Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - 3:00am

The London School of Economics and Political Science on Monday announced four new visiting professors of practice, who will deliver lectures, hold workshops and lead public events at the Center for Women, Peace and Security, which is creating a new master's program. Among the new professors, the one attracting the most attention is the actress and activist Angelina Jolie Pitt. She issued this statement: “I am very encouraged by the creation of this master’s program. I hope other academic institutions will follow this example, as it is vital that we broaden the discussion on how to advance women’s rights and end impunity for crimes that disproportionately affect women, such as sexual violence in conflict. I am looking forward to teaching and to learning from the students as well as to sharing my own experiences of working alongside governments and the United Nations.”

Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - 3:00am

Today on the Academic Minute, Lori Poloni-Staudinger, professor and department chair in the department of politics and international affairs at Northern Arizona University, explores how the idea of women as peaceful life givers makes their terrorist attacks stand out more than those by their male counterparts. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, May 23, 2016 - 3:00am

Members of the University of California at Irvine chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine on Wednesday night disrupted an event where the film Beneath the Helmet, about five Israeli soldiers, was being shown. The screening was organized by Students Supporting Israel, with backing from the UC Irvine Hillel. According to university officials and local press accounts, the protest of the film included shouting of obscenities, blocking some from entering the room where the film was shown and trying to push open the door to take the shouting inside the room. Authorities were called and police had to escort the Jewish students who had gathered to watch the film from the room. Critics of the actions by Students for Justice in Palestine said that they did not object to a protest of the film, but to making it impossible for students to enter or leave the event, or to hold the event.

Howard Gillman, chancellor at Irvine, issued a statement condemning the way the protest took place, and said that officials were analyzing whether disciplinary action was appropriate. In an email to the campus the day after the incident, he wrote, "Last night, an incident occurred on campus that we believe crossed the line of civility, prompting me to re-emphasize our position on free speech, safety and mutual respect. The incident centered on a film-viewing event sponsored by Students Supporting Israel. A group of protesters reportedly disrupted the event, blocking exit paths. Participants feared for their safety, calling on our police force for assistance. While this university will protect freedom of speech, that right is not absolute. As I mentioned in a campus message at the beginning of the academic year, threats, harassment, incitement and defamatory speech are not protected. We must shelter everyone's right to speak freely -- without fear or intimidation -- and allow events to proceed without disruption and potential danger."

Eric Fingerhut, president and CEO of Hillel International, also condemned the protest, issuing a statement saying, "We cannot allow Jewish students to be intimidated, threatened or harassed when they exercise their rights to assemble for student programming. Hillel is committed to freedom of speech and freedom of expression for all students. This includes the students who peacefully gathered to watch a film yesterday."

The Irvine chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine posted a note on its Facebook page that expressed pride in the protest but did not address the criticisms. "Today we successfully demonstrated against the presence of IDF soldiers on campus. We condemn the Israeli 'Defense' Forces, better defined as Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF), because they enforce Zionist settler colonialism and military occupation of Palestinian land by the Israeli nation-state," the statement said. "Not only does the IOF commit murders and several violences against the Palestinian people, including its use of Gaza as a laboratory for weapons testing, but it enforces militarization and policing all over the world. The United States send [sic] delegations of police forces to train in Israel by the IOF, such as the LAPD and NYPD for example. The presence of IDF and police threatened our coalition of Arab, black, undocumented, trans and the greater activist community. Thank you to all that came out and bravely spoke out against injustice."

Monday, May 23, 2016 - 3:00am

Thomas Pogge, a professor of philosophy at Yale University who’s built his career on ethics and global justice, retaliated against a former student for resisting his advances and has been accused of sexually harassing numerous other young women, according to a federal civil rights complaint first reported on by BuzzFeed. Inside Higher Ed detailed some of the allegations against Pogge without naming him in 2014, but the recently filed complaint under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prevents gender discrimination in education, sheds new light on his alleged pattern of harassment.

In the 1990s, for example, a student at Columbia University, where Pogge was then teaching, accused him of sexually harassing her; the university eventually forbade Pogge from entering the philosophy department when the student was there, according to an affidavit from a Columbia professor included in the new complaint. Pogge moved on to Yale and allegedly harassed a student named Fernanda Lopez Aguilar, who eventually filed a Title IX complaint after reading additional allegations against Pogge by a third woman in a 2014 essay. The essay, which alleged that Pogge specifically targeted women from other countries who were unfamiliar with harassment reporting channels and were otherwise at the opposite end of the power dynamic he derided in his professional work, didn’t use Pogge’s name. But many philosophers assumed it was him, and recordings between the author and Pogge obtained by BuzzFeed suggest he read it and agreed with its premise.

Lopez Aguilar’s complaint alleges that Pogge offered her a salaried position in his Global Justice Program but rescinded it after she rejected his sexual advances during a trip to Chile. A hearing panel at Yale found that there was “substantial evidence” that Pogge had acted unprofessionally and failed to uphold standards of ethical behavior, but that there was insufficient evidence of sexual assault. Lopez Aguilar says Yale nevertheless attempted to buy her silence for $2,000.

The recent talk of Pogge’s alleged behavior -- which has for some time been an open secret in philosophy, according to professors interviewed by both BuzzFeed and Inside Higher Ed -- has yielded at least nine additional allegations of harassment from women in various countries, according to Lopez Aguilar’s complaint. Most allege offers of job offers, hotel rooms, plane tickets and other assistance from Pogge, even though he knew little about them or their work, beyond their physical appearance.

