Dalhousie University revealed Monday that it had suspended from clinical activities 13 male dentistry students involved in a Facebook group that joked about chloroforming female students to have sex with them, among other comments, The Globe and Mailreported. The students' behavior first drew attention last month, but at the time the Canadian university's president said the students would not be suspended but would be required to attend face-to-face mediation with the women they were accused of harassing.
Pressure has grown on university administrators to take tougher action against the male dentistry students. On Monday, President Richard Florizone said the university had suspended the men from clinical activities (but not from classes) in late December but delayed announcing the punishment because of "credible" risk that some of them might do themselves harm. The men are now on campus and have access to counseling, administrators said. The temporary clinical suspension will stay in place while an academic panel considers other penalties, The Globe and Mail reported. Four faculty members at Dalhousie initiated a complaint against the male students under the student code of conduct, demanding tougher punishment.
Wroclaw University, in Poland, is planning to restore degrees of Jews and others that were revoked during the Nazi era, The Telegraph reported. The university has identified more than 260 people whose degrees were inappropriately revoked. Relatives of the victims will attend a special ceremony in which the degrees will be restored.
As China builds up its research infrastructure, one question asked in that country and elsewhere has been whether it can fight research misconduct that many report to be widespread. The National Natural Science Foundation of China reported last week that it is seeing fewer cases of research misconduct than in previous years, Naturereported. The agency received 206 misconduct allegations in 2014, including 66 cases flagged by plagiarism-detection software. Investigations confirmed 33 cases of misconduct, including falsification, fabrication and plagiarism, purchasing grant proposals and use of false personal information. Previous recent years have seen an average of 49 confirmed cases a year.
While scientists applaud the efforts now being made, some said that the problem is far greater than the numbers from the agency suggest. “The cases uncovered by NSFC are just the tip of the iceberg, given how rampant the problem is in China,” said Mu-ming Poo, director of the Institute of Neuroscience at the Chinese Academy of Science.
Stockholm University is the latest university to announce that it will close its Confucius Institute, one of hundreds of Chinese government-funded centers for Chinese language and cultural education that have been established at universities around the globe. The University of Chicago and Pennsylvania State University have also recently closed their Confucius Institutes amid growing concerns about whether universities that host them are granting undue influence to the Chinese government in matters of curriculum and staffing.
Stockholm University’s vice chancellor, Astrid Söderbergh Widding, is quoted in the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet as saying (in translation) that it is generally dubious, or questionable, to establish institutes within a university that are financed by another nation.
The Modern College of Northwest University, located in Xian, China, has banned students from celebrating Christmas, Reuters reported. Banners are displayed around campus with slogans such as, "Strive to be outstanding sons and daughters of China, oppose kitsch Western holidays" and, "Resist the expansion of Western culture."
Students at Hebrew University of Jerusalem will have Thursday off in celebration of Christmas, The Jerusalem Post reported. This year will be the first with Christmas as a university day off. The university is also giving a new day off for the Muslim holiday Id al-Adha. A spokesman said that the days off were added “in order to accommodate students of all religions studying at the university and to respect the holidays.”
Harvard University's top officials are disavowing a decision by its dining operations to stop using the products of SodaStream, an Israeli company that sells machines to produce sparkling water. SodaStream has a factory in the West Bank, and while the company says that the factory provides for the livelihoods on equal terms of Palestinians and Israel Arabs (as well as Israeli Jews), SodaStream has become a target of those seeking to boycott Israel. Harvard officials say that they were unaware that their dining operations, responding to the concerns of students opposed to SodaStream, had dropped the company's products. They learned of this development from an article in The Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper.
Alan M. Garber, Harvard's provost, released this statement: "As President [Drew] Faust has indicated to members of the Harvard community who have made inquiries, she and I both learned of this issue from today's Crimson. She has asked staff to get to the bottom of how these conversations started and to learn more about where matters currently stand. Regardless, Harvard University's procurement decisions should not and will not be driven by individuals' views of highly contested matters of political controversy. If this policy is not currently known or understood in some parts of the University, that will be rectified now."
Harvard Dining Services has since issued a statement that it will not let politics enter into decisions about which products to use. "We value and regularly seek input on a wide range of issues from members of the community who use HUDS facilities," the statement said. "In this instance, we mistakenly factored political concerns raised by students on a particularly sensitive issue into a decision on soda machines. As the president and provost have made clear, our procurement decisions should not be driven by community members’ views on matters of political controversy."
Barry Spurr has resigned as a professor of poetry at the University of Sydney following leaks of email messages in which he used slurs about Aboriginal Australians, Asians and women, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. Spurr has said that the comments were part of a "linguistic game."