Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, July 31, 2015 - 4:20am

Ohio State University's marching band, widely considered one of the best in the country, had a parody song in its songbook that mocked Holocaust victims, The Wall Street Journal reported. The song, to the tune of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," featured lyrics about Nazi soldiers “searching for people livin’ in their neighbor’s attic,” and a “small town Jew … who took the cattle train to you know where.” The songbook urges band members to keep the song secret. The songbook also features a song mocking the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, added after the institution joined the Big Ten, that featured lyrics suggesting Nebraska students are gay and have sex with animals.

Ohio State has been pushing to change a band culture that the university has criticized as creating a hostile environment for students from many groups -- but many band alumni have been pushing back against change. In a statement to the Journal, the university said that the songbook lyrics viewed by the newspaper were an example of the “shocking behavior” that the university “committed to eradicating from its marching band program.”


Friday, July 31, 2015 - 3:00am

A federal appeals court on Thursday partially overturned a lower court's dismissal of an adjunct professor's lawsuit accusing Moraine Valley Community College of discriminating against him on the basis of disability. The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit found that the lower court incorrectly dismissed William Silk's claim that Moraine Valley officials had limited his course assignments in fall 2010 because they did not think he was physically recovered from heart surgery. The appeals panel upheld the dismissal of Silk's other claims under the Americans With Disabilities Act, but ordered the lower court to consider the merits of the course assignment claim.

Friday, July 31, 2015 - 3:00am

The Common Application, which historically has required colleges to use an essay to demonstrate commitment to "holistic" admissions, last year announced that it would allow its members to no longer require an essay. When the next version of the Common Application goes live in August, about 20 percent of the 600 colleges will no longer require an essay -- at least not through the Common Application, a spokesperson said. Some of them could require an essay as part of their own supplemental applications, she added.


Friday, July 31, 2015 - 3:00am

The University of Pennsylvania on Thursday announced changes in its policies on admissions tests. One change is that Penn will recommend two SAT subject tests of all applicants (with specific recommendations on those tests for applicants to some programs). Up until now, Penn required the SAT subject tests only of those applicants who submitted scores on the SAT. Now they will be recommended for those who submit ACT scores as well.

In another change, Penn will no longer require the essay portion of the writing tests of the SAT or ACT.

A statement from Eric Furda, dean of admissions, said that "our internal analysis as well as a review of the extensive research provided by the College Board showed that the essay component of the SAT was the least predictive element of the overall writing section of the SAT. Given the impending redesign of the SAT and PSAT/NMSQT, which will make the essay portion of the assessment optional, we could no longer support requiring the essay portion of either exam given its weaker predictive power.”

Furda stressed that Penn would continue to focus on applicants' writing abilities, but would use other ways to do so.


Friday, July 31, 2015 - 3:00am

Boston University has barred from campus Angelo John Gage, chairman of the National Youth Front, The Boston Globe reported. The front describes itself as a group focused on the "conservation" of white culture. Gage earlier posted flyers on campus calling on BU to fire Saida Grundy, a new professor whose Twitter comments on white male students offended some people.

Friday, July 31, 2015 - 3:00am

A federal judge has directed officials at Chicago State University not to interfere with the operations of a faculty blog that has been highly critical of the administration. Chicago State has tried in recent years to shut down or otherwise silence The Faculty Voice, which regularly criticizes university officials. Two faculty members responsible for the blog sued the university last year with the help of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and while the ruling does not weigh in on the merits of their case, it does ensure that they won't be punished while they pursue their case.

Friday, July 31, 2015 - 3:00am

Kaplan Career Institute and Lincoln Technical Institute have settled with the Massachusetts attorney general, Maura Healey, to resolve allegations of inflating job placement numbers and employing unfair recruiting tactics, Healey's office said in a written statement. The settlement is part of Healey's broad pursuit of the for-profit industry. Kaplan agreed to pay about $1.4 million to resolve the suit. Lincoln paid about $1 million. Most of the money will go to help eligible former students who attended the two for-profit chains to pay down their debt.

In a written statement, Kaplan, Inc., said it "emphatically maintains that its actions were compliant and in the best interests of students, who were well-served by the institution." The settlement did not include a finding of wrongdoing, and Kaplan said it resolved the legal challenge "due to the high cost of protracted litigation."

Friday, July 31, 2015 - 4:24am

The board and then members of the American Psychological Association are expected to approve a ban on psychologists participating in any way in national security interrogations, The New York Times reported. The association is facing a severe scandal over revelations that some of its leaders worked closely with with Central Intelligence Agency and Defense Department to justify the participation of psychologists in interrogations widely seen as unethical. While some psychologists have said that there are ethical ways they can help intelligence agencies, the scandal has led many to call for a complete end to such a role.


Friday, July 31, 2015 - 3:00am

A turkey is roaming the University of Michigan, attracting considerable attention, MLive reported. The turkey reportedly has tried to board buses. "He hasn't hurt anybody, but he's a very aggressive bird," said Melissa Overton, the police deputy chief at Michigan. Students have been posting photographs of the turkey on Facebook.

The turkey's appearance follows reports this month of a mountain lion near Stanford University.

Meanwhile at the University of Colorado at Boulder this month, a bear was spotted in a tree on campus. Officials with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department tranquilized the bear, which then fell onto padded mats. The bear was then relocated to a nearby mountain region.

Friday, July 31, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Neel Smith, professor of classics at the College of the Holy Cross, discusses his work studying classical material using modern methods. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


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