BI News BriefsJune 24, 1999 |
Badillo Appointed to Chair CUNY’s Board
NEW YORK — Herman Badillo, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s top education adviser, has been named the next chairman of the board of the City University of New York, the nation’s largest urban university system. Gov. George Pataki appointed him late last month.
“Herman Badillo and the governor share a commitment to higher standards and to insuring that a CUNY diploma is respected and sought after by graduates and employers alike,” says Michael McKeon, a spokesman for Pataki. “The governor is confident that Herman Badillo will challenge the defenders of the status quo to make the kind of changes necessary to improve CUNY.”
Badillo, a native of Puerto Rico who was a Democratic congressman and aide to Mayor Edward Koch before he changed parties to become a Republican, is no stranger to CUNY. As one of its graduates, he led a charge last year to scale back the university’s remedial education programs and remove low-performing students from its 11 senior colleges (see Black Issues, June 11, 1998). He has been vice chairman of the CUNY board of trustees since 1997.
“College should be for college work,” Badillo told the Daily News. “We have to get back to having … high standards.”
“There is no one who understands the need for higher standards and reforming the American educational system better than Herman Badillo,” Giuliani says. “In fact, he was one of the first people to alert the public to the dangers of social promotion.”
Badillo fills the post vacated by Anne Paolucci, who resigned as chairwoman of CUNY’s board last week. He is expected to carry out the recommendations of a Giuliani-assembled taskforce’s report on CUNY that was released earlier this month. That report recommends that CUNY’s senior colleges be divided into three groups with progressively tougher admissions requirements, and that it reshape its open admissions policy in favor of requiring tests like the SAT.
But City Councilman Guillermo Linares warns that if the report’s recommendations are implemented, they “will guarantee a permanent underclass in the city.”
Community College Hit With
Another Discrimination Suit
BATON ROUGE, La. — According to a federal lawsuit filed late last month, Black instructors at Baton Rouge Community College do less than other instructors, get paid more, get their schedules earlier, and get preference for committee appointments and other assignments which can provide additional pay — all this in violation of the court order under which BRCC was created.
Jane Medver Holden, Laura Alford, Mary Angel Blount, Fernando Figeroa, and Jeff Smith filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court. They want money and a court order forbidding further discrimination at BRCC.
The defendants — like those in a similar lawsuit filed in March (see Black Issues, May 13, 1999) — are the boards of supervisors for Louisiana State University and Southern University, which jointly oversee the college, and BRCC Chancellor Marion Bonaparte. They accuse Bonaparte of trying to intimidate them and other non-Black employees, and of giving them inappropriate evaluations.
Bonaparte says he had not seen the complaint but denies any discrimination. He says he’ll fight the claim.
Attorney David Shelby, who represents the community college and the LSU and Southern boards in the civil rights suit filed in March by former English teacher Lisa Morales, would not comment on the most recent case. He does say, however, that the allegations of unfair employment practices are being investigated by a joint task force formed by the LSU and Southern University systems.
The new suit says college administrators have “engaged in racially discriminatory practices in hiring, promotion, salary determination, and other terms and conditions of employment for faculty and staff.”
The plaintiffs claim those practices violate the consent decree in the federal suit that set up the college. That decree derived from a lawsuit that asserted that the state’s public colleges were segregated.
The discrimination also has kept more qualified people from joining the faculty and has jeopardized the college’s accreditation, the suit says.
The five teachers claim discrimination has affected teaching assignments and faculty rankings. Out of 19 people who have quit BRCC, only two were Black, the plaintiffs say, adding that 15 were White women.
Plan Designed to Minimize Trouble
at Greek Picnic
PHILADELPHIA — Organizers of the city’s controversial Greek Picnic are planning ahead to promote the event as safe and family-oriented in hopes of avoiding a repeat of the violence and sexual harassment alleged last year.
The National Pan-Hellenic Council, which sponsors the annual gathering of Black fraternities and sororities, has developed a plan designed to eliminate the types of incidents that marred the 1998 celebration, a 25-year Philadelphia tradition.
