ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

It’s a Mad, Mad Campus

May 3, 2005 by ACTA

Campus life is nothing if not colorful. It's also often crazy. Sometimes, the madness centers on race. At the University of Oklahoma, for example, baseball coach Larry Cochell has resigned after an interview with ESPN in which he praised a freshman player for having "no nigger in him." Racism runs both ways in intercollegiate sports, however. A California jury has just awarded $540,000 to Mike Terpstra, former basketball coach at Cal State Stanislaus, to compensate him for the damage done when the university let him go in order to hire a black coach.

Sometimes, the madness centers on sex. An eighty-two-year-old English professor at SUNY New Paltz has resigned after being accused of sexually assaulting a student; the professor maintains that the encounter--which involved striking the student with a blunt object--was consensual. Wade Thompson is charged with one count of second-degree assault and one count of third-degree sexual abuse. Students who know him are expressing disbelief: "He's a professor that takes an hour to walk through Humanities; he's not a fast-moving guy," said one junior English major; "He can barely walk," said another. "I can't see him being forceful to the point that a person couldn't get him off of him or her."

And sometimes, the madness seems to emerge naturally from the inherent craziness of the academic system itself. For example, an assistant professor publicly suffered a nervous breakdown last week after being denied tenure. According to InsideHigherEd.com, the individual "started shouting expletives about the university administration (some versions of the story have this taking place in a class; others do not). He then moved into a hallway, continuing to shout and removing his clothes, taking leaflets off the walls. At some point, he was subdued by campus security officers." InsideHigherEd.com is withholding the professor's name and institution to protect his privacy, noting that "the story was a useful reminder of how traumatizing the tenure review process can be."

Though it goes without saying, perhaps it goes better with saying: You can't make this stuff up.

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