Higher Ed

This week in higher ed: Jan. 30, 2013

University News Editor
Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Coal divestment may pose little risk

A report from an investment management firm found that divesting from top fossil fuel companies would not pose a statistically significant risk to universities’ endowments, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported Tuesday.

As hundreds of student divestment movements around the country — including Brown’s Divest Coal Campaign — have urged, divesting from the “Filthy 15” fossil fuel companies would not change the value of universities’ investment portfolios, according to the report released by the Aperio Group.

The firm’s calculations determined that divesting from the publicly traded stocks of the 15 companies targeted by the divestment movement would burden universities with less than .001 percent additional risk, and excluding all fossil fuel companies would increase risk by about .01 percent, the Chronicle reported.

Hampshire College and Unity College took steps this year to diminish their investments in fossil fuel companies, but other universities have been more reluctant. The Herald reported last semester that Brown administrators said they were unsure whether the University has any holdings in the 15 companies.


Former admin alleges UNC underreported sexual assault cases

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s former assistant dean of students, Melinda Manning, filed a complaint to the U.S. Department of Education this month alleging that the university compelled her to underreport cases of sexual assault to the federal government, the Daily Tar Heel reported last week.

The complaint, filed by Manning along with several current and former students, claimed the University Counsel office pressured Manning to falsify the number of reported assaults in 2011 after the university reduced the 2010 number without her knowledge. The complaint claimed that Manning was told she would not be promoted because she had a young child and that she faced a hostile work environment, the Tar Heel reported.

The complaint also alleged that the school violated assault victims’ rights by providing an unsupportive atmosphere and, in one case, called a victim “lazy” for applying for medical leave, the Huffington Post reported. The complaint claimed violation of federal laws by several high-level university administrators.

Under the Clery Act, which impels universities to report crime data to the federal government, the school reported six sexual assault incidents in 2009, 19 in 2010 and 12 in 2011, the Tar Heel reported.


Northwestern group examines founder’s connection to massacre

Inspired in part by Brown’s Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice, a Northwestern University student group has stirred controversy by alleging that one of the school’s founders had a “political and moral role” in a Native American massacre, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported Sunday.

The university’s Native American and Indigenous Student Alliance is circulating a petition to denounce the actions of John Evans, a Northwestern founder and territorial governor of Colorado. The group said Evans was involved in a cover-up of the Sand Creek Massacre, an 1864 attack in which the Colorado Territory Militia slaughtered over 130 people in an Arapaho and Cheyenne camp, the Chronicle reported.

Northwestern sociology professor Gary Alan Fine, who helped lead the group’s effort, told the Chronicle Brown’s experience in examining nefarious aspects of its history provided “a successful model.”

“People at Brown — the students, faculty, administrators — came to recognize, with the leadership of President Ruth Simmons, that they needed to confront their past,” Fine told the Chronicle.