More than 150 students from 10 Boston-area colleges rallied over the weekend calling for their schools to divest from the fossil fuel industry and vowing to hold more actions until campus leaders commit to divestment, according to organizers of the protest.
The group included students from Boston College, Boston University, Harvard, Tufts, Brandeis, Lesley and Northeastern universities, Wellesley and Olin colleges and MIT.
The protestors met Sunday afternoon on the Weeks Footbridge to unfurl a large banner over the Charles River that read “Divest from climate crisis.”
Some students, including from Tufts and BC, then traveled to the homes of their campus presidents’ to sing “divestment-themed holiday carols” to deliver letters announcing the students’ intentions to escalate their campaign calling for fossil fuel divestment. At Harvard, students delivered a letter to the president’s office.
“These actions mark a turning point in our movement and our campaigns are going to escalate,” said a statement from Brandeis senior Rohan Bhatia. “Schools that have received direct and indirect rejections know that we need to increase pressure on our administrators to stand with their students rather than the fossil fuel industry.”
A growing number of students at higher education institutions across the country have been calling for fossil fuel divestment in recent months. Leaders of a handful of schools with relatively small endowments have committed to some form of divestment.
But, colleges and universities with wealthier endowments, like Harvard, have rejected the idea of divesting from fossil fuel companies, while others have not yet announced a decision.
“The lives and livelihoods of billions of people, present and future, will be devastated by the climate crisis unless we put our foot down now and work together to craft a livable future,” said a statement from Canyon Woodward, a Harvard junior who helped coordinate the events. “Fossil fuel divestment is about taking responsibility for our future and refusing to be passive participants in our own destruction.”
Babson College Hosts Annual Product Design Fairs, Showcasing Student Concepts From Babson College, Olin College Of Engineering, And Mass College Of Art (via PR Newswire)
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Download image 10,000 in Boston for Country's Largest Gathering of Women BOSTON, Dec. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "We are all just a little bit stronger than we think we are," Robin Roberts, co-host of ABC's "Good Morning America" told a sold…
MIT researchers say they’ve found what may be the most challenging tongue twister -- "pad kid poured curd pulled cod."
"If anyone can say this [phrase] ten times quickly, they get a prize," said a statement from Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel, an MIT psychologist who helped discover the tongue twister through a study alongside others at MIT and at Wellesley College, Haskins Laboratories in Connecticut, Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich and the University of Southern California.
Their study focused on trying to learn more about how the human brain works by comparing two types of tongue twisters.
Part of the research involved having volunteers say combinations of alternating words.
One particular list of words – “pad kid poured curd pulled cod” – turned out to be so difficult that the test subjects couldn't even get through it, the researchers said this week when they unveiled their findings at the 166th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in San Francisco.
Harvard poll shows trouble for health care, frustration with politics among millennials (via PBS News Hour)
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Wellesley College may hire professor fired from partner university in China allegedly for advocating for democracy, freedom
Wellesley College is considering hiring a professor who made headlines recently when he was recently fired by a university in China, allegedly because he spoke out in favor of democracy and individual freedom.
A formal invitation has not yet been extended, but the college “is moving forward with a possible appointment” of professor David Xia Yeliang as a visiting fellow in Wellesley's Freedom Project, which includes a focus on the concept of freedom in different societies, campus spokeswoman Sofiya Cabalquinto said.
“While the circumstances of Professor Xia's contract non-renewal with Peking University and his academic record may be in dispute, his credentials as an advocate of academic freedom and human rights are solid,” Cabalquinto said in an emailed statement. “It is Xia's experience as a practitioner of dissent that fits well with the work of the Freedom Project. The exchange of diverse ideas, perspectives, and experiences is at the heart of the liberal arts, and Wellesley is committed to fostering that exchange.”
Xia was fired in October by Peking University, where he had taught for the past 13 years.
Xia and some Wellesley faculty who support him have said he was fired because of his political views. The university has said he was fired because he was not a good teacher.
The university had notified Xia in June that he may be fired. That announcement prompted more than 130 faculty at Wellesley College to sign a petition saying leaders of their institution should "reconsider" a newly-formed partnership with Peking University if the university fired Xia.
However, shortly after Xia’s firing, Wellesley faculty voted that the college should continue its partnership with Peking University.
Yet, the faculty said wanted to examine more closely the Wellesley-Peking relationship, which includes faculty and student exchanges, joint research, virtual collaborations and other ties.
