The University of California at Berkeley on Thursday vowed to improve prevention efforts and responses to allegations of sexual assault and sex harassment. The announcement follows a series of incidents in which the university has been accused of ignoring longstanding harassment issues or of issuing light sanctions for serious violations of policy. "We have an obligation to promote a campus culture in which sexual harassment, sexual violence, stalking and any abuse of power are neither tolerated nor ignored, but proactively prevented," said an email to the campus from Nicholas Dirks, the chancellor, and Claude Steele, the executive vice chancellor and provost.
Hunter R. Rawlings III (right), who is about to step down as president of the Association of American Universities, will next month become interim president of Cornell University. Rawlings will serve while Cornell's board conducts a search for a replacement to Elizabeth Garrett, who died of colon cancer March 6, less than a year into her tenure as president. Rawlings knows the Cornell presidency well. He served as president from 1995 to 2003, and then as interim in 2005-6.
The federal government will spend roughly $22 billion on the Pell Grant program in 2016, according to new numbers from the U.S. Congressional Budget Office. The more than $7 billion projected surplus in the $30 billion program follows several years of declines in spending on Pell Grants, due to previous changes in eligibility for students.
As a result of the surplus, The Washington Post reported, more support may follow for restoring year-round access to Pell, meaning students can once again use the grants for summer courses. The elimination of that eligibility is one of the budget-related changes to the program during the Obama administration, which the White House recently has sought to reverse.
"Some have argued that Pell costs are unsustainable, but the CBO estimates show that the program has enough funding to restore year-round Pell, a policy with bipartisan support that incents completion and reduces college costs for low-income students," José Luis Santos, vice president for higher education policy and practice at the Education Trust, said in a statement. “Congress has the opportunity to preserve and strengthen this vital resource. We look forward to working with lawmakers to make this a reality.”
Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego did not mislead a graduate who said the institution made false promises about her career prospects, a jury found Thursday. Former student Anna Alaburda claimed that the college used inflated job placement data -- mainly by including part-time and nonlegal work obtained by graduates -- to lure her to the school, according to the Associated Press. She claimed that she was owed $125,000 in damages to make up for the fact that she’s been unable to find a full-time job as a lawyer, despite having graduated near the top of her class in 2008. Alaburda also pointed to the fact that she has $170,000 in student debt, but the Superior Court jury rejected her arguments, 9 to 3.
Law school graduates from various campuses have made similar claims to Alaburda’s in recent years, and some have received settlements as a result, but her case is believed to be the first to go to trial, according to the Associated Press. Michael Sullivan, a lawyer for Thomas Jefferson, reportedly acknowledged "isolated mistakes" and "clerical errors" in the data, but said there was no evidence that the school lied. The American Bar Association has since required more transparency in reporting jobs data.
The University of South Florida has placed Samuel Bradley on leave as director of its communications school after learning that he was demoted from a previous job over three affairs with students, The Tampa Bay Tribune reported. The university said it was not aware of the findings against Bradley at his former institution, Texas Tech University, and only learned of the situation this week. Texas Tech's investigation found that one student with whom Bradley had an affair was hospitalized for emotional distress, another delayed graduation, and that Bradley’s wife damaged the windshield of a car driven by one of his students. Bradley did not respond to requests for comment.
More than 100 students gathered on Howard University's campus Tuesday to protest the university's handling of cases of sexual assault. The demonstrations began after a student posted on Twitter that the university mishandled her sexual assault complaint earlier this year. Other students began criticizing the university and sharing similar stories, using the hashtag #TakeBackTheNightHU.
"Recent tweets have been posted regarding the alleged sexual assault of a Howard University student by another Howard student," the university said in a statement Tuesday. "The university administration took immediate action as soon as we learned of this matter. While we are not able to discuss the specifics of any ongoing investigation, we are and have been actively investigating all reports that have been made to us. These cases cannot be adjudicated through social media without compromising the integrity of the investigation."
The demonstrators on Tuesday gathered near the residence hall where the alleged assault occurred and chanted, "No means no." They also released a list of demands that called for "a thorough investigation of conduct of all reported assaults" on Howard's campus and for background checks of "all Howard University residence life employees."
On Wednesday, the university announced it would begin conducting background checks on all student employees, effective immediately.