Gallaudet University's chief diversity officer, Angela McCaskill, has sued the university, saying that she suffered discrimination and retaliation for signing a petition to have Maryland residents vote on a state law permitting same-sex marriage, The Washington Post reported. McCaskill was briefly placed on leave as some on campus said it was inappropriate for a diversity officer to sign a petition widely viewed as way to block gay marriage. McCaskill has argued that she took no stand on same-sex marriage except expressing a belief that state voters should get to decide the issue. Her suit says that, prior to her leave, she was deputy to the president and associate provost for diversity and inclusion, as well as chief diversity officer. Since then, she says, her title has become chief diversity officer. Gallaudet officials declined to comment on the suit.
Norman Fortenberry, executive director of the American Society for Engineering Education, has issued an apology for the publication in the group's magazine Prism of an anti-gay letter. "I apologize. I wish to express deep regret for my error in judgment in advocating publication of Professor Wayne Helmer’s letter in the September issue of Prism and for the resulting anger, pain, disappointment, and embarrassment to ASEE members, officers, and staff and the LGBTQ community," said Fortenberry's statement. The Helmer letter said in part: "We would do well to teach the truth about the homosexual /lesbian/ bisexual/ transgender lifestyle. These dear people caught up in this destructive way of life need true help and true hope and not encouragement or approval of a detrimental, negative lifestyle."
The letter prompted an uproar by many members of the engineering society, and Fortenberrry -- while saying that the letter should have had a disclaimer -- had defended the decision to publish it. In his apology, Fortenberry expressed a new position. "My rationale in publishing the letter has been reported elsewhere and will not be repeated here," he wrote. "In that rationale I failed to recognize that there is a balance to be struck between representing a variety of viewpoints and not providing a platform for views that are generally considered outside the mainstream of public debate."
The National Association of the Deaf has sued the University of Maryland at College Park, charging that it is violating the Americans With Disabilities Act by failing to provide captions in athletic facilities with the information being provided via public address systems. The association says that it has told Maryland previously that it should add caption systems, and the suit asks that they be added to the large scoreboards that convey other information for the fans.
“Athletic events are tremendously popular for the general public to attend, and this is true also for deaf and hard of hearing fans,” said a statement from the association's CEO, Howard A. Rosenblum, "All professional and collegiate sports teams need to recognize that many fans, not just those who are deaf or hard of hearing, need captioning in sports stadiums and arenas to understand what is being announced. Every sports team should implement quality captioning systems visible to everyone not only to comply with the law but also to meet the needs of everyone.”
A spokesman for the university told The Washington Post that Maryland believes it complies with the law by creating a website for the captions, so that fans with hearing disabilities can read the captions on their smartphones or tablets. The spokesman also said that Maryland will provide game-day loans of tablets to those who need them.
Supporters of Cheyney University, a public historically black college in Pennsylvania, will announce today that they plan to sue the state unless certain conditions are met. The supporters argue that the state has failed to meet its obligations to support and enhance Cheyey. Specifically, they say that the state needs to revise its funding formula to focus less on enrollment because Cheyney's relatively low enrollment has led it to raise tuition, which in turn has made it difficult to recruit more students. Further, the group will demand that the university be protected from austerity measures currently being imposed in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, of which Cheyney is a part.
Adam Ackley says he is in danger of losing his job as a professor of systematic theology at Azusa Pacific University for identifying himself as a man, and telling administrators that he is transgender, ABC 7 News reported. The Christian university had known him as a woman for the 15 years he has taught there. The university released this statement to ABC 7: "University leadership is engaged in thoughtful conversations with our faculty member in order to honor the contribution and treat all parties with dignity and respect while upholding the values of the university. It is an ongoing conversation, and therefore, a confidential matter."
Students have organized a petition that says the treatment of Ackley has raised concerns for many others. "Adam Ackley, a beloved theology professor of 15 years, was 'asked to step down' from his position as a professor at Azusa Pacific University due to his recent openness about his identity as a transgender man," the petition says. "This event has sparked fear and anger within the LGBTQ and Ally community of APU. We stand in solidarity with Adam, and strive to create a safer environment for students and faculty who have been marginalized by APU's conservative policies, as well as those who have been victims of spiritual violence on campus."
Rutgers University has rewritten parts of its alma mater, "On the Banks of the Old Raritan," to make it gender-neutral, The Star-Ledger reported. The alma mater -- 140 years old -- used to begin with "My father sent me to old Rutgers / And resolv'd that I should be a man." Those lines have been replaced with "From far and near we came to Rutgers/ And resolved to learn all that we can."
The University of Alabama at Tusaloosa announced Friday that four black women and two other minority women will be joining the university's all-white sororities. The university has been engaged in an intense debate (and been subject to national criticism) following an article in the student newspaper about how black women have been rejected by the sororities -- sometimes at the behest of alumnae. The university first announced that sororities had agreed to a new system in which they could extend "bid" offers at any time of year, not just during the traditional rush period.
The university on Friday posted a video by President Judy Bonner in which she said that sororities had extended 72 of these new non-rush bids in the last week, with 11 bids going to black women and 3 to other minority women. In addition to the six minority bids that have been accepted, she said, others were being considered and might yet be accepted. She added that some sororities "are farther along than others" in desegregating.