diversity

Case at University of Iowa highlights gender bias facing women in athletics

Experts say jury award to former Iowa athletics official points to gender and sexual orientation bias issues present at many colleges and universities.

$1.4M Verdict in Iowa Athletics Gender Bias Suit

A state jury found Thursday that the University of Iowa athletics department engaged in bias based on gender and sexual orientation against Jane Meyer, and awarded her $1.43 million, The Des Moines Register reported. The judge in the case may order additional damages. Meyer was the senior associate athletic director at Iowa from 2001 to 2014, and she said she was effectively pushed out for being a woman and a lesbian and for drawing attention to gender-equity issues. Her lawyers now plan to ask the judge to order an investigation into bias issues in the athletics department. The university issued a brief statement: "The university is disappointed by the jury's decision."

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Controversy Over DeVos Commencement Speech

Just months after a major gaffe by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos about the origins of historically black colleges and universities, a Florida HBCU is taking heat for inviting her to speak at its spring commencement ceremony next week.

The Florida chapter of the NAACP asked Bethune-Cookman University this week to reconsider the invitation and to withhold an honorary degree for DeVos. The Florida Education Association circulated a petition Wednesday calling for the university to rescind the invitation.

Fedrick Ingram, vice president of the association, said the organization's objection to DeVos had less to do with her past missteps on issues involving HBCUs than her association with a proposed White House budget that would deal major cuts to programs supporting the students who attend institutions like Bethune-Cookman.

“This is not about what she believes, it’s not about the history -- this is about what she says she will do going forward,” Ingram said.

Liz Hill, press secretary for the Department of Education, said DeVos was honored to receive an invitation to speak at the university.

"She believes that open dialogue and a willingness to work together are key to solving our nation’s most pressing issues, and she looks forward to continued dialogue with the HBCU community and the Bethune-Cookman students, faculty and staff," Hill said.

A spokeswoman for Bethune-Cookman did not respond to a request for comment but said the university would hold a press conference ahead of the commencement ceremony May 10. Bethune-Cookman President Edison Jackson earlier this week defended the decision to invite DeVos in Politico.

“When we seek to shelter our students and campus communities from views that are diametrically opposed to their own, we actually leave our students far less capable of combating those ideas,” Jackson said. “Additionally, the sheer diversity of our human family requires us to listen to and understand one another. We cannot, and we will not, ever accomplish this if we continue to exist in ideological, social and racial silos.”

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Issues of race and security inflame two campuses

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At Colgate, students are furious over a security alert issued over a black student who was carrying a glue gun. At St. Olaf, students protest amid sense that threats against black students have not been taken seriously.

Journal Apologizes for Article on 'Transracialism'

Hypatia, a prominent feminist journal, has apologized for publishing an article on "transracialism," the idea that people may identify as members of a different race, as in the case of Rachel Dolezal, the former Spokane, Wash., NAACP chapter leader who declared herself to be black although she is white. The article compared transracial identities to transgender identities in ways that critics said demeaned transgender people and black people, among others. Many scholars called on the journal to retract the article.

An apology posted on Facebook said in part, "We, the members of Hypatia’s Board of Associate Editors, extend our profound apology to our friends and colleagues in feminist philosophy, especially transfeminists, queer feminists and feminists of color, for the harms that the publication of the article on transracialism has caused. The sources of those harms are multiple, and include: descriptions of trans lives that perpetuate harmful assumptions and (not coincidentally) ignore important scholarship by trans philosophers; the practice of deadnaming, in which a trans person’s name is accompanied by a reference to the name they were assigned at birth; the use of methodologies which take up important social and political phenomena in dehistoricized and decontextualized ways, thus neglecting to address and take seriously the ways in which those phenomena marginalize and commit acts of violence upon actual persons; and an insufficient engagement with the field of critical race theory. Perhaps most fundamentally, to compare ethically the lived experience of trans people (from a distinctly external perspective) primarily to a single example of a white person claiming to have adopted a black identity creates an equivalency that fails to recognize the history of racial appropriation, while also associating trans people with racial appropriation."

Rebecca Tuvel, the author of the original piece, has posted a response, criticizing those who have attacked her article for engaging in "ad hominem attacks."