The July 24 event will be “a zero-tolerance zone” for unruly behavior, says Gregory Wright, president of the Philadelphia Alumni Chapter of the National Pan-Hellenic Council. Under the plan, members of the Greek-letter organizations will serve as “deputies,” working alongside police to keep behavior in check.
Additionally, participants can attend an after-party celebration at the convention center instead of milling around on crowded South Street. And older alumni will be encouraged to bring their children.
During last year’s event, 13 young women said they had been sexually assaulted by groups of men. There also were reports of skirmishes between picnic-goers and police at the event, which drew more than 175,000 African American fraternity and sorority members.
“We’re going to do whatever we can to make sure the participants are safe,” Wright says. “Our own pride and reputation depend on this.”
The Greek deputies and police stationed at the park will attend a June 14 sensitivity training session. According to Kevin Feeley, a spokesman for Mayor Ed Rendell, the deputies will help lessen tensions between picnic-goers and police.
“If there is a potential for trouble, the first contact will be with someone less threatening than someone in uniform,” Feeley says.
The picnic culminates a week of activities beginning July 18 that will include worship services, a basketball tournament, and poetry readings. Last year, the picnic pumped about $24 million into the local economy, city tourism officials say.
Chicanos/Latinos Responsible for Improving Minority Numbers at UC
BERKELEY, Calif. — The number of underrepresented minorities entering the University of California this fall has slightly increased, an upturn credited to strong recruitment and a more comprehensive application review. However, Black and Chicano/Latino enrollment at Berkeley and UCLA still lag significantly behind where they were prior to Proposition 209.
Most of the gains in the second year without affirmative action were made by Chicano and Latino students, who together will make up 9.1 percent of the system’s overall enrollment, compared to 8.9 percent last year.
The number of Black students who are expected to enroll was virtually unchanged, from 751 to 755, but the expected Chicano/Latino enrollment rose from 3,190 last fall to 3,391, an increase of 6 percent. American Indians, also considered an underrepresented minority, showed a decrease in expected enrollment — from 200 to 148, a drop of 26 percent. Overall, underrepresented minorities make up 15.4 percent of the 27,800 students who plan to attend this fall.
At the same time, the proportion of Asian Americans has increased to 37.7 percent, up from 35.2 percent last year. White students also increased to 37.7 percent, 3.7 percent higher than last year. These figures reflect the number of admitted students who have indicated they plan to accept their offers.
UC regents voted in 1995 to abolish race-based admissions. The changes went into effect for undergraduates in the fall of 1998, leading to sharp decreases in Black and Hispanic admissions.
But this year, Black and Chicano/Latino admissions have improved. Admissions of Blacks, Chicano/Latinos, and American Indians fell only 27 students short of the total for fall 1997, the last year of affirmative action.
Although overall numbers were up, the percentage of underrepresented minorities accepting offers of admission dipped slightly — from 57 percent last year to just under 56 percent this year.
Looking at individual campuses, results were mixed. At Berkeley, for instance, the number of Black students intending to enroll rose from 95 to 111, up 17 percent, and the number of Chicano/Latinos expected to enroll rose from 264 to 321, up 22 percent. The number of Black freshman registered to enrolled at Berkeley in the fall of 1997 was 260 and Chicano/Latinos was 492. Compared to 1998, this year’s numbers were also up slightly at UCLA, with underrepresented students rising from 594 to 629, an increase of 6 percent.
But other campuses posted slight decreases in enrollment. At San Diego, statements of intent to enroll were filed by 297 underrepresented students, a 2.9 percent decrease from last year.
Judge Backs Dismissal of Professor Who Barred Males from Class
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A Boston College professor who barred male students from her classes on feminism remains out of a job following a judge’s ruling.
At issue in a Middlesex Superior Court hearing last month was whether Dr. Mary Daly’s classes should be listed in next semester’s course roster. College officials had refused to include them, citing a school policy of keeping all courses open to both men and women. The judge said the school was within its rights.
