Religion freedom vs. academic freedom - discrimination or not?

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  • Reply 121 of 135
    i guess it is funny...i have had discussions may times with professors and teachers and even with priest and clergy...we often disagree, sometimes even strongly...yet i always respect them and their views and they respect me and mine...some people argue and debate and what not, and think they come off as grand and intelligent, when really they are belligerent and an ass...of course it is the teacher who is wrong even though every student in the class is thinking, "jesus, just sit down and shut up"....getting along with people (especially when you don't agree with them) is an art...perhaps the medical school knows this professor is an bit of a prick, but only wants students that can show they have the ability to get along with many kinds of people (including pricks)...and how can this professor write a letter recommending a student that won't come to his office and discuss teachings from his class....("yes sir, i have been in your class this semester and listened to your lectures, but i believe everything you have taught is false." "OK, that is your right. Of course I can't write you a recommendation. How can i write a personal recommendation for someone that disagrees with my teachings?"). i just can't help thinking that people are confused by what a personal letter of recommendation is...i also feel that people are confused and think that life has to be this thing that is completely fair at all times...life slips you an advantage one day, gives you a tumble on your ass the next...as a human, love the days you get an advantage, stand up and dust yourself off on the days you take a tumble...



    i guess i just hear this too much from white american males (the most blessed humans on the face of the earth...and i am, thankfully, one of them)...i use to have a doctor i work with complain all the time about how he didn't get to his first pick college (damn those less qualified people taking his spot)...so i asked where he went...he got into his second choice...so what is the big whooop, lots of people get their second choice...so i asked how many white males went to his first choice school....it was several hundred each year...why aren't you blaming them for not getting in??

    why is it that we are never to blame or that we are not good enough? it is always, i would have made it but...quotas, feminist teachers, nasty professors won't write me a letter....etc etc



    column A) life is as beautiful as you make it

    column B) life is as shitty as you make it



    take your pick....and be glad you, as a white male, can choose...try being born in somalia or nigera or female in saudi arabia and then complain that you don't get your first choice of medical schools.....



    g



    [ 02-25-2003: Message edited by: thegelding ]</p>
  • Reply 122 of 135
    brbr Posts: 8,395member
    [quote]Originally posted by trumptman:

    <strong>



    It wasn't sidetracked. People keep trying to sidetrack it by getting off the original question the professor asked instead of the revised question.



    He would write recommendations only for students who could "truthfully and forthrightly affirm a scientific answer" to this question: "How do you think the human species originated?"



    It wasn't a scientific question asking for a scientific answer. It was a philosophical question demanding a scientific answer. As I mentioned in my little devils advocate moment, if I said human evolution true, but believed we were seeded here by alien RNA would this professor have dumped me?



    As for your lack of prejudiced encountered in academia I say good for you. I have personally encountered tons of it.



    I had an English professor who was a radical feminist. She of course had to have us read her favorite novel. In this novel (pardon me as I have forgotten the name) the main character is a woman who leaves her neglectful husband and family (yes her children) to become an artist. As the stresses of being an artist and struggling against the societal sexist expectations of her role become to much for her, she drowns herself in the sea.



    In my review of that book, I simply asked if a man leaving his wife and children to pursue being an artist would be viewed as heroic. (of course it wouldn't)



    Based off that one statement, she lowered the grade of my final paper enough to lower my entire grade in the class from an "A" to a "B". I know again the disbelief, but you have to consider how most professors weigh various papers. All my previous papers (there were several) had earned "A's" and of course she saved the best book (in her opinion) with the most weight grade-wise for last.



    I had another professor actually toss me out of her multicultural education class when I questioned her about teaching Mexican children in Spanish.



    I simply stated that if we did this weren't we simply helping their oppressor since all these children had mostly indian ancestry and had been forced to become Catholic and speak Spanish by conquering Spain. Weren't they in reality like African-Americans who have had their true culture stripped from them and were now unable to rise up (by the class definition, not mine) because of this.



    Shouldn't we in reality, be going back and teaching these children in their native indian tongues and also teaching them their true native culture (be it aztec, or other indian group)



    That didn't go over well.... she had me dropped from the class at her discretion.



    In fact I would say the one place in my life where the thinking was most rigid, and that I encountered the most sexism, classism, and racism was at University.



