Santa Clara University: Hacker changed grades of 60 students

A former SCU student brought the hacking scandal to light.

Santa Clara University’s (SCU) academic records database was recently hacked to improve the grades of more than 60 former and current undergraduate students, the university announced Monday.

The university called in the FBI, which is assisting in the ongoing investigation, according to university officials. No arrests have been reported.

“We are taking it quite seriously,” said Dennis Jacobs, Santa Clara’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. “We are reviewing and enhancing all security measures to reduce the likelihood of any intrusion in the future.”

The FBI, in a written statement issued Monday, confirmed it is involved in the investigation.

SCU officials said they were unaware of any other hacking incidents at the university.

This one was particularly sophisticated, they said, and was only discovered when a former student came forward in August because she noticed a grade on her transcript was better than the one on a previously printed transcript.

SCU officials launched a probe that reviewed tens of thousands of student records going back more than a decade.

At SCU, grades cannot be changed without a strict protocol that includes signatures, a review and a software audit of approvals. But the probe found unauthorized grade changes on student transcripts across all three of the University’s schools going back to 2006.


Morgan State honors its civil rights sit-in pioneers

In 1953, seven years before the formal launch of the sit-in movement, students from Morgan State College were lining up daily at the lunch counter of Read’s drugstore, the Washington Post reports. There, some manager or anxious waitress would recite the Maryland trespassing statute and ask them to leave. Scholars at the historically black university believe that they were the first students in the nation to organize sit-ins for desegregation. This week, their role in the nation’s civil rights movement was finally honored.

“Please rise,” said Larry Gibson, a University of Maryland law professor, addressing a standing-room-only crowd in Morgan State’s movie theater Thursday afternoon. Half of the audience took to its feet: nearly 200 alumni of what is now Morgan State University, the human legacy of a 15-year campaign of sit-ins, picketing and arrests that transformed a segregated Baltimore…

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5 killer features on the Kindle Fire that you won’t find on the iPad

Tuesday, Amazon will untie the bow on its long-anticipated iPad competitor, the Kindle Fire, Today in Tech reports. While no company to date has been able to make so much as a dent in Apple’s iron grip on the tablet market, Amazon isn’t your everyday manufacturer, and the Kindle Fire isn’t your average tablet. Unlike Motorola, Samsung, HTC and every other major company to rush an iPad clone onto store shelves, Amazon took its time—and perhaps most importantly, it opted to rethink what consumers might really need in a tablet, playing to the iPad’s few weaknesses. Instead of rehashing the winning appeal of Apple’s wonder slate, Amazon took its winning e-reader formula and applied it to a more tablet-like device. So what does the Amazon Kindle Fire have to offer that the ubiquitous iPad doesn’t? Read on—you might be surprised…

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UNC Wilmington holds classes while gunman is at large

Classes were scheduled to proceed as usual Tuesday morning at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, as the search continued for a gunman who ran toward the campus after a holdup overnight, the Associated Press reports. Instructions for students to remain in secure locations that had been issued after the holdup shortly before midnight Monday were lifted at 5 a.m. Tuesday, school spokeswoman Dana Fischetti said. The suspect in the robbery of four people at a nearby fast food restaurant was still at large early Tuesday, but extra police officers were on campus as the search continued, Fischetti said. Students were free to move about the campus, but should be alert and report suspicious activity to police, she said…

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tags Schools snap up porn domains to keep them clean

Colleges pay about $200 for internet domain names.

The world is getting closer to the launching of a new internet address system for pornography providers, and there are some eye-opening names being registered. Among them: and

Don’t, however, expect to find naked co-eds at either of these sites.

In what amounts to a defensive maneuver, schools across the nation are snapping up the .xxx domain names that match their federally registered trademarks. It’s simply a matter of trying to keep them out of the wrong hands.

“We don’t want someone coming across our trademark on a porn site. God only knows what they’d come up with,” said Terry Robb, director of information technology at the University of Missouri-Columbia, which also has registered and

Colleges and universities are no different than other organizations in this regard. With the impending launching of the new .xxx top level domains later this year, everyone with a trademark had a chance to reserve names in what’s called a ‘sunrise phase.”

Essentially, it provides some protection for organizations against domain prospectors who grab sites to use or sell at a profit.

In theory, the .xxx top level domain will give adult content providers a natural place to be on the internet. But it has been criticized by the porn industry, which worries that this is the first step in forcing all adult providers to move to the more easily blocked domain addresses.

