Who Is Michael Morell? The Harvard Fellow Resigned To Protest Chelsea Manning

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By Emma Kerr for Bustle – Michael Morell, a former CIA deputy director, resigned from his Harvard fellowship because the university appointed Chelsea Manning to one as well. Harvard announced on Wednesday Manning would be added as a fellow to the school’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, citing her network security expertise and activism for transgender rights on Twitter. In response, Morell sent a letter of resignation to Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf that read: I cannot be part of an organization — The Kennedy School — that honors convicted felon and leaker of classified information. Manning served seven years in prison after being convicted in 2013 for releasing confidential military documents and sentenced to 35 years in prison. She was pardoned by former President Barack Obama in January. In his resignation, Morell, who was twice acting director of the CIA, said he believes the country should “stand up against any efforts to justify leaks of sensitive national security information.” He wrote: Senior leaders in our military have stated publicly that the leaks by Ms. Manning put the lives of U.S. soldiers at risk. As an institution, the Kennedy School’s decision will assist Ms. Manning in her log-standing efforts to legitimize the criminal path that she took to prominence, an attempt that may encourage others to leak classified information as well.

UB Students Protest Commencement Speaker Betsy DeVos

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By Elizabeth Janney for Baltimore Batch – Students last week were also protesting against DeVos at another campus, this time in Arlington, Virginia, where the education secretary announced plans to roll back Title IX guidelines regarding sexual assault. Under the Obama administration guidelines, schools were told to use the lowest standard of proof, called “preponderance of the evidence,” in prosecuting sexual assault cases. In an address at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School last week, DeVos said colleges must raise the burden of proof in order to protect the rights of both victims and those that they accuse because “the system established by the prior administration has failed too many students.” Said DeVos: “Any perceived offense can become a full-blown Title IX investigation, but if everything is harassment, then nothing is harassment.” Her statement drew criticism for equating the harm done to falsely accused students with the suffering of assault survivors. The University of Baltimore stood by its decision to invite DeVos to speak at the fall commencement, issuing this statement on Facebook…

Time For Revolt On US Universities

Graduate workers rally for a fair contract at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (TAA - Graduate Worker Union of UW-Madison | Facebook)

By Molly Mapstone for Socialist Worker – AS STUDENTS and faculty arrive on campuses in the coming days and weeks, they will face increased austerity, as university administrations prioritize profit over education, and corporate interests over the people who learn and work there. At the University of Wisconsin (UW)-Madison, there are several important and diverse struggles on the horizon that will shape how we take on the neoliberal university and how we build the solidarity we need among students, faculty and campus workers. Members of the Teaching Assistants’ Association (TAA), which represents graduate student employees, are in a fight for the life of their union, as the administration seeks to gut their ability to organize their co-workers. Last semester, the university police pulled a Black student from a Black Visual Culture class and arrested him, for allegedly painting anti-racist graffiti in response to racism on campus. Sexual assaults are on the rise at UW, with no clear plan from the university to take action. State legislators threaten the accreditation of the medical school with no push back from the university administration.

DeVos Embrace Of Predatory For-Profit Colleges Is Breathtaking

President-elect Donald Trump and his pick for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos. (Photo: Shutterstock)

By David Halperin for Republic Report – Betsy DeVos, whose interest in education prior to the Trump administration seemed mostly focused on K-12 schools, has made her mark as Secretary of Education instead with a remarkably blatant embrace of the worst demands of the for-profit college industry. The reputation of that industry, which at its peak a few years ago had 10 percent of U.S. college students and was getting as much as $32 billion a year from taxpayers in student grants and loans, was in tatters after a decade of government and media investigations exposing abusive practices by many for-profit schools: deceptive and coercive student recruiting, sky-high prices, low spending on instruction, and terrible job placement outcomes, leaving former students across America with crushing loan debt and often without the jobs they sought. But instead of continuing the Obama Administration’s increasingly determined efforts to protect students and taxpayers by holding predatory for-profit schools accountable, which was beginning to push schools to improve their ethics and quality…

Why This Temple Student Is Organizing A March For Black Women: ‘They Matter’

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India Fenner, 19, is organizing a march for black women.

By Sofiya Ballin for Philly.com The message is fitting. It was Malcolm who said: “The most disrespected woman in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.” Those words replay in Fenner’s head as she plans her first march, “A March for Black Women,” scheduled to take place Friday. Demonstrators will set out at 1 p.m. from City Hall to Cecil B. Moore Avenue to celebrate and highlight the diversity of black women and honor black women who were victims of police brutality. Fenner is spreading word of the march through social media and hopes to have a large turnout of women — and men. The 19-year-old Temple University sophomore and Philadelphia native said it’s to “celebrate black women for who they are and not what the media wants them to be.” “I’ve been to plenty of marches for black men who have been harassed or killed by police,” she said. “But when I went to one for Sandra Bland, it was very small.” In 2015, Bland, a 28-year-old black woman, died in police custody after being arrested during a traffic stop in Texas. Fenner also recalled that in 2016, Korryn Gaines, 23, was shot by police in her Baltimore home with her 5-year-old son close by. But, she said, “nobody was marching.”

