Capitol bill aims to control ‘leftist’ profs

One more update for today. Perhaps.

THE LAW COULD LET STUDENTS SUE FOR UNTOLERATED BELIEFS.

By JAMES VANLANDINGHAM
Alligator Staff Writer

TALLAHASSEE — Republicans on the House Choice and Innovation Committee voted along party lines Tuesday to pass a bill that aims to stamp out “leftist totalitarianism” by “dictator professors” in the classrooms of Florida’s universities.

The Academic Freedom Bill of Rights, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, passed 8-to-2 despite strenuous objections from the only two Democrats on the committee.

The bill has two more committees to pass before it can be considered by the full House.

While promoting the bill Tuesday, Baxley said a university education should be more than “one biased view by the professor, who as a dictator controls the classroom,” as part of “a misuse of their platform to indoctrinate the next generation with their own views.”

The bill sets a statewide standard that students cannot be punished for professing beliefs with which their professors disagree. Professors would also be advised to teach alternative “serious academic theories” that may disagree with their personal views.

According to a legislative staff analysis of the bill, the law would give students who think their beliefs are not being respected legal standing to sue professors and universities.

Students who believe their professor is singling them out for “public ridicule” – for instance, when professors use the Socratic method to force students to explain their theories in class – would also be given the right to sue.

“Some professors say, ‘Evolution is a fact. I don’t want to hear about Intelligent Design (a creationist theory), and if you don’t like it, there’s the door,’” Baxley said, citing one example when he thought a student should sue.

Rep. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, warned of lawsuits from students enrolled in Holocaust history courses who believe the Holocaust never happened.

Similar suits could be filed by students who don’t believe astronauts landed on the moon, who believe teaching birth control is a sin or even by Shands medical students who refuse to perform blood transfusions and believe prayer is the only way to heal the body, Gelber added.

“This is a horrible step,” he said. “Universities will have to hire lawyers so our curricula can be decided by judges in courtrooms. Professors might have to pay court costs — even if they win — from their own pockets. This is not an innocent piece of legislation.”

The staff analysis also warned the bill may shift responsibility for determining whether a student’s freedom has been infringed from the faculty to the courts.

But Baxley brushed off Gelber’s concerns. “Freedom is a dangerous thing, and you might be exposed to things you don’t want to hear,” he said. “Being a businessman, I found out you can be sued for anything. Besides, if students are being persecuted and ridiculed for their beliefs, I think they should be given standing to sue.”

During the committee hearing, Baxley cast opposition to his bill as “leftists” struggling against “mainstream society.”

“The critics ridicule me for daring to stand up for students and faculty,” he said, adding that he was called a McCarthyist.

Baxley later said he had a list of students who were discriminated against by professors, but refused to reveal names because he felt they would be persecuted.

Rep. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, argued universities and the state Board of Governors already have policies in place to protect academic freedom. Moreover, a state law outlining how professors are supposed to teach would encroach on the board’s authority to manage state schools.

“The big hand of state government is going into the universities telling them how to teach,” she said. “This bill is the antithesis of academic freedom.”

But Baxley compared the state’s universities to children, saying the legislature should not give them money without providing “guidance” to their behavior.

“Professors are accountable for what they say or do,” he said. “They’re accountable to the rest of us in society … All of a sudden the faculty think they can do what they want and shut us out. Why is it so unheard of to say the professor shouldn’t be a dictator and control that room as their totalitarian niche?”

In an interview before the meeting, Baxley said “arrogant, elitist academics are swarming” to oppose the bill, and media reports misrepresented his intentions.

“I expect to be out there on my own pretty far,” he said. “I don’t expect to be part of a team.”

House Bill H-837 can be viewed online at http://www.flsenate.gov

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Update Five Minutes Later.

By the way, I had my first naked-in-a-school-hallway-type dream last night. Not exactly, but since starting college full time last fall, I have not had any of those scary dreams where you're standing in your underwear giving a speech. But my dream from this morning/last night consisted of forgetting that aforementioned 5-page paper for Religion class. Apparently I'd decided I wanted to print it out on campus so I had left the hard copy at home. But as stated in my last entry, I didn't actually upload the document in real life. So I had no paper to turn in.
Kind of stupid, but kind of funny. The only bad thing about that is that my dreams feel incredibly real when I'm having them so I always wake up in this confused, disoriented state, not knowing where I am or what's going on. So I woke up with a start this morning, thinking I was late for class and had screwed up on my paper.

