Mental health professionals must now be available around the clock, either remotely or on campus, to assist New Jersey college students in distress. The New Jersey Senate unanimously passed the new suicide-prevention law this week. "We need to reach these young men and women and tell them they are not alone," Kevin O'Toole, the New Jersey senator who sponsored the legislation, said in a statement. "This legislation will ensure our college students will always have someone to lean on in their darkest hours."
When the legislation was first introduced in July, it included a requirement that colleges publicly list the number of suicides that occur on a campus each year. That component of the bill was widely criticized by mental health experts and was eventually removed.
The University of Missouri Board of Curators on Thursday responded to the American Association of University Professors’ planned investigation of the Melissa Click case. Pamela Q. Henrickson, board chair, said in a 10-page letter to AAUP that the termination of Click, the former assistant professor of communication at the Columbia campus who asked for muscle to remove a student journalist and yelled at police during on-campus protests this fall, is fundamentally consistent with AAUP values. That’s despite AAUP’s contention that Click was terminated without an opportunity to appeal to a faculty body, a widely followed standard endorsed by the association.
Henrickson said that AAUP’s statements on such matters don’t establish an absolute right or requirement to such a hearing, and instead focus on matters of academic freedom and tenure. She denied that Click’s case concerns academic freedom or tenure, which she noted the professor did not have. Henrickson also wrote that while the board endorses faculty hearings in midterm dismissal cases, Click’s case was not typical in that existing university procedures failed to address the seriousness of her actions (no one filed a complaint against Click).
“[The board] addressed conduct by Dr. Click that was contrary to those basic expectations and at odds with principles of free expression that animate [AAUP policy],” the letter says. “Indeed, by calling for physical intimidation or violence against a student, Dr. Click engaged in conduct that, if tolerated, would pose a risk to the safety of students and faculty and fundamentally endanger the university’s academic environment.”
Henrickson said the board’s actions do not merit censure by AAUP, in which the investigation could result, but that the body is nonetheless reviewing existing Missouri polices to ensure that it will not have to act on its own in instances of future faculty misconduct. Hans-Joerg Tiede, associate secretary of AAUP’s department of academic freedom, tenure and governance, said the association’s investigation will continue as planned, with the investigating committee possibly responding to the board’s concerns in its report.
Thousands of high school students in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., received email from the University of California at Santa Cruz this week congratulating them on being admitted. But The Washington Post noted that these students never applied. The university sent acceptance emails to thousands who were on a list of admissions prospects, not actual applicants.
For the second time, a jury found that the University of Iowa didn’t discriminate against an applicant for a faculty position in the College of Law because he was too old, The Gazettereported. Donald Dobkin, an administrative law attorney who is now 62, first sued the university for age discrimination after he was denied a faculty position in 2008. The job went to a younger candidate with what Dobkin said were inferior qualifications, but a jury sided against him in 2012. He was denied a new trial and lost an appeal.
Dobkin launched a second suit that same year, based on a failed second attempt at a faculty job in 2010 (the job went to a 40-year-old, less experienced applicant, according to the most recent suit). Dobkin alleged discrimination based on age and employment, as well as retaliation for the first suit, but a jury sided against him this week. The university said in a statement that it was “pleased with the jury ruling and the recognition that the law school did not discriminate and did not retaliate.” Dobkin could not immediately be reached for comment, according to The Gazette.
A former professor of architecture at Catholic University won $1 million in damages this week after a jury found that the institution attempted to scare her out of suing it for discrimination, The Washington Postreported. After a four-week trial, a jury in D.C. Superior Court rejected Rauzia Ruhana Ally’s claim that she was fired because she is a Muslim Indian woman, but determined that administrators engaged in an email campaign to get her to drop a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Ally was fired in 2012, a year after taking on a job as director of a university project, according to the post. The university said she was insubordinate and failed to keep project costs down, but Ally alleged discrimination. Ally’s attorney during the trial presented emails from Randall W. Ott, dean of Catholic’s School of Architecture, accusing the former professor and her husband of stealing a desk-size model home and discussing a plan to press charges. Ally said she never removed the model, and charges were never brought, but Ott in an email to another administrator referred to the proposed charges as a “threat.”
Elise Italiano, university spokesperson, told the Post that in “both policy and practice, the university is committed to fair and equal treatment of every employee. We have respect for every employee and a rich compliance and ethics program.” She denied that Ott’s emails were malicious but said the university was reviewing standards about how managers communicate.
Nearly 60 percent of California college students interviewed for a recent survey could not define the term "credit score." The survey, released Tuesday by student loan website LendEDU, included responses from 668 students at both two-year and four-year institutions. More than 40 percent of students said they did not believe that student loan debt was included in a credit report or score.
The University of Missouri Board of Curators announced Tuesday that it has rejected an appeal from Melissa Click, an assistant professor at the university's Columbia campus, of the board's February decision to fire her. Click was given the right to file an appeal, which she did. She was fired based on two incidents, both videotaped. In one, she blocked the access of a student journalist to campus protesters even though they were in an open area on a public campus. In the other, the board determined that she interfered with a police officer trying to maintain order amid a protest during a parade.
Pamela Henrickson, chair of the University of Missouri Board of Curators, said that “in the board’s view, her appeal brought no new relevant information to the curators.” The board’s full rejection of the appeal may be found here.
In her appeal, Click wrote in part, “In my participation and in my actions on both days I firmly believe I was exercising my protected rights as a United States citizen and a citizen of the state of Missouri. I steadfastly believe it would be a violation of my First Amendment rights and my rights to academic freedom to suggest that my interactions on either day provide grounds for the termination of my employment. Additionally, I believe that your decision to terminate my employment without due process in the form of a fair hearing by a faculty body violates my contract of employment with the University of Missouri.”
The American Association of University Professors has questioned the decision to fire Click, and many observers expect the case to end up in court.