.
That’s the standard activist way of thinking: “our position is so obviously right, and our arguments so obviously good, that if somebody doesn’t agree with us, it must be because they are not listening.”

Typically, people are listening, and think you are wrong.

The activists claimed to represent “the students,” but there is no evidence that any majority of Marquette students even know or care about the issue. And if they did, it’s not at all clear they would agree with the activists.

Marquette in 2013

Marquette in 2013 is not Berkeley in 1968, but there are ghettos of leftist activism on campus, particularly around the Center for Peacemaking, the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, the Women’s and Gender Studies program, Residence Life, the humanities departments, as well as Sociology and Psychology.

Within these cocoons, critical thinking is not encouraged, and students can luxuriate in a smug sense of righteousness, without worrying too much about complex issues in the real world. Do unions really help workers? Is racism the main problem blacks face? Is anybody who doesn’t think that abortion should be legal sexist? Is anybody who opposes gay marriage a homophobe?

Asking these questions is not encouraged, and indeed not even really allowed. The answers are assumed to be obvious.

Moral Seriousness

By coincidence, yesterday afternoon just a couple of hours before the forum, we talked to a student who is going to serve with Teach for America this summer, working in a poor school in the Mississippi Delta. He won’t bring World Peace, but he is devoting a few months of his life to something that may make things just a bit better for some children.

That’s a morally serious choice. Whining about the evils of Palermo’s Pizza isn’t a morally serious choice. It’s a cheap way to feel self-righteous.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Forum on Palermo’s Pizza Tonight

From an e-mail sent to the entire university community:
MUSG to host Palermo’s student forum

On Wednesday, April 17, MUSG is hosting a forum open to all Marquette students with representatives from Palermo’s Pizza. The forum will be held at 7 p.m. in AMU Ballroom E.

Throughout the 2012-13 academic year, the Marquette Tribune has published several articles about events surrounding Palermo’s Pizza. In early June 2012, employees of Palermo’s filed a complaint alleging that the company dismissed a massive amount of employees in retaliation for the workers’ effort to organize a union at the organization’s primary manufacturing facility in Milwaukee.
The campus leftists will be there. It would be good if a fair number of open-minded people showed up.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Saturday Night Live: Ridiculing Gun Control



It’s one thing to make sober policy arguments against gun control. Those have never worked very well, since the lust for gun control is driven by cultural bias more than sober policy arguments.

But when the entertainment media start ridiculing gun control, it becomes “uncool.” That’s way more effective than any policy argument.

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Gender and Sexuality Resource Center: Politically Correct to the Max

The following comes via e-mail from the College of Arts and Sciences:
The Department of Social and Cultural Sciences Colloquia Series concludes this year with the following presentation. We hope to see you all there.

Friendship, Fiction and the Dream of Disloyalty:

White Women Telling Tales of Racial Justice Collaboration

Dr. Susannah Bartlow, Director, Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, Marquette University

From Uncle Tom’s Cabin to The Help, white women have centralized their own participation in civil rights and racial justice work and characterized their roles as benevolent, transgressive, or transformative. But the narratives and experiences of women of color (particularly African American women) belie this fantasy. What stories are white women telling themselves as they create and consume this work? Reading The Help through a critical race and queer feminist lens, this paper outlines the parameters of a project on interracial collaborations in pursuit of racial justice.

Friday, 26 April 2013, 3 PM LL 272
Gosh, of course the way to interpret any text is through a critical race and queer feminist lens. And of course, any notions that any whites have about helping blacks achieve equality must be bogus. We all know that whites are evil . . . even those who thought they were helping black people.

This, of course, is from the Director of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center that is, the Gay, Lesbian and Any Kind of Sex That Catholic Teaching Considers Illicit Resource Center.

Yes, the same Center that sponsored the FemSex seminar, until Marquette came to its senses and cancelled the sponsorship.

