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Office of Audit, Compliance & Privacy

Case in Point:
Lessons for the proactive manager

November 2018
Vol. 10 No. 11
“Character is doing the right thing when nobody's looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that's right is to get by, and the only thing that's wrong is to get caught.”

-- J.C. Watts

''Culture trumps strategy every time.'' You've probably heard this quote or some variation thereof, which has often been attributed to famed management consultant Peter Drucker. The truth in this quote is that organizational culture impacts everything from compliance with policies, to how risks are managed, to how decisions are made, to how public relations are handled (or mishandled), and the list goes on.

Organizational culture is a topic that fascinates me and one I've written about several times in Case in Point. This topic came to mind recently as I read stories from higher education that have sparked major discussions and reactions nationwide. My goal is not to cast stones at particular institutions, but rather to encourage thought and discussion about how we can each work on improving our own institutional culture.

At one institution recently, the investigation into tragic events that occurred there resulted in a report that contained this statement: ''problems festered because people feared speaking out.'' We saw another story where a leader was charged with lying to investigators about what they knew of heinous acts that occurred at their institution. If you ever happen to face investigators, you should remember that they usually already know the answers to any questions they ask--but I digress. Both these stories appear to implicate the organizations' ethical cultures.

We work in a noble industry dedicated to changing lives through education, research, and outreach, yet all too often, actions are taken and decisions are made that fall short of nobility. I wish I had some profound advice that would automatically ensure ethical culture exists at your institution, but I don't. I do, however, have three simple things that you can do as an individual to impact your institutional culture in a positive way:

  1. Commit to doing the right thing every time--before you face a dilemma. If and when an issue arises that includes pressure from powerful stakeholders, you will be better equipped to handle the situation. It doesn't mean it will be easy, but it does mean you will be a little better prepared to make wise decisions.
  2. Seek wise counsel when faced with an ethical dilemma. The black and white things are easy, but often there are situations where the ''right thing'' is less obvious. In those cases, it's good to get advice from someone you trust who is outside the emotions of the situation.
  3. Use whatever influence you have in your role to encourage others in ethical behavior. This includes fostering an atmosphere where people can speak openly and honestly about concerns and issues they see.

Hopefully this discussion will generate some thought on the important topic of ethics and culture. We invite you to review the events across higher education from the past month with a view toward proactively managing risk within your sphere of influence. As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions.

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

Information Security & Technology Events

Nov 26: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has overturned lower court rulings and held that employees can pursue a negligence claim against two University of Pennsylvania medical centers in connection with a data breach. In 2014, employees of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center McKeesport filed suit charging negligence and a breach of an implied contract claim in connection with a data breach. The employees said personal and financial information, including names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, addresses, tax forms and bank account information on all 62,000 University of Pennsylvania Medical Center employees and former employees, was accessed and stolen. They said this information was then used to file fraudulent tax returns on behalf of the victimized employees, resulting in actual damages. (link)

Nov 25: When you go to the hospital, you probably just want to get better. You're likely not thinking the private information you're giving doctors may slip out. Recently, some of that information made its way out of UK Hospital to someone who never should have seen it. That's how ABC 36 came across what should have been private medical records. A doctor sent two emails to a list of about 60 people. At least one of those people has never had any role at the hospital, but all of a sudden she had access to private medical information that could be yours or your neighbors'. Recently, a surgeon at UK Hospital sent ABC 36 news producer Morgan Henry two emails containing detailed information about patients at the hospital. She graduated from UK's Journalism School more than a year ago, but her university email address still transfers messages to her personal account. (link)

Nov 13: On September 12th, Upstate University Hospital discovered medical records for 1,216 patients were accessed by an employee for a non-work related reason. The vulnerable information includes names, ages, addresses, as well as medical care history. Luckily, social security, insurance and credit card numbers were not compromised in this case. The employee who wrongfully accessed the information is no longer working for Upstate. (link)

