Higher Education Quick Takes
The Star-Ledger examines the growing popularity of large-scale anti-zombie warfare as a student game. Last week, students at both Drew and Fairleigh Dickinson Universities were engaged in the activities -- encouraged by anti-alcohol groups that want to promote booze-free, fun activities. In the games, all students start as human, except for one randomly selected as a zombie. That student then attempts to tag students and turn them into zombies. Humans can win by surviving the week-long competition; zombies win for killing off the greatest number of humans.
Joel Miller, a biomedical engineer at the University of Western Australia, is this year's winner of Science's "Dance Your Ph.D." contest in which scientists create and perform dances based on their doctoral work. He won for "Microstructure-Property relationships in Ti2448 components produced by Selective Laser Melting: A Love Story." The video -- as well as videos of the three semifinalists -- may be found here.
The Occupy Wall Street movement is receiving new backing from academe. The Council of the American Studies Association has released a statement expressing support as faculty members who study and teach about American society. "As educators, we experience the dismantling of public education, rising tuition, unsustainable student debt, and the assault on every dimension of education," the statement says. "As American Studies scholars, our work includes, among other things, addressing the problems and challenges societies face, drawing lessons from the past, comparing across polities, and making informed recommendations that will spark open debate. We draw inspiration from earlier social movements that have challenged the unequal distribution of power, wealth, and authority. Today’s movements continue this necessary work. The uprisings compel us to lift our voices and dedicate our effort to realizing the democratic aspirations for an equitable and habitable world. We are the 99 percent."
The Council of University of California Faculty Association created an open letter of support, now signed by more than 1,000 faculty members, that says in part: "We, members of the faculty of the University of California, write in solidarity with and in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement now underway in our city and elsewhere. Many observers claim that the movement has no specific goals; this is not our understanding. The movement aims to bring attention to the various forms of inequality – economic, political, and social – that characterize our times, that block opportunities for the young and strangle the hopes for better futures for the majority while generating vast profits for a very few."
The Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors is among the groups that had scheduled meetings in Arizona prior to the state adopting a law many view as unconstitutional and anti-immigrant. The association went ahead with its meeting, but has now issued a statement about immigration laws and their impact. The statement pledges support for all students at the colleges the counseling center directors serve, regardless of the students' immigration status. "Our organization declares our support for, and intention to promote compassion and inclusion for all who live within the borders of the United States, in our communities and on our campuses," says the statement. "Our work shows that students thrive and achieve their maximum potential in a climate where all can feel safe, valued and respected. As mental health professionals in higher education, we strive to build healthy and inclusive campus and community climates. Our compassion has no borders. We advocate for students who are misunderstood, marginalized, or unfairly devalued despite their efforts to be educated and productive members of our communities. We advocate for all students to take full advantage of the richly diverse learning environment on and off campus, to understand the demands and responsibilities of global citizenship, and to extend a compassionate hand to those yearning to contribute to our robust society."
Guidance counselors and applicants to the University of California are reporting widespread confusion over the system's shift to no longer require SAT subject exams, The Los Angeles Times reported. The controversial decision to keep the main SAT (or ACT) as a requirement but to end the requirement that students take the SAT subject exams was promoted as a way to simplify the process. But many applicants feel that they still must take the exams. That's in part, they say, because the university has said that good scores can still help an applicant, while poor scores or no scores will not hurt an applicant. High school counselors say that this is a message that leaves many applicants feeling no choice but to take the tests, given how competitive University of California admissions are, and many assume that failing to get high scores will hurt their chances of admission.
Israel's government on Sunday announced plans to add financial support for higher education. The Jerusalem Post reported that part of the plan will be to pay for one year of higher education costs for soldiers who have completed their required government service. The other part of the plan will be an increase in funding for higher education in small towns and communities.
The City University of New York, facing an increasing population of students who graduate from high school, sometimes with good grades, and then are identified as needing remediation in several subjects, is having success with an intensive semester-long program, The New York Times reported. In the CUNY program, students take only three subjects, and work on them five hours a day, five days week. So far, students are completing the program and then passing out of remedial education at much higher levels than are the norm for remedial programs. CUNY has been working to expand the effort.
Officials of the Peralta Community College District have promised to promote transparency, but they redacted large portions of thousands of pages of trustee e-mails that had been requested by journalists, The Contra Costa Times reported. California law generally requires the release of such e-mails, and experts questioned the legality of the district's redactions, the newspaper reported. District officials are now promising to review their policies on such information requests.
The American Association of University Professors, which thought it was on the verge of lifting the censure of the Savannah College of Art and Design, now seems likely to keep the institution on its censure list. A report released by the AAUP Thursday details a tentative agreement by SCAD to change its policies and to make cash payments to faculty members who the AAUP found were dismissed unfairly in the 1990s. But the report notes that a final step in the removal process -- a campus visit -- led discussions with SCAD to fall apart. The college wanted assurances of the lifting of censure, and control over the visit, the AAUP says. And these actions demonstrate serious academic freedom problems, the AAUP found. The college told the AAUP that "fundamental issues" separate SCAD and the AAUP. Further, SCAD asserted that these disagreements "have nothing to do with the high quality education that our faculty provides or with student achievement."