The U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights has opened an investigation into a professor's complaint that the University of California at Santa Cruz allowed a hostile environment for Jewish students on the campus. Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a Santa Cruz lecturer, filed a 2009 complaint about the university's sponsorship of events that she believed had a pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel slant. In a March 7 letter to Rossman-Benjamin, Arthur Zeidman, who heads the civil rights office's San Francisco office, said it would investigate whether Santa Cruz failed to fulfill its requirements under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 -- a move applauded by the Institute for Jewish & Community Research, which is championing her cause. In a prepared statement, Santa Cruz's general counsel, Carole Rossi, said: "We will, of course, fully cooperate with such an investigation. And as OCR noted in its communication with the campus, that office's decision to review an individual's allegations in no way implies that the agency has determined that the allegations have merit."
Higher Education Quick Takes
With Arizona set to impose more budget cuts on its public colleges, legislators in the state are considering legislation that would save for-profit colleges in the state millions in taxes on their online students, the Arizona Republic reported. The legislation would reduce the state income tax that certain businesses pay when they sell services to out-of-state customers, the newspaper reported; officials at the Apollo Group and Grand Canyon Education, both of which are based in Phoenix and have reportedly lobbied for the change, disputed a state estimate that the bill would save them $33 million combined, the Republic said.
Quebec's education minister on Monday fined McGill University $2 million for exceeding government-set limits on the tuition that institutions in the province can charge for programs that are not deemed to be unique, the Montreal Gazette reported. Minister Line Beauchamp fined McGill for charging $29,000 a year for its M.B.A. program, about 10 times what other universities in Quebec charge for that degree. McGill officials declined comment to the newspaper, but they had argued that the university's program is comparable in quality to American business programs that charge significantly more.
Every year there are new complaints about the college admissions process being too complicated and confusing to families. But surveys of students and parents released by the College Board Monday indicated that most in both groups said that the process was relatively clear -- for public and private colleges alike. National surveys like this one tend to be less weighted than much media coverage toward the small minority of students who apply to many competitive colleges, which may explain the differences. On a score of 1-10, with 1 being "very clear" and 10 being "very confusing," parents and students both gave median scores of 3 for knowing how admissions decisions are made. Medians were lower (meaning that respondents said things were more clear) for such issues as knowing whom to call with questions, being able to find needed information on colleges' websites, and completing applications.
After intense debate and a close vote, one half of Maryland's legislature on Monday approved legislation that would let undocumented students attend public colleges and universities at in-state tuition rates, The Washington Post reported. The measure is a compromise version of the original legislation, the newspaper reported; it would let Maryland residents who are in the country illegally pay in-state tuition only at community colleges originally, and do so upon transfer to public universities only after earning an associate degree. Republicans said the measure sent the wrong message about lawbreaking and vowed to oppose its passage in the state House of Delegates.
Leaders save all the really tough decisions until right before they head out the door. The retiring president of Tufts University, Lawrence Bacow, announced in an op-ed in the student newspaper Monday that he was bringing the curtain down on the decades-old tradition of the "Naked Quad Run," citing physical and alcohol-related dangers that befall student participants in the annual event. Bacow said that when he became president a decade ago, he decided to try to "manage" rather than end the event, but that he had concluded over time that that was no longer possible. "Given that we can no longer manage the run, we cannot allow this 'tradition' to continue," he wrote. "Even if I did not act now, NQR would end some day. The only question is whether a student has to die first. We cannot allow this to happen, and the Naked Quad Run will not continue."
Nova Scotia's Dalhousie University is selling 10 spaces in its medical school class to Saudi Arabia for $75,000 each per year, the Chronicle Herald of Halifax reported Saturday. The school's dean told the newspaper that the premium pricing would help the university offset a loss of funding from the government and the aftermath of an "accreditation problem."
Michigan's attorney general has taken a side in Eastern Michigan University's legal dispute with a former student over the right of public universities to enforce anti-bias rules as a requirement for recognition of student organizations -- the student's side. Bill Schuette, the state's top lawyer, has filed a friend of the court brief in a federal appeals court siding with Julea Ward, who was dismissed from Eastern Michigan's counseling program in 2009 for declining to advise gay students in an affirming way -- in conflict, the university said, with its own anti-bias rules and the standards of national counseling associations. A federal judge last summer upheld Eastern Michigan's right to dismiss Ward, rejecting her claims that it had infringed her religious freedom. University officials said in a statement Monday that the arguments in the attorney general's brief relied on "factual distortions" made by Ward.
The University of Leeds is being criticized for holding an alumni event in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and restricting attendance to men, Times Higher Education reported. Critics note that Leeds has policies pledging nondiscrimination. University officials said that they could hold the event at the hotel they have reserved only by making it male-only.
A consultant charged with studying a possible merger of Southern University at New Orleans and the University of New Orleans has come up with two options, both of which preserve some of the separate campuses, the Associated Press reported. One option would preserve the separate campuses with separate missions, but merge them into a new University of Greater New Orleans as part of the University of Louisiana System. The other option would shift the missions of both campuses to make them more distinct. In both scenarios, some administrative functions would be shared, and Southern's emphasis on being a historically black institution would be lessened. Supporters of Southern and of black students in Louisiana have strongly opposed changes from the current system, in which Southern's New Orleans campus is part of a historically black system. The consultant's report is available here; the regents are expected to consider the proposal today, and Governor Bobby Jindal and the speaker of the state House both said on Monday that they supported the proposal that would merge the two institutions into one University of Greater New Orleans, as part of the Louisiana system.