Extreme ideologies on race collide at Trinity College

Extreme ideologies on race collide at Trinity College
Trinity College (Al Ferreira / UGC)

Not historically known for campus unrest, Trinity College finds itself thrust in the middle of an ideological clash over race that has brought unwanted national attention to the Hartford institution as it tries to move beyond its preppy label.

The controversy revolves around a pair of professors — one for tweeting that “whiteness is terrorism” and the other for his central role in an emerging alt-right group that’s been accused of giving a platform to white supremacists and to former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka, whose daughter is a Trinity senior.

It comes as the college’s administration has sought to advance diversity and inclusiveness at the liberal arts school of 2,300 students, where a student-led affiliate of the Churchill Institute is seeking recognition as a campus organization. Members of the student Senate will vote on the request to create a Churchill Club Sunday.

Joanne Berger-Sweeney, president of Trinity College.
Joanne Berger-Sweeney, president of Trinity College. (Courtesy of Trinity College)

Joanne Berger-Sweeney, the school’s president, addressed the political unrest in a campus-wide letter Wednesday and said Trinity College’s foundation is built on academic freedom and freedom of expression.

“Where else should these debates occur, if not here?” Berger-Sweeney wrote. “These debates help us define our differences and find our common ground, and while they may not always end in a agreement, they advance our understanding of each other.”

Berger-Sweeney was not available for an interview, but a school spokeswoman said “we respect [the Student Government Association’s] process and the considerable pressure they are under with regard to this issue, and therefore it would be inappropriate for anyone in the administration to comment before the vote.”

Gregory Smith, president and chairman of the Churchill Institute.
Gregory Smith, president and chairman of the Churchill Institute.

The 3-year-old Churchill Institute is based in Hartford and led by Gregory B. Smith, a political science professor who has been criticized for referring to on-campus cultural houses for African-American, Asian-American, Latino, Muslim and Jewish students as “tribal enclaves.”

At the same time, longtime sociology professor Johnny Eric Williams…

Warren unveils $640 billion college debt forgiveness plan

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Democrat Elizabeth Warren is proposing the elimination of existing student loan debt for millions of Americans, part of a sweeping set of education funding proposals announced as she and other presidential candidates seek to differentiate themselves in a sprawling field.

The Massachusetts senator says the proposal unveiled Monday would eliminate almost all student loan debt for 42 million Americans, canceling $50,000 in debt for each person with household income under $100,000. According to Warren’s description of the plan in a piece to be posted on Medium, the debt cancellation proposal would create a one-time cost to the federal government of $640 billion.

Many in the growing field of Democratic candidates have proposed reforming the nation’s student loan programs, including dramatic restructuring of existing refinancing structures, but Warren appears to be the first to propose flat-out debt…

Lori Loughlin pleads not guilty in college admissions scam

Lori Loughlin pleads not guilty in college admissions scam

Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli are charged with paying $500,000 in bribes to get their daughters admitted to the University of Southern California as crew recruits. #AmericasNewsroom #FoxNews

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Betsy DeVos Suggests That Bribing Colleges Helps Students Learn Math

Photograph by Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call / Getty

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Offering an upbeat assessment of the headline-grabbing college-admissions scandal, Betsy DeVos said on Thursday that bribing colleges gave students “a really neat opportunity” to learn math.

The Secretary of Education suggested that, rather than keeping children in the dark about the bribes that enable their college acceptances, “Parents should sit around the kitchen table with their kids and work…

Accused college admission scammers dig deep for bipartisan political donations

Lori Loughlin's daughter reportedly furious at parents for ruining her career by pushing college

A Fox News analysis of political donations by the 50 individuals charged in the college admissions scandal shows that alleged corruption appears to know no political ideology.

Some of the alleged scammers made occasional contributions to individual candidates. Others, though, like Robert Flaxman, a real estate magnate who is charged in the scandal, gave small fortunes to both Republican and Democratic campaigns.

In 2012, Flaxman gave $50,000 to the Romney Victory Fund in support of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Four years later, in 2016, the 62-year-old founder of Crown Realty and Development supported Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton with a donation of the same amount to the Hillary Victory Fund.


Felicity Huffman, a star of the show Desperate Housewives, has consistently donated to Democratic campaigns. Since 2003, she’s given over $11,000, according to Political Money Line and FEC records.

