Gay students at the University of Rhode Island have ended an eight-day library sit-in following an agreement with the university, The Providence Journal reported. The students said that the university was failing to assure a safe environment for them. Under the agreement, the university will add sensitivity programs to promote tolerance, give gay students "a voice" on several university committees, move up the schedule for adding a chief diversity officer and for a new staff member for the gay center on campus, and turn an existing building into the gay center's new home.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Cecilia Chang, already facing charges of embezzling about $1 million from St. John's University, in New York, is now facing additional charges, of forcing scholarship students to work as personal servants, The New York Times reported. Chang was charged with forced labor and bribery, in response to allegations that she told the students, most of them foreign students, that working 20 hours a week under her supervision was required for their scholarships. The duties included menial tasks at her home and such tasks as driving the dean's son to the airport. A lawyer for Chang said that the students' work was a normal part of work-study programs.
Both Harvard and Brown Universities have announced gifts for humanities research that, while not enormous in terms of the largest gifts to higher education, are notable for their emphasis. Harvard is today announcing a $10 million gift to support its humanities center with interdisciplinary research. The gift is the largest in Harvard's history for the study of the humanities. On Saturday, Brown announced a $3 million gift that will support the recruitment of senior scholars and the development of multiyear research seminars in the humanities.
Susan M. Reverby, a medical historian at Wellesley College, has uncovered evidence -- confirmed by U.S. officials -- that American scientists infected hundreds of Guatemalans with sexually transmitted diseases in the 1940s, The Boston Globe reported. The scientists' records indicate that they believed they could test various treatments for the diseases, and they did treat those who were infected, although one died. But the experiments were similar to the infamous studies at Tuskegee in that the research subjects never granted permission to be used in this way (although the unknowing participants in the Tuskegee study, unlike those in Guatemala, had become infected with the disease by ordinary means). Based on the findings of Reverby, President Obama apologized to Guatemalan leaders. (See an interview in Inside Higher Ed last year with Reverby about a book about Tuskegee.)
The Faculty Senate at the University of Johannesburg last week voted to suspend joint research and education programs with Ben-Gurion University of the Negev unless the latter institution meets certain conditions, including adding Palestinian universities to the programs and ending all of its ties to the Israel military. The Senate vote, expected to be adopted by the university as policy, could well end ties between the South African and Israeli universities, especially since many of the ties that Ben-Gurion has to the military are routine in Israel (such as programs to help students who are in the military or who are called up for reserve duty). The move at Johannesburg to cut ties to Ben-Gurion has been endorsed by many South African academics who want to back the Palestinian cause. Ben-Gurion has yet to formally respond, a spokeswoman said. But supporters of Ben-Gurion have criticized the scrutiny the joint research project has received, saying that Israeli universities are being held to higher standards than those in any other country, and that the research that could be cut off helps black South Africans.
President Obama is on Monday expected to announce a new public-private partnership to promote better job training at community colleges, The New York Times reported. The idea behind the program, which would be overseen by the Aspen Institute, is that while some job training programs are effective, many are not, so some public-private effort might help spread information on the concepts in the successful programs, so they can be replicated.
Immigration issues took center stage Saturday in a debate of the gubernatorial candidates in California. The chief issue was the recent allegation that Meg Whitman, the Republican candidate, who has called for tougher enforcement of immigration laws, was responsible for having hired a housekeeper without legal documentation to work in the United States. But the issue of immigrant students also came up. A California State University at Fresno student, who is undocumented, asked the candidates about legislation -- supported by Democrat Jerry Brown and opposed by Whitman -- to create a path to citizenship for students like her. Brown then pointed out that Whitman not only opposes the legislation, but has called for undocumented students to be kicked out of the state's public universities, the Los Angeles Times reported. "She wants to kick you out of this school because you are not documented and that is wrong, morally and humanly," Brown said. Whitman defended her stance, saying "I don't think it's fair to bar and eliminate the ability of California citizens to attend higher university and favor undocumenteds."
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday vetoed legislation that would have required foundations and other auxiliary groups tied to California's two main university systems to open their lists of donors to the public, Central Valley Business Times reported. The bill, sponsored by State Senator Leland Yee, a frequent critic of university governance and spending practices, emerged in the wake of controversy over the amount that a foundation at California State University at Stanislaus had paid to bring Sarah Palin to campus, and its refusal to reveal the total. Lawmakers approved the bill, saying it was needed to ensure accountability at California State and the University of California, but Schwarzenegger said the measure, as crafted, would not sufficiently protect the privacy of individual donors.
The student newspaper at Northwest College, which reported on numerous controversies involving the two-year institution's president and carried on despite the firing of its adviser, has won the College Press Freedom Award. The Northwest Trail earned the award, presented by the Student Press Law Center and the Associated Collegiate Press, because "after [adviser Ron Feemster] was fired, the staff did not retreat from pursuing serious and controversial topics” (including about a religion-tinged recruiting campaign by the college's Mormon president), the law center's director, Frank LoMonte, wrote in an e-mail to the Trail's editors. Feemster wrote about his experiences as the newspaper's adviser on Inside Higher Ed last month.
A jury on Thursday convicted Raphael Haim Golb, a real estate lawyer, of impersonating a New York University professor and others who disagreed with the theories of Golb's father about the Dead Sea Scrolls, The New York Times reported. Golb claimed that that e-mails at the center of the case were parodies and not meant to be taken seriously.