Fraud & Ethics Related Events

Nov 27: A Chinese researcher claiming to have led a team that genetically edited human babies is now under investigation, as well as an American professor who might have helped him. He Jiankui, an associate professor at Shenzhen's Southern University of Science and Technology of China, revealed his gene editing work on Monday to an organizer of an international conference on gene editing in Hong Kong. He told the Associated Press he altered the DNA of twin girls born this month to resist HIV and AIDS virus. He said he's altered embryos for seven couples in fertility treatments, but only had one pregnancy result. An American professor, Michael Deem with Rice University, is also being investigated by the United States because of his alleged involvement in He's research. (link)

Nov 19: A former University of Missouri employee admitted to stealing at least $2,500 from accounts she managed through the Wellness Center and the Student Recreation Center, according to court documents filed Friday. Lisa Paige told law enforcement she took the money between the dates of June 2017 and September 2018. However, though Paige admitted to taking $2,500, court documents accuse her of stealing $3,600. MU spokesman Christian Basi said the University of Missouri Police found out about the theft through checks and balances the university already has set up. (link)

Nov 18: The Star found that over Ashim Mitra's 24 years as a leader in the UMKC School of Pharmacy, the professor compelled his students to act as his personal servants. They hauled equipment and bused tables at his social events. They were expected to tend his lawn, look after his dog and water the house plants, sometimes for weeks at a time when he and his wife were away. At best, critics say, Mitra's demands violated ethical standards and university policy. At worst, a U.S. immigration official told The Star, coerced off-campus labors would be tantamount to human trafficking. According to allegations in pending litigation, the university not only knew about Mitra's behavior, but administrators overlooked complaints for years because Mitra was among the most successful faculty members in corralling millions in research dollars for the school. (link)

Nov 14: The former director of auxiliary services at Connecticut College is facing up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday to using various embezzlement schemes to steal $173,000 during his time at the college. Michael Kmec, 40, of Marlborough, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty in Hartford federal court to one count of wire fraud related to an embezzlement scheme, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Wednesday. The schemes included "receiving funds from the college through fraudulent billing schemes, diverting checks to the college to a bank account he controlled, diverting money from the Camel Card program to bank accounts he controlled, and misappropriating a college laptop," the U.S. Attorney's Office said. (link)

Nov 13: Penn State police are investigating multiple instances of fraud regarding football tickets, including one in which unsuspecting buyers were scammed on Facebook. In addition, police have received reports of scalpers buying Penn State tickets with counterfeit cash, and a Bronx man was arrested in State College in September for selling fraudulent tickets. Incidents of scams and fake tickets have increased at Penn State this season, with most reports involving the Sept. 29 game against Ohio State, which set a Beaver Stadium attendance record (110,889). After that game, police said they confiscated more than 300 counterfeit tickets. (link)

Nov 13: A man from Gainesville, Florida is accused of taking a $10,000 University of Florida Athletics cart for a joy ride Sunday. University of Florida police charged 26-year-old Parker Prince with grand theft in excess of $10,000. A report says the 6-wheel, all-terrain cart used to transport injured players from the field was parked outside the south end zone of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium with the keys inside. (link)

Nov 08: A former University of Minnesota ticketing director has been charged in federal court with enriching himself through a long-running scheme involving football and men's hockey and basketball ticket orders. Brent A. Holck, 37, of Maple Grove, was charged Tuesday in federal court in Minneapolis with wire fraud in connection with the siphoning of money from April 2012 to January 2017. The criminal complaint said Holck would locate completed sales in the university's ticketing system -- often after an event has occurred -- delete orders and have refunds issued to accounts under his control. He also exploited his position with the athletic department by issuing tickets and parking passes to personal or business acquaintances, who then sold those tickets and gave the majority of the proceeds to Holck. (link)

Nov 02: A registered nurse was charged Thursday with stealing fentanyl and other drugs from University of Missouri Hospital in Columbia. Leslie R. Neal, 40, of Otterville, was charged in Boone County with one count of stealing a controlled substance, a class D felony and a warrant was issued for her arrest. Neal is accused of taking 96 syringes and 16 vials containing fentanyl, four oxycodone tablets and a vial of midazolam, a benzodiazepine, according to a probable statement from MU police officer Kenrick Tucker. (link)