    Nick</strong><hr></blockquote>



    Those deal with grades and the ability to take the class itself...not an optional discretional letter of recommendation. I would have no problem with that teacher giving you a good grade on the paper and refusing to write a letter of recommendation for you. You continue to get off the subject with these analogies that simply do not apply.
  • Reply 123 of 135
    pfflampfflam Posts: 5,053member
    I just have to re-iterate:

    did he grovel sufficiently?

    did his toungue really scrape the boot when he asked for his letter?!?!

    did he smile more out of malice than genuine supplication?

    did he venture upon insult?!?!



    alas, I think I detected a slight twinge in his cheek that said he may not like me, therefor.... no letter!!





    <img src="graemlins/bugeye.gif" border="0" alt="[Skeptical]" /> <img src="graemlins/lol.gif" border="0" alt="[Laughing]" /> <img src="graemlins/surprised.gif" border="0" alt="[surprised]" /> <img src="graemlins/lol.gif" border="0" alt="[Laughing]" />





    .



    [ 02-25-2003: Message edited by: pfflam ]</p>
  • Reply 124 of 135
    trumptmantrumptman Posts: 16,464member
    [quote]Originally posted by BR:

    <strong>



    Those deal with grades and the ability to take the class itself...not an optional discretional letter of recommendation. I would have no problem with that teacher giving you a good grade on the paper and refusing to write a letter of recommendation for you. You continue to get off the subject with these analogies that simply do not apply.</strong><hr></blockquote>



    Not to be rude BR, but you do understand that sometimes in this thread I am speaking to more than just you right? If I were ignoring your points that would be one thing, but for better or for worse I address the point of the thread and occasionally a side issue relating to the thread as well. Intelligent people can do that, you know think and talk about more than one item at a time. I have no doubt that the very intelligent people posting in this thread can keep track of the main issue and side issues relating to it.



    That being said, the poster I was replying to said he doubted someone who was extremely racist could actually get to a tenured position. I just wanted to him know that they can and do.



    Nick
  • Reply 125 of 135
    thttht Posts: 5,355member
    <strong>Originally posted by trumptman:

    None of these factors would happen because what the professor is questioning is not performance or knowledge but personal belief. It is like saying believing in UFO's would make you a bad doctor or accountant. If anything you prove my point because it shows that this one criteria has nothing to do with reaffirming the point that the professor would worry about.</strong>



    I don't think you have answered my question. Why would a biology professor give a recommendation to a student who understands evolution while not believing it? I've already stated what circumstance that a student can get a recommendation with such a stance.



    <strong>Does it really matter what they personally believe as long as they can demonstrate the knowledge in the field and show they can do the job?</strong>



    Knowledge in the field, actually, academic knowledge, is different from job performance. Academic knowledge can be, must be, demonstrated prior to a letter of recommendation. The latter, job performance, is unknown until the person has been employed. The letter helps determine that.



    Isn't a letter of recommendation a testament outside of academic knowledge (grades et al) that a person is good for a job or a school? If so, the judgement isn't based on the person's academic knowledge, but that something extra. Whether one person who believes in one thing does better than another who believes in another thing is debatable and can only be found out after the fact. But to a recommendor, determining the something extra is a fairly subjective determination. [Actually the hallmarks can be objectified, but it's hard to detect this early in the game.]



    What falls into that subjective determination, who knows. I do agree that it should not be based on things unrelated to the institution or business, but belief in evolution and medical school is tricky for a recommendor.



    <strong>As for judging bounds, you keep it broad but lets bring it in a bit more. People are making this an evolution vs. creationism debate with clear sides but lets move it over to just pure evolution. Suppose this professor believed in gradualism instead of punctuated equalibrium. If the student earned a grade of "A", and got to know the professor, would the professor be justified in declaring that he would be a bad doctor just because he believed in punctuated equlibrium?</strong>



    No. But punctuated equilibrium is a scientific answer, is it not? One with models and data that conform with the prevailing models of geology, physics and chemistry in our current understandering.



    What if the person believed that evolution is all wrong and they believed in the Greek mythology model of the creation of the animals and humans on the planet? Recommendable?



    <strong>Does anyone see yet how this criteria has absolutely nothing to do with a) How well the student did in biology? and b) How they would perform as a doctor?</strong>



    But this criteria isn't for a class grade, which actually determines how well the student did in biology. The criteria is for a letter of recommendation. As for being a doctor, I don't really know. Certain bacteria have had evolutionary adaptations to antibiotics. How are we to predict a person that doesn't believe in evolution will react?



