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Grambling State Hires Disgraced Former Baylor Coach

Art Briles has been persona non grata in the football world since he was fired from Baylor University in 2016 for mishandling issues of sexual assault during his tenure as head coach. Now Briles is returning to the ranks of college football as offensive coordinator at Grambling State University.

Briles, who led the Bears to six bowl games in eight years as head coach at Baylor, was fired after an internal investigation uncovered multiple incidents of sexual assault or domestic violence involving 19 members of the team. The investigation found that Briles was aware of certain incidents and did not report them.

A separate NCAA investigation also found that Briles failed to report sexual misconduct by players. But since he did not violate any NCAA bylaws, he did not receive official punishment.

“In each instance, when the head coach received information from a staff member regarding potential criminal conduct by a football student-athlete, he did not report the information and did not personally look any further into the matter,” a report from the NCAA Committee on Infractions found last year regarding Briles’s culpability. “He generally relied on the information provided to him by his staff and likewise relied on them to handle problems. His incurious attitude toward potential criminal conduct by his student-athletes was deeply troubling to the panel.”

Since his firing, Briles has struggled to find a place in the football world, working briefly for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns as a consultant in fall 2016; he then joined the staff of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Canadian Football League in 2017 before the team rescinded the deal amid public backlash. Briles coached in Italy in 2018 and at a Texas high school from 2019 to 2020.

In an interview with local TV station KTAL, Briles suggested the issues at Baylor were due to an understaffed Title IX office and said he would work to protect students at Grambling State.

“I’ll do exactly what I’m required to do and what they expect of me, which is to be a very solid citizen, to be a positive leader on a day-in and day-out basis, to do everything I can do to protect our students and our student athletes on campus, and to represent the Grambling University to the best of my ability, because I’m very humble and grateful to be at this university,” Briles said.

The controversial hiring has prompted widespread scrutiny from observers of college athletics.

“Briles made career decisions—bad ones—by placing football success and protection of his own players over the safety of student athletes,” David Ridpath, a sports management professor at Ohio University and past president of the Drake Group, which pushes for reforming college athletics, told The Advocate. He added, “I think it’s a bad move by Grambling.”

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Professor’s Anti-Asian Slur Creates Stir at Georgetown Law

Students at Georgetown University are demanding accountability after law professor Franz Werro referred to a student in class as “Mr. Chinaman.” A video of the Feb. 10 incident has gone viral, attracting more than 140,000 views.

Werro apologized in an email the next day for using the anti-Asian slur, according to the legal news website Above the Law.

“As a non-native English speaker myself, I did not appreciate that it was a derogatory term, as I now understand it is,” he wrote. “I am very sorry I used it.”

A letter from the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association of Georgetown University Law Center called for a public apology from Werro to the affected students, mandatory implicit bias training, alternative course offerings for students who feel uncomfortable taking Werro’s classes and public acknowledgment of the incident from law school leadership, among other demands.

William M. Treanor, dean and executive vice president of the Georgetown University Law Center, issued a statement to students on Feb. 11, Above the Law reported.

“As a community of students, staff, and faculty we must take a serious look at our culture, structure, systems, and processes to ensure that we are a community that fosters respect, equity, and justice,” Treanor wrote in the statement. “We have significant work ahead of us to create a community in which students can learn in an environment that is free from bias, where they are able to foster positive connections with others, and where everyone feels supported and appreciated for their contributions.”

The incident follows another stir at Georgetown’s law school in late January, when Ilya Shapiro, incoming senior lecturer and executive director of the Georgetown Center for the Constitution, tweeted critically about President Joe Biden’s plan to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court. Georgetown suspended Shapiro in early February following student pushback on his tweets, in which he said Biden’s SCOTUS nominee would be a “lesser black woman.”

Prior to both incidents, Sandra Sellers, an adjunct law professor at Georgetown, was terminated last March after making derogatory remarks about Black students.

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Course Hero contends with student privacy concerns

What responsibility does a course materials–sharing platform have to protect the privacy of the students who use it?

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Racist text messages create stir at Occidental College

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Anti-Asian text messages shared on social media have created turmoil at Occidental College. Students are angered by the administration’s delayed response and lack of disciplinary action.

