Higher Education Quick Takes
The California State University System has decided to preserve grants for graduate students, easing the fears of about 20,000 grad students whose funds were in danger, The Los Angeles Times reported. The system is facing deep budget cuts from the state, and considered asking the low-income graduate students to use federal loans -- rather than the grants -- to cover their expenses. The plan was abandoned amid a lobbying campaign by students to preserve the funds.
Students and others are protesting plans at the University of Florida to move research functions from the computer science department, allowing it to focus on teaching, The Gainesville Sun reported. Critics say that the plan will diminish the quality of the department, while university officials stress that they must save money to deal with erosion in budget support.
A Colorado judge on Thursday denied a request by six individuals who sought to block the University of Colorado at Boulder from keeping everyone who is not a student or employee off the campus today, The Boulder Daily Camera reported. The university imposed the rules to try to prevent an annual gathering on April 20 of people who smoke pot together in an unofficial party. Civil libertarians have said that the university is effectively squelching political debate because the event is also a forum for opposing current drug laws. But Judge Andrew Macdonald said that the university had legitimate reasons to block the event. "Why doesn't CU have the right to say, 'We don't want to pay $60,000 a year for this?'" he said. "Why don't they have the right to say, 'We're tired of this?'"
Franklin & Marshall College officials said Wednesday that the liberal arts college had fired its women's lacrosse coach in the wake of an investigation into a hazing complaint, Bloomberg reported. Franklin & Marshall officials said that they had dismissed Lauren Paul, whose team won a Division III national championship in 2009, and suspended a group of junior and senior players for conducting the hazing incident last year. “We make student athletes aware that there is a zero-tolerance policy against any form of hazing, and our coaches are responsible both for conveying and stewarding this policy,” Cass Cliatt, the college's spokeswoman, said in an e-mail to Bloomberg. “Not only is hazing a violation of our rules of conduct, it is against state law, and we cannot allow any activity in which students endanger themselves or others.”
The office of the chancellor of the California Community College has announced that its review of two-tiered tuition at community colleges in the state has found that the practice would be illegal. The office has been studying the issue since Santa Monica College announced a plan -- since abandoned -- to charge more for some high-demand courses. The chancellor's office consulted with the state attorney general's office on the issue, but a spokeswoman for the chancellor's office said that no formal opinion was requested or provided. But she said that, based on the review and the consultations, the chancellor's office is "comfortable" feeling that two-tiered tuition "is not permissible and is therefore illegal" under California's education code.
Two University of Michigan graduate research assistants have filed a lawsuit against the state over a new law that bars graduate research assistants from unionizing, The Detroit Free Press reported. Republican lawmakers pushed through the legislation just as organizers appeared on the cusp of winning the right to form a union. The suit charges that the law violates the U.S. Constitution's equal protection requirements by creating a special class of workers (graduate research assistants) who are denied rights available to other workers.
Annette M. Spicuzza has announced plans to retire as police chief at the University of California at Davis, The Sacramento Bee reported. Spicuzza has been criticized for the use of pepper spray on seated, peaceful students at a protest in November. In an e-mail message, she said: "As the university does not want this incident to be its defining moment, nor do I wish for it to be mine. I believe in order to start the healing process, this chapter of my life must be closed."
Rudy Fichtenbaum, an economics professor at Wright State University, will be the new president of the American Association of University Professors, the organization announced late Wednesday. Fichtenbaum won 2,246 votes in the AAUP elections, nearly 1,000 votes more than Irene Mulvey, a professor of mathematics at Fairfield University, who was also competing for the post. “The current crisis calls on us to shift our focus and place our highest priority on organizing to defend our profession and genuinely reform higher education,” Fichtenbaum said in an e-mail statement after the results were announced. He has served as president of the AAUP’s Ohio Conference and has been a member of the organization’s National Council.