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It seems the University of Virginia is starting to get a bit peeved at all the backlash following the now-discredited Rolling Stone gang-rape story.

This past Friday, George Martin, the university’s rector, tore into the media at the beginning of a Board of Visitors meeting.

“Our tightly knit community has experienced the full fury of drive-by journalism in the 21st century — of callous indifference to the truth and callous indifference to the consequences,” he said.

He added the the university’s reputation had been “unfairly tarnished.”

The New York Times reports:

While saying they remain determined to combat sexual assault, leaders of the University of Virginia on Friday publicly pushed back against the damage done to its reputation by a discredited account of a gang rape at a fraternity house.

A month ago, Rolling Stone published its article about a woman who said seven men had assaulted her at a party here two years ago amid an alcohol-soaked social scene of fraternity brothers misbehaving with impunity. News organizations followed by swarming into this quiet town, many of them giving bruising assessments of one of the nation’s elite public universities.

For weeks, university officials were careful not to strike a defensive tone, emphasizing that whatever doubts there were about the account, they saw a problem that needed addressing.

Before reciting a long list of things the administration is doing to make the campus safer, Teresa A. Sullivan, the university president, said, “Our concern with sexual assault was not something that started with the Rolling Stone article.” And she said she felt compelled to state that “UVA’s climate and culture are generally healthy.”

Of course, Martin and President Sullivan are partly responsible for that media “full fury” that descended upon the campus. When the Rolling Stone story broke, both appeared to accept it at face value.

Martin had stated:

“I’d like to say to [the victim] and her parents I am sorry, and to all survivors of sexual assault, I am sorry. As we said last week, this type of conduct will not be tolerated at the University of Virginia. The status quo is not acceptable. Like all of you gathered here today, I am appalled.”

President Sullivan reacted by suspending all fraternities and associated activities.

But now they’re miffed at all the media coverage. What a shame.

Read the full story.

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Here we go again: Those dastardly “microaggressions” are a big concern, this time (again) at Harvard.

Harvard University Dining Services will stop purchasing water machines from the company SodaStream … because it is Israeli.

After all, the school cannot subject students of Palestinian background to possible microaggressions, right?

National Review Online reports:

“These machines can be seen as a microaggression to Palestinian students and their families and like the University doesn’t care about Palestinian human rights,” Rachel J. Sandalow-Ash, sophomore and member of the Harvard College Progressive Jewish Alliance, told the Harvard Crimson.

In the meantime, the school will also be removing the “SodaStream” stickers from any of the existing water machines, just to make sure no student has to see one and have a traumatic experience or something.

Currently, the SodaStream’s main factory is located in the West Bank, territory Israel and the Palestinian Authority have long fought over. In October, however, the company announced that it would be moving the factory out of the contested area and into southern Israel.

But apparently that’s not enough — these water fountains are still just too offensive to remain on campus.

The university took this firm and decisive action after the College Palestine Solidarity Committee and the Harvard Islamic Society complained.

Read the full article.

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IMAGE: Mr.TinDC/Flickr

The Notre Dame women’s basketball team met with representatives of the local police union after they wore t-shirts with the phrase “I Can’t Breathe” on them last weekend.

The team, which had their coach’s permission to wear the shirts, says that their only intent was “to show sympathy for family members of those who have died in the recent confrontations,” not to criticize law enforcement.

But others didn’t take it that way. The Elkhart Truth reports:

One Mishawaka police officer who runs a store in South Bend began selling T-shirts that say, “Breathe easy, don’t break the law.”

Meanwhile, Brenda Reimer, the mother of one of the players, earlier this week posted on Facebook photos her daughter was mailed anonymously showing a team jersey set on fire.

“Last weekend my daughter and her teammates showed sympathy for a family who had lost someone. Today, she came home to this,” Reimer wrote.

Sgt. Dan Demler, president of the South Bend Fraternal Order of Police lodge, said the meeting on Friday helped each side better understand the other’s viewpoint, but he declined to describe the talks in detail.

“It was just a healthy discussion about why we stand the way we stand, why we took issue with it,” he said. “This whole deal is something that has completely spiraled out of control locally and nationally, so to go into detail about it, I just think this thing could get worse and worse.”

Pasquale Rulli, president of the Mishawaka FOP Lodge No. 91, said that all parties at the meeting agreed “to avoid speaking further about the matter in public.”

Read the full story.

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As reported by The College Fix a few days ago, the chair of the communications department at the University of Michigan wrote an article about why “it’s okay to hate Republicans.”

Now the school has stepped up to defend Susan Douglas, saying her column “was protected under the university’s ‘faculty freedom of expression’ core value, but added that UM is “working ‘vigilantly’ to ensure Michigan students can express differing views ‘without fear of reprisal.’”

Truth Revolt reports:

On Thursday, Michigan university spokesman Rick Fitzgerald responded to Douglas’ article, saying that the anti-Republican views expressed in the hostile piece “are those of the individual faculty member and not those of the University of Michigan,” but that it was absolutely protected under the university’s freedom of expression guidelines:

The views expressed are those of the individual faculty member and not those of the University of Michigan.

