A four-hour Yale University lockdown that included a room-to-room residence hall search by police and SWAT teams ended safely Monday. Yale officials first told students there may be a threat to safety via text message at 10:17 a.m. after an anonymous male caller said his roommate was heading to campus with a gun and intent to shoot, police said. About a half-hour later, after callers reported seeing a gunman on campus, the lockdown began and students were told to shelter in place. A few minutes before 5 p.m., Yale reported via text message and Twitter that the lockdown had been fully lifted. By the end of the day, New Haven police were beginning to doubt the accuracy of the initial report, according to the Hartford Courant, saying the caller sounded "confused" and they were reviewing security footage to determine whether witnesses who corroborated the report might have spotted armed police rather than a gunman.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Law students at the University of Sydney are complaining that their dean was insulting when they complained that a disputed final examination would not be given a second time, ABC (the Australian company) reported. A fire alarm went off during the exam and students were evacuated, but then the exam resumed. Some students want a completely new exam and the dean has rejected that option as unfair to those who came prepared for the day the exam was scheduled. But students are now upset that the dean wrote a letter to the editor of the student paper suggesting that they needed to drop the issue. "Law students can be an anxious and competitive lot," wrote the dean, Joellen Riley. "They do worry dreadfully about exam marks. A couple of years post-graduation and they will learn that the marks in any one exam are soon forgotten, and many skills other than mark-harvesting are more important to success in the profession (and in life)."
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.”
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 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."
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.
Thirty-two students at American colleges were named Saturday as winners of Rhodes Scholarships. Harvard University students won six of the scholarships -- more than those won at any other institution. Yale and Stanford Universities were tied for second, with three winners each. Two institutions -- New York University at Abu Dhabi and Smith College -- had their first winners. The win for NYU Abu Dhabi comes with a student in its inaugural class. Smith has had prior winners in the competitions for students from other countries (with scholarships for Smith students from Zambia and Zimbabwe), but not for American students.
New guidance from Universities UK on hosting controversial speakers on campus suggests that, in regards to the issue of gender segregation at "ultra-orthodox" religious events, segregation from right to left is preferable than front to back and “a balance of interests is most likely to be achieved if it is possible to offer attendees both segregated and non-segregated seating areas, although if the speaker is unwilling to accept this, the institution will need to consider the speaker’s reasons under equalities legislation.”
The guidance, which is intended to help universities balance their legal responsibility to protect freedom of speech while also meeting the requirements of nondiscrimination legislation, also states that “Ultimately, if imposing an unsegregated seating area in addition to the segregated areas contravenes the genuinely held religious beliefs of the group hosting the event, or those of the speaker, the institution should be mindful to ensure that the freedom of speech of the religious group or speaker is not curtailed unlawfully.”
The guidance from the British presidential association, which includes a number of legal caveats and issues to consider in any given case, is likely to be controversial. The University of Leicester and University College London both found themselves under scrutiny last year after word got out that Islamic speakers invited to the campus addressed audiences segregated by gender. The Telegraph’s deputy women’s editor, Louisa Peacock, has called the new Universities UK guidance “outrageous. What is the point of a university's equality policy -- designed to promote equal rights between men and women of all faiths -- if it cannot or will not be enforced properly?”
Indiana Wesleyan University and Houghton College, in New York, have announced plans for collaboration. Both colleges are part of the Wesleyan Church. While details of the partnership haven't been finalized, the idea is to share areas of expertise. Houghton is a traditional, residential institution, and Indiana Wesleyan officials hope to learn from its strengths in internships and study abroad. In turn, Indiana Wesleyan plans to share its approaches to growth and serving campuses off of its traditional campus. Indiana Wesleyan has nearly 3,000 students on its main campus, but has grown considerably with adult students (more than 12,500 of them) who enroll online or at centers in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. The university also recently announced plans to acquire a Christian-oriented arts college in Australia.