Against this backdrop, universities and other organizations have been forced to decide whether it’s worth the time, trouble and money (about $200 per domain) to take control of their .xxx sites.

Some experts don’t think there’s a lot to be worried about for the vast majority of institutions.


How colleges are easing leap from war zone to classroom

You wouldn’t think a lounge with couches, TVs, and computers would be key to a college student’s success. But if that lounge is a place where military veterans can connect and help each other out, it could mean the difference between dropping out and graduating, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Craig Jackson serves as a peer mentor in just such a lounge at the University of Maine at Augusta. A 22-year Navy veteran who retired in 2003, he’s persuaded student vets with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to seek help at a nearby veterans hospital. He’s talked with professors about how students can make up work if they’ve missed classes because of experiencing flashbacks from fighting in Iraq…

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College students swap dorms for extravagant mansions

Heather Alarab, a junior at the University of California, Merced, and Jill Foster, a freshman, know that their sudden popularity has little to do with their sparkling personalities, intelligence or athletic prowess, the New York Times reports.

 “Hey, what are you doing?” throngs of friends perpetually text. “Hot tub today?”

While students at other colleges cram into shoebox-size dorm rooms, Ms. Alarab, a management major, and Ms. Foster, who is studying applied math, come home from midterms to chill out under the stars in a curvaceous swimming pool and an adjoining Jacuzzi behind the rapidly depreciating McMansion that they have rented for a song. Here in Merced, a city in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley and one of the country’s hardest hit by home foreclosures, the downturn in the real estate market has presented an unusual housing opportunity for thousands of college students. Facing a shortage of dorm space, they are moving into hundreds of luxurious homes in overbuilt planned communities…

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Crime on campus: Do colleges have too much power?

A lot of big colleges have their own police departments. They are staffed with sworn officers who have the ability to investigate everything from burglaries to murder, TIME reports. Depending on the type of transgression and how it gets reported, some alleged crimes are dealt with in on-campus proceedings and some are passed on to local prosecutors. One of the most troubling aspects of the Penn State scandal is that school officials who were notified that a young boy was allegedly raped in a campus shower in 2002 did not report the incident to local authorities. Their inaction begs the question that even though there are laws in place that stipulate the proper protocol to follow upon hearing reports of sexual abuse, assault and harassment on campus, What’s to stop officials at large-scale institutions—many of which operate full-fledged police departments—from sweeping such unpleasantness under the rug?

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Locals walk to support higher education

A group of Quaker-school students and Kiwanis volunteers marched toward Old Brick Sunday morning, clutching signs, and chanting about peace and student loans, the Daily Iowan reports. Roughly 25 students and 10 others walked 13.5 miles from West Branch to Iowa City for a peace walk—established by students at the Scattergood Friends School and Farm—to advocate for equal access to higher education for students of all economic backgrounds.

“We are promoting peace and economic diversity so that all students have equal opportunities for education, especially as they begin to think about college,” said Rüdiger Ruckmann, the Scattergood development director…

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Penn State goes on Facebook blitz as campus scandal continues

PSU's Facebook page has seen consistent updates in recent days.

Facebook has become ground zero for crisis management in higher education, as demonstrated by Penn State University’s consistent communication with its 243,000 followers as the campus descended into riots after the Nov. 9 firing of head football coach Joe Paterno and university President Graham Spanier.

The university’s Board of Trustees dismissed Spanier and Paterno days after PSU drew national attention when former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with sex crimes against minors.

Students took to the University Park, Pa., streets and protested the firing of Paterno. The university updated its Facebook page after midnight with alerts telling students to “vacate” the rioting areas immediately.

The school’s Facebook posts didn’t go unnoticed: The warnings drew more than 1,800 comments.

Nora Carr, chief of staff for Guilford County Schools in Greensboro, N.C., who has experience in crisis communication, said colleges and universities should keep stakeholders updated, especially when controversies unfold at breakneck speed.

“Recognize that people are already talking about nothing else,” Carr said. “Students, faculty members, parents, and alumni should not have to get the news from the news. They should get it from the [university].”

Even when campus officials’ opinions are split on how to handle a public relations nightmare, Carr said it’s critical for colleges to err on the side of openness.

“Make sure someone at the decision-making table understands the difference between the court of law and the court of public opinion,” she said.  “If only lawyers have the final or most influential say in what gets disclosed, shared, or communicated, I can almost guarantee that you will lose in the court of public opinion.”