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Quick Takes: $1.1M Settlement in Harassment Suit, Continued Fears on Birth Control Costs, Columbia Rules Out Evictions, 8 Men Sue Seattle U., Accusations on Luna Presidential Search, Missouri Law Makes Evaluations Public, Job Prospects for New Grads

July 13, 2007
  • The University of Missouri at Kansas City has agreed to pay $1.1 million to settle a sexual harassment suit brought by an associate professor and a former doctoral student over an environment that they charged was hostile to women in a psychology laboratory, The Kansas City Star reported. While the university denied wrongdoing, it paid the women to settle claims that the two male professors who ran the lab created a discriminatory environment by seeking sexual favors, circulating pornography and intimidating women who worked there. According to the newspaper, the two men have kept their positions, but the lab has been moved from the psychology department to the medical school. However, the university told the newspaper that it was "re-examining all information that was revealed during the litigation to determine if further action is needed."
  • Students who use campus clinics have been complaining for months about rising birth control costs -- and their hopes for government help were dashed this week. Deficit reduction legislation passed by Congress in 2005 changed the Medicare rules in numerous ways, among them ending the practice of many pharmaceutical companies charging campus clinics only nominal prices for birth control. The American College Health Association, which sought regulatory relief, issued a statement Thursday saying that it was "extremely disappointed" with the government's unwillingness to reconsider.
  • Columbia University on Thursday announced that it would not seek to use eminent domain to evict individuals from an area near its main campus where the university has been buying property to construct a new campus for science. "We are absolutely committed to ensuring that these community members will have equal or better affordable housing in the area, and we are working to achieve this result," the statement said. The university is in the process of seeking both remaining properties and zoning approval for the project. While town-gown disputes over new projects are common, Columbia has a unique history that comes into play. A planned gymnasium (never built) set off a student strike in 1968 and created ill will for the university from many of its Harlem neighbors -- and that history has led student groups and neighborhood activists to call for the university to be particularly sensitive to local residents in the new project. The university's announcement Thursday did not rule out the possibility of using eminent domain against commercial properties in the area.
  • Eight men have sued Seattle University and the Jesuit order on charges that officials knew and did nothing about abuse they suffered from the late Rev. Michael Toulouse, who taught at Seattle from 1950 to 1976, The Seattle Times reported. The men were minors at the time and were not students at the university, but their suit said that Father Toulouse used his position as a faculty member to earn their families' trust. The university issued a statement Thursday saying that it takes the allegations "very seriously" but that it could not comment on pending litigation. Last year, Seattle University faced criticism for the 2001 hiring of the Rev. Tony Harris as vice president for mission and ministry when it knew he had been accused of sexually harassing a fellow seminarian in the 1990s. While Father Harris has never been found to have broken the law, he has apologized for "an error in judgment" in what the university termed "an isolated incident."
  • The lawyer for Luna Community College has resigned his position and relinquished the duty of leading the New Mexico college's presidential search. The Las Cruces Sun-News reported that Jesus Lopez said that some members of the search committee had conflicts of interest and already had a candidate in mind for president. "I will not be a party to a farce and a charade," Lopez told the newspaper. Other search committee members denied that there were conflicts of interest and said that the search was legitimate.
  • A new Missouri law requires public colleges to put some of the information from student reviews of professors online for students to see when picking courses, The Columbia Daily Tribune reported. Some faculty members fear that the law will encourage students to look for easy graders, but others note that unofficial Web sites already create such problems.
  • New college graduates are earning more than last year and employers are feeling more competition for talent, according to an annual survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, CNN reported.
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