Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015 - 3:00am

The parents of Tucker Hipps, a Clemson University student who fell from a bridge to his death during a run with his fraternity, are suing the university, Sigma Phi Epsilon and three members of the local chapter. The lawsuit alleges that the run was part of a hazing ritual and that Hipps, who was pledging with the fraternity at the time, fell to his death following an argument after he failed to bring McDonald's biscuits on the run, as demanded earlier by older members of the fraternity.

"[A fraternity member] and Tucker had a confrontation over the pledges' failure to bring the requested McDonald's breakfast," the lawsuit reads. "Subsequently, Tucker went over the railing of the bridge into the shallow waters of Lake Hartwell headfirst. Upon information and belief, a long tradition existed among the members of the local chapter requiring, pressuring, encouraging and forcing pledges to jump off of one or more bridges over Lake Hartwell and swim to shore." The lawsuit also alleges that the fraternity members did not report Hipps missing until seven hours after he fell from the bridge. The lawsuit claims the university was aware of the run, and is seeking in excess of $25 million in damages.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015 - 3:00am

The University of Oklahoma announced Tuesday that it has hired Jabar Shumate as its new vice president overseeing diversity and inclusion initiatives. Shumate is a former Oklahoma state senator and a former press secretary for David Boren, the University of Oklahoma's president. "I knew that this person had to be someone in whom I had complete trust," Boren said during a news conference Tuesday. "Complete trust in their actions, complete trust in their motives, complete trust in their good judgment."

The hire came weeks after a video surfaced showing members of Oklahoma's Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter singing a racist song, prompting the university to sever ties with the fraternity and engage in an ongoing conversation about diversity on campus.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015 - 3:00am

Syracuse University announced Tuesday that it will decrease its financial stake in fossil fuels while looking for additional investments for its endowment in renewable energy companies.

The announcement follows a February meeting between administrators and members of the student group Divest S.U., which has staged rallies to encourage the university to sell off its investments in fossil fuel companies. Divestment also was one of the demands made by a group of students who staged an 18-day sit-in last semester. 

The university did not respond to an inquiry about how much of its endowment would be affected by the decision to divest. In the announcement, Syracuse said it won’t “directly invest in publicly traded companies whose primary business is extraction of fossil fuels.” The university also will direct its external investment managers to try to prohibit investing in fossil fuels as well, according to the announcement.

Despite ongoing campaigns from students, most colleges have refused requests to divest from fossil fuels.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Patricia Drentea, a sociologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, discusses the changing face of the modern family. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - 3:00am

Connecticut College called off classes Monday to discuss the campus climate in the wake of recent incidents. The schedule for the day included both unstructured time and periods for students to gather to talk in groups large and small with themselves, faculty members and senior administrators. The campus has for a month been debating a Facebook post by a professor that has been criticized as hate speech against Palestinians by some and defended as a political critique of Hamas by others. Then racist graffiti appeared on campus, setting the stage for Monday's programs.


Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - 3:00am

Both Rutgers and Fairleigh Dickinson Universities saw campus Internet connectivity suffer this weekend as the institutions came under distributed denial-of-service attacks, NJ.com reported. Such attacks can slow a website to a crawl or crash it completely by directing large amounts of web traffic to one site. By Monday morning, Rutgers tweeted that "I.T. staff are working around the clock to fix server and email disruption."

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - 4:24am

New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman on Monday announced a settlement with the National Junior College Athletic Association under which the N.J.C.A.A. agreed to end a rule limiting eligibility to students who attended high school in the United States for at least three years. Schneiderman's announcement said that community colleges in New York State raised concern that the rule discriminated against some of their immigrant students, prompting an investigation by his office. The agreement was praised by Frank Sanchez, the City University of New York's vice chancellor for student affairs, who said, "These rule changes will provide undocumented students access to the full array of CUNY programs and activities that make up our distinctive collegiate experience, including intercollegiate athletics." 

A statement by the N.J.C.A.A. made no mention of the legal pressure from New York State. The statement said that the group's board decided to repeal the rule because it was "inconsistent with the association’s mission and detracts from the organization’s goal of promoting healthy and fair competition."

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - 3:00am

The Rhodes Scholarship Program will soon expand to China, The New York Times reported. The article noted that the expansion reflects a push by many of the world's top universities to recruit talent in China, and also a desire by many of those universities (and the Rhodes scholarships) to raise money in the country.


Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Jaime Cloud, an evolutionary psychologist at Western Oregon University, profiles human mating psychology. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Monday, March 30, 2015 - 3:00am

Harper College, in Illinois, on Sunday unveiled a program to provide two years of free tuition to high school graduates in its district. The program has some requirements: students may miss only limited numbers of days in high school, must graduate on time and must perform community service. But while some free community college programs have been proposed or enacted only for top students, the Harper one is broader. Students must have a 2.3 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale). Once in college, they would be required to stay on track to graduate, to perform community service and to earn minimum grade levels -- rising from a 2.2 in the first semester to a 2.5 by the fourth semester, with no grades of D or F. The program requirements are explained here.


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