News Highlights: Week of November 27

Justice Dept. investigating Harvard over affirmative action policies, by Laura Jarrett of CNN

Back in 2015, a federal complaint was filed that accused Harvard of upholding discriminatory admissions policies against Asian Americans. Last week, the Department of Justice concluded that Harvard is “out of compliance with federal law,” following an investigation into the school’s affirmative action policies. Harvard has until December 1st to provide necessary documents to the Justice Department, at the risk of facing “the first major legal test of affirmative action policies under the Trump administration.” While the DOJ’s response has alternated between giving no comment and reiterating its commitment to “protecting all Americans from all forms of illegal race-based discrimination,” former DOJ official Vanita Gupta notes that the department’s involvement in the case is “somewhat unusual.” She expresses that, “The Justice Department clearly appears to be on the hunt for a case to bring a significant challenge to affirmative action.”

Trump will not campaign for Alabama Republican Senate candidate Moore, from Reuters

On Monday, President Trump announced that he would not campaign for Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate for Alabama accused of sexual misconduct by several women. The announcement comes after repeated statements from the president that Moore denies the allegations and that he does not want to see the Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, take office. The Republican National Committee withdrew their support for Moore and other notable Republicans have denounced his actions. Although the president will not campaign, his defense of Moore is a critical shift in the momentum of the past few weeks, during which the large majority of men accused of sexual harassment and assault have apologized, stepped down, or been fired or removed from upcoming projects. Both the president and Moore have outstanding sexual misconduct allegations against them that they have denied.

Four Centuries After the First Thanksgiving, the Mashpee Wampanoag Fight to Reclaim Their Language, by Sameer Rao of Colorlines

Mashpee Wampanoag tribal members are descendants of the ninety Native Americans who attended the first Thanksgiving in 1621. After English colonizers massacred most of the Native American tribe, however, much of the Wampanoag language of Wopanaotooaok was lost. Today, Jessie “Little Doe” Baird, the tribal vice chair, works with the tribe and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to restore the language that gave American English words like “pumpkin,” “skunk,” and “Massachusetts.” They use historical materials like land claim documents and the 1663 King James Bible to reconstruct the lost language. Their work supports a language immersion program called “Mukayuhsak Weekuw: The Children’s House,” which brings Wampanoag curricula to local public schools and museums. Baird is pleased with their progress: “From having had no speakers for six generations to having 500 students attend some sort of class in the last 25 years? It’s more than I could have ever expected in my lifetime.”

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