By Joshua Kim
Evidence from my wife.
Source: Inside Higher Ed Blogs
Source: Inside Higher Ed
Love or hate the lecture, more and more professors are abandoning it for higher-impact teaching practices. Yet at most institutions, innovative instruction comes only from individual professors, at certain times, in certain courses. That is, the “magic” has yet to be bottled and broadly adopted across general-education programs or other key course offerings.
A new grant initiative affiliated with the popular Reacting to the Past curricula — in which students participate in rigorous role-playing games to learn about historical events and debate ideas across disciplines — is trying to change that.
“Reacting has spread rapidly to many different colleges and universities — some 350 at present — but the broader curricular implementation has been slower,” said Mark Carnes, a professor of history at Barnard College who invented the curriculum nearly two decades ago, to cure his students’ painfully apparent ennui. (He details the process in his 2014 book, Minds on Fire: How Role Immersion Games Transform College.)
Carnes added, “This grant seeks to focus on the hard work of implementing strong innovation in large curricular swaths.”
With games on everything from Athenian democracy to Charles Darwin and the rise of naturalism, Reacting has a huge following among individual professors across disciplines. Both faculty members and institutions make up the Reacting Consortium, housed at Barnard, with access to existing games and involvement with those in development. To call Reacting series games might by a bit misleading, by the way, since — while fun — they’re heavy on reading and student preparation for in-class role playing.
A number of colleges and universities also have made Reacting a mandatory part of freshman experiences, majors or programs; Carnes and his fellow “gamemasters” — as instructors are called during the multiweek units — want more of that kind of involvement.
With support from the Endeavor Foundation, which supports the liberal arts, Reacting is accepting proposals for grants to help institutions further embed Reacting and its fundamentally active learning strategies into curricula on a broader scale. The grant guidelines are purposefully broad, but possible applications include those across departments, colleges and general-education curricula. Grants go to teams, not individual professors.
“We believe that we are enhancing the efforts of faculty and administrations to engage their students more deeply in their academic work, which we find critical,” said Ashley Kidd, a program officer at Endeavor. “Too often, we see students sitting in lecture halls disengaged. Self-reflection on the ways in which students actually learn best requires dedicated professors experimenting with enlivening and liberating pedagogies, such as the creative game-playing pedagogy that Reacting to the Past represents.”
Endeavor is about to begin accepting its second and final round of grant applications; the deadline is Dec. 1. Eighteen colleges will receive “mini grants” of $7,500 each to help them incorporate practices such as Reacting into their undergraduate programs.
Funds will primarily help five members from each institution attend a team-based track at the Reacting Winter Conference. In addition to Reacting experts, Peter Felten, assistant provost for teaching and learning and a professor of history at Elon University and co-author of the recent The Undergraduate Experience: Focusing Institutions on What Matters Most, is also scheduled to speak. Any remaining funds will go toward campus workshops, stipends for course development or travel to future conferences.
Kidd, of Endeavor, said that in helping faculty members to attend the institute, “we believe that we are also helping them to reflect on and experiment with their teaching such that they can then help their students to become more active learners, and, by extension, more critically engaged and active citizens in our democracy.”
Reacting is already the signature course of the Liberal Arts Honors Program at the University of Texas at Austin. Larry Carver, honors program director, said the class is one that prospective students visit and that graduates “remember and argue about years later.” He described Reacting as an “exciting and successful way of introducing students to great ideas and significant moments in history and doing so with a rigor and discipline that significantly improves the writing and speaking skills of our students.” One colleague believes that students who have taken a Reacting class are more likely to speak up in other classes, for example, he said.
Beyond the skills they acquire, “the delight the students take in the course is infectious,” Carver said (so much so that he’s actually changed an upper-division class to History at Play).
“That the class builds community can be measured in part by the reactions of [liberal arts honors] students who don’t elect to take Reacting. They feel a bit left out and often sign up for the course next semester,” Carver added via email. “As for their understanding of history, few students lose sight of what actually happened; all come away with a better understanding of what might have happened and why what happened actually did.”
