Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Subscribe to Inside Higher Ed | Quick Takes
Monday, March 21, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Michigan has shut down its Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter, and some of its members face university discipline over hazing issues, The Detroit Free Press reported. The investigations followed allegations from the parent of a pledge that the fraternity hazed pledges by, among other things, hitting them with broomsticks, shooting them with Airsoft guns, making them drink regurgitated water with goldfish and requiring them to pay for strippers. Chapter officials could not be reached for comment, but the national organization disbanded the chapter for a year.

Middlebury College suspended its men's and women's swimming teams, and ended the season for most of its women's team swimmers because of hazing incidents, The Burlington Free Press reported. Also last week, two former pledges settled lawsuits against the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and Sigma Chi over alleged hazing, The Lincoln Journal Star reported. Each student will receive at least $62,500 from the university, but full details of the settlement were not available. The university has suspended the fraternity.

Monday, March 21, 2011 - 3:00am

Last week's news that the latest essay question on the SAT focused on reality television has set off quite a bit of media commentary and comedy. The Huffington Post, for example, suggested that the College Board might shift the focus of the SAT entirely, with questions requiring aspiring college students to calculate the circumference of a Kim Kardashian body part, or to "compare and contrast the social impact of Kanye West's interruption of the VMA's with his tweet on abortion."

The College Board is not making any apologies, however, and is stressing that the essay questions it asks are judged not on content knowledge, but on the ability to explore an issue and make an argument. Laurence Bunin, senior vice president of the College Board, wrote an essay on the controversy for The Daily Beast, saying that all of the "breathless commentary" was irrelevant.

"The central task of the SAT essay -- any SAT essay -- is to take one side of an issue and develop an argument to support that position. Questions raised about the so-called reality-show prompt miss this basic point entirely and confuse the literal topic with the task of writing the essay. Everything a student needs to write a successful essay is included in the prompt itself; one need not have spent any time watching a 'reality' television program to write a strong essay," Bunin wrote. "If the topic had been about balancing the risk of climbing a mountain with the reward of reaching the summit, for example, you could write that essay without ever having done so. It’s about the balance, not the mountain climbing. Students tell us that they can relate to popular-culture references. Using such references is not only appropriate, but potentially even more engaging for students."

Monday, March 21, 2011 - 3:00am

Matthew Cucchiaro, a graduate student at the University of Colorado at Boulder, has resigned from his position as diversity director of the student government after the dean of students approached him with concerns about a blog post, The Boulder Daily Camera reported. Officials at the student government confirmed that Cucchiaro was asked to resign and did so. The post, which Cucchiaro said was "clearly satirical," ran on his blog, StupidHumanBeings.com. In the post (currently labeled as satire), he identifies women as that day's "stupid" subject for the blog. Part of the post: "Guys, I don’t need to tell you this: women are not as smart as men. Now before all you chicks look up from your gossip mags and yammer on and on as you do about how that’s sexist, I don’t mean all women – I’m sure there are a couple of heffers in congress or the senate who are about on par with the average male. Also, that Asian character on Grey’s Anatomy knows some big words but she obviously doesn’t count because … well, she’s Asian. In your defense, look at who your options are for role models on TV: Tyra Banks, the cast of Friends, The Hills, Sex and the City, and women on Lifetime."

Monday, March 21, 2011 - 3:00am

The Education Department's new rules on the credit hour, state authorization of postsecondary institutions, misrepresentation and incentive compensation are being challenged on a range of fronts. But for now, the regulations are set to take effect on July 1, and the department late last week published guidance designed to answer the many questions college officials have about the rules. College leaders were generally unimpressed with the "Dear Colleague" letters, one of which covered the department's move to establish a federal definition of the "credit hour," and the other, regulations that expand state authorization requirements, crack down on misrepresentation of colleges' programs and results, and limit the use of incentive compensation.

