BI News Briefs

Journalism Professor Denied Tenure Sues FAMU
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida A&M University journalism professor denied tenure because she didn’t have a doctorate has filed a sex and race discrimination complaint against the school, saying it is run by and for Black men.
Assistant professor Gloria Horning also says the university illegally changed the rules after she began a tenure track in 1993 when a doctoral degree was not required. Tenure effectively gives university professors a lifetime guarantee of a job (see Black Issues, May 27, 1999).
“I believe that Florida A&M University has been engaged in a systematic and intentional scheme and artifice to deny my promotion and tenure because I am a Caucasian female employed at a predominantly and historically Black university,” Horning says. “Further, I believe that men are given preference over women.”
Horning, 43, filed a complaint last month with the Florida Commission on Human Relations. The commission has six months to mediate the dispute or make a written finding, which either side can appeal to the courts.
Horning also says she plans to sue the school for breach of contract. Without tenure, Horning will not have a job after Aug. 7, 2000.
FAMU spokesman Eddie Jackson says he cannot comment on pending litigation.


Michigan Admits Fewer Minority Applicants
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — While the University of Michigan continues to encourage a diverse student body, data released last month indicate that fewer underrepresented minorities have been admitted to this year’s incoming freshman class than last year, according to a story in the university’s student newspaper, the Michigan Daily.
Despite a negligible decrease in the number of underrepresented minority application submissions in the last year, from 2,267 to 2,260, the number of those admitted declined by more than 100.
University spokesperson Julie Peterson told the student paper that the numbers are only based on applications received and entered into the system by May 17. She said that because applications are still being processed, data could fluctuate and will not be finalized until October.
Underrepresented minority enrollment has decreased at the University since 1995, when underrepresented minority students comprised 15 percent of the entering class. That number dropped by 1 percent in 1996, then during 1997 and 1998, underrepresented minority enrollment dropped to 13 percent of the entering classes for both years.
Noting that this year’s underrepresented minority enrollment is something administrators are “watching closely,” Peterson said, “Having a diverse student body is a concern of ours. We don’t like to see it go down.”
Peterson says it is unlikely that there is a correlation between the drop in underrepresented minority admissions and the lawsuits against the university’s admission policy, filed by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Individual Rights. The lawsuits challenge the university’s use of race as a disproportionate factor in admissions (see Black Issues, Jan. 21, 1999).
“We have chosen to defend the lawsuit because a diverse student body is essential to a Michigan education,” she says.
According to the student newspaper report, the university received 21,011 applications for the incoming first-year class — 2,260 from underrepresented minorities. Of that, 13,351 prospective students were admitted — 1,520 of whom were underrepresented minorities.
Also, fewer underrepresented minorities have paid the deposit securing their spot in the incoming class. Underrepresented minorities are defined by the university as Black, Hispanic, or Native American.
Meanwhile, a group of students of color who seek undergraduate or law-school admission into the University of Michigan have asked a federal appeals court to let them intervene in the reverse-discrimination lawsuits against the university.
Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians will be directly affected by how the lawsuits turn out and should be allowed to participate as parties in the lawsuits when they are heard in the Michigan federal courts, lawyers for these students told the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The lawyers asked the court to reverse rulings by lower courts against their clients (see Black Issues, Aug. 6, 1998).
“If the plaintiffs win this case, the University of Michigan will go on. It’ll just be much Whiter,” says Theodore Shaw, one of the lawyers who argued in behalf of the minorities.
Appeals Judges Martha Craig Daughtrey, Karen Moore, and William Stafford did not say when they will rule. The appeals court had halted the proceedings in the lower courts in order to consider these arguments.


Former Governor Becomes         
 College Board Head
NEW YORK — Former West Virginia Gov. Gaston Caperton succeeded Dr. Donald M. Stewart as the president and chief executive officer of the College Board on July 1.
Caperton brings a well-respected reputation for what is considered significant educational leadership. During his two terms as governor, he oversaw a major reorganization of West Virginia’s higher education system. He enacted legislation requiring public institutions to create five-year strategic plans that addressed such areas as access, student performance, and public awareness of educational opportunities.
He also increased funding for higher education by 3.25 percent annually for five years. Caperton tied those increases to an institution’s progress in meeting the goals set in the five-year plan.
When he left the governorship, Caperton served as executive director of the Institute on Education and Government at Columbia University’s Teachers College, and as a fellow and instructor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
“I am honored to have been chosen as president of this highly regarded, 100-year-old organization,” he said at the April announcement of his acceptance of the position. “This is a great challenge and opportunity in education, and I believe the College Board can make a real difference by effectively serving its members in their critical job of helping students prepare for and succeed in college, work, and life.”
Stewart, who led the College Board for more than 12 years, is now the program director for higher education policy at the Carnegie Corporation.
At the announcement of the College Board’s choice of Caperton, Stewart said, “It has been an honor to serve as president and CEO of the College Board and to help contribute to the future of so many young lives.
“I am leaving at a time when the organization is healthy and engaged in identifying new ways to provide even greater public value in education,” he continued. “I know that Gov. Caperton will serve the College Board well as it enters its next century.”


