The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa was facing considerable criticism this weekend after The Ottawa Sun reported that the organization called off free yoga classes because of fear that yoga is a form of "cultural appropriation." An email from an official with the federation's center for students with disabilities to the yoga instructor who was told she was not needed this semester said that "yoga has been under a lot of controversy lately due to how it is being practiced," and which cultures those practices "are being taken from." The email added that because those cultures "have experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and Western supremacy … we need to be mindful of this and how we express ourselves while practicing yoga."
Two vice presidents of the federation, reached by Inside Higher Ed Sunday evening, said the issue of cultural appropriation was one of several factors at play in putting yoga "on hold" this semester, and that it could return next semester, after a review of all of the issues, including but not limited to cultural appropriation.
American University of Beirut announced Friday that it is restoring a tenure system for faculty members. The university suspended the use of tenure in 1985, at the height of the Lebanese Civil War, when Malcolm Kerr, president of AUB, was assassinated and many feared for the university's future. Tenure is being restored based on a vote of the Faculty Senate and of the university board. Faculty committees will now develop systems for tenure reviews -- both for new faculty members and those who have been working as faculty members at the university without tenure.
DENVER – Members of the American Anthropological Association voted in favor of a resolution calling on the group to boycott Israeli academic institutions by a 1,040 to 136 margin at the association’s annual business meeting on Friday evening. The resolution will be put to a vote by the full AAA membership in the spring.
Anthropologists at the business meeting also rejected an anti-boycott resolution by a 1,173 to 196 margin.
Proponents of the academic boycott see it as a way of protesting Israel’s occupation of territories obtained in the 1967 war and of standing up for the rights of Palestinians. Some anthropologists and many other academics oppose the boycott because they believe it will stigmatize Israeli scholars and damage the study of anthropology without likely having any effect on Israeli policy.
A motion calling on the AAA to divest from corporations that "profit from the violation of Palestinian human rights and the illegal occupation" also passed on Friday. But because that motion was introduced on the floor (as opposed to the two resolutions, which were submitted in advance), it will go to the association’s executive board for its consideration and will not automatically be placed on the spring ballot.
Inside Higher Ed will have more coverage of the association's vote soon.
The University of Cambridge has dropped a fund-raising video because many objected to its inclusions of David Starkey, a noted historian of Tudor England whose comments on modern society have been criticized as racist by many, The Telegraph reported. An open letter to the university said that including Starkey made many other alumni uncomfortable about being featured in the video or contributing to the fund-raising campaign. Cambridge officials said that they always planned to take down the video, but did so early because of concerns they were hearing. Starkey told the Telegraph: “I was asked to contribute by the university, which I love, and to which I owe a profound debt. In due course, the university will decide what is right, proper and expedient. I shall be happy to accept that decision."
Matthieu Giroud (right), a geographer who was associate professor at Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée, was among those killed in Friday night's terrorist attacks in Paris. His research focused on the social effects of gentrification. More details on his life and career may be found here.
The president of Loyola University Maryland traveled to Paris to meet with study abroad students following Friday's terrorist attacks. The Reverend Brian Linnane, who is in London for a sabbatical this semester, is posting blog posts about his visit to Paris here.
The University of York, in Britain, has apologized for a press release announcing that it would celebrate "International Men's Day" this week. Manycritics said that the university's support for the day suggested a lack of awareness of the many inequities facing women in academe. The university's apology said that "the main focus of gender equality work should continue to be on the inequalities faced by women, and in particular the underrepresentation of women in the professoriate and senior management."