Higher Education Quick Takes
Law students at the University of Sydney are complaining that their dean was insulting when they complained that a disputed final examination would not be given a second time, ABC (the Australian company) reported. A fire alarm went off during the exam and students were evacuated, but then the exam resumed. Some students want a completely new exam and the dean has rejected that option as unfair to those who came prepared for the day the exam was scheduled. But students are now upset that the dean wrote a letter to the editor of the student paper suggesting that they needed to drop the issue. "Law students can be an anxious and competitive lot," wrote the dean, Joellen Riley. "They do worry dreadfully about exam marks. A couple of years post-graduation and they will learn that the marks in any one exam are soon forgotten, and many skills other than mark-harvesting are more important to success in the profession (and in life)."
A former administrative employee admitted in federal court Monday that she stole more than $5 million from the Association of American Medical Colleges, The Washington Post reported. The woman was fired when the graft was discovered. Authorities said that she created bank accounts with names similar to those of groups with which the AAMC does business. She then created fake invoices for those entities, paid the funds to the accounts and had access to the money.
Mohammed Qayoumi, president of San Jose State University, has issued several statements in the last week denouncing the alleged harassment by white students of a black freshman who shared a dormitory suite with them. But on Monday, Qayoumi issued a new statement in which he took personal responsibility in saying that he and the university had failed to stop the harassment that is alleged to have gone on for months. "By failing to recognize the meaning of a Confederate flag, intervene earlier to stop the abuse, or impose sanctions as soon as the gravity of the behavior became clear, we failed him. I failed him," said the statement. "How such abuse could have gone unchecked or undetected for weeks is being methodically untangled, as it must. An independent expert will soon be named to lead a task force that will examine the facts, our policies and practices, and propose reforms. Some anger is being directed toward residence hall advisers (RAs) for failing to recognize or act on warning signs of abuse. It is our job as professional educators to help them recognize these signs. Their failures are our failures. We must do a better job of training them, and we will."
A four-hour Yale University lockdown that included a room-to-room residence hall search by police and SWAT teams ended safely Monday. Yale officials first told students there may be a threat to safety via text message at 10:17 a.m. after an anonymous male caller said his roommate was heading to campus with a gun and intent to shoot, police said. About a half-hour later, after callers reported seeing a gunman on campus, the lockdown began and students were told to shelter in place. A few minutes before 5 p.m., Yale reported via text message and Twitter that the lockdown had been fully lifted. By the end of the day, New Haven police were beginning to doubt the accuracy of the initial report, according to the Hartford Courant, saying the caller sounded "confused" and they were reviewing security footage to determine whether witnesses who corroborated the report might have spotted armed police rather than a gunman.
The president of 2,700-student Sul Ross State University resigned, the Texas State University System announced Monday.
Ricardo Maestas had been president of Sul Ross since 2009 and has been reassigned as a special assistant to the system chancellor. No reason was given by the system for his resignation. Quint Thurman, the provost at Sul Ross, will be interim president while the system begins an immediate search for a new president.
The Texas Tribune reported that “parents and community members have continued to raise concerns about Maestas' leadership, particularly his lack of responsiveness to questions about the treatment of student athletes and financial management within the athletic department.” Last week, the news organization said, Maestas let go of the football coaching staff.
Sul Ross has a main campus in Alpine, a town in West Texas, and three satellite campuses collectively known as Rio Grande College.
A prominent black superior court judge has filed a complaint saying two University of California at Los Angeles police officers used excessive force after pulling him over for not wearing a seat belt, and that his race was a factor, The Los Angeles Times reported. David S. Cunningham III, a former Los Angeles Police Commission president, says in the complaint that when he exited the car to retrieve his paperwork from the trunk, officers shoved him against his car, handcuffed him, threw him into their backseat and told him he was being detained for resisting arrest. A UCLA police sergeant released Cunningham about 10 minutes later. The judge wants the officers removed from the field over the incident; UCLA said it is investigating the incident.
An article in The San Francisco Chronicle explores why the basketball and football players at some universities graduate at much higher rates than others. The piece focuses on the relatively low rates at the University of California at Berkeley, which stands out for low rates particularly among institutions respected for their academics. The article notes that the University of California at Los Angles admits far more under-qualified students than does Berkeley (by the universities' own standards), 100 to 36 this year. But in graduation rates, UCLA outpaces Berkeley in both football (82 percent to 44 percent) and men's basketball (60 percent to 38 percent).
San Jose State University announced late Friday it has that it has suspended a fourth student in connection with the alleged racial harassment of a black freshman for months during the fall semester. The case involves allegations that suitemates of the black freshman taunted him with racially charged names, posted photographs of Hitler in their room, and at times tried to put his head in a bicycle lock. Authorities charged three San Jose students Wednesday, and as word spread Thursday, many on the campus were outraged. Friday's announcement by the university said that the involvement of the fourth student had only recently come to light.
President Mohammed Qayoumi announced as well on Friday that he had met that morning with Reverend Jethroe Moore, president of the San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP, and that they had agreed to hold a joint press conference today, that the would co-host a campus forum in December on racial issues on campus, and that the university would offer a lecture series in the spring on diversity and tolerance issues.
On Saturday, the San Jose NAACP chapter called for prosecutors to change the charges against the students from misdemeanor hate crime and battery to felony hate crime and false imprisonment, The Los Angeles Times reported. "This is not simple hazing or bullying," Reverend Moore said. "This is obviously racially based terrorism targeted at their African-American roommate.