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Office of Audit, Compliance & Privacy

Case in Point:
Lessons for the proactive manager

January 2020
Vol. 12 No. 01
Quotable...
For me, privacy and security are really important. We think about it in terms of both: You can't have privacy without security.

-- Larry Page

You have probably noticed that this publication comes from the Office of Audit, Compliance & Privacy (OACP) at Auburn University. Most months we lean toward the audit and compliance related components in this column. However, privacy is a very important issue for all institutions to consider and a concept that is ever evolving due to massive changes in technology over the past few years. Therefore, I have asked Kristin Roberts, a compliance manager who frequently deals with privacy concerns for OACP, to weigh in on this topic.

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Data Privacy Day is observed annually on January 28. The National Cyber Security Alliance aims to raise privacy awareness and education to inform consumers that they have ownership of their online presence, and to help organizations understand how privacy is good for business.

Last year the GDPR, the European Privacy Law, changed the privacy landscape around the world. The law gives individuals in the EU control over their personal data and requires companies processing European personal data to comply with the law. Google, Facebook, Marriott, and British Airways among others, have all been assessed fines in the millions of dollars for violations of GDPR. The fines imposed demonstrate that the EU will enforce this protection of fundamental rights.

Similarly, the California Consumer Privacy Act went into effect this month requiring companies to be transparent about the data they collect from users and how they use it. Companies must also provide users with the option to prevent their personal information from being sold. California is leading the way for other states in the U.S. to create or enforce privacy legislation and opens the door for a potential federal, U.S.-wide, data privacy law. This trend is shifting the world's view of privacy toward a more consumer-protection, individual-privacy-rights mindset.

With technology all around us in our everyday lives, we tend to become desensitized to privacy notices and freely share our personal information or click ‘ok' without really understanding the implications. In this increasingly data-driven world it is even more imperative that we be diligent about protecting our privacy. As institutions of higher education, we have a responsibility to protect our customers' information and their privacy rights, in addition to complying with current and future laws.

Here are some key privacy practices to help you prioritize protecting your customers' data and prepare for advancing privacy laws:

  • Make sure you need it before you collect it. Does the application or process under consideration need to collect or store confidential information? For example, if an application contains a unique student identifier, it likely does not need their Social Security Number also. Just because an application or form has a field for a piece of information, it does not mean that the process requires it.
  • If you collect it, protect it. Once a decision is made to collect data, there must be a plan in place to protect this data from unauthorized access and release. University policy (in addition to various Federal and state laws and regulations) will often speak to the requirements to store and/or share information. For example, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), as well as University policy, address when, and by whom, student directory information may be released.
  • Be open and honest about your data collection, use, and sharing practices. Clearly communicate to your customers how you collect, use, and share personal information, and give them an option to opt out or decline to use the service or application if they don't agree. If information is collected for a specific stated purpose, it should only be used for that purpose.
  • Follow your institution's data classification policy or data storage matrix. A data classification policy specifies levels of potentially sensitive information and how each class of data should be stored and accessed to ensure the appropriate level of security. For example, operational data, such as internal emails, may not be confidential, but should not be shared publicly without authorization.
  • Create a culture of privacy. Emphasize to employees the importance of privacy. Just because an employee has authorized access to a dataset of student information, does not mean the employee should peruse this dataset and look up information about acquaintances. Confidential data should only be accessed when there is a job-related need to access the information.
  • Conduct due diligence and maintain oversight of partners and vendors. The decision to store University data with a third party or in the cloud should only be made by individuals with University contract authority, and only after careful evaluation of the vendor's security posture and contractual obligations. Have a contract in place that ensures the partner or vendor adequately protects the data and is held accountable if they do not.

Similarly, you should also update your own privacy settings. Check the privacy settings on your personal devices and online services. Limit what you share publicly or with the provider and consider deleting or requesting deletion of certain personal information. Enable two-factor authentication whenever available. See https://twofactorauth.org/ for a list of websites and apps that support 2FA.

Importantly, the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) just released Version 1.0 of the Privacy Framework, a tool to help organizations better identify, manage, and communicate privacy risks in order to protect individuals' privacy while still providing innovative products and services. Read the Privacy Framework V1.0 for guidance and best practices to implement at your institution to proactively reduce risk related to the collection, storage, and transmission of confidential and sensitive data.

Kristin Roberts
Compliance Manager

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Thank you, Kristin. We must remain vigilant with respect to protecting our data along with the many other issues in higher education. We again invite you to review the events from the prior month with a view toward how you can proactively manage risk.

