Quick Takes: MIT Sues Gehry, Universities Defend Animal Research, Budget Woes in California, Settlement and New Name for Fla. Metropolitan, Loyola Pulls Literary Magazine, Condom Plan Blocked, Acadia Strike May End

November 6, 2007
  • One of the most discussed building projects in higher education in recent years is the $300 million Stata Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with a much acclaimed design by Frank Gehry (see photo gallery here). Apparently MIT believes that for that kind of money, you shouldn't end up with leaks, mold and blocked drains. The institute has sued Gehry for unspecified damages for "deficient design services" that forced MIT to pay others to fix problems, The Boston Globe reported. Gehry didn't respond to the newspaper's requests for comment. This isn't the first time a university has faced serious practical problems dealing with one of Gehry's wonders. The first winter after Case Western Reserve University's business school building opened, snow and ice would drop from the sloping roof in such volume that the university had to set up barricades to keep people off the sidewalks where they might have been hit.
  • The Association of American Universities, which represents the top research universities in the United States and Canada, on Monday released a new statement defending the use of animals in research. Such research "has played a vital role in virtually every major biomedical advance of the last century," the statement said. It went on to declare as "unacceptable" the behavior of activists who "harass, intimidate, or use violence" against researchers. While universities must assure the "open exchange of ideas," the statement said, they must also provide "a safe environment for conducting their activities, including research involving the use of animals, free of intimidation or violence." The statement follows a recent incident in which an animal rights group claimed responsibility for flooding the home of a researcher at the University of California at Los Angeles. The researcher, Edythe London, responded to the vandalism by publishing an opinion piece, "Why I Use Laboratory Animals."
  • The California budget picture is getting bleak. The Los Angeles Times reported that state financial projections now are being based on a deficit as high as $10 billion, and that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger responded on Monday by ordering all state agencies -- including those in education -- to prepare plans to cut budgets by as much as 10 percent.
  • Florida's attorney general and Florida Metropolitan University have reached an agreement under which the for-profit institution has agreed to help students seeking to transfer and to provide better information to prospective and current students about the issues they may face when transferring, The St. Petersburg Times reported. The agreement, which does not stipulate any admission of wrongdoing by the university, came amid lawsuits by former students who say that they did not realize how difficult it would be to transfer credit from the institution. The same day as the settlement, the university announced that it was changing its name to Everest University, a name being used by Corinthian Colleges, which owns the institution, for many of its campuses.
  • Loyola University Chicago has ordered the student literary magazine removed from news racks on the campus because of some explicit drawings, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Student editors defended the images, which included a woman wearing nothing but panties with the word "slut" and electrical tape over her nipples. University officials called the drawings "offensive" and "pornographic." Several of the images that caused the controversy are available in a photo gallery on the Sun-Times Web site.
  • The Daily Titan, the student newspaper at California State University at Fullerton, has been pitching a promotion in which 4,500 condoms would be distributed in issues next week. But the student health center, following complaints about the program, has backed out of the program, and wants only to distribute coupons for condoms, not condoms themselves. An editorial in the newspaper blasted the change, noting that the idea behind the condom distribution plan was to get condoms to students who might otherwise shy away from picking them up at the campus health center. Bob Palmer, the dean of students, defended the decision to just give coupons. He told The Orange County Register that "if I'm picking up a paper to read it, I would not necessarily want to have a condom there."
  • A three-week faculty strike may be about to end at Acadia University, in Nova Scotia. CBC News reported that the faculty union and administrators have reached a tentative agreement. If it is approved, the university will consider how to deal with the missed time during the semester.
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