The University of the Free State, a South African institution, has been facing intense criticism over an announcement that it would readmit four white students whose racist videos -- showing the humiliation of black students -- set off a huge debate in the country. The university had said that the decision would be one of racial reconciliation. But now officials are reconsidering. A statement released Sunday said: "In the light of the criticism of decisions related to the [video] matter, the management of the University of the Free State (UFS) has decided to re-open consultations and discussions with all stakeholders concerned in order to deliberate on a way forward for the institution and especially for the staff and students concerned."
Higher Education Quick Takes
Faculty members at the University of Oregon -- frustrated by their salary levels and dealings with the administration -- have invited the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers to organize the professors there, The Eugene Register-Guard reported. The two groups are exploring a drive to organize faculty members at Oregon State University. While many public colleges have faculty unions, they tend to be at community colleges and regional universities, not at flagship research universities.
Harvard University is investigating how a coffee maker in one of its medical school buildings became tainted with a potentially deadly preservative used in many laboratories, The Boston Globe reported. Six people who had coffee made there were hospitalized in August, although all were back to work after a day or two.
Ever felt frustrated by technology? A Purdue University' student organization -- the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Graphics and Interactive Techniques -- came up with a fund raiser that offered a chance to get even, The Journal and Courier reported. For $1, the group let people have 30 seconds taking whacks at computer hardware. Here are some of the photographs.
A new transfer student at Sacramento State University was bludgeoned to death in his dormitory room, The San Jose Mercury News reported. The main suspect is one of the student's roommates, who was shot and wounded after police say he came at them with a knife. No motive has been determined for the crime.
A House of Representatives committee on Thursday approved legislation that would create a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency designed to increase federal oversight of several forms of consumer credit, including private student loans. The measure, approved by the House Financial Services Committee along largely party lines and backed by the Obama administration, is heartily endorsed by consumer and student groups. But they were disappointed by the House panel's rejection Thursday of an amendment that would have made clear that the new agency had authority to regulate loans provided directly to students by for-profit colleges and universities. Advocates for the colleges had argued that the amendment -- proposed by Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat and longtime critic of the institutions -- was unnecessary because such loans, designed to cover the gap between students' federal aid and the price of attendance, are already covered under existing federal laws.
The University of Mississippi has shortened its fight song, hoping to discourage fans from responding to the song with a traditional chant of "the South will rise again," the Associated Press reported. The student government has been trying to change the chant to "to hell with LSU," citing the way the phrase about the South rising again is offensive to some. At last week's football game, some fans stuck wit the original chant.
The University of Minnesota has apologized to Pennsylvania State University for the actions of Goldy Gopher, a mascot, that were seen as insensitive, ESPN reported. Goldy Gopher -- seen in a video on YouTube -- saw a Penn State player praying on the field before last weekend's game between the two university's squads. Goldy Gopher then got on its knees to pray, a move seen as mocking the praying player. A Minnesota spokesman said: "We have reiterated to Goldy the importance of exercising appropriate religious sensitivity in the future."
M. Wayne Knight, a professor of art at Humboldt State University, died on Wednesday from complications brought on by H1N1. He had been hospitalized for several days. Humboldt State has been experiencing an outbreak of H1N1. In the last week, the number of students treated at the campus health center for H1N1-like illnesses rose to 47, up from 21 a week earlier. No students have been hospitalized.
A rejected applicant has filed a suit -- hoping for a class action -- against the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign over its now defunct "clout" admissions system of favoring candidates with political connections, the Chicago Tribune reported. The suit seeks more than $5 million in damages on behalf of all "non-clout" applicants who were rejected from 1999 to 2009. The plaintiff, who was wait-listed and then rejected, noted that the admissions materials he reviewed before applying did not indicate that any preferences would be based on political connections. University officials declined to comment, but have hired a law firm in anticipation of such suits.