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Behind the News

When it comes to fundraising, most colleges and universities surveyed (59 percent) boost their effort through social media.

Also popular are social media-based days of giving and crowdfunding events. Of the 42 percent that held a day of giving, more than one-third raised over $50,000 that day. And of the 15 percent that crowdfunded, half earned more than $10,000 per year.

Santa Monica College hosts a festival to celebrate students from more than 100 nations who attend classes on campus.

Lone Star College has the fourth highest number of international students among U.S. two-year institutions, but the Houston-area school does not recruit abroad aggressively. Like many community colleges, it relies on local immigrant communities to spread the word with friends and family in foreign countries.

Starbucks made headlines last spring as more than just a campus hot spot when it announced a free college tuition plan for its employees. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and health insurance company Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield have now followed suit, and Starbucks has expanded its program.

While each corporation is partnering with a specific higher ed institution, the plans and stipulations vary:

In March, Twitter unveiled its newest acquisition, a live video streaming app called Periscope. Following closely on the heels of a rival app called Meerkat, Periscope made waves by enabling anyone with a mobile device (iOS or Android) to broadcast from virtually anywhere. The apps allow viewers to interact with broadcasters through a chat feature.

Arizona State’s Global Freshman Academy begins with three online courses this coming semester.

Online learning, specifically MOOCs, has inspired many doomsday forecasts regarding the fate of traditional higher education—which, of course, has yet to collapse.

But the predicted death of MOOCs—due to erratic completion rates, lack of formal student support and concerns about the financial returns for institutions—hasn’t come true either.

The Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, also known as DKE, sued Wesleyan University after  its members were told they wouldn’t be allowed to live in their house next school year.

A push for coed fraternities has spawned a lawsuit at Wesleyan University, while a directive from the administration at Trinity College, also in Connecticut, has so far failed to further integrate Greek organizations.

Delta Kappa Epsilon, or DKE, sued Wesleyan in February after the fraternity’s members were informed they would not be able to live in their house in the 2015-16 school year. The fraternity is seeking an injunction against that decision.

Commencement speakers have become another point of financial scrutiny in higher ed, with an annual flurry of students crying foul on both the person selected and fees incurred. Some colleges avoid charges by tapping their own faculty for the task (as University of Chicago has done since 1970). Others pursue prominent speakers willing to donate their services.

There’s a new attendance option for online students of Michigan State University’s educational psychology and educational technology doctoral program: They can come to class via robot. Instead of sitting in on a stagnant videoconference, the robots allow students to scan the room remotely and feel physically engaged.

Higher ed institutions are expanding interdisciplinary research activity by hiring groups of faculty from multiple disciplines at the same time. The idea, pioneered by the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the late 1990s and sprouting up elsewhere since then, is to formalize the expectation of working collaboratively across the university. It may involve a variety of collaborative support activities or a less structured expectation (as part of their job descriptions) that the new hires work together.

Four Tufts University students went on a hunger strike during an occupation of the quad in May to protest planned cuts to the school’s janitorial staff.

A small group of Tufts University students mounted a six-day hunger strike in May, but their target wasn’t fossil fuel divestment or nuclear disarmament. The Tufts Labor Coalition had pitched tents in front of the suburban Boston school’s administration building to protest the planned layoff of campus custodial workers.

While such staff cuts might not seem to be a typical student cause, the janitors’ plight illuminates issues of race and income equality, says David Ferrandiz, a Tufts sophomore and an organizer of the hunger strike.