“Wellesley’s faculty has also committed to shaping the future of our partnership with Peking University,” said a statement in early November from Wellesley College president H. Kim Bottomly. “A faculty committee will develop Wellesley’s recommendations for the parameters and elements of the partnership. These recommendations will be brought to the full faculty body at Wellesley for approval and will then be shared with faculty counterparts at Peking University for their consideration.”
In recent weeks, another Boston-area school has been reexamining its partnership with an overseas university.
Brandeis University suspended its decade-old partnership with Al-Quds University in Palestine after the foreign school’s president refused to condemn a campus demonstration in which marchers reportedly flashed Nazi salutes amid banners depicting images of suicide bombers as martyrs.
Brandeis stressed that it has suspended, not terminated, the partnership with Al-Quds, Brandeis leaders said they are reaching out Al-Quds leaders to discuss the issues further and are open to reconsidering the suspension.
Soon after, Syracuse University suspended its ties with Al-Quds, while Bard College announced it would maintain its partnership with Al-Quds.
At Wellesley, professor Susan Reverby, one of the lead signatories of the petition that called for the college to reconsider its partnership with Peking University, said by email that a major accomplishment of that petition and the public support for Xia was that it “opened up an international conversation at Wellesley and elsewhere about the nature of these kinds of international ‘partnerships’ and how much they affect the very soul of liberal arts colleges in the United States.”
The president of Wellesley said she expects the conversation around campus generated by the controversy over Xia’s firing will be helpful as the school considers forming other overseas partnerships.
“In considering Wellesley’s collaborations with international institutions, including Peking University, our faculty debated difficult questions in a robust and respectful exchange of ideas and perspectives,” Bottomly wrote in a statement in early November. “I believe that Wellesley’s open approach to the complexities inherent in international exchanges will strengthen the college as we extend our global outreach.”
2014 American Rhodes Scholars By School (via http://www.fiestafrog.com)
Thirty -two students from the United States were named Rhodes Scholars, the winners are selected on the basis of high academic achievement, personal integrity, leadership potential and physical vigor, among other attributes. These students will receive…
Many college presidents across the country are negotiating huge exit packages when they step down. Schools and public records say:
Lawrence S. Bacow, president emeritus of Tufts, received $1.7 million in 2011 for “end of service compensation.” At Harvard, president Lawrence Summers kept his presidential salary of $580,000 for several years after he stepped down in 2006. And Wellesley College had two former presidents on its payroll in the last six years, including one who received $430,000 a year for two years after she retired and her duties ended.
Former Brandeis president Jehuda Reinharz has received at least $1.2 million more from Brandeis since his 2010 retirement and is in line to receive hundreds of thousands more in coming years.
Globe subscribers can read the entire story here.
Wellesley College planning up to $550m worth of projects to renovate, expand campus buildings by 2025
Wellesley College officials are in the early stages of drafting a campus-wide development plan that calls for spending up to a half-billion dollars on projects to renovate and expand existing buildings over the next 12 to 15 years.
“This is probably the most significant renewal of the campus since it was rebuilt,” about 85 years ago, the college’s dean and provost Andrew Shennan said.
The newly-released “Wellesley 2025 Consolidated Program Plan” report considers four proposals starting with a “base plan” of the campus’ “most urgently needed projects” that would be budgeted at $365 million, an amount administrators believe the school could afford even under the college’s “most conservative” financial outlook.
An “expanded plan,” budgeted at about $450 million, would include several additional projects beyond the base plan, according to the report.
And, two options for a $550-million “comprehensive plan” – one with an “academic emphasis” and the other with an “integrated approach” – would include several more projects beyond the expanded plan, said the report, which the college completed late last month.
The process to develop the plan began in the fall of 2010, when the college conducted a study that “suggested a lot of our impressive beautiful old buildings really need attention and haven’t been significantly renovated for a long time,” Shennan said by phone Friday.
He said working groups were established representing five distinct parts of the colleges academic and student life initiatives – arts and media; the humanities; science and the environment; student residential experience; and wellness and sports.
The college asked each group to try to identify long-term priorities for not only buildings, but also programming.
“We thought it was important to ask these five groups to think big,” Shennan said. “It was a chance for the college to ask ourselves what would be the ideal scenario for buildings and programs for the years ahead for Wellesley’s students and faculty.”
He said that the groups were asked to think about what the college will need for at least the next decade or two beyond the plan’s target completion of 2025.
“I think there’s a danger if you lock the college into the short-term future,” said Shennan.
The groups at first came up with a combination of plans that would have increased the campus’ building space by more than 370,000 square feet, or about 14 percent, and would have cost the college an estimated $1.38 billion, well above its max budget of $550 million.
