Federal File: Speech patrol?; Speech sale; New slot

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College and university officials, upset about the way the Education Department's office for civil rights plans to investigate racial-harassment complaints, have appealed to the White House in an effort to amend the strategy.

Published as guidelines in the March 10 Federal Register, the plans call for investigating incidents where individuals are treated differently because of their race by employees or representatives of an institution, and cases in which institutions have "created or [are] responsible for a racially hostile environment.''

The postsecondary officials are concerned that the guidelines would require them to regulate speech.

The language in the policy document implies that "colleges will be held accountable for things that are said'' on campus, said David Merkowitz, the director of public affairs for the American Council on Education, which represents colleges and universities.

Mr. Merkowitz acknowledged that the A.C.E. last week wrote to an unnamed White House official about the guidance. But he declined to make the letter available or to discuss it, saying it was "private correspondence.''

"We're not trying to make that into a public confrontation,'' Mr. Merkowitz said.

An autographed copy of President Clinton's 1994 State of the Union Message reportedly fetched $4,000 at an annual auction sponsored by the Washington private school attended by the President's daughter, Chelsea.

The Sidwell Friends School auction benefits students who are unable to pay the tuition, which exceeds $10,000 a year.

Although school officials would not confirm what the autographed copy of the speech netted, news reports gave the amount.

School officials also would not confirm reports that Mr. Clinton attended the auction.

An Oregon community-college official has accepted a new position in the Education Department.

Betty Duvall, the executive dean at the Portland Community College's Rock Creek campus, will become the department's first community-college liaison.

The position, housed under the office of the assistant secretary for vocational and adult education, was authorized by Congress in 1992.--MARK PITSCH

Vol. 13, Issue 33

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