The board of the College of Charleston on Saturday named Glenn McConnell, a career politician currently serving as lieutenant governor, as the college's next president. The choice is a controversial one. Many faculty and students have questioned McConnell's lack of a background working in academe. In his legislative career, he was a strong supporter of flying the Confederate flag on state grounds, and photos of him posing as a Confederate general in war re-enactments (with one photo in particular showing him with people playing the part of black slaves) have offended many black people in the state. The NAACP in the state urged that the board pick someone other than McConnell. He has pledged to build legislative support for the college and, in particular, its economic development role. But many at the college fear that at a time that some legislators want to turn the college into a research university, McConnell will not defend its current mission. The college has a strong reputation as a liberal arts institution.
Authorities who have been investigating the alleged racial harassment of a student at Grand Valley State University now believe that the alleged victim is the one who wrote slurs and racist images on a whiteboard, MLive.com reported. The student has been referred to campus officials for violating the code of conduct. A statement from the campus police chief says that the false report “had a disruptive impact on the community.”
The University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa has for much of this academic year debated the segregation of much of its Greek system, although an all-white sorority system -- following nationwide attention -- pledged several black women. But controversy has returned with the decision of student government leaders not to vote on a resolution endorsing the idea that all Greek houses should be integrated. AL.com reported that student government leaders said that they were just following procedure in referring the resolution to a committee (in which it will die this academic year because the end of the term is approaching). But supporters of the resolution said that some student government leaders didn't want to endorse the resolution or be public in opposing it.
A leader of the Parti Québécois, which is the governing party in Quebec but has just started a tough re-election campaign, has proposed that college and university students be barred from wearing burkas, Maclean's reported. Bernard Drainville, the official who proposed the idea, is also behind the proposed "values charter" that would bar public employees (including those in higher education) from wearing any religious attire. In proposing the burka ban, he said he was concerned that students in burkas attend classes at a number of universities in the province.
The black student who authorities say was the victim of months of racial harassment by his suitemates at San Jose State University has filed a $5 million claim against the institution, The San Jose Mercury News reported. The claim says that a resident adviser was aware of the situation and didn't intervene as needed. This contrasts with the university's commissioned investigation, which found that there was no knowledge of the harassment by those who could have stopped it.
A statement from the university said that San Jose State officials believe the claim was filed with the wrong state agency for such matters, and that the university does not comment on such claims.
A dean's list student at Hannibal-LaGrange University who withdrew due to illness in October says he was blocked from returning because he is gay, the Associated Press reported. During the time he was away from the university, he came out on Facebook, and he said that university officials explained their refusal to re-enroll him by pointing him to a morals clause at the Baptist institution that describes homosexuality as a "misuse of God's gift." The student noted that others who violate rules related to sex are permitted to stay enrolled. He said he was told that, to return, he would have to renounce homosexuality. The university declined to comment.
The University of California on Wednesday released a "climate" report in which it analyzed survey results from students and employees across the university system. The results suggested that most people at the university feel comfortable, but that a significant minority do not. Twenty-four percent of respondents (breakdowns were not provided for different groups) reported that they "had personally experienced exclusionary, intimidating, offensive, and/or hostile conduct" at a university campus. And 9 percent said "that this conduct interfered with their ability to work or learn." Three percent reported that they had experienced unwanted sexual conduct at the university.
Among students, 69 percent of undergraduates and 78 percent of graduate students were satisfied with their academic experience. And 75 percent of undergraduates, 85 percent of graduate students, and 67 percent of postdocs said that they "felt valued by faculty in the classroom."
A state judge has ruled that the University of Minnesota discriminated against Katie Brenny, a former associate golf coach, because she is a lesbian, The Star Tribune reported. Brenny quit her job at Minnesota after most of her duties were reassigned, and the judge agreed with her contention that those reassignments came after some at the university learned her sexual orientation. The judge awarded her just under $360,000. A spokesman for the university, which has denied wrongdoing, said that it was reviewing the decision but was disappointed by the judge's ruling.
The student newspaper at John Brown University is being criticized by Hindu groups for publishing a column that attacked yoga because of its links to Hinduism. The op-ed in Threefold Online noted with concern the increasing popularity of yoga in the United States.
"As I have been thinking of all the arguments and reasons why yoga is not as beneficial as we’ve been led to believe, it all keeps coming back to the fact that yoga has its roots in the worship of demonic Hindu gods," the column said. "I believe that while yoga may offer some benefits, those benefits have hidden, demonic strings attached. I spoke to one of our chapel speakers years ago about this. He was a Dalit 'untouchable' from India who had become a Christian. His view is that yoga is the beautiful face that the very ugly religion of Hinduism uses to sell itself to Americans."
Rajan Zed, president of Universal Society of Hinduism, has called for the paper and the university to apologize.
The editor-in-chief of the paper has published a piece saying that the column does not necessarily reflect the views of the newspaper or the university.