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Bananas Again Create Racial Tension at American

Bananas have again become a source of racial tension at American University. In the fall, black students protested over incidents in which they said one had a banana thrown at her and another found a rotten banana left outside her dormitory room. On Monday, officials discovered three bananas hanging from noose-like strings, with the letters "AKA" written on them, an apparent reference to Alpha Kappa Alpha, the oldest historically black sorority in the country. An AKA member recently became the head of American's student government.

Neil Kerwin, president of the university, issued a statement Monday that said in part, "The crude and racially insensitive act of bigotry reported this morning is under investigation by AU Campus Police with assistance from the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and other AU offices and senior officials. We strongly condemn what happened [and] will do all that we can to find those responsible."

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Baylor Student Party Based on Mexican Stereotypes

Baylor University suspended a fraternity Monday over a party it held Saturday that embraced many stereotypes of Mexicans. The Waco Tribune reported that students wore sombreros, some were in painted brown faces dressed as construction workers and others chanted "build the wall," in reference to President Trump's pledge to build a wall on the Mexican border. Hundreds of Baylor students held a protest of the incident Monday.

Kevin P. Jackson, vice president for student life at Baylor, issued this statement Sunday, as word of the party spread: "The university has been made aware of a racially insensitive event that occurred last night off campus. The reported behavior is deeply concerning and does not in any way reflect Baylor’s institutional values. University officials are presently investigating the incident and gathering additional information. Baylor is committed to a Christian mission that actively supports a caring and diverse campus community, and we do not tolerate racism of any kind on our campus. When any incident that does not align with our faith and mission is brought to our attention, it is thoroughly investigated by the university, and appropriate action is taken."

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Racial incidents anger students at St. Olaf, Baylor and American

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Minority students report heightened tensions at St. Olaf, American and Baylor.

Weekend Sit-In Over Racial Incidents at St. Olaf

Hundreds of students at St. Olaf College held a sit-in Saturday afternoon and through the night in the student center to protest recent racial incidents on the campus. The immediate spur for the incident was a note left on the car of a black woman, making racist threats and saying it would be a good thing if she left the campus. Students said the incident was but the latest in a series targeting minority students with anonymous, racist notes.

The college issued a statement that condemned the recent incident and said the college was investigating it, as it has the other incidents this year.

"These acts are despicable," the college statement says. "They violate every value we hold as a community, and they have absolutely no place at St. Olaf.

When the first report arose last October, the college notified the campus of the incident and launched an immediate investigation. "We are sparing no effort and are using every tool at our disposal to catch the perpetrators of these hate-filled acts," the statement said. "St. Olaf has notified Northfield Police, and we are working with law enforcement. Each time a racist act has been perpetrated, the college has continued notifying the campus."

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Students Warned in Advance of White Nationalist Rally

The University of Pikesville urged students and parents, in advance of a white nationalist rally that took place near campus on Saturday, to consider leaving town for the weekend if they were concerned about safety, The Kentucky Herald-Leader reported.

In a letter published on the University of Pikeville’s website, President Burton Webb told parents that the quiet, safe town of Pikeville, Ky., could look “very different” as members of the Traditionalist Workers Party converged on the area for a rally.

“They were not invited to our town and are not welcome on our campus,” Webb said in the letter, adding that local and state law enforcement were ramping up security efforts to ensure nothing and no one was harmed during the event.

“Sadly, we cannot guarantee safety when three hate groups from outside the region have determined to pitch their battle on our streets,” he wrote.

He offered parents two possible options to suggest to their children. First, parents could encourage students to stay away from the downtown area, where the TWP and other groups would be rallying. Second, parents could urge their students to leave town and visit family or friends elsewhere until things settle down in Pikeville.

“Please, talk to your student and make your wishes known,” Webb said. “Encourage them to be part of the solution by working toward reconciliation rather than increasing hate.”

During the rally Saturday, the white nationalists and those there to protest against them avoided violence, according to the Herald-Leader. About 125 white nationalists were present, as were another 200 protesters.

Law enforcement officials, including about 40 armed police officers wearing riot gear, stood shoulder to shoulder between the two groups as people on each side chanted, yelled and sounded off with whistles and horns.

Three people were arrested during the event, all of whom were in Pikeville to protest the white nationalists.

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