Lauren Cooley - Furman University

South Carolina’s Bob Jones University, nicknamed the “Fortress of Fundamentalism,” has been accused of grossly mishandling dozens of reported rapes and other cases of sexual assault over two decades – and cutting short an investigation that BJU itself commissioned.

Students who suffered sexual abuse have accused the Christian university of telling them not to report the abuse because it “would damage Jesus Christ,” according to The New York Times.

In a recent report by Al Jazeera’s America Tonight newsmagazine, one student even said she was asked “whether she would really want to prevent a ‘Godly man’ from getting an education that would allow him to ‘serve the Lord.’”

America Tonight interviewed five former BJU students who attended the school from the early 1990s to the 2010s. They alleged gross misguidance by BJU counselors when they sought help and healing for sexual abuse.

The victims said they were told the assault was their fault and to look for their “root sin” that caused their attacks.

A woman identified as “Sarah” told the program the university failed to recognize instances of post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I remember her looking at me and saying, ‘You know that the nightmares are your own fault, because you’re choosing to replay pornographic thoughts in your mind,’” Sarah recalled of a counseling session.

The same counselor suggested Sarah call her rapist and apologize for not forgiving him sooner, a task that felt like “sticking a knife inside me and twisting it harder,” Sarah said.

BJUcounseling.BJUpress.websiteBJU counselors have followed advice from the book Becoming an Effective Christian Counselor by Walter Fremont, the longtime dean of education at BJU, and his wife Trudy, a former BJU professor.

While the book specifically advises the counselor to emphasize the blame on the abuser, it also claims that “a teenage girl who takes a bath when her mother is away from home and leaves the bathroom door unlocked, inviting the father’s corruptness,” must repent of her own sin.

‘Took Us By Complete Surprise’

A group hired last year to investigate claims that BJU showed a pattern in stigmatizing students who reported rape or sexual assault said in February that BJU had terminated the contract a month before it was due to wrap up.

Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE), an independent Virginia-based firm led by Billy Graham’s grandson, had planned to release its report in March.

“This ‘Notice’ took GRACE by complete surprise as there had been no prior indications from BJU that termination was even being considered,” GRACE said in a press release. “Despite repeated requests, GRACE has not been informed of why the agreement was terminated.”

“Social media exploded” with criticism of BJU from former students after the school fired GRACE, according to WYFF4 Greenville.

The local station profiled one student who said she was raped as a BJU student in the 1990s, and that the school told her parents not to report the assault to police because “this will not look good for you.”

Following outrage from local groups and growing media attention, BJU re-hired GRACE to finish out its investigation under the same terms as their original agreement.

GRACE said last month its investigation has finished and it’s working on a final report and recommendations, to be released by Aug. 31.

BJU: Not on the Justice Department’s Sexual-Assault List

BJU, which allegedly punished a student for watching the TV show Glee at an off-campus Starbucks, says it is not being given a fair shake.

BJUspokesman.WYFF4.screenshot“Everyone has run with Al Jazeera’s story and hardly anyone has even checked with” the school, Director of Public Relations Randy Page told The College Fix.

But the school isn’t responding to Al Jazeera’s report. “There’s very little we can say about specific instances because of federal laws and student confidentiality laws,” Page said. “Our hands are tied when it comes to responding to the media.”

But Page compared the school favorably to those under investigation by the Justice Department for their handling of sexual-abuse reports.

“Here you have these problems at 60 plus universities and colleges around the nation that the DOJ are looking into and we’re not even on the list,” Page said. “Then Al Jazeera decides to come and do a two segment story on us, a small, private, Christian school in South Carolina.

“We pride ourselves on being a very safe campus and rape, abuse, or neglect are never the fault of any victim. Period,” said Page.

College Fix Contributor Lauren Cooley is a recent graduate of Furman University.

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IMAGES: Courtney Carmody/Flickr, BJU Press, Internet screenshot

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UNC law professor’s holdings include $1.5M in real estate, and meanwhile he chastises Republicans for their ‘unforgivable war on poor people’

A controversial, outspoken law professor who frequently bashes Republicans and specializes in poverty issues as a self-proclaimed champion of the poor earns $205,400 per year – for teaching one class per semester.

