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Bigotry in the Classroom

The following discussion of how to deal with bigotry in the classroom took 
place on WMST-L in late February 1995.  Because of its length, it has been
divided into three parts.  For additional WMST-L files now available on the
Web, see the WMST-L File List.

Date: Wed, 22 Feb 1995 20:33:53 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Between a rock and a hard place
Strictly speaking, this isn't about women's studies but since you are
my community, I will ask if anyone can help me to deal with this.
A few weeks ago, a young Latino (from the Domincan Republic) who is
taking my intro to Latin America history class came to chat in my office
and asked me what I thought of Hitler.  I was thrown by the question--
I do a lot of work with the Latino/a students, am Latina myself, and
Jewish as well. He said that he didn't understand why Jews thought of
themselves as special and didn't Hitler have a point that they were trying to
take over his country.
I spent a good hour talking with him about anti-Semitism and genocide,
and the things that distinguished the Nazi extermination of the Jews from
 other forms of oppression in the world. I also told him that it was an
issue that affected me deeply, that my extended family had lost many
people to the Nazi slaughter.
This morning, that student came to my class, dressed in a brown suit and brown
tie, with his hair cut short, and a Nazi armband on his sleeve.  I was so
shaken, I didn't know what to do and finally dismissed the class early, went
back to my office and called my chair, who promised to come and talk to him
on Friday.  I also called around and found out that he is doing this because
he is pledging the Latino fraternity and they don't consider it to be a Nazi
symbol (a stylized eagle with laurel branches around it) and don't understand
why there's a fuss about it, even though apparently they have had this problem
before when they've done other pledge drives. Regardless of how they regard it,
I find it deeply upsetting and offensive, but I am also confused about the
questions of academic freedom that arise from this.
My problem is a pedagogic one. How do I grade this young man?  He must have
known that I would be severely upset by it after our conversation.  Should I
just turn to blind grading? Should I tell him that I can't treat him fairly?
What would you do?
Rosa Maria Pegueros             e-mail: pegueros  @  uriacc.uri.edu
Department of History           telephone: (401) 792-4092
217C Washburn Hall
University of Rhode Island
Kingston, RI 02881-0817         "Women hold up half the sky."
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 1995 00:07:58 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Between a rock and a hard place
Rosie, one option for dealing with _any_ conflict of interest with
a student in your class is to ask a colleague who is familiar
enough with the subject and your expectations to grade the student,
or at least review with you the grade you give.
I think the situation will come out ok if you involve colleagues in
helping you find a solution (which you've already done).
Aside from that, I think the situation also offers a wonderful
opportunity to spark a discussion of how much the meaning of symbols
depends on the contexts in which they are observed and interpreted.
there is some Latino/a symbol that carries a powerful history behind
it and could incite similar feelings of anger and outrage among
Latino/as.   Is there anything at all that comes close to signifying
oppression, terror, and genocide for Latino/as?q
Georgia NeSmith
gnesmith  @  acspr1.acs.brockport.edu
Date: Fri, 24 Feb 1995 07:53:00 -0600 (CST)
From: Ollie McKagen <obycraky @ BEV.NET>
Subject: Between a rock and a hard place
Rosie, I wouldn't have him in my class to begin with, but that may not be an
One thing you might get away with is asking test questions that he will not
be able to answer correctly if his philosophy matches his dress... There is
a basis for this since Nazi Germany had strong ties to some countries in S.
America, esp. Argentina. This might be shaky ground and I'd discuss it with
good advisers first.
If you want only to be fair and aren't concerned with how his appearance
affects you, go with blind grades. If the appearance shakes you as much as
it would me with your history, you might inquire about other options with
your legal affairs dept.
Ollie McKagen
obycraky  @  bev.net
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 1995 08:38:23 -0500
Subject: Between a rock and a hard place
a local frat two or three years ago hung a sign which siad "Minerva's
period party" from their top window. the sign was a sheet, painted with
red paint. from the word 'period' they painted red drops. the women
faculty were agast. i wrote the pres of fraternity, their faculty
advisor, dean of student affairs, pres of intrafraternity council, and the
national association. While they have a first amend. right to be
offensive, we, the women faculty, have a first amend. right to protest,
which we planned to do by picketing the fraternity. We got written
appologies and the sign was taken down.