Oregon Universities Acknowledge     Racial Tensions
PORTLAND, Ore. — Racial tensions at Oregon’s two largest universities have resulted from long-standing frustration, and some students and faculty say school officials do not understand the root causes of the problem. As the school year drew to a close, both campuses experienced race-related unrest.
“As much as we’re seen as a liberal, activist campus, we’re in a state of denial on minority issues,” says Missy Rock, a student arrested during a recent anti-racism sit-in at the University of Oregon (UO) in Eugene. “Until we acted, there wasn’t a lot of dialogue around these issues, so we’ll keep pushing.”
An ongoing classroom discussion that apparently got out of hand sparked the May 18 sit-in at UO, at which 31 people were arrested. A student made what others felt was a disparaging comment about Latinos, fueling an angry e-mail debate.
At OSU, a pair of fraternity members stand accused of yelling a racial epithet and throwing firecrackers near a passing Black student on May 1. The same student was, as a freshman three years ago, the target of racial harassment in an incident that led to a campus demonstration and university reforms (see Black Issues, May 27, 1999).
Oregon’s campuses are gradually becoming more diverse and, most people agree, more tolerant. About 12 percent of students at the UO and OSU are minorities — about 1 percent more than five years ago. The UO has about 16,800 students, and OSU has about 14,600. Both schools are growing.
But minority students describe a campus atmosphere in which they swallow little indignities on an almost daily basis. They hear demeaning comments in classrooms from often well-meaning professors and fellow students. They find themselves being trailed down store aisles by suspicious clerks when they’re out shopping.
After the 1996 protest, OSU instituted minority education offices to assist students socially and academically. Both campuses have increased minority student and faculty recruitment. But both still have higher minority dropout rates. University officials also complain their talented minority professors are lured away by other colleges.
Larry Roper, OSU’s associate provost for student affairs, says, “What we’ve got is a clash between what the university can be and reality.
“There are folks suffering in silence,” adds Roper, one of only a handful of African American administrators at the university, “and when something happens, the rage all comes out.”

 

Protests Accompany Abu-Jamal’s Commencement Speech
OLYMPIA, Wash. — During a taped speech by convicted murderer Mumia Abu-Jamal at Evergreen State College’s commencement ceremony  last month , a handful of the approximately 800 graduates walked out in protest, two dozen other graduates stood and turned their backs, and still others wore yellow armbands to express their displeasure.
Protesters who did not attend the university — including Maureen Faulkner, the widow of the Philadelphia police officer allegedly shot by Abu-Jamal in 1981, and police officers in dress uniforms — also attended the ceremony. One protester had a replica of an electric chair and a sign reading: “A positive role model for Mumia.”
Faulkner said Abu-Jamal’s participation was “not fitting for a graduation ceremony. A classroom, maybe, but not a graduation ceremony.”
Evergreen permits its student to select commencement speakers, but the selection of Abu-Jamal as a speaker was controversial. The state’s Democratic Governor, Gary Locke, canceled his scheduled appearance at the ceremony, and Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas) — the day before the ceremony — asked the U.S. House of Representatives for a moment of silence to protest the students’ choice.
Abu-Jamal’s jailhouse writings about the justice system and his efforts to win a new trial have given him worldwide attention. A symbol for death penalty opponents, he insists he is innocent and his conviction was the result a biased judge and an ineffective lawyer. He has been on death row since 1982. No execution date has been set. He is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.
College President Jane Jervis told the crowd before Abu-Jamal’s remarks were played that people should “be aware of the pain and outrage” of Ms. Faulkner and police officers — and of the right of diverse voices to be heard.
Malka Fenyvesi, a student who supported the choice of speakers, says Abu-Jamal was not invited to “to create a lot of bad feelings,” but rather to create a forum for a “marginalized segment of our society.”
In his remarks, Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther, drew parallels between British colonial rule and Black U.S. political power.
“Why was it right for people to revolt against the British because of taxation without representation and somehow wrong for truly unrepresented Africans in America to revolt against America?” he asked. “For any repressed people, revolution, according to the Declaration of Independence, is a right.”

