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Quick Takes: Anti-Muslim Posters Were Satire, Lessing Wins Nobel in Literature, NYU-Polytechnic Merger Advances, Barriers for Asian Americans, Museums Condemn Randolph, Advice to Senate on Endowments, Cuomo on Lender Marketing, Mass. Stem Cell Rules

October 11, 2007
  • Seven students at George Washington University -- members of what they call Students for Conservativo-Fascism Awareness -- have admitted that they are the ones who put anti-Muslim posters around campus this week. In a letter to the student newspaper, the GW Hatchet, the students said that they were trying to oppose "the true racist propaganda" of "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week," which David Horowitz, the conservative activist, and his supporters are holding on many college campuses later this month. The posters -- which said "Hate Muslims? So do we!" -- appeared Monday morning and were immediately removed. Numerous students groups as well as university leaders condemned the posters. The students who said that they put them up said in their letter that their "creative political action" was designed to be a "horrific exaggeration of the racism" behind the Horowitz-inspired events. University officials said Wednesday that they were still investigating the incident. The posters implied that they were sponsored by the campus chapter of Young America's Foundation, which is sponsoring events similar to Horowitz's program, but which disavowed the posters and condemned them. The national office of the foundation issued a statement condemning the students who admitted to putting up the posters and accusing "leftist administrators" at GW of using the incident to go on "a rampage" against student conservatives trying to criticize radical Islam.
  • The Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded this morning to the British writer Doris Lessing, author of The Golden Notebook, among other works. The announcement described her as "that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny."
  • The boards of New York University and Polytechnic University have approved proposals to move forward with negotiations to merge Polytechnic into NYU as its engineering and technology college. Many details remain to be worked out, and some Polytechnic alumni are vowing to oppose the merger.
  • The proportion of Asian American students who are enrolling in their first-choice college has declined significantly in recent years, one sign among many that they are confronting more barriers to educational success at U.S. colleges than before, according to a study released Wednesday by the University of California at Los Angeles's Higher Education Research Institute. The study, which finds that 51.8 percent of Asian Americans reported attending their first-choice school, down significantly from the 68.0 percent reported in 1974, largely reinforces the findings of a Government Accountability Office report released this summer, which challenged the prevailing assumption that Asian American students are outperforming everyone else and don’t need any help. That view, many educators say, oversimplifies a complicated situation created by the ever-increasing numbers of low-income and first-generation students from Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.
  • The Association of College and University Museums and Galleries, which represents more than 400 institutions, has issued a statement condemning the planned sale of four paintings from Randolph College's Maier Museum of Art in order to bolster the endowment. The college has said that it needs the funds to support its educational mission. But the college museum directors said in their statement: "Art and cultural collections -- in the public trust under the aegis of academic museums -- support the pedagogical program of the college's mission. Thus, the value of a Randolph College education has been compromised by this decision. Such an action is counter to the ethical and professional standards established by the museum field and sets a dangerous precedent that threatens the viability and integrity of all university collections."
  • Several higher education associations have submitted written testimony to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee aimed at rebutting some of the statements made by witnesses at a hearing on college endowments last month (to which, the groups note, college leaders were not invited to testify) and at discouraging senators and staff members from embracing "simplistic policy proposals" aimed at forcing colleges to spend a minimum percentage of their endowments or imposing new taxes on them. The document prepared by the American Council on Education, the Association of American Universities, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges -- which follows similar submissions by Princeton University and other institutions -- suggests that college leaders are taking the threat of potential new federal mandates about endowments very seriously.
  • New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo sent a new crop of subpoenas Wednesday to lenders that market loans directly to college students and families in ways that may mislead them, The New York Times reported. The attorney general's office cited examples of marketing materials in which lenders sent prospective borrowers letters that look like checks and others that say "Federal Loan Division" on stationery with an eagle on it, implying that they are coming from the U.S. government.
  • State regulators in Massachusetts reversed a controversial restriction on embryonic stem cell research that had been imposed during the administration of Gov. Mitt Romney, The Boston Globe reported. University and other scientists had contended that the way the Romney administration had carried out a 2005 law intended to remove barriers to the research had actually worked to discourage it. Now the state Public Health Council, now newly made up of appointees of Gov. Deval L. Patrick, a Democrat, has made key changes to the regulations that researchers applauded.
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