Higher Education Quick Takes
Chinese authorities closely monitor student organizations and use the power to deny recognition or interrogate members to send strong signals about topics or activities to avoid, The Los Angeles Times reported. Further, the oversight may become more intrusive. Xi Jinping, presumed to be China's future president, recently said that universities should increase "thought control" over students, adding that "university Communist Party organs must adopt firmer and stronger measures to maintain harmony and stability in universities."
Campus police officers shot and killed a 38-year-old male graduate student at California State University at San Bernardino, The Press-Enterprise reported. Authorities said that the officers responded to a disturbance and that the man they shot became violent with officers before they shot him.
The Los Angeles Times reported that family members of the student said that he suffered from a mental disorder and had stopped taking his medication. The Times reported that during the altercation, the student was kicking one police officer in the head, was using police pepper spray against officers and was grabbing police batons.
The president of the University of Colorado System and a member of Congress had an unusually public fight over the implications of the recent vote by Colorado residents to decriminalize the use of marijuana. And two students at the Boulder campus are alleged to have served pot-laced brownies to unknowing students and a professor -- an act for which they have been arrested.
The Denver Post reported that Bruce Benson, president of the university system, sent alumni an e-mail message Friday night in which he warned that the measure could cost the university $1 billion in federal funds because of the requirements of the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, which requires schools and colleges to ban illegal drugs (under federal statutes) from campuses. Benson was among those who urged Colorado voters (unsuccessfully as it turned out) not to decriminalize pot. The e-mail prompted U.S. Representative Jared Polis, a Democrat from Colorado, to take to Twitter, where he noted that the university has said that it won't allow pot use on campus -- and that the university maintains the right to enforce such bans. Polis write that Benson's claims were "FALSE," tweeting "Nothing in Amend64 requires CU let marijuana on campus" and "CU has made great progress in improving its reputation but President Benson jeopardizes it by pushing his personal opposition to Amend 64." A spokesman told Inside Higher Ed Sunday via e-mail that the university does believe that its ban on pot use on campus means that the institution is in compliance with federal law.
All the members of the Faculty Advisory Committee for the College of Education at the University of Iowa have resigned in a growing disagreement between professors and administrators over the college's direction, the Associated Press reported. The chair of the committee said he was ordered by Provost P. Barry Butler to turn over and destroy comments made in a survey about the performance of Margaret Crocco, the education dean. The comments apparently were quite negative. Faculty leaders say that they aren't being listened to by the dean, and aren't sure how to move forward with administrators seeming uninterested in their grievances. Butler said that the comments haven't been destroyed and will be considered. Crocco said that she was working to improve communication with the college's faculty members.
Jerrod Murray, a student at East Central University, in Oklahoma, was charged Friday with first-degree murder in the death of Generro Sanchez, also a student at the university, The Oklahoman reported. Bail was denied. Authorities sad that Murray confessed to the killing, saying that he wanted to see what it would feel like to kill someone.
A majority of Americans want education programs protected from the possible deep, mandatory spending cuts that will go into effect at the end of this year if Congress does not reach a budget deal, according to a poll released Friday by the Committee for Education Funding and the Foundation for Education Investments. The poll, conducted by YouGov, found 55 percent of Americans thought education spending should be protected from the cuts. The Pell Grant was considered among the most important education programs: 53 percent of respondents said it should be protected. (In fact, the Pell Grant program is not immediately threatened by sequestration, as the mandatory budget cuts are called.)
Scientific research, another priority for many colleges and universities in the federal budget crunch, fared less well. Only 34 percent of respondents said they believed research should be protected from cuts. When asked about specific education programs, only 30 percent said it was very important to protect scientific and biomedical research at universities.
Georgetown University announced today that it is joining edX, one of the major providers of MOOCs (massive open online courses), The Washington Post reported. Georgetown is expected to offer courses in the social sciences and humanities, starting next fall.
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey has agreed to pay $4.65 million to settle a class action charging the institution with bias against female faculty members, NewJersey.com reported. The university declined to comment on the agreement. The suit charged sex discrimination was behind a $20,000 gender gap in the mean salaries of full professors who had been at the university for at least 10 years -- even though women in the sample brought in more research grants and also had more teaching responsibilities than did male professors.