 

Harvard Report Says Nation’s       Schools are Resegregating
WASHINGTON — Forty-five years after the Supreme Court effectively ended legal segregation of public schools, most students still attend schools dominated by those of their own race and income level, a Harvard University report says.
A study of school enrollment patterns since 1968, when most school districts began court-ordered desegregation remedies, shows the trend toward resegregation of the races is growing despite rising numbers of minority enrollments. And although resegregation is proceeding fastest in the South, the races are now most separate in schools in other regions.
“We are clearly in a period when many policy-makers, courts, and opinion makers assume that desegregation is no longer necessary,” says an excerpt from Resegregation in American Schools. The report is by the Civil Rights Project, a research and advocacy organization run by the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Harvard Law School.
The report also said:
* Enrollment of Hispanic students has increased 218 percent, and nearly 75 percent of them attend predominantly minority schools.
* Enrollment of Black students has risen 22 percent, and 69 percent of them attend schools where at least half the students are from minority groups.
* Enrollment of White students has declined by 16 percent in the same 30 years, and most of those students attend schools that are 80 percent or more White. That remains so even when White students live in generally non-White areas, says the report, which was based on a study of Education Department enrollment data from the late 1960s through the mid-1990s.
At the same time, Black and Hispanic students generally remain in Black- and Hispanic-majority schools even when they live in the suburbs.
The study attributes much of the trend of minority- or White-dominated schools to economics and housing patterns. As for the trends in minority and White totals, it notes increases in Hispanic immigration and births and a decrease in White births.
Schools with mostly Black and Hispanic students also were 11 times more likely to be in areas with concentrated poverty than their peers in predominantly White schools. Researchers say that can also be damaging because poverty is linked to lower classroom performance and achievement.
In general, the researchers say, the schools with many poor children lack advanced courses and teachers with credentials for their subject areas. Such schools are more likely than others to have children who drop out, suffer from untreated health problems, and forgo college.
Black students are most likely to go to majority-Black schools in the following states, in order: Michigan, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, and Maryland. The top states for Hispanic student concentration are, in order: New York, Texas, New Jersey, California, and Illinois.
White children are also less likely to attend schools with minorities in these states.


Study: More Barriers Keep           Women Out of College than Men
WASHINGTON — If women don’t attend college, it’s usually because they can’t. Debt, children, age, and anxiety keep them away.
But men who go straight from high school into the work force tend to do so because they were “never that interested” in college, according to a study released last month by the American Association of University Women.
Of the 1,070 respondents to the group’s national telephone survey, women were more likely than men not to attend college because of their credit-card debt or lack of scholarships and other college aid. Other barriers to college cited in the study were the need to care for children and lack of support from spouses.
Researchers call the results evidence of the newest career track metaphor — “the spiral.”
“The spiral captures the likelihood that women will move in and out of formal education … by choice or necessity,” says AAUW President Maggie Ford.
The respondents, questioned in December 1998 and January 1999, represented three groups — high school to work, high school to college, and work to college. The margin of error is plus or minus 5 percentage points.
Women already in the work force were also six times more likely than their male counterparts to think they were too old (18 percent of women to 3 percent of men), even though over half of current first-time college enrollees are over 18.
Men, unlike women, the researchers said, based their decisions more on choice than need.
Of the respondents who went from high school to work, 85 percent of men said the move was “basically their own choice,” compared with 71 percent of women. And 26 percent of men said they were not that interested in college, compared with 15 percent of women.
Men were more likely than women to believe they could fare well without college degrees. And men were more positive about the work they were doing — 51 percent calling what they were doing a “career” rather than a “job.” Comparatively, 26 percent of women described their post-high school work as a “career” instead of a “job.”
But women were more likely to go to college for “personal enrichment” and interesting careers than men, who were more interested in getting the credential of a diploma.


Greek American May Sue Over Picnic’s Name
PHILADELPHIA — A lawyer representing several Greek American organizations says he will likely  file a lawsuit to stop organizers of an annual gathering of Black fraternities and sororities from using the name “Greek Picnic.”
“We’re still hoping [organizers] come to their senses and come to the table so we can discuss this,” Leonidas Koletas says. The lawyer for the Greek organizations adds that he has been trying to talk with the 25-year-old picnic’s sponsor, the Philadelphia Alumni Chapter of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, since September but only received a response early last month.
Greek American groups — claiming their heritage was being sullied because of the picnic’s confusing name — legally claimed the name “Greek Picnic” as their own. They say picnic organizers have ignored them and have continued to call their event by that name on its Web site and promotional materials. The city will officially refer to the event as the African American Fraternity and Sorority Weekend.
The picnic’s organizers denied stonewalling the ethnic Greek organizations and suggested the planned lawsuit was racially motivated.
During last year’s gathering, 13 young women said they had been sexually assaulted by groups of men. There also were reported skirmishes between picnickers and police at the event, which drew more than 175,000 people primarily from nine national Black fraternities and sororities. This year’s picnic is scheduled for July 24.
“We respect [the ethnic Greeks’] concerns because we’re concerned as well. We have been working for the last year to make sure this event is safe for everybody,” David Warren, the picnic’s co-chairman, says. (See Black Issues, June 24, 1999) “Everyone can see this is a racial issue. It sure seems like it to me, personally.”
“Race is definitely not an issue. The color of the people there has nothing to do with it. It is strictly about negative behavior,” says Marika Papouris Trizonis, president of the Federation of Hellenic American Societies of Philadelphia and the Greater Delaware Valley.     



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