Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

April 2, 2015

The University of Maryland at College Park has concluded that an offensive email in which a fraternity member told brothers to ignore the idea that women need to consent to sex, and in which he used a series of racist and sexist terms, is protected by the First Amendment. "This private email, while hateful and reprehensible, did not violate university policies and is protected by the First Amendment," said a statement issued by Wallace D. Loh, president of the university. That the author of the email can't be legally punished, Loh wrote, does not mean that the hurt it caused was not real. The email "caused anger and anguish, pain and fear, among many people. It subverts our core values of inclusivity, human dignity, safety and mutual respect. When any one of us is harmed by the hateful speech of another, all of us are harmed," Loh wrote.

The university previously announced that the author of the email and the university had "mutually agreed" that he would not be enrolled for the rest of the semester. Loh's statement included an apology from the student. "I regret sending that email more than I'll ever be able to put into words," he wrote. "I know there is no way to erase this incident or the agony it has caused, but I want you to know that I will strive to never use such language again. I have learned an important life lesson, realizing there is no room for hate or prejudice of any kind in our community. I am committed to becoming a better person, a person that appreciates differences."

April 2, 2015

Kean University announced and then withdrew an invitation to the hip-hop recording artist Common to deliver its commencement speech, NorthJersey.com reported. The university switched gears amid protests from police groups because of a 2000 recording by Common that depicts a woman convicted of killing a police officer as a victim. A Kean spokeswoman did not respond to email or voice mail requests for comment.

City Colleges of Chicago also recently announced Common as commencement speaker. A spokeswoman said that no reconsideration of the invitation is planned there.

April 2, 2015

Harrington College of Design will close, the Chicago-based for-profit announced on Wednesday. Career Education Corp., a national chain, owns Harrington. The college has struggled with declining revenue and enrollments, Crain's Chicago Business reported. Its total enrollment is currently 360 students. The college will work with Columbia College, a private institution, to ensure that those students can finish their academic programs. 

"Harrington regrets having to make this decision," the college said in a statement, "but it became necessary because of increasing financial deficits caused by multiple years of continuous declines in enrollment, as well as increased regulatory burdens facing private sector higher education institutions like Harrington."

April 2, 2015

Black basketball coaches are faring poorly in the annual firings and hirings that accompany the end of the college basketball season, The Chicago Tribune reported. In the most recent national study, black coaches made up 22 percent of Division I head men's basketball coaches -- a figure that stands out, considering that 58 percent of male college basketball players are black. In the current round of coaching changes, 11 of the 25 who have left their positions are black. Of the eight black coaches for whom replacements have been announced, seven are white.


April 2, 2015

Britain's University of Southampton, after denying that it had decided to do so, on Wednesday said it could not host a conference on Israel planned for next month. The university has said that security concerns make it impossible to have the event on campus. The conference has been criticized by some as one-sided against Israel's right to exist. The university denied that its actions reflected the substance of the conference, and said it would work with organizers to reschedule. The organizers of the conference have released new letters from prominent academics criticizing the university for refusing to go ahead with the conference.

April 2, 2015

Gunmen linked to a violent group in Somalia attacked a university in Kenya early Thursday, CNN reported. The attack on Garissa University College left at least 30 hospitalized and authorities fear that hostages were taken. Fifteen people were reported killed.




April 2, 2015

We reported yesterday on interesting construction plans announced by Houghton and Smith Colleges, with April 1 in mind. A number of other colleges and people in the education policy world also enjoyed the day.

Western New Mexico University was thinking "Game of Thrones" with the image at right on its home page, suggesting a power struggle at the university.

The University of Rochester announced that, unlike certain colleges in the Boston area, its students don't want classes called off for snow, but rather want snow all year round. So the university said it would do just that, so that students in Rochester could enjoy snow "in both of its seasons." (See photo below.)

Several colleges announced name changes of various sorts.

Northampton Community College announced plans to become NAC, with a new name for teams, the Yaks.

Pittsburg State University, in Kansas, announced that it was giving up on correcting people who continue to spell its name like a city in Pennsylvania, and was adding an h at the end of Pittsburg.

And Ursinus College announced that it would become Bovinus College. “This name change addresses a number of challenges the college has faced,” said a statement from Paul Dempsey, web director and co-chair of the college’s visual identity redesign committee. “For example, people could never seem to pronounce our name correctly. They’d say ‘your sinus’ or ‘er-sin-us’ or ‘ursine use.’ It was kind of annoying.”

The college's new team name (at least for April 1): the Fighting Heifers.



April 2, 2015

The Canadian Association of University Teachers is warning that antiterrorism legislation under consideration in Canada could limit academic freedom. An analysis of the legislation notes, for example, that "advocating terrorism" could be a crime. The C.A.U.T. asks whether a professor talking about the reasons some antiapartheid groups used violence to force change in South Africa would be committing a criminal act. The association urges the adoption of an exemption to the law for statements and actions related to instruction and education.


April 2, 2015

In today's Academic Minute, K. J. Rawson, an English professor at the College of the Holy Cross, explores the benefits of a digital transgender archive. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.