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.
Higher Education Quick Takes
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.
Google along with a group of publishers and authors has proposed changes to the settlement of legal challenges to Google's mammoth book archiving project. The changes, among other things, limit the international application of the settlement. The changes did not win over some of the leading critics of the earlier agreement. Within higher education, opinion has been split, with some colleges in favor and other academic groups expressing concerns. Charles Lowery, executive director of the Association of Research Libraries, one of the academic organizations that has expressed concern about the previous version of the settlement, said via e-mail that the group was still studying the changes and couldn't yet take a position on them.
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."
Ninety-eight percent of the 265 colleges and universities being tracked by the American College Health Association reported new cases last week of H1N1 or similar flu-like illnesses. The figure compares with 97 percent the prior week. Most of the cases being reported continue to be mild.
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.
Richard Herman has withdrawn as a candidate to become the next president of New Mexico State University, The News-Gazette reported. Herman's status as a finalist had raised eyebrows as he recent resigned as chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign amid a scandal over admissions preferences for politically connected applicants.