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What I should be doing right now is typing up my five-page Religion paper (because I forgot to upload the document onto my school filemanager). I noticed a couple of spelling errors after I printed it out, then forced Kate and Charlie to read it. Kate recommended a couple of changes with which I agreed and I'd like to make the analytical essay as awesome as possible.
So, since I really don't have much to do this morning during my office hours, I should probably get cracking on that.
However, every time I open up the folder with the print-out, I think of one more stupid little thing I want to look up online. The new Onion is out so I had to read that, then I had to email some of the funnier stories to other people. Then I needed to check the bank balance to make sure the stolen car is no longer listed on the account (I've checked three times in the past 24 hours just to be sure). Then one of the other academic mentors came in and said people were talking about going out for drinks on Friday night, and did I want to come? So I had to look up the bar they were going to – see if it played music I could tolerate. Nope, it didn't, but I may go anyway, assuming I can get a ride out there. It's downtown and I live on the north-ish side and don't have transportation of my own on weekend evenings. That's a long story.

I found a new place for rent that's just north of artschoolgirl77. I emailed the landlord to ask if they accept pets. It's almost $100 less per month than the townhouse we're currently looking at. Plus it has a washer and dryer connection, which is something we really, really don't want to live without. We're on the waiting list for a three-bedroom townhouse in the same community that has the washer-dryer-less 2-bedroom. I think it's kind of ridiculous that there are such weird little rules and changes. Seems like every time we find a place we can tolerate, it's too expensive. Then when we find one that's not, it's a total dump. Or there's always something small, like the W/D connections are only in the more expensive places, or they don't accept two pets, or it's just too far a drive . . .
But Jay is right – now is no time to think about buying a place. By the time we actually got our finances in order, bought a place, and settled in, I may be applying to graduate schools. If I end up not applying for any, or end up doing something online, we can think about it then. But I'm afraid if we started that process now we'd be up shit creek in a couple of years because then I'd get some totally amazing offer from some really great school.
What? It's a possibility. Don't look at me like that.

Speaking of moving, I should probably actually start packing up little boxes here and there. We'll need to fix a few things around the house which I'm going to list now not for your benefit but for my own so I can solidify it in my brain:
– drain in upstairs bathroom
– kitchen faucets
– blinds in office
– garage door opener
– prime and paint bedrooms back to original colors

What else? I think that may be all the big stuff. But it all totally sucks.

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Needless to say, I'm sure, but I've been really busy this past week. I've had several exams, had to do running around-errand crap all weekend, completely forgot a photo shoot I was supposed to do with Scott, had to go up and have Easter dinner with the maternal grandparents, had another exam, my session this morning, and now I've got a paper due tomorrow in Religion. I'm up to over two pages but I feel as though I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of what he wants from us on this analysis. I got that exam back yesterday, despite having taking it just last Wednesday. Most of it was essay questions and I was afraid I'd really goofed, but I got an “A.” So that made me feel pretty good. I need to really kick ass on this paper, though, to bring an “A-” in the class up past that minus sign.
All of this is excluding all of the little things I keep forgetting about; editing the literature review for an APA-style presentation; editing the PowerPoint for a psych class presentation on graduate studies; getting with a woman from the study abroad program to find out if I'm eligible for a 3-4 week trip over the summer to Mexico; preparing for some sort of in-class activity we have to do in Political Science surround the Alberto Gonzalez questions and the same-sex marriage amendment . . . .
And now I've forgotten all of the other little things.

Stolen

Stolen from someone else's journal, but I can't remember who it was.

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Fifth Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:

Level Score
Purgatory (Repenting Believers) Very Low
Level 1 – Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers) Very Low
Level 2 (Lustful) Very High
Level 3 (Gluttonous) High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious) Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy) Extreme
Level 6 – The City of Dis (Heretics) Very High
Level 7 (Violent) Very High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers) Extreme
Level 9 – Cocytus (Treacherous) Very High

Take the Dante Inferno Hell Test

Note to self

Note to self: stop being so damn pessimistic.

An instructor for a class I mentor asked me today if I would TA (be a teaching assistant for) another class she teaches. I told her I hadn't yet taken that course.
Her words: “Oh, that's all right. You'll do fine.”

Now. How does one go about getting this job? Does it pay? Am I too lower-classperson?

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I think I may have my schedule for next semester worked out. If that's the case and assuming I continue working as a mentor, my earliest days will be 10am and latest will be 3:15. That's not counting one class on Thursdays and none on Fridays. So if I can work out that kind of schedule I should be able to throw another job on top of there. I definitely have to get something full time over the summer; not doing so isn't even an option. Currently, my classes would be geology, math, and sign language. And it's a total of 13 credits. Plus the mentor position, the meetings on Fridays, and whatever else I could squeeze in there. It makes me feel better now, despite the fact that my days are so packed at this moment.