Wellesley then hired VSBA, a Philadelphia-based architecture firm, to help the college consolidate those plans. The firm and a college steering committee held a series of about 20 meetings with college trustees and top administrators and consulted more than 75 faculty, staff, students, and other campus leaders to draft the plan.
In April, college trustees approved the plan, which underwent some tweaks leading up to last month’s latest and “final” report.
Shennan said the college expects to use money from its operating budgets, fundraising and loans to pay for the plan.
The college will decide as it moves along with the plan whether it will take on projects in the expanded and comprehensive plans. That decision will be based largely on its financial resources.
“We wanted that flexibility,” he said. “We wanted to be thoughtful, but not rigid … because as we move along things will change, building needs will suddenly become more acute, perhaps programming needs will become more acute.”
“We really hope we’re able to go beyond the base plan, but we’re not sure how far beyond it we’ll be able to go,” he added.
He said the college hopes to complete many of the projects a few years before 2025. The plan will not expand the footprint that Wellesley’s campus comprises, though it does call for some buildings to grow.
Despite potentially adding some space on its existing campus, the school does not plan to increase the size of its student body, Shennan said.
A breakdown of the plan
Projects within the base plan would include: a complete overhaul of Pendleton West and building a 12,000 square-foot addition featuring class, studio and rehearsal space for visual and musical arts; and the conversion of now-vacant space in the Schneider student center and Physical Plant buildings for student services and administrative uses.
There would also be projects within the college’s four-building Science Center complex, including: renovating the Laboratory-wing; repairing infrastructure in Sage Hall; improving infrastructure in the East-wing; and replacing the complex’s greenhouses.
The base plan additionally calls for renovating dormitories Cazenove, Beebe and Munger halls, the dining area within the Bates Hall dorm and the Fieldhouse athletic complex; building an 11,900 square-foot dining facility addition to Munger; upgrading infrastructure for residence halls in Hazard Quad; and making other “quality-of-life and programmatic improvements” at other student housing facilities.
There would also be: improvements made to academic buildings Founders and Green halls and the Stone and Simpson buildings for health and counseling services, the potential for an Academic Commons in Clapp Library; and projects to upgrade utility infrastructure.
The expanded plan would include those projects plus renovating the Tower Court East and West dormitories and the Tower Court dining hall along with some additional infrastructure upgrade work.
The “academic emphasis” comprehensive plan would include those projects plus: renovating Founders and Green; building a 25,000 square foot addition to the Science Center featuring new classrooms, laboratory space and an environmental center; and completing other projects.
The “integrated approach” comprehensive plan also calls for renovating Founders and Green and completing other projects; but instead of a science center addition, a three-story addition to the Keohane Sports Center, including a new fitness center, would be built.
Administrators said in the report they hope that they could complete the expanded plan by 2020, while officials would hope to finish comprehensive plan projects by 2025.
The school is already moving forward on some projects in the long-term plan, including starting renovations at Schneider, selecting architects to renovate the Fieldhouse, forming a design committee for the Pendleton West project, planning to select designers for Munger’s renovation and the improvements planned for Stone and Simpson.
“With a framework set for the W2025 projects, the college can now begin the important work necessary to renew and reinvest in our buildings – our lovely, iconic, essential spaces – enabling us to achieve our educational goals,” college President H. Kim Bottomly said in a statement in the report.
“As with any long-range plan, the Consolidated Program Plan will provide broad guidance and a set of principles that will help the college make informed decisions on individual projects,” the school said in a statement on its website.
“Each project will be based on the concept plans that have been developed for each area, with the knowledge that those initial plans will evolve into a final design,” the statement added. “For each of the individual Wellesley 2025 projects, we will go through the normal processes of campus consultation and [trustee] board approval as we would on any construction or renovation project.”
In a memo to the campus community last spring, Bottomly said that administrators expect “to have a clearer sense of our future financing and fundraising capacity by the 2017-18 academic year.
“At that time we will be able to decide which projects are the most feasible,” Bottomly said.
The college said it plans to host periodic “town hall-style” meetings -- open only to the campus community -- to share information, answer questions and listen to concerns and feedback.
Two such meetings are scheduled for Nov. 18 from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in the Jewett Auditorium and on Dec. 4 from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in the Alumnae Hall Ballroom.
A W2025 website is also being developed. It will provide information about progress on projects, including logistical aspects of construction, such as temporary closures of campus facilities, entrances or parking.
When Does College Spring Break 2014 Start? (via http://www.fiestafrog.com)
Here’s a list of the dates that different colleges start their Spring Break 2014, just in case you haven’t started making plans yet. Let us know where you plan to go for Spring Break 2014 in the comments section below!