No evidence of misconduct: The University of Texas has cleared Professor Mark Regnerus of any misconduct in researching, analyzing and publishing his study on gay parenting. The school, in Austin, initiated an inquiry into Regnerus' work after gay rights activist and blogger Scott Rose sent multiple, formal complaints. In a report issued Wednesday, school officials said they could not substantiate any of Rose's allegations of scientific misconduct. Members of the inquiry panel pored over Regnerus' physical data, written material, grant proposals and emails. They also interviewed others involved in the study. Because the school found no problems with the research, it will not proceed with a formal investigation. In an email to The Chronicle of Higher Education, Rose dismissed the inquiry's findings, claiming it didn't dig deep enough.
Controversy over Regnerus' research exploded as soon as he published his findings in the peer-reviewed Social Science Journal in June. Regnerus surveyed 3,000 adults who spent at least some of their childhood with gay or lesbian parents. He concluded children raised in homosexual families are more likely to grow up with social, behavioral and emotional problems. Critics lambasted his methods, motives and funding, which came from conservative foundations. The Social Science Journal almost immediately started a damage-control campaign, initiating an audit of the study and the peer review process. The auditor, one of Regnerus' most vocal critics, concluded the research contained fatal flaws that reviewers overlooked because of their own opposition to same-sex marriage. The journal plans to print the audit report, along with a mea culpa in its November issue.
Evidence of growing apathy?: President Barack Obama took his re-election campaign back to school this week, appearing before crowds at the University of Virginia and Colorado State University. Although the president still draws a following on college campuses, fewer students showed up to support him than in 2008. And even those who skipped class to hear him speak showed less enthusiasm for the candidate than they once did. "It no longer has the distinctiveness that it used to have," said William Proffitt, a University of Virginia student told the Associated Press. "That was amazing, seeing the first African-American president elected, but that died off within a year." Campaign staffers claim they're keeping crowd numbers low to cut down on costs.
Cracking down on free speech: California lawmakers are rethinking a bill that encouraged colleges to crack down on anti-Israel protests. The legislation, supported by 66 of the state Assembly's members, condemned anti-Semitism and urged for tighter restrictions on rallies against Israel. Although the bill was nonbinding and did not carry policy implications, advocates for free speech said it sent the wrong message. Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, who voted for the resolution, immediately said she would work on an amendment that clarified the Assembly's support for free speech. "I'm not sure what all it's going to say, but I think it will boil down to a celebration of the First Amendment," the Long Beach Democrat said in a statement. "And it will make clear in no uncertain terms that students in our universities should feel safe to have differing opinions." Most of the instances of anti-Semitism the resolution cited related to the Israel-Palestine debate on college campuses. Among other things, it condemned the campaign to pressure the University of California system to divest from Israel and the suggestion by some students that Israel is a "racist" state.
Maybe that take-home final wasn't such a good idea after all: Harvard University is investigating dozens of students for cheating after school officials discovered they might have shared answers or plagiarized a final exam. The class in which the alleged cheating occurred held a minimum of 250 students, and teachers found evidence of cheating in about half of the take-home exams. After news of the possible cheating broke, administrators quickly moved to dispel claims of widespread academic fraud at one of the country's most prestigious institutions. But they also announced plans to hold campus-wide discussions about integrity and are considering instituting an honor code. The students accused of cheating have been called to appear before a subcommittee of the Harvard College administrative Board, which reviews issues of academic integrity. Hopefully they have a similar panel to review academic stupidity. What professor sends students home to take a final exam? Any middle school student could tell you someone was bound to take advantage of that, even at a school as prestigious as Harvard.