A professor at the University of California, Berkeley, accused of sexually harassing students is suing his accusers, The Guardian reported. The defendants, who recently went public with their allegations of unwanted touching and sexual comments, say that Blake Wentworth, an assistant professor of South and Southeast Asian studies, is trying to silence them. In his suit he accuses the women -- two current graduate students and one former undergraduate in his department -- of defamation and “intentional infliction of emotional distress,” according to the Guardian. Wentworth says that the women made “false statements” in their sexual harassment complaints and to the Guardian, which reported on the case, and he says they acted “in an outrageous manner and beyond the bounds of decency tolerated in a civilized society.” A Berkeley investigation determined last year that Wentworth had violated university policies against sexual harassment, but a review of the case is pending. Wentworth is on paid leave.
In an academic year that has already seen numerous racist incidents, three more institutions are dealing with blackface images posted to social media by students.
Albright College's president, Lex O. McMillan III, posted this statement to Facebook: "The two students most directly involved in the creation and distribution of the video that was widely shared on social media have been suspended pending further investigation and adjudication through the college’s community standards process. They have been advised to leave campus immediately and remain available for communications with college officials. As we continue to investigate the matter, we have learned that multiple students of multiple races were involved. We will continue to review the facts of the matter so that the most appropriate sanctions for those who took part can be determined."
The Reading Eagle reported that the video in question features a female student putting on blackface makeup, calling herself "Carlisha," making "disparaging remarks" about the Black Lives Matter movement and placing padding in her pants to suggest a large behind.
Prairie View A&M University, a historically black institution, is also investigating a blackface incident. In this case, a female soccer player covered her face with black tape and posted the image to social media with the caption, "When you just tryna fit in at your HBCU." The athlete's father told KTRK News that his daughter did not mean to cause offense. "She's not racist. We're not racist. We're Mexican," he said. "It's a bad thing and it's been blown way out of proportion. She's not like that."
Columbia College, in South Carolina, is investigating social media images that appear to show three students in blackface, The State reported. The college has announced that the students involved will not be allowed on campus until an investigation is completed.
Colleges and universities must do more than just bring in a speaker from the movement, only momentarily suspending the whiteness that pervades the everyday life and operations of the campus, argues Eric Anthony Grollman.
From the 2009-10 school year to 2015-16, enrollment at the University of Houston increased 18 percent, as the university also moved to boost research spending and athletics. But during that same time period, black enrollment fell 17 percent, The Texas Tribune reported. Black students went from making up 15 percent of the student body to 10 percent. Some black leaders have charged that the university has ignored the issue. Houston officials said that they are in fact paying more attention, and hope to reverse the trend.
A California jury on Wednesday ordered San Diego State University to pay Beth Burns, a former women's basketball coach, $3.35 million, The Los Angeles Timesreported. Burns is the winningest women's basketball coach ever at the university, but was fired in what the jury found was a wrongful termination. The university said she was fired for mistreating her subordinates. But Burns and her lawyers argued that the real reason was that she complained numerous times about what she saw as inequitable treatment of female athletes.
Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania announced Wednesday that a student whose racist Facebook post (at right) upset many on the campus is no longer enrolled. The university did not say whether he withdrew voluntarily.
After the Facebook post circulated, the university released this statement: "Last week, university officials were notified that a screenshot of a Facebook post from a university student, using derogatory and hateful language, was circulating on social media. Once notified, the dean of students and Shippensburg University Police addressed the student, and the post was deleted. The university received a sincere letter of apology from the student." Some have criticized the university for seeming, in their view, to be satisfied with the apology but that was before Wednesday's announcement that the student is no longer enrolled.
A fraternity at the University of Missouri at Columbia was suspended Wednesday after its members were accused of using gendered and racial slurs against two black women, according to a statement from the university’s Legion of Black Collegians. Missouri's chapter of Delta Upsilon was “placed on emergency suspension” by its national organization. Students and faculty gathered in the Student Center midday to demonstrate and to denounce the incident.
“We have zero tolerance for actions like this; if any student is found in violation of the Student Code and/or the university’s nondiscrimination policies, they will be subject to discipline, up to and including suspension and/or expulsion,” Hank Foley, the university's interim chancellor, said in a statement released Wednesday.
University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds on Tuesday defended the rights of three football players on the University of Nebraska at Lincoln team who dropped to their knees during the playing of the national anthem on Saturday. Bounds said that he "completely opposes" any limits on the athletes' right to protest, The Lincoln Journal-Star reported. The athletes joined in a growing national protest in which athletes do not stand for the national anthem as a protest over police shootings of unarmed black men. Since Saturday's game, a member of the university's Board of Regents has criticized the protest and suggested that those who joined should not be on the football team. Governor Pete Ricketts, a Republican, has called the protest "disgraceful and disrespectful" but said that the players had the right to protest.
Michael Rose-Ivey (right), one of the football players, spoke about his decision, and Omaha.com published a transcript of his remarks, in which he responded to the backlash against the protest.
"As we looked at what's been going on in this country, the injustices that have been taking place primarily against people of color, we all realized that there is a systemic problem in America that needs to be addressed. We felt it was our duty to step up and join the chorus of athletes in the NFL, WNBA, college and high school using their platforms to highlight these issues," he said. "We did this understanding the implications of these actions, but what we didn't expect was the enormous amount of hateful, racially motivated comments we received from friends, peers, fans, members of the media and others about the method of protest. While you may disagree with the method, these reactions further underscore the need for this protest and give us just a small glimpse into the persistent problem of racism in this country and the divisive mentality of some Americans. To make it clear, I am not anti-police, I am not anti-military, nor am I anti-American. I love my country deeply and I appreciate the freedoms it professes to afford me."
Many activist professors are stretched thin from attending protests, leading campus conversations, helping students while also processing their own emotions and dealing with the general weight of the current political moment. Kerry Ann Rockquemore gives advice on how to support such colleagues on your campus.