Proposals in Wisconsin and Ohio that would bar public colleges and university faculty members (and many other state employees) from engaging in collective bargaining are drawing numerous angry responses from faculty members and students. In Wisconsin on Thursday, students held walkouts and protests on most University of Wisconsin campuses. Here are local accounts of activities at Eau Claire, Milwaukee and River Falls. Also on Thursday, Cary Nelson of the American Association of University Professors issued a statement about the Ohio legislation, which he said should "be of grave concern to all faculty members--whether they are in a collective bargaining unit or not, whether they would choose personally to be involved in a union. The issue is self-determination: whether faculty members and other public sector employees should have the democratic right to choose their own collective destiny."
Higher Education Quick Takes
A new study aims to bust the stereotype that Asian students are more inclined to plagiarize than their peers are, concluding that how closely students identify with an ethnic heritage is more clearly associated with plagiarism than their ethnicity is. The study was conducted by researchers at California State University-East Bay and published in Human Organization.
The Idaho State Board of Education on Thursday suspended the Faculty Senate at Idaho State University, which voted no confidence last week in the university's president, Arthur Vailas, The Spokesman-Review reported. Officials of the board, which governs all public education in the state, said the decision was “the most reasonable action to take at this time" given what it characterized as the disconnect between the faculty and Vailas, for whom the board had recently expressed support. “The impasse between the leadership of the senate group and the administration has reached a point where the prospect of any kind of progress was simply non-existent. It’s time to start over.” The board directed Vailas to develop an interim faculty body, the newspaper reported.
Georgia's legislative leaders have reached a deal on how to preserve the hugely popular HOPE scholarship program: They will limit its benefits, decreasing its value. HOPE has paid full tuition scholarships, plus covered books and fees, at any public college or university in Georgia for those who graduate from high schools in the state with at least a B average. The program is credited with keeping many top students in the state for college -- and it has been running out of money. Under the deal, the Associated Press reported, scholarships would no longer rise with tuition, the book stipend would be cut in half, student fees would no longer be covered, and HOPE funds could not be used for either remedial education or credits in excess of those needed to graduate in four years.
A 62-year-old man was arrested Thursday for allegedly poisoning some of the old oak trees at a gathering place where Auburn University fans celebrate their sports victories, the Associated Press reported. The man was identified by authorities as the person who called into a radio show and admitted spreading herbicide around the oak trees. On the radio show he closed his comments with a statement of solidarity with the University of Alabama, saying "Roll Damn Tide."
Leaders of the University of Wisconsin System are urging Governor Scott Walker to reconsider a plan to spin off the system's flagship Madison campus into an independent university -- while the chancellor at Madison has quietly been encouraging the governor to set the campus loose, The Journal-Sentinel of Milwaukee reported. In a letter to Walker on Tuesday, Kevin Reilly, the system's president, and the leaders of its board write that "it has come to our attention that elements of your proposed 2011-13 biennial budget might remove UW-Madison from the UW System." Doing so would return the state to a two-tiered university system that it abandoned 40 years ago, the letter states, which would be bad for students and taxpayers. The UW system officials said that they are committed to giving the Madison campus more flexibility and autonomy, and noted that Madison's chancellor, Biddy Martin -- while pushing hard for more autonomy -- "is not advocating for UW-Madison to be removed from the system."
But late Wednesday, The Journal-Sentinel reported that it had uncovered evidence to the contrary. It cited a brief memo that Martin wrote in January to a member of the governor's cabinet acknowledging Walker's proposal and expressing support for it, if obliquely. "As I indicated when we met, we will need to continue working with the leadership of our key internal constituencies, among them our key alumni, to ensure support for a proposal," Martin wrote. And Wednesday night, the newspaper reported, Martin -- wrote a letter to the regents explaining why she had "ventured as far as I have" in pushing for Madison to split off from the system. "In my view, it is dangerous not only for UW-Madison, but for the entire System and the state to have the System administration and the regents oppose the possibility that its flagship campus, or any other campus, be given the tools it needs to preserve quality and contribute to economic recovery," she wrote.. There is nothing to be gained, in this economic and political environment, from opposing an innovative and helpful step that could move the entire system and state forward."
Eight for-profit colleges failed in 2008-9 to meet federal requirements for student aid eligibility that at least 10 percent of their revenue come from sources other than federal student aid, according to data released by the U.S. Education Department on Wednesday. No colleges failed the test the prior year. The data also show increasing numbers of for-profit colleges that, although in compliance with the law, are extremely dependent on federal student aid. From 2007-8 to 2008-9, the number of for profit colleges with 85 to 90 percent of revenue coming from federal student aid increased to 257, from 209. Further, the number with 80 to 85 percent of revenue coming from federal student aid increased to 285 from 248.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has "suspended and/or withdrawn" its approval for educational benefits for veterans to flow to some for-profit colleges because they have used "questionable recruitment practices," Secretary Eric Shinseki said in a letter made public this week by Senator Richard Durbin. Officials at the veterans' agency did not respond to several telephone and e-mail messages requesting more information about which colleges it had acted against, or the practices they had engaged in. Durbin, who is among a small group of senators who have ramped up their criticism of for-profit colleges in the last year, responded to the letter from Shinseki with one of his own, which praised the department "for taking a more careful look at how for-profit schools attract and serve students assisted by VA education benefits” and asked for "more detailed information on the process it is using to assess the schools, as well as the identity of those that have had their approval affected.” A spokeswoman for Durbin said the senator had not yet received a response from the veterans' agency.
The University of Notre Dame is facing -- for the second time this academic year -- charges that it was slow to investigate an alleged sexual assault by one of its students on a female student at nearby St. Mary's College, the Chicago Tribune reported. In the first case, the student who brought the complaint subsequently committed suicide. In the new case, the man who was accused of the sexual assault (and who says the sex was consensual) was not interviewed by authorities for 11 days after the accusation was made. Notre Dame, while not discussing details of the cases, issued a statement defending its handling of such allegations.