Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, January 18, 2010 - 3:00am

Editors of The Observer, the student newspaper at the University of Notre Dame, have issued an apology for publishing a cartoon that based its humor on gay bashing. The cartoon asked "What's the easiest way to turn a fruit into a vegetable?" and answered that question with "a baseball bat." The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation condemned the cartoon, saying, "This type of advocacy of anti-LGBT violence must stop. It isn’t funny. What’s more, it promotes hate crimes, which are all too prevalent in society today." The Observer editorial apologizing for the cartoon said: "Allowing this cruel and hateful comic a place on our pages disgraced those values and severely hurt members of our Notre Dame family -- our classmates, our friends. For this, we sincerely apologize."

Monday, January 18, 2010 - 3:00am

The Middle East Studies Association has become the latest scholarly organization to face criticism for plans to hold a meeting at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, in San Diego, which is the subject of a boycott by some gay rights and labor groups, angry over the owner's large contributions to the fight against gay marriage. The association issued a statement indicating that it was not moving its meeting. The board said that it surveyed members, received a large number of answers and found the following: "Of those who did respond, fully 71 percent indicated that they would attend the meeting at the hotel. Many respondents also expressed the opinion that MESA should adhere to its mission of fostering the study of the Middle East and that the Board of Directors should exercise due financial responsibility with regard to the association’s finances. Many respondents also suggested that, in any case, it would be impossible for the Association to reflect the diverse views of its entire membership with regard to a whole host of political and social issues." The American Historical Association met at the hotel this month, leading to a rally against using the facility.

Monday, January 18, 2010 - 3:00am

St. John's College in New Mexico, ever proud of its emphasis on the classics, printed a T-shirt last year that in Attic Greek (theoretically) said: "If you can read this, you're overeducated." As The Santa Fe Reporter detailed, however, someone at St. John's needs some help with Greek. The accents were wrong, so the phrase doesn't read as intended, as the college discovered when someone sent a T-shirt to Thomas G. Palaima, a professor of classics at the University of Texas at Austin. He sent word back and the T-shirts are off the market. Via e-mail, Palaima said that the error didn't make it impossible to understand the meaning of the phrase, but was the equivalent of writing the college's name this way: "sT' joHns. College."

Monday, January 18, 2010 - 3:00am

Four freshmen at the Mississippi University for Women were killed in a fire that broke out in an Alabama motel Saturday night, The Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported. University officials are reaching out to those who knew the students and are offering counseling. Two of the victims were cousins.

Monday, January 18, 2010 - 3:00am

Colorado legislators are proposing that limits be set on payments that have allowed Native American students to attend Fort Lewis College tuition-free, the Associated Press reported. The tuition waiver arises out of a 1911 treaty in which tribes agreed to give up land in return for a series of pledges, including one that the state create a college that Native American students could attend without paying. Advocates for curbing the program note that no limits were placed on it, so that out-of-state students or those with no connections to the tribes that gave up the land can still benefit. Others, however, say that the state should not go back on a rare example of an entity in the United States actually keeping a treaty provision pledged to Native Americans.

Monday, January 18, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Hawaii and its faculty union have reached an agreement that will cut salaries now but eventually provide raises, The Honolulu Advertiser reported. The university and the union agreed to keep the terms confidential so there is no official word on the provisions, but the Advertiser reported that it includes a 6.7 percent pay cut, which would be restored over the term of the contract, followed by raises. The university unilaterally imposed the pay cut this month, drawing widespread faculty criticism.

Friday, January 15, 2010 - 3:00am

Among those killed in Haiti were Georges Anglade, a professor of geography who was one of the founders of the University of Quebec at Montreal, and Stephanie Jean-Charles, a graduate student at the University of Virginia. Jean-Charles was a native of Haiti who was visiting family members. While a number of universities are reporting that they have located faculty members or students who are in Haiti and that they are safe, some institutions are still waiting for word, or for definitive word. Lynn University announced Thursday that while eight students were on their way back to the U.S., six students were missing. The university had earlier said that only three students were missing, but found that the information on three of those believed found was inaccurate.

Friday, January 15, 2010 - 3:00am

Nelnet has subpoenaed records from the U.S. Education Department that it believes will show that the Bush administration cleared the lender's use of a loophole in federal law that allowed it to reap billions of dollars in profits to which the department later determined it was not entitled, according to the New America Foundation's Higher Ed Watch blog. Nelnet, which is based in Nebraska, was sued in federal court last fall by Jon Oberg, a former Education Department official who brought suit under the federal False Claims Act, claiming that Nelnet had defrauded the government by recycling loans for which they were guaranteed an interest rate return of 9.5 percent. As part of its defense, Higher Ed Watch reported, Nelnet subpoenaed Education Department records to try to show its officials gave it the green light to its practices.

Friday, January 15, 2010 - 3:00am

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has rejected an appeal of a lower court's ruling rejecting a challenge by advocates for some religious high schools to the admissions standards used by the University of California. The challenge came from schools that claim they are suffering discrimination based on their religious views (many of which do not involve belief in evolution). But the university has maintained -- and the appeals court agreed -- that it was using academic judgment in appropriate ways to decide which high school courses meet entry requirements.

Friday, January 15, 2010 - 3:00am

State and local officials are talking about creating a new public campus -- perhaps a full-fledged college -- in Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The city has a community college, Temple University and many private institutions, but the goal is to have a campus of the state system of higher education. The proponents of the plan say that the private institutions and Temple are too expensive for many low-income students who want a four-year degree.

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