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Spanier Sentenced to Two Months in Jail

Graham Spanier, former president of Pennsylvania State University, was sentenced Friday to four months to one year of jail time, but was told he could serve two months in jail to be followed by two months of house arrest, The Centre Daily Times reported. The sentence was for child endangerment, in which he was convicted of failing to notify authorities when he learned that Jerry Sandusky was likely sexually assaulting children, and was using his then position as an assistant football coach to do so.

Spanier's lawyers, citing his health issues and contributions to society made in his career, had asked for him to be spared jail time, but prosecutors said jail time was appropriate. Spanier is expected to appeal his conviction.

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Yale Will Take Calhoun Name Off Residential College

Yale University announced Saturday that it will remove the name of John C. Calhoun (at right) from one of its residential colleges. "The decision to change a college’s name is not one we take lightly, but John C. Calhoun’s legacy as a white supremacist and a national leader who passionately promoted slavery as a 'positive good' fundamentally conflicts with Yale’s mission and values," said a letter released by Peter Salovey, the president. Calhoun is notorious in American history for his effectiveness in protecting slavery and promoting bigoted ideas about black people in the era prior to the Civil War.

Saturday's announcement marks the end of decades of debate at Yale over Calhoun, an alumnus. Last year, Yale announced that it would keep the Calhoun name on the residential college, and that doing so was part of the commitment of the college to acknowledging and teaching the history of the institution's connections with slavery. The decision led to protests and considerable condemnation. A few months later, Yale announced it would reconsider its decision, and that it would first create a system for evaluating requests for such name changes. That panel was then convened, as was another to consider whether the Calhoun name should be removed. On Saturday, Yale's board made a final decision on the matter.

Salovey's letter noted that Calhoun was different from others in history who may be honored at Yale or elsewhere. "This principal legacy of Calhoun -- and the indelible imprint he has left on American history -- conflicts fundamentally with the values Yale has long championed. Unlike other namesakes on our campus, he distinguished himself not in spite of these views but because of them. Although it is not clear exactly how Calhoun’s pro-slavery and racist views figured in the 1931 naming decision, depictions in the college celebrating plantation life and the 'Old South' suggest that Calhoun was honored not simply as a statesman and political theorist but in full contemplation of his unique place in the history of slavery," Salovey's letter said.

He added, "In making this change, we must be vigilant not to erase the past. To that end, we will not remove symbols of Calhoun from elsewhere on our campus, and we will develop a plan to memorialize the fact that Calhoun was a residential college name for 86 years. Furthermore, alumni of the college may continue to associate themselves with the name Calhoun College."

Or they may adopt the new name for the residential college, which will honor Grace Murray Hopper (right), a pioneer in computing who earned a master's degree and doctorate from Yale in the 1930s. She had a long career in the U.S. Navy, retiring with the rank of rear admiral.

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Judge Blocks Entry Ban, Visas Restored

The U.S. Department of State has restored the validity of visas from individuals from seven countries whose nationals were barred from entering the United States under a Jan. 27 executive order signed by President Trump. The State Department's move follows a federal judge's decision Friday night to temporarily block the enforcement of that order nationwide.

The New York Times reported that Judge James Robart, of the Federal District Court for the Western District of Washington, temporarily barred the enforcement of the 90-day entry ban on nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. On Saturday morning the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it was suspending all actions to implement the immigration order, several news outlets reported.

In accordance with the order, the State Department has restored the validity of visas from the seven countries, which it had provisionally revoked in response to Trump’s executive order.

“We have reversed the provisional revocation of visas under Executive Order 13769,” a State Department official told Inside Higher Ed. “Those individuals with visas that were not physically canceled may now travel if the visa is otherwise valid.”

