All posts by Andrew Mytelka


Black Students Urge Washington and Lee U. to Face Its Confederate Past

A group of black law students is demanding that the university in Lexington, Va., take a series of steps to expiate its Confederate heritage and the “dishonorable conduct” of Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general who served as the university’s president after the Civil War, The Washington Post reported.

Among other things, the students want the university to remove Confederate flags from the chapel, ban Confederate sympathizers and re-enactors from the campus on Virginia’s Lee-Jackson holiday, observe the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday by canceling class, and apologize for ties to slavery and for Lee’s conduct. The students pledged to undertake acts of civil disobedience if their demands were not met by September 1.

In response, the university’s president, Kenneth P. Ruscio, said he had asked a campus group to study of the history of African-Americans at the college. Black students constitute 3.5 percent of the enrollment at the university, which is named for both Lee and George Washington, who was an early benefactor.

Third-year law student Dominik Taylor, a descendent of slaves on his father’s side, said he felt betrayed by admissions representatives who touted the school’s diversity.

“They assured me it was a welcoming environment where everyone sticks together as a community,” Taylor said. “Then I came here and felt ostracized and alienated.”

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Change in Statement of Faith Splits Faculty at Bryan College, in Tenn.

Bryan College, a small Christian institution in Dayton, Tenn., could lose as much as one-quarter of its full-time faculty in a dispute over the college’s statement of faith, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.

The dispute, which led to a no-confidence vote in the college’s president in February, concerns the trustees’ addition to the statement of what they described as a clarification. It asserts that Adam and Eve were historical figures not created from previous life forms, according to t…


Fraternity-Hazing Victim at Francis Marion U. Is Awarded $1.6-Million

The former student, Daniel McElveen, spent eight days in the hospital after the hazing incident, in 2011, at the home of Maurice Robinson, a Phi Beta Sigma member and alumnus of the South Carolina university, The State reported.

Mr. McElveen, who suffered kidney damage from a brutal paddling during the fraternity’s “Hell Night” initiation, later sued the university, the fraternity, and Mr. Robinson. He settled last year with the university and the fraternity.

Mr. Robinson, who argued during the trial that Mr. McElveen had allowed himself to be hazed, was one of several people charged with hazing, in a case that is still pending, the Associated Press reported.

The lawsuit claimed that the final night of initiation was the culmination of a pattern of hazing that included McElveen being forced to eat unidentified foods, being blindfolded and driven off campus, wearing the same dirty clothes each night and being deprived of sleep.

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Occidental College Settles Over Alleged Sexual Harassment by Athletic Trainer

The trainer, a 37-year veteran of the California college, is alleged to have made unwanted physical contact and inappropriate comments to students whom he was supposed to be helping prepare for or recover from games or practices, the Los Angeles Times reported. The trainer resigned after the college began an investigation last year.

The college and lawyers for the students declined to disclose the terms of the settlement. In a separate matter, Occidental is currently facing a federal investigation into how it handled reports of alleged sexual assaults against female students.

Attorney Irwin Zalkin represents three male students who he said had been in negotiations with Occidental officials over Sweet’s alleged behavior. They told administrators in early 2013 that the trainer had touched their groins while helping them during rehabilitation or preparing for games or practices.
“He’d stretch their leg and he would put his hand on their groin,” Zalkin said.

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Pima Community College Is Barred Temporarily From Enrolling Veterans

A state agency in Arizona cited Pima Community College’s continuing record-keeping problems in banning it from enrolling military veterans for at least 60 days, while it tries to fix those problems, according to the Arizona Daily Star. The ban will not affect veterans who are now enrolled.

The deficiencies have cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars, money the federal government wrongly paid to veterans who weren’t eligible to receive it because PCC didn’t keep proper track of their status.

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Kennesaw State U. Agrees to Reinstall Artwork It Removed From Museum

Kennesaw State University will reinstall a controversial artwork that it had removed from its newly opened Bernard A. Zuckerman Museum of Art, the Georgia university announced on Friday. The artwork, which dealt with a university property once owned by a writer known for her defense of lynching, was pulled from the museum’s inaugural exhibition two weeks ago, amid considerable criticism of censorship.

Kennesaw State said the artwork, “A Walk in the Valley” (see photographs here), would be put on…


Cashier at Bethany College of W.Va. Pleads Guilty to Embezzling $1-Million

The cashier, Shelly Lough, acknowledged in court on Friday that she had taken more than $1-million from the West Virginia college from 2011 to 2013 in order to pay off people who were allegedly blackmailing her, reports the Wheeling News-Register. Ms. Lough, who was said to have cooperated with the authorities investigating the case, could be sentenced to two to 20 years in prison. One of the alleged blackmailers is facing extortion charges.

Lough told police she took money because she was being blackmailed by two people who wanted paid in return for not informing Lough’s husband about an alleged extra-marital affair.

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Kennesaw State U. Opens Art Museum With Act of Censorship

Kennesaw State University, in Georgia, opened its new Bernard A. Zuckerman Museum of Art on Saturday, but it drew as much attention for its decision to censor an artwork planned for the featured exhibit as for the celebration of what a local arts newspaper, Creative Loafing, called the Atlanta area’s first new art museum in more than a decade.

The censored artwork—by Ruth Stanford, an associate professor of sculpture at Georgia State University—is called “A Walk in the Valley” and concerns a tra…


U. of Oklahoma Faces Lawsuit Over Nazi-Looted Artwork in Its Museum

The university says it is the legal owner of the 1886 painting, Camille Pissarro’s “Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep,” but a daughter of the Jewish man who owned the artwork before World War II has sued the university for its return, the Associated Press reports.

Leone Meyer, herself a Holocaust survivor, says her father traced the painting to Switzerland after the war, but a Swiss court ruled against him, finding that the statute of limitations had expired and that postwar owners had diligently checked to make sure the Pissarro was not on a list of Nazi-looted works. An oil tycoon and his wife subsequently bought the painting and bequeathed it to Oklahoma.

The university “does not want to keep any items which it does not legitimately own,” Oklahoma’s president, David L. Boren, said in a written statement. But the university also wants “to avoid setting a bad precedent that the university will automatically give away other people’s gifts to us to anyone who claims them.”

The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art provides no clue that Camille Pissarro’s “Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep,” an 1886 painting that once belonged to a French Jew, fell into Nazi hands as Germany overran Europe. The school maintains it is the painting’s rightful owner, citing a Swiss court decision from 1953.

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Panel at West Virginia U. Votes to Make Gordon Gee Its Permanent President

The peripatetic E. Gordon Gee, who has led five institutions over the last 33 years, returned to his first presidential post this year, at West Virginia University, in an interim role. Now the university’s presidential-search committee has voted to offer him the permanent job.

Mr. Gee’s previous presidency, at Ohio State University, ended with his retirement last year, amid controversy over jokes he had made at the expense of Roman Catholics and other universities. At the time, Mr. Gee, once dubbed “the Professional President,” said he planned to just move on. Now it appears he has.

During an emergency meeting, the West Virginia University presidential search committee endorsed asking the WVU Board of Governors to amend the search procedures and rescind a motion which stated the interim president would not be a candidate for the permanent post — and to take all necessary steps to retain the University’s current president.

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