Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 13, 2016

Brown University announced Monday that it will consider undocumented applicants -- those without the legal right to remain in the U.S. -- as domestic students. In the past they have been evaluated for admissions as international students. The shift is significant because Brown reviews all domestic applicants (but not international applicants) through a system that is need blind and in which the university pledges to meet 100 percent of demonstrated financial need. That's crucial for undocumented students, who generally have financial need but are not eligible for federal aid.

September 13, 2016

This month's Cartoon Caption Contest celebrates the start of college football season (sort of). Suggest a caption for this month's cartoon here.

On this page you can vote for your favorite from among three finalists chosen by our panel of judges for last month's cartoon.

And congratulations to Jose Garcia-Leon, associate dean for academic affairs at the Juilliard School and winner of our contest for July. His caption for the cartoon at right -- "Remember -- do not let go of the holes or the ball will start deflating again." -- was chosen by our readers from among a trio of finalists. He will receive an Amazon gift card and a signed copy of the cartoon. Thanks to all for playing.

September 13, 2016

Today on the Academic Minute, Charles Mitchell, professor in the geology department at the University at Buffalo, discusses how nature usually takes a slower course to the same goal. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

September 12, 2016

More than 30 students at Trinity College in Connecticut were injured Saturday night when porches collapsed on top of one another at a three-story off-campus house, The Hartford Courant reported. While injuries were not life-threatening, some were serious, such as concussions and broken bones. Some students needed to have debris pulled off them. Officials said the building is owned by Trinity and managed by a private company. Five people live in the building and some of them are members of a fraternity, but the building is not a fraternity house. A statement issued by the college Sunday said a total of 28 students were hospitalized and a majority have been discharged after treatment.

Brian J. Foley, deputy police chief in Hartford, posted photos of the damage to Twitter.

The Trinity incident is not the first instance of injuries from the collapses of roofs or balconies in off-campus buildings where students are holding parties.

  • Nine students were injured in 2015 when a garage roof on which they had been holding a large party near California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo collapsed.
  • Nearly a dozen students at Indiana University at Bloomington were injured in 2014 when a balcony collapsed at an off-campus house.
  • A student at New York University was injured in 2013 when the stairs collapsed at an off-campus rooftop party.
September 12, 2016

Non-tenure-track faculty members at Seattle University voted to form a union affiliated with Service Employees International Union, 73 to 63, they announced Friday. Adjuncts had to wait two years to count their votes, after the university challenged their right to form a union based on its religious affiliation. But the National Labor Relations Board said last month that the votes should be counted, save those from adjuncts who teach theology and religious studies, and those specifically teaching in the School of Theology and Ministry.

"This has been a challenging issue for our campus community," the university said in a statement. "The two overriding, yet competing rights -- the right to organize and the First Amendment right of the university to carry forward its core Jesuit Catholic educational mission on its own terms free from government interference -- require thoughtful consideration." The university said it respects the right of workers to organize, but that faculty members in particular play "a central role" in its religious mission. The university may release another statement on the vote within a month.

September 12, 2016

A football game between two California community colleges Saturday included the arrest of a player for punching a referee in the head. Bernard Shirmer, a player at Mt. San Antonio College, was arrested during a game with Ventura College. The Los Angeles Times reported that he was booked on suspicion of felony battery and released on bail Sunday morning. Video below shows the incident, which took place as the referee was separating groups of players who had been in a scuffle.

Mt. San Antonio College released a statement in which it said that punching the referee was an accident. "After closely reviewing video footage and interviewing those involved and outside witnesses, Mt. SAC maintains that the student-athlete, Bernard Shirmer, unintentionally hit the referee," the statement said. "During a disagreement after a play, numerous people surrounded him and pulled him away from the opposing player. Out of frustration, Mr. Shirmer struck himself on the helmet, a habit he often does to calm himself down. In doing so, he inadvertently hit the referee and initially believed someone else had done so. Mr. Shirmer expressed deep remorse about the incident and any harm to the referee."

September 12, 2016

The University of California, Los Angeles, said Sunday that it settled with two graduate students who sued over its handling of a sexual harassment case against a professor of history. One graduate student will receive $350,000 and the other is owed $110,000 and a dissertation year fellowship, according to a statement from the university.

“UCLA is committed to maintaining an atmosphere where all students can live and learn free of discrimination, harassment, exploitation or intimidation,” reads the statement. “All members of the UCLA community are encouraged to report any incident of sexual harassment or sexual violence.”

Nefertiti Takla and Kristen Glasgow, both graduate students who have been public about their case, last year filed a complaint against the university, alleging that it took insufficient action against Gabriel Piterberg, the professor in question. The students say he repeatedly sexually harassed them and tried to touch them, and that the university was out of compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits gender-based discrimination in education, in its response. Piterberg was fined $3,000 and told not to meet with his students in his office with the door closed, among other consequences. After a suspension lasting one academic quarter, he was allowed to return to teaching this semester, prompting student protests and faculty outcry. He has not responded publicly to the complaints about him.

UCLA said in its most recent statement that it’s taken steps since the time of the alleged violations, including creating its Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and establishing peer review committees to review proposed sanctions for any senior leader or faculty member found to have committed sexual harassment.


September 12, 2016

The Minnesota Office of Higher Education revoked authorization to operate from the for-profit Globe University and the Minnesota School of Business last week, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

A judge ruled that the for-profit schools committed marketing and recruiting fraud for their criminal justice programs.

The state agency will now attempt to offer teach-out plans and options for the approximately 1,700 students enrolled on the campuses.

September 12, 2016

The University of Richmond has been facing intense criticism for an email that that defended the university's handling of a sexual assault complaint filed by a student. The email said many of the statements made in public by the woman who brought the complaint were "inaccurate" -- leading many on campus to say the university was branding the student a liar.

On Friday, Ronald A. Crutcher, the president of the university, sent an email to the campus, in which he said that the administrators who wrote the email "conveyed their sincere regret and apology that their email message earlier this week has caused pain. I echo that sentiment." But while he apologized for the pain, he didn't say that the statement was wrong. He did pledge the university's commitment to dealing with allegations of sexual assault and to protecting students. "We know that it is our job and responsibility to help students, to care for them and to contribute to the well-being of each individual and our community as a whole," Crutcher wrote.

At a Richmond football game on Saturday night, dozens of students held a protest over the university's response to sexual assaults, WRIC News reported. Further, another student has come forward to say that her complaint was not handled appropriately.

September 12, 2016

U.S. Navy SEALS led an unsuccessful raid last month to attempt to free two abducted American University of Afghanistan faculty members being held by the Taliban, The New York Times reported.

The two professors, one American and one Australian, were abducted at gunpoint from their vehicle near AUAF’s Kabul campus on Aug. 7. The Pentagon confirmed that a raid had been conducted to rescue two civilians but said in a statement, “The hostages were not at the location we suspected.” The Pentagon said that no Americans were killed in the raid but that “a number” of insurgents were.

The AUAF campus temporarily suspended operations after militants attacked the campus Aug. 24, killing more than a dozen people.


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