John Burney, vice president for academic affairs at Doane University, which offers Reacting courses, will oversee how teams from the various grant recipients collectively strategize about implementation strategies and curricula. He said one common barrier to involvement in Reacting is time; professors worry about taking away from their material, especially in sweeping general-education courses. Yet time and again these courses prove “a natural home for Reacting, because they’re teaching critical-thinking and written and speaking skills,” he said.
Students’ imaginations are engaged, he said, causing them to more deeply understand and retain essential content, Burney added.
Source: Inside Higher Ed
Part of applying to college is paying for doing so. Stanford University is known for its high fee ($90) and long odds of admission. The University of Georgia charges $60. The University of Florida charges $30 for the application plus a $5 processing fee.
These colleges and others with fees typically permit those who say they can’t afford it to file a form to seek to waive the fee, and officials report that it’s not hard to get a waiver for those who meet certain conditions.
But momentum appears to be building for the idea that fees may discourage low-income applicants, who may doubt that they will get a waiver and who already may feel intimidated by a college-application process that no one in their family might have tried before.
This month, two liberal arts colleges — Bowdoin College and Trinity College of Connecticut — announced such initiatives. And on Monday, the City University of New York announced a systemwide initiative that will drop fees for many more students and families because CUNY educates so many more low-income students than do most private liberal arts colleges. All three institutions have a $65 regular fee.
The programs vary slightly in defining who is eligible:
For an institution with a large population of low-income students, meaningful revenue may be lost, but meaningful numbers of students may be encouraged to apply. CUNY estimates that there are students from more than 37,500 families who will be eligible for the fee waiver. New York City schools will identify the students and show them how to have the fee automatically waived. The cost (in lost application fees) is expected to be about $2.4 million annually. New York City plans to provide $2 million a year, with CUNY providing the remaining funds.
In all the plans, students will simply have to indicate that they are eligible rather than filling out a form.
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation has been encouraging colleges — especially elite colleges — to recruit and enroll more low-income students than they have historically. One strategy recommended by the foundation is waiving application fees for low-income students.
Harold O. Levy, executive director of the foundation, said via email that all colleges should follow the pattern of those that have recently changed their policies.
“Application fees act as a life-changing barrier preventing many low-income students from applying to college, or at minimum severely limit the number of colleges they apply to,” Levy said. “Eliminating these fees for such students is a positive step that more colleges and universities should adopt to create equal educational opportunity for all. Cooke Foundation research shows that nearly a quarter of high-achieving students from low-income families don’t even apply to college, and that’s a tremendous loss that deprives our nation of their talents and denies the students a pathway out of poverty.”
Other studies back the idea that dropping the application fee may have an impact.
A 2013 report by Caroline Hoxby of Stanford University and Sarah Turner of the University of Virginia examined an experiment they conducted with high achieving, low-income students. A number of interventions — including offering them fee waivers to 171 selective colleges — were conducted to make these students more aware of their options. The students in the program were more likely than similar students outside the program to apply to more colleges, and to more competitive colleges.
That study was one of the reasons cited by Reed College when it dropped all application fees.
Reed groups applicants by socioeconomic quartiles. The number of applications in the lowest quartile increased by 40 percent and 35 percent, respectively, in the two years after Reed dropped application fees. Enrolled students from that quartile increased only modestly, but Reed officials said that they view the process of attracting more of them as a long-term project. And they are pleased that more people from low-income families are considering the college.
Milyon Trulove, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid at the Oregon private college, said that it was “core to our mission” to try things to encourage low-income applicants.
Source: Inside Higher Ed
In the latter half of the 2000s, it became commonplace for regulators and policy analysts to refer to the “Wild West” landscape of student lending, especially private student loans. A decade later, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has announced itself as the new sheriff in town to the student loan industry and the for-profit colleges that fueled it.
