Quick Takes: EEOC Sues Adelphi for Bias, Suit Challenges Exclusion of Scholar From U.S., Deal on Fisk Art, Student Debt Outpaces Salaries, Settlement on Abortion Signs, HEROES Bill, Faster Than Speeding Text Message, First For-Profit Degrees in UK

September 26, 2007
  • The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a class action Tuesday accusing Adelphi University of violating federal law by paying its female professors less than its male professors, Newsday reported. The newspaper said that the federal agency had sued the Long Island university in federal court in Brooklyn on behalf of Judith Cohen, who filed a sex discrimination complaint against Adelphi with the agency in 2005. A lawyer for the EEOC told Newsday that the case wasn't just about Cohen, though. Louis Graziano said a review of the pay of full-time professors at Adelphi showed "a number of instances that suggested to us there was a pay disparity between men and women within the same departments and within the same rank." A statement that Adelphi officials released Tuesday in response to the lawsuit insisted that the university's "compensation practices are lawful, fair and equitable" and that Adelphi "intends to vigorously defend them." The statement added that salary decisions "are based on considerations such as seniority, market demand, experience, areas of expertise, and other legitimate factors apparently disregarded by the EEOC."
  • The American Sociological Association, the American Association of University Professors and several civil liberties organizations have sued the U.S. government seeking to restore the right of a noted South African scholar, Adam Habib, to enter the United States to attend academic meetings. For years, Habib was able to obtain visas to travel to the United States, but recently his visa requests have been blocked, most recently when he was unable to give a talk at the sociology group's annual meeting.
  • Fisk University's board has approved a deal in which the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art will pay $30 million for a half interest in the modern art collection Fisk received from Georgia O'Keeffe, The Tennessean reported. The deal would split access to the art for the two institutions. Fisk has been seeking to sell parts of the collection, saying that it needs money for its educational mission and to care for art. The deal still requires court approval.
  • Average student loan debt for graduating seniors in 2006 grew at twice the rate of their average starting salaries, according to a report released Tuesday by the Project on Student Debt. The report, "Student Debt and the Class of 2006," found that students graduating from four-year colleges in 2006 had 8 percent more debt than their predecessors the year before, while their starting salaries increased by about 4 percent over those in the 2005 class. The report includes breakdowns on average debt by state (students in Washington, D.C., and New Hampshire face the highest, and Hawaii the lowest) as well as a list of colleges with particularly high and particularly low levels of average debt per student. High debt is often connected with higher tuition and other expected factors, but there are many exceptions, and low tuition doesn’t guarantee proportionally low debt. The report also reiterates the group's recommendations for easing students' debt burden, including increasing federal spending on Pell Grants for needy students and giving borrowers more "fair and reasonable" repayment options.
  • Rhode Island College and the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island have settled a lawsuit brought by a women's group over the college's censorship of signs supporting abortion rights, the ACLU announced Tuesday. The campus Women's Studies Organization, a student group, sued the college after a December 2005 incident in which its president ordered campus police officers to take down signs that the group had posted near the college's entrance that said “Our bodies, our choice” and “Keep your rosaries off our ovaries.” Rhode Island officials argued at the time that the students hadn't gone through the necessary campus procedures to post signs on campus property. Under the settlement, the college did not admit wrongdoing, but it agreed to cover the student group's legal costs and to give it $5,000, the ACLU said.
  • The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed legislation that would permanently extend a federal law that waives certain federal financial aid laws and rules to ensure that active-duty military officers are not penalized when they are on active duty. The Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act, known as HEROES, was sponsored by Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) and a bipartisan group of lawmakers and is due to expire September 30, unless it is extended by both houses. The Senate is expected to take up the legislation this week.
  • Like many colleges and universities, Purdue University is experimenting with the best ways of communicating with its students and staff in the event of an emergency like the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech. On Monday, university officials put two modes of communication head to head, and found that they were able to send 57,000 e-mail messages in the same time -- about seven minutes -- that it took them to send text messages to about 10,000 students and employees who agreed to receive them, the Indianapolis Star reported. "The general feeling was that text messaging was instant. It's not instant," Scott Ksander, executive director of information technology networks and security at Purdue, told the newspaper. Ksander said that the university would continue to explore texting and other technologies in addition to e-mail, though, as Purdue seeks the best possible notification system. "There's no one answer here," he said.
  • For the first time, a for-profit education company has received permission to offer degrees in Britain, The Guardian reported.
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