Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

May 7, 2018

Students in the visual arts M.F.A. program at Columbia University are demanding tuition refunds, citing inadequate facilities and support, The Wall Street Journal reported. Supplies have melted due to excessive heat, according to the newspaper, and flooding has destroyed some artwork. One photograph shows netting installed in a building where art was on display to prevent falling debris from hitting art. While Columbia has reimbursed some students for damaged artwork, the university has declined to refund tuition.

May 7, 2018

LeRodrick Terry is resigning as vice president of student affairs at Rio Salado Colleges following a college investigation that found he engaged in inappropriate behavior, The Arizona Republic reported. The investigation found that Terry touched female employees' breasts and buttocks, stared inappropriately, and made sexual comments. The investigation said that Terry denied wrongdoing and blamed allegations on his being black. When the newspaper attempted to reach Terry Friday, a man who identified himself as Terry answered a call but then said, "I don’t know what you’re talking about, you have the wrong number."

May 7, 2018

Ohio State University announced last week that it is expanding an investigation into possible sexual abuse of athletes by Richard Strauss, who served as a physician for several athletic teams from the mid-1970s through the 1990s and who died in 2005. The investigation started as the result of a single complaint. At this point, the university said, it has received information -- which it did not detail -- from male former athletes in cheerleading, fencing, football, gymnastics, ice hockey, swimming, volleyball and wrestling. The university is encouraging others who may have information to come forward.

May 7, 2018

A Columbia University professor was barred from entering Israel because of her ties to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, Haaretz reported. Katherine Franke, a professor of law at Columbia, was barred from entering Israel because of her “prominent role” with Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization that supports the movement to boycott Israel, a spokesman for the Strategic Affairs Ministry told Haaretz. Franke, who personally supports the BDS movement, said she is not currently involved with JVP but has sat on its academic advisory board in the past.

Vincent Warren, the executive director of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, was also blocked from entering the country. Franke and Warren, who planned to lead a delegation of human rights activists who were touring Israel and the West Bank, were detained and questioned at Ben Gurion airport for 14 hours Sunday before being flown home to New York.

Israel passed a law in 2017 barring the entry of foreign supporters of the BDS movement. Haaretz reported that in January Israel released a list of 20 groups, including JVP, whose leading members would be barred from entering the country.

May 7, 2018

Nonwhite scholars continue to be underrepresented in publication and citation rates and editorial positions in communication studies, according to a new paper called "#CommunicationSoWhite" in the Journal of Communication by researchers at New York University. Coding and analyzing the racial composition of primary authors of articles in 12 disciplinary research journals from 1990 to 2016, along with citations, the new study’s authors found that nonwhite scholars were almost absent from publications as recently as the 1990s. Representation increased to 6 percent by the end of 1990 and to 12 percent by the end of 2010, but nonwhite first authors are still cited significantly fewer times than their white counterparts. The only exception is for articles about race.

"If we truly value research produced by faculty of color, and are serious about promoting their scholarly and professional success and advancement, we must make a conscious effort to make sure our citation practices reflect this," Charlton McIlwain, co-author and an associate professor of media, culture and communication at NYU, said in a statement.

May 7, 2018

The Swedish Academy will not award a Nobel Prize in literature this year because of a crisis over sexual abuse allegations against a photographer with close ties to the academy, The New York Times reported.

A Swedish newspaper reported in November that 18 women have accused the photographer, Jean-Claude Arnault, of sexual harassment or assault, and other allegations have come out since. Arnault -- who has denied the allegations against him -- is married to Katarina Frostenson, a member of the academy, and is a close friend of other members. Some members of the 18-member academy charged with selecting the Nobel Prize in Literature have quit to protest Frostenson’s continued membership, while others quit to protest the dismissal of the academy’s permanent secretary -- the first woman to hold the position -- after she severed the group’s ties to Arnault and commissioned an investigation.

The Swedish Academy said it would postpone awarding of the 2018 prize until next year, at which point it will name two winners.

May 7, 2018

A Peking University student who filed a request for records related to an alleged rape of a student by a professor 20 years ago said university officials tried to intimidate her after she submitted the request, National Public Radio reported. The student, Yue Xin, said that university authorities told her she was being manipulated by hostile foreign forces and that she could be prosecuted for treason or separatism for requesting the information.

Yue also said she was woken by her college adviser and her mother in her dorm room after midnight and told to stay away from the case and delete all related material on her electronic devices. Yue's parents subsequently took her home and grounded her.

Administrators at Peking, an elite Chinese university in Beijing, did not respond to NPR’s inquiries about the case. Yue has remained defiant.

"Was the freedom of information request a crime?" she wrote. "I'd done nothing wrong, and could not regret exercising my glorious right as a Peking University student."

May 7, 2018

The University of Virginia on Friday announced changes to its rules on the use of campus by groups unaffiliated with the university. The university has been considering its rules since last year's march through the campus by white nationalists shouting Nazi chants. While the march violated some university rules, officials discovered relatively few limits on use of the campus. The new rules do not relate to the political stances of any planned activity, but do set new rules on places that may be used and the need to reserve space in advance. The new rules do not change procedures for groups affiliated with the university.

May 7, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, Amy Cook, associate professor in English and theater arts at Stony Brook University, discusses how casting that goes beyond our expectations can bring new narratives to the forefront. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

May 4, 2018

A University of California, Berkeley, commission has recommended the institution either add or modify campus free speech zones, make police presence less intimidating at disruptive events, and explore whether it can cap security costs.

Following last year, when Berkeley was the site of multiple controversial events -- notably an appearance by former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos that devolved into riots -- Chancellor Carol Christ asked a group of students, faculty and staff to consider how the institution could better manage these incidents.

The commission's report offers several suggestions -- perhaps the most notable among them is that the university could look into capping security costs for certain events. Commission members wrote they were divided whether to wholeheartedly recommend this because courts have generally ruled against institutions that cite money as a reason to not bring a speaker to campus.

“The campus should not have to expend scarce resources to protect celebrity provocateurs seeking to promote their brand (and, in some cases, to cast aspersions on higher education) when so many essential needs go unfunded or underfunded,” the commission wrote.

The commission added that any spending limit might seem arbitrary, given the institution’s $2.7 billion operating budget.

It also recommended that the university try to add a new free speech zone other than the currently designated parts of Sproul Plaza, which has traditionally been used for impromptu gatherings and is exempt from most university policy.

The university could add the West Crescent as a free speech zone similar to Sproul Plaza and decide whether to keep the lower part of the plaza open or closed to those types of events.

“In either scenario, if using Upper and/or Lower Sproul Plaza requires security measures that significantly disrupt university business, campus administration should use the legal means at its disposal to direct the event to West Crescent,” the report states.

The commission also noted that some students and professors of color felt uncomfortable with the heavy police presence at an event in September, because of the historically rocky relationship between certain minority groups and law enforcement. It recommended more plainclothes officers or allowing some students to act as monitors who could report trouble to police.


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