Nov 01: The employees' union president at Reedley College is accused of an embezzlement scheme involving the school's equipment up for sale on eBay at deep discounts. The eBay sales history for gamingkid2012 suddenly crystallized from Super Mario World, Final Fantasy, and Nintendo accessories to a dense mass of chemistry equipment like a digital stirring ceramic hotplate and a precision digital scale. Investigators traced the eBay account to Jason Meyers, a chemistry tech at Reedley College and the president of their chapter of the California School Employees Association. SCCCD police tell us the trail led them to 29 vaporized pieces of equipment worth tens of thousands of dollars. They say Meyers collected more than $3600 by selling it all. (link)

Compliance/Regulatory & Legal Events

Nov 28: Eastern Michigan is reinstating its women's tennis team after a lawsuit filed by two former athletes. The university announced in March that it was dropping softball, men's swimming and diving, women's tennis and wrestling at the end of the spring season, but two former athletes sued, alleging Title IX laws banning sex discrimination were violated. The university had said the moves were made due to budget cuts. A federal judge ordered a preliminary injunction in September, ruling that financial hardship is not a defense for a Title IX violation. (link)

Nov 28: The University of Wisconsin's patent-licensing arm must pay Washington University in St. Louis, its former partner in medical research, $31.6 million for breaching a royalties contract related to the sale of an AbbVie Inc. kidney-disease drug. The judgment, issued Monday alongside a sealed opinion in federal court in Wilmington, Del., marks the culmination of a rare legal fight involving two universities that had formed a patent-licensing deal with a corporation. The dispute has its roots in the early 1990s, when researchers at Washington University and Wisconsin began collaborating on treatments of conditions associated with kidney disease. (link)

Nov 21: A University of Michigan professor accused of sexual harassment should have been allowed to cross-examine her accusers, a federal judge has ruled. U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow found in favor of Professor Pamela Smock's argument that her due-process rights were violated when she was disciplined for alleged misconduct and not allowed to question her accusers. Smock, a sociology professor, filed suit against UM in February 2018, alleging she was targeted with unfair sanctions -- including a three-year pay freeze and the denial of sabbatical leave -- in response to a series of investigations and reviews into claims from students that Smock behaved inappropriately. (link)

Nov 20: Former MSU President Lou Anna Simon has been charged with lying to police, making her the third person charged by the Michigan Attorney General's Office in its investigation of the university related to Larry Nassar. Simon was charged today in Eaton County District Court with two felony counts and two misdemeanor counts. Simon talked to Michigan State Police in May. Court documents say she made false or misleading statements "that she was not aware of the nature of the complaint that" prompted a 2014 Title IX investigation. (link)

Nov 19: Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, is on the verge of settling a case brought by a former employee who claims the university included faked data in applications and reports for federal grants worth nearly $200 million. According to court documents filed last week in the Middle District of North Carolina in Greensboro, former Duke biologist Joseph Thomas, who sued the university in 2015 under a federal law that allows whistleblowers to receive as much as 30% of any payout, is waiting for the U.S. Department of Justice to approve the settlement. Universities have been watching the case with interest. FCA claims against universities have been relatively rare, and a hefty settlement could prompt other academic whistleblowers to file similar cases, although private universities might be more vulnerable than public institutions. (link)

Nov 17: In an overhaul to Title IX, the Department of Education proposed new regulations on Friday for schools dealing with allegations of sexual assault and harassment. The draft rules narrow the definition of sexual harassment and bolster the rights of accused students. The new rules spell out the conditions that must be met before schools are obligated to respond to complaints. And, while Obama-era guidelines instructed schools to use "a preponderance of evidence" as proof of allegations, the new regulations allow schools to choose whether they will instead require a higher standard: "clear and convincing evidence." The standards for students must now match those for employees and faculty. (link)

Nov 15: Seven women are suing Dartmouth College for sexual assault, harassment and discrimination that they say they experienced from three prominent professors who, according to the suit, turned a human behavior research department "into a 21st-century Animal House." For over a decade, the professors -- Todd Heatherton, William Kelley and Paul Whalen -- "leered at, groped, sexted, intoxicated and even raped female students," according to the court papers, which were filed Thursday in federal court in New Hampshire. The lawsuit, which seeks $70 million in damages, says this behavior went back as far as 2002, and it accuses the college administration of looking the other way for more than 16 years. (link)

