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Bergen Community College Drafts Student "Code of Responsibility":

The Bergen County Record quotes:

In the full knowledge of the commitment that I am freely willing to undertake as a student, I promise to respect each and every member of the college community without regard to race, creed, political ideology, lifestyle orientation, gender or social status sparing no effort to preserve the dignity of those I will come in contact with as a member of the college community. I promise to Bergen Community College that I will follow this code of responsibility.

1. Honesty, integrity and respect for all will guide my personal conduct.

2. I will embrace and celebrate differing perspectives intellectually.

3. I will build an inclusive community enriched by diversity.

4. I am willing to respect and assist those individuals who are less fortunate.

5. I promise my commitment to civic engagement and to serve the needs of the community to the best of my ability.

There was some talk last Thursday about the possibility that "the college, ultimately, may opt for an 'aspirational' statement as opposed to a code," but the statement from a college spokeswoman Wednesday had been, "The pledge would not be optional .... If you don't agree, it is President Ryan's vision that you cannot attend the school."

Some of this just can't be taken seriously: "I promise to respect each and every member of the college community without regard to ... creed [or] political ideology ... sparing no effort to preserve the dignity of those I will come in contact with"? You have to respect people whose religious "creed" is that the Earth is flat, or that blacks or whites are morally inferior? You have to respect people without regard to political ideology, "sparing no effort to preserve the dignity of" Nazis or Stalinists?

But even if you set that aside, students are entitled to be selfish, or to channel their altruism in ways other than "civic engagement [or] serv[ing] the needs of the community," or not to have any interest in working to build inclusive communities enriched by diversity. And they are entitled to get the benefit of an education at Bergen Community College even if they take such personal views, which should not be the subject of any loyalty oath. If the College wants to require them to study certain topics, or even engage in certain extracurricular activities, it may so require. But under the First Amendment, it can't demand a pledge that students not only do certain things, but do them with the right attitude.

Interestingly, all this is defended as an attempt to "balance First Amendment rights with a need to bring civility into an institution." But even beyond the unconstitutionality of this particular balance, note that much of the proposal isn't about "civility" -- it's about enforcing a particular ideology of "civic engagement," "serv[ing] the needs of the community," and "assist[ing] those ... who are less fortunate," and excluding students who don't share this ideology no matter how civil they might be.

Matt P (mail):
A lot of this comes down to the definition of respect. I can show a person respect, but that does not mean that I must in all cases agree, like, or even tolerate every belief the same. I do not and will not respect or tolerate Islamofascits ideals, but I would certainly do my best to respect the person.
1.14.2008 1:52pm
Mr. Liberal:
I think this, whether it is called a code or not, is purely aspirational an symbolic.

You cannot legislate respect.

I do not respect members of the Klu Klux Klan. If I was a student at Bergen Community College, I would not respect another student who was a Klan member, code or no code.

I would say, I do not believe that those who fail to serve the needs of the community, can be considered civil.

To be polite is to consider the needs of others. If you are purely selfish, their is hardly any need to be polite in many contexts, simply because retaliation for being rude or inconsiderate is not possible in many contexts.

One cannot be both purely selfishness and be considered civil.

Selfishness is a deadly enemy to civilization.
1.14.2008 1:54pm
Mr. Liberal:
I agree with Matt that it depends on the definition of respect.

Bernard College is entitled to require people to "respect" each other, in the sense of not violating their rights.

Just because someone is a member of the Klu Klux Klan, that does not mean the Bernard College must tolerate my assault and battery on that person, however morally justified.
1.14.2008 1:56pm
Just a thought:

Some of this just can't be taken seriously: "I promise to respect each and every member of the college community without regard to ... creed [or] political ideology ... sparing no effort to preserve the dignity of those I will come in contact with"? You have to respect people whose religious "creed" is that the Earth is flat, or that blacks or whites are morally inferior? You have to respect people without regard to political ideology, "sparing no effort to preserve the dignity of" Nazis or Stalinists?


I'm not a PC/inclusive/diversity proponent, but I find it useful in these debates to make a distinction between respecting the human person and respecting the person's belief system. All people, by virtue of the fact that they are human beings, deserve some level of respect based on their humanity, even if they hold repulsive beliefs or do repulsive acts. (See, e.g., "Love the sinner, hate the sin" or opponents of the death penalty or the prohibition of "cruel and unusual" punishments.) So, yes, it's important to respect every member of the community, regardless of creed.

But my respect for a neo-Nazi does not mean that I have to respect his beliefs by permitting him to form a group on campus or to hold a forum for his views.
1.14.2008 1:58pm
Just a thought:
Ah, Matt and Mr. Liberal got there before I did.
1.14.2008 1:59pm
Sarah (mail) (www):
Are public colleges permitted to enforce civility standards like "don't engage in ad hominem attacks"?

I'm curious mostly because that's the behavior that the college staff complain about in the original article. Obviously there's a significant distance between "don't swear at your teachers" and "build an inclusive community enriched by diversity," but it seems like some of the arguments against this (proposed) code of responsibility are suggesting that public colleges can't do anything about this (pretty obviously disruptive) behavior, which I'm pretty sure is inaccurate.
1.14.2008 2:06pm
c.gray (mail):

You have to respect people without regard to political ideology, "sparing no effort to preserve the dignity of" Nazis or Stalinists?


I assume that you report those who publicly espouse Nazi or Stalinist ideas to the college administration for violating the code, but do so with the greatest respect for the dignity of those individuals you report.
1.14.2008 2:09pm
MXE (mail):
Right on, Prof. Volokh...