    <strong>I mean it is like complaining that a rich business pays no taxes while the little guy takes it on the chin. Of course that is going to happen because you don't get rich by knowing nothing about money. The will hide it, move it, lobby for a special exemption, etc. Meanwhile the little guy who knows nothing about money gets reamed when amazingly enough there isn't enough revenue to pay for the benefits he, himself voted in.(pardon my rant)</strong>



    Orals and public presentations eliminate all that BS. Yes, yes. I know there are time and money issues.



    <strong>Of course it is contrived, you asked for it! You wondered why someone would even need a letter of recommendation and stated that you had never been asked for one.</strong>



    No, I was asking how letters of recommendation level the playing field. You said: the letter is part of a process to overcome prejudice within objective criteria. I don't agree with it, and my answer was just a roundabout way of saying that letters don't level the playing field. They are just an additional tool to get a leg up against the competition.



    <strong>I've had to get letters of recommendation on several occasions, and through them all I have never been asked about my personal beliefs. I was judged on my ability to demonstrate knowledge or demonstrate performance on a job. They could have cared less if I believed in God, left-handed RNA from meteorites, UFO's, angels, ghosts, you name it.</strong>



    Oh, I certainly agree with that the TT professor should not have had the evolution criteria listed. The only one of value was his personal knowledge of a student.
  • Reply 126 of 135
    midwintermidwinter Posts: 10,060member
    [quote]Originally posted by trumptman:

    <strong>That being said, the poster I was replying to said he doubted someone who was extremely racist could actually get to a tenured position. I just wanted to him know that they can and do.</strong><hr></blockquote>



    That's not actually what I said. I said that it's rare, and to talk about it as if it's an everyday occurrence is hyperbolic. The examples you provided (I think it was you) were largely instances where you disagreed with a professor's politics (e.g. "radical" feminism...although that reading of Chopin's _The Awakening_ seems a fairly stock one to me--there's nothing "radical feminist" about it at all). And while racism is certainly a political position, if you offered an example of a professor who was openly racist, as opposed to professors with whom you disagreed on other political matters, I missed it.



    For what it's worth, the prof to whom I was referring would, in his office hours, and if you were the right person, talk at some length about how black people were genetically inferior to whites intellectually. When asked how he then explained the black students he had who were good, he would explain that they were flukes. He wouldn't grade them down because they were black; he just regarded successful black students as exceptions to the norm.



    He's old guard. Very old guard. The notion of a member of the KKK--and more importantly, one who is open about it--getting a professorship at a public university is *unbelievably* unlikely, since hiring decisions at the university level are sometimes based on "fit." Someone like that, I am certain, would have difficulty finding work.



    Cheers

    Scott



    [ 02-26-2003: Message edited by: midwinter ]



    [ 02-26-2003: Message edited by: midwinter ]



    [ 02-26-2003: Message edited by: midwinter ]</p>
  • Reply 127 of 135
    enaena Posts: 667member
    I think Robert Pirsig could commiserate with the student. He came up with a fitting collar: for academia: the Church of Reason.



    If the roles were reversed they would have guillotined the prof in the student union building.



    It's an old story.
  • Reply 128 of 135
    [quote]Originally posted by ena:

    <strong>I think Robert Pirsig could commiserate with the student. He came up with a fitting collar: for academia: the Church of Reason.

    </strong><hr></blockquote>



    Yeah, but the main character in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenence was schitzophrenic and ended up in a psychiatric ward after a breakdown...
  • Reply 129 of 135
    bungebunge Posts: 7,329member
    [quote]Originally posted by jesperas:

    <strong>



    Yeah, but the main character in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenence was schitzophrenic and ended up in a psychiatric ward after a breakdown...</strong><hr></blockquote>



    Why would he end up in a psychiatric ward after his motorcycle broke down?
  • Reply 130 of 135
    [quote]Originally posted by bunge:

    <strong>



    Why would he end up in a psychiatric ward after his motorcycle broke down?</strong><hr></blockquote>



    Uhhh...I meant a mental breakdown, not a mechanical one.



  • Reply 131 of 135
    trumptmantrumptman Posts: 16,464member
    [quote]Originally posted by midwinter:

    <strong>



    That's not actually what I said. I said that it's rare, and to talk about it as if it's an everyday occurrence is hyperbolic. The examples you provided (I think it was you) were largely instances where you disagreed with a professor's politics (e.g. "radical" feminism...although that reading of Chopin's _The Awakening_ seems a fairly stock one to me--there's nothing "radical feminist" about it at all). And while racism is certainly a political position, if you offered an example of a professor who was openly racist, as opposed to professors with whom you disagreed on other political matters, I missed it.



