Higher Education Quick Takes

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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.

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.

Monday, October 25, 2010 - 3:00am

Some students charge that the University of California at Los Angeles is effectively ending its Islamic studies program, by failing to move quickly on a pledge made in 2007 to reorganize it, the Los Angeles Times reported. The pledge was made at a time that admissions to the program were suspended. On Friday, students held a protest, carrying signs that said "Scared of Islam? Learn about it." Faculty leaders say that they are working to revive the program.

Monday, October 25, 2010 - 3:00am

Friends of Steve Li, a student at the City College of San Francisco, are trying to build support to keep him in the United States. The Contra Costa Times reported that authorities have charged Li and his parents with being in the United States illegally. An unusual twist on the case is that Li's parents are Chinese, but he was born when they were in Peru. As a result, federal authorities are trying to send his parents to China, and Li to Peru, where he does not know a single person. Li is currently being held in a detention center in Arizona. He said he can't imagine leaving the U.S. "I've been living [in the United States], studying here. I feel like I've been here all my life. All my friends, my teachers, my family is here," he said.

Monday, October 25, 2010 - 3:00am

An Egyptian administrative court on Saturday upheld a lower court's ruling ordering police units that have been permanently stationed at universities for years to leave the campuses, and to let education officials supervise security, Reuters reported. Several Cairo University faculty members sued, charging that university autonomy was being violated, and the court agreed. "The presence of permanent Interior Ministry police forces inside the Cairo University campus represents an impairment of the independence guaranteed to the university by the constitution and the law," the court ruling said.

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.

Friday, October 22, 2010 - 3:00am

College seniors who graduated in 2009 had an average of $24,000 in student loan debt, up 6 percent from the previous year, according to data released Thursday by the Project on Student Debt. At the same time, unemployment for recent college graduates climbed from 5.8 percent in 2008 to 8.7 percent in 2009 – the highest annual rate on record for college graduates aged 20 to 24. Details are available from the project's Web site.

Friday, October 22, 2010 - 3:00am

An anonymous Boston College law student has published an open letter asking his dean to let him leave the law school without a diploma this semester (two and a half years into the program) in return for getting his tuition money back. The student writes that he was convinced to go to law school by "empty promises of a fulfilling and remunerative career," and that now he faces the likely prospect of huge debts and no decent job. The deal he proposed, the student writes, would benefit both parties: "on the one hand, I will be free to return to the teaching career I left to come here. I’ll be able to provide for my family without the crushing weight of my law school loans. On the other hand, this will help BC Law go up in the rankings, since you will not have to report my unemployment at graduation to U.S. News. This will present no loss to me, only gain: in today’s job market, a J.D. seems to be more of a liability than an asset." The student's request comes in a year of increased scrutiny of the placement records of law schools. Boston College does not seem likely to agree to the proposal. A statement it released to The Boston Herald said that law schools can't guarantee anyone a job. "What we can do is provide the best education possible, and work together to provide as many career opportunities as possible," the statement said.

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