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Quick Takes: Appeals Court Backs Accreditor, Diversity Gains at U. of California, Outbreak of Newspaper Thefts, Hunger Strike in Florida, Debt Relief for Med Students, Rhode Island Eliminates 4 Teams

April 15, 2008
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on Monday rejected a suit by Hiwassee College challenging the accrediting procedures of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The college, whose accreditation was revoked by the association, argued that Southern should be treated as a "state actor," which would give the college far more due process rights. But the appeals court said Hiwassee's rights had not been violated, in part because Southern is not a government entity. The court noted that SACS is self-governing, receives no federal funds and "determines its own membership in accordance with its own standards." Even though loss of accreditation leads to denial of federal funds, the court noted that the Education Department -- not SACS -- cuts off federal funds.
  • The University of California, a system with some of the most competitive admissions in the United States, and one that under state requirements cannot use affirmative action, is reporting significant gains in the diversity of those admitted for the fall's freshman class. The admission of Latino students was up 16 percent and the admission of black students was up 11 percent, while white and Asian student figures were flat -- consistent with trends in student applications. Since the state did away with affirmative action, the most elite UC campuses have had particular problems admitting black and Latino students. This year, Berkeley reported relative stability among minority applicants, but UCLA reported that the percentage of black applicants admitted rose to 3.7 percent of the class (from 3.5 percent) and the percentage of Latino applicants admitted rose to 14.1 percent (from 12.7 percent).
  • The Student Press Law Center is reporting that four student newspapers have recently experienced the theft of issues. The thefts involved the papers at Ball State University (where coverage in the stolen issue included news about the arrest of an athlete), Loyola Marymount University (with controversial columns about a pregnant transgendered man and a critical look at fraternities), the University of New Orleans (following a dispute with the student government), and Kent State University (where no particular controversy is associated with the stolen issue).
  • Five students have consumed only water for five days, and several others are on forms of hunger strikes at the University of Florida, as part of the Students for a Democratic Society push for changes in the institution's investment policies. The students say that the university has failed to consider the ethical implications of its ownership of shares of companies. "Call Bernie Machen [the university's president] himself and let him know what you think about his refusal to put UF's money where its mouth is. Ask him if the possibility that our university is profiting off of war, environmental destruction, and human rights abuses is OK with him," says the students' Facebook group. Machen wrote the students last month, expressing admiration for their ideals and noting that there are circumstances in which the university would not invest in certain companies. But Machen said he didn't favor the students' demands for a campuswide committee to discuss investment choices because of the responsibilities of trustees for financial management and the difficulty of achieving consensus among the entire campus on such issues.
  • A few weeks after Harvard University announced a plan to reduce the debt or family contributions needed to attend its medical school, Yale University followed suit. Yale's plan will eliminated the required family contribution for those with family incomes of up to $100,000.
  • The University of Rhode Island, which has already announced plans to eliminate its gymnastics team, on Monday announced it was also ending its men's swimming, men's tennis and field hockey teams. The university cited state budget cuts.
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