M. Kevin Robinson, CIA, CFE
Associate Vice President
Office of Audit, Compliance & Privacy
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Information Security & Technology Events

Jan 29: Website Link to Porn: An official Cal Poly website for the San Luis Obispo university's Orfalea College of Business has all the related links you would expect: course descriptions, career pages, student groups and ... porn? For several months, it appears that people who clicked to learn more about a professional student group called Information Systems Association were instead directed to a page filled with images of hardcore pornography. It appears that the student group didn't pay the domain fee for its old URL address, and a porn site scooped it up. The URL, now features pornography. Internet receipts show a new owner registered the web address in October 2019. (link)

Jan 28: Cyberattack: When "malicious actors" carried out a cyberattack on Regis University last August -- crippling the Denver campus's IT network and downing phones, email and Wi-Fi -- university officials paid the hackers a ransom in hopes of restoring their incapacitated systems. Yet even after that payment, which Regis leaders publicly revealed for the first time to The Denver Post, the cyberattack still impaired day-to-day operations at the private Jesuit college for months. (link)

Jan 21: Tracking App: University of Missouri students, be warned: If it's not Big Brother watching you, it might be your professors and university administrators. The school is using hidden technology and an app on student cellphones to keep track of who is in class and who is not. Now, as a test pilot, the school is expanding the program to any student new to campus for this semester, which starts Tuesday. Faculty volunteered to have their classes be part of the test. Their students won't be given a choice. (link)

Jan 08: Recruiting Software Breach: Front Rush, a technology company that provides services to college athletics programs, exposed a server containing more than 700,000 files to the open internet, including college athletes' medical records, performance reports, driver licenses, and other personal information. Front Rush works with over 30,000 coaches and 9,500 teams according to its website. The company confirmed the data exposure in a statement. Items exposed included students' SAT scores, personal address, date of birth, physical evaluations, post-injury reports, performance reviews from specific teams for particular players, and athletic financial aid agreements. (link)

Jan 03: Cyberattack: Wallace State Community College is delaying the the start of classes in the 2020 spring semester due to a cyberattack on the college's online services. Classes will begin on Wednesday, Jan. 8. Registration has been extended through Jan. 15. In a statement, officials said student and employee data was not breached in the cyberattack. (link)

Jan 01: Erroneous Email: Lehigh University accidentally sent a congratulatory email to 137 applicants not selected for early admission. But within hours, Lehigh officials realized someone had emailed the congratulations to all who applied for early admission instead of just those who were accepted. Students who apply for early decision can be either admitted, denied or deferred to the regular admission round. Lehigh expects to have 1,425 freshman next fall. Bruce Bunnick, director of admissions at Lehigh, sent a follow-up email this week to apologize. (link)


Fraud & Ethics Related Events

Jan 28: Bribery: The University of Central Florida plans to fire three people who they say helped a graduate student obtain a doctoral degree in return for the student getting them grant money. The student is also being stripped of their degree. Three UCF faculty members are in the process of being fired, and a Ph.D student's degree is being revoked after university officials say an investigation found that the faculty members helped that student get their doctorate in exchange for grant funding. (link)

Jan 28: Foreign Conflict of Interest: Federal prosecutors on Tuesday charged a top Harvard University scientist with lying to the Department of Defense about his work for a Chinese-run talent recruitment program. Charles M. Lieber, the chair of Harvard's Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, allegedly violated federal law by not disclosing his involvement in China's Thousand Talents Plan to the Defense Department, including money he received, according to the charging document. (link)

Jan 24: Theft: A suspect was caught after $140 worth of textbooks were stolen from the Central Michigan University Bookstore on Thursday afternoon, according to university police. Police said the retail-fraud incident took place around 3 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, in Bovee University Center, 103 E. Preston Road. An 18-year-old woman was caught on camera leaving the bookstore with the stolen textbooks. (link)

Jan 21: Theft: With a tense frown, Judge Derek Pullan glanced from the court documents on his desk to a former Utah Valley University employee standing in front of him. "You stole from a public university," he said. "To speak frankly ... I question why you shouldn't go to prison for that." Jennifer Clegg, 43, wiped away tears and clasped her hands in front of her. She had been fired from UVU in April 2016 after she and her husband stole more than $380,000 from the university to pay for travel expenses and a private theater business. (link)

Jan 15: Wire & Program Fraud & COI: A Kansas associate professor concealed work he was doing for China while employed at the University of Kansas and tried to recruit other researchers and students for the Chinese government, according to revised federal charges filed Wednesday. An extensively detailed superseding indictment charges Feng “Franklin” Tao, 47, of Lawrence, Kansas, with two counts of wire fraud and one count of program fraud for failing to disclose on conflict-of-interest forms the work he was doing for China while employed as a full-time associate professor at the University of Kansas' Center for Environmental Beneficial Catalysis. Prosecutors said some of the Tao's research at the Kansas university was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. (link)

