Category Archives: Education (higher ed)

William and Mary and the Chinese Communist Party – Dangerous Allies – Part 2

Courtesy U.S. – China Economic and Security Review Commission

by James C. Sherlock

The College of William and Mary first contracted with the Chinese Ministry of Education’s Confucius Institute (CI) Program in 2012. Despite all of the public warnings about the dangers listed in Part 1, it extended that contract in 2016 and did not cease until 2020, when threatened with sanctions by the federal government.

W&M’s hosting of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) continues today.

This is Part 2 of a series that will explore those dangerous alliances and recommend changes in that college’s approach to what the United States considers the biggest foreign threat our nation faces, China.

The creation of the new William and Mary Confucius Institute (WMCI) was unfortunately timed.

In 2012 Xi Jinping took full control of both the Chinese Communist Party and the Peoples Revolutionary Army. The CI’s became part of Xi’s United Front Work Department.

The Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community in 2012 never saw it coming. The intelligence community, seemingly always fighting the last war, was late to an understanding of the true China threat, at least publicly.

So it would be unfair to criticize William and Mary for not having done so.

But by 2016, when William and Mary signed the renewed contract with Hanban, there were plenty of warnings. See Part 1 for a list. The University of Chicago closed its CI in 2014.

WMCI. WMCI was not an informal arrangement, but a contractual one. The WMCI was under dual governance that gave the Chinese authority over the appointment and firing of the American director of that organization.

The director was Dr. Hanson, whose rosy view of Hanban and the Chinese government we watched on a YouTube video in Part 1. Continue reading

Delusion and Dogma in Virginia Tech’s Admissions Office

Juan Espinoza, Virginia Tech
Associate Vice Provost for Enrollment Management
and Director of Undergraduate Admissions.  Official photo.

by James C. Sherlock

Showing once again that people can convince themselves of anything, the Collegiate Times, Virginia Tech’s student newspaper, published on November 5th a story titled:

“Record low ACT scores not a concern for Virginia Tech admissions”

The opening sentences:

Virginia Tech admissions are unbothered by the lowest reported ACT scores in 31 years and say that there are other application metrics for determining college readiness.

“When you look at standardized testing as a predictor on how students will do once they’re in college as a standalone variable, it’s never been a very strong predictor,” said Juan Espinoza, director of undergraduate admissions at Virginia Tech. [Emphasis added.]

He is just wrong about that, as we will show.

We also note that

Juan led Virginia Tech’s international admissions and recruitment efforts.

So, he may be the man to see about why the PRC-run Chinese Students and Scholars Association is still on campus keeping tabs, and pressure, on Tech’s one thousand Chinese students.

Institutions need to make temporary adjustments to their admissions criteria to mitigate coronavirus impact on applications and enrollment.

They should not, as in the case of Tech’s admissions head, pretend they have found new facts in the process that make ACT and SAT unnecessary metrics in admissions. Continue reading

Some Virginia State Colleges and Universities Host Chinese Government Student Control Organizations

by James C. Sherlock

Courtesy U.S. – China Economic and Security Review Commission

Virginia Tech’s Chinese Students and Scholars Association

is the largest international student society at Virginia Tech, with more than 1,000 Chinese students and scholars and their families. It is also one of the largest Chinese student and scholars organizations in the United States. [Go to link and click “translate” in URL window.]

Good to know.

More than 350,000 students from mainland China out of about 1 million total international students are enrolled in America’s colleges and universities in 2023.

The financial incentives for the schools are huge.

All of those students pay full-sticker out-of-state tuition as well as room, board and student fees – $58,750 annually for undergraduates.  So Tech realizes about $60 million for its full-time Chinese Hokies.  That does not include summer students, another big program.

In associated programs, Chinese universities provide Mandarin language instructors to American faculties and accept U.S. students.

But the institutions who accept Chinese Student and Scholars Associations (CSSAs) know they monitor and control Chinese students and spread the official dogma of the Chinese state to their campuses.

The Chinese don’t even try to make it a secret.

CSSAs have closed at UVa, VCU, James Madison and George Mason without apparent effect on their Chinese student inputs.

