Last fall, the University of Michigan announced it was hiring 20 “Diversity Peer Educators” to eradicate terms and phrases like “illegal immigrant,” “insane,” and “I want to die,” advertise the school’s Orwellian bystander intervention program, and help address so-called bias incidents, according to The College Fix. But all of these initiatives may soon go bye-bye because a free speech nonprofit called Speech First is suing the school.
Their president Nicki Neily told The Daily Caller News Foundation: “What kind of perverse incentive have you set up?” addressing a system she believes encourages students to sniff out bias where none exists just to keep that slick room and board money. “[The students are] a hammer and everything is a nail at that point.”
Nicki and her group are primarily suing UMich for vague policies that can be arbitrarily applied to quench speech. Like take a look at the school’s definition of harassment:
“Unwanted negative attention perceived as intimidating, demeaning or bothersome to an individual.” Demeaning? Bothersome? Oh so if I find a teacher’s commie rant bothersome I can report her? What if I find this policy demeaning to my intelligence? I mean it’s my perception, after all; who are you to tell me I’m wrong?
And UMich encourages this kind of feeling over fact behavior on its bias response page: “Bias comes in many forms. It can be a hurtful action based on who someone is as a person. The most important indication of bias is your own feelings.” And then they have a dedicated hotline.
BDS Event At UMich Two Days After Synagogue Massacre
A gunman killed 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday and on Monday, the University of Michigan held a town hall on the Boycott, Divest, Sanction movement aimed at punishing companies that do business with Israel, according to Campus Reform. Yeah, PROBABLY not the best optics. Let’s check it out.
UMich held an event that bills itself as an explainer on the BDS movement. It says “what is BDS? And why does it matter?” You’d think you might get a definition and maybe hear from both the pro and anti-divestment sides of the aisle. But if you take a look at those three little names there, they are all coincidentally anti-Israel activists who support the movement.
Let’s start with Susan Abulhawa. She makes very nuanced, mild-mannered posts like one saying “death to Israel.”
Then there’s Tom Pessah, who used to serve on the board of UC Berkeley’s Students for Justice in Palestine, where he wrote a BDS resolution. He also supported a hunger strike led by this bloke, Marwan Barghouti who led the Palestinian Authority and founded the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, both of which have perpetrated terrorist attacks on Israelis.
And the third speaker UMich hosted was Huwaida Arraf, who helped found the International Solidarity Movement, a group that has allegedly provided shelter for terrorists attempting to flee Israeli law enforcement and dispatched activists to assume the role of human shields.
Huwaida also co-authored an op-ed, saying “the Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics – both nonviolent and violent.” Looks like violence is perfectly OK, so long as you’re part of the group that’s “oppressed.”
UMich Punishes Anti-Israel Prof
UMich American Studies professor John Cheney-Lippold has stood by his decision to go BACK on his decision to write a recommendation for student Abigail Ingber to study in Israel. He’d told Abigail “as you may know, many university departments have pledged an academic boycott against Israel in support of Palestinians living in Palestine.”
But it is actually against UMich policy for departments to divest from or boycott Israel. Cheney-Lippold now says he slipped up because he was doing departmental business around the same time he wrote that email and that he meant to say that “many university professors,” not departments, are boycotting Israel, reported Jewish News Syndicate.
He also said that the Palestinian infant mortality is three times higher than that of Israelis, linking it to apartheid, which makes me curious: does that mean America is also an apartheid state? That black infant mortality rate is nearly three times higher than the Asian one. And here’s another factor: if Cheney-Lippold had just written the recommendation and let Abigail study in Israel, maybe she would come back as a BDS advocate, maybe she’d a return a newly-minted social justice warrior.
Anyway, the University of Michigan has now decided that John will not receive a merit raise for this school year and will not be able to take his planned sabbatical in January or embark on one for two years, according to The Detroit News.
UMich interim dean Elizabeth Cole said “Your conduct has fallen far short of the University’s and College’s expectations for how LSA faculty interact with and treat students….This letter is a strong warning that your behavior in this circumstance was inappropriate and will not be tolerated.”
A second UMich teacher, this time TA Lucy Peterson, also went back on her decision to recommend a student to study at Tel Aviv University, reported The Washington Post. She said “I’m so sorry that I didn’t ask before agreeing to write your recommendation letter, but I regrettably will not be able to write on your behalf….Along with numerous other academics in the US and elsewhere, I have pledged myself to a boycott of Israeli institutions as a way of showing solidarity with Palestine.”
UMich told Campus Reform that since both Peterson and the individual to whom she denied a recommendation were students, “the university is precluded by federal law from discussing” the incident.
Prof Won’t Write Israel Study-Abroad Rec.
University of Michigan professor John Cheney-Lippold recently agreed to write a recommendation letter for one of his students, Abigail Ingber, but then changed his mind after learning that Abigail was going to be studying in Israel, reported Campus Reform. He said “as you may know, many university departments have pledged an academic boycott against Israel in support of Palestinians living in Palestine. This boycott includes writing letters of recommendation for students planning to study there.”
And the professor apparently sent this email a couple of weeks after agreeing to write a recommendation. But it gets worse for Abigail:
“I should have let you know earlier, and for that I apologize. But for reasons of these politics, I must rescind my offer to write your letter.” For reasons of these politics…I thought academia was supposed to be one of the only institutions that was divorced from politics, teaching people how to think, not what to think. And apparently Cheney-Lippold wasn’t even acting in line with the rest of his school.
Rick Fitzgerald, a University of Michigan assistant vice president, said that the school “has consistently opposed any boycott of Israeli institutions of higher education,” and that “no academic department or any other unit at the University of Michigan has taken a position that departs from this long-held university position.”
He went on to call the decision to let politics influence the amount of help a professor gives students “disappointing”. And what about poor Abigail? She hasn’t publicly commented yet, but she might not get to study in Israel because of this.
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