Quick Takes: House Passes Bill on Presidential Records, New Report on Substance Abuse on Campus, California Boards Increase Tuition, Charges Dropped in Guilford Case, Charles Taylor Wins Templeton, Internet Ban at Elite Indian Institute

March 15, 2007
  • The House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed legislation -- strongly backed by historians and archivists -- to reverse an executive order by President Bush on presidential records. Scholarly groups have said that the Bush order seriously hinders research by giving current and former presidents and their families far too much control over blocking access to their records. The White House indicated this week that it opposed the bill.
  • About 1.8 million college students meet the medical definition of substance abuse or dependence, according to a report that will be released today by a research center at Columbia University, Bloomberg reported. The report -- based on analyses of a series of other reports and data sets -- found increases in binge drinking and in the abuse of prescription drugs. The study is being released by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, a Columbia unit led by Joseph Califano Jr. While many experts on substance abuse agree that the problems are serious, and have been documented by much research, the center's work has also been criticized for inflammatory rhetoric, and this report may continue that pattern. A statement provided to Bloomberg quoted the Rev. Edward Malloy, president emeritus of the University of Notre Dame and head of the Columbia center commission that prepared the report, as saying that many college officials "assume a Pontius Pilate posture, leaving the problem in the hands of students." Peter McPherson, president of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, called the Pontius Pilate remark "frankly outrageous," given that "every president of every major university works on this issue all the time."
  • The cost of attending a public university in California is going up. The boards of the University of California and California State University systems on Wednesday approved tuition increases of 7 and 10 percent, respectively, The Los Angeles Times reported. Officials said that the increases were necessary to preserve quality and noted that there were no increases last year. But student groups blasted the increases. Charges in California are low compared to much of the country and sensitivity about them is high -- so high that the state generally doesn't use the word "tuition" to describe the mandatory charges students must pay to enroll, and prefers "fees."
  • Prosecutors on Wednesday dropped charges against a group of football players at Guilford College charged with attacking Palestinian students in an incident that shook up the institution, the Associated Press reported.
  • Charles Taylor, a political philosopher at Northwestern University, was on Wednesday named winner of the 2007 Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries About Spiritual Realities. The prize comes with an award of $1.5 million.
  • The Mumbai campus of the Indian Institute of Technology, a highly prestigious university in India, has decided to cut off Internet access in dormitories from 11 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. to encourage students to be more social and to get more sleep, and to discourage online Internet gambling, Reuters reported. Officials are concerned that an increase in antisocial behavior, as well as suicides and suicide attempts may be related to too many students spending too much time online.
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