Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 9, 2016

At a press conference Thursday morning, Hillary Clinton was asked whether she thinks sexism is at play in some of the reactions she receives, such as the Republican National Committee chairman tweeting criticism Wednesday over her lack of a smile in an interview discussing national security. Clinton didn't directly address the question but suggested that doctoral students will have plenty to write about in the future.

September 9, 2016

The annual study of college student drug use by University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research has found that student use of marijuana continues to be up, but that other drug use is falling.

In 2015, 38 percent of college students said they had used marijuana in the prior 12 months, up from 30 percent in 2006. Daily or near-daily use was at 4.6 percent, down from 5.9 percent in 2014, but up from 3.5 percent in 2007.

Most other drug use is down, however. For example, the percentage of students reporting heroin use in recent years has regularly been below 0.3 percent, and it was down to 0.1 percent in 2015.

September 9, 2016

The U.S. Department of Education and the Justice Department on Thursday released guidance on campus policing that draws from the final report of the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The task force's broad recommendations are designed to "help campus and local law enforcement both keep students safe and safeguard students' civil rights," John King Jr., the Secretary of Education, said in a written statement. The report covers changes to the culture of policing, embracing community policing concepts, ensuring fair and impartial policing, focusing on officer wellness and safety, implementing new technologies, and building community capital.

"We look to the campus policing community both as agents for public safety and advocates for student success," King said. "As you prepare to begin the new academic year, it is important that you focus on the effectiveness of safety enforcement and policing on your campus, as well as analyze and take action on opportunities for improvement."

September 9, 2016

Today on the Academic Minute, Jessica Pabon, assistant professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies at SUNY New Paltz, examines the underground culture of graffiti from a feminist perspective. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

September 8, 2016

Looking for reasons to teach? What about a discount at Arby’s, Subway or Chick-fil-A? (That last one’s dine-in only.) Adjunct instructors at Motlow State Community College recently received a handout detailing the “benefits” of teaching there part-time. Among them are “recognition,” in the form of eligibility for a Faculty Excellence Award; free Microsoft Office 365 software; and discounts to a number of fast-food restaurants in the Tullahoma, Tenn., area. Goodwill also was on the discount list.

“Thank you so much to all of our adjunct faculty for all you do to support Motlow State! We are so appreciative of your time and effort,” Melody Edmonds, interim vice president for academic affairs, wrote in an email containing the flier attachment. “I hope you find this helpful. It is just some other ways we try and show our gratitude for the outstanding service you provide to our students every day.”

Though well intentioned, the flier struck a nerve with some adjuncts, who criticized it as patronizing and tone-deaf -- including one who wanted to remain anonymous, citing job security concerns. “Getting 10 percent off my (dine-in only!) meal at Chick-fil-A is a perk,” the adjunct said via email. “Health insurance is a benefit. The language in the email itself is also a problem. I thought I was paid to educate students, not serve them.”

Edmonds that the said the benefits flier “was sent out simply to make our adjuncts aware of what is available to them.” The same “benefits are also available to all of our full-time faculty, staff and students,” she said.

September 8, 2016

Wednesday was the first day of classes for the fall semester at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus, where the administration has imposed a lockout in a contract dispute with the faculty union. Professors -- who are blocked from teaching -- protested outside the campus.

September 8, 2016

Students at Northern Kentucky University are protesting fliers that were placed on campus next to others that promoted "Welcome Black Week" activities for black students. The unofficial fliers advertised "Welcome White Week."

September 8, 2016

Open educational resources could make up 12 percent of the market for textbooks and other course materials and 19 percent of supplemental materials within five years, according to a survey of OER users, traditional textbook users and industry experts conducted by Cengage Learning. Those shares are triple and quadruple, respectively, what they are today. A majority of faculty members (77.5 percent) who did not use OER in their courses at the time they were surveyed also said they would consider or expect to be using OER within three years. As other surveys have shown, many faculty members are still unaware of OER, and there exist some major barriers preventing faculty members from switching from traditional textbooks. In Cengage's survey, 39 percent of respondents said they had never heard of OER, and about half said the lack of a comprehensive catalog is keeping them from using OER.

September 8, 2016

Alumni and other supporters of a labor education program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst are concerned about the program's future, The Boston Globe reported. Eve Weinbaum, the director of the program, recently left, saying she was ousted and that budget cuts were imposed while she was on sabbatical last year. Many fear that the program could be eliminated. But the university says the program -- which has had a strong national reputation -- is suffering from enrollment declines and that the institution is trying to improve it. The university says Weinbaum resigned.

September 8, 2016

The University of Minnesota Twin Cities fired J Robinson, its successful longtime wresting coach, for obstructing a police investigation into allegations that 14 members of his team were selling Xanax illegally on campus, The Star Tribune reported. Robinson allegedly offered amnesty to his athletes if they turned in drugs to him, and he allegedly refused to help the police investigation. Robinson declined to comment, but documents obtained by the Star Tribune indicate that he disputed many of the university's findings.

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