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UC administrators standing firm on tuition hike despite protests

The University of California system is moving ahead with a proposed 32 percent tuition hike despite a series of student protests. UC President Mark Yudof said the system — which serves 190,000 students on 10 campuses — has "no choice" but to raise tuition, despite the opposition from students and university employees that has resulted in a bevy of legal complications and media coverage, according to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education last week.

The most public student-administrator clash occurred Nov. 20 at UC-Berkeley, where a dramatic confrontation between students who locked themselves in a classroom and a police team led to the arrest of 41 students for trespassing, according to Inside Higher Ed. Mostly peaceful protests were held throughout last week on other UC campuses.

These events, combined with the perceived remoteness of some UC administrators and a September New York Times interview, in which Yudof joked about his more than $560,000 compensation package, have fed the protest movement, Inside Higher Ed reported.

The protests are a result of the UC Board of Regents' decision to increase student tuition from $7,788 to $10,000 and cut employee pay to help close the system's deficit of at least $753 million, according to the Chronicle. The shortfall has largely arisen from cuts in funding from the state of California, which faces massive budget deficits of its own.

Nonprofit that donated to Harvard, Columbia charged with aiding Iran

A nonprofit organization that has donated money to several American universities, including Columbia and Harvard, to promote knowledge of Islamic and Iranian cultures was accused by federal prosecutors this month of "illegally providing money and services to Iran," the New York Times reported last week.

The Alavi Foundation, which donated $100,000 to Columbia months before Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at the school in the fall of 2007, has denied the allegations, according to the Times.

Over the past 25 years, the foundation donated about $332,000 to Columbia for classes in Farsi and Persian culture, Columbia spokesman David Stone told the Times.

"We were as surprised as every other university and nonprofit group that may have received such donations about the recent news reports regarding this foundation," Stone told the Times.

The foundation's donation and the university's invitation to Ahmadinejad were not related and assuming a connection between the two incidents "does not stand up to rational scrutiny," Stone told the Times.

The foundation owns several properties in Queens and other parts of the country. The government is in the process of seizing some of these properties, many of which have mosques built on them — a move that the foundation has resisted, according to the Times.

Northeastern axes football program

The football program at Northeastern University has been cancelled in order to concentrate funding in the school's strongest sports programs.

Athletics Director Peter Roby sent an open letter to the Northeastern community announcing the end of the school's intercollegiate football program Nov. 23, after informing the team and coaches the night before.

"The past several years have been disappointing for our football program despite the best efforts of our staff and players," he wrote. Tight finances, combined with the team's lackluster performances in recent years, led to the decision made by the Board of Trustees, the university's administration and president.

"Elevating and sustaining a competitive Division I football program would require additional multimillion investments on an ongoing basis," Roby wrote.

According to Roby's letter, the crunch for funding since the recession has forced the university to adjust its funding of school programs. The result has been "strategic investments in areas of strength," according to a Northeastern press release. Current players' athletic scholarships will continue until graduation, according to the release.


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