Higher Education Quick Takes
To help colleges ensure that their approach to disability documentation and accommodations requests is appropriate and equitable, in the wake of multiple federal guidelines changes that have made the work more complicated, the Association on Higher Education and Disability released new guidance on Monday. “Although the amendments and regulatory revisions occurred through separate federal processes, together they reflect a more mature understanding of disability that is essential for fostering a positive campus perspective on disability,” AHEAD wrote. “The concepts described in this document are interrelated components of a comprehensive, professional approach to using disability documentation to make informed decisions.” The guidance notes that requiring “extensive” medical and scientific evidence of a disability is “inappropriate and burdensome,” and explains how accommodations should be made on a case-by-case basis using a “commonsense standard” and “relevant but not necessarily ‘recent’" information.
Victoria Reggie Kennedy, a lawyer, activist and the widow of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, will speak at a commencement ceremony of a Roman Catholic college this graduation season after all. Anna Maria College rescinded an investigation to Kennedy when a local bishop objected to her appearance because she favors legal access to abortion and birth control. But Boston College's law school has announced that it has invited Kennedy to speak at its commencement, the Associated Press reported. Vincent Rougeau, dean of the law school, said Kennedy has been a "powerful advocate for the powerless" on issues such as education and gun control.
Legislation enacted in California in 2010 was supposed to assure smooth transfer from community colleges to California State University campuses, both by requiring the community colleges to create more transfer programs and the university system to make students who complete certain requirements automatically eligible for junior status. A new report by the Legislative Analyst's Office has found progress -- but only partial progress -- in meeting the goals. The community colleges are urged to create more transfer programs, and the Cal State system is urged to maximize the number of degree programs to which these transfer credits can provide junior-level status.
The Indian Cabinet on Thursday cleared two key pieces of higher education legislation that now can move forward for Parliamentary review, The Times of India reported. One bill would require accreditation for all higher education institutions. The other bill would set a process for designating some universities as research excellence hubs.
Ithaca College announced Thursday that it will no longer require undergraduate applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores. The college's announcement said that officials believed a test-optional approach was consistent with Ithaca's commitment to holistic reviews of applications. Further, the college statement said that "research on our past applicant pools and the performance of IC students demonstrates that a student’s standardized test score adds little predictive accuracy in understanding his or her subsequent success at Ithaca College." The college will continue to require test scores from applicants who were home-schooled or who attended high schools that do not give out letter grades.
Adjuncts at Utah Valley University are blasting what they call a "purging policy," which makes them re-apply for work -- even if they are teaching the same courses from semester to semester, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. The adjuncts, who say they already earn much less than full-timers and enjoy less job security, say that the requirement is demeaning and time-consuming. University administrators say that the application helps them collect data, and that department heads are free to keep hiring adjuncts who fill out the form. But one adjunct wrote in an op-ed in the student newspaper: "Instead of recognizing our essential contribution, the university not only discriminates against us, it humiliates us."
April 1 is typically the date many student newspapers run joke issues, and some of the jokes offend various groups. At the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, the tradition of The UMass Lowell Connector is to run a joke issue called The Disconnector on the last day of classes. The Lowell Sun reported that many students are outraged by an issue that was "rife with profanity" and "features a grotesque string of ribald tweets supposedly ripped from the actual Twitterverse, jokey items about gays, immigrants and race, a guide to the best brands of college booze, as well as an entire article filled with the excessive repetition of a derogatory term for a woman's anatomy." Megan Headley, the editor-in-chief, said she is sorry that some are offended, "but it's just a joke paper, and it's not meant to be taken seriously."
Nakba, the Arabic word for "catastrophe," is the name given by Palestinians to the day Israelis mark their anniversary as a nation. Tel Aviv University, resisting pressure from government officials and others, is permitting a student group to have a "Nakba Day" event today, The Jerusalem Post reported. Critics say that universities, as they are supported by the Israeli government, should not associate with activities many see as questioning the right of the Israeli state to exist, and Israeli law bars the use of public funds for such activities. The education minister called university officials to lobby them to cancel the event. University officials said that they were complying with the law by requiring the student organizers to pay for the event and associated security costs.
Students who set up the event said that free speech should include important discussions of the Palestinian perspective. Dan Walfisch, a history and philosophy major and an organizer of the ceremony, said of the event: "It will not include rejection of Israel’s right to exist. Our goal is only to recognize the suffering of the Palestinian people because we see mutual recognition as a condition of having a shared existence in Israel.”