February 22nd, 2014 § § permalink
A brief article about a letter penned by the Young Americans for Liberty at the University of Michigan on the issue of diversity of thought has been shared and liked thousands of times on Facebook this morning. The article, shared by the National Liberty Federation, is one of many on the YAL letter that has gained national attention in these past months.
YAL’s letter, written by Sophomores Derek Magill and Cody Chipman, called for the Coleman administration to allow an open forum for all ideas, “not just those that the university sanctions.” The response by the Coleman Administration has been patronizing and inadequate at best. A short letter response by Provost Pollack stated that the university prides itself on it’s diverse curriculum, and that because the students at YAL were libertarian, the diverse curriculum must be working.
The article is transcribed in it’s entirety below:
“In a bold move on today’s politically correct campuses, a group of brave libertarian students at the University of Michigan recently decided to stand up and tell the school that they were, in effect, “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.”
In a no-holds-barred letter to the powers that be, the students said they were “sick and tired of being treated like second-class citizens, watching their administration fawn over and pander to a vocal group of radical students while they are treated like pariahs” according to The College Fix.
In the letter, they explained that while “nearly every course we have taken has been taught from a liberal perspective by a liberal professor,” there is a “general lack of opposing viewpoints students have access to.”
Since college campuses should represent a free marketplace of ideas, the students suggested that the school make opposing viewpoints available by offering economics courses “taught by competent and fair free market professors; that history courses taught from perspectives other than the postmodern be made available; that for every course on race and ethnicity, there be a course on intellectual diversity which includes liberal, conservative and libertarian cultural and political ideas.”
Moreover, they asked “that an increased budget be developed and extra-curricular programs created to help foster this intellectual diversity outside of the classroom. This would allow students from across the disciplines to engage in fair minded and open discussion with their peers about all ideologies, not just those that the university sanctions.”
The original post can be found here and on Facebook:
February 22nd, 2014 § § permalink
Are you a classical liberal student at the University of Michigan who is looking for summer educational opportunities with like minded individuals? The Institute for Humane Studies and the Foundation for Economic Education have announced their Summer 2014 seminars for undergraduate students interested in the ideas of liberty. The seminars are taught at locations around the country by top academics in fields such as economics, history, philosophy, political science, filmmaking, art, and policy. Typical seminar days include lectures throughout the day with breaks for snacks and lunch, and socials at night where students have an opportunity to network and develop closer relationships with their peers and professors.
Accepted students receive tuition, room, and board at no charge. Applications close March 31st.
From the Institute for Humane Studies:
“IHS Summer Seminars stretch your mind and explore the notions of liberty, drawn from the classical liberal intellectual tradition, while inviting you to look at the world and your future plans with the cause of freedom in mind.
During each seminar, you’ll be engaged by lectures from leading scholars drawing on history, economics, philosophy, public policy, law, and a wide variety of professional experiences.
Each seminar is designed to raise big questions, foster in-depth discussions, and create opportunities to connect with people from around the world who believe in liberty. And you’ll walk away with a deeper understanding of liberty, new career possibilities, and a multidisciplinary network.
What’s more, through the IHS Summer Seminars you’ll gain valuable career and intellectual skills. Learn not to take anything for granted but rather, continue to challenge the status quo.
Finally, you’ll find it’s also a great time to make long-lasting friendships with bonds on the ideas of freedom that will last a lifetime.”
Featured Seminar: “Foundations of Liberty: The Rule of Law” June 12-15 ● Bryn Mawr College, Philadelphia, PA
“On the one hand, we all want our individual liberties and freedom to lead fruitful, productive lives. But being a community of individuals, we also need laws to guarantee those freedoms. But how much is enough and at what point is it too much?
Our Foundations of Liberty: The Rule of Law seminar will provide an engaging introduction to the foundations of a free society by exploring the legal, economic, and philosophical roots of libertarian thought and how it is applied to insure rights as individuals. It is ideal for students seeking to understand how the central principle of classical liberalism—individual liberty—relates to the history of the law and our current legal institutions.”
