Higher Education Quick Takes
Matthieu Giroud (right), a geographer who was associate professor at Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée, was among those killed in Friday night's terrorist attacks in Paris. His research focused on the social effects of gentrification. More details on his life and career may be found here.
Washington College has remained closed this week while state and federal law enforcement agencies search for a missing student who may be armed. Authorities have filed an arrest warrant for the student, Jacob Marberger, on four weapons-related charges, The Washington Post reported. Marberger, a former student government leader, was suspended for allegedly displaying a firearm on the Maryland campus last month.
The college canceled classes on Monday and asked students and staff to seek shelter.
"There has been no evidence of a direct threat against individuals or the campus community as a whole, but the college and law enforcement ask everyone to be cautious and vigilant," the college said on its website.
Campus officials had announced that the campus would open Tuesday. But they reversed course on Tuesday morning, after receiving new information from law enforcement. On Tuesday afternoon the college announced it would remain closed on Wednesday. A small number of students remained on campus, the college said.
Yale President Peter Salovey announced Tuesday that the university will undertake a series of new efforts to promote an inclusive environment on campus. Among the steps he outlined: adding faculty positions on underrepresented groups and doubling the budgets for campus cultural centers that focus on various groups. He also pledged that he, "along with the vice presidents, deans, provosts and other members of the administration, will receive training on recognizing and combating racism and other forms of discrimination in the academy."
Guilford College professors have been promoting an Every Campus a Refuge program in which campuses such as Guilford will help refugees as they relocate to the United States. But North Carolina Representative John Blust, a Republican, is calling on the college to abandon the program. "My position is there's just too much risk to the safety of the community. The chance of a horrific incident happening will be greatly enhanced if we allow people to come from Syria and relocate here in this community -- let alone North Carolina," Blust told Fox 8 News. Guilford is standing by the program.
The University of Montana on Tuesday announced plans to cut 201 full-time positions -- 52 of them faculty slots -- to deal with enrollment declines, NBC News Montana reported. Some positions may be currently vacant. Many professors say the cuts appear likely to disproportionately impact liberal arts programs, although other programs face cuts, too. Among the liberal arts departments slated for cuts: anthropology, English, geography, liberal studies, art and political science, as well as graduate programs in foreign languages.
The University of Louisville has suspended Deborah Dietzler as director of alumni affairs after allegations surfaced that, in a similar position at the University of Georgia, she used taxpayer funds to pay for trips to run marathons, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported. An audit at Georgia found that Dietzler, after signing up to run marathons in several cities, had her staff set up meetings in those cities so she could bill the university for her travel. Dietzler's lawyer said that she “strongly denies any suggestion or claim that she intentionally violated any rule or policy at” Georgia.
The documentary The Hunting Ground "contains major distortions and glaring omissions," John Thrasher, Florida State University's president, said in a statement Monday, comparing the film to Rolling Stone's botched attempt at reporting on sexual assault at the University of Virginia.
"It’s been barely seven months since Rolling Stone retracted its ill-fated University of Virginia fraternity rape story after revelations that it took a victim’s story at face value without getting the other side or checking the details with other sources, including the accused," Thrasher said in the statement. "Columbia University Journalism School, which examined the magazine’s reporting and editing of the piece, concluded that Rolling Stone had 'set aside or rationalized as unnecessary essential practices of reporting.' We believe the same is true with The Hunting Ground."
The film, released theatrically earlier this year, received critical acclaim and will air on CNN on Sunday. It examines the issue of campus sexual assault, in particular at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where the documentary’s two primary subjects were students. In the film, the two students travel around the country inspiring other victims to use the gender discrimination law Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to hold colleges accountable for mishandling cases of sexual assault. Along the way, the documentary takes frequent detours to call out a number of other institutions, including Florida State University, for mishandling or ignoring the issue.
