Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 26, 2012

Seminole State College has expelled George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, setting off a debate over whether Florida has been too slow to charge Zimmerman in the shooting, WKMG News reported. College officials released a statement saying: "Due to the highly charged and high-profile controversy involving this student, Seminole State has taken the unusual but necessary step this week to withdraw Mr. Zimmerman from enrollment. This decision is based solely on our responsibility to provide for the safety of our students on campus as well as for Mr. Zimmerman." Zimmerman was enrolled in an associate in arts degree in general studies.

March 26, 2012

Academics at RMIT University, in Australia, are protesting new requirements that employees be "positive" and "optimistic," as well as "resolute" and "passionate," The Australian reported. These qualities are part of a new "behavioral capability framework" that officials said would result in a more productive environment on campus. But many employees say that they are being coerced into adopting certain attitudes, and that telling people what to think is antithetical to an academic environment.

 

March 26, 2012

Students on many campuses held protests last week of the killing of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black 17-year old who was shot and killed in Florida. His killer has claimed self-defense and, to date, faces no charges, outraging many. Other campuses are planning protests this week.

The case -- seen by many as highlighting the discrimination faced by young black men -- has been the subject of particular discussion at historically black colleges and universities. More than 100 Livingstone College students held a protest Friday. Howard University students held a vigil. At Paul Quinn College, President Michael Sorrell invited students and others to attend a rally that attracted hundreds. Students at Winston-Salem State University also held a protest.

The protests and activities are by no means limited to historically black colleges. At the University of South Florida, black students organized a protest in which they sat with signs that demonstrated what Trayvon Martin had with him when he was shot. Signs said:

  • Hoodie. Check.
  • Package of Skittles. Check.
  • Drink. Check.
  • Black. Check.

Those statements were followed by the quote: "Hope I don’t get shot."

Western Michigan University students are planning a rally for today at which they are encouraging people to wear hoodies. A protest is also planned for today at Virginia Commonwealth University.

 

 

March 26, 2012

A psychologist warned Pennsylvania State University police in 1998 that Jerry Sandusky was a "likely pedophile" after she treated a young boy who described being hugged by the man now facing this charge in court, MSNBC reported. The psychologist came forward now, with the approval of the boy's family, amid the debate over Sandusky and whether Penn State did enough to protect children from him. In 1998, the police consulted with another psychologist, who said that there was no evidence of abuse. The new report is significant because it was a detailed complaint, four years before a graduate assistant says he saw Sandusky molesting a boy -- an incident that the graduate assistant reported. The psychologist told NBC that she was horrified to find so many other boys had experienced what her patient experienced. "There was very little doubt in my mind (Sandusky) … was a male predator, someone that was in the process of grooming a young man for abuse ," said the psychologist. "I thought … my report was strong enough to suggest that this was somebody who should be watched."

March 26, 2012

Michael Hogan, who is leaving the University of Illinois System presidency after two controversial years in which he angered many faculty leaders and some campus administrators, isn't departing the executive suite without a nice compensation package. The Chicago Tribune reported that he will get a one-year sabbatical before becoming a history professor at a system campus of his choice. In that role, he is assured a starting salary of $285,100 -- the average of the 10 faculty members with the highest salaries in the university system (excluding medicine and dentistry). Hogan's salary is $651,000 this year. He will receive $67,500 in deferred compensation in 2015. He would have received an additional $157,500 had he stayed for an additional three years.

March 26, 2012

More than 1,000 Israeli academics -- including many prominent figures in Israel's universities -- have signed a petition calling on the government to stop the process of awarding university status to the Ariel University Center, which offers college courses on a West Bank campus, Haaretz reported. The academics object to the impact such a move would have on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and some question whether the country needs another university. The Ariel campus has been embraced by many in Israel who seek to keep the West Bank (or significant parts of it). Nir Gov, a professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science and an organizer of the petition, said: "When did the Council for Higher Education decide that another university was needed in Israel? Who said that Ariel is the college that can most efficiently become an official research university in Israel?"

March 26, 2012

Civil liberties groups and some students are raising questions about proposed protest rules under consideration by the Seattle Community College District, The Seattle Times reported. An extended Occupy protest at Seattle Central Community College last fall was seen by participants as a great example of public protest, but was an expensive public health challenge for the college. Most of the participants in the Occupy protest were not affiliated with the college. The rules under consideration would, among other things, require outside groups to tell the college 24 hours before a protest and limit the size of protest signs.

March 23, 2012

Susan Aldridge is resigning as president of University of Maryland University College -- but isn't explaining (nor is the University System of Maryland) why she was placed on leave last month. UMUC is among the more successful distance education institutions in the country, so Aldridge's departure has prompted widespread curiosity. In an interview, William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the system, said that Maryland law barred him from discussing anything in any employee's personnel record. But Kirwan seemed anxious to rebut reports that her departure might be linked to a complaint filed with the legislative auditor, or due to frustrations of UMUC faculty members in Asia. Kirwan said that he hasn't even seen the complaint filed with the auditor, and that some changes were made a while ago to deal with some concerns of the professors in Asia.

He also said that he supported recent changes to move UMUC away from a traditional semester calendar, and that he did not see major changes ahead in the educational philosophy of the university. "I think it has a unique role to play, and it is much admired around the country," he said. "Most states would like to have an institution like it."

March 23, 2012

Josef Dobes, the controversial education minister in the Czech Republic, is stepping down, Radio Prague reported. Dobes said he was leaving to protest budget cuts to his agency. Many students and academics in the country criticized his tenure in office, and particularly his plan to impose tuition at universities.

 

March 23, 2012

A student at Florida Atlantic University was physically removed from a class and then tased when she refused to get into a police car, following an in-class outburst that included expletives and statements about hurting people. The incident in class was filmed and posted to YouTube. (Warning: the video contains graphic language.)

 

 

A police report on the incident said that the student, a black female, started yelling at the instructor in class, saying things such as "white people suck, Jewish people who think this world is theirs which is not, I will fucking kill you at the Holocaust events all over the world." Many of her remarks involved racial slurs, and she called various people "sand niggers" and "white niggers." The police report said that a Taser was used on her when she refused to get into a police car.

The university released a statement from Charles Brown, vice president of student affairs. "In order to provide for the safety of all concerned, the student had to be physically removed from the classroom by two FAU employees. The FAU Police Department escorted the student off of campus property and transported her to a local hospital.... In light of today’s information, the dean of students is taking immediate action regarding this student." A university spokeswoman, citing confidentiality requirements, declined to say what action was taken.

 

 

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