Quick Takes: FBI Probe of Letters on College Cheerleaders, Yale Backs Down on Stage Weapon Ban, U. of Kentucky Adds Domestic Partner Benefits, Furor Over Column on Duke Case, Data on R

April 25, 2007
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation is seeking public help in identifying who may have been sending threatening letters -- some of them containing dangerous levels of insecticide -- to television networks and to some university athletic departments, complaining about television coverage of college cheerleaders, and alleging that squads with long-sleeved outfits receive more air time than other squads. An initial batch of letters was sent in 2004, with postmarks from Portland, Ore. Additional letters were sent in November 2006 and February 2007, from Seattle and Chicago.
  • A week after a Yale University administrator barred stage weapons -- real or fake -- from undergraduate student theater productions in response to the Virginia Tech shootings, the university has backed off that policy. Weapons will be permitted on a case-by-case basis with the approval of the dean of students' office. When a gun, sword or dagger is used on stage, the audience will be notified in advance. "As an institution that has always valued free speech, we wanted to uphold the principles that we have always adhered to," a Yale statement said. Students involved in several university productions had complained that the policy amounted to a censorship of the arts and was an inappropriate response to the Virginia Tech violence.
  • The University of Kentucky Board of Trustees on Tuesday approved a major expansion of faculty benefits, including domestic partner benefits. While domestic partner benefits have become increasingly common among leading colleges and universities, public institutions in states that on the socially conservative side of the spectrum have lagged in offering the benefits. The University of Kentucky announcement noted that the benefits are offered by a majority of the universities the institution uses for benchmarking. The University of Louisville last year became the first university in Kentucky to offer the benefits, which became a recruiting issue with some of the researchers Louisville wanted to attract.
  • The chancellor of North Carolina Central University has criticized a column in the institution's student paper, apparently advocating violence as a response to the dropping of all charges in the case in which three Duke University lacrosse players were accused of raping a student at North Carolina Central, the Associated Press reported. According to the AP, the column was briefly removed from the newspaper's Web site, although it is now back, with a note saying that the opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. The column, in Campus Echo, is called "Death to all rapists," and says "The ‘facts’ of the case should not matter to us because even if we are unsure of sexual assault, these supremacists have admitted to sexually, racially and politically denigrating these women.... History has shown us that the (in)justice system cannot and will not address these issues because it is built upon them. So upon whose shoulders should the responsibility of retributive correction fall? White people still murder us with impunity.... White people still rape us and get away with it. The only deterrent to these legally, socially and economically validated supremacist actions is the fear of physical retribution.... The time to fight, whether intellectually, artistically or physically, has always been now."
  • The National Science Foundation has released revised projections on various categories of research and development spending, showing increases above the rate of inflation.
  • The heads of Israel's universities issued a statement yesterday saying that the semester may need to be called off because of a student strike that has been going on for two weeks, Haaretz reported. Students are opposed to planned tuition increases.
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