Graduate teaching assistants at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reached a tentative contract agreement with the university Tuesday, and both parties now say the accord protects tuition waivers. The Graduate Employees Organization, a union affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, went on strike Monday as contract negotiations broke down. The tentative contract agreement, however, prompted the GEO's strike committee to suspend the strike Tuesday evening in expectation of a ratification of the contract by the full union membership. Prior to the strike, the student employees argued that out of state tuition waivers were insufficiently protected in the contract, but the newly agreed upon language requires the university to bargain with the union if any changes are made to the practice of offering waivers.
Higher Education Quick Takes
George Washington University has become the first college to offer athletic scholarships for squash, The Washington Post reported. The university is among 11 Division I institutions that play squash at the varsity level.
The University of Michigan on Monday released the results of a July audit showing that the university's football team did not turn in required forms that track the amount of time players spend practicing. The revelation comes as the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the university look into allegations that the Wolverine football program broke NCAA rules limiting the amount of time players participate in athletic activities.
The job market for new college graduates has fallen by as much as 40 percent in the past year, according to new data from the Michigan State University Collegiate Employment Research Institute. The Michigan State study is based on surveys of 2,500 companies and other hiring entities. Last year, the survey projected an 8 to 10 percent drop in hiring, but the final figures are closer to 40, and an additional 2 percent drop is anticipated on top of that.
Williams College has fired a visiting professor who pleaded guilty to federal charges of fraud last week, The Berkshire Eagle reported. Bernard Moore had been a visiting assistant professor, and he had been the organizer of a political symposium that Williams canceled Friday. The fraud charges largely related to conduct prior to his arrival at the college, and a spokesman said that there was no evidence that he misused Williams funds.
Many advocates for free speech were outraged when Yale University Press, in publishing a book about the controversy over the Danish cartoons of Muhammad, refused to publish the cartoons themselves. Gary Hull, a Duke University professor, decided the best response would be to publish a book that included the controversial images, and through his new Voltaire Press, he has now done so. The book, Muhammad: The "Banned" Images, includes an introduction by Hull on "the basic choice between free speech and force, and the ethical issues involved in suppressing free scholarly discourse for the sake of multiculturalism," as well as a survey of the history of images of Muhammad.
A new study suggests that students in coeducational housing are much more likely to engage in binge drinking than are students who live in all-male or all-female housing. The study, appearing today in the Journal of American College Health, is based on data on more than 500 students at five colleges around the United States. The research found that 42 percent of students in coed housing reported binge drinking on a weekly basis, while only 18 percent of those in single-sex housing did so. The researchers discounted the idea that student self-selection may result in those likely to engage in binge drinking opting to live in mixed-sex housing. Their rationale is that most students living in single-sex housing didn't request to do so, but were placed there by campus officials when coed slots are filled. The study was conducted by Brian Willoughby, a visiting professor at Brigham Young University, and Jason Carroll, a professor there. The university noted that Brigham Young -- which bars drinking -- was not one of the colleges studied.
David Pelham, who became president of Cuesta College in March of 2008, has quit his position at the California community college, The San Luis Obispo Tribune News reported. While the outgoing president is taking a job in the United Arab Emirates, an e-mail he sent out suggested that he believes there are serious problems at the college. He wrote that those at the college need to learn to "make decisions in a manner that is inclusive but faster," "disagree on issues without undermining the credibility of those with whom we disagree" and "develop a collective understanding that how things have been done in the past may not fit our present circumstances."
Thomas Edison State College is using a new federal grant to develop a series of distance education courses for which all materials are provided on flash drives. The idea is that while a student would need to connect to the Internet to submit materials to an instructor, the curriculum could be carried out offline.
The union representing part-time faculty members at Montgomery College, a community college in Maryland, announced Monday that it had reached a tentative deal with the college on a first contract. Details are not being released pending final approval by the union's members and the college's trustees. But a statement from the union said that the deal would include a "modest" salary increase, higher limits on course loads for part timers, and measures that would improve job security. The contract would also create committees "to review, and formulate recommendations for addressing, pay inequity between full-time and part-time faculty for in-classroom instruction, as well as to explore health insurance options for part-time professors." The union is affiliated with the Service Employees International Union.