The University of Iowa is among many colleges and universities currently facing criticism over the way they respond to allegations of sexual assault on campus. On Thursday, President Sally Mason spoke at an open forum on the topic and spoke about her personal experience as an undergraduate at the University of Kentucky in 1970, The Iowa City Press-Citizen reported. She said that a man in a trench coat grabbed her breast, and that she didn't know what to do, and felt unable to tell even her parents out of fear that they would insist she come home. “I never want a young woman on this campus ever in her life not to know where to go if something like that happens to them,” she said.
Mason has been facing personal criticism at Iowa over a quote in an interview with the student newspaper, The Daily Iowan, last week. In the interview, Mason said, “I’m not pleased that we have sexual assaults, obviously. The goal would be to end that, to never have another sexual assault. That’s probably not a realistic goal just given human nature, and that’s unfortunate, but the more we understand about it, the better we are at trying to handle it and help people get through these difficult situations.”
Critics -- some of whom formed a group called Not in My Nature -- have said that the quote suggests that sexual assaults are a normal part of human nature. Mason has issued an apology for the quote, writing: "Several members of our campus community have let me know that my remarks on sexual assault printed last week in The Daily Iowan were hurtful. I did not intend them to be, and I am sorry for the pain my words caused."
Thirty-one current and former students at the University of California at Berkeley filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Education Wednesday charging that the university has mishandled allegations of sexual assault, The Los Angeles Times reported. In May, nine students filed a complaint, and that has now been expanded. The complaint charges that, among other things, officials discouraged women from filing charges against their assailants, women were not informed of their rights and that campus judicial processes favored the accused. Berkeley's chancellor, Nicholas Dirks, on Tuesday announced the hiring of new employees to investigate sexual assault complaints and help victims. He also said survivors could be allowed to appeal decisions in internal sexual misconduct cases.
Submitted by Ry Rivard on February 27, 2014 - 3:00am
Chicago State University owes its former general counsel $2.5 million, a jury in Illinois found last week. The verdict – $480,000 in back pay and a $2 million punitive damage award – would go to James Crowley, who turned into a whistle-blower after a dispute with President Wayne Watson over disclosure of public records that would reveal when Watson started his job. According to The Chicago Tribune, Watson’s first day on the job was disputed because it would determine whether he was eligible for a pension from his time at another public college.
Crowley said the president threatened him over disclosing too many documents, an allegation Crowley took to the state attorney general. Nearly four years to the day after Watson fired Crowley, the Cook County jury reached its verdict. Crowley's lawyer, Anthony Pinelli, said the judge could increase the value of the verdict by doubling the amount of back pay. The verdict also said Crowley should be reinstated as the university’s top lawyer. Watson is still president.
“Whether that's going to happen or what we're going to do about it, I haven't spoken to the other side about it," Pinelli said. Chicago State plans to appeal, the Tribune reported.
Crowley had been working part time for a law firm, but he was laid off several months ago and is looking for work, Pinelli said. Chicago State is also dealing with recent allegations that its provost, Angela Henderson, plagiarized her Ph.D. dissertation. The university has also gone on the offensive against a faculty-run blog called Crony State Faculty Voice, which has been highly critical of Watson. The blog called the jury verdict in the Crowley case “the Watson Clown Show's latest ethical, fiscal and public relations disaster.”
Some students and faculty members at St. Joseph's University, in Pennsylvania, are concerned about plans to deal with a deficit by increasing enrollment, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The university is facing an $8.7 million budget shortfall. Administrators have already imposed budget cuts throughout the campus, and argue that they can deal with some of the remaining financial challenges by increasing this fall's freshman class from 1,275 to 1,500. Critics say such an increase will lead to larger class sizes and/or lower admissions standards.
Santa Clara University has announced that it is standing by a decision announced last year to end employee health coverage for elective abortions, Bay Area News Group reported. University officials have said that they are trying to uphold Roman Catholic teachings. But many faculty members have objected, saying that they were hired with the university knowing that they didn't necessarily embrace Catholic teachings, and that the university was sending a message that it does not value the diversity on its faculty.
At the request of President Neil D. Theobald, Temple University’s Board of Trustees voted Monday to reinstate its women’s rowing and men’s crew teams, after cutting the squads, along with five other sports, in December based on a recommendation by Athletics Director Kevin Clark. Although the cuts were motivated by both financial and Title IX considerations, the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights announced last week it would investigate whether the university “is failing to provide equal athletic opportunity for female athletes compared to male athletes, with regard to locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities, housing and dining facilities and services, and in the area of athletic financial assistance.”
Campus officials had said the cost of renovating the crew and rowing teams’ facilities was too high to continue with the sports, but Theobald and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter also announced Monday that the city and a trustee have donated money to renovate the East Park Canoe House.
The University of Richmond is receiving scrutiny after one of its most generous donors and trustees, Paul Queally, was featured making sexist and homophobic jokes in a New York Magazine article about a gathering of wealthy business leaders (that they thought was private). Queally told The Richmond Times-Dispatch:"My brief remarks were in the spirit of the event but they do not reflect my views or my values. On reflection I should have said nothing. I understand that people who do not know me or my work may misinterpret what I said. I believe my record in support of education, diversity and economic advancement defines who I am and what I stand for." The university has not criticized the remarks, but did release a statement in which it said that the Richmond board “reaffirms the commitment of each of its members to promoting opportunity, inclusivity, civility and respect.”
Faculty members in the university's women's, gender and sexuality studies program have published a letter in the student newspaper that criticizes not only the jokes, but the university leadership's failure to see them as a serious problem. "Queally’s comments cannot be minimized as simply unfortunate," the letter says. "Nor is the central problem with his comments that they have generated negative attention to the university. Rather, the central problem with trustee Queally’s comments is that they contribute to the larger and quite insidious social discourse that dehumanizes women and LGBTQ people. His comments, in other words, contribute to human suffering. We, therefore, reiterate our call on senior leadership to allow the gravity of that insight to inform the content and urgency of its engagement with the university community."