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Judge Rules That School’s Slavery Punishment Assignment Didn’t Violate Civil Rights

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A federal judge has ruled in favor of the Sun Prairie School District regarding a lawsuit filed by two Black parents. Their children’s middle school, located in Wisconsin, handed out an assignment that asked students how they would punish a slave in ancient Mesopotamia and they believed it was harmful and inappropriate.

Dazrrea Ervins and Priscilla Jones also said the Black History Month assignment in February 2021 violated their civil rights and their children’s (George Brockman and Zavion Ervins). After an internal investigation, it was discovered that three teachers devised the assignment themselves as the question was not included in the school district’s curriculum on ancient Mesopotamia.

The question appeared on a sixth-grade homework question at Patrick Marsh Middle School and was given to students on the first day of Black History Month.

“A slave stands before you. This slave has disrespected his master by telling him, ‘You are not my master!’ How will you punish this slave?’” the question read. The assignment said the answer was: “According to Hammurabi’s Code: put to death.” It quickly led to led to online outrage.

The teachers were placed on administrative leave and ultimately resigned. In addition, the lawsuit also accused the school district of discriminating against Brockman for his learning disability as well as failing to protect him from racist bullying.

U.S. District Judge James Peterson, who has jurisdiction over Wisconsin’s Western District, stated the parents failed to prove that any civil rights were violated by the assignment.

Peterson also said that the parents didn’t prove that racism or the district’s lack of action had any impact on Brockman’s education.

“A reasonable jury certainly could find that its content and timing were offensive, insensitive and justifiably upset students and their families,” Peterson stated. “But a hostile environment claim requires much more than a single upsetting episode.”

Though a decision has been made in federal court, complaints that the district violated state law will be reviewed by Dane County Circuit Court.

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UMass students are BANNED from studying abroad after they staged an anti-Israel sit-in on campus

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…and were arrested after ignoring police officer’s orders to leave

Culled from Dailymail.Com,

A University of Massachusetts Amherst student is facing a sudden setback in his plans to study abroad in Spain after taking part in an anti-Israel sit-in on campus and defying police officers’ orders to leave.

Aidan O’ Neill, a junior at UMass Amherst, along with two other students, had their eligibility to study abroad revoked after their involvement in an Oct. 25 protest supporting Palestinians led to arrests and disciplinary probation.

After refusing police orders to leave the building when it closed at 6 pm, 56 students, including O’Neill, and one staff member were arrested for trespassing, and then placed on disciplinary probation until the end of the spring semester.

O’Neill’s study abroad eligibility was then revoked as he had signed an agreement that prohibits students from participating in the program if they have pending legal or disciplinary actions or are on academic probation.

The initial protest on Oct. 25 involved 500 students demanding UMass sever ties with defense contractor Raytheon Technologies, a producer of missile components for Israel ‘s Iron Dome.

The Iron Dome is an Israeli mobile all-weather air defense system that successfully intercepts upward of 90 percent of projectiles. Since Hamas’s unprovoked Oct. 7 massacre, more than 11,000 rockets have been fired toward Israel.

O’Neill, along with faculty members, are now fighting back – emphasizing the right to voice opposition to what they call the university’s alleged support for ‘genocide.’

‘To lose my abroad eligibility at the last second, that was just heartbreaking,’ O’Neill said to the Boston Globe. ‘I was practicing my right as a student to speak up against the university funding a genocide. It just seemed, honestly, crazy and absurd to me that the university was going that far to punish me.’

The students are arguing that their punishment is disproportionately severe due to their political views, despite the university claiming it is merely adhering to the established policies, irrespective of the protest’s content.

Faculty members, including Rachel Mordecai and Jason Moralee, have rallied behind O’Neill, denouncing the denial of his study abroad opportunity as an excessive penalty for ‘peaceful political expression.’

O’Neill ‘was participating in a peaceful expression of his political convictions,’ Rachel Mordecai, O’Neill’s faculty adviser said to the Boston Globe.

‘This denial of the opportunity to study abroad constitutes a disproportionate penalty for what Aidan participated in.

Mordecai wrote a letter in defense of O’Neill, signed by 23 other faculty members. The statement, obtained by the Globe, called O’Neill ‘an exceptionally successful and talented student.’

