How to handle conversations over crises and difficult topics in the news (essay)


Given all the violence and turmoil in the news over recent weeks, you may not be looking forward to campus discussions when you return for the new school year. Kerry Ann Rockquemore offers advice.

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Yale Offers Job Back to Man Who Broke Window

Yale University on Tuesday announced that it would offer Corey Menafee, the former employee who left after breaking a window depicting slaves, the chance to return to the university.

A statement from Yale said that the university "has informed Mr. Menafee’s attorney that we are willing to grant his request for a second chance at Yale. Mr. Menafee, who resigned in June after he admitted intentionally breaking a stained-glass window, has expressed deep remorse about his actions and informed us that he would like to rescind his resignation. He will be allowed to return to a position in a different setting, starting on Monday, after serving a five-week unpaid suspension (including the time since his resignation on June 21). Yale has already asked the state’s attorney to drop all charges. We are willing to take these unusual steps given the unique circumstances of this matter, and it is now up to Mr. Menafee whether he wishes to return to Yale."

Bob Proto, president of Local 35 Unite Here, Menafee's union, issued this statement: "Mr. Menafee, together with representatives from our union, talked with Yale yesterday. We stood firm in asking that the university rehire him. We are now waiting on a draft agreement from Yale and will continue to stand with Mr. Menafee until he is back at work."

Black Athletes Call U Colorado Facility 'The Plantation'

Phil DiStefano, chancellor of the University of Colorado at Boulder, told the Board of Regents last week that some black athletes called the campus athletic center "The Plantation" as they viewed it as the place their unpaid labor benefited others, The Daily Camera reported. DiStefano said a staff member told him about this name for the athletic center, and the reason it was used. The staff member "said that even though the black football players and men's basketball players are getting a free education and a free ride, everything they do pays for the young white female playing tennis or on the golf team or track and field," DiStefano said. "He said they talk about being part of 'The Plantation,' that their sweat and tears are really for other people, not for them."

Added DiStefano: "Whether we agree, disagree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, it's how they feel. To me, in all my years, it's the first time I'd heard that. And it just sticks with me, and I'm thinking, 'We gotta change something.'"


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Malcolm Gladwell sets off debate over whether good campus food prevents more aid for low-income students

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Malcolm Gladwell says trade-off exists between high-quality campus dining and admitting low-income students. Bowdoin questions his logic and ethics.

The challenge of being transgender on the academic job market (essay)

The difficulties of applying to academic positions begin before even submitting any applications, writes Alex Hanna.

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U Wisconsin Criticized for Racially Segregated Meetings

The University of Wisconsin's Multicultural Student Center is being criticized for organizing separate meetings for white and minority students to discuss the recent shootings in the United States, The Wisconsin State Journal reported. The center has deleted the Facebook posts advertising the meetings. A university spokeswoman said that the meetings were intended to help students talk through the issues, but that the events “could have been communicated more clearly to avoid any impression of exclusion.” She added that no students were turned away from any of the meetings.

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Yale Worker Breaks Stained Glass Depicting Slaves

Corey Menafee, a black dishwasher at Yale University, is out of a job after he used a broomstick to smash a stained-glass window (at right) portraying slaves carrying bales of cotton. The New Haven Independent quoted him as saying he was tired of looking at a "racist, very degrading" image on the job. He worked in Calhoun College, Yale's residential college named for John C. Calhoun, who campaigned tirelessly in Congress to preserve slavery and oppose any rights for black people. Yale this year, after a study, said it would not rename the college, as many students and faculty members have urged.

Yale released the following statement: "An incident occurred at Calhoun College, a residential college on the campus of Yale University, in which a stained glass window was broken by an employee of Yale, resulting in glass falling onto the street and near a passerby, endangering her safety. The employee apologized for his actions and subsequently resigned from the university. The university will not advocate that the employee be prosecuted in connection with this incident and is not seeking restitution."

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Law professor responds to students who complained about her Black Lives Matter shirt

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When students complained about a Black Lives Matter shirt, she responded in a letter now going viral, but without any identification. We'll tell you who she is.

Notre Dame President Condemns Anti-Mexican Rhetoric

The Reverend John I. Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame (at right), spoke in Mexico City Friday to a group of academic and business leaders, and he used the speech to denounce anti-Mexican rhetoric in the United States. Father Jenkins did not mention Donald Trump by name, but he described the kind of rhetoric he has used. In his speech, he noted Notre Dame's Roman Catholic heritage and its tradition of educating immigrants.

“The vitriol directed at the Irish … and later the Italians, and other waves of immigrants to the United States, sadly is not a thing of the past; certainly not for Mexicans in the United States who have been slandered in extraordinary ways, as has Mexico itself,” Father Jenkins said. “It is churlish, insulting political theater, for certain. But it is not only that. It suggests that the United States distance itself from Mexico at just the time that our nations are most positively engaged with each other and poised to reap the benefits of robust trade, industrialization and entrepreneurship.”

Father Jenkins was in Mexico City to open a Notre Dame office there.

Legislator Threatens U Wisconsin Budget Over Reading on Gay Sex

A Republican state senator is threatening to punish the University of Wisconsin at Madison through the budget process because a lecturer assigned a reading that involves the choices gay men make about sex partners and contains a reference to oral sex between gay men, the Associated Press reported. Steve Nass, the legislator, is vice chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee. He sent the reading to Madison administrators and to members of the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents. “Since students at UW Madison are required to read this offensive material it is only appropriate that as leaders of the system you also read this offensive essay and respond with your thoughts on its educational value,” Nass wrote. “Is this what the people of Wisconsin should expect when paying taxes and tuition to support the UW System?”

The reading is not generally required of Madison students, but only of those in one sociology course, Problems of American Racial and Ethnic Minorities, which deals in part with issues of sexuality and racism, and in which students are warned in advance that some material may make them uncomfortable. Pamela Oliver, chair of the sociology department, issued a statement defending the lecturer's course. “Taken within the context of the course, the material appropriately pushes boundaries in order to spark discussion,” she wrote. “Among adult college students, analyzing how people talk about sexuality is considered appropriate material.”

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