   It is the fraternity you have to educate, not the kid. he knows or he
wouldn't have cvome in and asked you about it beforehand. file your
protest with them. perhaps the dean of students could arrange for you to
explain to them why their action is offensive. i offered to explain to
the fraternity what we objected to in the sign, but they declined.
   i have deliberately forgotten the frat's name because i have several
students who belong. It would help you to deal fairly with this
particular kid, however, to remember he's just some guy who wants to
belong. the evil lies in those who put him up to it. yes, i know, those
who just wanted to get along were one of the reasons hitler came to power
and they should have been active and informed, but for this particular
case, it might help to deal with the kid by considering him a tool of others.
   Options: kid goes to another class, another prof grades his tests, you
ask that he not wear the symbol in your class, you discuss in class the
situation and let them vote. How large is class? let student assistant
grade tests. change assignments to research papers instead because we
tend to allow greater leeway for dumb student opinions in them,
Dr. Jane Elza   jelza  @  grits.valdosta.peachnet.edu
Political Science Dept., Valdosta State University
Valdosta, Ga. 31698
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 1995 08:42:44 -0500
Subject: between a rock and hard place
It would seem to me that there are two issues here.  One which involves the
dynamics between prof and student, and a larger issue regarding the frat which
requires members or potential memebers to engage in this dress and manner.
Given individual's rights and that the student is presumingly paying to go to
school and get an education, appears to care about that education, since he is
showing up for class and taking the time and effort to seek out discussion out
side of class, I don't feel any action can be taken agaisnt the student,
because, while I violently disagree with him, he has not yet done anything
wrong.  By the same token, I think a prof can never be without his or her own
point of view which could be termed bias.  Perhaps a solution to this is to do
completely blind grading - and explain to the class exactly why you are doing
this and how you are doing this.  Being very upfront - this behavior bothers
you, it is offensive and you are going to do your best to illustrate why that
is so, especially within the context of the course.  At the same time, there
is information that is not subject to debate or question in the course topic.
To be fair, you will do blind grading (or have others dual grade with you.)
If this is known to the class, I think it provides a measure of protection to
all parties involved, allows a "fair" grade, since the academic world is grade
dependant, but also allows the subject to be addressed.  If you address the
issue first, openly and make every attempt to be fair to the students, then you
cannot be blamed if this student does have problems with the course (given what
appears to be his idelogy, he probably will i.e. racist or mysoginist don't do
well in Race, Class and Gender courses).

    On the other front, that a fraternity requires this! I would be
contacting lawyers, the univ. president, the frat's national headquarters and
seeking any means possible to get this practise changed.  Could it possible
fall under hazing issues?

Sorry this has turned into a longer response then I intended.  Good luck and
let us know what happens.

Su Epstein
scepstein  @  gallua.gallaudet.edu
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 1995 08:13:00 LCL
Subject: Nazis In Class
I too have some students this semester with frank racist and Nazi
sentiments (which, by the way, they claim are being "suppressed" by
the "biased" and "Politically Correct" faculty on this campus).
There was an interesting Back Page opinion piece in the Chronicle of
Higher Education about 3 weeks ago by Mary Lefkowitz ... on the topic
of the firing of Christina Jeffrey as US House of Representatives
historian. The reason she was fired was because she complained in 1986
that a proposed Jr. High curriculum on the Holocaust was not balanced
or objective because it did not include the Nazi point of view or
present the perspective of the Ku Klux Klan.
As a professor of classics (at Wellesley), Mary Lefkowitz talked about
the Greek notion of "dialogue," the teaching of points of view and
opinions, including those repugnant to many, etc.  She concludes that
although it is important to teach such views, "...it is not enough
simply to present the Nazi or Ku Klux Klan views, important as it may
be for students to be aware of them.  Scholars must also show why
those views are wrong and why it is better for mankind (sic) in
general that the Nazis and their allies lost the war.  Anyone who
fails to make such value judgements or to provide students with the
full range of material they need to make such judgements of their own
ought not to call himself or herself a scholar. ... We need to remind
ourselves that the primary purpose of holding lectures and debates in
universities is not to entertain or to arouse emotions, but rather to
educate students about the issues and events that they are studying"
Anyway ... I had students read this article and made it the subject of
an in-class discussion project (which I thought was very successful,
BTW).  I used it to get students thinking about, articulating and
writing about the role of moral judgement (about historical and
current events) in education.  I find that many students come into my
classes believing that making value judgements is wrong (!) and that
one ought to be equally tolerant and respectful of every possible view
under the sun (including racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, etc).  I
find that discussion projects such as this encourage students to think
more deeply about their previously held beliefs about value-neutrality
in education.
