Quick Takes: Gun Lobby Wins in Utah, Living Well in Loan Industry, Whitworth Drops SAT, Settlement in Video Case, Unusual Help for Oklahoma State Athletics, Aid for Katrina Colleges, Lumina Extends Program, Dog's Diploma, When Rules Should Be Broken

March 2, 2007
  • The Utah Legislature has passed legislation allowing students at public colleges and universities to request that they share rooms only with students who don't carry concealed weapons, The Salt Lake Tribune. But lawmakers rejected a proposal to allow faculty members to bar guns from their offices or classrooms. The legislation follows a legal dispute in which the University of Utah asserted its right to bar guns from campus -- despite Utah's ban on state entities enacting gun restrictions. After losing a court battle over the issue, the university said it would seek to compromise with lawmakers and seek some limited exemptions from the state law, but university leaders were hoping for much more than they ended up getting.
  • Documents that a court ordered the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Authority to release show many intriguing expenses paid for by the state student loan agency. The Patriot-News, one of the news organizations that sued for the documents, reported on expenses such as chartering of a Lear jet, tickets to major league baseball games, and tuxedo rentals.
  • Whitworth College, in Washington State, announced Wednesday that it is dropping a requirement that all applicants submit either the SAT or the ACT. Applicants who do not submit test scores will be required to have an interview. In addition, the test scores will be required prior to registration, to be used for placement purposes. Whitworth's president, Bill Robinson, said in a statement: "There is mounting evidence that de-emphasizing standardized test scores in admissions can help us identify the best students for Whitworth. Ultimately, we believe this change will make us more selective but with more reliable selection criteria."
  • The C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University has agreed to a settlement of a lawsuit brought against it by five students who say they unfairly lose their jobs as resident hall assistants because of a video they made mocking Muslim hostage takers, Newsday reported. The video, which showed a rubber duck as a hostage, offended local Muslim groups. Details of the settlement were not released.
  • Oklahoma State University has announced an unusual approach to supporting its athletic programs: 25 alumni have each obtained $10 million life insurance policies on which the university will  pay premiums, and its athletic department will be the beneficiary. The "Gifts of a Lifetime" program was the idea of T. Boone Pickens, who last year announced a $165 million gift to the university for athletic facilities.
  • The Lumina Foundation for Education announced Thursday that it would spend another $18 million on its "Achieving the Dream" effort through 2012. The program, which includes 58 colleges in 9 states, aims to help more community college students -- especially low-income and minority students -- succeed and earn degrees.
  • Legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday would allow the Education Department to provide up to $500 million over five years in grants to colleges that were closed for  at least 30 days by Hurricane Katrina and continue to suffer from the damage. The grants, which would be distributed through the department's Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, could be used for faculty salaries and incentives and student scholarships. The bill's sponsors say the area needs its colleges and universities to be restored so they can help drive economic and cultural recovery in the region.
  • In an unusual legal challenge to the authority of the police chief in Fostoria, Ohio, lawyers are seeking to bring a police dog to court because the dog and the chief both have a degree from the same online college, the Associated Press reported. The degree awarded to the dog gives "one pause, if not paws, for concern," said one legal brief.
  • Officials at the University of Freiburg, in Germany, are apologizing for an incident in which a student with a bladder dysfunction was told that if he left an exam room to go to a bathroom, he would fail a test, Reuters reported. Three exam supervisors refused to accompany him to the bathroom, even as other students backed his request. In the end, one woman in the class gave him her water bottle, which he used to urinate in a corner of the classroom. An apology from a senior university official said that the handling of the student's request was "lacking in any normal human sensitivity."
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