Of course, as we all know, the administration of Bergen community college has no desire to see its students show respect for Nazis or racists. (Stalinists and Islamic extremists probably make the cut, though.)

BTW, go to the Bergen Community College website. At the very top of the homepage, it has a splash graphic as large as the college logo itself advertising that Bergen has a "smoke-free campus."

What a travesty! It's like the health and diversity administrators have completely taken control of the college. Now that's a nightmare.

Also, to some of the other posters: while it's generally a good idea to be civil, I don't think people deserve respect simply for being human. They have rights, but respect needs to be earned.
1.14.2008 2:13pm
TomH (mail):
It is enough to tolerate people and behave in a dignified manner. Beyond that, as implied by some prior posts, the connotations of respect, at least in this place, day and age, goes further than tolerance and dignified behavior, all the way to "embrace" and "look up to", something no one can really be forced to do.

I do find, anecdotally, that recently if one promises to tolerate another's behavior, ideology or other aspect of the person, that is now considered to be an insult.

Maybe it can be, if polite normal society generally does not accord any negative to the aspect being tolerated, and thus, "normal" levels of actual respect are being given on grudging tolerance. But then again, maybe we need thicker skins, or at least to tolerate and treat with dignity those who can only tolerate, but not respect,embrace or look up to, us.
1.14.2008 2:19pm
More importantly...:
This is Bergen Community College . . . why should anyone care what crack-pot idea is put in place there?
1.14.2008 2:20pm
Matt P (mail):
Here is the greatest problem Sarah, you cannot define ad hominem without reading people's minds. The line between a poorly chosen argument and attacking a person is to blurry to police. Do we really want only good arguments to be allowed? Part of the college experience is learning to argue and that takes the freedom to argue about things you are not sure of and make mistakes (which are seen in the light of people's reactions to your argument). In the end it is not a set of rules that will lead to civility. Civility comes from seeing that a kind of argument is hurtful to people you care for and not wanting to do it again. If you do something only because of a rule when the rule is gone your behavior returns to what it was before and you have learned nothing.

Further, to some, saying x is wrong is the same as saying I hate everyone who does or believes x. This leaves the most sensitive people to set the agenda and control everyone. This means that only the most banal and non-controversial topics get discussed which seems counter to the purposes of higher learning.

Personally I would make the creed read, "Try not to be such a jackass or nobody will like you."
1.14.2008 2:20pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"I agree with Matt that it depends on the definition of respect."

I suppose we also have to know the definition of "embrace" as used in the following: "I will embrace and celebrate differing perspectives intellectually."

I wonder if President Ryan will embrace and celebrate Prof. Volokh's views on the Bergen code?
1.14.2008 2:24pm
DG:
Oh no! My daughter had Bergen as her "safety school" right after Harvard and Brown! What will we do?!

Oh, I know, we'll go back to ignoring the idiotic loyalty pledge promulgated by the "president" of a second rate community college. FIRE will probably assign an intern to this one - maybe a High School intern, at that.
1.14.2008 2:24pm
Federal Dog:
"If you don't agree, it is President Ryan's vision that you cannot attend the school."


Perhaps the gentleman's "vision" would become a bit clearer if he would pull his head out of his arse. Where do schools find these egomaniacs?
1.14.2008 2:26pm
Mr. Liberal:

They have rights, but respect needs to be earned.


This is a sensible statement under one definition of respect, but not sensible under another.

It is a form of respect to acknowledge that other humans have rights. Rights that have to be, ummm.... respected. =)

There is a sort of respect that goes beyond mere respect for rights, that involves a belief that one should be polite and civil towards that person.

I think even under this definition of respect, it is not exactly right to say that respect has to be earned. Usually, this sort of respect exists until some action cause it to be lost. Most people will treat strangers politely unless somehow provoked, and that is how it should be.

There is yet another meaning of respect, which is more akin to admiration. This is the sort of respect that must be earned.
1.14.2008 2:29pm
What's That Amendment Again?:

But my respect for a neo-Nazi does not mean that I have to respect his beliefs by permitting him to form a group on campus or to hold a forum for his views.


Actually, if your campus is a public campus, it means just that. A school administrator who favored the KKK wouldn't be able to bar students from speaking about the NAACP, nor would a liberal school administrator be able to bar students from talking about the KKK. The First Amendment means that we can't silence viewpoints, even if we think they are repugnant.
1.14.2008 2:32pm
tvk:
Well, under this exclusionary rule, presumably the student will never come into contact with Nazis or Stalinists as members of the "college community" and therefore will never have to respect them. Everyone at Bergen Community College will live in a protective PC-bubble for the duration of their residence.
1.14.2008 2:34pm
Jim Rhoads (mail):
I'm not sure I understand some of the arguments here. Does anyone really believe that Bergen's Code as stated is enforceable according to its President's "vision".
1.14.2008 2:35pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
I have to respect another's rights, in that I can't physically violate them. But I don't have to respect any other person. I don't have to respect the Nazi. I can and should call him a moron, a racist, a fool, a defender of mass-murder. If such a rule were in place back when David Duke was attending college and prancing around in his Nazi uniform, would I be forbidden from spitting on the ground in front of him? Would I be allowed to counter-protest, decrying Duke as a Nazi and racist? Or, as a commenter earlier suggested, would I be expected to meekly call the dean and, with the greatest of respect to Duke personally, await the college's efforts to discipline him, all the while respecting his views?

