Higher Education Quick Takes
Howard University is conducting an internal investigation into possible National Collegiate Athletic Association rules violations, and the institution has “temporarily withheld a number of student-athletes from competition,” a Howard spokeswoman, Kerry-Ann Hamilton, said Wednesday. But "most teams will compete as scheduled," she added. That statement was sent to Inside Higher Ed after it inquired about a Washington City Paper blog post quoting Hamilton as saying “intercollegiate athletic competition” -- in other words, all 17 of Howard’s teams -- had been suspended.
Because programs can be punished for letting players compete when they had indications that the athletes may have been involved in a violation that would render them ineligible, it’s standard procedure for colleges to suspend anyone who may have been involved in the violation and then ask the NCAA to reinstate them later. But it would be rare for a university to suspend all of its teams, and a sign that officials are unsure just how widespread the potential violations were. The City Paper reported Wednesday that, according to a member of the bowling team, the university allowed athletes to spend unused textbook voucher money on whatever else they wanted, which would constitute a rules violation. That student also said Howard will not allow any athletes to register for classes until they repay any money improperly spent. Hamilton could not comment on those assertions, nor could she provide further details.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, a Republican, on Tuesday signed legislation to bar medical marijuana from college and university campuses, The East Valley Tribune reported. The state's voters in 2010 approved the legalization of medical marijuana, and Brewer has vowed to limit that measure as much as possible. Critics of the new law say that the state can't modify the 2010 vote, and suggest that they will challenge the law in court.
Three buildings at the University of Pittsburgh were evacuated Wednesday due to bomb threats, the latest in a series of threats that have frustrated just about everyone on the campus, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. PItt has had 16 bomb threats since late February. The university is receiving Federal Bureau of Investigation help in investigating the threats.
Professors at the University of Ottawa, in Canada, want the right to bar laptops from their classrooms, CTV Ottawa News reported. Marcel Turcotte, one of the professors pushing the idea, said of his students: "They are distracted and we are competing with that for their attention.... You see one student who is really not listening, would be watching the video and then it's kind of contagious." A faculty vote is planned for May.
Students protesting Santa Monica College's plan to institute a two-tiered tuition policy tried to storm a meeting of the college's board Tuesday night, and were met with campus police and pepper spray, The Los Angeles Times reported. Several protesters suffered minor injuries and others were overcome with pepper spray. The college says its plan is a creative way to deal with deep budget cuts. But students say that the plan effectively favors those who can afford to pay more, and abandons the community college traditions of equity and access.
The North Dakota Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to block a statewide referendum in June on whether the University of North Dakota should maintain its "Fighting Sioux" nickname, The Grand Forks Herald reported. The name has offended many Native Americans for years (though others have endorsed it and many of the university's athletic fans are passionate about it). The National Collegiate Athletic Association has imposed sanctions on colleges with such names and that has led the university's leaders, with some reluctance, to agree to change the name. But state lawmakers intervened with a law blocking a name change, and when they reversed themselves, an item was placed on the June ballot to preserve the name.
Robert Kelley, president of the University of North Dakota, issued a statement after the Supreme Court announced that it would not block a state vote. "Now that the North Dakota Supreme Court has made its decision, it is important that the voters of North Dakota become fully educated about the potential ramifications of their vote on this issue in June," he said. "[I]f the referendum is passed in June, the University of North Dakota will remain under NCAA sanctions and that this will have a damaging effect on UND’s athletics teams, and will compromise recruitment, scheduling and UND’s relationship with other collegiate athletics programs.
A 50 percent improvement in community college graduation rates would create $5.3 billion in taxpayer revenue as well as $30 billion more in lifetime income for the 160,000 new graduates, according to a study by Mark Schneider, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and Lu Michelle Yin, an economist and researcher at the American Institutes for Research. The report praised Valencia College for its "competency-based model," and said community colleges could boost graduation rates by streamlining the degree path, using more online courses and borrowing innovations from for-profit colleges.
Unite Here, a labor group, announced Tuesday that Harvard University was going to stop investing in HEI Hospitality, a company accused of unfair treatment of its workers (a charge it has denied). The Unite Here announcement said that Harvard was joining "a growing trend of universities across the country distancing themselves" from the company. The group released e-mail messages from Harvard officials to confirm the decision. But those e-mail messages said that the reason for the decision had nothing to do with the accusations made by Unite Here against HEI. An e-mail from the head of the Harvard Management Company said: "Harvard Management Company has decided not to reinvest in funds managed by HEI. Importantly, this decision was based on factors related to the HMC portfolio and its strategy and needs; not on concerns about HEI's practices."