Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, March 27, 2014 - 3:00am

Susan Patton set off an uproar and became known as "Princeton Mom" when she last year urged women at Princeton University to focus on landing a husband, lest they be left out by graduating without one. She earned a book deal and is now promoting that book with appearances in which she discusses her controversial views. The Daily Princetonian recently ran a question-and-answer interview with Patton that featured this exchange:

Daily Princetonian: You wrote: "Please spare me your ‘blaming the victim’ outrage," saying that a provocatively dressed drunk woman "must bear accountability for what may happen." Why does the woman hold the responsibility in the case of rape or sexual assault?

Patton: The reason is, she is the one most likely to be harmed, so she is the one that needs to take control of the situation. She is that one that needs to take responsibility for herself and for her own safety, and simply not allow herself to come to a point where she is no longer capable of protecting her physical self. The analogy that I would give you is: If you cross the street without looking both ways and a car jumps the light or isn’t paying attention, and you get hit by a car — as a woman or as anybody — and you say, "Well I had a green light," well yes you did have a green light but that wasn’t enough. So in the same way, a woman who is going to say, "Well the man should have recognized that I was drunk and not pushed me beyond the level at which I was happy to engage with him," well, you didn’t look both ways. I mean yes, you’re right, a man should act better, men should be more respectful of women, but in the absence of that, and regardless of whether they are or are not, women must take care of themselves.

The comments so angered Princeton faculty members that scores of them signed a joint letter denouncing Patton's views. "In light of statements made in a news article in this paper, we wish to inform the students on this campus that we do not believe that their manner of dress or drinking behavior makes them responsible for unwanted sexual contact," the letter said. "It is extremely important that individuals of all genders on a college campus feel comfortable reaching out for help. We, the undersigned faculty, stand behind victims of sexual assault and want them to know that our campus is a place where they have a voice, where they will not be made to feel responsible and where they can find support and justice."



Thursday, March 27, 2014 - 4:15am

North Korea is requiring male university students to get haircuts in the style of the country's ruler, Kim Jong-un, BBC reported. The requirement follows a campaign against long hair.


Thursday, March 27, 2014 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Daniel Nettle, professor of behavioral sciences at Newcastle University, observed striking cultural differences even in people living geographically close to one another. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 3:00am

Timothy Flanagan, who resigned Saturday as president of Illinois State University, has been charged with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, The Chicago Tribune reported. The resignation, after less than a year in office, came amid an investigation of an altercation with a grounds-keeper. Flanagan has denied doing anything wrong.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 3:00am

Two members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights sent a letter last month warning lawyers at about 75 universities that "few, if any, college and university diversity admissions programs" would meet the test set by the Supreme Court in its ruling in Fisher v. Texas last June on affirmative action. The authors of the letter, Gail Heriot and Peter Kirsanow, are in a clear minority on the panel: they are an independent and Republican, respectively, while the other four current members are all Democrats, and President Obama has two remaining spots to fill.

The views they express in the letter -- which they made clear were delivered in their "capacity as individual commissioners" -- are consistent with what they have often said before in criticizing colleges' consideration of race in admissions, arguing both that it is illegal and that racial preferences "hurt, rather than help, their intended beneficiaries."

College officials questioned the approach taken by the letter writers. “A letter on Civil Rights Commission stationery from a couple members sharing their personal legal interpretation of the Fisher decision does nothing to help campuses deal with these thorny issues but it can easily confuse and mislead those officials who receive it about the Commission’s views," Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the American Council on Education, said via email.

The civil rights commission had a discussion more than two years ago over whether it was appropriate for individual members of the panel to send correspondence on commission letterhead. The panel's members concluded that it was permitted as long as the letter writers made it clear they were not speaking on behalf of the panel.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 3:00am

The editors of The American Scholar -- the quarterly magazine of the Phi Beta Kappa Society -- have chosen 10 of their favorite sentences from fiction and nonfiction. Examples include:

"I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race." --James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

"It was a fine cry — loud and long — but it had no bottom and it had no top, just circles and circles of sorrow."  --Toni Morrison, Sula

The rest may be found at The American Scholar's website.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 3:00am

A few weeks ago The New York Times, while recruiting students for its own unpaid video internship (the ad for which has been removed), commended Columbia and New York Universities for moving away from internships that substitute academic credit for pay. After being called out on the apparent hypocrisy, the paper of record told BoroughBuzz Tuesday that it will pay interns minimum wage, starting now. Interns who previously worked 10 to 13 hours a week during an academic semester for a $500 stipend will now make $8 an hour.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 3:00am

Division I's new Board of Directors will include an athletics director, a faculty athletics representative and a current athlete as voting members, the National Collegiate Athletic Association committee charged with proposing a new governance model said Tuesday. College presidents, who currently make up the entire board, will fill the remaining seats. During a "Division I governance dialogue" at the annual NCAA convention in January, many in the room expressed concern that athletes and others who are in the thick of athletics did not have enough say in governance. The NCAA said it would consider feedback from the dialogue while moving toward a final proposal, which is expected to be put up for a vote at the current Division I Board's August meeting.

The proposed model also breaks down voting power among the new 34-person group called the Council, which will conduct "the day-to-day legislative functions of the division." (The board will be responsible for bigger-picture issues and questions.) The breakdown gives the five major Bowl Championship Series conferences 37 percent of the vote; the next five-biggest conferences get 18.6 percent, and the remaining 22 conferences get 40.7 percent power. The remaining 3.7 percent goes to athletes.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 3:00am

California's storied Master Plan has led to a structure and financing of public higher education that is out of sync with the needs of students and the state, according to a new report from the Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Policy (IHELP) at California State University at Sacramento. The report calls for heightened planning and collaboration at the regional level. It also makes the case for more cost-effective specialization at individual institutions as well as the broader use of technology, such as online education.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 3:00am

Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City has big plans to increase the number of qualified pre-K teachers, and announced plans to work with City University of New York’s Early Childhood Professional Development Institute to do so The mayor released a report Tuesday, announcing a $6.7 million partnership with the university to recruit and train about 400 New Yorkers so they can become certified to teach pre-K students. The effort is designed to help the city expand full-day pre-kindergarten, a major goal of the new mayor. The Department of Education projects that the city needs up to 1,000 new teachers this fall and another 1,000 next year to meet this goal.



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