diversity

Online faculty discussion raises concern about bias against Appalachians and poor white people

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An online comment prompts consideration of whether academics feel free to express stereotypes about poor, rural white students.

Minority Law Enrollments Show Only Modest Gains

Minority enrollments in law schools showed only modest gains in the last decade, rising from 20.6 percent in 2003 to 25.8 percent in 2012, according to an analysis in The National Law Journal. The figures for black students were particularly stagnated, increasing only from 6.9 percent to 7.5 percent during that time period.

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Virginia Military Institute Violated Title IX, Education Dept. Finds

Virginia Military Institute violated federal law in how it handled sexual harassment and assault cases and by requiring pregnant cadets to leave the institution, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights announced Friday.

Federal investigators determined that “female cadets were exposed to a sexually hostile environment” at VMI and that the institute did not promptly and equitably resolve cadet complaints about sexual harassment and sexual assault, as it is required to do under the federal anti-discrimination law known as Title IX. The institute’s policies also illegally required that pregnant and parenting cadets resign or face separation from VMI, the department said in a statement, adding that the OCR has already negotiated changes to those policies.

The civil rights office and VMI have entered into a resolution agreement to resolve the Title IX complaint. Under the agreement, VMI will be required to, among other things, conduct annual climate assessments concerning sexual harassment and assault, provide annual training on sexual assault prevention, and revise its tenure and promotion policies.

VMI said in a statement it was “profoundly disappointed with OCR’s findings.”

“We signed this agreement not because we feel the findings are representative of the VMI environment; but rather, it is in the best interest of the Institute to cooperate with OCR and put an end to this six-year investigation,” the statement said. It continued: "VMI is committed to providing a safe environment in which cadets can learn, in which faculty members can teach, and in which staff members can support the Institute’s mission.”

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Tufts University, Federal Officials Resolve Title IX Standoff

Tufts University and the U.S. Department of Education have resolved an unusual dispute over how to settle a finding that the university’s handling of sexual assault cases violated federal law.

University and federal officials said Friday that Tufts had formally recommitted to the signed agreement that it backed out of earlier this month, which prompted a warning from the Education Department that the university’s federal funding may be in jeopardy.

Catherine Lhamon, the assistant secretary for civil rights, confirmed in a statement Friday that the university was no longer in breach of the agreement.

“I congratulate Tufts University for taking swift action to cure its breach of its April 17 agreement with” the department’s Office for Civil Rights, she said. “I look forward to working with [Tufts] President [Anthony] Monaco and the university community to ensure the safety of all students on campus.”

Monaco “officially” recommitted to the signed agreement during a meeting on Thursday with Lhamon, the university said. Following student protests on campus, a university spokeswoman first said last Friday that the university was recommitting to the agreement.

The standoff began last month when Tufts withdrew from an agreement it had signed nine days earlier to resolve a Title IX complaint against the university. The Education Department responded by saying that Tufts had breached the agreement and warned that officials might seek to cut off the university’s federal funding if the matter was not resolved in 60 days.

At the time, university officials said they were backing out of the agreement because they had signed it under the understanding that federal officials were concerned only with a previous violation of Title IX on the campus, not a current issue. The university said it strongly disagreed with the conclusion by the Office for Civil Rights that its current sexual assault policies violated Title IX.

The department’s announcement about the Tufts case came as the Obama administration was promoting its efforts to push colleges to clamp down on sexual assaults. The administration also publicly named, for the first time, all of the 55 colleges that the Education Department is probing for their handling of sexual assault cases.

Separately, the Education Department announced Friday that Virginia Military Institute had violated Title IX by kicking out pregnant cadets and not properly handing sexual harassment and assault cases. Federal officials and VMI have entered into an agreement to resolve the violations, which requires the institution to make several changes to its policies.

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U.S. Agencies Reiterate Backing of Affirmative Action

The U.S. Supreme Court in April upheld the right of states to bar public colleges and universities to consider race or ethnicity in admissions decisions. On Tuesday, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education released a letter affirming the right of colleges without such state bans to consider to consider race and ethnicity, within the limits of other court decisions. "The Departments of Education and Justice strongly support diversity in elementary, secondary, and higher education, because racially diverse educational environments help to prepare students to succeed in our increasingly diverse nation," the letter said. "The educational benefits of diversity, long recognized by the court and affirmed in research and practice, include cross-racial understanding and dialogue, the reduction of racial isolation, and the breaking down of racial stereotypes. Furthermore, to be successful, the future workforce of America should transcend the boundaries of race, language, and culture as our economy becomes more globally interconnected."

 

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Explaining Asian Academic Success

A new study published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences uses two longitudinal surveys to attempt to explain the relative academic advantage of Asian-American students, on average, compared to white students. It appears to be about work ethic. "We find that the Asian-American educational advantage is attributable mainly to Asian students exerting greater academic effort and not to advantages in tested cognitive abilities or socio-demographics," says the abstract, available here.

 

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Muslim Wrestler Wins Waiver From NCAA to Keep Beard

Muhamed McBryde has been sitting on the sidelines during wrestling matches, unable to compete on behalf of the State University of New York at Buffalo because of National Collegiate Athletic Association rules requiring that players be clean-shaven. As a Muslim, McBryde said that doing so would violate his religious beliefs. Now the NCAA has granted him a waiver so he can compete, The Buffalo News reported. However, he will be required to wear a face mask and chin strap to cover the beard.

 

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UCLA Again Considers a Diversity Requirement

The University of California at Los Angeles -- with strong support from Chancellor Gene Block -- is again considering a requirement in its largest undergraduate college that students take at least one course about diversity, The Los Angeles Times reported. Faculty in the College of Letters and Science have rejected such a requirement three times previously. Supporters say that diversity is so crucial to today's society that all students should have at least one course in the subject. Critics question whether such courses improve race relations, and note that many UCLA students are pressed to meet existing requirements.

 

Students at UC Davis Protest Name of Party

Students at the University of California at Davis staged a sit-in Friday in a campus coffee house whose student employees had planned an off-campus party with the name "Cinco de Drinko," playing off today's celebration of Mexican heritage, The Sacramento Bee reported. Many students said that they were offended by a Facebook page promoting the party, which has now been canceled. The page featured four male students in sombreros, attempting to get over a chain-link fence.

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San Jose State Expels 3 Students in Racial Bullying Case

San Jose State University has expelled three students who are facing criminal charges for months of harassing a black freshman who lived in their suite, The San Jose Mercury News reported. A fourth student has been suspended and, if he does return, will be on probation for the rest of his time at the university. The harassment is said to include placing a bike lock around the student's neck, putting up photos of Hitler, hanging a Confederate flag, and calling the student "3/5" and "fraction," in a reference to the way the infamous Three-Fifths Compromise. When word of the harassment surfaced in November, many on the campus were outraged.

 

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