Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 29, 2013

Morgan State University is investigating charges that Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity rejected a student for being gay, The Baltimore Sun reported. The student cited social media messages by fraternity members that used an anti-gay slur.


October 29, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Inna Gaisler-Salomon of the University of Haifa reveals why stress may have a more far-reaching impact than previously believed. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


October 29, 2013

The National Collegiate Athletic Association is soliciting feedback for a new governance and competitive structure in large part because the biggest athletic departments want more leeway to spend money and grow their revenue-generating programs, football and men’s basketball. Naturally, one idea that has gained traction is a "super division" within or outside of Division I. But if they’re going to get it, a dozen associations for coaches of sports including volleyball, soccer, wrestling and swimming told NCAA leaders, those institutions should be required to raise the minimum number of sponsored sports from 16 to 24, and fund each one at at least 60 percent of the Division I financial aid limit.

“While it might seem counterintuitive to attempt to control expenditures by mandating growth,” coaches wrote in a letter to the Division I Board of Directors, which will hear ideas on restructuring before its quarterly meeting this week, “in this case it is one of few legal ways to achieve cost control. Prudent decision-making is built into the structure by funding requirements.”

The money athletic departments make off football and men’s basketball supports growth in those sports, but it also keeps the non-revenue programs represented by the coaches’ associations afloat.

“Mandating an increase in opportunity for and support of student-athletes in other sports financially links intercollegiate athletics at these institutions with their nonprofit mission while also leveling the funding disparities across Division I,” the letter says. The most elite programs have budgets about 50 percent bigger than the rest of Division I, hence the new sport minimum, the letter says. And 60 percent of the financial aid maximum lets institutions set priority sports while still supporting more athletes. The coaches also proposed developing a model within the NCAA governance structure that would  include coach associations beyond football and basketball on strategic planning, sport management and relationship coordination. Coach association leaders would be included as members or advisors to the various NCAA cabinets, councils and committees (such as rules and championships).

October 29, 2013

Student organizers at Hampshire College called off an appearance by the band Shokazoba amid complaints that the band was "too white" to play Afrobeat music, The Republican reported. Band members are angry, saying that they were falsely accused of being all-white, and that it should be possible for music to be judged on artistic value, not just the race of some of the musicians. The student committee that organized the event posted this note on its Facebook page: "Due to concerned students voicing their opinions about the band Shokazoba, we held community dialogue to hear what individuals had to say. As a result of the dialogue, and discomfort expressed by members of the community in person as well as by email, Facebook, and other means, we have removed Shokazoba from the lineup for Hampshire Halloween."

Many of the comments posted there are critical of the students for uninviting the band. One person wrote: "You know, it's not like these guys run around during their performances wearing dashikis, greeting the audience with a hearty meeng-gah-bou at the start of their set. These are just people who love a certain type of music and are sharing that enjoyment." Another wrote: "This is, without equivocation, one of the most ironically racist decisions I have ever witnessed a group of supposedly educated people come to. The fact that the irony is lost on you makes me believe that maybe that education was wasted. Stupid decision, and every one of you who was party to it should be absolutely ashamed of yourselves."

The college has issued a statement denying that racial issues were at play, and saying instead that the band was dropped because of the rising tensions over the discussion. "On an online event site, some members of our student community questioned the selection of one band, asking whether it was a predominantly white Afrobeat band and expressing concerns about cultural appropriation and the need to respect marginalized cultures. The students tried to be clear that they meant no disrespect to the members of the band in question, but wished to raise larger questions and have a deeper conversation within our own community," said the college's statement. "The decision by student planners not to have the band perform was not based on the band’s racial identity. It was based on the intensity and tone that arose on the event’s planning site on social media, including comments from off campus that became increasingly aggressive, moving from responses to individual student voices to rude, and at times unsettling, remarks. Tensions grew and students felt they were being unfairly characterized and disparaged."


October 29, 2013

A University of Wisconsin at Superior professor has voluntarily resigned, after reports surfaced this summer that he pleaded guilty and served prison time for attempted sexual abuse in another state more than 20 years ago, when he was a high school teacher. Matthew Faerber, a tenured professors of vocal music, was placed on paid leave in August after a newspaper in Utah, where he used to live, published a report detailing his past criminal record, involving two 13-year old students. The university announced that he voluntarily resigned, after a lengthy investigation into Faerber’s record, Northland’s News Center reported.

Faerber was hired by Superior in 1998, but the University of Wisconsin System did not introduce mandatory background checks for all employees until 2007.

Chancellor Renee Wachter said in a statement that Faerber -- whose status changed to unpaid leave earlier this month --  resigned "under terms of a separation agreement. We believe that this is a fair and reasonable resolution to a difficult situation, which serves the best interests of students and the entire UW-Superior community."

Faerber could not immediately be reached for comment.

October 29, 2013

Pennsylvania State University will pay $59.7 million in 26 settlements to victims of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, officials announced Monday. The settlement terms include a release of all claims against Penn State and other parties, and are subject to confidentiality agreements, a university statement says. The payouts should by covered by insurance and interest revenues from university loans, and no tuition money, taxpayer funds or donations will be used.

Six of 32 total claims remain, according to the statement. The university has rejected some as without merit, while the people who filed the others are engaged in settlement discussions. Jerry Sandusky, who is currently in Pennsylvania state prison, exploited his connections with Penn State football to rape and abuse young boys for years, sometimes on campus.

October 29, 2013

Berry College, a private institution in Georgia, announced Monday that it has settled (and won) a dispute with Tennessee. Berry sued Tennessee last year when the state tried to impose fees on the college because of two billboards that it put up. The state said that Berry was effectively operating a college in Tennessee. But Berry said that this was untrue, and that the college wasn't offering courses in the state (or even distance education). The college said the state was interfering with its right to simply recruit Tennessee students. Under the settlement, Berry said, Tennessee is waiving its rules based on Berry meeting similar standards in Georgia that Tennessee colleges must meet there. Officials of the Tennessee Higher Education Coordinating Board did not respond to email seeking comment.


October 28, 2013

The University of Illinois at Chicago spent $1 million on a house for Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares when she took office five years ago. The idea was that the house would then be used for events that would support the university. But The Chicago Tribune reported that in the last four years, only 11 events have been held there. The article raises questions about why so much money was spent on a facility used for its stated purpose so rarely.

University officials defended the limited use of the house, saying that it is relatively small (4,600 square feet) and lacks street parking, making it a problematic location for many events. But Robert Easter, president of the university system, called for a committee to "make recommendations on the best use" of the house.



October 28, 2013

In today's Academic Minute, Christoph Adami of Michigan State University reveals why evolution favors cooperation over selfish behavior. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

October 28, 2013

After four people were shot at a party at the University of Southern California at year ago, officials set new rules on security. But as The Los Angeles Times reported, many student leaders and organizations don't like the new regulations. Student organizations must pay for more security for many events, and student leaders say that this makes it more difficult to organize events. Many students reject the idea that security is their responsibility. "We think that money should be used to bring fun and interesting events to campus," said Logan Heley, a junior on the student government. "The costs associated with keeping students safe is the university's responsibility, not ours."


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