UW-Madison quietly shelves controversial masculinity program

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has disbanded a program to educate “men-identified students” about the harm caused by traditional notions of masculinity.

In January, Campus Reform reported on the school’s Men’s Project, which aimed to “explore masculinity and the problems accompanied by simplified definitions of it” and to “create a sense of security in vulnerability” among male students.

[RELATED: UW program explores dangers of masculinity]

One goal of the six-week program, according to Sam Johnson, the violence prevention specialist at UW-Madison, was to “prevent future violence” through the discussion of “unhealthy interactions” related to masculinity, such as gender-based violence in relationships.

At the time, UW-Madison was preparing to host the program’s spring cohort, but following coverage from outlets including The Guardian, Fox News, The New York Daily News, The Huffington Post, and multiple local news outlets, the Men’s Project went dark.

The program even came to the attention of Republican State Senator Steve Nash, who criticized the program in an email to fellow legislators.

“Our friends at UW-Madison[,] not happy enough with labeling 'whiteness' as a societal problem, now are attacking another societal ill…, Men and their masculinity,” Nass wrote in an email obtained by The Capital Times, adding that “UW-Madison has become part of a national liberal effort to rid male students of their 'toxic masculinity.”

[RELATED: Wisconsin Dems complain free speech bill targets UW-Madison]

Although multiple webpages for the Men’s Project are still online, the main page on the Multicultural Student Center's website is no longer active.

John Lucas, a university spokesperson, confirmed to Campus Reform on Monday that “UW-Madison no longer has an active chapter of the Men's Project.”

Lucas also denied that the school was planning to turn the Men’s Project into a course for academic credit, and while he declined to answer follow-up questions regarding why the program was cancelled, the school appears to have no intentions of offering it again in the future.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen

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SDSU hosted conservative speakers on just one day all year

A Campus Reform survey of official events at San Diego State University (SDSU) shows that the public institution hosted only five conservative speakers during the 2016-2017 academic year.

[RELATED: Swarthmore students get heaping helping of liberal speakers]

The survey looked at SDSU’s official event calendars and found 46 speakers who either addressed controversial topics or were known for their political involvement, of which 27 either featured a liberal speaker or presented a left-leaning perspective.

Notable events ranged from “Politifest 2016,” hosted by the Department of Journalism and Media Studies, to “Women in Entrepreneurship,” hosted by Lonnie Ali, the late wife of outspoken Islamist Muhammad Ali (formerly Cassius Clay).

Some speakers were academic experts in areas of foreign policy, and many events revolved around societal issues or foreign relations. Others were politicians speaking on non-partisan subjects.

Campus Reform extensively researched every speaker’s political leanings and considered factors such as organizational affiliations, published opinions, and public statements.

Twelve speakers proved impossible to categorize as generally “right” or “left” of center, including several former diplomats who lectured on campus last year, but a majority of speakers displayed a clear political and ideological leaning.

[RELATED: University of Alabama only hosted two conservatives last year]

Reihan Salam, Executive Director of National Review and a fellow at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics; and Ryan Clumpner, former Executive Director of the Lincoln Club of San Diego County, were among the handful of speakers with right-leaning, conservative, or libertarian tendencies.

The three other right-of-center speakers were San Diego City Councilmember Chris Cate, former candidate for San Diego City Attorney Robert Hickey, and Supervisor Ron Roberts from the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

All five conservative speakers lectured at the same event, “Politifest 2016,” which took place on September 24, 2016.

The 27 left-of-center events primarily addressed issues of social justice and LGBT rights, and included events such as “Gender Justice in the Time of Trump” and a film-screening of “The Black Panthers Vanguard of the Revolution.”



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University of Illinois cracks down on hecklers veto

The University of Illinois system released a new set of guiding principles Friday that explicitly prohibit students from exercising a “heckler’s veto” to prevent free speech on campus.

“An unyielding allegiance to freedom of speech—even controversial, contentious, and unpopular speech—is indispensable to developing the analytical and communication skills of our students and empowering all members of our university communities to be active and informed citizens,” the document asserts before outlining measures designed to safeguard that freedom.

[RELATED: STUDY: Free speech, inclusivity are ‘conflicting interests’]

While the university system vows to “vigorously and even-handedly protect community members against conduct that falls outside the First Amendment—including true threats, pervasive harassment, incitement to imminent lawless action, and libel—regardless of whether that illegal conduct happens to be undertaken for expressive purposes,” it also makes clear that conduct intended to disrupt lawful speech will not be tolerated.

