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Racism in Academia?

by EdH / April 13, 2006 2:54 AM PDT

I actually don't think this is so terrible. My favorite line is: Floten said the teacher has apologized and requested cultural-sensitivity training.

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Racism? Not so sure. Over-sensitivity? Probably
by MarciaB / April 13, 2006 4:03 AM PDT
In reply to: Racism in Academia?

IMO

The phrasing of the math question may have been "silly" and unnecessary, but I do not feel it was racist.

BUT(T), those who cried "foul!" the loudest got just what they wanted - media attention. It was originally handled expeditiously by the department ("Richardson, along with her friend Ilays Aden, met with the chairman of the math department who agreed to remove the question from the department's files. But the women left feeling the school needed to take a deeper look at how a racist stereotype could be inserted into the curriculum.")

But that just wasn't enough. How can one proclaim that fairness is given without a media and/or judicial circus?

Ridiculous Sad


.

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Oversensitive? yes. But also to some I'm sure
by Roger NC / April 13, 2006 2:49 PM PDT

it is racism, at least to a degree.

Don't know how wide spread it was around the country, but when I was small there were a lot of racist jokes about blacks (referred to with the usual racist nicknames)and watermelon, or blacks and fried chicken.

Now it is over sensitive, but it was a dumb thing to do. And whoever did the name change was making the black and watermelon connection, even if subconcious. The comedian Gallanger and watermelons make perfect sense if you ever saw one of his performances. I happen to see several on HBO years ago when I carried premium channels. Changing it to Condoleezza smacks of someone thinking they could get a dig in on the sly.

But the way the story was revealed and expanded makes me question if the goal was to expose racism or to gain fame and publicity for organizations, groups, and agendas in general.


Roger

click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

I hope not, but I have to wonder.

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Agree, but...
by EdH / April 13, 2006 10:04 PM PDT

I think the student who complained was offended and just wanted to get it changed... if for no other reason that to protect the school from its own poor judgement.

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Sorry, but I have to disagree here.
by Evie / April 17, 2006 11:02 PM PDT

I have sometimes stumbled when making up my own exam questions to make sure they couldn't be somehow misinterpreted. I really shouldn't have to do that, but such is the PC environment on campuses these days. However, the "watermelon eating blacks" stereotype is one with fairly universal awareness. Pointing it out is hardly oversensitivity IMO. I think this was a political jab at Condoleezza Rice thinly disguised as a math/science problem. Pretty pathetic really.

Evie Happy

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...and I agree with you, Evie
by MarciaB / April 18, 2006 12:08 AM PDT

It was pathetic, and it likely was a political jab at Rice.

But, as I stated above, "It was originally handled expeditiously by the department ("Richardson, along with her friend Ilays Aden, met with the chairman of the math department who agreed to remove the question from the department's files.")"

What I found to also be pathetic was a continued "campaign" in crying foul and bringing this to worldwide attention after it appeared to be dealt with within the environment it occurred. They brought it to the attention of the department chairman, who agreed with their concerns, and removed the question.

It appears that they followed the proper channels, they were listened to and agreed with, the problem was taken care of, BUT they decided to get more out of it.

That's my take on it. Once again I state that I agree it was in poor taste and I'm glad someone stepped forward in regard to the inappropriateness.

.

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If the teacher wanted to 'make something of it'
by Dragon / April 18, 2006 12:16 AM PDT

after the fact, then there is a problem that needs further attention, IMO. What that 'attention' should be, I'm not sure.

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Hmmm....
by Evie / April 18, 2006 12:19 AM PDT

... ''removing the question from the department files'' sounds an awful lot like ''sweeping it under the rug'' to me. I don't think the professor should lose his/her job over this, but I think just purging the question is an insufficient response.

Your quote continues: But the women left feeling the school needed to take a deeper look at how a racist stereotype could be inserted into the curriculum.

''It's not just the question; it's beyond the question,'' Richardson said. ''It's the roots of where the question came from.''


I think they have a point. I don't think they intended to take it as far as all the emails, but such is the nature of everything these days. They sought the help of a (I presume) local activist who engaged his national connections. So now they got a 90 minute meeting on the issue attended by 150 people. I don't think that was asking too much or an overreaction at all!

Evie Happy

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I suppose you could be right, Evie
by MarciaB / April 18, 2006 12:27 AM PDT
In reply to: Hmmm....

and I acquiesce to your position within the educational system as having more sensitivity and understanding to this than I likely do.

I still have my own personal feelings about it, but I am apparently in the minority on the larger scale. Hopefully the outcome will bring some positive results overall.

