Higher Education Quick Takes
A federal judge has ruled that Florida cannot deny in-state tuition rates to students who are U.S. citizens with Florida residency who can't prove that their parents have the legal right to live in the United States. The case is not about those students brought to the United States as children, the subject of much debate, but about students born in the United States who are by definition citizens. Florida's regulations requiring them to provide information about their parents' immigration status violate these students' rights, the judge ruled. The only issue that matters is the students' citizenship, ruled Judge K. Michael Moore. He noted that the benefits of higher education (admission and in-state tuition rates) "are properly viewed as attaching to the student and not the household." It is the students, not the parents, he added, who will have their names on the diplomas.
Florida A&M University on Tuesday announced that it has suspended its torque dancing team after allegations of an off-campus hazing incident, the Associated Press reported. A hazing death of a student in the marching band last year has focused attention on hazing at the institution.
The number of 18-year-olds is shrinking in Japan, so many universities are creating new incentives to get prospective students to visit campuses, The Asahi Shimbun reported. Some universities are paying the travel costs to campuses. Others are offering discounts on fees normally charged for entrance exams. Still others are starting programs for parents so that they can learn more about the university.
Tim Gunn was a faculty member at Parsons The New School for Design before "Project Runway" occupied too much of his time. A new meme imagines Gunn as an outside committee member helping to prod a doctoral student to the finish line. With advice such as "I hate two-part titles, but they're very now," and "I think your article is confused about its genre," on photos of Gunn advising would-be designers, the meme is attracting followers.
The meme is the work of a husband-and-wife team: Sarah Summers, a Ph.D. student in rhetoric and composition at Pennsylvania State University, and Bill Riley, a recent M.F.A. grad. Via e-mail, Summers explained: "We're both 'Project Runway' fans. Last week we were marveling at how Tim Gunn manages to be critical and incisive while also being encouraging. Working on a book project and a dissertation, we realized that a kindhearted kick in the pants seems pretty valuable!"
Make it work.
Two national groups aim to stimulate discussions on campuses across the country this year about what the top priorities of American higher education should be and what tradeoffs the country -- and colleges -- would have to make depending on the directions they go in. The campaign, “Shaping Our Future: How Should Higher Education Help U.S. Create the Society We Want,” is headed by the American Commonwealth Partnership, a consortium of colleges dedicated to democracy, and the National Issues Forums, a nonprofit organization that organizes and promotes public discussions. The goal is to bring together a variety of stakeholders, from university administrators to local residents in various communities, to discuss the purpose of higher education. About 60 forums are already scheduled for the fall, and organizers hope to hold at least 300 community discussions this year.
As a starting point for these dialogues, the forum proposes three possible directions for higher education: focusing on competing in the global economy by emphasizing science and technology, using higher education to teach students values such as respect and responsibility, or make college more accessible. Panelists at a kickoff event Tuesday at the National Press Club acknowledged that these three choices are not independent of each other, but said they hoped laying out the options would spark debate, and maybe even action.
“My hope for these dialogues is not that they come to the right solution but that they create that ground-up passion,” said Nancy Cantor, the chancellor of Syracuse University and one of the panelists Tuesday.
Internet2 and Educause, two higher-ed technology organizations, announced on Tuesday that they are expanding a group purchasing effort that allows member institutions to purchase access e-textbooks from McGraw-Hill at a discounted price. The effort, which began in January with five universities, "aims to advance a new model for the purchase, distribution, and use of electronic textbooks and digital course materials," according to a press release. The program added 20 additional institutions on Tuesday, including both small liberal arts colleges and large state universities. The idea is that negotiating deals for e-textbook access at the institutional level, as a group, will make it cheaper and easier for colleges and universities to support professors who want to take their courses digital. The first five universities to sign on recently collaborated on a report summarizing the experiences of students and professors in the first semester of the pilot. The results were mixed.
The University of Central Oklahoma has settled a lawsuit by 12 former students and employees, who charged the former debate coach with harassment and retaliation, the Associated Press reported. The lawsuit claimed that the former coach -- Eric Marlow -- threatened to take a scholarship away from a student if she didn't have sex with him, and that he sent threatening text messages. A lawyer for Marlow declined to comment except to confirm that the suit has been resolved. Details of the settlement were not released.
A freshman who was a pledge at Theta Chi and who was at an event with drinking Saturday night died Sunday, The Fresno Bee reported. While the cause of death has not been officially determined, alcohol is viewed as a factor. The university is suspending Theta Chi. Seven years ago, a death in another fraternity house -- following a night of drinking -- prompted the university to announce a series of new steps to prevent alcohol abuse.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s African and Afro-American Studies Department reportedly allowing athletes to take and pass no-show classes did not violate any National Collegiate Athletic Association rules, including those regarding athlete eligibility, the university said in a statement Friday. “On Aug. 23, 2012, University Counsel Leslie Strohm and Senior Associate Dean Jonathan Hartlyn provided an update to the enforcement staff,” the statement said. “The NCAA staff reaffirmed to university officials that no NCAA rules appeared to have been broken.”
NCAA eligibility rules require that, in order to compete, athletes earn at least six credit hours each term and meet minimum grade point averages, which vary depending on an institution's own standards for graduation. But the rules apparently do not address whether taking no-show classes would constitute a violation. The classes reportedly involved altered grades and little to no faculty supervision.