The University of California at San Diego has agreed to institute new procedures to prevent racial harassment and to investigate allegations of such harassment, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. The moves settled investigations by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education. The inquiries started after several racial incidents, including a "Compton cookout," an off-campus party that mocked Black History Month by having students dress in the stereotypical attire of poor black people.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The board of Santa Monica College has put on hold a two-tiered tuition plan that outraged many who saw an abandonment of community college values. But The Los Angeles Times reported that trustees are stunned by the reaction the plan received. Trustees say that they still view the plan as one of finding a way to raise money to educate low-income students -- and that they can't believe it was viewed as an attack on low-income students. The Times reported that one trustee viewed the plan as "socialism in action."
The Saudi Ministry of Higher Education has told universities in the country to start to let women into political science departments, Al Arabiya reported. King Saud University plans to be the first institution to comply, and will allow women to enroll in political science next year.
The Education Department's advisory panel on accreditation voted Friday to accept a final report on its recommendations for revamping the nation's quality assurance system for higher education, making few changes to a draft report that riled institutions and some members of the panel. The recommendations of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity call for maintaining the link between accreditation and institutions' eligibility for federal financial aid programs, despite a proposal from two of the committee's members -- Anne Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, and Arthur Rothkopf, president emeritus of Lafayette College. But the panel recommends other changes to the nation's accreditation system, including setting minimum consumer protection standards for states and urging the department to "encourage a dialogue" about sector-based accreditation.
Advocates for Hebrew are pushing Israeli universities, where many courses are taught and much research is published in English, to increase use of Hebrew, The Forward reported. The Academy of the Hebrew Language is lobbying the Education Ministry to require more use of Hebrew, and that effort has many academics worried. "Hebrew is the language of the Jewish people, but if you write your thesis in Hebrew, it is buried,” said Yehuda Band, head of the chemistry department at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. "A student who can’t write in English is severely limited — it’s the language of science."
The former student editors of the University of Missouri at Columbia newspaper had faced campus discipline because their April 1 parody edition included a slur against lesbians, the Student Press Law Center reported, before the university canceled those hearings. The managing editor, Abby Spudich, resigned this week after apologizing for jokingly retitling The Maneater as The Carpeteater. She said she didn't know that was an offensive phrase for lesbians. The editor in chief, Travis Cornejo, resigned shortly after that.
That seemed to be the end of it until Missouri's Office of Student Conduct contacted both former editors to schedule disciplinary hearings. The Maneater is an independent student publication. It wasn't immediately clear what university policy Spudich and Cornejo were accused of breaking. Students convicted of violating the university's standards of conduct can be suspended or expelled. The Student Press Law Center called on Missouri to drop the hearings, saying the language in the newspaper is protected by the First Amendment even if it was offensive. University officials didn't say why they canceled the disciplinary hearing.
StraighterLine today announced that it is building a "next generation market" for its low-price online offerings, according to a news release. Burck Smith, the founder and CEO, said via e-mail that the new platform would allow students to "build their own course pathways by choosing different elements at varying prices." That could mean choosing between self-paced or professor-led courses, whether or not to use tutoring services or, in the future, selecting courses from other content providers, potentially even other colleges, Smith said.
For now, StraighterLine is adding nine new courses to its 38 self-paced, general education offerings. The provider also said it had received $10 million in private financing to help build the new platform. StraighterLine's courses cost $99 a month, and the American Council of Education recommends that other institutions recognize StraighterLine credits.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association, bruised by a year of scandals, is looking to improve its image. Ad Age reported that the NCAA is requesting proposals from agencies for a public relations campaign. A request for proposals obtained by Ad Age included this acknowledgment that some people might not think as positively about the NCAA as its leaders would like: "Market research and media analytics show that misperceptions persist and opportunities exist to inform public opinion, increase confidence in the association, and boost awareness and advocacy for the positive values of intercollegiate athletics."
The Middle East Studies Association has written a letter to the Ministry of Justice in Bahrain to object to the treatment of students and faculty members in the country. The letter details the arrests of numerous students on "ambiguous" charges, as well as arrests and suspensions of professors at the University of Bahrain. "The appalling maltreatment of these university personnel is part of what we are forced to conclude has been an orchestrated campaign of assaults upon academic freedom," the letter says. Bahrain's embassy in the United States did not respond to a request for comment.