Best of Chastisements

Polemicist hereby chastises...

"If, when a man has fallen into habits of idleness, of daydreaming, and of sloth, putting off his most important duties continually til the morrow, another man were to awaken him one fine morning with the heavy blows of a whip, and were to whip him unmercifully, until he who was unable to work for pleasure now worked for fear - would not that man, the chastiser, indeed be his benefactor and truest friend?"

-Charles Baudelaire
 Intimate Journals

 

Best of Polemicist Chastisements

The Young Conservatives of Texas

November 1989; page 2; Volume 1, No. 2

When you see young men at a gay-rights rally holding signs like "Put 'em in jail, gays are criminals" and "Thank God for the Earthquake" in San Francisco, the obvious response is: they doth protest too much; they're compensating for their own lack of sexual security. What else could drive adults to applaud the death or imprisonment of innocent people? But no personal deficiency can excuse the ignorant, narrow-minded bigotry of those remarks. Nor do the YCT's apologies, which The Texan printed in its Oct. 20 Firing Line. Brian Wordell, YCT chairman, announced that the Bible teaches his group to "hate the sin but love the sinner." (The Bible also says that "It is good for a man not to touch a woman" [1 Corinthians 7:1]. Does Wordell support that statement, too?). Wordell's sort of hateful, stunted, philistine Christianity desecrates the egalitarian New Testament ideas it purports to champion. Geoff Henley, shown laughing in the Oct. 19 Texan as he holds a sign advocating imprisonment for one-tenth of the U.S. population, said in his letter that he didn't mean to advocate imprisonment for homosexuals, but rather to be polemical. We wish he wouldn't use that phrase, which we've grown rather fond of, to justify his prejudice and asininity.

Another ugly facet of the YCT incident was The Daily Apologist's editorial indifference to the issue. The campus gay community and their advocates deserved support from the editorial board in the face of this hatred. Yet Apologist editor Karen Adams chose instead to chide President Bush for failing to assassinate Noriega. We're sure that Bush will do better next time, chastened as he is by Adams' disapproval. But she should have used the space to lash out at the YCT. A former card-carrying member of the group, perhaps Adams thought that speaking out would compromise her "objectivity." Or maybe she simply agreed with her reactionary pals. Either way, such silence does nothing to improve The Daily Apologist's well-deserved reputation for insensitivity to minority issues.

Randall Tate, a.k.a. "Captain Apology"
Advisor, Texas Union Distinguished Speakers Committee

We fear that Randall Tate fancies himself a young James Watt. The Polemicist editors invaded a recent Distinguished Speakers Committee meeting to ask why only conservative, white, straight (or closeted) male speakers had been on the committee's agenda. (To date, the speakers had consisted of Ross Perot, Clayton Williams, Jack Rains, Mark White and Kent Hance.) Tate proceeded to whisk us out of the meeting room, take us in the hall and barrage us with apologies and equivocations. When the meeting ended and the committee members were leaving, Tate grabbed the editor's arm and begun thrusting his fingers at minority members, saying, "See? We have minorities. Look, there's blacks, Hispanics and there's some Asians." Pulling ourselves from the clutches of this addled white man, we wished he would just go away and let us talk to the people we came to talk to. Freed from the presence of their "advisor" the remaining committee members actually talked to us with concern and intelligence. Given the "advice" of a PR hack like Tate, it's a wonder the committee has done as well as it has. Union committees would do well to dump their advisors if they all practice the blatant sort of tokenism displayed by Tate.

The Institute for Advanced Technology

July 1990; page 2; Volume 1, No. 7

After spending over $120 million in the eighties to upgrade the Balcones Research Center, the University finally earned the honor of housing the U.S. Army's newest national weapons laboratory. Despite these massive expenditures, however - which have come at the expense of hiring more teachers and building teaching facilities - the University must still fund the construction and staffing costs of the national lab.

The lab will build on UT's Star Wars research - it will refine the UT-developed "rail gun," the first substantive advance in gun technology since the invention of gunpowder. Developers of the new gun like Center for Electromechanics director William Weldon say the gun theoretically could fire projectiles at 30 miles per second, and accurately bomb targets on the moon. Researchers have never explained why we would want to bomb targets on the moon.