Nov 14: A former director at South Seattle College was arrested Tuesday after a student accused him of installing a video camera in at least one of the several bedrooms in his home he rented out to female exchange students from the school. Gene Baker, the 52-year-old director of international marketing and outreach at the school's Center for International Education had already resigned Tuesday before his arrest, according to a Seattle police report. He had worked at the school for 11 years, a school spokesman said. (link)

Nov 14: Two hazing charges have been filed against a former Texas Christian University student who is accused of forcing pledges to take 15 drinks of vodka and eat expired guacamole, according to Tarrant County court records. Christopher Thorne Barksdale of Memphis, Tenn. and an ex-member of Kappa Sigma was charged last month with hazing and hazing causing serious bodily injury. He was arrested in September after paramedics and TCU police were alerted that a freshman student had blacked out after drinking alcohol, according to an arrest warrant. (link)

Nov 10: Northern Michigan University has reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice after a student with a disability filed a complaint alleging discrimination. The complaint filed in 2013 with the department's Civil Rights Division says the student told another student of her mental health struggles, which include being diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and having doctors concerned that she was at risk for suicide, The Mining Journal reported The complaint alleges the university violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when it threatened to "dis-enroll" the student, require her to undergo a psychological assessment and sign a behavioral agreement, which prohibited the student from discussing suicidal thoughts with other students. (link)

Nov 09: The University of Louisville Foundation is suing a tenured professor who has spent nearly 30 years working for the university over a startup that went bankrupt. The foundation is suing over a $3.5 million loan it guaranteed in 2014 that his now-defunct health care company is unable to pay back. The nonprofit, which oversees the university's endowment, filed the lawsuit last month against Roland Valdes Jr., who works for Louisville's medical school and co-founded Pharmacogenetics Diagnostic Laboratory LLC -- also called PGxL -- in the mid-2000s. (link)

Nov 08: The head volleyball coach at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis has been fired after he was arrested on preliminary charges of possession of child pornography. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers arrested Steven Payne. 54. and charged him with possession of child pornography. IUPUI released a statement to RTV6 Thursday saying they were aware of Payne's arrest and have terminated him from his position with the university, effective immediately. (link)

Nov 06: Hundreds of colleges and universities across the country are currently under investigation by the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights for failing to make their websites accessible to people with disabilities. Universities that receive federal financial aid are required by law to make reasonable accommodations to ensure their web content is accessible to everyone, including, but not limited to, people who are blind, deaf or have limited mobility. Awareness of the importance of web accessibility has grown among university leaders in recent years partly due to numerous well-publicized lawsuits. Yet ensuring that every aspect of a university's sprawling web presence meets recommended web-accessibility standards remains a huge challenge. (link)

Nov 06: A federal judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit filed by a former Kent State University softball player who said her former coach and the university didn't properly handle a rape complaint against the coach's son. U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi wrote that both university officials and then-coach Karen Linder are not subject to liability regarding their responses to a rape accusation made by Lauren Kesterson against Linder's son, who played baseball for the university. Officials either acted properly, or they are protected by qualified immunity, the judge wrote. (link)

Nov 02: The University of Minnesota has changed the eligibility criteria for two women-only scholarships and is reviewing other awards in response to a complaint of anti-male discrimination. Mark Perry, an economics and finance professor at the University of Michigan-Flint, has made it his "lifelong mission" to stamp out anti-male discrimination in education. A University of Minnesota graduate, Perry complained to his alma mater in June about three awards he found online for "women-identified students." Perry said federal Title IX law, which protects women from discrimination in education, also protects men. Major universities have been ignoring that fact for years because no one's called them on it, he said. (link)

Nov 01: The Big 12 board announced Tuesday that it was fining Baylor University $2 million for "reputational damage to the conference and its members" stemming from a sexual assault scandal two years ago. The league, however, also announced that its third-party verification review showed Baylor had implemented the 105 recommendations from the Pepper Hamilton law firm, putting the university back on track to receive full distribution from the league moving forward. The Big 12 had been withholding 25 percent of Baylor's revenue distribution, pending compliance with Pepper Hamilton. (link)

