Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 24, 2018

Several professors at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice are under investigation for allegations of drug use and sale on campus, in addition to rape and attempting to coerce women into prostitution, The New York Times reported.

Four professors -- Anthony Marcus, Richard S. Curtis, Barry Spunt and Leonardo Dominguez -- have been placed on administrative leave. Their lawyers deny any wrongdoing, and three of them have issued statements. Most of the professors named in the two complaints have been longtime members of the college’s sociology and anthropology department and have conducted research on drug use and prostitution.

The college conducted an internal investigation prior to reporting the allegations to state authorities, which has caused some to question the authenticity of that investigation. In mid-August, campus security officers found drugs and drug paraphernalia but did not contact the police about it until this month.

In a statement to the Times, Richard Relkin, a college spokesman, defended the college’s procedure.

“The safety of the John Jay community is of utmost importance to us,” the statement read. “Throughout this ongoing investigation, we have been working under the direction of law enforcement, to ensure the appropriate authorities are aware of the situation and may take any action they deem appropriate.”

Claudia Cojocaru, a former student and current adjunct professor at John Jay, and Naomi Haber, a recent graduate, filed complaints against the professors in May. They both criticized the college's investigation.

“They were incredibly rude and victim-degrading,” Cojocaru told the Times. “They made us perform like circus animals, distorted the facts, and distorted what we talked about. They tried to brush the whole thing under the rug, so to speak. They retraumatized us by making us relive all sorts of traumatic experiences.”

Their complaints included a rape allegation by another student against one professor who was not placed on leave.

September 24, 2018

Ohio State University professors in the University Senate released a statement Friday condemning domestic and sexual violence, a reference to the recent scandal involving the university's head football coach, Urban Meyer.

Meyer was suspended for three games for his mishandling of domestic violence accusations against a now-fired assistant coach, Zach Smith. Meyer was criticized after he failed to address issues of abuse at a press conference announcing his punishment and for not mentioning Zach Smith’s accuser by name -- his ex-wife, Courtney Smith.

Meyer later apologized directly to Courtney Smith in a statement.

Faculty on the senate said in their statement that “domestic abuse, sexual violence, harassment and discrimination are antithetical to what we as educators and as a university seek to achieve.”

The rest of the statement is as follows:

Because silence on these issues speaks volumes, we loudly state we will not tolerate domestic abuse, sexual violence, harassment and discrimination within our university community. As a community, we are responsible to and for each other.

To our students we say: Your safety, self-esteem and personal growth are of primary importance to us. We want you to know you can trust us, your instructors and mentors, to give you the utmost, unbiased, respectful attention and guide you as best we can.

To our colleagues on the faculty and staff we say: We hold each other to the highest academic, scientific and ethical standards.

To Buckeye Nation and our external stakeholders we say: We are a community that holds the wellbeing of our students and colleagues in the highest regard. We will not stand by and let any member of our community be mistreated or abused.

To ourselves we ask: Are we continually engaging each other to ensure we hold ourselves accountable to the values we profess? Do our fellow senate members, including representatives of faculty, students, administrators and staff, support the content and communication of all relevant policies and principles? Can we engage society in a continuous conversation about diversity, inclusion, rejecting violence and rejecting abuse of power? Can we nurture every student? Can we strengthen a community culture of safety, dignity and respect for all? We answer YES to all, as ethical behavior, community integrity and academic excellence are interwoven in the fabric of The Ohio State University.

September 24, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, part of St. John's University Week, Liz Chase, assistant professor in the department of curriculum and instruction, looks at teacher candidates and their rigorous clinical practice programs. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

September 21, 2018

The recently ousted editor of The New York Review of Books is blaming university presses for his lost job. Ian Buruma left the position this week amid a furor over an article he published by a Canadian broadcaster who has been accused of sexually assaulting women. The article was immediately questioned by many who said it downplayed the accusations against the broadcaster in ways that undercut the movement to prevent sexual assault. In an interview with the Dutch publication Vrij Nederland, Buruma defended his decision to publish the article and blamed university presses for his demise. He said that the publisher "made clear to me that university publishers, whose advertisements make publication of The New York Review of Books partly possible, were threatening a boycott. They are afraid of the reactions on the campuses, where this is an inflammatory topic. Because of this, I feel forced to resign -- in fact it is a capitulation to social media and university presses."

But Peter Berkery, executive director of the Association of University Presses, told The Washington Post he knew of no boycott campaign. “I know that the NYRB was concerned that some of their advertisers might ultimately choose to make a statement through their advertising dollars, but I’m unaware of any organized effort to coordinate a boycott,” he said.

September 21, 2018

Cornell University on Thursday announced that Brian Wansink, John S. Dyson Professor of Marketing, resigned and has been removed from all teaching and research duties until that resignation takes effect at the end of the academic year. Wansink, who is accused of academic misconduct, will spend the rest of his time at Cornell cooperating with a review of his prior research, Provost Michael I. Kotlikoff said in a statement. This week, JAMA Network announced that it had retracted six articles that included Wansink as an author. Notices in two network publications said that JAMA had posted expressions of the concern about the validity of Wansink’s research in May and asked Cornell to conduct an independent evaluation. Cornell said in a response to JAMA that it did not have access to the original data and was unable to verify the studies’ validity.

