The Ann Arbor News reports that students attending the University of Michigan (search) next fall will pay 2.8 percent more in tuition than they did this year and get even less for their money.

A budget approved for fiscal 2004-2005 includes some 122 job cuts, including 40 faculty positions and reduced library hours. School officials say they are working hard to preserve their core academic mission.

Not to worry, though. There will be spending increases in some areas.

There may not be money for libraries, but there is money for an annual Native American celebration, coordinators for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and multi-ethnic student affairs programs and for repairs and programs at the Trotter Multicultural Center (search).

Out of the Closet

An Ohio college instructor who says he was reprimanded for disclosing his Catholic beliefs to students has filed a lawsuit against the university claiming religious discrimination, reports the Christian Science Monitor.

James Tuttle says he was ostracized after a student complained that his religious beliefs were offensive.

Administrators at Lakeland Community College (search) apparently also found a disclaimer in his course syllabus disquieting.

In the disclaimer, Tuttle describes himself as a "Catholic Christian philosopher and theologian" who is "passionate, controversial (not politically correct), candid and zany/earthy." It urges students to "be aware of where I am coming from" and says his critics often "have personal issues with faith, religion, morals and ideology."

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has taken up Tuttle's cause. FIRE President David French said, "Apparently, at Lakeland College, Thomas Aquinas wouldn't be able to teach philosophy."

Anachronistic and Insensitive

A Labour-dominated committee in Britain's Parliament is looking to scrap the awarding of knighthoods and other honors because the terms associated with them are anachronistic, insensitive and overly militaristic, reports the London Evening Standard.

The House of Commons' Public Administration Committee says the title of Sir harks back to the age of chivalry and is "redolent of past preoccupations with rank and class."

Also on the hit list is the Order of the British Empire, which is usually offered up to sports stars, celebrities and community leaders. Use of the term "empire" was deemed "anachronistic and insensitive" by the committee.

The MPs said the link with the empire was a "significant flaw" and "no longer acceptable" in a multicultural age.

Pesky Dichotomies

Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community at the University of Pennsylvania are complaining that the school is not moving quickly enough to implement a non-discrimination edict passed last year, according to the Daily Pennsylvanian.

One of the areas about which they are complaining is those pesky male/female boxes on university questionnaires and forms. The activists say the university needs to work harder toward eliminating the simple male/female dichotomy that appears on forms asking for gender identification.

The activists are also pushing for changes in the university housing policy that would take into account "other" sexualities and an expansion of the availability of unisex or gender-neutral restrooms on campus.

Troubling Tests

New York state has disbanded the Sensitivity Review Committee, which is used to police standardized tests for anything that could offend or trouble anyone, but the practice of sanitizing the tests continues unabated, reports the Journal News.

Dogs can't be mentioned on the tests because they might offend Muslim students, the paper says, and birthdays are verboten because they are not observed by some religions. Also forbidden are Halloween costumes, pumpkins and anything that smacks of the occult.

Even the perennially favorite topic of dinosaurs is off-limits for fear that they might offend the sensitivities of Christian children who don't believe in evolution.

A spokesman for Harcourt publishers, one of the testing services, says "testing is a stressful enough experience for kids. We want to make sure there is nothing that would cause the child to stumble."

For more doses of politically correct nuttiness, head on over the TongueTied daily edition.

Mailbag:

Ray M. writes:

All the people who sit around looking for an opportunity to be offended ought to volunteer. If they got out and helped someone in real need they might see the folly of the time they spend being offended.

Lee E. writes:

In response to: "Kim Dower, who has worked at King Soopers pharmacy as a man for nine years, said he is undergoing gender transformation and wants to wear the garb of his target gender."

Living a 'real life test' (learning to dress and present oneself in the target gender) is a strict requirement, set by the medical profession and a prerequisite for eventual surgery. If this person cannot cope with culture while presenting as a woman, it's much better to find out before, rather than after, the critical nip and tuck, no?

While neither you nor I can't imagine risking one's life on expensive (and extensive) surgery in order to conform one's external appearance to something more culturally accepted of someone who is — essentially — feminine, at least we can respect that individual's choice to take that step.

It doesn't hurt to refer to the transitioning person as "she." And it could help.

Michelle P. writes:

California lawmaker Mervyn Dymally has no right to even be a lawmaker. He changed his mind about going on a rant regarding Mr. Riordan's statement only after he found out this child was white? Sounds like racism is rearing its ugly head again, and this time that head is sitting squarely on the shoulders of Mr. Dymally. FYI, Mr. Dymally: White kids have feelings, too!

Jay T. writes:

I suppose that those in Lafayette, La., who support the NAACP position that white comedian Willie Richardson not be allowed to perform in black face make up will instead spend their money and their time at one of the several movie theaters in town now playing "White Chicks," starring two black actors who wear make up and clothing in order to appear (not convincingly, from what I've seen in ads) to be white women?

Aaron C. writes:

How can someone even begin to compare the historical implications of a white person doing blackface versus a black person doing a white face? We all know they do not carry the same implications. I guess the former members of NYPD and NYFD who did blackface during a parade depicting the Byrd dragging death should have been excused as well? Ironically, since the judge overruled the case I guess they have been excused.

The problem is if we condone blackface, then we have frat brothers like those at the University of Auburn coming to parties in black face with a noose around their necks while one guy is dressed up as a KKK member.

Wanda L. writes:

Congratulations are in order to the state of Oregon and Southeast Missouri State University in changing their formerly demeaning representations of Native Americans — it appears that they are acting as thoughtful and accountable leaders in increasing the level of respect in communications between Native and non-natives.

That you lead with the title "Squawking" in sharing the news of Oregon's admirable actions is a shame. While provoking a response may have been the intent of such poor taste, it remains true that vulgarity is the refuge of small minds, and the play on words that includes such vulgar reference stands as evidence of that truism.

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