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Quick Takes: Psychologists Toughen Ethics Code, Apology From Debate Coach, Enrollment Data, Facebook Snoops, Call for Energy Research, Split at Truman State, Scalia Trashes Chicago Law School, Strike at Windsor, Pre-Nike Life Stumps Syracuse

September 18, 2008
  • The membership of the American Psychological Association has voted to amend its code of ethics to specifically bar members from working in settings where people are held outside of the protections of international law or the U.S. Constitution. The vote -- 8,792 to 6,157 -- follows years of intense debate in which some psychologists accused their scholarly association of leaving loopholes in its anti-torture policy. While the APA has barred members from assisting in torture, it hasn't barred members from being in locations where protections against torture may not exist -- and many academic critics said that the association had made a mockery of their ethics. Michael Jackson, a psychology professor at Earlham College who is among those who had been protesting the association's position, praised the vote. "This is an inspiring development," he said. "For the first time in its history, the members of APA have officially repudiated a position taken by their leadership on an ethical issue. It's a testimony to ability of individuals to change the direction of a powerful organization when it has gone wrong."
  • The debate coach who swore, but didn't moon anyone, has issued an apology. A YouTube video of a heated, obscenity-laden argument between the debate coaches of the University of Pittsburgh and Fort Hays State University became an Internet sensation in August. Bill Shanahan, the Fort Hays coach, who dropped his pants during the incident, was subsequently fired. On Wednesday, Pitt announced that Shanara Reid-Brinkley, its coach, would not act as a debate coach for the next year and released a statement on her behalf. “I deeply regret my language choices during this incident,” she said. “Despite serious provocation, such language was unprofessional. I apologize for any embarrassment I have caused the university.”
  • The start of the academic year means counting students -- past, present and future. The U.S. Census Bureau released an analysis of trends from 2000-6, a period in which enrollments grew by 3 million, to 20.5 million. The Education Department released its annual projections on education statistics, this year through 2017. By 2017, the department predicts a 13 percent increase in enrollment, with higher rates for students who are not traditionally college aged and who are not white.
  • A new survey of admissions officers at competitive colleges has found that 10 percent of them look at social networking sites to evaluate applicants. The Wall Street Journal reported that the survey -- by the test-prep company Kaplan -- found that the Facebook snooping wasn't helping applicants. Admissions officers were more likely to report that the reviews "negatively affected" their analysis than that they improved the view of the applicants.
  • More than 70 business, higher education and science organizations on Wednesday issued a petition to the presidential campaigns calling for the next administration to make basic energy research a priority, as one path to long-term energy security.
  • Barbara Dixon is resigning as president of Truman State University because of unspecified differences with the board of the Missouri institution, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Dixon reorganized the university last year from 8 divisions into 24 academic departments -- a change that upset some faculty members -- but it was unclear whether that influenced the board.
  • The University of Chicago -- already the subject of bashing by those who don't like one-time law school faculty member Barack Obama -- had its law school thoroughly trashed this week by another former faculty member, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Speaking at a meeting of the Federalist Society (a conservative legal group), Scalia said that Chicago's law school has gone downhill since he left. The Chicago Sun-Times quoted him as saying: "I don't think the University of Chicago is what it was in my time. I would not recommend it to students looking for a law school as I would have years ago. It has changed considerably and intentionally. It has lost the niche it once had as a rigorous and conservative law school." Further, in an apparent dig at the courses Obama taught on race and society, Scalia said that when he was a law student, "I took nothing but bread-and-butter classes, not 'Law and Poverty,' or other made-up stuff." A spokeswoman told Inside Higher Ed that the law school did not plan a response to the coverage of Scalia's remarks.
  • Faculty members at the University of Windsor, in Canada, went on strike Wednesday, and classes were called off for the institution's 16,000 students. The Faculty Association says that the university's proposals are insufficient on salaries and would diminish the role of full-time faculty members. The university says that its proposals would promote teaching and research. One issue is a university proposal to create teaching-only positions -- a shift that the current faculty members say will diminish their role, in which they say that their teaching is informed by their research.
  • Syracuse University recently unveiled a statue to honor Ernie Davis, the first black athlete to win the Heisman Trophy, which he did in 1959. The Associated Press reported that the statue -- somewhat unusually -- portrays Davis in Nikes. While Orange athletes do wear Nikes, Davis didn't -- the company wasn't founded until after his triumph.
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