----------- Ruth Ginzberg (rginzberg  @  eagle.wesleyan.edu) ------------
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 1995 10:01:51 -0800
From: Susan Arpad <susan_arpad @ CSUFRESNO.EDU>
Rosie raised a troublesome issue about what is okay and what is not
okay in the classroom and what can a professor do to control the
situation.  Several people have responded with an assumption that the
classroom is a place where free speech is protected.  I agree, this
has been the traditional way of viewing the classroom: as a forum for
debate.  And I agree that there are many benefits to this kind of a
classroom, among them that students can practice their skills in
critical thinking and debate.
     However, my experience of teaching general education classes in
Introduction to Women's Studies for many years and reading, among
others, _Women's Ways of Knowing_, lead me to think about other ways
of defining the classroom.  My experience told me that much of what
can be classified "debate" ended up being a waste of time--semester
after semester resistant students took up classtime arguing their
prejudices.  I was getting tired and discouraged and many students
reported that they were experiencing the classroom as "ceremonial
combat" in which they didn't want to participate.
     I did some research to see what the legal situation was.  The
most helpful resource I found was the first issue of _Synthesis: Law
and Policy in Higher Education_, which addressed the topic of "Freedom
of Expression and Racial Harassment on Campus" (1989).  At that time,
some campuses (Yale, for instance) came down on the side of free
speech.  But other campuses were stating that free speech could be
limited in some forums.  The University of Michigan, for instance,
stated in their policy:
     "Because there is tension between freedom of speech, the right of
individuals to be free from injury caused by discrimination, and the
University's duty to protect the educational process, the enforcement
procedures assume that it may be necessary to have varying standards
depending upon the locus of the regulated conduct....
     In academic and educational centers where the University's
educational mission is focused, such as classroom buildings,
libraries, recreation or study centers, discriminatory conduct which
materially impedes the educational process is an object of concern and
may be proscribed."
     Among the proscribed activities, they list behaviors which create
"an intimidating, hostile, or demeaning environment for educational
     To bring this to a close, on our campus, we worked with the
Affirmative Action office and the Student Affairs office to develop a
university-wide "disruptive behavior" policy.
     I have taken so much space because I think this is a problem
central to women's studies pedagogy: how do we construct the
classroom?  I think this needs a lot of consideration from women's
studies faculty.  The outcome needs to be shared between faculty and
students so that everyone in the classroom is aware of the assumptions
upon which the pedagogy is based.  Susan_Arpad  @  CSUFresno.edu
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 1995 16:06:11 -0500 (EST)
From: "S. Georgia Nugent" <SGNUGENT @ PUCC.BITNET>
Subject: "Rock and Hard Place" Debate
I don't know why I'm doing this, because I foresee getting myself into a
lot of hot water.  But am I the only member of the list who is taken aback
by a scenario which moves from the assertion "a student came into my class
dressed in a symbolic way which I find offensive" to "how can I possibly
grade this student"?  I would think the answer is:  grade him on how well
he constructs an argument about Latin American history in his papers or
completes whatever else are the requirements of the course.  My guess is
that most of us on the list would be pretty appalled by a query which
said "one of the students in my molecular biology class is a cross-dresser,
how can I possibly grade him."  Wouldn't we want to answer, "grade him on
his work in molecular biology, however that is defined by the requirements
of your course."  Just wondering, I guess, whether there are any others
out there who share this view.
Georgia Nugent
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 1995 16:25:13 -0600 (CST)
From: Te-Yu R Chang <tchang @ MAILHOST.TCS.TULANE.EDU>
Subject: "Rock and Hard Place" Debate
I agree with Georgia Nugent that a student should not be judged by how
he/she dresses.  Isn't the point of feminisn to overcome biases?  If the
particular student in question has not violated the instructor in any
other way than dressing in a manner which she finds offensive, then the
instructor should make every effort to ignore his appearance.
