Higher Education Quick Takes
The University of the Philippines has barred a planned showing today of "Innocence of Muslims," the film that has sparked violent outrage in much of the Middle East, the Associated Press reported. The film was to have been screened in a course discussing freedom of expression.
Adjuncts at Duquesne University’s McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts have voted 50 to 9 to form a union, the United Steelworkers union announced Thursday. The union, the collective bargaining agent for the adjuncts, said that Duquesne administrators now have a legal duty to bargain with them. Last week, the National Labor Relations Board voted to count the ballots on the adjunct vote. The ballots were impounded following an appeal by Duquesne that the adjuncts should not be allowed to unionize because a union might affect the Roman Catholic university’s religious freedom. The NLRB decided to count the votes saying that if the effort was defeated, there would be no reason to consider the appeal. Now that the votes favor a union, the university’s appeal will go forward.
The Parti Québécois government that assumed power in Quebec on Thursday promptly killed the tuition increases that sparked months of protests, The Canadian Press reported. Annual tuition will return to $2,168, eliminating a $600 increase approved by the prior Liberal government. The new government pledged to limit tuition increases to the rate of inflation, while saying that officials would consider other proposals. Some of the student protest groups want tuition eliminated entirely.
A Republican-backed bill to increase the number of visas for foreign graduates of U.S. universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields failed to pass the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday. The vote was 257-158, short of the two-thirds tally needed for a bill to pass under a suspension of House rules.
The STEM Jobs Act would have eliminated the Diversity Visa Lottery program, which allocates slots to immigrants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States – a sticking point with Democrats, who have introduced their own bill to increase visas for STEM graduates without affecting the Diversity Visa Program.
Just when it seemed the furor over the fast food chain Chick-fil-A had finally died down, the CEO who started it all with a public declaration that marriage should be between a man and a woman finally caved Wednesday with the Civil Rights Agenda's announcement that the company would stop donating money to Christian groups supporting anti-gay causes. While Dan T. Cathy’s comments in June triggered subsequent boycotts across the country, some students had already been protesting Chick-fil-A for using its nonprofit arm, WinShip Foundation, to fund groups such as Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage; students at Northeastern University turned down a franchise in February, for instance. But Cathy's support of "the biblical definition of marriage" sparked protests and petitions to ban the chain at other campuses, including New York and Louisville Universities, and the Universities of Georgia and Kansas. In August, a student activities committee at Davidson College suspended service of Chick-fil-A at student events. Some administrators even denounced Cathy’s comments.
The New York Public Library has revised a plan that would have moved most of its books out of the flagship Fifth Avenue location that has long been a key site for academic research, The New York Times reported. About 1.5 million books that would have otherwise been moved will remain at the location, which will house 3.3 million of the library's 4.5 million book collection. A donation of $8 million will allow the library to build a new storage facility so that it can make other changes in the library building without sending the books off site. Many scholars have been furious about the plan to move so many books away from the library.
peta2, an offshoot of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that focuses on outreach to young people, is capitalizing on the almost-trend of campus cafeterias going meatless with a contest that will award $1,000 to the first student group to convince a dining hall at its college that currently serves meat to go vegan by Aug. 13. That means getting rid of all animal products – meat, dairy and eggs. The University of North Texas opened a vegan dining hall last year, and the University of California at San Diego opened a vegan "eatery and lounge" in January. Others, including the University of California at Davis and Wesleyan University, have taken the less dramatic step of offering more vegan and vegetarian options or going meat-free for some meals. In August, Paul Quinn College in Dallas announced it would stop serving pork – but for many menu items it will be replaced with turkey.
The rules: The registered student group must gather at least 100 petition signatures from students at the college; the dining hall must serve at least 200 students daily, and the director of dining services must send written confirmation of this and the change to "an all-vegan dining hall menu" by Aug. 13. PETA will announce the winner -- "if any" -- by Aug. 16.
The district attorney's office in Yolo County, California announced Wednesday that no criminal charges will be filed against the police officers at the University of California at Davis who used pepper spray on non-violent student protesters last year, The Sacramento Bee reported. Several reports have been highly critical of the use of pepper spray in the incident. But a statement from the D.A.'s office said that examining what happened "through the totality of the circumstances, there is insufficient evidence to establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the use of force involved in the November 18, 2011, pepper spraying was unlawful and therefore warrants the filing of criminal charges."