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Read the articles below or click here to view the PDF version: FINAL – KINGSMANSFALL2018ISSUE4


Mitchell Langbert: The Man Behind the Blog Post

By Allison Rapp, Managing Digital Editor

Mitchell Langbert, a tenured professor of business who has taught at Brooklyn College since 1998, faces widespread campus protests for posts made on his personal blog.

Responding to the sexual assault allegations against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, Langbert wrote on September 27th: “If someone did not commit sexual assault in high school, then he is not a member of the male sex.” He decried Democrats as “pansies” and “sissies,” and argued that “having committed sexual assault in high school should be a prerequisite for all appointments, judicial and political.”

Though Langbert defends the comments as satire, a large group of students took to the Quad on October 4 to demand his removal. As students continue to call for mandatory sensitivity training for all staff, Langbert, 64, gave the Kingsman an in-depth account of his background and intentions.

A native of Astoria, Queens, Langbert has a complicated political history. His parents were Communists. He grew up hearing tales of U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s anti-Communist crusade, and was struck by how totalitarianism can ruin lives. He became interested in free speech principles at age 11, when he discovered philosopher John Stuart Mill’s maxim: “If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”

As a boy, Langbert posted the quote on his wall. But he had trouble defining his political views as an adult. After learning about Libertarianism from a New York Times Magazine article, he found much of it overlapped with Mill’s writings.

“As I learned about Libertarian ideas, I read the Austrian economists while I was in my early twenties,” Langbert said. “I became involved in the Libertarian movement in the 1970s and I didn’t really like that either. I find any organization to be way too absolutist and conservative.”

After attending Sarah Lawrence College and UCLA, Langbert returned to Astoria. He pursued his Ph.D at Columbia University while working as a corporate benefits administrator. His politics remained unsettled.

“I was interested in this free market stuff, and then in my thirties I realized that it was futile and I just became a Democrat,” he said. “I actually worked in Albany, but I was still anti-government.”

Langbert was fired from his position as a Senior Budget Analyst for the New York State Assembly Ways and Means Committee after advocating for Medicaid cuts. He then made the transition into higher education, which he found difficult.

“I knew I couldn’t be too vocal about my views, but I found higher ed to be almost unbelievable. The overt insistence on everyone maintaining a degree of uniformity that stifles creativity is almost unreal,” Langbert said. “They’re so conformist and unwilling to say anything that’s not conventional as defined by the left and they all march to a single drum. I’ve lived with that for my entire career.”

Langbert currently studies how the political affiliations of university professors impact academic performance. His article “Homogeneous: The Political Affiliations of Elite Liberal Arts College Faculty” was published in April 2018 by the National Association of Scholars, a politically conservative higher education think tank. Langbert found Brooklyn College to be typical of small northeastern liberal arts schools, with a left-leaning faculty that quashes political debate. This, he claims, leads to graduates who are unprepared for the working world.

State and land-grant universities have more politically diverse faculties, he said. Langbert attributes this to large mathematics, science, and business programs, which hire more faculty from outside the northeast and, in his opinion, require more intellectual rigor.

“The soft humanities, which frankly are the least demanding intellectually — I don’t mean to say that as a disparaging thing — these are the fields that you can get by without reading. And they’re almost 100 percent Democratic. The more demanding fields have more intellectual diversity.”

Langbert stated that in ignoring intellectual diversity, colleges across the country, including Brooklyn College, are part of a “fundamentally corrupt system” that negates universities as places of discussion, provocation, and debate.

Some scholars dispute Langbert’s conclusions. According to Inside Higher Ed, 90.2 percent of American professors call themselves moderate or liberal. But a joint national study between Colby College, Harvard University, and the University of British Columbia found no significant political bias in doctoral admission programs. It concluded that doctoral students largely self-select, with liberals inclined to the humanities and conservatives choosing other disciplines. Another joint study between Pennsylvania State University and Elizabethtown College found that many conservatives choose non-academic careers long before graduate school.

The September 27 blog post was “not in any way related to [his] academic work,” Langbert said,  and he did not closely follow the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. Rather than being a literal attack, it was intended to start a conversation about free speech and what it means to disagree.

“I gradually stopped caring about these conformist standards that have led to mediocre performance,” he said. “I decided to test the limits of those standards by making some insouciant remarks which were not meant, first of all, for widespread consumption. Even if they were, they were not meant seriously, and as a result someone began publicizing this.”

