University News

This Week in Higher Ed: Nov. 7, 2013

By
University News Editor
Thursday, November 7, 2013

Turkey bans mixed-gender university housing

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared in a speech Tuesday that he will not allow male and female university students to live in the same dorms, the Wall Street Journal reported this week.

Mixed-gender university dorms and private houses will be forbidden under the new restrictions. Erdogan said Turkish intelligence services will use surveillance to detect violations and report them to regional governors.

Erdogan argued the change will better align colleges’ housing accommodations with Turkish values, but liberal opponents lambasted the announcement as excessive state interference that forces Islamic principles on all Turks.

The ban comes after significant national unrest following protests in Istanbul’s Gezi Park that rocked the country this summer. Protesters’ grievances against the government began with concerns over razing a public park but grew to encompass demands that Erdogan ease up on his increasingly conservative and Islamic policies.

The Turkish constitution contains both a guarantee of individuals’ rights to privacy and permission for the government to breach those rights in certain scenarios, including protecting “public morality,” the Journal reported.

Erdogan said the shift to eliminate mixed-gender university housing in Turkey is about three-quarters complete.

 

‘Blurred Lines’ stirs controversy in United Kingdom 

Roughly 20 British universities have banned Robin Thicke’s hit pop song “Blurred Lines” from their student union bars over concerns that the song promotes rape culture and sexist messages, the Telegraph reported Wednesday.

Many high-profile universities, including the University of Edinburgh, have either banned the song explicitly or asked bars not to play it.

The University of Exeter did not ban “Blurred Lines,” but its Students’ Guild issued a statement condemning it.

“A song that implies a woman is ‘an animal’ and who ‘wants it’ because of the way she is dressed is not acceptable,” the statement read. “The language within the lyrics and the images within the promotional video are utterly degrading to the female subject. Any song that expresses an author’s frustration at ‘being sick of blurred lines’ is beyond unacceptable.”

Thicke has said publicly that people who think his song endorses rape are misconstruing its intent, and some commentators have argued that a different reading of the lyrics could actually show them to be feminist.