Replacing the National Anthem; Rethinking Fraternity Pledge

And: when college becomes a refuge from thinking

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Today in higher education: rethinking the pledge process, swapping out the national anthem, asking applicants about sexual orientation, and explaining undergrad thinking.

  • Compromising between patriotism and pacificism. This summer, Goshen College made news for its decision to do away with playing a full National Anthem before sporting events due to complaints about war imagery (the school is Mennonite-affiliated and values pacificism). Today the college announced a suitable replacement: "America the Beautiful." In a statement, the school's president seemed to just want to move on: "Though some may or may not agree with the alternative recommended here, I call now on each one of us to move beyond this decision and turn our attention to other important matters before us." [Associated PressChicagoist]
  • Cornell President: fraternities really need to stop hazing their pledges. In the Times, Cornell president David J. Skorton admits that its "long past time" to be addressing this issue and says that he directed the Greek system to devise a way of pledging that doesn't involve dangerous hazing. "National fraternities and sororities should end pledging across all campuses," he wrote. Cornell's interfraternity president told the student paper that he understood this reasoning, but: "'It's just kind of overwhelming to envision a completely revamped pledging process,' especially when the pledging process of each individual fraternity is kept secret, he added." [The Cornell Daily Sun, The New York Times]
  • Speaking of which...The University of South Carolina, which suspended its fraternity rush last week, has decided to allow it to resume for most frats again. And it looks like the Greek system had a pretty good team behind the scenes: "Officials announced the partial lifting of that order on Tuesday after a closed meeting with alumni who belong to some of the organizations. One fraternity had hired a lawyer who said the university's action was 'illegal and unconstitutional.'" [Chronicle of Higher Education]
  • Sometimes going to college makes you think less.  You've heard of Pay Pal founder Peter Thiel: he made a semi-controversial decision to set up a program for potential entrepreneurs who were thinking about skipping college. Today, in a Reuters profile, he elaborates on this idea by explaining his own college daze: "When I look back, I was in this automatic default thing," he said. "Higher education, it becomes strangely this way that most people don't need to think about their lives - some sort of substitute for thinking about your future." [Reuters]
  • A college application question: what's your sexual orientation?  Elmhurst college, according to Inside Higher Ed, may be the first to introduce an optional question on its college applications where applicants may indicate that they are gay, lesbian or transgendered. The school president "said that the college can only know if it is attracting and admitting gay applicants if it asks the question, just as it asks about other demographic categories." LBGT students who check the box on the application will be eligible, like other underrepresented groups, to receive a scholarship. [Inside Higher Ed]
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