Syracuse University's firing Sunday of an assistant basketball coach accused of abusing three boys may not end the institution's legal problems, reported The New York Times. The article noted that the third allegation against Bernie Fine, the fired coach who has denied wrongdoing, falls within the statute of limitations -- unlike the first two charges. If Syracuse is sued for failing to take action earlier, the article noted that as a private institution it cannot invoke sovereign immunity that might be used by Pennsylvania State University to try to limit its liability in the sex-abuse scandal it faces. While Syracuse investigated an allegation against Fine in 2005 and said it could not find corroborating evidence, the Times article suggested that this may not help the university. First, the article quoted a legal expert as saying that corroboration frequently doesn't exist in rape or abuse cases. (The charges at Penn State are unusual in that they include witnesses to some instances of the abuse.) Second, the article noted that -- until Sunday -- Jim Boeheim, the head basketball coach, had been a strong supporter of Fine against the charges. “I think the university could have enormous liability, including Boeheim, who was in a supervisory capacity,” one lawyer told the newspaper. “It comes down to who knew what, or who should have known. And you have to ask, because Boeheim’s defense of Fine was so complete after the initial allegations, would he have been at all open to look into anything suspicious?”
Higher Education Quick Takes
While student groups protested loudly outside, the board of the City University of New York voted Monday for a series of $300 tuition increases that will raise charges at CUNY's four-year institutions to $6,330 by 2015-16, The New York Times reported. The students protesting said that the increases would hurt low-income and minority students. But CUNY officials said that cuts in state support required the tuition increases to maintain the quality of the university system, and said that financial aid would continue to make it possible for students of all income levels to enroll.
An Illinois appeals court last week granted a stay to the University of Illinois at Chicago of the certification of a new faculty union at the institution. The university is challenging the right of the union -- which is affiliated with both the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors -- to represent both adjuncts and tenure-track faculty members. In October, the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board rejected the university's argument and certified the union, but the university appealed and also asked for both a stay of union certification and expedited review of the case. University officials said that they expected a ruling on the case in the spring.
As of Friday, the Occupy movement was no longer occupying any space at the New School. For a week prior, Occupy supporters from the New School and other colleges were protesting (and sometimes sleeping) in a study center at one New School facility. University officials said that the landlord to the building (which is not owned by the New School) was concerned about the students sleeping there, and that New York City Fire Department officials said that the occupation was producing a fire hazard. Blogs also started to detail the spraying of graffiti in the study center (which in what may be an irony was created in response to the demands of a student protest a year ago about inadequate study space). The New School then told the Occupy movement supporters that they had to leave the study center, but that they could occupy an art gallery of the New School, and could stay there 24 hours a day through the end of the semester -- provided that only students were admitted to the gallery (although the students need not be New School students) and that people not sleep there. By Friday, the study center was empty; workers are cleaning and painting it so it can open on Monday. The initial move to the art gallery did not go according to the New School's plans, as some protesters slept there and others used the wall for graffiti. So the protesters were asked to leave and the New School is cleaning and repainting and planning to turn the gallery over to the Occupy protesters on Monday, provided that the terms are followed.
The movement, now dispersed, has not issued any statements on its departure from the protest spaces. New School officials said that everyone eventually left without police intervention or arrests. A statement on the blog kept during the occupation of the study center said that those there were concerned that "the pigs of the NYPD are preparing to attack our space," and also criticized the New School. "New School administration, despite their mealy-mouthed lip service to the movement, has decided to side with the banks, landlords, millionaire university trustees, and whining conservative students who are all clamoring for this break in the miserable daily routine to end," the blog post said.
Amid all the discussion of students with too much student loan debt, the Associated Press has run a story on the opposite problem: students who don't borrow enough. The article talks about students determined not to take out loans -- and the sorts of compromises they make (not buying textbooks, taking more credits that may be wise in a given semester) and the concerns of many educators that such students may be at risk of not finishing their degrees.
The U.S. Justice Department has sued the University of Nebraska at Kearney, charging that it illegally denied a student with a psychological disability the right to have an "emotional assistance dog" live in a residence hall room. The suit, which follows allegations brought last month by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, charges that the university asks too much information of students with emotional or psychological or emotional disabilities and -- in the case of the request for the dog -- was too stringent in barring the animal from a dormitory. A university spokesman said he couldn't comment on the case except to say that the university will contest the suit. The Associated Press quoted an e-mail message from the university's compliance director for the Americans With Disabilities Act (cited in the suit), that says that if the student's request had been granted, "in essence, anyone can have their doctor say they are anxious and need to have their cat, dog, snake or monkey."
The father of Bradley Ginsburg, who as a freshman at Cornell University killed himself by jumping off a gorge bridge in the fall of 2010, is suing the university for $180 million, The Sun Sentinel reported. The suit says that Cornell should have informed parents about the start of what would be a string of student suicides so they could be more active in dealing with any mental health issues their students were experiencing. The suit also charges that the university -- which now has barriers on the gorge bridges -- should have had them there previously. The Ithaca Journal quoted a Cornell spokeswoman as declining to comment on the suit except to predict its dismissal.
Last week, when a City University of New York board hearing was held at Baruch College, student protests of a possible tuition hike led to 15 arrests. With the board planning to meet later today, Baruch announced on Saturday that classes that were to meet in the same facility will be postponed until December 2, and that only access to the building will be granted only to those with "an urgent and legitimate need to be in the building." A message from Mitchel Wallerstein, president of the college said that "we are determined to avoid any repetition of the regrettable events that occurred" at last week's board hearing.