O’Neill was set to leave to Barcelona on Jan. 3 for his study abroad program, which he’d been planning since last spring. Now, the junior is staying in his hometown, Scituate, until next semester begins in the spring.

The students were told they were no longer eligible weeks before their trip, leaving them with thousands of dollars in fees and travel expenses. One student is now threatening to take legal action against the school.

Jason Moralee, the Associate Dean of Research and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion also advocated for O’Neill and the two other students by urging fellow administrators to swiftly clear them for study abroad.

Moralee highlighted that students with code of conduct violations, academic probation, or other issues are routinely permitted to study abroad.

He argued that students with clear records, like O’Neill’s, who engaged in protests should not be hindered in their eligibility to participate in the study abroad program.

‘Surely, peaceful protest done by exemplary students whose records are otherwise clear … is an offense that should not in itself prevent students from studying abroad,’ he said to the Globe.

But University spokesperson Ed Blaguszewski defended the IPO’s decision, stating that the decision aligns with the university’s past practices and the Student Agreement of Participation signed by each student.

O’Neill, along with faculty members, are now fighting back – emphasizing the right to voice opposition to what they call the university’s alleged support for ‘genocide’

‘To participate in a UMass Amherst study abroad program, students must be in good standing academically with the university and in compliance with the university’s Code of Student Conduct,’ he expressed in a statement to the Globe.

‘Consistent with the university’s past practice and the Student Agreement of Participation signed by each student, IPO revoked eligibility for these students to study abroad for the upcoming winter/spring terms.’

Contrary to the university’s stance, O’Neill and the other students argue that their disciplinary treatment deviates from past practices.

O’Neill and the other students, facing uncertainty, were informed of their inability to study abroad on the last day of the semester, leaving them in a state of limbo.

One student, represented by attorney Shahily ‘Shay’ Negrón, claims to be confronted with up to $20,000 in fees for the overseas program.

Negrón emphasized the emotional and financial toll the ordeal has taken on the student.

‘They have been extremely distraught,’ Negrón said to the Globe. ‘This entire ordeal has had a toll on my client emotionally [and] financially.’

UMass is ‘harming my client because she exercised her right to free speech,’ he added.

O’Neill said he is still considering participating in a study abroad program next year, when his probation clears.

‘If things had happened differently, I’d be in Barcelona right now, living with the host family and having the study abroad experience,’ he said to the Globe. ‘I feel really crushed by my university. I feel like they’ve just betrayed my trust for the last time.’

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Neri Oxman admits to plagiarizing in her doctoral dissertation after BI report

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Neri Oxman , the wife of billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman , admitted to failing to properly credit sources in portions of her doctoral dissertation after Business Insider published an article finding that Oxman engaged in a pattern of plagiarism similar to that of former Harvard president Claudine Gay .

BI identified four instances in Oxman’s dissertation in which she lifted paragraphs from other scholars’ work without including them in quotation marks. In those instances, Oxman wrote in a post on X , using quotation marks would have been “the proper approach for crediting the work. I regret and apologize for these errors.”

Ackman has been on a crusade to force Gay to resign , which she did this week. Revelations that she had plagiarized portions of academic articles, publicized by far-right activist Christopher Rufo, added fuel to his calls for Gay to step down after protests against Israel’s war in Gaza rocked Harvard’s campus.

Ackman said Gay had mishandled the student protests and created a culture of antisemitism at the elite Cambridge institution. Gay’s plagiarism underscored her lack of fitness to lead the institution, or even to teach at Harvard, Ackman wrote on X, calling Gay’s plagiarism “very serious.”

Oxman, an architect and artist, received her Ph.D. from MIT in 2010 and became a tenured professor there in 2017 before leaving the university in June 2021, an MIT spokesperson said. Her failure to use quotation marks to identify passages of text from other sources meets the definition of plagiarism as spelled out in MIT’s academic integrity handbook.

Oxman wrote on X that after she has reviewed the original sources, she plans to “request that MIT make any necessary corrections.”

“As I have dedicated my career to advancing science and innovation, I have always recognized the profound importance of the contributions of my peers and those who came before me. I hope that my work is helpful to the generations to come,” she wrote.

Oxman now leads an eponymous company, Oxman , focused on “innovation in product, architectural, and urban design,” she wrote on X. “OXMAN has been in stealth mode. I look forward to sharing more about OXMAN later this year.”