Not surprisingly, President Bill Cunningham, Provost Gerhard Fonken and Chancellor Hans Mark all lobbied actively for three years for the privilege of subsidizing the Army with UT tax and tuition dollars to develop this technology, all the while telling students and faculty that there just isn't enough money to support teaching.

With the Cold War in collapse, even the federal government plans to cut back expenditures to the Army. Whether from ideology or vested interest, though, UT administrators still pump millions into military projects, even as the teaching atmosphere at the University suffers from lack of funds.

Susan Hays
Co-Director, Texas Student Lobby

While declaring herself "suspicious" of how UT spends its money, UT students' only liaison to the state legislature announced in the June 20 Texan that she would support tuition hikes to fund financial aid and faculty hiring. First, let's confirm a few of Hays' suspicions.

In 1983 the University committed $50 million to lure the Microelectronics and Computer Technology Center to the Balcones Research Center (BRC). That same year the regents approved $62 million to build seven new R&D buildings at the BRC.

In 1985 it spent $20 million to purchase a Cray supercomputer. In 1987 UT began a $43 million project to build three high-tech research facilities at BRC, including a $22 million "clean room" whose sole purpose is to develop new products and processes for the chip industry. In 1988 the UT-System spent $12.3 million to lure Sematech to Austin, and pawned off $18 million more in bond debt to state taxpayers.

UT recently announced its plans to spend $75 million over seven years to fund a Molecular Biology program. And as noted above, UT will pay for the facilities for the new Army weapons lab. In addition, the April 1989 Development Plan for the Balcones Research Center lists $116 million more in planned expenditures at BRC over the next ten years.

None of these figures include the cost of hiring faculty to staff these facilities, which comes straight out of budgeted funds for faculty. All told, the annual UT-Austin budget more than doubled over the eighties, from $149 million in 1979 to $328 million in 1989. Adjusted for inflation, that's a 63 percent increase. Do these numbers confirm Hays' suspicions?

As a bargaining position, it's bad politics for our chief legislative liaison to concede a tuition hike before the battle has even started. But in the face of these staggering expenditures, it's insane to call on students to compensate for their administrator's extravagant subsidies to industry and the military - especially when tuition increased ten-fold in ten years. UT's funding doesn't need to be increased, just dramatically reprioritized.

President Cunningham and his deans, with their advocacy of doubling graduate student tuition, appear to be maneuvering for a hike in undergraduate tuition as well. It's disgraceful that the Texas Student Lobby has been coopted into their efforts.

Ben Crenshaw
Pro-golfer, Barton Creek developer

Ben Crenshaw has lent his name and credibility to the effort to develop Barton Creek - a development that would almost certainly destroy the creek forever. In an open letter to Mayor Lee Cooke published as an advertisement in the Austin-American Statesman, Crenshaw defended the "professionalism and integrity" of the developers, and declared that the development would take place "so that the area will maintain its beauty and also be environmentally sound so that people can live in concert with nature."

Crenshaw neglects to report to the mayor and the city his own vested interests in the deal. Crenshaw, along with UT President Cunningham and UT Special Assistant to the President and former football coach Darrell Royal, sits as a paid member of the Barton Creek Country Club Policy Committee, which has lobbied extensively for the deal. Crenshaw will also design the three new golf courses for the country club.

More damning, Crenshaw owns a turf company north of town that will supply the grass for the new golf courses.

In this light, Crenshaw's advocacy of this environmentally destructive development seems much more self-serving. He hails the "international credibility" of the two companies, but his own credibility should certainly be called into question. He lauds the jobs the development will supposedly create, and claims the project will promote "community involvement." But how involved can the "community" be when memberships to the country club cost over $18,000 up front, and the developers want to build homes in the "over $200,000 market"?

In a column printed in the Chamber of Commerce rag, The Austin Weekly, Crenshaw's friend and advocate Paul Pryor lamented that the Barton Creek flap might harm Crenshaw's performance at the U.S. Open. Confirming Pryor's fears, Crenshaw failed to make the cut. Perhaps he was thinking about all the money his turf company might lose if the project doesn't go through.

