The University of Iowa, like a number of other colleges and universities, has been trying to limit excessive student drinking on Thursdays by scheduling more classes on Fridays. But as The Iowa City Press-Citizen reported, that's easier said than done. After a brief increase in the number of Friday classes, there are now only 1,255 of them at the university, compared to 1,974 on Mondays, the day with the next fewest classes. Faculty members said that they avoid scheduling Friday classes because many students won't attend.
Higher Education Quick Takes
A senior administrator who was fired when a new president took over at her Minnesota university was ineligible for unemployment benefits because her job was a "major policy-making or advisory position" in the unclassified portion of the state's work force, a state appeals court has ruled. The Court of Appeals of Minnesota overturned a lower court's ruling that Cathleen Brannen qualified for unemployment benefits when she was fired as vice president for administration and finance at Metropolitan State University in 2009, because the institution's new president wanted her own person in the job. In concluding that Brannen did not have a policy making or advisory authority, as required by state law to qualify for unemployment, the lower court erroneously examined whether she had such a role in the entire Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, of which Metro State is a part, the appeals court said. At Metro State itself, "[s]he reported directly to the president.... The new president of the university chose to terminate Brannen without cause solely for the purpose of hiring a person with whom the president might enjoy a better working relationship. That fact alone suggests that giving trustworthy advice to the president was a significant part of Brannen's former position."
An administrator at Wesley College, in Delaware, accidentally shared an e-mail message intended for academic advisors -- with information about students doing poorly -- with every student on the campus, The News-Journal reported. The e-mail concerned students at risk of failing, describing one this way: "The hole she has dug is deeper than the mine shaft in Chile." The college has apologized to all of the students whose academic failings were shared with the campus.
The viral video of the week, at least in the humanities, is below, mocking those who want to pursue a humanities doctorate in the face of the terrible job market. If you haven't seen the video, in which a faculty member tries to discourage a would-be graduate student, you can view it below. (At The Valve, Marc Bousquet writes that the video is really about traditional literary scholarship, not all work in English or the humanities.)
Aspiring humanities professors are not the only ones being mocked in this series, however. Potential law students don't make out much better.
Just about every year, Halloween features parties at which some students dress in ways that cause offense, typically over issues of race and ethnicity. Northwestern University, which last year saw a controversy over the blackface costumes of a few students, is trying to prevent such incidents this year. The Chicago Tribune reported that Burgwell Howard, the dean of students, sent an e-mail to all students Monday urging them to avoid racially insensitive costumes. He specifically discouraged "ghetto," "pimps and hos" and "gangsta" parties. "Halloween is unfortunately a time when the normal thoughtfulness and sensitivity of most NU students can be forgotten and some poor decisions are made," Howard wrote.
A New Jersey appeals court has ruled that legal clinics run by Rutgers University are covered by the state's open records law, The Star-Ledger reported. Rutgers, backed by other legal clinics affiliated with law schools, argued that the unique nature of law clinics should create an exception. But the appeals court disagreed. "It is uncontested that the clinic is affiliated with and part of the law school," the ruling said. "The clinic was created and is funded in part by the law school. Clinic attorneys are hired as part of the faculty of the law school and are retained or discharged by the law school. For purposes of [open records law], the clinic is indistinguishable from any other academic program offered by the law school."
The former director of auxiliary services at La Salle University, Stephen Greb, turned himself in to authorities Tuesday to face charges of theft, forgery and tampering that allegedly allowed him to funnel more than $5 million in university money to a fake company he set up, the Associated Press reported. La Salle fired him in June.
As student activists in Quebec gear up to oppose tuition increases the government there is considering, an article in Maclean's questions the assumptions behind the coming protests. The article notes that Quebec has the lowest tuition rates in Canada -- and also has one of the lowest college participation rates in the country. Other factors -- such as economic conditions and job markets -- may have much more to do with participation rates, the article argues, than tuition rates.
Bethune-Cookman University on Monday issued a statement along with reports and endorsements to counter a report issued by the American Association of University Professors criticizing the way seven faculty members had lost their jobs. While the AAUP found that the professors were denied due process and other protections, the university argued that the AAUP ignored evidence -- in particular in the case of four faculty members who were accused of sexual harassment. The AAUP reported that the professors -- who deny the accusation -- were never given basic information about the charges they faced.
But the university denies this claim and on Monday released a consultant's report about the case (which does not name the professors). According to the consultant's report, "the four professors had an off-campus apartment where they took female students to have sex; one or more of the four professors would take nude photos of the female students at the apartment and threaten to release the photos on Facebook if the students revealed their improper actions to the university's administration."
Based on this report, the university maintains that taking action against the professors was required to protect students. Bethune-Cookman also released several statements of support. One, from the National Council of Negro Women, said that "a university has a fiduciary duty to its students to protect them from acts of sexual misconduct by professors and must take swift and remedial action to ensure their continued safety and an environment free from intimidation and sexual harassment."
Another statement of support came from Rev. Al Sharpton: "I have personally studied this case, and the university was within its right and boundaries to do exactly what it did. And I feel obligated to support the administrators with this decision. It's amazing to me that of all the institutions in the nation, this organization is challenging a historically black college and university when actions of this type are reported all over the nation. Just like the nation must address racism, respect for a person's mind, dignity and body are just as important. Thank God that Bethune-Cookman dared to stand up to protect its students."
When nine Central Washington University students were hospitalized after a party this month, many suspected a "date rape" drug was to blame. But authorities announced Monday that four of the students were knocked out by drinking Four Loko, a caffeinated alcohol drink that enables people to get very drunk very quickly, The Seattle Times reported. Washington State's attorney general is calling for the drink -- known by some as "blackout in a can" -- to be banned. The growing popularity of the drink has alarmed some campus health officials, and Ramapo College this month banned the drink.
Phusion, the company that creates Four Loko, issued a statement late Monday in which it said: "No one is more upset than we are when our products are abused or consumed unlawfully by underage drinkers, which appears to have been the case at Central Washington. However, we also know that curbing alcohol abuse on college campuses will not be accomplished by singling out a lone product or beverage category. The only answer lies with increased education and awareness by all involved and with respecting the law." The statement also said that "consuming caffeine and alcohol together has been done safely for years."