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Question About Western Universities and Criticism of Islam or Islamism

Discussion in 'General Debates' started by Debater Slayer, Jul 4, 2020.

  1. Debater Slayer

    Debater Slayer Born-again Glompist
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    A friend who studies political science in London has told me that at her university, professors and teaching assistants subtract grades from papers they disagree with and also treat papers criticizing Islam or Islamism as they would racism.

    As someone from the Middle East and firmly of the belief that Islamism poses a threat not just to the West but to our own region, this deeply upset me. However, I would like to know from members living in the West how common such things are in the universities of their respective countries.

    Is it common to lose grades, fail a course, etc., for criticizing Islam or Islamism? Are dissenting views given lower grades even if they contain arguments explaining why the author of the paper holds said views?

    On a side note, please don't give me links to some far-right website stating the sky is falling because of Islam or Muslims. I'm looking for objective, factual answers.

    Thanks in advance!
     
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  2. icehorse

    icehorse Well-Known Member
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    The closest example I know of (admittedly only somewhat close), is the de-platforming of Ayaan Hirsi Ali at at least one university.
     
  3. Debater Slayer

    Debater Slayer Born-again Glompist
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    She's a far-right lunatic, so I'm not concerned about that. She uses her ex-Muslim status to propagate hateful messages instead of sticking to exposure of the problems with Islamism.
     
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  4. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    I can't speak for other institutions, but this is definitely not allowed at the university I work at.

    A student's work is to be evaluated on its merits, not whether or not an instructor agrees with it. If an instructor assesses a student's work on such a basis, the student would have grounds to file an academic grievance against that instructor. The outcome of academic grievance cases vary, but it can include dismissal of that instructor from the university depending on its severity. That isn't typically what happens - the problem would have to be pretty systemic and chronic for that - but it is taken seriously.
     
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  5. beenherebeforeagain

    beenherebeforeagain Rogue Animist
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    It never came up in my classes, or in my school, as far as I'm aware.
     
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  6. Debater Slayer

    Debater Slayer Born-again Glompist
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    Would arguing that Islamism posed a threat to freedom and human rights be considered a flaw in a student's submission? I'm asking because I don't know on what grounds a work's merits are determined at your university.
     
  7. epronovost

    epronovost Well-Known Member

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    I think this is, at best, a rumor. I would ask for tangible proof before jumping to conclusion.
     
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  8. Debater Slayer

    Debater Slayer Born-again Glompist
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    She told me she had lost grades because, as her teaching assistant explicitly told her, the latter disagreed with an argument she had made about slavery (unrelated to Islam, however).

    I'd like more information, hence my questions here before concluding anything. I trust she's telling the truth about what she has experienced, though.
     
  9. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    It would depend on the context of the assignment. Instructors get to set the parameters for an assignment and what their expectations of it are. Often that involves some sort of rubric they use to more objectively assess papers.

    For example, if the assignment specifies a student is to write an essay that examines both the merits and flaws of some particular ideology but the student instead writes something one-sided, they would be docked accordingly for failing to follow instructions. It's not that it is wrong to only write about the merits or the flaws, but that isn't what the assignment asked for.

    When I would write papers for philosophy courses, considering points and counterpoints is simply expected form. You are supposed to anticipate objections and shed light on how the other side can be reasonable given different sets of assumptions.
    This style of writing helps students to think more critically about the subject and see the merits in other points of view, even if it isn't the perspective they are arguing for in their paper. I never did a college-level political science course, so maybe the style standards are different there, though.
     
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  10. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    If it was a TA in particular, these kinds of issues can happen more often. TAs are new to teaching and don't necessarily understand the proper procedures for grading student work. When I've had students come to me with concerns about how their TAs are grading things, I suggest they talk to the professor who oversees them first (well, after talking to the TA themselves if they fell comfortable). Often times, the professor doesn't even know this is going on and they are responsible for ensuring the TAs are grading things correctly. Once the professor knows, they can sit down with the TA and help coach them to become a better instructor. We all have to start learning somewhere. :D
     
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  11. epronovost

    epronovost Well-Known Member

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    Was her argument sound, well supported with data? Maybe herr argument ingored entire sets of data and more rigorous analysis. Students often make bad arguments.
     
