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Smith College: Radical Feminist U By: Lisa Makson
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, April 20, 2004


During the lead-up to Operation Iraq Freedom, things became so bad at Smith College -- the historic all-female university -- that students had American flags ripped off their dormitory doors and shredded. Government Professor Tandeka Nkiwane told a member of ROTC soldiers “are horrible, inhuman barbarians.” Others worried that "disloyalty" would be punished.

It was not always this way.

In typical American fashion, the seeds for Smith College grew out of tragedy. Sophia Smith inherited her family’s fortune in 1861 and since she never married, she had no heir. As a result of this tragedy, Smith, who was “deeply religious,” turned to her Rev. John Morton Green for guidance.

 

Due to Green’s work with girls who were being educated at Mt. Holyoke’s Seminary, he suggested that Smith should use the money to create a school dedicated solely to educating young women. After much prayer and reflection, Smith decided that funding a women’s college would be “the best way” for Smith “to fulfill the moral obligation” to her country and its citizens.

 

“It is my opinion that by the higher and more thorough Christian education of women, what are called their ‘wrongs’ will be redressed, their wages adjusted, their weight of influence in reforming the evils of society will be greatly increased, as teachers, as writers, as mothers, as members of society, their power for good will be incalculably enlarged…I would have it a perennial blessing to the country.”

 

Upon Smith’s death in 1861, Green chartered the school, and in 1875, Smith College finally opened its doors. For generations, Smith provided the kind of patriotic and religious instruction its founder had envisioned. The fruits of that education were seen in Smithees’ once-great patriotism.

 

HATING THE TROOPS

 

Smith’s opposition to the War on Terror contrasts sharply to the support the college gave World War II. When President Roosevelt declared war on December 7, 1941, the entire Smith College community responded by helping out “fully in the war efforts.” After an all-college meeting on December 9, 1941, Smith sent a telegram to FDR, pledging “full-hearted support to the President of the United States in the struggle against world-wide aggression and (putting) all its abilities behind the efforts of the government to defeat the forces of destruction and lawlessness endangering the survival of all free people.”

 

This patriotic spirit is conspicuously absent today. After 9/11 – America’s second Pearl Harbor – there has been no such support for President Bush or the military. Instead, this feminist academic haven has churned up hatred for the United States, condemnation of our foreign policy and even disdain for the members of our armed forces.

 

Smith’s professors have led the charge. Government Professor Tandeka Nkiwane has encouraged students to protest America’s “imperialist role” in the war, noting that the U.S. is “greatest threat to world stability.” The U.S. needs to realize that there are “terrible human costs to empire building,” Nkiwane noted, “the wounds caused by the ‘collateral damage’ (that the U.S.) inflicts now…bleed just as much as those caused during colonial and imperial times.” Students who have taken her UN class have said she pushes her rabidly anti-American views during class time, even singling out and mocking pro-American students. According to one of Nkiwane’s students, who wished to remain anonymous, Nkiwane once told a student member of the ROTC that soldiers “are horrible, inhuman barbarians.”

 

Others have called into question their support of the United States, as well. Sociology Professor Myron Glazer told the Chronicle of Higher Education, “The concern we have as researchers and as citizens is that in a period emphasizing patriotism and pulling together, dissent becomes extremely difficult – especially within agencies in which any sense of disloyalty can be condemned.” (Emphasis added. This was quoted in the article “Deconstruct This: Heroes,” CHE, Nov. 2, 2001.)

 

Smith College has helped stoke the fires by hosting antiwar speakers.

 

At a conference entitled “Homeland Insecurity,” speakers made “(c)hilling connections between the Cold War and the War on Terrorism.” For example, The Sophian reported that Stacy Braukman of the Radcliff Institute for Advanced Studies told Smithees the case against USF professor Sami Al-Arian mirrors the ‘60s “crackdown” at USF against Communist and homosexual professors. Speakers also drew parallels between the post-September 11 civil rights abuses of the Patriot Act and the Red Scare.

 

Activist Grace Lee Boggs, a protégé of Marxist historian C.L. R. James, came to campus and chastised the Bush administration for “trying to do what Germany could not do earlier in this century” with the war in Iraq. She also said that the war in Iraq was a “catastrophe” and the U.S. “very well may face defeat.”