For a complete list of seminars:
From the Foundation for Economic Education:
“FEE’s mission is to inspire, educate and connect future leaders with the economic, ethical and legal principles of a free society.
For young minds interested in an introduction to free market economics and its foundations in the broader philosophy of individual liberty, FEE is the best source for inspiring content, programs and community. FEE is not an academic or political organization; instead our focus is making the economic, ethical and legal principles of a free society widely accessible, easily understood and energizing to young minds. We do this by delivering content that is substantive and thoughtful in forms most convenient to our customers, including in-person seminars and lectures, web-delivered content, printed material in book and magazine form, and networking opportunities. At FEE, young people—and educators who work with them—will find an exciting and optimistic introduction to the Austrian and classical liberal traditions in free market economics as well as opportunities to connect with other young people and free-market organizations around the world.”
Featured Seminar: ”Good Intentions or Good Results? How Trade, Property, and Entrepreneurship will Help the Developing World” July 31 – August 1 ● Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI
“What causes wealth and what can be done to help those without it? Billions of dollars are spent on aid programs, while millions continue to starve. These programs help people feel better about the suffering in the world, but what actually helps alleviate that suffering? What is the cause of wealth in the world? This introduction to economic thinking will help you answer these questions. This introductory seminar will not give you all of the answers to these complex problems; it will give you the tools to find the answers yourself.”
For a complete list of seminars:
Contact Derek Magill at email@example.com for more information.
February 18th, 2014 § § permalink
The Heritage Action for America organization held its first ever Conservative Policy Summit on Monday, February 10, 2014. The daylong conference brought together nine conservative politicians from all over the country to discuss a new reform agenda that will hopefully be pursued in the coming years.
Heritage Action is a newly formed policy advocacy organization that works with activists across the country in order to support conservative legislation in Congress. Protecting privacy, transforming the welfare state, and higher education were all included at the Summit, as well as the overarching theme that “America will not prosper under managed decline and other European-style policies.” Senators Ted Cruz, Tim Scott, and Matt Salmon all spoke.
Despite the Summit’s noteworthy Republican speakers, the Heritage Action’s influence in Congress has been rapidly diminishing. In fact, the Conservative Policy Summit was partly enacted in response to House Speaker John Boehner’s comment that the organization had “lost all credibility.” It’s hard line mission to defund President Obama’s health care reform law at all costs resulted in the disastrous government shutdown last year, and in response, many conservative congressmen have been walking away from the organization’s wishes.
Heritage Action created their power in Washington by developing “scorecards” that rate lawmakers on how they vote on key legislation. However, as of late, lawmakers say the threat of a low rating is no longer an effective scare tactic.
‘“I don’t look at them,” said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who received a 39 percent rating from Heritage Action. “More and more members need to understand, they represent their constituents, not outside groups.”’
“Their influence has waned since they became such a political arm. When they were a think tank, when it was Heritage Foundation, I think a lot of us read their material, listened to it, went to it for advice,” said Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho). “Since they became so political, a lot of people said: ‘I don’t need that anymore.’”
This movement away from the Heritage Foundation’s political branch represents a newfound commitment to working across party lines in order to pass legislation. Though Republicans have the majority in the House of Representatives, there is still a democratic Senate with whom to negotiate. ‘“The problem is that [the Heritage Action] isn’t ‘educating’ the grass roots, they’re misleading them,” a GOP leadership aide said. “For example, by telling them we can defund Obamacare with control of only one House in Congress. And when it turned out they didn’t actually have a plan to win in the Senate, let alone get President [Barack] Obama to sign anything into law, the only effect was to damage the party and disillusion committed conservatives across the country.”’
Heritage Action contradicts itself by tying Republican legislators’ hands and encouraging government inaction all in the name of preserving conservative values. However, conservative congressman have finally realized the only way for Republican ideas to make it through both houses of government will be a bipartisan compromise.
February 14th, 2014 § § permalink
Race has been the primary issue of debate on Michigan’s campus recently, but is also just as contentious a topic on campuses across the country – from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas speaking about race at Palm Beach Atlantic University, to a spoken word video gone viral at UCLA.
