Defunding police, segregation, and speech crackdowns: 2020's craziest campus stories
2020 was the year that unleashed COVID-19, the "defund the police" and Black Lives Matter movements, and an intense presidential election.
The year was no less chaotic on college campuses, despite most in-person courses shifting to online-only classes.
Campus Reform compiled a list of the craziest campus stories of 2020.
In an exclusive email shared with Campus Reform, University of Massachusetts-Lowell Nursing School Dean Leslie Neal-Boylan was fired for saying, “everyone’s life matters.” The email from Neal-Boylan was sent to students at the Solomont School of Nursing (SSON) discussing the anti-racism protests around the country.
The email stated, “Dear SSON Community, I am writing to express my concern and condemnation of the recent (and past) acts of violence against people of color. Recent events recall a tragic history of racism and bias that continue to thrive in this country.”
“I despair for our future as a nation if we do not stand up against violence against anyone. BLACK LIVES MATTER, but also, EVERYONE’S LIFE MATTERS," she continued.
The university told Campus Reform that her termination was in the best interest of the students. Faculty members were shocked at Neal-Boylan’s abrupt termination.
In a list of demands from the California Faculty Association at California State University, the group called for "free tuition for all Black, Native, and Indigenous students.” The demand for free tuition was made in an effort to increase the number of “marginalized students” at CSU.
The list itself was created to provide “redress for systemic anti-Black racism in the CSU,” and demanded that the university “not rely on police for safety,” due to its “racist roots.”
Cornell University won’t require people of color to get the mandated flu vaccine due to “historical injustices and current events.” The FAQ page states, “We recognize that, due to longstanding systemic racism and health inequities in this country, individuals from some marginalized communities may have concerns about needing to agree to such requirements.”
“For example, historically, the bodies of Black Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) have been mistreated, and used by people in power, sometimes for profit or medical gain.”
In a letter written to the Harvard administration, students demanded that officials from President Donald Trump’s administration be barred from campus. Their claim was that officials from the administration are opposed to "free and honest inquiry in the unfettered pursuit of truth, the right to vote, a free and independent press, checks and balances, the peaceful transfer of power, and the rule of law,” which the letter claimed automatically disqualifies them from becoming faculty members or fellows.
The students also requested that the university “fully vet speakers” coming from the administration. The group later said that it is committed to freedom of speech and debate.
University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel announced that the school will no longer utilize help from the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) after the death of George Floyd. Services no longer being used include help with patrolling sporting events and ceremonies, as well as K-9 explosive detection.
Students clarified that they didn't want the university to replace MPD with its own officers, but instead have fewer police officers on campus.
A letter sent to U.S. Attorney General William Barr by two senators requested an investigation into a trend of racial segregation on college campuses. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) stated that segregation of race violates Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Act “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race in federally funded programs or activities.”
In preparation for the potential of rioting after the presidential election, George Washington University in Washington, D.C. recommended that students stockpile supplies. The Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities advised students in an email to get food, medicine, and other necessary items as if there was a hurricane or snowstorm coming.
The university encouraged buying food with a long shelf life and canned goods that would last them at least a week. It also told students to always keep their IDs with them, and to not let unauthorized people into their dorms.
A letter from the dean of students to a student at Fordham University stated that he was on probation for social media posts that allegedly violated the school’s code of conduct. The letters provided to Campus Reform stated that the student was being investigated by the university to determine whether the posts did, in fact, violate the school’s policy.
In an attempt “to address systemic racism,” the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health announced it would change the process for testing kidney function, even though the change would risk misclassifying kidney disease in 10 percent of patients.
A press release from the university indicated that race is one of the factors used to determine kidney function and that there were concerns about systemic racism. The university admitted that “removing race from the creatinine-based formula could have an unintended consequence to misclassify the stage of kidney disease for about 10% of patients.”
A report from the Department of Education showed foreign funding given to colleges that went unreported, some of which had connections to China. Texas A&M, Cornell, and Georgetown are being investigated to determine if they complied with the requirement of reporting gifts from foreign entities exceeding $250,000.
The report stated that schools receiving most of the money from foreign entities are usually, “the largest, wealthiest and most sophisticated of America’s institutions of higher education."
Follow the author of this article: Haley Worth