Ruth T. Chang
tchang  @  mailhost.tcs.tulane.edu
Date: Fri, 24 Feb 1995 12:14:52 +1300
From: Adele Fletcher <phil024 @ CSC.CANTERBURY.AC.NZ>
Subject: fraternities, rocks and hard places
Maybe I'm being  culturally ignorant here -we don't have college
fraternities in nz/aotearoa & so i'm somewhat in the dark as to how they
work. But it seems to me that Rosie is facing a difficulty which (at least
in part) is to do with the way the American student community is structured
into fraternities. When you combine these structures with the need that eg,
marginalised groups must have to define themselves and maintain a group
identity within the wider/dominant American university culture, i'd guess
that you have one very volatile mix. (The less comprehensible desire that
certain white middle class types have to be totally obnoxious seems to be
supported by this fraternity structure too.)
Are there some other social networks available for students like the young
Latino discussed to be introduced to? Is there a Latino/Latina liaison
officer for students at the university who could facilitate this sort of
Adele Fletcher
Maori Studies & Religious Studies
phil024  @  csc.canterbury.ac.nz
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 1995 15:20:49 +0800 (U)
From: Katherine Carlson <katherine_carlson @ SCBC.MINDLINK.BC.CA>
Subject: "Rock and Hard Place"
imho - I feel there is a distinction to be made between dressing a certain way
(i.e. cross dressing was brought up) and wearing a symbol that clearly
represents hate, murder and oppression.
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 1995 23:53:46 +0000
From: Judy Evans <jae2 @ UNIX.YORK.AC.UK>
Subject: "Rock and Hard Place" Debate
On Thu, 23 Feb 1995, S. Georgia Nugent wrote:
> I don't know why I'm doing this, because I foresee getting myself into a
> lot of hot water.  But am I the only member of the list who is taken aback
> by a scenario which moves from the assertion "a student came into my class
> dressed in a symbolic way which I find offensive" to "how can I possibly
> grade this student"?  I would think the answer is:  grade him on how well
> he constructs an argument about Latin American history in his papers or
> completes whatever else are the requirements of the course.  My guess is
I replied personally but I thought I must answer this.  The ethos
in Britain is exactly yours.  However, we have - insofar is this
is possible - anonymous marking; 2 of us mark every - formal -
essay etc.; we have external examiners, and so on.  This is to
maintain consistency (keep up standards etc. etc.).  It is also
to guard against bias of any kind.  Inadvertent or not.
The problem for someone marking alone is that your ideal can
be difficult to meet.  I routinely mark alone and with others.
The only time I have had to mark a Fascist - in a reasonably
technical sense of the term: a member of such a party - I
refused to give a grade.  But then, I was marking a piece
that had no intellectual merit - a deliberately provocative
(The student did not dispute the point.  He did say that
his Party was not in his view racist - he did not defend
the piece of work.)
What has struck me more than once is this.  I failed, then
gave zero to, tirades that agreed with my viewpoint, without
compunction.  This case I approached very carefully indeed -
and fortified myself via support from this student's
other Dept.
Some of us spend ages living up to these standards when
our opponents, who profess them too, might not.
Also really more happened in this case than someone wearing
a shirt of a particular colour.  To put it mildly.  There
are formal ways of distancing from the assessment
process, and they could be used here.
Judy Evans         - Politics -       jae2  @  unix.york.ac.uk
Date: Fri, 24 Feb 1995 00:33:05 +0000
From: Judy Evans <jae2 @ UNIX.YORK.AC.UK>
Subject: Between a rock and a hard place
Sorry list,
When I said there was more to the case than a shirt colour,
I meant the case of Rosie's student.  As I understand her
post she talked to him about the relevant history.  And
the next class he was wearing Nazi-type clothes.
If a student turned up to a class of mine in that kind of
dress, then I have no doubt that I would, though I would
try to say nothing, at first at least,  cue them or the
rest of the group by some reaction.
(Here another student would say something. I am used to
siding with all kinds of students so there is fair play.
But not all.)
So the problem is there anyway.  I see nothing wrong
with turning to a colleague - I would tend to ask a
colleague whose politics differed from mine - nor
would I see that as some kind of failure in me.