Jan 15: Theft of Research Funds: Geoffrey Girnun, a former Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology and Director of Cancer Metabolomics at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University pleaded guilty to theft of government funds from cancer-related research grants issued by the National Institutes of Health. U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said that between December 2013 and December 2017, Girnun stole approximately $78,000 in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funds that had been earmarked for cancer research. Girnun then used those funds to pay for personal expenses, including payments on his home mortgage. (link)

Jan 15: Theft of Grant Funds: A professor from Drexel University was arrested for stealing $185,000 in grant research funds that he used for adult entertainment, sports bars and other unauthorized purchases, prosecutors announced. Chikaodinaka Nwankpa, 57, is facing charges of theft by unlawful taking and theft by deception, according to a press release from Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner. Nwankpa, the former chair of Drexel University's engineering department, allegedly "spent funds that were allocated for research on activities that were not related to academic research, including on visits to area adult entertainment venues and sports bars, meals, and iTunes purchases," officials said. (link)

Jan 03: Federal Program Fraud: Caldwell University in Essex County has agreed to pay the United States more than $4.8 million to resolve its role in a scheme to defraud a federal education benefit program for veterans, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced Friday. "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," (link)

Jan 01: Research Theft: A medical student from China who U.S. authorities say tried to smuggle cancer research material taken from a Boston hospital out of the country has been held without bail by a judge who ruled he was a flight risk. Zaosong Zheng, 29, who last year earned a visa sponsored by Harvard University to study in the U.S., appeared Monday in U.S. District Court in Boston. He was arrested Dec. 10 at Boston's Logan Airport on a charge of making false statements. Magistrate Judge David Hennessy ruled that evidence suggested Zheng had tried to smuggle vials of research specimens in a sock in his suitcase bound for China and granted the prosecution's request to hold him without bail. (link)


Compliance/Regulatory & Legal Events

Jan 29: Discrimination Lawsuit: A former TCU professor has filed a lawsuit alleging she faced gender and racial bias during her time in the economics department. Dr. Silda Nikaj, who specialized in "health economics and labor economics" according to the suit, wants her job back or compensation for the loss of her job. A lawsuit was filed on her behalf Jan. 23, in federal court in Dallas. The suit claims that "during her employment, she faced blatant discrimination based on gender, female, and race/national origin." (link)

Jan 24: Discrimination Lawsuit: A long-time member of the Rutgers University purchasing department has filed suit, claiming she was repeatedly passed over for promotion because of her race. Eleanor Bullock, who is black and was born in Belize, claimed the university over the years hired several white men and women for jobs she had applied for, but repeatedly denied her without explanation, in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. (link)

Jan 23: Animal Welfare Act Lawsuit: A national watchdog group has filed a federal complaint claiming violations of the Animal Welfare Act in the UW's treatment of ferrets. UW researchers said they gave 10 ferrets three successive impacts at 24-hour intervals to induce traumatic brain injury. One ferret was eventually euthanized because they were not recovering from anesthesia, according to Stop Animal Exploitation Now, the Ohio-based watchdog that filed the complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal Care Office. (link)

Jan 22: Title IV & Title IX Lawsuit: A lawsuit filed in federal court on behalf of a student accuses the Dean of the John V. Roach Honors College of physically and verbally abusing the unnamed student during a month-long course last summer in Washington, D.C. The suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court in Dallas, also claims that faculty members on the trip conspired with Dean Diane Snow to make sure the student, identified only as Jane Doe No. 1, didn't get credit for the course. (link)

Jan 22: Sexual Misconduct Allegation: A University of Michigan provost was placed on administrative leave Tuesday amid a recently launched investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct. The university said on Wednesday that it received several allegations of sexual misconduct against Martin Philbert last week and retained an outside law firm to investigate the claims. Philbert, who joined the school's faculty as a toxicology professor in 1995 and was appointed provost in 2017, was placed on leave pending the outcome of the investigation and instructed not to report to work, the university said in a statement. (link)

Jan 21: Rape & Human Trafficking: An adjunct professor at Quinsigamond Community College and former Worcester teacher who was accused of rape and human trafficking appeared before a judge Tuesday. John Clayton, 63, of Northboro turned himself in and was arraigned in Worcester Superior Court. According to State Police, they found multiple women who were targeted, manipulated, and exploited by Clayton. He was charged with seven counts of trafficking a person for sexual servitude, two counts of rape, and two counts of intimidation of a witness. (link)