As all speech codes do, this one demands that all students tolerate EVERYTHING except for intolerance of any sort. You can't call anything "bad" except for "intolerance," because that would be, well, intolerant. It's ridiculous.
1.14.2008 2:37pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
DG: Bergen Community College apparently has at least 15,000 students working towards Associate's degrees. I suspect many of them don't have many other schools available to them (for instance, because they're geographically limited by family obligations or economic constraints, such as the need to work at a certain place or live with their parents). True, the policies won't have a personal effect on Brown and Harvard students. Is that, though, reason for us to "ignor[e]" the policies that affect 15,000 Bergen students?
1.14.2008 2:39pm
MXE (mail):
Of course you're right, Mr. Liberal. Though I don't think Bergen has in mind "respect" in the sense of "not blatantly violating basic human rights."

I think they probably have your second kind of respect in mind. We can argue over whether "earned" is the right way to put it, but I don't think everyone deserves this kind of respect under all circumstances, and your words seem to imply that you don't, either. (I'm referring to your comment about provocation.)

In response to the people ragging on Bergen for being a bottom-of-the-barrel community college: thanks for the good humor! But, but...without getting self-righteous about irrelevant B.S., what's the Internet good for?
1.14.2008 2:40pm
Mr. Liberal:

The First Amendment means that we can't silence viewpoints, even if we think they are repugnant.


The First Amendment only governs state action, or actions of private individuals under color of law.

I am assuming that what he means by not allowing such groups to form is taking active steps to make people who would even think of joining such groups uncomfortable, using social ostracism, and otherwise making life difficult enough for members (i.e. by not sharing notes, publicizing the identity individuals who would join such groups on the Internet so at to hinder their future job prospects), such that formation of any such group would be thwarted.

It is just fine for private individuals to take lawful actions to discourage and prevent formation of groups advocating repugnant views.
1.14.2008 2:40pm
TomH (mail):
It may survive the NJ Appellate COurt if every statement of argument on campus is followed by the disclaimer -

"This differing perspective is embraced and celebrated by the disputant - regardless of the sour look on my face, pay no attention to that, it's how I look when I am celebrating."

Also, no harassment charges each time you embrace someone of the opposite sex you are having an intellectual differing viewpoint with. After all it is required by the school code, and you could get thrown out by the President if you don't do what he says. . .
1.14.2008 2:45pm
Sandal (www):
Impracticability aside, there is something to be said for upholding a particular set of shared values within a group or community that is defined and contained. Students presumably elect to be members of that community and may elect to leave.

We all give up some rights to form government. We may have to give up more rights to join other sub-groups. Us outsiders may think it's silly, idealistic, unrealistic, dumb, etc., but they ought to be allowed to set the rules within their own group. Association is in Amendment I as well.

tvk may be right that this will make BCC a "protective PC-bubble," but aren't many of our nation's colleges and universities like this to a greater or lesser extent (note that I know zero about BCC)? Furthermore, aren't many of the suburbs and communities, where many Americans grow up and live, like this? Whether or not such rules are desirable is a question for the members of the BCC community, not for outsiders.

Just because we have the broader right to say anything doesn't mean that we all want to say everything. And even recalling that the soverign nearest to us is the one most likely to usurp our rights, we should further recall that this is a voluntary association.

I'm just trying to figure out why all of these Fredheads libertarians care about how a small community decides to self-regulate.
1.14.2008 2:46pm
This is why we should care (mail):
We should care because most admins are sheep, and where the bellwether goes, the flock will follow. Second-rate community college one day, then the next it will be a mid-major college a few towns over.

Besides, I teach at a community college. These idiots can and will do these things if no one speaks up.
1.14.2008 2:47pm
Mr. Liberal:
Community colleges should not be disrespected.

First, many people go to community college and transfer to extremely excellent universities, such as UCLA and UC Berkeley. One can start at a community college and end up anywhere. (At least some Ivy Leagues do not accept transfers, but you could very well end up in one of those for graduate school after transferring to UCLA or UC Berkeley.)

I guess if it makes you feel better about yourself to make fun of those who go to community college, have at it. But I guarantee that at least some of those attending community college are as smart or smarter than you. I think it makes you pathetic, and I lose respect for you, not those who go to community college that are the targets of your disdain.

Those who need to put down others to build themselves up are pathetic.
1.14.2008 2:52pm
Happyshooter:
If you don't agree, it is President Ryan's vision that you cannot attend the school.

It is my vision that Ole Ryan is about to lose a lawsuit.
1.14.2008 2:52pm
MXE (mail):
Sandal: you're right that lots of private communities place implicit or explicit restrictions on members' beliefs/values, but the First Amendment does limit the behavior of the government. Community colleges are generally funded/run by county or city governments, and I assume this holds true for Bergen, so wouldn't the First Amendment apply?
1.14.2008 2:53pm
MXE (mail):
and I lose respect for you

Expelled! ;-)
1.14.2008 2:57pm
Richard Nieporent (mail):
It is because of people like the president of Bergen CC that FIRE needs to exist.

Samantha [Harris a spokesperson from FIRE] said to The Record, "A public school has no right to reach into students' minds and tell them what to think" and that "[a] public university can't mandate civility." Samantha also has just spoken to New York's CBS affiliate about this blatantly unconstitutional pledge.

the real champions are the faculty members of BCC who understand the principles involved and reject the notion that a civility code can trump First Amendment rights. The Constitution does not permit a state institution to "balance" these rights against a vague notion of civility, and so far it seems that the BCC faculty understands that.

