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Vanderbilt University is facing fresh criticism in response to a required quiz, which appeared to penalize students for not agreeing that the U.S. Constitution was "designed to perpetuate white supremacy."
A screenshot of the quiz was obtained by Young America's Foundation (YAF), which said on Thursday a student submitted it through its campus bias tip line. It showed what appeared to be online feedback to the question: "Was the Constitution designed to perpetuate white supremacy and protect the institution of slavery?"
In an email to Fox News, the university claimed students weren't penalized. "No student was rewarded or penalized for their answer. The question was posed to stimulate discussion," said Vanderbilt's Manager of Media Relations Damon Maida.
Next to "true," is a blue arrow, apparently indicating that it's the correct answer. The student appeared to select false, prompting a red "x" to appear next to that option. Above the question is a banner with "0/1 point." The quiz was reportedly required as part of a class called "U.S. Elections 2020," which has been described in its syllabus as "the largest class that Vanderbilt has ever taught." According to the school's course catalog, 821 students have been enrolled.
Multiple professors might have signed off on the quiz, as the course was taught by four people, including John Geer, who serves as dean of the College of Arts and Science. Jon Meacham, an author and frequent MSNBC guest, was also listed as one of the faculty members teaching the course.
An overview of the course, PSCI 1150, reads: "This class is historic. Not only does it cover a critically important topic — the upcoming 2020 Election and its consequences — but it is also the largest class that Vanderbilt has ever taught. Moreover, it is being taught entirely remotely because of student demand and the complications caused by COVID-19."
According to the university's website, PSCI 1150 is one of the courses political science majors can use to fulfill their core requirements. It can also fulfill the College of Arts and Science's broader requirement for a course in "History and Culture of the United States."
YAF's Kara Zupkus described the question as "blatant misinformation that is being peddled by these far-left professors to more than 800 impressionable students."
The revelation came amid a raging debate about race in the United States, and whether major institutions like law enforcement are systemically racist. More specifically, the controversy has included a discussion about the impact of American slavery — something examined in The New York Time's "1619 Project."
As the project notes, the Constitution included language designating slaves as three-fifths of a free person for apportioning elected representatives in Congress.
But according to YAF, Vanderbilt's quiz was too reductive. "To attempt to boil down the country’s greatest founding document as simply being white supremacist is a new low – marking any student wrong who dares to disagree with this ridiculous statement is heinous," Zupkus wrote.
The controversial question came amid widespread allegations of liberal bias in higher education.
YAF previously released an Iowa State University syllabus that threatened to dismiss students who opposed abortion and the Black Lives Matter movement.
The course is required as part of students' "Communication Proficiency" requirement for graduation. Labeled a "GIANT WARNING," that portion of the syllabus banned "instances of othering," which it defined as "sexism, ableism, homophobia," and a variety of other things. "The same goes for any papers/projects: you cannot choose any topic that takes at its base that one side doesn’t deserve the same basic human rights as you do (ie: no arguments against gay marriage, abortion, Black Lives Matter, etc). I take this seriously," it added.
The university told Fox News the syllabus was inconsistent with its values and that it was corrected.
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