The University of Michigan affirmed its commitment to faculty free speech as well as what it called a “respectful environment,” following calls from conservatives that it condemn the professor who wrote an essay called “It’s OK to Hate Republicans,” The Detroit News reported. The essay, by Susan J. Douglas, the chair and Catherine Neafie Kellogg Professor of Communication Studies, was published online this week by In These Times. “I hate Republicans,” Douglas wrote. “I can’t stand the thought of having to spend the next two years watching [Republican legislators] Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Ted Cruz, Darrell Issa or any of the legions of other blowhards denying climate change, thwarting immigration reform or championing fetal ‘personhood.’”
Following the essay’s publication, Andrea Fischer Newman, a member of the university’s Board of Regents, wrote on her Facebook page that the essay was “extremely troubling and offensive,” and “ill-serves the most basic values of a university community.” Bobby Schostak, chairman of the Michigan Republican Party said in a statement that the essay was “ugly and full of hatred” and intimidating to students. He said the university and state Democrats should “join in condemning this disgraceful dialogue by calling for Professor Susan J. Douglas’ resignation.”
In a statement, Rick Fitzgerald, university spokesman said the views expressed in the essay were “those of the individual faculty member and not those of the University of Michigan. Faculty freedom of expression, including in the public sphere, is one of the core values of our institution.” At the same time, he added, “the university must and will work vigilantly to ensure students can express diverse ideas and perspectives in a respectful environment and without fear of reprisal. The university values viewpoint diversity and encourages a wide range of opinions.”
Douglas could not immediately be reached for comment. In These Times has since changed the name of the essay on the magazine’s website to “We Can’t All Just Get Along,” the same title under which it appears in the magazine’s print version. An editor’s note says that the title was changed to the include the word “hate” without Douglas’s knowledge, and that she rejected the former title as not representative of the piece or its main points. The note also says “all threats to the author's life and personal safety” have been removed from the online comment thread.
The U.S. Department of Education on Friday announced an agreement under which Youngstown State University will make its websites accessible to people with disabilities, as is required by federal law. The announcement said that the university had not done so in all instances in the past, but praised the university for agreeing to the changes.
Bowdoin College is punishing 14 members of its lacrosse team for dressing as Native Americans for a "Cracksgiving" party held at a house -- known as "Crack House" -- in which many of the athletes live, The Bangor Daily News reported. The college has had several recent programs about the insensitivity of costumes based on race or ethnicity.
Deborah O'Connor, a senior lecturer at Florida State University, has resigned after using a slur in a Facebook post, The Tallahassee Democrat reported. O'Connor said she was urged to resign but not forced to do so. She made the comment on the Facebook page of a consultant who has praised the Justice Department for investigating a police shooting of a 12-year-old black boy. The newspaper account of the comments, some of which are left out: "Take your Northern [anti-gay slur] elitism and shove it up your [expletive]. I teach at a university, you [expletive]. What do you do? You are an intellectual fraud, just like your Messiah. Obama has single-handedly turned our once great society into a Ghetto Culture, rivaling that of Europe."
She said of the incident: "I've learned my lesson about Facebook; let's just leave it at that. I decided to resign because I didn't think it was feasible to drag myself and Florida State through this kind of mud."
On Friday, Smith College President Kathleen McCartney sent an all-campus email about various campus efforts to promote inclusion and to support those angered by the recent decisions of grand juries in Missouri and New York not to indict police officers who killed unarmed black men. The email's substance was well-received on campus, but McCartney's subject line -- "All Lives Matter" -- was not. Many of those protesting the grand jury decisions have taken to using the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, while some of those criticizing the protest movement have been using #AllLivesMatter instead. Students told McCartney that her heading was being used elsewhere in this way. That prompted another email from the president. "I regret that I was unaware the phrase/hashtag “all lives matter” has been used by some to draw attention away from the focus on institutional violence against black people," she wrote, thanking students for sharing the information. The original email and the follow-up email may both be found here.
Scripps College has become the latest women's college to adopt policies explicitly allowing the admission of transgender women. Under a shift announced last week, the college will admit applicants who are identified on their birth certificates as women, or who self-identify as women. The college also will not require government issued documentation to verify sex or gender identity. A statement from the college said that the board's new policy "reiterates Scripps’ identity as a women’s college and commits to uphold its legacy as a 'community of women' for current and prospective students, graduates, and partners while recognizing gender as a social construct that has evolved over time."