I am amazed that colleges keep on trying to implement these types of speech and behavior codes. It is as if these people have never read the First Amendment. The truth of course is that they have read it but they don't believe in it.
1.14.2008 2:57pm
Mr. Liberal:
MXE,

You are absolutely right, the 11th Amendment is not going to protect these community colleges. The 1st Amendment should and does apply.
1.14.2008 2:58pm
great unknown (mail):
Sandal: A community college is not a voluntary association, as in a private club. It is a state-funded provider of services to the community. If a publicly-funded service provider can exclude potential clients who disgree with a particular point of view, then a vast raft of anti-discrimination legislation suddenly becomes meaningless.

The implication of your comment is that a state-funded actor can, for example, open a university that accepts only evangelical anti-abortion Christians, perhaps those pledging to follow a philosophical doctrine a little to the right of Rush Limbaugh. If you agree that this is proper, then I will admit that your argument is at least internally consistent, albeit in defiance of a vast body of constitutional law.
1.14.2008 3:02pm
Just a thought:

But my respect for a neo-Nazi does not mean that I have to respect his beliefs by permitting him to form a group on campus or to hold a forum for his views.


What I mean is that respecting all human persons doesn't mean that I have to respect all beliefs held by these persons (which is the fallacy the PC police proposes). There are some actions, statements, and beliefs that I don't have to tolerate as a private citizen, certain actions and beliefs that I can and should oppose and prohibit because they are destructive of society, or hurtful of others rights, or whatever. Even the federal government doesn't have to tolerate all actions, statements and beliefs of its citizens ("fire" in a crowded theater; polygamy; etc.)
1.14.2008 3:02pm
Sandal (www):

We should care because most admins are sheep, and where the bellwether goes, the flock will follow. Second-rate community college one day, then the next it will be a mid-major college a few towns over.


I'm just not sure this slippery slope is so steep. Don't most people who fear this sort of thing already write off, with little more than the wave of a hand, both the "ivory tower" and the "backwater" communities? Isn't it a given that to go to a college or university in America today, students can expect to live under some restrictions on their lives beyond those provided by law? If it isn't, great. But if it is the general trend, and if we are really worried about this, then we should start our own universities. And while I recognize that administrative trends tend to move across the nation's universities, do you think that, a) such a trend is likely to "trickle up"? and b) there are no universities, even those at the top, that might resist such a trend?

Additionally and even today, we do not expect undergraduates to learn everything there is to learn about life while in college. The real world realities, including constitutional protection of freedoms, often enter in following graduation. Whether through job training, parenting, or other unstructured, "real world" activities, we slowly come to grips with reality, so to speak. Even if I were to accept a trickle up theory, I don't think I could go along with a spillover theory. After all, it was the harsh realities of the world that taught us the need for the protection of liberties.
1.14.2008 3:03pm
Sandal (www):
Great Unknown:

A community college is not a voluntary association, as in a private club. It is a state-funded provider of services to the community. If a publicly-funded service provider can exclude potential clients who disgree with a particular point of view, then a vast raft of anti-discrimination legislation suddenly becomes meaningless.
The implication of your comment is that a state-funded actor can, for example, open a university that accepts only evangelical anti-abortion Christians, perhaps those pledging to follow a philosophical doctrine a little to the right of Rush Limbaugh. If you agree that this is proper, then I will admit that your argument is at least internally consistent, albeit in defiance of a vast body of constitutional law.




As I said, I knew nothing about BCC. Nor do I mean to support state-sponsored discrimination (I don't, and I'm pretty in-line with that "vast body of constitutional law"). I was trying to do the blog version of This Is Why We Should Care's "trickle up" theory and raise the conversation to a higher plane. I figured we were all pretty informed about that "vast body of constitutional law" and pretty on board with it; instead, I was hoping to explore the idea of whether or not defenders of civil liberties ought to be concerned about restrictions on liberties within voluntary associations, and whether or not such restrictions generally undermine the position of the unassociated civil libertarian.

Maybe I bit off more than I could chew, or maybe I missed the meat all together.
1.14.2008 3:09pm
MXE (mail):
I certainly wouldn't dismiss the "Ivory Tower" out of hand; I think most college professors spend a lot more time in the "real world" than I do at my lousy corporate job. I think somebody forgot to tell me that the "real world" is a 10x10 cubicle and its "harsh realities" consist mostly of carpal tunnel syndrome and excessive sedentariness.
1.14.2008 3:15pm
MXE (mail):
And just to be clear, that post was intended in a jolly spirit. Though, as Peter Ustinov put it, "comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." :-)
1.14.2008 3:16pm
CJColucci:
"[a] public university can't mandate civility."

Says who? And why not? It's not a question of the content of what we refer to, for lack of a better word, as the "ideas" of adolescents. (I know, I thought I had them when I was that age too. I was wrong.) It's a question of forum-appropriate behavior in the expression of these "ideas". I have the right to express any idea in class that's germane to the topic under discussion. But if I act like an asshole in the process (sometimes called being uncivil), the First Amendment won't protect me from being called on it, and possibly disciplined. And why should it?
1.14.2008 3:20pm
Mr. Liberal:

Maybe I bit off more than I could chew, or maybe I missed the meat all together.


I am sympathetic to your desire to bring the conversation to a "higher plane" but I think this is accurate.

A community college is not merely a voluntary association, it is a state-sponsored state-funded entity which has coercive powers (i.e. community college police departments).

Maybe my coercive powers point means much. I mean, Harvard University, a private university, also has a Police Department....

