Harvard U. Profs’ Grade Inflation Dispute Goes Public

By David C. Newman Harvard Crimson (Harvard U.)

(U-WIRE) CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -The long-running disagreement between Harvard University’s Kenan professor of government Harvey C. Mansfield Jr. and Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis regarding grade inflation took a very public turn this weekend, as the Boston Globe published private E-mails Lewis wrote to ansfield.

Lewis has publicly contested Mansfield’s claims about grade inflation, particularly his assertion that it was caused in part by an influx of black students to the College in the 1960s.

Lewis sent an E-mail to Mansfield on Feb. 12 claiming that his hands are tied in dealing with the problem.

“As you know, I have nothing to do with faculty policy; [Dean of the Faculty] Jeremy [R. Knowles] has made sure of that,” Lewis wrote.

Lewis’ E-mail also blamed grade inflation in part on “a collapse of critical judgment in the humanities and some of the social sciences.”

Lewis said his Feb. 12 E-mail to Mansfield was explicitly private and “off the record.”

Lewis told the Globe he considers Mansfield a friend and was “disappointed” to find Mansfield had shared his E-mail with the press.

Mansfield told The Crimson on Wednesday that, after having forwarded Lewis’ E-mail to the Globe, he asked the Globe’s reporter last week not to publish it. Mansfield said the reporter “never got back to me.”

Mansfield also said that he met privately with Lewis last week and apologized to him. Lewis declined to say whether he accepted ansfield’s apology.

Knowles said he has not shut Lewis out of the decision-making process in areas such as grade inflation.

“Dean Lewis sits on the Educational Policy Committee, the Core Standing Committee, the Faculty Council, and he’s a member of the Academic Deans,” Knowles wrote in an E-mail. “I don’t know where else `faculty policy’ is made and discussed!”

Knowles declined to comment on Lewis’ claim to Mansfield that “the humanities are in trouble in terms of their ability to call one thing better than another with any consistency and confidence.” Knowles said there could be many reasons – such as smaller courses and fewer written tests – behind the higher average grades given in humanities courses than in the sciences.

Lewis on Wednesday said his Feb. 12 E-mail was a “collegial” attempt to persuade Mansfield to abandon his theory of grade inflation.

His rhetoric was “uncharacteristic of policy declarations by deans” and therefore was taken out of context by the Globe, Lewis wrote in an E-mail.

No official action will be taken against Mansfield for leaking Lewis’ e-mail, Knowles said.

“This is a personal and not an institutional matter,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Tufts U. Releases Foreign Students’ Information to FBI

By Adam Pulver Tufts Daily (Tufts U.)

(U-WIRE) MEDFORD, Mass. – When Tufts University officials were presented with a court order from the FBI demanding confidential student records, the university – like many of its counterparts nationwide – had no choice but to comply, according to university officials. Though Tufts did not release as much information as some public universities, it did hand over data about foreign students who hold student visas.

The order came after the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education voted Oct. 2 to require public colleges and universities to send student visa information to the FBI. Many private institutions – such as Tufts – received individual orders.

About 12 percent of students enrolled at Tufts are classified as international students.

The information released by Tufts goes beyond personal data available on the online directory, which posts students’ college, class year, major and telephone number, though even this basic information can be withheld at a student’s request. The university will only release directory information to law enforcement agencies under a court order, according to Registrar Jean Herbert.

The information released to the FBI is more confidential, according to Provost Sol Gittleman. Gittleman would not comment on the nature of the request, but said the information was not released voluntarily. “This isn’t a request; we have no choice,” Gittleman said.

Dean of Students Bruce Reitman also said the FBI gave Tufts little leeway. Reitman said that the university generally evaluates requests on a case-by-case basis, but the court order left administrators with no room for discussion. “From my understanding, there isn’t much choice,” Reitman said. “It depends what the law says.”

University administrators say they will release a statement next week clarifying the laws regulating the security of records, Herbert said.

The Board of Higher Education decision was aimed at public institutions, but set a precedent for private ones as well.

Officials at state colleges and universities must forward to the federal Immigration and Naturalization Services a list of their students in the country on visas who either never enrolled, did not enroll full-time, or have graduated, according to a board press release.

The scrutiny of college students, especially members of the international community, is largely due to the discovery that several Sept. 11 hijackers had entered the United States illegally with student visas.

ment, governs access to student records. The act protects private records, but permits disclosure to government agencies in cases of “safety emergencies.”

