Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

August 27, 2014

An article called "So you want to date a teaching assistant" has set off a furor at Western University, in Ontario. The article appeared in the special issue of The Gazette, the student newspaper, for new students. The piece described strategies such as Facebook stalking, dressing to attract T.A. attention, office hours visits, and so forth. Reaction has been intense -- most of it negative. The union that represents T.A.s at Western posted a response saying that the piece had essentially been "a guide on how to sexually harass another human being." The provost wrote a letter to the editor in which she said: "Not only does the spirit of the article run contrary to Western’s efforts to have a workplace and learning environment that is free from sexual harassment, it is disrespectful of the essential contribution graduate teaching assistants make to Western’s academic mission."

The new students' issue was also criticized for articles on alcohol and drug use, but most of the criticism has been about the article on teaching assistants. In a response published Tuesday in the newspaper, the editors noted that they have published serious articles on these topics in the past. "The Frosh Issue, as with all of our special issues, gives us a unique opportunity to address some of these same social issues in a more light-hearted, informal way," the response said. But the editors noted that they have listened to the criticism and realize that not everyone interpreted the articles in the way the authors intended. "Regardless of the specific controversies surrounding certain pieces, it should be clear that The Gazette does not encourage or condone sexual harassment, assault, other forms of violence, excessive alcohol consumption or unsafe drug use," said the response.

 

August 27, 2014

The American Sociological Association has approved a new set of gender categories by which members can classify themselves for organizational purposes. After some debate, the association decided on the following:

  • Male
  • Female
  • Transgender Male/Transgender Man
  • Transgender Female/Transgender Woman
  • Genderqueer/Gender Non-conforming
  • Preferred Identity (in addition to or not listed above) _____________
  • Prefer not to state

Members will select “all that apply.” John Curtis, director of research for the association, said the categories were recommended by a committee tasked with coming up with terminology that satisfied its members, and that the ACA Council recently approved those recommendations. Last year, some sociologists said that the association’s existing group of terms -- female, male and prefer not to answer -- weren’t inclusive enough. But there was disagreement as to which new terms were best, particularly over one proposal to adopt the term “other,” as some sociologists thought that was marginalizing. The categories will be in effect by the 2016 membership year.

August 27, 2014

Four students at Case Western Reserve University were killed Monday night when the small plane one of them was flying crashed, Cleveland.com reported. A statement from the university said that three of the four students were members of the wrestling team.

 

August 27, 2014

South Korea is tightening the admissions requirements for Korean students who live outside the country, The Korea Herald reported. The country allows Koreans from abroad to apply without taking the entrance exam that is crucial to admission of most students. Now the country will specify the time one must live abroad to qualify. The change follows reports of students in Korea going abroad for brief periods to qualify for the text exemption.

 

August 27, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Dana Burde, an assistant professor of international education at New York University, discusses her work to improve the way Afghan children are educated. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

August 26, 2014

Students inspired by (or tired of) the "ice bucket challenge" for ALS research have taken to Twitter with the #PayMyTuition challenge, in which they are challenging various celebrities to help finance their higher education. There are lots of requests to the usual suspects -- President Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, etc. Also there have been some notable responses. At Austin Peay State University, the Reserve Officers' Training Corps, responded by noting that ROTC does in fact pay tuition. (Of course ROTC requires a much more serious commitment than dumping a bucket of ice on one's head or tweeting.) Blackboard responded with a contest inviting students to explain how they will use their education to make the world a better place. First place is a $15,000 scholarship.

 

August 26, 2014

Corinthian Colleges, the struggling for-profit chain that is selling or closing its 107 campuses, announced Monday in a corporate filing that the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) appeared willing to discuss a possible settlement. The CFPB has been investigating the company. Last week it sent a letter Corinthian alleging violations of the Dodd-Frank Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the company said.

The CFPB said it would require several conditions as part of a possible settlement, according to Corinthian. They would include ceasing the sale or transfer of private student loans, providing prospective students with more information about the company's financial problems, and providing the bureau with details about the possible sale of Corinthian's assets. The company reported that it had sold a portfolio of student loans for $19 million one day before receiving the letter from the feds.

August 26, 2014

Adjunct faculty members at the University of the District of Columbia voted 82 to 25 in favor of forming a union affiliated with the Service Employees International Union, they announced Monday. Part-time faculty members there join adjuncts at four other Washington-area institutions to form unions affiliated with the SEIU, and the organization says it now represents 75 percent of adjuncts in the metro area. A university spokesman declined immediate comment.

August 26, 2014

OpenStax College, a nonprofit publisher that produces free textbooks, will expand its library with 10 new titles by 2017. The publisher, an initiative out of Rice University, currently has seven textbooks (and another four in the works) covering popular topics such as biology, economics and physics. The new titles will be funded by grants from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Rice alumni.

August 26, 2014

An external investigation has found no wrongdoing in Sussex County Community College's awarding of a contract even though three of its trustees had ties to the engineering firm that received the contract, The Star-Ledger of Newark reported. The three trustees, all of whom voted to award the contract to CP Engineers, had all been paid for various services by the firm. The law firm that investigated the arrangement said that it had been awarded in line with state contracting laws.

Pages

Back to Top