Rigor mortis On the hetero-patriarchal trappings of “academic rigor” at Purdue

New Criterion:

If you are thinking of building a bridge, be careful if your engineer went to Purdue University. Donna Riley, the head of the engineering department at Purdue, has put the world on notice that “rigor” is a dirty word. In an article for Engineering Education called “Rigor/Us: Building Boundaries and Disciplining Diversity with Standards of Merit,” Professor Riley, who is also the author of Engineering and Social Justice, argues that academic “rigor” is merely a blind for “white male heterosexual privilege.” Yes, really. “The term,” she writes, “has a historical lineage of being about hardness, stiffness, and erectness; its sexual connotations—and links to masculinity in particular—are undeniable.” There follows a truly surreal meditation on the existential and sexist depredations of slide rules—those hard, straight instruments that have traditionally been deployed by men—and periodic eructations like this: