Gay students and faculty members, in a national survey by Campus Pride, were much more likely than their straight counterparts to report experiencing harassment -- 23 percent to 12 percent. The most common form of harassment reported was to be the target of derogatory remarks, followed by being stared at or singled out as "the resident authority" on issues related to sexual identity and orientation. The survey found particularly high rates of harassment reported by transgender people in academe and people who do not conform to traditional gender identities.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The Texas Board of Education, whose textbook rules are influential and sometimes controversial, is getting back into the culture wars and is going to consider whether school textbooks have become (as its conservative members appear to believe) pro-Islamic and anti-Christian, The Dallas Morning News reported. A draft of a resolution prepared for the board states that "diverse reviewers have repeatedly documented gross pro-Islamic, anti-Christian distortions in social studies texts," and suggests that too much attention is paid to Christian attacks on Muslims during the Crusades (ignoring attacks by Muslims on Christians), "implying that Christian brutality and Muslim loss of life are significant, but Islamic cruelty and Christian deaths are not."
For the first time ever, white students do not make up a majority among freshmen at the University of Texas at Austin. According to figures announced by the university Tuesday, white freshmen make up 47.6 percent of students, down from 51.1 percent a year ago. Hispanic enrollment now makes up 23.1 percent, up from 20.8 percent; black enrollment is up to 5.1 percent, from 4.9 percent; and Asian enrollment is 17.3 percent, down from 19.6 percent.
Chicago State University, which was in danger of losing its accreditation over very low retention rates and a graduation rate of 14 percent, is holding on to its accreditation, the Chicago Tribune reported. The university has started a series of programs to improve retention, responding to some of the concerns expressed by accreditors, and the university said that its retention rate of freshmen has started to increase. Still, the publicity about the problems may be having an impact. Enrollment of first-time, full-time freshmen is down 12.9 percent this fall, although many urban public universities are reporting increases.
In the latest twist in the legal fight over Fisk University's prized modern art collection, a judge has rejected a plan by Tennessee's attorney general to move it to a Nashville arts center, reopening the prospect that Fisk may be able to sell a half-share in the collection and allow it to be displayed elsewhere for part of the year, The Tennessean reported. Fisk, a financially troubled historically black college, says that it cannot afford to maintain the collection and that proceeds from a sale are needed to support the institution. The judge earlier rejected that idea, saying that Fisk accepted the collection as a bequest to maintain the art, not to raise money. But the judge found that the attorney general's response was not sufficiently long term in its approach. The ruling came on a day that Fisk students protested the plan to move the art to the local arts center.
Dismas Charities, which provides assistance to criminals seeking to re-enter society, has responded to an outpouring of criticism by giving up luxury suites it was renting at University of Louisville basketball and football games, at a total cost of $137,000 annually, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported. While charity officials initially defended the rentals, a statement Monday said that the organization "heard the concerns of the community." The university agreed to release the charity from its contracts for the suites.
The Western Athletic Conference is suing the University of Nevada at Reno, California State University at Fresno and the Mountain West Conference over the decision of the two universities to leave WAC for Mountain West, The Reno Gazette-Journal reported. Details on the suit and the universities' responses were not available.
Several Canadian medical schools are rethinking the way they admit students, and are expressing a willingness to consider those without as much of a science background as has been the norm, Maclean's reported. Lewis Tomalty, vice dean for medical education at Queen’s University, said that while some science is "necessary," there are advantages to having students with a range of backgrounds. "We’re looking at how extensive [science prerequisites] have to be and are certainly looking to change the actual admissions requirements," he said.
Yale University announced Monday that it has agreed to work with the National University of Singapore to create a residential liberal arts college in Singapore. Yale's statement stressed that no final decisions have been made, that Singapore is paying all costs, and that the degrees awarded would not be Yale degrees. Yale has, to date, been cautious about the international branch campus movement many other institutions have embraced. While many details remain to be worked out, the discussions are not just about Yale providing assistance, but about the new institution being called the Yale-NUS College and being governed by a board with half of its members appointed by Yale. An editorial in The Yale Daily News urged caution on the idea. "This is ultimately a question of what Yale actually is. Is Yale a school rooted in its New England home, defined by its place and architecture in New Haven — a school that can and should only exist here? Or is Yale about education, wherever that may occur, whether in a classroom on Old Campus or on a computer screen in Turkey or at a liberal arts college in Singapore?" the editorial asked.
States are continuing to develop their education data systems, and to link multiple systems when they have them, the State Higher Education Executive Officers said in a new report. The survey, which found that 45 states have at least one student unit record and 29 states have between two and five systems, updates a 2007 study that the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems produced for the Lumina Foundation for Education.