CQ reader Dave Mendoza points me to an article that appeared in last week’s Daily Orange, the campus newspaper of Syracuse University, regarding the expulsion of Scott McConnell from nearby LeMoyne College. McConnell, a graduate student in education, does not fit LeMoyne’s atmosphere of political correctness. He believes in corporal punishment and rejects the focus on multiculturalism in the classroom:
While students are guaranteed the freedom of speech, LeMoyne College’s recent actions against a student have raised questions of whether or not academic papers are the place to exercise this right.
LeMoyne College expelled Scott McConnell, a student from its Masters of Education program, for writing a paper in which he advocated the use of corporal punishment in schools, he said.
The paper, written for a class on classroom management, originally earned McConnell an A-. However, when he attempted to enroll in classes for the spring semester, he found he couldn’t.
It wasn’t just corporate punishment that got McConnell banished from LeMoyne, ironically a Catholic college that proclaims its commitment to “the Jesuit tradition” — one that most Catholic-school kids would remember as not particularly shy about the paddle across the rear or rulers across the knuckles. (I went to public school, but in an era where both remedies remained available to teachers and administrators.) The Syracuse Post-Standard reported in an earlier story that McConnell’s viewpoint on multiculturalism offended the enlightened souls at LeMoyne:
Dr. Cathy Leogrande, director of the Graduate Education Program, told McConnell in the letter that she had reviewed his grades and talked to his professors.
“I have grave concerns regarding the mismatch between your personal beliefs regarding teaching and learning and the Le Moyne College program goals,” leading to the decision not to admit him, Leogrande wrote. …
He said he’s also been trying to find out what Leogrande meant by “mismatch.” College administrators have told him, he said, that it stems from the four-page “Classroom Management Plan” he submitted Nov. 2 for his Planning, Assessing and Managing Inclusive Classrooms class.
In the opening paragraph of his essay, McConnell wrote: “I do not feel that multicultural education has a philosophical place or standing in an American classroom, especially one that I will teach. I also feel that corporal punishment has a place in the classroom and should be implemented when needed.” He got an A for the course.
I do not know Scott McConnell, so I cannot peer into his soul to see why he objects to multicultural education. Perhaps McConnell was expressing latent racism. A better explanation, however, is that he sees the American classroom as a place for classic learning instead of social engineering, and that multiculturalism amounts to little more than political indoctrination, no matter how benign one considers it. A belief in corporal punishment also hardly qualifies one for public shunning. The notion may not enjoy massive popularity, but it isn’t a fringe belief either.
Besides, the Jesuits have engaged in bitter irony in their treatment of McConnell. LeMoyne intends on protecting multiculturalism in the classroom — by ensuring that everyone who enrolls at their college thinks exactly like they do. The administration shows its opposition to corporal punishment by giving any student espousing it the academic death penalty. The intellectual posturing and moral hypocrisy in these actions and positions truly dizzies the bystander.
Some still scoff when conservatives refer to the overwhelming liberal and leftist bias at universities and colleges in the US. This shows that far from striving to provide students the ability to debate and discuss all points of view, colleges and their administrations have developed a thought police of almost Orwellian proportions to defend their last bastion of Utopian thought. Academia provides no freedom of speech or conscience, and LeMoyne and the Jesuits have clearly communicated that in order to stay enrolled, students must never speak their minds. What a sad and sorry state for LeMoyne, its students, its alumni — and for the students their graduates go on to teach in our classrooms.