Dartmouth College has called off classes for today to discuss the college's "commitment to fostering debate that promotes respect for individuals, civil and engaged discourse, and the value of diverse opinions." A series of programs, featuring faculty members and a diversity and social justice consultant, will be held. The college's decision follows a series of threats received by students online -- some citing the students' sexual orientation or race, college officials told the Associated Press. The threats followed a protest in which some students interrupted a program for high school students who have been admitted to Dartmouth. The protesters chanted "Dartmouth has a problem," and said that the college wasn't doing enough to prevent homophobia, racism and sexual assault on campus. The online threats were subsequently posted -- some against students who had participated in that protest, and some against other students.
The president of Kappa Delta sorority at Indiana University at Bloomington has issued an apology for a party at which attendees mocked the homeless with costumes and signs, and rubbed dirt on their faces to appear homeless. "I want to express my sincere apology to the campus community and public for the actions of our chapter at a social event this week that made light of those who are homeless. Our choice was a poor one. We know that it was not acceptable and does not align with our values," said a statement from Aubrey McMahon, the chapter president. The website Jezebel published photos of the party, drawing attention to its theme.
A federal judge has ruled that college and university housing is covered by the Fair Housing Act, The Lincoln Journal Star reported. The ruling came in a lawsuit by the federal government against the University of Nebraska at Kearney over a student's request to have a therapy dog live with her in university housing. The university maintains that it should not be governed by the Fair Housing Act, and that the judge is extending the law to higher education for the first time. But the judge said that if Congress had wanted to exempt higher education, it could have (or could in the future). The judge's ruling could be appealed and delay the rest of the trial on whether the university violated the act.
Colleges need to start tracking retention rates not only by various factors widely considered today (race, gender, socioeconomic background) but by sexual orientation, according to a paper released by ACPA: College Student Educators International and by Campus Pride. The paper notes that, to do so, colleges need to start finding out how many students of different orientations they have -- and many colleges don't ask that question. But the report says that, given various pressures on gay students, it is wrong not to consider whether they are graduating at different rates from straight students.
"Colleges and universities are responsible for the education and safety of all students, including their LGBT students," the paper says. "Colleges and universities need to know and count their out LGBT students to provide necessary services and/or maintain proper safety and campus climate. Demographic questions asking students about their sexual orientation and gender identity give administrators the data they need to properly implement LGBT-inclusive policies and practices. Doing so will not be easy as different from other identity groups, LGBT student identity is fluid and often evolves during the college years. But, if our institutions of higher learning can achieve complex tasks like landing a spacecraft on Mars, we can certainly figure out this challenge."
The Texas A&M University Student Senate has approved a recommendation to the administration that students be given the option of "opting out" of paying student fees that support groups that are contrary to the students' religious views, KBTX News reported. The proposal first said only that students should be able to opt out of supporting a gay campus center on campus, but the measure was renamed and broadened when some said that the idea was anti-gay. Critics say that the proposal is still anti-gay. Supporters say that students shouldn't have any of their fee money go to groups that are contrary to their religious views.