Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 21, 2017

A series of anti-Semitic incidents on the University of Minnesota’s campus have prompted an investigation by campus police, The Star Tribune reported

At least seven incidents have been reported to the university’s Bias Response and Referral Network since December, including one on Feb. 7 where an 18-year-old male student vandalized a public space in his residence hall by drawing a swastika on a desk.   

The student, Matthew Gruber, was arrested last Thursday for criminal damage to property, and the university has called it a bias crime. 

A week earlier, another student returned to his dorm room to find a Holocaust depiction drawn onto his white board — the scene showed a swastika and a concentration camp.

Campus police are now investigating an incident from Friday, when several fliers were found across campus promoting the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer. The fliers, branded with two large swastikas, said, “WHITE MAN are you sick and tired of THE JEWS destroying your country through mass immigration and degeneration ... join us in the struggle for global white supremacy at THE DAILY STORMER.”

A statement from the university's president, provost and vice president for equity and diversity called the fliers "vile" and said the recent anti-Semitic acts were "abhorrent and alarming."

"We are profoundly disturbed by a series of ugly and frightening anti-Semitic incidents that have occurred over the past two months," they said in the statement. "Some of these incidents have been publicized, but there have also been other less visible, but equally painful, incidents threatening members of our Jewish community ... 
We are a campus community that is grounded in respect and enriched by diversity. These abhorrent and alarming acts are inconsistent with the University's fundamental values. They have an especially terrible impact on members of our Jewish community, but all members of our University community must feel this injury and stand in solidarity against hate and bigotry."


February 21, 2017

The South Carolina Secessionist Party mounted Confederate flags on top of five buildings in Charleston on Sunday to protest a speaking event planned for this week at the College of Charleston maybe: "to protest a speaking event planned for this week at the College...-sj FIXEDlater this week, The Post and Courier reported

The speaker, Bree Newsome, was arrested in summer 2015 for climbing the flagpole outside the South Caroline Statehouse and removing the Confederate flag. Newsome was reacting to a mass shooting that occurred just 10 days earlier at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. The shooting, which was racially motivated, left nine people dead. 

A few weeks after her arrest, the South Carolina Legislature voted to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse permanently. 

Newsome is scheduled to speak to the college Wednesday at an event called “Tearing Hatred from the Sky.” The event description says that, by scaling the 30-foot flagpole, Newsome was trying to “create a new image, a new symbol and a new consciousness of the power inherent in direct action!”

The chairman of the S.C. Secessionist Party requested last week that the College of Charleston cancel Newsome’s visit, for fear that others would be inspired to remove Confederate flags in the area. 

When her visit was not canceled, the Secessionist Party decided to gather in Marion Square, just outside campus, and fly Confederate flags from the top of nearby buildings, including a parking garage. 

Counter protesters showed up at the parking garage and across Marion Square with signs supporting Black Lives Matter and LGBT rights. 

Sunday afternoon, Newsome tweeted about the protests and counter protests, wishing her supporters “love & light” and telling the Secessionist Party that “a parking garage is a poor substitute for the dome of the Capitol, isn’t it?”

Newsome is still scheduled to speak to the college Wednesday evening. 

February 21, 2017

Today on the Academic Minute: Peggy Albers, professor of language and literacy education in the College of Education & Human Development at Georgia State University, explains the danger of single stories and why children need to hear different views about the world. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

February 20, 2017

Officials at Saint Joseph's College, in Indiana (right), have been saying that suspending operations for the next operating year will allow the institution to develop a new financial and academic plan to continue the college. But a layoff notice that the college submitted as required to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development is more bleak, saying that there may not be a plan to keep the institution going, The Lafayette Journal & Courier reported. The form states that the suspension of operations "may ultimately result in the closure of the entire college." And while the form references hope that a report to be prepared during the year will offer a path forward, the form says: "While we hope that this action is temporary in nature, unless the report proves provides a viable option, this action is expected to be permanent in nature." Officials did not respond to requests for comment from the newspaper.


February 20, 2017

Barnard College and the union representing its adjunct faculty members reached a deal late last week that will avert a strike that the United Auto Workers unit said could have come as early as this week. The contract, the first for the union at Barnard, will provide significant gains in salaries and benefits. Minimum per course pay will be set at $7,000 for this fall, and will rise to $10,000 by the fall of 2021 -- rates that both the union and the college said would be among the highest in New York City or elsewhere for those off the tenure track. For full-time, non-tenure track faculty members, the deal sets a minimum of $60,000 salary, effective in fall 2017. That would rise to $70,000 by fall 2021.

The union and its supporters held a rally (above right) Friday to celebrate the contract deal.

February 20, 2017

Hundreds of scientists, some in lab coats, held a rally in Boston Sunday to draw attention to their concerns about the Trump administration's policies. Speakers and signs criticized those in the administration who deny that climate change is real, who question the collection and distribution of data on science and other policies. Photos are from social media posts about the rally. More can be found a #standforscience. The rally comes as some scientists are planning a national march for science in Washington.

February 20, 2017

Student debt nationally hit $1.31 trillion at the end of 2016, according to new data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In the fourth quarter of 2016, just over 11 percent of that debt was either 90 or more days delinquent or in default.


February 20, 2017

President Lincoln held on to his first place slot as the best president of the United States in C-SPAN's third survey of presidential historians. He was followed by Presidents Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower. President Lincoln also was ranked first in the two previous surveys, in 2009 and 2000.

The survey only considers former presidents so this was the first one in which President Obama was included. He ranked 12th, just behind President Wilson and ahead of President Monroe.


February 20, 2017

Mark Cuban, the billionaire investor, gave a lengthy interview to Bloomberg on Friday. Much of the discussion was about Cuban's pessimistic (for workers) view of the world of work in the years ahead. He predicted that automation and artificial intelligence will eliminate many jobs, leading to widespread displacement. Asked if this means students should major in finance, he rejected the idea, predicting "much greater demand for liberal arts majors" in 10 years than there will be for those who study programming and maybe engineering. It will be those with true analysis skills and creativity who will thrive, he said, specifically stating that majors in English, philosophy and foreign language are likely to be in high demand. The bad news for the liberal arts, in Cuban's view, is that its graduates "will starve for a while" until all of these job shift happen. The discussion of employment and majors starts around the 12 minute mark of the video below.


February 20, 2017

Kenneth Melilli, a popular tenured faculty member at Creighton University's law school, was suspended from Wednesday through Friday after an argument with an associate dean, The Omaha World-Herald reported. Melilli was suspended after the law dean consulted the human resources department about what he viewed as a threat. Many other faculty members said that there was no reason to suspend the professor and that -- in cases where suspension of faculty members may be warranted -- it is the faculty who should review the circumstances. Faculty members said that only the university's president can make an emergency suspension. Late Friday, Melilli issued a statement Friday indicating that he had been reinstated and that differences had been resolved.



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