A large group of students at the University of Mississippi held a protest Friday urging the institution to stop flying the state flag of Mississippi, which contains the Confederate battle flag in one corner. A small group of people unaffiliated with the university but who wore symbols and signs associated with and supporting the Ku Klux Klan held a counterprotest, waving the Confederate battle flag. While the counterprotest upset many students, the two events took place without incident, and the Klan-supporting group eventually left. The university has called on the state to remove the Confederate flag from the corner of the state flag, but has also said that -- as a state institution -- it will continue to fly the state flag as it exists.
Submitted by Jake New on October 16, 2015 - 3:00am
The University of Oregon's new "pioneer-themed" athletics uniforms celebrate a "history of genocidal violence, ethnic cleansing and exclusion of nonwhites," a coalition of Native faculty, staff and students said in an open letter this week. The uniforms, unveiled by Nike earlier this month, are inspired by the travels of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and feature the explorers and a map of the Oregon Trail.
The university said the uniforms are meant to honor the state's "maverick heritage" embodied by Lewis and Clark. The coalition, Native Strategic Initiatives, said the uniforms emphasize "white supremacy, a sense of divine obligation of free white men to take -- by force if necessary -- the land belonging to the nonwhite nations west of the Mississippi."
"Instead of condemning this process," the open letter states, "the celebration of Lewis and Clark valorizes it, papering over the ongoing consequences of colonization and indigenous traditions of 'exploration,' 'innovation,' 'free-thinking' and 'risk-taking' that existed in this place long before the expedition arrived at the Pacific coast."
The coalition urged the university and Nike to discontinue the uniforms and to recall related merchandise from stores.
Most colleges and universities had regular class schedules on Monday, Columbus Day. But Native American activists and their supporters are urging colleges that do observe Columbus Day or those that don't to start observing a day to honor indigenous groups in America, and to remember how their rights were ignored. Brown University in 2009 decided to stop referring to Columbus Day as such, but instead to call it the Fall Weekend Holiday.
On Monday, students at Columbia University held a protest of the traditional holiday and students at Syracuse University organized around a petition calling on the university to recognize the day as Indigenous People's Day.
An outside study on gender equity at the University of California Anderson School of Management has found that female faculty members tend to feel bias of various kinds in the hiring and promotion process and in decision making. The bias isn't of the "women can't be promoted" type, but a devaluing of any nonquantitative research, while almost exclusively valuing quantitative research.
The report says women are much more likely than men among business school faculty members to engage in nonquantitative work. Judy D. Olian, dean of the school, attached a letter for the report, calling for a faculty retreat to discuss the findings. She also said she was concerned about the way many female faculty members feel a lack of respect for their work.
The Brown Daily Herald, the student newspaper at Brown University, has apologized for publishing two opinion columns this week that angered many minority students. One of the pieces remains online with a note of apology. The other, which editors decided not to publish online after the print version of the newspaper was already being printed with the column, appeared in print only and not online. The editors said that they should not have published either column, one of which they said was based on the idea of biological differences among the races and the other of which suggested that Native Americans should be thankful for the colonial arrival in America.
"Newspapers have a sacred responsibility to promote the free exchange of ideas, but that responsibility is designed to protect both those with controversial opinions and those whose voices are frequently excluded," the apology from the newspaper said. "The Herald’s opinions section has too infrequently been a platform for the latter."
The National Merit Scholarship Program has announced that it is phasing out its National Achievement Scholarship Program, which has provided aid to black students since 1964. The National Merit Scholarship Program has been widely criticized for picking semifinalists for its program based on PSAT scores, and black students, on average, do not score as highly as white or Asian students on that test. The program announced that the program for black students -- after meeting commitments to current scholars -- would be transferred to the UNCF. That organization will run a new program to provide assistance to high-achieving college graduates from underrepresented groups.
In today's Academic Minute, Mary Murphy, assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at Indiana University at Bloomington, discusses women in STEM fields. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.