Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, March 23, 2012 - 3:00am

A student at Florida Atlantic University was physically removed from a class and then tased when she refused to get into a police car, following an in-class outburst that included expletives and statements about hurting people. The incident in class was filmed and posted to YouTube. (Warning: the video contains graphic language.)



A police report on the incident said that the student, a black female, started yelling at the instructor in class, saying things such as "white people suck, Jewish people who think this world is theirs which is not, I will fucking kill you at the Holocaust events all over the world." Many of her remarks involved racial slurs, and she called various people "sand niggers" and "white niggers." The police report said that a Taser was used on her when she refused to get into a police car.

The university released a statement from Charles Brown, vice president of student affairs. "In order to provide for the safety of all concerned, the student had to be physically removed from the classroom by two FAU employees. The FAU Police Department escorted the student off of campus property and transported her to a local hospital.... In light of today’s information, the dean of students is taking immediate action regarding this student." A university spokeswoman, citing confidentiality requirements, declined to say what action was taken.



Friday, March 23, 2012 - 4:24am

Postdoctoral researchers at the University of Massachusetts have overwhelmingly ratified their first contract, with raises and new benefits. The postdocs will gain a 2 percent increase in wages immediately, another 2 percent in September, with 3 percent increases the following two years. Benefits in the new contract include partial reimbursement for child care expenses, paid holidays and sick time equivalent to those offered other employees. In addition, all of those in the bargaining unit will now have health coverage. Prior to the agreement, only about half of the postdocs were covered by the university, according to the union, which is affiliated with the United Auto Workers.


Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 3:00am

University tuition fees rose by 2.58 percent in 40 developed countries in 2011 (1.76 percent when accounting for inflation), but student aid increased as well, leading to an overall increase in higher education affordability worldwide, according to a study published today by Higher Education Strategy Associates, a research group. While tuition rose significantly in the United States and South Africa, it fell by more than 5 percent in Pakistan, China, Hong Kong, Russia and Turkey; and while student aid declined in the U.S., due to cutbacks in Pell Grants, it increased significantly in Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Singapore and South Africa, the group found.

Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 4:29am

Republicans in the Michigan House of Representatives are threatening to cut the budget of the University of Michigan if it does not provide more details on its research with stem cells, The Detroit Free Press reported. The Republicans are specifically demanding information about the exact number of stem cell lines at Michigan, something university officials say is more complicated than it may sound. The university has turned over a report on its work with stem cells, but that hasn't satisfied the legislators.


Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 3:00am

Some student loan borrowers with the biggest debt loads didn't fully understand what they were getting into when they borrowed the money, a survey of those borrowers has found. The survey, by the advocacy group Young Invincibles and NERA Economic Consulting, asked borrowers who signed a petition about student loan forgiveness what they were told when they took out the loans. About two-thirds of the respondents, who had an average debt load of $76,000, said they didn't understand the difference between private loans and federal loans. Federal loans have more protections and typically lower interest rates than privately offered loans. Two-thirds also said they misunderstood or were surprised by something in the borrowing and repayment process.

Twenty percent said they found the amount of their monthly payments surprising. An additional 20 percent were surprised by repayment terms, and 15 percent were surprised by the amount of interest they would have to pay. Many of those borrowers appear to look back ruefully: "I wish I asked a million more questions than what I did, but at the same time, I don’t think I knew what to ask," one said, according to the report, "High Debt, Low Information."

Borrowers with more than $50,000 in debt are a small fraction -- about 11 percent -- of student debtors over all. The average outstanding student loan debt is $23,300.

Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 3:00am

College professors are perceived by the public as more unfriendly to religion now than they were seen in 2003, according to the results of a recent poll by the Pew Research Center. Thirty-two percent of respondents said college professors are "unfriendly" toward religion, 37 percent said they view professors as neutral on religion and 14 percent said college professors were friendly to religion. In 2003, 26 percent described professors as unfriendly and 18 percent as friendly.

Republicans and white evangelical Protestants were more likely to say college professors were anti-religion: 56 percent of both groups said professors were unfriendly to religion. Other religious groups, as well as Democrats, generally view professors as neutral. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 3:00am

Research universities should incorporate more "arts making" -- the process of creating works of art -- into their curriculums to help develop "new generations of leaders who are adept in the use of all of their creative cognitive faculties," says a new report from a group of campus leaders convened last year by the University of Michigan. The report, developed by administrators and faculty members from about two dozen of the leading research institutions in the United States, examines what the institutions do now (and what they might do) to integrate such work into their curriculums (and extracurricular activities), and how to advocate for a greater role for such a focus.


Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 3:00am

A Boston College football player is facing charges of violating the wiretap statute in Massachusetts by secretly recording another football player having sex with a female student, the Associated Press reported. The female student says that she found out about the recording after the football player distributed it and people started making fun of her. A lawyer for the football player facing charges denied wrongdoing and questioned whether the videotape exists.


Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Karen McCormack of Wheaton College, in Massachusetts, examines the challenges faced by women and minorities in recovering from the foreclosure crisis. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


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