.

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The ending we can all agree on ...
by Evie / April 18, 2006 2:34 AM PDT

... hopefully it will raise some awareness without blowing it all out of proportion into a witchhunt. I'm not sure the professor needs to undergo "sensitivity training" either, however. I've been through generic such programs (not disciplinary) and mostly it boils down to common sense and professionalism -- something anyone in that position should have as a condition of hiring and continued employment! I'm always amazed at some of what I hear professors do. I don't recall any of my profs doing this when I was in school, and particularly in subjects such as math and science, there's really no place nor need for one for "ad libbing". There are plenty of ways to make things more interesting by applying the subject to real life without pulling stuff like this!

Evie Happy

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RE: dotted lines
by caktus / April 13, 2006 2:36 PM PDT
In reply to: Racism in Academia?

Funny thing about connecting "dotted lines". Regardless how smart we think we are, we usually end up seeing things that aren't there.

As far as racial paranoia. I wish we could [all] just get over it.

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One wonders...
by grimgraphix / April 13, 2006 5:49 PM PDT
In reply to: Racism in Academia?

if it was the young republicans on campus who ''recognized'' the implied racism or if it was ultraliberals.

One also wonders if/or how many times those same people who raised the stink have also complained about how unreasonable ''political correctness'' is.

Since it was reported as a sample test question I guess it was not an issue just because everyone got the question wrong and ruined their GPA. Devil

grim

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Are you saying it should have been ignored?
by EdH / April 13, 2006 10:00 PM PDT
In reply to: One wonders...

What difference does it make what the poltical beliefs of the complainer are?

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When I was in college
by grimgraphix / April 14, 2006 3:58 AM PDT

I dated a woman I was very much into... she also happened to be a modern neo-feminist. After going out for about a year she decided she could no longer see me due to my chauvinistic social conditioning which was an insult to her and something I refused to relearn. When I asked her what it was I did wrong she said it was best illustrated by the fact that I opened doors for her. She busted me for being a gentleman!

That woman I dated saw what she wanted to... I'm asking if these whistle blowers saw something that wasn't intended and the professor who requested sensitivity training did so to save their job or worse yet, owned up to an impurity of thought and action that was never really there to begin with.

Political beliefs are very germane to the subject. Heck, it could have been the current crop of woman's studies students or a black sorority who raised the alarm. Any which way, I am asking what the motivation of the complainers might have been.

If not for political or social beliefs (which are one and the same) then why was any complaint ever made about this to begin with?

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It IS somewhat offensive...
by EdH / April 14, 2006 11:48 PM PDT
In reply to: When I was in college

or at least I think most people would find it so. Stupid in any event.

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It is offensive
by grimgraphix / April 15, 2006 6:34 AM PDT

when put in the context of today with the present political figures in office. You are right.

As far as watermelons go... they started using them for physics contests at the local engineering college long ago (watermelons packed in garbage cans with various suspension systems are dropped off the 11th story roof to see which survives).

Was the choice of Miss rice's name intentional or accidental? We will never know. I don't know that I would have been sharp or observant enough to put 2 and 2 together. That's why I was curious.

grim

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Of course it was intentional...
by EdH / April 15, 2006 9:56 PM PDT
In reply to: It is offensive

How on earth could it be "accidental"? The original was about Gallagher. I don't think it was intentionally racist though, just stupid and insensitive.

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Ohhhh...
by grimgraphix / April 16, 2006 2:33 AM PDT

I'd missed the mention of Gallagher the first time I read the article... yeah, it was intentional.

Since you phrased your comment this way 'I don't think it was intentionally racist though, just stupid and insensitive.' I am interested to know how racism differs from stupid and insensitive? Not trying to start something here... I just think those 2 words describe racism very well. Fine line I guess.

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Racism usually has some component of evil...
by EdH / April 16, 2006 9:56 AM PDT
In reply to: Ohhhh...

nastiness or bad feeling at the least. Not quite the same as an insensitive or stupid remark.

Part of the problem of "political correctness" might be the inability of some to distinguish the difference.

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true
by grimgraphix / April 16, 2006 10:44 AM PDT

I was thinking after I wrote that comment that malice plays a bigger part although one always hopes education is the cure to that malice.

Political correctness to my way of thinking is an overcompensation to the superficial appearance in an effort to avoid the real subtext. That works as an example to the people who are not corrupted yet but does nothing to sway those who have already made up their mind - in other words it aint nothin but lip service for a lot of folks Sad Consequently I'm not a big fan of PC.

