Higher Education Quick Takes
Two band faculty members at Florida A&M University were present during hazing of pledges who wanted to join an honorary band fraternity, several students have told authorities, The Orlando Sentinel reported. The hazing allegedly took place at the home of Diron Holloway, a FAMU professor who is director of the marching band's saxophone section, and involved paddling. Holloway and the other faculty member, Anthony Simons, a music professor, could not be reached for comment. The police report detailing the allegations is the latest development in the investigation of a student death last year that appears to be hazing-related. The university has maintained that it has long had a "no tolerance" approach to hazing, a stance undercut by the report of faculty involvement. The report was released Wednesday and both Holloway and Simmons were then placed on leave by the university, The Tallahassee Democrat reported.
The National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies plan to announce today a major new research program focused on big data computing, The New York Times reported. The agencies will pledge $200 million for the effort.
UPDATE: After initially backing the cartoonist, Stephanie Eisner, The Daily Texan editorial board apologized Wednesday for a "failure of judgment" in deciding to run the cartoon. The statement said Eisner no longer works for the Texan.
A student cartoonist apologized for a piece about Trayvon Martin's death that prompted allegations of racism when it was published in a campus newspaper. Stephanie Eisner, a junior at the University of Texas at Austin and political cartoonist for The Daily Texan, expressed regret for the cartoon, which said a “big bad white man killed the handsome, sweet, innocent colored boy.” Eisner was referring to the February killing of Martin, 17, by a neighborhood watch volunteer. Martin was black. The shooter, George Zimmerman, has white and Latino parents. Zimmerman hasn't been charged with a crime.
The president of the university's Black Student Alliance called Eisner's cartoon inappropriate. Angry readers flooded the student paper with angry comments and letters to the editor. Eisner said she had good intentions, but failed to constructively comment on news reports about Martin's killing. "I apologize for what was in hindsight an ambiguous cartoon related to the Trayvon Martin shooting," Eisner wrote in a Wednesday e-mail to Inside Higher Ed. "I intended to contribute thoughtful commentary on the media coverage of the incident, however this goal fell flat. I would like to make it explicitly clear that I am not a racist, and that I am personally appalled by the killing of Trayvon Martin. I regret any pain the wording or message of my cartoon may have caused."
Faculty members at New England College quickly pledged to donate $100,000 after learning that the college planned staff layoffs, and that such a sum would prevent them, The Concord Monitor reported. The layoffs had been planned as one way to deal with a $350,000 deficit created by an enrollment shortfall. While the layoffs have been averted, staff members will be required to take furlough days (anywhere from five days to several weeks) between now and June.
A county judge ruled Wednesday that the University of California can release its full report on police officers' controversial use of pepper spray to disperse student protesters last fall, withholding only the names of most of the officers, the San Jose Mercury News reported. The university's police union had sued to block the release of the full report, arguing that some elements of it should remain confidential, as would be the case with the results of a police internal affairs investigation. Judge Evelio Grillo rejected that comparison, but agreed that names and ranks of officers could be withheld to prevent harassment of officers.
A UC statement said that the university would ultimately like to release the officers' names, and that it remained unclear exactly when the report would be made public.
The Roman Catholic group at Vanderbilt University on Wednesday announced that it would become an off-campus ministry rather than staying on campus and trying to comply with a university anti-bias rule that bars all student groups from discriminating on the basis of religion (among other factors), The Tennessean reported. Vanderbilt is among a number of colleges and universities that require all student organizations to be fully open to all students. Some Republican legislators are pushing to bar state student aid from going to such colleges, Nashville Public Radio reported.
The sponsor of legislation that would bar Georgia's public colleges from enrolling students in the United States without legal documentation agreed Wednesday to an amendment that would strip the ban from broader immigration legislation, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The state senator behind the proposed ban, Barry Loudermilk, said the provision on colleges' enrolling illegal immigrants threatened to undermine the broader bill. Officials of the University System of Georgia opposed the measure, saying they had already taken steps to ensure that undocumented students could not enroll in any college that is turning away qualified applicants.
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which does significant work on California's community colleges, open educational resources, and other higher education realms, named a new president on Wednesday. And like his predecessor, Larry Kramer is the dean of Stanford University's law school. Kramer succeeds Paul Brest, its president since 2004. As dean at Stanford, Kramer was credited with creating or expanding law centers dedicated to social justice, public service, and international legal training and prodding law students to expand their study of other disciplines.