All posts by Nick DeSantis


Syracuse U. Protesters End Sit-In and Move Into ‘Phase 2′

Students at Syracuse University who had been staging a protest at the university’s administration building for the past 18 days ended their occupation on Thursday, The Post-Standard reported.

A student coalition called THE General Body was protesting against what its supporters called a lack of transparency and inclusiveness at the institution. Ben Kuebrich, a graduate student and organizer of the student coalition, told the newspaper that the group had decided “that maintaining the space isn’t …


Fund Raisers’ Group Names U. of Melbourne Official as New President

Sue Cunningham, vice principal for advancement at the University of Melbourne, in Australia, will be the next president of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, the council announced on Thursday.

Ms. Cunningham will succeed John Lippincott, who said in January that he would retire after 11 years as CASE’s president. CASE said that Ms. Cunningham has 17 years of experience working with academic institutions, and has worked regularly in North America, Europe, and Asia. She will t…


Steven Salaita Sues U. of Illinois in Records Dispute

Steven G. Salaita, the scholar who saw the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign revoke his job offer after he made harsh criticisms of Israel on social media, has filed a lawsuit accusing the university of violating the state’s open-records law, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Mr. Salaita became the public face of a debate about academic freedom after the university rescinded an offer of a tenured professorship in its program in American Indian studies. Many scholars criticized the university’s handling of his case, and Mr. Salaita vowed to wage a legal fight if he was not reinstated.

Mr. Salaita’s complaint seeks to force the university to turn over emails related to his aborted job offer, asserting that the university had responded improperly to a request made under the state’s open-records law.

U. of I. spokesman Thomas Hardy, the university’s chief records officer, said school officials had not yet seen the lawsuit.

“We’ll review it carefully and defend the university’s interests,” Hardy said.

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Religious Colleges Lose Court Case Over Obama’s Contraception Policy

A unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Friday rejected a challenge to the Obama administration’s compromise system for religious organizations, including colleges affiliated with faith groups, that object to providing contraceptive insurance, as required by President Obama’s signature health-care law.

The administration has repeatedly sought to ease the concerns of faith-based groups that oppose providing coverage for contraceptives on religious grounds. But those efforts have been rejected by several religious colleges that argue that the administration’s efforts to accommodate them are inadequate.

Several religious groups have objected to filling out a form that allows them to transfer the costs of providing such insurance to their insurers or to third parties. They assert that filling out the form is tantamount to violating their religious beliefs.

But Judge Cornelia T.L. Pillard, writing for the appellate panel, rejected that assertion in an order on Friday.

The three appellate judges, all appointed by Democratic presidents, rejected the claim. “The accommodation requires as little as it can from the objectors while still serving the government’s compelling interests,” Judge Cornelia Pillard wrote.

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AAU to Conduct Sexual-Assault Climate Survey of Its Members

The Association of American Universities will conduct a sexual-assault climate survey of its members, the AAU announced on Friday.

The association said the survey would be carried out next April at “as many of its 60 U.S. research universities that choose to participate.” The survey will be administered to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, but not faculty members or administrators.

“Sexual assault is unquestionably one of the most important and complex issues our campuses fac…


Florida State Football Player Gets a Break in Hit-and-Run Incident

[Updated (11/14/2014, 7:09 p.m.) to include a response from Florida State.]

An article in The New York Times has raised questions about how the Tallahassee Police Department and the campus police force at Florida State University handled a traffic accident involving a Seminoles football player.

The player, P.J. Williams, reportedly drove his car into an oncoming vehicle during the early-morning hours of October 5, then fled the scene of the accident along with his two passengers. The Times examined the case and similar accidents, and said that Mr. Williams, who was driving with a suspended license at the time, was given a break by the local police department, which issued him a pair of traffic tickets.

The university’s police force lacked jurisdiction in the case but sent two officers to the scene. The campus department’s call logs said that the Tallahassee police had called seeking help in an investigation. The university said two of its officers had decided to drive to the scene but were not needed. They did not file a report on the incident, the Times said.

In a written statement released on Friday evening, John E. Thrasher, Florida State’s new president, said that the evidence “simply does not support the implications in the Times article.” He added that the campus police department’s officers “acted entirely appropriately and followed department procedures.”

University policy specifies that police reports “must be completed and submitted regarding actions taken by officers” in response to an “outside request for assistance.” Asked why the two officers had not filed a report, the university said they “were not involved in the investigation, didn’t make an arrest and their assist didn’t result in an arrest, citation or summons.”Campus Police Chief David L. Perry said in a statement that he reviewed the actions of his officers and found that they behaved appropriately. “This was a routine matter of our agency responding to a simple request from TPD and it was all together proper for our officers to go the scene,” Mr. Perry said.

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Yale Medical School Removes Accused Cardiologist as Research-Center Director

Yale University’s medical school has removed the director of its Cardiovascular Research Center, a prominent cardiologist who was accused of sexual harassment, The New York Times reported.

The physician, Michael Simons, was Yale’s chief of cardiology until last year, when he was suspended for 18 months after he was found to have sexually harassed a postdoctoral researcher. The university has faced questions about its handling of Dr. Simons’s case. In October the university said he had decided …


Plan to Merge 2-Year College Into Fort Hays State U. Collapses

A plan to merge Dodge City Community College, in Kansas, into Fort Hays State University has fallen apart, the Dodge City Daily Globe reported.

The college’s governing board previously voted to approve the merger. But the Kansas Board of Regents had removed a legislative request for money to support the merger, pending a board vote showing united support for the proposal.

Opponents of the merger presented a counterproposal to the board that resulted in a 3-to-3 vote, effectively ending the plan …


Dozens of Emory U. Students Suffer Gastrointestinal Illnesses

Emory University said on Thursday that dozens of students had come down with gastrointestinal illnesses in recent days, with more than 70 students receiving treatment. Michael J. Huey, executive director of Emory University Student Health and Counseling Services, shared the news with Emory students in an email on Thursday night. He said that the cause of the students’ illnesses was not yet known.

“Gastrointestinal illnesses are caused primarily by viruses, bacteria and food-borne toxins. At this time, the cause of our current cluster of illnesses is unclear,” Huey wrote.

Huey said the DeKalb Health Department inspected the university’s campus dining facilities on Wednesday – shortly after the first students began getting sick – and found no health infractions or issues of concern. All leftover food served on Tuesday has been isolated and is being analyzed, he added, and the dining facility is following several public health protocols, such as replacing common use customer utensils more often than required by health guidelines.

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Italian Court Overturns Scientists’ Convictions for Failing to Warn of Deadly Earthquake

An Italian appeals court has overturned the convictions of six scientists and one government official for failing to adequately warn the public about a 2009 earthquake that destroyed the city of L’Aquila and killed more than 300 people, including several at a local university. The seven members of a government group called the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks were convicted of manslaughter two years ago. The case had raised fears among scientists that the criminal proceedings could deter researchers from advising governments.

One defendant, a government official from the state civil protection agency, was convicted on a separate charge of manslaughter, but handed a two-year suspended sentence.

Families of victims of the earthquake, and lawyers representing them in the civil case against the defendants, called the ruling “shameful” and pledged to appeal. The trial can be appealed once more before the ruling becomes definitive.

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