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Surge in H1N1 Cases on Campus/Educause Releases Annual Campus IT Study/ Key Senator Criticizes Education Dept. on Loan Plan/ The Mysterious Missing Veterans' Education Claims/DNA Swab for Your Job


Dan Kern <[log in to unmask]>


Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]>


Thu, 29 Oct 2009 07:13:05 -0500





text/plain (447 lines) , image001.gif (447 lines) , image002.gif (447 lines)

Surge in H1N1 Cases on Campus/Educause Releases Annual Campus IT Study/ Key
Senator Criticizes Education Dept. on Loan Plan/ The Mysterious Missing
Veterans' Education Claims/DNA Swab for Your Job 



Surge in H1N1 Cases on Campus

Colleges have seen a surge in the rates at which students are being
diagnosed with H1N1 or similar flu illnesses, according to new data from the
American College Health Association. The association has been using a
national sample of 270 colleges and universities to track the spread of
H1N1, and, in the last week, the rate of cases increased by 34 percent. In
addition, several regions where H1N1 had appeared to be in decline -- the
Northeast, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and the Midwest -- saw increases. Of the
colleges in the survey, 97 percent reported new cases. Details on the latest
data are available here. <> 



ACHA Pandemic Influenza Surveillance
Influenza Like Illness (ILI) in Colleges and Universities

With preliminary epidemiologic data on novel H1N1 flu suggesting significant
risk among those in the college setting, ACHA deems it epidemiologically
valuable to identify disease burden and population based attack rates of
influenza like illnesses (ILI) [ICD-CM Diagnosis 487.1] on college campuses.
ACHA has thus undertaken an effort to enlist (on a voluntary basis)
interested institutions of higher education to submit data on a weekly basis
regarding the number of new cases of ILI. 

New ILI cases reported include those seen in the student health service,
those triaged over the phone by a health care professional but simply told
to self-isolate and not be seen in the health service, and those known by
the health service to have been seen in a local emergency department or
urgent care center.



<> Project Description
Guidelines: Campus Response to Novel Influenza H1N1 (.PDF)
<> Archive of Previous Weeks' Reports

The links below depict weekly case data for the period October 17-23, 2009
as reported to ACHA, as well as ACHA's cumulative case data and an epicurve
chart reflecting weekly case counts and weekly attack rates.

In this weekly period of influenza activity, a total of 8,861 new ILI cases
were reported (twenty hospitalizations) among campus populations totaling
over 3.1 million. Ninety-seven percent of 270 colleges and universities
reported new ILI cases, compared to 95% reporting new cases the prior week.
The nationwide attack rate was 28.0 cases/10,000 students, thirty-four
percent higher than the prior week's rate, indicating a significant surge in
flu like illness on college campuses. 

Unexpectedly, the resurgence of flu activity has been observed in several
regions that had previously seen declines. For example, the Southeast,
Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast regions have all experienced a rebound
in disease. As the CDC reported this week, flu is widespread nationally and
fluctuation in disease activity varies significantly both on local and
regional levels. Again, no deaths were observed among the reporting
institutions for the weekly period of October 17th through October 23rd.

"Among over 3 million students, we have observed nearly 56,000 cases of ILI.
But there have been only 98 hospitalizations and no deaths, indicating this
disease remains generally mild. It is somewhat surprising to see resurgence
of disease in regions that had seen recent declines. This likely reflects
the relative lack of natural immunity among young adults and students'
vulnerability to the infection. We remain concerned about the risk of
exposure to vulnerable students on our campuses and their potential to
infect those in their communities or their families who are at higher risk
for complications, hospitalization, or worse. This recent return of flu
helps reaffirm the importance of vaccination once it becomes available."
according to Dr. James C. Turner, president of the American College Health
Association and executive director of the department of student health at
the University of Virginia.
<> Weekly College Case Data [ICD-CM
Diagnosis 487.1]
<> Cumulative Data Since Report
Inception [ICD-CM Diagnosis 487.1]
<> Epicurve Chart [ICD-CM Diagnosis

Note: These data do not represent all institutions of higher education,

Limitations: State case counts and rates do not represent the complete
incidence of ILI in the state's population, nor the incidence of ILI among
all institutions of higher education in the state. The case counts and rates
only represent those institutions of higher education that participate in
the surveillance program. 

Suggested Citation: American College Health Association. American College
Health Association Influenza Like Illnesses (ILI) Surveillance in Colleges
and Universities Fall 2009: Weekly College ILI cases reported. Linthicum,
MD: American College Health Association; 2009.