 

Smith also had author Helen Caldicott, who teaches at Harvard and is the founder and current president of the disarmament group Nuclear Policy Research Institute, discuss her new book, The New Nuclear Danger: George W. Bush’s Military-Industrial Complex.

 

STUDENT SABOTAGE

 

Their students at Smith have absorbed this instruction well, channeling their professors’ and administration’s antiwar fervor into action. At least two Smithees engaged in direct acts of sabotage against the military’s war efforts. Kasha Ho and another Smith student joined 2,000 antiwar activists to protest at nearby Westover Air Force Base by “physically blocking the entrance” to the base. Ho said, “During the rally, I joined with other members of the community in a planned act of civil disobedience as we wove ourselves together into a ‘Web of Life.’” Her years at Smith taught her that physically opposing the military during a time of war was her sacred obligation. “I personally felt the necessity to risk arrest by placing myself, my values, in the way of the perpetuation of this unjust war,” she said.

 

Others confined their reaction to campus, staging a class walkout to oppose the liberation of Iraq. “War activism has effected [sic.] the Smith bubble very strongly these past months,” junior Amy McDonald said. She exhorted others to participate in the walkout, saying, “(W)e must refuse to allow our everyday lives to continue while atrocities are committed in the names of government and liberty.”

 

The campus Left has resorted to disruptive and bullying tactics to whip up support for its antiwar rallies, according to former Republican Club President Melissa Parham. “There are protests all the time against the war, against President Bush,” she noted. “People were running up and down the halls, butting into classrooms, yelling and interrupting class. A lot of anti-Bush protesters harassed students who didn’t leave class (for the walkout).”

 

Student antiwar rhetoric has been as shill as that of their professors. Sophomore Megan McRobert chimed in, “It’s a war against democracy waged by the military industrial complex.” (Yes, she really did say America was toppling Saddam Hussein’s “democracy.”) She continued, “Financial oligarchy has taken the place of democracy.”

 

Erika Nelson, a senior who has since graduated Smith, condemned the “elitist and racist” war in Iraq. She then parroted the leftist line on this (and every) U.S. military intervention:

 

The American working class, who makes up the majority of the military and who are [sic.] most likely to suffer from harsh economic side effects at home, are [sic.] the losers in this war. People of color, who are over-represented in the military and the working class, are also the losers here. The people of Iraq, who have already suffered under UN economic sanctions and under Hussein's rule, are now bearing more death and destruction. Our invasion of Iraq is part of a legacy of racially marked U.S. military intervention in the past century that contributes to white, “Western” imperialism and global dominance.

Rachel Ostrow, a senior, anticipated Howard Dean’s famous gaffe when she told The Sophian, “The war will not make me safer in the long run.”

 

Smith College Democrats President Lauren Wolfe speculated that the real reason Bush went to war was because he had a score to settle. “Don’t forget (Saddam) Hussein tried to kill Bush’s daddy.”

 

Thus has Smith descended from an institution that supported its military without wavering to one that will take physical action to oppose the armed forces.

 

A LEGACY OF LEFTISM

 

When Smith students aren’t protesting the war, they are mobilizing on behalf of other liberal causes. The majority of student “political and social action” groups have ties to the Democratic Party and liberal activist groups. These include: Amnesty International, Feminists of Smith Unite, Gaia: Smith Students for the Environment, Student Labor Action Coalition, Students for a Free Tibet and MULCH (Multicultural Affairs and Social Issues). The only conservative group listed is the College Republicans.

 

Back in 1985, Smith students got “pro-active” and “protest(ed)” Smith’s “investment policies in South Africa, violence against women and the right-wing politics of Joseph Coors, creator of the Coors beer company,” The Sophian reported. “At the first rally, the students ended up in the office of the Associate Treasurer. The second was aligned with the ‘Take Back the Night’ movement. The third ended with a boycott of Coors beer in support of the AFL/CIO.”

 

Smith athletes are just as politically active, especially in regards to maintaining the gender quotas that have resulted from misuse of Title IX. Lawmakers originally designed the 1972 law to end gender discrimination at educational institutions, but feminists hijacked the law to promote gender quotas. Schools now must achieve total “equity in sports participation,” a full 50/50 parity. Schools accomplish this by cutting (that is, discriminating against) men’s teams. UCLA, for example, was forced to eliminate its men’s swim team, which has produced all U.S. Olympic medal-winning swimmers.

