The University of Richmond is receiving scrutiny after one of its most generous donors and trustees, Paul Queally, was featured making sexist and homophobic jokes in a New York Magazine article about a gathering of wealthy business leaders (that they thought was private). Queally told The Richmond Times-Dispatch:"My brief remarks were in the spirit of the event but they do not reflect my views or my values. On reflection I should have said nothing. I understand that people who do not know me or my work may misinterpret what I said. I believe my record in support of education, diversity and economic advancement defines who I am and what I stand for." The university has not criticized the remarks, but did release a statement in which it said that the Richmond board “reaffirms the commitment of each of its members to promoting opportunity, inclusivity, civility and respect.”
Faculty members in the university's women's, gender and sexuality studies program have published a letter in the student newspaper that criticizes not only the jokes, but the university leadership's failure to see them as a serious problem. "Queally’s comments cannot be minimized as simply unfortunate," the letter says. "Nor is the central problem with his comments that they have generated negative attention to the university. Rather, the central problem with trustee Queally’s comments is that they contribute to the larger and quite insidious social discourse that dehumanizes women and LGBTQ people. His comments, in other words, contribute to human suffering. We, therefore, reiterate our call on senior leadership to allow the gravity of that insight to inform the content and urgency of its engagement with the university community."
The national Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity has suspended its chapter at the University of Mississippi and expelled three freshmen over an apparent role in leaving a noose and a Georgia flag on the statue of James Meredith, the first black student to enroll at Ole Miss, The Clarion-Ledger reported. A statement from the national fraternity said: “It is embarrassing that these men had previously identified with our fraternity. SigEp as a national fraternity has championed racial equality and issues on diversity since 1959 when it became the first national fraternity to invite members of all races, creeds and religions to join its membership. For this to occur in 2014 is an insult to the legacy of James Meredith, the University of Mississippi community and the SigEp alumni who fought for racial equality in the late 1950s.”
A statement from the university said that three students -- all white freshmen from Georgia -- had agreed to come in for questioning about the incident on Thursday, but had failed to do so.
Six female faculty members in the philosophy department at the University of Colorado at Boulder have issued a statement expressing concerns about the impact of a recent report detailing instances of sexism and unprofessionalism in the department. The statement, published on the Feminist Philosophers blog, doesn't take issue with the conclusions of the report. But the statement notes that the report (which was released by the university although the authors of the report didn't intend for it to become public) could unfairly damage the reputations of some in the department. To avoid that problem, the statement says the following: "Despite differing perceptions regarding both the report’s details and the overall impression it gives, all of us are united on a few things. First, we are all distressed that the report may damage the reputations of male colleagues who are completely innocent of sexual misconduct. It could also harm the prospects of our male graduate students currently on the market. We faculty women strongly believe that none of our currently untenured male colleagues or current male graduate students has engaged in sexual misconduct (nor, indeed, have most of our tenured colleagues). We believe that many have heard about the problems, if at all, only through the rumor mill. The second thing that unites us all is our determination to rebuild the department and its reputation."
The University of Mississippi is offering a $25,000 reward for information about an incident early Sunday morning in which two men allegedly defaced a campus statue of James Meredith while yelling racial slurs. According to the university's statement, the statue of Meredith, who integrated the institution more than 50 years ago, "had been draped with a noose and an old Georgia state flag, and the men were heard shouting racial slurs." "These individuals chose our university’s most visible symbol of unity and educational accessibility to express their disagreement with our values," Chancellor Dan Jones said in a prepared statement.
Portland State University has agreed to pay $160,000 and to change some policies to settle a lawsuit filed by a deaf student, and another settlement -- that one with the U.S. Justice Department - is pending in the case, The Oregonian reported. The student's complaint said that the university barred her from dormitories with carpeting and biology labs because she uses a service dog. Further, she said that the university failed to intervene when she suffered harassment in the dormitory when people would knock on her door in the middle of the night, knowing that do so would prompt her service dog to wake her up. A statement from the university said: "While we deny the allegations of the complaint, we acknowledge that Ms. Leland's experience was difficult and wish her success as she continues her studies."
In November, black male undergraduates at the University of California at Los Angeles released a video about the challenges they face as part of an extreme minority. Now black UCLA law students have followed with a video called "33," referring to their number among 1,100 law students. In the video, students describe feeling isolated, stereotyped and unwelcome. The media contact for the law school did not respond to an email message seeking comment.
Black students at Drake University complained about a food service dinner Wednesday to mark Black History Month, The Des Moines Register reported. The meal -- which was planned by the food service provider Sodexo without consulting with black students -- featured food items such as fried chicken and collard greens. Students said that serving such food reinforced stereotypes and they added an educational program to the dinner. Sodexo issued a statement of apology: “While clearly a well-intentioned effort to celebrate African-Americans’ cultural history, the result is inappropriate and misguided."
California Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and the University of California campuses at Berkeley and Los Angeles jointly announced a new effort Thursday to increase the number of minority Ph.D.s in science, mathematics and technology fields. The four universities will create "a unique, cross-institutional community of underrepresented minority Ph.D. students, postdoctoral scholars and faculty members in the targeted fields; developing faculty training to better recognize and help these students thrive and advance; and conducting research that includes annual surveys of Ph.D. students about what factors impact their attitudes, experiences and preparation for the future," the announcement said.