Soyinka Throws Out Green Card to Protest Trump

A Nigerian-born Nobel-prize winning author who has taught at Cornell, Harvard and Yale Universities has thrown away his green card in protest of Donald J. Trump’s election win, The Independent reported. Wole Soyinka was the first African to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, in 1986.

Soyinka had previously pledged he would throw out his U.S. permanent residency permit and “start packing” if Trump were to win the presidency. “I have already done it, I have disengaged [from the United States]. I have done what I said I would do,” Soyinka reportedly said at a conference in Johannesburg. 

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Catholic College Presidents Defend Undocumented Students

About 80 member presidents of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities have signed a statement in support of students who have benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, under which more than 700,000 young people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children have gained temporary protection from deportation and two-year renewable work permits. President-elect Donald J. Trump has said he would end the program, which was created by President Obama in what critics view as an overreach of his executive authority.

“We, the undersigned presidents of Catholic colleges and universities, express hope that the students in our communities who have qualified for DACA are able to continue their studies without interruption and that many more students in their situation will be welcome to contribute their talents to our campuses,” said the statement from the college presidents, which went on to quote the pope.

“When Pope Francis visited the United States last year, he had this to say to the World Meeting of Families gathered in Philadelphia: 'Among us today are members of America’s large Hispanic population, as well as representatives of recent immigrants to the United States. Many of you have emigrated (I greet you warmly!) to this country at great personal cost, in the hope of building a new life. Do not be discouraged by whatever hardships you face. I ask you not to forget that, like those who came here before you, you bring many gifts to this nation.' We are committed to educating these young people, brought to the United States by their parents, who come to our universities to build for themselves and us a brighter future.”

A group of 28 Jesuit college and university leaders signed a separate statement issued Wednesday on undocumented students. In the statement the Jesuit college leaders pledge "to protect to the fullest extent of the law undocumented students on our campuses"; "to promote retention of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA)"; "to support and stand with our students, faculty and staff regardless of their faith traditions"; and "to preserve the religious freedoms on which our nation was founded."

Apart from the statements from the Catholic and Jesuit college presidents, a letter in support of DACA from leaders of all types of higher education institutions had been signed by more than 400 college presidents as of noon Eastern time on Wednesday.

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Amid Trump's comments, Castro's death, uncertain climate for U.S.-Cuba exchanges

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Trump’s comments on possibly undoing U.S.-Cuba “deal” in wake of Fidel Castro’s death cast uncertainty about future of educational exchanges with island nation, which have been on the rise.

Canadian Literary Figures Divide Over Ex-Professor

Canadian authors and academics are dividing over the case of Steven Galloway (right), an acclaimed novelist who was until last year a tenured professor and chair of the creative writing program at the University of British Columbia. The university announced his departure but has never detailed allegations against him. An open letter raising due process concerns about his case has attracted many literary luminaries in Canada. A counterletter criticized the original letter as focused on Galloway's concerns and not those of the woman who was rumored to have brought sex-assault allegations against him.

In the last week, new developments have renewed debate over the case. As The Globe and Mail reported, Galloway made his first comment about the case, releasing a statement through his lawyers stating that he had been investigated by the university -- and cleared of -- the charge of sexual assault. But the statement also acknowledged that Galloway had a two-year affair with a student, in violation of university rules. “Mr. Galloway profoundly regrets his conduct and wishes to apologize for the harm that it has caused,” the statement said.

Another article, however, featured an interview with a lawyer for the woman who brought the complaint (and who has not been named). That lawyer stressed that the allegations were not about a consensual affair, but about sexual harassment and sexual assault.

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Efforts to Defend Undocumented Students

An open letter to President-elect Donald J. Trump from higher education professionals -- faculty, staff and administrators -- calls for the continuation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, under which more than 700,000 young people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children have obtained temporary protection from deportation and two-year renewable work permits. Trump pledged to end the DACA program during the campaign, prompting anxiety and fears among students who benefited from the program and among higher educational professionals concerned for their students' futures.

“As higher education professionals, it is our livelihood to educate and cultivate the talent of students so that they can make significant contributions to our economy and society,” states the letter, which had garnered more than 500 signatures as of Tuesday evening. “It pains us to think of denying the possibility of employment and exposing to deportation some of the students who sit in our classrooms, who play on our sports teams, who lead our student governments and who are siblings, classmates, friends, co-workers, boyfriends/girlfriends to millions of U.S. citizens.”

The letter-writing effort is being organized by Herbert A. Medina, a professor of mathematics and associate dean at Loyola Marymount University.

