Decoding | Towards a university against waking up

(New York) In July 2020, journalist Barry Weiss became a champion of the American right by closing the magazine’s door. The New York Times. In her resignation letter, who has been working since 2017 in the opinion pages of the prestigious newspaper, she asserted that “intellectual curiosity” was not an advantage but rather a “hindrance”.


Richard Hito

Richard Hito
special cooperation

Earlier this year, the 37-year-old American joined other disabled journalists, including Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Sullivan, on the Substack platform. She has since published a newsletter allowing her to express herself freely (and in a very profitable way) about censorship, and the culture of exile (cancel culture) and other drifts attributed to “wokism”.

A week ago, she caused a surprise by announcing the creation of the first anti-get up, to say.

Photo from Barry Weiss’ Twitter account

Barry Weiss, former journalist The New York Times

We are tired of complaining about the failure of higher education. So we decided to do something. We are announcing a new university dedicated to the brave search for truth: uaustinorg,” she tweeted.

His tweet was accompanied by a link to his Substack account, where the first president of the University of Austin (or UATX), Pano Kanellos, former president of Saint John’s College in Annapolis, signs a text explaining why “Be from an institution.

Not only do we let students down as individuals; We are letting down the nation.

Banu Kanillos, first president of the University of Austin

“Our democracy is falling apart, in large part because our educational system has become illiberal and produces citizens and leaders who are unable and unwilling to participate in the essential activities of democratic governance,” he wrote after denouncing the “harassments” that drove professors to leave their universities.

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Who is the criticism from the left

The list of founding trustees and advisors of the University of Austin is “who is critical of the American left and the perverted way of its concerns — diversity, intersectionality, fairness, etc. — polluting, in their view, society, especially the university.”

Screenshots from the University of Austin website

“We are building a university dedicated to the daring search for truth,” read the homepage of the site “We are done waiting for universities to recover, so we are building a new university.” Austin University.

Besides journalists Barry Weiss and Andrew Sullivan, it includes historian Niall Ferguson, linguist and psychologist Stephen Pinker, playwright David Mamet, economist Glenn Lowery, businessman Joe Lonsdale, and activist Ian Hirsi Ali.

The group also includes Peter Bogosian, former professor of philosophy at Portland State University, and Kathleen Stock, former professor of philosophy at the University of Sussex. The former had resigned last September, denouncing the university, which had “turned a stronghold of free thought into a factory for social justice.” The other resigned last month after being accused of transphobia.

The University of Austin does not yet have a campus in the Texas capital. It is not yet accredited and has not yet been authorized to operate as a private higher education institution.

However, the university plans to introduce a program called “Forbidden Courses” next summer, in which students will be encouraged to discuss “the most provocative issues that often lead to censorship or self-censorship at many universities.”

According to its promoters, the Master’s program in Entrepreneurship and Leadership will be offered from Fall 2022 and will follow the full Bachelor’s program in Fall 2024.

And why did the founders of the University of Austin choose the capital of Texas? The answer can be found on the foundation’s website: “If it’s good enough for Elon Musk and Joe Rogan, then it’s good enough for us.” ”

The Tesla chief announced last October that he was moving his company headquarters from Palo Alto, California, to Austin. As for the comedian and host, he has lived there for over a year.

Texas is also synonymous with minimal state.

Another Trump University?

Of course, Barry Weiss’ announcement sparked mixed reactions. Conservatives praised the initiative, which comes at a time “the college elite must be shaken,” in the words of Ross Douthat, a conservative feathered who continues to write in The New York Times.

But even commentators sympathetic to the Austin University cause have expressed some skepticism about the project’s viability. Beyond the issue of funding, how can we persuade students to enroll in a university that is not yet accredited and whose degrees, if any, will be of uncertain value?

Meanwhile, Bari Weiss et al’s critics, many indeed, have submitted themselves to their hearts’ content, calling Austin the “Fox News of Higher Education” or, worse yet, comparing it to Trump University.

Tristan Snell was one of the first to make this comparison. He had filed a lawsuit against Trump University as the assistant attorney general for New York State.

“Is the University of Austin accredited as a school in the state of Texas?” asked in a thread of tweets. Is it permissible to call itself a university? The parallels with Trump University may be closer than you think. ”

On the other hand, Barry Weiss’ critics have not forgotten one of the biggest contradictions in his personal path. During her time at Columbia University, from Pittsburgh, she participated in several campaigns of harassment against Arab and Muslim professors who were targeted for their criticism of Israel.

Three years ago, Barry Weiss denied participating in such campaigns, claiming that he simply defended “students’ rights to express their opinions in class.”

A brave search for the truth will make her lie.

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