Media transform college scandal

Her donation history shows a notable level of support for Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) over the past couple of years. Starting in 2016, Huffman gave the Kamala Harris for Senate organization over $2,000 in contributions.

While Huffman’s donations are indicative of her politics, others ensnared in the scandal gave tens of thousands of dollars to both Democrat and Republican candidates.

FEC records show that Flaxman began donating in 2007 with a bevy of contributions to Republican campaigns, including $19,600 to support John McCain. That year, he also gave $10,000 to the California Republican Party.


Trump signs executive order to promote free speech on college campuses

President Trump signs executive order protecting free speech on college campuses
President Trump signs executive order protecting free speech on college campuses

President Trump on Thursday signed an executive order to promote free speech on college campuses by threatening colleges with the loss of federal research funding if they do not protect those rights.

“We’re here to take historic action to defend American students and American values,” Trump said, surrounded by conservative student activists at the signing ceremony. “They’ve been under siege.”

“Under the guise of speech codes, safe spaces and trigger warnings, these universities have tried to restrict free thought, impose total conformity and shut down the voices of great young Americans like those here today,” he said.


A senior administration official said the order directs 12 grant-making agencies to use their authority in coordination with the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to ensure institutions that receive federal research or education grants promote free speech and free inquiry. White House officials have said it will apply to more than $35 billion in grants.

Public universities seeking funding would have to certify they comply with the First Amendment, which already applies to them. Private universities, which have more flexibility in limiting speech, would need to commit to their own institutional rules.

“Even as universities have received billions and billions of dollars from taxpayers, many have become increasingly hostile to free speech and the First Amendment,” Trump said.


A Scandal for Our Populist Moment

William “Rick” Singer leaves a federal courthouse after facing charges in a nationwide college admissions cheating scheme in Boston, Mass., March 12, 2019.

The alleged college-admissions bribery ring exposed earlier this week has something to enrage everyone.

The college-admissions scandal should be the populist issue of our time.

Most of the talk in our politics about how “the system is rigged” is incredibly abstract and symbolic. But this is infuriatingly concrete.

On Tuesday, the Justice Department revealed a massive effort by wealthy parents and a shady “admissions consultant” to bribe and cheat their way into getting kids into a slew of elite schools.

Prosecutors say William Singer, the ringleader of the operation, sold two forms of services. For tens of thousands of dollars, parents could pay for their kids to have a proctor correct their incorrect answers as they took the SAT. Or, if that wouldn’t do the trick, parents could pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to bribe coaches at elite schools to designate applicants as desired athletes, thus circumventing the minimum requirements for grades and test scores.

In one case, a California family allegedly paid $1.2 million to Singer, who in turn allegedly paid Rudy Meredith, the women’s soccer coach at Yale, $400,000 to claim that the family’s daughter was a coveted recruit even though she didn’t play at all.

This scandal is a staggering indictment of higher education, and American education policy generally. Virtually every constituency in American life has good reason to be rankled. Defenders of affirmative action for various minority groups are rightly livid about this effort, by mostly rich white people who already have every advantage imaginable, to game the system. Opponents of affirmative action who argue that merit alone should determine admissions…

Q&A: Young politicians explain what it’s like being college-aged elected officials


Cassandra Levesque, 19, and Garrett Cole, 21, are two young politicians whom Duke’s POLIS brought to campus this week. Levesque is a state legislator in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, and Cole is a county commissioner in West Virginia.

The Chronicle sat down with the two to talk about the benefits and challenges of being a college-aged elected official. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

The Chronicle: What got you involved with politics at such a young age?

Cassandra Levesque: I started out with advocating to end child marriage up in New Hampshire, and started when I was 15 and a half. I’m still trying to fight it. I made one step closer [by bringing the age up to 16]. I was 18 when I got asked to run by state Rep. Ellen Read. I decided the Thursday before the deadline to run and signed all the papers. I never really thought I would be into politics. I was an arts student. I was going to go to an arts school. Things kind of changed and I switched to political science.

Garrett Cole: I’m a fifth-generation Nicholas County-an, always like to brag about that. We were around before the Civil War. I grew up a partial caretaker for two of my grandparents—one I lost, and one I’m fortunate enough to still have. I’m an Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts, I got really in tuned to the local part of life. I was part of an unsuccessful county commission race in 2014—didn’t even know what a county commissioner was, which is kind of embarrassing now that I am one.

