The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Thursday announced revisions to its policies to handling sexual assaults, The News & Observer reported. Under the new policies, a trained university investigator will handle complaints, and that investigator's findings can be appealed to a panel of faculty and staff members. In 2012, under intense criticism for its handling of sexual assault accusations, the university stripped a student honor court of the power to adjudicate them. The new policy also defines consent, saying that it must be affirmed by both parties in a positive way. Further, the policy says that those who are incapacitated by alcohol or drugs are unable to give consent.
The philosophy department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has voted no confidence in Chancellor Phyllis Wise and other university leaders, The News-Gazette reported. The vote is based on the recent decision by Wise to block the appointment of Steven Salaita to a position in the American Indian studies program. The resolution states that "the recent words and actions of Chancellor Phyllis Wise, President Robert Easter, and the Board of Trustees in connection with the revocation of an offer of employment to Dr. Steven Salaita betray a culpable disregard not only for academic freedom and free speech generally but also for the principles of shared governance and established protocols for hiring, tenure, and promotion."
Suffolk University on Wednesday replaced President James McCarthy, who had been in office since 2012, The Boston Globe reported. Few details were provided about why the change was made. Norman R. Smith, former president of Wagner College, was named interim president.
As part of a deal with its faculty union, the University of Saskatchewan has agreed to end the right of the president to veto tenure decisions, The Star Phoenix reported. Faculty at the university see the veto as antithetical to academic freedom. The agreement comes in the wake of numerous disputes over the relative power of administrators and faculty members at the Canadian university.
Peter Salovey, Yale University's president, used his welcoming speech to freshmen on Saturday to encourage them to respect free expression, particularly in the context of an academic environment. "In the last year or two, we have seen more than the usual number of events on college and university campuses across this country in which the freedom to express ideas has been threatened. Invitations to provocative speakers have been withdrawn; politicians, celebrities, and even university presidents invited to deliver commencement addresses have -- under pressure -- declined to speak to graduates; student protesters have had their signs destroyed by other members of a campus community," Salovey said. "In the most troubling of these 'free speech' incidents, speakers of various political persuasions have been shouted down and rendered unable to deliver remarks to campus groups who had invited them. Although we have not seen these kinds of episodes at Yale in recent decades, it is important on occasions like this one to remind ourselves why unfettered expression is so essential on a university campus.
Salovey recounted how Yale in the past responded to an incident in 1974 in which a speaker (William B. Shockley, the physicist who become a eugenics advocate who suggested that black population growth was a problem) was shouted down. After the incident, Yale appointed the historian C. Vann Woodward to lead a panel that produced a report affirming the importance of protecting free expression -- even ideas such as Shockley's that angered many people.
In his address, Salovey closed by saying: "[T]he right to free expression does not relieve us of the obligation to think before we speak. That obligation is a responsibility that we willingly assume as members of a community where mutual respect and caring are salient values. Nonetheless, I recognize that all of us here, in different ways, might also like to live in a campus community where nothing provocative and hurtful is ever said to anyone. And that is the part that I cannot -- nor should not -- promise you. For if we are not willing to be shocked, then we may not be allowing ourselves to be open to life-changing ideas, ideas that rock our worlds. And isn’t the opportunity to engage with those very ideas -- whether to embrace them or dispute them -- the reason why you chose Yale?"