Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009 - 3:00am

The American Council on Education has launched a new Web site, Today's GI Bill, to help veterans learn about the new education benefits available to them, the college selection process, and how to succeed in higher education. The site -- debuting just before Veterans Day -- was created with support from the Lumina Foundation for Education.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 - 3:00am

The Academic Senate at the University of California at Berkeley backed a non-binding resolution last week that calls for an end to administrative subsidies for athletics and more faculty oversight of the sports program, The Daily Californian reported. Professors voted 91 to 68 in favor of the resolution, inspired by revelations not only that the athletics department is currently getting millions of dollars a year in campus "loans," but that the university had forgiven $31 million in previous shifts of funds that were supposed to have been repaid. Campus administrators opposed the resolution, and the athletics director, Sandy Barbour, called it "terribly unfortunate," the Californian said.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 - 3:00am

A quadriplegic student at East Central University has been ordered to leave a dormitory unless he hires an assistant to live with him, The Oklahoman reported. The university says that the requirement is a matter of safety, since the student can't leave his room without assistance. But the student says he can't afford to hire an assistant to live with him overnight.

Monday, November 9, 2009 - 3:00am

With a decision expected this week at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology on a proposal to boycott Israeli universities and academics, American groups are stepping up opposition to the boycott. The American Association of University Professors released a statement Friday urging the university to reject the boycott idea. "AAUP’s policy against academic boycotts -- detailed in our 2006 statement on the subject -- is based on the still more fundamental principle that free discussion among all faculty members worldwide should be encouraged, not inhibited. Certainly those Norwegian faculty members already working on joint projects with Israeli colleagues should not have their academic freedom taken away from them. In the long run, more, not less, dialogue with Israeli faculty members is an important way to promote peace in the region," the statement says. Also last week, the Anti-Defamation League called on the European Union to disqualify from its exchange programs any university that adopts a boycott policy. Organizers of the boycott movement at the university could not be reached, but they outlined their position online, saying that "Israeli universities and other institutions of higher education have played a key role in the policy of oppression. A substantial proportion of academics are directly involved in the country’s advanced weapon industry; social scientists play a central role in the construction of a nation of occupation; historians and archaeologists are important in the development of the Zionist ideology and renouncement of Palestinian history and identity." A spokeswoman said that Rector Torbjørn Digernes has drafted a resolution for the board to reject the boycott call. The resolution is available (in Norwegian) here.

Monday, November 9, 2009 - 3:00am

Most of us have probably hit "send" once or twice before being certain that the correct person (and only the correct person) was in the address field. But when it comes to misfiring e-mail, two employees of Cornell University's business school may have set a new standard for embarrassment. The sexually explicit exchanges between these employees (both married, not to each other) were sent accidentally on Friday to a global list at the business school, and now are appearing in numerous places online. A Cornell spokesman confirmed the incident and said that, "an e-mail was sent by the university shortly after the incident to all those who may have received the accidental mailing, with an apology and a request that recipients discard the accidental mailing."

Monday, November 9, 2009 - 3:00am

A former student at the University of Michigan at Flint is suing the institution for $40 million, saying he dropped out and suffered from debt and depression because of the way the institution responded to a complaint about a grade, The Flint News reported. The former student charges that the university, in a post-Virginia Tech overreaction, perceived him as a threat, and the student has obtained e-mail messages from safety officers at the university as saying he was “strange, creepy and had an attitude." University officials declined to discuss the suit in detail, but said that the institution had done nothing wrong and would defend itself in court.

Monday, November 9, 2009 - 3:00am

The athletics department at the University of New Mexico is spending a lot of time on physical altercation issues. On Friday, the university announced that it was moving control of personnel issues previously handled by the department to the university's central human resources department, the Associated Press reported. The announcement follows the university's admission of mistakes in investigating claims by an assistant football coach, J.B. Gerald, that he was punched and choked by the head coach, Mike Locksley. In women's athletics, the university has suspended a soccer player who was seen in a widely viewed video colliding with her opponents from a Brigham Young University team and yanking the ponytail of one BYU player such that she fell to the ground, the AP reported.

Monday, November 9, 2009 - 3:00am

Six universities today will issue a joint pledge to make patent and licensing decisions on drugs developed at their institutions in ways that encourage low-cost distribution of the medicines in poor countries, Bloomberg reported. The pledge follows a push by students and others who have drawn attention to pricing policies that effectively deny access to life-saving drugs -- many of them created by university researchers, with federal funds -- in much of the developing world. The universities signing the pledge are: Boston, Brown, Harvard and Yale Universities, Oregon Health & Science University, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Monday, November 9, 2009 - 3:00am

A federal judge in Texas on Friday granted a temporary injunction allowing two students to wear empty holsters in public spaces at Tarrant County College as part of a national series of student protests this week over laws or policies barring concealed weapons on college campuses. The students -- backed by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education -- sought the injunction against rules that would have limited them to wearing the empty holsters in a "free speech zone" and not elsewhere on campus. The judge agreed with their claim that they were likely to prevail in their challenge to the strict limits on where they could engage in peaceful protest. But the judge did not extend the injunction to classrooms, where the students remained barred from wearing their empty holsters.

Monday, November 9, 2009 - 3:00am

Mark W. Huddleston, president of the University of New Hampshire, last week published a letter in the student newspaper raising questions about how a number of students saw - and did nothing -- during an assault on a fellow student on Halloween night. "We are a community. That means we are supposed to look out for and take care of one another. That didn’t happen Saturday night," he write. "Indeed, aside from the terrible injuries our student suffered, what disturbed me most was the fact that many people observed the assault and did nothing. Absolutely nothing. That is not how a healthy community behaves. While I certainly don’t want anyone to put themselves in harm’s way to break up a fight, choosing to walk past, to stop and observe, or just to ignore an altercation is unacceptable. It takes only a moment to call the police. Such a call can even be made anonymously. Remember: This 21-year-old student is not simply a statistic or a name on a police report. He is someone’s son, roommate and friend. What if he was yours? What if you were he?"

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