In 2016, I was a field representative 11 counties wide for a congressional race that we won with about 76 percent of the vote. I was actually going to do a write-in campaign that year but I realized that wouldn’t work. I called my friend and he told me that was the wrong district.

But two years later I could, so June 7, 2017 I pre-filed, still didn’t know what I was doing. I’m paid $39,000 a year and didn’t even know that until I won my primary. I saw it as an opportunity to serve locally. I was too young to be a congressman, probably wouldn’t fit in very well anyway. [State legislative races] are every two years, and I wanted to be able to get my feet wet and go, and not have to run for re-election again. I’m serving a six-year term, and I get to be an advocate for Nicholas County.

TC: What’s it like serving in these roles when your friends are probably off at college? What are the conversations like with them?

CL: It’s definitely an interesting conversation because a lot of my friends are artists or they went to the University of New Hampshire at Manchester. They kind of knew that I was interested in that, but they always knew I was a photographer and not interested in politics. So going from that, two totally different things, and they were very excited that I was running. They were very supportive. It was mostly my family who was very shocked because no one in my family was interested in politics before me.

As I started getting more into it, we started talking more about it. It was totally out of the blue. I’m like the black sheep of the family now. I do everything differently from them. [I have] very interesting conversations with my family. All my friends ask me questions. I actually got a sewing circle that my aunt is a part of in Florida to go out and vote.

It was a shock for everybody that I decided to run, because it was not really on my radar until Ellen [encouraged me].

GC: My first year of high school I got elected class president before I even knew it. I was sitting…

Trump Says He Will Sign Free Speech Order for College Campuses

Pete Marovich for The New York Times

OXON HILL, Md. — President Trump said on Saturday that he planned to issue an executive order that would help guarantee free speech at colleges and universities by putting their federal aid at risk if they do not protect the viewpoints of students of all political stripes.

The president made the announcement during a rambling two-hour speech to activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington, but he did not provide any details about the possible executive order. Several White House officials did not respond to emails or telephone calls seeking additional information.

The White House did not respond to questions about when the president might sign the order.

The issue of free speech on college campuses has for years been a cause célèbre among young conservative activists, who point to instances around the country in which conservative voices have been shunned by liberal students and professors.

The crowd, which included many college-age conservatives, welcomed Mr. Trump’s announcement, leaping to their feet when he pledged to hold school administrators accountable for ensuring that conservatives were permitted to express their views on campuses, often places where liberals outnumber them.

The president cited the case of Hayden Williams, a young activist who was beaten up last month as he was recruiting for a conservative organization at the University of California, Berkeley — long one of the leading centers of liberal academic thought.

“If they want our dollars, and we give it to them by the billions, they’ve got to allow people like Hayden and many great young people, and old people, to speak,” Mr. Trump said, drawing huge applause.

Mr. Trump invited Mr. Williams, who was in the audience, to address the crowd briefly, calling him strong and urging him to sue the university because of the episode. Mr. Williams thanked the president for supporting young conservatives such as himself.

Floyd Abrams, a leading First Amendment lawyer, expressed concern about the president’s proposed executive order.

“The visage of…

At Agnes Scott College, the IGNITE conference encourages women to pursue politics

The national nonpartisan organization, which has six college chapters in Georgia, encourages women to engage in politics and run for office

IGNITE Atlanta
Photograph courtesy of IGNITE

On February 9, IGNITE will host their 2019 Young Women Run Atlanta conference at Agnes Scott College. Congresswoman Lucy McBath, of Georgia’s 6th congressional district, will be the keynote speaker at the half-day event, along with guest speakers and state House Representatives Brenda Lopez and Park Cannon.

IGNITE is a national nonpartisan organization that works to encourage women to engage in politics and run for office. Their K-12 curriculum teaches young girls the inner workings of government and why it is important to be politically involved. Collegiate chapters, of which Georgia has six, offer women the opportunity to connect with elected officials and other political leaders who act as mentors and role models. By creating seats at traditionally male-dominated tables, the organization stresses the importance of diversity in politics. Members are encouraged to pick a particular issue they’re passionate about, and IGNITE equips them with…