  12. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
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    @Debater Slayer , one possibility is that she misinterpreted the situation. She could be sincere in stating her perception but still be incorrect.

    I witnessed just that in our postoffice the other day. A guy was ranting at a clerk that the sign above his head said something it did not say. That's the kind of misperception that is utterly possible.

    And further, my wife and I could be studied for examples of misperception in action especially during the first few years we were married :rolleyes:
     
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  13. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    Also to add, most of the time students are making excuses or don't understand the assignment. I see this happen a lot. The sad fact is a lot of college students are shockingly bad writers given their level of education. There are stories I can tell about that, but I'll just share this one.

    There's one lab course within our curriculum for instance that holds students to a higher standard than they are used to for their lab reports. I usually get at least one student each semester complain to me about this course and how they were docked points for "trivial" things. I explain to them how this course is intending to prepare them for a professional level of writing that will be expected of them when they enter the workforce as a scientist. I'll remind them that the university has an office dedicated to helping students with written assignments. Most importantly, I'll aim to inspire them to rise to the challenge - yes, it's hard, but you can do it! Nobody writes a perfect lab report the first time - it's just a very different style. But you can learn that style if you work at it!
     
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  14. beenherebeforeagain

    beenherebeforeagain Rogue Animist
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    Yes, ran into this quite a bit...
     
  15. Unveiled Artist

    Unveiled Artist Veteran Member

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    Ideally in the states there shouldn't be bias in grading. I see it to a degree. When I was at college, I wrote an essay on homosexuality and sin and argued it was not a sin because of These reasons with bible scriptures included. I got an A on the assignment and the teacher talked with me personally to discuss highlights even though she disagreed with me 100%.

    University policy, one can't. I guess a private school maybe. But it does depend on the teacher and how he or she can put aside their bias for the nature of the assignment.
     
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  16. Evangelicalhumanist

    Evangelicalhumanist "Truth" isn't a thing...
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    I once wrote a paper on "what Paul meant by Salvation" for a professor at York University in Toronto -- who also happened to be a Catholic priest. I worked very hard at it, and really did the required reading (but only the 7 really authentic Pauline epistles), and was terrified about what kind of mark I was going to get from a staunch Roman Catholic with whom I was disagreeing so completely.

    In the end, he gave me an A+, and wrote this comment: "This is a brilliant piece of exegesis -- but you are going to hell."
     
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  17. Hubert Farnsworth

    Hubert Farnsworth Well-Known Member

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    I don't know whether this is common or not. I was a STEM major so none of this stuff really came up except in one required core class I took before getting into my major. If I remember correctly, I criticized Islam a bit in one paper and don't remember getting points deducted, but I don't remember the details. It wouldn't surprise me if it was common though. Apparently Richard Dawkins was banned from speaking at Berkeley because he criticized Islam. It seems that some people are too careful not to be offensive to Islam. As for me, I agree with Pat Condell in that I'm offended by Islam!
     
  18. danieldemol

    danieldemol Well-Known Member
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    It might be a bit off topic to say it, but has she considered putting her Islamism paper online in the form of a blog or something so we can view it?
     
  19. icehorse

    icehorse Well-Known Member
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    hmmm.. I've heard her talk and debate concerning Islam many times, and I've never heard anything like "far-right lunatic". Do you have a link?
     
  20. icehorse

    icehorse Well-Known Member
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    I'm a moderate liberal, and I think the fact that almost 2 billion people chose to adhere to Islam is a HUGE problem. The ideas contained in Islam are, anti-human rights, misogynistic, homophobic, theocratic, and supremacist, just to name a few.

    Is the sky falling? No, but Islam is still a huge problem.
     
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