Athletic cuts at the University of Maryland at College Park have already received considerable attention, but an article in The Washington Post notes that one of the teams slated for elimination is part of a trend that Maryland pioneered -- competitive cheer. Supporters view the athletic accomplishments of squad members on par with those of many other sports, but the activity has struggled for recognition, especially as related to federal gender-equity rules.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Some alumni of Gonzaga University have organized a petition drive to ask the institution to rescind its invitation to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Anglican cleric who was a leader in the fight to defeat apartheid, saying that his views are inconsistent with Gonzaga's Roman Catholic teachings. Hundreds of alumni have signed the petition that notes Archbishop Tutu's support in South Africa for legal abortion and gay marriage rights. "There are gifted and accomplished leaders from many fields who would be far more appropriate choices to receive such an honor from Gonzaga University. Instead Gonzaga has chosen prestige over principles and popularity over morality," the petition says. The university has not formally responded to the petition drive. When Gonzaga announced its selection of commencement speaker, the press release called Archbishop Tutu "an inspirational voice for justice, peace, truth and reconciliation throughout his ministry."
The student newspaper in the last week has run columns endorsing and criticizing the choice of speaker. "Tutu's public support for abortion, homosexual 'marriage' and contraception clearly identify him as a person who should receive no awards, honors or platforms from a Catholic institution," said one letter. But another wrote to say that many of the Catholic students at Gonzaga in fact share Archbishop Tutu's views, and that the university shouldn't reject graduation speakers who differ with church leaders. "It is especially the beauty of a Jesuit university such as this, encouraging healthy and intelligent discussions, not discrediting someone because we disagree. Last time I checked, disagreeing with Church doctrine didn’t mean you couldn’t participate, unless, of course, the Inquisition is still flourishing," said the author of that letter.
Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, on Sunday evening vowed at a closed-door fund-raising event that he would substantially shrink the Education Department if he is elected, NBC News reported. In his campaign, Romney has not made many policy proposals on education. But he was more detailed Sunday in outlining two possibilities for the Education Department. "The Department of Education: I will either consolidate with another agency, or perhaps make it a heck of a lot smaller. I'm not going to get rid of it entirely," Romney said. He said that one reason to keep the agency was to have a federal role in pushing back against teachers' unions.
Officials at Thompson Rivers University, in Canada, are apologizing for the actions of a staff member who tore down a student's photograph (part of a student exhibition) showing a woman in Islamic dress and holding a bra, CBC News reported. The woman in the photograph has her face and body covered, and is holding and looking at a bra. Saudi officials have criticized the photograph. A statement from Thompson Rivers said that "the university is committed to honoring artistic expression and on a campus with many international stakeholders it is important that we balance cultural sensitivity with freedom of speech, and we value the conversations that this piece of art and all our others inspire."
Iowa Republicans, like their counterparts in Virginia, are questioning the policy of public universities using some of their tuition revenue to pay for aid for low-income students, The Des Moines Register reported. Republican lawmakers say that the policy (common nationally) of paying for some student aid with tuition revenue makes it more difficult for middle class families, who don't qualify for the aid. State Senator Brad Zaun told the Register: "I want this program eliminated. I am hearing from many people that are shocked and did not know this was happening.”
The University of California at San Diego has agreed to institute new procedures to prevent racial harassment and to investigate allegations of such harassment, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. The moves settled investigations by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education. The inquiries started after several racial incidents, including a "Compton cookout," an off-campus party that mocked Black History Month by having students dress in the stereotypical attire of poor black people.
The board of Santa Monica College has put on hold a two-tiered tuition plan that outraged many who saw an abandonment of community college values. But The Los Angeles Times reported that trustees are stunned by the reaction the plan received. Trustees say that they still view the plan as one of finding a way to raise money to educate low-income students -- and that they can't believe it was viewed as an attack on low-income students. The Times reported that one trustee viewed the plan as "socialism in action."
The Canadian government has slashed funds that have supported Canadian studies programs in the United States, The Vancouver Observer reported. "This is the first year in history that the government has denied funding dozens of grant applications from across the U.S.," said Nadine Fabbi, associate director of Canadian studies at the University of Washington. "These grants have significantly strengthened Canada's voice in the U.S. on issues that range from the Keystone XL pipeline to water resources to Arctic sovereignty."
The former student editors of the University of Missouri at Columbia newspaper had faced campus discipline because their April 1 parody edition included a slur against lesbians, the Student Press Law Center reported, before the university canceled those hearings. The managing editor, Abby Spudich, resigned this week after apologizing for jokingly retitling The Maneater as The Carpeteater. She said she didn't know that was an offensive phrase for lesbians. The editor in chief, Travis Cornejo, resigned shortly after that.
That seemed to be the end of it until Missouri's Office of Student Conduct contacted both former editors to schedule disciplinary hearings. The Maneater is an independent student publication. It wasn't immediately clear what university policy Spudich and Cornejo were accused of breaking. Students convicted of violating the university's standards of conduct can be suspended or expelled. The Student Press Law Center called on Missouri to drop the hearings, saying the language in the newspaper is protected by the First Amendment even if it was offensive. University officials didn't say why they canceled the disciplinary hearing.