Quick Takes: Environmental Gains Without Group Pledge, Basque Controversy at Stanford, Unusual Partnership for Rwanda, 'White' Reference Sparks Discussion, UK Universities Urged to Fight Extremism, French Student Prostitution, First Dance at Anderson

January 22, 2008
  • Yale University has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent since 2005, President Richard C. Levin announced Monday in a speech in Copenhagen. Yale announced a plan for steep reductions by 2020 -- even as the university adds many facilities -- and Levin said that the progress to date suggests that Yale can reach its goals well before the 2020 deadline. Among the steps Levin credited with Yale's cuts to date: the installation of more efficient heating and cooling systems in 90 buildings, replacement of windows, use of ground water for cooling, and a 10 percent reduction in electricity consumption by students in Yale's undergraduate residential colleges. While Levin was early in offering a detailed goal for his university, Yale has been notable in its skepticism about the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, which has been signed by hundreds of presidents, and rejected in public only by a few.
  • Spain's contentious regional politics may be showing up in a dispute at Stanford University. More than 3,000 people (many of them apparently Spaniards without ties to the university) have signed a petition protesting a planned speaking engagement at the university next month by Juan Jose Ibarretxe, president of the Basque regional government and an advocate for more autonomy for that region. The petition questions the timing of the speech, prior to Spanish elections, and says that Stanford should not be giving Ibarretxe a platform at that time, or should have an opponent speak as well. Via e-mail, an organizer of the event suggested that it is critics of the lecture who are seeking political gain in Spain. Joan Ramon Resina, chair of Spanish and Portuguese at Stanford, noted that Ibarretxe is an elected official who has clashed with Basque extremists. Resina said that the far right in Spain has tried unfairly to link violent Basque groups to legitimate Basque leaders as a way of undercutting the latter. He added that the invitation to Ibarretxe was long standing and had nothing to do with the elections.
  • The Interdisciplinary Genocide Studies Center will open this summer in Kigali, Rwanda, dedicated to studying the 1994 genocide. The California Institute of the Arts has played a key role in gathering materials for the center. An article in the Los Angeles Times explores the unusual partnership between CalArts and the institute in Rwanda.
  • Blackhawk Technical College, a Wisconsin institution that has been pushing diversity issues, prompted discussion recently when a publication sent to residents used a family's name in the headline, potentially sending the wrong message to some,The Janesville Gazette reported. The family's name is "White" and the headline is: "BTC is the perfect fit for the White family."
  • The British government has issued a new call for universities to help battle Islamic extremism, which many fear has proponents on British campuses, BBC News reported. An earlier set of guidelines were withdrawn after academics complained that they effectively urged universities to spy on their Muslim students. Bill Rammell, the higher education minister, called the threat on campuses "serious but not widespread." The plan calls on universities to take such steps as seeking to break down segregation on campuses, barring bullying and harassment, and ensuring that speakers did not advocate violence.
  • A wave of books and reports about French undergraduates paying for higher education by working as prostitutes has led government officials to pledge more assistance for low-income students, The Guardian reported. One estimate -- disputed by government officials -- is that 40,000 students are working as prostitutes.
  • Anderson University, an Indiana institution affiliated with the Church of God, held its first on-campus dance this weekend, the Associated Press reported. Trustees last year lifted a ban on dancing. James Edwards, the university's president, commented to the AP on the fact that many of the hundreds who attended didn't actually dance. " I don't know if there's a lot of great dancing going on or a lot of great standing going on," he said, "but there's a lot of togetherness going on."
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