An article in The Crimson White, the student newspaper of the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, has set off considerable concern with its allegations that sororities at the institution reject potential members who are black. The article details the attempts of two black women with the credentials and characteristics sororities say they value who were the latest to fail to break what the newspaper called "an almost impenetrable color barrier." The national Pi Beta Phi, one of the sororities whose Alabama chapter was mentioned in the article, told USA Today that the organization was starting an investigation of the allegations. A black board member at Alabama is calling for the university to investigate.
The Harvard Business School has undertaken one of the most ambitious efforts ever to promote gender equity in business education, with mixed results, according to an in-depth report in The New York Times. The article describes a wide range of efforts, including coaching for female professors and students, and campaigns against social traditions that may have placed women at a disadvantage. Many women say that the efforts have been overdue, and applaud the efforts. But others see a degree of social engineering that they find inappropriate for graduate education.
States generally meet their obligations to match certain federal funds that go to predominantly white land-grant universities, but this isn't the case for historically black land-grant colleges, according to a new report by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. Between 2010-12, the report says, the black land-grant colleges should have received an additional $56 million in state funds.
The University of Wisconsin at Madison is this year for the first time letting all students pick the first and middle names they wish to appear on most university records, such as directories, The Wisconsin State Journal reported. Students will have the option of blocking their legal name from appearing in registration lists and other places. The policy is designed to make the university more inclusive, letting students who prefer not to use names for any number of reasons avoid them, officials said. (Legal names will still be used on transcripts, payroll records and for financial aid.) The LGBT Campus Center encouraged the development of the new policy. Some transgender students prefer not to use their legal names, which may be associated with a gender that doesn't reflect their identity.
African-American studies in the United States is "alive and well," according to a new report issued by scholars at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The report surveyed 1,777 colleges and universities and found that 76 percent have some type of black studies. While some college offer only a course or two, 20 percent of those surveyed have full departments or programs.
The Education Department's Office for Civil Rights has rejected charges that some protests against Israel at the University of California at Berkeley constituted illegal anti-Jewish bias, as some Jewish students and alumni charged. A letter from OCR found that the protests "constituted expression on matters of public concern directed to the university community. In the university environment, exposure to such robust and discordant expressions, even when personally offensive and hurtful, is a circumstance that a reasonable student in higher education may experience. In this context, the events that the complainants described do not constitute actionable harassment."
The board of Norfolk State University has fired President Tony Atwater, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. Atwater has served for two years, and the board praised his efforts. But the historically black university is facing criticism from its accreditor and from state legislators on a range of issues, including the inability to complete an audit in the last two years. Previously, Atwater was president of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a position he left amid disputes with the faculty over his management style.