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Quick Takes: Immigrant Ban Questioned, Scholar Killed, Bonds Pass in Texas, Anger at Baylor, Fallout in Beirut, When Crime Is Off Campus, Unlikely Source of Hoax, Alumni Venture, Swarthmore President Retires, Arrest Numbers Disputed, Mugabe's UMass Honor

May 12, 2008
  • The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service has disputed a statement from North Carolina's attorney general suggesting that community colleges in the state would be violating federal law by admitting students who lack legal documentation to be in the United States. The federal statement, which came in response to a request from The News & Observer of Raleigh, said that colleges could make their own decisions on the matter.
  • A scholar who was part of the Pentagon's controversial Human Terrain System, which places researchers with military units in Afghanistan and Iraq to help soldiers understand local cultures, was killed by a bomb in Afghanistan Wednesday, The Boston Globe reported. Michael Bhatia was a graduate of Brown University and was a doctoral candidate at the University of Oxford. The program in which he was participating has been criticized by many scholars who fear that it turns research findings against the communities who have been studied.
  • Two community college systems in Texas were celebrating Saturday night as voters approved bond measures. The Lone Star College System -- which is made up of five community colleges -- will make use of $420 million in bonds for new facilities and renovations. San Jacinto College won approval for a $295 million bond package.
  • The Faculty Senate at Baylor University last week adopted a strongly worded resolution criticizing the role played by President John Lilley in altering tenure standards and applying those standards, The Waco Tribune reported. The resolution follows a tenure season that saw a sharp increase in rejections -- including many candidates who had strong departmental backing. Of particular concern to faculty leaders have been statements suggesting that the president judged the candidates by his own standards, not those agreed upon previously and communicated to tenure candidates. The resolution adopted by the Faculty Senate states that it "categorically rejects the conclusion that either the president or the provost is in a suitable position to question the quality of scholarship in each academic department and effectively substitute his own judgment." Lilley responded to the resolution by sending out an e-mail in which he said that professors' views had indeed influenced his tenure decisions. He called the analysis in the resolution "false."
  • American University of Beirut and both campuses of the Lebanese American University will be closed today as a result of intense fighting in Beirut and elsewhere in Lebanon. John Waterbury, president of American University of Beirut, said via e-mail that while there is heavy fighting not far from the campus, there is "relative calm in our neighborhood." Most students from Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have been helped by their government to leave, and the university is "monitoring the situation on a day-to-day basis." The university's hospital "is functioning at near capacity, but we are trying to limit admissions to non-transferable cases as our staffing levels are low, especially among nurses," Waterbury said.
  • An investigation in The Albany Times-Union explores a loophole in federal crime-reporting requirements for colleges: Much crime against students takes place off campus, and isn't covered by reporting laws. The newspaper used various records to show the extent of crime faced by students at the State University of New York at Albany that would never be visible in the annual crime reports produced by the university.
  • The latest incident in which a campus had a lockdown based on a false report, at Samford University, apparently was based on a hoax by a security officer at the Alabama university. The Birmingham News reported that the security officer, who has not been identified, was upset because he wasn't allowed to carry a gun and because he had to patrol the campus in a golf cart. He set off the lockdown by reporting that he had spotted a black male with a gun on the campus, but admitted later that he had made the story up. Andrew Westmoreland, the president of the university, issued a statement in which he said "appropriate disciplinary measures" were being taken.
  • Manhattan Media, which publishes newspapers on New York City and New York State, is entering the alumni magazine business. The New York Times reported that the company has purchased 02138, the new magazine for Harvard University alumni founded as independent competition for the official alumni magazine. The company plans to keep the magazine, but add a social networking Web site and also sponsor events for Harvard alumni. Then the company hopes to replicate the model for other Ivy League alumni magazines.
  • Alfred H. Bloom, president of Swarthmore College for the last 17 years, announced Friday that he will retire at the end of the next academic year.
  • San Diego State University's president, Stephen L. Weber, is disputing the number widely used (75) for the number of students arrested in an undercover drug probe at the institution. Weber issued a statement arguing that the number is 33. But as The San Diego Union-Tribune noted, law enforcement officials are standing by the figure of 75, saying it includes students who weren't arrested on the day the operation went public.
  • Honorary doctorates awarded by several universities more than 15 years ago to Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe, have become increasingly controversial as his rule has become increasingly tyrannical. To date, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst has rebuffed student demands to revoke the degree it awarded to Mugabe. But The Boston Globe reported that a state representative, chair of the Joint Higher Education Committee, has now joined in opposition to the degree and a spokesman for the university board said that in light of recent events, the board has "an open mind" about revisiting the issue.
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