A black woman who is a student at Duke University reported to officials there that last weekend a group of while male students taunted her with the racist chant used by a University of Oklahoma fraternity. That accusation has led to a larger debate at Duke. A group called the People of Color Caucus issued an online statement that said that the chant was not an "isolated incident" but part of a pattern of racist incidents at Duke and elsewhere. A hashtag -- #whatweneedfromduke -- has become a forum for people to share thoughts on these issues, while others have been putting up posters (at right) on what they believe the university needs to do.
Duke President Richard H. Brodhead and Provost Sally Kornbluth issued a joint statement Thursday in which they said that the reported incident with the racist chant was being investigated. Their statement said in part: "In the face of this situation both nationally and close to home, we want to underline Duke’s fundamental values. Inclusivity and mutual respect are core values for any civil society, but they have a special meaning in a university. Thinking in stereotypes is a failure of intelligence. Education begins the day we learn to pass beyond crude and distorting simplifications. Further, a university is based on the premise that we are all here to learn from each other, which requires a broad measure of inclusion and openness to others’ experience and points of view."
One of the two students expelled from the University of Oklahoma over a fraternity's racist chant has apologized to black leaders in Oklahoma City, and then to the public, The New York Times reported. The former student, Levi Pettit, said the chant was "mean, hateful and racist." After a meeting with black leaders at a church, he said: “Some have wondered why I hadn’t spoken out publicly. The truth is I have had a mix of pain, shame, sorrow and fear over the consequences of my actions. I did not want to apologize to the press or to the whole country until I first came to apologize to those most directly impacted. The truth is what was said in that chant is disgusting, and after meeting with these people, I’ve learned these words should never be repeated.”
President Obama, in an interview with The Huffington Post, responded to question about how the University of Oklahoma responded (in part by expelling two students and kicking a fraternity off campus) to a video showing a fraternity chant about not admitting black students to their organization. And the president strongly backed the university's actions, while offering some perspective on the incident.
The president's answer: "Look, at any given point on any given day, somebody is doing something stupid out there. In the age of the Internet, it's going to attract attention. I don't think this is the first time that somebody at a fraternity has done something stupid, racist, sexist. It won't be the last. What was heartening was the quick response from President Boren, somebody who I know well and I know who has great integrity. The quick reaction from the student body. You know, the way we have to measure progress here is not, 'Is there ever going to be an incident of racism in the country?' It's, 'How does the majority of our country respond?' And on that front, there's no doubt that the overwhelming number of students at the University of Oklahoma, and around the country, think that kind of behavior is deplorable and don't accept it. Frankly, 30 years ago or 40 years ago, there might have been a different reaction and more tolerance for that kind of racist chant."
McGill University has rejected the request of a Muslim female student to start women-only hours in the workout facilities on campus, CBC News reported. The request has prompted widespread campus debate in recent weeks. McGill's deputy provost for student life and learning, Ollivier Dyens, said, "We don't believe in the segregation of our services, we don't believe in separating some groups from others on campus. It's always been clear, McGill is secular and coed, and this is what we promote." McGill does have some hours for women only in the pool, but officials said that because people wear bathing suits, issues of modesty and privacy are greater there.
University of Georgia Greek leaders have announced that they will no longer approve costume themes for parties that involve antebellum hoop skirts, The Athens Banner-Heraldreported. The move followed discussions between administrators and Greek system leaders about the recent video of a University of Oklahoma fraternity's racist chant. Fraternities at the university have in recent years moved away from events in which some members dressed as Confederate soldiers.
Two white journalism students at Ryerson University, in Toronto, were barred by a student group from attending a campus event because of their race, The National Post reported. The students had been assigned by a professor to attend an event of the Racialised Students’ Collective, and were asked upon showing up whether they had been "marginalized or racialized." When they said no, they were asked to leave. The professor said that the event was advertised as open to the public. News of the students' exclusion has prompted widespread debate in Canada, and that discussion is spreading elsewhere. Members of the collective said that they needed a "safe space" to discuss their concerns.
Zaytuna College has become the first accredited Muslim college in the United States, after the college commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges granted its approval, The Los Angeles Times reported. Zaytuna is based in Berkeley, Calif.
For the first time in almost 40 years and just the second time in history, the University of Alabama's Student Government Association has a black president, AL.com reported. With his election, Elliot Spillers, a junior business management major who is enrolled in the university's honors college, becomes the first African-American to lead the student government since 1976. The development comes about 18 months after the university faced significant criticism over the segregation of its sororities.
Spillers's electoral triumph was noteworthy for another reason, too, the Alabama publication reported: he was elected without the support of "The Machine," which the university's student newspaper has described as a secret coalition of Greek organizations that are thought to control student institutions.