I’ve been writing about the PC hijinks at UT (led by President Greg Fenves) for some time, but the report today in Campus Reform sent me over the edge. UT literally forced a student to engage in Maoist ritual self-criticism (after watching a film about “toxic masculinity”) as punishment for being named in a Title IX harassment complaint. So I sat down and wrote a letter to the UT Board of Regents. Here it is.
To: Sara Martinez Tucker, Chairman, and Jeffery D. Hildebrand, Vice-Chairman
From: Mark Pulliam, UT Law Class of 1980
I am writing to express my chagrin, bordering on exasperation, at the continuing hijinks at UT-Austin under the so-called leadership of President Greg Fenves.
The latest example is discussed in a nationally-reported item in Campus Reform, concerning a student who was forced to participate in a Maoist ritual self-criticism as “punishment” for a Title IX charge. While I do not know the facts of the case, as a lawyer who practiced labor and employment law for 30 years, I must say that being forced to watch a film about “toxic masculinity” and then write a “reflection paper” sounds like a scene from Orwell or “A Clockwork Orange,” rather than an appropriate resolution imposed by responsible decisionmakers. https://www.campusreform.org/?ID=11139.
I have written about President Fenves’ dubious initiatives myself, in City Journal and other publications. https://www.city-journal.org/html/hard-left-ut-15904.html
I am not, as Gov. Rick Perry was unjustly accused of being, hostile to UT. I am a graduate of UT Law (1980), a Life Member of the Texas Law Review Association, a Life Member of Texas Exes, and the father of a UT graduate (McCombs 2016). I was once on the Board of Directors of the UT Law Alumni Association. I received an excellent legal education at UT at a very low cost. I have great affection for UT. https://misruleoflaw.com/2018/02/10/looking-back-at-law-school-a-lawyer-ruminates-on-legal-education/
Nor am I interested in re-hashing the scandals of the Bill Powers era or the shabby treatment of UT Regent Wallace Hall. These were shameful episodes but, thankfully, behind us. President Powers and Dean Sager were both forced to resign.
I am concerned about recent developments at UT because of my high regard for the institution, which is being seriously damaged. The current climate of political correctness at UT is doing a grave disservice to the students. http://www.libertylawsite.org/2015/09/17/a-university-that-administrators-can-be-proud-of/
Here are some of my objections:
Insufficient regard for campus free speech: speech codes, “campus climate response teams,” one-sided approach to student speech (YCT affirmative action bake sale condemned but “Cocks Not Glocks” condoned), directives regarding Halloween costumes, regulation of fraternity parties, etc. This is political correctness run amok. UT should embrace the Chicago Statement. https://spectator.org/free-speech-for-me-but-not-for-thee/ and https://misruleoflaw.com/2018/06/10/common-ground-for-texans-program/
Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE), the Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis (IUPRA), the African and African Diaspora Studies Department (AADS), and The Opportunity Forum form an interlocking directorate promoting identity politics, “social justice,” and “critical race theory,” which combine to create a toxic culture of political correctness at UT. AADS (with 23 employees) invited radical activist (and avowed communist) Angela Davis to speak at a black studies conference. https://amgreatness.com/2017/04/17/republican-complacence-face-public-university-radicalization/
DDCE has a staff of 94. IUPRA sponsors anti-Republican commentary (and op-eds) attacking President Trump (and the voters who elected him), the Texas Legislature, and Texas AG Ken Paxton, and promoting abortion rights and speech codes. The list of blatantly-partisan IUPRA commentary posted on the UT website is appalling.
Fenves personally oversaw the removal of historical statuary, including the night-time removal of a former Governor of Texas (James Stephen Hogg) not involved in the Confederacy. This is cowardice, not leadership. https://amgreatness.com/2017/12/06/monumental-dishonesty/
Fenves interfered in Title IX investigations/hearings (twice) and got UT sued. https://www.jamesgmartin.center/2017/12/cronyism-met-political-correctness-university-texas/
Fenves commissioned a risible $1.7 million survey that greatly exaggerated the incidence of campus “sexual assault and misconduct” by conflating forcible rape and verbal pressure, showing displeasure, etc. https://www.city-journal.org/html/blue-texas-15081.html
Nancy Brazzil was given the Presidential Citation even though the Kroll Report found that she and Powers were less than candid in their interviews. This is cronyism at its worst (along with Bill Powers being allowed to return to a lucrative faculty position at the law school after being forced to resign in disgrace as President). https://misruleoflaw.com/2018/05/10/something-is-amiss-at-ut-law-school/
MasculinUT campaign was a national embarrassment (promoted by a $330,000/year Dean of Students, Soncia Reagins-Lilly) https://misruleoflaw.com/2018/05/14/diversifying-the-university-of-texas/
Leonard Moore, who oversees DDCE and investigation of bias claims, gets paid $265,000/year. The “campus free speech” panels he moderated were unbalanced (Robert Jensen, Shetal Vohra-Gupta, Eric Tang). Jensen would ban fraternities as “rape factories,” and Vohra-Gupta believes “hate speech” should be banned (which is plainly unconstitutional). https://news.utexas.edu/2018/06/13/leonard-moore-to-lead-diversity-and-community-engagement
Finally, and most recently, UT’s “Diversity Initiative,” announced by UT’s $450,000/year Provost, to be led by AADS founder Ted Gordon. This will lead to quotas in hiring. Gordon is a critical race theory proponent who has risibly accused the “Eyes of Texas” of being racist and offensive to black students. https://misruleoflaw.com/2018/05/14/diversifying-the-university-of-texas/
This is not a complete litany, and leaves out similar examples at UT-San Antonio. My question is, what is the UT Board of Regents doing to prevent this train wreck? UT-Austin is out of control, wasting money, undermining true academic discipline, fostering a climate of identity politics, espousing liberal propaganda, and restricting campus free speech. If this were happening at UC Berkeley, or Evergreen State, I would understand it. But at the University of Texas?
Something needs to be done. No one is minding the store. The Board of Regents is asleep at the switch. You may be tempted to dismiss my concerns as those of a politically-conservative alumnus (which I am), but my views are fairly typical of Texas voters generally. Those are the taxpayers you represent on the Board of Regents. We are the shareholders; you are the Board of Directors; and the UT administration is “management.” Management does not own the enterprise; the shareholders (taxpayers) do. You work for us. Start acting like it.
You may also be tempted to dismiss me as an opinionated letter-writer (which I am), but I am also a blogger and writer with a national audience. https://misruleoflaw.com/2018/03/11/an-open-letter-to-my-alumni-association/ When Alcalde editor Tim Taliaferro smeared the late Justice Antonin Scalia a few years ago based on questions he asked during oral argument in Fisher II, I demanded and ultimately obtained a public apology by Texas Exes. https://spectator.org/64935_silly-season-university-texas-over-scalia-comment/ and https://www.nationalreview.com/bench-memos/texas-exes-apologizes-scalia/
If the Board of Regents does not improve the quality of its oversight and governance at UT, I will have to pursue a political solution. Former Chancellor Bill McRaven has some personal experience with what even tepid legislative oversight feels like.
Please do your job. Remember who you represent. Make UT alumni proud of our alma mater, not ashamed.