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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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Black teen in Georgia awarded over $14m in scholarships, accepted at 231 colleges

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An 18-year-old low-income student has just defied the odds by achieving an extraordinary feat in her pursuit of higher education.

Madison Crowell, from Hinesville, Georgia secured her acceptance into an astounding 231 colleges and universities across the nation. She has also been awarded an impressive $14.7 million in scholarships to support her academic journey.

Crowell’s remarkable achievement is not only a testament to her academic prowess but also to her unwavering determination and resilience in the face of adversity.

Growing up in a low-income community, she explained she was driven by a desire to showcase the possibilities available to students like herself.

“I wanted to apply to as many schools as I did because I want to show the kids here in Liberty County that it’s possible to get accepted into schools […] that you think might be out of your reach but is definitely in reach,” she told Good Morning America.

Despite facing challenges along the way, Crowell remained steadfast in her pursuit of higher education. With the support of her parents, Sgt. 1st Class Delando Langley and Melissa Langley, she embarked on college tours and road trips from a young age, preparing herself for the journey ahead.

Now, as she prepares to embark on her college adventure, Crowell’s hard work and determination have paid off. She has chosen to attend High Point University in High Point, North Carolina, where she will pursue her academic aspirations under a full tuition scholarship.

In response to her incredible achievement, High Point University President Dr. Nido Qubein extended a warm welcome to Crowell, recognizing her potential to achieve greatness.

“We welcome you to our HPU family”, he said. “You’re going to do exceptional things right here at The Premier Life Skills University, where we call everybody to be extraordinary. The sky is not the limit […] and when you come here to High Point University, we know you’ll be a leader. We know you’ll make amazing things happen. We’re here to resource her, cheer you on and celebrate you victory.”

Despite her overwhelming number of acceptances, Cromwell revealed she hadn’t been accepted to other top schools and urged other students to persevere.

“I know what it’s like to be deferred from a dream school and you don’t know if you’re gonna get the chance to apply again or you’re not going to be accepted again,” she said. “I just want to make it known that nothing is impossible and that the sky is not the limit and that you want to keep pushing for greatness.”

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11 Communication Students Awarded Scholarships at TSU’s Commweek

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Each student received $1,000 through the SOC scholarship initiative.

Scholarships alleviate financial stress and contribute to academic success, diversity, and equitable access to education. They are a valuable resource for college students, opening doors that might otherwise remain closed due to financial barriers. The 2024 Commweek – the 42nd Intercultural and Communication Conference of the School of Communication (SOC) at Texas Southern University ended Friday, April 12 with a cheerful outcome. 11 communication students walked away with a fat check as beneficiaries of the SOC Commweek Scholarship initiative.

The recipients of the 2024 Commweek scholarships are Christopher Jarmon, Rachel Frank, Benjamin Clark, Racheal Lewis, Briannah Dilworth, Courtney Roberts, Precious Johnson, Douglas Gordon, Briana Williams, Zoria Goodley, and Erin Slaughter. Each student received $1,000 from the SOC scholarship initiative, aimed at helping students overcome financial obstacles while pursuing their academic goals. The funds can be used to cover tuition, textbooks, other educational expenses, and living costs like housing, transportation, and food.

Dr. Chris Ulasi, the Interim Dean of the School of Communication, explained that the scholarship funds were made possible through grants and donations from corporate and local businesses. These contributions were specifically designated for talented and economically disadvantaged students within the School of Communication. “Many of these students rely on financial aid to support their education. Therefore, we prioritized collaborating with private and corporate partners to support this initiative,” Dr. Ulasi stated.

Themed “Amplifying Diverse Voices in Media and Communication,” Commweek kicked off on April 8 and concluded with an Awards Gala on Friday, April 12, 2024, where scholarships were presented. Throughout the week, scholars, students, professionals, and civic leaders engaged in discussions on topics with cultural, political, economic, and social significance, as well as communication dynamics.

The School of Communication (SOC) at Texas Southern University is a dynamic academic institution that fosters interdisciplinary learning. With four departments and two graduate programs – Communication Studies, Entertainment Recording Industry Management (ERIM), Journalism, and Radio, Television, and Film (RTF), along with a Master of Arts (MA) in Communication and Master of Arts (M.A.) in Professional Communication and Digital Media (PCDM) – SOC has been a leader in training culturally responsive professionals and scholars for nearly five decades. Graduates are equipped to navigate diverse urban and international environments with inclusivity and a deep understanding of historical context.