Launched in 2011, the agency was formed as a response to the 2007-8 financial crisis and given oversight of mortgage lending, credit cards and student loans. Its formation put the regulatory functions of a number of federal agencies under one roof and meant that, for the first time, someone was looking over the shoulders of many private companies in higher education and other industries.
The result of that scrutiny over the last two years?
Most telling of all were the lawsuits the bureau filed against Corinthian Colleges and, later, ITT Technical Institute for separate predatory lending schemes. Those lawsuits preceded further federal sanctions and helped drive the collapse of Corinthian in 2015 and ITT this summer.
For-profit colleges were not part of the agency’s stated oversight mission. But its focus on student financial products led the CFPB to investigate those entities’ roles in facilitating private student loans as well as misrepresentations of outcomes like job placement rates.
The agency began looking into the for-profit chains at a time when the political environment in Washington was much less receptive to aggressive regulation of the industry. It eventually played a larger role than initially anticipated by many in higher ed in dealing a major blow to the for-profit industry.
It has, meanwhile, also reshaped the regulatory landscape for student lenders by hearing consumer complaints, issuing new lending standards and taking enforcement actions involving specific institutions. The CFPB focused not just on the providers of private student loans but also the entities — guarantors and loan servicers — who support the biggest lender all, the federal government. And it is primed to have an ongoing part in cleaning up practices in the student lending sector.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat who was instrumental in establishing the CFPB, said in 2011 congressional testimony that enforcement is generally a last resort but having a “cop on the beat” is an essential tool for consumer protection. She said in a statement that the Bridgepoint action was the latest example of the agency acting on behalf of students.
“In just five short years since the CFPB opened its doors — even as Republicans are trying to kill the agency — we’ve seen example after example of the CFPB standing up for students who’ve been cheated by shady for-profit colleges and greedy student loan companies,” she said. “It’s increasingly clear with each enforcement action that the CFPB really is starting to level the playing field for students in this country.”
The agency was established by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, a law pushed by Warren (at the time a special adviser to the president) and other Democrats in response to the financial abuses that drove the financial crisis. Student lending quickly emerged as one of its key stated policy priorities, as seen in the cases it pursued.
“The CFPB certainly has a lot of its fingerprints on this shift in policy toward the for-profit colleges and toward questionable marketing and questionable loan practices,” said Teddy Downey, executive editor at the Capitol Forum, which provides analysis of consumer protection, antitrust enforcement and other issues.
Ori Lev, a lawyer at D.C.-based firm Mayer Brown and former deputy enforcement director at the CFPB, said the agency’s actions in the student loan space have helped raise the profile of the issue, much like the impact of its enforcement in the mortgage servicing market.
Consumer advocates say the CFPB’s impact has gone far beyond the enforcement actions it has taken against specific institutions and that the agency has played a key role in uncovering and publicizing abuses affecting student borrowers. The CFPB launched a complaint reporting system for student borrowers that provided an outlet for victims of shady dealings to report problems where they had none before. And the bureau is drafting a Payback Playbook to help guide borrowers through an overwhelming number of choices for payment plans.
“They’ve done a really great job highlighting a lot of the abuses in the for-profit [industry] and in the servicing sphere,” said Persis Yu, director of the National Consumer Law Center’s Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project. “Having a national agency able to take complaints nationwide and able to do investigations that private citizens are not able to do has been very meaningful in this sphere.”
Influence on Other Regulators
The bureau has pushed other agencies to become more forceful in their own enforcement of those sectors as well, observers said, both through the influence of key personnel and a lead CFPB role in federal interagency collaborations. They say the agency’s leadership has helped push other agencies, like the Education Department, to take a more active regulatory role in the for-profit and student loan servicing areas.
Rohit Chopra, the agency’s first student loans ombudsman, joined the U.S. Department of Education in January as special adviser to Education Secretary John King Jr. He previously was a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress after leaving CFPB. (Chopra this month moved to the Hillary Clinton campaign’s transition team.)