Nov 01: Utah Valley University paid $45,000 to its former Title IX director who filed a lawsuit against the school earlier this year. The Orem university announced the settlement of Melissa Frost's lawsuit Monday, but declined to say whether she was paid any money. But a settlement document released Wednesday in response to a records request revealed how much the university paid to settle the whistleblower suit, where Frost claimed she was fired shortly after she began looking into allegations that three women were harassed and discriminated against by "white males" in UVU's upper management, according to the suit filed earlier this year. (link)

Campus Life & Safety Events

Nov 30: The University of British Columbia is in the middle of tweaking its campus smoking policy to allow recreational marijuana use after the drug was legalized by the Canadian government in October. Michael Serebriakov, legal counsel for the university, is helping to prepare the revised policy for approval by the Board of Governors. The move is expected to make the university -- and others in Canada making similar shifts -- among the first in North America to permit marijuana use on campus. Several states in the United States have legalized recreational marijuana use in recent years, but college campuses have continued to ban the drug due to unwavering federal laws. Candace Smith, assistant vice chancellor for strategic media relations at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said that the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act requires the university to ban the drug in order to be eligible for federal funding. In addition, many students are under the legal age for use and possession of marijuana in Colorado. (link)

Nov 29: University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Chancellor Joe Gow has been scolded by his boss for discreetly booking a porn star to speak on campus earlier this month. The embattled chancellor, however, is standing his ground. In a Nov. 6 letter of reprimand addressed to Gow, UW System President Ray Cross wrote that he was "deeply disappointed by (Gow's) decision to actively recruit, advocate for, and pay for a porn star" to visit campus, and said he would be scrutinizing the chancellor's spending. Gow has staunchly defended his decision to book Nina Hartley, a longtime adult film actress and sex educator, citing the UW System's Commitment to Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression policy. (link)

Nov 27: Three more cases of adenovirus have been confirmed at the University of Maryland, College Park, attended by an 18-year-old who died of complications from the respiratory infection. News outlets report the three new cases over Thanksgiving break bring the total number of cases at the school to nine, including freshman Olivia Paregol, who died Nov. 18. Ian Paregol says his daughter, who was immunosuppressed because of medication for Crohn's disease, went to the health center the next day but wasn't tested for adenovirus. He questioned if her dorm's mold outbreak could have exacerbated her illness, but the university says there's no clear link. (link)

Nov 26: The College Media Association censured the University of North Alabama on Nov. 26, months after the university changed the requirements for the faculty adviser for the student newspaper so he would no longer qualify. The ousting followed the publication of a student article critical of the university administration. The College Media Association called UNA's retaliation a way to silence student press. The University disagreed. "If college officials decided to remove the adviser as punishment for something that students published, then that reeks of retaliation for Constitutionally protected student speech," said Chris Evans, president of the College Media Association, in a press release. (link)

Nov 25: The Canadian Association of University Teachers and the faculty union at a B.C. university are looking into allegations from a professor who has been suspended because of what he says is his criticism of the research practices of other professors at the school. In an article written for a journal published by the University of Toronto Press, Prof. Derek Pyne raised questions about the practice followed by some professors who publish research in so-called predatory journals. Pyne, who has taught at Thompson Rivers University's school of business and economics since 2010, said his troubles began following the April 2017 publication of his research article titled The Awards of Predatory Publications at a Small Business School. (link)

Nov 23: Marijuana is a big part of campus life, but it's still not welcome. Massachusetts colleges and universities prohibit marijuana on campuses across the state, despite voters approving recreational marijuana more than two years ago. The reasons to ban it vary, but schools by and large invoke federal law and landlord status to make sure the drug -- ever-popular among college students -- is not allowed. "Colleges have landlord privilege and Massachusetts law says any landlord can ban marijuana from its facilities," explained Jim Borghesani, who worked on the campaign to legalize recreational marijuana. (link)

