Officials of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation on Thursday announced plans to create a tribal college in California, opening near Sacramento next year, The Sacramento Bee reported. Supporters of the project noted that California has the largest population of Native Americans in the United States, but lacks a tribal college. D-Q University was a tribal college in the state, but was shut down in 2005.
University of Mississippi officials are investigating an incident in which 20 or so football players and other athletes “from various sports” reportedly heckled theater students performing The Laramie Project, a play about the 1998 killing of the University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, with gay slurs. In a statement sent to Inside Higher Ed, Chancellor Dan Jones and Athletics Director Ross Bjork apologized on behalf of the university, and said that after meeting with athletes to talk about what happened, they would work with student affairs officials and the campus Bias Incident Response Team “to determine the facts and appropriate next steps.” Football coach Hugh Freeze also tweeted Thursday that “We certainly do not condone any actions that offend or hurt people in any way. We are working with all departments to find the facts.”
The faculty member who directed the play told The Daily Mississippian student newspaper, which first reported the incident, that audience members disrupted the play repeatedly with derogatory terms like “fag” and other “borderline hate speech.” Sources also told the paper that the football players attended the play as part of a requirement for a freshman-level theater course.
“I am the only gay person in the cast,” the paper quoted Garrison Gibbons, a student and theater major, as saying. “I played a gay character in the show, and to be ridiculed like that was something that really made me realize that some people at Ole Miss and in Mississippi still can’t accept me for who I am.”
Gallaudet University's chief diversity officer, Angela McCaskill, has sued the university, saying that she suffered discrimination and retaliation for signing a petition to have Maryland residents vote on a state law permitting same-sex marriage, The Washington Post reported. McCaskill was briefly placed on leave as some on campus said it was inappropriate for a diversity officer to sign a petition widely viewed as way to block gay marriage. McCaskill has argued that she took no stand on same-sex marriage except expressing a belief that state voters should get to decide the issue. Her suit says that, prior to her leave, she was deputy to the president and associate provost for diversity and inclusion, as well as chief diversity officer. Since then, she says, her title has become chief diversity officer. Gallaudet officials declined to comment on the suit.
Norman Fortenberry, executive director of the American Society for Engineering Education, has issued an apology for the publication in the group's magazine Prism of an anti-gay letter. "I apologize. I wish to express deep regret for my error in judgment in advocating publication of Professor Wayne Helmer’s letter in the September issue of Prism and for the resulting anger, pain, disappointment, and embarrassment to ASEE members, officers, and staff and the LGBTQ community," said Fortenberry's statement. The Helmer letter said in part: "We would do well to teach the truth about the homosexual /lesbian/ bisexual/ transgender lifestyle. These dear people caught up in this destructive way of life need true help and true hope and not encouragement or approval of a detrimental, negative lifestyle."
The letter prompted an uproar by many members of the engineering society, and Fortenberrry -- while saying that the letter should have had a disclaimer -- had defended the decision to publish it. In his apology, Fortenberry expressed a new position. "My rationale in publishing the letter has been reported elsewhere and will not be repeated here," he wrote. "In that rationale I failed to recognize that there is a balance to be struck between representing a variety of viewpoints and not providing a platform for views that are generally considered outside the mainstream of public debate."
The National Association of the Deaf has sued the University of Maryland at College Park, charging that it is violating the Americans With Disabilities Act by failing to provide captions in athletic facilities with the information being provided via public address systems. The association says that it has told Maryland previously that it should add caption systems, and the suit asks that they be added to the large scoreboards that convey other information for the fans.
“Athletic events are tremendously popular for the general public to attend, and this is true also for deaf and hard of hearing fans,” said a statement from the association's CEO, Howard A. Rosenblum, "All professional and collegiate sports teams need to recognize that many fans, not just those who are deaf or hard of hearing, need captioning in sports stadiums and arenas to understand what is being announced. Every sports team should implement quality captioning systems visible to everyone not only to comply with the law but also to meet the needs of everyone.”
A spokesman for the university told The Washington Post that Maryland believes it complies with the law by creating a website for the captions, so that fans with hearing disabilities can read the captions on their smartphones or tablets. The spokesman also said that Maryland will provide game-day loans of tablets to those who need them.
Supporters of Cheyney University, a public historically black college in Pennsylvania, will announce today that they plan to sue the state unless certain conditions are met. The supporters argue that the state has failed to meet its obligations to support and enhance Cheyey. Specifically, they say that the state needs to revise its funding formula to focus less on enrollment because Cheyney's relatively low enrollment has led it to raise tuition, which in turn has made it difficult to recruit more students. Further, the group will demand that the university be protected from austerity measures currently being imposed in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, of which Cheyney is a part.