Jan 21: Sex Abuse Allegation: University of Maine at Farmington officials terminated a part-time faculty member in music after reviewing allegations he sexually abused a minor student at a school in New York City in the 1990s. A statement from the college Tuesday afternoon said UMF President Edward Serna earlier Tuesday announced the termination of Bruce McInnes, 83. The statement said the university learned of the allegations in the fall, immediately placed McInnes on administrative leave and launched a review. The result, the statement said, was termination of his employment on Jan. 10. (link)

Jan 21: A former Michigan State University medical resident already serving prison time for sexual assault is now facing a lawsuit over stolen intimate pictures. According to the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids, the plaintiff worked at Sparrow Medical Center at the same time Michael Phinn was doing his residency there. She claims Phinn hacked computers to get "private pictures of the Plaintiff in various stages of undress without her authorization or consent." She is also suing the University and William Strampel, the former dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine. Strampel ran the school while Phinn was a student. (link)

Jan 19: Student Worker Grievance: The University of California, Berkeley, owes student workers more than $5 million in back pay, an arbitrator ruled Monday. The decision comes after United Auto Workers Local 2865, the union for student employees of the University of California system, filed a grievance in 2017 against Berkeley, claiming the school was purposefully scheduling student workers in the electrical engineering and computer sciences (EECS) department for fewer than 10 hours a week to avoid paying tuition remission. UAW 2865 is comprised of teaching assistants, graduate student instructors, graders and tutors. (link)

Jan 18: Cost of Investigation & Lawsuits: The investigation and related lawsuits about alleged sexual abuse decades ago by an Ohio State University team doctor have cost nearly $10 million so far, according to the school. The total was about $9.8 million as of December, school spokesman Benjamin Johnson said by email. That figure is likely to grow as federal lawsuits against the university over its handling of the late Dr. Richard Strauss remain in mediation. About 350 men have sued Ohio State, alleging athletics and student health officials failed to stop the doctor despite knowing concerns about him during his two decades there. (link)

Jan 17: Sexual Harassment: Assistant professor Mark Hart wanted a new office. He shared a wall in with Sheena Pryce Fegumps, a co-worker in the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions who is accused of touching Hart and making sexually explicit comments at him for more than a year. But it wasn't just Pryce Fegumps, the college's community outreach coordinator for the public health masters program. Christy Ewing, the college's former academic programs specialist for the social and behavioral sciences doctoral program, is also accused of sexually harassing him --sometimes partnering with Pryce Fegumps to do it, Hart said. (link)

Jan 17: Child Pornography: The University of California at Berkeley's executive director of financial planning and analysis was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of a misdemeanor charge of possessing child pornography, police said. Jon Bain-Chekal, 49, was released from Berkeley's jail later on Thursday, which is standard protocol for misdemeanor offenses, according to police. White said the online account was created and accessed from Bain-Chekal's residence and work. (link)

Jan 17: Open Meetings Law: An appellate court affirmed a lower court decision that Southern University's grievance committee broke Louisiana's open meetings law. District Judge Richard "Chip" Moore originally made the same ruling Monday, May 13, 2019. The ruling means any evidence collected by the committee in March during an employee complaint hearing about grade fraud allegations was illegally obtained and cannot be used in any decisions going forward. It also means future meetings about employee complaints that the school has must be open to the public. (link)

Jan 16: Wrongful Termination Lawsuit: The former police officer acquitted last year in connection with the June 2018 shooting death of Antwon Rose is suing the University of Pittsburgh, its police department and a vice chancellor for his firing from the university's police department. The lawsuit filed Thursday afternoon in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court by Michael Rosfeld provides the first public presentation of what led to his termination as a Pitt police officer in January 2018. (link)

Jan 15: Hazing Lawsuit: Former Penn State football player Isaiah Humphries filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the university, coach James Franklin and former teammate Damion Barber. The suit alleges that Humphries was subject to hazing brought on by Barber, linebacker Micah Parsons, defensive lineman Yetur Gross-Matos and linebacker Jesse Luketa and that the coaching staff was aware of the hazing and did not protect Humphries. The allegations include instances when the named players collectively orchestrated, directed and facilitated a campaign to harass and haze underclassmen on the Penn State football team. (link)

Jan 14: Wrongful Termination Settlement: After years of litigation, Dixie State University and other institution officials have reached a settlement with a professor who maintains he was wrongfully terminated. Former DSU professor Varlo Davenport filed a $20 million civil suit alleging multiple civil rights violations and breach of contract. The lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice last month, and the terms of the settlement are undisclosed. Davenport was fired from his 15-year tenured position at Dixie State after a student accused him of allegedly pulling her hair in a classroom acting class in November 2014. (link)

