Live Updates: Latest News in Higher Education – Inside Higher Ed

 
The law school of the University of California, Los Angeles, announced Tuesday that it is dropping out of the U.S. News & World Report rankings.
Interim Dean Russell Korobkin wrote to the law school, “Third-party rankings can provide a useful service in this regard if their methodology is transparent, if they value features of the schools’ programs that are reasonable proxies for educational quality, and if they provide incentives for schools to compete in ways that improve educational quality and ultimately benefit the legal profession. Although no rankings can provide a perfect measure of quality, the U.S. News rankings are particularly problematic.”
He explained that “the rankings disincentivize schools from supporting public service careers for their graduates, building a diverse student population, and awarding need-based financial aid. UCLA Law does all of these things, but honoring our core values comes at a cost in rankings points.”
Korobkin added, “We are under no illusion that UCLA Law’s decision will have a substantial impact on how law schools are evaluated by U.S. News. Approximately 80 percent of a law school’s U.S. News ‘score’ is based on publicly available data and the surveys of reputation that U.S. News itself conducts, so U.S. News undoubtedly will continue to rank all of the law schools, perhaps with only minor methodological adjustments. Nonetheless, it is important for us to use this moment to reinforce our values and do what we can to encourage positive change by withholding our cooperation. We are eager to work with U.S. News, or with any other organization that wishes to rank law schools, to help determine a methodology that can provide useful comparative information for potential students without creating harmful incentives for schools that fail to encourage the improvement of legal education.”
UCLA Law is the eighth law school (including those of Harvard and Yale Universities) to withdraw from U.S. News rankings.
The Justice Department on Monday announced a proposed consent decree with the University of California, Berkeley, on online access to course materials.
The agreement, which still requires a judge’s approval, involves Berkeley agreeing to make changes to many course materials.
“UC Berkeley makes conferences, lectures, sporting events, graduation ceremonies and other university events available to the public on its websites and on other online platforms, including its YouTube and Apple Podcasts channels,” said a Justice Department statement. “It also makes courses available on its UC BerkeleyX platform. Much of this online content is not accessible to people with disabilities because it lacks captions and transcripts for individuals who are deaf and alternative text describing visual images for individuals who are blind. It is also formatted in a way that does not allow individuals with disabilities to access the content using screen readers or other assistive technology.”
Under the consent decree, “UC Berkeley will make all future and the vast majority of its existing online content accessible to people with disabilities. This includes BerkeleyX courses, university websites and video and podcast content on its YouTube, Apple Podcasts and other third-party platforms,” the department added. “UC Berkeley will also revise its policies, train relevant personnel, designate a web accessibility coordinator, conduct accessibility testing of its online content and hire an independent auditor to evaluate the accessibility of its content.”
“By entering into this consent decree, UC Berkeley will make its content accessible to the many people with disabilities who want to participate in and access the same online educational opportunities provided to people without disabilities,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This decree will provide people with disabilities access to the numerous free online courses, conferences, lectures, performances and other programming offered by UC Berkeley and its faculty, providing lifelong learning opportunities to millions of people.”
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte has adjusted its policy on weapons to permit people to carry a kirpan, a knife that observant Sikhs are required to have on their bodies at all times. It is held by a strap.
In September, a Sikh student at the university was briefly handcuffed while police officers removed from his person a kirpan. The incident outraged many Sikh organizations.
“Effective immediately, we have adjusted our policy to reflect that kirpans will be permitted on campus provided that the blade length is less than three inches and the kirpan is worn close to the body in a sheath at all times,” said a letter to the campus from Sharon L. Gaber, the chancellor, and Brandon L. Wolfe, associate vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion.
The new policy is the result of discussions the university had with Sikh groups. “We have engaged in dialogue with representatives from the local and global Sikh communities about how we could modify university policies to honor the tenets of religious freedom while protecting the safety of our campus,” the letter said.
Four former and current students have sued Seattle University over a degree that the state said it couldn’t award, KING 5 News reported.
