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UNCA Chancellor Plans to Cut Academic Programs Due to Financial Crisis

Jonas Muthoni

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The University of North Carolina Asheville (UNCA) in a serious financial crisis. Because of this, Chancellor Kimberly van Noort proposes to cut four academic programs and shrink another. This plan is aimed at solving the $6 million deficit following a 25% fall in enrolment over the last five years.

Aims for Program Removals

On June 13, Chancellor van Noort announced that UNCA will gradually remove these departments,

  • Ancient Mediterranean Studies
  • Drama
  • Philosophy
  • Religious Studies

The plan also suggests cutting down the Languages and Literature department by removing specialisations in French and German. This decision came from an academic portfolio review hoping to fix immediate financial issues and make strategic investments for future security.

Effects on Students and Faculty

The proposal guarantees all currently enrolled students can finish their declared majors. Chancellor van Noort promises faculty members affected by these changes will have ample warning about changes to their jobs and assistance from the university in finding new opportunities.

In the academic years ranging from 2020 to 2023, around 25 students graduate each year from these endangered programs. During those same years, annually UNCA graduated an average of 763 students which means that about 3% of total graduates were from these programs.

Fiscal and Enrolment Hurdles

The UNC System Board of Governors will consider this proposal at the July 25th meeting . Revealed on May 1st, the academic portfolio review highlights UNCA’s financial hardships caused by,

  • An enrolment drop of 25% over five years
  • Rising operating expenses
  • Lower funds from the UNC system

Van Noort underlines the need for strategic planning to improve UNCA’s program offerings, competitive stand, and sustainability. She believes they must make tough choices now for the benefit of future students.

Faculty and Student Reactions

Rodger Payne, Professor of Religious Studies, shares his displeasure with this decision on Facebook. His post alleges that this decision was made two years ago when the Board Of Governors took control over the university intending to phase out Liberal Arts.

Sociology professor Volker Frank speaks about the confusion and worry among faculty members concerning their future. He states that specific outcomes for tenured professors and affected departments remain uncertain.

Student government leaders Liv Barefoot (President) and Alondra Barrera Hernandez (Vice President) expressed disappointment at not being included in talks regarding these changes. They assert that they were promised transparency which was not fulfilled.

Affect on Community

The Humanities coordinator Leslee Johnson points out how important these programs are to liberal arts and UNCA’s culture. According to him, they significantly contribute to community engagement by enhancing understanding among people.

Sophie Mills, a professor of Ancient Mediterranean Studies, notes her sorrow especially for younger staff members who don’t deserve such an unexpected setback.

Administrative Choices and Future Aims

As per academic review suggestion First Tryon Advisors (Charlottebased) recommended an analysis of 14 academic majors for possible reductions or total removals. The faculty objected claiming it unfairly targets departments with higher salaries or professors on sabbaticals.

The Chancellor said regular reviews will be held every few years to ensure fiscal stability. This is a growing trend among schools to scrutinise less populated departments as a way to balance the budget.

Wrap up

The proposal to terminate four programs and scale back another at UNCA is a drastic reaction to its money problems. Although it’s designed to deal with a sizable deficit, it creates worries among faculty, students and the wider community regarding UNCA’s commitment to Liberal Arts in the future.

The UNCA website provides more details about this plan and what it might mean. In these tough times, stakeholders are optimistic for a solution that will maintain the credibility of the academic mission at UNCA.

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States Advocate for Banning Cellphones in Schools Due to Growing Worries

Anne lise Sylta

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A rising trend in the United States sees various states advocating for a prohibition on smartphones in schools. The Los Angeles Unified School District (USD), second largest in the country, recently voted to prohibit cell phone and social media use during school hours for its 429,000+ K12 students. This action follows U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy’s appeal for social media platforms to carry warning labels similar to those found on cigarette packs.

Rising Legislative Support

California Governor Gavin Newsom supports this move and plans to collaborate with lawmakers on a statewide classroom smartphone ban policy. In parallel, New York Governor Kathy Hochul supports a similar law, and Indiana’s governor already implemented a classroom ban this spring. These initiatives highlight an important phase in the ongoing discussion over how best to regulate smartphone use in schools, especially given COVID19 impacts and increasing concerns over youth mental health.