Jan 13: Patent Challenges Appeal: The U.S. Supreme Court refused to shield state-run universities from having to appear before a federal administrative body to defend the validity of patents they own. The justices turned down an appeal by the University of Minnesota that argued it has state sovereign immunity from reviews by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. An appeals court said the reviews are administrative actions, so sovereign immunity doesn't apply. The review boards, part of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, are popular with companies accused of infringement because the agency is faster and more likely to invalidate patents than a district court. (link)

Jan 13: Sex Crimes with a Minor: Franklin College President Thomas J. Minar was fired after police in Wisconsin arrested him on charges related to sex crimes with a minor. According to an email sent to the college by the Sturgeon Bay Police Department, Minar was arrested in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, on charges of use of a computer to facilitate a sex crime, child enticement, exposing a child to harmful materials and child exploitation. Charges are expected to be filed in the next couple of days at the Door County Circuit Court, Nordin said. The Franklin College Board of Trustees executive committee voted to terminate Minar's employment immediately after learning about the incident, according to a college news release. (link)

Jan 13: Gender Discrimination Lawsuit Award: A federal jury has awarded more than $800,000 to a former Newman University professor who sued the school over claims she was intentionally discriminated and retaliated against because she is a woman. The lawsuit is the first to be resolved of five that were filed by ex-employees claiming unfair termination. The jury on Monday found in favor of Cindy Louthan, former assistant professor of elementary education at the private Catholic college, after a five-day trial in federal court in Wichita. The award includes $26,551.50 in back pay for Louthan; $50,000 in compensatory damages for pain, suffering and mental anguish; and $725,000 in punitive damages, according to court records. (link)

Jan 13: Age Discrimination Lawsuit: he former facilities coordinator at the University of Arizona Cancer Center is suing the board that oversees his ex-employer, claiming his contract was not renewed in mid-2018 after he was told by a supervisor he was "too old and feeble" and shortly after he returned from hip surgery. The employee, 63-year-old Elik Essif, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Arizona on Dec. 23, roughly two months after a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was dismissed and he was provided a notice of his right to sue. He claims violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment and Family and Medical Leave acts. (link)

Jan 13: Drunken Driving Arrest: A new associate dean at the University of Iowa was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving the day of a public interview for his job. The arrest of Roland Racevskis, 49, occurred two weeks before he was chosen for his post, The Gazette reported. He's charged with two counts of child endangerment and one count of operating while under the influence. He was pulled over Nov. 19 while driving his 13-year-old and 9-year-old children to music lessons in Iowa City. A breath test showed his blood alcohol at nearly twice the legal limit, police said. (link)

Jan 10: Foreign Student Employment: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is warning international students that federal immigration officials may visit their work sites to verify that their employment is directly related to their studies. School officials sent a memo to faculty on Thursday saying the Department of Homeland Security has been making site visits to employers of foreign students in science, technology, engineering and math fields. The school is notifying students separately and telling them what to expect from the visits. (link)

Jan 09: Foreign Ties of Researchers: Florida lawmakers have begun an investigation into the foreign ties of researchers at the state's universities and research institutions. The inquiry, the first of its kind at the state level, dovetails with an ongoing federal probe into whether such affiliations, notably with Chinese entities, pose a risk to the U.S. research enterprise. The Florida effort is triggered by revelations last month that six scientists at the Moffitt Cancer Center had been dismissed for failing to disclose their participation in China's Thousand Talents Program. The researchers include the center's CEO, Alan List, and the head of its research center, Thomas Sellers. (link)

Jan 09: Severed Finger Lawsuit: A gruesome finger injury to the father of now-former University of Georgia sophomore offensive tackle Cade Mays has sparked a lawsuit against the school and an impending transfer by Mays to the University of Tennessee. Last month, Kevin Mays and Melinda Mays filed a civil complaint in a Georgia state court against seven named entities. They include the University of Georgia, the UGA Athletic Association, furniture manufacturer Mity-Lite and furniture supplier Dekalb Office Environments. Five unnamed persons were also sued. These parties collectively face a range of claims for product liability, negligence, breach of warranties, premises liability and loss of consortium. (link)

Jan 09: Police Officer Misconduct: A University of Oregon Police Department officer was terminated for cause last October for violating the department's use of force policy, omitting information and providing false information in a police report and in court testimony, according to personnel records obtained by the Emerald through a public records request. UOPD Chief Matthew Carmichael began an internal investigation into five allegations of misconduct against Officer Troy Phillips, UOPD's canine handler. The investigation began after Eliborio Rodriguez filed a tort claim notice against UO following Phillips' arrest and detention of Rodriguez in October 2018 for an alleged traffic violation for which he was later acquitted, according to an external report done by Rick Wall and Associates, an independent consulting and investigation firm. (link)