The mentality that pervades the Center is typified in a course the Director, Susannah Bartlow, taught at Dickenson College before she came to Marquette. Titled “Justice,
 Ecology, 
and 
Gender,” it is described in the syllabus as follows:
Ecofeminism analyzes how the same paradigms and historical inequalities devalue and oppress both ‘women’ and ‘nature,’ leading to the oppression and denigration of both. This course is meant to open theoretical, historical, and scientific avenues into your ability to analyze and understand the ways that, in Western society, women are treated as inferior to men, ‘nature’ is treated as inferior to ‘culture’, and humans/men are understood as being separate from, and often superior to, the natural environment/women.

Through a lens which acknowledges the connections between sexism, racism, class exploitation, and environmental destruction, the class will explore and undermine many of the common conceptions which balance technology, culture, progress, innovation, and might, against the traditionally feminine circularity, connectivity, tradition, sustainability, and community innovation. As we learn to understand the misguided, anthropocentric, and engendered frameworks which have led to both personal injustice and global disasters from dangerous climate change to dangerous eye makeup, we can begin to see how solutions to environmental problems require a feminist perspective, and feminist theory and practice require an environmental perspective – in other words, how we can be warriors for the many environment(s) such as forests, waterways, communities, and our own bodies, that we care for, and do so in radically more ecological way than patriarchal norms ever have documented or allowed.
The actual content of the course is exactly what one would expect, given the description.

What topics are covered? All the ones you would expect in an uber-politically correct course. And some that seem a bit odd even to people familiar with politically correct academia:
  • Toxicology in the body / nail salons / The beauty industry
  • Ecofeminism and environmental justice / agrojustice issues [yes, agribusiness is evil]
  • Women and Meat [Don’t you dare enjoy that hamburger!]
  • Dismantling oppression: An analysis of the connection between women and animals
  • Discourses of racial difference in ecofeminism [we can’t pass up an opportunity to invoke race]
  • Native Peoples and the Environmental Crisis [we all know that Indians were huge environmentalists]
  • Uses of the Erotic [got to work in sex here]
  • Boygasms and Girlgasms [ditto]
  • Why Agricultural Biotechnology Will Not Feed the World or Save the Environment [apparently feminism will]
  • Toxic Tampons and Coming of Age
  • Reproductive Justice [of course these folks are pro-abortion]
  • Reconstructing the Hiroshima Maidens
  • Climate Change & Gender Development
  • Gender, Militarism, and the Environment [yes, every bad thing is connected to every other bad thing]
  • Rherotic [sic], Rape, and Ecowarefare [sic] in the Persian Gulf [can’t we get another two or three bogie men in that title?]
  • Sick of Man‐Made Chemicals [obviously, only the natural kind are any good]
  • Ecofeminist Organizational Tools [what we really want you to do is get out and push our political agenda]
So what we have is a course that has shoehorned into it every obsession of the obsessively politically correct. The possibility of any substantive discussion is virtually zero. Any skepticism about global warming, or inconvenient facts about unsavory practices among “native peoples” or any arguments that technological advances have radically reduced hunger in the world are simply ruled out of bounds.

The requirements for the course are as vacuous as everything else about it. One is:
Reflect on your relationship to your body. How is your body both gendered and not gendered? How do you relate to your body? Is your body gendered? What are the other dualisms which dictate your fundamental associations to your body.
We’ve heard certain exercises described as “naval gazing” but never seen that concept so explicitly mandated in a college course.

Why in the world would Marquette hire a director of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center who buys into all this? Particularly, why would they hire somebody who is pro-abortion?

The answer is simple. Marquette is radically over-bureaucratized, and university bureaucrats think like this.  Any that don’t think like this know it’s prudent to placate certain constituencies: gays and lesbians, feminists, humanities faculty, liberal media outside the university. Thus we have an institution with only a thin veneer of Catholicism. Underneath, the place is saturated with the secular ideologies that prevail in academia generally.

