Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - 4:27am

In the wake of an independent report that criticized the administration's and the police force's handling of a peaceful protest at the University of California at Davis, the chancellor has vowed that officials are "moving swiftly" on the issues raised. The report was an examination of why pepper spray was used on a non-violent protest (a move which the report found "objectively unreasonable"). In a statement, Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi said that parallel internal reports would soon be done on police officer conduct (possibly leading to personnel actions) and on police procedures. "Efforts to improve administrative coordination, collaboration and communication are also underway," she said. Katehi said that she would meet to discuss progress with authors of the outside report, and with others. "These actions are only a start; they will be part of a comprehensive action plan that will be shared with the campus community," she said.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - 3:00am

Marijuana enthusiasts have long visited the University of Colorado at Boulder for a pot-smoking celebration on April 20. The university announced Monday that it would be shutting its campus to outsiders on April 20 this year -- part of a move to discourage the event. Students and employees will need identification cards to get on campus. “The gathering disrupts teaching and research right in the heart of the campus,” said CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano. “The size of the crowd has become unmanageable, and limits our faculty, staff and students from getting to class, entering buildings and doing their basic work. It needs to end.” A legal challenge to the campus restrictions is possible. Officials from the American Civil Liberties Union told The Denver Post that the annual event is not just a party, but a political protest against drug laws, and that public universities cannot bar peaceful protests (or peaceful protesters) from campuses.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - 3:00am

Politecnico, a leading Italian university, is switching the language of instruction to English, The Independent reported. The rector, Giovanni Azzone, said that the shift would "contribute to the growth of the country" and "respond to the needs of businesses." While some academics are supporting the move, others are angry. Luca Serianni, a linguist at La Sapienza University, said the move was "excessive and not only in the ideological sense."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - 3:00am

A Michigan court has fined a 61-year-old woman for assaulting her instructor at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Michigan Live reported. The woman has also been expelled from the college. The altercation took place in class. "We are disappointed the student did not receive jail time," said Stephen Louisell, faculty grievance officer. "It sends the message that teachers are not valued."

Monday, April 16, 2012 - 3:00am

Some alumni of Gonzaga University have organized a petition drive to ask the institution to rescind its invitation to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Anglican cleric who was a leader in the fight to defeat apartheid, saying that his views are inconsistent with Gonzaga's Roman Catholic teachings. Hundreds of alumni have signed the petition that notes Archbishop Tutu's support in South Africa for legal abortion and gay marriage rights. "There are gifted and accomplished leaders from many fields who would be far more appropriate choices to receive such an honor from Gonzaga University. Instead Gonzaga has chosen prestige over principles and popularity over morality," the petition says. The university has not formally responded to the petition drive. When Gonzaga announced its selection of commencement speaker, the press release called Archbishop Tutu "an inspirational voice for justice, peace, truth and reconciliation throughout his ministry."

The student newspaper in the last week has run columns endorsing and criticizing the choice of speaker. "Tutu's public support for abortion, homosexual 'marriage' and contraception clearly identify him as a person who should receive no awards, honors or platforms from a Catholic institution," said one letter. But another wrote to say that many of the Catholic students at Gonzaga in fact share Archbishop Tutu's views, and that the university shouldn't reject graduation speakers who differ with church leaders. "It is especially the beauty of a Jesuit university such as this, encouraging healthy and intelligent discussions, not discrediting someone because we disagree. Last time I checked, disagreeing with Church doctrine didn’t mean you couldn’t participate, unless, of course, the Inquisition is still flourishing," said the author of that letter.

Monday, April 16, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Danny Winder of Vanderbilt University explains why the effects of alcohol can vary widely among individuals. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, April 16, 2012 - 4:18am

Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, on Sunday evening vowed at a closed-door fund-raising event that he would substantially shrink the Education Department if he is elected, NBC News reported. In his campaign, Romney has not made many policy proposals on education. But he was more detailed Sunday in outlining two possibilities for the Education Department. "The Department of Education: I will either consolidate with another agency, or perhaps make it a heck of a lot smaller. I'm not going to get rid of it entirely," Romney said. He said that one reason to keep the agency was to have a federal role in pushing back against teachers' unions.

Monday, April 16, 2012 - 3:00am

Officials at Thompson Rivers University, in Canada, are apologizing for the actions of a staff member who tore down a student's photograph (part of a student exhibition) showing a woman in Islamic dress and holding a bra, CBC News reported. The woman in the photograph has her face and body covered, and is holding and looking at a bra. Saudi officials have criticized the photograph. A statement from Thompson Rivers said that "the university is committed to honoring artistic expression and on a campus with many international stakeholders it is important that we balance cultural sensitivity with freedom of speech, and we value the conversations that this piece of art and all our others inspire."


Monday, April 16, 2012 - 4:24am

Iowa Republicans, like their counterparts in Virginia, are questioning the policy of public universities using some of their tuition revenue to pay for aid for low-income students, The Des Moines Register reported. Republican lawmakers say that the policy (common nationally) of paying for some student aid with tuition revenue makes it more difficult for middle class families, who don't qualify for the aid. State Senator Brad Zaun told the Register: "I want this program eliminated. I am hearing from many people that are shocked and did not know this was happening.”

Monday, April 16, 2012 - 3:00am

The University of California at San Diego has agreed to institute new procedures to prevent racial harassment and to investigate allegations of such harassment, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. The moves settled investigations by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education. The inquiries started after several racial incidents, including a "Compton cookout," an off-campus party that mocked Black History Month by having students dress in the stereotypical attire of poor black people.


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