Higher Education Quick Takes
The editor in chief of The Kansas State Collegian has apologized for the paper running an op-ed questioning the presence of international students on the campus. "[E]ditors should have raised concerns about the content and style of the column," wrote Caroline Sweeney, the editor in chief. The original column said that Kansas and federal funds were being used to educate foreign students, many of them from countries that don't always agree with the United States. "I have nothing against citizens from Afghanistan, China, Iran, Iraq or Turkey. I just truly believe that nearly $7 million of taxpayer money should not be spent to educate students who could, in the near future, become the enemy," wrote the student author of the piece, Sean Frye. The column outraged many international students and others at the university. The online version now features an apology from Frye, on top of the essay, in which he notes errors in his column. Among them, he didn't note that the university benefits financially from the international students, who pay much higher tuition rates than Kansans do. He also praised his resident adviser from last year, a Chinese student.
Lander College for Men, a college in Touro University that educates Orthodox Jews, is a place where students spend long days and nights studying Jewish texts. There is minimal time for television, and no viewing on Saturdays -- making Lander an unlikely place to produce football fans. But as Yahoo!Sports reported, Lander has adopted the University of Oregon Ducks as its football team. Herb Ratner, an assistant dean, went to graduate school at Oregon and has introduced his favorite team to Lander. Periodically there is a night game that students can watch, but primarily students learn of the outcome after Saturday game days, when Ratner posts the news, either as a win or "NW" for non-win (he doesn't like to refer to losses). "Guys will come up to me and say, 'Hey dean, how are the Ducks doing?' Guys who had never followed college football, let alone the Ducks, suddenly take a passing interest and we talk about the Ducks. So it's become a thing at the school."
A recent poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found that 60 percent of Americans think colleges have a generally positive effect on American life, but noted sharp partisan divides in Americans' views of institutions of higher education. Twenty-six percent of Americans said that colleges have a negative effect on "the way things are going in the country," with the rest of respondents not answering. Fifty-one percent of Republicans and 67 percent of Democrats said that colleges have a positive effect on the country. Among conservative Republicans, 46 percent agreed; among Republicans who agree with the Tea Party, only 38 percent said colleges have a positive effect.
Still, among the population as a whole, the 60 percent approval rating for colleges was relatively high: more saw positive effects from colleges than from churches (57 percent), the news media (26 percent) or Congress (a dismal 15 percent). The Pew Research Center also noted that a 2011 survey found that across party lines, Americans who attended college overwhelmingly believed it was a good investment.
U.S. News & World Report plans to collect and publish new data on colleges in next year's rankings, but will not use the additional data in the methodology for total scores. The new data will cover differential graduation rates based on income and race; the affordability of colleges; and colleges' Internet connectivity. Details are available on the blog of Robert Morse, who leads the rankings effort.
Faculty members are speaking out against cuts due to be proposed by the administration next week at the University of Northern Iowa, The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported. Officials are preparing the plan to deal with budget shortfalls, and say that they have no choice but to propose deep cuts. Draft plans have been circulating and faculty union leaders say that they show a willingness to go too far. Cathy DeSoto, president of the faculty union, said that current plans would end undergraduate degrees in fields such as physics, geography, religion, philosophy and the teaching of English as a second language. "The reorganization that they've proposed, if it went through, it would eviscerate the university," she said.
A proposed measure that would allow most employers with moral objections a way out of the federal mandate requiring that birth control be covered in employer-sponsored health insurance plans was tabled in the Senate on Thursday by a vote of 51 to 48. The measure, an addition to a highway funding bill known as the "Blunt Amendment" for its sponsor, Missouri Senator Roy Blunt, would have allowed any employer (not just religious ones) with a moral objection to preventive care to opt out of offering that care. Religious colleges have strenuously objected to the mandate, which they say violates their religious freedom.
A coalition of college groups on Thursday unveiled the Higher Education Compliance Alliance, a website that collects and shares information about federal laws and regulations governing the higher ed industry. The clearinghouse, spearheaded by the National Association of College and University Attorneys, includes links to legal and regulatory language, advisory reports from various groups, and other information on a wide range of topics.
Last month, Meghan Darcy Melnyk resigned as president of the Mount Royal University Students' Association. On Wednesday, she was charged with robbing a bank in Calgary. Authorities said she walked into a bank and turned over a note to a teller, saying that she had a weapon and wanted money, CBC reported. She was tracked down after leaving the bank with money. Students at Mount Royal are stunned.