  • California and New York consider implementing statewide cellphone ban policies.
  • The classroom ban in Indiana will start this fall.
  • Last year, Florida enforced a state law prohibiting cell phones in classrooms.

Difficulties Related to Enforcement

While many schools already implement some form of phone policy, efforts have intensified with new restrictions. During the 20212022 school year, about 76% of schools banned nonacademic phone use according to the U.S. Department of Education. However, the efficacy of these policies often depends on aspects like whether bans pertain solely to classrooms or extend into other areas such as corridors, washrooms, and lunchrooms.

Tampa Based fifth grade teacher Naomi Frierson notes the challenges of enforcing these statewide bans, despite their implementation. Frierson, who has required students to store phones away from desks during class time, acknowledges the importance of phones for communication, particularly for students who commute alone or take care of young siblings.

  • Queries include whether bans should also pertain to places other than classrooms in schools.
  • Teachers frequently reserve the right to suspend bans for teaching purposes.
  • A consistent enforcement and agreement within the community is key to policy success.

Anxieties Regarding Mental Wellbeing

The current drive for cellphone bans stems from concerns about student mental health and social media impacts. According to Dr. Murthy, social media use heightens anxiety and depression risks in children. Research indicates that teenagers spending more than three hours daily on social media are twice as likely to struggle with mental health issues. Despite contradictory research on this topic, concerns still persist.

  • Social media’s influence on mental health is a significant worry.
  • Adolescents who spend excessive hours on social media are more prone to face mental health disorders.

Varying Opinions and Practical Worries

Some parents and educators support these bans, while others express concern over practical repercussions. Teachers like Nancy Streit understand the necessity for emergency connectivity but find it hard to enforce phone policies effectively. Alyssa, an 18 year old student from Los Angeles, questioned the practicability of controlling phone use on large school campuses.

In addition, worries regarding separation anxiety among students exist. Patrick Franklin, a high school history teacher in Texas halted his personal phone ban because it induced anxiety among students. He recognized phones’ ubiquitous role in society and acknowledged how difficult it is to imagine a world without them.

  • Educators and parents express concern about communication issues with their children during emergencies.
  • Students like Eliana Frierson consider cellphones critical for completing school assignments.
  • Synchronisation of policies between students and teachers is often requested.

The Road Ahead

As states like California, New York, and Indiana advance with their cellphone bans, the success of such policies will hinge upon community backing and steady enforcement. Schools may need to invest in tools such as Yondr pouches, which can securely store away cellphones while still allowing students to carry them. Some schools, like Bethlehem High School in New York have reported favourable outcomes from implementing such measures, citing enhanced social climates and diminished classroom interruptions.

  • Tools such as Yondr pouches could aid in enforcing phone ban policies.
  • Lasting improvements include enhanced social interactions and lesser distractions.

The debate over cell phone usage in schools is far from complete. The latest round of rules signifies a major shift toward confronting the challenges that smartphones and social media present to education. The effects of these rules will be closely watched as educators, parents, and legislators try to balance technology usage with education needs in our modern times.

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UCLA Graduation To See More Security Due to Ongoing Pro-Palestinian Protests

Ashley Waithira

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The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is its security in preparation for upcoming graduation ceremonies due to a series of pro-Palestinian protests. Multiple arrests have been made and tensions are high on campus as a result.

Last Monday saw over 100 pro-Palestinian protesters occupy various areas within the campus. It’s the third major protest since May. The protesters hosted morbid displays such as coffins and bloody looking items while they recited names of Palestinians killed in Gaza by Israeli forces.

  • Protesters set up barricades around Dickson Plaza.
  • Demonstrators turned Shapiro Fountain’s water red as part of their protest.
  • Around two dozen protesters were arrested for disturbing university operations.

Los Angeles police had to intervene when protesters marched through South Campus demanding that the University of California cut off investments in companies which manufacture weapons for Israeli military forces.

