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Quick Takes: U. of Texas Bars 'Preferred Lender' Lists, Audit of Pennsylvania Loan Agency, Student Assaults Prof at Andrews U., Case Western Prof Charged in Hate Letter Hoax, Brigham Young OK With Gays Who Don't Have Sex, Protests on Finnish Merger

April 18, 2007
  • University of Texas campuses will no longer use "preferred lender" lists, which recommend certain lenders to students, the Associated Press reported. Use of the lists has become controversial because officials at some institutions -- such as the financial aid director at the University of Texas at Austin -- held stock or received payments from lenders.
  • Pennsylvania's auditor general has announced a special performance audit of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency. The audit comes in the wake of reports of lavish spending by the agency on such items asresort hotels, cigars and pedicures. Authority officials released a statement calling their ageny the state's "most audited and publicly transparent government entity," and pledging full cooperation.
  • Andrews University, in Michigan, has expelled a student charged with assaulting a professor on Monday, The South Bend Tribune reported. The student allegedly walked into a professor's office, locked the door, and punched, choked and beat the professor. The newspaper reported that the student told police he had recently used cocaine and wanted to kill the professor. (This item and its headline briefly this morning incorrectly identified the institution involved. We apologize for the error.)
  • Federal authorities have charged Ramani Sri Pilla, who teaches statistics at Case Western Reserve University, with making false statements by reporting threatened hate letters that she herself wrote, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported. Starting in January, Pilla told federal agents that she had been receiving threatening letters and she sued Case Western for not doing enough to protect her. She said she was a victim of discrimination because of her gender and Indian heritage. According to the newspaper, Case Western spent $80,000 investigating the claims. Court documents indicate that Pilla has admitted to writing the letters. Her lawyer declined to comment.
  • Brigham Young University has revised its policy on homosexuality, such that gay students would no longer be in violation of the university's honor code for "advocacy of a homosexual lifestyle (whether implied or explicit)," The Salt Lake Tribune reported. However, gay students still would be in violation if they ever had sex. The new policy states that "Brigham Young University will respond to homosexual behavior rather than to feelings or orientation and welcomes as full members of the university community all whose behavior meets university standards.... One's stated sexual orientation is not an Honor Code issue." Equality Ride, a bus tour designed to draw attention to some colleges' anti-gay bias, recently visited Brigham Young's main campus, in Utah, and the university's Idaho campus.  Gay rights groups welcomed the changes at Brigham Young but stressed that they did not amount to equality. Will Carson, policy and strategy coordinator for Equality Utah, said, “BYU’s policy can now be summarized as ‘Do ask, do tell, don’t do.’"
  • Artists and arts scholars in Finland are furious over plans to merge the University of Art and Design with two other universities in Helsinki: the Helsinki University of Technology and the Helsinki School of Economics. Helsingin Sanomat reported that proponents believe the combined institution would offer a better education in all of its fields, but artists and arts scholars argue that the arts would suffer and the business influence would corrupt the institution's priorities.
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