It is true that watching, rooting for, betting on and generally contributing to the perpetuation of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, March Madness, and thus big time college basketball generally, is not as unethical as supporting pro football…after all, as Rationalization #22 reminds us, at least we aren’t killing anyone. Still, the whole system is rotten to the core: it warps higher education priorities, it instills toxic values in students, it has nothing to do with student athletics, and it rewards deceit, bribery, and cheating. FACT: Colleges would be better and the culture would be healthier without it.
Unfortunately, that would require people like the President of the United States to show some restraint for the good of society and the education of our children, and say, “Nope. College is for education, and spending millions to create teams of mercenaries who are only interested in making the NBA is a disgraceful misapplication of resources as well as inherently corrupting.”
You doubt that description? Look at the University of Massachusetts, which announced that it will retire a jersey in honor of John Calipari to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the university’s 1996 appearance in the men’s basketball Final Four, when he was the coach. Calipari, the university noted in the announcement, “catapulted” the university to “national prominence.” Well, that’s one description. Because the N.C.A.A. eventually found out that Calipari’s star player, Marcus Camby, had accepted riches and, ah, “services” (prostitution services, for example), from sports agents, the university had to pay $151,000 in fines—how many indigent students’ tuition might that have paid for? At least one—and the Final Four appearance that Calipari is being honored for was wiped from the record books. Continue reading
Controversy in Kansas:
Michael Kelley is a high school student who has Down Syndrome and autism. He plays extra-curricular special needs basketball, so his family bought him a varsity letter and had it sewed to a school jacket to resemble the jacket the school’s athletes wear. The school’s special needs teams are not regarded as varsity sports.
The school asked Michael to remove the jacket or the letter, since East High’s policies dictate that only varsity teams can wear the letter.
Now Michael’s mother is petitioning the school board to ensure that special needs team members get letters. Public reaction in Wichita is running against the school, which is being painted as cruel and lacking compassion by not letting Michael wear his letter jacket.
Your Ethics Alarm Ethics Quiz this almost spring weekend (March is back to being a lion here in the D.C. area) is this:
Should the school have let the special needs athlete wear his counterfeit letter jacket?
1. I am deeply conflicted about how to handle the results of James O’Keefe’s “undercover video” operations when they hit gold like this. His methods are dishonest, Project Veritas does not treat his targets fairly, and publicizing his work just ensures that he will do more of it, and that imitators will follow in his slimy footsteps.
2. On the other hand, it makes no sense to apply an ethics blog exclusionary rule, and pretend that the videos don’t show what they show, when what they show is enlightening.
3. I’m not entirely certain that this video shows what it shows. It may show Cornell’s assistant dean for students, Joseph Scaffido, slipping into automatic sales mode, and neither paying attention to what comes out of his mouth nor applying critical thought. Surely he knows–please, please, tell me he knows!— that a pro-ISIS group on any American campus, especially a high-profile and prestigious one like Cornell’s, would be a public relations nightmare.
4. What should we want to happen to Scaffido? If he’s fired, he has lost his job because of tricks and lies, and because he trusted a stranger. That seems unfair. Yet if Cornell just shrugged this off, it is guaranteed to upset parents and alumni. What kind of people are teaching today’s college students at Cornell? Are they really this stupid? How many people like Scaffido are in positions of authority, or worse, tenured professors? Isn’t this obviously a problem? Continue reading
There are times when I feel like the ultra-conservative Senator Keeley played by Gene Hackman in “The Bird Cage,” when he’s just learned that his daughter’s future in-laws are a gay couple, that his future son-in-law has two mothers, and the middle-aged woman he had been flirting with all evening is a gay man. Literally nothing makes sense to him any more, and he says, plaintively, “I feel like I’m insane.”
The New York Times report on the police investigation into Rolling Stone’s false story about a horrific gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity made me feel like this. It made no sense to me whatsoever.