The students expected to receive a master’s degree in nursing. One student said she even received a diploma and applied for jobs in California, where she found out that Washington State had not approved the degree.
The degree and related expenses cost the students about $70,000 each.
A statement from Seattle University said, “We regret the way information was communicated … about a proposed master’s degree option. Upon being notified by the state commission this was an infraction, we quickly remedied our communications and notified the affected students. The commission subsequently considered the matter resolved without the need for any further action.”
Hunter College has announced a $52 million gift from Leonard Lauder, chairman emeritus of the Estée Lauder Companies, in honor of his late wife, Evelyn, a Hunter alumna, The New York Times reported.
The funds will be used to expand Hunter’s 1,200-student nursing school.
Jennifer Raab, Hunter’s president, said it was the largest single donation ever made to a college that is part of the City University of New York.
The Washington Post has new details on the deaths of three University of Virginia students on Sunday.
The students were shot as their class returned from a class trip to Washington, D.C., to see a play. The Post reported that the course was on African American playwrights, although the professor had invited some students from her other courses to attend as well.
Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. was one of the students who wasn’t in the course on African American playwrights. He has been charged with the murders.
He didn’t talk to the students he is charged with killing, who were all members of UVA’s football team. Jones briefly played on the team in 2018 but didn’t appear to know those he killed.
Jones didn’t sit with the other students at the play, The Till Trilogy, about Emmett Till, a 14-year-old who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955. The students had dinner after the play at an Ethiopian restaurant.
Their professor, Theresa Davis, had arranged the field trip and funding for the day. The students didn’t have to pay for anything.
An Arizona ballot measure to allow undocumented students who live in the state to pay in-state tuition rates has passed, the Associated Press reported.
The measure was on last week’s ballots, but the total votes were not sufficient until Monday for the AP to declare that the measure passed.
“This shows there is bipartisan broad consensus about immigration solutions,” said Rebecca Shi, executive director of the national American Business Immigration Coalition.
A University of Virginia student is suspected of killing three and injuring two on campus.
A message from Jim Ryan, the president, sent to the campus at 4:37 a.m. said the university would not release the names of the victims yet.
But the message identified Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. as the suspect.
Jones fled the scene and university police officers are searching for him, in collaboration with others from law enforcement.
“This is a message any leader hopes never to send, and I am devastated that this violence has visited the University of Virginia,” Ryan wrote.
The university canceled classes for today and remains on lockdown mode.
Four University of Idaho students, meanwhile, were found dead in what is believed to be a homicide incident.
They were together in off-campus residence.
The university announced that classes were canceled today, but all parts of the campus are open.
Harvard University announced Thursday that it will return hair samples collected in the 1930s from “700 Native American children attending U.S. Indian boarding schools. Many of these samples have the names of the children whose hair was taken, as well as their tribal affiliation. We estimate there are approximately 300 tribal nations represented in the total of 700 youth.”
The announcement came from Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.
“We recognize that for many Native American communities, hair holds cultural and spiritual significance and the museum is fully committed to the return of hair back to families and tribal communities,” said the Peabody.
It added, “The Peabody Museum apologizes to Indigenous families and tribal nations for our complicity in the objectification of Native peoples and for our more than 80-year possession of hair taken from their relatives.”
Black students at Grinnell College are demanding changes after a series of racial incidents, The Des Moines Register reported.
In October, at least 14 cars were covered with racist and white supremacist graffiti. The Black Student Union also reports that Black students have been the targets of racial harassment by white drivers in the area.
The college administration has condemned the racist incidents. Anne Harris, the president, said Grinnell has ordered security cameras for the first time. “We’re going to hold someone accountable to the full extent that we can,” Harris said.
Many Black students are walking in pairs to protect themselves.
Loyal Terry, co-spokesperson for the Black Student Union and president of the Student Government Association, said people often view Grinnell as a “bubble.” But, he said, “the bubble’s burst.”
A white University of Kentucky student caught on video attacking a Black student will leave the university, NBC News reported.