Well, anyway, as a corporate entity, a community college is a creature of the state, not controlled by private associations, as are non-profit corporations like Harvard University.
1.14.2008 3:23pm
rarango (mail):
Hmmm--don't I have a constitutional right not to like people? not to like certain classes of people? and as long as I don't break any laws, be a stingy, unfeeling, racist a**hole? To think "diversity" is a crock? This is a community college, is it not--a public and state funded institution, and acceptance to, and attendence there, I would think, cannot be predicated on some BS pledge. A private college? great, be my guest. I am certainly glad I went to college before the era of PC.
1.14.2008 3:23pm
DangerMouse:
Ah, liberal college administrators. Always trying to control what people think, and what people say. And to think that they still have the gall to say that they're the ideological hiers of the free speech movement. Idiots.
1.14.2008 3:32pm
Paul McKaskle (mail):
I think the issue is well settled by Justice Jackson's immortal words in West Virginia v. Barnette (the pledge of allegiance case):

"If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein."

President Ryan may be a fairly "petty" official, but he is subject to the First Amendment even if he may never have heard of it or even believe in it.

(Incidentally, the eminent constitutional scholar, the late Charles Alan Wright was once quoted as regarding this sentence from Barnette as his favorite sentence written by the Supreme Court.)
1.14.2008 3:32pm
calmom:
What about toleration of those who refuse to swear to this silly code?
1.14.2008 3:39pm
Smokey:
Don't be so hard on this nanny-stater, he's almost got it right:
1. Honesty and integrity and respect for all will guide my personal conduct.

2. I will embrace and celebrate peacefully tolerate differing perspectives intellectually.

3. I will build peacefully tolerate an inclusive community enriched by diversity everyone.

4. I am may be willing to respect and assist those individuals who are less fortunate.

5. I promise my commitment am not an indentured servant/slave, however, I remain open to the idea of civic engagement, and to I may serve the needs of the community to the best of my ability.
See? It only needed a little tweaking.
1.14.2008 3:54pm
George Weiss (mail):
DG: Bergen Community College apparently has at least 15,000 students working towards Associate's degrees. I suspect many of them don't have many other schools available to them (for instance, because they're geographically limited by family obligations or economic constraints, such as the need to work at a certain place or live with their parents). True, the policies won't have a personal effect on Brown and Harvard students. Is that, though, reason for us to "ignor[e]" the policies that affect 15,000 Bergen students?


this statement is a bigger advocacy for justice than the blog post itself.

go EV
1.14.2008 3:55pm
Mr. Liberal:
Liberals should readily agree that this statement and others like it as overboard, and rein in administrators who try to impose them.

In practice, most people will sign and ignore and it won't amount to much.

But, from a symbolic perspective, I agree, there is something wrong with expecting students who want to attend community college to agree with this, especially as its meaning is interpreted by many reasonable individuals to require respect (as in politeness and civility) towards Nazis or Stalinists.

Worse, you know that if something like this is enforced (unlikely, but possible), it will be enforced only very selectively.
1.14.2008 4:05pm
A Law Unto Himself:

Worse, you know that if something like this is enforced (unlikely, but possible), it will be enforced only very selectively.


Well said.

But based on the composition of the typical CC administration, I suspect that certain violations (say: animal rights vandalism) will be more acceptable than others (say: anti-abortion graffiti).
1.14.2008 4:27pm
great unknown (mail):
Smokey:
Re your item 1. Is it legal for BCC to demand honesty and integrity in personal conduct where such conduct does not affect the student's direct interaction with the school - e.g., cheating, plagiarism, etc?
1.14.2008 4:29pm
ejo:
uh, haven't we seen stuff like this (and worse) from other larger and more prominent schools. you think Harvard couldn't cook up something like this-ask its ex-President.
1.14.2008 4:29pm
SenatorX (mail):
Selfishness is a deadly enemy to civilization.

Why do the leftists liberals always seem to have a fundamentally negative view of the human condition? I always find it bizzare when I hear this statement made but I hear it commonly from those defending socialism.
1.14.2008 4:36pm
M.E.Butler (mail):
I can just see the students lining up to recite this pledge--and it brings to mind two great moments in the arts:

From Catch-22, the Great Loyalty Oath Crusade. Maybe the kids at BCC could recite a few favorites from the civility code before getting their lunch at the student union or their condoms from the student health center.

From Blazing Saddles, the stirring speech that Bart makes as he leaves Rock Ridge, and all the people said
"BULLSHIT!"
1.14.2008 4:48pm
YYY (mail):
The following is the 2007 winning entry from an annual contest at Texas A&M University calling for the most appropriate definition of a contemporary term.

This year's term was Political Correctness.

The winner wrote, "Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end."
1.14.2008 6:19pm
Fub:
Smokey wrote at 1.14.2008 3:54pm:
See? It only needed a little tweaking.
Good point.

I'd be inclined to reduce the whole code to your edit of the first point:
1. Honesty and integrity will guide my personal conduct.
The other items are just redundant details.
1.14.2008 6:53pm
Lonely Capitalist (mail):
Mr. Liberal:

Selfishness is a deadly enemy to civilization.


