Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - 3:00am

Bethune-Cookman University on Monday issued a statement along with reports and endorsements to counter a report issued by the American Association of University Professors criticizing the way seven faculty members had lost their jobs. While the AAUP found that the professors were denied due process and other protections, the university argued that the AAUP ignored evidence -- in particular in the case of four faculty members who were accused of sexual harassment. The AAUP reported that the professors -- who deny the accusation -- were never given basic information about the charges they faced.

But the university denies this claim and on Monday released a consultant's report about the case (which does not name the professors). According to the consultant's report, "the four professors had an off-campus apartment where they took female students to have sex; one or more of the four professors would take nude photos of the female students at the apartment and threaten to release the photos on Facebook if the students revealed their improper actions to the university's administration."

Based on this report, the university maintains that taking action against the professors was required to protect students. Bethune-Cookman also released several statements of support. One, from the National Council of Negro Women, said that "a university has a fiduciary duty to its students to protect them from acts of sexual misconduct by professors and must take swift and remedial action to ensure their continued safety and an environment free from intimidation and sexual harassment."

Another statement of support came from Rev. Al Sharpton: "I have personally studied this case, and the university was within its right and boundaries to do exactly what it did. And I feel obligated to support the administrators with this decision. It's amazing to me that of all the institutions in the nation, this organization is challenging a historically black college and university when actions of this type are reported all over the nation. Just like the nation must address racism, respect for a person's mind, dignity and body are just as important. Thank God that Bethune-Cookman dared to stand up to protect its students."

Monday, October 25, 2010 - 3:00am

Delaware State University agreed on Friday to settle a class action over women's athletics. The News Journal reported that the university committed that by 2013 it would add enough women's sports to meet the proportionality test for demonstrating compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Under that test, the proportion of female athletes should substantially mirror the proportion of female undergraduates at a college -- and Delaware State is way off. Currently, the university's student body is 61 percent female, but only 41 percent of athletes are female.

Monday, October 25, 2010 - 3:00am

Authorities investigating unusual chemical smells in a Georgetown University dormitory Saturday morning evacuated 400 students and found what appears to be a drug lab, The Washington Post reported. Two male students and a visitor were arrested, and many other students were stunned by the news. "I would understand if someone got caught doing it. Making it, that's different. It's shocking," one student told the Post.

Monday, October 25, 2010 - 3:00am

Nearly 49,000 students in New Jersey, most of them with low incomes, are in danger of losing state aid because they have not filled out a one-page financial aid form that the state requires, The Star-Ledger reported. The forms are due by Nov. 15 and state officials are trying to contact all of the students. While some would lose only a few hundred dollars, others would lose more than $10,000 a year if they are deemed ineligible.

Monday, October 25, 2010 - 3:00am

Some students charge that the University of California at Los Angeles is effectively ending its Islamic studies program, by failing to move quickly on a pledge made in 2007 to reorganize it, the Los Angeles Times reported. The pledge was made at a time that admissions to the program were suspended. On Friday, students held a protest, carrying signs that said "Scared of Islam? Learn about it." Faculty leaders say that they are working to revive the program.

Monday, October 25, 2010 - 3:00am

Friends of Steve Li, a student at the City College of San Francisco, are trying to build support to keep him in the United States. The Contra Costa Times reported that authorities have charged Li and his parents with being in the United States illegally. An unusual twist on the case is that Li's parents are Chinese, but he was born when they were in Peru. As a result, federal authorities are trying to send his parents to China, and Li to Peru, where he does not know a single person. Li is currently being held in a detention center in Arizona. He said he can't imagine leaving the U.S. "I've been living [in the United States], studying here. I feel like I've been here all my life. All my friends, my teachers, my family is here," he said.

Monday, October 25, 2010 - 3:00am

An Egyptian administrative court on Saturday upheld a lower court's ruling ordering police units that have been permanently stationed at universities for years to leave the campuses, and to let education officials supervise security, Reuters reported. Several Cairo University faculty members sued, charging that university autonomy was being violated, and the court agreed. "The presence of permanent Interior Ministry police forces inside the Cairo University campus represents an impairment of the independence guaranteed to the university by the constitution and the law," the court ruling said.

Friday, October 22, 2010 - 3:00am

College seniors who graduated in 2009 had an average of $24,000 in student loan debt, up 6 percent from the previous year, according to data released Thursday by the Project on Student Debt. At the same time, unemployment for recent college graduates climbed from 5.8 percent in 2008 to 8.7 percent in 2009 – the highest annual rate on record for college graduates aged 20 to 24. Details are available from the project's Web site.

Friday, October 22, 2010 - 3:00am

An anonymous Boston College law student has published an open letter asking his dean to let him leave the law school without a diploma this semester (two and a half years into the program) in return for getting his tuition money back. The student writes that he was convinced to go to law school by "empty promises of a fulfilling and remunerative career," and that now he faces the likely prospect of huge debts and no decent job. The deal he proposed, the student writes, would benefit both parties: "on the one hand, I will be free to return to the teaching career I left to come here. I’ll be able to provide for my family without the crushing weight of my law school loans. On the other hand, this will help BC Law go up in the rankings, since you will not have to report my unemployment at graduation to U.S. News. This will present no loss to me, only gain: in today’s job market, a J.D. seems to be more of a liability than an asset." The student's request comes in a year of increased scrutiny of the placement records of law schools. Boston College does not seem likely to agree to the proposal. A statement it released to The Boston Herald said that law schools can't guarantee anyone a job. "What we can do is provide the best education possible, and work together to provide as many career opportunities as possible," the statement said.

Friday, October 22, 2010 - 3:00am

Canadian medical schools, worried that women are being admitted at higher rates than men, are adjusting admissions criteria in ways that favor men, The Globe and Mail reported. McMaster University, for instance, decreased its emphasis on grades and saw its male admission rate go up.

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