Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 18, 2009

Princeton University on Thursday announced a review of its relationship with eating clubs, which are beloved by many of their alumni but are seen by many others as representing an exclusionary era. The announcement was low key and said that a task force would "examine whether there are steps that can and should be taken to strengthen those relationships for the mutual benefit of the clubs and the university, and for the benefit of Princeton students and the undergraduate experience." In recent years, Princeton has embraced the undergraduate college model, greatly expanding social opportunities beyond the clubs.

September 17, 2009

University foundations in Mississippi are protesting a state plan that would involve some oversight of the fund-raising organizations, The Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported. A legislative audit called for increased oversight, but the foundations say that they would lose too much autonomy, endangering donor privacy, which could in turn endanger donations.

September 17, 2009

ESPN has been getting flack for airing an array of advertisements for “Sorority Row,” a violent slasher movie in which sorority sisters are stalked and killed, during its coverage of college football’s kickoff weekend. The ads struck particularly close to home for a number of Florida State University fans who were watching the Sept. 7 game versus the University of Miami. One viewer wrote to ESPN’s new ombudsman, "Those of us who lived in sorority houses at Florida State when Ted Bundy entered the Chi Omega house (in 1978) and murdered our friends, are beyond offended. A great football night was repeatedly interrupted with bad memories because someone chose to remind us of a terrible winter night that changed many of our lives forever." Don Ohlmeyer, ESPN’s ombudsman, wrote in his column Wednesday that “it’s difficult to fault ESPN for not catching the Bundy-Florida State connection” but ultimately chided the network for its poor decision. Ohlmeyer concluded, “If you wrap yourself in the mantle of college football to the extent ESPN does, you might have to make an occasional financial sacrifice to protect it. Put the 'Sorority Row' spots in ‘SportsCenter,’ NFL, MLB or other such programs, but a campus slasher movie strikes too close to home in a college football game.”

September 17, 2009

Eighty-three percent of campuses in a sample being used to track the spread of H1N1 reported new cases of flu-like illnesses in the last week, according to the American College Health Association. The association is tracking 253 colleges and universities, and the percentage reporting new cases was up from 72 percent the prior week. At the colleges in the sample, 6,432 new cases were reported, 16 of them requiring hospitalization.

While campuses in the United States have not been suspending operations due to H1N1, the American University in Cairo announced Wednesday that it is suspending operations until October 3, at the request of the Egyptian government. The university has not had any H1N1 cases, but Egypt has suspended operations of its government-run universities and asked American University in Cairo to do so as well.

September 17, 2009

The Volleyball Rules Committee of the National Collegiate Athletic Association has recommended that players refrain from traditional handshakes before and after matches due to concerns about the spread of H1N1. Volleyball is one of the two sports in which players from opposing teams are required by the NCAA to shake hands; the other is wrestling. Not everyone, however, is convinced that the NCAA recommendation is helpful. Neil Fishman, director of health care, epidemiology and infection control at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, told USA Today, "I just think it's a bad decision and is not based on what we know about the science of the virus. There will be influenza in the community, and there will be no higher risk [of contracting the virus] walking down the street, riding a bus or going to a movie."

September 17, 2009

Families are saving an average of $2,676 for college annually, according to the results of a new survey by Sallie Mae and Gallup. The survey also found that -- as a percentage of income -- those with incomes under $50,000 save more than wealthier families. Only 29 percent of families are on track to meet their college savings goals, the survey found. Details of "How America Saves for Colleges 2009" are available here.

September 17, 2009

A Hofstra University student has recanted allegations that she was forced into a dormitory men's room stall, tied up and gang raped by five men, Newsday reported. The allegation led to the arrests of four men, one of them another Hofstra student, who were released from jail Wednesday night after their accuser told prosecutors that the sex had been consensual, which is what the men had said when they were first questioned. The reports of a gang rape on their campus had scared many Hofstra students, and unsettled the campus. A university spokeswoman said Wednesday night: "This week has been a very difficult one for our entire community, and we will need time to heal and understand the events of the last few days."

September 16, 2009

What's a pig? A student with H1N1. A pig in a blanket? That's a sick student staying home in bed. And the farm is the pig's parents' home. These definitions are part of an unusual H1N1 glossary produced at Johns Hopkins University to promote discussion of H1N1 and to have a chuckle as well. Some of the other definitions:

  • Sleeze: to sneeze properly (into one’s sleeve) when a tissue isn’t handy.
  • Boar War: An all-out on-campus effort to prevent the spread of H1N1.
  • Bacon: What a pig experiencing an H1N1 fever feels like, i.e., fried. (Usage: Doctor: “Pig, how are you feeling today?” Pig: “Like bacon, doc.”)
  • Hog tide: Alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
September 16, 2009

Hundreds of faculty members and others at University of California campuses say that they will not be in class next Thursday to protest the way the system is handling budget cuts, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. A turning point for many professors was the university's announcement that they could not take any of their furlough days on days that they have teaching assignments. Faculty leaders said that some of them should have come on such days to make it clear that severe budget cuts have an impact on teaching.

September 16, 2009

Fewer students are participating in study abroad programs and many colleges are cutting their budgets for study abroad because of the economic downturn, according to a survey conducted by the Forum on Education Abroad. The association surveyed its nearly 400 members, and 165 of them responded. About two-thirds said the economy had negatively affected their programs, with 59 percent reporting a decrease in the number of students enrolling (about half reporting declines of 10 percent or less) and 60 percent reporting that their institutions had cut their budgets. Most of the cuts came in operating budget support and staff travel. But the impact was clearly uneven, as 39 percent of respondents reported increased study abroad enrollments.

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