When I learned back in 2015 that Yale University was offering a course titled “In Defense of Looting,” I assumed that American academe had hit rock bottom. Little did I suspect the depths to which diploma mills would descend in years to come. A course on queering the Bible? Yeah, they teach that and at Swarthmore College, no less. (RELATED: ‘Abolition of whiteness’ course abolished at Hunter College)
And now Bard College — another of the Seven Sister schools, along with Swarthmore — is offering a course titled “Abolishing Prisons and the Police.” But the content is not merely descriptive of a current trend. As Campus Reform reports, the course “will teach students how to ‘sell’ abolition to the masses and design a multi-media ad campaign to make prison abolition go viral.”
The course is part of the school’s Hate Studies Initiative. The initiative is a self-described interdisciplinary field that seeks to explore the “Inquiries into the human capacity to define, and then dehumanize or demonize, an ‘other,’ and the processes which inform and give expression to, or can curtail, control, or combat, that capacity.”
The course will be taught by Professor Kwame Holmes, a Scholar-In-Residence in the Human Rights Project at Bard College.
So what is Prof. Holmes advocating in place of police? One alternative is “neighborhood pods” — a social contract between residents that focuses on “the delivery of essential services” and the drafting of “intentional agreements around safety.” Under this arrangement, community members would make a pact with five neighbors who would reach out to each other before calling the police.
But how you call the police if they’ve been abolished?
Maybe down the road, the administrators at Bard will add another how-to course titled “How to Decipher the Teachings of Kwame Holmes.”