Nov 21: A Juul e-cigarette is discreet. It's shaped like a USB flash drive, but longer. It's charged by being plugged into a laptop -- just like a high-tech component. Its smoke clouds are usually less visible than those of a traditional cigarette. The lingering scent is brief. But the craze surrounding the device is anything but subtle. And College and university administrators are finding themselves caught inside a national debate among smoking-cessation experts and tobacco-control advocates in deciding whether the devices, and other e-cigarettes, have a place on college campuses, years after many of them banned traditional tobacco smoking. (link)

Nov 18: University of Akron police announced new charges filed in connection to the accidental discharge of a weapon on Nov. 10 in a university residence hall that hospitalized a man and put the campus on lock down. An investigation into the incident led police to believe a University of Akron student let two non-students into the Exchange Street Residence Hall through a back door, University of Akron police Chief James Weber said in a message to students. (link)

Nov 14: Several college campuses in California are closed as wildfires rage in the state. At Pepperdine University in Malibu, the campus remains inaccessible because of the Woolsey Fire that has already burned around 100,000 acres and is about half contained. Staff and students who sheltered in place at the college are in isolation, hunkering down in the library, as roads in the area are closed. (link)

Nov 14: Ohio University ordered the Epsilon Chapter of Sigma Pi Fraternity to immediately "cease and desist all organizational activities" on Tuesday, a day after a first-year student pledge from Dublin was found dead at an off-campus apartment believed to be an unofficial annex of the fraternity. Collin L. Wiant, 18, was pronounced dead early Monday morning at OhioHealth O'Bleness Hospital after being found unresponsive around 2:50 a.m. at the apartment on 45 Mill St. Wiant was a first-year student at OU who had recently pledged to the Sigma Pi Epsilon chapter. (link)

Nov 14: A giant dehumidifier that sounds like a vacuum cleaner was placed in the hallway outside Megan Wilson's dorm room several weeks ago at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville to ward off a menace: mold. Tennessee's flagship campus is one of many universities battling mold this fall after a summer with lots of rain and high humidity, which some experts are blaming on climate change. Students across the country have been forced to evacuate mold-infested residence halls. Campuses are scrambling to patch together emergency plans while easing student and parent concerns. (link)

Nov 14: A university is conducting two investigations after a teacher called the police on a student who allegedly put her feet up on a chair. On Monday, Taylor Eighmy, the president of the University of Texas at San Antonio posted an announcement on the school website. "Today we had an incident where one of our African American students was escorted from a biology class by members of UTSA's police department at the request of a faculty member," she wrote. "While the facts aren't fully known regarding today's incident, our Office of Equal Opportunity Services is already conducting an investigation into possible discrimination. In addition, an inquiry regarding the academic management of the classroom is being conducted by Interim Dean of the College of Sciences Howard Grimes." (link)

Nov 12: Emory Law Professor Paul J. Zwier II, who was briefly suspended from teaching for saying the N-word in class in August, has been placed on administrative leave after the University received multiple reports that he recently repeated the same racial slur, according to School of Law Interim Dean James B. Hughes Jr. Zwier allegedly used the racial slur for the second time on Oct. 31 during office hours with a student, according to a petition by Emory's Black Law Students Association (BLSA) and Student Bar Association (SBA). (link)

Nov 12: A Dauphin County man, who was working as an outside contractor for Gettysburg College, was arrested and charged after police said he allegedly stalked a female student. Michael James Zapcic, 43, of the first block of Arwin Drive, South Hanover Township, was charged with multiple stalking and harassment charges after making numerous vulgar phone calls to the woman and approaching her on two occasions, according to an affidavit filed with District Judge Matthew Harvey. Police believe Zapcic got the woman's name and phone number from a work schedule that was hanging at the front desk of the Gettysburg College Student Union building, in plain view to the public. (link)

Nov 10: A Housatonic Community College professor was put on paid leave after shocking and offending faculty and administrators from the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system when he gave a Nazi salute during a recent meeting. Several faculty members who attended the Nov. 2 meeting at Manchester Community College said Charles Meyrick, assistant professor of business and economics, became agitated and wound up holding a Nazi salute for five or 10 minutes as the meeting, led by a CSCU administrator, proceeded. A spokesman for the CSCU system said an investigation is underway and the professor is on leave pending the results. (link)

