James Ritchie, a male student, has resigned as women's officer of the student union at the University of Tasmania. Ritchie's recent election to that post set off a furor. He has said repeatedly that he is committed to fighting discrimination against women.
A petition calling for his removal states that support for women's equality isn't the only qualification for the position. "The role of women’s officer is more than just about ‘doing things’ for women students, it is also about representation. In what have historically been male-dominated institutions, with a persistently patriarchal culture, it is important that women’s rights, needs, interests and concerns in the university context are voiced through someone elected to directly represent them. In light of persisting social issues of gender inequality, discrimination and under-representation of women in positions of influence and power at university and beyond, we believe it is not much to ask that women students are ensured a dedicated student representative to not only represent their specific concerns as a student body, but also to simply carve out and ensure space for women in the Tasmanian University Union Student Representative Council," the petition says.
In his resignation statement, Ritchie criticized those who called for his ouster. "How can we as a society expect our men to stand up for women if they are mocked and insulted for trying to help the cause?" he wrote. "I challenge all those that have ridiculed me and asked me to resign, what are you going to do now? How are you going to ensure as a community we work to eradicate discrimination and injustice for women? This still takes place daily around the world. Surely a starting point cannot be hating those who are wanting to do good."
Female students -- especially in their first year -- are more likely to actively participate and less likely to feel anxious if they have the chance to work in small groups that are majority female, according to a new study that will appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study was led by Nilanjana Dasgupta at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and its emphasis was on women in male-dominated fields such as engineering. Tracking 120 undergraduates, the researchers found an impact on whether the women were in female-majority small groups, and that this had a positive impact, even if the class was mostly male. The researchers suggest more attention be paid to the composition of small groups that are common for team projects and group learning in engineering and other science and technology fields.
The University of South Carolina has suspended a student who is depicted in a photo circulating on social media showing her using a racist term for black people. The image circulating (at right) has the word obscured. It is the first word on a list of reasons "why USC Wi-Fi blows."
Harris Pastides, president of the university, issued this statement: "Today, the unfortunate and disappointing act of a student in a study room has challenged the Carolina community to reflect on our values and tell the world what we believe. Respect for all is at the heart of the Carolinian Creed, the code by which we agree to abide. Racist and uncivil rhetoric has no place at the University of South Carolina. We have taken appropriate actions to suspend a student and begin code of conduct investigations."
A Duke University student has admitted to placing a noose on a tree on campus -- an incident that alarmed many on the campus. The university, citing privacy laws, did not release much detail about the student or the motivations for the noose placement. But the university statement on the matter said that "the student is no longer on campus."
Black basketball coaches are faring poorly in the annual firings and hirings that accompany the end of the college basketball season, The Chicago Tribune reported. In the most recent national study, black coaches made up 22 percent of Division I head men's basketball coaches -- a figure that stands out, considering that 58 percent of male college basketball players are black. In the current round of coaching changes, 11 of the 25 who have left their positions are black. Of the eight black coaches for whom replacements have been announced, seven are white.
The University of Maryland at College Park has concluded that an offensive email in which a fraternity member told brothers to ignore the idea that women need to consent to sex, and in which he used a series of racist and sexist terms, is protected by the First Amendment. "This private email, while hateful and reprehensible, did not violate university policies and is protected by the First Amendment," said a statement issued by Wallace D. Loh, president of the university. That the author of the email can't be legally punished, Loh wrote, does not mean that the hurt it caused was not real. The email "caused anger and anguish, pain and fear, among many people. It subverts our core values of inclusivity, human dignity, safety and mutual respect. When any one of us is harmed by the hateful speech of another, all of us are harmed," Loh wrote.
The university previously announced that the author of the email and the university had "mutually agreed" that he would not be enrolled for the rest of the semester. Loh's statement included an apology from the student. "I regret sending that email more than I'll ever be able to put into words," he wrote. "I know there is no way to erase this incident or the agony it has caused, but I want you to know that I will strive to never use such language again. I have learned an important life lesson, realizing there is no room for hate or prejudice of any kind in our community. I am committed to becoming a better person, a person that appreciates differences."
Many college leaders are speaking out against Indiana's new law allowing individuals and businesses to discriminate if they feel called upon by their religious beliefs to do so. Among the more notable reactions Tuesday:
Pat Haden, athletics director at the University of Southern California, announced he would skip a college football playoff meeting in Indianapolis this week. Haden wrote on Twitter: "I am the proud father of a gay son. In his honor, I will not be attending the C.F.P. committee meeting in Indy this week. #EmbraceDiversity"
The University of Connecticut announced that its men's basketball staff would stay away from meetings normally held at the Final Four, this year in Indianapolis, because "UConn is a community that values all of our members and treats each person with the same degree of respect, regardless of their background and beliefs and we will not tolerate any other behavior."
The University of Notre Dame, cited by many defenders of the law as a religious institution in need of protection, issued a statement that appeared to distance itself from the push for the law. The statement said in full: "Notre Dame’s name has been invoked with regard to Indiana's version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. While the university does not comment on specific pieces of state legislation, and had no role in the passage of the Indiana statute, we reiterate our commitment as a Catholic university to maintaining a community where all are welcome and valued, to combating unjust discrimination wherever it occurs, and to respecting all rights, including, but not limited to, the foundational right to the free exercise of religion."