“After a review of records and roughly 70 interviews,” the story said, “Police Chief Timothy J. Longo Sr. said at a crowded news conference here, his investigators found “no evidence” that a party even took place at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity on Sept. 28, 2012, when the rape was said to have occurred. Instead, he said, there was a formal that night at the house’s sister sorority, making it highly unlikely that the fraternity would have had a party on the same night.Despite “numerous attempts,” he said, his officers were unable to track down the man Jackie had identified as her date that night. And several interviews contradicted her version of events.”
But wait, there’s more:
During the course of the ensuing police investigation, the chief said, investigators interviewed nine of the 14 members who were living at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house in September 2012; none said they knew Jackie. The authorities also sent questionnaires to other fraternity members; 19 were returned, and none of the respondents said they knew Jackie or had any knowledge of an assault having occurred at the fraternity house. A review of bank records for the fraternity revealed no expenditures for a party. The police also found a photograph time-stamped Sept. 28, 2012. It showed two men in an otherwise empty entrance hall, the chief said.Investigators also interviewed two of Jackie’s friends, both men, whom Jackie had said met with her after the assault occurred. But both contradicted her version of events, the chief said, adding, “They don’t recall any physical injuries.” And while both said they were told by Jackie that she had gone out on the night of Sept. 28, 2012, with a person named Haven Monahan — identified in the Rolling Stone article as “Drew” — the police were unable to track Mr. Monahan down.
Meanwhile, we are told, “Jackie” refuses to cooperate with the investigation in any way. Continue reading
“Wait, let’s not leap to conclusions…maybe he’s not dead.”
In Fresno, California, Scandinavian Middle School vice principal Joe DiFilippo was recorded on video by a student saying, “I don’t like black kids” in the cafeteria. The video was then posted on YouTube. Fresno Unified School District officials said DiFilippo has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.
Maybe I’m suffering from a momentary lack of imagination, but what else do they need to know? I understand union rules and the need for due process, but what findings could possibly, ever, under any circumstances, allow DiFilippo to keep his job? 11% of the school’s students are black. Why would they ever feel secure going to a school where an administrator said such a thing in the school? (I’m assuming the man didn’t really say, “I don’t like black kids any more or less than I like any other kids, as everyone in the school knows.” Watching the video would presumably make that possibility moot.)
District officials say they are investigating “the context in which the comment was made.” What possible context could mitigate that statement? Let’s see…maybe he was talking about not liking them for special purposes, like snacks or as piñatas? “I don’t like black kids..when they’re on fire? When they are holding Uzis on my family? When they sing the Sponge Bob theme song”?
It doesn’t matter! If there is anything the man doesn’t like about black kids that he accepts about white kids, he’s not qualified to be a vice-principle.
Every second Mr.Fillippi doesn’t resign, he’s wasting time and money, and proving that he is just as big a fool as the video shows him to be. If no investigation can save him, then he shouldn’t wait for an investigation to do the right thing.
At West Iredell High School in Statesville, North Carolina, student Sterling Karrenstein witnessed a resource officer using a taser to subdue a fellow student who punched the officer in the face. As he documented the incident on his cell phone, school staff attempted to stop Sterling, demanding that he hand over the phone and even attempting to take it from him. He refused. The school principal apparently later told Sterling that being on school property eliminated his right to record events.
At least someone knows what is in the First Amendment. Obviously Sterling didn’t learn it at West Iredell High School, but Ethics Alarms salutes him for insisting on his rights as a citizen despite being pressured to do otherwise by incompetent authority figures.
If it is not disrupting class, infringing on the privacy of others or otherwise violating school policy, taking photos or video is a fully protected right.
This does not mean, it is important to note, that tasering a student who punched him was necessarily wrongful conduct by the officer.
Pointer: Tim LaVier
The Sweet Briar closing, which was first raised as an ethics issue in the post, “The Sweet Briar Betrayal, has attracted many new readers and commenters to Ethics Alarms from the all-women Virginia college’s alumnae and supporters. Things are starting to move fast in the situation, with an investigation looming and questions being asked by the state legislature. Enlightening us further on this troubling story is faculty member Marcia Thom Kaley; here is her Comment of the Day on the post Comment of the Day: “Why The Sweet Briar College Fight Matters”: Continue reading