Educause Releases Annual Campus IT Study

The higher ed technology group Educause on Wednesday released its based on
the results of its
<> "Core Data Service
Fiscal Year 2008 Summary Report," annual survey of 930 colleges and
universities. This year's installment focuses on information technology
trends on campuses between 2004 and 2008. Centralized IT funding rose, but
only in proportion to enrollment and inflation. Outsourcing became more
popular: In 2008, 70 percent of colleges used an external supplier for at
least one IT function, and the use of homegrown systems decreased for all
categories except library information systems. Colleges have increasingly
turned to commercial vendors for learning management systems and e-mail
clients, with a number of campuses considering dropping institutional e-mail
addresses altogether, the report says.

Key Senator Criticizes Education Dept. on Loan Plan

Well, you can't say that Sen. Lamar Alexander isn't an equal opportunity
irritant to his successors as U.S. education secretary. Alexander, a
Tennessee Republican who headed the federal agency during the first Bush
administration, won the eternal gratitude of many college leaders by
stopping Education Secretary Margaret Spellings dead in her tracks two years
ago when she tried to use the federal regulatory process to bring about
major changes in higher education accreditation. (Alexander argued that
Spellings was trying to work around Congress, and helped pass legislation to
make sure she couldn't; the secretary wasn't pleased.) On Wednesday, he took
to the Senate floor to criticize Spellings' successor, Arne Duncan, on
roughly similar grounds. He was unhappy that Duncan had sent a letter this
week urging college presidents to get their campuses ready for a possible
switch to the government's direct student loan program, even though Congress
has yet to pass -- and the Senate has yet to consider -- legislation that
would mandate such a switch, by ending lending through the bank-based
Federal Family Education Loan Program. "The secretary's gotten a little
ahead of himself," Alexander said, adding that the "Washington takeover" of
the loan program -- he's not a fan of President Obama's proposal -- requires
Congressional approval because "we have more than one branch of government
in this town." He urged the administration to stop trying to ram through
legislation that would force thousands of colleges to switch loan programs
by July 1, which could result, Alexander said, in a "14 million car pileup
on the interstate highways of American education," envisioning students
unable to get loans because of administrative disarray in the government-run
program. Administration officials have repeatedly said that colleges have
found it much easier to switch loan programs than critics allege, and that
they are intent on making changes that will pour tens of billions of dollars
more into student aid programs.

The Mysterious Missing Veterans' Education Claims

While the Department of Veterans Affairs has acknowledged
<>  the concerns of
many campus officials that they were experiencing serious delays with
benefits for students eligible for the greatly expanded Post-9/11 GI Bill,
and expedited payments to veterans in many cases, college administrators
remain on high alert about the issue. So when the VA revamped its weekly
Monday Morning Workload Reports
<>  this month, and omitted the
all-important education claims (as reported
sts>  by the National Journal's NextGov), the move set off alarm bells for
some veterans' education administrators. "A gov't report that has existed in
the same format for decades suddenly declared misleading when the figures
get alarming? Oh please!!!!" wrote one campus official on a widely read
listserv. Asked about the disappearance of the statistics from the weekly
report, a spokesman for the Veterans Affairs Department said that the
education claims had been "inadvertently" dropped in the revision, and that
they would return in the next report. For those following at home, the
spokesman provided the following numbers for the week of October 11-17:
Buffalo, 68,847; Atlanta, 57,090; St. Louis, 45,112; Muskogee, 64,848;
Total, 232,897.


DNA Swab for Your Job 

October 29, 2009 

Many colleges now require criminal background checks of all new employees.
But the University of Akron -- in what some experts believe is a first -- is
not only requiring a criminal background check, but is stating that new
employees must be willing to submit a DNA sample.

The requirement was added quietly and is now receiving attention -- and
criticism -- because an adjunct faculty member at Akron quit this week,
citing the new rules. "It's not enough that the university doesn't pay us a
living wage, or provide us with health insurance, but now they want to
sacrifice the sanctity of our bodies. No," said Matt Williams, who had been
teaching four courses this semester in the communications and continuing
education programs.

Williams is a vice president of the New Faculty Majority,
<>  a national organization created
this year to advance adjunct interests, and he said that he felt it was time
to take a stand and say that there are limits on how much those off the
tenure track will take from their employers. While the criminal background
checks and potential DNA sample apply to those hired for any position,
Williams noted that adjuncts like himself are technically hired and rehired
semester by semester, and thus could face this prospect term after term.

The <>  new rules
at Akron were adopted by the Board of Trustees in August, but most faculty
members only learned of them in a recent e-mail list of announcements sent
by the university to all employees. The rules state that background checks
will be performed on all candidates selected for employment and that all
offers will be "contingent on successful completion" of the check. Further,
they state that all applicants "may be asked to submit a DNA sample." The
rules specifically state that all employees, including faculty members, are

Laura Martinez Massie, spokeswoman for Akron, said that the university would
not comment on the resignation of Williams. She also said that to date, the
university has not collected DNA and has no plans to do so, but is "merely
reserving the right to do so."