 

Soccer captain Claire Williams, and Economics professor Andrew Zimbalist, flew from Smith to San Diego and asked Secretary of Education Rod Paige’s Commission on Opportunity in Athletics to retain the feminist quota interpretation of Title IX. (The Women Sports Foundation, an offshoot of Smith alumna Gloria Steinem’s Ms. Foundation, also put in its two-cents.)

 

“The opportunity for women to play sports at the collegiate level is not yet equal to that for men,” Williams testified. “Women are interested in participating in sports, so why not start supplying the opportunities: opportunities in elementary and secondary schools and opportunities in college through emerging sports.” (If this had some truth to it, then why don’t all-female colleges – Smith, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke and Wellesley – have athletic participation levels that mirror male participation rates? Male sports participation levels hover between 65-78 percent, according to NCAA statistics; according to an Independent Women’s Forum study, all-female college athletic participation hovers between 7.3 and 16.9 percent. Smith’s highest participation rate has only been 12.2 percent.)

 

The Smith College Democrats are another activist outlet for students on campus. A lot of their work involves political participation at the grassroots level, joining the College Democrats National Campaign Invasion. Most recently, they traveled to New Orleans to help Kathleen Blanco win the Louisiana gubernatorial race. In addition to getting out the vote, the Smith College Democrats often meet with the vanguard of the radical feminist elite. For example, the girls had mentoring sessions with Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal and Planned Parenthood President Gloria Feldt “to talk about the importance of young women’s activism”

 

Smith College, by the way, takes great pride in their students’ activism. In addition to touting the College Democrats success in New Orleans, a Smith press release proudly notes how many Smith students “are successfully challenging the ‘conservative free-trade agenda’” by following the plan outlined in Mixing ‘60s Activism and Anti-Globalization, by progressive Robert Borosage, formerly a director of the leftist Institute for Policy Studies and founder of the Campaign for America’s Future. The Smith press release also cites how Erica Hieggelke “traveled to Washington to march against the IMF and World Bank.”

 

ANN COULTER: PERSONA NON GRATA

 

Although Smith’s marketing materials claim “Smith welcomes diverse opinions,” one would be hard-pressed to find diversity among its faculty, nor among the voices Smith College tolerates on campus. The Republican Club discovered this soon after inviting conservative firebrand Ann Coulter to campus.

 

After the group decided upon Coulter, then-Republican Club President Melissa Parham met with Dean of Students Mila Dutka to arrange the event. As soon as Dutka found out they invited Coulter – whose speech topic was to be, “Liberalism and Terrorism: Different Stages of the Same Disease” –  Parham encountered fierce resistance.

 

Parham said Dutka tried to bully her into picking another speaker. Dutka claimed Coulter was inappropriate for Smith due to her “radical” conservative opinions. But Parham, who was outraged that Smith was attempting to censor conservativs, refused, demanding to know why the First Amendment only applied to liberals. 

 

Sensing a lawsuit, Dutka immediately backpedaled, but she didn’t give up. Instead, she changed tack. Smith would allow the Republican Club to have Coulter, but Smith would not provide any security for the event, Parham related.

 

Dutka, in an attempt to frighten Parham into acquiesce, told her that Smith could not be held liable if anything happened to Coulter, because Smith didn’t sanction hosting the speech. To emphasize her point, Dutka said there’s no telling how liberal Smith students would react, noting that Smith would not guarantee Coulter’s safety.

 

Appalled, Parham then asked whether that meant that the Republican Club would have permission to throw out anyone who disturbed the event. Dutka said absolutely not, and told Parham that Smith would punish any Republican Club members who would deny the “free speech” of other Smith students – even if they physically assaulted Coulter!

 

After Parham got Dutka’s approval, other leftist faculty members took action. Sixteen faculty members sent a petition to cancel Coulter’s visit to former University of California at Berkeley Provost and current Smith President Carol Christ.

 

“We, the undersigned faculty members, strongly object to Ann Coulter’s appearance,” the petition stated. “We are extremely disturbed that Smith College funds would be used to sponsor a speaker that promotes racism and xenophobia which is outside the realm of legitimate academic debate.” (No particular columns were cited to back up this allegation.)

 

The petition droned on, “This is especially true in view of the traumatic events of last spring, that were handled with appropriate seriousness in the same venue-John M. Greene Hall. Furthermore, this undermines all the important recent initiatives to educate the college community about tolerance.”

