Eight faculty members have filed complaints against a North Carolina college that recently stopped all coverage of birth control through its faculty health insurance policy, the Gaston Gazette reported.

Belmont Abbey College’s policy included coverage of contraception, abortion and sterilization before it was brought to the attention of administrators, who removed the coverage because it goes against the teachings of the Catholic Church. Belmont Abbey is a Catholic Benedictine college.

Under North Carolina law, religious employers can refuse to provide insurance for birth control. But the National Women’s Law Center, which supports the faculty members’ complaints, claims the school doesn’t meet the criteria for consideration as a religious employer because it qualifies for state scholarship programs.

St. Patty’s Day Bummer

Richard Herman, the chancellor of the University of Illinois, is asking the town of Champaign to shut down its annual day of drinking known as Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The day was created by local bars and this year will be held on a Friday.During last year’s day of drinking, there were 149 alcohol citations given.

Champaign mayor Jerry Schweighart is interested in stricter rules to prevent underage drinking. But he said bars shouldn’t be required to close early, as it might lead to “beer riots.”

Berkeley of the Middle East

The University of California at Berkeley is negotiating a partnership with the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, a Saudi Arabian university, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

The schools would collaborate on research and the hiring of faculty. Berkeley refuses to disclose any details about the negotiations, claiming it would jeopardize contact between the schools.

Some Berkeley faculty members are concerned about the partnership because other Saudi Arabian universities have historically practiced discrimination based on gender and religion.

Faculty Union Eliminated

Faculty at Michigan Technological University voted last week to get rid of their chapter of the American Association of University Professors union, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported.

The final vote was 143 to 136.

Opponents of the union said they believe a University Senate is more beneficial to faculty, and that a union only distracts faculty from their other responsibilities.

Supporters said they think the AAUP gives a stronger voice to faculty members.

The AAUP was initiated at Michigan Tech in September 2004 with a 152 to 134 vote.

Two decertification petitions disrupted contract negotiations since they began in 2005.

The union must wait a year before it can try to be recertified.

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