Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - 3:00am

Bethune-Cookman University on Monday issued a statement along with reports and endorsements to counter a report issued by the American Association of University Professors criticizing the way seven faculty members had lost their jobs. While the AAUP found that the professors were denied due process and other protections, the university argued that the AAUP ignored evidence -- in particular in the case of four faculty members who were accused of sexual harassment. The AAUP reported that the professors -- who deny the accusation -- were never given basic information about the charges they faced.

But the university denies this claim and on Monday released a consultant's report about the case (which does not name the professors). According to the consultant's report, "the four professors had an off-campus apartment where they took female students to have sex; one or more of the four professors would take nude photos of the female students at the apartment and threaten to release the photos on Facebook if the students revealed their improper actions to the university's administration."

Based on this report, the university maintains that taking action against the professors was required to protect students. Bethune-Cookman also released several statements of support. One, from the National Council of Negro Women, said that "a university has a fiduciary duty to its students to protect them from acts of sexual misconduct by professors and must take swift and remedial action to ensure their continued safety and an environment free from intimidation and sexual harassment."

Another statement of support came from Rev. Al Sharpton: "I have personally studied this case, and the university was within its right and boundaries to do exactly what it did. And I feel obligated to support the administrators with this decision. It's amazing to me that of all the institutions in the nation, this organization is challenging a historically black college and university when actions of this type are reported all over the nation. Just like the nation must address racism, respect for a person's mind, dignity and body are just as important. Thank God that Bethune-Cookman dared to stand up to protect its students."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - 3:00am

When nine Central Washington University students were hospitalized after a party this month, many suspected a "date rape" drug was to blame. But authorities announced Monday that four of the students were knocked out by drinking Four Loko, a caffeinated alcohol drink that enables people to get very drunk very quickly, The Seattle Times reported. Washington State's attorney general is calling for the drink -- known by some as "blackout in a can" -- to be banned. The growing popularity of the drink has alarmed some campus health officials, and Ramapo College this month banned the drink.

Phusion, the company that creates Four Loko, issued a statement late Monday in which it said: "No one is more upset than we are when our products are abused or consumed unlawfully by underage drinkers, which appears to have been the case at Central Washington. However, we also know that curbing alcohol abuse on college campuses will not be accomplished by singling out a lone product or beverage category. The only answer lies with increased education and awareness by all involved and with respecting the law." The statement also said that "consuming caffeine and alcohol together has been done safely for years."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - 3:00am

The U.S. Department of Education today published final regulations on several programs that guide low-income students toward postsecondary education, including TRIO, GEAR UP, the High School Equivalency Program and the College Assistance Migrant Program. The rules, set to take effect on July 1, are the first of several sets -- including the much-debated rules on the integrity of the Title IV federal financial aid program, except for the regulatory language on "gainful employment" -- that must be published by Nov. 1.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - 3:00am

A former football player at Rice University is the lead plaintiff in a class action against the National Collegiate Athletic Association for its one-year limit on athletic scholarships, USA Today reported. The lawsuit says that the ban on multi-year scholarships is a violation of federal antitrust law. NCAA officials said that they were reviewing the suit.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - 3:00am

Representatives of college and professional football met last week in an effort to identify potential solutions to the many agent issues plaguing college football recently. Among “opportunities for greater collaboration,” the group discussed “enforcement efforts, potential post-NCAA financial penalties, best practices for the effective enforcement of state agent laws, education efforts, as well as an examination of the frequency and timing of agent contact with student-athletes.” The group plans to meet again next month with more recommendations. The participants included the National Collegiate Athletic Association, its member institutions, the Collegiate Commissioners Association, the National Football League, the NFL Players Association, the American Football Coaches Association and some state government officials.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - 3:00am

The two main accrediting associations for teacher education -- the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council -- have announced that they are merging. The combined organization will be called the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - 3:00am

The U.S. Education Department is today sending a letter to schools and colleges reminding them of their obligations to prevent the harassment of students, The New York Times reported. While the letter is the result of a year-long review, it is being released amid a public debate over reports of bullying in schools and colleges of gay students or of students perceived as gay. “I am writing to remind you that some student misconduct that falls under a school’s anti-bullying policy also may trigger responsibilities under one or more of the federal anti-discrimination laws,” says the letter.

In New Jersey on Monday, lawmakers introduced a bill that would require all public colleges to have specific anti-bullying policies in their student codes of conduct, The Star-Ledger reported. The suicide of a Rutgers University student, Tyler Clementi, after other students broadcast his encounter with a man in his room, has led to a particular focus in New Jersey on anti-gay bullying.

Monday, October 25, 2010 - 3:00am

Delaware State University agreed on Friday to settle a class action over women's athletics. The News Journal reported that the university committed that by 2013 it would add enough women's sports to meet the proportionality test for demonstrating compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Under that test, the proportion of female athletes should substantially mirror the proportion of female undergraduates at a college -- and Delaware State is way off. Currently, the university's student body is 61 percent female, but only 41 percent of athletes are female.

Monday, October 25, 2010 - 3:00am

Authorities investigating unusual chemical smells in a Georgetown University dormitory Saturday morning evacuated 400 students and found what appears to be a drug lab, The Washington Post reported. Two male students and a visitor were arrested, and many other students were stunned by the news. "I would understand if someone got caught doing it. Making it, that's different. It's shocking," one student told the Post.

Monday, October 25, 2010 - 3:00am

Nearly 49,000 students in New Jersey, most of them with low incomes, are in danger of losing state aid because they have not filled out a one-page financial aid form that the state requires, The Star-Ledger reported. The forms are due by Nov. 15 and state officials are trying to contact all of the students. While some would lose only a few hundred dollars, others would lose more than $10,000 a year if they are deemed ineligible.

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