Faculty freedom of expression, including in the public sphere, is one of the core values of our institution.

At the same time, the university must and will work vigilantly to ensure students can express diverse ideas and perspectives in a respectful environment and without fear of reprisal.

The university values viewpoint diversity and encourages a wide range of opinions.

Douglas has subsequently claimed that the article’s title “wasn’t her idea,” and that her intention was actually to criticize “the rise of political animus in our country.”

Uh huh. Right. Except that that increase in said animus is mostly the GOP’s fault, she can’t even imagine marrying a Republican, and “history and psychological research” somehow “bear[s her] out.”

But even more laughable is Michigan’s response. It’s a laudable one, to be sure, but does anyone — anyone — actually believe the university would issue such a reaction had Douglas been a conservative Republican … and some of the labels and terms in the article were switched around?

Indeed, you can bet we’d be lectured about “inclusiveness,” “sensitivity,” “hostile environment,” etc. ad nauseam, and students would be protesting to university officials about the campus atmosphere of “hate.” (Hey, the word was actually used in Douglas’s article, after all.)

The students’ demands would be the usual: mandatory diversity and “sensitivity” training, “tolerance” workshops, more “grief” counselors, and given recent events, requests for exam delays.

Read the full article.

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The University of Iowa’s president is defending the school’s removal of an anti-racist Ku Klux Klan statue – created by its own artist-in-residence – “in the best tradition of the ‘some of my best friends are…’ defense,” the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education says.

Without mentioning the KKK incident, which drew howls of protest from First Amendment groups, President Sally Mason told the community it could have its cake and eat it too:

We have much to be proud of here at the University of Iowa, including our cherished traditions of free speech and open dialogue, as well as our long history of being a welcoming campus. The university must foster an inclusive educational environment, one that is open to all points of view— and one in which people from all backgrounds are welcomed and respected.

Our history of inclusiveness and freedom of expression is rich and goes back to the founding of this remarkable institution. … While our history may provide us with a framework, we must continue to realize these intertwined values of inclusiveness and freedom of expression in our work together.

Under the Chief Diversity Office, “before the next semester begins,” Mason said the school will:

  • Create clarity in the procedures that surround the use of public space for public expressions, including the prompt removal of unauthorized displays on campus.
  • Review our orientation procedures for new and visiting members of our community to identify opportunities to better acquaint them with relevant policies.

That’s a reference to her earlier claim that the artwork didn’t get “permission” before going up and that the artist was new to campus.

Catherine Sevcenko of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which along with the National Coalition Against Censorship wrote to the school after the initial removal, is extremely wary of Mason’s promised review, saying she “seemed to promise more [censorship] in 2015″:

[T]he Constitution does not create a right not to be offended. The First Amendment platitudes draping Mason’s call for a more “inclusive” campus climate (that, oddly enough, would exclude unpopular speech) should fool no one. …

Call me cynical, but I have a hunch that “clarity in the procedures” might be code for restricting expression someone might not like. And how “better acquaint[ing]” new faculty with these restrictions will square with academic freedom is anyone’s guess.

Read FIRE’s post.

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IMAGE: Sam Graham/Flickr

 

A columnist for Philadelphia magazine weighed in on that University of Pennsylvania frat Christmas card with the Beyonce sex doll The College Fix noted last week, saying everyone’s getting a bit careless in throwing the “racist” claim around:

In addition to the potentially offensive words “Merry Christmas,” the appearance of not one but two Dallas Cowboys shirts, and some guy who seems to be biting into a large fish (for the love of God, somebody page PETA!), the Penn bros also chose to include in their photo a naked blow-up sex doll with brown skin.

Stupid? Yes. Tasteless? Yes. But racist? I dunno, folks. I’d be more offended by the Cowboys shirts. (Or by the fact that the frat is apparently lacking in African-American membership, at least based on the photo.) The photo neither states nor implies that the young men think that whites are superior to blacks, that black people are evil, that there’s anything wrong with being black, that black people are somehow suspicious. …

So they’re not racist, because that is what racism is — a dehumanizing belief in the superiority of one race over another.

It’s just the latest of many overwrought “racist” incidents, columnist Victor Fiorillo says, which includes:

  • an Urban Outfitters holiday party that asked attendees to wear “jutis, kurtans, turbans, saris, lehenga cholis and harem parents”
  • a birthday cake given to a University of Maryland sorority sister stamped with “suck a nigga dick” – possibly “an allusion to the outrageously offensive Three Six Mafia song ‘Suck a Nigga Dick‘”

Thoughtless accusations don’t promote dialogue, Fiorillo says:

You call someone a racist and everybody freaks out. The accused racists are shamed, silenced, and stigmatized. And any chance for a meaningful discourse implodes. And if anything is clear, it’s that a meaningful discourse is exactly what we need right about now.

Read the Philadelphia column.

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IMAGE: Phi Delta Theta’s Facebook page via Daily Pennsylvanian