Higher Education Quick Takes
A state judge in Wisconsin on Friday struck down many portions of a controversial state law that stripped most collective bargaining rights from public employees, The New York Times reported. Specifically, the ruling invalidates provisions of the law that limit collective bargaining rights of county, school and city employees, but not for state employees. For higher education faculty and other unionized employees, this probably means that collective bargaining could resume at locally run technical colleges, but not for the University of Wisconsin System. State officials plan to appeal the ruling, so the fate of unions in public higher education in Wisconsin is far from settled by the latest ruling.
California State University is planning to send letters to hundreds of thousands of applicants to the system's campuses, warning them that if voters in November defeat the governor's proposal to raise taxes, far fewer slots will be available, The Los Angeles Times reported. To drive home the point, Cal State has decided not to make admissions decisions until after Election Day. Typically, the university system starts admitting students in October. Anti-tax advocates are accusing the university of inappropriately campaigning for the governor's plan. But a spokeswoman for Cal State said that "we are just laying out the facts of what the budget is and what impact this will have on our budget."
WitsOn (for Women in Technology Sharing Online) will start October 1 as a six-week effort to encourage female undergraduates pursing science and technology degrees. The program will match students who sign up with a mentor for six weeks of online discussions, with the aim of encouraging these students to then find in-person mentors. The program is organized by Harvey Mudd College and Piazza (a social learning platform). While a number of colleges and universities have signed on as institutional participants (meaning they will publicize the effort) students at any college can join.
Three campuses -- the University of Texas at Austin, North Dakota State University and Hiram College -- received bomb threats Friday that were taken seriously enough to lead to mass evacuations, the Associated Press reported. But in all three cases, the threats appeared to be false and students and employees were permitted to return to the campuses.
Eleven current and former women's volleyball team members at the State University of New York at Geneseo have been arrested on charges of hazing and unlawfully dealing with a minor, The Livingston County News reported. According to authorities, eight younger members of the team were handcuffed, blindfolded and forced to drink vodka. One of the eight had to be hospitalized for alcohol poisoning. A statement from the university said that all games and practices have been called off while the investigation continues.
The University of California at Los Angeles announced Thursday that it was ordering an end to plans by a labor education center at the university to help create a certificate program for undocumented students. A statement from the university said the following: "UCLA has determined that the agreement between the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education and the National Labor College (NLC), which resulted in the creation of the National Dream University certificate program, was negotiated without the necessary approvals from UCLA’s academic and administrative leadership. As a result, the agreement has been declared void and UCLA has directed the Labor Center to suspend all work on National Dream University. While these actions do not preclude any future relationships between the center and National Labor College, any agreements would require a comprehensive academic and financial plan that has approval from appropriate parties. It is important to remember that the envisioned certificate program would have been offered through the National Labor College and not UCLA; news reports suggesting that those enrolled in the program would be UCLA students are completely inaccurate."
The University of California Board of Regents on Thursday agreed to settle a suit by 21 students at the Davis campus who were pepper sprayed while they were engaged in a non-violent protest last year, The Los Angeles Times reported. University officials, as well as the lawyers for the students, declined to discuss details of the settlement. Leslie Tang Schilling, a member of the board, said the regents settled the case so they could focus on serious budget issues. Of what happened at Davis, she said that "it was a really unfortunate incident."
The day after the University of Tulsa announced the firing of President Geoffrey Orsak -- after only 74 days in office -- the university issued a vague statement that did not offer any explanation for the action. "Discretion and university policy dictate that I not discuss the specific circumstances surrounding the decision, except to underscore my confidence in the collective wisdom of the University of Tulsa Board of Trustees," said a statement by Duane Wilson, the board chair. The statement called the board's decision "unavoidable," but offered no information on why this was the case.
Today Inside Higher Ed introduces a new feature: a monthly contest in which we ask readers to suggest a caption for our higher ed-themed cartoons, drawn by Matthew Henry Hall. The first cartoon is here, as are the rules. We encourage your participation -- there are opportunities not just to propose pithy and clever captions yourself, but to endorse (and eventually vote on) those you like. And the contest winner will receive a signed version of the cartoon and a $100 gift certificate to Amazon.
We welcome your participation -- click here to have at it.