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The Month in Review

This April:

A 48-year old psychology professor, Robert Kurzban, was sleeping with an undergraduate student— from his own class—with whom he rendezvoused on the dating app Tinder. Our editorial board unequivocally repudiates Kurzban’s behavior, because it placed him in an inappropriate position with his student – or, worse, multiple inappropriate positions. All of them were revolting, and the professor should be disciplined. Unless he’s into that.

Students retaining a shred of innocence were not thrilled when the unpalatable CupcakKe (pronounced like a vile sex act) was chosen as opening artist for the annual concert at Penn’s shortened Spring Fling celebration. Their wounds were exacerbated when administrators insisted on republishing the artist’s unsavory stage name so as to soil otherwise wholesome emails urging students to attend the admittedly “different events” of the weekend. At least University-wide communications retain a smidgen more holiness than do the devilishly explicit lyrics CupcakKe expressed on stage April 14th. All of them were revolting, and SPEC should be disciplined.

Luckily hundreds of students were patient enough to wait two hours until Tyson Ritter was able to lead The All-American Rejects on stage to cleanse the polluted air. Their provocative and rebellious music seemed wholesome, compared. AAR stole the night.

“I’m writing about gender roles in Pixar movies. Specifically toxic masculinity. For my literature review I covered how school shootings are a result of masculine roles. And other people’s theses are like talking about just Disney princesses and I’m like, ‘No! Support your kids and walk out of Pixar movies.’ They’re, like, toxic.”  It should be self explanatory that Disney movies do not cause school shootings. In fact, the lack of masculine figures is a near-constant in the troubled lives of school shooters. Perhaps some masculinity is therapeutic rather than toxic.

Paul Levy, trustee emeritus of Penn’s Board of Trustees and Overseer of the Law School, submitted his resignation to President Amy Gutmann on April 6th because of the way in which the University has treated, or mistreated, Law professor Amy Wax. In a letter reported by The Daily Pennsylvanian, Levy wrote, “Preventing Wax from teaching first-year students doesn’t right academic or social wrongs … A serious error has been made; please reconsider this illiberal ban on Wax’s pedagogy.” Wax was banned in March from teaching a mandatory first-year course after making an unscrupulous argument against affirmative action. Wax had implied black students don’t often succeed in her courses; Law Dean Ted Ruger had categorically denied this before punishing Wax for speaking about class performance, which is confidential. In order: Wax didn’t break the rule unless Dean Ruger did too, Ruger was wrong to ban her anyway, and Levy might have been more influential by sticking around afterwards. Somehow no signs yet of Penn lawyers who are acting deliberately. (They must have stayed out of the news this month.)

President Amy Gutmann announced on April 12th announced “The Power of Penn Campaign,” a $4.1 billion fundraising drive. The campaign will have goals including to increase financial aid spending, add faculty and staff, and expand construction projects. Gutmann was pleased to announce that she pursues these goals “with the full endorsement of the Board of Trustees.” Does a vote of confidence from the Trustees count as unanimous if one of them resigned in protest?

Law school rebel Amy Wax was undeterred by University sanctions against her. Declining to take a page from the resignations playbook, Wax leaned in to her work by participating in a Family Policy Panel at the Law School. There she debated Brookings Institution sociologist Dr. Isabel Sawhill about the value of marriage in alleviating poverty given the dreary outcomes seen among out-of-wedlock children. Thought the state ought not play a role in legislating marriage, repealing policies which incentivize its destruction would objectively improve the lives of poor children.

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