Liberty University last week temporarily blocked access to a local newspaper, The News & Advance, from the campus network, the newspaper reported. Jerry Falwell Jr., chancellor of the university, declined to say why the newspaper was blocked, but said that, as a private university, the administration could "block a number of sites at will." He added that "[m]ost of the websites that are blocked have to do with obscene material, material that is inappropriate.... It just so happened last week The News & Advance was blocked for a day or two. We’re a private organization and we don’t have to give a reason and we’re not.” Jim Romenesko's Poynter Institute blog reported (and subsequently updated the item) that Liberty acted in the wake of an article in the newspaper noting that Liberty was the top recipient in Virginia of federal student aid.
Higher Education Quick Takes
A state judge has thrown out a lawsuit by supporters of Southern University at New Orleans, challenging the right of the Louisiana Board of Regents to take actions while lacking minority members, The Baton Rouge Advocate reported. The suit was an attempt to block the board from recommending a merger of historically black Southern-New Orleans with the University of New Orleans. Since the suit was filed, Governor Bobby Jindal -- an advocate for merger -- has appointed a minority member to the board, which has recommended a consolidation plan for the two institutions. The lawsuit was based on a provision in Louisiana's Constitution calling for the board to reflect the diversity of Louisiana.
Judge Tim Kelley ruled that there was nothing illegal about the board operating without that diversity reflected. "The issue is what’s legal," the judge ruled. "No matter how morally wrong, how offensive to your citizens, how damaging to this state’s commitment to eliminate perceived prejudice and injustice, nor how politically ill-advised and damaging, both in short term and in long term, it’s not this court’s job to tell the governor how to do his job."
The University of Illinois on Tuesday said it would appeal a federal judge's ruling last month that, if upheld, could make it harder for public universities to cite a federal student privacy law to deny requests for information by reporters or others. In the announcement, which seeks a stay of the judge's March ruling, Illinois officials said that the decision "threatens the privacy of student records and millions of dollars in federal education funds the University receives annually." It does so, the university argued, by putting it "in the predicament" of having to violate the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act if it is to comply with the Chicago Tribune's request under a state open-records law for records about politically connected applicants.
Ohio State University has agreed to pay $1 million to the family of a freshman who was crushed to death in an elevator on campus in 2006, The Columbus Dispatch reported. In turn, five companies will make payments to Ohio State. Ohio authorities determined that the elevator's brake had failed and that it could not support the weight it was supposed to.
Moravian College has announced that it will give future applicants the option of not submitting SAT or ACT scores. Those who pursue this option will be required to have a personal interview. After three years, the college will evaluate whether the shift to a test-optional policy is working. Bernard Story, vice president for enrollment and dean of admissions, said that the college's research "has found that while it is true that standardized test scores can help predict academic success, a student's performance in the classroom is the most important factor.”
The American Civil Liberties Union and some students are charging the University of California at Davis with spying on protesters by developing plans to monitor and attend various rallies, The Sacramento Bee reported. The ACLU and students used open records requests to obtain documents about various university strategies to monitor student plans and to attend rallies. University officials said that their actions were legal and were designed to protect public safety, not to squelch debate or protest.
La Salle University has suspended Jack Rappaport, a statistics professor at its business school, amid an investigation of allegations that he hired strippers to perform lap dances during an extra credit seminar he held on "the application of Platonic and Hegelian ethics to business," The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Students paid $150 to attend the seminar, and the university is refunding the money. Rappaport could not be reached for comment. The incident was first reported by Philadelphia City Paper, which quoted students as saying that three dancers, wearing bikinis and high heels, performed lap dances on Rappaport and on some students. Two students who spoke anonymously to the Inquirer, however, said that while scantily clad dancers attended the class, they did not perform lap dances.
The University of San Diego and the University of California at Riverside are caught up in what could be college sports' next big scandal. Federal law enforcement officials on Monday unsealed indictments of 10 people -- including former players at both universities and a former coach at San Diego -- alleging that they had engaged in a conspiracy to bribe players to fix college sports games. San Diego's president, Mary Lyons, said in a statement that "[t]hese are very serious allegations and the university is fully cooperating with the investigation."
A federal appeals court on Monday overturned a lower court's 2009 ruling ordering the University of Louisville to reinstate a nursing student who was expelled after she wrote on a blog about her dealings with patients. The lower court judge had concluded that the university had breached its contract with the student, Nina Yoder, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that the lower court had erred in that ruling because Yoder had not even alleged breach of contract before the court. The appeals panel sent the case back to the lower court to reconsider.