administrators

Central Florida Fraternity Suspended After Rape Chant

The University of Central Florida chapter of Sigma Nu has been suspended after the university received and reviewed a video of some of the fraternity's members chanting phrases that seemed to encourage sexual assault. "Let's rape some bitches, rape some sluts" the members are heard saying in the video.

The incident occurred during an off-campus party in June. In October, a member of the chapter was accused of raping a woman at the Sigma Nu house. That student was found responsible of sexual misconduct and suspended.

“The words used by people in the recordings are disrespectful, despicable and vile,” Brad Beacham, Sigma Nu fraternity executive director, said in a statement. “The fraternity and university are investigating the recordings. Following the completion of the investigation, the fraternity will take action as may be appropriate.”

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Missouri Ends Subsidies for Grad Student Worker Health Insurance

The University of Missouri notified graduate student employees that it will no longer pay for their health insurance, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported. In a letter to students, the university said businesses like theirs were prohibited from “providing employees subsidies specifically for the purpose of purchasing health insurance from individual market plans,” in accordance with the Affordable Care Act. A university administrator attributed the change to a recent interpretation of the law by the Internal Revenue Service, saying that health care plans such as Missouri’s Aetna package for grad students are “individual market plans” and therefore exempt from employer subsidies. Other Missouri employees use one of a number of “employer-sponsored plans” and are therefore unaffected, the university explained in an online memo.

The university said not complying with the law could result in fines. It is reportedly using the $3.1 million originally budgeted for health insurance subsidies for graduate student employees to create one-time fellowships of between $600 and $1,200 for those affected, to be spent at their discretion. Starting in the spring, graduate student employees will have to pay completely out of pocket for health insurance.

Graduate students have taken to Twitter and other social media to express their outrage and concern about being able to pay for health care. John Meador, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology, told KOMU that the university effectively “eliminated my ability to function as a graduate student. … They knew about it. I believe they could have warned us earlier.” The university became aware of the issue in late July and consulted lawyers and various national organizations for advice before notifying students late last week.

The change could affect other graduate student employees elsewhere in the U.S. Andy Brantley, president and chief executive of College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, said via email that several colleges and universities have "expressed concern about this issue, and we have been working with other higher ed associations to get clarity from the IRS." He added, "We are hoping the agency will issue a short-term waiver as it deliberates application of the [Affordable Care Act] in these situations so colleges and universities can move forward this year without fear of liability."

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Author and former college president offers advice to parents on the first year of college

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How should parents prepare children for college? In a new book, a former college president takes a look at programs and resources at five different institutions to find out what students need and what parents should do during the first year of college.

Presidential candidates spar with Clinton over college debt plan

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Republicans and Bernie Sanders responded to Hillary Clinton's college debt plan, and their campaigns turned to Twitter to tussle in the 140-character format.

Head of Connecticut State System, Under Fire, Resigns

Gregory Gray announced Friday that he will resign, effective at the end of the year, as president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, a system of regional public four-year universities and community colleges. In a statement, Gray said that the move was personal. “This decision was purely a personal one, arrived at after a number of months of consideration and discussion with my family,” he said. Gray has clashed with faculty groups throughout the system and has been the subject of a series of no-confidence votes over his plans to centralize the curriculum and make more use of online education than many professors believe is appropriate for their at-risk students.

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Minnesota President Apologizes for Remarks on Harassment

Eric W. Kaler, president of the University of Minnesota, on Friday issued a statement apologizing for a remark he made after Norwood Teague -- facing accusations of sexual harassment -- resigned as athletics director. At a news conference announcing Teague's resignation, Kaler said, “I view this as the action of one man who was overserved and a series of bad events happened.” Many criticized Kaler for this remark, saying that he was suggesting that drinking too much alcohol was an excuse for Teague's behavior.

In Friday's statement, Kaler said, “I regret that very poor choice of words because I cannot state strongly enough that Teague is entirely responsible for his behavior, and alcohol use is no excuse. Sexual harassment will not be tolerated at the University of Minnesota, and his resignation was the appropriate result of his actions.”

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U of Saint Joseph Drops SAT/ACT Admissions Requirement

The University of Saint Joseph, in Connecticut, announced Friday that it will drop a requirement that all undergraduate applicants submit SAT or ACT scores. The requirement will remain in place, however, for some entering health professions or honors programs, or seeking non-need-based scholarships.