Massie said that Akron wants "a safe environment for all of its students and
employees" and that "DNA testing was included in the policy because there
have been national discussions that indicate that in the future, reliance on
fingerprinting will diminish and DNA for criminal identification will be the
more prominent technology." If this happens, she said, Akron wants "the
flexibility to adopt the new technology if we found it necessary."

While some colleges have added background checks or tightened screening
procedures in the wake of incidents involving their employees, Akron faculty
leaders said that they knew of no recent event involving employees that
would have suggested a need for such a policy. "Any reasoning behind this is
known to administrators only," said Stephen H. Aby, a librarian and
professor of bibliography at Akron. Aby is also a past president of the
university's chapter of the American Association of University Professors
(which represents full-time professors at the university) and has been
investigating the issue for the AAUP there.

Many faculty members "have been taken aback by the sweep and invasiveness"
of the policy, Aby said. He added that the AAUP was not consulted in
advance, and that some believe that imposing the rules now violates the
union's contract. He said faculty members want to know why DNA would be
collected, what would happen with the samples and how any information would
be used -- and that the policy suggests complete discretion on all such
matters would go to the administration.

While Aby said that he and his colleagues are bothered by the DNA
requirement on principle, he also thinks it is a strategic mistake for the

"If a university adopts such an abhorrent policy, if you are competing for
top faculty and these faculty members have options, I can't imagine this
would be a good draw," he said.

Andy Brantley, president and CEO of the College and University Professional
Association for Human Resources, said he had never heard of a college having
a rule that would permit DNA testing of new employees. He said that, if
asked about starting such a policy, he would advise a college to check the
implications it might have for various federal laws, such as the Americans
With Disabilities Act and the Health Insurance Portability and
Accountability Act privacy rules.

While Brantley said that while he'd never heard of a DNA rule like the one
at Akron, criminal background checks by colleges are not rare. "I know that
there are lots of faculty that disagree" with such policies, but he said
that they are appropriate. "As an employer, the first responsibility of any
college is the safety of the community," he said.

The national AAUP's position on criminal background checks
<>  is that they
should be required only when related to "particular obligations of specific
positions." Policies like Akron's (even without the DNA requirement) in
which all applicants must undergo checks are criticized as unnecessary
invasions of privacy.

Reaction at Akron to the protest resignation of Williams has been mixed.
Some comments in The Buchtelite,
6f>  the student newspaper, were critical. One adjunct wrote that Williams
had "screwed over his students," adding: "As an adjunct instructor, I feel
his pain. I know what it's like to not have health insurance and to receive
lesser pay for equal work. However, what you don't do is shoot yourself in
the foot by resigning your position midway through."

Other comments were supportive. "His is an act of courage and principle. As
long as we continue to accept without comment or protest the appalling
conditions in which we work, conditions will never change. What kind of
example do we show our students by refusing to do anything about our
unprofessional working conditions?"

Williams said he "absolutely" had concerns about leaving his students in the
middle of the semester. But he noted that American higher education appears
unconcerned about the fact that adjuncts are part of "the revolving door" at
most colleges, there one semester and gone the next. So while he's leaving
in the middle of the semester, "it is not me who has created this system."

He also said he was showing students that there are principles worth
fighting for, in this case at the expense of his job. (Williams does some
freelance Web consulting and will now focus on that to replace his lost
income.) "I'm not willing to give up my time and to be treated in this
manner," he said. "It is unfortunate that students have become collateral

-  <mailto:[log in to unmask]> Scott Jaschik 

ts>  to comments (1) > 

Comments on DNA Swab for Your Job 

*	For trustees, too? 
*	Posted by RW , Prof at Large Public U. on October 29, 2009 at 7:00am

.         It would be interesting to know if the criminal background
check/DNA policy applies to the Board of Trustees. Perhaps I'm too cynical,
but I suspect they'd argue they aren't technically employees, and are
therefore exempt.

Related Stories

*	 <> Seeking Tenure
October 28, 2009 
*	 <> Contract
Non-Renewal = Dismissal
October 27, 2009 
*	 <> Can
Free Speech Be Furloughed?
October 26, 2009 
*	 <>
Facing a Student Complaint
October 21, 2009 
*	 <> Stimulus
for Humanities Job Market
October 13, 2009 

C Copyright 2009 Inside Higher Ed 





Dan Kern

AD21, Reading

East Central College

1964 Prairie Dell Road

Union, MO  63084-4344

Phone:  (636) 583-5195

Extension:  2426

Fax:  (636) 584-0513

Email:  [log in to unmask]


Veterans Day 2009:


Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is
it politic?' Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular?' But, conscience asks
the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a
position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it
because one's conscience tells one that it is right. (Martin Luther King,

Instruction begins when you, the teacher, learn from the learner. Put

yourself in his place so that you may understand what he learns and

the way he understands it. (Kierkegaard)


To freely bloom - that is my definition of success. -Gerry Spence, lawyer
(b. 1929)    [Benjamin would be proud, I think.]


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