Sunday, April 26, 2015

Anger after white people and men are banned from 'anti-racism' rally at British university

A students’ union has been accused of racism and sexism after banning white people and men from an event to promote equality.

Those studying at Goldsmiths, University of London, were invited to the students’ union meeting to discuss ‘diversifying the curriculum’.

But they were shocked when an organiser told white people and men ‘not to come’ as it was only open to BME [black and minority ethnic] women.

The union eventually backed down after a backlash from students, one of whom described the exclusive policy as ‘patronising beyond belief’.

The event, held on Wednesday, was organised by welfare and diversity officer Bahar Mustafa, who said she hoped to persuade academics to broaden courses to include more material relating to minority groups.

She wrote on Facebook: ‘Invite loads of BME Women and non-binary people!! Also, if you’ve been invited and you’re a man and/or white PLEASE DON’T COME just cos i invited a bunch of people and hope you will be responsible enough to respect this is a BME Women and non-binary event only.’

Non-binary is a term used to describe people who do not consider themselves exclusively male or female.

Miss Mustafa, 27, added: ‘Don’t worry lads we will give you and allies things to do’, followed by a wink. The event’s online page said it was open to ‘self-defining BLACK and ETHNIC MINORITY women and non-binary people with gender identities that include “woman”.’

The ban on men and white students is surprising, since the organisers claim to promote ‘zero tolerance’ for ‘all forms of prejudice, discrimination and oppression’.

A senior union member told student newspaper The Tab that Miss Mustafa’s actions had made it ‘very difficult’ for male students.

He said many white men felt they ‘could not say anything for fear of retribution’, adding: ‘For Bahar to have the nerve to write this is patronising beyond belief. The irony that she thinks that they are diversifying the student community in the name of feminism and multiculturalism is laughable.’

The event sparked a fierce backlash on social media, with one user writing: ‘Isn’t this racism – and why wasn’t she prosecuted?’

Another said: ‘Hypocrisy of the left ... When will people see it.’

Organisers later appeared to back down on the rules, with the statement ‘Allies now welcome!’ added to the meeting’s Facebook page.

Miss Mustafa recently graduated from Goldsmiths with an MA in gender and media studies.

She is understood to live with her mother Nursen, 55, father Ismail, 57, and sister Ipek, 23, in Enfield in a £450,000 three-bedroom terrace.

A spokesman for Goldsmiths said the university had no part in the decisions of the union, adding: ‘We are proud of our diverse community and do not tolerate any form of oppression, including racism, sexism or any other form of bigotry.  ‘We have written to the students’ union to express our concern.’

The union said: ‘Goldsmiths Students’ Union places huge importance on equality and diversity.

‘It is in this vein that we host spaces where specific minority groups who experience similar discrimination can talk together confidently about overcoming the structural disadvantages and prejudice they face.

‘The accusation that we discriminate is one we refute wholeheartedly.’  [They may reject it but they  haven't refuted it -- not that such lamebrains would know the difference]


Handicapped Governor ‘Does Not Represent Diversity’ For University Of North Texas Grads

Students at the University of North Texas have petitioned school officials to replace Texas Gov. Greg Abbott as the keynote speaker at the school’s 2015 spring commencement ceremony.

A petition opposing Abbott’s invitation to speak has garnered 2,435 signatories as of Tuesday evening.

The petition focuses on the fact that some students have political disagreements with Abbott, a Republican.

“The University of North Texas’ student body is made up of students from all walks of life,” the petition reads. “Therefore, it is pivotal that our keynote speaker be someone who reflects not only our student population but our views on equality and representation. Governor Abbott is an advocate for immigration reform, border patrol, and anti-equal marriage laws.”

Because some students disagree with Abbott, his views do “not align the spirit of the University of North Texas which prides itself in providing equal opportunities for their students,” the creators of the petition reason.

“While Governor Abbott’s story is inspirational, his views on inequality cannot be overshadowed by this. Our Mean Green Pride comes from being heard and respected. Which is why we ask University President Neal Smatresk to find a new keynote speaker for graduation.”

The petition does not suggest a replacement graduation speaker with views which “align the spirit” of the 36,168-student commuter school in the suburbs of Dallas.

Several signers say they will boycott their own taxpayer-funded school’s graduation ceremony if the state’s sitting governor speaks.

“I’m signing because I want to attend my own graduation ceremony, but cannot due to my moral disagreements with Abbot’s policies,” Allyson Nophsker, a decision science major, proclaims she has decided.

“I won’t attend a graduation ceremony that is split up by political preference,” agrees Benjamin Garside, who fears “a tense room filled with politically charged graduates.”

A woman named Terri Frederick says she cannot attend her own niece’s graduation “because of the extreme politics of this man.”

Other backers of the petition, such as Elizabeth Vazquez, say they “do not wish to have a speaker with a political agenda at my commencement.”

Still others focus on the concept of diversity, which they say Abbott lacks.