I've got an exam in religion tomorrow afternoon and will be getting the midterm back in my political science class, then I have another test on Thursday. I came straight home from campus today with all sorts of ideas about how I was going to wash the slipcovers, start dinner, clean up around the house, fill out some planning forms for my sessions, and complete two homework assignments.
What actually happened was that I managed to throw together some pasta and chicken with vegetables in between dashes to the computer to do my homework. I was barely finished by the time people started getting home and I felt like my head was going to explode. Kate threw in one of the slipcovers, though, so at least that got done.
We're supposed to go to the apartment complex we've been looking at tomorrow to see a two-bedroom townhouse. We've also found a rental on the north side of town that's a little more expensive, but it's bigger. Despite the fact that I like my alone time, I'm afraid no one will ever come to our house if we live up there; Liz lives on the far south side, Jay and Scott would be east and south of us; Kate would probably be living back with her parents really south and west . . . But I'm already talking like this and we don't even know if we'll get it yet. The rental is available now but our lease won't be up till the end of May. That's the problem with houses as opposed to apartments – they won't hold it for you if someone else comes along.
Sigh.

Law & Order is on. That reminds me – I had a dream with the two main characters last night. They weren't detectives in the dream; we were just hanging out.

Back to the grind

I'm on campus again for the first time in over a week. It feels weird and the same all at once. I had no idea how much effort I'd need to put forth just in the first hour I was here.
I woke up late because I took at Tylenol PM last night. I wanted to try and force myself back on to a regular schedule but it ended up just making me feel more tired and kind of hungover. I got up an hour later than I'd intended and had to do that crazy-rushing-around thing you do when you're running behind. I hate that feeling. I always think I'm going to have a heart attack.
At one point I was laying in bed, trying to will myself to open my eyes and get up. Suddenly I heard something that sounded like a transformer exploding near the house. For whatever reason I've been around this happening several times in my life. Not like I think I'm special — but is this something that happens a lot? I jumped out of bed, let the dogs out, and began rushing around like a madwoman to get ready. This never used to happen when I first took sleeping aids on Sunday nights to get myself on a regular sleeping schedule. And what's weird is that I only took one of them whereas the bottle recommends taking two. But that seemed a bit excessive.

We had a “Sex in the City” marathon all weekend, watching the rest of the fifth, and all of the final, seasons. The last episode made all of us cry a little bit, mostly because it's over. So then I woke up wanting to feel a bit fabulous and I did something stupid – I put on tight jeans and heels. Now I'm mincing around campus like one of those 18 year-old girls who must have really good legs and backs to manage getting from one building to the next without throwing out a hip. I feel stupid because I'm usually a really fast-paced walker, but not I have to step carefully to make sure I don't get my heel stuck in a crack and break my leg or something. It's ridiculous. I should save the fabulousness for another time, not the days when I have to walk a mile in my own shoes.

On a related note; the roomies have suggested pooling together resources to get me something extravagant for my birthday this year. I wanted to do something outrageous and fun since I will officially no longer be in my 20's. They thought it would be fun to get everyone to take the money they would have spent to buy something for me and get me a pair of Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik, or something equally ridiculous. However, once I started looking around online for the Perfect Pair of Shoes that I will never, ever be able to bring myself to wear, I thought perhaps they should just get me a gift certificate to DSW Shoes or something. That way I could buy more than one pair of fabulous shoes, and none of them would be so expensive that I'd never want to leave the house in them. And I could get something new that would generally be out of my price range. Because I'm a cheap bitch.

Dr Woo

I can't believe it's already Friday. This whole week of Spring Break is already over. Fortunately, I did some stuff (like cleaning out the garage, seeing some friends, going up to have dinner with my parents) so it's not like I wasted it in front of the TV.
But I'm sad because I have to start studying again. I have an exam on Wednesday and have to get motivated on my English project. The group that I'm in is already ahead of the rest of the class, but I've just spent the past 6 or 7 days not really thinking in terms of what's going to happen next. I did spend some time yesterday thinking about when I want to declare my major, applying to the School of Science, and whether or not it's too early.
A student can apply whenever he or she wants, but I'm still not positive what I want to minor in. Since it can't be art, I have to choose now if I want to stay an art student and just take the classes (most of which will not count as electives and will end up costing more money and more time than I really have).
In other words, do I really want to go into art therapy if it means an extra semester or two in school?