Actually, selfishness is the mother of civilization. The only reason we have civilization is because people were selfish enough to improve their lives and resultingly, the lives of others. Most great inventions and discoveries are the products of selfish men.
1.14.2008 7:04pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
One of the questions I had was whether the 1st Amdt, via the 14th was applicable. It is:
Bergen Community College is supported by funds from Bergen County and the State of New Jersey. For this reason, tuition and fees are relatively low, despite the rising costs of higher education. Costs per semester are listed, although they are subject to change without notice.
1.14.2008 7:06pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"A public school has no right to reach into students' minds and tell them what to think"

Is it just me, or...?
1.14.2008 7:15pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
Why does everyone hate the Boy Scouts?

http://usscouts.org/advance/boyscout/bsoath.asp
1.14.2008 7:19pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Oh, well, more academic fun and games. Pity the US Attorney for the area probably isn't interested in enforcing 18 USC 241. And 242, come to think of it.
1.14.2008 7:20pm
enginemike (mail):
When the person is driven off campus for doubting St Gore and our Lady of Carbon Dioxide youbetchyabygooly it will be by people of have taken this oath!
1.14.2008 7:27pm
big dirigible (mail) (www):
Odd. I wonder what the practical intent is.

Person A reports that person B has failed to show him proper respect. Would the administration then throw person B out for violating this code?
1.14.2008 8:01pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
I prefer to assist the more fortunate myself. They can accomplish more with the help.
1.14.2008 8:02pm
Paul A'Barge (mail):
Wait until the first student debunks Global Warming .... we'll see then just how this tolerance nonsense is a one way street.
1.14.2008 8:04pm
Dee:
Why does everyone hate the Boy Scouts?

Grover, the Scouts are a private organization.
1.14.2008 8:16pm
MarkJ (mail):
Sure, I'm into "respect." This kind anyway:

http://wizbangblog.com/images/respect.jpg
1.14.2008 8:24pm
DADvocate (mail) (www):
For those of you using fascism as an example of what you wouldn't respect, bear in mind that this oath, whatever, is the creeping liberal fascism promoted by the college administration on to the college campus.
1.14.2008 8:50pm
W. R. Graves (mail):
I'm not an attorney, but I play one on the Volokh Conspiracy. This entity, a community college, appears to be an organ of the State, created, chartered and funded thereby. It's powers to govern its members are those of the State of New Jersey, not of those of a private institution. Presumably, if it adopts regulations, they are governed by its charter. In a sense, they then become law in the sense that city ordinances become limited State law once a city charter is granted.

Are such regulations not subject to the same judicial review as those, for example, passed by an incorporated city? Do you imagine, that if the City of Newark were to pass an ordinance to the effect that 'Everyone must be nice!', that perhaps it might become the subject of judicial review, and that part of such a review might be the objection that it violates several amendments, and furthermore that it is unconstitutionally vague? The first time they try to enforce their religious orthodoxy, it's going straight to court (with any luck).
1.14.2008 8:58pm
Spartee:
"I am assuming that what he means by not allowing such groups to form is taking active steps to make people who would even think of joining such groups uncomfortable, using social ostracism, and otherwise making life difficult enough for members (i.e. by not sharing notes, publicizing the identity individuals who would join such groups on the Internet so at to hinder their future job prospects), such that formation of any such group would be thwarted."

Holy...$%^&...sugar.

Tailgunner Joe did this very thing to Americans who supported or promoted the most murderous ideology ever known (hint: it *ain't* National Socialism from Germany circa 1930's). And people on the left call this one of the darkest episodes in American history.

Not defending McCarthy, since that is a pretty big debate, but you might want to be more careful in your words and the tactics you suggest to administrators.
1.14.2008 9:04pm
ras (mail):
So the pledge will be both "freely given" and "not optional"...? Well, that clears things up nicely. Didn't Jesse James use a similar approach?
1.14.2008 9:10pm
michael (mail) (www):
You have to respect people without regard to political ideology, "sparing no effort to preserve the dignity of" Nazis or Stalinists?

Not to mention the ubiquitous straw men.
1.14.2008 9:13pm
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
The following is snark, mockery, and a disrespecting of a certain oath.

<i>"I will embrace and celebrate differing perspectives intellectually"</i>

This one seems impossible. How do I embrace and celebrate that 1+1=2 and that 1+1=3?

<i>"I will build an inclusive community enriched by diversity."</i>
This is asking me to build the equivalent of a squared circle if diversity in certain circumstances doesn't enrich a community. Imagine shipping a bunch of Palestinians into a Jewish community. Hardly likely to "enrich" the environment.

<i>"I am willing to respect and assist those individuals who are less fortunate."</i>
Does this mean "I" don't have to respect those who are more fortunate? Great, because if respect means to not violate their rights, "I" want to steal their stuff. If respect means to look up to well then great again because "I" want to look down upon those who are more fortunate. They are obviously morally inferior merely because they are fortunate.

I guess this means open season on good looking females, or basically any girl that is fortunate enough to have turned "me" down for a date.

<i>
"I promise my commitment to civic engagement and to serve the needs of the community to the best of my ability."</i>
Wow, and all the good looking females would have already agreed to this statement and I'm sure all the guys will want to enjoy the "best of their abilities", and if they don't have such abilities they can certainly be trained.

<i>"Honesty, integrity and respect for all will guide my personal conduct."</i>
Yeah, and one thing they need to respect is the sexual needs of the male community. Comfort ladies anyone? Well, let's call it sexual socialism, or sexual justice to be PC.

What you women don't like these ideas? Well you signed this:
<i>"I will embrace and celebrate differing perspectives intellectually."</i>
Since consent is an intellectual process I'm sure you'll give "me" the go ahead.

With socialism it's all about what the greater good is. In the case of the Nazis the "needs of the community" required the extermination of Jews. These administrators may have different "needs" in mind but their still fascists in the true meaning of the word. That is, they are collectivists and anti-individualists. To them we're just individual members in a bundle of sticks, or fasces. The group above the individual.
1.14.2008 9:15pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Grover, the Scouts are a private organization."

