Can a language requirement be discriminatory? A dyslexic student has filed a complaint in the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario after he was denied admission to a University of Ottawa master of political science program because he couldn’t meet a requirement to take one French-language course, the CBC reported. The student, citing the barriers he faces to learning languages due to his severe dyslexia, has requested to take the course in English or with the aid of a translator. A spokesperson for the University of Ottawa said the institution “does not see this as an accommodation issue” and the student “was not admitted … because he did not meet the essential admission requirements for the program.” The program website stipulates that students must have an “active knowledge of French” at the time of admission.
Four Turkish academics who had been detained on charges of spreading “terrorist propaganda” in connection with their support for a petition opposing a military campaign against Kurdish separatists have been released pending trial, The Guardianreported. Prosecutors intend to seek a lesser charge, “denigrating Turkishness,” which carries a maximum two-year prison sentence, against the academics. The next hearing is scheduled for September.
The more than 1,000 Turkish professors who signed the Academics for Peace petition in January have faced a range of repercussions, including criminal investigations and university-level disciplinary actions. Some of the signatories have been suspended or terminated from their university positions.
A professor of English at Bangladesh's Rajshahi University was hacked to death on Saturday in an attack for which the Islamic State has claimed responsibility, The New York Timesreported. The killing of Rezaul Karim Siddiquee bears similarities to recent targeted killings of secular activists in Bangladesh by Islamist militants, but it is not clear why Siddiquee might have been targeted. According to police who interviewed his family, he had not published materials critical of Islam and had not received any threats.
A “Hijab Day” at the prestigious Sciences Po, in Paris, has sparked controversy, Agence France-Presse reported.
The student organizers of the event invited classmates to wear a Muslim head scarf for a day in a show of solidarity, describing the event on their Facebook page as an opportunity to “experience the stigmatization experienced by veiled women in France.” #HijabDay trended at the top of French Twitter and was praised by some and condemned by others. The philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy tweeted, “Hijab Day at Sc Po. When will there be a sharia day? Stoning? Slavery?”
The Scholars at Risk Network and the Committee of Concerned Scientists have renewed their calls for the release of Omid Kokabee, a doctoral student of physics, from Iran’s Evin Prison in response to reports that Kokabee has been diagnosed with kidney cancer. Kokabee, a student at the University of Texas at Austin, is serving a 10-year sentence on charges of communicating with a hostile government. Amnesty International considers him a "prisoner of conscience held solely for his refusal to work on military projects in Iran and as a result of spurious charges related to his legitimate scholastic ties with academic institutions outside of Iran."
The University of Edinburgh is putting in place new policies requiring all staff to report their locations to their managers “when officially at work, but not in their normal place of work” for a half day or longer, Times Higher Educationreported.
The university said it has opted to apply the new reporting requirements -- which are a condition of work visas for employees from outside the European Union -- to all staff, regardless of their nationality, as a matter of fairness. But some have accused Edinburgh of overreach. “Rather than using the oppressive requirements to which the Home Office subjects a handful of valued colleagues to justify comprehensive micromanagement, we should use our position and power to challenge this xenophobia and treat everybody with greater trust,” one unidentified academic told Times Higher.
The American Bar Association rescinded an offer it made to publish a book on human rights lawyers in China out of fear of upsetting the Chinese government, according to a leaked email from an ABA employee obtained by Foreign Policy. The ABA, however, maintains that the employee's email misrepresents the association's reasons for not publishing the book.
The ABA's publishing arm commissioned the book, Darkness Before Dawn, in December 2014. In January 2015 an unnamed ABA employee sent an email to the book's author, Teng Biao, withdrawing the offer: “Apparently, there is concern that we run the risk of upsetting the Chinese government by publishing your book,” the employee wrote, “and because we have ABA commissions working in China there is fear that we would put them and their work at risk.”
In the email the employee offered to help Teng find another publisher and wrote that “this has the potential to be an amazing book.”
ABA officials did not question the authenticity of the employee's email but said in a statement to Foreign Policy that “the decision not to proceed with publication of the book Darkness Before Dawn was made for purely economic reasons, based on market research and sales forecasting conducted by the association’s publishing group.”
“Unfortunately, the reasons resulting in the decision were miscommunicated to Mr. Teng,” the statement from Robert T. Rupp, an ABA executive, said.
Ecuador is not a top study abroad destination for American students, but the earthquake this weekend had a number of American colleges and universities reaching out to contact their students who are in that country. So far, the news is good and Boston University, Michigan State University and the University of Oregon were able to announce that all students were safe.
The University of Birmingham, in Britain, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign last week announced an unusual postdoc research program. The postdocs will work on one of six "global challenges" involving issues such as brain trauma, computational genomics and diversity in education. The first and third years of the postdocs will be spent at Birmingham and the second year at Illinois.