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Gimme a break
by Evie / April 17, 2006 10:58 PM PDT
In reply to: It is offensive

Was it intentional? Umm, how many Condoleezza's around Federal buildings do YOU know? That's not a name one pulls out of a hat. Since it's done for physics contests, how about "A physics student in a competition throws a watermelon ...."

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(NT) (NT) Bingo!
by Kiddpeat / April 19, 2006 1:06 AM PDT
In reply to: Gimme a break
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(NT) (NT) yeah sure.
by grimgraphix / April 19, 2006 11:51 AM PDT
In reply to: (NT) Bingo!
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It was a math/physics problem
by Evie / April 17, 2006 10:55 PM PDT
In reply to: When I was in college

Why not ''David Letterman stands atop a 100 m tall building throws a watermelon up in the air at 20 m/s, how long does it take to hit the ground?'' Or Gallagher, or someone else that might be throwing a watermelon off a tall building?

I don't see this as a PC issue. I see it as a professor injecting utterly unnecessary political or sociological commentary into a math/science problem.

I wouldn't even THINK of putting a problem like that on an exam of any sort!

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I suspect it may have been an African-American
by Dave Konkel [Moderator] / April 13, 2006 11:24 PM PDT
In reply to: One wonders...

personally offended by the stereotyping.

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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A very good possibilty.
by grimgraphix / April 14, 2006 4:05 AM PDT

but if it wasn't, then you have to wonder why the subject was raised, don't you?

The article sited simply does not say and I simply asked who made the complaint... I would find it illuminating if it had been a young republican.

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You guys aren't getting it...
by EdH / April 15, 2006 12:37 AM PDT

I would have said something too. Wouldn't you? It's not a federal case, but surely a reasonable person of any race or political persuasion would find it questionable.

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Say something to the teacher/school, yes. But
by Roger NC / April 15, 2006 6:26 AM PDT
The hour-and-a-half meeting, attended by more than 150 people, opened an important dialog, but more needs to be done, said Chelsey Richardson, one of the students who brought the issue to college officials.

When she felt her concerns weren't taken seriously, Richardson went to the media and to the Rev. Wayne Perryman, a Mercer Island civil-rights activist. Perryman sent out an e-mail to friends across the country, some of whom belong to conservative and civil-rights groups. Those friends forwarded the e-mail, creating a snowball effect. The college has since received hundreds of e-mails, said Bob Adams, spokesman for BCC.




Would you have started a national email writing campaign to censor the school?


Roger

click here to email semods4@yahoo.com
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These things can snowball ...
by Evie / April 17, 2006 11:09 PM PDT

... would you have just "closed shop" when school officials initially didn't take the issue seriously?

Evie Happy

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So the hour and half meeting of 150 people is sleeping it
by Roger NC / April 19, 2006 10:16 AM PDT

under the rug?

Bellevue Community College President Jean Floten apologized Wednesday at an emotional open-campus meeting called after students complained about what they said was a racially offensive math question used on a practice test.

....

The hour-and-a-half meeting, attended by more than 150 people, opened an important dialog, but more needs to be done, said Chelsey Richardson, one of the students who brought the issue to college officials.

When she felt her concerns weren't taken seriously, Richardson went to the media and to the Rev. Wayne Perryman, a Mercer Island civil-rights activist.


Now if time went by after that and nothing done, maybe more was necessary. But the implication I got was after the meeting, and the school's efforts to correct the situation, she didn't wait to see if there would be results, she took it further.

And she didn't just go to an activist friend who spread it, ... Richardson went to the media and...

Hopefully she was sincere in trying to correct what she saw as an injustice. It said she didn't feel taken seriously. Perhaps so.

I still say that while the question was totally wrong, that a national campaign to discredit the school was oversensitive reaction at the least.


Roger

click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

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I got it Ed
by grimgraphix / April 15, 2006 6:56 AM PDT

but unless someone can prove that there was some malice behind the phrasing then I have to wonder if people saw an agenda where there was none.

BTW... isn't this called political correctness?

I'm not saying it wasn't offensive BUT it's only offensive if you choose to put it in the context that there is a deliberate inference that "Condaleeza" is a reference to Miss Rice. As I said in my other post, watermelons have been thrown off buildings for years in physics problems. Might this have been nothing more than a random coincidence of pairing a name with an activity that someone has chosen to see as intentional?

If I was sensitive to the reference I might have said something... I just don't know if I would have taken it to the press.

BTW... I find it extremely interesting that this is offensive but a reference to aborting black babies to reduce crime by Bill Bennett is simply a matter of free speech.

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