Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, October 31, 2011 - 4:32am

Amid reports that ducks that Lynn University had removed from its campus were subsequently killed, the university is pledging to never again use the contractor that handled the relocation. The university said that it had to remove the ducks, which are not native to the area, because of the mess they were making on university property and because of their impact on the campus ecosystem. Officials said that they tried many measures -- such as asking students to stop feeding them -- to discourage the duck population from remaining. And the university said that it believed that the ducks would simply be relocated alive. But in response to reports that the ducks were killed, the university posted a statement in which it said that some ducks were turned over by a contractor to third parties and that their fate can't be determined. In a post to the university's Facebook page, officials said that some had been destroyed.

Many students said that they are outraged -- and that the ducks should have been permitted to stay. Some are advocating calling animal rights groups. One student called the university's actions "despicable and disgusting." One angry person wrote: "You know, a lot of the students are rather messy and leave their trash laying about waiting for someone else to clean up their mess. Do we relocate the students or should we make them responsible for their actions? Leave the ducks alone but maybe teach the students about cleaning up after themselves."

 

Monday, October 31, 2011 - 3:00am

Domaine Javier, who identifies as female although she is biologically male, was expelled this fall by California Baptist University, The Press-Enterprise reported. The university declined to comment about the case, but university documents sent to Javier accuse her of engaging in fraud by concealing her identity. Javier told the newspaper that she believed she was being truthful when she told the university she is female, and that she has identified that way since she was a toddler. "I didn’t do anything wrong,” she said. "They said, 'On your application form you put female.' And I was like, 'Yeah, that’s how I see myself.' "

Monday, October 31, 2011 - 3:00am

The board of Southern University on Friday declared that the flagship campus at Baton Rouge is in a state of financial exigency, The Advocate reported. A similar vote failed in September, when several board members did not attend the meeting. Faculty groups and others have opposed the move, which makes it easier for the university to eliminate academic programs, tenured faculty positions, and more. But university leaders said that they needed flexibility to deal with budget cuts that have already been made by state officials in Louisiana, and more that are expected.

 

Friday, October 28, 2011 - 4:23am

A year after two female students at Marquette University said that they were sexually assaulted by athletes there, one of them gave an interview to The Chicago Tribune to discuss how the incident -- and her decision to report it -- have changed her life. In the last year, five Marquette athletes were accused of sexual assault by three female incidents, and while all have been punished in various ways by the university, they have all been permitted to continue to play on their teams. The various incidents -- in particular the one reported by the woman interviewed by the Tribune -- led to increased scrutiny of the way the university handled allegations athletes, and pledges of reforms. The woman talked about the experience of having her name leaked, of having athletes pressure her to take back her allegations and of losing many friends. "It was a traumatizing experience that I would not wish on my worst enemy," she said. "I realize that the majority of people this happens to don't do anything about it because they're scared.… But I wanted to do something so that maybe it would happen to one less girl and to let these guys know that they're not invincible."

Friday, October 28, 2011 - 3:00am

More than 7,000 people have signed a petition calling for Florida lawmakers to defend the liberal arts. The campaign started after Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, questioned the value of educating more people in fields such as anthropology. The governor suggested that the state needs to focus on science and technology fields. But the petition states that bashing other disciplines will not promote STEM education. "Innovation and scientific discovery do not happen in a vacuum. To create the problem-solvers of tomorrow we need to maintain a well-rounded curriculum. The issue with low graduation rates in STEM programs need to be addressed at the K-12 level, not through attacks on higher education," says the petition. "Florida universities are not vocational schools. Their task is to teach students to think critically and to provide a well-rounded education, which absolutely involves the liberal arts. No government has the right to tell an individual what their chosen career should be nor does it have the right to qualify one discipline as superior to another."

Friday, October 28, 2011 - 4:26am

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board on Thursday approved the elimination of undergraduate programs in physics at Prairie View A&M University and Texas Southern University, rejecting appeals from the historically black institutions, The Houston Chronicle reported. The board has identified hundreds of programs for elimination, based on low enrollment. But advocates for those two physics programs questioned why the state would be cutting off opportunities to produce more black scientists at a time that many experts say that the only way the United States will achieve its goals in science education is with more participation from all racial and ethnic groups.

 

Friday, October 28, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Purchase College's Paul Siegel discusses how facing your fears can help you overcome them, even if you don’t know you are facing them. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, October 28, 2011 - 3:00am

Several Republican presidential candidates (but not Mitt Romney or Rick Perry) spoke about education on Thursday at a forum sponsored by the College Board and News Corp. Herman Cain, who is currently leading in some polls of Republican voters, said that helping students afford a higher education is not a federal responsibility, Politico reported. "I believe that if a state wants to help with college education, that they should do that," he said. "Secondly, you have people living within communities within states that are willing to help fund those kinds of programs. So I do not believe that it is the responsibility of the federal government to help fund a college education because herein, our resources are limited and I believe that the best solution is the one closest to the problem. The people within the state, the people within the communities, ultimately, I believe, are the ones who have that responsibility."

Representative Michele Bachmann used the forum to criticize President Obama for his plan to reduce the size and duration of some payments on student loans. The Associated Press reported that she said the president was exceeding his authority with the plan, and that there was a "moral hazard" in relieving people of debts that they have accumulated.

Friday, October 28, 2011 - 3:00am

David Barnard, president of the University of Manitoba, on Thursday became the first Canadian university president to formally apologize for the residential schools that were formerly used in the country to educate many Native Canadians, with the goal of assimilating them into the dominant white culture. Barnard made his apology in a statement to Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He noted that the university did not run the schools, but said that did not remove all responsibility for the system. “We did not live up to our goals, our ideals, our hard-earned reputation or our mandate," said Barnard. "Our institution failed to recognize or challenge the forced assimilation of Aboriginal peoples and the subsequent loss of their language, culture and traditions. That was a grave mistake. It is our responsibility. We are sorry."

Friday, October 28, 2011 - 3:00am

Trustees at Shorter University, a Baptist institution in Georgia, have voted to add a formal faith statement for the first time, as well as a "personal lifestyle statement" for all university employees that requires them to be members of a local church and and reject all sexual activity "not in agreement with the Bible, including, but not limited to, premarital sex, adultery and homosexuality."

Such requirements are not uncommon at Christian colleges, and have been a policy at Shorter for many years, vice president for public relations Dawn Tolbert wrote in an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed. Still, the written statements are a first for Shorter, which also added a document on "the integration of faith and learning" that requires faculty and staff members to submit annual plans on how they will integrate their faith with their working life, as well as a philosophy on Christian education. They are part of an effort to brand the college as a more "intentionally Christian university," Tolbert said.

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