“A professor’s defiance of that policy — in this case, a vehement and very public defiance — would give the school ample grounds for her termination,” Judge Martha Sosman wrote in her decision.
Daly, 70, known for works including Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism and Outercourse, claims the Jesuit-run school pushed her out when threatened with a lawsuit by a male student. The school says she retired when she was ordered to teach men.
When she first arrived at Boston College in 1966, Daly taught only men because the school of arts and sciences didn’t admit women until 1970. Soon after, Daly said, she found that men and women in feminist courses didn’t mix. So she barred men from her seminars, although she said she has taught some two dozen men in one-on-one seminars.
When men are in a class with women, she said before her court hearing began, “the dynamic is totally interrupted.”
The litigation originated last fall, when senior Duane Naquin accused the school of discrimination after being kept out of Daly’s course on introductory feminist ethics. School officials demanded that Daly admit Naquin to her spring course, but she refused and, she said in her suit, took a leave of absence instead. The college insists that Daly agreed to retire.
“It seemed to be the logical course of action to take, given that [Daly’s] stated preference not to teach men is so clearly in violation of federal law,” says Jack Dunn, a college spokesman, of Sosman’s decision.
Daly says she believes she is not violating the law known as Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The law was designed to improve the situation of women — which, she says, is what she’s doing.
Gretchen Van Ness, Daly’s attorney, says the college has used “backdoor tactics” to fire a tenured professor because she disagreed with them. She also warned that the case could have sweeping ramifications for academic freedom.
NCAA Committee Considers Eliminating Freshman Eligibility
WASHINGTON — A National Collegiate Athletics Association committee known as the NCAA Division I Working Group to Study Basketball Issues is considering several drastic proposals aimed at improving graduation rates for men’s college basketball players, according stories in The Washington Post and USA Today.
The committee is weighing a variety of possible NCAA rules changes, including making freshmen ineligible for an entire season or for their first semester. Other possible changes include annually tying each school’s scholarship allotment to its graduation rate, and moving the start of the season back by a month to mid-December.
According to the NCAA’s latest statistics, 41 percent of Division I men’s basketball players who entered college in the fall of 1991 graduated within six years — 16 percentage points below the average for all athletes.
The working group was expected to propose at least one NCAA rules change when it convened its June 23 annual meeting in Chicago. The committee was formed mainly in reaction to the increasing number of men’s basketball players who transfer or leave college early for the National Basketball Association’s draft.
“The working group will continue its discussion [about making freshmen ineligible] as it moves toward the final set of recommendations, but I continue to support the concept,” NCAA Executive Director Cedric Dempsey said in a statement.
Despite Dempsey’s support, there is considerable opposition to the proposal. In an NCAA survey of administrators and coaches last fall, 74.7 percent of the respondents said they either “disagree” or “strongly disagree” with the notion that men’ basketball players should be ineligible as freshmen, compared with 11.5 percent who said they “agree” or “firmly agree.”
“What do we do, [watch youngsters] turn their heads away from [college] and let them go on and try for the NBA and not go to college?” Temple Coach John Chaney asked.
“How does that solve the problem? I can’t believe these guys. And these are the leaders of the NCAA.”
Professor Fired for Failing Athlete Receives Monitary Settlement
BOONEVILLE, Miss. — A former Northeast Mississippi Community College instructor who won a $571,000 jury verdict last year after she was fired in 1997 for failing a star athlete — but was never paid — has settled out of court with the college for an undisclosed amount.
Psychology instructor Peggy Wroten was forced to file a lawsuit in February against the college’s insurance carrier to try and recover the money she was owed. The insurance company contended the college was responsible for paying Wroten.
Northeast Mississippi trustee Thomas Keenun says the college will pay Wroten at least $437,500 but declined further comment. College officials issued a statement saying, “This settlement resolves all the matters between the parties.”
Wroten contended in her original lawsuit — which she won last year in a jury trial — that she was fired for complaining about the college’s preferential treatment of athletes. She failed basketball standout Dontae’ Jones in her class but later said she was pressured several times to change that grade (see Black Issues, Dec. 24, 1998).