Judy Evans         - Politics -       jae2  @  unix.york.ac.uk
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 1995 19:47:23 -0500
From: Kristi Coulter <kristic @ K.IMAP.ITD.UMICH.EDU>
Subject: Rock and a Hard Place Debate
The debate over Rosie's Nazi student raises interesting questions about
what we as teachers should or must tolerate in our classrooms.  I have a
student in one of my classes who is schizophrenic and sometimes very
disruptive--talking to herself, reacting in a hostile manner to other
students' contributions to class discussion, etc.  She is active in class
discussions, which would ordinarily thrill me, except that she is rarely on
the same topic as the rest of us and seems to have an almost compulsive
need to reveal *extremely* personal details about herself; she's also hard
to shut up politely.  I have spoken to her several times, and in private
she is lucid and agreeable, but her behavior never changes.  And frankly,
she scares me.
 I've always encouraged my students (who are mostly female and poor) to
speak their minds and examine their personal lives in relation to the
course material,  especially since many of them have been silenced all
their lives.  Has that  philosophy, which I view as central to feminist
teaching, gotten me in trouble with this student?  How do you maintain
control in circumstances like these while still keeping the classroom
student-centered and informal?  Administration has been unhelpful; I get
the feeling she'd have to physically attack someone before they'll take
action.   I'd be interested in hearing from anyone with insight into this
sort of situation. I also wonder, in relation to Rosie's post, whether we
have the right to try to reshape our students, even when their behavior
offends us--certainly we long to sometimes, but is it our place?  This is
only my third year teaching, so I don't have huge wells of my own
experience to draw on.
Sorry to go on so long.  I do feel slightly better having vented. :)
Kristi Coulter
kristic  @  k.imap.itd.umich.edu
Date: Fri, 24 Feb 1995 09:31:42 +0800
From: Kathleen Seaton <krf @ S867.THU.EDU.TW>
Subject: "Rock and Hard Place" Debate
A few years ago I taught Women's Studies in a maximum security prison.
Most of my inmate students were in prison for crimes against women. A
question that came up time and time again was one regarding grading: "How
can you grade someone you know raped, beat or murdered a woman?" The
answer I followed was to grade them on their work in the class and stay
focused on the course objectives and on the group at large. In this
environment, particularly for safety reasons, allowing one student to
upset the dynamics of the class group might be viewed as a "favoritism".
In response to Rosie's hard spot, I agree with Georgia [Nugent]. Ignore this
student's dress. Grade him on his work. And try, as hard as it may be, to
not let him upset the dynamics of the group at large.
Kathleen Seaton,
Tunghai Univesity,
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 1995 20:40:23 -0500
From: Constance J Ostrowski <ostroc @ RPI.EDU>
Subject: Between a rock and a hard place
To me, Rosie's question, "How do I grade this young man?" is clearly not a
question of "On what basis should I grade him in this course?" but, as her
second to last question pretty much says, "Is it possible for me to treat him
I see this problem as far more than a pedagogical one, although certain
pedagogical issues are involved.  Rosie's questions focused on her
responsbility to the student.  And it is true that, given the set-up of the
educational system in general, the teacher has a great deal of power which
must be handled responsibly.  However, the power a teacher holds by virtue
of her position in the system does not deny her the right to human respect
and protection from harm.
Had he physically assaulted her, the issue would clearly not be pedagogy.
Because there was no physical contact, his action is being confused with
his right to "free speech."  I have to vehemently disagree that "he hasn't
yet done anything wrong"; on the contrary, he wore, not just a shirt, but
the entire Nazi uniform (including haircut) after having initiated the
discussion with Rosie during which his comments made clear that he wasn't
"just some guy who wants to belong" to a certain fraternity, but that he
buys into Nazi anti-semitic beliefs.  On top of that, he knew full well
that the teacher into whose class he wore this uniform is herself Jewish.
His action was not merely offensive, but a blatant threat towards a Jew
(a Jew with power).  His action goes beyond symbolism, beyond personal
expression, beyond peer pressure (and I don't see anything admirable about
his coming to Rosie's class in his uniform--if he had to wear it to fit in,
as part of his self-definition, given that he clearly knew how it should
affect Rosie, he should have cut class and taken the consequences; I
certainly don't see him as a model student).
