Quick Takes: Israeli Booted, Army Booted, Optimism on Antioch, Clarifying FERPA, Hints on NY Panel, Athlete Graduation Rates, Indiana U. of Pa. Punished, No Charges for Tasered Student, All-Male College Recruits Women (by Mistake), Suit on Building Name

October 31, 2007
  • Asaf Romirowsky, was supposed to appear on a panel on the Middle East last week at the University of Delaware, but he was uninvited at the last minute when a Delaware professor said he wasn't comfortable appearing with Romirowsky, a veteran of Israel's army who is now a fellow at the Middle East Forum, a think tank sympathetic to Israel. Muqtedar Khan, who teaches political science at Delaware, sent an e-mail message to one of the student organizers of the event, saying he was "not sure how I feel about being on the same panel with an Israeli soldier who was stationed in West Bank. Some people see IDF as an occupying force in the West Bank. I am not sure that I will be comfortable occupying the same space with him." Students then called Romirowsky, and asked him not to attend. Romirowsky sees the incident as a violation of academic freedom. He noted in an interview that because military service is nearly universal in Israel, any university agreeing to exclude Israeli veterans from panels would effectively be excluding almost all Israelis. A spokesman for the university said that the institution never sought to rescind Romirowsky's invitation and that the action was based on a "misunderstanding" by students that the university regretted. Khan said he was only expressing his discomfort and that he would not have suggested anyone be excluded. He said that when he arrived at the event, he assumed Romirowsky would be there. He added that people who received his e-mail had missed the humorous tone, in which he said he was trying to be "cute" with references to "occupying the same space" intended as an ironic reference to Israel's occupation of the West Bank.
  • Sonoma State University has dropped the Army as a sponsor of athletic programs to protest the military's discrimination against gay people, The Santa Rose Press Democrat reported. As a result of the policy shift -- proposed by professors and accepted by the administration -- the university will have to make up for $15,000 that the Army was going to provide for a basketball tournament.
  • Toni Murdock, the chancellor of Antioch University, said in an interview Tuesday night that she felt "a lot of hope and optimism" about the continuing discussions about the future of Antioch College that are taking place with alumni leaders. Murdock said that she was impressed with the way alumni had raised money and that although the university board was not yet ready to lift the planned suspension of college operations, she said that she felt that a corner had been turned. "There is a real sense of collaboration and working together as a team," she said. Alumni leaders -- who have clashed with Murdock in the past -- said that they too were feeling optimistic. Murdock said that the university board is planning to meet via conference call on Friday and that she hopes a proposal on the future of the college could be presented at that time.
  • The Department of Education released new brochures on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act Tuesday that focus less on what FERPA prohibits, and more on what it permits. A college-specific brochure, "Balancing Student Privacy and School Safety," follows up on a federal report on the Virginia Tech shootings finding that overly stringent interpretations of the law inhibit the information sharing needed to protect students.
  • A special panel reviewing higher education in New York State is preparing a plan that would call for radically increased role for colleges in working with elementary and secondary schools. In what appears to be a trial balloon, parts of the plan were revealed to The New York Sun, which reported that "education empowerment zones" would be created in which college faculty members would play more of a role in helping with the curriculum, and colleges might set up "early college high schools" and other links between higher ed and K-12. A preliminary report from the panel -- appointed by Gov. Eliot Spitzer -- is expected by December 1. Sources familiar with the panel's deliberations told Inside Higher Ed that the emphasis described in the Sun article was correct, but that references to a huge infusion of funds for higher education were not, given the state's overall budget picture.
  • The National Collegiate Athletic Association on Tuesday released institution by institution data on the federal graduation rates of athletes and students and the NCAA-created Graduation Success Rate of athletes at each Division I college. The release follows by several weeks the publication of sport-by-sport data for each institution, which included national statistics showing graduation rates remaining stable over all, but continuing to lag badly in men's basketball.
  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania has imposed a series of penalties on itself for a set of violations of NCAA rules governing financial aid and other matters, the association's Division II Committee on Infractions announced Tuesday. The violations occurred in the men's basketball and men's and women's swimming programs, and involved athletes faking their places of residence so they could qualify for in-state rather than out-of-state tuition, among other things.
  • The student who was tasered at the University of Florida last month will not face criminal charges, but has apologized for his role in the incident and agreed to a voluntary 18-month probation, the Associated Press reported.
  • Deep Springs College, in the High Desert of California, is known for its intellectual intensity, remoteness, and debates every so often on whether to start admitting women. If you know a high school girl who recently received recruiting materials from the college, however, don't think the college has reconsidered its all-male status. It just made a mistake. When buying names of high-SAT students this year to send materials to, the college forgot to just order male names, and about 2,000 females received the college's recruiting materials. They have since received an explanation from the college, apologizing for the error and wishing them well -- at some other college.
  • Sears Canada is suing Ryerson University, in Ontario, for not naming a building in the company's honor, The Financial Post reported. According to the suit, Sears paid $10 million and was promised a building, but has only received a plaque. Ryerson didn't return the Post's calls.
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