I feel a little bad writing under a pseudonym. Yes, I realize it’s a level of cowardice on my part, but having seen so many of my colleague’s lives and careers destroyed for openly trying to stop what’s going on in higher education, I just didn’t have the courage. Besides, my name is irrelevant, and even if the gentle reader discounts any research on my part because of the pseudonym, I’ve presented study after study, example after example, revealing the disaster that is higher education, that even if I were merely an anonymous pointer, the things I’ve pointed at are what really need to be seen.
A recent article on LewRockwell.com reveals just how fragile, how cowed, faculty are in higher education. We know that if we offend administration, smackdown will be brutal and unending. We know that even if we’re at one school and criticizing another, administrators will just make a phone call and end our career…and we won’t be hired anywhere else.
Now, LewRockwell.com is a major site, in the top 20 of political sites, and features articles by establishment (or former establishment) luminaries like Patrick Buchanan, Andrew Napolitano and former treasury secretary Paul Craig Roberts. It never preaches violence or racism, and has even posted articles by Poo Bahs in higher education. Now, Poo Bahs aren’t afraid to give their real name when it comes to talking about higher education, but faculty are, and it’s not just me.
A colleague recently was fortunate enough to have his work published on this top site. Now, getting published is supposedly a good thing for a professor, it’s what we need to do to (allegedly) get tenure, so this is the sort of thing a professor should be proud of.
Instead, my colleague writes under a pseudonym, “Professor X.” Gosh, he’s afraid of retaliation for what he might say. Let’s see what horrible, horrible, things he says, which are so bad that he’s justifiably afraid of retaliation from administration in higher education.
First, the title:
No kidding? Gee whiz, Howard Cosell pointed this out decades ago, and college sportsball scandals are so common today that it’s hard to believe anyone thinks there’s any legitimacy in it.
How do you know when freedom of speech is gone? When people are afraid to speak even an obvious truth. Gentle reader, please don’t believe there’s “academic freedom” on campus. When a professor is terrified of the repercussions of speaking a truth everyone knows, we have to concede academic freedom has dropped out.
But maybe it’s not the title that the professor thinks might cause problems. Let’s see if I can find something else inflammatory here:
“…large number of students, mostly football and basketball players, were given course credit for phony “paper” courses that had no instructor, never met, and had no requirements other than a written paper, many of which were themselves phony. According to various investigations and reports, these phony courses were offered for almost 20 years, their existence was well known..”
The UNC scandal is well known, and I’ve covered it many times in my blog as well. Is simply repeating old news cause for fear of punishment? Yikes. The key thing to know about the UNC academic fraud, incidentally, is there will be no academic punishment…crimes aren’t punished, but faculty that talk about crimes are justified in fearing punishment.
Perhaps something in the below is inflammatory?
“…the athletics programs at Division I schools should be spun off into independent, nonprofit (or for-profit) entities that, if they desire, license the brand…Some of these college-affiliated teams could be minor-league outlets for a local professional team…we should give up the pretense, known to all…that the typical…player is a regular college student, there to get an education…”
So here Professor X is offering a suggestion on how to fix the corruption of college sportsball: sell off the teams, and stop making higher education responsible for protecting pedophiles, rapists, and all-around thugs. Again, I accept that the professor is terrified of the repercussions for simply trying to help.
A college I used to be at was loaded with administrators (or people serving in administrative capacity), that were simply in way over their heads. When I tried to help by making corrections to even simple arithmetic errors, like 12/5 = 2.4 (and not 2.35 as administration insisted, and probably still insists to this day), I only enraged administration, and was punished…and they doubled down on their arithmetic.
There’s a claim of “shared governance” in higher education, governance shared between faculty and administration. This claim is a lie; we really are at the point where all faculty can do to “share” is to meekly make basic suggestions and cower. And even then, admin is free both to ignore such suggestions, and to punish faculty for daring to try to help.
Thus, Professor X is quite justified for being afraid to point out a possible solution to the endless scandals of college sportsball.
Another truth is perhaps the most inflammatory statement in the whole piece:
“…nontraditional, less-demanding majors like Afro-American Studies, Education, Communications, and the like. Is it any coincidence that the UNC scandal didn’t involve professors and phony courses in physics, art history, or economics?…”
Wow, daring to point out something screwy is going on in Afro-American studies? That’s a mistake, because it’s not politically correct. Daring to point out something screwy is going on in Education? That’s a terrible mistake, too: even though we all know Education is a bogus degree program at most schools, administrators get their bogus administration graduate degrees through Education departments, they do not want scrutiny there. Communications? I’ve never looked closely at what goes on there, although I certainly knew it wasn’t very rigorous (I do know Speech courses are pretty fake, however)…I thought it was just a jobs training degree or something.
Who would be willing to challenge the African-American head of the Afro-American studies department over its lax standards for primarily African-American students? This would be a near-suicidal move for most faculty members.
Professor X certainly also knows it would be suicidal to point out the bigoted treatment these departments receive, that’s why he’s using a pseudonym, after all.
And now we come to the last possible thing that might incite retaliation:
“Should these nontraditional and less-demanding majors, departments, and programs be bundled, within the larger university structure, with the conventional academic disciplines? Should we have “universities” at all, as opposed to more narrowly specialized teaching and research institutions? What about vocational and professional schools such as business, nursing, law, agriculture, medicine, and engineering? Would they be better as free-standing entities, rather than subsidiaries of giant academic conglomerates?
These are difficult questions, ones that do not get asked enough…”
So, the good Professor X finishes with questions for consideration. The fascinating thing here isn’t the fraud of college sportsball, it’s this wonderful demonstration of the culture of terror in higher education.
It doesn’t matter if you have a high falutin’ degree, or have tenure, or are at a major university. If you intend to:
1) Speak an obvious, well known truth, or
2) Offer suggestions to help, or
3) Try to increase academic standards, or
4) Ask questions about what’s going on,
then you need to do so under a pseudonym, because administrative pettiness and retaliation is so pervasive, so vicious, that doing things that any decent, thoughtful, human being would do is risking a severe backlash.
The only academic freedom, or freedom of speech, on campus today for faculty is the freedom to do whatever administration wants. Is this yet not another sign of the collapse of higher education?
Kevin is founder of the world.edu project. The past 28 years have been involved in publishing to the education sector in print and the internet. Kevin has a degree in Education and has a many years experience in developing companies and projects.