Worcester Polytechnic Institute is being sued by a student who was raped by a security guard at a building where she and other WPI students lived in Puerto Rico while on a research program. The suit questions whether WPI took appropriate steps to be sure that security guards were in fact reliable and not dangerous.
As part of its defense, WPI is raising issues about the woman having engaged in drinking before the incident and having gone to the roof of the building with the security guard (something she says she thought was safe since he was a guard), The Boston Globe reported. For example, in a deposition with the woman, WPI lawyers asked about her drinking and asked her whether her parents had taught her “don’t take candy from strangers.”
“When you are saying a victim of rape caused her own rape, it is so offensive,” Colby Bruno, senior legal counsel at the Victim Rights Law Center in Boston and a consultant for the woman’s lawyers, told the Globe.
WPI said it offered support to the woman and her family after the rape.
The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) has changed its name to Career Education Colleges and Universities. The governing board for the group, which is the for-profit sector's primary trade association, voted for the change Monday in Orlando, Fla., where the association is holding its annual meeting. Six years ago, APSCU was dubbed the Career College Association.
Many colleges and companies in the for-profit sector have struggled with slumping enrollments and revenue, while several face investigations or lawsuits from states and federal agencies. APSCU also has been buffeted by the industry's problems, announcing last year that big changes were on the way -- beyond the name change. For example, the new CECU said it will court nonprofit colleges as members (a handful of nonprofits currently belong to the group).
The rebranded group will seek to represent any college that works on career education, said Steve Gunderson, CECU's president and CEO.
"Our sector and our association will be even more focused on career education and the necessary work in government relations, leadership, research and communications," he said in a written statement. "We will be the voice and vision of postsecondary career education.”
The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools today will announce a temporary halt in accepting new applications for colleges seeking to become accredited, as well as several other changes, including requirements seeking to ensure more accuracy in self-reported data from member colleges.
The council is a national accrediting agency that oversees many for-profit institutions. It's been under fire lately, due in part for accrediting Corinthian Colleges until the large chain collapsed amid a spate of lawsuits and regulatory challenges. A group of state attorneys general have called on the federal government to drop its recognition of ACICS, as have a coalition of consumer, higher education and labor organizations. The U.S. Department of Education is slated to consider the accreditor's recognition later this month.
ACICS appears to be taking the threat seriously. Albert Gray, the council's president and CEO, stepped down in April. And the accreditor shortly thereafter tightened the screws on ITT Technical Institutes.
“The ACICS Board of Directors is determined to restore trust and confidence in the accreditation process, strengthen ACICS’ oversight of member institutions and ensure that students are receiving a quality education that will put them on [a] path to employment,” Anthony Bieda, the council's executive in charge, said in a written statement. “As we assess the content, structure and effectiveness of all policies and resources, no stone will be left unturned. Every aspect of the agency must be re-evaluated, fortified and enhanced.”
The freeze on new member applications is effective immediately, Bieda said, and will be in place until the accreditor "is satisfied that its program of assessment and review protects student interests, enforces high standards of quality and contributes to the public good."
Other announced changes include:
Creation of an ethics board to act directly on potential conflicts of interest, including with ACICS board members;
A new data integrity standard that gives ACICS greater explicit authority to sanction programs and institutions that misrepresent their performance through student retention, placement and licensure data;
A review of institutions’ written plans for recruiting and admitting students;
Greater public disclosure and enforcement of probation standards; and
An increase in the frequency and intensity of interim on-site evaluations.
Graduate assistants at Portland State University have formed a union affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors, they announced this week. The university said in a statement that it recognizes the students’ right to organize and has remained neutral on the issue under the law. The administration plans to “negotiate pay and benefits for graduate assistants as it currently does for other represented groups,” it said.