“We welcome and encourage members to respond to speech with which they disagree by engaging in counter-speech of their own. But we will not condone shouting down or physically obstructing or threatening a speaker or the speaker’s audience,” the statement explains. “Such activities are antithetical to the primary value on which freedom of speech rests: a commitment to the power of ideas rather than the use of force to influence the way people think and act.”

Although the new guiding principles have been under development since July, their release comes near the end of a contentious semester during which students temporarily shut down the Homecoming parade, a woman aggressively disrupted a College Republicans meeting, and a university employee was arrested for assaulting two conservative students.

[RELATED: Students storm library, shut down College Republicans event]

The principles also address two other issues, Civic Engagement and Globalization and Immigration, but both sections lack the specificity of the free speech portion, instead offering broad commitments to maintaining “traditions of internationalism” and offering students “opportunities for substantive civic engagement.”

Jack Johnson, vice president of the school’s College Repub

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UPenn TA denies being punished over calling on white men last

The University of Pennsylvania graduate student who boasted of calling on white men last during class discussions has not been removed from teaching duties, despite reports suggesting otherwise.

Stephanie McKellop, a PhD student studying history, tweeted in October that “I will always call on Black women students first. Other POC get second tier priority. WW [white women] come next. And, if I have to, white men.”

[RELATED: UPenn TA boasts of calling on white male students last]

McKellop, who is a white woman, defended herself in a series of subsequent tweets, arguing that she was taught the teaching method, known as “progressive stacking,” by an “amazing” professor.

“I was taught that ^ as an undergrad by an amazing prof,” she tweeted. “In normal life, who has the easiest time speaking, most opportunities? Flip it.”

Her tweets were promptly covered by outlets including The Daily Wire, The Daily Mail, The Miami Herald, Reason, The Daily Caller, Inside Higher Ed, and many more, sparking outrage and backlash that led to, according to McKellop, calls for her to lose her job.

The UPenn administration initially stated that it would be “looking into the current matter” while explicitly denying that McKellop had been removed from the PhD program, but when she tweeted earlier this week that she “won’t be teaching next semester,” some media outlets interpreted this to mean that she had been fired.

“There are too many misrepresentations to even email,” McKellop told Campus Reform in an interview. “I'm taking my comprehensive exams next semester, which is what all PhDs in my department have to do. It isn't a punishment, and has nothing to do with the progressive stacking issue.”

[RELATED: Prof who called whites ‘inhuman assholes’ put on leave]

“No PhD student can teach every semester in my department,” McKellop explained, adding that there is an “invented connection between the progressive stacking issue and me doing the normal things that every PhD student in my department can do. There is not even remotely a connection.”

McKellop noted that she will still be on campus next semester, stressing that she was not reprimanded in any way, and that the school’s administrators “were and are fair and supportive of their grad students.”Read more:

Colleges use therapy llamas to console students during finals

In order to help combat high levels of stress and anxiety in their students during finals week, many colleges and universities across the United States are turning to “therapy llamas.”

Students at the University of South Florida (USF) were treated to the furry pets on November 28 during “Paws & Relax,” an event sponsored by the school’s Center for Student Well-Being, a “collaborative effort of six health and wellness related departments on campus,” as per the organization’s Facebook page.

According to the Center’s website, Paws & Relax occurs every semester, when “dogs and other animals to come to campus during exam time to help students cope with the added stress.”

[RELATED: College enlists Care Bears to comfort stressed-out students]

“As feelings of stress, anxiety, and exhaustion are at their peak during this time, petting animals for even just a few minutes can help boost your mood and reduce these negative feelings,” the Center claims.

USF students sounded off about the event via Twitter.

“Im pissed i wasnt on campus to see the llama,” one student tweeted, while another proclaimed, “I saw a llama today on campus and magically i feel like i’ll pass my finals thanks usf.”

Others were more skeptical of the event, however.

“They had llamas on campus today and this boy said ‘Can you take a picture of me throwing gang signs with the llama?’. Wtf,” a student wrote. “kinda wishing I saw a llama on campus yesterday. also kinda creeped out there were llamas on campus yesterday,” another student tweeted.

[RELATED: Stressed-out students pet puppies, learn secrets of ‘adulting’]

Radford University’s “Library Stress Buster” on December 6 featured therapy llamas, as well.

“Llamas are here! Bunnies too! #stressbuster #llamatellya Visit our animal friends 2-4 today!” the school’s McConnell Library tweeted.

Another tweet revealed that students would also have the opportunity to undergo “free chair massages,” and participate in crafts and button-making.


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