Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, May 19, 2011 - 3:00am

A survey by a German research center found that one in three university students in Berlin would consider sex work (defined as prostitution, erotic dancing or Internet shows) to pay for tuition, Reuters reported. Four percent of the students reported that they had already used sex work to pay their expenses. Eva Blumenschein, one of the study's authors, told Reuters that reforms designed to speed up degree completion may encourage sex work. "It's possible that because educational reforms have increased student workloads, they have less time to earn money," she said. "Coupled with higher student fees, in this instance, leads students into prostitution."

Thursday, May 19, 2011 - 3:00am

Preston Mitchum gave a speech at his law school graduation from North Carolina Central University last week that in significant portions came from one given last year by a student at the State University of New York at Binghamton, The News & Observer reported. Mitchum said he found the speech -- whose theme dealt with being average -- on YouTube. He said he meant to credit the original, but didn't. Anthony Corvino, who gave the talk at Binghamton, said that Mitchum had called him to apologize, and that he believed the apology was sincere. Raymond Pierce, law dean at North Carolina Central, was less forgiving. "Quite frankly, I'm disgusted," Pierce told the News & Observer. "I spared no words in expressing to Mr. Mitchum how disgusted I am with this, and shocked. I mean, he is a student leader here at our law school. Plagiarism is a sad, yet unfortunate reality in higher education, we all know that. That is not to make any excuse but it is a sad and unfortunately reality. I would say, of all places, a school of law has no place for that."

Thursday, May 19, 2011 - 3:00am

Kye Allums, the openly transgender man on the George Washington University women’s basketball team, announced Wednesday that he will not play next season. Allums made headlines last November when he publicly came out and became the first openly transgender person to play Division I college basketball. The junior played in only eight games this past season before he was sidelined by multiple concussions. Allums wrote in a statement published by the Associated Press: “I alone came to this conclusion, and I thank the athletic department for respecting my wishes.” Allums offered no further details about his early departure from the basketball team. George Washington officials, however, confirmed that Allums has enrolled in classes for the fall semester.

Thursday, May 19, 2011 - 3:00am

Academic staff members -- including non-tenure-track faculty -- have voted to unionize at the University of Wisconsin at Superior. The vote there was the latest in a series at Wisconsin campuses to unionize, despite the drive by Governor Scott Walker and legislative Republicans to end collective bargaining by system faculty members. The unions voted in at Superior and elsewhere in the system are affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers. The vote at Superior was 89 to 5.

Thursday, May 19, 2011 - 3:00am

Scott Svonkin, a long-time political aide and union-supported school board member, appears to have defeated Lydia Gutierrez, a teacher whom some had labeled a Tea Party-like candidate, for a hotly contested seat on the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees. The race was too close to call Tuesday night, but The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that an unofficial vote tally gave 52.3 percent to Svonkin and 47.7 percent to Gutierrez. The race closely resembled another community college trustee election in Montana, which took place earlier this month, in which the relative political conservatism of some of the candidates became an issue of much public debate. For instance, Svonkin called out Gutierrez in the Los Angeles race for her support of the state's recent ban on gay marriage. On the other side, Gutierrez argued that Svonkin was too close to the faculty union and too supportive of the status quo, given his political background.

Thursday, May 19, 2011 - 3:00am

Leaders of the Louisiana House of Representatives on Wednesday withdrew a proposal to merge Southern University at New Orleans and the University of New Orleans, The Times-Picayune reported. The measure apparently lacked the two-thirds support needed to pass. The proposal -- strongly backed by Governor Bobby Jindal -- has been strongly opposed by advocates of historically black Southern.

Thursday, May 19, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Dennis Metzger of Albany Medical College discusses the potential dangers of Rabbit Fever as a biological weapon and efforts to create a vaccine to protect against exposure. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, May 19, 2011 - 3:00am

Gary Sherrer quit as chair of the Kansas Board of Regents, citing conflicts with other board members, The Kansas City Star reported. He cited the reluctance of other regents to become more involved in decision-making involving the universities, and his disappointment at not being able to lead the search for a new president for Emporia State University, his alma mater.

Thursday, May 19, 2011 - 3:00am

The National Collegiate Athletic Association "has no mandate to create" a football playoff unless its members push for one, the group's president said in response to a Justice Department letter this month that discussed the wisdom of the Bowl Championship Series and the prospects of replacing it with a national playoff. Mark Emmert also noted that, other than licensing postseason bowl games, the NCAA “has no role to play in the BCS" and that questions about whether it “serves ‘the interest of fans, colleges, universities, and players’ [are] better directed to the BCS itself.” The Justice Department letter to which Emmert responded is the first confirmation the department has given that it is examining college football's system for crowning a national champion and considering action against it. Critics have long called for the government to investigate the BCS for possible antitrust violations.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Victoria Bussert of Baldwin-Wallace College links the surging popularity of musical theater to the success of shows like "Glee," and offers a reality check for aspiring stars. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

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