Trump’s executive order has been widely condemned by civil rights groups as a pretext for banning the entry of Muslims, and by education groups and university leaders who see it as undermining key higher education values of inclusion, mobility and internationalism, and as preventing the travel by talented students and scholars to their campuses. Numerous students and scholars from the affected countries who happened to be abroad at the time the order was signed have been unable to re-enter the U.S. Under the terms of the order, those already in the U.S. did not have to leave, but they would be unable to re-enter the country if they left, in effect preventing them from engaging in any personal or professional international travel.

The White House has pledged to contest Robart’s ruling. “At the earliest possible time, the Department of Justice intends to file an emergency stay of this outrageous order and defend the executive order of the president, which we believe is lawful and appropriate,” the White House said in a statement Friday.

An updated statement from the White House deleted the word “outrageous,” but Trump did not hold back his outrage on Twitter, saying, “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” Trump has justified the executive order as intended to keep terrorists out of the United States.

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Minnesota Football Players End Boycott

University of Minnesota football players on Saturday announced that they were ending their boycott of football activities, a boycott that they earlier suggested would extend to refusing to play in the Holiday Bowl.

The football players said they were boycotting to protest the suspension of 10 players on the team. The university did not announce a reason for the suspensions, but they are believed to be related to a sex assault investigation in which police declined to bring charges. A series of documents that have come out since the boycott started show that the university's investigation found that some suspended players violated rules barring sexual assault and others violated rules against sexual harassment.

Eric W. Kaler (right), president of the university, met with players after they declared their boycott but insisted that he would not reverse the suspensions, citing the importance of university "values" that may extend beyond legal standards of what constitutes criminal conduct.

In a statement released Friday, Kaler said, "One of my jobs as president is to put our institutional values at the forefront of all we do and ensure our actions are aligned with those values. This principle is far more important than any football game and the university community as a whole, and it is more important than any single athletic team. Some of the values that we hold, as a community, include: every member of the university community deserves to be treated with respect. Our student-athletes are important representatives of the university, and when they wear the M, they are held to a high standard of conduct. When the expectations for conduct are not met, there are consequences."

A statement from the football team announcing the end of the boycott started by declaring that "sexual harassment and violence against women have no place on this campus, on our team, in our society and at no time is it condoned." While the statement said the team members continue to have concerns about due process and "a lack of communication," it added that it has become clear the suspensions will not be lifted. The football players' statement said they were ending their boycott based on assurances that the suspended players would receive due process, and that support would be shown for the "character" of "the great majority" of players.

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Columbia Grad Students Vote to Unionize

Graduate students who are teaching and research assistants at Columbia University have voted, 1,602 to 623, to unionize and to be represented by the United Auto Workers, the union announced Friday afternoon.

“Today, 3,500 RAs and TAs like me have won a voice to make sure Columbia University is the best place possible to learn and work,” said a statement from Addison Godel, a teaching assistant in the Architecture School at Columbia University. “This marks a major victory for the entire Columbia community – we care deeply about the world-renowned teaching and research that happens at our university and are ready to tackle the issues that matter most to us, our students and our neighbors.”

The outcome is a big win for those seeking to unionize teaching assistants at private research universities. Columbia's graduate students were the group that urged the National Labor Relations Board to rule in August that graduate students at private universities have that right.


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Trump Picks Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary

President-elect Donald J. Trump has selected Betsy DeVos, a conservative philanthropist and Republican Party official known for her advocacy for private school vouchers, as education secretary, the transition office announced Wednesday.

Little is known about her views on federal higher education policy.

A statement from Trump said, “Betsy DeVos is a brilliant and passionate education advocate. Under her leadership we will reform the U.S. education system and break the bureaucracy that is holding our children back so that we can deliver world-class education and school choice to all families. I am pleased to nominate Betsy as Secretary of the Department of Education.”

DeVos used Twitter to comment on her nomination:

DeVos was chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party in the late 1990s. She and her husband, Dick, who ran for governor of Michigan in 2006 and is a member of the family that owns Amway, have a foundation in their names that contributes heavily to education organizations and arts groups, especially in Michigan.

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