A round up of the top stories in student life from across the globe

MIT Claim Top Spot in QS University Rankings

Massachusetts Institute of Technology has eclipsed both Harvard and the United Kingdom’s Cambridge University as the world’s top university, according to the new QS World University rankings out this week.

MIT trailed the more prominent Harvard and Cambridge in the QS “reputation amongst academics” aspect, but excelled this year due to the important impact of the research it produces and its lower student-to-staff ratio. MIT also prospered due to a strong international reputation, partly owing to the proliferation of its online learning project MITx.

MIT has earned its reputation as a leading research institute, counting amongst its faculty 77 Nobel laureates and 38 MacArthur Fellows, as well as linguist and political activist, Noam Chomsky. MIT graduates were acknowledged by employers polled as part of the QS survey as amongst the world’s most sought-after.

“The rise of MIT coincides with a global shift in emphasis toward science and technology,” said QS Head of Research, Ben Sowter. MIT focuses on science, technology and other areas that it believes “will best serve the world in the 21st century.”

Student Boycotts after College Bans Islamic Headscarf

More than 100 students of Sri Ramakunjeshwara First Grade College, in the Indian state of Karnataka, boycotted classes in response to a ban imposed by the college upon Muslim females wearing their headscarfs, known as a hijab.

College management stated that allowing the hijab in classrooms could affect the teaching and learning process and make students from other communities feel uncomfortable. College Principal Vasanth Rao was quoted as saying: “There is no discrimination. We are implementing a rule that already existed.”

Students protesting the ban claimed that it was discriminatory against a minority youth. Muslim leaders in the district threatened legal action if the ban was not lifted. Students in the coastal area of Karnataka, which has the highest literacy rate in the state, have in the past opposed similar bans on the hijab.

The wearing of the scarf is part of a broader Islamic principle also known as hijab, literally meaning “barrier” in Arabic. In Islam, the hijab scarf is seen as promoting the principle of modesty, and it is required that Muslim women observe the principle of hijab in front of any man they could theoretically marry.

Online Bully Forced to Pay $4.5m in Damages

A gay student body President from the University of Michigan has been awarded $4.5 million in damages, after he was found to have been defamed and suffered emotional distress as a result of a cyber-bullying campaign.

Andrew Shirvell ran a blog called ‘Chris Armstrong Watch’, in which student body President, Armstrong, was labeled a ‘radical homosexual activist, racist elitist liar.’ Armstrong was the first openly gay Student Body President at the university. Another of Shirvell’s posts featured a photo of Armstrong next to an image of a swastika across the rainbow flag, and with the word ‘resign’ written over Armstrong’s face.

It was reported that Armstrong told university police that Shirvell had been stalking him around the campus and outside his home.

‘I’m incredibly humbled by what happened,’ Armstrong said of the judgment. ‘It’s a victory, not just for myself, but [for] a lot of other kids out there.’

Shirvell defended himself on the basis that he was acting within his First Amendment rights, claiming his statements as either true, or protected speech because of Armstrong’s public position as student body President.