Two Northwestern University freshmen are facing charges that they spray-painted slurs against gay people and black people, a swastika and the name "Trump" in a nondenominational chapel at the university, The Chicago Tribune reported. The students (who were caught on videotape) also spray-painted over photographs of Muslim students. The two freshmen said nothing during a court hearing, but reportedly have admitted to the charges.
But when a new mission statement was released last week, it contained no mention of the historically black mission. And the lack of that mention led several hundred students -- many of them dressed in black -- to protest at Albany State, The Albany Heraldreported. Curtis Fluker, a senior, said, "It’s not 1965 anymore; it’s time to live in color. We really don’t care who comes to school here as long as we can protect the school’s legacy. This is not about the name of the school, but the new mission statement. Nothing is given to you at an HBCU, you have to earn it."
The HBCU Roundtable, which advocates for historically black colleges, posted the photo at right.
Art Dunning, president of Albany State, said more documents on the consolidation plan would provide places to include the historically black university mission.
Officials of the university system did not respond to an email from Inside Higher Ed asking why the historically black mission was not included in last week's document.
A survey of college presidents by the American Council on Education has found that many report having taken actions to deal with diversity concerns on campus. Among the findings:
Nearly half of four-year presidents and 13 percent of two-year presidents say students have organized around concerns about racial diversity.
Eighty-six percent of four-year presidents and 71 percent of two-year presidents have met with student organizers more than once.
More than half of presidents say the racial climate on their campuses has become more of a priority compared to three years ago.
The most common action over the last five years, for both two-year and four-year institutions as well as public and private institutions, has been initiatives aimed at increasing diversity among students, faculty and/or staff members.
An Inside Higher Ed survey of presidents released this week found that many college presidents see problems with race relations in higher ed nationally, but most think their own campuses are doing well.
Black students at the University of Missouri at Columbia set off a nationwide protest movement last year over conditions facing minority students in higher education. On Monday, the Concerned Student 1950 movement at Mizzou again marched through campus, finding a locked door to the interim chancellor's office on the way, protesting what members call inadequate efforts to improve the climate at the university, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported. A task force has been appointed by the university, and officials say it is making progress, but the student protest movement questions whether it is sufficiently involved in shaping the task force's agenda, and whether it is working speedily enough. Spike Lee, the film director and producer, joined Monday's protest, filming it for ESPN.
Roxane Gay (right) says she rewrote the talk she gave at Saint Louis University last week to focus on abortion rights -- as a protest against a last-minute "reminder" that she shouldn't talk about abortion. Gay, a feminist writer and an associate professor of English at Purdue University, says that her speaking agent received a notice the morning of her talk, saying that the university, as a Jesuit institution, didn't want her speaking about the "pro-choice agenda." Her response was to rewrite her speech to focus on a pro-choice agenda, and to talk about the importance with which she views abortion rights.
She says she thought about calling off the talk, but instead gave the new version to take a stand against censorship. "My temper flared immediately. I don’t like vague threats of censorship. I hate the word 'agenda' when it is used as a blunt instrument, when it is used to imply that one with a so-called agenda is up to no good. I am a deeply flawed person, but I pride myself on being concerned with the greater good, and seeking out goodness in myself and others. I thought about canceling my appearance, but then I reconsidered because really, what would that accomplish?" she wrote.
Martha Minow, dean of the Harvard University law school, has endorsed the recommendations of a panel she appointed to change the law school's seal, a major demand of minority students and others. The seal (visible at right in a logo used by the student group) shows three bundles of wheat. Students say the seal is inappropriate because it was the family seal of Isaac Royall Jr., who was honored as a major early donor to the law school but was also involved with the slave trade in the 18th century.
In announcing her recommendation to end use of the seal, Minow wrote that the debate raised many issues. "Whatever was known in the past, powerful and challenging questions now arise about the Harvard Law School shield," she wrote. "Designed in 1936 as part of the university’s tercentenary, it contains a design based on a bookplate used by Isaac Royall Sr., who passed his wealth -- including enslaved persons -- to his son, the initial donor to the school. What role should history play in defining who we are? What was the genesis of the shield and how does that history influence our path forward? Do we better remember our connection with the Royall family and with slavery by preserving the shield or by retiring it? What role do symbols play in the school’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and belonging inside our community and in the world at large? Does consideration of the shield’s future put into question the names of buildings, endowed chairs, the nation’s capital and other embodiments of the past?"
Minow also gave her rationale for asking Harvard's governing board to vote to change the seal. "There are complex issues involved in preserving the histories of places and institutions with ties to past injustices, but several elements make retiring the shield less controverted than some other issues about names, symbols and the past," she wrote. "First, the shield is a symbol whose primary purpose is to identify and express who we mean to be. Second, it is not an anchoring part of our history: it was created in 1936 for a university celebration, used occasionally for decades and used more commonly only recently, and does not extend back to the origin of the school or even much beyond recent memory. Third, there is no donor whose intent would be undermined; the shield itself involves no resources entrusted in our care."