Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Waterloo said Monday that it would suspend its football team from competition in the 2010-11 academic year because of rampant steroid use by team members. The university's statement said that it had ordered teamwide drug testing after reports that police were investigating a player for trafficking in steroids. Canwest News Service reported that as many as nine players tested positive for using performance enhancing drugs. An official of Canadian Interuniversity Sport, the country's college sports governing body, called the situation "the most significant doping issue" in its history.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 - 3:00am

The U.S. Department of Education has written a letter notifying colleges that the copyright provisions attached last fall to the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 will take effect in July. The provisions, meant to help curb illegal sharing of copyrighted material such as music files on campus networks, require institutions to educate their students on what constitutes illegal sharing; deter them from engaging in such sharing; and develop plans to “offer alternatives to illegal downloading.”

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 - 3:00am

Oxford University Press has issued a revised press release about the results of one of its programs involving open access publishing. The earlier release suggested a broad scholarly hesitancy to use open access and the revised announcement shows that the data were from one program. Supporters of open access were frustrated by the initial release (and angry at Inside Higher Ed for summarizing it, as comments here show). The revised release may be found here.

Monday, June 14, 2010 - 3:00am

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, which consists of 14 state universities, may convert some degrees to shared programs offered by faculty members at multiple campuses, rather than trying to provide full degrees at individual campuses, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The fields being considered are French, German, Spanish and physics.

Monday, June 14, 2010 - 3:00am

A student organization is urging Stanford University to use its power as a stockholder to back proxy votes that would require companies to investigate the sources of the minerals they use, The New York Times reported. The student group opposes the use of "conflict minerals," which are harvested in some countries when armed groups force villagers into mining them. If Stanford adopts standards on such proxy votes, it would be the first American university to take such a stance.

Monday, June 14, 2010 - 3:00am

Legal threats and negotiations delayed for three years the publication of an article -- that finally appeared last week -- by the American Psychological Association, The New York Times reported. The article in question offers a critique of the rating scaled used by courts to determine if someone is a psychopath, and the Times reviews the various articles about whether the article or its treatment raise questions about fairness, accuracy and academic freedom.

Monday, June 14, 2010 - 3:00am

Two students at the University of Calgary -- identical twin brothers -- have sued the university for suspending them over a Facebook group they created about a professor, The Calgary Herald reported. The students' group was called "I no longer fear Hell, I took a course with Aruna Mitra," the faculty member whose course they criticized. The papers for the course were examined by an independent reviewer, who determined that the grades -- about which the group was critical -- were within the normal range, but the university still raised grades by one grade each. The university says that remarks made on the page were inaccurate. But the students' suit raises issues of due process and free speech. "I'm happy to fight for what I believe is right. There was an injustice done to us," Steven Pridgen, one of the students, told the Herald. "If a university is supposedly for bringing about free speech and change, especially in humanities and social sciences, that was not done in this situation."

Monday, June 14, 2010 - 3:00am

New Internal Revenue Service regulations require colleges to estimate the value of some of the benefits they provide college presidents, such as housing. As The Boston Globe reported, colleges are interpreting the requirement in different ways. Some are reporting the monthly rental value of the entire home, while others argue that most of the home is a general entertaining space so that only selected rooms should be valued.

Monday, June 14, 2010 - 3:00am

Eric Balderas, a sophomore at Harvard University, is facing deportation to Mexico, the country that he and his family left when he was 4, without the legal authority to come to the United States, The Boston Globe reported. Balderas was detained by authorities while trying to fly back to Boston from San Antonio, where he graduated from high school (as valedictorian) and where he had been visiting his mother.

Monday, June 14, 2010 - 3:00am

A new group, Students for Academic Choice, is trying to become a voice in policy debates, saying that it represents students in for-profit higher education. But an Associated Press article notes its close links to the main lobby for the for-profit institutions, which leads some to question the student group's independence. The Career College Association, the institutional lobby, helped the students establish a website, draft bylaws and hold an election of officers. "I'm skeptical of the organic nature of the group given that it is completely toeing the association's line," Christine Lindstrom, higher education program director at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, told the AP. But Harris Miller, president of the CCA, said: "This will be, I think, as this organization grows and gets legs, an effective antidote to those people who hang on a few disgruntled students or former students and somehow think it's typical of the student reality."

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