Nov 09: Outrage over an archaic, unwritten policy requiring athletes to cover up their sports bras has spurred Rowan University to get with the times and put it on paper -- sports bras are shirts. The Glassboro-based college was pummeled with criticism Friday over a longstanding verbal policy requiring all athletes to wear shirts during games and practices. Shirts had been required over sports bras, too. University President Ali Houshmand announced Friday that Rowan will loosen its policy to allow women to practice in sports bras without also wearing shirts, recognizing the NCAA's declaration that the garments are sufficient coverings. (link)

Nov 08: The University of Kentucky says campus police and FBI officials arrested a student early Thursday morning in connection with threats made to a campus building. Haily Loriane Duvall, 19, has been charged with second-degree terroristic threatening and falsely reporting an incident, according to online records. Duvall contacted campus police Wednesday afternoon to report threats aimed at White Hall Classroom Building that were being distributed via Snapchat, UK Police Chief Steve Monroe said in the release. (link)

Nov 08: A former employee of Salem University is facing felony charges after allegedly having sexual relations with a minor. Marqui Grant, 21, of Seneca, South Carolina, functioned as a staff member in the Upward Bound Program and was in charge of high school students. According to a criminal compliant filed in Harrison County Magistrate Court, State Police received a referral in reference to Grant in October. The referral disclosed that the defendant received oral sex from a 17-year-old Upward Bound student in the program. (link)

Nov 07: A national student organization on Wednesday claimed that the University of California Los Angeles is attempting to use trademark law to chill the free speech rights of students. The university sent a cease-and-desist letter on October 31 to the National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP) over a promotional flyer the organization used to advertise its national conference, which will be held at the school beginning on November 16. The flyer included a bear wearing a keffiyeh scarf reaching up toward a kite colored to resemble the Palestinian flag and three doves. (link)

Nov 05: "It's okay to be white" posters were reported on 14 college and university campuses in 12 states last week. The wave of flier postings coincides with a similar campaign that occurred last year at the same time. The "It's okay to be white" trolling campaign first emerged in October 2017 on 4chan, a discussion forum infamous for instigating trolling efforts and for the studied offensiveness of many of its posts. (link)

Nov 02: A 19-year-old woman was arrested Thursday for throwing chocolate milk on a Republican volunteer at Florida State's Landis Green. In a video posted to Twitter recording the altercation that received 49,000 views, Shelby Shoup is seen yelling at the volunteers saying they're supporting Nazis and throwing chocolate milk on them Tuesday. "I hope y'all realize that you are normalizing and enabling Nazis," said Shoup, who was charged with battery, according to the Leon County Sheriff's Office. (link)


Nov 29: The Trump administration is considering new background checks and other restrictions on Chinese students in the United States over growing espionage concerns, U.S. officials and congressional sources said. In June, the U.S. State Department shortened the length of visas for Chinese graduate students studying aviation, robotics and advanced manufacturing to one year from five. U.S. officials said the goal was to curb the risk of spying and theft of intellectual property in areas vital to national security. But now the Trump administration is weighing whether to subject Chinese students to additional vetting before they attend a U.S. school. U.S. law enforcement is also expected to provide training to academic officials on how to detect spying and cyber theft that it provides to people in government, a senior U.S. official said. (link)

Nov 12: Ideas can inflame, and the consequences for expressing them can be severe. That's not exactly breaking news. In fact, it's more or less the history of science and philosophy: exile, excommunication, execution. And that's just pre-Twitter. These days, a paper that's deemed offensive can unleash an online mob and turn an academic's career and life upside down. It can also cause a journal editor to tiptoe away from a potentially important paper or a scholar not to put fingers to keyboard in the first place. That's why a group of scholars is creating The Journal of Controversial Ideas. (link)

If you have any suggestions, questions or feedback, please e-mail me at robinmk@auburn.edu. We hope you find this information useful and would appreciate hearing your thoughts. Feel free to forward this email to your direct reports, colleagues, employees or others who might find it of value. Back issues of this newsletter are available on our web site.

If you have any suggestions for items to include in future newsletters, please e-mail Robert Gottesman at gotterw@auburn.edu.

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