The University of North Carolina School of Law pays Professor Gene Nichol $205,400 annually for his one class per semester workload. On top of his teaching salary, he receives a $7,500 stipend as director of the law school’s Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity.

The News & Observer maintains a public database of public employee and educator salaries, and lists Nichol’s salary at $212,900. Nichol, in an email to The College Fix, confirmed the figure is accurate.Nichol

Nichol is slated to teach federal jurisdiction this fall and constitutional law in spring 2015.

He told The College Fix there is nothing unusual about his compensation.

“I’m a full time faculty member – doing all the varied things faculty members do,” he stated. “That’s the basis for the salary you quote. Beyond that, I’m paid $7,500 to run the poverty center – the same as all the other law school center directors.”

When asked about his compensation compared to other law professors, Nichol said: “Several make a good deal more than I do at Carolina, some make less.”

The News & Observer lists the UNC Distinguished Professor of Law Thomas Lee Hazen’s salary at $222,000. However, he is slated to teach four classes this fall, and two in the spring. UNC Distinguished Professor of Law Sarah Elizabeth Gibson earns $200,000 annually, and has a similar workload to Nichol at one class per semester.

Assistant and associate professors at the UNC School of Law tend to earn about $130,000 annually, according to the News & Observer database. Their work load ranges from one class per semester up to four.

As for Nichol, in the past he served as president of the College of William and Mary from 2005 to 2008, that is, until his contract was not renewed following a string of controversies.

Among them, he allowed a sex workers’ art show on campus and removed a cross from permanent display in the chapel of the historic Christopher Wren building, citing the facility’s use for secular events.

Prior to that, Nichol was the dean of UNC’s law school from 1999 to 2005.

Today at UNC, Nichol runs the UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, which was founded by the now-disgraced Democrat John Edwards. The center is a self-proclaimed non-partisan, interdisciplinary institute that aims to study and mitigate poverty in North Carolina and the nation.

In his leadership role there, Nichol is known to use inflammatory political rhetoric.

For example, on the center’s website he writes that “the scourge of debilitating poverty is the largest problem faced by the people of North Carolina – even if our political leaders ignore it, or declare, with a breathtaking stupidity, that it doesn’t exist.” North Carolina has a Republican-controlled majority of lawmakers.

Yet while Nichol champions the poor – even chastising Republicans in a March News & Observer op-ed for its “unforgivable war on poor people” – it’s unclear how well he can relate to those living in poverty.

His wife, chief of staff for the UNC Health Care System and the UNC School of Medicine, earns $407,000 annually. Combining his and his wife’s salary, the couple makes at least $612,000 per year.

The Nichol family lives in a Chapel Hill home with a tax value of more than $1 million. They also own a bungalow on the beach at Emerald Isle, valued by Carteret County at more than $512,000. In the summer months, Nichol rents his four-bedroom bungalow for nearly $2,000 per week.

When asked by The College Fix about the large inequality between his income and the income of those in poverty, Nichol refused to respond.

The issue of the UNC poverty center’s funding has also been the source of contention in the past because of its ties to Edwards, so much so that campus officials dedicated a webpage to detailing its financing.

It reads in part: “*Nichol earns $7,500 as a stipend for serving as the Center director. This is in addition to his salary as the Boyd Tinsley Distinguished Professor of Law at UNC School of Law.”

Nichol may have earned special attention regarding his salary and role there after he became well-known in North Carolina as a radical, left-leaning writer.

Even the News & Observer describes him as a “well-known liberal,” and he publishes regularly in The Progressive Populist and has written for The Nation, the Washington Post and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

His work has been so polarizing in the past that when Nichol publishes op-eds, UNC has asked him to give the administration a couple days’ heads up because he has angered so many people. UNC also asks that his columns include the phrase: “He doesn’t speak for UNC.”

