Authorities have charged three black students at the State University of New York at Albany with misdemeanor assault, in a reversal of what was initially reported about an incident in January, The Albany Times-Union reported. The three students reported a racially charged attack while they were on a bus, in which white men attacked them and used racial slurs against them. Now authorities say that there is no evidence of that taking place, but that they found evidence that the three students attacked a white woman on the bus.
A professor who says she’s an easy target for a think tank with ties to the conservative Charles Koch Foundation has responded to a voluminous open records request by sharing those records not only with the organization but anyone else who wants to read them. Laura Wright, the chair of English at Western Carolina University who vocally opposed the Koch Foundation’s proposed $2 million gift to establish a center for the study of free enterprise on campus, detailed the story on her blog, The Vegan Body Project. She also posted the 100 pages of emails requested by the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy: those with references to Koch, BB&T Bank (which has backed free-market-education initiatives on many campuses in the South) and Ayn Rand, whose books are required reading on other campuses that have made deals with BB&T and Koch to establish free-enterprise centers or programs.
Wright said via email that she thought her emails should have been protected, since her communication regarding the proposed center constitutes academic freedom. But because she had to release all of them, Wright said she wanted to make them available to the public, lest her words be taken out of context or otherwise used against her. “I just wanted to put everything out there along with the context for my statements, so that the full record would be available for anyone interested in the broader discussion,” she said via email. Many of the released emails include correspondence with local and national media on the proposed Koch gift.
Jay Schalin, a writer for the North Carolina-based Pope Center, which has loose ties to Koch, said he asked for Wright’s emails because he supports the proposed free-enterprise center. “I understand it to be a truly academic enterprise: the intent is to ‘study’ free enterprise, warts and all, rather than to be a one-sided cheerleader,” he said via email. (Note: An earlier version of this sentence misstated Schalin's first name.) “The contentious opposition to it by certain segments of the faculty made it a story-worthy event. … If it is acceptable to question whether the founding of a center is political rather than academic, it is equally acceptable to ask whether the opposition to the center is political.”
As for the status of the center, Bill Studenc, a university spokesman, said that it has been approved by the institution’s Board of Trustees, but at this point there’s no funding for it. The university is currently trying to address faculty concerns about academic integrity, articulated in a November Faculty Senate resolution against the center.
College psychology curricula are missing important information on disabilities, according to a new study. Published in Teaching of Psychology, the study analyzed the titles and descriptions of nearly 700 psychology courses from 98 undergraduate psychology programs across the country. All the programs offered courses on psychiatric disability -- but only eight offered courses on physical disability.
Courses on disability also tended to focus on diagnosis, treatment and cure, the researchers found. But the psychological approach to disability is changing: newer models focus on coping, acceptance, reducing prejudice and social policy.
“About 57 million people in the U.S. have a disability, and it’s likely we will all interact with someone with a disability on a regular basis,” Kathleen Bogart, an assistant professor of psychology at Oregon State University and a co-author of the study, said in a press release. “Yet in terms of minority groups, we teach about disability the least.”
Citing longstanding concerns about academic freedom and shared governance under its current administration, the faculty at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, N.Y., on Tuesday voted no confidence in Albert Gruner, chairman of the Board of Trustees. The faculty called for his immediate resignation from the board, saying his “unwavering support” of a former trustee accused of posting an anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim video on Twitter, along with “hostile confrontations” of faculty members, in particular, made him unfit to lead. The vote was 55 in favor and 10 opposed, with six faculty members abstaining.
The college said in a statement that it "values all opinions and concerns. The trustees, like the president, are firmly committed to shared governance and recognize the important role played by the faculty, administration, and the board in advancing the college." Charles P. Frank, vice chair of the board, said in a separate statement that Gruner "used a reasoned and measured approach in his inquiry into concerns regarding a newly-appointed trustee. This is the manner in which a person with his fiduciary responsibilities should act. ...Throughout his tenure as board chair [Gruner] has always upheld the foundations of shared governance and the mission" of the college.
Minority law students at Harvard University have been occupying a student lounge at the university's law school since last week. The students call the lounge "Belinda Hall," after a slave of one of the early donors to the law school. After protests by minority law students last year, the law school administration pledged to work to make the institution more inclusive, but Reclaim Harvard Law School, the group occupying the lounge, says administrators have not done enough.
The group's website says: "Since the law school refuses to provide adequate institutional support for an office of diversity and inclusion, hire critical race theorists, promote staff of color in the workplace to management positions in their due course, provide adequate contextualization in curricula, educate its professors, its staff and its students around cultural competency, take the steps that are necessary to accord adequate and equal dignity to marginalized students and staff, Reclaim Harvard Law aims to provide that space at the law school. Reclaim assumes the burden of educating ourselves and others in spite of this institution and not because of it."
A spokesperson for the law school told Boston.com that "HLS deeply values diversity and inclusion," and that officials are working to address student concerns.
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro's board voted last week to change the name of the Aycock Auditorium (right), which has honored Charles B. Aycock, who served as governor of North Carolina from 1901 to 1905. Aycock was a supporter of public education -- for white people -- but was a white supremacist who pushed to limit rights for black people. The university is starting a process to determine a new name for the auditorium. Duke University changed the name of a residence hall honoring Aycock in 2014.
A debate has been set off at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater over a photo on Snapchat that appears to show two students in blackface (at right). Beverly Kopper, the chancellor, sent a message to the campus condemning the image and calling for more campus discussions of inclusiveness. But then the students said that they were not engaged in blackface but were using cosmetics to give themselves a facial treatment. That prompted Steve Nass, a state legislator, to condemn the chancellor, saying she had overreacted in a "knee-jerk" way. Some black students are saying that, even if one was not seeking to portray blackface, people should know not to post images that look like blackface.