Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

December 10, 2012

Chinese authorities closely monitor student organizations and use the power to deny recognition or interrogate members to send strong signals about topics or activities to avoid, The Los Angeles Times reported. Further, the oversight may become more intrusive. Xi Jinping, presumed to be China's future president, recently said that universities should increase "thought control" over students, adding that "university Communist Party organs must adopt firmer and stronger measures to maintain harmony and stability in universities."

 

December 10, 2012

Campus police officers shot and killed a 38-year-old male graduate student at California State University at San Bernardino, The Press-Enterprise reported. Authorities said that the officers responded to a disturbance and that the man they shot became violent with officers before they shot him.

The Los Angeles Times reported that family members of the student said that he suffered from a mental disorder and had stopped taking his medication. The Times reported that during the altercation, the student was kicking one police officer in the head, was using police pepper spray against officers and was grabbing police batons.

 

December 10, 2012

The president of the University of Colorado System and a member of Congress had an unusually public fight over the implications of the recent vote by Colorado residents to decriminalize the use of marijuana. And two students at the Boulder campus are alleged to have served pot-laced brownies to unknowing students and a professor -- an act for which they have been arrested.

The Denver Post reported that Bruce Benson, president of the university system, sent alumni an e-mail message Friday night in which he warned that the measure could cost the university $1 billion in federal funds because of the requirements of the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, which requires schools and colleges to ban illegal drugs (under federal statutes) from campuses. Benson was among those who urged Colorado voters (unsuccessfully as it turned out) not to decriminalize pot. The e-mail prompted U.S. Representative Jared Polis, a Democrat from Colorado, to take to Twitter, where he noted that the university has said that it won't allow pot use on campus -- and that the university maintains the right to enforce such bans. Polis write that Benson's claims were "FALSE," tweeting "Nothing in Amend64 requires CU let marijuana on campus" and "CU has made great progress in improving its reputation but President Benson jeopardizes it by pushing his personal opposition to Amend 64." A spokesman told Inside Higher Ed Sunday via e-mail that the university does believe that its ban on pot use on campus means that the institution is in compliance with federal law.

But even if Colorado decriminalizes marijuana, it is still illegal to serve pot-infused food to those who aren't aware of what they are eating. The University of Colorado at Boulder police department announced Sunday that two students there have been arrested for admitting that they served pot-laced brownies to a class on "bring food day" -- without telling the class what they were doing. The professor called police shortly after the class, complaining of dizziness and going in and out of consciousness. Two other students unaware of what they ate were hospitalized, one after an anxiety attack and the other after feeling like she was about to black out. The students who baked the brownies confirmed that they put marijuana in their batch, and they have been charged with four felonies each: assault in the second degree, inducing consumption of controlled substances by fraudulent means, conspiracy to commit assault in the second degree, and conspiracy to commit inducing consumption of controlled substances by fraudulent means.
 

 

December 7, 2012

Faculty members at several universities in Ukraine say that they are being urged by their bosses to give low grades to students, Kyiv Post reported. The professors say that they have been told that the government doesn't have enough money for all the student stipends that have been awarded, and that low grades will disqualify some recipients. The Education Ministry did not respond to requests for comment.

 

December 7, 2012

A federal district judge on Thursday upheld a bankruptcy court's ruling last summer that an accrediting agency had made false representations to the U.S. Education Department that helped lead to the demise of Decker College, a for-profit college that closed in 2005. The Council on Occupational Education had appealed the bankruptcy court's July 2012 decision to a federal district court in Kentucky, arguing that the bankruptcy judge had erred in concluding that the agency's officials had misled federal officials by reporting that Decker had delivered three of its programs online without the agency's approval. But Judge John G. Heyburn II's 13-page ruling said: "The bankruptcy court reasonably found COE to be dishonest when it told the department it did not approve the hybrid programs to be offered in such a manner."

 
December 7, 2012

The new "Pay As You Earn" program, which lowers the amount that student loan borrowers pay per month in the income-based repayment program from 15 percent of discretionary income to 10 percent, and forgives loans after 20 years rather than 25, will go into effect on Dec. 21, according to a notice in today's Federal Register. Final rules for the program were issued in November.
 

December 7, 2012

Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, is calling on Iowa State University to end restrictions on agriculture-related research at a new public policy institute named for Harkin at Iowa State University, The Des Moines Register reported. Harkin said that the restrictions violate academic freedom, and that he might ask to have his name removed from the center if the measures aren't lifted. The university has said that the new institute must coordinate all agriculture-related research with Iowa State's Center for Agricultural and Rural Development. Faculty members involved in the new institute say that this requirement could limit their work, and some see the requirement as a way to assure that research agendas are consistent with those of the state's major agriculture industries, which support the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development.

December 7, 2012

Tufts University has cleared the way for the Tufts Christian Fellowship to be recognized as an official student group, The Boston Globe reported. The fellowship was denied recognition because its requirement that leaders support "the basic biblical truths of Christianity" violates the university's anti-discrimination policies by imposing a religious test. But the university has decided that, for religious groups that wish to have an exemption for their leaders, an exemption to the anti-bias rules will be permitted.

 

December 7, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Jenny Stuber of the University of North Florida explains why students from different socioeconomic backgrounds experience college differently. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

December 7, 2012

Baylor University is investigating a party at which students dressed as Mexican immigrants, KXXV News reported. Photographs of the party appeared on students' Facebook pages, showing women in sombreros, fake dirt on their faces and with signs (in green) labeled "green cards." Pennsylvania State University officials are currently investigating a similar incident.

 

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