Langbert has found himself in hot water on college campuses before. In the early 1990s a fellow professor at Clarkson University accused Langbert of sexual harassment. He claims this was done in retaliation for a disagreement about hiring processes. The charge was dropped.

He was then fired from Dowling College in Oakdale, NY,  after what he called an effort to expose its “corrupt” nature. (Dowling closed abruptly in 2016 after years of financial irregularities, leaving a $54 million debt.)

Langbert taught at Iona College from 1996-98, and was an adjunct professor at NYU from 1996-2009.

He twice brought an attorney onto the Brooklyn College campus after defamatory allegations were made against him. In 2003, a faculty member accused Langbert of prejudice against Arabs and Hispanics, and named his father-in-law as an organized crime figure. The charges could not be substantiated. Langbert subsequently switched to teaching solely on weekends, and has maintained that schedule ever since.

In 2014, a student claimed to have video of Langbert making racist remarks in class. No video or audio was produced, and the allegation was dismissed.

In the wake of his blog post, Langbert faces acute anger from Brooklyn College women, many of whom were in attendance for last Thursday’s protest, holding signs with phrases like “Yes Means Yes, No Means No” and “Assault is Not a Joke”. Langbert dismissed their concerns.

“I’ve taught for 20 years, and I’ve had thousands of female students and I’ve never once had a complaint that I made anyone feel uncomfortable,” he said. He called the anger “a concocted lie made up by people who have no interest in the truth whatsoever.”

In addition, he assailed President Michelle Anderson and Provost Anne Lopes’ response to the post and protest.

“I think it’s a disgrace that this has been given attention by the college president and the provost,” adding that it has created a “lynch mob atmosphere” of “left-wing McCarthyism.”

Langbert believes that Brooklyn College, overall, is antagonistic to him and his values, and said he continues to teach because of his proximity to retirement. While acknowledging his post might be offensive, he refused to back down from his position.

“The simple fact is, even if these views are offensive — and they’re not my views particularly — is that a ground for removing them from discourse, from conversation? Woefully undereducated undergrads who think that reading a 300-page book is an astounding feat shouldn’t be the ones deciding who gets to teach and who doesn’t.”

This article was originally published on 10/10/18 in Fall 2018 Issue 4.


Students Protest for Professor’s Termination

By Ryan Schwach, Managing News Editor, with reporting assistance from Rosy Alvarez, Noah Daly, and Kevin Limiti

This past week has been a turbulent one here at Brooklyn College in response to associate professor Mitchell Langbert’s blog post defending Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the now Supreme Court Justice who was accused of sexual misconduct in college while at Yale University, angering some of the student body, leading to calls for his termination and a large protest on the East Quad this past Thursday.

“In the future, having committed sexual assault in high school ought to be a prerequisite for all appointments, judicial and political,” Professor Langbert wrote on Sept. 27. Langbert is a tenured professor in business management.

“His statements are deeply concerning,” said Corrinne Greene,  the Brooklyn College chapter president of Young Progressives of America.

Several days later, after Langbert was called out for his comments, he was invited to speak on Brooklyn College’s gossip-based radio show “Spillin’ the Tea” with Dan Fratello and Jeanine Vitello.

“We got the interview by emailing him and he surprisingly agreed,” said Vitello.

On the show, Langbert claimed the post was meant to be satirical in the style of Jonathan Swift’s “Modest Proposal,” which jokingly claimed the Irish should sell their babies to the English as food.

“Basically it’s meant to be a joke,” Langbert said. An update to the blog post, claiming it was satire, appeared a few days after it had circulated and driven up dissent.
Regardless, his comments outraged many Brooklyn College students, including several in the campus advocacy group Young Progressives of America, who began organizing a protest soon after.

The protest, populated by several dozen protestors and even more onlookers, took place in the shadow of the historic library tower Thursday during common hours.

Chants of “Mitchell Langbert’s got to go” and “Whatever we wear, wherever we go: Yes means yes and no means no!” engulfed the East Quad, and was repeated on and off for the entire course of the afternoon.

The YPA came prepared with a list of demands of Brooklyn College. The demands called for a full public investigation into Langbert’s conduct as a faculty member, mandatory anti-sexual assault training for BC staff, but namely called for Langbert’s firing, all of which to be met before the end of the day Monday, Oct. 8. As of press time, none of these demands were met.

Brooklyn College President Michelle Anderson was in attendance at the protest, along with Provost Anne Lopes and Title IX Coordinator Tony Thomas.