Meanwhile, more than 200 college and university presidents have signed a separate statement calling for the continuation and expansion of the DACA program. As of Tuesday evening, 250 college presidents had signed the petition, which is being organized by Pomona College President David Oxtoby.

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International education a $20 billion industry for Australia

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International education experts believe the country may benefit even more from political and economic changes in Britain and the United States.

Post-Election, More Interest in Canada's Universities

Canadian universities are seeing a surge of interest from Americans since the election, The Globe and Mail reported. The University of Toronto's admissions website typically receives 1,000 visits a day from computers based in the United States. The day after the election, the site received 10,000 American visits. McGill University is reporting a surge of applications from Americans. The number of Google searches for "college Canada" and "university Canada" was twice as high the day after the election than any day in the last five years. Those figures would include non-Americans, suggesting interest not just from the United States, but elsewhere.

Above right, the University of Toronto.

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No Evidence Saudi Student’s Death Was Hate Crime

Police say they have identified a suspect in the fatal assault of a student from Saudi Arabia at the University of Wisconsin at Stout last month and have found no evidence it was a hate crime, according to a statement on the university’s Facebook page. Police also say that the suspect in the death of Hussain Saeed Alnahdi is not a student at UW Stout or a resident of the surrounding Dunn County.

The Menomonie Police Department did not release the name of the suspect pending a decision on possible charges by the Dunn County District Attorney’s Office.

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Winners of Rhodes Scholarships Named

Thirty-two Americans were named Sunday as winners of Rhodes Scholarships, which cover two or three years of study at the University of Oxford. Harvard University students won four of the awards, more than those won by any other single college or university. While Ivies and Stanford University continue to do well, other winners were from Howard University, the University of Tulsa and the University of Kansas. Profiles of the winners may be found here.

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Middle East Scholars Group Moves to Delete "Nonpolitical" From Bylaws

Members of the Middle East Studies Association voted in favor of advancing a resolution to remove the word “nonpolitical” from the group’s bylaws in what opponents see as a prelude to a future vote on the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel. The resolution to amend the bylaws, approved by a 247-57 majority of those present at the annual members’ meeting, will next go to the full membership for a vote. An amendment to the bylaws requires the support of two-thirds of voting members.

Joshua Stacher, an associate professor of political science at Kent State University who introduced the resolution at the members’ meeting in Boston, said the proposed bylaw change would bring the association’s governance documents into line with the day-to-day practices of MESA and its Committee on Academic Freedom, which regularly sends letters to foreign government officials protesting violations of students’ and scholars’ rights in countries across the Middle East. MESA's board also periodically issues letters and statements, including, on Saturday, a statement reiterating its alarm at the "rise in the stereotyping and vilification of people of Middle East or Muslim background" in the United States.

“The ‘nonpolitical’ clause didn’t seem to reflect all the sorts of daily practices that members experience in MESA,” Stacher said on Friday. “When members would raise, ‘Well, aren’t we doing politics here?’ we would be told that, ‘Well, we’re a nonpolitical organization.’ It’s a conversation stopper, or a debate stopper, so we thought if we lifted this word ‘nonpolitical’ that it would actually help facilitate debates and help resolve some of these contradictions of MESA’s daily practices and what MESA espouses to be in its bylaws.”

Stacher added, “If the membership decides that it wants to pursue a BDS vote, then it’s going to do a BDS vote. I think that what was done today adds a lot more clarity to how members identify with the organization. And I think that for a lot of us, it’s not about BDS, it’s about the ability to take a collective stand as an organization on any issue that we feel is germane to how we educate, research and teach about the Middle East.”

Robert O. Freedman, a visiting professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University, spoke at the meeting against the proposed resolution to change the bylaws, saying in an interview that the action “transforms the Middle East Studies Association from an academic organization to an advocacy organization. It’s going to be advocating BDS and all sorts of other things instead of being a neutral academic organization.”

Freedman, who opposes BDS, also said that the proposed bylaw change “reduces or perhaps eliminates the credibility of the most important committee of MESA, which is the Committee on Academic Freedom. Once government leaders receive letters from an organization which is no longer a neutral organization but an advocacy organization, the credibility and legitimacy of those letters disappears.”

Ilan Troen, the Stoll Family Professor of Israel Studies at Brandeis University, said there's a big difference between the protest letters regularly written by the Committee on Academic Freedom and a potential boycott vote that could lead to the exclusion of individuals and institutions. He criticized what he described as the vote "to change the bylaws of an organization for one issue only -- that's supporting a Palestinian interpretation of a very complicated problem."

MESA is planning a full membership vote on the matter for early 2017.

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