Here at Michigan, the recent Black Student Union protest demanding various race-based special treatment for minorities yielded compliance by both administrators and the Central Student Government.
On Monday, when speaking to students at Palm Beach Atlantic University, Justice Thomas took a shot at political correctness and hypersensitivity towards race, noting that our current society is more race conscious than during his youth in pre civil-rights Georgia.
“My sadness is that we are probably today more race and difference-conscious than I was in the 1960s when I went to school. To my knowledge, I was the first black kid in Savannah, Georgia, to go to a white school. Rarely did the issue of race come up,” remarked Justice Thomas.
“Now, name a day it doesn’t come up. Differences in race, differences in sex, somebody doesn’t look at you right, somebody says something. Everybody is sensitive. If I had been as sensitive as that in the 1960s, I’d still be in Savannah. Every person in this room has endured a slight. Every person. Somebody has said something that has hurt their feelings or did something to them — left them out.”
Thomas also said that he faced greater discrimination from those in the North, rather than from the South, which is stereotyped as being more discriminatory and racist.
“The worst I have been treated was by northern liberal elites. The absolute worst I have ever been treated,” Thomas said. “The worst things that have been done to me, the worst things that have been said about me, by northern liberal elites, not by the people of Savannah, Georgia.”
On the west coast, at UCLA, The College Fix ‘s Josh Hedtke reported on a video from November of a student group called “The Black Bruins” who express their misfortunes and victimization in spoken word.
“The video is prefaced by a slide reminding or enlightening us of the assassination of two black students on the UCLA campus in 1969. It then jumps to black students standing in a group lodging their grievances openly on campus, behind their head spokesman, Stokes, who is currently working on a degree offered by an Afro-American Studies program that may soon become its own independent department at UCLA” reports Hedtke.
The student in the video cites low graduation rates of minority students, as well as underrepresentation and marginalization, amongst other “racist” inequities.
Hedtke argues “different groups of people are simply represented unequally in different endeavors. It’s what happens in a diverse society where people are free to pursue their own goals. Professional sports, such as basketball and baseball, provide illustrative examples of this.”
UCLA has an even more diverse student body than Michigan does, and white students are actually more underrepresented than black students, according to Hedtke.
“In 2012 in California, the total percentage of the black population was 6.6 percent, and the total percentage of the white population was 73.7 percent. In contrast, the percentage of white student at UCLA is 27.8 percent and the percentage of black students at UCLA is 3.8 percent.
In effect, white students are actually severely “underrepresented” compared to black students: the white percentage at UCLA is only 37.7 percent of the total percentage of white residents in the state, whereas the black percentage at UCLA is 57.6 percent of the total statewide percentage of black residents – a 20 point difference!”
More so, UCLA is extremely proactive in creating a diverse and inclusive study body population. There are 112 student groups that contribute to diversity at the institution, Hedtke writes. Not to mention 16 ethnic or cultural study programs and other initiatives that induce diversity.
“Many of these groups receive funding from the UCLA student government. We have 16 “___________ studies” majors ranging from Chicano Studies to Gender Studies to Israel Studies. UCLA has an actual written “Strategic Plan For Diversity.” In the 2011 “UC Accountability Report,” an annual report that addresses subjects such as “Affordability” and “Undergraduate Student Success,” the longest section, totaling 22 pages, is devoted to “Diversity.”’
The University of Michigan is comparable to UCLA, both in its academic rigor and its pursuit of diversity through various programs, organizations, and departments. Michigan houses over 18 centers that are devoted to studying various cultures, races, and globalization to foster a diverse learning community – not including all the programs and majors that are housed in such centers.
Michigan also has a whole portal dedicated to diversity, as well as a provost dedicated to diversifying the Wolverine student body.
Michigan also has an administrative position similar to UCLA’s that is dedicated to spearheading diversity, the Vice Provost for Education and Equity. In a letter to the Michigan community, Provost Martha E. Pollack wrote, “This position will have responsibility for providing strategic leadership that results in increased access and success for all students, the recruitment and retention of diverse faculty, and the development and expansion of academic programs that prepare all students for success in a diverse world.”
