Quick Takes: Affirmative Action Ban Upheld, Student Stress, Harvard Law Promotes Public Service, Debate on Prof's Pose on S/M Web Site, Black Hawk Cuts Jobs, NJ Probes Gossip Site, Student Avoids Expulsion in Facebook Case, NEH Honors Updike

March 19, 2008
  • A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit challenging Michigan's 2006 voter referendum that barred affirmative action at public colleges and other state agencies. A coalition of groups had challenged the measure as discriminatory against minority students. The Detroit News reported, however, that David Lawson, a federal district judge, ruled that the plaintiffs had failed to demonstrate discriminatory intent. The plaintiffs needed to show, Lawson said in his decision, that the measure was created "because of, not merely in spite of, its adverse effects upon an identifiable group." He added: "The court cannot say that the only purpose of Proposal 2 is to discriminate against minorities."
  • A new poll of four-year college students, conducted by the Associated Press and mtvU, has found that many experience stress but many are also happy. According to the poll, 4 in 10 students say that they feel stress often, and nearly 1 in 5 say that they feel it all of the time. About 1 in 6 said that they have friends who have discussed committing suicide. The survey generally found female students to experience more stress than male students, and white students to report more stress than black or Latino students. While the AP report emphasizes the statistics that suggest a major stress problem on campus, the poll also found that 6 in 10 said that they are usually hopeful and enjoy life, and half of students said that they felt understood by their families.
  • The Harvard University Law School announced Tuesday that it would waive tuition for third-year students who pledge to work for five years following graduation in public service. While Harvard and many other law schools have loan-forgiveness programs, the new effort is believed to be the first program of its kind.
  • A deputy provost at the University of New Mexico has determined that no ethics review is needed of a professor who posed with a graduate student on a sadomasochism Web site, the Albuquerque Journal reported. Some faculty members had demanded an investigation, saying that they were not objecting to the professor's decision to pose for the site, but her decision to do so with a graduate student. But the administrative inquiry, while finding "poor judgment" by the professor, found that no university funds or equipment were used, and that the graduate student participation was entirely voluntary, and so there were not grounds for further review.
  • Black Hawk College, in Illinois, is eliminating 38 jobs, representing about 10 percent of its employee positions, to deal with limits on state funds, the Quad City Times reported. Sixteen jobs are being eliminated through layoffs. The United Auto Workers, which represents clerical, custodial and day-care employees at the college, said it did not object to cuts, but believed that too many of the jobs being eliminated were hourly positions that are part of the UAW unit, as opposed to administrators' jobs.
  • JuicyCampus.com, the Web site where college students post anonymous gossip, much of it sexual, has been causing controversy on many campuses. New Jersey's attorney general is now investigating whether the site violates consumer fraud laws, The Star-Ledger reported. The state authorities have subpoenaed from the Web site records showing how it selects colleges to feature, how it verifies the age of participants and how it responds to complaints. The state also sent a subpoena to an advertising company that works with JuicyCampus.com and the company said it would pull advertising from the site.
  • Ryerson University, in Toronto, has decided not to expel a student who was the administrator for a Facebook group in which students helped one another on chemistry assignments (as they viewed it) or cheated by sharing answers (as others viewed it), The Globe and Mail reported. While the student avoided being kicked out, he will receive a zero for the assignment that prompted the dispute, and will have a disciplinary note placed in his file.
  • The National Endowment for the Humanities announced Tuesday that John Updike will deliver the 2008 Jefferson Lecture. Giving the lecture is considered the top honor of the federal government for intellectual achievement in the humanities.
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