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"Hunting Terrorists" at Bucknell:

Apparently the sensitivities of terrorists are easily upset:

On August 29th, the Bucknell University Conservatives Club sent out a campus-wide e-mail announcing an upcoming speaker: Major John Krenson, who had been in Afghanistan "hunting terrorists." Those two words--"hunting terrorists"--resulted in three students being called to Bucknell's Office of the President by Kathy Owens, the Executive Assistant to the President.

When the students arrived, Ms. Owens held up a print-out of the offending e-mail and said "we have a problem here," telling the students that the words "hunting terrorists" were offensive. For the next half-hour, the three students were given a lecture on word choice.

Bruce:
(a) The story is unconfirmed (I'm talking to you, Bill O'Reilly). (b) I'd like to see the whole e-mail before passing judgement. (c) If accurate, of course it's nutty -- which is what leads me to suspect that perhaps it's not accurate.
9.28.2005 1:55pm
SteveH (mail):
I'd be very interested to know what words Owens would suggest as inoffensive alternatives.

Is "hunting" the problem? Well, the word is associated with killing defenseless animals, so it could offend the PETA crowd. Maybe "pursuing" or "chasing" would be more delicate. Of course, they'd be less accurate; I'd assume that Major Krenson intends to both find and kill these terrorists.

Perhaps "terrorists" is the problem? Maybe "suspected terrorists" would be better; we don't want to assume that they are guilty without proof. (Well, actually, that's pretty much standard procedure.) Or is Ms. Owens a fan of "freedom fighters"?
9.28.2005 1:57pm
Reginald:
It's a he-said, she-said...in this case, a he-he-he said vs. a she-said. Of course the administrator is going to hide this, but it is interesting that she did not dispute that the meeting took place and she would not answer any questions about it...not exactly the actions of a guilt-free conscience...
9.28.2005 1:58pm
Steve:
Liberals in academia have a long history of political correctness. However, members of conservative student organizations have a history of exaggerating political correctness incidents for publicity reasons, too. So I tend to reserve judgment until it becomes clearer which trend is at work.
9.28.2005 2:17pm
AnonymousGuest:
Would "killing terrorists" have been better? It describes the major's actions, without the recreational element
9.28.2005 2:42pm
Adam K:
I hope this isn't taken as an ad hominem, BUT: being a Bucknell alum who was around for the "Conservative Club's" nascent years, and one who followed their exploits after graduation, I express a healthy dose of skepticism at any account coming from their ranks. I knew several of their founding and early members, and had many of them in my Poli Sci and Econ classes, and the one unifying trait among all of them was that they endeavored to make a major controversy out of the most insignificant occurrences.

This is not to say Bucknell isn't getting ridiculous with its "speech codes," because it certainly is (and certainly was when I was there), but I know this club to have a history of exaggeration and misrepresentation (it doesn't amount to "lying," in my opinion), so I question their credibility.

Also, having been a college student, I can say that most college students greatly embellish the injustice of any action taken by administrators, especially when it's face to face.
9.28.2005 3:09pm
Hans Bader (mail):
I used to sue (and occasionally represent) educational institutions, and it seems perfectly believable to me that a college administrator would behave in this kooky, politically correct manner.

I once talked to a student in San Diego who was reprimanded for expressing his disgust at Middle Eastern students who celebrated the mass murders of 9/11. That made him a racial harasser in the eyes of his politically correct college (although he himself was an African immigrant).

College administrators' behavior is sometimes beyond parody.

The idea that referring to the Taliban as "terrorists" is insensitive is deeply moronic and kooky. Why else are our troops in Afghanistan, after all, if they're not terrorists or practitioners of violence? Is it less insensitive to kill them than to refer to them as terrorists?

Why does this politically-correct college administrator want to defend the wounded sensibilities of Taliban sympathizers on her campus, when the Taliban would, if given the power, force her and all women to wear a burka, give up her profession, and remain cloistered in her home?
9.28.2005 3:13pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Next time an (tenured) academic, or a college administrator, tells you how busy they are, remember the above story.

Obviously, WAY too much free time.
9.28.2005 3:46pm
=0= (mail):
and the one unifying trait among all of them was that they endeavored to make a major controversy out of the most insignificant occurrences.

