Quick Takes: Alternative Rankings Proposed, San Jose State Debates Skype Ban, UT-Austin Tops Pre-Hopwood Minority Enrollments, Lab Rules in Boston, Foreign Soccer Players, Settlement in Title IX Case, Ranking Colleges' Sexual Health

September 22, 2006
  • Existing tools and measurements could allow colleges to develop meaningful rankings to replace widely discredited rankings developed by magazines, according to a report being released today by Education Sector, a think tank. The report repeats criticisms that have been made of the U.S. News & World Report rankings, saying that they are largely based on fame, wealth and exclusivity. A new system might use data from the National Survey of Student Engagement and the Collegiate Learning Assessment as well as considering new approaches to graduation rates and retention, the report says. Current rankings reward colleges that enroll highly prepared, wealthy students who are most likely to graduate on time. But a system that compared predicted and actual retention and graduation rates -- based on socioeconomic and other data -- would give high marks to colleges with great track records on educating disadvantaged students, even if those rates were lower than those of some colleges that focus only on top students.
  • San Jose State University has upset many students by announcing a plan to ban Skype, a popular computer-based phone service, The San Jose Mercury News reported. University officials fear that Skype gives many people with no connection to the institution access to university networks, but many students say that the service is their only affordable phone option.
  • The University of Texas at Austin on Thursday announced that its minority enrollments for this semester reached new records, topping 1996 levels that were achieved before the Hopwood ruling that banned the use of affirmative action -- a ruling that was subsequently invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court. Hispanic enrollment is up 6.3 percent, to 7,453 -- or 15 percent of the student population. Black enrollment is up 5.2 percent, to 1,939 -- or 3.9 percent of the student population.
  • The Boston Public Health Commission has approved new rules to regulate research laboratories -- including those at colleges and universities -- working with highly dangerous materials, the Associated Press reported.
  • The top 25 men's college soccer teams have a total of 34 non-American athletes who are starters most games, according to an analysis released by Soccer America. Six of the players come from Britain and three each from Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union and Missouri State University on Thursday announced a settlement of a suit filed against the institution for eliminating the women's tennis team, the Associated Press reported. The team will not be reinstated, as the suit sought, but four women who were on the team will each receive $1,000.
  • Move over, U.S. News -- the Trojan Sexual Health Report Card is a new ranking, released by the condom company, on colleges' policies and services. Institutions were judged on such factors as the availability of condoms, other contraceptives, and HIV testing; whether student papers have a sex columnist; and education programs. Yale led the nation, followed by the University of Iowa.
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