Jan 09: Sexual Misconduct: Seventeen employees at the University of Texas at Austin, including three faculty members and one research fellow, were found to have violated the flagship's sexual misconduct policies between November 2017 and December 2019, according to a university document released Thursday. One faculty member, a professor in the department of integrative biology, Johann Hofmann, "allegedly tried to start a consensual relationship" with a graduate student and "made inappropriate comments of a sexual nature" to the student, who contacted administrators in December 2017, the document shows. (link)

Jan 07: Sexual Abuse Lawsuit: Boise State women's basketball assistant coach Cody Butler faces a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse and harassment of a player at his previous job. Butler, who has worked at Boise State since 2012, was sued in May by a former women's basketball player at Yakima Valley College. The specific allegations in the lawsuit date as far back as 2000 and come from a woman who was on the Yakima Valley women's basketball team from 2001 to 2003. (link)

Jan 07: Coal Plant Lawsuit: 2020 was supposed to be the year UNC stopped burning coal for good. That's what former chancellor Holden Thorp promised in 2010 before the plan was abandoned four years ago. The University's Cogeneration Facility still burns coal regularly, and nearby residents are used to its blinking red light and white smoke on the western end of Cameron Avenue. A recent lawsuit brought against UNC says the plant is burning too much coal at a time and the University is failing to properly monitor pollution control systems. The lawsuit claimed this could pose risks to parts of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and UNC's campus. (link)

Jan 06: Sexual Misconduct Lawsuit: An OU student filed a lawsuit Monday accusing former OU Vice President of University Development Tripp Hall of sexual misconduct, according to an article from NonDoc. Current OU student Andrew Wisdom is the third person to publicly accuse Hall of inappropriate sexual advances. Wisdom's allegations are part of an ongoing investigation from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, according to NonDoc, which reported the OSBI received access in September 2019 to email communications between Hall and Wisdom. (link)

Jan 04: Statue Lawsuit Dismissed: A federal court on Friday dismissed a lawsuit against the University of Texas over its 2017 decision to remove Confederate statues from its grounds. The ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court ruling saying the Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans lacked proper standing to sue the university over the removal. The same appeals court had issued a similar ruling in a lawsuit by the Sons of Confederate Veterans that tried to force San Antonio to return a Confederate monument and two cannons to a city park. Members of the organization had argued their free speech rights were violated after the monuments and statues were removed given their unique ties to the Confederacy. (link)

Jan 02: Title IX Lawsuit: Two women allege the University of Missouri's Title IX office mishandled its case involving former Tigers basketball player Terrence Phillips, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court. The two plaintiffs, named as Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 in the suit, which was filed against the curators of the University of Missouri, claim MU did not fully follow its rules in the investigation of Phillips, which concluded in 2018. The lawsuit, filed by St. Louis-area attorneys Gerard T. Carmody, Ryann C. Carmody and Candace E. Johnson, calls for compensatory and punitive damages, along with requiring the university to change its Title IX policies. (link)

Jan 01: NCAA Violations: A total of 33 TCU student-athletes in three sports were paid for work they did not perform as campus summer employees, according to a Division I Committee on Infractions decision. In addition, actions by a former head swimming and diving coach caused the number of coaches in the swimming and diving programs to exceed the maximum allowed. Further, the head coach and members of his staff directed or supervised student-athletes' participation in practice time that exceeded limits. Because the head swimming coach was personally involved in the violations, he agreed that he failed to promote an atmosphere of rules compliance. (link)

Jan 01: Wrongful Expulsion Ruling: Arizona State University relied on flawed findings to wrongfully expel a male student who was accused of sexual misconduct, the Arizona Court of Appeals has ruled. The former student, named John Doe in lawsuits against the university, sued the Arizona Board of Regents, which oversees the universities, and several ASU staffers last year in local and federal courts. He alleged he was denied due process when he was kicked out of the university after a female student he had sex with at a party said that she was too impaired to consent, that he had provided her with alcohol, and that he had used force during the act. (link)

Jan 01: Mandatory Reporting Law: Since the revelation that high-ranking university officials mishandled assaults by football players at Baylor University, Texas lawmakers have passed several bills to confront sexual violence on college campuses. Experts say a new law puts Texas at the forefront of states that are increasing reporting requirements of sexual assault or hazing at universities. Under Senate Bill 212 starting Jan. 1, employees at Texas universities could face criminal charges and lose their jobs if they fail to report incidents of sexual harassment, assault, stalking or dating violence. (link)