Hedtke writes further about so called “transgression” committed against minority students by faculty members, one being a distinguished professor of education who instigated a sit-in of a lecture.
“Among the 81-year old professor emeritus’s alleged transgressions are repeatedly requiring students to write “Indigenous” in lowercase form instead of uppercase form (consistent, by the way, with its not having proper noun status as can be discovered readily in any standard dictionary), requiring students to capitalize “white” if they also choose to capitalize “black,” and my personal favorite: requiring the students to use the Chicago Manual of Style instead of the style standards of the American Psychological Association.”
Seemingly, minority students at UCLA have similar woes to those here at Michigan, both calling for more diversity and inclusion while administrators of both institutions strive to comply with students’ concerns and demands.
Read Hedtke’s full article at The College Fix.
February 12th, 2014 § § permalink
Students from the University of Michigan Young Americans for Liberty will head to the nation’s capitol next week to attend the largest pro-liberty student gathering in the world.
The International Students for Liberty Conference brings together about 1,600 students each year for a weekend celebration for the cause of freedom. Last year, more than 1,400 students from all seven continents attended. This year’s conference is Feb. 14 – 16.
Attendees will participate in a live taping of the STOSSEL Show and will hear from speakers such as Ghanaian economist George Ayittey, drug policy reform proponent Ethan Nadelmann, and participate in breakout sessions held by organizations such as the Cato Institute, the Koch Foundation, the Foundation for Economic Education, and the Institute for Humane Studies. Other highlights include a liberty fair, a concert, socials, and an art exhibit.
In 2009, YAL was awarded the International Libertarian Group of the year award at the Students for Liberty conference for it’s work on the University of Michigan Campus. This year, 35 YAL students from backgrounds as diverse as Engineering and Classical Latin will be joining 60 Michigan libertarians from around the state to bus to Washington DC.
For more information about YAL, or Students for Liberty, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
February 12th, 2014 § § permalink
Barely a week after the Central Student Government decided to back the Black Student Union and it’s demands for a university-wide war against racism – or what the BSU and the Coleman administration have defined to be racism – a CSG assembly of bumptious, would-be-politicians, passed a resolution which addresses minority enrollment, the creation of a scholarship for undocumented students, and official CSG support for activism that promotes racial diversity on campus. It also added Native Americans and Native Alaskans to a running list of minority groups who are supposedly in need of more representation on campus. CSG’s resolution seems to imply that racism and a lack of racial diversity are one and the same thing.
Though the Coleman administration and the CSG, which are currently involved in a lawsuit relating to the issue of intellectual diversity, have yet to announce whether it will be supporting similar legislation to promote diversity of thought, the co-author of the bill, Samuel Molnar, was clear that HIS bill would have nothing to do with that:
“This isn’t a resolution about free speech, it’s a resolution about racism.” (Quoted from the Michigan Daily)
A key point in Molnar’s original bill read that “… CSG defends the right of minority and anti-racist students to speak the plain truth about racism …”
When CSG President Michael Proppe proposed an amendment to this, which stated that “CSG defends the right to freedom of speech for all students,” it was turned down, but the CSG assembly eventually decided that it could lend some limited support to free speech if it directly related to combating racism. The final amendment reads, “CSG defends the right of all students to speak the plain truth about racism,” which offers only a minor and likely to be ignored change: non minority students are now also protected when speaking out about how racist they themselves are.
The University of Michigan’s free speech codes currently score a “Red Light,” the lowest a school can be ranked from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which is unlikely to change if the administration adopts CSG’s resolution.
Prior to discussing the bill, speakers from By Any Means Necessary, or BAMN, a quaintly self-described “radical” group for affirmative action which has taken up the noble (and now protected) practice of branding students on campus who disagree with them as “KKK supporters,” asked CSG to pledge fielty to their goal of 10-percent minority enrollment…by any means necessary.
Christian Mays, in perhaps one of the few displays of integrity during the entire two hour debate, noted that BAMN’s “past behavior” was aggressive, and that Affirmative Action should be discussed separately from today’s resolution. (From the Daily) CSG Vice President Bobby Dishell also noted that an official stance on affirmative action, and other national policy issues, would not be a productive use of CSG’s time because the student representatives (thankfully) don’t have a role in what the dark suits in Washington decide for the rest of us.