Mel Hazelwood, Pat Ohlendorf
UT Flunkies

September 1990; page 2; Volume 2, No. 1

"Unfortunately people are involved in a battle with the UT Austin administration ... I really don't want to get into a little UT-Austin battle over things." Thus declared Mel Hazelwood in the August 29 Daily Texan as he squarely injected himself into the UT administration's attack on students' access to information under the Texas Open Records Act. Under the previous policy, UT didn't charge for copying expenses. Hazelwood announced on August 22 that the UT System would begin charging for labor time for processing Open Records requests from student journalists and researchers.

Pat Ohlendorf didn't even have the courtesy to notify students of the policy change and simply began sending bills for labor charges. The first letter student researchers received (on August 28) was dated August 23, the day after Hazelwood's decision. Ohlendorf asked for a $144 "bond" before The Howlers, a graduate student activist/research group, would be allowed to review a routine Open Records request.

Tellingly, the first request for which UT Austin charged for labor was for correspondence between Bill Cunningham and Jim Bob Moffett, Chair and CEO of Freeport McMoRan (see previous Chastisement). Student researchers have devilled in Cunningham all summer with revelations of his ties to Freeport and Freeport's dealings in Austin, New Orleans and Indonesia (see page 10).

Also, we believe that our series of articles concerning E 306 and NAS (see page four) stands as the strongest argument we could make for maintaining reasonable access to public documents. Despite the fact that faculty and staff spent hour preparing those requests, no labor charge was levied for any of the dozens of documents we received. The results speak for themselves.

It's shameful that our administration can use their institutional clout to harass student journalists they don't agree with.

Peter Flawn
Author, Jackass

November 1990; page 2; Volume 2, No. 2

In a tiny book entitled The Uses of the University, former UC Berkeley president Clark Kerr laid out the intellectual and moral basis for the modern "multiversity," i.e., the university as servant to the economic and military needs of the ruling class. In his new book, A Primer for University Presidents: Managing the Modern University, former UT-Austin President Peter Flawn accepts Kerr's assumptions without question, and attempts to define the technocrat's role in managing the multiversity.

Flawn's book, which will be reviewed in full in next month's Polemicist, is indeed a "primer" for administrators in fending off what he calls, quoting Edmund Burke, "the presumptuous judgment of the ignorant" - i.e., faculty and students. Flawn emphasizes, for instance, the importance of paying "attention to the nature and direction of student political activity." He advocates fending off activist students by keeping them "under stress" about grades and advancement. "They should be under stress," he writes. "A student taking a full and demanding academic load is not likely to be planning a take-over of the president's office."

Not all of Flawn's political analysis is so sophisticated. At one point, he declares, "It is important for the university's image to have a first-class band director." His reasoning? "If you lose a football game, it will be some consolation if your band outperformed that of the rival institution." Clark Kerr he ain't.

Flawn launches virulent attacks on student press, singling out newspapers and student radio. "If you inherit an already established student-operated radio station, you can privately curse whatever president initially approved its license, but unless you can demonstrate flagrant abuses you will not be able to close it down." But Pete has a solution, perhaps based on his experience with Texas Student Publications. "Without running the risk of being accused of heavy-handed censorship, you can probably set up a board of responsible faculty and students to exercise oversight for operations and programming," he advises.

Flawn's book should cure any false nostalgia students may have for the pre-Cunningham days. But more importantly, student activists should read it (borrow or steal it - don't give this bastard your money), for it contains interesting if sometimes comically banal insights into the mindset of oppressive administrators.

Lawrence Cranberg
Physicist, Warmonger

In a truly stunning column in the October 19 New York City Tribune - a newspaper produced by the political network of Rev. Sun Yung Moon - Austinite and rightwing gadfly Lawrence Cranberg provides the moral justification for the "Nuke Iraq" t-shirts. Not surprisingly it's a shallow one indeed. Cranberg declared himself in the Austin Chronicle "a colleague of Alan Gribben and other similarly devoted, high-minded academics" who are members of the National Association of Scholars, another Moonie-connected group.

Cranberg's column contains a number of bizarre logical twists that rival even those of his "colleague" Alan Gribben. He notes that radioactivity and X-rays have "revolutionized medicine" - especially cancer treatment. From there he points out that neutrons are used to treat prostrate cancer, using "the nuclear radiation which is the trigger of nuclear fission in atomic weapons." He then calls Saddam Hussein a "malignancy," and declares "To this observer, one whose main preoccupations for 20 years has been the use of neutrons for cancer treatment, the idea that they might be used to treat a form of social and political cancer that we should call Saddamism, seems poetically just."