Violent Clashes And Arrests Made Amid Protests

The situation between police force and protests escalated quickly. There were three major instances during the day where officers had to put physical barriers using their bicycles at key locations to keep away additional protestors from entering the fray.

  • Protesters shouted “We will honour all our martyrs” along with reciting names of slain Palestinians in Gaza.
  • Police officers had to give several displacement orders, eventually deeming the gathering illegal.
  • Nearly two dozen protesters were detained and were restricted from entering UCLA premises for two weeks.

The campus police reported crimes including spray painting of walkways, damaging of fire safety tools and destruction of vehicles. A security officer was injured during the protest and required medical assistance.

University Steps In & Security Enhancements Announced

In light of protests, UCLA has decided to conduct smaller commencement ceremonies at different locations instead of a single large scale ceremony. It will be mandatory for guests to bring their tickets and the university will also enforce strong bag restrictions.

A statement from UCLA’s administration condemning vandalism from protests but supporting peaceful protesting was released. Regardless of these incidents, a lot of students are focused on cherishing their graduation celebration.

  • Graduates feel relieved that they can finally focus on their achievements while appreciating the significance of the protests.
  • The university pledged to ramp up security measures to maintain safety during this crucial event.

In recent past too on May 2 & May 23, similar Gatherings by proPalestinian protests took place where they faced off against police and proIsraeli protests successfully.Persistent Tensions & Protester’s Wanting Changes

Protestors remained firm about their demands, urging UC system to break ties with Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and eliminating campus police practice. They sought amnesty for students , staff and faculty who were punished for participating in pro-Palestinian activism Impact on Commencement Ceremonies

The graduation ceremonies of 2024, is an important milestone for many graduates as most of their college went remote due to covid pandemic. The university has designed over 70 individual low scale events across multiple locations in lieu of a single large scale commencement ceremony.

To keep things flowing smooth and safe , strict security protocols have been put into place including visible bag checks and limited entry points. A lot of graduates respect the right to protest but are keen on celebrating this crucial event without any more disruptions .

  • “These protesters have the freedom to voice their concerns and take a stand for something very significant” quoted Jocelyn, one UCLA student .
  • A fellow student named Isa added that “People are mainly focused on living through this year end experience.”

The Future Summary

UCLA administrators are expecting more protests during graduation weekend and they have prepared vision plans to handle any kind of disturbance. The university community remains split with strong views from both sides.

UCLA’s ongoing protests is part of a nationwide wave where demonstrations taking place at universities countrywide demand divestment from companies involved in the Gaza war. This issue keeps growing with potential consequences for both student activism as well as university policies.

You can get additional information about UCLA’s authorised graduation ceremonies and security enhancements on the official website.

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Penn Prohibits Protest Camps Amid Rise in National Activism

Ryan Lenett

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In reaction to increased student activism, the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) has imposed interim rules guiding protests on campus. These rules, inclusive of a distinct prohibition on encampments, are in response to a pro Palestinian demonstration leading to the arrest of 33 protesters in May. This decision is an echo of wider efforts across American universities aimed at balancing free speech with security on campus.

Revised Protest Guidelines

The new regulations from Penn expressly forbid encampments and overnight events at any university site, indoor or outdoor. The guidelines assert that unauthorised overnight actions will be treated as trespassing and dealt with appropriately. This is Penn’s premiere prohibition on encampments within its protest policies.

  • No Overnight Activities: Encampment ban at all university sites.
  • Ban on Projections: Unauthorised light projections onto buildings prohibited.
  • Protecting Speakers’ Rights: No protest can disrupt speakers from expressing their viewpoints.

Penn introduced these controls after a sequence of proPalestinian encampments across universities nationwide caused controversy resulting in over 3,000 arrests since midApril. The Penn administration emphasised that these rules aim to facilitate free speech while upholding the university’s primary responsibilities of instruction, research, service and patient care.

National Overview and Response

Penn’s fresh regulations are part of a larger national trend where universities are coping with managing large scale demonstrations. Many institutions including Harvard, MIT and UC Berkeley have encountered similar challenges and are reassessing their protest policies.

