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Quick Takes: Colorado Keeps Affirmative Action, Social Scientist Set on Fire in Afghanistan, Racist Anti-Obama Graffiti, President for President-Elect, $300M for Chicago, Legal Move Against Animal Rights Extremist, Lack of Diversity in Sports, York Strike

November 7, 2008
  • By the narrowest of margins, 50.6 percent to 49.4 percent, Colorado voters have rejected a proposal to bar public colleges and other state agencies from considering race and ethnicity in admissions and other decisions. Election results were too close to call until late Thursday. The outcome is significant beyond Colorado because previous ballot measures -- nearly identical to the one in Colorado -- have passed comfortably in California, Washington State, Michigan and Nebraska. In Colorado, defenders of affirmative action organized an intense campaign that directly challenged proponents of the ban.
  • A social scientist who is part of the military's controversial program to have researchers work with soldiers was set on fire in Afghanistan this week and is being flown back to the United States for treatment, Wired reported. The Human Terrain Systems program in which she was participating has angered many scholars who believe it involved questionable ethics to tell the military about local groups and their traditions, given that the information may be used to harm some individuals. But another issue of concern has been whether the scholars involved receive appropriate training and protection.
  • Students and administrators at North Carolina State and Purdue Universities are speaking out against racist graffiti referencing President-elect Barack Obama. At North Carolina State, four students admitted to painting comments that used a racial slur and said "Shoot Obama." The Raleigh News & Observer reported that 500 students attended a rally to condemn the graffiti, which was placed in a "free expression tunnel" at the university. At Purdue University, officials are condemning racist, anti-Obama graffiti that was placed near a gathering point for black students at the campus, The Journal and Courier reported.
  • Juliet V. Garcia, president of the University of Texas at Brownsville, has been appointed to President-elect Barack Obama's transition team, The Brownsville Herald reported. Details of her responsibilities have not been released. Garcia has been a leading advocate for higher education in general, speaking out on behalf of Latino students and low-income students. She also waged a successful battle with Bush administration officials to oppose their plan to build a security fence that would have cut off part of her campus, which is close to the Mexican border.
  • The University of Chicago on Thursday announced a $300 million gift for its Graduate School of Business -- the largest gift ever for a business school. The funds are from David Booth, an alumnus who credits the business school and a faculty member there -- Eugene Fama -- with inspiring much of his success in his investment firm, Dimensional Fund Advisor. The gift is in the form of a direct payment, an income stream, and an equity interest in Booth's firm. The university plans to use the funds from the gift to attract and recruit star faculty members, and for other purposes. Among the ideas under consideration: developing new faculty groups in academic areas not normally associated with business schools, expanding existing research centers, and expanding the business school’s international presence beyond its existing campuses in London and Singapore.
  • A California judge has found an animal rights activist in contempt of an injunction that barred her from distributing fliers that included University of California at Los Angeles researchers' photographs, home addresses and phone numbers during demonstrations at the residences of faculty members. The activist will be sentenced November 18, and could receive five days in jail and/or pay a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Universities with big-time football programs have relatively few people beyond white males running athletics departments or football teams, says a report released Thursday by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, at the University of Central Florida. Of 120 programs examined, 83 percent of athletic directors are white men. All conference commissioners are white men, the study found.
  • Classes were called off at York University, in Toronto, Thursday due to a strike by teaching assistants, graduate students and some faculty members -- all of whom are in a wage dispute with the institution, The Globe and Mail reported.
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