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The Fulford File, By James Fulford | Abolishing "A&M"-erica; etc
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May 19, 2004, 05:00 AM
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Someone forwarded me this note from the Chronicle of Higher Education daily email bulletin for May 18:

"Breaking with tradition at Texas A&M

 "Paul Burka, a senior executive editor at the magazine, describes the distinctive culture of Texas A&M University at College Station — a culture that is grounded, he writes, in patriotism, Protestantism, and loyalty to institution and family — and one man`s efforts to change it for the better.

A glance at the May issue of "Texas Monthly"

Hmmm. Apparently, CHE believes that "a culture that is grounded…in patriotism, Protestantism, and loyalty to institution and family" is something that needs to be changed for the better. [Ask CHE about this curious idea.]

The story it`s referring to is called Corps Values, and it, like the CHE story, is behind the subscription barrier. But I`ll give you a few highlights. [Texas Monthly May 2004 Corps Values, By Paul Burka, also here]

"Affirmative Action: The prospect that A&M might adopt race-based admissions [VDARE.COM note: after the Michigan decisions made this legal in Texas ] dominated campus debate in the fall, with conservative-minded students sponsoring an "affirmative action bake sale" that offered lower prices for non-whites and the school`s new athletics director complaining in a widely disseminated e-mail that the resulting publicity hurt the recruiting of athletes."

"But A&M`s president, Robert Gates, decided in December against establishing an affirmative action program, announcing instead that the university would step up its attempts to recruit minority students who meet the standards for admission. This laid bare the issue of whether A&M is `Crackerland,` as one dismayed faculty member put it in a letter to Gates, where—despite official rhetoric and goals to the contrary—minorities are not welcome for fear that they won`t buy into A&M`s traditions (there`s that word again) and prevailing ethos.

"Crackerland." That one word is not only offensive in itself, but shows how far the debate has come.

The President of the University is offering to admit any member of a minority group who can pass the entrance exams (Aggie entrance exams). He is willing to go out on the highways and byways searching for other members of minority groups who might want to be Aggies.

But if A&M is not willing to lower the academic standards to admit minorities who can`t pass the tests, then it`s "Crackerland." (In a historical note, the first black was admitted to A&M in 1950, and by 1967, the place was fully desegregated.)

What President Gates is really trying to change for the better, however, is Texas A &M`s academic reputation.

Students at Texas A&M are known as Aggies, and are the subject of what are known as Aggie Jokes, similar in content to Polish Jokes, Newfie Jokes, Blonde Jokes, et cetera.

None of these stereotypes is very true. But it is true that you need a higher SAT score to get into Caltech, or MIT than you need to get into an Agricultural and Mechanical College.

Gates wants to raise admittance requirements for everyone. He apparently doesn`t realize that this will bar a lot of minority applicants, as well, of course, as a number of white Texas farmers, from getting in.

But about the tradition thing: President Gates [email him] didn`t actually say that the college`s traditions were grounded in "patriotism, Protestantism," et cetera; that was the Chronicle of Higher Education`s interpretation of his actual remarks, which were non-sectarian:

"Our culture is grounded in patriotism, religious belief (however expressed), loyalty to family and to one another, a hard work ethic, character, and integrity."

Texas Monthly`s Paul Burka`s response to that is a textbook example of what we mean by the "Culture War," AKA "Abolishing America:"

"What is striking about these values is that they are personal rather than intellectual; most major university presidents, I suspect, would put open-mindedness and respect for ideas at the top of their list and leave patriotism and religion as matters of individual, rather than institutional, choice."

This is exactly backwards, of course. It`s patriotism, loyalty, and religion that are institutional, and are expected to be taught by college presidents.

"Open-mindedness and respect for ideas" are academic shibboleths that usually mean believing in nothing at all, and being loyal to every country but your own.

Reference the above piece using this permanent URL: /articles/the-fulford-file-by-james-fulford-99#abolishing

Aggie Afterthought

Elite opinion would have it that Texas A & M is too white, too rural, too American, and too…well, Aggie, to survive.

Meanwhile, back in the evil days of segregation, a "separate but equal" college was established in Prairie View, Texas, for what the legislature called "colored youth."

Guess what? It`s still going strong. And while its mission statement says that it`s meant to serve "diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds," US News and World Report says it`s one of the least diverse schools in the country, at 94 percent African-American.

Perhaps someone should tell the Supreme Court.

Reference the above piece using this permanent URL: /articles/the-fulford-file-by-james-fulford-99#afterthought