“The CFPB is not just an amorphous institution. It’s made up of people with ideas and priorities,” Downey said.
Downey observed that CFPB has thus had a direct influence on the department through former employees like Chopra. But it’s also influenced the department with sharing of information and competition for enforcement and jurisdiction, factors reflected in recent steps by the department.
The Department of Education in July launched a federal student aid feedback system. The department has also taken a more forceful role in enforcement on for-profit college and student loan servicing issues. The two agencies collaborated with the Treasury Department to release in July a set of customer service standards for student loan servicing companies.
In 2014, an interagency task force launched to build on the work being pursued separately by the Federal Trade Commission, the Securities Exchange Commission, the Departments of Justice, Treasury and Veterans Affairs, and the CFPB. Many cited the task force as driving investigations and enforcement actions in the for-profit sector. Secretary King has become increasingly outspoken on for-profits in particular, even using the denial of nonprofit status for one institution as a warning to other colleges looking to dodge federal oversight.
— U.S. Dept of Education (@usedgov) August 11, 2016
Downey said the Department of Education’s involvement in the sector hasn’t been a question of the tools available but the willingness of its leaders to go after the sector.
“This not a question of law or jurisdiction,” he said. “It’s a question of political will.”
Role Going Forward
It’s not clear what role the CFPB will continue to play in oversight of for-profits. In investigations involving ITT and Corinthian, the agency targeted private student loans facilitated by the institutions.
“The hook for CFPB’s jurisdiction — at least predominantly for the for-profit side — has been the for-profit’s willingness to make their own [private] loans, to be lenders, or at the very least to facilitate a private loan scheme,” Downey said.
He and other observers said that as for-profits have drawn back from facilitating private student loans, the CFPB is likely to take a less active role in regulating the sector. That’s because when private student loans aren’t in play, the watchdog agency’s jurisdiction becomes less clear.
“The CFPB only has authority over for-profit schools if they can tie the school’s conduct to either private student loans or debt collection activity,” Lev said.
Agencies like the Department of Education and Federal Trade Commission, on the other hand, have much broader jurisdiction to act in the for-profit sphere.
Some prominent voices within the agency have argued that it has jurisdiction over any financial product, including federal student loans. The CFPB said it does not comment on issues of jurisdiction. But spokeswoman Moira Vahey said CFPB has authority over entities that offer consumer financial products and services.
Pushing the Envelope
The agency hasn’t been without its critics, including those who say it has overstepped its role in some instances.
Richard Hunt, president and CEO of the Consumer Bankers Association, has written that the agency should reform its complaint process, which he said takes complaints directly and releases them each month unverified and without context. He also said the agency’s high-profile enforcement actions don’t provide clear guidance to the industry as a whole.
Hunt said in a statement that multiple disclosures, in addition to strong underwriting by lenders, are helping student loan borrowers pay off their debt.
“Robust underwriting used by banks, plus strong servicing programs to assist their borrowers throughout the life of the loan, are helping families meet their obligations. To make college more affordable, we need to help students become better informed, more careful borrowers,” he said.
Aaron Lacey, a lawyer in St. Louis, whose clients have included entities like for-profit colleges and others in the higher ed sector, said the CFPB has gone beyond its jurisdiction in certain arguments made in the Corinthian and ITT cases.
“I certainly believe there were elements of those actions that arguably went beyond what most people felt was the purview of the CFPB,” he said.
The agency suffered a rare public setback in April when a federal judge ruled that the agency did not have authority over college accreditors. U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon blocked the CFPB’s efforts to force the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools to release information about its approval process for several for-profit college chains.
It was another issue where the bureau was out in front of other regulators. Two months later, the federal panel that oversees accrediting agencies recommended shutting down ACICS, and the department announced last week that it would terminate federal recognition of the accreditor.
Aside from the ACICS case, Lacey said it was hard to imagine the agency’s enforcement activities otherwise being seriously reined in on for-profits.
