Just when it seemed the furor over the fast food chain Chick-fil-A had finally died down, the CEO who started it all with a public declaration that marriage should be between a man and a woman finally caved Wednesday with the Civil Rights Agenda's announcement that the company would stop donating money to Christian groups supporting anti-gay causes. While Dan T. Cathy’s comments in June triggered subsequent boycotts across the country, some students had already been protesting Chick-fil-A for using its nonprofit arm, WinShip Foundation, to fund groups such as Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage; students at Northeastern University turned down a franchise in February, for instance. But Cathy's support of "the biblical definition of marriage" sparked protests and petitions to ban the chain at other campuses, including New York and Louisville Universities, and the Universities of Georgia and Kansas. In August, a student activities committee at Davidson College suspended service of Chick-fil-A at student events. Some administrators even denounced Cathy’s comments.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The New York Public Library has revised a plan that would have moved most of its books out of the flagship Fifth Avenue location that has long been a key site for academic research, The New York Times reported. About 1.5 million books that would have otherwise been moved will remain at the location, which will house 3.3 million of the library's 4.5 million book collection. A donation of $8 million will allow the library to build a new storage facility so that it can make other changes in the library building without sending the books off site. Many scholars have been furious about the plan to move so many books away from the library.
peta2, an offshoot of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that focuses on outreach to young people, is capitalizing on the almost-trend of campus cafeterias going meatless with a contest that will award $1,000 to the first student group to convince a dining hall at its college that currently serves meat to go vegan by Aug. 13. That means getting rid of all animal products – meat, dairy and eggs. The University of North Texas opened a vegan dining hall last year, and the University of California at San Diego opened a vegan "eatery and lounge" in January. Others, including the University of California at Davis and Wesleyan University, have taken the less dramatic step of offering more vegan and vegetarian options or going meat-free for some meals. In August, Paul Quinn College in Dallas announced it would stop serving pork – but for many menu items it will be replaced with turkey.
The rules: The registered student group must gather at least 100 petition signatures from students at the college; the dining hall must serve at least 200 students daily, and the director of dining services must send written confirmation of this and the change to "an all-vegan dining hall menu" by Aug. 13. PETA will announce the winner -- "if any" -- by Aug. 16.
The district attorney's office in Yolo County, California announced Wednesday that no criminal charges will be filed against the police officers at the University of California at Davis who used pepper spray on non-violent student protesters last year, The Sacramento Bee reported. Several reports have been highly critical of the use of pepper spray in the incident. But a statement from the D.A.'s office said that examining what happened "through the totality of the circumstances, there is insufficient evidence to establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the use of force involved in the November 18, 2011, pepper spraying was unlawful and therefore warrants the filing of criminal charges."
Opportunity Nation, a coalition of 250 groups including businesses and education organizations, this week launched a campaign that seeks to encourage multiple pathways for young adults to succeed in college and in the workforce. As part of that effort, Jobs for the Future on Wednesday announced $18.5 million in grants for five states. The money is aimed at spurring training and credentials for workers to land middle-income jobs, many of which require some college but not a bachelor's degree. Jobs for the Future said 40 community colleges were participating in the program.
The University of Tennessee at Knoxville has announced that it will continue to have clergy members offer a prayer before football games, The Knoxville News Sentinel reported. The Freedom From Religion Foundation had asked the university to reconsider the practice, saying it made some students uncomfortable, and that some of the prayers were sufficiently sectarian to violate a court ruling barring such worship at the public university's events. The university says that prayers will be consistent with that ruling, so the foundation says that it considers this a victory.
WASHINGTON -- Congress drew near Wednesday afternoon to passing a stopgap spending bill that would fund the federal government through March 27, 2013, averting a government shutdown without making any changes to financial aid or research appropriations. The bill removes the threat of a government shutdown in the coming months. The Senate voted to expedite debate on the bill, which has already passed the House, and could pass it as early as today.
The Association of American Universities called on the next president -- whether President Obama or Republican nominee Mitt Romney -- to address the nation's long-term financial problems, sustain the Pell Grant and student loans, and take action on immigration. In a policy paper, the association, which represents 61 research universities, said the next administration should work to pass the DREAM Act and provide a path to citizenship for foreign students graduating from American universities with degrees in science, engineering, technology and math. The association also urged the federal government to prod states to increase or maintain funding for public research universities.
The State University of New York has been pushing the idea of "shared services" in which various of the 64 campuses would seek joint contracts or combine functions to save money. Some pairs of campuses have decided that single administrators will perform jobs for both institutions, while many other campuses sought economies of scale with joint contracting. In the first year of the program, the system saved $6 million, SUNY officials announced Wednesday. The money was reallocated to academic instruction and student services, officials said.