Thomas Conroy, university spokesperson, declined to comment for the article, and Pogge reportedly did not respond to initial requests for comment. (He did not respond to requests for comment from Inside Higher Ed in 2014.) But over the weekend, after the Buzzfeed story was published, Pogge posted a response on a university blog denying the allegations by Lopez Aguilar. He said her claims contained “various provable falsehoods and inconsistencies" and blamed the "familiar phenomena" of what he called false allegations in part on the “the intensely competitive worlds of academia and university politics."

Monday, May 23, 2016 - 3:00am

Hampden-Sydney College announced on its Facebook page that General Jerry Boykin (at right) has accepted a contract for the next year to teach in the college's military leadership and national security program. The announcement appeared routine, but it followed General Boykin announcing on Facebook that his contract wasn't going to be renewed because of his statements against the Obama administration's policies to require schools and colleges to let transgender students use bathrooms that are consistent with their gender identity. The college issued a statement that this had never been the case, and that the general -- as an adjunct -- was hired from year to year. Further, the college said that it had been looking for "rotating" people to bring a range of expertise to the program, and that this had been the motivation to consider other candidates for the position.

General Boykin still insists he initially lost the contract due to his views on transgender issues. "The PC police tried to silence my voice," he wrote on Facebook. "I stood on my principles and others joined me and we pushed back the tide. Let your heart hold fast in the knowledge that no matter how much they attempt to control the conversation: they are not in the majority."

Monday, May 23, 2016 - 3:00am

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, a Republican, on Friday announced that he would permit a bill to cut the entire $436,000 state appropriation for an office at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville that promotes diversity to become law. The bill also bars the use of state funds for an annual student event known as Sex Week (the event has long been produced without state funds) and bars the university from promoting the use of gender neutral pronouns. Many students and others have criticized the bill as a move against diversity and said that lawmakers distorted the work of the office. For example, the office did produce materials on the pronouns preferred by many transgender students, but never mandated the use of any pronouns, as some lawmakers suggested it had. Students organized protests (above right) against the bill.

While Haslam is permitting the bill to become law, the governor didn't sign it. He just didn't veto it. His statement explained, "I am letting HB 2248 become law without my signature. This bill received considerable debate and discussion during legislative session, and the final form of HB 2248 was revised so that its primary effect is to redirect administrative funding for the Office for Diversity and Inclusion for one year into scholarships for minority engineering students. Although I do not like the precedent of redirecting funds within a higher education institution’s budget, I find the ultimate outcome of the legislation less objectionable and am therefore letting it become law without my endorsement."

The official who led the diversity office, Rickey Hall, vice chancellor for diversity, has accepted a similar position at the University of Washington, The Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

Monday, May 23, 2016 - 3:00am

William Paterson University in New Jersey must pay more than $2 million in compensatory and punitive damages to a former professor of secondary and middle school education who says she was harassed and discriminated against on the basis of race and religion, a jury decided last week. Althea Hulton-Lindsay, former chair of her department, alleged various forms of mistreatment and said she was stripped of her responsibilities and saw her proposals rejected by Candace Burns, dean of the College of Education, because she is black and a born-again Christian, NorthJersey.com reported. For example, Hulton-Lindsay said, Burns once called campus security because she and colleague were praying at the colleague’s desk.

Hulton-Lindsay said that she filed several harassment complaints with William Paterson, but that they were never investigated and that she was eventually removed as department chair in 2012. The professor also alleged retaliation, saying that the action came a week after she filed a complaint, but the jury rejected that claim. Noreen Kemether, a deputy state attorney general who represented William Paterson during the trial, said that Hulton-Lindsay was not discriminated against and rather removed from her leadership role because she failed to work cooperatively with Burns and other colleagues.

Monday, May 23, 2016 - 3:00am

Organizations that represent research universities have been negotiating with federal agencies over proposed regulations that they fear would effectively prevent many international students from participating in studies financed by business. Currently international students generally may work on basic research, but there are more restrictions on classified research. The new regulations would make research subject to proprietary review by corporate sponsors ineligible for the basic research exemption. Such a rule would exclude international students from too many studies, and would not provide essential protections to American interests, the groups argue. The issue has been being discussed for months, and a new version of the rules may be proposed soon. The groups that are representing universities are the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and the Council on Governmental Relations.

Monday, May 23, 2016 - 3:00am

Stellenbosch University on Sunday announced that its governing council had approved new principles for a language policy. Stellenbosch is one of South Africa's leading research universities, but the dominance of Afrikaans language courses at the university is seen as discouraging by many black students and potential students who are fluent in English and see Afrikaans as a relic of apartheid. The university has been going back and forth on how much it will emphasize one language or the other, facing criticism on all sides.

Under the principles announced Sunday:

  • English offerings should be expanded so that no student is excluded from programs because of the lack of English instruction.
  • Afrikaans offerings should not be decreased, and should be "further promoted."
  • "[A] commitment to the development and promotion of isiXhosa as academic language."
Monday, May 23, 2016 - 3:00am

The Asian Americanno hypen in its name -sj Coalition for Education will today announce that it is asking the U.S. Education Department to find that Brown and Yale Universities and Dartmouth College discriminate against Asian-American applicants. The complaint cites data such as the increasing number of Asian-American applicants and studies that have found that, on average, Asian-Americans need higher grades and test scores to earn admission to elite colleges, and comments from former admissions officers to back up that view. The coalition and other groups have been seeking to challenge affirmative action policies that they say favor all non-Asian applicants (including white applicants) over Asians. To date, these efforts have not succeeded.



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