Higher Education Quick Takes
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has selected 19 colleges and universities for its controversial probe of whether colleges are favoring male applicants in admissions decisions, and whether any such preference is appropriate. The commission, seeking to minimize costs, selected colleges close to Washington, but included a range of four-year institutions, including public and private, historically black and predominantly white, religious and secular, and institutions of varying degrees of admissions competitiveness. While commission members say that they are just investigating a relevant issue, some advocates for female athletes view the effort as a way to raise questions about Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
The colleges and the characteristics cited by the commission in selecting them are as follows:
- Historically black colleges: Howard University, Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Virginia Union University.
- Religious colleges: Catholic University of America, Loyola College in Maryland and Messiah College.
- Highly selective private institutions: Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University and Gettysburg College.
- Very selective private institution: University of Richmond.
- Moderately selective private institutions: Goucher College, Goldey-Beacom College, Washington College and York College of Pennsylvania.
- Moderately selective public institutions: Shepherd University, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, University of Delaware and University of Maryland-Baltimore County.
A new report, "Taking Stock: Higher Education and Latinos," summarizes research about the progress of Latino students in higher education and the views of political leaders and students themselves on that progress -- and areas where not enough progress has been made. The report urges a renewed national focus on increasing educational attainment by Latinos. Such a focus might include a media campaign, goals for enrollments and graduation rates, and increased support (along with accountability measures) for institutions that educate large numbers of Latino students. The report was prepared by Excelencia in Education.
The stem cell lines most commonly used by researchers are lacking in diversity, according to a study by University of Michigan professors that is being published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The Michigan team analyzed 47 embryonic stem cell lines and found that most were derived from donors of northern and western European ancestry. None of the lines were from people of recent African ancestry, from Pacific Islanders, or from populations indigenous to the Americas, the researchers said.
Black students at Georgetown University are protesting the campus humor magazine's attempt to satirize a controversy over race related to the April Fool's edition of The Georgetown Hoya, the main student newspaper, the Associated Press reported. The Hoya's joke issue featured an article -- denounced as offensive by many students -- calling for more sex between black and white students on campus. Editors of The Georgetown Heckler, the humor magazine, say they were trying to poke fun at that controversy with an article that described Hoya staffers celebrating the holiday season with a "cross lighting." The article is illustrated with a photograph of hooded Ku Klux Klan members lighting a cross, with the caption "Jubilant Hoya staffers taking part in the annual tradition."
An organization that seeks tougher enforcement of immigration laws is suing Texas over a state law that gives in-state tuition rates to some students who lack the documentation to show that they have the legal right to live in the United States, The Houston Chronicle reported. The suit charges that the law violates federal statutes, but defenders argue that there is no such federal ban. The suit says that at least 8,000 students currently benefit from the law.
The barrage of dueling entreaties and warnings about the future of the federal student loans continued Tuesday, as four leading Congressional Republicans told college presidents in a letter that "the elimination of the [Federal Family Education Loan Program] is not imminent" because "there remains widespread, bipartisan support in Congress" to continue it. Many Republicans oppose the Obama administration's plan to end the lender-based guaranteed loan program and shift all federal lending to the competing Direct Loan Program, for which Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Democratic leaders, in multiple letters, have encouraged college leaders to prepare. Tuesday's letter from Sens. Michael B. Enzi and Lamar Alexander and Reps. John Kline and Brett Guthrie accused Democrats of "prematurely pressur[ing] schools" to switch programs.
Eastfield College is being sued for allegedly violating the religious freedom of students in a ceramics class by barring them from making crosses in the class, WFAA News reported. The Texas community college says that the class bans many relatively common objects students might create -- including Christmas items, dog bowls, and mugs with names of states or football teams -- not to limit religious expression, but to encourage student creativity.
As negotiations and lobbying continue, Pittsburgh's City Council is slated to vote today on a plan to impose a 1 percent tax on tuition, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, and the outcome is unclear. Earlier articles suggested that the necessary five votes were there for passage, but the newspaper quoted one of the council members who had been expected to vote Yes as saying she was undecided, and others may want to delay a vote. Higher education leaders and students have been strongly opposing the idea, and a court fight is likely to follow any vote to impose the tax.
Gov. Jim Doyle of Wisconsin has vetoed a bill that would have created districts for some members of the Board of Regents for the state. The bill was pushed by legislators who said it was important to promote geographic diversity on the board. But Governor Doyle, in his veto message, disagreed. Geographic districts "would encourage the appointment of regents whose primary job is to advocate narrowly for the needs of campuses located in their home districts rather than to address how to most efficiently and effectively serve the broader expectations of Wisconsin taxpayers, businesses and students," he said. In turn, such appointments might encourage more duplication of academic programs and could "hamper the board's ability to eliminate underutilized programs, reallocate resources between campuses and address the evolving educational needs of our workforce."