“Governor Abbott speaking at UNT does not represent ‘diversity,'” declares Paul Young.

“I expect a university environment that hosts speakers who foster the growth of education and represent (not suppress) diversity,” demands Leah Radecki — a cosmopolitan fan of the Democratic Party, Frack Free Denton, the website Jezebel and Olive Garden Breadsticks on her Facebook page.

Many supporters of the petition express their views cordially. However, others do not.


Plagiarism on rise at Australian universities as academics face pressure to pass international students

This has been going on for years

A NURSE who accidentally gave a 79-year-old hospital patient dishwashing liquid instead of his usual medication could not read the label on the bottle, despite being awarded a degree at an Australian university.

University academics have told Four Cornersof pressure on university lecturers to pass underperforming students and widespread plagiarism among international students desperate to complete their courses. There was also evidence of fraudulent documents being provided by overseas recruitment agents to help students gain entry to some of Australia’s top universities.

Retired lecturer Barbara Beale of the University of Western Sydney said she believed that there were students who had graduated from the university’s nursing course, one of the largest in the country, who should not have been allowed to do so.

“A lot of students end up in the aged care sector, who do we have in the aged car sector? The most vulnerable, ill people and we have students who may have been pushed through university looking after them.

“In the aged care sector there is not much supervision, very quickly they might find themselves being the only registered nurse on duty and that is something that frightens me.”

In March 2013, one UWS graduate, Bhavesh Shah, fed a cup of Morning Fresh dishwashing liquid to a private hospital patient because his poor English skills meant he could not read the label on the bottle.

At least two other graduates have also been forced out by hospitals due to poor English and dangerous practices, although the university says there have been no similar cases since 2011.

But Ms Beale said there was constant pressure at UWS to pass failing bachelor of nursing students. One student who she originally gave a mark of 2 out of 30 for one assignment, later had this changed to a pass. The paper passed through three reviewers before the fail was upheld.

“If I hadn’t really pressed that, if it had been somebody else that had less experience or less conviction ... then that student would have passed,” Ms Beale said.

In a statement, UWS strenuously denied soft-marking was a problem: “UWS completely rejects the accusation that the standard of our nursing program is ‘falling’ and our nursing students are ‘weak and unsafe’.”

Peak body Universities Australia has described the program as presenting a “one-sided picture of international education in Australia”.

“It is unfortunate that Four Corners failed to acknowledge Australia’s global leadership as a provider of high quality, and highly regarded international education,” University Australia chief executive Belinda Robinson said in a statement.

“The list of agents terminated by Australian universities over the recent period indicates that Australia universities have robust systems for identifying and stamping out fraud and unethical behaviour.”

The report also shed light on the murky world of the offshore agents used by Australian universities to recruit hundreds of thousands of students, mainly from China.

In one case, a Beijing agent who represents universities including Monash, Queensland, Sydney, Newcastle, Southern Cross, Australian Catholic University, Australian National University and University of Technology, Sydney, was caught on tape saying he would accept a forged school transcript if a student had a poor academic record.

Agents also discussed how to get around the English language requirements at universities.

Group of Eight chief executive Vicki Thomson said its universities made no apology for using the on-the-ground skills of overseas agents to help choose students.

“However, at all times our global reputation is paramount ... for that reason Group of Eight universities act swiftly to address any issues that are brought to their attention,” Ms Thomson said in a statement.

“It should not be ignored that international education is Australia’s third largest exporter. Getting it right is paramount.”

Dr Zena O’Connor, who teaches at the University of Sydney, told Four Corners the income stream generated by international students was huge. At Sydney University, international students make up a quarter of all enrolments while at RMIT in Melbourne they make up 50 per cent.

“I’m staggered by the increase in plagiarism. To start with, in my experience, it was a very small proportion, you know, maybe two, three, four per cent. I would peg it now at being much, much higher, well over 50 per cent. And some of the cases of extreme plagiarism where a student has plagiarised at least 80 per cent if not up to 100 per cent of their paper, that proportion is growing, and that level of extreme plagiarism I didn’t see five or ten years ago.”

Dr O’Connor has not instituted formal proceedings against any students for plagiarism because she says she was told to do all she could to pass them.

Alex Barthel, who formerly ran the language centre at the University of Technology, Sydney, told Four Corners he had been a longstanding advocate for higher English language entry standards for universities.

“Academic staff increasingly are frustrated by the fact that they are there to teach pharmacy or engineering or IT or whatever they’re teaching and they’re basically saying, ‘It’s not my job to help somebody with 65 spelling errors on the first page of an assignment. It’s not my job to teach them basic English grammar’.”

A major report by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption last week, Learning the Hard Way, reported significant risks of corruption within institutions.

“There is a gap - at least in some courses - between the capabilities of many students and academic demands,” the report said.

“Students may be struggling to pass, but universities cannot afford to fail them.

“There is pressure for some international students to pass courses that are beyond their academic capabilities, pressure on staff within universities in NSW to find ways to pass students in order to preserve budgets.”


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