Yet Virginia Tech, William and Mary, and ODU continue to host them.

It makes no sense. Continue reading

Rising Costs Pushing UVa Tuition Higher

The Jefferson Council released the following press release this morning (Nov. 9, 2023):

CHARLOTTESVILLE—Rising costs, not cutbacks in state aid, are primarily responsible for pushing tuition higher at the University of Virginia. State appropriations for UVa have declined sharply between 2002 and 2022 when adjusted for inflation and enrollment. But tuition has exploded over the same time. Only one-third of the increased tuition revenue was needed to offset state cuts. The other two-thirds represented spending increases, primarily in payroll.

Those are the major conclusions of a report, “Rising Costs: The Driving Force Behind Tuition Increases at UVa,” released today by The Jefferson Council, an organization dedicated to upholding free speech, viewpoint diversity, and Thomas Jefferson’s legacy at UVa.

The UVa Board of Visitors is working this fall on how much to increase tuition in the next two academic years. The Finance Committee has scheduled a public hearing November 17 in which students and other members of the public can address undergraduate tuition & fees. The Board is expected to approve a new tuition structure in December. Continue reading

A Resolution Concerning the Safety and Rights of Jews at UVa

Jefferson Council President Tom Neale yesterday delivered the following resolution of the Council to University of Virginia president Jim Ryan and the Board of Visitors. — JAB

The Jefferson Council, by unanimous agreement of the Officers, Committee Chairs and Board of Advisors, hereby issues the following RESOLUTION supporting the rights of the Jewish students, faculty and staff at the University of Virginia to study, teach and work in safety and in an environment conducive to the free and civil exchange of ideas.

WHEREAS, the Jefferson Council was founded to promote an academic environment based on open dialogue throughout the University;

WHEREAS, on October 7, 2023, military units of Hamas, the de facto governing body of Gaza, invaded the sovereign state of Israel and intentionally targeted, murdered, tortured and/or captured approximately 1400 innocent civilians including but not limited to women, children and the elderly, all in violation of international law and the moral norms of every civilized country in the world; Continue reading

The Facts of the Matter

“You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”
— Daniel Patrick Moynihan: 

Dear President Ryan, Provost Baucom, and the Board of Visitors,

The former New York senator’s famous quotation perfectly describes the October 8 statement posted by the “Students for Justice in Palestine at UVAon its Instagram page.

I firmly and unequivocally believe in the First Amendment. Any individual student or group must be allowed to speak their mind, as long as their statements do not violate University policy or Virginia law. However, there are numerous falsehoods in the SJP statement. I will cite three particularly egregious ones:

  1. Students for Justice in Palestine unequivocally supports Palestinian liberation and the right of colonized people everywhere to resist the occupation of their land by whatever means they deem necessary.”
  2. While the Israeli government publicly declared war today, the war and genocidal campaign began over 75 years ago.”
  3. The people of Gaza are denied freedom of movement, are under calorie restrictions, and are routinely bombed and brutalized by Israeli forces.”

The three statements above are both factually wrong and morally outrageous. Below are the facts: Continue reading

“Good old TikTok: Chinese spy engine and purveyor of virulent antisemitic lies.” Sen. Josh Hawley

San Francisco High School students enflamed by false report from the NYT (which later offered “nuance”) broadcast worldwide on TikTok #freepalestine that Israel bombed that hospital in Gaza.

by James C. Sherlock

Taylor Lorenz, the estimable young Tech and Online Culture columnist for The Washington Post, has been the author of some of the most important reports on the Hamas-Israel war.

Today, she published with Drew Harwell, a Post reporter covering artificial intelligence and the algorithms changing our lives, “Israel-Gaza war sparks debate over TikTok’s role in setting public opinion.

A pro-Palestinian hashtag, #freepalestine, had … 770 million views over the last 30 days in the United States, TikTok data show.

To longtime TikTok critics like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), that assertion offered further proof that the app, owned by the China-based tech firm ByteDance, is a secretive propaganda engine built to manipulate American teens for Chinese geopolitical goals — in this case, Rubio said, to “downplay … Hamas terrorism.”

