Charlottesville, Va., police announced Monday that they have been unable to find any evidence of the 2012 fraternity gang rape alleged last year in an article in Rolling Stone. The University of Virginia, where the fraternity is located, requested the investigation after the article was published but before it was widely discredited. A statement from the police noted that the alleged victim (called Jackie in the article) did not cooperate. "Based on the information known to investigators at this time, we find no substantive basis of fact to conclude that an incident occurred that is consistent with the facts as described in the Nov. 19, 2014, Rolling Stone article," concluded the report. "The department’s investigation cannot rule out that something may have happened to 'Jackie' somewhere and at some time on the evening of Sept. 28, 2012. Yet without additional evidence we are simply unable to reach a definitive conclusion."
Higher Education Quick Takes
The president of the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation said a $20 million grant to the University of Mississippi would be rescinded if Dan Jones does not receive a new contract as chancellor of the university, The Clarion-Ledger reported. The money was to have been used for a science building. The board's move, announced Friday, not to renew Jones's contract has sparked a growing number of protests in the state.
Leading scientists are releasing an open letter today urging science museums to cut ties to the Koch brothers, who individually and through their philanthropic arms have been major donors to some museums. The letter says that Charles and David Koch's work to deny climate change makes their giving to science museums suspect. "We are concerned that the integrity of these institutions is compromised by association with special interests who obfuscate climate science, fight environmental regulation, oppose clean energy legislation and seek to ease limits on industrial pollution," the letter says. Museum officials contacted by The New York Times said that donors do not influence museum content, and that the institutions were not planning to limit ties to Koch philanthropy.
Laurus Technical Institute, a three-branch for-profit college in Georgia, closed on Monday without advance word, WXIA reported. Students arrived for classes to find signs on the door telling them the college was closed. Staff members reported that the owner, who could not be reached, sent them email messages saying he lacked the financing to continue operations.
The president of Liberty University on Monday defended the Christian institution’s decision to require all students to attend a rally on campus that kicked off Senator Ted Cruz’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
President Jerry Falwell Jr. said in a statement that the Cruz event was part of the university's convocation, an education forum held three times each week at which attendance is mandated, “just like class is required for students."
"A fundamental part of the college experience is being exposed to a variety of viewpoints so students can better understand why they hold their own beliefs and be better prepared to defend them," Falwell wrote. "Liberty intentionally gives every student this opportunity to become well-rounded on important matters of faith and culture."
He added that students were not obligated to participate in any standing ovations and were "free to cheer or boo as they see fit."
Students faced a $10 fine for not attending convocation, according to university policy.
Some students showed up to the event wearing “Stand with Rand” shirts in support of Senator Rand Paul, a likely opponent of Cruz in the Republican primary.
Inside Higher Ed is pleased to release today "Private College Enrollments: Needs, Numbers, Solutions," our latest compilation of articles. As with other such print-on-demand booklets, the compilation groups together pieces that explore different strategies used by different institutions. The booklet is free and you may download a copy here. And you may sign up here for a free webinar on Thursday, April 23, at 2 p.m. Eastern, about the themes of the booklet.
Pennsylvania State University announced Monday that it will hold off on any punishments of a fraternity found to have operated private Facebook pages with photos of passed-out women, drug sales and hazing. But the university said it would launch a major study of fraternity life. A statement from Eric J. Barron, president of Penn State, said that he was "personally repulsed and shocked" by the Facebook pages of Kappa Delta Rho, but that he was not prepared -- as some have urged -- to expel or suspend all the fraternity members. "The motivation behind these requests is understandable, however, the criminal investigation by local police into the KDR matter continues, as does the process managed by our Office of Student Conduct. Patience is required to allow these investigations to continue unimpeded so that we can achieve a level of justice that fully matches the outcomes of the investigations. I ask for your understanding as due process proceeds," he said.
At the same time, Barron said he was appointing a committee to study the Greek system at Penn State.
Saving Sweet Briar, a group of alumnae and other supporters of the college, on Monday sent a letter to the college's president and trustees, accusing them of violating state law and calling on them to resign. The letter says that the board members have violated their obligation to carry out the college's mission and to use funds donated to the college for its operation, not to close it down. Sweet Briar referred questions to its lawyer, who said he was traveling and unable to study and respond to the letter.
In today's Academic Minute, Cathy Hatcher, an assistant professor of biomedical sciences at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, discusses her research on the formation of blood vessels at the embryonic stage to help understand coronary anomalies. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.
President Obama, in an interview with The Huffington Post, responded to question about how the University of Oklahoma responded (in part by expelling two students and kicking a fraternity off campus) to a video showing a fraternity chant about not admitting black students to their organization. And the president strongly backed the university's actions, while offering some perspective on the incident.
The president's answer: "Look, at any given point on any given day, somebody is doing something stupid out there. In the age of the Internet, it's going to attract attention. I don't think this is the first time that somebody at a fraternity has done something stupid, racist, sexist. It won't be the last. What was heartening was the quick response from President Boren, somebody who I know well and I know who has great integrity. The quick reaction from the student body. You know, the way we have to measure progress here is not, 'Is there ever going to be an incident of racism in the country?' It's, 'How does the majority of our country respond?' And on that front, there's no doubt that the overwhelming number of students at the University of Oklahoma, and around the country, think that kind of behavior is deplorable and don't accept it. Frankly, 30 years ago or 40 years ago, there might have been a different reaction and more tolerance for that kind of racist chant."