Cranberg wants us to get over our "Nuclear Phobia" and realize that nuclear weapons are a "natural phenomena which pervade our environment." For him, nukes are also a catalyst for economic miracles. He ends his column by promising that "Forty years hence, the citizens of a democratic Iraqi republic will look upon us as saviors who not only freed them from a monster, but set the stage for an economic miracle such as Germany and Japan have experienced in the aftermath of our victory over them." Perhaps Cranberg could cut a deal with Mikhail Gorbachev to send an ICBM to Austin, whose economy has also been slumping recently and could certainly stand a "miracle."

"Dollar" Bill Cunningham
Peter Flawn disciple

December 1990; page 2; Volume 2, No. 3

In his squalid Primer for University Presidents, former UT President Peter Flawn declares that "the ad hoc committee is, of course, the device by which the president buys time to deal with a potentially nasty situation, [or] defuses a fastbreaking and explosive situation."

Flawn must be applauding his successor Bill Cunningham's handling of UT's understaffing crisis. "Dollar" Bill has formed the ad hoc Committee on the Undergraduate Experience, his third in 18 months, charged with studying the "purpose undergraduate education," "in the broadest sense." For several years now students have demanded that the University hire enough faculty to bring the student-faculty ratio down to reasonable levels. This journal has argued repeatedly that the University must divert funds from its capital-intensive high-tech research projects in order to equitably fund undergraduate programs.

The creation of the new committee promises to postpone any meaningful action until at least next summer. A list of a few of Cunningham's more heinous appointments to the committee confirms his lack of seriousness in the matter. The list includes: failed SA-presidential candidate and political opportunist Tracy Silna; Rich Heller, one of the Texas Union bureaucrats responsible for the recently rejected franchising proposal; and Larry Carver, an Associate Dean of Liberal Arts who used to write speeches for UT Chancellor Hans Mark, an architect of UT's high-dollar research projects.

But most egregiously, Cunningham appointed Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, former CIA operative turned Austin booster. Inman served as the first CEO of MCC, a high-tech research consortium housed on UT property. To this day MCC pays one dollar per year in rent, even though the University paid $34 million for the building and equipment. We doubt Inman will argue against multimillion dollar subsidies to the private sector just to hire more faculty.

Since Cunningham has so doggedly adhered to Flawn's technique of forming committees to defuse student unrest, we direct him to the last chapter of Flawn's treatise, entitled "Exiting the Presidency." "If your retirement from the presidency is timely," Flawn writes, "a great many nice things will happen to you." Aren't you getting tired, Bill, of the hassle over under-staffing, Barton Creek, racist frats and E306? No more committees, Bill. Just step down.

Hans Mark - Chancellor
Man of No Idea

May 1991; page 2; Volume 2, No. 6

UT-System Chancellor Hans Mark, while slamming multiculturalism advocates in the journal Academic Questions, defines higher education as the pursuit of ideas, and nicely pigeonholes the "social significance of race, ethnicity, and gender" as "one such idea." This reductionist notion isolates real-world political events, including the struggle for curriculum reform, from their context, and thereby strips them of meaning. Chancellor "Plato" Mark has struck a blow for idealism in academia's most politically scurrilous magazine.

The journal - a mouthpiece for the New-Right group the National Association of Scholars - takes strong stands against affirmative action, multiculturalism, minority recruitment, evolution and women's studies, among other topics. The NAS led the assault on the proposed syllabus for English 306 last summer and fall.

Clearly Academic Questions is well aware of its capacity to effect change. Is the political role of such a journal and the NAS simply an "idea" as well? Under the circumstances, we wonder how Mark could seem so amazed that, as he says, "what were once relatively routine academic procedures and decisions have become highly visible and emotionally charged events." He is helping to make them that way.

In Marks' hot pursuit of "ideas," he describes the relationship between Margaret Thatcher and Indira Ghandi - two ''Oxford girls" - and hails their camaraderie as an example of a potentially global "common understanding." That "common understanding," according to Mark, forms the basis for a "world culture" that is "all encompassing and not dependent on a single 'culture,'" but not necessarily available to people who have not attended Oxford. This "all encompassing" culture is the product of the university - in other words, whatever the university teaches. Clearly the "understanding" forged between Ghandi and Thatcher has enabled them to work out military arms deals for India.