    For what it's worth, the prof to whom I was referring would, in his office hours, and if you were the right person, talk at some length about how black people were genetically inferior to whites intellectually. When asked how he then explained the black students he had who were good, he would explain that they were flukes. He wouldn't grade them down because they were black; he just regarded successful black students as exceptions to the norm.



    He's old guard. Very old guard. The notion of a member of the KKK--and more importantly, one who is open about it--getting a professorship at a public university is *unbelievably* unlikely, since hiring decisions at the university level are sometimes based on "fit." Someone like that, I am certain, would have difficulty finding work.



    Cheers

    Scott



    </strong><hr></blockquote>



    Thanks for the book title! First I didn't proclaim the book was radically feminist, I said the professor was. All teaching is politics (as someone here once told me ) and she didn't hide hers, she proclaimed it. Either way the Awakening is considered a feminist novel and I was reading it for an undergrad English course that had nothing to do with feminist literature.



    The second example I do consider racist even if you do not. My definition of racism is pretty simple, to me it is where people are treated differently because of their skin color.



    If I had been Mexican/Latino and had been advocating that schools should not be forcing the views of a European oppressor onto me and my future children and had been tossed out of a class, it probably would have been headline news.



    In fact not only was I thrown out of the class. I was brought outside for a discussion immediately after the comment by the teacher. I was told about how many people wanted my spot and how I wasn't being grateful or respectful enough to her for keeping me in her class. (She didn't add me, I had enrolled properly but there was a long waiting list of people who did want to add) I questioned her to insure she didn't think I had been antagonistic and disrespectful in terms of my voice and body language. She made it clear that it was not the tone but what was being said.



    (All she needed was the mirrored sunglasses, a toothpick, and a drawl to complete the picture)



    As for the sidetracking all this has caused, it just shows that universities today are still as full of racists, sexists and religious oppressors as they ever were. The only thing that has changed is the rules as to who these acts are allowed against.



    Nick



    [ 02-27-2003: Message edited by: trumptman ]</p>
  • Reply 132 of 135
    pfflampfflam Posts: 5,053member
    And besides, there has been a long and at times very acadenic history of anti-Rationalism . . . for 150 years . . . its not a radically new insight that Rationality diminished the world in some way just as it supposedly explained the world



    William Blake: "May God us keep From Single vision

    and Newton's sleep!"



    for example



    Academia has been a vital part in the dialogue both anti- and pro Rationality.

    Persig is facile



    and don't get me started on this Ishmael author . . . what an absolute hunks crap that book is . . . Persig often seems to have the same silly ideas . . or is thought to have them by the same readers . . .
  • Reply 133 of 135
    brussellbrussell Posts: 9,812member
    You know I've been in Universities for the past 15 years, and I've never heard of a single PC story like the ones that are supposedly so common. I'm not saying I don't believe you, Nick. I do, and I think that professor should be shot. But the implication is that it's so common to the point of being universal, and that's just so different from my personal experience.



    I've found more "true" liberals in academia than left/PC liberals: People who read The Closing of the American Mind and Illiberal Education and Generation X Goes to College. I read those books too, and was all ready to encounter it, but it just didn't happen. I've never even actually encountered a single real PC left winger professor.



    Maybe it's a combination of my field and where I've been - midwestern Big Ten schools and now The Rocky Mountain West - not exactly bastions of left-wing-ism. Perhaps they're mainly in the East Coast Humanities departments.

    <img src="graemlins/bugeye.gif" border="0" alt="[Skeptical]" />
  • Reply 134 of 135
    trumptmantrumptman Posts: 16,464member
    Something reminded me of this story and a Google search showed that it had come to an end. I'll post the story and let you come to your own conclusions.



    Suit dropped



    Nick
  • Reply 135 of 135
    midwintermidwinter Posts: 10,060member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by trumptman

    Something reminded me of this story and a Google search showed that it had come to an end. I'll post the story and let you come to your own conclusions.



    Suit dropped



    Nick






    Thanks for the heads up. A couple of things strike me about this story:



    1) note the revision of his policy: "If you will not give a scientific answer to this question, then you should not seek my recommendation." That's hardly a change in his policy, I think.



    2) This quote: "'A biology student may need to understand the theory of evolution and be able to explain it,' said Ralph Boyd Jr., the Justice Department's assistant attorney general for civil rights, in a statement. 'But a state-run university has no business telling students what they should or should not believe in.'" There's an argument to be made here that ALL the educational system does (public or private) is tell students what they should or should not believe.





    Cheers

    Scott
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