This unusual request came as the result of a column Nichol wrote last October, in which he offered a scathing review of North Carolina’s Republican Governor Pat McCrory in the News & Observer. In the piece, Nichol referred to McCrory as “hapless Pat” and wrote that McCrory was “a 21st century successor to Maddox, Wallace and Faubus,” referring to three 1960s-era segregationist governors.

When Nichol writes about topics other than poverty, UNC asks he leave his title at the university out completely.

Nichol’s writings have caught the ire of many, including the North-Carolina based John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, which states that “Nichol is a radical partisan who has desperately ratcheted up his rhetoric after seeing his preferred party lose control in North Carolina for the first time in more than a hundred years.”

“Perhaps more disturbing is Nichol’s abuse of his stature at UNC-Chapel Hill to propagate his invective.”

College Fix Contributor Lauren Cooley is a recent graduate of Furman University.

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IMAGE: Main – 401K, Flickr; Inside – Nichol

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Some editors tried to make the entry more precise and less biased, but #YesAllWomen hate being corrected

In the wake of the UCSB shooting, feminist activists hijacked the narrative surrounding the shooting by creating the hashtag “YesAllWomen” – which collectively allowed Twitter users to share their thoughts on the plight of being a suppressed woman in today’s society.

Very similarly, feminist activists are now attempting to hijack the way in which the shooting, and #YesAllWomen, is remembered online, by editing and re-editing the #YesAllWomen Wikipedia entry.

This editing and re-editing has become somewhat of an edit war, with well over 100 prior versions of the page since its creation in late May that document multiple changes back and forth.

Some citizen editors claim they are trying to make the site less biased through their edits.

“Edited article to be slightly more NPOV,” one editor remarked. “It’s still kind of a giant pile of feminist propaganda, though.”

Another quipped: “…yep, more misandry. Humanity stupidity is a bottomless well.”

Misandry is a hatred of men.

Those edits and similar ones did not go over well, as the ultra-feminist website Jezebel first reported, even insinuating men were behind the changes:

“Over the past several days, several individuals (presumably men) have made multiple attempts to edit the Wikipedia entry for #YesAllWomen in order to make it less ‘misandrist,’ ” according to a June 6 article. “A few users have made edits to the article to debate the facts of the Isla Vista shooting.”

“For instance, take (the) changes that call into question the motivation behind Elliot Rodger’s shooting and allege that the #YesAllWomen hashtag ‘ended up being used for misandry.’ ”

The notion that Rodger was insane as opposed to misogynistic did not fare too well on the page.

As recently as June 15, the page states: “After the killings, some commentators claimed that the killer was mentally ill, while others believed his beliefs and actions had been influenced by a misogynistic culture that rewards male sexual aggression.”

“Claimed” he was mentally ill? This despite the fact that growing up, Rodger had seen psychiatrists, taken psychotropic medication, and a month before the rampage had the cops called on him by his own parents to check up on his mental instability.

Nevertheless, feminists do not deny the misandry or bias of #YesAllWomen. In fact, the #YesAllWomen Wikipedia page itself has been labeled within the scope of WikiProject Feminism, which is “a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Feminism on Wikipedia.”

With that, the biased tone of the entry is valid, some editors argue, in order to combat the more “neutral” points of view. As one editor explained: “Actually this whole article is about the reaction to what are considered gendered killings, so no, it’s no undue.”

But just how did #YesAllWomen get its start?

According to Mashable: “The tag originated on May 24 in a Twitter conversation involving writer Annie Cardi (@anniecardi) and another woman who has since changed her account to private to protect her identity, Cardi told Mashable. Cardi says she was the second person to use the tag (after her friend) and sees herself as a supporter of the phenomenon rather than an originator.”

What started as a Twitter conversation between friends, quickly spread worldwide.

By May 25, around 61,500 tweets had included #YesAllWomen. Most tweets came from the U.S. and U.K., but some came from countries with more obvious and gruesome women’s rights violations like Pakistan, Indonesia and Qatar. Women around the world have used the hashtag to recount everything from work place harassment to violent rapes.

However, if women have it so bad here in the U.S. in 2014, perhaps feminists would be better off focusing their time on the “war on women” and less time on the “war on Wikipedia edits.”

