One week after 11 higher education and library groups presented their "net neutrality" principles, the organizations last Friday released their full comments in response to the Federal Communication Commission's notice of proposed rule-making. The FCC has proposed creating a "fast lane" for online traffic for vendors willing to pay for access to it, which the organizations say could negatively impact everything from digital humanities scholarship to digitizing library resources. In the comments, the groups support reclassifying internet service providers as utility providers, which would give the FCC more power to regulate them.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Public universities have increased the amount of institutional funds they spend on facilities by 50 percent per square foot since 2007, as they strive not to fall too far behind on needed repairs and renovations despite declining state capital support, a new report shows. The report, The State of Facilities in Higher Education, produced by the consulting firm Sightlines, shows that while one-time capital funding from state sources had dropped to $3.32 per square foot in 2013, from $3.88 in 2008, public institutions increased their capital spending to $1.35 per square foot, from $0.89 in 2008. Sightlines draws its data on facilities growth, spending and other topics from 450 institutions in 44 states.
The U.S. Department of Education announced on Friday that Patrick Fitzgerald, a prominent former U.S. attorney from Illinois, will lead the team of outside monitors that will oversee the closure and sale of Corinthian Colleges' 107 campuses. An agreement the feds and Corinthian reached earlier this month required that a monitor have access to the for-profit's finances and other internal controls.
Fitzgerald previously led investigations of two former Illinois governors and into leaks relating to the Valerie Plame controversy. His monitoring team will report directly to the Education Department. The team is tasked with ensuring that students are protected during Corinthian's dismantling, the department said.
Four of the 12 members of Bryan College's board have resigned, amid a dispute over stricter enforcement of the college's statement of faith that has angered faculty members who do not view the Bible as a literal record of history, The Times Free Press reported. The board had a meeting at which it affirmed the recent direction of the college, prompting the four to resign.
Recent data on the political science job market have suggested that it is improving, but not for all subfields. Aaron Hoffman, a political scientist at Purdue University, has worked with data from the American Political Science Association to draw more attention to the subfield differences. He found that it is much more difficult to find an entry-level tenure-track job (based on applications per opening) in political theory and comparative politics than other fields. Public policy -- a relatively small field within political science -- appears to have the best job prospects.
Australian newspapers are reporting that the Malaysian Airlines flight that was shot down Thursday had many passengers who were AIDS researchers or public health workers headed to the 20th International AIDS Conference, which convenes Sunday in Melbourne, Australia. The International AIDS Society, the sponsor of the meeting, did not confirm how many people headed to the conference were on the flight. A statement on the society's website says: "In recognition of our colleagues' dedication to the fight against HIV/AIDS, the conference will go ahead as planned and will include opportunities to reflect and remember those we have lost."
The American Anthropological Association is the latest disciplinary association to decide to consider the role it should play in discussing and/or taking a stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The association's president is announcing to members that leaders of the group want to promote "a conversation" about these issues, particularly given the expertise of many anthropologists in the Middle East. Monica Heller, the president, also noted in a letter to members in the forthcoming Anthropology News that she was aware that such discussions in other disciplinary associations have been "divisive," and that anthropologists should be able to have a "respectful exchange" on the topic. There will be a special forum at the association's annual meeting in December, and perhaps special sessions. The association is also considering the appointment of a task force. Heller's letter stresses that while association leaders are not preempting moves by others to take various steps, the association is not at this time taking a stand on a boycott of Israel.
Heller's letter is based on a larger article she wrote with other AAA leaders that appeared in an earlier issue of Anthropology News.
The anthropology blog Savage Minds has run a series of posts in recent weeks in which two Ph.D. candidates in anthropology have, under a pseudonym, argued that the association should endorse a boycott. The first post is here.
George Fox University has been facing criticism for its policy, which it says is motivated by its Christian beliefs, of not allowing transgender students to live in housing with the gender with which they identify. On Thursday, the university announced a change that would open housing to transgender students who have surgery. The university's new policy (which George Fox characterizes as a clarification) states: "Common residence halls are single-sex, defined anatomically. We are committed to residential access, and it is consistent with our beliefs and our community values that a presurgical transgendered person will be provided on-campus housing in appropriate alternative housing either on or off campus." A spokesman confirmed that those who do have surgery will be entitled to regular housing.
Paul Southwick, a lawyer representing a transgender student challenging George Fox's policies, said that the policy shift did not resolve his concerns. "If George Fox University is drawing the line at gender reassignment surgery, that is not the line drawn by state and federal law. Gender identity protections do not extend only to those individuals who can afford, or who are ready, for gender reassignment surgery," he said. Southwick added that most transgender people do not get surgery. "And how would George Fox police anatomy?" he asked.
A method of financing public higher education by allowing students to forgo upfront tuition payments in exchange for repaying a portion of their wages after graduation has captured the imagination of lawmakers in several states, but an analysis by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities argues that it would be bad for colleges, students and ultimately state taxpayers as well.