The same Post article, attempting balance, reports both the Sen. Hawley quote in the title of this piece and that:

TikTok creators and social media experts say the reality (of reporting on the war) is more nuanced (than critics have asserted).

“Nuanced.” What would we do without “TikTok creators and social media experts”? Continue reading

UVa’s Modern-Day Barbarians

Image credit: Bing Image Creator

by James A. Bacon

The latest round of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has stirred up emotions at the University of Virginia more than any event since the George Floyd riots. Not only are students holding demonstrations and counter-demonstrations; faculty, parents, and alumni are chiming in.

Eighty University of Virginia professors signed an open letter proclaiming themselves to be “unsettled” by the tone of a statement previously issued by President Jim Ryan concerning events stemming from Hamas’ October 7 terror attacks on Israel. Ryan expressed sorrow for the atrocities inflicted upon Israeli citizens, the writers aver, but did not acknowledge the sufferings of the Palestinian people.

Meanwhile, more than 15o parents and alumni have signed a letter expressing concern for the safety of Jewish students in an atmosphere of increasing antisemitism nationally. The university, they say, needs to create a task force to eradicate antisemitism within the UVa community.

The Jefferson Council members with whom I am in contact — and I have heard from many — are unanimously supportive of Israel. The Jewish state is far from perfect when measured against a utopian ideal of pluralistic, democratic, rights-respecting nations, but Hamas, a terrorist organization masquerading as a state, bears no comparison. It is in the same league as the Huns, Vandals, Goths, Vikings and other ancient barbarians who laid waste to the settled societies around them. Council members have chosen to side with the heirs of Western Civilization and against those who seek to destroy it. Continue reading

Governor Youngkin Steps to Curb Anti-Semitic Activities – How about Law Enforcement?

by James C. Sherlock

Governor Glenn Youngkin took action today with an Executive Directive to “Combat Antisemitism and Anti-Religious Bigotry in the Commonwealth and on Campuses.”

It is excellent, and we look forward to immediate steps by other actors in the Commonwealth. Continue reading

What is Actually Taught about the History of the Jews and the Jewish State in Virginia Schools?

German-Israeli woman Shani Louk, whose semi-naked body was paraded through Gaza by Hamas, has been declared dead. Her skull was found separated from her body. Credit Instagram

by James C. Sherlock

What comes first? Sadism or hatred? Does religious radicalism create sadists or do sadists flock there for approval and opportunity?

Some on the radical right and the radical left in the United States share a hatred for Jews.

The radical right may not be able to remember why, but pursue it anyway.

Radical Islam combines Nazi views and medieval sadism and does not hesitate to act them out. Remember the Munich Olympics massacre, 9/11 and the ISIS beheadings? Now Oct. 7th? Any questions?

Virginia’s schools have lessons to teach. Unfortunately it is not clear what the message has been and will be in the future. Continue reading

A’s for All!

by James A. Bacon

Grade inflation in American universities is a well-documented phenomenon. Nearly half of all grades handed out at Harvard are A’s. The average Grade Point Average (GPA) at the University of Virginia, having drifted steadily upward over the past 30 years, is moving higher at an accelerating rate. One possible explanation — in defiance of the downward trend in standardized test scores in K-12 education — is that the kids are just so darn smart! They deserve the A’s!

Another explanation points to the obsession with equality and self-esteem, and to the attendant collapse in standards that would differentiate between excellence, mediocrity and failure.

The question arises in a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education which profiles a controversy at James Madison University. Six economics professors told the Chronicle that their annual evaluations have been penalized because they are handing out too many D’s and F’s. Continue reading

Foreign Student Influence in Students for Justice in Palestine Chapters at Virginia Universities and their “Allies”

Caption: “Show up, share, and support the resistance movement! Let’s keep the momentum going” GMU SJP member

by James C. Sherlock

The SJP organizations at three Virginia state universities, the University of Virginia, George Mason University, and the University of Mary Washington, have been active since October 7th on the Hamas side.

Some attempt to thread two needles simultaneously: to separate Gazans from their elected government, the terrorist organization Hamas, and to separate Israelis from Jews.