Jan 01: Breach of Contract Lawsuit: Oregon State University has filed suit against former OSU athletic director Todd Stansbury for breach of contract. The suit, filed Wednesday in Benton County Circuit Court, alleges Stansbury has failed to fulfill terms of the buyout he owed Oregon State after leaving to become athletic director at Georgia Tech. Stansbury signed a contract with OSU in June 2015 extending through June 2020. The contract obligated Stansbury to pay the university his base salary for the remaining years of the contract should he choose to leave early. (link)

Jan 01: Retirement Plan Lawsuit: The University of Southern California is facing a certified class of at least 30,000 people in a lawsuit challenging the fees and investment options in its retirement plan, according to a ruling by the Central District of California. The "essential question" of the case is whether the USC defendants breached their fiduciary duties and caused losses to the retirement plans, Chief Judge Virginia A. Phillips said. Because the focus is on the plans and not the individual plan participants, USC can't defeat class status by arguing that some class members benefited from the conduct challenged by the lawsuit, Phillips said. (link)


Campus Life & Safety Events

Jan 27: Free Speech: Grand Valley State University has suspended offensive coordinator Morris Berger as the school investigates comments Berger made to a student newspaper regarding Adolf Hitler. Berger was interviewed in the Grand Valley Lanthorn paper and was asked which three historical figures Berger would have dinner with. Berger responded by saying one of his choices would be Adolf Hitler, because of his leadership skills. (link)

Jan 26: Coronavirus: An Arizona college student was confirmed to have the new coronavirus strain -- the fifth case of the deadly bug detected in the US, officials said. The patient, who wasn't identified, is a student enrolled at Arizona State University in Tempe, news station KNXV reported. It's unclear how the student contracted the illness and whether they had traveled abroad to China, where the outbreak began in the central city of Wuhan. The report marked the third confirmed coronavirus case in the US over the weekend. (link)

Jan 24: Police Called on Student: When Sultan Benson, a senior at Ball State University in Indiana, arrived at his Marketing 310 class on Tuesday, his usual seat was taken. His professor, Shaheen Borna, suggested he move to an empty seat toward the back, which he did, Benson told CNN. But about a half hour into the class, another student left and Borna asked Benson to move up. But Benson was already settled. He'd unpacked his stuff, and his laptop was already out and charging. (link)

Jan 22: Confucius Institute Closing: The University of Maryland, College Park has ended a Chinese-government approved education program after Congress passed legislation that the university said could jeopardize future federal funding if the program were to continue. In a letter sent Friday, university President Wallace Loh wrote that the state university would be ending its Confucius Institute program, which teaches Chinese language and culture through an agreement with the Chinese government. (link)

Jan 22: Fraternity Suspension: A Penn State fraternity at the center of a sexual assault allegation has been placed on interim suspension by the university. Penn State police received a report on Tuesday morning alleging that a student was sexually assaulted by four fraternity members on Jan. 15 at the Alpha Epsilon Pi house, 240 E. Prospect Ave. A university statement on Wednesday said the Phi Sigma Delta Sigma chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity is on interim suspension pending the outcome of investigations by State College police and the university's Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response. (link)

Jan 20: Vaccination Laws: Updated vaccination procedures designed to protect New Jersey college students against meningitis outbreaks were signed into law last week, according to legislators. The legislation, sponsored by Assembly Democrats Shavonda Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic) and Raj Mukherji (D-Hudson), revises the requirement for residential students in four-year institutions of higher education to receive immunization against meningococcal disease. (link)

Jan 16: Dorm Mold Lawsuit: A judge has granted class-action status to a lawsuit alleging Indiana University breached its contract by providing substandard living assignments to thousands of students staying in residential halls where mold was found. Monroe Circuit Court Judge Holly Harvey's Monday ruling comes as IU's residence centers Foster and McNutt are being renovated, where mold was a problem during the 2018-19 school year. (link)

Jan 15: Confucius Institutes Close: First Kansas State University, then the University of Kansas and now the University of Missouri are dumping their Chinese government-funded Confucius Institutes. MU announced Wednesday that it is terminating its contract with the Confucius Institute, effective in August, because of "changes in guidance from the U.S. Department of State," which has expressed concern over Chinese intelligence operatives. K-State closed its institute in June, and in December, KU announced that its would close its institute this month. (link)

Jan 14: Free Speech Lawsuit: Two University of Connecticut students arrested for shouting a racial slur outside a campus apartment complex sued the school Tuesday, citing free speech rights as they fight officials' attempts to remove them from school housing. Jarred Karal, of Plainville, and Ryan Mucaj, of Granby, both 21, filed the lawsuit in federal court, seeing undisclosed damages and a halt to disciplinary proceedings against them. The two students say the school is violating their First Amendment rights. (link)

