Higher Education Quick Takes
High schoolers who make overnight visits to colleges they are considering are engaging in potentially dangerous or illegal behavior, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Center for Adolescent Research and Education at Susquehanna University and the group Students Against Destructive Decisions. A survey of more than 1,000 teens who said they had been on an overnight college visit found that:
- 16 percent reported drinking alcohol on the visit.
- 17 percent had sex or engaged in "intimate sexual behavior" during the trip.
- 5 percent reported using drugs other than alcohol.
- 2 percent drove while impaired.
Faculty members at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities are debating whether too many students are earning A grades, The Star Tribune reported. One proposal under consideration is that transcripts should indicate the share of each class receiving a particular grade, so that an A might have less value in courses in where many such grades are awarded.
In many states in recent years, summer enrollments have gone way up at public institutions, as students who struggle to get into sections during the regular academic year take advantage of greater availability in the summer. But in California, higher education budgets are so tight that many community colleges have cut way back on summer programs -- despite student demand, The Los Angeles Times reported. Eight community college campuses plan no summer courses this year, and the community college system's summer enrollment was down 43 percent from 2008 to 2011. A survey by Santa Monica College found that, at 15 community colleges in the Los Angeles area, only one-third of the courses offered in 2008 are going to be offered this year, representing a loss of 6,000 teaching assignments and 168,000 classroom seats.
Graham Spanier, former president of Pennsylvania State University, on Friday sued the university to demand access to e-mail records from 1998 to 2004, The Patriot-News reported. The records were thought to have been destroyed when the university switched e-mail systems, but the e-mail files recently have been recovered. Spanier's suit says that he didn't have access to the files when he testified before a grand jury looking into alleged molestation of boys by Jerry Sandusky, a former football coach. Much of the molestation allegedly took place on Penn State's campus, and the issue of what senior administrators knew has become a major issue in the case against Sandusky and (potentially) other cases. Spanier's suit says he cannot meet with independent investigators looking into the case without access to the old e-mail messages, but Penn State says that it has been informed by a state assistant attorney general that it should not turn over the records.
The State Department on Friday issued revised visa guidance on visa rules for those who work at Confucius Institutes, which are supported by the Chinese government and operate at many campuses in the United States. The new guidance essentially reversed earlier guidance that would have been very difficult for many of the centers. For instance, the earlier guidance said that the Confucius Institutes would need separate accreditation if their offerings weren't part of the language offerings of the universities at which they are located. The new guidance says that the university's overall accreditation is sufficient. Generally, institutes whose employees were receiving visas prior to now should be fine.
Adjuncts at Kalamazoo Valley Community College have voted, 162 to 38, to unionize, The Kalamazoo Gazette reported. The new union will be affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers. Catherine Barnard, a part-time psychology instructor for 15 years, explained the union push this way: "Years of service and dedication to our students should be rewarded. We have earned the right to fair compensation, academic freedom, and timely semester appointments. Our level of education, professionalism, and commitment to our students is equivalent to that of the full-time tenured faculty."
University of Chicago officials are condemning recent events at which fraternities planned activities that were disparaging of Latinos and women, The Chicago Sun-Times reported. In one case, a fraternity had pledges wear sombreros and mow the house lawn while Latin music played. Another fraternity announced a party with the theme "Conquistadors and Aztec Hoes."
In today’s Academic Minute, Brick Johnstone of the University of Missouri explains efforts to pinpoint the location of the religious experience through brain imaging. In Monday's Academic Minute, Bridget Chesterton of the State University of New York College at Buffalo discussed the common experience of European immigration to the Americas. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.
The University of Michigan is seeking to join a federal suit challenging a new Michigan law that bars graduate research assistants from unionizing, The Detroit Free Press reported. The move to join the suit is somewhat unusual in that Michigan's senior administrators have spoken out against the unionization of research assistants during a recent organizing drive at the university. The administrators maintain that the graduate students who work as research assistants should be seen as students, not employees. And that was the same rationale cited by Republican legislators who pushed the new law. But the University of Michigan Board of Regents is controlled by Democrats, who back union rights for the graduate students, and who opted to have the university join the suit.