College-Critical Thinkers

Right-Wingers and Transphobes Are Starting A College Of “Truth” In Texas. No, Seriously.

Move over, Liberty, Prager, and Trump Universities. A new conservative campus is here. (In Texas, of course.) 

This morning, a group of writers, scholars, and “free thinkers” revealed they have come together to do the unthinkable: create a space just for them. Only now, they are hoping to make that space an accredited, brick-and-mortar political and entrepreneurial studies college. Why? Well, because other schools aren’t as receptive to gender-critical theories as they used to be, for starters.

We wish we were joking, but they’re serious, and to prove it, they’ve spent months already building what every college needs to function: A dean’s office and a Twitter account. They’ve got a name for it too: the University of Austin, abbreviated as UATX. (The University of Texas at Austin, known as the home of the Texas Longhorns, will at the very least certainly get amusement out of this.)

We like Eoin Higgins’ description of the school, “Prager U for the upscale bigot set,” best, but we’ll respect their chosen name instead.

In Bari Weiss’s Substack newsletter this morning, Former President of St. John’s College Pano Kanelos reveals that he’s become the inaugural emperor president of the new school.

He then introduces some of the “small” group of “those concerned about the state of higher education,” as in those that feel the college experience is too woke, that will take part in building the institution: Andrew Sullivan, Heather Heying, Joe Lonsdale, Steven Pinker, Niall Ferguson, and Weiss herself. (The school’s website details several other individuals, most of whom are involved on a presumably minor basis.)

In addition, “brave professors” Kathleen Stock, Dorian Abbot and Peter Boghossian, all of whom quit their jobs or had a career opportunity rescinded because of their opposition to diversity (ironically) or the existence of trans people, are part of the school already.

While some of these names may be unfamiliar to you (and be grateful), the people in this self-described “diverse” group have very checkered pasts trafficking in either bigotry, harassment, or abuse.

In the letter, Kanelos makes the case for why they believe the school is needed, and the reason he gives right out the gate are trans people, or their inability to hate them openly at work and receive praise for it. “The numbers tell the story as well as any anecdote you’ve read in the headlines or heard within your own circles,” he claims, apparently unaware of the concept of confirmation bias.

Kanelos cites a study from the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology supposedly finding that “Nearly a quarter of American academics in the social sciences or humanities endorse ousting a colleague for having a wrong opinion about hot-button issues such as immigration or gender differences,” although that’s not exactly what’s said in the report cited.

“Over a third of conservative academics and Ph.D. students say they had been threatened with disciplinary action for their views. Four out of five American Ph.D. students are willing to discriminate against right-leaning scholars,” he further claims.

Essentially, the group believes the issue is “At our most prestigious schools, the primary incentive is to function as finishing school for the national and global elite,” so they’re starting a school with a bunch of “university presidents… leading academics… journalists, artists, philanthropists, researchers, and public intellectuals” that are going to instill a “rigorous curriculum” to somehow… counteract that? Look, we’re already losing track.

Kanelos cites the increasing use of student debt and the technology to deliver education as a reason to make their school an in-person institution that promises an uncalculated “low” tuition.

So, they’re building a school “dedicated to the fearless pursuit of truth,” a phrase featured in the letter multiple times that you can expect to hear over and over for the foreseeable future as the school’s motto and social media lede.

The school already has a website and program projection. While they don’t plan to accept undergraduate students until possibly 2024, the unaccredited truth-tellers hope to dole out graduate degrees by as early as the 2022-2023 academic year.

A program they already have planned to open by next summer is the perfectly-named gem “The Forbidden Courses,” which will be just for the censored people of America to gather together and have “a spirited discussion about the most provocative questions that often lead to censorship or self-censorship.”

And for those of you inevitably asking, “why Austin, Texas?” Well, they have already explained: geniuses like Elon Musk and Joe Rogan like the town, too.

Weiss and company are already giving their “own circles” a round of applause for the remarkable effort.

Needless to say, those that have learned about the donation-sucking venture that the group is undertaking already have some thoughts about the news.

It wasn’t very positive. Don’t worry, though, this crew already expects “to face significant resistance to this project,” which means you can expect months of Substack posts about it for the coming weeks.

While Weiss received most of the mockery, they were far from the only people that left observers mystified, to say the least.

But really, the whole idea of starting up an entirely new institution, solely due to issues faced by a select few while they were at the pinnacle of their industries, and then anchoring it to a town none of them originate from or even lived in (other than Kanelos, who wrote in the letter that he quietly “moved three months ago” and hasn’t even set up his new office.)

Needless to say, some of the “woke”-and-generally-sensical brigade pointed out some semi-serious issues with the proposed school.

Even some of the locals aren’t fans of it.

Still, amidst all the criticisms, it does say something not-very-cool that being more anti-trans is this much of a core tenet to these admired, influential figures that they’re starting an entire new institution just to foster and reproduce it.

Worse of all, the “school” wanted people to post about them on social media, as they encouraged readers to do on their website. As most conservative ventures and general grifts work, they know more money comes when you have more people talking about it, negatively or otherwise.

“It’s a familiar playbook: drum up fake controversy, get funding from far-right billionaires, court social media anger, rinse and repeat,” Higgins wrote in his Substack post about this “NFT of universities.”

This surely won’t disappear overnight.

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