University News

This Week in Higher Ed: March 4, 2015

By , and
Senior Staff Writers
Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Erskine College clarifies anti-gay statement

Erskine College, a private Christian college in Due West, South Carolina released a follow-up statement Friday clarifying its controversial Feb. 20 statement decried same-sex and extramarital sexual relationships on campus, the Washington Post reported Friday.

The college issued the document, entitled “Statement on Human Sexuality,” in the wake of a 2014 article on the website Outsports in which two male Erskine volleyball players came out as gay. The statement may be used to shape Erskine’s future policies.

Erskine, which was founded by the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, clarified Friday that the document will not be used to ban individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender from attending the college.

UNC reacts to poverty center closure

The University of North Carolina Board of Governors voted to close three research centers, including the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Friday, the New York Times reported Saturday.

The board asserted that the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity had a focus on advocacy work that was not appropriate for a center affiliated with a university, the Huffington Post reported.

Students and faculty members protested the shutdown of the poverty-focused think tank at the Board of Governors meeting, claiming the move was politically driven. 

Gene Nichol, head of the poverty center, said the decision may have come in response to his criticism of the North Carolina state legislature and Governor Pat McCrory. These actions include new voting restrictions, the rejection of Medicaid expansion and a reduction in unemployment benefits.

“Were I to have praised the legislature’s war on poor people rather than decry it, the board would have placed laurels on my head instead of boots on my neck,” Nichol wrote in a statement about the closure of the center, which receives no state funding.

About two dozen protesters came to the Board of Governors meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina to challenge the decision. Campus police at UNC Chapel Hill were called in to escort protesters out of the meeting after the disruption, the Huffington Post wrote.

Proposed sexual assault bill altered

A committee of senators sponsoring the Campus Accountability and Safety Act has made several changes to the legislation, with the goal of strengthening the rights of students accused of sexual assault and reducing the burden on colleges, the Huffington Post reported Friday.

Changes to the legislation include instituting a 24-hour notification deadline for involved parties before a disciplinary hearing can proceed, altering language surrounding students accused of sexual assault, clarifying the role of the adviser to complainants and reducing the frequency of mandatory sexual assault surveys, Inside Higher Ed reported Friday. Fines paid by colleges that do not comply with CASA’s regulations would go into a fund to help colleges fight sexual assault, rather than going directly to the Department of Education.

The bipartisan committee made the changes in response to feedback from advocates for accused students, sexual assault survivors, college administrators and law enforcement officers. The legislation has been met with both praise and criticism, Inside Higher Ed reported.