Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

August 9, 2013

A former doctoral student who worked as a psychology intern at the University of California at San Francisco was awarded more than $14,000 in back wages after filing a complaint with the California labor commissioner over uncompensated work, the International Business Times reported. While the internship was paid, Johanna Workman was only allowed to log 17 of 40 hours per week, she said, and although she had expected a stipend, she was paid hourly and did not make minimum wage. Workman was not a student during the six months for which she sought back wages – August 2012 through January 2013 – having graduated in 2011. But the case is unusual in that interns who have sued over violation of labor laws in recent months have worked in the private sector. In ruling against the university, the California Labor Commissioner cited the U.S. Department of Labor’s guidelines for unpaid internships, the same guidelines that were applied in the recent court victory of unpaid interns – also non-students – over Fox Searchlight Pictures.

August 9, 2013

The National Collegiate Athletic Association got slammed – perhaps even more aggressively than usual – online this week after the ESPN men’s basketball commentator Jay Bilas pointed out an apparent hypocrisy: The NCAA staunchly prohibits athletes from profiting off their own images, but the association was selling jerseys on its ShopNCAASports.com website that seemed to do just that. While the jersey wouldn’t include a name, if a shopper searched for “Johnny Manziel” – the 19-year-old Heisman Trophy winner who is now under NCAA investigation for selling autographed photos – up popped jerseys featuring the Texas A&M University quarterback’s number and team colors.

The NCAA responded quickly, removing the search bar but staying silent when people noticed. Its officials couldn’t escape the questions during an NCAA Executive Committee press call Thursday, though, where NCAA President Mark Emmert said the association would no longer sell university jerseys or memorabilia. Adding that he didn’t know how the practice began and that it was “a mistake,” Emmert noted that the website is an aggregator for other retailers and that the NCAA did not profit off the sales. Nonetheless, the NCAA is “exiting” the business.

“I can certainly understand how people could see that as hypocritical,” Emmert said of the sales.

Officials noted that the website will still sell NCAA-branded apparel.

August 9, 2013

Purdue University's Calumet regional campus is planning layoffs for seven faculty members, most of them assistant professors, The Journal and Courier reported. At least another 12 faculty members have accepted early retirement packages. The size of the faculty will shrink by about 7 percent, as part of a response to a deficit brought on by lower than expected enrollments.


August 8, 2013

Hood College, in Maryland, and Regis College, in Massachusetts, have both announced that they are ending requirements that all applicants submit the SAT or ACT. Hood suggests that those who do not wish to submit test scores have a minimum high school grade point average of 3.25 and schedule an on-campus interview. Regis says that it will still require the SAT or ACT for applicants to its undergraduate nursing program, and for home-schooled applicants.


August 8, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Micah Berman of Ohio State University calculates the cost an employer can expect to incur when hiring a smoker. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


August 8, 2013

Romantic undergraduate student-professor and undergraduate-staff relationships are now banned at the University of Connecticut. The university’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved the new policy this week, The Hartford Courant reported. Graduate students also are prohibited from dating faculty in some cases where the relationship could be “exploitative,” such as when the student is a teaching assistant for the professor. Violation of the policy could result in termination of employment.

UConn had been working on drafting a policy for about a year, but its absence of a stance against such relationships came into focus in July following allegations that Robert Miller, professor of music at the Storrs campus, visited dorms and had sex with students. The allegations emerged during investigations by several law enforcement agencies and the university into separate allegations that Miller was a pedophile. Miller is on paid leave but barred from the university pending the ongoing investigations. No charges have been filed.

August 8, 2013

It's time for Inside Higher Ed's monthly Cartoon Caption Contest.

There are multiple ways to participate. Suggest a caption for a new cartoon; the three entries that our judges deem most clever or chuckle-inducing will be put to a vote by our readers next month, and the winner will receive a $75 Amazon gift certificate and a copy of the cartoon signed by Matthew Henry Hall, the artist.

You can also choose your favorite from among the three finalists nominated for best caption for last month's drawing.

And congratulations to the winner of the Cartoon Caption Contest for June, Donald Larsson, professor of English at Minnesota State University-Mankato. Find out more about him and his submission here.


August 8, 2013

A new poll by Citi and Seventeen looks at which expenses related to college students handle themselves and which ones their parents handle. For most items -- including tuition -- the results are mixed. There is one item on which parents are far more likely than students to pay the bill: monthly phone bills.


August 8, 2013

What it all will eventually amount to is far from clear. But the agitation over the perception that colleges and the National Collegiate Athletic Association -- and pretty much all parties but athletes themselves -- profit from the sale of merchandise bearing the likenesses of players continues to grow.

USA Today reported Wednesday on the filing of another lawsuit by former players against two photography companies, arguing that they "conspire with numerous colleges and universities that participate in the NCAA … to market and sell thousands of photos of active and former collegiate athletes without offering compensation to or obtaining consent from these student-athletes." The lawsuit is the latest in a string related to the use of players' images in video games and other profitable enterprises.

And the sports Twitterati and blogosphere continued to explode Wednesday with discussion prompted by Jay Bilas, the ESPN men's basketball commentator, who noted in a series of Twitter posts that the NCAA website's own store sells jerseys that lack players' names, in line with NCAA rules that bar the sale of equipment that identify specific athletes. But Bilas noted that punching the names of certain players into the search engine on the ShopNCAASports.com site brings up jerseys with those players' colors and numbers. Excoriating the NCAA's hypocrisy, Bilas's stream of tweets ended by suggesting that if you punched "NCAA Executive Committee" in the search engine, the image that would show up was of a group of clowns.

Within a short time, the NCAA had disabled the website's search function.

August 8, 2013

France is considering a proposal from its High Council for Integration that Muslim headscarves be banned at universities, Reuters reported. A ban is already in place in schools and many French leaders place a high priority on promoting secularism in public institutions. Muslim groups are speaking out against the proposal. "This is one more step in the legal stigmatization of Muslims,” said a statement from the March 15 Liberty Committee, a Muslim group opposed to the proposed ban. "The separation of church and state cannot be reduced, as some want it to be, to an arsenal of laws against Muslims."


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