“Free Speech” Bills Could Chill Campus Activism Nationwide

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By Brad Poling for Occupy – Universities across the country may be on the precipice of a new era in activism, politics and – in the most basic sense – expression. Motivated in part by recent high-profile protests against controversial speakers, at least 10 states are currently considering some variation of a bill proposed by the conservative Goldwater Institute that would implement punitive measures for students involved in protests on campuses. The bill also curtails public universities’ ability to take a stand on “controversial” issues – without providing a lot of guidance about what exactly these controversies may include. The states proposing the bill – California, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin and North Carolina – have introduced slight variations of the original into their statehouses. But each bill is marked by gray areas and vague uncertainties that pose a serious threat to the very thing they seek to defend: free speech. For example, take Wisconsin’s bill, the Campus Free Speech Act. Considering how smoothly the legislation progressed through the state’s Republican-dominated Assembly, it has generated a fair amount of confusion as to how exactly the law would work.

18 States And D.C. Sue Betsy DeVos Over For-Profit College Loan Rules

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By Lydia O’Connor for The Huffington Post – Eighteen states and the District of Columbia are suing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos over her decision to suspend a rule that helps student loan borrowers who were defrauded by for-profit colleges. The lawsuit, filed Thursday in federal district court in Washington, D.C., was led by Massachusetts and joined by 18 other attorneys general. It takes aim at DeVos’ decision to freeze an Obama-era rule known as the “borrower defense to repayment,” which helped forgive student loan debt for people whose for-profit colleges closed amid fraud accusations, leaving students without degrees and with piles of debt. “Across the US, students and families are drowning in unaffordable student loan debt while predatory, for-profit schools rake it in,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey tweeted.

This Former Inmate Is Fighting For Every Prisoner’s Right To A College Degree

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By Victoria Law for Narratively – As Cheryl Wilkins accepted her college diploma, hundreds of women screamed her name and whooped with joy. They were so loud that Wilkins’ brother, sitting with his four-year-old daughter, couldn’t hear the girl cheering, “Auntie! Auntie!” Other family members were even more enthusiastic. When another woman’s name was called, her six-year-old daughter grabbed her hand and dragged her to the stage. “Come on Mama, get your degree!” Wilkins remembers the girl shouting. “Her daughter took the diploma and walked off the stage with it.” Once the ceremony was over, the pictures taken and the food eaten, the mood turned tearful. Wilkins’ niece sobbed as her father led her away. “I want Auntie to come with us!” she cried. Other children screamed as family members pried them from their mothers’ arms. The visitors left through one exit and the women, many in tears, through another. The afternoon ended with all of the women being strip searched, the required practice after any contact with outsiders. This was no ordinary college graduation. The ceremony took place at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, New York’s maximum-security prison for women.

A Case For Reparations At The University Of Chicago

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By Guest Poster for Black Perspectives – Julia Leakes yearned to be reunited with her family. In 1853, her two sisters showed up for sale along with her thirteen nieces and nephews in Lawrence County, Mississippi. Julia used all the political capital an enslaved woman could muster to negotiate the sale of her loved ones to her owner, Stephen A. Douglas. Douglas’s semi-literate white plantation manager told him “[y]our negros begs for you to b[u]y them.” Despite assurances that this would “be a good arrangement,” Douglas refused to shuffle any of his 140+ slaves to reunite this separated slave family. Instead, Julia’s siblings, nieces, and nephews were put on the auction block where they vanished from the historical record.1 Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse for Julia. By 1859, she had a 1 in 3 chance of being worked to death under Douglas’s new overseer in Washington County, Mississippi. Douglas’s mistreatment of his slaves became notorious. According to one report, slaves on the Douglas plantation were kept “not half fed and clothed.”2 In another, Dr. Dan Brainard from Rush Medical College stated that Douglas’s slaves were subjected to “inhuman and disgraceful treatment” deemed so abhorrent that even other slaveholders in Mississippi branded Douglas “a disgrace to all slave-holders and the system that they support.”3

Yale Graduate Teachers Launch Hunger Strike Over Bid To Unionize

Yale University graduate teachers protest the administration’s refusal to negotiate with them over labor conditions. (Photo: : Local 33 – UNITE HERE/Facebook)

By Roqayah Chamseddine for Mint Press News – Graduate teachers at Yale University decided to unionize on February 23, after a vote by secret ballot administered by the National Labor Relations Board. They are now being stonewalled by an administration that refuses to negotiate with them. In light of the university’s rejection of first contract negotiations, graduate teachers launched an indefinite fast aimed at pressing the administration into negotiations. One of the teachers taking part in the fast is Emily Sessions, a graduate teacher at Yale from the History of Art Department. Sessions told Shadowproof that they began fasting on April 25 “because we have waited for years for the Yale administration to come to the negotiating table.” The Yale administration has kept them waiting. “So we decided to wait without eating,” Sessions said. All those taking part committed to fasting until the Yale administration agreed to negotiate, “unless a doctor said they are at risk of permanent damage to their health.” Some teachers, including Sessions, went as long as 14 days without eating or drinking anything but water. Sessions indicated on May 22 they celebrated the breaking of the fast with “thousands” of allies in “a Commencement Day demonstration.” The message of the demonstration was this is “just the beginning, Yale.”