Virginia Foxx, a Representative along with other Republican leaders have expressed doubts regarding the federal funding of institutions like Penn, pointing out concerns regarding the safety of campus and handling of antisemitic incidents. The protests resulted in significant administrative changes, with the resignation of former Penn president Liz Magill in December following controversy regarding her congressional testimony about the university’s reaction to antisemitic comments.

  • Federal Oversight: Universities could face reviews regarding federal funding.
  • Change in Administration: Changes in leadership at Penn and other institutions.
  • Nationwide Review: Reassessment of protest policies nationwide.

The new guidelines have solicited varied reactions from the Penn community. While some students and staff see these constraints as essential for security and protecting free speech, others view them as a betrayal to the concept of free expression. There is concern that they might excessively affect proPalestinian protests.

Effect on Student Activism

Sustaining activism at Penn has already been impacted by these novel regulations. Mira Sydow, a senior involved in the encampment, has criticised these rules as an intense restriction on free speech. She along with other demonstrators have faced disciplinary measures like bans from campus and graduation ceremonies. According to Sydow, such actions target specifically pro Palestinian protests but also curb any form of campus demonstration.

In contrast, some students such as Ben Messafi, an up and coming sophomore, support these new rules. He argues that such control measures are a positive move towards combating antisemitism ensuring that campus demonstrations do not disturb university responsibilities. The wallowing consensus is that unaffiliated individuals attending protests on campus should be restricted.

  • Student Response: Various reactions from students and faculty were noted.
  • Punitive Measures: Demonstrators face campus bans and other penalties.
  • Outside Influence: Attendance at demonstrations is restricted for non affiliated individuals.

Ben Messafi, a budding Penn sophomore, praises the new protest guidelines as “a good first step” in fighting antisemitism on campus. He disputes the theory that these novel guidelines would cause harm to Jewish students and prevent proIsrael expression. According to the revised guidelines, outside individuals attending on campus protests “may have less inclusive rights of open expression.”

Messafi recalls that non affiliated pro Palestinian and pro Israel people as well have attended demonstrations on campus since Oct. 7, pointing out an incident where a non Penn individual sprayed encampment members with a chemical. “When we had non student pro Israel folk step onto campus, they found it tough to maintain their messaging,” he said.

The Future Course of Campus Protests

Penn’s temporary guidelines are slated for review by a faculty task force in the upcoming academic year. This task force will propose more lasting policies, marking the first noteworthy update to Penn’s demonstration rules since 1989. The intention is to find an equilibrium between protecting free speech and maintaining order and security on campus.

Universities across the nation are observing Penn’s actions closely as they deal with similar matters. Penn’s policy review could possibly shape how other institutions manage protests, balance conflicts among diverse student groups and aim to create a milieu where open expression can coexist harmoniously with university responsibilities without leading to violence or significant disruptions.

  • Task Force Review: Faculty led task force will review and propose newer policies.
  • Balancing: Striking a balance between free speech versus campus safety.
  • Effect on Other Institutions: Penn’s policies might set a standard nationwide.

The novelty of these guidelines also rehashes pre existing rules like mandating a 48 hours’ notice for a demonstration and prohibiting engagement in any protest activity on Penn sculptures or statues. During the encampment, some protesters attached a Palestinian flag on the iconic Benjamin Franklin statue at College Green and defaced it.

Conclusion 

The revised guidelines govern “when, where, and how open expression” can take place.The new provisional regulations announced by university leaders, including interim president J. Larry Jameson, restrict the ability of groups to install structures or objects on university property without prior approval from the Vice Provost for University Life. 

Demonstrations are not acceptable in several areas like private offices & residences, classrooms, museums and libraries. Noah Rubin, a former president of the Penn Israel Public Affairs Committee and Jewish senior at the campus shared his apprehension about antisemitism continuing on campus despite these guidelines. After organising an event remembering Israeli hostages taken on Oct. 7 and speaking at a rally against antisemitism, Rubin started taking a different route to classes to avoid the protest site due to continuous pro intifada and AlQassam chants. 

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