University News

Higher Ed Roundup: Nov. 2, 2016

By
News Editor
Wednesday, November 2, 2016

‘Not your language’

A student at Suffolk University in Boston was accused of copying parts of an assigned literature review, prompting her to write a blog post on microaggressions that went viral, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. When the student, Tiffany Martinez, was called to the front of her senior seminar in order to receive her graded paper, the professor told her in front of the class, “This is not your language.” Martinez wrote in her blog post that the comment was not just a comment about plagiarism, but rather a comment based on her identity as a Latina. “As I stood in front of the class while a professor challenged my intelligence,” Martinez wrote, “I could just imagine (the professor) reading my paper in their home thinking, ‘Could someone like her write something like this?’” Since the incident Oct. 27, over 10,000 people have shared her post, and Suffolk’s acting president and acting provost sent out a campus-wide email stating that the university would investigate the incident.

Conflicting narratives

An assistant professor at New York University claims he was placed on paid leave by the university, though administrators say it was voluntary. The professor, Michael Rectenwald, started an anonymous Twitter account in September to argue against safe spaces and political correctness, though he later admitted to NYU’s student newspaper that he was behind the controversial tweets. Soon after, Rectenwald was called into a meeting with his department head and told that people had expressed concern about his mental health, claiming his Twitter comments were a cry for help. “Then they said I should leave and get help,” Rectenwald told the New York Post. But John Beckman, a university spokesman, said Rectenwald’s leave was voluntary. “His leave has absolutely nothing to do with his Twitter account or his opinions on issues of the day,” Beckman wrote in an email to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Honor code and sexual assault

Brigham Young University announced this week that it would grant amnesty to students who break of BYU’s honor code when reporting cases of sexual violence, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. The strict code includes bans on extramarital sex, alcohol and drug use and being in the bedroom of a member of the opposite sex, leading to conflicting incentives when students seek to file reports of sexual assault that include honor code violations. The university has faced sharp criticism in the past for investigating such students, which led to the new immunity clause. “If victims don’t report, we can’t help them, we can’t provide services, and we also can’t identify perpetrators,” Julie Valentine, an assistant professor of nursing, told the Chronicle. The university also seeks to further disentangle the Honor Code Office from the Title IX Office, which handles sexual assault. “There were some perceptions about how the Honor Code Office and the Title IX Office shared information,” Janet Scharman, vice president for student life at BYU, told the Chronicle. “If perceptions were keeping people from reporting, we wanted to eliminate anything that would get in the way of that.”