Some Chicago-area faculty members and students continued their efforts to get DePaul University to investigate the past of its dean of the College of Science and Health, based on allegations that he -- as past president of the American Psychological Association -- may have supported torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. More than 600 people have signed a petition calling for the ouster of Gerald Koocher as dean, and late last week, a group of activists held an on-campus news conference expressing their continued concerns.
“They had one goal in mind, and that was to make sure that psychologists could continue in Guantanamo,” Frank Summers, a professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University, said at the conference. M. Cherif Bassiouni, a professor emeritus of law at DePaul, urged the university to independently investigate whether Koocher violated its code of ethics, saying that “an academic institution like DePaul based on its Vincentian values cannot allow for a member of its faculty be involved in such situations.”
The allegations against Koocher come from a recent independent review by the APA, which found that the association seemed to want to please the Pentagon rather than stick up for ethical standards -- and that the activities of key leaders of the association buttressed the argument for using interrogation techniques many consider to be torture. The report mentions Koocher by name numerous times but does not conclude that he personally supported torture of detainees. It does, however, conclude that APA leaders had reason to suspect that it had occurred.
DePaul did not return requests for comment. In July, upon release of the report, Koocher and another past president of the APA wrote a lengthy public response denying participation in or support of torture. “We want to state clearly and unambiguously: we do not now and never have supported the use of cruel, degrading or inhumane treatment of prisoners or detainees,” they said. “We absolutely reject the notion that any ethical justification for torture exists, and confirm that any such behaviors never have been ethically acceptable. … We never colluded with government agencies or the military to craft APA policies in order to justify their goals or the illegal ‘enhanced interrogation’ practices promoted by the administration of President George W. Bush.”
This isn't the first time an academic psychologist’s career has been challenged by past involvement in detainee interrogation policies. Retired U.S. Army Col. Larry James’s 2013 bid to take a new administrative post at the University of Missouri at Columbia died after students protested his work at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and at Guantanamo. James, however, said he helped fix a broken a broken system -- much of which is recounted in his book, Fixing Hell: An Army Psychologist Confronts Abu Ghraib.
Non-tenure-track instructors at Barnard College voted to form a union affiliated with United Auto Workers, they announced Friday. Some 207 faculty members were eligible to vote in the election; of those who voted, 114 were in favor and 11 were opposed. “We are encouraged by the college’s commitment to neutrality and look forward to negotiating long overdue improvements in our first contract,” Siobhan Burke, an instructor of dance, said in an announcement.
Barnard’s administration said in a statement, “We look forward to working productively with the union and thank all of our faculty for their efforts each and every day to provide the best-quality education to our students.”
A new book, Breaking Cardinal Rules, by a Louisville-based escort, Katina Powell, charges that a former University of Louisville director of basketball operations arranged for escorts to be provided to basketball recruits for several years, The Courier-Journal reported. The university is investigating the allegations and has reported on the situation to the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Andre McGee, the former Louisville official, is now an assistant coach at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, which has placed him on administrative leave. Scott Cox, McGee's lawyer, said that McGee knew Powell but denied the charges in the book.
Submitted by Paul Fain on October 5, 2015 - 3:00am
Education Management Corporation has laid off 115 faculty and staff members at its Art Institute campuses, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazettereported. The for-profit chain has had slumping revenue and enrollments. In May it announced the closure of 15 of the 52 Art Institute locations. Then, in June, EDMC laid off 300 employees.
The company also announced Friday that it has become a public benefit corporation. That switch means the company remains for-profit but legally is allowed to focus more on activities that aren’t related to boosting its profit margin. The process requires companies to alter their governance structures. Another for-profit chain, Rasmussen College, made the same change last year.
Becker explained the decision in a written statement:
“Most of our operations are outside of the United States, where there are many barriers that inhibit participation in higher education. We committed ourselves to overcoming these barriers in order to expand access. For a long time, we didn't have an easy way to explain the idea of a for-profit company with such a deep commitment to benefiting society. In 2010, we took notice when the first state in the U.S. passed legislation creating the concept of a public benefit corporation, a new type of for-profit corporation with an expressed commitment to creating a material, positive impact on society. Our public benefit is firmly rooted in our belief that when our students succeed, countries prosper and societies benefit.”
Over the past summer, much fanfare greeted the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), including a reception at the White House and parades, speeches and gatherings across the country. By comparison, the anniversary of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) -- which came into being the same year -- came and went without public recognition.
The IDEA might seem tangential to those of us involved with higher education because its legislative reach extends only through secondary school. But as my classes get underway this fall, I’m reminded of its powerful impact on the current generation of college students, disabled and able-bodied alike.
The IDEA, which replaced 1975 legislation called the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA), mandates a “free appropriate public education” to all students from pre-K through high school. Before the passage of the EAHCA, many states had laws barring children with disabilities such as deafness, blindness, emotional disturbance and other cognitive delays from public education.
