Academic Minute: Modern Segregation

In today's Academic Minute, Heather O’Connell, a postdoc at Rice University’s Kinder Institute, examines the effects of slavery we can still observe today. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

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SUNY Buffalo roiled by art project of "whites only" posters around campus

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"White Only" and "Black Only" signs appear -- and are torn down -- at SUNY Buffalo.

Indian activists raise questions about woman appointed to lead Native American program at Dartmouth

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Some activists raise questions about appointee to lead college's Native American Program, drawing attention to political debates about who is a Native American and whether such status should matter in higher ed.

Sacramento State student says she was kicked out of class for arguing that Native Americans were victims of genocide

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At Sacramento State, student says she was kicked out of class for insisting that Native Americans were victims of genocide. As incident is investigated, debate grows over whether she was treated unfairly -- and how to handle classroom discussions of this sort.

Women Challenge Harvard Group's All-Male Shows

Female students at Harvard University have signed up for auditions to perform in the Hasty Pudding Theatricals' productions this year, The Boston Globe reported. If any of the women are selected, they would break a tradition of all-male burlesque productions in which some male students portray women. The women challenging the tradition say if Hasty Pudding wants to maintain its gender-crossing casting, they would be happy to portray male characters.

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Political science association criticized for agreeing to keep babies out of exhibit hall

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Annual meeting attendees with babies are turned away from exhibit hall of political science association, which blames insurance policy.

Berkeley Starts New Effort for Black Students

The University of California at Berkeley last week announced the African-American Initiative, which will aim to increase support for black students and to attract more black students to the campus. Berkeley is banned by a state constitutional amendment from considering race in admissions, and black undergraduate enrollment is about 3 percent, less than half the share of the black population in the state. Berkeley officials say that they need a critical mass of black students. A key part of the new plan will be a $20 million scholarship fund, to be administered privately to avoid violating the state ban on consideration of race. The fund will offer scholarships to black students who are admitted, hoping to attract more of them to enroll.

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Trinity Ends Requirement That Fraternities Go Coed

The president of Trinity College of Connecticut, Joanne Berger-Sweeney, announced in a campuswide email Friday that the institution was ending a controversial plan to force Greek organizations to become coeducational. The plan, adopted prior to Berger-Sweeney's appointment, has been opposed by many on campus, especially those affiliated with the fraternity system. In her note to the campus, Berger-Sweeney said that half of the campus fraternities would lose their charters because their national organizations do not permit coeducational chapters. Further, she said that she was not convinced the plan was achieving its goals.

"I have concluded that the coed mandate is unlikely to achieve its intended goal of gender equity," she wrote. "Furthermore, I do not believe that requiring coed membership is the best way to address gender discrimination or to promote inclusiveness. In fact, communitywide dialogue concerning this issue has been divisive and counterproductive."

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Settlement in Suit on Support Dogs in College Housing

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday that it has reached an agreement with the University of Nebraska at Kearney that will assure the right of students with psychological difficulties to have support dogs in campus housing. The department sued the university over the issue in 2011. The settlement requires the university to change some policies and to pay $140,000 to two students whose requests for support dogs were denied. “This is an important settlement for students with disabilities not only at UNK but throughout the country,” said a statement from the principal deputy assistant attorney general, Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division. “Assistance animals such as emotional support dogs can provide critical support and therapeutic benefits for persons with psychological disabilities."

The university has denied any legal wrongdoing in the case, and has maintained that it was only this suit (and a judge's earlier ruling on it) that clearly said that the Fair Housing Act applies to housing run by colleges and universities. The university also said that the settlement preserves the right of a college to inquire about the need for having a support animal.

Harvard Will Let Students Select Pronouns

Harvard University has started letting students select the pronouns by which they wish to be referred, The Boston Globe reported. Many transgender students reject the traditional he/she binary and prefer terms such as "ze," "hir" and "hirs." Others prefer plural pronouns such as "they." Harvard is letting students indicate their preference at registration so that faculty members can be aware of such preferences. While such policies aren't universal, Harvard is hardly the first to adopt this approach. Typically, however, advocates for change in higher ed say that telling others that "Harvard did it" has an impact on the actions of some other institutions.

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