All posts by Nick DeSantis


Student Says He Lost Facebook Internship After Shedding Light on Privacy Flaws

A student at Harvard University says he lost an internship at Facebook after an application that he created revealed privacy flaws in the social-networking giant’s messaging app, The Boston Globe reported.

The student, Aran Khanna, created an extension for Google’s Chrome web browser that used data from Facebook Messenger to reveal where users were when they sent messages. Facebook asked him to disable the application and later said it had released an update to give users full control over how they share their location information. A Facebook spokesman said the company had been working on the update before Mr. Khanna began writing publicly about his application.

Facebook said the student’s application had scraped the network’s data in a way that violated the company’s policies. Mr. Khanna said the company rescinded its offer of a summer internship for violating its user agreement.

In the end, Khanna had a pretty great summer after all. He accepted another internship with a tech start-up in Silicon Valley. And, he said, the back-and-forth with Facebook turned out to be an “internship experience” in itself that taught him a great deal.

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U. of Texas to Move Jefferson Davis Statue to Campus History Center

The University of Texas at Austin will move a statue of the Confederate president, Jefferson Davis, from its prominent position on the campus to a history center there, but will leave statues of other Confederate leaders in place, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

The university is one of many that have recently been grappling with the question of what to do about Confederate symbols on their grounds. Those debates intensified after a mass shooting in June that took place inside a black ch…


U. of Illinois Trustees Reject Resignation Deal for Chancellor Phyllis Wise

The executive committee of the University of Illinois’s Board of Trustees on Wednesday unanimously rejected a resignation deal for Phyllis M. Wise, who quit last week as chancellor of the Urbana-Champaign campus, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Ms. Wise’s sudden resignation capped a tumultuous year of controversies at the state’s flagship campus, including a long-lasting uproar over the decision to rescind a job offer to Steven G. Salaita, the university’s employment of a scholar who spent time in…


Centuries-Old Oak at U. of Florida Will Get the Ax, Despite Campaign to Save It

University of Florida officials have decided to cut down a 200-year-old bluff oak despite efforts by some students and faculty members to save the tree, which is nicknamed “Bert,” The Gainesville Sun reported.

Bert’s supporters have staged a social-media campaign to save the tree, which is one of several being removed to make room for a new engineering building. In April, those supporters won what would turn out to be a temporary reprieve, when a campus committee decided to require an architect to come up with an alternative to a plan to cut down the tree and dozens of others.

Curtis A. Reynolds, the university’s vice president for business affairs, said in a letter to the head of the committee that the alternative plans weren’t feasible. The university received $6 million from the State Legislature to help finance the project, but that amount fell far short of the $25 million that had been requested for the building in this year’s budget.

“In order to prepare for the earlier-than-usual legislative start date, and to avoid the possibility of construction cost increases, we have decided to move forward with the project,” Reynolds said.

The university will plant six new trees for every heritage tree cut down, and two to four new trees for all the other trees removed, Reynolds said. The university will also hire an arborist on retainer to give advice on future projects.

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Judge Rejects Florida State’s Bid to Dismiss Suit by Ex-Quarterback’s Accuser

A federal judge has denied Florida State University’s motion to dismiss a Title IX lawsuit brought by a former student who leveled a rape accusation at a star quarterback for the Seminoles, USA Today reported.

The plaintiff in the case, Erica Kinsman, sued the university in January. She accused the Florida State quarterback, Jameis Winston, who is now a rookie with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, of assaulting her in December 2012. Mr. Winston was not charged criminally in connection with the allegations, and was found not responsible for sexual misconduct after a student disciplinary hearing.

Judge Mark E. Walker of the U.S. District Court in Tallahassee, Fla., on Monday rejected the university’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. He had previously scheduled a trial date in the case for next year.

“In sum, FSU offers a different take on some of the facts in the complaint and additional facts that are not in the complaint in an attempt to show its efforts to respond were diligent and genuine, or at least not ‘clearly unreasonable’ under Title IX,” Walker wrote in his motion. “This Court does not resolve such factual disputes on a motion to dismiss.

“Viewed in the light most favorable to Ms. Kinsman, the complaint plausibly alleges deliberate indifference during this period that effectively denied her the ability to attend FSU.”

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Pasadena College Is Told to Restore Winter Term and Compensate Faculty

California’s Public Employment Relations Board has issued a preliminary decision stating that Pasadena City College acted illegally in canceling its winter session three years ago, and ordering the two-year institution to compensate faculty members for losses caused by that change, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The ending of Pasadena City’s winter session was one point of controversy during the bumpy tenure as president of Mark W. Rocha, who clashed repeatedly with faculty members and left his position last year.

The college must compensate professors for losses brought on by the elimination of the winter session plus 7 percent interest, according to the ruling. It’s not yet clear how much the decision could ultimately cost the college. The president of Pasadena City’s Board of Trustees declined to comment on the ruling.

Faculty members have made several no-confidence votes against the college’s administration, and the previous president, Mark W. Rocha, left his position last August after threatening to sue the school after a trustee criticized him.

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Wheaton College (Ill.) Ends Student Health Insurance Over Contraceptive Rule

Wheaton College of Illinois will stop providing students with health insurance because of its objections to the Obama administration’s controversial rule on access to contraceptives, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Many other religious colleges have asserted that the contraceptive mandate violates their religious beliefs. The Obama administration’s attempts to compromise on the rule have so far failed to satisfy those institutions, several of which have filed lawsuits over the mandate.



Investigation Finds High Dropout Rates at Unaccredited Law Schools

Nearly nine out of 10 students who attend unaccredited law schools in California drop out within four years, according to an investigation by the Los Angeles Times.

The schools offer four-year programs, and their students are allowed to take the state bar examination, although the schools are not required to meet the same academic standards as those that are accredited nationally or by the state bar. Students at the unaccredited schools are generally not eligible for federal financial assistance…


UC-San Diego Wins Suit Against USC Over Control of Alzheimer’s Project

The University of California at San Diego has prevailed in an unusual lawsuit against the University of Southern California over control of a major project to study Alzheimer’s disease, the Los Angeles Times reported.

San Diego accused Paul S. Aisen, who resigned his position there in June, and the other defendants of improperly conspiring to transfer the Alzheimer’s study to Southern California, which is Dr. Aisen’s new employer. The defendants argued that it was commonplace for departing resea…


U. of Cincinnati Overhauls Police Patrols After Fatal Shooting by Officer

The University of Cincinnati’s president on Thursday announced changes in how the institution’s police force operates, following an officer’s fatal shooting of a black man during a traffic stop on Sunday, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

The officer, Ray Tensing, shot and killed Samuel Dubose, 43, during a traffic stop over a missing front license plate that took place about half a mile from the university’s main campus. Mr. Dubose’s family and others have staged protests calling for the releas…