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Quick Takes: Seeking Shift in Cuba Policy, Editors Quit at Lewis U., Back to Classes at Northern Ill., MassBay Spending Questioned, SMU-Bush Details, Latest Student Polling Data, Ontario Community Colleges Challenge Parental Snobs, Really Higher Education

February 26, 2008
  • NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the Latin American Studies Association and other education and business organizations are calling for an easing of U.S. rules on academic exchanges with Cuba in the wake of the retirement of Fidel Castro. Lifting some of the restrictions would "recognize Cuba's first presidential succession in 50 years" and provide a way to "increase U.S. contacts with Cuba as it now begins a transition to a new generation of leadership," said a letter from the groups to President Bush.
  • The top editor and two other editors have quit their positions to protest what they view as censorship of the student newspaper at Lewis University, in Illinois. An account from the Student Press Law Center outlines their grievances, including being told that they could not use the word "nigger" in an article about the use of the slur on the campus and a dispute over a possible article about a trustee who may be linked to a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation. Editors told the law center that they had recently started to report more hard news, and didn't want to face the limits imposed by Lewis, a private institution. In an interview with Inside Higher Ed, Angela Durante, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Lewis, defended the university's policies. She said, for example, that the students could have written about the slur by using the letter "n" and some dashes. "I believe the word itself is offensive and inflammatory and some people in the community might be offended," she said. On the SEC probe story, she said she didn't bar the story, but said she would need to approve it prior to publication. "I didn't pull any story," Durante said. Rather, she had to act "to fulfill the obligations I have in this role. The university owns and publishes the newspaper."
  • Students returned to classes at Northern Illinois University Monday, for the first time since the Valentine's Day killings that stunned the campus, the Chicago Tribune reported. On Sunday night, the university held a memorial service and the mood on Monday was described as subdued.
  • Massachusetts Bay Community College spent at least $450,000 in the last fiscal year on marketing, public relations and consulting firms, while several community colleges in the area with slightly larger enrollments spent less than $100,000, The Boston Globe reported. Faculty leaders, upset with leadership at MassBay, are focusing on such spending and suggesting that the college needs to shift its budget emphasis to academics. College officials defended the spending.
  • Southern Methodist University on Monday released the formal agreement it made to become the site of President Bush's library and an affiliated research institute that will not be controlled by the university. The announcement of the deal on Friday included some of the key details that have worried professors -- especially an agreement that the institute -- which Bush supporters have said will seek to promote the president's views and ideas -- will not be subject to standard academic governance from the university. The Dallas Morning News reported Monday that Bush library officials said that they did not see a need to reveal donors to the library complex, even though some government ethics experts have called for the release of such information (not only for the Bush library but for other presidential libraries).
  • Rock the Vote on Monday released a poll with the latest attitudes on the leanings of young voters in the election. The national poll is consistent with recent polls in primary states in finding strong student support for Barack Obama, but also finding support for other candidates. Of those in the new poll, 38 percent had a very favorable opinion of Obama, 17 percent had a very favorable opinion of Hillary Clinton, and 10 percent had a very favorable opinion of John McCain. When "very favorable" is combined with "favorable," Obama is still first (69 percent), followed by Clinton (51 percent) and McCain (44 percent). Obama scores better not only with young black voters, but also young Latino voters in the poll. Asked to identify the most important issues for the next president, the top priority of young voters is the economy (17 percent), followed by Iraq (12 percent), health care (11 percent), and education and the cost of college (10 percent).
  • Community colleges in Ontario have started an advertising campaign to confront directly a problem that hinders enrollment growth: parental snobbery. The Toronto Star reported that the colleges have data suggesting that many parents view universities as the only suitable option for their children and discourage consideration of community colleges. The ad campaign is built around a fictional new drug called "Obay," to make children obey their parents. The community colleges' ads proclaim it a good thing that Obay isn't real and urges parents to "let your kids make their own decisions."
  • A new trade school in Oakland, Oaksterdam University, provides training for students to get jobs in California's medical marijuana industry, the Associated Press reported. Students learn how to grow and cook with marijuana, the use of different strains to treat various medical conditions, and the legal issues involved.
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