Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, March 11, 2013 - 3:00am

Grand Valley State University has agreed to pay $40,000 to a student who sued for the right to have a guinea pig with her on campus, The Grand Rapids Press reported. The student said she needed the animal for support to deal with depression and other health issues. The university said that it agreed to let her keep an animal in her room, but wanted her to agree not to take it to class or to food service areas. The university specified that the settlement did not indicate any admission of wrongdoing. But the university also agreed to work to develop a policy for students who may need animals to live with them in campus housing.



Monday, March 11, 2013 - 3:00am

Female students in Liberia face widespread harassment, including the expectation that they will have sex with instructors or risk being failed, The Guardian reported. Women report that the power of male instructors is so strong that they can force women to retake courses if they refuse to have sex with their professors.


Monday, March 11, 2013 - 4:25am

The University of California at Irvine is offering video and course materials for all required courses for a chemistry major plus some electives and graduate courses, online and free. Open Chemistry does not provide credit or a laboratory experience, but Irvine says that the material could be used by anyone trying to learn chemistry, and that other institutions could provide laboratory experience or testing to certify learning. Single courses have been provided in the past, and have gained followings online, but Open Chemistry is designed to go further. "That is the key innovation: making a full undergraduate education’s worth of classes available for immediate incorporation in part or in full by institutions of higher education or by individual professors," says a website for the program.


Monday, March 11, 2013 - 3:00am

How did a physics professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill end up in an Argentine jail on drug charges? An article in The New York Times describes how Paul Frampton found what he thought was a love interest online, how she lured him to Latin America and -- without meeting him in person -- convinced him to take a suitcase of hers, one that ended up containing illegal drugs.


Monday, March 11, 2013 - 3:00am

A former University of Texas at Austin equipment manager was found guilty by a county jury last week on six of seven counts of improper photography or visual recording, after he filmed members of the women’s track and cross country team in the shower locker room. Campus police began investigating Rene Zamora after an athlete caught him filming her in September 2010, the Austin American-Statesman reported, but he'd been recording women over the course of three years. The university suspended Zamora one week into their investigation and he resigned two days later. This marks the third time this year that a Texas athletics official was punished for inappropriate sexual conduct with students. The other two cases, though, were consensual relationships.

Monday, March 11, 2013 - 4:27am

Salem College has finished its review of what policies it should have about transgender students, but the letter announcing the completion of the review is vague on what that policy is and doesn't even use the word "transgender," The Winston-Salem Journal reported. Salem is a women's college and the issue of transgender students has been sensitive for women's colleges, given their history of providing single-sex education. Word that the college was considering a policy on transgender students set off debate among students and alumnae, with some favoring an inclusive policy and some fearing that allowing transgender students to stay enrolled would open the door to the college becoming fully coeducational. A letter from the board chair says that trustees, after “lengthy discussion and due consideration,” affirmed that Salem “values its students as individuals” and that “the wellbeing of all students is of paramount importance.” The letter also says that the board "has no intention of admitting men to Salem's traditional undergraduate program or becoming a coeducational institution." A spokeswoman declined to elaborate on how the college would respond to transgender students. Asked by the Journal why the word "transgender" wasn’t used in the letter, the spokeswoman said, "Does it need to be?"

Monday, March 11, 2013 - 3:00am

Harvard University secretly searched the e-mail accounts of 16 resident deans -- administrators who work with students on academic and other issues -- trying to identify the source of a leak about the university's cheating scandal, The Boston Globe reported. The news surprised and concerned some at Harvard. The university did not explicitly confirm that it engaged in the secret searches. But the dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Michael Smith, issued a statement saying: "Harvard College would take all necessary and appropriate actions under our procedures to safeguard the integrity of that process, which is designed to protect the rights of our students to privacy and due process,” the statement read. And Jeff Neal, a university spokesman, appeared to acknowledge the incident when he denied that e-mail is regularly checked, telling the Globe that "any assertion that Harvard routinely monitors e-mails – for any reason – is patently false."


Monday, March 11, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Hans Hofmann of the University of Texas at Austin reveals the genetic basis of common behaviors found in distantly related species. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Monday, March 11, 2013 - 3:00am

Some University of Oklahoma students are objecting to the choice of the journalist Fareed Zakaria as this year's commencement speaker, The Oklahoman reported. Zakaria's journalism at Time and CNN has led to numerous campus speaking invitations. But students note that he was suspended from his journalism jobs last year (and then reinstated) after he was found to have used portions of a New Yorker article for one of his Time pieces. Doug McKnight, a senior, said he would skip commencement, because "I don't think I can go hear him talk to me about integrity and professionalism."

Monday, March 11, 2013 - 4:30am

Food service and custodial workers plan a three-day strike this week at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, The Chicago Tribune reported. The workers, members of the Service Employees International Union Local 73, are frustrated by what they see as a lack of progress in negotiating a contract. The union predicted significant disruptions to food service this week, while the university vowed that it would provide hot meals and would minimize disruption by reassigning non-striking workers.



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