College Fix Contributor Lauren Cooley is a recent graduate of Furman University.

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IMAGE: Floyd Brown/ Flickr

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Now Australian foreign-exchange student sues for diploma in controversy making international headlines

A Duke University senior was expelled and denied his degree under what Duke calls a “new sexual misconduct practice” – this despite the fact that police say the young man did not break the law.

Durham County police say dean’s list-student Lewis McLeod did not commit rape, but Duke says otherwise in a case that is making international headlines, as the 23-year-old is a foreign-exchange student from Australia whose plight has caught the eye of several major newspapers down under.

Banned from his commencement ceremony, McLeod is suing Duke for breach-of-contract – and his diploma – so he can accept a job offer as a Wall Street investment firm analyst before his student visa soon expires, forcing him to leave the country.

Some observers have called this case an example of a negative result from the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, an initiative launched in April that uses the threat of federal intervention to push administrators to take hard-line approaches to any sexual misconduct allegations, regardless of their validity.McLeod

“I think Lewis is in the midst of something that is a huge issue on college campuses across our country and (that) is balancing the seriousness of allegations with the need to be fair to the accused,” his attorney, Rachel Hitch, told the Sydney Morning Herald in a story that described McLeod as attending one of the most exclusive private schools in Australia before heading to Duke to further his education.

In McLeod’s case, the Duke University judiciary panel – led in part by a student researching gender violence – dismissed police officers’ official opinions on the matter and instead used its “preponderance of the evidence” standard, deciding McLeod and the freshman had nonconsensual sex because she was too intoxicated to give proper consent, according to various news reports.

McLeod’s lawyers told the Sydney Morning Herald “he did not buy her drinks and saw ‘no signs’ she was drunk.” He also argues not only was the sex consensual, but his trial at Duke was biased and unfair.

During the campus trial, the judiciary panel rarely let McLeod speak. One of his witnesses was sent home before testifying and another witness supporting McLeod’s claims was cut off before finishing his account of the night, Indy Week reports.

The accuser’s best friend opted not to attend the hearing, but previously told investigators that her friend only appeared slightly intoxicated the night surrounding the alleged rape. She also told investigators that her friend was “OK” with her clothes coming off in McLeod’s bed.

Duke’s sloppy trial is not the only misstep taken by administrators. The protocol to expel accused rapists was never written into the university’s Community Standard guide.

“It is an understood practice. … We didn’t feel the need to make it public,” explained Sue Wasiolek, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, to Indy Week.

“Duke follows federal legal requirements for complaints of student sexual misconduct and works very hard to make sure the process is fair and just in every case,” Michael Schoenfeld, Duke’s Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations, told The College Fix.

Hitch did not respond to requests from The College Fix seeking comment. The dispute is expected to be resolved by court trial.

College Fix Contributor Lauren Cooley is a recent graduate of Furman University.

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IMAGE: Hans Splinter/Flickr; Inside image – McLeod/Internet screenshot

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#ThatAwkwardMoment when a college’s social media campaign reveals the pitfalls of higher education

There are probably two things all college students can agree on. First, it’s painfully embarrassing when adults misuse social media. Second, the costs of college have gotten extremely out of hand.

What recently transpired at the University of British Columbia’s graduation, then exploded across the Internet, combined both.

UBC’s marketing department created a social media campaign that consisted of posters hung around campus with the words “I Will Always Remember UBC For” followed by a blank space, to be filled in by graduates.Tweet

The posters pushed the hashtag “#UBCgrad” on them, encouraging students to share what PR folks assumed would be lasting memories, fond farewells and similar fare.

Things didn’t go exactly as planned.

Someone wrote in “My Crippling Debt” to make the embarrassing phrase of “I will always remember UBC for my crippling debt.” Then someone uploaded the image on Twitter, and it quickly spread.

Soon enough, it became one of the most popular submissions on the Internet site Reddit, reaching its Front Page under the headline: “University Grads Telling It Like It Is.”

Commenters sympathized with the 2014 graduates, writing, “I remember that debt very well” and “to me the real joke comes in the mail when they want a donation.”

