National Review: Cornell Professor Warns ‘Anti-Racism’ Training Mandate Will Exacerbate ‘Toxic’ Campus Environment
“when you are forcing it on people, you’re now engaging in coercion, not education”
I have been raising objections to proposed Critical Race Theory mandates at Cornell since last summer. For many months I was a lone voice, but in the past month there have been others voicing concerns. For background, see these posts (among many others):
- Cornell University takes a major step towards compulsory racial activism for faculty, students, and staff [July 16, 2020]
- Cornell Faculty Coalition Calls for Race-Based Hiring, Promotion, and Curriculum [September 9, 2020]
- Cornell Daily Sun Interviews Professor William Jacobson Re Critical Race Training Database [February 24, 2021]
- Higher Ed Approaches the Antiracism Training Abyss [March 19, 2021]
- Statement of Prof. William A. Jacobson Opposing Cornell Faculty Senate Proposed Critical Race Mandates [April 14, 2021]
- Faculty Fear At Cornell: “I worry every day I enter class that I will say something that a student will find offensive” [April 29, 2021]
Everything is coming to a head. The university Faculty Senate is voting as we speak, ending this Friday. From there, assuming one or more of the proposals is approved, the decision will rest with President Martha Pollak. I’m not sure if such mandates would require Board of Trustees approval as well.
Brittany Bernstein of National Review interviewed me recently about the pending mandates, and that article appeared today at National Review Online, Cornell Professor Warns ‘Anti-Racism’ Training Mandate Will Exacerbate ‘Toxic’ Campus Environment (archive; similar version at Yahoo).
Read the whole things, of course, particularly how the Dean of the Faculty (and head of the Faculty Senate) is walking back the impact of a Faculty Senate recommendation. Here’s some of my commentary:
William A. Jacobson, a clinical professor of law at Cornell Law School, has stood in vocal opposition to the proposals, which explore and endorse, to varying degrees, possibilities for a for-credit training on anti-racism.
“I am unequivocally against mandates. I do not accept what the university and much of academia, I believe, misleadingly calls anti-racism,” he said in a recent interview with National Review.
He added that anti-racism, as prescribed by Ibram Kendi in his book How to be an Anti-Racist, calls for discrimination against people in power to remedy past discrimination.
Under Kendi’s guidance, only those who are actively participating in dismantling systems of oppression are anti-racist. Those who remain silent or “have the traditional American civil rights notion that we treat people based upon the content of their character, not the color of their skin” are racist, Jacobson explained.
He doesn’t believe the university should be adopting an “offshoot of critical race theory” as an official ideology, he said.
“If you read these proposals, it says that this is what it is on campus, that this is what students and faculty must accept and learn about and I think that’s anti-educational,” Jacobson said. “That’s an ideological mandate that a lot of people disagree with. It’s not in the tradition of the American civil rights movement and they are adopting it as a semi-official or official University ideology.”
“There is so much critical race theory and anti-racism, activism, programs, administrative personnel,” he added. “The campus is awash in this stuff. If students want to go and participate in that voluntarily, fine. But I don’t think that should be forced on people. I think when you are forcing it on people, you’re now engaging in coercion, not education.”
Three resolutions which are up for a vote focus on student trainings while the other three are targeted at faculty. A working group tasked with devising the faculty training policies has proposed creating educational programs for faculty to learn about “structural racism, colonialism and injustice,” claiming that such an understanding is “an essential part of the job.”
Jacobson, who also serves as president of the Legal Insurrection Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to free expression and academic freedom on campuses, argues that the proposals, if implemented, would have “a terribly chilling effect on free expression on campus.”
“Anybody who is on campus knows that it’s already a toxic environment for anybody who disagrees with critical race theory,” he said. “With the prevailing leftist ideology on campus, it’s absolutely toxic. People are demonized.”
I will continue to speak out about this misadventure.DONATE
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