A few hours after the protest, President Anderson released a statement with strong praise of the student organizers and personally condemned Langbert’s comments. The statement also announced a “speak out” and “teach in” for sometime next week to make student voices heard.

In reaction to  the President’s statement, Corrinne Greene stated, “President Anderson showed leadership with her statement, as she did by going to DC and speaking out against Judge Kavanaugh last week. I am hopeful she will provide further leadership by doing all that is possible to investigate and terminate Mitchell Langbert, and meet our demands.”

But as a tenured professor, firing Langbert won’t be easy. CUNY’s faculty union, the Professional Staff Congress, put out a statement Thursday Oct. 4 condemning Langbert’s statement but opposing his immediate termination.

“Professor Langbert is entitled to the due process protections the PSC has won for every CUNY employee represented by the union,” the statement reads. “The right to due process offers protection of dissenting and minority positions, no matter how repugnant those positions may be.”

Higher-ups at Brooklyn College seem to agree. In a statement released on Tuesday, Oct. 2, Brooklyn College’s Provost Anne Lopes stated that Langbert was within his First Amendment rights, “even for speech many experience as offensive.”

“It’s not a First Amendment issue,” argued YPA co-founder Carlos Calzadilla. “It is an issue of sexual violence and violating title IX.”

Although some disagree with Calzadilla and the YPA’s conviction, including Brooklyn College sophomore Logan Santos, who challenged the protestors head-on.

“He has every right to say whatever he wants on the internet, because that’s the country we live in,” said Santos. “I don’t think he should get fired for saying something stupid.”

As of press time, it is unknown if all of the YPA’s demands have been met, and there is no comment from the YPA or the campus in relation to their demands.

This article was originally published on 10/10/18 in Fall 2018 Issue 4.


OP-ED: Day of the #FireProfessorLangbert Protest

By Rosy Alvarez, Business Manager

Last Thursday, October 4th was the explosive protest that took over the east quad during common hours. It was sparked by a blog post published by tenured professor Michael Langbert who in the post promoted sexual assault and harassment of women as well as deemed those behaviors as a “a right of passage” for all young men. He also expressed strong homophobic ideas and criticized the entire Democratic party. But before the Langbert protest was the yearly Columbus Day protest.

I spoke with Enrique Ortiz from the Puerto Rican Alliance about what the organizations behind the Columbus Day Protests had planned. As we all know, the Columbus Day protests on campus are not new, they’ve been held faithfully every year for about two decades, and the tradition is kept alive by students who no longer feel colonization of native peoples or foreign countries is a practice that should be praised. Soon after the news of Langbert’s blog post went viral on campus the LGBTQIA and Young Progressives of America were active on club e-board chats in a successful attempt to gather as many student clubs together for the protest. “We noticed they were planning a huge demonstration and wanted to support and join forces with them through our Columbus Day protest.”

Although they continue to fight for the decolonization of Puerto Rico and call to rename the day as “Indigenous Peoples Day,” completely dissociating Columbus from the equation, this year struck a major chord. Trump’s lack of empathy or aid for Puerto Rico after the storm as well as his quote claiming that the latest death toll from Hurricane Maria was a fake statistic that was spread by the democrats to push their “anti-trump agenda” pushed the Puerto Rican Alliance, MEHSA, and the Dominican Student Movement over the edge.

They heavily condemned Donald’s comments as well as the United States’ intervention in countries all across Latin America, the internment camps for migrant children and families at the border and the general mistreatment of migrants throughout the nation. Unfortunately, the group did not have enough time to protest as they were on the quad for merely a few minutes before the Langbert protests went into full swing.

As I entered the crowd of students who showed up in solidarity, I noticed bystanders and photographers asking organizers general questions about the cause and reasoning behind the protest. I was able to chat with a young woman named Natia from the Brooklyn Historical Society. When asked about how the event was organized in such a short amount of time she said “it was not planned at all, we got together and agreed to set it up for later that same week while the news was still fresh.”

Soon after our conversation the groups of sign-bearing protesters circled the East Quad chanting things like “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Mitchell Langbert’s got to go” and “what do we want, justice, when do we want it, now, if we don’t get it SHUT IT DOWN.” There were also signs that read “REAL MEN DON’T RAPE.” Amongst those present were the aforementioned Puerto Rican Alliance, MESA, (DR GROUP), Brooklyn Historical Society, Young Progressives of America and the LGBTQIA. The protest was ultimately a culmination of groups who are frustrated with rich white men being allowed to violate women’s bodies, controlling what women do with their bodies, unwaveringly slandering the LGBTQIA community all while holding the highest positions of power and facing zero repercussion. Especially after all of the recent news on our newest Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, students felt they were at a breaking point.