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TSU Announces 2024 Annual Communication Week

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TEXAS INTERNATIONAL GUARDIAN, HOUSTON, TX – The representation of diverse racial and ethnic groups, as well as sexual and gender identities in the media, is critically important because it accurately shapes decency, fairness, and unity in the community. When media lacks or portrays insensitive representations, it can perpetuate harmful stereotypes and discrimination, further marginalizing these identities.

The School of Communication (SOC) at the Texas Southern University (TSU) has announced its 2024 Commweek, signifying the 42nd Intercultural and Communication Conference. Themed “Amplifying Diverse Voices in Media and Communication”, the conference will be held April 8 – 12, 2024, and will culminate with an Awards Gala on Friday, April 12, 2024, at the University’s Tiger Room.

Ensuring a diversity of voices in the media requires holistic monitoring systems and the wider application of target-based measures for both public and private media. Amplifying diverse perspectives can instigate a richer and more inclusive media landscape that benefits the entire populace. The Intercultural Communication Conference provides a forum for scholars, students, professionals, and civic-minded leaders to explore topics with cultural, political, economic, and social implications as well as communication dynamics. But the theme is necessary and also, it is coming at the right time.

The challenges posed by a lack of diverse voices in media and communication can be seen across social, political, economic, and cultural spheres of influence. These issues can influence the views represented in news coverage and dissemination. Indeed, the diversity of perspectives is key to creating a more inclusive and equitable society.

According to Dr. Chris Ulasi, the Interim Dean of the School of Communication, “The 2024 event will be special because we are equally raising scholarship funds for gifted and economically disadvantaged students in the School of Communication.  Traditionally, a majority of our students rely on some form of financial assistance to fund their education. This is why I am using this opportunity to appeal to individuals, corporations, and community organizations to support this cause.”

According to a release made available to our newsroom, proceeds from this event will,

  • Help SOC students break down financial barriers while pursuing their academic prospects.
  • Help SOC students cover the cost of tuition, textbooks, and other educational expenses.
  • Help SOC students supplement the cost-of-living expenses such as housing, transportation, and food.
  • Create retention possibilities for students who might drop out for financial reasons.
  • Act as incentives and encouragement to students in general.
  • This financial sponsorship will be a catalyst for expanding SOC’s ongoing professional relationship with corporate businesses, community organizations, and individual sponsors.

Dr. Anthony Ogbo, co-chaired by Professor Ladonia Randle, and Ms. Michele Jones, is joined by a team of very engaging and supportive members who meet regularly to finalize the machinery for a successful event.  According to Dr. Ogbo, “The 2024 Commweek is expected to draw a line-up of dignitaries from the business, academic, and government sectors. For instance, the City of Houston’s Vice Mayor Pro-Tem, Council Member Martha Castex-Tatum will lead the conference opening ceremony on Monday, April 8. Also, Dr. Kathleen McElroy, renowned Journalist and Professor at the School of Journalism and Media at The University of Texas at Austin will lead the opening session of the intercultural conference on Thursday, April 10.”

The School of Communication (SOC) at Texas Southern University is a transformational, interdisciplinary academic school with four departments and two graduate programs: Communication Studies; Entertainment Recording Industry Management (ERIM); Journalism; Radio, Television, and Film (RTF); and Master of Arts (MA) in Communication and Master of Arts (M.A.) in Professional Communication and Digital Media (PCDM). For 48 years, the school has been at the forefront of training culturally responsive professionals and scholars who can navigate urban and international settings with a deep sense of inclusivity and an understanding of historical legacy.

Texas Southern University possesses an impressive array of more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs and concentrations, a diverse faculty, 80-plus student organizations, and an extensive alumni network comprised of educators, entrepreneurs, public servants, lawyers, pilots, artists, and more, many of whom are change agents on the local, national and international stage. Nestled upon a sprawling 150-acre campus, Texas Southern University is one of the nation’s largest historically black universities.

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