Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 24, 2014

Authorities who have been investigating the alleged racial harassment of a student at Grand Valley State University now believe that the alleged victim is the one who wrote slurs and racist images on a whiteboard, MLive.com reported. The student has been referred to campus officials for violating the code of conduct. A statement from the campus police chief says that the false report “had a disruptive impact on the community.”

March 24, 2014

First Lady Michelle Obama, on a trip to China, spoke Saturday at Stanford University's center at Peking University about the value of study abroad. "Studying abroad isn’t just a fun way to spend a semester; it is quickly becoming the key to success in our global economy," Obama said. "Because getting ahead in today’s workplaces isn’t just about getting good grades or test scores in school, which are important. It’s also about having real experience with the world beyond your borders –- experience with languages, cultures and societies very different from your own.

"Or, as the Chinese saying goes: 'It is better to travel ten thousand miles than to read ten thousand books.' But let’s be clear, studying abroad is about so much more than improving your own future. It’s also about shaping the future of your countries and of the world we all share. Because when it comes to the defining challenges of our time -– whether it’s climate change or economic opportunity or the spread of nuclear weapons -- these are shared challenges. And no one country can confront them alone."

March 21, 2014

After a few male students accused of sexual assault sued their institutions under Title IX, alleging that they were discriminated against on the basis of gender in campus disciplinary hearings, experts suggested they faced an uphill battle in proving that to be the case.

But one of the more closely watched cases, that of the Xavier University basketball player Dezmine Wells, has survived the institution’s motion to dismiss. A federal district court said Wells’s allegations under Title IX were adequate to allow the case to proceed to the discovery phase, the Title IX Blog reports. The complaint recounts Xavier officials rushing to judgment, failing to train staff who heard Wells’s case, and denying Wells legal counsel and witnesses. Wells was expelled from Xavier and now plays basketball at the University of Maryland at College Park.

Meanwhile, more students are filing similar lawsuits under the very same law that women turn to for protection from assault.

March 21, 2014

The U.S. Department of Treasury on Thursday issued a general license allowing accredited U.S. universities to enter into academic exchange agreements with Iranian universities and permitting the export of some educational services, including university entrance examinations. The guidance also permits American universities and their contractors to enroll Iranian students in certain online undergraduate-level courses, including massive open online courses, or MOOCs. In January, Inside Higher Ed reported that the U.S. government had blocked access to the MOOC provider Coursera for individuals in Iran and other economically sanctioned nations.  

March 21, 2014

A dean's list student at Hannibal-LaGrange University who withdrew due to illness in October says he was blocked from returning because he is gay, the Associated Press reported. During the time he was away from the university, he came out on Facebook, and he said that university officials explained their refusal to re-enroll him by pointing him to a morals clause at the Baptist institution that describes homosexuality as a "misuse of God's gift." The student noted that others who violate rules related to sex are permitted to stay enrolled. He said he was told that, to return, he would have to renounce homosexuality. The university declined to comment.

 

March 21, 2014

Students at George Washington University are not impressed with their commencement speaker this year, José Andrés, a noted local chef. Washington City Paper noted tweets such as this one, which noted that the chef teaches a course at GW: "The guy who was obviously gw's last resort because if he didn't agree they'd just fire him." Many comments at The GW Hatchet, the student newspaper, were even less charitable. Consider this one: "Thanks, GW, for not even making me want to go to my own graduation. I guess it's a fitting end to four mediocre and overpriced years." Some comments did express sympathy for the chef. One said, "I feel pretty bad for the guy. He's accomplished so much in his life, but he is such an incredibly bad fit for GW commencement speaker. He is going to get nothing but complaints. GW should have known better than to put him in this position."

 

March 21, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Ripan Malhi, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, discusses both the importance and the difficulty of this type of research. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

March 21, 2014

The black student who authorities say was the victim of months of racial harassment by his suitemates at San Jose State University has filed a $5 million claim against the institution, The San Jose Mercury News reported. The claim says that a resident adviser was aware of the situation and didn't intervene as needed. This contrasts with the university's commissioned investigation, which found that there was no knowledge of the harassment by those who could have stopped it.

A statement from the university said that San Jose State officials believe the claim was filed with the wrong state agency for such matters, and that the university does not comment on such claims.

March 21, 2014

A leader of the Parti Québécois, which is the governing party in Quebec but has just started a tough re-election campaign, has proposed that college and university students be barred from wearing burkas, Maclean's reported. Bernard Drainville, the official who proposed the idea, is also behind the proposed "values charter" that would bar public employees (including those in higher education) from wearing any religious attire. In proposing the burka ban, he said he was concerned that students in burkas attend classes at a number of universities in the province.

 

March 20, 2014

Northampton Community College, in Pennsylvania, is among the institutions that called off spring break due to all the snow days that interfered with course sessions. So students this week, which would have been spring break, organized a staycation, and came to the college dressed for the beach, even if they were still going to class.

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