That was my experience (at Wesleyan) as well. The PC-factor at Wes was, of course, nearly off the scale, but the token conservatives there were eaqually absurdist (and sometimes worse) in their we-re-being-victimized press stunts.
9.28.2005 5:04pm
Been there:
This kind of story is why my one conservative professor in college referred to someone as having "the soul of a dean." This was not a compliment.
9.28.2005 5:08pm
SHG (mail):
I'm a student at Bucknell and a member of the Bucknell University Conservatives Club (BUCC). What you've read is true -- nothing's been embellished. The text of the email is as follows:

> Where were you during the months following September 11?
>
> Major John Krenson was hunting terrorists.
>
>
>
> The Real Story from the Frontlines:
> Major John Krenson details his experiences as the Chief Intelligence Liaison Officer between the US Coalition and NATO forces
> in Afghanistan.
>
> Gardner lecture Hall (Dana Engineering)
> September 6
> 7:00 PM
>
> This event is brought to you by the BUCC, Dean Ferraro, and Young America's Foundation.
> www.bucknellconservatives.org
> www.thecounterweight.org

I'd like to point out that the BUCC didn't make a "big deal" out of this. There was a short newsbrief in The Counterweight (periodic BUCC publication) about what happened and why we thought it was a bit ridiculous. That's it. It wasn't some huge ordeal that bogged down the entire Unversity.

Anyway, if you'd like me to forward you the actual email, drop me a line.
9.28.2005 7:21pm
JPF (mail):
Bruce questions whether this actually happened.

Well, Brian C. Mitchell, Bucknell President, has a history of nutty liberal stuff. He was President at my alma mater--Washington &Jefferson College--immediately before going to Bucknell.

He instituted a no-smoking ban, banned drinking outside and all glass bottles, and imposed a special fee only on Greek students (meaning social organizations, not our friends from the Athenian region).

Mitchell also oversaw the largest capital campaign in the school's history, with results that have left the college with unfinished space one three floors in one large building and left the college broke.

The commencement speakers while I was there (1998-2002) were, in succession:

1999--
2000--Sen. George Mitchell
2001--Andrea Mitchell (NBC)
2002--Theresa Heinz (Kerry not yet added)

Plus these gems after I graduated:

2003--Chris Matthews
2004--Gov. Edward G. Rendell

He oversaw and advocated the introduction of Women's and Gender Studies program into a liberal arts college. He also proposed and hired a Dean of Multicultural Affairs, at a school of 1200 (mostly white suburban) students.

He also oversaw or ordered the declination or closing of 4 fraternities.

Mitchell was also a great endorser of Alberto W. Vilar, the disgraced and indicted arts patron who at one time was W&J's largest "donor". After I wrote a student newspaper column recollecting my reaction to shaking Vilar's hand ("cold") and questioning whether Vilar was good for the college (he turned out not to be as he stiffed them for a few million dollars), Mitchell called me into his office and expressed displeasure at the column and had the audacity to say that he believed in student freedom of speech, but that he didn't want something like this to be printed again.

So, do I believe this story--yes, because it happened to me. Bucknell is in worrisome hands.
9.28.2005 8:24pm
K Parker (mail):
JPF,
a no-smoking ban


Wow, that's a new one! :-)
9.29.2005 5:01am
JPF (mail):
K Parker--

I apologize for my sloppiness.

Yes, smoking was banned in all campus buildings (including fraternities and residence halls). Nnot that my brothers ever adhered to that one.

Mind you, to show how old school W&J used to be: smoking by students was permitted even in classrooms until 1999. One poli sci professor of mine used to revel in smoking a cigar in his office and while lecturing.
9.29.2005 12:11pm
Chris Imbriano (mail):
In Response to Steve and Adam K:

Steve (www):
However, members of conservative student organizations have a history of exaggerating political correctness incidents for publicity reasons, too. So I tend to reserve judgment until it becomes clearer which trend is at work.

Adam K (www):
I hope this isn't taken as an ad hominem, BUT: being a Bucknell alum who was around for the "Conservative Club's" nascent years, and one who followed their exploits after graduation, I express a healthy dose of skepticism at any account coming from their ranks

As a member of the group lectured by the administrator in question, the Conservatives Club did nothing more than write a breif summary of the meeting in the form of a newsbrief in our publication, The Counterweight.

The exact article can be see at www.thecounterweight.org, in the most recent issue.

Please scroll to page 6 and read the newbrief titled "President's Office Doesn't Like 'Hunting Terrorists'"

This is the only public thing the Club has done since the meeting took place, if it can even be considered "public". Many subscribe to our publication and one in particular wrote a web log on his site, which apparently recieves a lot of traffic, seeing the results of his post.

His website is
www.brain-terminal.com.

He has since added another post regarding this event.
10.3.2005 12:55am