Higher Education Quick Takes
About 200 students rallied at Duke University Wednesday to protest a recent Kappa Sigma fraternity party with an anti-Asian theme, The News & Observer reported. The invitations mocked Asian accents, and photographs of the event -- posted to Facebook -- featured white students dressed in faux Asian attire and with chopsticks in their hair.
The University of Miami's baseball program appears to be at the epicenter of a burgeoning controversy involving an anti-aging clinic suspected of being a hub for performance-enhancing drugs for Major League Baseball players, The New York Times reported. Several high-profile players have been identified as having ties to the clinic, and several of them -- including Alex Rodriguez, after whom Miami's baseball stadium is named, and Ryan Braun, who played at Miami before beginning his pro career -- have close ties to the university. Miami officials told the Times in a statement that the university was "aware of media reports regarding one of our employees, and an intensive review is under way.”
The pass rate for students who took the new, computer-based version of the GED last year was 88 percent, outpacing the 71 percent pass rate of those who who took the paper-based version, the GED Testing Service said. They also spent 1.5 hours less taking the test, which is a high-school degree equivalency exam. The service plans to launch a fully computer-based, redesigned version of the exam next year.
New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on Wednesday defended the decision by Brooklyn College to let a group hold an event to encourage support for the boycott of Israel, The New York Times reported. The event has prompted calls from some politicians to cut funds for the college, part of the City University of New York. At a press conference, Bloomberg said that he strongly disagrees with the calls to boycott Israel, but added that a university should be able to have events on any topic, "including ideas that people find repugnant." To those who disagree, he offered these words: "If you want to go to a university where the government decides what kind of subjects are fit for discussion, I suggest you apply to a school in North Korea."
Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, has announced that he will not donate his papers to an institute named for him at Iowa State, The Des Moines Register reported. That institute may now change its name and focus, and money donated to it may be returned. The dispute centers on what Harkin and some see as limits on academic freedom. Agriculture research supported by the institute must be done in collaboration with other institutes at Iowa State. While university officials say that requirement is innocuous, others see it limiting academic freedom by preventing solo work by those affiliated with the institute.
Mandatory cuts to domestic and defense spending are scheduled to take place March 1, but President Obama called on Congress to postpone the cuts Tuesday with a "smaller package of tax cuts and spending changes." The large-scale mandatory cuts, known as sequestration, were originally scheduled to take effect at the beginning of this year, but were postponed as part of the year-end tax deal.
Obama did not specify what types of cuts he'd like to see. Several higher education programs (although not the Pell Grant) would see cuts of 5.1 percent should the across-the-board spending adjustments take effect, and colleges report that federal research funding has already slowed as a result.
A group of female students at Memorial University want to organize a sorority there, and a group of male students want to organize a fraternity. But as CBC News reported, the Newfoundland university's student union is blocking the efforts, saying that it will not recognize any group that discriminates on the basis of gender. Most American colleges with single-sex Greek organizations exempt them from gender bias rules, but the student leaders at Memorial won't do so.
Maxwell Page, a director at large at the student union, said the groups' applications were turned down because they are discriminatory. The student union, he said, "will not ratify any group that the council considers to be of homophobic, racist, ageist, sexist or otherwise discriminatory nature."
But Amanda Wilkins, the co-president of Nu Delta Mu, said her sorority focuses environmental and health causes and it deserves recognition. "We're looking at maybe working with animals or a cancer society, any way we can help the environment, we plan to get involved with those charities," she said.
A panel at Heinrich Heine University has decided to strip Germany's education minister, Annette Schavan, of her doctorate because the committee found her dissertation to be plagiarized, the Associated Press reported. Schavan denies the charges and plans to appeal. A former defense minister in Germany resigned in 2011 after revelations that he had copied portions of his doctoral thesis.
A California judge has ordered the University of California System to reveal how its investments in two venture capital funds have performed, The San Jose Mercury News reported. Reuters sued for the information, arguing that it is covered by the state's open-records laws, a point disputed by the university system.