In Brief: South African Dorm in Racist Video Site For New Diversity Center - Higher Education
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In Brief: South African Dorm in Racist Video Site For New Diversity Center

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by Associated Press

South African University Dorm Involved In Racist Video To Become Diversity Center

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa

A college dormitory at the center of a video in which Black workers were forced to eat food they believed was tainted with White students’ urine will be shut down next month, university officials said Tuesday.

The Reitz men’s dorm in Bloemfontein will reopen later as an institute dedicated to diversity, said Teuns Verschoor, acting rector of the University of the Free State.

The dorm was the setting for a video showing four women and a man on their knees eating food they were told was tainted with urine. The video, which surfaced in February, exposed the lingering deep racial tensions in South Africa.

Four White students accused of involvement denied urinating on the food but face criminal proceedings. Two had already left the university when the video surfaced; two others have apologized and since have left the University of the Free State.

Verschoor said closing the dorm was an “important gesture of reconciliation.”

Wake Forest Joins Schools Dropping SAT Requirement

RALEIGH, N.C.

Wake Forest University will no longer require applicants to take the SAT and ACT exams, boosting a movement to lessen the importance of standardized tests in college admissions.

The Winston-Salem school, which admitted just 38 percent of its 9,000 applicants for this fall, is the latest in a string of colleges that no longer require standardized tests. Officials there say the scores are not the best predictor of academic potential.

Most other colleges that have dropped standardized testing have not been highly selective and accept most, if not all, qualified applicants. The most prominent and selective schools have generally continued to use the tests as one of several admissions criteria.

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The announcement Tuesday from Wake Forest on the heels of a similar decision this month by Smith College in Massachusetts adds two more selective colleges to the movement.

Wake Forest said it was the first of the top 30 schools in the annual U.S. News & World Report college rankings to drop the tests.

Director of Admissions Martha Allman said she has seen students at the top of their class who excelled but did poorly on the SAT and didn’t get in. The school, which did away with the testing requirement while examining how to diversify the student population, will instead place more emphasis on personal interviews, academics and extracurricular activities. Students can still have their test scores considered if they want.

“We in admissions have put up a barrier to these students to say all of your hard work and all of your academic achievement is being negated by one test, and we don’t feel like that is fair,” Allman said. “And it’s not fair, especially if the studies are showing it’s not a good predictor.”

Alana Klein, a spokeswoman for the College Board, which owns the SAT, said there is not a trend toward schools doing away with standardized tests. She said smaller schools are opting not to weigh SAT or ACT scores because they can take a more holistic approach to admissions, not because of concerns that, as some critics contend, minority and low-income students are at a disadvantage.

“The SAT is a fair test,” she said.

Despite the latest announcements, independent college admissions consultant Steven Roy Goodman said it is unlikely that most highly selective colleges will stop using standardized tests.

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“As much as many people in the university world support the movement toward optional testing, it’s very difficult to assess the quality of courses in high schools around the country and around the world, and to reconcile the different grading systems, and to take into account the grade inflation that we’ve seen in many schools throughout the United States,” he said.

A Professor Whose Wife Died in Virginia Tech Shootings To Head New Peace Center

ROANOKE, Va.

A Virginia Tech professor who lost his wife in a mass shooting there last year will head a new peace center in the classroom wing where she died, the university announced Tuesday.

Dr. Jerzy Nowak will step down as head of the Blacksburg school’s horticulture department July 1 to become director of the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention, Provost Mark McNamee said.

Nowak became an advocate for the center after student gunman Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people on April 16, 2007, then took his own life. His wife, French instructor Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, was among 25 students and five faculty members killed in Norris Hall, where the center will be based.

“I’m actually looking forward to this next step in my career,” Nowak said. “It gives me a lot of focus.”

Nowak said the center will be located in another building for about eight months while renovations are completed in a second-floor classroom wing. After the shootings, the school vowed never to use the space for general classes.

The school will offer a minor in peace studies. Nowak said his goal is to integrate applied sciences such as engineering and agriculture with the humanities to address community needs such as health care, energy and food.

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The center’s first effort will be to expand a violence prevention program at a juvenile detention center in Danville.

Nowak, a native of Sompolno, Poland, has been at Virginia Tech for eight years. He has also taught and done research in Germany, Nigeria and Canada.

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