***

Mark creates from these concrete political realities a bizarre anthropological theory of power, or "intergroup conflict" that can be also raised to the level of the idea, along with religion, beauty and morality (which are all common "across the specra of time and place.") Mark suggests that a core curriculum cover these, and other topics. We are happy to know that "power" is now a topic that can be studied. Does this mean that when students complete their chosen courses in "power" and get their grade, that they will have acquired it? We think not.

Garth Davis
Dan Quayle Impersonator

September 1991; page 2; Volume 3, No. 1

We never expected a great deal from Garth Davis, but he did provide some good comedy during the tuition debates over the summer:

  • Referring to Gov. Ann Richards' comments that students all drove BMW's and therefore could afford tuition hikes, Davis announced that he drove a BMW, and felt very guilty about it.

     

  • Davis went on to intone that "just because students drive nice cars doesn't mean they can afford tuition."

     

  • Proving that his liberal heart bleeds for those whose parents didn't buy them a BMW, Davis offered the following social analysis: "Higher education is very important for people in the slums, in the ghettos. They're stuck down there unless they can get a higher education" - as opposed to "up here," where we all drive BMW's.

     

  • But, Davis assured his constituency, you shouldn't despair, explaining that he's "very confident the administration will protect students in many ways." (We call your attention to the nuclear fallout shelter in Garrison Hall.)

     

If his mishaps weren't so hilarious, we'd call for his public lashing. Instead, we call on Garth to donate his salary as SA president to the Beemer Fund for College-Bound Ghetto Children. He can find the address in the Polemicist staffbox Make checks payable to Polemicist magazine.

Bill Tiede
Momma's Boy

February 1992; page 2; Volume 3, No. 3

We're thankful that SA President Garth Davis has stopped lobbying the legislature on the tuition question, but he must stop appointing apologists as his surrogates. On Feb. 7, Bill Tiede, SA Rep. at Large, announced to the House Committee on Higher Education's Subcommittee on Tuition and Fees that he drove a 1980 Oldsmobile - presumably as a way to distinguish himself from Garth, who in the past has expressed liberal guilt for driving a BMW. Polemicist believes this matter of automobiles helped Garth select Tiede to speak for students on this important occasion. Or maybe Garth's BMW was in the shop.

In any case, on the issue of tuition increases, Tiede argued - like Hans Mark and other UT bureaucrats before him - that students should pay more for their education to help them truly appreciate its value. Prompted by conservative House member Bob Hunter, Tiede replied obediently that students should pay 25 percent of the cost of their college education, compared to the current level of 11-13 percent. But when asked by members of the committee if he paid his own tuition at UT, he confessed that his parents pay everything.

Our advocate clung dearly to his rationale for tuition hikes, even as a key legislator, Paul Moreno, Chair of the Subcommittee, declared that he supports free higher education. Tiede said we should support tuition increases in order to distribute the education burden more fairly among Texas taxpayers. Perhaps sheepish about his parents' largesse, he then called for lower property taxes, and no income tax, since, he complained, his parents pay too much money in property taxes already.

On the issue of fees, Tiede told the committee that students democratically vote for all of the fees they pay in addition to tuition. Did Tiede himself vote for any or most of the fees on his own fee-bill? Did he even open the bill before forwarding it to his parents?

Tiede complained bitterly about the price of textbooks, although he confided to the committee that his parents pay for these as well. Paul Moreno asked him whether he thought text books should be provided free to students and he said, no, that students should pay for this too. Perhaps higher textbook prices would further enhance every student's appreciation of the value of a textbook.*

The main problem with financial aid, according to Tiede, is understaffing and long lines. In particular, he identified the financial aid office's location in an old Italian restaurant as a big problem. This has now been solved by the new financial aid building. Tiede says students no longer complain about the availability of financial aid, despite shrinking funds. Not until his parents' milkteat dries will he understand the full profanity of that idea.

*UT Watch note: This is in reference to Hans Mark's claim that students ought to pay for higher education simply to understand its value.

The Only Candidate for Chancellor?
Extended Chastisement by Scott Henson and Tom Philpott

April 1992; pages 1-2, 3; Volume 3, No. 5