"We appreciate that the department finally published" the guidance, said Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the American Council on Education, which had urged the department to rescind the rules on the credit hour and state authorization and has now asked Congress to delay their implementation. The guidance "clarified some of the things we were concerned about ... but in terms of the fundamental concerns, it doesn't help very much. Schools will find some relief, but not a great deal."

Russell Poulin, deputy director for research and analysis at the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies, was even more critical in a detailed analysis of the guidance on state authorization.

Monday, March 21, 2011 - 3:00am

A Texas state representative has filed legislation that would bar public colleges from penalizing students or faculty members based on their research or beliefs that reject evolution, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. It is unclear what impact the bill would have on grading. Anti-evolution groups say that academic freedom should allow people to argue that evolution is not accurate, despite the consensus among scientists.

Friday, March 18, 2011 - 3:00am

Education Secretary Arne Duncan reiterated a call he made last year for the National Collegiate Athletic Association to require that colleges participating in the Division I men's basketball tournament have players on track to graduate at a minimum rate. Duncan increased his plea from a minimum expected graduation rate of 40 percent to a rate of at least 50 percent, after a report found low expected graduation rates among some of the teams in the tournament this year and vast disparities between the rates of black and white players.

The report, conducted by Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida, found that 66 percent of the players on teams participating in the men's tournament are expected to graduate. But the report found "alarming" differences in graduation rates among competing colleges and racial groups. At Kansas State University, 100 percent of white players are expected to graduate, compared with 14 percent of black players. Such findings are “unconscionable,” said Duncan, who suggested the NCAA use the Academic Progress Rate to judge colleges on their students’ expected graduation rates, preventing institutions with an anticipated graduation rate below 50 percent from going to the NCAA tournament. “The big kahuna is the opportunity to go to the tournament,” he said. “So if we draw a clear line there, a bright line in the sand, then behavior will change.”

Friday, March 18, 2011 - 3:00am

New York City officials on Thursday announced an impressive list of proposals from universities around the world to build a new engineering and science campus in the city, The Wall Street Journal reported. Among the universities seeking to do so are institutions in Canada, India, Israel, Korea and Finland. Proposals also arrived from Columbia, Cornell and Stanford Universities and the City University of New York. Some of the proposals are for partnerships, such as one involving New York University, Carnegie Mellon, the City University of New York, the University of Toronto, and IBM.

Friday, March 18, 2011 - 3:00am

For years, it has been widely believed that many female college students experiment with lesbian relationships -- and the view has been so widely held that there is even a term for the behavior: "lesbian until graduation" or LUG. But a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that college-educated women aged 22 to 44 are less likely than women in the same age group without a high school degree to have had a same-sex experience, 10 percent vs. 15 percent, The New York Times reported.. “It’s definitely a ‘huh’ situation, because it goes counter to popular perceptions,” Kaaren Williamsen, director of Carleton College’s gender and sexuality center, told the Times.

Friday, March 18, 2011 - 3:00am

Seven people were charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct on Tuesday when they protested at a legislative hearing in Tennessee on bills that would limit union rights. On Thursday, a state senator called on the University of Memphis, where he believed the students were enrolled, to "take action" against the students, The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported. It turns out that only two of those charged are University of Memphis students, although two others are enrolled at the Memphis College of Art. Senator Randy McNally, a Republican, said the students should be expelled. "I’ve been down here a long time and have never seen a situation like that.... I was also dismayed to learn that six of the individuals were members of a registered student organization at the University of Memphis — the Progressive Student Alliance — and I would hope the university takes action," he said. "I know that if it was a fraternity that did something like that they’d be off campus in a heartbeat."

Friday, March 18, 2011 - 3:00am

The grades of minority college students can be improved substantially if they participate in a short exercise in which they are exposed to evidence that students of all races and ethnicities have difficulty adjusting to college. The research -- conducted by two Stanford University professors -- appears in today's edition of Science.

Pages

Search for Jobs

Back to Top