Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, July 31, 2014 - 3:00am

Out-of-pocket contributions to cover the price of college rose in 2014 after three years of decreases, according to the seventh annual installment of a study the lender Sallie Mae released today. Parents in particular are picking up more of tuition costs, and now pay for 30 percent of the total amount from their own income and savings. Higher-income parents contributed a much larger share than their less wealthy peers, the study found. Students paid for 12 percent from their own income and savings. Both parents and students are borrowing less to pay for college. Borrowed funds covered 22 percent of costs, a decline from 27 percent in the two prior years.

Thursday, July 31, 2014 - 3:00am

Senators Ed Markey and Orrin Hatch on Wednesday introduced changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, which would require institutions to have policies in place for protecting student data or risk losing federal funding. However, since the bipartisan bill only addresses data contained in the students' educational records, it would not cover clickstream data and other insights collected by ed-tech companies. Senators John Walsh and Mark Kirk co-sponsored the bill.

Thursday, July 31, 2014 - 3:00am

A former member of Ohio State’s marching band has written an open letter to the university’s president protesting the firing of band director Jonathan Waters amid findings of widespread hazing in the band, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported. Alexandra Clark, the band alumna, says she embraced the sexual nickname older bandmates assigned her. That nickname – “Joobs” – didn’t bother her when she was in the band. But the university, she contends, has made it into something shameful.

When Ohio State fired Waters last week, the university made public a report chronicling acts of hazing and sexual harassment that occurred in the band. One objectionable practice, the university found, was the assignment of denigrating nicknames to new members. The report listed nicknames such as “Jizzy” and “Twinkle Dick.”

Discussion of Band Hazing

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One nickname received a note of explanation. Next to “Jewoobs,” the report added: “given to a Jewish student with large breasts.”

“I’m the “Jewoobs” that the entire Internet seems to be talking about,” Clark wrote, in what may be a slight overstatement. The former band member, who was in the band until 2011, said the institution "turned a lighthearted joke and rookie name given to me by my row mates with my full consent into something shameful.”

“What is truly shocking about [the university’s report] is not the list of antics by a group of hormone filled college students, but the complete lack of respect for the privacy and dignity of the band members,” Clark wrote. “Included in the list of “offensive” rookie nicknames are things like Donk, Tulsa, Tiggles, and Jewoobs. Ohio State clearly had no interest in learning anything about these strong, intelligent women and instead decided that their delicate feminine sensibilities needed to be defended by adding their names to a list of things they feel the Buckeye community should feel disgusted and ashamed about.”

She said her best friends still call her “Joobs.”

Clark is not the only former band member to protest Waters’s firing. An alumni-driven petition demanding that Ohio State reinstate Waters has garnered more than 7,000 signatures. And an online fund raising money for Waters and his family “to use in the way they deem neccesary” [sic] has attracted almost $13,000 in donations in four days.

A group of about 15 marching band alumni, mostly women, marched across Ohio State’s campus Monday to demand Waters’ reinstatement, the Columbus Dispatch reported. Waters’ supporters say the university didn’t give him enough time to change the marching band’s culture. 

 

Thursday, July 31, 2014 - 3:00am

Shirley V. Hoogstra, vice president for student life at Calvin College, was on Wednesday named as the new president of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, whose members come from a number of denominations. Hoogstra worked as a lawyer before joining Calvin. She takes over at a challenging time for the organization. The last permanent president, Edward O. Blews Jr., was fired in October, after nine months on the job. In February he sued the organization. All CCCU institutions have statements of faith, but those statements vary, and a number of CCCU institutions are having internal debates or are facing external scrutiny abut their policies on issues related to sexuality, the teaching of evolution and other subjects.

 

 

 

 

Thursday, July 31, 2014 - 3:00am

Want to up your citation stats? Try changing your name – but make sure it starts with an “A,” “B,” or “C.” That’s what a new paper in Economic Inquiry suggests (an abstract is available here). The study, by Wei Huang, a Ph.D. candidate in economics at Harvard University, says that researchers whose last names begin with A, B, or C who are listed first as authors in articles in a variety of science journals receive, on average, one to two more citations than their peers whose names start with X, Y, or Z.

