Higher Education Quick Takes
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has voted to require public colleges to tell all undocumented students receiving in-state tuition that they are required to seek legal status to reside in the United States, the Associated Press reported. The requirement does not change the fundamental willingness of Texas to provide these students with in-state tuition rates. But the new regulation follows the unsuccessful campaign by Governor Rick Perry for the Republican presidential nomination -- a campaign in which he was attacked by many conservatives for the Texas tuition policy for these students.
Rick Santorum, the Republican presidential candidate, on Wednesday again bashed colleges in a campaign appearance, urging those at a campaign event to stop giving contributions to colleges, CBS News reported. "It's no wonder President Obama wants every kid to go to college," he said. "The indoctrination that occurs in American universities is one of the keys to the left holding and maintaining power in America. And it is indoctrination. If it was the other way around, the ACLU would be out there making sure that there wasn't one penny of government dollars going to colleges and universities, right?" Santorum also accused colleges of being anti-religion, and of turning students against religion. "If they taught Judeo-Christian principles in those colleges and universities, they would be stripped of every dollar. If they teach radical secular ideology, they get all the government support that they can possibly give them. Because you know 62 percent of children who enter college with a faith conviction leave without it." (Several recent studies contradict Santorum's ideas on the relationship between higher education and faith. One study in fact found that while many young adults become less religious, the declines are greater among those who don't attend college than those who do.)
Last year, the Board of Regents in Georgia made it much more difficult for the state's public colleges and universities to admit students who lack the legal documentation to live in the state. Many politicians pushed for the shift. Now the state is discussing an unintended consequence of the new rules: a lost football recruit at the University of Georgia. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that a a 6-foot-5, 340-pound offensive lineman who committed to the university in the summer couldn't be admitted. The university was required by the new state policy to reject the student, the son of Samoan immigrants.
A lawyer told Michigan lawmakers Wednesday that a proposed bill to pave the way for community colleges to offer four-year degrees might violate the state's constitution. The Grand Rapids Press reports that lawmakers were surprised by the testimony of Leonard Wolfe, in which he said two-year colleges would need to become universities for a legal conversion, which would mean collecting no more property tax revenue. Supporters of the bill have said it would create more affordable degree paths for students in certain programs.
The Occupy movement is back at the University of California at Davis, but without the tents that led to the infamous pepper spray confrontation last semester, The Sacramento Bee reported. Students this week occupied an unoccupied building on campus (the facility is being readied to hold different offices and so has been vacant) and have vowed to stay there. A university spokeswoman said that the institution was monitoring the situation.
Faculty members at the University of Oregon are announcing a drive to seek union representation in a chapter that would be affiliated jointly with the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors. The AFT and the AAUP have been pushing together to unionize public research university campuses -- a sector within higher education that has seen proportionally fewer faculty unions than other parts of public higher education. Oregon is a "card check" state, meaning that if half of the eligible faculty members sign a card seeking a union, there would not need to be a vote. An Oregon spokesman said via e-mail that the university's leaders "support the right of workers to organize and have maintained neutrality on the issue of a faculty union. The university seeks to simply provide factual information to assist those affected by the effort to make informed decisions."
Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey proposed Wednesday that the Rutgers University Camden campus be merged with Rowan University, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The proposal is part of a broader higher education reform plan that would try to redefine and rename the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. The governor says that the Camden-Rowan plan would create a better higher education presence in the southern part of the state. But opposition is already emerging to that part of the plan. The faculty union at Rutgers issued a statement questioning the merger, and saying that its members at Camden want to be part of a research university. While Rutgers and Rowan should cooperate more, the union says, their missions are sufficiently distinct that a merger is inappropriate.
Many Muslim students at Ohio State University are furious at The Lantern, the student newspaper there, for running an ad they view as anti-Muslim, The Columbus Dispatch reported. The ad lists terror suspects under the headline "Former Leaders of the Muslim Student Association (MSA): Where Are They Now?" The ad also promotes a booklet called "Muslim Hate Groups on Campus." That booklet is published by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, which also bought the ad. The center is led by the conservative activist who has been at the center of many campus disputes. He told the Dispatch that the Lantern was among the first publications to which he sent the ad, and that he was pleased with the debate.
Stanford University today will release a plan to revise undergraduate education requirements. "Breadth" requirements (those outside the major) would focus on "Ways of Thinking, Ways of Doing." This approach deals both with the content of courses, but also their format. In terms of content, students would be required to study courses to teach them seven skills: aesthetic and interpretive inquiry; social inquiry; scientific analysis; formal and quantitative reasoning; engaging difference; moral and ethical reasoning; and creative expression. In terms of course format, the report calls for freshmen to have courses that include lectures, discussion sessions and small seminars.