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University News

This Week in Higher Ed: April 8, 2015

University News Editor
Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Rutgers temporarily bans Greek parties

Rutgers University barred all of its 86 fraternities and sororities from holding parties for the rest of the spring semester, the New York Times reported Tuesday. The ban follows “a number of alcohol-related incidents” tied to Greek life this semester, Rutgers Director of Media Relations E.J. Miranda said in a statement released Monday.

Rutgers’ Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs “is taking this step out of caution and concern and will use this time to continue and reinforce its dialogue with the leadership of the university’s 86 recognized fraternities and sororities about Greek life at Rutgers and their responsibilities to the campus community at large,” Miranda said.

A Rutgers student died of alcohol poisoning in September after attending a fraternity party, and the university also disbanded one of its fraternities last month after a student in Sigma Phi Epsilon was hospitalized for alcohol poisoning, the Times reported.

Greek organizations will still be permitted to host end-of-semester formals and “events where third-party vendors serve alcohol” but will face disciplinary action from the university for holding any other parties with alcohol service, the Times reported.

UVA editorial board blasts Rolling Stone

The Columbia School of Journalism released a report Sunday on Rolling Stone’s coverage of an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia chapter of the fraternity Phi Kappa Psi. The report, which appeared on Rolling Stone’s website, assesses a November article that has come under intense scrutiny for presenting fabricated information as fact and concluded that Rolling Stone’s errors  “encompassed reporting, editing, editorial supervision and fact-checking.”

But the managing board of the Cavalier Daily, UVA’s student newspaper, expressed dissatisfaction with the report, writing that it did not go far enough in censuring Rolling Stone’s reporting. The editorial slams the orginal story’s author, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, for relaying the inaccurate account of her main source, an anonymous student referred to as Jackie, as well as for selecting elements of UVA’s culture that present a lopsided picture of the school’s student body and administrators.

“The desire to portray rape at its most gruesome, and UVA at its most privileged, spilled over into Erdely’s descriptions of other elements of UVA, elements not necessarily connected to Jackie’s story,” the editorial states.

The Columbia report failed to recognize the breadth of these errors, the managing board alleged. “It is a dramatic oversimplification to reduce this article — which shook our university to its core — just to that one narrative,” the board wrote.

Syracuse foregoes fossil fuels

Syracuse University will divest from all fossil fuel stocks in its endowment, according to a March 31 university press release.

Syracuse’s endowment is the largest among American universities to be purged of all fossil fuel stocks, the New York Times reported. Other schools with larger endowments, such as Stanford University, have divested from coal but not other fossil fuels.

The move to divest follows intense pressure from student activists. In November, students staged an 18-day sit-in calling for fossil fuel divestment and other causes, the Times reported. One impetus for the change was ongoing dialogue with students in favor of divestment, exemplified by a February meeting with a student divestment organization, according to the press release.

“We have already had productive dialogue on divestment, and this step underscores our mutual commitment to acting in a way that supports the best interests of the University, our students and the world,” Bea González, dean of Syracuse’s University College and special assistant to the chancellor, said in the press release.

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