Friday, December 12, 2014

More stupid zero tolerance

MIT has been a leader in putting college lectures freely online, and now it has bizarrely overreacted to a minor complaint. MIT announces:
MIT is cutting ties with retired professor Walter Lewin after determining that the physicist, whose lectures had made him a beloved teacher and minor Internet star, had sexually harassed at least one student online.

The woman was taking one of Lewin’s classes on edX, the online learning platform started by Harvard and MIT. ...

MIT has revoked his title as professor emeritus, Provost Martin A. Schmidt PhD ’88 said.

MIT is also removing Lewin’s lecture videos and other course materials from edX and MIT OpenCourseWare indefinitely, “in the interest of preventing any further inappropriate behavior.”

Schmidt said that MIT’s actions were “part of a process of a complete separation from Walter,” though he also said those actions were “probably the extent of it” given that Lewin had retired.

“Given Dr. Lewin’s long career on our campus and contributions as an educator, taking this step is painful,” Schmidt wrote to MIT’s faculty. ...

Lewin joined MIT in 1966 and became a full professor in 1974. In the decades that followed he collected award after award for his undergraduate teaching.

Through OpenCourseWare and YouTube, Lewin’s lectures and physics demonstrations have reached millions.

“Professor Lewin delivers his lectures with the panache of Julia Child bringing French cooking to amateurs and the zany theatricality of YouTube’s greatest hits,” The New York Times wrote in 2007. “With his wiry grayish-brown hair, his tortoiseshell glasses and his intensity, Professor Lewin is the iconic brilliant scientist … he is at once larger than life and totally accessible.”

Lewin went on to star in viral videos of him drawing dotted lines on blackboards and swinging on steel balls suspended from the ceiling.

And then in 2013, Lewin helped launch online versions of his classes on edX. Among those who enrolled: the woman who would lodge the sexual harassment complaint this past October.
This is so stupid, I don't know where to start. The man is 78 years old, and he is only accused of making an inappropriate remark online. For that, the university is trying to destroy 40 years of loyal service, and millions of viewers learning physics from his videos.

The comments are overwhelmingly negative. For example:
I can still read Mein Kampf and The Little Red Book. So for Prof Lewin works to have been banned, he must have done something worse than mass murder. In the name of equality, let us hear his words no more. Zero tolerance!!!
I wonder if MIT was influenced by a fear of an adverse ruling from the Obama administration. The MIT over-reaction is so bizarre that it seems likely that Lewin had enemies who are just using this complaint to sabotage him for other reasons, or maybe MIT has Title IX problems with the Obama administration, and is trying to impress the leftist feminist Obama bureaucrats and avoid charges in other cases.

I note that Lewin appears to be from a Dutch Jewish family, as he had relatives die in Auschwitz. In other campus scandals I have recently posted about, feminist Jewish liberals seem to be at war against genteel southern blond fraternity boys.

To give you an idea how college cave in to leftist agitators, read this:
The president of prestigious Smith College is red-faced and apologetic Tuesday for telling students on the Northampton, Mass., campus that "all lives matter."

Kathleen McCartney wrote the phrase in the subject line of an e-mail to students at the school, whose alumni include feminists Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, former First Lady Nancy Reagan and celebrity chef Julia Child. McCartney was attempting to show support for students protesting racially charged grand jury decisions in which police in Missouri and New York were not charged in the deaths of unarmed black men.

Protesters have adopted several slogans in connection with the cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, including "Black Lives Matter." McCartney's more inclusive version of the refrain was seen as an affront that diminished the focus on black lives and racism, according to emails obtained by

“We are united in our insistence that all lives matter,” read the e-mail,in which she made clear she was strongly behind the protests, writing that the grand jury decisions had “led to a shared fury… We gather in vigil, we raise our voices in protest.” ...

Some who follow campus issues say that the idea of apologizing for saying “all lives matter” shows political correctness is out of control.
My guess is that Obama administration pressure induced MIT to do this. Yes, Democrat leftist feminist bureaucrats now intervene in petty student complaints, as shown by their letter to Princeton.

Update: See Lewin's last lecture to get an idea of how popular he was.

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