Quick Takes: Fire Kills 2 BU Students, Backstory on Derrida Dispute, Brown's Response to Slavery Report, LeMoyne-Owen's Uncertain Finances, A Sorority's Standards, Palestinian Students Seek Apology, Stanford President's Millions, IRS Probe of American U.

February 26, 2007
  • A fire in a Boston apartment building Saturday killed two Boston University students and displaced 30 people, many of them college students, The Boston Globe reported. A statement from the university said that a third student is in serious condition in a hospital, and that the university is housing some students at a local hotel.
  • The Los Angeles Times  reported Sunday that earlier reports about a dispute over the Jacques Derrida papers missed the real reason that the late philosopher started to back away from plans to give his writings to the University of California at Irvine, where he taught. According to the article, Derrida -- prior to his death -- was trying to use his archives to get the university to drop an investigation into sexual harassment allegations made by a graduate student against one of Derrida's friends on the faculty.
  • Ruth J. Simmons, president of Brown University, on Saturday announced a series of steps the university would take in response to a report by a faculty panel in October documenting the institution's early ties to the slave trade. As the panel recommended, the university isn't paying reparations in monetary sense (and that Brown officials have said was never the intent of creating the slavery study). But the university will undertake additional efforts to promote education in Providence, such as creating a $10 million endowment to support improvements in the city's schools. The university also announced plans to work with state and local officials on building a memorial to document the slave trade in Rhode Island, to appoint a faculty panel to plan academic programs related to slavery, and to expand partnerships with historically black colleges.
  • LeMoyne-Owen College, a historically black institution in Memphis, is in danger of shutting down if it does not raise $3 million by June, the college's board chair told The Memphis Commercial Appeal.
  • National officials of Delta Zeta sorority in November reorganized the group's DePauw University chapter, kicking out 23 of 35 women in the house -- including every woman who was overweight, and the only black, Korean and Vietnamese members, The New York Times reported. Of the remaining 12 women, all of whom were considered slender and popular with fraternity men -- 6 were so angry that they quit. Anger over the incident has been growing at DePauw, and the president issued a two-page letter criticizing the sorority.
  • The three Palestinian students who say that they were attacked by a group of football players at Guilford College have called for charges to be dropped against two football players whom they believe were not involved, and have said that they would favor dropping charges against three other football players if they apologize, The Greensboro News-Record reported. The incident in January has prompted much self-reflection at Guilford, a Quaker college committed to tolerance and non-violence. After the Palestinian students' lawyer announced their new position on Friday, the college released a new statement in which it said it would be pleased to see all of the students involved reconcile, but the statement added that the college's judicial process would continue. "Even if the students apologize to one another, there are consequences for violations of the Student Code of Conduct at Guilford and the judicial process is underway in order to determine the facts of the case," the statement said.
  • An article in The Wall Street Journal on Saturday detailed the many source of income of John L. Hennessy, president of Stanford University. His extensive holdings and board service -- especially with Silicon Valley companies with Stanford ties -- earned Hennessy $43 million in the last five years, enough to make even his hefty Stanford salary ($616,000) seem minimal. The article noted the strong support Hennessy has on the Stanford board.
  • American University announced Friday that the Internal Revenue Service has started an investigation into the institution for tax years 2004-6. A statement from the university said that it would cooperate with the IRS and that the development was "anticipated in light of the prior issues related to executive compensation matters." That's a polite way of referencing the 2005 ouster of former Benjamin Ladner as president -- amid investigations into his expenses, including a personal chef, vacations in Europe, and an engagement party for his son. While no details are available on what the IRS is looking for, questions have been raised about both the payments and reimbursements Ladner received and his exit package.
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