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Penn Swimmers Take Aim at Trans Teammate in Anonymous Letter

Sixteen swimmers at the University of Pennsylvania sent an anonymous letter to Ivy League and college officials on Thursday expressing their belief that transgender teammate Lia Thomas should not be allowed to compete due to physical advantages, The Washington Post reported.

Thomas, who previously competed on the men’s team for three seasons, is having a breakout year.

The Post reported that the letter was sent on behalf of the group by Nancy Hogshead-Makar, who won Olympic gold in 1984 as a swimmer and now heads an advocacy organization for women’s sports. Hogshead-Makar reportedly sent the letter so the swimmers would not face retaliation.

“Biologically, Lia holds an unfair advantage over competition in the women’s category, as evidenced by her rankings that have bounced from #462 as a male to #1 as a female,” part of the letter read, per the Post. “If she were to be eligible to compete against us, she could now break Penn, Ivy, and NCAA Women’s Swimming records; feats she could never have done as a male athlete.”

The Post also reported that the letter discouraged the Ivy League and the school from taking legal action against the NCAA for its recently updated guidelines on transgender athlete competition, which adopted a “sport-by-sport approach to transgender participation that preserves opportunity for transgender student-athletes while balancing fairness, inclusion and safety for all who compete.” NCAA policies approved in January also allow sports to defer to rules set by governing bodies, such as USA Swimming, which just released its own new policies on transgender athletes.

The NCAA has announced that it will review those guidelines later this month.

The new USA Swimming policy for elite swimmers, including as at the NCAA level, will now require “evidence that the prior physical development of the athlete as a male, as mitigated by any medical intervention, does not give the athlete a competitive advantage over the athlete’s cisgender female competitors.”

Additionally, elite transgender swimmers must maintain testosterone levels below 5 nanomoles per liter of blood for at least 36 months before competing in women’s events.

The NCAA could meet prior to the swimming championships in March to consider adopting these rules, according to The New York Times. Possible changes to the existing rules come as Thomas has emerged this season as a contender for the Ivy League and NCAA championships.

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Shooting Threat Prompts UCLA to Shift Classes Online

A shooting threat by a former lecturer prompted the University of California, Los Angeles, to move classes online on the second day of in-person learning of the winter quarter.

Matthew Harris, a former lecturer and postdoctoral fellow at UCLA, made threats online that referenced a mass shooting at the college and sent an 800-page manifesto singling out members of UCLA’s philosophy department, according to the Los Angeles Times. Harris joined UCLA in 2019 but was placed on leave in 2021 for disciplinary reasons, the Times reported.

According to a philosophy department newsletter, Harris’s scholarship was focused on the “philosophy of race, personal identity, and related issues in philosophy of mind.”

On Monday Harris uploaded dozens of videos to YouTube—since taken down—including one threatening a mass shooting at UCLA. Another deleted video, accessible via the Internet Archive, was titled “DUKE UNIVERSITY PHILOSOPHY (CATASTROPHIC SHOOTING)” with video of various shootings, real and from movies, stitched together. Harris was previously a graduate student at Duke.

In another video, Harris referred to Hitler as “my inspiration.”

Harris, who is Black, included derogatory comments about Asian, Jewish and white people in a number of barely comprehensible videos uploaded to YouTube and still accessible via the Internet Archive, as well as in his manifesto, according to screenshots circulating online.

Harris was arrested in Colorado on Tuesday. Upon news of his arrest, UCLA announced in a statement that it would return to in-person classes today.

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Nebraska Updates Mascot Due to Hate Symbol Similarity

Prompted by concerns over white supremacist imagery, the University of Nebraska has made a small change to depictions of Herbie Husker, the mascot of a farmer dressed in a cowboy hat and overalls that has represented the state university’s beloved Cornhuskers for nearly 50 years.

Herbie Husker’s left hand, once shaped in an “OK” sign, has been updated with the index finger raised to signify “we’re No. 1.” That change was made due to concerns that the OK sign has been hijacked by white supremacists who use the gesture to signal “WP,” for “white power.”

Nebraska officials told the Flatwater Free Press that the change was made in 2020 after they became aware of how the symbol was being used. Going forward, the university will only use the updated image of Herbie Husker on officially licensed merchandise, officials told the news outlet.

The “OK” hand gesture is officially considered a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League, though the group notes “it most commonly signals understanding, consent, approval or well-being” and that “particular caution must be used when evaluating this symbol.”

