Higher Education Quick Takes
Several colleges are seeing tensions and debates over Occupy protest movements on their campuses.
- Harvard University has restricted access to Harvard Yard to university students, preventing many others from joining an Occupy Harvard movement. The university says that it acted to assure student safety and not for political reasons. Organizers of Occupy Harvard and some faculty members say that the university is overreacting and that it could safely restore full access to the campus.
- At the University of California at Berkeley, authorities are vowing to prevent tent cities from being set up, and are defending arrests made Wednesday night to take down tents that the university said were not authorized, The San Jose Mercury News reported. But many faculty members and others who support Occupy Cal say that the university used inappropriate force against a nonviolent protest movement.
- Officials at Seattle Central Community College are frustrated with the Occupy Seattle movement, which set up its tents on campus, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported. College officials say that they don't think they have the legal right to kick the protest off the campus, but are concerned that since the protest arrived, the college has had to deal with increased trash (including some dirty needles), the theft of soap from campus bathrooms and the arrival of people with mental illness, some of whom have been attracted to the protests.
The Citadel on Saturday issued a statement in which it said that it investigated but did not report an allegation it received in 2007 that a summer camp counselor who was a cadet had inappropriate sexual activity with a camper in 2002 in a Citadel summer program. The statement said that the charges could not be corroborated and that the family of the camper was very concerned about its privacy. Nonetheless, the Citadel statement said, the institution has "regret that we did not pursue this matter further." The statement noted that the cadet -- Louis ReVille -- "was a highly respected cadet whose peers elected him chairman of the Honor Court, and at graduation he was presented the award for excellence in public service."
ReVille went on to become a coach and educator and worked with many schoolchildren in South Carolina until his arrest last month on charges of sexually assaulting five boys, The Post and Courier reported. More charges are expected. The Post and Courier filed an open records request last week for material related to the 2007 Citadel investigation of ReVille.
A new report available for purchase from the British Council argues that students in different parts of the world have notably different motivations for using agents to help them find colleges and universities in the United States, Britain, Australia and elsewhere to attend. Among the report's findings:
- African students, many of whom lack reliable Internet access, use agents to obtain basic information.
- South Asian students are most likely to use agents for help on obtaining visas.
- Chinese students are most likely to use agents if they are seeking to enroll in English language or other basic educational programs abroad.
- Indian students who have not studied outside of India are more likely to use agents than those who have already studied abroad.
Strayer Education, Inc., on Friday announced its purchase of the Jack Welch Management Institute, an online business college that is part of the financially struggling Chancellor University, a for-profit institution in Cleveland. Welch, the former chairman and CEO of General Electric, created the college in 2009 with a $2 million minority stake in Chancellor. He is reportedly buying his share back to transfer the school to Strayer. Michael Clifford, a sometimes controversial investor in for-profits, launched Chancellor in 2008 on the platform of the ailing Myers University. Strayer will pay about $7 million for the business college, Reuters reported.
China is opening a new college that will be devoted to the study of tea, Xinhua reported. Officials hope graduates of the college will assume positions in sales, management and business development for the tea industry. The new college will award undergraduate degrees through the Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University.
Some professors at Mississippi Valley State University are criticizing a Faculty Senate vote of no confidence this month in President Donna Oliver, The Clarion-Ledger reported. The Faculty Senate cited a number of problems, including poor relations between the president and the faculty, declining enrollment and budget problems. But faculty members who are not on the Faculty Senate say that they were not consulted about what they consider to have been an important vote. Further, some question the wisdom of such a vote with an accreditation review coming up.
The following are the latest developments from Pennsylvania State University as it struggles to move forward amid a sex-abuse scandal:
- Moody's Investors Service announced that it will conduct a review that could lead the agency to downgrade the university's bond rating (currently Aa1). A statement said: "Moody's will evaluate the potential scope of reputational and financial risk arising from these events. While the full impact of these increased risks will only unfold over a period of years, we will also assess the degree of near and medium term risks to determine whether to downgrade the current Aa1 rating. We will monitor possible emerging risks emanating from potential lawsuits/settlements, weaker student demand, declines in philanthropic support, changes in state relationship and significant management or governance changes."
- Thousands of Penn State students and others attended a candlelight vigil Friday night to express sympathy with victims of sexual abuse and to vow to help such individuals, The Centre Daily Times reported. And at Saturday's football game against the University of Nebraska, fans participated in a moment of silence for the abuse victims, and players from the two teams kneeled together to recognize the victims. The emphasis and tone of the events were in contrast to the protests earlier in the week against the firing of Joe Paterno as football coach.
- The top recruiting prospect for Penn State's football team announced that he was backing away from a pledge to attend the university, ESPN reported.
- For those seeking perspective on how the Penn State scandal compares to other major athletics scandals, Slate has assembled links to some of the better long-form journalism on such scandals in the past, as well as some more recent coverage.
A feature article in The Los Angeles Times discusses what it was like in South Korea this week on the day of the College Scholastic Ability Test -- a nine-hour exam that determines students' chances of getting in to top universities. Weeks before the test, mothers start to pray and and to leave wreaths at Buddhist shrines. On exam day, early morning flights are postponed to avoid loud noise, and those monitoring the exams are told not to wear flashy clothing or squeaky shoes.
David L. Soltz, president of Bloomsburg University, wants everyone at that Pennsylvania institution to know that Pennsylvania State University is no role model when it comes to reporting possible incidents of child abuse. Soltz sent a memo to everyone on campus Thursday specifying that anyone who sees possible child abuse on campus must call the police first and only then notify one's immediate supervisor. The policy also states that those supervisors, upon being told of a possible incident of child abuse, also have an obligation to call authorities. "What is essential is that university police are notified immediately," Soltz wrote.