Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

January 7, 2020

Dozens of masked men armed with sticks and iron rods attacked students and professors at India’s prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University on Sunday, injuring more than 30 people, The Washington Post reported.

Eyewitnesses said attackers shouted a slogan used by India's ruling right-wing Hindu nationalist party as they beat students and destroyed property. Eyewitnesses alleged that police not only failed to stop the violence but that they also participated in beating up students.

India has been embroiled by protests over a controversial new citizenship law that critics argue discriminates against Muslims. The attack at JNU seems to have been rooted in a separate dispute over fees that has pitted student supporters of India's government against opponents.

January 7, 2020

Today on the Academic Minute, part of University at Albany Week, Brendan Gaesser, assistant professor in the department of psychology, explains how imagination can help you become more altruistic. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

January 6, 2020

Graduate student assistants at Harvard University ended a 29-day strike last week, without having reached a first union contract agreement with their administration. The student workers, who are affiliated with the United Auto Workers, went on strike in early December after spending more than a year trying to negotiate their first deal. They were seeking what they described as fair pay, comprehensive health care and protections from harassment and discrimination. Harvard said at the time that it had proposed generous terms in each of those areas, but that it could not meet the union’s precise demands. USA Today reported that the union and Harvard have agreed to let federal mediators assist in negotiations.

January 6, 2020

Rie Hachiyanagi, professor of art at Mount Holyoke College, allegedly attacked a fellow Mount Holyoke professor inside the colleague’s home in the early morning hours of Dec. 24, police say. Hachiyanagi is charged with armed assault with attempt to murder a person over the age of 60, three accounts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, mayhem and armed assault in a dwelling, according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette. The victim, who has not been named publicly, sustained serious injuries to her head and face. She reportedly told investigators that Hachiyanagi came to her home unannounced to talk about her feelings and then attacked her with multiple household items.

Hachiyanagi allegedly told the victim that she’d loved her for many years and that she should have known. The victim said she “played along” to convince Hachiyanagi to call 911. Hachiyanagi told police that she didn’t remember anything that happened that night and that she has a history of concussions. She has previously created art based on memories she lost following a severe auto accident. Mount Holyoke confirmed that the incident involved two professors. A spokesperson reportedly said that Hachiyanagi, who is being held without bail, is now on administrative leave and not permitted on campus, pending further investigation. “We take very seriously the safety and well-being of every member of our community, and the college is providing support to impacted parties as appropriate,” the spokesperson said.

January 6, 2020

The outstanding portfolio on federal student loans is now $1.51 trillion, according to data released by the Education Department on Friday.

The direct student loan portfolio now represents 82 percent of the total, the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) portfolio represents 17 percent, and federal Perkins Loan program loans comprise less than 0.5 percent.

January 6, 2020

Caldwell University has agreed to pay more than $4.8 million to resolve complaints that it defrauded a federal education program.

“Caldwell University tried to hoodwink the Department of Veterans Affairs and, worse, veterans themselves, by claiming to offer online classes developed and provided by Caldwell that were in fact marked-up offerings by an online correspondence school,” said a statement by U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito. “Our veterans should never be treated this way, and we will continue to work to ensure that they receive all of the benefits that they deserve as a result of their service to the country.”

January 6, 2020

A federal appeals court on Friday rejected a legal challenge to the University of Texas at Austin's decision to move Confederate statues off campus, The Hill reported. The decision upheld a lower court's ruling.

“Though these ties might give plaintiffs strong reasons to care about these monuments, plaintiffs fail to explain how these ties [provide] a First Amendment-based stake in the outcome of this litigation,” Judge Edith Clement Brown wrote for the panel. “Plaintiffs have shown only a rooting interest in the outcome of this litigation, not a direct and personal stake in it,” she added.

After years of debate, the university moved the statues in 2017.

January 6, 2020

A cyberattack has delayed the start of the spring semester from today to Wednesday at Wallace State Community College, in Alabama.

A statement from the college said that the cyberattack has not breached student or faculty data, but that it "has impacted the functionality of some of our online services such as Blackboard and student email."

January 6, 2020

Today on the Academic Minute, part of University at Albany Week, Gary Ackerman, associate professor in the college of emergency preparedness, homeland security and cybersecurity, examines the role of ideology in terrorists' violent behavior. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

January 3, 2020

A law professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who was on unpaid leave for a year after being accused of and admitting to sexual harassment allegations will not be returning to teach this semester, the university said in an email sent to faculty and students at the law school.

The email from Dean Vikram Amar said Professor Jay Kesan will be on a “university sanctioned leave” and will not teach as expected, according to The News-Gazette. The email did not elaborate, the newspaper said.

A two-year investigation into Kesan’s sexual misconduct dating back to 2002 was announced in fall 2018. Kesan subsequently issued a written apology and said he was taking an unpaid, voluntary leave of absence from his post for calendar year 2019.

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