Another thing I've been thinking about is forensic psychology. Yes, I have been watching too much “Law & Order,” but no, I don't think it's really that exciting. In fact, I would try to steer clear of any career where I was doing psychological autopsies. I have a pretty weak stomach when it comes to violence and/or gore, so I can't imagine having to be present at any crime scenes to determine what a person was thinking when they did something really nasty. Most likely, I'd end up doing intake assessments in correctional facilities, counseling police officers, and assessing defendants' ability to stand trial. The less exciting side of that subfield is that I'd pretty much have to get my PhD and I'm not yet sure that I want to be in school for another 5-7 years after I graduate.

From what I've read, there are several different subfields to forensic psychology, including: Developmental Psychology, something I'm not really interested in right now, but which has to do with juveniles and the elderly; Social Psych, which has to do with counseling attorneys and determining who should be on a jury as well as research to determine why juries make the decisions they do; Clinical-Forensic; and Criminal-Investigative, which is the one that could involve gross stuff. While I find the latter the most interesting, the second-to-last is probably my best bet. I don't see myself being a criminal profiler, mostly because I don't think it would be nearly as interesting position as it sounds. A Clinical-Forensic Psychologist probably more often involves determining who is more fit in the custody battle of a child. That sounds a bit heart-wrenching.

I have already considered the idea of counseling and therapy in correctional facilities, so getting a minor in criminal justice and then a Master's in Forensic Psych would be my best bet. But while it sounds all fascinating as I learn about it, I still need to make my decisions carefully. Belive me, I have no romantic fantasies about what life would be like working in forensics.

My frustration surrounding all of this is that I can't really do both things in school – minor in art and criminal justic as a way to keep my options open. I mean, I could – but it would take me 6 or more years to get my BA, and that's going full time, 5 or 6 classes per semester. Yipes! My options would be limited with either step. It would be difficult to work as a counselor in group therapy if all the patients were just exhibitionists or substance abusers, rather than criminally insane or violent.

We'll see. I still need to speak with a real advisor who actually has interest in what I say. The last one didn't go so well.

Library books, social skills.

I finally have time to actually read things that aren’t required for a class, but I feel guilty about it, as if I should be spending that time reading up for next week. One of the things I got from the library the other day is a cognitive behavioral self-helpy-type book on overcoming anger and irritability. Normally I wouldn’t check out something like this, but since it clearly states in the title that it uses cognitive behavorial techniques, I thought that sounded more professional than if it were written by Dr Phil.
In any other situation I would probably skip right to the chapter on techniques and attempt to fix my problems, but I started this one from the beginning. One of the things that shocked me in it was the list of things that can contribute to feelings of anger and irritability: depression, diet, exercise, routine (screwing up your circadian rhythm by sleeping odd hours or switching up your schedule), drugs like caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, stress, and social factors such as problems with friends, at home, with family.

If I had to guess I’d say that there isn’t a single thing on that list that I couldn’t stand to change. I get depressed, I smoke, I drink, there’s way too much caffeine in my diet. I don’t sleep well or regularly, and I don’t eat right.
Another example: social factors. I find myself saying things that I don’t want to say in an attempt to keep people from getting angry with me, but then I get stressed about it, because I seem to approach things the wrong way. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to be as non-brutal as possible when it comes to the housemates.
I stressed myself out last night by attempting to come up with as nice-a-way-as-possible to approach a situation where I’d clearly made someone uncomfortable. But I didn’t. Because I knew what the response would be.
I’m not trying to be vague here, I’m just trying to detail the issue without going in to the specifics of who said what. Because then it seems like I’m just exaggerating to prove I’m right.

Basically, Charlie and I have all of the responsibility and none of the perks of living with roommates. Everything is in my name or his, one person isn’t even on the lease, and a total of three animals are unaccounted for as far as the landlord is concerned. Charlie is the one who deals with the landlord and we pay most of the rent and all of the utilities. None of the other housemates have paid any since living here. Let me clarify: none of them have paid anything on time or in full since living here.
We do all the cleaning and cooking for the group yet they never offer. They occasionally vacuum the rug in the living room (the entire house is hardwood flooring), run the broom along some major areas, empty the dishwasher, or help put the slipcovers back on the couch once they’ve been washed. This is not an exaggeration.
So, you can imagine that we would prefer to live by ourselves, even if that means moving back in to an apartment so we can afford a place without housemates. I’m tired of fibbing about how many animals there are, cleaning up after everyone else, and worrying that the landlord may stop by and discover, say, that there’s a new door in the basement because we never told him we had someone else move in.

So last night I included both roommates in a conversation about moving “to the next place,” which I should not have done because I don’t want anymore roommates. Unfortunately, this created discomfort for the other person and for me because I should never have said anything. I just felt guilty that people may think they’re not “invited” to the next place.

If people would just be honest with one another, we wouldn’t have so many problems.