diversity

Delta State Takes Down Mississippi Flag

Delta State University, which has been the last public university in Mississippi to fly the state flag, announced Thursday that it would stop doing so. Students and faculty members at the university -- as has been the case at other public universities in the state -- have been urging the state to change the state flag, which featured a Confederate flag in one corner. As the state has not done so, the rest of the public universities stopped flying the state flag.

William N. LaForge, president of Delta State, issued a statement Thursday explaining the decision.

"The objectionable portion of the state flag -- the stars and bars -- presents a polarizing symbol that is a barrier to progress and improved understanding of our state, our university and our people," he said. "Delta State recently completed a visioning process, during which we set a course of excellence for the university’s future. Included in our visioning principles are a number of core values that we promote and embrace, including civility, respect for all, diversity, inclusion, fairness, hospitality and a welcoming environment that is conducive to the success of our students, faculty and staff. We believe that continuing to fly the state flag -- with its divisive symbol that sends a confusing message, at best, and that has increasingly become a distraction to our mission -- is contrary to our core values and to an accurate understanding of who we are and what we stand for as a university."

Trans students need to be able to legally change their names on official college records (essay)

A major concern for trans people today is the process of legally changing one’s name, as well as one’s gender marker, on official college records, writes Katriel Paige.

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Harvard 'Scouting Report' Scandal Grows

Harvard University announced Thursday that it was calling off the remainder of this year's men's soccer season, and would decline any postseason play opportunities. The news followed the discovery that a "scouting report" by the men's team in 2012 -- featuring sexist comments about members of the women's team -- continued up until this year, and that some team members were not honest about the continued existence of the document. A statement from Harvard President Drew Faust said, "The decision to cancel a season is serious and consequential, and reflects Harvard’s view that both the team’s behavior and the failure to be forthcoming when initially questioned are completely unacceptable, have no place at Harvard and run counter to the mutual respect that is a core value of our community."

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How to develop curricula that are inclusive of transgender students (essay)

Stacy Jane Grover gives advice on how to avoid curriculum choices that exoticize, tokenize and discipline the experiences of transgender and gender-nonconforming students.

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Harvard Will Investigate Sexist 'Scouting Report'

Harvard University President Drew Faust has ordered a full investigation into the "scouting report" in which members of the men's soccer team circulated rankings of the women's team members, complete with sexist comments of their appearance and crude remarks about them. Since The Harvard Crimson revealed the practice of making the report, many at the university have been speaking out against it.

In a statement Tuesday to The Boston Globe, Faust said, “I want to ensure not only that such actions do not happen again, whether on men’s soccer or any other Harvard team, but also that all members of our community fully understand that such activities have never been, and never will be, acceptable at Harvard.”

STEM Jobs and 'Ideal Worker' Women

Some research attributes gender imbalances in the sciences, technology, math and engineering in part to women’s deliberate life choices; in other words, getting married and having children keeps some women out of the workforce. But a new study suggests that even women with undergraduate STEM degrees who planned to delay marriage and child rearing were no more likely than other STEM women to land a job in the sciences two years after graduation. The men most likely to enter STEM occupations adhered to significantly more conventional gender ideologies than their female counterparts, expecting to marry at younger ages but also to remain childless, according to the study.

Still, the study attributes the majority of the gender disparity in transitions into STEM jobs to women's underrepresentation in engineering and computer science studies.

The Missing Women in STEM? Assessing Gender Differentials in the Factors Associated With Transition to First Jobs,” published in Social Science Research, analyzes data from the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. It tracks young people’s career aspirations that year and their career paths periodically thereafter and focuses on 163 women and 353 men with undergraduate STEM degrees. Over all, 41 percent of women graduating with a STEM degree were employed in a STEM job within two years of completing college, compared to 53 percent of men -- a statistically significant difference, the study says.

The researchers attribute their major finding, in part, to employer bias against women and women’s underrepresentation in STEM majors. Another major reason for the employment gap was women’s underrepresentation in STEM majors (especially outside of the life sciences), the study says. And men in the study were more likely than women to have traditional views about women being responsible for housework and child care, leading the researchers to suggest that some women found the STEM climate too conservative to work in; many women in the study found non-STEM work.

“These women have the characteristics of the ideal worker. They expect to have few family distractions and work in STEM both within five years and at midlife. They really have strong aspirations,” Sharon Sassler, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University who co-wrote the study, said in a statement. “But they were no more likely to enter STEM jobs than women who anticipated marrying young and having two or more children.”

Sassler said this dynamic exacerbates the gender imbalance seen at other points in the career pipeline. “If women aren’t getting into these STEM jobs, then they’re not there to mentor other women. They’re not there to climb the ladder and help with hiring.”

More Racist Graffiti at Eastern Michigan

In September, students and others at Eastern Michigan University were shaken by several incidents of racist graffiti being found on campus. On Monday, the university was again roiled, this time by a large spray-painted message -- using the N-word -- urging black people to leave. The university has offered a reward for information leading authorities to the person or persons responsible. On social media, some are saying Eastern Michigan hasn't done enough to prevent such incidents.

Jim Smith, president of the university, released a statement condemning the racist message.