Jan 15: Hazing Lawsuit: Former Penn State football player Isaiah Humphries filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the university, coach James Franklin and former teammate Damion Barber. The suit alleges that Humphries was subject to hazing brought on by Barber, linebacker Micah Parsons, defensive lineman Yetur Gross-Matos and linebacker Jesse Luketa and that the coaching staff was aware of the hazing and did not protect Humphries. The allegations include instances when the named players collectively orchestrated, directed and facilitated a campaign to harass and haze underclassmen on the Penn State football team. (link)

Jan 14: Facial Recognition on Campus: Facial recognition, which scans and identifies peoples' faces as they appear in a camera's view, is being used more and more often: by law enforcement, at airports, on social media platforms, and even by landlords. The controversial technology is also being marketed to colleges and universities as a way to beef up dormitory security, track classroom attendance, and intercept expelled students re-entering campus -- but a new campaign from the nonprofit advocacy group Fight for the Future wants to fight its rollout. Motivated by concerns that facial recognition is fundamentally flawed and can infringe on people's right to privacy, the group is encouraging students to fight the deployment of the technology on their campuses. (link)

Jan 13: Hazing Suspensions: Ohio State University has suspended three fraternities for hazing, alcohol use and other violations. The Sigma Pi and Zeta Beta Tau chapters are suspended through August 2023 and the Phi Delta Theta chapter through August 2024. The chapters previously had been placed on disciplinary probation for various violations. Ohio State issued a blanket suspension for all 37 Interfraternity Council members frats in 2017 after 11 chapters came under investigation. (link)

Jan 09: Free Speech: The Babson College staff member suspended after posting on Facebook that Iran should list 52 American cultural sites it would attack says he has now been terminated from the school. "I am disappointed and saddened that Babson has decided to abruptly terminate my 15-year relationship with the college just because people willfully misinterpreted a joke I made to my friends on Facebook," former Babson College Director of Sustainability Asheen Phansey said via a spokeswoman Thursday. Phansey said he would have hoped his former employer would protect his right to free speech. (link)

Jan 03: Living Conditions Lawsuit: An OSU student and her mother have recently filed a lawsuit against the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, alleging that the Corvallis chapter facility provided unsafe living conditions. The lawsuit was filed in the Benton County Circuit Court on Dec. 23 by Ruchi Vora and her mother Sanjay Vora. According to the lawsuit paperwork, the sleeping room provided by the organization required roughly 30 females to sleep together in tightly-squeezed double and triple bunk beds. (link)

Jan 02: Free Speech Lawsuit: A lawsuit was filed against Iowa State University Thursday by the nonprofit membership association, Speech First, in Speech First v. Wintersteen et. al, according to a Speech First press release. "We filed the case on behalf of some of our student members at Iowa State University," said Nicole Neily, president and founder of Speech First. "We're challenging three specific policies that we believe infringe upon our student's First Amendment rights." The first of the three policies is the chalking ban. (link)

Jan 01: Construction Accident: Firefighters rescued five construction workers who fell during a floor collapse at a work site near the University of Alabama campus Thursday. The workers were on the ground floor level at a site near Tutwiler Hall when the collapse occurred around 9 a.m., Tuscaloosa Fire Rescue Service spokeswoman Holly Whigham told the The Tuscaloosa News. The floor section collapsed into the three-story basement area, she said, before the workers fell approximately 20-25 feet. No one was seriously injured, and all were listed in stable condition Thursday afternoon. (link)

Jan 01: Burglary & Invasion of Privacy: A man spotted on surveillance video walking into a women's locker room at the University of Denver is also suspected of previously stealing underwear from the locker room on multiple occasions. On Nov. 28, a male suspect walked into the Daniel L. Ritchie Center for Sports and Wellness on the University of Denver campus and gained entry into the lower level's women's locker rooms, which are secured, according to the university's division of campus safety. The division worked with the Denver Police Department and were able to get a picture of the suspect from surveillance cameras. About three weeks later, on Dec. 17, Denver police arrested the suspect, who was identified as 34-year-old Christopher Finger. He was charged with burglary and invasion of privacy sex gratification. He was released on bond two days later. (link)


Other

Jan 22: Student Arrest in China: A Chinese student at the University of Minnesota has been arrested in China and sentenced to six months in prison for tweets he posted while in the United States, according to a Chinese court document viewed by Axios. Some of the tweets contained images deemed to be unflattering portrayals of a "national leader." The case represents a dramatic escalation of the Chinese government's attempts to shut down free speech abroad and a global expansion of a Chinese police campaign to track down Twitter users in China who posted content critical of the Chinese government. (link)




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