Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, March 22, 2010 - 3:00am

One animal rights activist has pleaded guilty and another no contest for their roles in stalking and harassing faculty members at the University of California at Los Angeles who conduct research with animals, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced Friday. One faces a prison sentence of three years while the other must stay away from all University of California campuses or property. UCLA officials praised authorities for cracking down on those who engage in harassment. "Criminal acts to advance a cause or a belief have no place in a civilized society," said a statement from UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. "While we respect the rights of those who take a different view of animal research, we are committed to protecting our researchers from harassment and providing an environment where they can continue their work toward cures and a greater understanding of the human body."

Monday, March 22, 2010 - 3:00am

Ann Coulter, whose past statements have offended a wide range of groups, has been warned by a Canadian university where she will appear today that Canada has different views about free speech and hate speech than does the United States. Francois Houle, vice-president academic and provost at the University of Ottawa, sent an e-mail to Coulter that was obtained by The National Post. "Our domestic laws, both provincial and federal, delineate freedom of expression (or "free speech") in a manner that is somewhat different than the approach taken in the United States. I therefore encourage you to educate yourself, if need be, as to what is acceptable in Canada and to do so before your planned visit here.... Promoting hatred against any identifiable group would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges.... I therefore ask you, while you are a guest on our campus, to weigh your words with respect and civility in mind." Coulter was not available for comment. But the Post noted that her targets have -- in addition to Muslims -- included Canadians. She once said that "they'd better hope the United States doesn't roll over one night and crush them. They are lucky we allow them to exist on the same continent."

Monday, March 22, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Wisconsin at Madison last year suspended the right of a professor to work with animals after finding a "clear pattern" of problems with her treatment of animals, The Wisconsin State Journal reported. University officials said that Michele Basso showed a lack of respect to veterinarians and engaged in poor record-keeping about the use of animals. Basso denied violating any rules. Her research has since resumed, but her experiments are taking place under close supervision, the newspaper said.

Monday, March 22, 2010 - 3:00am

Lipscomb University, a private institution in Nashville, was recently revealed to have violated federal laws that bar bonuses paid to admissions officers based on the number of students they recruit. The violation occurred in 2003, but came to light in the wake of a U.S. Government Accountability Office report about incentive compensation last month. The Tennessean reported on how the university got into this situation. It was unaware of the law, but a consultant suggested that bonuses would motivate admissions officers. The university adopted the recommendation, paid out $62,500 in bonuses after a record year on enrollment, and ended up breaking federal law.

Monday, March 22, 2010 - 3:00am

Chris Avenir is suing Canada's Ryerson University in a $10 million class action over the institution's rule banning students from bringing lawyers to academic misconduct hearings where they could receive failing grades or be recommended for more severe punishment, The Toronto Star reported. Avenir fought off an attempt to expel him two years ago (but failed a portion of a course) in a much publicized dispute over a Facebook group he organized for a course in which students shared answers to various questions. Ryerson, which permits lawyers at hearings at which a student could be expelled, has denied wrongdoing.

Monday, March 22, 2010 - 3:00am

The Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education has voted to halt its search for a new commissioner of higher education because Gov. Jay Nixon has proposed merging the higher education agency with the state department that oversees elementary and secondary schools, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Monday, March 22, 2010 - 3:00am

The North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges on Friday affirmed the right of students who do not have legal documentation to reside in the United States to enroll at community colleges (at out-of-state tuition rates), The Raleigh News & Observer reported. The latest move -- which has been coming for some time -- follows more than a year of debate amid suggestions from some state officials that these students could not enroll legally. While federal officials confirmed that there was no legal ban on the students, the issue has become highly politicized and the state board noted that the General Assembly could overrule the policy.

Monday, March 22, 2010 - 3:00am

Following three confirmed cases of mumps at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, up to 170 students may be barred from campus because they are not adequately vaccinated, The Press Republican reported. Numerous colleges experienced mumps outbreaks in 2006.

Monday, March 22, 2010 - 3:00am

Stanford University's medical school, known for tough conflict of interest rules for faculty members, will strengthen them further today, The New York Times reported. The additional rules will apply to hundreds of local physicians who teach at Stanford, and will subject these adjunct faculty members to the same restrictions as full-time medical professors. The rules ban gifts from companies that produce drugs or medical devices, or giving paid speeches drafted by these companies.

Monday, March 22, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Edinburgh is facing criticism for favoring students from Scotland and the north of England who are applying to some of its more overcrowded programs, The Times (London) reported. While the university says that it is simply trying to reach out to its home region, educators from other parts of Britain are furious. The head teacher of one school told The Times: “I think it is outrageous that any university should discriminate against young people because of where they live. Scotland used to have a proud tradition of looking outwards and attracting some of the greatest international minds to its universities."

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