This is *not* a free speech issue, and I assert this on the basis of both
my work in the field of domestic abuse of women and in rhetoric:  words
(threats, intimidation, emotional/verbal abuse) are actions--speech is
action.  Rather, in the words of U Michigan's policy (which Susan Arpad
provided), he has created an "intimidating, hostile, and demeaning
environment."  In fact, he has threatened Rosie.
Despite your position of power, Rosie, you don't bear the brunt of the
responsibility here.  You need some kind of protection from him; you have
as much right to a safe environment as your students.
Connie Ostrowski
ostroc  @  rpi.edu
Date: Fri, 24 Feb 1995 02:09:43 -0500 (EST)
From: steve grubman-black <SDGBBGS @ URIACC.URI.EDU>
Subject: "Rock and Hard Place" Debate
I write in response to Georgia Nugent's attempt to equate a "crossdresser"
attending a molecular biology class with a person wearing the semblance of
a Nazi uniform attending ANY type of class.  Since when does a person who
chooses to dress in the attire of the opposite gender create harsh, painful,
and hateful associations with genocide?
This is not an issue of personal taste.  The student who came to class
dressed in Nazi-inspired clothing did so AFTER finding out the teacher's
thoughts, feelings and opinions about the Nazi holocaust which killed a
total of 12 million people because of their religion, culture, sexual
orientation, and race.  A Nazi is a criminal.  A crossdresser is not.
Someone who chooses to wear Nazi attire knows that he will provoke fear,
horror, and memories of unspeakable thoughts and actions.
The comparison offered by S. Georgia Nugent seems to me to be lame and
inappropriate.  I for one am disappointed in such reasoning.
Stephen D. Grubman-Black
University of Rhode Island
Date: Fri, 24 Feb 1995 00:06:49 -0800
From: Sonja Streuber <shstreuber @ UCDAVIS.EDU>
Subject: Between a rock and a hard place (fwd)
I know this may sound really stupid, but I (as a German woman) would try
to keep this out of the academic context as much as possible.  I mean,
maybe your student has no idea about what he's actually doing when he
wears brown clothes and cuts his hair short.  I've had this situation in
Germany.  Those kids really had NO idea what they were getting into when
they became involved in some kind of organization, however loose it may
be.  Also, if he's a first year student, his fraternity could put him
under pressure; I mean, this could also be some kind of ordeal he has to
take in order to be accepted in his group (pretty scary, but such is
freshmen frat life).  What speaks for this is that he tried to find out
before if the act he was going to pull off would really scare you.
My advice would be to wait and see if this outward change had motivated
some ind of inward change.  This could get really dangerous if he tries
to justify or even deny the concentration camp question.  Or if on April
20, he were to celebrate Hitler's birthday.  Or if he tries to get other
people to join his fraternity.  Then I would take action.
If you're more concerned than that, you may want to see if he's got
friends from Nebraska (the worldwide center of the new NSDAP) or if he's
close to people who openly confess to be KKK members.  That's another
point at which I would take action.
Now, what does "take action" mean?  Since you could not do anything about
him for his political conviction (free speech included) legally, you
would probably have to talk with him personally.  It's maybe not such a
good idea to involve the dean right away; this would make your student
feel insecure, and he would probably try to produce more of whatever he
has been told to tell than necessary.  I'm sure that--if he's not been
brainwashed (as some of my students were)--he'll respond to your
concerns.  And if he doesn't, then it's time to think about making a case
for involving student judicial affairs.
If anybody has any questions about that, please feel free to e-mail me
Good luck, Rosie,
Date: Sat, 25 Feb 1995 07:41:52 -0600 (CST)
From: Ollie McKagen <obycraky @ BEV.NET>
Subject: "Rock and Hard Place" Debate
Those who have said to ignore the neo-nazi in one listee's class and to
grade without reference to it miss the point: if it clashes strongly with
one's sensibilities, a fair grade is actually impossible to give. Attitudes
always affect perceptions, and the perception of performance would be
altered, especially on items scored subjectively: essays questions, papers,
Beside that, the usual standard is whether the offense is that to a
majority, and I think this is one where it is. Professors used to have the
power to deny a student who was offensive or potentially a risk to have
present. I submit this is one, not only to her but the rest of the
class. These skinhead and nazi types are well known to be implicated in hate
activities and usually crimes going along with them.