The groups came up with a list of demands that they wanted the Brooklyn College President and Board of Directors to adhere to, the demands are as follows:

  1. Call to investigate conduct during tenure and immediate termination
  2. Statement from BC President Michelle Anderson, condemning the blog post and behavior by Monday 10/8
  3. Anti-Sexual Assault training for all BC faculty and administrators
  4. Opportunity to drop Langbert’s classes this semester without penalty
  5. Hold a campus forum to discuss sexual assault and misconduct

 

While in the crowd, it was interesting to hear what people were saying as they watched the demonstrators or passed by. I overheard instant outrage from those who were just learning about the blog post such as “oh hell no he has to go,” or “he thought he could hide behind editing the post but they [demonstrators] have the receipts!” The protesters were met with shouts of support such as “fire that b*tch!” and “real men don’t rape!”

Finally, as the protest dispersed I caught Brooklyn College President Michelle Anderson speaking to the TV and Radio Club. Prior to the email she sent that same evening she discussed her desire to investigate and speak with her colleagues about the blog post and Langbert’s conduct as well as her goal to hold an open forum. She also strongly encouraged people to continue to sending her messages and feedback about how we feel and what outcomes we want from this situation. She seemed open and receptive to hearing our voice but true intentions are yet to be seen in the coming weeks as Langbert’s fate is sealed (decided).

This article was originally published on 10/10/18 in Fall 2018 Issue 4.


REVIEW: Now You’re Thinking with “[PORTO]”

By Quiara Vasquez, Editor-In-Chief

The uninformed theatergoer might guess that “[PORTO]” derives its title from its main character, but they’d only be half right. Certainly, the play is about Porto, the complicated woman (portrayed brilliantly by Mariah Sanchez) at the heart of playwright and BC alum Kate Benson’s subversive pseudo-rom-com. [“Subversive pseudo-rom-com?” Jesus, girl, lay off the hyphens and get to the good stuff.]

But those two brackets in the title are just as much of a character as Porto herself. Played in voice-over by Sabra Shelly, the brackets serve as narrator, architect, and antagonist all at the same time; commenting, correcting, and criticizing Porto’s every move. She’s that needling little voice inside every woman’s head. [Every woman? Speak for yourself, goddamned white feminist.] At least, every woman who tries to balance the edicts of feminism with her desire to bang hot boys [that’s heterosexist] and look pretty [that’s Eurocentric] and not have to diet [that’s fatphobic] – in short, any woman who tries to have her cake and eat it too [and by consuming a product made with milk and eggs, implicitly support the inhumane treatment of livestock, you monster].

There are moments where the stress of her contradictory desires causes Porto to lash out; it’s in these scenes where Mariah Sanchez gets to thrive, giving “[PORTO]” a bit of dramatic heft. But for the most part, the play is a farce, and Sanchez is just as in her element playing the straight man [again, sexist] playing the straight person [again, heterosexist] playing the deadpan foil [there you go!] to a cast of kooky characters. One by one, they pop up at Doug the Bartender’s bougie Brooklyn abode: there’s Dry Sac (Rae Mizrachi), a tone-deaf ditz who “subsists on olives and spite”; there’s Raphael the Waiter (Ahsan Ali), who gets wet just thinking about girls who read; and there’s a trio of bunny rabbits who… [Don’t spoil it.] I won’t spoil it.

And then there’s Hennepin (Matt Mozaidze). Sweet, sweet Hennepin. Kind-hearted yet surprisingly hunky Hennepin. [Stop drooling over his abs and get to the point.] Hennepin clearly likes Porto and vice versa, but Porto struggles to break free of the insecurities that justify

At many points in [PORTO], I was reminded of last fall’s world premiere of April Ranger’s “Must Wash Hands.” After all, they’re both romantic comedies set in bars written by MFA Playwriting alumni. But when compared to one another, there’s a clear winner. [Way to pit two woman playwrights against each other, jackass.] In “Must Wash Hands,” feminism was an obvious missive, and the protagonist’s lost love functioned as a punishment for failing to #StandWithSurvivors. [You’re going to get so much hate mail for saying that. Well-deserved hate mail, too.] Benson is savvier – and slightly more cynical – than this. For the modern woman, “[PORTO]” posits, women’s liberation is not the path to freedom, but just another impossible set of standards boxing us in – quite literally, in the case of two punctuation marks I could mention.

