Quick Takes: Va. Bill Would Protect Suicidal Students, Montana Rejects 'Intellectual Diversity' Bill, Court Backs Wisconsin on Demoted Official, Wilkes Goes All-Mac, Protests of GOP 'Game' at NYU, Violations at Southern Maine, No Beauty Contest for Union

February 23, 2007
  • Both houses of the Virginia General Assembly have passed legislation to require public colleges and universities to have policies to identify and provide necessary help to students who may be suicidal. The legislation -- which still needs the governor's signature -- would bar institutions from punishing or expelling students "solely for attempting to commit suicide, or seeking mental health treatment for suicidal thoughts or behaviors." But the legislation also says that nothing in the bill would preclude colleges from "appropriately dealing with students who are a danger to themselves, or to others, and whose behavior is disruptive to the academic community." The legislation comes at a time of debate over how colleges respond to suicidal students -- with some institutions accused of not doing enough to intervene and others accused of punishing students unfairly.
  • The Montana House of Representatives on Thursday voted down a bill that would have required reports from public colleges and universities on how they promote intellectual diversity on their campuses and that would have banned political indoctrination of students, The Billings Gazette reported. The bill, defeated by a vote of 57-43, was modeled on draft legislation urged by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. Faculty groups in Montana have argued against the legislation, saying that there is no lack of intellectual diversity in the state, and that the bill intrudes on the state's tradition of respecting the autonomy of colleges.
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled Thursday that the University of Wisconsin at Madison was within its rights in forcing a demoted administrator who was placed on leave to use various accumulated leave time to obtain compensation. The ruling came in a suit brought by Paul Barrows, who resigned as vice chancellor of student affairs after admitting to an affair with a graduate student.
  • Wilkes University, in Pennsylvania, has announced a plan to replace all Windows-based personal computers on the campus with Mac products from Apple. Generally, Macs are experiencing a significant rebound on campuses, in part because of the popularity of iPods, but it is rare to take the step Wilkes announced.
  • Several hundred students at New York University on Thursday protested a "Catch the Illegal Immigrant" game organized by the campus Republican group, The New York Times reported. Republican groups on several campuses have organized such events, in which one or more students are tracked down in a game staged as political theater to seek tougher immigration laws. At NYU, the Times reported, there were far more students protesting the event than participating in it.
  • The National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division III Committee on Infractions placed the University of Southern Maine on two years' probation for engaging in work study fraud that violated NCAA rules governing financial aid and ethical conduct. The association found -- and the university agreed, through the NCAA's cooperative summary disposition process -- that Southern Maine officials had lacked institutional control over the sports program, which contributed to more than $10,000 in overpayments to athletes.
  • The University and College Union, Britain's main faculty union, has banned photographs from materials for elections to run the organization, The Guardian reported. Some union members feared that photos would turn the election into a beauty contest.
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