His frat is obviously not a responsible social org, but instead a school for
criminals. I wouldn't tolerate this budding out in my presence, home, office
or school and see no reason why she has to.
Ollie McKagen
obycraky  @  bev.net
Date: Fri, 24 Feb 1995 07:59:32 -0500
Subject: rock and hard places
I think (hope) we would all agree with Georgia that dress is not an issue.  I
think the problem here is that the dress becomes a representation of a belief
system.  In this case, an ideology that the particular student has already
expressed, and an ideology that is based on extreme violent and restrictive
responses to people.  To have a reaction to an ideological position that
influences grading is probably.  You can't not know something you have already
heard.  Thus, if a student already has told you, in effect, he/she disagrees
with your fundemental premises about the world, that could be a problem in
assessing that student and it leaves the instructor vulnerable to be placed in
the position that if the student does not do well it was the prof bias not the
student's lack of knowlegde.  Perhaps this means, as someone else mentioned (
sorry names escape me) that there are a lot of illusions in the class room
(objectivity, "facts," free speech, etc.) that need to be addressed.
Su Epstein
Sociology Dept
scepstein  @  gallua.gallaudet.edu
Date: Fri, 24 Feb 1995 08:34:42 -0500 (EST)
From: Marjanne Gooze' <MGOOZE @ UGA.CC.UGA.EDU>
Subject: Anti-Semitism IS a feminist issue
I have been surprized by the responses to the Rock and a Hard place
question, since no one seems to have addressed what I see as the key
issue: students' ignorance of the history of anti-seminitism and the
Holocaust, as well as of Jews in this country. While most of us are very
quick to respond to expressions of racism among our students, there is
often less of a response to Anti-Semitism. It is the responsibility of
all of us who teach, and not just those of us who are Jewish, to help
educate all our students (and ourselves) on this issue. Some of the
responses by minority High School students to showings of "Schindler's
List" (laughter, rooting for the Nazi's, etc.) prove that we have our
work cut out for us. Just because one is a member of one oppressed
group, it does not excuse that person from holding prejudices and biases
against others.
Marjanne E. Gooze'
Dept. of Germanic and Slavic Langs.
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602
Telephone: Office: (706) 542-2450; Home: (706) 549-2831
Date: Fri, 24 Feb 1995 15:42:32 +0100
From: Federica Vezzani <vezzani @ LS2CIP01.INFORMATIK.UNI-AUGSBURG.DE>
Subject: A student point of view on anti-semitism
I am  a 22 years old Italian student of Classical Languages and
Literatures. I was reading the postings about anti-semitism.
Most of the messages were from American teachers or researchers.
I want to give you some informations about the education
(primary, mid and high school) we receive in my country from 6 to 19.
A big part of the literature we read is jewish, written by jewish on
jewish. From third grade up, beginning to study history they beginn to
"bomb" us mentally with history on the holocaust, on the war, on the lagers
and so on. Readings such as "Anna Frank's diary" and "Se questo e' un uomo"
by Primo Levi are imposed on kids 8-9 years old. And all this "culture
of the consciousness" continues till the end of high school.
Now I give you my opinion as a student who passed thru this.
Being 8 years old, movies and documentaries on the lagers got me sick,
scared, disgusted. They made us kids feel guilty for something we couldn't
yet understand. I am Italian and now I work in Germany and I found out that
they do exactly the same here with the kids, with the result to produce
Neo-nazis ( the weakests of them) or people who are afraid even to
pronounce the name "Jew" to not be accused to be anti-semitic.
I think that a strong culture and information on the Holocaust is a duty
for every civil country who wants to avoid that disaster to happen again
(it is actually happening again, but since it regards the muslims is another
matter). I think that anyway that kind of education must find the right
methods and times. The Americans are very quick to accuse others of
anti-semitism, racism, homophobia and so on.
I would like to remind you that the United States of America kept racial
laws till 1966 and that in some States homosexuality is considered still felony;
let's not talk of the KKK and other similar organizations.
I think that the point that most of you miss is that the American youth
(and not just the youth) need an Education. Your schools teach athletics
and social stuff (and it stil escapes me the meaning of such studies), American
history (a two hundred years history!!!) and that's it. It is not a
problem of anti-semitism, it is a problem of general and diffuse ignorance.
Federica Vezzani

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