Thursday, May 28, 2009

Harvard accused of racism after expelling student over campus killing

That good ol' race card again. Harvard would bend over backwards rather than be seen as racist

Harvard University is embroiled in a scandal involving drugs, murder and allegations of racism after a man was shot dead on campus. The murder last week of Justin Cosby, an alleged drug dealer, has stunned America’s oldest Ivy League institution. The expulsion of a female student believed to be linked to the killing has added to the university’s problems after she claimed that she was being targeted because she was black and poor.

Chanequa Campbell, 21, who grew up in a rough, working-class Brooklyn neighbourhood, was admitted to Harvard after winning scholarships from The New York Times and Coca-Cola, and was due to graduate next month. She was ordered off campus last week. “I do believe that I am being singled out . . . the honest answer is I’m black and I’m poor,” Ms Campbell told The Boston Globe. “I’m from New York and I walk in a certain way and I keep my clothes in a certain way. It’s something that labels me as different from everyone else.” A Harvard official said that the university had taken “appropriate steps”.

The case has raised questions about the prevalence of drug use at the university and the ability of alleged dealers to enter campus. Ms Campbell is believed to have been expelled from the university — the alma mater of Barack Obama and seven former US presidents — because of her alleged involvement in the death of Mr Cosby, 21, which prosecutors say was a botched robbery.

Mr Cosby was shot in the stomach in a university dormitory. Jordan Copney, from New York, has been charged with his murder. Mr Copney, 20, who is a professional songwriter and does not study at Harvard, is accused of targeting Mr Cosby because he was carrying a stash of marijuana and $1,000 in cash.

Ms Campbell is a friend of Mr Copney’s long-term girlfriend, another Harvard student. Prosecutors claim that Mr Copney knew Mr Cosby through two female students at Harvard, to whom Mr Cosby allegedly sold drugs.

One issue is how the alleged killer gained access to the dormitory. Officials say that he obtained a security pass from a Harvard student. Ms Campbell said that she lived in Kirkland annex and not in Kirkland House, where Mr Cosby was shot, and insisted that Mr Copney did not use her Harvard card to get in.

Gerard Leone, the district attorney prosecuting the case, said that Mr Copney, the son of a retired New York police officer, had travelled to Harvard with the intent of robbing Mr Cosby, who was unarmed. “During the course of the rip-off, things go bad and Justin Cosby gets shot to death,” Mr Leone said.

Prosecutors said that Mr Cosby was “visiting friends on the campus”. He was confronted by Mr Copney and “during the course of the confrontation, multiple shots were fired. One of those shots struck Cosby, resulting in his death.” After he was shot, the victim ran up a street before collapsing. He died several hours later in hospital.

Ms Campbell said: “I have no knowledge of anything that happened, none whatsoever.” She said that she was taking a final exam on the afternoon of the murder.


British working class children 'alienated' in private schools, says The Sutton Trust

Poor children given free places at top private schools often struggle to fit into the "elite atmosphere", according to research for The Sutton Trust. Bringing back the government-funded Grammar schools, where entrance is limited to those who perform well on an academic aptitude test, would largely solve that problem as many students in such schools are of working-class origin

Many pupils from deprived backgrounds feel "estranged and alienated" from other pupils and teachers if they are given places at leading establishments, it is claimed. In addition, some are unable to take part in cultural visits or foreign exchange trips because their parents cannot afford them.

The Sutton Trust, which commissioned the report, said the findings had serious implications for new rules designed to open independent schools to more children from working class backgrounds. Sir Peter Lampl, the charity's chairman, insisted schools needed to look beyond "the simple question of fees" to make sure pupils succeeded. Private school headmasters backed the conclusions, insisting that "plucking the best and the brightest pupils out of the state sector" was counter-productive.

In the latest study, researchers held in-depth interviews with adults who had been through the Conservatives' assisted places scheme in the 1980s and 90s. The programme - scrapped by Labour in 1997 - gave pupils from poor backgrounds free and subsidised admission to independent schools. Earlier research showed students with assisted places achieved better GCSE and A-level results than pupils remaining in the state sector. They were also much more likely to go onto Oxbridge.

But the latest report - called Embers from the Ashes? - said it was "far from an unqualified success". "Virtually all spoke of the fact that they could not participate in the 'semi-formal' activities in the school curriculum, such as field-trips, cultural visits or foreign exchange trips, because their parents could not afford to finance them," it said. "Also commonly mentioned was a lack of participation in weekend and after-school activities, compounded by very long journeys to and from school."

The report, based on interviews with 25 former pupils, said that "feeling like the poor relation" was the "defining characteristic of their time at school". "It appears that financial hardship combined with cultural discontinuity between the home and the school, contributes to a sense of stigmatisation," the study said.

Under Labour's 2006 Charities Act, fee-paying schools are no longer automatically entitled to charitable status. They must prove they provide "public benefit" to hang on to tax breaks worth an estimated £100m to the sector every year. Official guidance from the Charity Commission suggested the easiest way to pass the new test was "increasing general fee levels in order to offer subsidies to those unable to pay the full cost".

But Sir Peter called for more wholesale Government funding for private day schools - rather than "a few token places" - to break down the barriers between the two sectors. "The chance to democratise entry to 100 or more of our highest-performing academic schools should not be missed and would be a tremendous boost for social mobility," he said.

Anthony Seldon, the master of Wellington College, Berkshire, said: "Plucking the best and the brightest pupils out of state schools may help the odd child but it is completely insufficient as a tool to bridge the gap between the two sectors."


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