Culture Beat / May 19, 2016

Where’s the Academic Rigor in Higher Education?

In the past, the relationship between student and teacher was built on trust and authority.

In the past, the relationship between student and teacher was built on trust and authority. Students heading off to study at the university regarded teachers with respect, for students understood they knew less than their professors. There was humility in that relationship. But at least in some institutions, it’s the students who run the show now. Andrea Quenette was let go from her job teaching communications at the University of Kansas not because of any wrongdoing on her part — a formal investigation cleared her of that — but because her students were offended when she spoke frankly about the issue of race. She said, “As a white woman I just never have seen the racism. … It’s not like I see ‘N—-r’ spray-painted on walls.” If Quenette did nothing wrong, the implication was that she wasn’t popular with students, bad for the bottom line, and was let go for it.

This comes as Melissa Click — that anti-First Amendment communications professor from the University of Missouri — received some support in her fight against those who properly and reasonably fired her. The American Association of University Professors concluded Mizzou dismissed Click improperly because they didn’t give her a faculty review, thus infringing on her academic freedom. What a loss! According to Click’s CV, the woman received grants to study such things as the Twilight series, Fifty Shades of Grey and Martha Stewart. Apparently, we the sensible can’t summarily fire all the professors who peddle in triviality and promote violence toward our First Amendment.

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