 

The Gardner House incident to which the petition alludes is as follows: someone allegedly wrote “homophobic and racist remarks” on the bathroom mirror. Curiously, when Campus Police arrived, there was “no evidence that anything occurred.” Despite the dearth of evidence, Parham said Smith students living in Gardner “were forced to give handwriting samples and endure long-long talks about the need for tolerance.”

 

When the petition failed, others objected. Government professor Gregory White sent Parham a letter saying, “I think the event should be boycotted.”

 

Of course, the professors’ animus did not extend to “tolerant” (e.g., Left-friendly) campus speakers. In fact, a few weeks earlier the college spent $5,000 on a porn star, who lectured about “how anal sex can improve your love life.”

 

But the Ann Coulter speech was held as planned, and Ann was a huge hit. According to the liberal editors of The Sophian, the paper (grudgingly) admitted that no speaker before – not even the illustrious Gloria Steinem – had been able to fill the auditorium to near capacity. With a crowd of nearly 1,000 students, that means nearly half the entire Smith student population came to hear the author of Treason.

 

“Following the lecture, dozens of girls came up to Ann, Melissa Parham and me to thank us for bringing her into the ‘Lion’s den,’” said Lisa De Pasquale of the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, which helped fund Coulter’s visit.

 

“Despite the Smith administration and professors’ view that Ann Coulter was a radical and on the political fringe, there were scores of students eagerly waiting to meet Coulter, get her to sign their books and get pictures taken with her,” De Pasquale said. “Smith professors shortchange their students by refusing to give them a diverse education. Thankfully, that night proved that many Smith students are eager to hear conservative ideas and willing to question the limited views fed to them in their classrooms.”

 

Parham chided the administration’s attempted censorship in the pages of The Sophian. “I hate to break it to the Smith College faculty and students who hoped to censor this event, and hope to censor future conservative speakers, but the First Amendment does exist. The Smith College Republicans and other groups on campus have the right to bring any speakers they desire to lecture on campus…I am disappointed, disgusted and embarrassed by Smith College.”

 

NO FREE SPEECH FOR "EVIL" CONSERVATIVES

 

The apoplectic outrage at Coulter’s appearance is an example of the antagonistic atmosphere conservatives encounter everyday at Smith. “You always hear about the fabled liberal tolerance – but I've never seen it first hand,” one student said. “There is a lot of stereotyping here. If you’re conservative, you’re evil.”

 

“Debate here is so far Left…If you say you’re a Republican then it has all these anti-gay and racist connotations,” Republican Club President Kathryn Horton said. “It’s a very polarizing atmosphere here…It obstructs the chances and opportunities for important discussion and debate.”

 

“I have talked to a lot of people,” she added, “[who] have said they always considered themselves a Democrat but are turned off by the way-Left and very staunch opinions that they find here at Smith.”

 

 “There is a really small contingent of conservatives on campus and [leftists] try to punish us for our conservative beliefs,” Parham said, noting that after the Coulter event, Republican Club members “got a lot of late-night phone calls around 2 a.m. and we would get harassed, but the administration didn’t do anything about it.”

 

Conservatives have even had their private property destroyed. Conservative Anna Rule said, “Flags on bedroom doors have been ripped off or torn to shreds.” In response, Rule started Women For Freedom, a group that encourages dialogue between liberal and conservative students in the hopes of ending “political discrimination” against Smith’s conservatives.

 

But the professors can be just as liberally biased as the students.

 

The students agree. “When the conservative side is taught, it is written off because it is capitalist, racist, homophobic,” Kathryn Horton said. “While they teach that the liberal view is more the more humane way to think.”

 

“Some professors use some class time to preach their political views,” Rule noted. “[M]ost students don’t mind, but some conservative students, like myself do because it is inappropriate and it is not what we are paying almost $40,000 a year to learn about.”

 

“For example, in one English class, one very liberal person I know, who is a libertarian,” Horton said, “actually said she was surprised at how her English professor was able to work in his thoughts on 20th century politics into his class on 16th century literature!”

 

When Parham wanted to write a paper on Clinton’s North Korean foreign policy, she said she “was told that I couldn’t criticize the policy because it would be offensive and hurtful!” However, other students were able to write “on why women should have abortions, why faith-based initiatives are wrong or why the Patriot Act is evil.”

