The annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology this year was dominated by a talk charging that the disciplines represented in the organization may have a bias against conservatives, The New York Times reported. Jonathan Haidt of the University of Virginia made his point by polling the audience of 1,000 scholars and asking by shows of hands how many of them identified themselves in various political ways. He found that about 80 percent called themselves liberals, a few dozen said that they were centrists or libertarians, and only three said they were conservatives. "This is a statistically impossible lack of diversity," Haidt said, given that 40 percent of Americans identify as conservatives. He told the Times that social psychologists are a "tribal-moral community" with values that may hinder research and make them fail to see their hostility toward non-liberals.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Robert E. Witt, president of the University of Alabama, sent an e-mail to all students and faculty members denouncing the reported use of a racial slur by a white student against a black student, The Birmingham News reported. "The words that were used are offensive to our community, and are especially upsetting to African Americans," he wrote. "I want to emphasize in the strongest possible terms that the University of Alabama finds this behavior totally unacceptable, and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken," The News also reported that the fraternity from which the white student reportedly shouted the word has suspended him. Some students are saying that the incident was "isolated," but others say it is not. "I have five good friends and all of us have been called the n-word at one time or another here," said Crystalline Jones, a junior at the university.
College financial aid offices are so pinched by the costs of complying with federal regulations that they are shortchanging students as a result, aid directors said in a survey by their national group. The survey by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators found that 90 percent of campus financial aid officers "reported having fewer resources to dedicate to critical student services that promote college access, success, and successful student loan repayment," and that most respondents cited the increased demands of complying with federal rules as a primary cause of the dearth of resources.
The union that represents police officers at the California State University System is buying advertising to promote the idea that the university's Sacramento campus is crime-ridden and needs more police officers, The Sacramento Bee reported. Several recent sex assaults have many on the campus worried about crime, but the union's campaign is controversial because the university says that -- when statistics are compared over time -- the campus does not have a notable crime problem.
Etowah High School recently announced that its valedictorian would be Kelly McCahill -- and that is controversial because she has never enrolled at the high school. As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, she is a dual-enrollment student, earning high school credit through her studies at the University of West Georgia. Many of the high school's students are upset about the way things turned out, but the school's rules say that grade-point averages of dual-enrollment courses should be counted. Beheruz N. Sethna, the president at West Georgia, is speaking out in McCahill's defense. "In this case, we have firsthand knowledge of how hard-working and deserving Kelly is to receive this honor," he said.
Villanova University's Law School "knowingly" gave false information about the LSAT scores and grade-point averages of entering students to the American Bar Association, the dean admitted in a letter sent to alumni late last week. The letter was published on the blog Above the Law. The dean, John Y. Gotanda, said that the practice was uncovered during a study by a law school committee to assess the effectiveness of various academic programs at the law school. Villanova then conducted its own review and obtained an outside audit to determine the extent of the problem. The data reported are those used by U.S. News & World Report and others to rank law schools.
A former assistant coach for the University of Southern Indiana men’s basketball team asked a booster to complete a written assignment and final exam paper for a player with a low grade-point average, according to a National Collegiate Athletic Association report released Friday. In addition, the former assistant coach, whom the report did not name, bought an airline ticket for another recruit. The report notes that Rick Herdes, the team's former head coach, failed to monitor the behavior of the assistant coach and knew of his rules violations. Southern Indiana must serve a one-year probation, vacate all wins in which the two players involved in the violations participated, and disassociate itself from the booster in question. Herdes and the assistant coach garnered two- and three-year show-cause penalties, respectively. As a result, institutions that hire them must inform the NCAA how they plan to monitor their behavior.
To save about $22,000 a year on tuition, some out-of-state students at the University of California at Berkeley are marrying state residents, The Bay Citizen (a nonprofit journalism entity whose work appears in The New York Times) reported. While most such couples won't speak publicly about their marriages, the Bay Citizen said that it identified nine such couples.