It remains to be seen whether or not the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs will adopt the bill, but the administration has shown support for this particular brand of diversity in the past, and if precedent is any evidence, students can expect some new changes on campus coming soon.
February 11th, 2014 § § permalink
On January 27th, members of the Young Americans for Liberty sent a letter to the Coleman administration which called the diversity program at the university “skin deep,” and asked the administration to clarify whether it was committed to intellectual diversity, or only “diversity…within a set of narrow parameters.” The email cited the disparity between liberal and libertarian/conservative representation on campus, and requested that the administration reaffirm it’s commitment to intellectual diversity by offering economics courses that fairly represent free market views, “history courses taught from perspectives other than the postmodern…” and courses “on intellectual diversity which include liberal, conservative and libertarian cultural and political ideas.” Anything else, it claimed, would be “dishonest.”
The email concluded by reminding the administration that, “as a public institution,” it has an “obligation to represent all schools of political and cultural thought…” not just the ones it sanctions, and then took on a rather sardonic tone in it’s signature and postscript: “Humbly Submitted” and “Go Blue,” respectively.
Provost Pollack responded to YAL a week later in a brief email thanking them for expressing their concerns.
“From your message, it is clear that you are excellent examples of the outcomes we expect in our rich teaching and learning environment”
While the Black Student Union recently received $300,000 to renovate the Trotter Multicultural Center after it threatened “physical action” if racial diversity on campus didn’t increase within seven days, the leisurely attitude the university took in responding to YAL’s letter, and the patronizing, fill in the blank style of Provost Pollack’s email, seem to make it clear that the administration does not take the concerns of YAL seriously enough to merit anything other than a pat on the back. YAL, granted, did not make any threats.
This is not the first time YAL has challenged the administration over the issue of intellectual diversity. In December 2013, the group filed an ongoing lawsuit against the university after it was denied funding on the grounds that it held a “political event,” despite the university having given money to left-leaning political groups, such as the NAACP, BAMN, and Immigrant Rights Advocates.
YAL has not yet issued a public response.
February 11th, 2014 § § permalink
“We have to pass the bill so we can find out what’s in it,” Mrs. Pelosi once remarked in a rather unlettered response to concerns over the Affordable Care Act. Foresight might have appended: “And so Mr. Obama can change it whenever it pleases him.” The Treasury Department announced yesterday that it would be further delaying the now-twice-delayed employer mandate provided for in the heath care law. The move comes in response to business pressure and to a failure by the administration to actually define what must be covered in employee health insurance plans. It joins a long list of other changes, revisions and backpedals that the administration has already decreed these past months.
Yesterday’s amendment to the so described “Law of the Land” relaxed the employer mandate for 2015, granting a one year extension to small businesses that employ between 50 and 99 workers. Originally, the law was set to go into effect January 1st. Mid-size businesses will now be able to exempt themselves from the mandate until 2016, pending further delays of course.
The Obama Administration was clear in adding that these businesses that qualify will need to certify with the federal government that they are not cutting back employment simply to fall beneath the threshold for exemption, but it has yet to release a comprehensive plan as to how this will be enforced with any consistency.
What does this mean for the healthcare of employees at these companies? Not much. A large majority, some 91% according to a study by Kaiser Family Foundations, already provided healthcare before the drafters of ObamaCare even contemplated the possibility that they could get away with forcing people to engage in commerce. In a more expository essay, these numbers might beg the question why the employer mandate exists at all, but for now, let it suffice to say that our very own do-gooders at Michigan can relax with the knowledge that private businesses have stepped in where the government has failed.
February 2nd, 2014 § § permalink
(Photo courtesy of autoguide.com)
People call it a “21st century paradox” when they collectively discuss Detroit’s recent auto show with its bankruptcy. The bankruptcy involves more than $18 billion debts, and is the largest public case in US history, while the 2014 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit is estimated to generate near $400 million for the economy, more than the estimated benefits of a Super Bowl XL ($275 million).
