More Radicalizing of Higher Education Ahead

In 2008, Congress disbanded the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) because according to the website Inside Higher Ed, the panel "had become too politicized."

If the previous committee was "too politicized" to permit its continued existence -- its big sin was to press for establishing universal, easily understood, quantifiable academic standards -- then what are we to make of way the Obama administration is loading up the newly formed NACIQI with diversity advocates and left-wing activists?

One has worked with ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now); another might have ties to LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens); and one is a callow youth with connections to a radical charity. Another still (Frank Wu) has written that he is "making a career out of [his] race."

Here are the six people Education Secretary Arne Duncan appointed to the committee whose job is to evaluate whether accrediting agencies are properly assessing the quality of the nation's colleges and universities!

  • Earl Lewis, currently the provost at Emory University, was previously the dean of graduate studies at the University of Michigan. He was heavily involved in the 2003 landmark legal case Grutter v. Bollinger, in which the Supreme Court upheld the University of Michigan's law school's race-based admissions policy. Lewis has since co-authored Defending Diversity: Affirmative Action at the University of Michigan.
  • Frank H. Wu is the first Asian-American professor to teach at Howard Law School and testified in Grutter v. Bollinger in favor of affirmative action. He is the author of Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White. In it he calls for a new paradigm in American race relations, which unfortunately looks like the same old divisive enfranchisement of racial antagonisms and grievances known as multiculturalism. And he suggests that ethnic minorities should form coalitions to press for political power.
  • Jamienne S. Studley was once the president of Skidmore College and legal counsel for the Department of Education during the Clinton administration. She is currently the president and CEO of Public Advocates Inc., a California-based "nonprofit law firm and advocacy organization" that, according to its mission statement, "challenges the systemic causes of poverty and racial discrimination." In November of 2009, Public Advocates Inc. released the following "Statement in Support of ACORN":
Public Advocates believes that real change and real justice only happen when disadvantaged and excluded communities organize, speak out together, and build their own power. That's why we are proud to have worked for years with California ACORN as partners, friends, and lawyers.

  • Federico Zaragoza is the vice chancellor for professional, technical and workforce education for the Alamo Community Colleges system (the San Antonio region). While most information about him suggests a straightforward emphasis on vocational and continuing education, in a report he wrote for the system's website in 2007, he twice mentions activities undertaken in conjunction with LULAC. LULAC was started as a patriotic organization back in 1929, promoting the assimilation of Hispanics through learning English. It became radicalized in the 1960s.
  • Susan Phillips is a psychology professor and provost and vice president for academic affairs at the State University of New York, Albany (SUNY). According to her school biography, she has been "instrumental in creating cross-disciplinary initiatives, including developing research capacity for university-community partnerships through the University at Albany's NIH-sponsored Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities."
  • Aron Shimeles is the most questionable appointment. The son of Ethiopian immigrants, he is a senior at Occidental College in Los Angeles, President Obama's first college. He is a member of the school's Black Student Alliance and helped to produce a hip-hop concert for them.
Shimeles is also listed as a member of the editorial board of the Critical Theory and Social Justice Journal of Undergraduate Research. The journal's mission statement says that "CTSJ is dedicated to providing a forum for undergraduate students to develop and share critical research and writing on the intersections of 'race', 'sexuality', and 'nationality' as they relate to problems of social justice."

But it is another of Shimeles' extracurricular activities that makes him the most questionable appointment in an obviously one-sided lot. On January 5th, 2007, Shimeles was arrested in New Orleans for trespassing at a housing project while volunteering with an organization called the Common Ground Collective. Apparently, Shimeles and the other volunteers were in violation of a court order prohibiting Common Ground volunteers from being on the premises without being leaseholders. 

Common Ground was founded on September 5, 2005 as a relief and housing organization in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. While its goals to revitalize poor areas of New Orleans seem laudable, its founders are a bad bunch, and their involvement raises questions about the true aims of the organization. 

One of them is Scott Crow, "an anarchist community organizer and writer based in Austin, Texas" and the "co-founder of the Texas-based Radical Encuentro Camp, an ongoing activist training program," according to Wikipedia. Another is Brandon Darby, also an Austin activist. He is best known for his role as an FBI informant who revealed the intentions of some other Austin radicals who planned to use Molotov cocktails to disrupt the 2008 Republican Convention.

The most notorious founder of Common Ground is Malik Rahim. Rahim is a former Black Panther who was involved in a well-publicized shootout with police in 1970, and served five years for armed robbery in the later 1970s and 1980s in California. In 1995, a San Francisco Examiner article said he partnered with a convicted enforcer for a "family crack cocaine ring" to take over a housing project's tenants' organization. Police received complaints of strong-arm extortion by the pair.

Malik is still running Common Ground, and he has become something of an international celebrity on the left because of his activities with the organization. He was named one of GQ's Men of the Year in 2005, and ran unsuccessfully for Congress as a member of the Green Party in 2008.

So what qualifies Aron Shimeles to be a member of NACIQI? As a college student, it is very unlikely that he has any expertise in higher education. And if it is desirable to have a student on the committee, why this particular student? Every college in the country has many students more accomplished and involved than Shimeles. It is obvious that it is not his expertise or wisdom that is sought, but rather his radical tendencies.

Obama and Duncan have not likely appointed this group to be their representatives on NACIQI to maintain the status quo, but rather to push their agenda. Establishing control over the accreditation process could be a great source of bureaucratic power. Since the federal government will provide financial aid only to students of accredited schools, a college's existence is precarious at best without it (except for the handful of schools that forgo federal aid).

It should therefore come as no surprise if the new members attempt to introduce diversity mandates and social engineering into the accreditation process. And it is not likely that this Congress will try to stop them if they do, as they did in 2008.
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