Grambling State University officials are consulting lawyers following complaints by civil liberties groups over the university's ban on students and faculty members using campus e-mail systems for political solicitations, The News Star reported. The university said it was trying to comply with state law barring the use of state resources for political activity, but the complaints from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education say that the university's interpretation goes too far in limiting free expression.
Higher Education Quick Takes
A former assistant to Mills College's president has sued the institution for wrongful termination, charging that Mills fired her after she complained that the president's dog had bitten her, the Contra Costa Times reported. According to the newspaper's account, Pamela Reid's lawsuit asserts that she lost her job as assistant to President Janet Holmgren in January, several months after she called Oakland Animal Services to report that Holmgren's dog, a terrier mix, had bitten her outside the president's on-campus home in August 2009. Mills officials called the lawsuit "meritless." No word on the fate of the dog.
Drew University students are complaining that the university has made it a bit more difficult for them to obtain free condoms, The Star-Ledger reported. Students can get free condoms by asking dormitory resident advisors for them. In the past, the university had condoms for the taking in a wicker basket in the lobby of the university health office, but changed the system because students were grabbing handfuls of them at once -- and sometimes taking the basket too, officials said. Students say that they may be embarrassed to ask their R.A.'s for the condoms. But a university spokesman said: "If a student is mature enough to engage in sexual activity, they should be mature enough to ask for a condom or buy them. At the end of the day, everyone is responsible for their own health and welfare."
Students were charged more than $795 million to support athletics programs at 222 public universities that play in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I in 2008-9, up an inflation-adjusted 18 percent since 2005, an analysis by USA Today finds. The newspaper's review, part of a continuing series of reports on college sports finances, also reveals that some institutions do not disclose their per-student athletics fee charges -- which are increasingly subsidizing money-losing athletics programs -- on their billing statements, websites or in other official school publications. Student athletics fees are typically charged to offset the costs of subsidized or free tickets to events for students, but students (or their parents) pay them even if the students don't (or can't) go to the games.
A panel convened by the University System of Georgia's Board of Regents to examine policies on students who are in the United States illegally is recommending that academically competitive campuses turn away such students, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. According to the newspaper, the committee's proposal would bar undocumented students from attending the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech and any other public college that doesn’t have the space to admit all academically qualified applicants, under a recommendation a state committee approved Tuesday. The committee assembled by the State Board of Regents also recommended that all Georgia colleges verify every admitted student seeking in-state tuition to determine whether the student is in the country legally. Illegal immigrants are not eligible for in-state tuition.
The University of Nebraska at Lincoln and the University of Colorado at Boulder will pay the Big 12 Conference $9.255 million and $7 million, respectively, to end their affiliations with the league and shift next year to the Big 10 and Pacific-10 Conferences, respectively, according to a report in the Omaha World-Herald and one on ESPN. The two institutions announced their plans to bolt the Big 12 for bigger, richer leagues in June.
Vice President Biden heralded the work of research universities at a round table Tuesday on the impact that federal stimulus funds have had in promoting job growth and economic competitiveness. At the start of the discussion, most of which was closed to reporters, Biden described research spending as “among the most critical parts” of the Obama administration’s stimulus package, and said criticism of federal spending on research was shortsighted -- and out of step with the view in competitive countries such as China and India. “Our economic future will grow from ideas that are incubating at universities. That’s the breeding ground and it always has been," he said, surrounded by presidents from Johns Hopkins, Purdue, and Washington State Universities and the Universities of California, Florida and Pennsylvania. “The rest of the world gets this, and we can’t afford to lag behind,” he said. “We cannot afford to not rededicate ourselves to the work you guys around the table do.”
As the U.S. Senate appeared poised to move ahead on a defense spending bill, Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Tuesday wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and his GOP counterpart, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), to ask that they push for the passage of the DREAM Act, which would create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children and went on to postsecondary education or military service. In his letter, Duncan said the act would "stop the punishment of innocent young people for the actions of their parents, and give them the chance to earn their legal status." The act, he added, would "play an important part in our efforts to meet the Administration's goals of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020." Dozens of college presidents have spoken out in favor of the DREAM Act in recent months.
President Obama last week voiced his support for Congress to pass the DREAM Act as a standalone measure, after Reid and other Democrats made clear that they wanted action on it before November's Congressional elections. But motion stalled Tuesday afternoon as Republicans and some Democrats voted to continue debate on the bill, which Reid has said he plans to also amend with language that would repeal the federal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy pertaining to the military's treatment of gay and lesbian members of the armed forces. The DREAM Act was first introduced in Congress in 2001.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has scheduled the third in its series of oversight hearings on for-profit colleges for Thursday, Sept. 30, at 10 a.m. The hearing is expected to focus on student outcomes and debt, as well as the sector's revenue sources, based in large part on the data Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the committee's chairman, requested in August from the 15 publicly traded for-profits and 15 privately held institutions.
It may seem a daunting, if not impossible, task to get the United States to the widely heralded goal of a nearly 50 percent increase in the college attainment of its citizens -- but the Lumina Foundation for Education aims, in a new report, to break the job down into smaller pieces to show that it is attainable. In the report, published today, Lumina goes beyond reiterating its arguments for why the "big goal" it has set is essential for the United States economy and for individuals alike, though the study does that, too. But in providing state-by-state (and even county-by-county) data on how many graduates a particular area would need to produce if the national target is to be met, Lumina seeks to break the job down into practical, tangible goals. Even at that level, the data show just how far the country has to go, Lumina says: "If the current rate of increase remains, less than 47 percent of Americans will hold a two- or four-year degree by 2025. Economic experts say this is far below the level that can keep the nation competitive in the global, knowledge-based economy."