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Quick Takes: Win for Affirmative Action, NBA-NCAA Deal (Update), More Time for Foreign Students, Spellings to Meet Guarantors, Fire Kills 3, Database Stops Blocking 'Abortion,' Riot at Mich. State, Firing Faulted, Bush's Low Grades, YouTube Suspension

April 7, 2008
  • Opponents of affirmative action in Oklahoma have dropped a proposed referendum to bar state agencies, including public colleges and universities, from using affirmative action in admissions or hiring. The Tulsa World reported that the request came after it became apparent that many of the signatures submitted on petitions for the referendum were duplicate, so the measure would likely have been rejected by state officials. Oklahoma is one of five states that have been targets this year of the anti-affirmative action campaign -- the others being Arizona, Colorado, Missouri and Nebraska. When such measures have made it onto ballots, they have passed by comfortable margins so defenders of affirmative action have pushed hard to challenge the measures before they go onto ballots.
  • The National Basketball Association and the National Collegiate Athletic Association are planning an announcement today. While there is no official word on what will be said, both The Raleigh News and Observer and FOXSports.com are reporting speculation of a new deal with would require more basketball players to stay in college for at least two years before leaving for the NBA. Such a rule would end the phenomenon of the "one and done" stars who comply with current regulations by going to college only for a single year before leaving to play professional basketball. (Update: The NCAA says on its Web site that the Fox report is "erroneous.... The NCAA has no role whatsoever regarding the NBA age policy or its collective bargaining process. The scheduled joint announcement is on a completely different topic.")
  • New visa rules will be issued this week that will extend to 29 months (from 12) the right of some foreign students -- generally in science and technology fields -- to stay in the United States for on-the-job training after they finish their degree programs, assuming the training relates to their degree programs. More flexibility for this program has long been sought by students and business leaders, both of whom say the United States forces out science talent needed by organizations in the U.S.
  • Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is planning a meeting of loan guarantors on Friday to discuss concerns about the availability of student loan credit and plans for having the agencies become "lenders of last resort" if too many lenders leave the federal guaranteed loan program. The department announced the meeting in a letter to Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) -- one of a series of statements from Spellings aiming to reassure the public and Congress that the department is on top of the loan situation.
  • Three students at the University of Wisconsin at Stout were killed in a fire early Saturday morning in an off-campus apartment. The university has set up grief counseling for students. While officials have not disclosed the cause of the fire, investigators believe it was accidental.
  • Johns Hopkins University has removed a block on the word "abortion" in a database administered by the university's Bloomberg School of Public Health. The database, POPLINE, has information on family planning and reproductive health and is believed to be the largest such database in the world. The U.S. Agency for International Development funds the database, and Hopkins had imposed a block on the word "abortion" after inquiries from USAID about two items in the database, related to abortion, that government officials did not believe belonged in the database. A day after a Wired blog post publicized the issue last week, the university lifted the restriction on searches using the word. Michael J. Klag, dean of the public health school, released a statement Friday in which he said that he could "not disagree more strongly" with the decision to block searches with the word "abortion," and added that he had ordered the immediate removal of the block. The school, he wrote, "is dedicated to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge and not its restriction." A spokesman said the decision to block the search term was made at the communication center without consultation with the school’s leaders.
  • Police fired 13 rounds of tear gas and arrested 52 -- many of them Michigan State University students -- early Sunday morning after police reported that students and others who were gathered were throwing bottles and rocks, The Lansing State Journal reported. Michigan State has had difficulties in the past with student riots and police have sometimes been criticized for their handling of them. Police officials noted that they used only 13 rounds of tear gas Sunday, much less than in handling previous incidents.
  • An arbitrator has ordered Bishop State Community College, in Alabama, to rehire as an instructor an administrator whom it fired after he was convicted for leaving the scene of an accident involving a child, The Press-Register reported. The university cited the felony conviction in firing David Thomas as director of adult education and economic development. But the arbitrator said he was entitled to a teaching job and questioned the procedures used to dismiss Thomas. The arbitrator found taht "although his actions sullied the reputation of the employer in the short-term, it is not demonstrated that his continuing presence at the college materially undermined its legitimate interests or would do so in the future." The state community college board is vowing to appeal.
  • An informal poll of 109 historians by the History News Network has found that 61 percent consider President Bush to be the worst president in American history. In addition, 98 percent of those surveyed rank the Bush presidency as a failure.
  • Anglia Ruskin University, in Britain, has suspended a graduate student in business because of a critical video she posted on YouTube about her program, The Telegraph reported. University officials said her video was inaccurate and unfair, but she said that the university was violating her rights to free speech and trying to silence criticism.
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