Higher Education Quick Takes
Gabor Lukacs has agreed to leave his position as a mathematics professor at the University of Manitoba, and to drop litigation against the university, ending a messy dispute between Lukacs and the institution, The Globe and Mail reported. Lukacs was suspended after he spoke out against the awarding of a Ph.D. to a student who did not pass his qualifying exam, and who said that he suffered from exam anxiety. While the university defended the Ph.D. process as legitimate and as reflecting help for a legitimate disability, Lukacs spoke out, saying that the university was hurting its academic reputation.
Several colleges are seeing tensions and debates over Occupy protest movements on their campuses.
- Harvard University has restricted access to Harvard Yard to university students, preventing many others from joining an Occupy Harvard movement. The university says that it acted to assure student safety and not for political reasons. Organizers of Occupy Harvard and some faculty members say that the university is overreacting and that it could safely restore full access to the campus.
- At the University of California at Berkeley, authorities are vowing to prevent tent cities from being set up, and are defending arrests made Wednesday night to take down tents that the university said were not authorized, The San Jose Mercury News reported. But many faculty members and others who support Occupy Cal say that the university used inappropriate force against a nonviolent protest movement.
- Officials at Seattle Central Community College are frustrated with the Occupy Seattle movement, which set up its tents on campus, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported. College officials say that they don't think they have the legal right to kick the protest off the campus, but are concerned that since the protest arrived, the college has had to deal with increased trash (including some dirty needles), the theft of soap from campus bathrooms and the arrival of people with mental illness, some of whom have been attracted to the protests.
College students’ perceptions of their peers’ drinking habits are over-inflated and could contribute to excessive alcohol consumption, according to new research by a professor at the University of Houston. The five-year study, “Social Norms and Alcohol Prevention,” will kickoff in January 2012, surveying 2,000 students at the University of Houston, Loyola Marymount University and the University of Washington. Clayton Neighbors, the professor heading up the research, said students “actually drink no more than three or four drinks per week, but most students think their peers are drinking much more,” according to a press release. The study will measure student perception of drinking so researchers may better understand what social and individual factors play a role in binge drinking. Neighbors said he hopes the results will be used to better inform drinking intervention programs on campuses, according to the press release.
The U.S. Education Department is investigating whether Marquette University violated campus crime reporting requirements in its handling of two allegations last year of sexual assaults by athletes against other students, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Local law enforcement officials have criticized the university's handling of the cases, saying that too much time passed before they were notified of the reports. Marquette officials have since announced reforms of the university's procedures for handling such reports.
A feature article in The Los Angeles Times discusses what it was like in South Korea this week on the day of the College Scholastic Ability Test -- a nine-hour exam that determines students' chances of getting in to top universities. Weeks before the test, mothers start to pray and and to leave wreaths at Buddhist shrines. On exam day, early morning flights are postponed to avoid loud noise, and those monitoring the exams are told not to wear flashy clothing or squeaky shoes.
David L. Soltz, president of Bloomsburg University, wants everyone at that Pennsylvania institution to know that Pennsylvania State University is no role model when it comes to reporting possible incidents of child abuse. Soltz sent a memo to everyone on campus Thursday specifying that anyone who sees possible child abuse on campus must call the police first and only then notify one's immediate supervisor. The policy also states that those supervisors, upon being told of a possible incident of child abuse, also have an obligation to call authorities. "What is essential is that university police are notified immediately," Soltz wrote.
As more and more colleges provide gender-neutral dorms and bathrooms, Grinnell College has become one of the few to include a locker room in its offerings. A handful of other colleges, such as the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Washington State University, have similar facilities available for transgender students, those with families or others who prefer a gender-neutral option. Several other institutions, including the Universities of Cincinnati and Massachusetts at Amherst, have built private, single-use changing rooms, while others have promised to do so when any new facilities are built. Still, Grinnell’s decision is generating buzz – and not all of it is positive.
A faculty strike has ended at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. While faculty union leaders did not release full details of the status of negotiations, they said that they had made significant progress that they said would protect faculty rights, including tenure.
Authorities have Leonard Tyrell Young, until recently a member of the basketball team at Fresno Pacific University, on a range of charges after he allegedly went on a rampage Monday night, in which he is said to have run through a convenience store parking lot, tried to steal a police car, and beat a police officer and a police dog -- all while naked, The Fresno Bee reported. Young was reportedly told that he was being dismissed from the basketball team shortly before the incidents started.
At East Carolina University meanwhile, students are debating the actions of the student newspaper, The East Carolinian, which published a full frontal photograph of a man who streaked during a football game between East Carolina and the University of Southern Mississippi. WITN News reported on the concerns of many students who didn't appreciate the image. Gawker, meanwhile, noted that when streaking across a football field, it is generally not wise to fall down.