Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

April 19, 2018

Eight students at the College of William & Mary, plus one professor and one other employee, have been arrested on charges of distributing drugs, The Williamsburg Yorktown Daily reported. The faculty member is a visiting assistant professor of immunology. Authorities making the arrests seized LSD, cocaine, psilocybin (hallucinogenic mushrooms), opioids, amphetamines, steroids, hashish and marijuana.

A spokeswoman for the college said, “The news of these arrests was both surprising and disappointing. We know the university is not immune to crimes that affect all of society but as an institution and a member of this community, we take the issue of drugs -- and all matters of crime prevention and safety -- seriously. When we learn about issues on our campus we investigate promptly, take legal action as necessary and provide resources to anyone in our community dealing with a drug use problem or addiction. It is an issue we must and will continue to focus on as a university.”

April 19, 2018

Minority students and others at Syracuse University held a protest Wednesday over racist incidents on campus, highlighted by the publication in the student newspaper of a video of a fraternity initiation that includes slurs about black, Latino and Jewish people, as well as skits that mock the idea of gay sex, Syracuse.com reported. The university suspended the fraternity, but many students said that the problems go far beyond the one video. The video, first published by The Daily Orange, is now circulating widely online, and many say it illustrates a concerning attitude that the students involved would engage in bigotry.

April 19, 2018

Inside Higher Ed is pleased today to release our latest print-on-demand booklet, "How Colleges Are Tackling Affordability." You may download a copy, free, here. And you may sign up here for a free webcast on the themes of the booklet, on Tuesday, May 15, at 2 p.m. Eastern.

April 19, 2018

Students at DePauw University, responding to racist messages on campus, interrupted a lecture by the actress Jenna Fischer Tuesday night and then interrupted a press conference by university officials Wednesday to discuss the incidents. DePauw officials have said that they understand the anger of the minority students who have been protesting. The video linked here shows the interruption of the press conference shortly after the five-minute mark. In the photo below, the students stand in front of the university officials who had been holding the press conference.

Protesting DePauw students hold signs saying "I am not safe" and "We are not safe DePauw KKK."

April 19, 2018

Groups of visiting Chinese students and scholars have formed Chinese Communist Party cells at U.S. universities in what seems to be part of a broader strategy by the party to increase ideological monitoring and control, Foreign Policy reported. Relying on interviews with participating students, accounts on Chinese university websites and articles posted to the Chinese social media site WeChat, Foreign Policy reported that CCP cells have been established at a number of different U.S. university campuses. The cells typically appear to be created by groups of visiting students or scholars at the direction of the party committees of their home universities, and they are typically disbanded when the groups return to China.

April 19, 2018

Brown University on Wednesday announced a $100 million gift for its brain science institute. The gift is from Robert J. Carney, an alumnus, and Nancy D. Carney, his wife. The institute will now be named for the Carneys.

April 19, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, part of Purdue University Week, Mesut Akdere, associate professor in the department of technology leadership and innovation at Purdue, examines whether virtual reality can make you more open to other people. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

April 18, 2018

Non-tenure-track professors in the arts and sciences at Loyola University Chicago reached a tentative first contact agreement with the institution late Monday, after nearly two years of negotiations and a one-day strike earlier this month. Sticking points included job security measures and pay. Members of the Service Employees International Union-affiliated unit will vote on whether or not to approve the deal later this week but members of the bargaining committee have endorsed it. Jo Ann Rooney, Loyola Chicago president, said in a statement that the deal reflects the institution’s “appreciation for the many contributions of our [non-tenure-track] faculty, but also our core mission of providing high-quality, affordable education to our students.” Details of the agreement were not immediately available.

April 18, 2018

A Swedish university was ordered by the country’s Supreme Court to refund tuition fees to an American student who dropped a program due to low-quality teaching, The Local reported. Connie Dickinson began a program in analytical finance at Mälardalen University in 2011, the same year Swedish universities introduced tuition fees for international students. She quit the three-year program midway through after an evaluation by the Swedish higher education authority conducted in 2013 judged the university's math instruction to be of “insufficient quality.”

The court ordered that Dickinson be refunded about two-thirds of the tuition she paid, and that the university pay her legal costs. Johannes Forssberg, a lawyer representing Dickinson, described the verdict as "a precedential ruling. It's now established that foreign students have rights in Sweden and that universities have to meet the requirements set by law when it comes to quality of education," Forssberg told The Local.

The Supreme Court ruling (in Swedish) is here. Mälardalen University has issued a statement on the ruling here. The university's statement says the mathematics program at issue in the case has since received a rating of "high quality" from Swedish higher education authorities, in 2015.

April 18, 2018

The Trump administration this month will begin proactively reaching out to disabled veterans eligible for federal student loan discharge.

Disabled veterans are eligible to have their federal student loans forgiven through the total and permanent disability (TPD) application.

The Departments of Education and Veterans Affairs will reach out to veterans who may be eligible for the benefit to provide them with an application for loan forgiveness. Veterans will still have to fill out the application and return it themselves.

“Our nation’s veterans have sacrificed much for our country. It is important that, in return, we do all we can to give them the support and care they deserve,” said Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in a statement. “Simplifying the loan forgiveness process and proactively identifying veterans with federal student loans who may be eligible for a discharge is a small but critical way we can show our gratitude for veterans’ service.”

Senator Patty Murray of Washington, the senior Democrat on the Senate education committee, praised the new step by the department and said she hoped the government would eventually further streamline the process by making student loan discharge automatic for eligible borrowers.

“The men and women serving in the military sacrifice so much to keep us safe, and those injured in the line of duty should not be saddled with the burden of paying back student loans if they are unable to work,” she said in a statement.

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