The auto show is sure going to impact Detroit, but in what ways exactly? Let’s take look at some data:
- 2014 NAIAS featured about 550 vehicles, displayed on about $200 million worth of sets.
- It attracted 5,169 journalists from 60 countries and 39 states for 50 debuts from the automakers.
- Its attendance outnumbered each auto show since 2007, and reached a total number of 803,451 people.
- Downtown hotels reported Friday before the auto show that occupancy was at 85% during press days and about 70% during public days.
Recognition for the auto show brings opportunities for Detroit’s reconstruction. For example, a one-night event attracted 13,826 people to help raise $4.8 million for children’s charities. Accompanied with the auto show are more business opportunities for local restaurants, bars, hotels and transportation. The growth of the auto show is a strong indicator for the recovery of the auto industry from the recession over the past five years. This is great news for Detroit, famously known as the Motor City. In addition to financial gains, the people of Detroit see more hope in their city’s future and would become more confident when taking efforts to rebuild the city.
According to Michigan economist Patrick Anderson, “In order to build a world-class economic city, you need to have reasons for people to come every year. The auto show is a world-class reason to come to Detroit every year.” We hope that Detroit can continue holding the auto show and attracting more visitors, recognitions, business opportunities and investment in the future. We hope this chain of reaction triggered by the auto show can ultimately help Detroit become the promising Motor City again.
February 2nd, 2014 § § permalink
This past December, members of the American Studies Association, the United States’ oldest and largest academic association dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of American history and culture, passed a resolution endorsing a boycott of Israeli universities. In the election that led to this endorsement, which drew the largest number of participants in the organization’s history, an overwhelming 66 percent of members voted in favor of the boycott. According to the ASA’s website, its endorsement stems from “Israel’s violation of international law and UN resolutions; the documented impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian scholars and students; [and] the extent to which Israeli institutions of higher education are a party to state policies that violate human rights…”
In passing such a resolution, the ASA has joined the growing international ranks of left-leaning academic associations and individuals who have condemned Israel for its treatment of its Palestinian population. Some within this movement, including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, have even drawn parallels between Israel and Apartheid South Africa. These condemnations have drawn consistent and impassioned criticism from a variety of fronts, notably academic and political, which have continued their criticism by reacting to the ASA’s recent boycott.
In the month and a half that has followed the resolution, at least five institutions have withdrawn their membership from the ASA while several current and former presidents of prominent American universities, including Amherst and Princeton, have condemned the ASA’s resolution. In doing so, they have cited general opposition to academic boycotts for their negative impact on academic speech and exchange as well as displeasure with what they perceive as a double standard in the ASA’s decision. Furthermore, two Democratic state assembly men from New York have indicated plans to introduce legislation that would remove state support from any public or private college that participated in the ASA or any other group involved in a boycott of Israel.
Though such reactions may appear rash, they make sense when one considers several basic facts. Firstly, it is interesting to note that the ASA has not endorsed the boycotting of universities in countries with far worse human rights records than Israel’s, such as Iran or China. Following the ASA’s rationale that violations of human rights and international law by a country’s government merit repercussions against that country’s educational institutions, it is illogical and unfair that Israel’s universities alone should be singled out for boycott. The ASA’s decision to narrow its resolution to Israeli universities is thus logically inconsistent and, more importantly, intellectually dishonest.
The ASA ignores Israel’s tangible achievements in human rights as the strongest democracy in the Middle East, with free and open elections and minority representation in parliament. It also ignores Israel’s strides in reducing inequality of opportunity between Jews and minorities by instituting a comprehensive affirmative action program. Such a program has led to high minority enrollment at institutions such as the University of Haifa, where over 30 percent of the student body is Arab (with Arabs comprising roughly 20 percent of Israel’s total population). Rather than unfairly single out Israel by endorsing university boycotts that adversely affect the flow of ideas and the empowerment of a group of people on whose behalf the organization is claiming to act, the ASA should withdraw its support for the boycott and promote proactive policies that further assist Israel’s Palestinian population. It should also distribute its criticism more evenly and hold Israel’s neighbors to the same standards.