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Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 3:00am

After a student organization at the University of Maryland at College Park called off a screening of the film American Sniper, two other student groups have decided to show the movie instead. The College Republicans and College Democrats at Maryland announced Tuesday that they will screen American Sniper on Monday and moderate a panel discussion following the film.

American Sniper was originally scheduled to be shown at a screening organized by Maryland's Student Entertainment Events, a student group that arranges for films, comedians and musicians to come to campus. After receiving a petition from the university's Muslim Student Association and meeting with concerned students -- who argued that the film fuels "anti-Arab and anti-Islamic sentiments" and "helps to proliferate the marginalization of multiple groups and communities" -- the group decided to put off the screening until at least next semester. The decision prompted widespread outrage and media coverage as several other colleges have faced similar protests over screenings of the film.

In a statement Tuesday, Wallace Loh, Maryland's president, praised the College Republicans and College Democrats for organizing the new screening, but condemned the "venomous, racist and hateful messages" directed at the Muslim Student Association over the last week. He also criticized Maryland politicians and national news organizations that continue to mischaracterize the decision as being made by the university, not a student group.

"MSA members were right to speak up for what they believe in," Loh said. "They deserve our admiration, not the scorn and vitriol they got on Facebook. I also applaud the student leaders of SEE for listening to the concerns of their fellow students. Their decision to reschedule the screening so a constructive dialogue could be held marks the exercise of free speech and a sensitivity to campus values of respect and inclusion. I am proud of our College Republicans and College Democrats for working together on the screening and panel discussion of American Sniper. Working together, despite differences in philosophy and doctrine, is a laudable example for us all."

Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Jennifer Talarico, a psychologist at Lafayette College, discusses her work to better understand how memory works. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 3:00am

Stanford University authorities are investigating and condemning the spray painting of swastikas and anarchy symbols on three student residences at the university. The three houses -- a co-op, Casa Italiana and the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity -- likely have or had some Jewish residents over the years, but are not identified as Jewish institutions or notably popular with Jewish students. Stanford President John Hennessy issued a statement in which he said in part: "I am deeply troubled by the act of vandalism, including symbols of hate, that has marred our campus. The university will not tolerate hate crimes and this incident will be fully investigated, both by campus police and by the university."

Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 3:00am

Several colleges and universities in Baltimore closed early Monday, as protests over the death of Freddie Gray turned violent. Gray, a black man who died in unclear circumstances while in police custody, is to many the latest symbol of police mistreatment of black men. Among the colleges that announced either that they were closing early or calling off evening classes Monday: Baltimore City Community College, Coppin State University, the University of Baltimore and the University of Maryland at Baltimore.

 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 4:29am

Four Marquette University students were arrested Monday as part of a protest on a range of diversity-related issues, WISN News reported. The students were arrested after they sat in the middle of a Milwaukee intersection. The protest was organized by the Ad Hoc Coalition of and for Students of Color. While university officials did not endorse all of the group's demands, they said that they were committed to working with students to make the university inclusive. Among the group's demands: expanded efforts to recruit and retain minority students, the expansion of the core curriculum to require more diversity-related education and redesigning the university seal. The seal shows the Reverend Jacques Marquette, a 17th-century Jesuit missionary, with Native Americans. The protesters call the image “biased” for not adequately reflecting the way Native Americans guided him.

 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 3:00am

Eastern New Mexico University's board voted Friday to stop the institution's use of "Zias" for women's athletic teams. Going forward, both the men's and women's teams will be called the Greyhounds. Unlike some colleges that were pressured to change team names, Eastern New Mexico came to the decision itself, based on discussions with the Zia Pueblo, where the name originated. “No one pressured Eastern to do this,” said a statement from Steven Gamble, the university's president. “Respecting and honoring the Zia Pueblo’s historic right to the Zia symbol is just the right thing to do.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 3:00am

Catholic University of America announced Monday that Pope Francis will celebrate Mass on the campus in September during his visit to the United States. The university is the only one in the United States to already have had visits from two popes: John Paul II in 1979 and Benedict XVI in 2008.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 3:00am

The Service Women's Action Network sent a proposed executive order to the White House Monday, urging President Obama to create protections against gender discrimination at the Air Force Academy, the Naval Academy and the Military Academy at West Point. Unlike other higher education institutions, military service academics are exempt from Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which -- among other protections -- mandates that colleges quickly and competently investigate and adjudicate claims of sexual assault. The proposed executive action would explicitly bar gender and sex discrimination and empower the U.S. Department of Defense to enforce the order in a way similar to how the Department of Education enforces Title IX.

The prevalent argument now is that military academies are different enough from colleges that it doesn't make sense to apply a law meant for civilian institutions. Cadets, like all members of the armed services, are already subject to the uniform code of military justice. As the code is the foundation of military law, academy cadets can face much harsher punishments than typical college students. Colleges can suspend or expel a student they believe committed a sexual assault. Academy cadets can be court-martialed. But victims' advocates say there are few sanctions for academies that mishandle cases of sexual assault.

"Currently, victims of sex discrimination at service academies can complain only to their commanding officers and service academies’ administrations by appealing up the chain of command, and cannot seek relief outside of the military system," SWAN said in a statement. "This process provides no option to challenge discriminatory academy policies or a school’s inadequate procedures to address sexual assault and harassment reports. The lack of protections for cadets and midshipmen contrasts sharply with the array of sex discrimination prohibitions that protect civilian students, including Title IX, which does not apply to the service academies."

Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Geoff Harkness, a sociologist at Morningside College, discusses his research interviewing athletes in the Middle East. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Monday, April 27, 2015 - 3:00am

Four colleges and two study abroad programs that had students in Nepal as the devastating earthquake hit are all reporting that their students are safe.

Here are press reports on three colleges with students in Nepal: Liberty University, Muhlenberg College and Nebraska Christian College. Nine students and faculty members from Nebraska Christian College had just arrived in Nepal hours before the earthquake, and they too are safe. And Pitzer College issued a statement saying its students in Nepal are safe.

Where There Be Dragons, a study-abroad and gap year program based in Boulder, Colo., and that boasts of rugged outdoor components to its programs, also had students in Nepal. On Twitter, the program said that its students were safe. The Denver Post reported that the program has 25 students and 6 instructors in Nepal.

SIT, formerly the School for International Training, also has students in Nepal and reported that they are all safe. The students are scattered as they are currently in the independent-study portion of their program. An update from SIT noted that while some parents and colleges that have students there have urged the students to return to Katmandu, roads remain dangerous, so the program is following the advice of the U.S. Embassy and encouraging students to stay where they are for now.

For students from Nepal at American colleges and universities, the earthquake has caused anxiety about loved ones and their home country. Here are local press reports on how Nepalese students are gathering and trying to offer support at Mississippi University for Women, the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the University of Washington.

According to the Institute of International Education, Nepal is the 16th leading place of origin for international students coming to the United States. In 2013-14, there were 8,155 students from Nepal at American colleges and universities.

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