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‘Entanglement’ With Colleague Spurred FIU Leader’s Resignation

Florida International University published a statement Sunday revealing that its president, Mark B. Rosenberg, resigned Friday in part because he had entered into an emotional relationship that caused a university employee “discomfort.”

Rosenberg resigned suddenly Friday after 13 years as president, saying that he needed to attend to “personal health issues” and to the deteriorating health of his wife of 47 years. Sunday, the chair of the Board of Regents of the public university in Miami, Dean C. Colson, released a short statement that introduced a letter from Rosenberg amplifying his reasoning.

In it, he said that his wife’s declining health and his role as her primary caregiver had affected his own personal well-being and prompted him to seek mental health services. Beyond that, though, he wrote, “Regrettably, these issues spilled over to my work and I caused discomfort for a valued colleague. I unintentionally created emotional (not physical) entanglement. I have apologized. I apologize to you. I take fully responsibility and regret my actions.”

Rosenberg said he had disclosed the relationship “through proper channels” and concluded with the board that an “immediate change” would be best.

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Millikin U Apologizes After Speaker’s Transphobic Comments

Millikin University apologized to students, faculty and alumni after a graduation speaker made transphobic remarks, NBC affiliate WAND reported

During his speech at the Illinois university, the Reverend Wally Carlson pretended to take a phone call from God and said God told him “to take care of the gender issue.”

“He understands and he’s sharing with you that there’s no theological justification for it but he’s choosing ‘he’ and ‘him’ today, doesn’t like ‘them’ and ‘they,’ and just because this is probably irritating enough people that it’s coming out this way, we’re gonna stay away from ‘she’ and ‘her,’” Carlson said.

Millikin University issued a statement saying that it “immediately” apologized to those in attendance, asserting that Carlson’s comments “neither reflect nor represent the values of our university.” Administrators also vowed to vet remarks from future speakers.

“We were not aware of his remarks prior to Commencement and were equally as surprised and disappointed by them,” the statement said. “Going forward, Millikin will be certain to vet all prepared remarks for important events like Commencement. We are very sorry for the hurt this has caused and affirm our support for all members of the Millikin community.”

Transgender graduate Nat Long told WAND that the ceremony felt “less like an achievement and more like an escape.”

“I was just kind of sitting there, like, you know, I was holding back tears,” Long said. “I was trying not to get super upset because this isn’t the first instance of transphobia that I’ve experienced directly at this school. I’ve had about three other incidents in the past year alone that have really not been good. So I really just wanted to celebrate my graduation, but I felt like I really couldn’t.”

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U of Alabama Sorority Expels Member for Racist Text

A University of Alabama sorority stripped its president of her title and expelled another member after a racist text in a group chat was circulated online, The Birmingham News reported.

According to screenshots of the group message, Alpha Phi president Katherine Anthony wrote, “I’m gonna yack, it smells so bad in here,” referring to a Tuscaloosa bar. Responding to Anthony’s message, member Kylie Klueger wrote, “cigs, weed and black girl.” Alpha Phi posted a statement on its Instagram page Thursday saying the sorority was aware a member used “racist and hateful” language and confirmed the removal of the sorority member who sent that text. The statement said the chapter’s judiciary board was investigating the other people involved in the group message.

“We deeply apologize for the racist behavior displayed by the former member and the harm and trauma this text message has caused to members of the Alabama community and the general public,” the Instagram message read.

The Alabama Panhellenic Association posted its own statement to Instagram, writing that the group message circulated online was in “direct contradiction” to the association’s vision and that it was “gravely disappointed with this offensive behavior.”

A spokesperson for the University of Alabama wrote in a statement Monday, “Alpha Phi informed the University of the inappropriate student communication and made us aware that the local chapter and national organization are taking steps to address concerns with their members’ behavior. The communication is offensive, disappointing, and contrary to the University’s core values emphasizing collegiality, respect and inclusivity.”

Alpha Phi has been involved in racist controversy before. In 2015, the chapter removed a recruitment video from YouTube after it gained national attention for being racially and aesthetically homogeneous, appearing to suggest the sorority is only for attractive white women. In 2018, student Harley Barber was expelled from Alpha Phi and the university after a video of her repeating multiple racial slurs on Martin Luther King Jr. Day was made public.

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