A new study in the Journal of Affective Disorders documents again that many college students think about suicide and also identifies key risk factors that may assist with prevention efforts. The findings are based on a study of more than 1,000 students at the University of Maryland at College Park who were tracked over four years. Of the 1,085 students, 151 (12 percent) said they had pondered committing suicide at least once -- with 37 saying they did so repeatedly, 10 saying that they had made plans or carried out full-fledged attempts during college. Lack of social support was identified as a key factor in predicting persistent suicidal thoughts. Other risk factors: depressive symptoms, exposure to domestic violence in childhood and having a mother suffering from depression.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The University of California is disputing the claims of Jewish organizations and leaders that there is a notable increase in anti-Semitism on the system's campuses, the Los Angeles Times reported. A recent letter to the university said that an increasing number of incidents requires a specific focus on preventing anti-Semitism. University officials have acknowledged (and condemned) a number of incidents, but disagree about the extent of the problem. In a response released Tuesday, Mark Yudof, the president, said he was disturbed by the incidents and would "do everything in my power to protect Jewish and all other students from threats or actions of intolerance." But he also said that the letter overstated the problem and the degree of concern of many Jewish students, and called the letter sent to the university "a dishearteningly ill-informed rush to judgment against our ongoing responses to troubling incidents that have taken place on some of our campuses."
The community college commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges has placed the four campuses of the Peralta Community College District on probation, citing concerns about the "fiscal solvency and stability" of the two-year institutions, the Contra Costa Times reported. The newspaper said that the letter from the head of WASC's Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges raised concerns about meddling by trustees and other leadership issues as well as financial problems in citing the four Peralta colleges: Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, Laney College and Merritt College. In addition to the actions involving Peralta, the accreditor placed Northern Marianas College on "show cause" status, one step short of stripping its accreditation.
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Lincoln Land Community College has agreed to upgrade its softball facilities to settle a complaint filed with the U.S. Education Department under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bars discrimination based on sex, The State Journal-Register, of Springfield, Ill., reported. An Education Department inquiry rejected some charges against the college with regard to the treatment of female athletes, but found that there were illegal inequities in facilities.
Mike Adams, a conservative, Christian professor who believes his promotion to full professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington was derailed because of opposition to his views, is getting broad backing on a key point in his legal fight. In a decision in March, a federal judge -- citing a controversial Supreme Court ruling about public employees -- said that newspaper columns that Adams wrote were not protected by the First Amendment (in terms of his case) because he included them in his tenure dossier. Adams has been receiving support from the Alliance Defense Fund. On Friday, several groups that have not weighed in on the merits of Adams' promotion bid filed a brief backing his appeal, saying that the finding that the contents of a tenure file lacked academic freedom protection was a dangerous precedent. The groups backing the appeal are the American Association of University Professors, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression. Their brief may be found here.
Part-time faculty members at Madison Area Technical College are protesting new rules -- approved by the full-time faculty members -- that would allow full-timers to sign up for "overload" courses before part-timers have received assignments, The Wisconsin State Journal reported. The part-timers fear that some in their group will end up with no courses -- as full-timers opt for the extra pay for teaching beyond a full-time schedule.
An administrator at the San Jose/Evergreen Community College District earned a full salary on sick leave this spring while teaching a course at another community college, The San Jose Mercury News reported. Bayinaah Jones, the district's executive director of institutional effectiveness, denied to the newspaper that she engaged in work while on sick leave, but the district confirmed her sick leave and the Foothill-DeAnza Community College District confirmed that she taught there at the time.
Non-tenure-track faculty members at Ferris State University voted Friday to unionize and to affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers. The vote is among a series that have taken place at Michigan public universities in recent years, where adjuncts have been organized by the AFT.
The regional accrediting agency for the mid-Atlantic states last month placed on probation 10 of the University of Puerto Rico's 11 campuses, a private independent college in Maryland, and a for-profit institution in the District of Columbia. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education cited the Puerto Rico university because of concerns about the impact of the longstanding student strike (recently settled) on the campuses' ability to meet the agency's standards on governance and the appropriate length of educational offerings. The accreditor cited Baltimore International College for shortcomings related to the faculty role in governance, the size and independence of its governing board, and assessment of student learning at the institution. And Potomac College faces probation for lacking an adequate strategic plan and insufficient goals and use of data related to student learning. In other actions, Middle States continued the probation of the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico, placed seven institutions on warning status, including the National Labor College, and removed Rockland Community College, in New York, from warning status.