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Higher Ed roundup: Harvard faces backlash after controversial donation

Survivors detail experiences with Title IX policies at Princeton, faculty strike at Rutgers University

<p>Three unions at Rutgers University representing faculty, graduate students and postdocs reached a tentative agreement with the university after going on strike last week.</p>

Three unions at Rutgers University representing faculty, graduate students and postdocs reached a tentative agreement with the university after going on strike last week.

Content warning: This article includes references to sexual assault.

This month, Harvard accepted a controversial donation from a Republican mega-donor, and survivors of sexual assault at Princeton shared their experiences navigating the university’s Title IX processes. Meanwhile, unions at Rutgers reached a tentative agreement amid one of the largest strikes in higher education history.

Harvard faces criticism for accepting donation from Republican mega-donor

Harvard class of 1989 alum Kenneth Griffin recently made a $300 million donation to his alma mater, the university announced Tuesday. As a result, Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will be renamed after the billionaire hedge fund CEO, the Harvard Crimson reported.

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The donation has been criticized by students and Harvard faculty, with some suggesting that the university should have declined the money. Griffin donated almost $60 million to Republican candidates running for election in 2022. He is also a public supporter of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.

Some community members defended Griffin and his donation, telling the Crimson that a donor’s political views should not be considered. The gift is not the first time that Griffin has given to Harvard — according to the Crimson, he has donated over $500 million in total. 

Students detail experiences with Princeton’s Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy

At Princeton, students have raised concerns about the university’s Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy, the Daily Princetonian reported. Five survivors of sexual assault at Princeton detailed their experiences with the policy, including the dilemma of choosing between a formal process and an informal pathway wherein the parties “negotiate a mutual agreement.”

Survivors of sexual assault told the Princetonian that the complex formal process lasted months, included invasive questions from investigators and forced survivors to relive traumatic experiences through extensive hearings.

Since the alternate informal avenue was created in July 2020, most students going through the university’s Title IX process have chosen this route. Though the informal process is faster than the formal proceeding, it requires both the approval of the student filing the complaint and the alleged perpetrator and cannot lead to suspension or probation, according to the Princetonian. As a result, some students have said they were disappointed by the outcomes of their complaints.

Rutgers, unions at university reach tentative agreement amid weeklong strike

At Rutgers University, three unions representing part-time lecturers, full-time faculty, graduate workers and postdocs reached a tentative agreement with the university after a weeklong strike over a lack of progress made in contract negotiations.

The unions announced their intention to strike April 9 and demanded that the university agree to contracts that include higher salaries, guaranteed funding for graduate students and increased job security for part-time lecturers. The tentative agreement addresses many of these demands.

The strike was one of the largest in the history of American higher education, with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy personally intervening to stop the university from taking legal action against the work stoppage and help the parties reach a resolution.

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As the agreement awaits ratification by each of the unions, classes are set to resume April 17, according to an update on the Rutgers website. While the university said the strike officially concluded, the unions have referred to the agreement as a strike “suspension” — leaving open the possibility of resuming the strike should the parties fail to reach a resolution on other matters up for negotiation, the New York Times reported.

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Jacob Smollen

Jacob Smollen is a Metro editor covering city and state politics and co-editor of the Bruno Brief. He is a junior from Philadelphia studying International and Public Affairs.


Sam Levine

Sam Levine is a University News editor from Brooklyn, New York overseeing the staff and student labor and on-campus activism beats. He is a junior concentrating in International and Public Affairs.



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