Quick Takes: Higher Ed in Democrats' Debate, UCLA Wins Round in Court, Michigan Tech Professors Vote to Drop Union, SMU to Announce Bush Library Deal, Aid Up at Community Colleges, Lacrosse Players Sue Duke

February 22, 2008
  • While they didn't disagree and the debate did not focus on higher ed, the two candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination touched on higher ed issues during their debate Thursday night. During a discussion of immigration issues Sen. Hillary Clinton denounced plans by the Bush administration to build a border fence that would cut off part of the campus of the University of Texas at Brownsville. She called the plan, which the university is fighting, "the kind of absurdity that we're getting from this administration." Sen. Barack Obama, also in the discussion of immigration, endorsed passage of legislation that would give undocumented college students a path to obtaining legal residency status, saying that the bill -- currently blocked by Republicans -- would help students "who through no fault of their own are here but have essentially grown up as Americans, allow them the opportunity for higher education."
  • The University of California at Los Angeles won the first round in its new legal strategy against animal rights extremists who have harassed researchers and in some cases attacked their homes. A judge Thursday granted a temporary restraining order requiring that personal information about researchers be removed from Web sites maintained by the animal rights groups, and barred the groups' prostesters from coming within 50 feet of researchers.
  • Tenured and tenure-track professors at Michigan Technological University have voted by a very narrow margin to stop being represented in collective bargaining by the American Association of University Professors. The vote, which still awaits final certification by the state, was 143 against the union, 136 in favor, 6 challenged ballots and 3 spoiled ballots. A spokesman for the AAUP said he did not have details on the vote or the union's response to it.
  • Southern Methodist University is today expected to announce an agreement to build President Bush's library and an independent policy institute on the campus, The Dallas Morning News reported. Plans for the complex have been controversial because many faculty members fear the institute has been planned as a center to promote President Bush's vision, not as an academic center for research.
  • Students at private four-year colleges are more likely than their public counterparts to apply for federal aid, but the rate of increase is highest at public community colleges. Data released by the Institute for College Access and Success found that during 2005-6, 66 percent of private, four-year college students applied for aid, compared to 59.2 percent for public four-year colleges and 34.1 percent for community college. But in terms of percentage gain since 2000-1, community colleges saw an increase of 37.3 percent, compared to increases of 7.1 percent and 10.5 percent for private and public four-year colleges, respectively.
  • Thirty-eight members of the 2006 Duke University men's lacrosse team on Thursday announced a suit in federal court against the university and the city of Durham over the handling of rape allegations, later found to be false, against some team members. The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, says that the university failed to support the players -- even when evidence demonstrated their innocence -- causing them emotional distress. Duke breached its duty to the students, the suit charges. "For more than a year, the lacrosse players were caught up in a horrifying personal nightmare," said a statement from the players' lawyer. "They were harassed in class by teachers and their fellow students. They were the target of protest marches and threats; they were called rapists and racists; they were surrounded in their own homes by screaming protesters." A statement from Pamela Bernard, Duke's general counsel, said that the players' anger should be focused on the ousted district attorney, not the university. "Their legal strategy -- attacking Duke -- is misdirected and without merit," the statement said.
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