The Asian American Coalition for Education will today announce that it is asking the U.S. Education Department to find that Brown and Yale Universities and Dartmouth College discriminate against Asian-American applicants. The complaint cites data such as the increasing number of Asian-American applicants and studies that have found that, on average, Asian-Americans need higher grades and test scores to earn admission to elite colleges, and comments from former admissions officers to back up that view. The coalition and other groups have been seeking to challenge affirmative action policies that they say favor all non-Asian applicants (including white applicants) over Asians. To date, these efforts have not succeeded.
William Paterson University in New Jersey must pay more than $2 million in compensatory and punitive damages to a former professor of secondary and middle school education who says she was harassed and discriminated against on the basis of race and religion, a jury decided last week. Althea Hulton-Lindsay, former chair of her department, alleged various forms of mistreatment and said she was stripped of her responsibilities and saw her proposals rejected by Candace Burns, dean of the College of Education, because she is black and a born-again Christian, NorthJersey.com reported. For example, Hulton-Lindsay said, Burns once called campus security because she and colleague were praying at the colleague’s desk.
Hulton-Lindsay said that she filed several harassment complaints with William Paterson, but that they were never investigated and that she was eventually removed as department chair in 2012. The professor also alleged retaliation, saying that the action came a week after she filed a complaint, but the jury rejected that claim. Noreen Kemether, a deputy state attorney general who represented William Paterson during the trial, said that Hulton-Lindsay was not discriminated against and rather removed from her leadership role because she failed to work cooperatively with Burns and other colleagues.
The University of Wisconsin at Madison has suspended Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity after an investigation found that chapter members repeatedly used racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic slurs, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The fraternity also was found to have ostracized a black member who asked them to stop using the slurs. Last year, a video of members of the SAE chapter at the University of Oklahoma singing a song with racist slurs attracted national attention. And while SAE officials have said that the organization is committed to treating all people equally, the Madison incident is the latest in a series of racial incidents involving chapters of the fraternity.
The University of Melbourne, in Australia, is currently restricting three mathematics faculty jobs to female applicants, ABC Australia reported. Officials said mathematics departments struggle to attract female applicants. Australian law permits discrimination (in this case against male applicants) designed to promote equal opportunity.
A new report from the Century Foundation considers the issue of "identity threat" and the way many low-income and minority students with academic talent may feel unwelcome or stereotyped in college. The report suggests that students face bias from some professors based on stereotypes and that this creates "stereotype threat" in which students may come to doubt their own abilities. Students pay attention to many cues on whether the environment is welcoming, and whether people on campus have confidence in their abilities, the report says.
Colleges and universities are required under federal laws to offer accommodations to students who can demonstrate that a learning disability poses difficulties for their academic success. But as a new study notes, students must demonstrate that they have a disability, and this frequently involves paying for testing. The study, published in the journal Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, surveyed undergraduates at 11 doctoral-granting universities, and found that only about a third of those reporting learning disabilities received accommodations. Finances may be at play. Half of the wealthiest students with learning disabilities reported receiving accommodations, a much higher rate than for students of more modest means. "Accommodations are free, but the tests to prove you have a learning disability are not," said Karla McGregor, a professor of communication sciences and disorders at the University of Iowa and lead author of the study.
San Francisco State University has reached an agreement with its embattled College of Ethnic Studies. The college, the only one of its kind in the country, has said it is chronically underfunded, to the point that it can barely sustain operations beyond paying full-time personnel. Facing student protests, President Les Wong said the college was overspending.
The agreement, reached late last week between the university and student hunger strikers, says that central administration will make an additional $482,806 investment in the college, in addition to an earlier $250,000 additional commitment for next academic year. That’s upward of the approximately $500,000 faculty members at the college estimated they needed to close their budget gap earlier this year. The investment includes support for two full-time, tenure-track faculty lines in Africana studies, four work-study positions and the development of a Pacific Islander studies program. The agreement also provides for more regular communication between the college and the university about funding and other needs. All parties have agreed to a silent period through the end of the year.
The Alpha Delta Pi sorority at Samford University, in Alabama, has angered many on campus and elsewhere by producing a T-shirt featuring a map of the state, with an image depicting a stereotypical black man eating watermelon in one corner of the design. The university says it specifically told the sorority not to produce the T-shirt, but it did so anyway. Images from the shirt (right) have been circulating on social media. R. Philip Kimrey, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, issued a statement in which he said that the university "apologizes for the offensive image," which he called "completely inconsistent with the university's mission and values." He said that the university would be "following our procedures as quickly as possible" to deal with potential violations of the university's rules.
Students at Seattle University have occupied a dean's office and vowed to stay until their demands are met, The Seattle Times reported. The university says that it has met with and is willing to continue to meet with the students to discuss their demands, and to review the curriculum and other issues. The students have published a list of their demands, including a new curriculum that "decentralizes whiteness and has a critical focus on the evolution of systems of oppression such as racism, capitalism, colonialism, etc., highlighting the art, histories, theologies, political philosophies and socio-cultural transformation of Western and non-Western societies." The students also want the new curriculum to be taught by "prepared staff from marginalized backgrounds, especially professors of color and queer professors," and want all faculty members to be required to go through "training from an antiracist network in Seattle, such as the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond."