Is anyone frightened by the prospect of millions of little Barry Obamas running around the country “organizing” their “communities” around petty causes instead of holding real jobs that do something other than increase government control over every aspect of our lives? I am. And so is Kimberly Legendre, a junior at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU).
This semester, Kimberly is taking an absurd course called “Foundations of Civic Engagement.” Remarkably, it is a required course at FGCU. After reading the course syllabus and learning more about Kimberly’s experience from my friends at Campus Reform (see www.CampusReform.org) I know two things for certain: 1) I would never send my child to this joke of a university. 2) Florida taxpayers need to “organize” their “communities” in order to create “Civic Engagement-free campuses.”
This silly college course mandates that students participate in a “community engagement project” to “elevate” FGCU to become a smoke-free campus. This project includes at least ten hours of work on five “mini-projects” on campus and in the community. As a cigar smoker, I find this course to be exclusionary and discriminatory. In fact, I feel harassed. But, as a professor, I have even more serious concerns.
Regardless of what the students think about the tobacco laws they will be sent out on missions geared towards “effecting positive change in (their) communities.” What does this mean? They will be sent on missions aimed at “monitoring compliance with local, state and federal regulations on tobacco sales and advertising in retail outlets, especially convenience stores.”
The only two course texts are The New York Times and a book called Soul of a Citizen. The book is the basis of the course and the chief subject of the final exam. The author, Paul Loeb, is a leftist activist from the Vietnam era. The book contains references to the “subservience to greed” of the Reagan administration and the “Republican wrecking ball [that] steadily demolished sixty years of social programs.” The first chapter calls for universal health care.
And that sheds some light on why the course is a universal requirement at FGCU. All sections must read the pro-universal health care book at a time when the government is considering universal health care.
Kimberly talked with her instructor about her concerns of course bias and was referred to the “director of community engagement”, Dr. Roca. After her initial email was ignored for two weeks, Kimberly re-sent her email. She finally received a reply.
The crux of Dr. Roca’s response was this: “All books advocate a point of view. In college, our goal is to teach you to be critical thinkers and consumers and to recognize that texts are arguable. But we are also obligated to explore diverse ideas and if that is not happening in your class then that needs to be addressed.” Dr. Roca signs emails “Peace!” Just to be diverse, I plan to write Dr. Roca an email and sign it “War!”
Of course, the exploration of diverse ideas isn’t happening in Kimberley’s class. Her professor, Wayne Robinson, asks students to read a paper and write about “how it applies to today’s oppressed minorities.” Robinson doesn’t ask whether racial oppression still exists. In his classroom, it is assumed to exist.
Wayne Robinson boasts in his syllabus that students in his class “will have become familiar with the world’s most prestigious newspaper.” Remember: He’s talking about The New York Times, not The Daily Worker. But I admit it’s a close call. And Pravda comes in a close third place.
Wayne Robinson brags in his biography (at the end of the course syllabus) about being named the ACLU Oklahoma’s Plaintiff of the Year and his successful court case against an Oklahoma town that had a Christian cross in the official seal. “Mr. Robinson, tear down that Cross!” By the way, he’s also a full-time clergyman at the All Faiths Unitarian Congregation.
Imagine a “Christian” instructor suing to have crosses removed from the public square. Maybe, just for diverse fun, FGCU should hire a “feminist” instructor who wants to repeal the 19th Amendment.
There are worse cases of indoctrination on our college campuses. But it’s hard to beat this one for sheer irrelevance. Martin Luther King stormed into diners to grab seats at the counter. Wayne Robinson storms into convenience stores to grab cigarettes at the cash register. He assigns students to read King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Some day, I’m looking forward to Robinson’s Letter from a 7-11 Parking Lot. I guess you could say that I have a dream.
Wayne Robinson and FGCU are fighting for a smoke-free campus presumably because tobacco smoke smells bad and it’s bad for your health. But, inexplicably, his syllabus says that on December 1st “Dr. Robinson will provide pizza and drinks to the entire class.”
So, I’ve decided to quit teaching about criminal law and procedure and transfer to FGCU. I’m going to teach a section of Foundations of Civic Engagement that seeks to create a pizza-free campus in Fort Myers, Florida.
Pizza smells bad and can be bad for your health. And I can be just as irrelevant as the next Professor of Civic Engagement.