Fresno State Cancels A Middle East Studies Professorship Amid Alleged Right-Wing Pro-Israel Pressure

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By Murtaza Hussain for The Intercept – LATE LAST YEAR, the California State University at Fresno began soliciting applicants for a newly created Edward Said Professorship in Middle East Studies, a teaching role named after the late Palestinian-American public intellectual. In a job posting, the school described the role as a “tenure-track, academic-year position” teaching courses on the Middle East and helping develop the school curriculum on the region. Said was famously known as an advocate of Palestinian nationalism in the United States as well as the author of the groundbreaking work of cultural criticism “Orientalism.” Last week, however, after months of evaluating candidates, Fresno State abruptly announced that it would not be filling the role this year. While the school cited “procedural errors” as a reason for the cancellation, academics at the school, including one professor who resigned in protest, are claiming that the school is engaging in an act of academic censorship. In a resignation letter issued last week, Vida Samiian, the longtime dean of Fresno State’s College of Arts and Humanities, said that a pressure campaign had targeted the search committee for the professorship, and that the school had balked at having four Arab-American finalists for the role.

 A Lynching On The University Of Maryland Campus

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By Dave Zirin for The Nation – Richard Collins III was about to graduate from Bowie State University on Tuesday. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Army. He was airborne certified. He was a son, a friend, and active in his church. To Sean Urbanski, a University of Maryland student, he was black. At around 3 am on Saturday, May 20, Collins waited for an Uber ride along with two friends who were students at UMD at an on-campus bus stop. Urbanski walked up to them, and, according to witnesses, said, “Step left, step left if you know what’s best for you.” Collins simply replied, “No.” He stood his ground. Urbanski then stabbed him in the chest and fled the scene. Collins died at the hospital. Make no mistake about it—this was a lynching, a lynching committed by a UMD student. A lynching 10 minutes from my damn house. Urbanski, as has been widely reported, is a member of a racist Facebook group called “Alt-Reich: Nation.” But that’s also not all he is. He’s a college student who grew up in the leafy suburban environs of Severna Park, Maryland. He hung out at Adele H. Stamp Student Union, studied at McKeldin Library, and wore his Baltimore Ravens gear around campus. He was not an interloper or an outsider. He is a homegrown terrorist who grew out of the soil of this college campus

Bernie’s Tuition Plan Is Doomed To Fail — Everyone Knows, No One Cares

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By Alan Collinge for The Hill – Bernie Sanders unveiled his free-tuition plan this week. The plan, which would eliminate tuition charges for undergraduate students whose families earn less than $125,000 annually, looks much like the proposal from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and also like Hillary Clinton’s revised plan from 2015. Sanders’s plan would provide $47 billion to states to cover “tuition and fees” at public colleges with the requirement that states come up with the remaining $23 billion, thus making public college tuition-free. While Sanders’s plan certainly does dedicate far more money (per student) than Cuomo’s or Clinton’s plans would, it’s ultimately doomed to fail — just like Clinton’s plan and Cuomo’s plan.

Profit Making Colleges That Loaded Students With Debt, Now In Government

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By Annie Waldman for Pro Publication – Taylor Hansen lobbied to weaken regulation of for-profit colleges. Since he joined the Education Department, it’s started doing just that. Until June 2016, Taylor Hansen lobbied for the largest trade group of for-profit colleges. At the forefront of its agenda: eliminating a rule known as “gainful employment,” which can take away federal funding from for-profit colleges if their graduates fail to earn enough to repay student loans. Last week, that goal started to become a reality. The U.S. Department of Education delayed the deadline for colleges to comply with certain provisions of gainful employment, saying it plans to review the rule.

Billionaires Funding Plot To Destroy Dissent And Protest In Colleges Across U.S.

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By Alex Kotch for AlterNet – As far-right speakers face loud student opposition at their university speaking gigs, conservative lawmakers in several states are introducing legislation that cracks down on protesters. As uncovered by UnKoch My Campus’ Ralph Wilson, numerous states have borrowed their so-called “campus free speech” bills from the rightwing Goldwater Institute, which is funded by conservative plutocrats including Charles Koch and the Mercer family. The intent of these bills isn’t to protect student speech; it’s actually to suppress it in favor of guest speakers who, at times, support white nationalism, LGBTQ discrimination and other hateful worldviews.