She refused and later was fired. Jones later transferred to Mississippi State where in 1996 he helped lead the university’s basketball team to its only NCAA Final Four appearance. He later was drafted by a National Basketball Association team.
Prosecutors Want to Reinstate Charges Against Beaten Former Student
ALBANY, N.Y. — Prosecutors are seeking to reinstate assault charges against a former College of Saint Rose student who accused two police officers of beating him.
County Judge Larry Rosen had thrown out third-degree assault and resisting arrest charges against 23-year-old Jermaine Henderson last August. The judge ruled that Henderson, who is Black, made self-incriminating statements when he testified before a grand jury in the case.
Earlier this month, prosecutors argued before the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court that Henderson should not be granted immunity for his grand jury testimony.
Henderson’s statements were gratuitously volunteered, and so “he is not entitled to transactional immunity under the law,” argued Assistant District Attorney Christopher Horn.
The charges stem from an October 1997 bar brawl with two Albany police officers, William Bonanni and Sean McKenna. Henderson was arrested after the fight, and later said that he was beaten at a police garage while he was handcuffed (see Black Issues, Jan. 7, 1999).
A jury acquitted the officers in March. Henderson did not testify at the trial, apparently fearing that the assault charge would be reinstated if he admitted on the stand to his role in the bar fight.
The former college basketball star is the son of former Boston Celtics and New York Knicks player Gerald Henderson. Now working in Illinois, the younger Henderson — prior to the trial — agreed to settle a civil rights lawsuit brought against the city for $60,000.
Despite the acquittal, the officers remain suspended with pay while the police department conducts administrative hearings into the alleged beating in the police garage. Department officials have said they would like to have the officers dismissed.
College Interns Investigating
Civil Rights Complaints
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — A backlog of cases at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) is being eased by an internship program with the University of Massachusetts’ legal studies department. Some of the cases dated back years.
MCAD was founded more than four decades ago as a forum for addressing civil rights complaints, particularly complaints based on race, religion, or ethnicity. But as the commission expanded to consider complaints based on sex, sexual orientation, and disabilities, the number of complaints filed annually skyrocketed. Statewide, MCAD receives more than 5,000 complaints a year.
Last year, hundreds of backlogged cases, or those that had been under investigation for longer than 18 months, were resolved thanks to guidelines that called for speedy resolutions to the cases, and to the internship program.
With the internship program, called the Joint Clinical Project, legal studies students take three semesters of courses dealing with discrimination issues and the law, and then spend a semester working full-time at the Springfield’s MCAD office. There, they assist the staff in reviewing and investigating complaints and interviewing witnesses.
“Our job is to enforce the civil rights laws in Massachusetts,” MCAD attorney Jerrold S. Levinsky told the Union-News in Springfield. “Having cleared away the backlog, our job is to become proactive in enforcing that law.”
The clinic also is helping Boston clear up its backlog, Levinsky says.
Revised regulations, the first in almost 25 years, also require cases to be resolved quickly. Among the changes, the commission will now review complaints on their face value before deciding whether to proceed with a formal investigation, and allowing mediation if both parties choose to do so.
According to Levinsky, the commission is also exploring the possibility of filing complaints by way of the Internet. And, instead of waiting for people to come to report incidents of discrimination, the office intends to perform more outreach in area communities, promote education, and work closer with local human rights commissions.
Dismissal of Discrimination Suit Denied
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — A federal judge has denied a motion to dismiss a sex and race discrimination case brought by University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown’s former affirmative action officer Clea Patrick Hollis, according to The Tribune-Democrat. The lawsuit was filed last year.
The university tried to have the case dismissed “for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and failure to state claims upon which relief can be granted.” That and all other claims were denied by U.S. District Judge D. Brooks Smith.
Both Hollis and the university’s affirmative action program “were adversely affected by decisions sanctioned by [President Albert] Etheridge…,” Smith said in his decision.
The motion for dismissal also claimed that Ethridge could not be held liable under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, and that Hollis “did not exhaust her administrative remedies.” But Smith overruled the argument.
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