Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 19, 2014

The Washington State Supreme Court has ruled that a long-time adjunct can pursue her case of age discrimination against Clark College, which passed her over for full-time positions in favor of younger candidates, the Associated Press reported. The court ruled that there was evidence both to back the adjunct's claims and those of the college, and that a jury should hear the case. Lower courts had backed the college and rejected the case.

 

September 19, 2014

College of DuPage's full-time faculty union has voted "no confidence" in college President Robert L. Breuder, 189 to 53. Glenn Hansen, president of the National Education Association-affiliated union and a DuPage photography instructor, said Breuder has contributed to an atmosphere of "distrust" on campus. He cited a recent controversy in which the president was revealed, via a leaked email, to have planned to ask the state of Illinois for $20 million in pre-appropriated funding for a building that already had been built using college money. Breuder planned to say the money would go toward another new, $50 million teaching and learning center, even though the estimated cost of construction was only $30 million. Breuder said he was being creative about how to obtain once-promised funds, and the college says that if it ever receives that $20 million, it will be used to "scale" the center plan. (Note: This sentence has been updated from an earlier version, to clarify that the college would use the funds for the center.) But critics said the president was being greedy at the expense of taxpayers.

Joseph Moore, college spokesman, in an email attributed faculty tensions to union contract negotiations going back to 2011, and said that the recent vote was limited to full-time faculty only (the college says it has more than four times as many adjuncts as full-time faculty members, 1303 compared to 305, respectively). He continued: "Overall, the campus climate, as measured in 2014 by a nationally normed employee satisfaction survey administered by an outside agency, is excellent, with scores for 'healthy campus climate' now tying our all-time recorded high.”    

 

September 19, 2014

Legislation approved by the New Jersey Assembly's higher education committee would freeze tuition for state residents for nine consecutive semesters-- whether they attend a public or private college in the state, NJ.com reported. Numerous states have frozen tuition at public colleges, but it would be highly unusual -- and quite possibly unenforceable -- for lawmakers to seek to do so at private nonprofit institutions. The legislation would exempt any institution with an endowment of more than $1 billion from having to adopt any possible freeze; that provision would affect only Princeton University.

Public college officials object to the measure, which they say will leave colleges without sufficient revenue as their funding from the state has declined by 25 percent over a decade. The measure is not expected to gain much traction in the Legislature.

September 19, 2014

Clemson University has suspended an online Title IX training program after the university "learned of concerns about some anonymous questions in the module for undergraduate students," the university announced Thursday. The program, which undergraduates were required to take, included anonymous survey questions asking students about their involvement in athletics and Greek life, their drinking habits, and their sex lives. “The questions are a part of the training so that you may get a sense of the behaviors and experiences of other Clemson students,” said an email from the university, obtained by Campus Reform. “Often, students have an exaggerated perception of the behaviors of their peers, so these questions are in hopes of clarifying those misconceptions.”

The university said that individual responses to the questions were anonymous and could not be seen by Clemson or the program's vendor CampusClarity. "We have suspended the training until the content is further reviewed and revised to ensure that it meets our goal of making Clemson a safer campus for all students, faculty and staff, while also respecting individual privacy," Shannon Finning, dean of students at Clemson, said in a statement.

September 19, 2014

A former Oregon State University employee is in jail, facing charges that she sold 388 university-owned cell phones while she was an employee from 2008 through 2013, The Oregonian reported. The employee was on the IT support staff at the time, and allegedly received $14,465 for the phones.

 

September 19, 2014

Ice cream maker Ben and Jerry's is mulling whether to change the name of one of its flavors after anti-hazing activists said the flavor made light of dangerous hazing incidents on college campuses. "Hazed & Confused," a blend of hazelnut and chocolate ice cream that was released in February, is not a reference to hazing, a company spokesman told Bloomberg, but instead refers to the popular 1993 Richard Linklater film Dazed and Confused and the ice cream's featured ingredient. But when Lianne and Brian Kowiak saw an ad for the flavor six months after its release, they said they were "shocked" and "dismayed." The couple's son died during a hazing ritual in 2008 at Lenoir-Rhyne University.

Hank Nuwer, an anti-hazing activist, told readers of stophazing.org to contact the ice cream company with their complaints. Ben and Jerry's told Bloomberg that it only received three emails, but it will consider a name-change anyway. “You hear about things like institutional racism and people will say, ‘You can’t see it because you are living in it, you were raised in it, you were born in it,’” a spokesman said. “This in no way was in reference to hazing at Ben & Jerry’s, but were we doing something that we should have been more aware of?”

September 19, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Joshua Weitz, associate professor of biology at the Georgia Institute of Technology, discusses his use of mathematical models to study the changing abundances and traits of natural populations. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

September 18, 2014

Jameis Winston, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback who was accused of sexual assault in 2012, will sit out the first half of Florida State University's game Saturday after several students reported seeing him stand on a table and yell a sexual epithet in the student union. (For those who are offended by explicit language, be warned about reading further.)

Numerous students tweeted about the incident on Tuesday, Deadspin reported, with Winston reportedly yelling "Fuck her right in the pussy." The saying is associated with an Internet meme based on a fake viral video -- a prank of sorts where passersby say the phrase during live news broadcasts.

“As a result of his comments yesterday, which were offensive and vulgar, Jameis Winston will undergo internal discipline and will be withheld from competition for the first half of the Clemson game,” the university said in a statement Wednesday.

September 18, 2014

A letter sent by the Anti-Defamation League advising college and university officials on how to respond to anti-Israel action on campus has some free speech advocates worried about a chilling effect. The letter calls out American Muslims for Palestine in particular, and the group's "Day of Action" planned for September 23. The group is asking that colleges eliminate study abroad programs to Israel, ban administrators traveling to Israel, and not allow scholars to participate in research with Israeli academics. In its letter, the Anti-Defamation League called the event "an effort to isolate and demonize" Jewish organizations. "We have a long history of fighting for the ideals of individual expression and the free exchange of ideas, even when we disagree with the ideas being exchanged," Seth Brysk, the organization's Central Pacific Regional Director, wrote. "However, no university should countenance attempts to discourage and suppress free speech, or harass and intimidate Jewish and other students. When this occurs, as in the examples noted above, appropriate action should be taken."

The Anti-Defamation League recommended that institutions implement several policies, including being aware of Israeli-Palestinian debates taking place on campus, providing adequate security at events that have the potential to escalate, and sending a senior university official to "potentially hostile events" to remind those in attendance of a college's code of conduct. The organization also implored colleges to "remember the school’s obligations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, particularly the responsibility of the school not only to investigate an incident, but to take prompt and effective steps to eliminate any hostile environment and to take proactive steps to prevent its recurrence." In a statement Wednesday by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Robert Shibley, FIRE's senior vice president, said that many of the polices "were unobjectionable" but others were cause for concern. "While senior officials are of course free to attend any campus event, requiring students hosting 'potentially hostile events' (whatever that means) to allow those officials to offer prefatory remarks about campus policies risks chilling speech at the event," Shibley wrote.

September 18, 2014

After aggressive expansion in Asia, the massive open online course provider Coursera on Wednesday announced that the University of São Paulo and the State University of Campinas will become the platform's first Brazilian partner institutions. The two universities will create courses in Portuguese to be featured on R7, a Brazilian web portal. The courses, which will go live next year, will focus on "high-demand topics from entrepreneurship to finance," according to a Coursera blog post.

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