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UNC-Chapel Hill Reports New Possible NCAA Violations

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has notified the National Collegiate Athletic Association's enforcement staff that it identified "two new pieces of information" regarding NCAA violations, UNC announced Friday. The new information was discovered in the course of responding to the NCAA's notice of allegations from May that stated the university demonstrated a lack of institutional control when it allowed athletes to participate in years' worth of phony "paper courses."

For 20 years, some employees at UNC knowingly steered about 1,500 athletes toward no-show courses that never met and were not taught by any faculty members, and in which the only work required was a single research paper that received a high grade no matter the content, according to a report released by the university in October. The NCAA is currently conducting its own investigation into the matter, and the university was expected to offer its response to the allegations this week. With the finding of new possible violations, that process will be delayed, potentially for another five months. This means UNC will now likely avoid receiving any sanctions until after National Signing Day for its football team and the NCAA postseason for its basketball teams.

Of the new possible charges, one concerned "improper academic assistance" being provided to women's basketball players, the university said, adding that the assistance was "directly related" to the paper course scandal. The other involves potential recruiting violations with the men's soccer team, and is unrelated to the NCAA investigation.

“We identified this new information as part of our due diligence in preparing our response to the notice of allegations and materials for public release,” Bubba Cunningham, UNC's athletic director, said in a statement. “Consistent with NCAA process, we promptly notified the NCAA’s enforcement staff. We continue to work cooperatively and expeditiously with the enforcement staff to complete our review, and we are confident this can be done quickly to allow the NCAA to bring closure to the investigation.”

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Former Berkeley Football Player Sues Over Concussions

A former University of California at Berkeley football player is suing the university, alleging that it "failed to take reasonable measures to prevent head injures." The former player, Bernard Hicks, says he suffered several concussions while playing for the team between 2004 and 2008 and that the injuries have led to permanent neurological injuries. Hicks was a starting safety during most of the 2006 and 2007 seasons, but sat out much of his final year due to his injuries.

"We base our care on the best and most up-to-date clinical guidelines and believe that the medical care we provide our student athletes meets or exceeds the standard in collegiate and national sports medicine," the university's athletic department said in a statement Friday. "While we cannot comment on any student’s specific medical history, we were saddened to read the lawsuit's statements about Mr. Hicks's health."

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Phyllis Wise Fires Back at U of Illinois Board

Phyllis M. Wise, who resigned a week ago as chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and then was told Wednesday that she was being dismissed instead, fired back Thursday evening.

In a statement sent to reporters, along with a request that they not contact her, she said that the University of Illinois board broke an agreement it and the system president made with her. Further, she said that the $400,000 she was due to receive was not a bonus or an exit payment, but money to which her contract entitled her. (University officials, who have characterized the funds as a bonus, declined to comment on Wise's statement.) In the statement, Wise also denied that she had any "illegal intentions" in her use of personal email accounts. University officials (and her own email records, in some cases) have suggested she was trying to avoid having email comments become subject to public records requests. The statement also says that Wise is consulting with lawyers on her options.

Here is the statement in full:

For close to four years I have been devoted to helping the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recognize its limitless potential. We’ve achieved inspiring successes but recent events have distracted us from focusing on the university’s future. In the past week, the news media has reported that I and other campus personnel used personal email accounts to communicate about university business; some reports suggested I did so with illegal intentions or personal motivations. This is simply false. I acted at all times in what I believed to be the best interests of the University. In fact, many of these same communications included campus counsel, board members, and other campus leaders.

On Tuesday, in the spirit of placing the university first, I acceded to the board’s and the president’s request that I tender my resignation. In return, the university agreed to provide the compensation and benefits to which I was entitled, including $400,000 in deferred compensation that was part of my 2011 employment contract. The $400,000 was not a bonus nor a golden parachute; it was a retention incentive that I earned on a yearly basis. As the university knows, months before this controversy began, I had begun discussions with campus development leaders about gifting an amount equal to my deferred compensation package to the College of Medicine.

Yesterday, in a decision apparently motivated more by politics than the interests of the university, the board reneged on the promises in our negotiated agreement and initiated termination proceedings. This action was unprecedented, unwarranted and completely contrary to the spirit of our negotiations last week. I have no intention, however, of engaging the board in a public debate that would ultimately harm the university and the many people who have devoted time and hard work to its critical mission. Accordingly, I have again tendered my resignation as chancellor and will decline the administrative position as adviser to the president. These recent events have saddened me deeply. I had intended to finish my career at this university, overseeing the fulfillment of groundbreaking initiatives we had just begun. Instead, I find myself consulting with lawyers and considering options to protect my reputation in the face of the board’s position. I continue to wish the best for this great institution, its marvelous faculty, its committed staff and its talented students.

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