Quick Takes: Shooting Victim Costumes, Threats at Loyola Marymount and Northern Illinois, Duke Aid Plan, Board Shift at St. Thomas, Quest for Donors Ends Tradition, Gun-Free Rooms at Utah, Transitions at Madison and Texas A

December 10, 2007
  • Officials at Pennsylvania State University have apologized to Virginia Tech, and many students at both institutions are outraged by photographs showing that some Penn State students dressed up as Virginia Tech shooting victims for Halloween this year. The Centre Daily News reported. The photographs, which recently surfaced on Facebook, show the students with fake bloodied bullet holes and wearing Virginia Tech clothing. Penn State officials said that the students involved could not be punished without violating their free speech rights. The photographs are currently available on The Drudge Report here and here.
  • A student at Loyola Marymount University was arrested Saturday in connection with a threat posted online that there would be a shooting on the campus, the Associated Press reported. After the threat was posted, security patrols were added on the campus and entrance was restricted. Authorities determined that the threat came from a computer owned by the student who was arrested. The threat was posted on Juicy Campus, a new Web site for students who want to post anonymous comments or gossip or random thoughts about their campuses. The site is currently in beta, and open only to a selected group of campuses, including Loyola Marymount. Northern Illinois University, meanwhile, has upped security and postponed final exams scheduled for today after the discovery of threats -- including a racial slur and references to Virginia Tech shootings and today's date -- on a bathroom wall, the Chicago Tribune reported.
  • Duke University has become the latest institution to significantly expand aid programs for low-income students, in large part by eliminating loan requirements. Under the new policies announced Friday, parental contributions will be eliminated for all students from families with incomes less than $60,000, and those under $40,000 will be assured of graduating without debt. In addition, loan caps for other students will reduce their debt burden.
  • Changes in board structure at the University of St. Thomas, in Minnesota, are upsetting some Roman Catholic traditionalist groups, The Daily Planet reported. The university recently decided to end a tradition of automatically having the archbishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis serve as board chair. Instead, the chair will be elected, without any preference for a church leader. Critics of the university believe that the university is trying to distance itself from the church, but university officials said that they were acting out of awareness of the time demands on archbishops and board chairs, and that they took their Catholic ties seriously. In an e-mail reply to Inside Higher Ed, Richard A. Yanikoski, president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, said it was "not unusual" for boards of diocesan Catholic colleges to reserve the board chair's position for a bishop, but he said it was not always the "ordinary" (or ranking bishop, archbishop, cardinal) who served in the position, but sometimes another bishop.
  • Naming buildings after donors is standard practice at many colleges, but San Francisco State University is doing it for the first time, as the institution steps up efforts to raise money for facilities. The university has historically named facilities for people directly linked to them in some way besides money. "We have gone from naming them after custodians to looking for donors to name them after," A. Lee Blitch, San Francisco State's vice president of university advancement, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
  • The University of Utah, which lost a court battle over its policy banning guns from campus, has come up with a way to assure students of gun-free dorm rooms, while complying with state laws limiting bans on guns. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that under the university's new policy, any student who discovers that his or her roommate holds a gun permit will be guaranteed an automatic room reassignment.
  • Texas A&M University at College Station will soon have a new president. The university's Board of Regents announced Friday that Elsa Murano was the sole finalist for the position. Murano, vice chancellor of agriculture for the A&M system, will be the first woman and first Hispanic president for the university, in the wake of a search that upset some faculty leaders because board leaders expanded the pool of candidates, beyond those recommended by a search committee, without the involvement of members of the search panel. Also, John D. Wiley announced Friday that he would retire as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at Madison in September.
  • Some Harvard University alumni from the protest-era 1960s are concerned by the lack of protests today, and have written to President Drew Faust to express worry about "widespread apathy and political indifference" and to ask whether the university is not recruiting enough politically engaged students or encouraging such engagement, The Boston Globe reported. An editorial in The Harvard Crimson suggested that the alumni are too quick to equate student engagement with the use of tear gas. "We are doing just fine on our own," the editorial concludes.
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