A state legislator in Alabama -- with backing from Gov. Bob Riley, a fellow Republican -- is organizing support for legislation to cut off state funds to public universities that offer benefits to the same-sex partners of employees, the Associated Press reported. The move follows announcements by the University of Alabama at Birmingham that it was starting domestic partner benefits October 1. The University of Alabama at Huntsville will start offering the benefits January 1. Defenders of the benefits have noted that they are key to recruiting and retaining some employees who may look elsewhere if these benefits aren't offered.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Students took over the Science and Engineering Library at the University of California at Santa Cruz Friday night to keep it open that night and Saturday -- as had been the case before budget cuts limited its hours. A statement from the students said: "We realize that this one action will not force the university administration to change its disastrous course. Nevertheless, our action will allow the library to remain open for students Friday night and Saturday. The UCSC administration lacks the capacity to provide a quality education and so we have begun, as students, to take our education into our own hands." A spokesman for the university told The Contra Costa Times: "Regrettably, this particular activity is costing us additional resources as we have to staff the library as long as they are in there. It's going to strain already depleted library funding."
An ethics scholar at Oxford University, Toby Ord, has pledged to give 1 million pounds (about $1.67 million) over the course of his career to charities in developing nations, BBC reported. Toby Ord, 30, estimates that he'll earn about 1.5 million pounds and that he doesn't need that much, and wants to inspire others to make similarly ambition donations.
Graduate teaching assistants at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are planning to go on strike today, following the failure to complete a contract agreement. The union, affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, said that while many contract issues were resolved, the university would not offer assurances about the continuation of tuition waivers. "The administration’s refusal to guarantee the continuation of its current tuition waiver practice not only means that the majority of graduate employees could be forced to pay thousands of dollars in additional tuition charges, but also indicates its plans to implement such a change. By making graduate education untenable for all but the most affluent students, the administration is abandoning its responsibility to ensure access to the highest level of public education for all," said a union statement. The university issued a statement in which it characterized the union's interest in tuition waivers as new and not a subject over great disagreements. The union "has chosen to strike over an issue that historically has never been a source of contention between the union and management, and about which there is no indication would be a source of contention in the future," said the university's official statement. In turn, the union issued a new statement asking why, if the university was committed to the tuition waivers, it wouldn't agree to add the desired language to the contract.
Brooke Magnanti, a research scientist at Britain's University of Bristol, has revealed that she is the author of a blog and memoirs of work as a prostitute, and is the source of the material that was used to create the television series "Secret Diary of a Call Girl," BBC News reported. She said that she worked as a prostitute to pay for her doctoral work. A spokesman for the University of Bristol, said: "This aspect of Dr Magnanti's past is not relevant to her current role at the university."
Southwestern College, a community college in California, has announced that no charges will be filed against three professors who were suspended (with pay, but without charges) amid allegations by college officials that some of them may have violated the law in relation to a protest of the college's response to budget cuts, News 10 San Diego reported. The suspensions, which the college denied were suspensions although the professors were barred from campus, angered many faculty groups. The professors are now back teaching, and the faculty union -- whose president was among those suspended -- has said it won't sue. Another rally was held Friday, this time with protesters questioning the way the college has tried to limit protests.
Maine officials blocked Raymond Luc Levasseur from leaving the state to give a lecture scheduled for Thursday at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, although 200 people held a protest anyway, MassLive reported. The talk was scheduled, called off, and rescheduled -- with politicians criticizing the university for the invitation, and university officials saying that blocking Levasseur would have violated principles of free expression.
The board of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology voted unanimously Thursday to reject a boycott of Israeli higher education. Some faculty members had proposed the boycott, while others opposed it. Many American groups urged the university not to adopt the measure. A statement from the board said: "As an academic institution, NTNU's mission is to stimulate the study of the causes of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and how it can be resolved. This means that the university is also dependent on being able to cooperate with Israeli academics, and hear their views on the conflict."
Baylor University continues to feud with its alumni association, which is independent. Just last month, the university abandoned a controversial plan to absorb the association into the university. But the latest way for the university to show its respect for the association's independence is raising some eyebrows. The Waco Tribune-Herald reported that the university has barred the association from its traditional role at graduation ceremonies, at which the alumni group has traditionally presented awards and encouraged new graduates to stay involved with Baylor.
Fairfield University is considering harassment charges against its student newspaper over a controversial column on campus sex, the Associated Press reported. The column -- which led some female students to charge harassment -- focused on one-night stands. The essay advised male students on how to navigate "the road to pleasure town" and to share details with friends to make sure "her walk of shame is an induction into your hall of fame."