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hypocrisy: Marquette on Sexual Assault Awareness

It’s now “Sexual Assault Awareness Month” at Marquette, and here is the video that talks about it:


As is always the case on college campuses, the issue is framed in terms of needing to “raise awareness.” Presumably, if everybody is “aware” that some guys would like to rape (or otherwise sexually assault) a woman, the problem will go away.

The people promoting this campaign, of course, continue to simply lie about the incidence of campus rape. For example, they cite a 2000 Department of Justice Report to support the claim that “It is estimated that nearly 25 percent of college women have been victims of rape or attempted rape since the age of 14.” We have analyzed this report, and it in fact shows no such thing.

Other studies of the issue show a vastly lower incidence of sexual assault among college women.

But of course, if you are trying to “raise awareness” why not get everybody as overwrought about the issue as possible?

Then there is Marquette’s rhetoric about how sex without “consent” is sexual assault.  That sounds reasonable on its face, but unfortunately, the definition of “consent” is warped.   Some of what the university says about consent is sensible (“Giving in or going along with someone . . . to avoid being hurt is not consent”). But some of it is absurd. For example: “Giving in or going along with someone to gain approval . . . is not consent.” So if a girl allows a guy to have sex with her because she wants his approval he has raped her.

Then there is “Silence and passivity do not equal consent.” So if a woman allows a guy to fondle her, or have sex with her, without any protest or resistance, he has raped her.  This may be true in the fever swamp that is feminist academia, but it’s not true in the real world.

Such absurdly broad definitions of rape cheapen the meaning of the term “rape” and trivialize real rape.  This feminist tendency to call every unfortunate sexual encounter that a woman may, in the morning, feel unhappy about “rape” is the reason that a vastly lower number of college women say they have been raped than are classified as rape victims by feminist researchers.

But at least, Marquette is taking a forthright stand against date rape, right?

But what happens when women on campus are the victims of actual sexual assault? Especially, what happens when the assailants are members of the basketball team? Marquette covers it up. One case involved a woman who began consensual intercourse with a male student, and then told him to stop. Not only did he refuse, but he roughed her up badly in the process.

The woman met with Student Affairs staffer Stephanie Quade. According to the Chicago Tribune:
The woman said she met with Quade, who encouraged her to focus on her schoolwork and mental health rather than pursuing charges, the woman said. Quade also asked if she had thought about praying about the situation, the woman said. She said she left the meeting in tears.

“I felt like they were trying to get me to be quiet and disappear,” she said. “I’ve never been made to feel so dumb, so stupid and so much like I didn’t matter.”
Marquette, which was legally required to report the incident to local police, failed to do so.

Another article in the Chicago Tribune described a separate incident:
One of the woman’s friends told police she became uncomfortable as the night wore on. The friend said an athlete poured alcohol into cups for the women and called them “big girl shots.” She told police that athletes were “dancing inappropriately” and that she overheard one say, “We’re (going to have sex with) these bitches tonight.”

At some point that night, the 19-year-old woman said, one athlete trapped her in a bedroom before grabbing her by the ears and forcing her to perform a sex act, police records show. The athlete told police the sex was consensual.

After leaving the room, the woman encountered another athlete who gave her two more shots of alcohol and started dancing with her. Minutes later, the woman went to a different bedroom with three other athletes. She recalled one slamming the door shut in the face of a friend who was worried about her safety. A second athlete put her hand in his pants, and another put his hand inside her pants, according to her statement to police and school officials.

She recalled that the encounter ended when a friend found another athlete to unlock the door, records show. The 19-year-old woman said she was slumped down in a chair with her pants undone and an athlete standing over her when her friend entered the room.

When the woman shared her account with campus security officers, they discouraged her from going to Milwaukee police by telling her the allegations would draw news media attention, she said.
This is what we would expect from the modern, politically correct university. Marquette bureaucrats will recite all the politically correct cant about sexual assault, will display ribbons and subject undergraduates to all sorts of indoctrination. But when faced with real sexual assault, they cover it up.