The section of documentary about Florida State focuses on an assault allegedly committed by Jameis Winston, a former star player for the university's football team. While Winston was not charged with a crime, the university and local police have received much criticism for their handling of the allegations. The university did not begin a disciplinary process for Winston until nearly two years after the alleged assault. Articles by The New York Times and Fox Sports, citing documents obtained under open-records requests, accused Florida State of taking steps to "hide, and then hinder" the criminal investigation into the allegations against Winston.
The Hunting Ground features the first interview with the student who accused Winston of rape. That student -- who had attempted to remain anonymous during the initial investigation but was later outed by Florida State fans and Winston's lawyer -- is now suing Florida State.
"FSU plays a prominent part in the film in a one-sided segment accusing Tallahassee police and the university of ignoring sexual assault allegations against former quarterback Jameis Winston to protect the athletic program," Thrasher stated. "CNN will be airing a piece of advocacy that is more about blame and emotion than accuracy, fairness and inclusion. This is a lost opportunity to have a full, fair and meaningful discussion on the national stage about the complex issue of sexual assault on college campuses."
In his statement, Thrasher did not specify what the documentary gets wrong about the case. On Monday, the film's official Twitter account tweeted a response, saying the film's producers were not surprised by the president's comments as the "facts make FSU look pretty bad."
This is not the first time the filmmakers have had to defend The Hunting Ground against critics. Earlier this year, several university presidents complained that they were not given enough time to respond to the production team's interview requests. In June, the producers posted a detailed fact page on the film's website after Slate published an article questioning some of the documentary's claims. Last week, 19 Harvard professors released a lengthy statement calling the documentary "propaganda," and criticizing the film's portrayal of an accused student's case.
"It’s obvious that Florida State University does not want the public to see the film because it shows how they protected their star quarterback against allegations of rape," the filmmakers said in a statement Tuesday. "Rather than attacking the film, we encourage President Thrasher to respond as other college presidents have, such as those from Harvard, Montana, Amherst and Alaska, by acknowledging the undisputed gravity of this problem and taking measures to prevent it. Thrasher should stop blaming the messenger and focus on the message.”
Elizabethtown College is offering a creative way to get out of paying back dreaded campus parking tickets. Through Food for Fines, 10 nonperishable items will erase a $20 ticket; 20 items will pay a $50 ticket. Officials hope to clear tickets and collect food for the needy.
Today on the Academic Minute, Blaine Pfeifer, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering at the State University of New York at Buffalo, explains why we should look beyond E. coli's bad reputation. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.
U.S. Department of Education officials have determined that a slew of additional campuses owned by Corinthian Colleges misrepresented job placement rates, a finding that could help some 85,000 former students have their federal loans canceled.
The department announced Tuesday that hundreds of programs at the now-defunct for-profit chain's Everest and Wyotech campuses in California misled students about their job prospects after graduation. Officials also said they found misrepresentation at Everest University online programs based in Florida.
The announcement is essentially an expansion of the scope of the department's April findings against Corinthian-owned Heald College. At that time, the department slapped Heald with a $30 million fine, which sunk Corinthian's efforts to sell off those campuses and helped push the struggling company into bankruptcy several weeks later.
The new findings by the Education Department mean little for Corinthian as a company, which was dissolved in bankruptcy in August. But they could be significant for former Corinthian students who seeking to have their loans canceled.
The department earlier this year said it would "expedite" the debt relief applications for about 40,000 former Heald College students because officials already had enough evidence to process their claims. (As of August, though, only 1,500 of those former students had actually filed claims).
With Tuesday's findings, the department said an additional 85,000 students at the affected WyoTech and Everest campuses will be eligible to have their loans canceled.
The department described its findings as the product of a joint investigation with California Attorney General Kamala Harris, whose office sued Corinthian more than two years ago, alleging misrepresentation of job-placement rates among other wrongdoing.
Harris said in a statement that the "findings will expand the pool of Corinthian students eligible for streamlined student loan relief options." She thanked the department for "joining" her office "to keep Corinthian accountable for their actions and providing debt relief to students who were misled."
Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the "results of our joint investigation will allow us to get relief to more students, more efficiently."