2016 March

Restroom unrest

Introduced, debated and passed last week – by the North Carolina House and Senate – and signed by the governor in under 12 hours. Such was the sudden and speedy birth of North Carolina’s Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, which will force public colleges and universities (as well as other public venues and government buildings) to require their restrooms be used only by people whose biological sex at birth matches the sign on the door.

Several private colleges in North Carolina condemned the new law and assured their students it does not cover their campuses. Guilford, as well as Elon, Duke and Wake Forest Universities, all said last week that students on campus were free to use whichever restroom aligns with their gender identity. Wake Forest University and Davidson College’s presidents took to Twitter to reassure students and faculty members.

On Thursday, Angela Mazaris, the founding director of the LGBTQ Center, helped organize a protest against the new law and 200 students, faculty and staff members gathered at Wait Chapel.

On Friday, Wake Forest University released a statement underscoring its commitment to support the LGBTQ community.

In local coverage, all four television stations and WFDD aired the moment of solidarity held Thursday, although not all those segments are available online. WXII interviewed Adam Plant, a transgender student, to get his reaction on the passing of the new law that reverses Charlotte’s transgender ordinance. The Winston-Salem Journal has run several stories, one highlighting the San Francisco mayor’s stance on NC travel that included Wake Forest’s statement as well as an interview with Shannon Gilreath, a professor of constitutional law and sexuality at the School of Law, and a comment from Mazaris.

“Living in a state that doesn’t protect (the rights of gays, lesbians and transgender people) is not an attractive proposition,” Mazaris said.

Wrong personality for the job

Anna Hartley, a postdoctoral research scientist who works on personality judgment and measurement, in the psychology department writes: “My colleagues and I recently submitted a paper that showed that the most desirable quality in others is morality, and particularly honesty. People care deeply about a person’s morality when forming general impressions of that person, and whether they like, respect, and feel like they truly know that person – more so than other desirable qualities, such as warmth, competence, or socialbility.”

Tragedy of Darryl Hunt: how exonerated man came to take his own life

On the morning of 6 February 2004, the eyes of Winston-Salem fell upon Darryl Hunt, who had calmly waited for this day, uncertain if it would ever arrive, when he was exonerated for a rape and murder he did not commit. When attorney Mark Rabil first met Hunt in 1985, he was struck by the teenager’s peaceful demeanor and unfettered willingness to prove his innocence no matter the costs.

“I was scared,” said Rabil, associate professor at the School of Law who is the Director of Wake Forest’s Innocence and Justice Clinic. “In my 35 years practicing law, there’s never been this suddenness of me being convinced of innocence as I was in that first hour with Darryl.”

“This community, locally and statewide, had such high expectations of him,” says Phoebe Zerwick, an investigative reporter who covered Hunt’s case for the Winston-Salem Journal and now teaches journalism at Wake Forest. “It must have been a huge burden. At the same time, it gave him purpose.”

News Center Media Report for March 19-25

The WFU News Center Media Report for March 19-25 is now available online.

Wake Forest expands downtown

Wake Forest University will offer new programs in biomedical sciences and engineering, the university announced Friday. Students will study in Wake Forest Innovation Quarter in downtown Winston-Salem, N.C., a hub for biomedical sciences and information technology. The university is preparing space adjacent to the Wake Forest School of Medicine’s newly renovated facilities, which are scheduled to open this summer.

The programs, which will be offered starting in 2017, include a B.S. in engineering, a B.S. in biochemistry and molecular biology, and a concentration in medicinal chemistry and drug discovery.

Wake Forest is pitching the new programs as a solution to the growing need for undergraduate biomedical science and technology graduates. Between 2012 and 2014, the university says, demand has grown by 58 percent nationally.

Want a college admissions edge? These schools might give you a gender advantage

The Washington Post analyzed admission rates for men and women at about 200 prominent colleges using federal data for the 2014 cycle, the latest available. There were significant gaps favoring men at many colleges and women at others. But a large number of schools had no gender gaps or minimal gaps in admission rates.

The schools were included in the review if they ranked among the top 100 in the most recent U.S. News and World Report lists of national liberal arts colleges and national universities. Wake Forest (32 percent women, 38 percent men) 6 points.

The King of Wake

How famed golfer Arnold Palmer came to study at Wake Forest University is detailed in this feature article – “Palmer likely never would have ended up at Wake Forest had it not been for his best friend, Buddy Worsham, who accepted a golf scholarship at the school.”

“Worsham’s older brother Lew had just won the 1947 U.S. Open, and Buddy was a top-flight recruit, especially for Wake Forest, which was not yet a golf powerhouse.”

News Center Media Report for March 12-18

The WFU News Center Media Report for March 12-18 is now available online.

Race on campus, nontraditional leaders, rising confidence: A survey of presidents

College and university presidents overwhelmingly describe race relations on their campus as excellent or good … Those are among the key findings of Inside Higher Ed’s 2016 Survey of College and University Presidents, produced in conjunction with Gallup. Nathan Hatch, president of Wake Forest University, said he suspected that the presidents rating campus race relations as good were simply asking if they had experienced “huge flare-ups” such as those that attracted so much attention in the fall. Others, he suspected, may be proud of increases on their campuses in the representation of minority students.

Wake Forest hasn’t had major protests in the last year and has attracted an increasingly diverse student body. Hatch said, however, that it’s wrong for presidents to assume that good demographic data and the absence of protests mean that minority students are happy.

With fellow administrators, Hatch has spent a lot of time reaching out to minority students and listening to concerns, and many have such concerns, he said.

“Diversity by itself,” he said, doesn’t create inclusivity. Colleges need to work at that, whether or not they have protests. Personally, Hatch said, he would be “much more cautious” about declaring race relations on campus to be good, even if he feels that his institution is making progress.

As the SAT evolves, so do opinions on its value

Many test-prep experts say the new SAT now looks more like its competitor, the ACT, which more students have opted to take in recent years. And it’s no coincidence. The SAT is losing market share to the ACT and has come under fire not only for its expense, but access. One of the many criticisms of the SAT is that the test creates a disadvantage for women, minorities and the poor who are less likely to afford the costly prep courses.

Some colleges are completely opting out of the SAT and ACT as a requirement for admission altogether. The premise isn’t entirely new. According to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, more than 850 colleges and universities nationwide are now test-optional. Bates College first became test-optional in 1984 and Wake Forest University was the first major school to ditch test requirements in 2008.