August 24, 2005

URI Course: Not As Advertised

Marc Comtois

Nathaniel Nelson is a conservative URI student who has quite a story to tell about a Political Philosophy course that was much different than what he thought it would be.

Although the course was described as “Political Philosophy: Plato to Machiavelli,” and was meant to cover 2,000 years of political philosophy, our syllabus only had three books. Each of the three books had to deal with Machiavelli. As someone who wished to learn about political philosophy, I felt extremely frustrated by the end of the course. Instead, everything relating to Machiavelli was redirected to Professor Vocino’s obsession with sex.
Read the entire article to learn of the off-base and off-color nature of the class, taught by Michael Vocino, a tenured professor at URI who doesn't hold a PhD in the courses he teaches and whose research interest is "South Park." In addition, it would appear that nearly every course taught by Prof. Vocino, regardless of the course title, is comprised of endless banter regarding homosexuality. Nonetheless, it is NOT the sexual nature of the banter that is the issue, but the fact that Vocino is not teaching the course his students (or at least their parents!) expect him to be teaching. Prof. Vocino responded to the Frontpage article written by Nelson and David Horowitz in turn responded (their exchange is here). I encourage you to read Nelson's column and the exchange between Vocino and Horowitz. Remember, URI is our State University: we should expect the administration to hold the professors to a higher standard than this.

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This is an interesting and shocking story. After you've read Nathaniel Nelson's article, be sure to check out some of the letters-to-the-editor in URI's Good 5˘ Cigar, the student newspaper. While Vocino sounds gentile in his e-mail to FrontPage, his letter has a far different tone, as does a letter from another professor in support of Vocino. Professor Marc Genest also writes and offers a somewhat more mature reaction. You can find links to the Cigar letters at my post here:

SeanO at KelliPundit has advised a conservative group on campus and received quite a bit of reaction here:

Posted by: rightri at August 24, 2005 5:09 PM

Not too much new here, reminds me of my university experience shortly after the Civil War. Then, as now, the Political Science Dept. was overwhelmingly liberal. The Social Sciences were obsessed with sex, perhaps they had spent too much times reading entrails. I recall one professor who was fixated on matching up male students with married female students "for coffee". They were expected to report on the outcome.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at August 24, 2005 5:46 PM

RightRI: Thanks for the other links!

Warrington: I understand that this may indeed be nothing new, but it still warrants attention. Thanks for the anecdotal supplement, too!

Posted by: Marc Comtois at August 24, 2005 7:46 PM