A Lump of Coal by Any Other Name


October 19, 2016 10:33AM

Upon restoration to the throne, it was said of the French royal family (many of whom were beheaded because they abused the people they ruled) that they had “learned nothing and forgotten nothing.” The ruling class at the University of Tennessee seems similarly situated.

Last year, UT earned our annual “lump of coal” award after its Office of Diversity and Inclusion pressured students to use ludicrous, gender-neutral pronouns, and later took steps to ensure that students did not throw holiday parties that were actually Christmas parties in disguise. Now UT’s Office of Equity and Diversity is investigating a student for sexual harassment because he wrote the wrong name on his test as a joke, inadvertently using the name of a lingerie model thereby offending the tender sensibilities of his professor.

This is worse than it looks. The test asked students to name their lab instructor and stated, “if you don’t remember make something good up.” So the student did, basically guessing a name at random. On his test, the professor wrote, “inappropriate.” When the student told the professor he didn’t even know the name was that of a lingerie model (how many lingerie models can you name?), he was told it didn’t matter what his intentions were. The professor responded, “I have no way of determining your intention. I can only consider the result. … The grade of zero stands and will not be changed.” So the professor was wrong but the student still gets a zero? The professor’s feelings matter more than the facts?

Here’s the bigger problem. Lawmakers supposedly defunded UT’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, albeit for one year. So now the Office of Equity and Diversity is stepping up? Not only that, but the school also added a “special adviser to the president on diversity and inclusion.” Clearly the Office of Diversity and Inclusion is gone in name only.

Legislators expended great effort to achieve this exceedingly modest reform. This is what we have to show for it. UT just shifted responsibilities to another office. Tennesseans expected to stop paying for this nonsense. If it is this hard to de-fund something as useless as a taxpayer funded PC special prosecutions unit, what hope do we ever have of doing something hard, like ending our dependency on federal funding?

This investigation needs to immediately end, obviously. But we can’t stop there. Higher education is a bubble. Tennessee’s system needs a good lancing. Far too many Tennesseans find college unaffordable because far too many administrators make far too much money. They regard Tennesseans with all the disdain and decadence of a restored French monarch. It is past time for an insurrection.