"The deeper and systemic issues that are behind these incidents continue to be a focus for our student leaders, our faculty, our administration and all who care about this institution and the welfare of our students. These incidents run counter to the values and mission of the university and our actions over the past several weeks and going forth have and will continue to reflect that," he said. "Again, I am personally angered and saddened, and want to convey my strong sense of resolve in finding out who is behind these incidents and in continuing to come together as a campus community to confront hate and racism, and promote an environment of mutual understanding and inclusion."

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Harvard Women Respond to Sexist 'Scouting Report'

Six women who were among the subjects of a "scouting report" that made sexist and demeaning rankings of the physical attributes of the women's soccer team at Harvard University have answered back. The Harvard Crimson recently revealed a tradition of male soccer players compiling the report on members of the women's team. The women who were the subject of such a report -- after being asked to share their feelings privately -- published a letter to the Crimson with their reactions and their names.

"In all, we do not pity ourselves, nor do we ache most because of the personal nature of this attack," the letter says. "More than anything, we are frustrated that this is a reality that all women have faced in the past and will continue to face throughout their lives. We feel hopeless because men who are supposed to be our brothers degrade us like this. We are appalled that female athletes who are told to feel empowered and proud of their abilities are so regularly reduced to a physical appearance. We are distraught that mothers having daughters almost a half century after getting equal rights have to worry about men's entitlement to bodies that aren't theirs. We are concerned for the future, because we know that the only way we can truly move past this culture is for the very men who perpetrate it to stop it in its tracks."

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U of Wisconsin criticized over response to costume depicting lynched Obama

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University of Wisconsin says fans’ offensive costumes depicting a lynched President Obama are protected by First Amendment. Black alumni say incident is the latest in “a long pattern of ineffective responses to a growing racially hostile environment.”

The broader implications of unfairly accusing a Latina student of plagiarism (essay)

In a recent article, “Eight Actions to Reduce Racism in College Classrooms,” Shaun R. Harper, founder and executive director of the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education at the University of Pennsylvania, and I offer a series of recommendations emerging from the more than 40 campus climate assessments conducted by the center. The first action challenges college faculty to recognize their implicit biases and to remediate their racial illiteracy.

As discussed in Harper’s forthcoming book, Race Matters in College, college and university faculty members are the byproducts of their own educational experiences. Whether in K-12 schools, college or graduate school, too few of us were given sufficient opportunity to learn about race and racism or meaningfully engage with others from different racial and ethnic backgrounds.

As a result, too little attention has been paid to the problematic and stereotypical ways we have been socialized to think about people of color. Naturally, the failure to challenge such biases prior to entering the professoriate has allowed prejudicial racial attitudes of some colleagues, particularly white faculty who are the overwhelming majority of college and university professors, to inform racist pedagogical practices in their classrooms.

The recent case involving a first-generation Latina student, Tiffany Martínez, at Suffolk University, is but one example. An accomplished undergraduate, published journal author and McNair scholar, Martínez wrote a personal blog post titled “Academia, Love Me Back.” In her heartfelt plea, Martínez first recounts an experience she described as both disrespectful and invalidating and then explains that a sociology professor accused her of plagiarism, not privately, but in front of the entire class. The professor’s claim was further illustrated by emphatic written statements on her paper such as “this is not your word” and “please go back and indicate where you cut and paste.”

One such comment was written in the margin near the word “hence,” which the professor had circled, an important detail, given Martínez merely used it as an appropriate transition to connect two related sentences. Was it that surprising to Martínez’s professor that she knew how to appropriately use a transitional word?

Although some may dismiss this as a minor incident, Martínez reminds us of the internalized racism and self-doubt resulting from years of educational violence. Like the many students of color from whom we hear similar stories in our campus climate assessments, what transpired for Martínez was yet another debilitating and painful experience of marginalization.

In this case, Martínez’s professor was in disbelief that a Latina student was capable of using language consistent with what is regarded as strong, academic and scholarly writing. Such disbelief is likely to have been informed by common stereotypical portrayals of Latinas with which Martínez’s professor was most familiar, which are unlikely to have been reflective of the intellectually rich contributions of Hispanic, Latina and Chicana scholars like Laura Rendón, Gloria Anzaldúa and many others. Instead of acknowledging that Martínez is as capable as her white peers, the professor assumed intellectual incompetence and publicly reduced her demonstrated genius to an act of theft. Such assumptions and actions were not only pedagogically irresponsible, but demonstrably racist.

It is imperative that our colleagues stop being surprised when students of color are able to thoughtfully articulate themselves in their writing and in class discussions. Such low expectations of students of color who have, at minimum, earned admission to our institutions effectively erases their demonstrated capabilities and ongoing potential to meet subjective academic standards.

Furthermore, it is categorically unfair that students of color are routinely targeted and attacked with allegations of academic dishonesty due to the limits placed on their genius by the white imagination. Not only are white students not subjected to the same scrutiny and humiliation by their same-race professors, but they are also regularly excused and validated when proven to have committed the very offenses that the academy abhors.

Charles H. F. Davis III is on the faculty in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Davis also serves as director of higher education research and initiatives in the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education.

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