All Around the Liberal Arts

By

Tufts University U.N. ceremony sparks flag controversy

An Oct. 24 ceremony celebrating United Nations Day was altered at the last minute after the editor of Tufts University’s conservative publication alerted administrators that the plan to replace the United States flag with the U.N. flag on a campus flagpole for a day would violate the U.S. Flag code, The Tufts Daily reported. The administration decided to move the location of the event so that the flags could be flown on separate flagpoles, without consulting the committee that organized the ceremony.

The U.S. flag code specifies: “No person shall display the flag of the United Nations or any other national or international flag equal, above, or in a position of superior prominence or honor to, or in place of, the flag of the United States at any place within the United States or any Territory or possession thereof.”

Although Provost Jamshed Bharucha said that the school changed the event simply in order to comply with U.S. law, some students have expressed concern with the lack of transparency in the decision.

“We feel that the administration, on a very high level, is giving into pressure from people who represent a small fraction of the Tufts community,” said Teitur Torkelsson, a student member of the United Nations Day organizing committee.

American University

U.S. Senate investigates University president’s resignation

The U.S. Senate is investigating the events surrounding American University President Benjamin Ladner’s recent resignation. Ladner resigned after school officials discovered that over the last 11 years he spent $125,000 of the university’s money on personal expenses and owed federal and District of Columbia taxes on another $398,000 that he failed to declare as income, The New York Times reported.

As part of Ladner’s resignation, the Board of Trustees awarded him a $3.7 million severance package, although four members of the Board resigned in protest of the large compensation.

The Senate has requested all documents related to the university’s own investigation. Chair of the Senate Finance Committee Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, sent a letter to the Board’s chairman suggesting that the Senate investigation will consider whether American University is misusing its status as a non-profit.

“Such actions raise significant questions about what other things a charity that has such a cavalier attitude towards the tax laws might be doing, especially in light of escalating tuition expenses,” Grassley wrote in his letter.

George Washington University

Administration plans for bird flu outbreak

George Washington University has formed a task force to consider options for dealing with a hypothetical campus-wide avian flu outbreak, The Hatchet reported.

The task force will consider ways to keep the university operating in the event of a flu epidemic.

“The issues have to do with isolation – making sure you have the appropriate rooms and the appropriate masks for employees,” said David Parenti, an infectious disease expert with George Washington University’s Department of Medicine. “Also making sure you have the necessary amount of medication and whom it should be given to.”

The 1918 Spanish flu epidemic that killed 25 million people worldwide caused the closure of many colleges and universities because young people were particularly susceptible to that strain of the disease. Although today’s bird flu has not yet spread from human to human, researchers fear that a mutation is likely and could cause a pandemic.

Briefs by News Editor Shannon Mills