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The Shadow University: The Betrayal Of Liberty On America's Campuses Paperback – September 22, 1999

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Editorial Reviews Review

At first glance, this title is just another entry in the roster of books opposed to political correctness at American universities, yet it's surprisingly good--certainly the best of its type since Dinesh D'Souza's Illiberal Education appeared in 1991. Kors and Silverglate are hard-core civil libertarians turned off by the "hidden, systematic assault upon liberty, individualism, dignity, due process, and equality before the law" that they describe as rampant on campuses. Theirs is not so much a brief against academic multiculturalism, but an eye-opening narrative about how the modern university "hands students a moral agenda upon arrival, subjects them to mandatory political reeducation, sends them to sensitivity training, submerges their individuality in official group identity, intrudes upon private conscience, treats them with scandalous inequality, and, when it chooses, suspends or expels them." Through well-told stories and anecdotes (including an excellent chapter-long sketch of the University of Pennsylvania's semi-famous "water buffalo" incident), Kors and Silverglate make their case and make it well. --John J. Miller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The authors of this broadside, both civil libertarians, regard campus speech codes against racist, sexist or homophobic language, as well as multicultural "diversity education" programs, as coercive "academic thought reform." Political correctness at U.S. colleges and universities, they maintain, has led to the emergence of a "shadow university" as administrators, dormitory advisers and officers of student life treat students not as individuals, but as embodiments of abstract groups. Traversing a minefield of thorny issues with passionate conviction, Kors, a University of Pennsylvania history professor, and Silverglate, a criminal defense attorney, charge that the "political and cultural left" is today the worst abuser of the principles of open, equal free speech. They argue that a double standard prevails, whereby self-appointed progressives censor voices deemed offensive to women, feminists, gays, ethnic or racial minorities, while these same "progressives" condone equally offensive speech directed against conservatives, religious Christians and others. What distinguishes this outspoken contribution to a contentious national debate already clotted with combatants is the authors' scathing campus-by-campus tour, documenting what they see as repressive speech codes, sweeping notions of sexual harassment and arbitrary disciplinary hearings against students and faculty that lack due process protection. The authors' well-nigh absolutist defense of robust free speech?even when its content is viciously racist or otherwise hateful?guarantees that their brief will be controversial.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 edition (September 22, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060977728
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060977726
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #892,344 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

113 of 119 people found the following review helpful By Philip Greenspun on April 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
University administration grows even when faculty size remains constant (at MIT, the administrator-to-faculty ratio doubled in the 20 years from 1969 to 1989). The obvious result is a rise in the cost of university education. The less obvious result is that university administrations begin to do all kinds of things that they aren't qualified to do. Kors and Silverglate focus on administrators limiting freedom of speech, starting with rules that are poorly drafted and ending with internal court systems that afford defendants very few rights.
The famous University of Pennsylvania "water buffalo" case is here. MIT puts in a fairly impressive showing, notably our decision to pay administrators to watch porn movies to decide whether they were obscene. Under this policy, proposed in 1984, Dean James Tewhey prosecuted an MIT undergrad for showing Deep Throat, a film held by the Massachusetts courts to be acceptable under Cambridge's community standards. Under MIT rules, the undergrad, Adam Dershowitz, was not entitled to legal representation before the MIT Committee on Discipline (COD). However, he could bring a relative, so he asked his uncle, Alan Dershowitz, to come down the street from Harvard Law School. This resulted in an acquittal for young Dershowitz and some changes in MIT policy. COD hearings would no longer be open to the student press, students would no longer be entitled to bring a relative, and it would henceforth be forbidden to tape-record proceedings.
[Note: Tewhey is actually my favorite MIT administrator of all time because, after years of giving students lectures on how to run their romantic lives, his own affair with another MIT employee turned sour. They were both married (to other people).
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79 of 83 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 25, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Those holding their breath for a book that exposes the sad state of liberty on America's campuses can finally breathe easily. Silverglate and Kors do an superb job of unveiling the lack of due process in university judicial systems, the predominance of (left-wing/Stalinist) politics in the day-to-day affairs of student-life administrators, and what parents, students, and University Trustees should do to bring back a humane environment at American universities. My own Alma Mater was (rightly) excoriated in the book. The passion of the authors is contagious-- You will get angry when you read the treatment accorded to professors and students at hundreds of Universities, from Amherst to Yale, and you will realize that the Political Correctness movement is not a dying fad, it's the institutionalized orthodoxy. This is required reading for every student and university professor who cares about academic freedom, fairness, and freedom of speech. The debate about PC will never be the same again.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Michael Bilow on March 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is a must-read for anyone who is a student or faculty member at a college (especially if they speak on controversial issues, publish in the campus media, or are actually facing charges), for any lawyer who is called upon to defend such a student or faculty member, and also for college administrators who may benefit from being reminded that their actions and policies are subject to review by the real courts and may very well be found wanting.
Although incredibly thoroughly researched, this is by no means a dry book. The stories it tells are of real people who, usually quite innocently, became caught up in a theatre of the absurd, half Kafkaesque and half Stalinesque, not of their own making and certainly anything they expected. It is also a deeply moving book, paying due tribute to many courageous people who, when faced with an option to confess their "sins" in secret, chose instead to fight a vigorous and invariably costly defense of their own precious liberty.
Nearly anyone unfamiliar with the practices of student "judicial" systems on college campuses is likely to be shocked to find out what really goes on in institutions theoretically devoted to the pursuit of truth and learning. Indeed, the more one is familiar with the standards of ordinary justice which have evolved through vast experience in the real courts, the more one will be appalled to read these accounts of trials without charge, rules which use words that do not mean what any reasonable person would expect them to mean, offenses defined so as to preclude any possibility of a defense, explicit infringements of the right to believe as one chooses and to speak as one believes, and other gross denials of due process.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The Shadow University by Kors and Silverglate presents a meticulously documented and chilling account of the infringements on free speech, free association, free thought, and due process forced onto students and politically incorrect faculty at some of this country's most prestigious colleges and universities. It also shows how shallow are the efforts of campuses to showcase "diversity" of culture when the real role of a college or university should be to present and protect diversity of ideas.
The book documents how the lack of basic civil rights on campuses is generally unknown outside of the closed academic society and how courts have consistently ruled against the colleges and universities on basic constitutional grounds when their policies, such as speech codes, have been challenged.
The stories recounted in the book show the duplicity and hypocrisy of many college administrators and some faculty. Fortunately, common sense and a faith in basic rights of free speech and due process can correct the problem, but only if enough people recognize the threat to freedom on campus. This book should be required reading for all college administrators, trustees, and faculty, as well as being highly recommended for all students and parents. We owe Kors & Silvergate (and groups such as the ACLU) a great debt of gratitude for their efforts to restore and preserve freedom on campus.
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