Philosophical ruminations.
March 31 1999 3:30 AM

News from academe.


Segregation Today, Segregation Tomorrow


Boston College administrators may force feminist theologian Mary Daly to admit men into her classroom. For 25 years, Daly has preached her brand of mystical feminism and revolution against the patriarchy to an all-female audience. Most men stayed away, and those who enrolled were assigned to a special section. But last fall, a male student enlisted the support of a conservative law firm and threatened to sue under discrimination law after Daly ejected him and another male from her classroom. Rather than admit the men to "Introduction to Feminist Ethics," Daly took the semester off, accused the school of "caving into right-wing pressure," and refused the retirement package offered by the Jesuit school. Institutions find themselves increasingly under legal scrutiny for supporting race and gender preferences. Last month, Dartmouth College announced that it will no longer tolerate single-sex policies at the school's fraternities and sororities, while Radcliffe College said it would encourage more men to apply for its prestigious Bunting Institute fellowships. Meanwhile, federal courts continue to debate whether the National Collegiate Athletic Association should be subject to federal sex discrimination laws.

The Presidents of the United States of America

College presidents can now be hired from a temp agency. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Florida-based Registry for College and University Presidents maintains a list of 55 retired college presidents who are ready to lead academic institutions around the country on an interim basis. Robert Funk, the former president of a Seattle college, is already finishing up his second assignment.


Book Bind

Looking for a book? Don't go to East Lansing, Mich. Michigan State University's Movimiento Estudantil Xicano de Aztlan (Chicano Student Movement) took 4,500 university library books hostage for a day and presented the administration with a list of demands that included asking the university to inaugurate a Hispanic studies major, hire more Hispanic faculty, introduce dormitory "culture rooms" devoted to Latino themes, and name a building after Cesar Chavez. Will booknappings catch on? When Columbia University undergraduates wanted an ethnic studies major a couple of years ago, they held a successful hunger strike on campus. It remains to be seen whether hoarding books will prove as effective as self-starvation.

Surrender Your Right to Party

Universities are playing parent again, reported the New York Times this month: Pennsylvania State University now hosts an alcohol-free student center that features adult-supervised weekend parties; the University of Wisconsin has started theater outings for students and staff; the University of Virginia may start telling parents of student drinking violations; Lehigh University prohibits campus parties without a staff member or approved adult in attendance; and after 10 students suffered alcohol poisoning in January, Princeton University banned its annual Nude Olympics, in which students streak naked through campus on the night of the year's first snowfall. According to the Times, the crackdowns represent the biggest shift in campus social policy since the '60s student revolts ushered in laissez-faire attitudes. Both ends of the political spectrum seem to favor the trend. The Chronicle of Higher Education attributes the increase enrollment at Christian colleges--up 24 percent between 1990 and 1996--partly to parents' concerns about binge drinking and other behaviors at public institutions. Meanwhile, in a Times op-ed, libertarian feminist Katie Roiphe declared herself in favor of "establishing a benign and diffuse adult presence" on campus.

Block Busting

Washington's new mayor, Anthony A. Williams, wants to move the beleaguered University of the District of Columbia from its affluent Northwest Washington digs to Anacostia, the District's poorest and most isolated area. The school's poor academic record has made it a frequent target of critics but, according to the Washington Post, Williams still believes it can become a magnet for economic development in its new location. UDC President Julius Nimmons Jr. worries that the move will demoralize a school, which, like the District itself, is just beginning to recover from a fiscal crisis. Other critics add that the university's current presence in Northwest gives many Washingtonians a valuable opportunity to leave their troubled neighborhoods behind.