Of course, but they are almost universally respected and admired, aren't they? Their pledge and guidelines are not much different from this "student pledge," are they?

"You should respect and defend the rights of all people."

"There are many people who need you. Your cheerful smile and helping hand will ease the burden of many who need assistance."

"When you work to improve your community and your home, you are serving your country."
1.14.2008 9:21pm
Michael Barger (mail):
Most interesting. Same crowd that would go batshit if you proposed that all students at Bergen recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of every class.
1.14.2008 9:25pm
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
<blockquote>
<blockquote>
"Selfishness is a deadly enemy to civilization."
</blockquote>


"Actually, selfishness is the mother of civilization."
</blockquote>
Actually selfishness is the mother of cooperation and selflessness also. Without selfishness evolution would not work and there would be no self to sacrifice. Without self interest their could be no cooperation. Rocks don't have self interest nor selfishness, and cannot cooperate or sacrifice for others.
1.14.2008 9:26pm
Tantor (mail) (www):
How exactly can the head of a community college, funded with tax dollars, exclude any citizen from attending? The problem here is creeping authoritarianism by government bureaucrats who think themselves autocrats rather than public servants. President Ryan has violated the public trust and should be dismissed.
1.14.2008 9:29pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
Oh, I forgot this:

"You do your duty to God...by respecting and defending the rights of others to practice their own beliefs."

I'm sure this means that Boy Scouts must respect and defend the beliefs of the KKK...right?

With one exception--"I will embrace and celebrate differing perspectives intellectually"--there's essentially NO DIFFERENCE between this pledge and what the Boy Scouts of America encourage their members to do. So come on, let's hear it--who hates the Boy Scouts?
1.14.2008 9:35pm
JohnCK (mail):
Tantor,

You raise an excellent point. It is not the President's college. It is the tax payers' college. The arrogance of this president is monumental.
1.14.2008 9:41pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
1.14.2008 9:47pm
The Cheerful Oncologist (mail) (www):
Waaaaaah! Some of my fellow students are smarter than me, and some are rich. Waaaah! And this one won't pay any attention to me when I prattle on about my fascinating weekend. Waaaaaaaaah! I'm reporting him to the Thought Police for not respecting me!

Mommy! Daddy! He's making fun of me! I want my blankie!

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!
1.14.2008 10:05pm
Cro (mail):
It reminds me of Valclav Havel and the sign in the shop window.
1.14.2008 10:16pm
Seerak (mail):
Why do the leftists liberals always seem to have a fundamentally negative view of the human condition? I always find it bizzare when I hear this statement made but I hear it commonly from those defending socialism.

Funny you should say that, seeing as a "negative view of the human condition" is actually an explicit principle of conservatism and of religion; in the former case, Thomas Sowell calls it the "tragic" view of human nature, and in the latter, it's Original Sin.

The closer you look at questions like these, the more alike the Left and religion/conservatism turn out to be.

It ought to make you wonder what an ideology with a *positive* view of the human condition would look like.
1.14.2008 10:39pm
SenatorX (mail):
With socialism it's all about what the greater good is. In the case of the Nazis the "needs of the community" required the extermination of Jews. These administrators may have different "needs" in mind but their still fascists in the true meaning of the word. That is, they are collectivists and anti-individualists. To them we're just individual members in a bundle of sticks, or fasces. The group above the individual.

Eg-friggin-zackly.
1.14.2008 10:39pm
kcom:

"I suppose we also have to know the definition of 'embrace' as used in the following: 'I will embrace and celebrate differing perspectives intellectually.'"


I was actually wondering more about the word 'celebrate'. What does that mean? I immediately flashed on a picture of champagne glasses and RSVPs and formal attire. Every time one heard a new perspective, another set of engraved invitations would need to go out.
1.14.2008 10:49pm
Roger Thistle (mail):
5 words:

"Hi, I'm from the ROTC"
1.14.2008 11:24pm
SenatorX (mail):
Funny you should say that, seeing as a "negative view of the human condition" is actually an explicit principle of conservatism and of religion; in the former case, Thomas Sowell calls it the "tragic" view of human nature, and in the latter, it's Original Sin.

The closer you look at questions like these, the more alike the Left and religion/conservatism turn out to be.


Well I am not sure if that is correct about conservatism but it's not something I know much about (EV's slippery slope arguments regarding judicial conservatism is the only thing that ever made sense to me so far). Regarding Christianity and other platonic afterlife memes I agree. They are basically glorified death cults from my perspective and it is obvious that a population that believes suffering in this life is rewarded in the next is easier to abuse.

The religious "right" really does belong on the left as Huckabee is showing us(and GWB has been showing us). I know most liberals believe fascism is on the right but they are wrong, you know this?

It ought to make you wonder what an ideology with a *positive* view of the human condition would look like.

Are you kidding? It looks like Libertarianism (or classical liberalism from the enlightenment).
1.14.2008 11:49pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Ever consider that President Ryan may simply be polishing his resume before applying at an Ivy league?
1.15.2008 12:44am
neurodoc:
It is my vision that Ole Ryan is about to lose a lawsuit
Until someone is not allowed to matriculate because they have loudly proclaimed they will not abide by the code or someone has been disciplined for alleged violation of the code, what grounds for a lawsuit? That the existence of the code has a chilling effect on the exercise of First Amendment rights? Perhaps if there were explicit provisions for disciplinary action should the code be breached (e.g., 72 hour suspension for first offense, expulsion for second), one might have something with which to go to court, but otherwise there may not be much there to challenge.
1.15.2008 2:58am
Broadsword (mail) (www):
Hmm...will the BCC code eventually overtake Aristotle's Ethics?
1.15.2008 6:21am
Jamie (mail):
Grover, see the difference in formulation:

The Scouts (who are, again, a private and voluntary organization with a goal of promoting certain values and a certain species of character, rather than a public institution with a [putative] goal of educating people) say, "You should respect and defend the rights of all people." Sounds like a parent trying to inculcate a value.