Kotlikoff said in his statement that Cornell had been reviewing allegations of misconduct against Wansink for more than a year, and that a faculty committee found he had misreported research data, used problematic statistical techniques, failed to properly document and preserve research results, and engaged in “inappropriate authorship.” The findings were reviewed and upheld by the dean of the faculty, he said. Cornell "remains committed to the highest standards of academic integrity and we are reviewing our research policies to ensure we can meet this commitment.”

Wansink came under scrutiny after he published a 2016 blog post praising an unpaid researcher in his lab who “never said ‘no’” to mining data on behavior at an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet for significant results, even when initial research questions failed to produce such results. Wansink, who saw a group of other papers retracted and corrected prior to JAMA’s most recent announcement, according to Retraction Watch, has previously defended his approach and his work. “I stand by and am immensely proud of the work done here at the lab,” he told BuzzFeed News earlier this year. “The Food and Brand Lab [at Cornell] does not use ‘low-quality data’, nor does it seek to publish ‘subpar studies.’”

September 21, 2018

Harvard University has completed a record-setting fund-raising campaign, raising $9.62 billion over five years. The campaign was launched in 2013 with a goal of $6.5 billion. The campaign raised $1.3 billion for financial aid.

Check on the status of other fund-raising campaigns in Inside Higher Ed's fund-raising database.

September 21, 2018

Telemarketers from several student loan relief companies falsely represented themselves as employees of the federal government and told borrowers they could not enroll in debt-relief programs like income-based repayment on their own, the New York attorney general alleged in a lawsuit filed in New York Supreme Court Thursday.

The suit also alleges that the loan-relief companies falsely told borrowers they could eliminate their student loan debt by making payments to the companies. The companies would typically charge borrowers $1,000 for those services, which are available without charge through the Department of Education.

“These companies sought to line their own pockets by taking advantage of students who were simply trying to pay for their education,” said Attorney General Barbara Underwood. “My office will continue to do everything in our power to protect students -- and all New Yorkers -- from predatory scammers.”

The lawsuit alleged the companies contact borrowers through personalized direct mail and Facebook advertisements before the telemarketers sell students on the fraudulent services. Some student borrowers missed payments on their loans because they believed they had addressed their loans through the companies.

The companies named in the suit are Debt Resolve, Inc.; Hutton Ventures, LLC; Progress Advocates, LLC; Progress Advocates Group, LLC; Student Advocates, LLC; Student Advocates Group, LLC; Student Advocates Team, LLC; Student Loan Care, LLC; and Student Loan Support LLC.

September 21, 2018

A new analysis by Gallup and Strada released today shows that students who have a good job upon graduation earn more money immediately after graduating and in the long-term scope of their careers than students who take between two and 12 months to secure a good job.

A "good job" was defined by each student, and the data was pulled from a Gallup-Strada Alumni Survey that interviewed more than 4,429 U.S. adults between 2010 and 2016. (Note: Inside Higher Ed works with Gallup on some surveys but played no role in this one.) Students who did not seek a job immediately after graduation, such as students who decided to continue their education, were excluded from the analysis.

"Forty-three percent of recent graduates who had a good job waiting for them upon graduation now earn at least $60,000 in personal income, compared with fewer than two in 10 graduates who took two to less than 12 months (18%) or one year or more (14%) to find a good job," the article read. "Additionally, more than a third (38%) of recent college graduates who took a year or more to land a good job now earn less than $24,000 in personal income."

The article doesn't control for differences in students' majors or career paths, potentially important factors, as careers in certain industries, such a technology and finance, have higher earning potential and often recruit students en masse before graduation. The article also did not break down results by race, gender or ethnicity, which can also play a role in securing employment and earning potential.

September 21, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, Hilda Speicher, professor of psychology at Albertus Magnus College, determines that as time goes on, being unhitched is becoming easier. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

September 20, 2018

The average student loan debt last year for graduates of four-year colleges who took out loans was $28,650, according to the latest version of an annual report from the Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS). The average amount was up $300, or 1 percent, from 2016.

Figures from the report were based on debt levels from college seniors who graduated from public and private colleges last year. Roughly two-thirds (65 percent) of this group took on at least some student debt.

"While student loans can be an excellent investment, there is a crisis among the millions of students who struggle to repay their loans, and they are disproportionately students of color or from low-income families," James Kvaal, the group's president, said in a written statement. "We need to invest more in student aid and in colleges to reduce students' need to borrow, and make their loans easier to repay."

Average student debt levels have increased more slowly in recent years. While its unclear why this is happening, TICAS said increases in state spending and grant aid are likely contributors to the trend.

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