The effect is most evident when reference lists are long. The effect is not evident in self-citations. Researchers whose names begin with the letters D-W fall somewhere in the middle in numbers of citations. Huang calls the effect modest but “salient” and attributes it in part to the fact that authors are listed alphabetically in many reference lists. Huang says the findings raise questions about the validity of citation indexes, in that quantity may not be as reliable an indicator of quality as many believe it is.

Thursday, July 31, 2014 - 3:00am

Tohoku University in Japan recently evicted 105 students from a dormitory, citing drunken behavior, The Japan Times reported. The university has been trying to crack down on excessive drinking, but dormitory eviction is an unusual punishment. Yasunori Kumakura, who is in charge of student affairs at the university said that, by evicting students, “we hope to reset the atmosphere in the dorm.... We’re doing it for the sake of their health.”

Thursday, July 31, 2014 - 3:00am

Are you tired of all the reports about whether college is worth attending? The humor site The Onion apparently is tired of them, and so has responded with the satire for which the site is known. The headline: "Study Finds College Still More Worthwhile Than Spending 4 Years Chained To Radiator." The faux report is quoted as saying, “Compared to the intellectual stimulation and personal growth achieved in a university setting, there is less to be gained from 48 months in which one is tightly shackled about the ankle and connected by a short length of chain to a leaking, immovable cast-iron radiator."

 

Thursday, July 31, 2014 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Peter Jaskiewicz, an associate professor at Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business, suggests that companies controlled by a small group of family members might benefit from outside hires. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 - 4:25am

New law graduates in many states experienced a technology snafu at the worst possible time Tuesday night: as they were attempting to upload bar examinations just before deadlines in their states. Many reported spending hours trying and failing to upload their answers. ExamSoft, a company that manages the bar test submission process in many states, acknowledged "slowness or difficulty" being experienced by many test-takers, and said that it was sorry for the difficulties many were having. The company, working with various state bar associations, announced 17 deadline extensions by states, so that people who couldn't submit their exams would not be penalized.

The legal blog Above the Law posted some of the emails and social media messages being posted by angry law graduates. the blog said that the situation "appears to be the biggest bar exam debacle in history."

Many bar exams continue today, so the frustrated test-takers who were up late, some fearing that they may have failed by not submitting their day's results, have another stressful day ahead of them, for many of them without as much sleep as they might have had otherwise. One comment on the ExamSoft page on Facebook said: "This is unbelievably disrespectful. I don't think you quite understand the pressure we are all under. We understand technical issues happen (although you are supposed to be a tech company), but your 'support staff' is a joke and you should at the VERY least had updates for each of the states BEFORE their respective deadlines. Now we are wondering, HOURS before a second day of grueling testing if any of it will matter. Please answer the states with past or remaining deadlines. Or get someone to answer the phone, chat or email--> have been trying all three methods for 4 hours. Thanks."

One law blogger, Josh Blackman, wondered what would happen if failure rates are higher this year. He explained: "And for crying out loud, this is serious business. Failing the bar in this economy is a 6-month sentence of unemployment. Somewhere, a plaintiff’s lawyer is putting together a class-action suit for those who used ExamSoft and failed."

 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 - 3:00am

For-profit institutions have increased their share of the overall enrollment of student veterans, as well as an increasing portion of revenue from Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. Those are the findings of a new report from the U.S. Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee's majority staff. Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat and critic of the for-profit sector, chairs the committee.

The report tracked Post-9/11 GI Bill spending since the program's creation, in 2008. Enrollment of veterans at for-profits increased to 30 percent of the total last year from 23 percent in 2009, the report found, despite the fact that the sector's overall enrollments tumbled. The percentage of veterans attending a public institution declined, from 62 percent to 50 percent.

Total spending on the Post-9/11 GI Bill increased to $4.17 billion from $1.75 billion during that period. The for-profit industry's share increased to $1.7 billion from $640 million. In addition, the report said eight of the top 10 institutional recipients of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits last year were publicly traded for-profit chains.

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