Bergen says, "Honesty, integrity and respect for all will guide my personal conduct." Sounds like a person making a promise on his own behalf. Except he may have intellectual reservations, since (if this thing were allowed to stand) he'd have to make this promise in order to attend school. Then you get into the "hidden definition" problem, since I personally have no problem with this particular Bergen statement as I would mean it, but if the administration's definition of "respect" differs from mine, there may be consequences for me: I'd be taking this "oath" as an adult and implicitly acknowledging said consequences.
1.15.2008 7:23am
iowan (mail):
Condensed down to its most elemental form this is what I taught my kids respect others do not assume charecter from apperences. If you disagree with someone avoid them unless the will harm you or others. Today as adults they tell me they still respect their elders and superiors until they form an accurate opinion. Then respond accordingly.

On a practical side I would sign something like this and promptly forget it. Worthless words on paper have no bearing on how I live my life.
1.15.2008 8:22am
GW Crawford (mail):
I think the ideal oath would go something like this

1. I will not be an asshat
2. If I have to be an asshat, I will back up my position with evidence and not emotional diatribes or pithy catch-phrases
3. I retain the right to self defence, physically, intellectually and morally
1.15.2008 9:32am
Blue:
On a practical level the "vision" of the president is meaningless. Community colleges are open enrollment institutions and do not have--and will not have--the ability to restrict enrollment through a measure such as this.
1.15.2008 9:36am
Mikeyes (mail):
Article One, Para six of the New Jersey constitution:

6. Every person may freely speak, write and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right. No law shall be passed to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech or of the press. In all prosecutions or indictments for libel, the truth may be given in evidence to the jury; and if it shall appear to the jury that the matter charged as libelous is true, and was published with good motives and for justifiable ends, the party shall be acquitted; and the jury shall have the right to determine the law and the fact.
1.15.2008 10:01am
Just Some Guy (mail):
THAT'S IT! BERGEN COMMUNITY COLLEGE IS OFF MY SHORT LIST!

KINGSBOROUGH COMMUNITY COLLEGE, HERE I COME!
1.15.2008 10:39am
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Grover, see the difference in formulation:"

No I don't. From the Boy Scout Oath:

"On my honor, I WILL do my best..."

Sounds like a committment to me.
1.15.2008 10:47am
Grover Gardner (mail):
From the official Scout web site:

"Before you PLEDGE yourself to any OATH or PROMISE, you must know what it means. The paragraphs that follow will help you understand the meaning of the Scout OATH." The Boy Scout oath is a PROMISE to behave in a certain manner.
1.15.2008 10:51am
Russ (mail):
I propose the Zillion Laws of Political Correct Stupidity:

1. I promise to respect each and every member of the college community without regard to race

2. I promise to respect each and every member of the college community without regard to creed except where that respect conficts with the first law.

3. I promise to respect each and every member of the college community without regard to political ideology except where that respect conficts with the first law or second laws.

4. I promise to respect each and every member of the college community without regard to lifestyle orientation except where that respect conficts with the first, second and third laws.

...

1 Zillion. I promise ..... except where that respect conficts with the first through zillion - 1 laws.

Asimov would make like a vortex in his grave.
1.15.2008 11:55am
srg:
Why should anyone have to promise to build an inclusive community or commit themselves to civic engagement? Utter nonsense.
1.15.2008 12:15pm
Hans Bader (mail):
The federal appeals court with jurisdiction over this college condemned just such provisions as a violation of free speech in Saxe v. State College Area School District, 240 F.3d 200 (3d Cir. 2001), holding that such restrictions on speech were unconstitutional even in the K-12 context, where freedom of speech is much more limited.

(Indeed, not only were similarly broad provisions struck down in the Saxe case, but so, too, were narrower "harassment" provisions).
1.15.2008 1:56pm
Smiling Nice Guy (mail):
In other words, sign the dotted line, flay the skinheads, leaving no fingerprints (and don't drop your cell phone at the scene of justice). I'm not kidding. This is what this sort of policy will result in: covert sabotage and violence instead of open debate.
1.15.2008 4:57pm
Mike Z (mail) (www):
All they need is #1. Anybody who follows that one doesn't need any of the rest. The other lines actually restrain the first.

West Point has another simple code: "A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do."
1.15.2008 5:02pm
Smokey:
I recently watched a history program about the Depression, and wouldn't you know it, the Communists were out demonstrating. A bunch of their big signs/placards stated: SMASH THE BOY SCOUTS!! Why? Because the Left understood 60+ years ago that moral behavior was a real threat to their plans. Today they've refined their message in such a way that if implemented, it can and will be used to corrupt impressionable students.

Grover really believes he's found a rational argument in comparing the Boy Scout Oath to the proposed BCC code -- but other posters correctly see that he's making an apples/oranges comparison. As the dad of an Eagle Scout, I can assure him that the Scout oath has a completely different intent than this Stalinist-inspired BCC code.
1.15.2008 10:06pm