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Quick Takes: Budget Games, Bias Found Against Lesbian Employee, Blood Drives Barred, Arson Admitted, SMU Considers Pub, Penn State Settles Brick Dispute, Touro May Sell Law School, Strike Ends in Canada, Torture Device Assignment, Scholarship for Waiter

February 4, 2008
  • An advance copy of President Bush's budget plan for education shows an increase of $2.6 billion for Pell Grants -- and cuts in many other student aid programs, according to the Associated Press. The budget plan will be released today. The outline provided by the AP is consistent with other Bush budget plans, which typically have a few large increases, paid for by cuts elsewhere that many college officials find objectionable. Pell Grants could be popular during an election year, but typically the ideas of lame duck presidents (of either party) don't get much respect when Congress is controlled by another party -- so don't count on today's budget ideas becoming law.
  • A New York State appeals court has found that Monroe Community College discriminated against a lesbian employee when it refused to recognize -- for the purpose of extending insurance benefits -- her marriage in Canada to a woman, The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reported. The ruling said that New York State law requires the recognition of legal marriages elsewhere and that the state and its agencies have previously recognized such marriages even if they could not have taken place in the state. There is no word on whether the college or the state will appeal. The newspaper reported that at the time the suit was filed, the college's contract with the union representing the employee who challenged the policy did not provide health insurance to domestic partners, but the current contract does.
  • San Jose State University is banning blood drives on campus because of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's ban on gay men donating blood. In a letter to the campus, Dennis W. Kassing said he made the decision not out of any lack of support for blood donation, but because the FDA's ban results in a violation of the university's rules barring discrimination based on sexual orientation. The move by San Jose State is unusual. While many medical experts have criticized the FDA policy, blood drives are common on many campuses -- including those of institutions with strong anti-bias rules. The Stanford University Blood Center released a statement condemning San Jose State's decision, saying that it is not appropriate to withhold life-saving blood donations while taking on a national health policy issue."
  • A schizophrenic man -- who was kicked out of a graduate program at Loyola College in Maryland -- has admitted that he set fire to the home of one of his former professors, the Associated Press reported. The man was sentenced to a jail term of 4 to 10 years.
  • The debate over graduate student unions and adjunct unions is moving to the Maryland General Assembly. Legislation will be introduced to extend collective bargaining rights to both groups, The Washington Post reported. University of Maryland officials have expressed concern.
  • A committee trying to combat alcohol abuse by Southern Methodist University has proposed creating a pub on campus -- with the idea of bringing social life back to the campus from the bars elsewhere that serve hard liquor, The Dallas Morning News reported. The proposed pub would serve only wine and beer, and only to students of legal drinking age. The idea is being criticized by some as an idea that would not prevent excessive boozing elsewhere and that might add to SMU's reputation as a party school.
  • Pennsylvania State University has agreed to let an alumnus buy a brick for an "alumni walk" of inscribed bricks and to inscribe it with the message "Joshua 24:15," ending a church-state dispute, The Patriot-News reported. Penn State officials had rejected the proposed brick, saying its religious message was inappropriate, and the alumnus sued, charging that his First Amendment rights were being violated. Penn State now says that there is no church-state issue and that an official made a mistake in rejecting the proposed brick.
  • Touro College is in talks about selling its law school to the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Newsday reported. Last year, Touro sold its distance education arm to a private equity firm.
  • The faculty union and the administration at St. Thomas University, in New Brunswick, have agreed to binding arbitration to end a month-long strike, The Canadian Press reported. Classes resume Tuesday.
  • Architecture groups in Britain are questioning an assignment in a University of Kent architecture course, where students have been asked to design a torture device, The Guardian reported.
  • Endicott College is based in Massachusetts, but operates a program in Bermuda, which results in administrators traveling there. Administrators became so impressed with a waiter at the hotel where they stay that they offered him a full scholarship and he just enrolled at the main campus. The Boston Globe published a feature on the story, and said of the full scholarship: "Now that's a tip."
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