Another wrote, “That is the most honest answer they could have given.”

According to the Canadian Federation of Students, over the last 15 years tuition has skyrocketed more than five times the rate of inflation.

Similarly, the higher education bubble in America refers to the unsustainable combination of several factors all coalescing at once: the rising cost of tuition; the growing irrelevancy of a liberal arts degree; ballooning student loan debt; and skyrocketing unemployment for college grads.

This could have happened anywhere.

College Fix contributor Lauren Cooley is a recent graduate of Furman University.

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h/t: Inside Higher Ed

IMAGE: KHAYBE/Flickr

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UCLA is in the process of hiring two “discrimination officers” to handle racial discrimination complaints – a move expected to make it easier to probe grievances over racism – something alleged to be systemic among faculty at the public university.

Both employees and an independent report suggest that the university’s current procedures for addressing faculty racism complaints over hiring, advancement and retention decisions are insufficient, ambiguous and overly complicated.

“Concerned faculty members described a campus racial climate in near-crisis,” stated authors of a report released last fall which probed UCLA’s alleged racism epidemic and its supposed inadequacy at handling bias complaints. “(S)enior faculty members and former administration officials contended that the recent high-profile racial incidents at UCLA were only the tip of the iceberg, and that the campus racial climate, for a variety of reasons, has regressed since the mid-twentieth century.”

Currently, faculty can take complaints of racism to Academic Senate committees, the Title IX Officer, the Vice Provost for Diversity & Faculty Development, and the Office of Ombuds Services, among others. This makes things too complicated, doesn’t track and record all the bias incidents, and let’s grievances fall through the cracks, the report found.

“Relevant university policies were vague, the remedial procedures difficult to access, and from a practical standpoint, essentially nonexistent,” stated the report, which titled itself an “Independent Investigative Report on Acts of Bias and Discrimination Involving Faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles.”

“Faculty of color at UCLA must rely on a patchwork of diversity resources and the generic Faculty Senate complaint and grievance procedures in order to seek redress,” the report added. “While this ad hoc process has sometimes succeeded, it has failed to adequately record, investigate, or provide for disciplinary sanctions for incidents which, if substantiated, would constitute violations of university nondiscrimination policy.”

The discrimination officers, once hired, will be a one-stop shop of sorts, there for those who feel marginalized, giving them one, clear avenue to which they can take their complaints. UCLA Chancellor Gene Block says their hiring is imminent.

In an interview with The College Fix, a UCLA spokesman explained “these new officers will investigate any reported allegations of racial and ethnic bias or discrimination and will help review and reform the policies and procedures for investigating such incidents.”

Last fall’s report had come at the behest of 30 professors, who in the summer of 2012 had asked for a review of the “campus racial climate” along with an independent committee to address UCLA’s policies and procedures for responding to racial discrimination, the Daily Bruin reports. That demand letter was prompted in part by UCLA surgeon Dr. Christian Head’s high-profile racial discrimination lawsuit against UCLA medical school.

Last summer, Dr. Head was awarded $4.5 million in a settlement.

“The agreement settles the lawsuit, filed in April (2012), that accused the university of failing to prevent discrimination, harassment and retaliation against Head,” the Los Angeles Times reported. “The head and neck surgeon alleged that he was retaliated against for filing complaints through normal channels and was denied teaching opportunities.”

Some faculty acknowledge that the large payout should motivate administrators to move on the perceived systematic racism at UCLA.

“Rather than seeing it as an isolated case, we wanted (UCLA administrators) to use that moment as a way to look deeper and understand the issues that face this faculty,” Chon Noriega, director of the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center and one of the faculty members who initiated the report, told the Bruin.

The report had also suggested the discrimination officers conduct mandated diversity training for administrators and develop annual reports summarizing all the bias incidents and their outcomes.

In addition to the diversity officials, UCLA is looking to mandate a diversity class as part of the general education requirement for students.

College Fix contributor Lauren Cooley is a recent graduate of Furman University.

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IMAGE: Thomas Hawk/Flickr

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