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Quick Takes: Boston Limits Off-Campus Housing, Germany vs. U.S. Ph.D.'s, Kaplan Sued by Ex-Employees, Threat on Gossip Site Leads to Arrest, Hawaii May Alter Dorm Rules, Rohrabacher vs. Gates, Ohio State vs. R.J. Reynolds, New Argument for Higher Ed

March 13, 2008
  • The Boston Zoning Commission on Wednesday set a limit of four on the number of students who can live together off-campus. The Boston Globe reported that the policy was met with strong support from college officials and neighborhood groups, but with intense opposition from student groups. Supporters said that the measure was needed to minimize the student culture of late-night parties in otherwise quiet residential areas. But many students said that the rules will take away an affordable housing option that they need.
  • German academics are pushing to change a Nazi-era law that bars people whose Ph.D.'s are from outside Europe from using "Dr." to describe themselves, Spiegel reported. The magazine detailed the case of an American academic, recruited for a prestigious post in Germany, who found himself facing charges of "abuse of a title."
  • Three former employees have filed a federal whistle-blower suit against Kaplan University, charging it with pressuring instructors to be easy graders and with admitting unqualified students to keep enrollments up and federal student aid funds flowing in, The Miami Herald reported. The for-profit university issued a strong denial of the charges, saying that two of the three bringing suit had been fired, noting that federal agencies had declined to pursue the charges, and saying that it had evidence that one of those bringing the case had gained access to the university's e-mail system to send out threatening messages.
  • Making a threat or making a point? Police arrested a Colgate University student after he posted a message on a gossip Web site threatening to shoot up to 50 students, the Associated Press reported. University officials said that they needed to take the threat seriously in light of recent shootings on campuses. But the student arrested reportedly said he was just trying to demonstrate that the Web site, JuicyCampus, was not credible.
  • The University of Hawaii at Manoa, facing a lawsuit over its denial of space in family housing to a gay couple, says it is revising its rules and will soon have a way for such couples to get dorm space, The Honolulu Advertiser reported.
  • The lone witness before the House of Representatives' Committee on Science and Technology on Wednesday morning was Bill Gates, the founder and chairman of Microsoft, who testified with some fanfare to mark the Congressional body's 50th anniversary. Gates urged Congress to fully fund the America COMPETES Act and increase basic research funding by 10 percent each year over the next seven years, and to make it easier for foreign-born students to obtain H-1B visas. Most members of the committee praised Gates' work and echoed his concerns, but soon enough he found himself face to face with the committee's resident contrarian, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.). The representative pointedly challenged Gates' assertions, referring to a Business Week article contesting the notion that America faces a shortage of science and engineering graduates. Gates said the Urban Institute study referenced in the article used a flawed methodology, but Rohrabacher had already left him in the dust, using the rest of his allotted five minutes to argue against favoring top-tier foreign workers over B or C students from the U.S., question why Congress should help engineering graduates rather than members of the military and refer to his work defending the rights of Kosovo.
  • Ohio State University is demanding that R.J. Reynolds stop using a block O used by the university in the tobacco company's advertisements for smokeless tobacco, the Associated Press reported. Company officials did not comment on the dispute.
  • Here's a new argument for higher education: Research from Harvard University has found that most of the gains in life expectancy are going only to those with at least some higher education.
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