Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

December 11, 2012

Just a day after the University of Notre Dame announced it would finally oblige long-denied requests to create a gay-straight alliance student group formally recognized by the university, the Catholic University of America again rejected a petition from its students to do the same. The CUAllies, who have been meeting unofficially since 2009 and have petitioned for formal recognition before, reported the news Friday via Facebook, saying Catholic will not recognize the group because of its “possibility of becoming an advocacy group.” Catholic officials declined to comment Monday afternoon.

December 10, 2012

The president of the University of Colorado System and a member of Congress had an unusually public fight over the implications of the recent vote by Colorado residents to decriminalize the use of marijuana. And two students at the Boulder campus are alleged to have served pot-laced brownies to unknowing students and a professor -- an act for which they have been arrested.

The Denver Post reported that Bruce Benson, president of the university system, sent alumni an e-mail message Friday night in which he warned that the measure could cost the university $1 billion in federal funds because of the requirements of the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, which requires schools and colleges to ban illegal drugs (under federal statutes) from campuses. Benson was among those who urged Colorado voters (unsuccessfully as it turned out) not to decriminalize pot. The e-mail prompted U.S. Representative Jared Polis, a Democrat from Colorado, to take to Twitter, where he noted that the university has said that it won't allow pot use on campus -- and that the university maintains the right to enforce such bans. Polis write that Benson's claims were "FALSE," tweeting "Nothing in Amend64 requires CU let marijuana on campus" and "CU has made great progress in improving its reputation but President Benson jeopardizes it by pushing his personal opposition to Amend 64." A spokesman told Inside Higher Ed Sunday via e-mail that the university does believe that its ban on pot use on campus means that the institution is in compliance with federal law.

But even if Colorado decriminalizes marijuana, it is still illegal to serve pot-infused food to those who aren't aware of what they are eating. The University of Colorado at Boulder police department announced Sunday that two students there have been arrested for admitting that they served pot-laced brownies to a class on "bring food day" -- without telling the class what they were doing. The professor called police shortly after the class, complaining of dizziness and going in and out of consciousness. Two other students unaware of what they ate were hospitalized, one after an anxiety attack and the other after feeling like she was about to black out. The students who baked the brownies confirmed that they put marijuana in their batch, and they have been charged with four felonies each: assault in the second degree, inducing consumption of controlled substances by fraudulent means, conspiracy to commit assault in the second degree, and conspiracy to commit inducing consumption of controlled substances by fraudulent means.
 

 

December 10, 2012

All the members of the Faculty Advisory Committee for the College of Education at the University of Iowa have resigned in a growing disagreement between professors and administrators over the college's direction, the Associated Press reported. The chair of the committee said he was ordered by Provost P. Barry Butler to turn over and destroy comments made in a survey about the performance of Margaret Crocco, the education dean. The comments apparently were quite negative. Faculty leaders say that they aren't being listened to by the dean, and aren't sure how to move forward with administrators seeming uninterested in their grievances. Butler said that the comments haven't been destroyed and will be considered. Crocco said that she was working to improve communication with the college's faculty members.

December 10, 2012

Jerrod Murray, a student at East Central University, in Oklahoma, was charged Friday with first-degree murder in the death of Generro Sanchez, also a student at the university, The Oklahoman reported. Bail was denied. Authorities sad that Murray confessed to the killing, saying that he wanted to see what it would feel like to kill someone.

 

December 10, 2012

A majority of Americans want education programs protected from the possible deep, mandatory spending cuts that will go into effect at the end of this year if Congress does not reach a budget deal, according to a poll released Friday by the Committee for Education Funding and the Foundation for Education Investments. The poll, conducted by YouGov, found 55 percent of Americans thought education spending should be protected from the cuts. The Pell Grant was considered among the most important education programs: 53 percent of respondents said it should be protected. (In fact, the Pell Grant program is not immediately threatened by sequestration, as the mandatory budget cuts are called.)

Scientific research, another priority for many colleges and universities in the federal budget crunch, fared less well. Only 34 percent of respondents said they believed research should be protected from cuts. When asked about specific education programs, only 30 percent said it was very important to protect scientific and biomedical research at universities.

December 10, 2012

Georgetown University announced today that it is joining edX, one of the major providers of MOOCs (massive open online courses), The Washington Post reported. Georgetown is expected to offer courses in the social sciences and humanities, starting next fall.

December 10, 2012

The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey has agreed to pay $4.65 million to settle a class action charging the institution with bias against female faculty members, NewJersey.com reported. The university declined to comment on the agreement. The suit charged sex discrimination was behind a $20,000 gender gap in the mean salaries of full professors who had been at the university for at least 10 years -- even though women in the sample brought in more research grants and also had more teaching responsibilities than did male professors.

 

December 10, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Damian Scarf of the University of Otago reexamines the conclusions of an experiment that claimed to detect a sense of morality in infants. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

December 10, 2012

Faculty at Yale-NUS College say they weren’t consulted on the American Association of University Professors’ recent open letter raising concerns about academic freedom at the Singapore-based institution. A response signed by 25 members of the Yale-NUS faculty states that no members of the AAUP consulted with them "about any of our own assessments of, concerns about, and active efforts to promote and secure (i) academic freedom; (ii) the rights of faculty, staff, and students; and (iii) shared faculty governance at Yale-NUS College." The letter invites the AAUP to consult with Yale-NUS faculty in the future. 

Yale University’s joint campus with the National University of Singapore has been a source of controversy in New Haven; in April, Yale College faculty approved a resolution expressing concern about Singapore's historical lack of respect for civil and political rights, and urging Yale to promote principles of non-discrimination and uphold civil and political liberties on campus and in the society at large.

Jill Campbell, a Yale professor of English who helps maintain a Web site on Yale and Singapore, said that members of the AAUP had access to that site and its extensive archive of public statements and documents on Yale-NUS, as well as news articles and op-eds from critics and supporters of the campus. “Thus, the members of the AAUP Committee had access to all the statements about Yale-NUS policies and positions that members of the Yale community, alumni, or the general public have access to,” she said.  

December 10, 2012

Swarthmore College on Saturday announced a $50 million gift from Eugene Lang, an alumnus and philanthropist, for engineering and science facilities and for programs to link engineering and the liberal arts at the college. Swarthmore is unusual among liberal arts colleges in having an engineering program. The gift is the largest in Swarthmore's history.

 

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