Article on Fraternities Smacks of Yellow Journalism

To the Editor:

Your recent article on fraternities (and sororities), “Do Fraternities Have a Place on the Modern Campus?” (The Chronicle, August 3), raises some good points, but also smacks of yellow journalism.

Fraternities and sororities do make convenient journalism targets. I have been involved in higher education for over 40 years as a student and a professor at five universities. I am aware of incidents of violence and sexual assault in association with dormitories, fraternities, and inter…

It Is Hypocritical to Force Students to Read Fun Home

To the Editor:

Recent controversy arose at Duke University when some students cited their Christian beliefs as justification for not reading Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. Bechdel’s novel has been widely praised for its LGBT themes, particularly the story of a young girl who figures out her father is gay. Certainly many academics will rail against the students for being closed-minded and some will consider this McCarthyism. I do not countenance students who refuse to read materials by citing their…

College’s Coed Mandate Won’t Survive

To the Editor:

Your recent piece on Trinity College, “What Happened After One College Tried to Make Greek Life Go Coed” (The Chronicle, July 31st), is a reasonable analysis, as far as it goes, but is woefully lacking because you totally ignore the two major issues that are in the process of playing out under the new president:  (a) the fact that Trinity’s new social code mandating coed social organizations is illegal in the state of Connecticut and under Trinity’s charter and bylaws and (b) the …

Many Young People Should Opt for National Service Before College

To the Editor:

During my 40-year tenure as a fulltime history and sociology professor at Monroe County Community College from 1970-2010, I was struck by one fairly consistent figure: Only 75 percent of the students taking my general-education classes completed the course. I was once asked by my division chairperson why so many withdrew or were dropped from my classes. I turned to my grading records which clearly demonstrated that students who did not complete my courses had a high rate of absenc…

To Reduce Risk to Activist Scholars, Change the Support Structures

To the Editor:

The discussion of the challenges of juggling activism and scholarship in your recent article, “When Activism is Worth the Risk,” (The Chronicle, July 20th) is much appreciated by those of us who have worked to balance these activities throughout our careers. As noted in the article, the balancing act typically is stated as an individual scholar challenge. However, we should not let departments, universities, and scholarly associations off the hook in their role in perpetuating the…

Commentary Cherry-Picked ACE data

To the Editor:

Richard Kahlenberg’s recent commentary, “How a New Report May Hasten the End of Racial Preferences in Admissions,” (The Chronicle, July 23) is an incomplete portrayal of the American Council on Education report “Race, Class, and College Access: Achieving Diversity in a Shifting Legal Landscape.” His cherry-picking of data is misleading at best, and it undermines the larger picture that policy makers and the courts require to make informed decisions.

Our data do not support his ass…

Skidmore Effort to Diversify Faculty Raises Questions

To the Editor:

In a recent article, the dean of the faculty at Skidmore College is quoted as saying that the college should have a faculty that mirrors the community, and that when professors say they want to appoint the most qualified candidate, the dean is thereby provided with a teachable moment (“A Liberal-Arts College Intervenes to Diversify Its Faculty,” The Chronicle, July 24).

The dean’s policy is a nest of problems, and taking them seriously itself provides teachable moments.

(1) Does m…

Article on Graduate-Student Debt Lacked Context

To the Editor:

Student-loan debt is of great concern to me as a president, as I am sure it is to all presidents. At Nova Southeastern University we do everything to keep tuition as low as possible and offer the quality education expected of a private selective research university of nearly 26,000 students, 80 percent, or approximately 21,000 of which are graduate and professional students. On a per-student loan basis, we have made an examination of the average loan amount, versus per institutio…

No Place for Verbal Abuse and Bullying in Higher Education

To the Editor:

I was dismayed to read Robert J. Sternberg’s advice article, “Coping With Verbal Abuse” (The Chronicle, June 29), and to see so many commentators agreeing with Dr. Sternberg’s remarks. Verbal abuse, intimidation, and bullying are not acceptable strategies in any professional environment, much less an institution of higher education.

As the director of a department, I’ve seen firsthand the damage that this unprofessional behavior can do to individual staff members and the morale of…

Faculty Have Political Freedom Regardless of Tenure

To the Editor:

Rebecca Blank argues that the University of Wisconsin should retain tenure in part to protect professors from being fired for political views (“Why State Lawmakers Must Support Tenure at Public Universities,” The Chronicle, June 24). Tenure is not needed for this purpose at a state university. Supreme Court precedent prevents state universities or state officials from disciplining scholars on the basis of politics. Even in the absence of such case law, any university can contract …