San Jose State University announced late Friday it has that it has suspended a fourth student in connection with the alleged racial harassment of a black freshman for months during the fall semester. The case involves allegations that suitemates of the black freshman taunted him with racially charged names, posted photographs of Hitler in their room, and at times tried to put his head in a bicycle lock. Authorities charged three San Jose students Wednesday, and as word spread Thursday, many on the campus were outraged. Friday's announcement by the university said that the involvement of the fourth student had only recently come to light.
President Mohammed Qayoumi announced as well on Friday that he had met that morning with Reverend Jethroe Moore, president of the San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP, and that they had agreed to hold a joint press conference today, that the would co-host a campus forum in December on racial issues on campus, and that the university would offer a lecture series in the spring on diversity and tolerance issues.
On Saturday, the San Jose NAACP chapter called for prosecutors to change the charges against the students from misdemeanor hate crime and battery to felony hate crime and false imprisonment, The Los Angeles Times reported. "This is not simple hazing or bullying," Reverend Moore said. "This is obviously racially based terrorism targeted at their African-American roommate.
The winner of the annual football game between Claremont-Harvey Mudd-Scripps Colleges and Ponoma-Pitzer Colleges (all members of the Claremont Colleges consortium, in which colleges join forces to filed teams) used to display a Peace Pipe trophy -- a tradition discontinued this fall after some students said the practice was culturally insensitive.
After hearing concerns from members of the Claremont Colleges' Indigenous Student Alliance that using a Peace Pipe — a sacred object for many indigenous groups that is used in religious rituals — was akin to using a cross or a Menorah, the colleges decided to end use of the symbol, said Ponoma-Pitzer sports information director Jeremy Kniffen said. The students were uncomfortable with the symbol being used as a sports trophy, he said.
The tradition of awarding the Peace Pipe trophy to the game winner began in 1959 when Claremont Colleges went from having one common athletic program to two. The trophy was chosen to symbolize a friendly rivalry between the two teams, Kniffen said. But there’s no symbolic story behind the trophy, so there “wasn’t really a compelling reason to keep it, other than that’s what we’ve always had,” he said. Claremont-Harvey Mudd-Scripps won this year’s game, 29-23, but no trophy was awarded. The athletic departments will design a new trophy before next year’s game that will include the scores of past games, but no reference to the pipe.
The Harvard Ichthus, a student-run journal of Christian thought, on Saturday apologized for publishing an essay last week that said Jews brought suffering upon themselves for killing Jesus. The anonymous author of the piece claimed to be Jewish (although he urged all Jews to become Christians). The article has since been removed from the site but Talking Points Memo published excerpts, such as this one: "We, the Jews, rejected God and hung Him up on a cross to die, and thus we richly deserved all of the punishments that were heaped on our heads over the last 2000 years." The apology in the journal said that editors should have been more careful about monitoring what was being published. "[W]e apologize for publishing offensive content on our blog. While this does not excuse the post of responsibility, it was not the intent of the writer, nor the Ichthus, to present a piece that is anti-Semitic in nature or in interpretation. The writer holds nothing but love for his heritage and feels very deeply for the welfare of the Jewish people. The blog was not intended to communicate animosity, but concern and a sincere desire to communicate the necessity of salvation through Jesus Christ alone."
Students at three colleges in the last week have faced criticism over ethnic or racial themes or costumes at parties:
Randolph-Macon College officials are investigating a fraternity party at which some students dressed either as "illegal immigrants" or "border control agents," and at which the latter group tried to "catch" the former, WWBT NBC 12 reported. Mark Heideman, a member of Kappa Alpha, which hosted the party, said that "it was definitely not meant to be racist whatsoever."
Two white students at Lee University have apologized for going to a rap-themed party in blackface and with T-shirts featuring forms of the n-word, WTVC News 9 reported.
California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo is investigating an off-campus party held by a fraternity and a sorority with the theme "Colonial Bros and Nava-Hos," The Tribune News of San Luis Obispo reported. The men dressed in colonial attire while the women wore scantily clad costumes with Native American themes. One fraternity member (whose house was not involved) told the Tribune News that the party wasn't meant to be offensive. “Personally, I don’t think it was meant to be racist,” he said, given that many Greek parties involve "guy-and-girl" themes. “It’s unfair,” he said. “We are taught that Thanksgiving is Pilgrims and Indians.”
One college unexpectedly found that female engineering students responded particularly well to its project-based learning approach. Experts say the curriculum could help attract and retain women in the STEM fields.
The Black Student Union at the University of Michigan has urged its members to describe the issues they face via Twitter and the hashtag #BBUM (for "Being Black at the University of Michigan") is generating discussion at Michigan and elsewhere. Among the tweets: BBUM "is working in study groups and your answer to the question always requires a double check before approval" and "is being the only black person in class, and having other races look at you to be the spokesperson whenever black history is brought up" and "I'm afraid to wear my natural hair ... because I don't want to deal with the questions." The university responded on the hashtag with: "Thanks for engaging in this conversation. We’re listening, and will be sure all of your voices are heard."
This month a black student at the University of California at Los Angeles set off a debate about race with his YouTube video about the experience of being black there.
After distancing campus administrators from a "catch an illegal immigrant" game put on by the University of Texas at Austin's Young Conservatives of Texas chapter, UT President Bill Powers supported the group's decision to cancel the event Tuesday. "The University of Texas at Austin honors the right of free speech for all students," Powers said in a statement. "We welcome the Young Conservatives of Texas' decision to cancel Wednesday's event and look forward to the group being part of a thoughtful campus discussion about immigration."
The event, which drew criticism online, was planned for Wednesday. To raise awareness of illegal immigration, the event organizer said, students would search the campus for people wearing clothes that said "illegal immigrant," then apprehend them to win a $25 gift card.
The University of Texas at Austin’s Young Conservatives of Texas chapter says its planned “catch an illegal immigrant game” is designed to raise awareness about illegal immigration, but the idea caused a stir online Monday. Planned for Wednesday afternoon, the game involves students running around campus to apprehend “several people walking around” with the words “illegal immigrant” displayed on their clothing.
“Any UT student who catches one of these 'illegal immigrants' and brings them back to our table will receive a $25 gift card,” the event Facebook page says. “The purpose of this event is to spark a campus-wide discussion about the issue of illegal immigration, and how it affects our everyday lives.” More than 220 people have confirmed their plans to attend on Facebook, but at least one commenter said she only “joined” the event so she could write comments opposing it.
Texas President Bill Powers said in a statement that the event is "completely out of line" with the university's values. "Our nation continues to grapple with difficult questions surrounding immigration," Powers said. "I ask YCT to be part of that discussion but to find more productive and respectful ways to do so that do not demean their fellow students."