Her husband, Ackman, lauded her transparency in his own post on X following the publication of Business Insider’s article.

“Part of what makes her human is that she makes mistakes, owns them, and apologizes when appropriate,” he wrote .

Read the original article on Business Insider

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Embattled Harvard President Claudine Gay announces resignation

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Embattled Harvard University President Claudine Gay announced her resignation on Tuesday amid accusations of plagiarism and controversy over her testimony before Congress last month.

“It is with a heavy heart but a deep love for Harvard that I write to share that I will be stepping down as president,” she said in a lengthy letter to the school community. “This is not a decision I came to easily. Indeed, it has been difficult beyond words because I have looked forward to working with so many of you to advance the commitment to academic excellence that has propelled this great university across centuries.”

“But, after consultation with members of the Corporation, it has become clear that it is in the best interests of Harvard for me to resign so that our community can navigate this moment of extraordinary challenge with a focus on the institution rather than any individual,” the statement continued.

The news was first reported by The Harvard Crimson.

“It has been distressing to have doubt cast on my commitments to confronting hate and to upholding scholarly rigor — two bedrock values that are fundamental to who I am — and frightening to be subjected to personal attacks and threats fueled by racial animus,” Gay wrote in her resignation letter.

Gay will stay on as a faculty member at Harvard, the Harvard Corporation said.

In a statement Tuesday, the Harvard Corporation wrote, “First and foremost, we thank President Gay for her deep and unwavering commitment to Harvard and to the pursuit of academic excellence. … She has devoted her career to an institution whose ideals and priorities she has worked tirelessly to advance, and we are grateful for the extraordinary contributions she has made — and will continue to make — as a leader, a teacher, a scholar, a mentor, and an inspiration to many.”

The resignation comes amid allegations of plagiarism over Gay’s academic writings and following backlash over her response at a congressional hearing to questions about antisemitism on U.S. college campuses, which sparked calls for her to step down as president.

Gay testified before Congress in early December 2023 alongside the University of Pennsylvania’s then-President Liz Magill and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Sally Kornbluth about how they are handling antisemitism on their respective campuses in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

A tense exchange between Gay and New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik became a focal point for criticism.

Stefanik asked Gay the hypothetical question: “Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard’s rules on bullying and harassment?”

Gay responded, “The rules around bullying and harassment are quite specific and if the context in which that language is used amounts to bullying and harassment, then we take — we take action against it.”

Harvard and University of Pennsylvania are among the schools being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education for complaints of antisemitism and Islamophobic discrimination. Magill resigned from the University of Pennsylvania in early December.

Gay elaborated on her stance in a statement following the backlash: “There are some who have confused a right to free expression with the idea that Harvard will condone calls for violence against Jewish students.”

She continued, “Calls for violence or genocide against the Jewish community, or any religious or ethnic group are vile, they have no place at Harvard.”

Stefanik applauded Gay’s decision to resign, saying she will “always deliver results.”

“The resignation of Harvard’s antisemitic plagiarist president is long overdue,” Stefanik said in a statement. “Claudine Gay’s morally bankrupt answers to my questions made history as the most viewed Congressional testimony in the history of the U.S. Congress. Her answers were absolutely pathetic and devoid of the moral leadership and academic integrity required of the President of Harvard.”

Gay has also faced accusations of plagiarism in her past academic work.

In a Dec. 12, 2023, statement, the Harvard Corporation announced that Gay requested an independent review of her published work in light of the accusations. The results revealed a few instances of “inadequate citation” but “no violation of Harvard’s standards of research misconduct,” the statement read.

The corporation announced that Gay would be requesting four corrections in two articles to insert citations and quotation marks that were not present in the original text. However, the corporation initially affirmed its support for Gay amid the allegations in the statement.

“Our extensive deliberations affirm our confidence that President Gay is the right leader to help our community heal and to address the very serious societal issues we are facing,” the statement read.

Gay was the first person of color and second woman to serve as president at Harvard University in its 386-year history. She became president in July 2023, serving the shortest tenure for a president in the school’s history.

Harvard’s provost and chief academic officer, Alan M. Garber, will take over as interim president until a full-time replacement is hired, the corporation said.

Culled from the ABC

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