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Quick Takes: Furor Over Iranian President, AAUP Defends Controversial Speakers, Competing Textbook Bills, Delaware State Opens After Shootings, Edwards Proposes Teacher University, Pushing Credit Cards, Anti-Bush Editorial Vulgarism, Football Humiliation

September 24, 2007
  • Columbia University, preparing for a visit by Iran's president today, is getting praise and criticism and much attention. The invitation to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- who has questioned whether the Holocaust took place, called for the elimination of Israel, and squelched scholars in his own country -- has led some student groups to plan protests today and for Columbia to announce tight security measures. In an interview with Fox News, John Coatsworth, the dean of Columbia's international affairs school, said that Columbia would have been willing in certain circumstances to invite Hitler to speak on campus. "If Hitler were in the United States and wanted a platform from which to speak, he would have plenty of platforms to speak in the United States,” Coatsworth said. “If he were willing to engage in a debate and a discussion, to be challenged by Columbia students and faculty, we would certainly run it.” (In an interview with Inside Higher Ed, Coatsworth provided additional context. He said that Fox had posed the Hitler hypothetical, and that he couldn't imagine Hitler having made such a visit. But Coatsworth said he talked to Fox about how American society might have been more supportive of helping Britain defend itself or easing visa limits on Jewish refugees leaving Germany had the public seen Hitler up close.) The Columbia Spectator, the student newspaper, has created a special blog called Ahmadineblog for coverage of the Iranian leader's appearance and the protests.
  • The American Association of University Professors has issued an open letter to university leaders urging them not to cancel controversial speakers scheduled on their campus. The letter, based on AAUP policy defending such speakers, is designed to strengthen the resolve of administrators as the 2008 election season approaches and political campaigns will likely be looking at who is and isn't speaking on campus.
  • Competing bills to deal with student complaints about textbook prices have arrived on the governor's desk in California, the Los Angeles Times reported. Both bills would require more disclosure about changes made from one edition to another, but one bill (backed by student groups) would require more than the other (backed by publishers).
  • Delaware State University plans to be open, with a normal class schedule today. The university called off all classes Friday and Saturday, and ordered students to stay in their dormitory rooms after the shootings of two students early Friday morning. The News Journal reported that authorities are investigating the possibility that geography-based rivalries among students (the two who were shot are from Washington) may have played a role in the shootings.
  • John Edwards has proposed creating a national university to train top undergraduates to become teachers. Edwards made the proposal in a broad plan he unveiled Friday to improve elementary and secondary education. He proposed that the teacher university be modeled after West Point, but with an emphasis on education instead of the military. About 1,000 students would start a bachelor's program each year and tuition would be free for those pledging to work upon graduation in schools or subject areas facing shortages. The new university might be on the campus of an existing institution or could be free-standing.
  • Despite growing concern about students' credit card debt, Iowa State University and the University of Iowa maintain lucrative deals with credit card companies that generate millions of dollars for alumni associations and that help the companies market their products to students, The Des Moines Register reported.
  • The Rocky Mountain Collegian, the student newspaper at Colorado State University, is facing scrutiny after an editorial Friday, which used two words, one of them starting with an F, to express the publication's view of President Bush. The director of student media is planning an investigation of the decision-making process that went into the editorial, according to The Coloradoan.
  • The beginning of college football season features many apparent mismatches, as top teams look to warm up and lesser teams seek the payouts and exposure of playing in the big leagues. This year, Appalachian State University's upset of the University of Michigan has received considerable attention, highlighting the potential gains for going big time. But a trustee of Fort Lewis College is trying to focus attention on the norm of such one-sided games. Fort Lewis, a Division II team, recently lost to Division I University of Montana, 49-0. The Durango Herald reported that Peter Decker, a trustee, questioned the "pigskin prostitution" of such a game, which he called "humiliating." Decker noted that players were on a bus for 17 hours. Kent Stanley, the athletics director, said that the university schedules such games "out of necessity, not because we want to. It's a matter of economics."
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