Quick Takes: Delaware Revises Res Life Program, Boulder Seeks Conservative Prof, MIT Students Called Security Threats, ADA Violations at Pierce College, Morehouse's Unexpected Valedictorian, New Aid for Veterans, Mugabe Could Lose UMass Degree

May 13, 2008
  • The University of Delaware, in a vote Monday by the Faculty Senate, approved a new residence life programming policy that includes the goal of offering activities in dormitories that focus on issues such as sustainability, diversity, community and other topics -- in addition to social activities. Delaware dropped its programming policy last year amid complaints that students were being forced to participate in programs with ideological agendas. The new policy, university officials stressed, made student participation in most activities completely voluntary. Critics of the new policy, such as the National Association of Scholars, maintain that it is voluntary in name only and that students will continue to feel pressure to participate, and that the activities go beyond the mandate of residence life.
  • The University of Colorado at Boulder, a campus where political attitudes lean to the left, is looking for a conservative scholar. The Wall Street Journal reported on a fund raising drive to endow a chair in conservative thought. The move is attracting criticism not only from some liberals on campus but from David Horowitz, who has led a national campaign charging that many colleges lack ideological diversity on their faculties. While Horowitz praised Colorado for focusing on the issue of ideological diversity, he said he feared that this approach would lead the professor selected to be seen as an unusual token, like "an animal in the zoo."
  • Several oceanography students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, applying for clearance to do research near shipyards, have been rejected by federal officials, who classified them as security threats, The New York Times reported. MIT is protesting the treatment of these students, some of whom are from countries like Britain and Germany that are close allies of the United States.
  • A federal judge ruled last year that Pierce College of the Los Angeles Community College District violated the Americans With Disabilities Act in numerous ways in its treatment of Marvin Huezo, a student who became a double amputee when he stopped to help a motorist on a highway in 2003 and was crushed by his car when another slammed into it. After the ruling, Huezo's lawyers and the college worked on a settlement, but the lawyers for Huezo said Monday that too much time has passed without efforts to fix the problems, and so they went public with last year's ruling and filed papers to seek an injunction demanding immediate changes. The judge's ruling last year found numerous instances of facilities that were not accessible and flaws in the lack of firm plans to promote accessibility. Robert Garber, president at Pierce, said that the college has many older facilities that need work, but that the institution is working to make the improvements requested by Huezo, and to adopt a formal ADA plan -- and that many enhancements have already been made to ease accessibility. In addition, he said that new construction being planned will all be in complete compliance with ADA. "Our intent is to do everything we can to accommodate this student and more significantly to have a campus environment where students with disabilities are able to find accessible opportunities," he said.
  • Morehouse College, long known for educating some of the country's most talented black men, this year has its first white valedictorian, the Associated Press reported. Joshua Packwood was originally recruited over the phone and was presumed to be black. When he told the recruiter he is white, the discussions didn't stop. Packwood has thrived academically and socially at Morehouse, and told the AP that he was always encouraged by professors and students to share his perspectives.
  • As Congress considers plans to make veterans' education benefits more generous, some colleges are moving ahead with their own plans. Benedictine University, in Illinois, is using a federal grant for which it credits Sen. Barack Obama to start a program that will give a free education to veterans from Illinois who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Pace University, in New York, is offering veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan a 50 percent discount on tuition.
  • As students at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst started pushing for the institution to revoke the honorary doctorate it awarded to Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe, there wasn't much interest at higher levels about doing anything. But Monday, the same day a powerful state legislator came out for taking back the degree, things changed. Jack M. Wilson, president of the university system, announced that he will recommend to the board that it revoke the degree. "In the two decades that have passed since the honorary degree was awarded, Robert Mugabe has pursued policies and taken actions that are antithetical to the values and beliefs of the University of Massachusetts," he said.
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