This summer was a busy one for higher education. Here are six stories you should know about before diving into the fall semester.
1) The Trump administration is reconsidering policies on affirmative action: In early August, The New York Times reported on a Justice Department probe into race discrimination against white applicants in college admissions. The current precedent set by a 2016 Supreme Court decision states that race can be a single factor in “holistic” admissions, since diverse student bodies have educational value. A Justice Department spokesperson later said that the project grew out of a single complaint from Asian-American groups in 2015.
2) A Washington state school shut down due to protests over free speech: Protests over race and free speech took over the campus of Evergreen State College in May. Students who were unhappy with the University's handling of a disciplinary incident regarding black students, protested by publishing a list of professors they deemed racist, including 1991 College graduate Bret Weinstein. Protestors stormed his class and barricaded the library, prompting Weinstein to write an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal explaining himself and later file a $3.8 million tort claim.
3) Pennsylvania State University hazing: Penn State Beta Theta Pi member Tim Piazza died in February after wounds resulting from excessive drinking. The University has been struggling to find out who was responsible, and recently, the spotlight has turned to Tim Bream, the fraternity’s resident advisor. Defense attorneys hope to bring him to court, but he has not been responsive, according to a report from The Washington Post.
4) Students of Harvard's class of 2021 had their acceptances rescinded after sending memes: At least 10 members of Harvard’s class of 2021 had their admissions offers revoked after sending “sexually explicit memes and messages that sometimes targeted minority groups” in a private Facebook group chat, reported the Harvard Crimson.
5) Trump’s new National Labor Relations Board appointees threaten graduate students: President Trump has picked new appointees for the federal National Labor Relations Board, which is responsible for regulating unions and preventing unfair labor practices. His picks may tip the balance of the board back to a Republican majority, which is causing concern among graduate students who worry that the board may set back unionizing efforts. Just last August, the formerly Democrat-controlled NLRB ruled that private universities' graduate students are workers who can form labor unions.