 

Another student, Meredith Johnson, encountered a liberally biased passage in her the textbook for her Politics of Public Policy class, which her professor co-wrote. She said, “I asked him in class if the intention of this statement was to suggest that those who supported a large, active federal government – mainly Democrats – were the only people to support a ‘cohesive, peaceful, humanistic, cooperative and democratic society.’” She said he told her yes, noting that he “defended it by saying that the constitutions in Europe include many of these objectives, and that they believe American government does not do a good job with these goals, and they tend to promote a more participatory democracy.”

 

CONSERVATIVE PROFFESSOR DENIED TENURE

 

In fact, left-wing political views seem to be a condition of employment at Smith College. “Unfortunately, 95 (percent) of the political views students are exposed to in the classroom are of the angry leftist variety, which assumes that Republicans are evil and stupid,” said Economics professor Jim Miller. The Smith administration would exact a high price for his unguarded candor. “My belief is that I was denied tenure because I am a conservative Republican,” Miller told The Sophian.

 

Miller has taught at Smith for seven years. He related, “In April 2000, my department recommended me for reappointment by a vote of 11-0-1 and said, ‘We strongly recommend Jim Miller for reappointment…and commend him on his progress to date.’”

 

But that changed once National Review Online published Miller’s “Campus Colors” article, in which he criticizes the current state of academia, particularly its liberal and antiwar orientation. He wrote:

 

The current crisis has exposed the academy’s true colors. Whereas most Americans support the war effort, university faculties are populated by professors who only want to give peace a chance The large number of non-U.S. citizens in American colleges necessarily makes these schools less patriotic…colleges are so politically correct because leftists in many academic departments will not hire outside their intellectual gene pool…Practically the only way for a women’s-studies professor to get a lifetime college appointment is for her to contribute to the literature on why America is racist, sexist, and homophobic.

 

Smith College apparently believed this description hit too close to home. “(When the vote) came up for tenure in the Fall of 2002, my department voted 3-5-1 against my getting tenure,” he said. “This was very surprising. Since reappointment, I had five academic articles published or accepted for publication.” He had also written a book, Game Theory at Work, which “has been licensed for translation into three languages.”

 

Miller explained to The Sophian that only one major event has happened since he was reappointed: “I basically came out of the closet as a conservative.”

 

According to The Sophian, a faculty member in Miller’s department wrote to the tenure committee and asked that Miller be denied tenure due to this article, “in which Jim says, among other things, that ‘professors are mostly left wing’…I find it extremely disturbingly [sic.] that this could be Jim’s image of academia.”

 

A student who has taken four classes with Miller said he “is a very competent and engaging professor” and deserves to receive tenure. “Jim is certainly a professor who enjoys a lively classroom debate. He challenges his students to view economic and social topics from a number of different perspectives,” former student Kristina Johnson said. “He does often bring a different social or political view to the discussion, but he always encourages his students to find flaws in his arguments. I remember a particular class discussion during which Dr. Miller defended the flat tax. His points were well-argued, and though he debates passionately, his views were not radical,” she said.

 

She added that when two students blurted out that Miller’s ideas were “just wrong,” Miller “encouraged both of them and the rest of the class to debate” his views, helping students “attack his own view.” She added that Miller “promotes the idea that college is about critically examining one’s own beliefs through learning and understanding the beliefs of others, and that is what makes him such an effective professor.”

 

Miller appealed the decision and is awaiting Smith’s final decision.

 

CONCLUSION

 

Commenting on what is going on at her alma mater, Ruth Peters, who attended Smith during World War II, was appalled at the lack of “civility” on campus, particularly towards conservatives. 

 

“That’s not right that (conservatives students) are so afraid to speak out. I blame the faculty and the administration,” she said. “The other fellow’s arguments ought to be heard. He has a right to be heard in the same way that you (liberal students) have a right to be heard. There is nothing wrong in having a different point of view.”

 

“The whole point of an education is to teach students how to think for themselves,” she added. “(I)f that is missing, then the whole point of the college education is gone.”

 

Gone is the American institution that was to be “a perennial blessing to the country.” In its place is a college where antiwar and anti-American attitudes are taught by professors and administrators, and where discrimination against conservatives is commonplace. Sophia Smith is probably rolling in her grave.




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