University News

This Week in Higher Ed: Oct. 7, 2015

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University News Editors
Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Nine killed in Oregon community college shooting

Eight Oregon community college students and one teacher were killed, and nine were wounded Oct. 1 after a 26-year-old male gunman opened fire on classrooms at Umpqua Community College, the New York Times reported. Students were evacuated to Douglas County Fairgrounds, eight miles south of the school, where friends and family gathered anxiously as details from the shooting slowly came out.

The shooter is believed to have killed himself while in contact with police officers who converged on the college, and the FBI is currently engaged with local law enforcement in an investigation on the shooter’s firearm cache and “hateful” motivations. At the initial press conference, Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin refused to disclose the gunman’s name. “I will not give him the credit he probably sought prior to this horrific and cowardly act,” he said.

The carrying of a concealed weapon at UCC is legal, as Oregon is one of seven states that permits firearms at postsecondary schools.

Students sat in a public speaking class when the gunman burst into the classroom. In nearby rooms, shots were audible, and students attempted to barricade themselves in or flee via the hallways.

President Barack Obama responded with a press conference later that day, in which he expressed anger at the continuous occurrence of mass shootings — particularly at schools. He lamented the lack of “modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon,” asking Americans to put aside partisan ties and come together to stop “this cause of continuing death for innocent people,” NBC News reported. Obama will visit Roseburg, Oregon, this upcoming Friday.

UCC reopened Monday, offering counseling to faculty, staff and students before classes resume next week, WGN reported.

NCAA non-compensation rule for student athletes upheld

Collegiate athletes do not have the right to be paid for their work, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Wednesday, the New York Times reported. According to the ruling, the NCAA “may restrict colleges from compensating athletes beyond the cost of attendance,” the Times reported.

The court ruled that under antitrust law, the exchange of students’ playing time, ad revenue and merchandise sales in return for reduced or completely covered tuition is legal.

The ruling upheld a decision from last year, in which a federal judge warned the NCAA that it was “not above the antitrust laws,” the Times reported. The ruling also eliminates the possibility that student athletes be paid up to $5,000 in “deferred compensation.”

Secretary of Education to step down

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will step down from his post in December, ending a tenure of almost seven years that saw sweeping changes controversial to both sides of the aisle, the New York Times reported. Duncan cited family as the motivating factor for his departure, as his wife and two children moved back to their home city of Chicago this past summer.

“Arne’s done more to bring our educational system, sometimes kicking and screaming, into the 21st century than anyone else,” Obama said at a press conference Oct. 2. “It’s a record that I truly believe no other education secretary can match,” he added.

But Obama will attempt to allot that job to John King, Jr., current deputy education secretary, the Times reported.

Duncan’s most noted achievement remains the Race to the Top program, which offered financial prizes to school districts that innovated their educational standards through improved teacher evaluations, increased charter school utilization and lowered standards for teacher dismissal. He also prioritized the implementation of the Common Core and national testing procedures.

The reforms to teacher evaluations angered Democrat-supported teachers unions, while the Common Core implementation and testing reforms disrupted the Republican-pushed No Child Left Behind program.

King is seen as ideologically similar to Duncan but may not have access to the billions of dollars available to the current Secretary, as Congress will discuss cutting some of the Department of Education’s funding.