[Okay, I get the hint.]

In the funniest scene of the evening, the narrator contrasts Porto’s thought process with her male counterpart’s. Porto conjures up the spirit of feminist figureheads Simone de Beauvoir and Gloria Steinem, who sit opposite one another and dissect her poor life choices. Meanwhile, Hennepin strokes his chin and thinks about bacon. It’s a hysterical scene, but it also makes a larger point about womanhood, that the ultimate male privilege is freedom from the constant self-analysis and anxiety that comes with constant and inescapable societal judgment.

While “[PORTO]” is fascinating from a feminist standpoint, I can’t overstate that above all else, it is really, really funny. Director Emily Edwards does a bang-up job squeezing the comic potential out of every actor in every scene, even when they’re just shooting a withering glare towards the ceiling; the costuming and set design are of the typically high standards for a Brooklyn College Department of Theater Production. It’s an auspicious start to a theatrical season dedicated to the creative energies of this college.

This article was originally published on 10/10/18 in Fall 2018 Issue 4.


Yankees Face Tough Loss Against Red Sox

By Jasmine Peralta, Sports Editor

It was a bad night for the New York Yankees Monday night after losing game three of the playoff series 16-1 against the Boston Red Sox, leaving the Bronx bombers on the border of elimination.

Yankee fans from all over made their way over the Bronx Monday night to see game three of the ALDS. But, were seen leaving after the fourth inning when the Red Sox’s were up 7-1 with bases-loaded.

The game began with Luis Severino taking the pitching mound for the Yankees, pitching 95 mph during the first inning. Severino got both Red Sox’s left fielder, Andrew Benintendi, and shortstop, Xander Bogaerts, out and walked right fielder, J.D Martinez, ending the top of the first with zero runs, errors, and hits. Then came Nathan Eovaldi pitching for the Red Sox at the bottom of the first. Right fielder,Aaron Judge and Andrew McCutchen, hit out and first baseman, Luke Volt, swung out ending the bottom of the first with no runs, errors, and hits for the Yankees.

The first run wouldn’t be made until the top of the second, when NYY, Javier Vázquez reached on infield single to shortstop, Rafael Devers, and scored the first run for the Red Sox’s. The game is now 1-0, with Red Sox up.

Things began to tense up during the third inning when the Red Sox’s continued to lead the game after right fielder, Mookie Betts and Benintendi, scored the second and third run leaving two-bases loaded. Onto the top of the fourth, pitcher Lance Lynn would replace Severino for the Yankees. Bases loaded after Betts was walked to first, Bradley Jr. on second, and Vázquez on third. Second basement, Brock Holt, scores the fourth run for the Red Sox. Benintendi would then open the space for the most crucial play of the fourth inning after he doubled to shallow right, allowing Vázquez, Bradley Jr. and Betts to score and ending the inning with 7-0.

The NYY would then substitute pitchers Lynn for Chad Green, which opened up the game for the Red Sox to score two more runs, by Benintendi and pitcher, David Pearce. The Red Sox would end the top of the fourth with seven runs, six hits, and zero errors.

Eovaldi continued to pitch for the Red Sox during the bottom of the fourth. Volt opened up the inning by reaching onto infield with a single to second. Right fielder, Giancarlo Stanton, singled to deep center, while Volt took the run to third. Shortstop, Didi Gregorious, then grounded into fielder’s choice to second, advancing Volt to score the first run for the Yankees. Gary Sánchez strikes out and third baseman, Miguel Andújar grounded out at second, ending the bottom of the fourth with one run, two hits, and zero errors for the Yankees.

The Yankees wouldn’t advance throughout the rest of the game, leading the Red Sox to score during the seventh, eighth, and win during the ninth inning with Ian Kinsler scoring the last run for the Red Sox ending the game, 16-1. The Red Sox also made history during Monday night’s game with Holt becoming the first player in postseason history to hit for the cycle, according to an ESPN report.

These two ultimate rivals will be facing each other once again on Tuesday, October 9th in Yankee Stadium for the fourth game in the AL Division Series.

This article was originally published on 10/10/18 in Fall 2018 Issue 4.

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