Monday is the deadline for briefs backing the University of Texas at Austin in its Supreme Court defense of the consideration of race in admissions. On Thursday, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill filed a brief, and included a new research study arguing for the educational value of diversity. The researchers, who looked at law school students, found that racial differences "contribute to learning because differences foster richer interactions and positive educational outcomes that benefit students, institutions and society," according to a summary by the university. "In addition, when a law school’s racial diversity was significant and group interaction was high, graduating law students perceived their law school as more open and respectful of diverse ideas."
Roger Clegg, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a group that opposes the consideration of race in admissions, questioned the study. In an e-mail message, he said: "The issues chosen to show how racial diversity correlates with perspective diversity are deliberately narrow (Anything about property? How about tax? ....), and of course law itself is a discipline in which such correlation is more likely than most others (Is there a Latina perspective in chemistry? Mathematics? Economics? Engineering? Russian? Etc.) Even if there are some educational benefits to having racial diversity in a class on "Race and the Law," that would not justify racial preferences in undergraduate admissions to the University of Texas."
The University of Texas on Monday filed its brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in the affirmative action case that will be heard this fall. Texas has prevailed in lower courts, but faces a strong challenge and a potentially skeptical Supreme Court. The brief stresses that the university believes that having a diverse student body is an educational issue. Diversity, the brief says, "better prepares students to become the next generation of leaders in an increasingly diverse work force and society." But the brief also takes care to say that the university does not define diversity solely by race and ethnicity. "UT has a broad vision of diversity, which looks to a wide variety of individual characteristics — including an applicant’s culture; language; family; educational, geographic, and socioeconomic background; work, volunteer, or internship experiences; leadership experiences; special artistic or other talents, as well as race and ethnicity."
While women still make up only 18 percent of business school deans, there are signs of progress, The Wall Street Journal reported. Many deans move up from associate dean positions. There, women have increased from representing 20 percent to one-third of the population. And female associate deans report that search committees appear interested in encouraging their candidacies for dean's jobs.
The University of Oxford, responding to concerns about equity for transgender students, has dropped the dress code that has been in place for students at some formal academic events, BBC News reported. The current rules, which will end August 4, require male students to wear a dark suit, black shoes and a white bow tie and a plain white shirt and collar under their black gowns. Women must wear a dark skirt or trousers and a white blouse. The rules were criticized as forcing transgender students into traditional gender roles.
Britain's University of Manchester has unveiled a "pray-o-mat," a small booth in which people can listen to, and join in, 300 pre-recorded prayers from a range of faiths, in 65 different languages. The project is part of study on multi-faith spaces. Ralf Brand, the lead researcher, said that "though the pray-o-mat is a bit tongue-in-cheek, there is a serious message to what we're doing. Successful multi-faith spaces do not need to be flashy or expensive. In many places a small, clean and largely unadorned space can serve adequately."
President Obama announced Wednesday night that he is planning to create a new office to focus on the needs of African-American students at all levels of education, NBC News reported. The office will work with all federal agencies so that "so every child has greater access to a complete and competitive education from the time they’re born to the time, all through the time they get a career," Obama said in an address to the Urban League.