The problem, quite simply, is that Marquette has too many bureaucrats. They specialize in mouthing fashionable clichés, setting up “offices” for this and that, having workshops, subjecting students to all kinds of exercises to “raise awareness,” and declaring that this is “Sexual Assault Awareness Month.” Yet all this is fundamentally irrelevant, bureaucratic busywork, essentially. A genuine response to sexual assault would involve reporting it to the police and actually punishing the offenders.

Bureaucratic make-work, in other words, can’t substitute for actual moral integrity. The latter has been sorely lacking at Marquette.

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Saturday, April 06, 2013

Gonzaga Denies Knights of Columbus Student Group Because It’s Catholic

From the Cardinal Newman Society:
Spokane’s Gonzaga University has denied a Knights of Columbus group application to be recognized as an official student organization. Those seeking the status were notified of the University’s decision at a meeting on March 7.

The group was notified of the decision by Dean of Students Kassi Kain and Assistant Director for Student Activities Dave Rovick.

“The Knights of Columbus, by their very nature, is a men’s organization in which only Catholics may participate via membership,” says a letter obtained by The Cardinal Newman Society written by Sue Weitz, Vice President for Student Life. “These criteria are inconsistent with the policy and practice of student organization recognition at Gonzaga University, as well as the University’s commitment to non-discrimination based on certain characteristics, one of which is religion.”

The letter continued:
The discussion at the meeting touched on formation of a Catholic Daughters student organization at Gonzaga. Such a group would address the gender exclusivity issue. However, it would not address the requirement that all members of a student Knights of Columbus group must be Catholic.
Individuals who spoke with The Cardinal Newman Society only on condition of anonymity explained that the group has been stalled by the administration for the entire academic year. Efforts were made by students to apply for official student group status beginning in September. The group was told they would have a response by November. The group wasn’t notified of the University’s decision until March.

Weitz did not return the call from The Cardinal Newman Society seeking comment on the decision.

One Knights of Columbus member told The Cardinal Newman Society that other University organizations, including club sports, currently limit membership and exclude people.
But those organizations, of course, are not religious. And in the minds of secular bureaucrats at modern universities are particularly suspicious of religion (and the fact that this is a nominally Catholic university doesn’t change that).
A Knights of Columbus council was originally established as a student organization at the University in 1999. Reportedly, the group had both an academic adviser and a financial account. Sometime thereafter, the organization’s status lapsed, and the group was told that its paperwork had been lost.

“I … believe strongly in the University’s commitment to non-discrimination and inclusivity,” continues Weitz in the letter. “If Gonzaga was an institution that served only Catholics and limited the benefits of the collegiate experience only to them, the decision-making process may have been different.”

“To embrace the diversity and yet endorse a group based on faith exclusivity is a challenge that cannot be reconciled at this time,” Weitz wrote in closing. “It is a decision about social justice, equity, and the desire of the University to create and maintain an environment in which none are excluded.”
Another absurd statement. If somebody decides they are not Catholic, they are excluding themselves from the Knights of Columbus. People should be free to choose their religious beliefs, but people of similar religious beliefs should be free to form associations. That’s the notion that should prevail in a free society. But the campus of a “Catholic university” is not a free society. It is, ironically, a place where religion is less free than in the general society.
The group is currently examining other alternatives and considering whether it should form a council completely independent of the University. One option that may be available to the group, and that is in practice at other universities, is for the Knights of Columbus council to form under the umbrella of campus ministry.
Putting the group under the Campus Ministry would, of course, be a good strategy for keeping it under the control of university bureaucrats. That, for example, was the case with the Marquette Campus Ministry and an organization called Catholic Outreach.

When First Things, a Christian (but not exclusively Catholic) publication rated universities on how friendly they are to faith, Gonzaga failed to make the “least Catholic schools” list, but it did make the “schools in decline, filled with gloom” list.

Is Marquette much different? The case of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, which Marquette came close to kicking off campus because it upheld Christian ideals about sexuality, would suggest it’s not.

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Thursday, April 04, 2013

Illegal Immigrants: Let’s Be Entirely Honest for a Change