Citing this exception, the FBI is using its authority to acquire confidential information – mostly on international students – from numerous colleges and universities around the country. Law enforcement officials have had unfettered access to student records, according to Barmak Nassirian, associate director of the American association of collegiate registrars, as interviewed by the Daily Californian.

Attorney General John Ashcroft has proposed even more stringent antiterrorism legislation that would give federal agents unrestricted access to private student records, with or without their school’s consent. Justifying what some call an attack on civil liberties, law enforcement officials cite the discovery that one of the Sept. 11 hijackers was enrolled in a small California college, never showed up for class, and remained undetected while planning the attack. As the initiative awaits discussion in the U.S. House of Representatives, its future is unclear.

Ashcroft’s plan, however, is not the only piece of antiterrorism legislation under consideration in Congress. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has resurrected a 1996 proposal that would force the INS to track international students studying in the United States in a computer database. The legislation, which would call for $32 million to fund the project and a six-month moratorium on the entrance of new international students into the United States, is under discussion.

Tufts stands to be impacted by restrictions on international students because of its emphasis on foreign recruiting. According to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, 12 percent of Tufts students are non-U.S. citizens or are U,S. citizens who have lived overseas.

UCLA Evacuates Alumni Center During Bomb Scare

By Chris Goodmacher Daily Bruin (U. California-Los Angeles)

(U-WIRE) LOS ANGELES – University of California at Los Angeles staff of the James West Alumni Center received a suspicious package around noon Tuesday, causing everyone in the building to evacuate for almost two hours before they were allowed to return inside.

An individual delivered the package to a member of the staff, who then alerted university police. UCPD called the LAPD, bringing the number of UC and LAPD officers on the scene to about a dozen, according to Keith Brant, assistant vice chancellor of Alumni Relations.

“With the heightened sensitivity right now, we’re not going to take a chance,” said Nancy Greenstein, director of community services for UCPD.

The package had no return address and was addressed to various elected officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, California Governer Gray Davis, members of the L.A. City Council and “UCLA Alumni,” Greenstein said.

Once the LAPD bomb squad arrived on the scene, they used an X-ray machine to determine that the package was not a threat, Greenstein said.

After the building was declared safe, UCPD examined the inside of the box and found “lots of papers smashed together,” she said.

When the building was evacuated, police restricted access around the building, according to Michael Bjorn, administrative assistant for the Central Ticket Office.

The turnaround in front of the Alumni Center was blocked as well, according to Aren Der Harcopian, reservations manager for the Alumni Center.

The staff of CTO, which is housed in the center, was also evacuated, causing ticket sales to be temporarily suspended. Bjorn said the staff returned to work at 1:40 p.m. and phone lines opened again at 2 p.m.

At one point during the evacuation, staff were told to come back in, but as they were about to re-enter the building, officers were informed it wasn’t secure, forcing staff to wait another 15 to 20 minutes before they could return, according to Bjorn.

Both the evacuation and re-entry of the building went smoothly, Bjorn said.

Students at the scene were skeptical about the possible terrorist involvement.

“We take terrorism seriously, but I don’t think Osama bin Laden and his cohorts are after UCLA’s Alumni Center,” said Jake Strom, a first-year history student.

Coming Out Day Canceled

By Julie Eisenband Daily Pennsylvanian

(U-WIRE) PHILADELPHIA – Around the country, communities of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals are marking today as National Coming Out Day. But they are also marking another date – the one-month anniversary of the deadly terrorist attacks in New York and Washington – and are struggling to reconcile the celebratory with the somber.

The Human Rights Campaign, a political activist group for sexual minorities that runs National Coming Out Day, decided not to hold the national event on Oct. 11 as it usually does.

At the University of Pennsylvania, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Center will not hold a rally or vigil today as it has done in the past, though that decision was also impacted by an overflow of October activities celebrating Queer History Month.

“The decision not to hold a rally was partly impacted by that, but also by the volume of other things that are being done tomorrow and throughout the month,” LGBT Center Director Bob Schoenberg said.

“In a way similar to the way NCOD was impacted three years ago by the brutal attacks on Matthew Shepard, it’s being affected this year by the month’s anniversary,” Schoenberg added.

National Coming Out Day was founded in 1988 to commemorate the march on Washington that demanded equality for sexual minorities. The 1998 murder of University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard because of his sexual orientation, which occurred the day after NCOD, has sparked the inclusion of vigils during the day.

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