Monday, March 06, 2006

Camille Paglia on Summers

I have already written on the issue of Summers' resignation from Harvard presidency.
Today I came across a very interesting article by Camille Paglia in NYT. She acknowledes that it was the forces of 'professoriat' that brought him down in the first place. But as she points out a lot of Summers' troubles were of his own making due to his abrasive style of communication. But also there was a perception of a disturbing trend, the encroachment upon academic freedom by University administrators.
As Paglia puts it:
Over the past 40 years, there has been a radical expansion of administrative bureaucracies on American college campuses that has distorted the budget and turned education toward consumerism, a checkbook alliance with parents who are being bled dry by grotesquely exorbitant tuitions.

I don't dispute her assessment. It's pretty evident that the forces that brought Summers down were not monolithic and many people found themselves in a firm opposition to him due to a variety of reasons. But still, it doesn't dispell the gloom that comes from the realization that if even such a powerful man as Larry Summers had to crowl acquiescently, rather than stood by his remarks, and was still brought down, the persepctives of simple mortals are that bleak.
And finally my favorite part of the article:

While many issues are rumored to have played a role in Mr. Summers's resignation (including charges of favoritism in a messy legal case involving foreign investments), the controversy that will inevitably symbolize his presidency was the manufactured outcry early last year over his glancing reference at a conference to possible innate differences between the sexes in aptitude for science and math. The feminist pressure groups rose en masse from their lavishly feathered nests and set up a furious cackle that led to a 218-to-185 vote of no confidence by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences last March.

Instead of welcoming this golden opportunity to introduce the forbidden subject of biology to academic gender studies (where a rigid dogma of social constructionism reigns), Mr. Summers collapsed like a rag doll. A few months later, after issuing one abject apology after another, he threw $50 million at a jerrybuilt program to expand the comfort zone of female scientists and others on campus. That one desperate act of profligate appeasement tells volumes about the climate of persecution and extortion around gender issues at too many American universities.


At 11:17 PM, Blogger A. Shah said...

Hey I was going to post something about Paglia's article. Actually fairly run of the mill stuff from Camille.

At 12:43 PM, Blogger Oleksa said...

Well, I'm looking forward to reading your biting criticism :-)


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