During the attack, she repeatedly used a racial slur.
The white student, Sophia Rosing, was arrested on multiple charges. Her lawyer said she would withdraw from the university.
“She’s a very, very embarrassed and humiliated young lady,” he said, adding that he is “getting her into some kind of treatment program and sensitivity program to help her through this situation.”
He said Rosing will receive treatment for “several things” but declined to elaborate further.
Hundreds of Black students and their supporters marched on campus Tuesday to protest the incident, WBKO reported. At the rally, Kylah Spring, whom Rosing attacked, said, “You will not break my spirit.”
All fraternity parties and social events at Cornell University have been suspended after one student reported she was sexually assaulted and four students said they were drugged at off-campus houses that are affiliated with fraternities, The New York Times reported.
The Interfraternity Council made the decision, which was endorsed by Cornell administrators.
“Like you, we are outraged and saddened by the Cornell University Police Department crime alerts issued this weekend,” said a letter from Martha E. Pollack, the president, and Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student and campus life. “We strongly condemn the actions of all individuals responsible for these criminal violations.”
A white University of Kentucky student was arrested by campus police Sunday after social media video showed her attacking two Black students and shouting racial slurs at them.
Sophia Rosing was charged with alcohol intoxication in a public place, disorderly conduct, fourth-degree assault and third-degree assault (of a police officer). Her bond was set at $10,000, WKYT reported.
Kylah Spring was the first student she is seen attacking, and she was working in a dormitory at the time. She said Rosing appeared intoxicated. Spring asked Rosing if she was OK, “and she continues to look at me and she starts calling me a [racial slur],” said Spring. “She bit me along my arm. She punched me in my face.”
In video, Rosing uses the slur repeatedly.
Rosing has been a College Fashionista, a program through which she is supposed to influence what students wear. College Fashionista announced that Rosing was removed from the program on Sunday.
Eli Capilouto, the president of the University of Kentucky, released a statement that said in part, “Early this morning, an incident involving violence against our students, racial slurs and offensive language occurred in one of our residence halls. One of the victims was a student employee who was working an overnight shift at the front desk. From my view of a video of the incident, the student worker acted with professionalism, restraint and discretion … The video images I have seen do not honor our responsibilities to each other. They reflect violence, which is never acceptable, and a denial of the humanity of members of our community. They do not reflect civil discourse. They are deeply antithetical to what we are and what we always want to be as a community.”
Jason Hinojosa, the interim chief of police at the University of Utah, has banned three phrases from police work, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
He reviewed body camera footage and said the phrases are common. The university has been working on its policies since the 2018 murder of a student, Lauren McCluskey, killed by her ex-boyfriend.
The phrases, used by police officers to McCluskey, are: “There is nothing we can do,” “Why did you wait to report this crime?” and “What do you want me to do?”
Hinojosa is coaching his officers on better ways to talk to people who report crimes on campus.
The board of Calvin University, a college in Michigan owned by the Christian Reformed Church, said last week that faculty members could dissent from a clause in a confession of faith that regards sex outside of heterosexual marriage as sinful, the Religion News Service reported.
The vote permits those faculty members to remain in their positions.
Normally, faculty members hired by Calvin must sign a document saying their beliefs align with a set of historical Christian creeds and confessions. The Faculty Handbook says they must “teach, speak, and write in harmony with the confessions.”
But many professors no longer hold that sex outside of heterosexual marriage is sinful. “It’s a matter of integrity,” said Kristin Kobes Du Mez, a professor of history at Calvin who was among the initial group of faculty members who requested permission to dissent from the Christian Reform Church’s stance on sex. “It seemed necessary to register my dissent so that I could have clarity in terms of whether it was a space where I could continue to work, or whether I no longer fit within the mission of the community.”
Calvin did not identify the professors who requested the right to dissent or say how many of them there were.
The university does not allow students to engage in premarital sex and defines marriage as between a man and a woman. A spokesman for Calvin said those rules will not change.

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