Sorority Chapters Tell UVa Members to Avoid Fraternity Parties

Sorority sisters at the University of Virginia have been ordered by their national organizations to avoid fraternity events this weekend, prompting objections that the directive is sexist and degrading to women. The order followed a fall semester in which a now-discredited article in Rolling Stone magazine about an alleged gang rape at a UVa fraternity house prompted intense scrutiny of the university’s Greek system.

The university’s administration recently lifted a suspension of UVa’s fraternities and sororities after putting in place strict new rules governing fraternities’ social events. Some students said their national chapters had told them that they risked suspensions, fines, and other penalties if they attended bid-night parties this weekend.

A university spokesman deferred questions to the National Panhellenic Conference, as did the incoming president of the Inter-Sorority Council at U-Va.A spokeswoman for the National Panhellenic Conference said the mandate comes not from the umbrella group but from each national chapter president. “Of course, NPC supports the safety of their women, so they do support those national presidents making that decision and encouraging sorority women to plan sisterhood events and other ‘safer’ options,” Michelle Bower said.

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Former Vanderbilt Football Players Are Convicted of 2013 Campus Rape

Two former football players at Vanderbilt University have been found guilty of all charges for their roles in a 2013 campus rape, the Associated Press reports. Cory Batey, 21, was convicted on seven counts of rape and sexual battery, and Brandon Vandenburg, 21, was convicted on nine counts of rape, sexual battery, tampering with evidence, and unlawful photography.

Prosecutors said Mr. Vandenburg brought an unconscious woman back to his dormitory room, where she was assaulted while he took video….


Amid Political Pressure, Obama Drops Plan to Curb College-Savings Plans

President Obama has backed away from his proposal to roll back tax breaks for 529 college-savings plans amid mounting political pressure, The New York Times reports. The proposal was slated to be a piece of Mr. Obama’s budget plan for the 2016 fiscal year, due on Monday.

Under the initial proposal, 529 plans would be scaled back in favor of expanding the American Opportunity Tax Credit, out of a desire to better channel the benefits to lower-income families. The popular college-savings plans mos…


Minn. Governor’s Threat Spurs Pledge of Cooperation by Faculty and Administration

Professors and administrators in Minnesota’s public higher-education system say they will reconcile their differences after threats of a freeze on new funding by the governor, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

In a statement on Tuesday, both sides said they were “confident” that they would resolve their dispute over the Charting Our Future initiative, put forward by Chancellor Steven Rosenstone. The faculty last year cut ties with the program, which calls for measures such as a greater emphasi…


Arizona State Professors Expand Ban on Dating Their Students

Faculty members at Arizona State University voted on Monday to broaden the institution’s prohibition on dating between professors and students, reports The Arizona Republic.

The University Senate voted, 76 to 11, to ban professors from dating students over whom the professors can “reasonably be expected” to have authority. The current policy forbids relationships between professors and the students they teach, supervise, or evaluate.

Last fall the faculty body rejected a measure that would have banned all relationships between professors and students, save exemptions granted by the provost. The new policy still requires approval from the administration to take effect.

Arizona State University faculty voted Monday to toughen a policy on dating between faculty and students. Faculty members currently are prohibited from dating students in their classes or students they supervise or evaluate. The revision will broaden that ban to include students whom an instructor can “reasonably be expected” to have academic or employment authority over.

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Community College’s Board Will Vote Again on President’s $760,000 Buyout

The Board of Trustees of the College of DuPage, a community college in Illinois, will vote again on the buyout deal it approved last week for the college’s president, Robert Breuder, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The agreement calls for Mr. Breuder to receive a lump-sum payout of $762,868 upon retiring in March 2016, three years before his contract is up.

On Monday the board announced that it would meet in a special session on Wednesday to “clarify a procedural motion” regarding its approval of the agreement, in an addendum to Mr. Breuder’s contract.

A college spokesman would not explain in more detail the purpose of Wednesday’s meeting, and the board’s chairwoman could not be reached for comment, but the board’s announcement suggests that there was a problem with how officials handled the agreement last week. The board approved it, 6 to 1, on Thursday without publicly releasing its terms until after the vote.

After approving a controversial severance package last week for College of DuPage President Robert Breuder, the school’s board of trustees announced Monday that it would meet Wednesday to deal with the contract once more, suggesting that there was a problem with how officials handled it initially.

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CUNY Campus Drops ‘Mr.’ and ‘Ms.’ to Foster Respect for Students’ Diversity

The City University of New York’s Graduate Center is advising its faculty and staff members to avoid using such courtesy titles as “Mr.,” “Ms.,” and “Mrs.” in written correspondence with students and instead to address them by their full names, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The goal of the new policy, which was laid out this month in a memorandum from the provost’s office and goes into effect this spring, is to “ensure a respectful, welcoming, and gender-inclusive learning environment … and to accommodate properly the diverse population of current and prospective students,” the memo says.

A university spokeswoman told the Journal that the policy stemmed from efforts to comply with Title IX, a federal gender-equity law. But Saundra Schuster, a lawyer and Title IX expert quoted by the newspaper, called the decision to base the new policy on the federal law “ridiculous.” “I love the concept,” she said, “but they are not mandated to do this.”

Gendered salutations represent “an outdated and unnecessary formality [that] serves no purpose other than to label and risk misrepresentation,” said Allison Steinberg, a spokeswoman for the Empire State Pride Agenda, an advocacy group for gay and transgender people. “We’re hopeful this gesture will inspire others…to follow in CUNY’s innovative footsteps.”

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Russian Spy Ring Sought to Recruit Young Women at University in N.Y.

In intercepted phone calls, participants in a Russian spy ring, who were charged on Monday, “discussed their attempts to recruit U.S. residents, including several individuals employed by major companies, and several young women with ties to a major university located in New York City,” according to a federal complaint quoted by the Associated Press. The complaint did not specify which university, but Newsweek noted that both Columbia and New York Universities have major Russian-research centers.

Three people were charged Monday in connection with a Cold War-style Russian spy ring that tried to recruit New York City residents as intelligence sources, authorities said. The defendants were directed by Russian intelligence official “to gather intelligence on, among other subjects, potential United States sanctions against Russian banks and the United States’ efforts to develop alternative energy resources,” according to a complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan.

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U. of Maine System Trustees Vote to Divest From Coal Companies

The University of Maine system’s Board of Trustees on Monday voted to no longer make direct investments in coal companies, Maine Public Broadcasting reported.

The vote followed a similar action last year by the system’s investment committee. The policy is modeled after one that Stanford University approved last spring.

It does not apply to liquidation of holdings of mutual or commingled funds, something students and at least one Board member say should be considered down the road.

Trustee Bonnie Newsome says she thinks the vote is a good first step.

“But I would like to see a commitment from the investment committee to continue to consider our investments in fossil fuels generally,” she says.

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Science and Engineering Degrees Inch Up, but Progress for Women Is Mixed

Report: Snapshot Report

Organization: National Student Clearinghouse Research Center

Summary: The past decade has seen a slight uptick in the share of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the so-called STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Women lost ground to men at the bachelor’s level, while gaining at the doctoral level.

Among the specific findings:

  • Since 2004 the percentage of all bachelor’s degrees earned in STEM fields inched up two percentage points for men and one for…