According to a research study completed in 1970, only one in five children with disabilities had received an education in school.
The 1975 law changed that by requiring schools to place them in the “least restrictive environment,” meaning, to the greatest extent possible, they would be included alongside nondisabled peers. The IDEA of 1990 expanded the age range of protected children, added measures to support families and included new provisions for adaptive equipment and services. Its new name also signaled an important shift away from “handicapped children” (which implied children were defined by their disabilities) to the people-first language of “individuals with disabilities” (which implied that disability was just one aspect of a child’s identity).
The life writing of people with disabilities tells harrowing stories of what it was like to go to school before the passage of the EAHCA. Animal scientist Temple Grandin, whose autism made it hard for her to converse socially, was teased and ostracized by her peers. The parents of Stephen Kuusisto, director of the honors program at Syracuse University, refused to enroll him in a school for the blind and sent him to a school where he received no accommodations for his low vision. Deaf scholar Brenda Brueggemann describes the awkwardness of going with classmates to movies where she was unable to hear or understand the dialogue.
Reading these accounts, I’m reminded that the students with disabilities I find in my classes are the beneficiaries of a very different system. The IDEA ensured that most of them received an inclusive education, and it required the schools they attended to provide adaptive technologies, assistants and support services that would allow them to succeed in classes with their nondisabled peers.
Less often acknowledged is the impact of the IDEA on nondisabled college students. By including larger numbers of students with disabilities in elementary and secondary schools, the IDEA changed how nondisabled kids understood the meaning of disability. It is far less common for today’s students to have attended a school where the “special” kids arrived on the stigmatized “short bus” and marched off to a separate classroom. Having those kids in class -- along with their wheelchairs, canes, adaptive communication devices and assistants -- naturalized disability in a way that would not have been possible in more segregated environments.
Many of today’s students grew up with the assumption that children with disabilities belong in the same classroom and have the same right to an education that they do. Research shows that having kids with disabilities in class teaches valuable lessons about acceptance, patience and diversity. As people with disabilities increasingly participate in the workforce, inclusive education also prepares the current generation of students for a diversity they will likely encounter in their professional lives.
In case I sound overly cheery, let me be clear that the IDEA is no panacea. I’m well aware that many schools still have special classrooms for children deemed too disabled for inclusion. New York City, where I live, is home to District 75, reserved for segregating those "special" kids from their typical peers. On the other end of the spectrum, some of my students attended exclusive private schools that are exempt from the requirements of the IDEA. Their experience of kids with disabilities is limited to the service learning projects that round out their stellar college applications. And despite the law, the families of students with disabilities are often exhausted by fighting for services they are entitled to.
That said, I’m still convinced the law provides a valuable foundation that is worth building on and that should be celebrated.
I’m never more aware of the impact of the IDEA than when I tell my students that I’m the parent of a child with Down syndrome. Because of the IDEA, my son attends second grade at an inclusive elementary school. More than one of my students has responded to this disclosure by saying, “My best friend has Down syndrome!”
In the generation before the IDEA, this scenario would have been virtually unthinkable. If they went to school at all, children with Down syndrome were tucked away in special classes where they learned life skills because nobody thought they were capable of reading and writing. Seeing them banished in this way, their typical peers learned that people with Down syndrome were not worthy of inclusion.
Certainly the world is a better place for my son: ample research shows that people with Down syndrome learn better in inclusive settings. But it is also a better place for his peers, who, thanks to the IDEA, learn to recognize him as a person deserving of respect and friendship. That recognition is high on the list of lessons I’d like my students to learn before entering college.
Rachel Adams is a professor of English and director of the Center for the Study of Social Difference at Columbia University.
The arrests of five University of Alabama students on hazing charges late Wednesday was quickly followed by the university's announcement that the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity had been suspended, The Tuscaloosa Newsreported. Neither the news release from the university announcing the suspension nor the police offered any details on the hazing charges. But the university statement included this comment from Dean Hebson, the dean of students: “The University of Alabama will not tolerate hazing and takes allegations and incidents of hazing very seriously. Students who are the victims of, or who become aware of, hazing incidents are strongly encouraged to bring these incidents to our attention.”
Submitted by Paul Fain on October 1, 2015 - 3:00am
The University of Chicago announced Wednesday that it would receive $100 million to create a research institute to study global conflicts. The gift from the Thomas L. Pearson and the Pearson Family Members Foundation is the second largest in the university's history.
The donation is "transformative," said Robert Zimmer, the university's president. "Importantly, the study of global conflicts is a field ripe for groundbreaking research approaches, and the Pearson Institute will seek to inform more effective policy solutions for resolving violent conflicts to make a lasting impact around the world," he said in a written statement.