A Dream Derailed

Martin Luther King’s dream of a color-blind society is threatened by government racial preferences.

Harry Potter Goes to College

Editor’s note: The latest installment in the wizarding movies, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, will likely make an appearance under many Christmas trees this year. A more important question is whether the books should make an appearance in college courses. This article was originally published in the Charlotte Observer on August 9, 2007.

Universities across the country are adding Harry Potter to the curriculum in disciplines as diverse as English, philosophy, history, Latin, and science. Edmund M. Kern, an associate professor of history at Lawrence University and author of the reader’s guide The Wisdom of Harry Potter, is teaching an entire course on Harry Potter this fall.

The generation of students entering college this year has a mania for J. K. Rowling’s seven-book series about a young boy’s adventures in a fantastic magical world. Harry Potter’s ongoing battle against evil, with its themes of choice and consequences, life and death, and love and hate, reverberates among this generation as Catch-22 and Slaughterhouse-Five captured the students of the 1960s.

But are Harry Potter books good enough for the college curriculum?

Another Battle in the Student Fees War

At most colleges and universities, each student is required to pay fees in addition to tuition and living expenses. Those fees are used to pay for a vast array of things on campus, whether or not the student has any interest in them.

Over the years, there has been a lot of litigation over student fees, with some students arguing that the system for collecting and distributing money is not just unfair but illegal. On November 20, a federal court in New York threw another wrench into the already convoluted legality of student fees.

Student Activity Fees: Who Gets What and Who Decides?

Only a small percentage of student activity fees at University of North Carolina campuses are distributed by students to campus organizations, says a new study. The majority of student activity fees are allocated by university administrators for purposes ranging from repairs to a student center to an undergraduate teaching award.

At N.C. State, only $8.85 out of the $363.50 collected per student for activities is distributed by students. At UNC-Chapel Hill, $39 of the $291.30 students must pay each year is given to student government to disburse to student organizations. “Contrary to the general impression, students are almost entirely excluded from the process of disbursing the student activity fee,” says Jenna Ashley Robinson, author of the study, “Student Activity Fees: Who Gets What and Who Decides?”

Jumping on the Climate Change Bandwagon

The drive to do something about the alleged climate change crisis has been sweeping the world. Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth” received an Oscar and he has just been awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace for his attempt to convince people that we must take drastic action now, or else suffer irreparable harm to the planet’s environment.

As Clarion Call reported in July, Elon University chose the book An Inconvenient Truth as its required summer reading for freshmen. And there is much more global warming action on campuses, in particular the proliferation of the American College & University Presidents Climate Change Commitment.

The Climate Commitment calls itself a “high-visibility effort to address global warming.” It aims at “garnering institutional commitments to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions and to accelerate the research and educational efforts of higher education to equip society to re-stabilize the earth’s climate.” Presidents who sign the Commitment pledge to make their campuses “climate neutral” as soon as possible.