In celebrating the October 7th slaughter, those are distinctions without a difference.

We’ll look at the influence of foreign students in Virginia universities’ SJP chapters, then the GMU chapter, and then briefly examine the progressive/Marxist “intersectionality” of SJP to see the extent of who and what we are dealing with.

The results are interesting, but not surprising. Continue reading

Hey NCAA, Let JMU Go Bowling!

by Kerry Dougherty

File this under “Even A Blind Squirrel Finds A Nut Occasionally”:

Louise Lucas, one of the worst members of Virginia’s General Assembly and the ringleader of the obstructionist “brick wall” in the state Senate that blocked chunks of Gov. Glenn Youngin’s popular agenda, is on the right side of an issue.

For once.

She recently posted this on X, the website formerly known as Twitter:

Let me remind the @NCAA that they are required by their charter to follow state laws where they operate. If they continue to hold @JMUFootball hostage to a technical rule and stop them from competing in the postseason they will face a very unfriendly future from our legislature.

I’m not sure there’s much to her veiled threat of “unfriendliness” from Virginia’s General Assembly, but her heart’s in the right place on this one. Until she brings race into it. As she always does. Sigh.

She’s one of many Virginia politicians – Republicans and Democrats – who are lobbying the NCAA to allow James Madison University to become bowl-eligible this year.

Let’s back up. In 2022 JMU moved up to Division 1 football after dominating the FCS for many years. This week the Dukes broke into both the AP and Coaches’ Polls national rankings in the 25th spot. The only Virginia college football program in the top 25.

No surprise, considering that after seven games, the university in Harrisonburg remains undefeated.

For most football programs, hitting six wins promises an invitation to play in one of the 41 bowl games. Seven wins? It’s a lock.

But NCAA rules prevent programs from participating in bowl games until they’ve been in the higher division for two seasons.

Continue reading

In Defense of Painful Free Speech

by Allan Stam

The horrific attacks of October 7th on Jews in Israel have prompted pro-Palestinian groups, including several at UVA, to rally in support of Hamas. In recent days, we have heard growing calls for support of Palestinians and condemnation of Israel as the Israeli Defense Forces and Iran’s proxies – Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and Ansar Allah (the Houthi movement in Yemen) wage the most significant war in and around Israel in years. This is a war precipitated solely by Hamas’ surprise terror attack of unprecedented scale and proportion on unarmed Israeli civilians.

A common theme across the statements of pro-Palestinian groups and many university administrators and faculty is an explicit or implicit assertion of some moral equivalence between the suffering of human shields in Gaza and the victims of barbaric terror attacks in Israel. The linguistic turn that Hamas’ apologists employ most commonly is the ‘yes, but…’ device.

Some responded to these abhorrent statements with calls to restrict free speech, to sanction the terrorists’ enablers formally, and to quell somehow this pruriently hateful speech. I disagree. Most vehemently. Let the antisemites have their say. Why? Because now we know with certainty what they believe and how they genuinely feel about others in our community.

The downside of strict censorship is uncertainty about peoples’ actual beliefs. For example, by making the use of the n-word utterly forbidden, we protect the sensibilities of Black people who would suffer, at a minimum, great offense and possibly some genuine harm. However, the cost of that protection is that it enhances the ability of the faithful or casual racists to hide in our midst. Continue reading

Crime and Punishment in Charlottesville

by James C. Sherlock

UVa and Harvard are the two campuses most often cited by the national and world press as homes to the worst actors after October 7.

It is easy work.

I posted a column on Saturday making a series of recommendations for actions by the University of Virginia to protect its Jewish community and rid itself of those that threaten it.

That was my response to the infamous support of UVa-funded organizations for the slaughter of innocents in Israel by Hamas, a group designated by the United States as a terrorist organization.

Kill Jews “by any means necessary” they wrote.

Read the column.  I named them.

Now I have been told by the Executive Director of Hillel at UVa, Rabbi Jake Rubin, that the President’s office and law enforcement “have been incredibly responsive, helpful, and present during this difficult time.”

Good start, and Virginians thank them for it, but it does not answer the questions about enforcement of state and federal laws.

So, there is more to do. Continue reading