Higher Education Quick Takes
Lon Morris College, a private, two-year institution in Texas that has been facing severe financial difficulties, has announced that it will not hold a fall semester. A statement from the college said that it is working with Jacksonville College and Tyler Junior College to find places for students admitted to the college. The statement said that the college is looking for a "purchaser" or "financial partner."
Several Florida colleges and universities announced over the weekend that they would be closed today in light of the arrival of Tropical Storm Isaac. Among the institutions making such announcements: Florida International University, Florida Keys Community College, Miami Dade College, Ringling College of Art and Design, St. Thomas University and the University of Miami.
The storm, expected to reach hurricane force, is headed to the Gulf of Mexico and areas not that far from New Orleans, and more colleges are expected to announce temporary closures today. The American Political Science Association holds its annual meeting this week in New Orleans. On Sunday, the association announced that pre-conference activities on Wednesday have been canceled and that the rest of the meeting should start on time on Thursday.
Morris Brown College, which has been facing foreclosure this week because of its $30 million in debts, filed for federal bankruptcy protection on Friday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The historically black college lacks accreditation and has only a few dozen students, but its leaders said that filing for bankruptcy should delay foreclosure -- and that if a federal judge grants the college's request for bankruptcy protection, Morris Brown would have time to regroup.
Cooper Barton, age 5, has become a hero to University of Michigan alumni as news spread that he was forced to turn his Michigan T-shirt inside out because of a rule in Oklahoma City, where he lives, banning most T-shirts with writing on them in the public schools. There is an exception for the attire of Oklahoma colleges, but not out-of-state institutions. Barton has already received a call from Michigan's athletics director, and tickets to a football game. Now the university's alumni association is calling on all alumni to wear their shirts inside out on August 31 to show solidarity with Barton, AnnArbor.com reported.
Republican delegates have drafted a preliminary version of the immigration plank in the platform for the party's national convention that would deny federal funding to colleges and universities that allow illegal immigrants to enroll as in-state students, according to The New York Times. The plank reportedly takes a hard line on immigration generally. Delegates will consider the full platform for approval at next week's convention in Tampa, Fla.
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that students with concealed carry permits could bring handguns to university classrooms. But this week, Jerry Peterson, a professor of physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder and chair of the Boulder Faculty Assembly, said he would cancel classes if he found that someone had brought a firearm to class, according to the Daily Camera.
Although Peterson said he was only speaking for himself, Philip P. DiStefano, the chancellor at UC-Boulder, sent out an e-mail Tuesday to faculty members that they could not shut down a class if a student with a concealed carry permit brought a gun. “Such actions discriminate not only against the concealed carry permit holder – who is exercising a basic right granted under Colorado law – they deprive all other students of the education they have paid for and have a right to,” DiStefano said in his email.
The dean of business at Hampton University has since 2001 banned male students in the five-year undergraduate/M.B.A. program from wearing dreadlocks or cornrows, WVEC 13 News reported. Some students at the historically black college have criticized the rule, but Dean Sid Credle said he believes that the ban on some hairstyles has helped students get good jobs. He also rejected the idea that the styles being banned were a part of black culture. "When was it that cornrows and dreadlocks were a part of African American history?" he asked. "I mean Charles Drew didn't wear it, Muhammad Ali didn't wear it. Martin Luther King didn't wear it."
Morris Brown College, a historically black college that lost accreditation in 2003 and that has struggled to stay alive since, may be on the verge of collapse due to a foreclosure scheduled for early next month, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The college has millions in debts and only 50 students. (Its enrollment was once 3,000.) The college is planning a prayer vigil for Saturday, hoping for a plan to move forward.
Because college athletes operate in an “invisible labor market” that exploits students’ money-making potential while severely limiting their rights and mobility, they are entitled to unionization and collective bargaining rights – and would be well-advised to use them, according to a new study. Athletes are subject to “non-negotiable, one-sided agreements imposed by a monopoly” – the National Collegiate Athletic Association – and thus function as employees despite having no say in their welfare, argues Michael LeRoy, a professor of law and of labor and employment relations at the University of Illinois. LeRoy proposes a special kind of collective bargaining for athletes, one that “draws from existing labor laws for public safety employees that prohibit strikes but allow final offer arbitration on a limited range of bargaining subjects.”
As part of the massive commercialization of college sports, NCAA football and National Football League games are coordinated to minimize competition between the two and maximize revenues, supporting the argument that collegiate athletes more closely resemble professional athletes than amateur ones, LeRoy argues. (Under the NCAA’s “amateurism” model, athletes are denied salaries, benefits from agents, extra benefits and contact with professional teams.) Just the threat of unionization would produce a “union substitution effect,” LeRoy says, prompting colleges to respond by giving athletes more say. “An invisible union is a plausible middle-ground approach to address the interests of student-athletes,” LeRoy said in a press release. “Without a credible threat of unionization, schools have little incentive to concede that they are essentially professionalizing college football.”