“It is hard for me right now to imagine anyone feeling a lot of heat for going after this industry,” Lacey said. “It is so unpopular. The narrative is too good for cracking down on for-profits. It’s very hard to sell the counternarrative.”
And although the CFPB has had a busy summer, more enforcement actions involving student loan servicing companies may be forthcoming before the year is over. CFPB has issued NORA notices — providing notification to institutions that agency staff intend to recommend a potential claim to the director — to Xerox, First Marblehead and Navient, according to investor filings issued by those companies.
Lev said all of those cases “seem ripe for resolution.”
The agency said it does not comment on potential enforcement actions.
Student loans ombudsman Seth Frotman, who assumed that role after Chopra’s departure, said the bureau has done considerable work setting up the first federal supervisory program to oversee student loan servicers’ compliance with the law and to root out harmful practices.
“We are working to create a market that better protects student loan borrowers,” he said.
Frotman said that serious problems remain for the CFPB to tackle in the student loan servicing sector. He said breakdowns in student loan servicing have left millions of student borrowers without protections against default that they are guaranteed by law. His predecessor has often compared the patterns in the industry to those in the mortgage sector before subprime mortgage crisis. And Frotman didn’t shy away from making the same comparison himself.
“You can make the case that in certain regards what is happening in terms of student loan breakdowns is even more acute and more troubling than what you saw in the mortgage space,” Frotman said.
Source: Inside Higher Ed
In the United States, Hillary Clinton is pushing to make public higher education debt-free for most Americans. Britain, meanwhile, is adjusting to much higher tuition rates than have been the norm. And policy makers in many countries are debating the significance of countries without tuition.
A new book — The Political Economy of Higher Education Finance: The Politics of Tuition Fees and Subsidies in OECD Countries,1945-2015 (Palgrave Macmillan) — aims to put these developments in context. Julian L. Garritzmann, the author, is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Konstanz and the University of Zurich. He responded via email to questions about his book. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: How similar were the leading Western nations on tuition policy in the immediate post-World War II years?
A: After World War II, the higher education systems of all Western nations were almost identical in many important respects. Firstly, enrollment levels were very low in all countries. That is, hardly anyone studied. In all countries about 5 percent of each cohort attended higher academic education. The U.S. was somewhat ahead of the other countries at this time, but even here enrollment was still very low, well below 10 percent. Secondly, access to higher education was strongly stratified in all countries. Whether kids made it to college or not mainly depended on their parents’ educational and financial background. It was mainly the children of higher socioeconomic strata that made it to college. Thirdly, the systems were also highly similar regarding their funding. In the late 1940s and 1950s, tuition fees were very low or even nonexistent in all Western countries. The U.S., Sweden and Germany, for example, looked still highly similar at this time. Finally, there was no public financial aid to support students. In short, the higher education systems resembled each other very closely in many respects in the immediate postwar period.
Q: Many Americans assume that the role of private higher education in the United States makes comparisons between the U.S. and European countries difficult. Does it?
A: I don’t think so. First of all, whether higher education is privatized or not is a political decision, so it is interesting and necessary to compare countries that have made different decisions. A comparative perspective can clearly help us here to understand the causes and consequences, the advantages and disadvantages of privatization. In the U.S., for example, most of the early higher education institutions were private. Public institutions were only founded later to expand access (by the land-grant acts and other bills), which is why there are many more private institutions on the East Coast than in the rest of the country, as the settlement moved westwards.
Consider Japan as a second example: its first higher education institutions were all public, designed after the role model of the European medieval elite universities. When demand for more higher education increased in the 1960s, the government had to respond. Japan was governed by conservative parties at this time, who were unwilling to spend more public money on education, so they “outsourced” the enrollment expansion into the private sector. As an effect, the Japanese system today doesn’t look too different from the U.S. one in terms of privatization and in terms of tuition amounts (it differs in other important respects, though). The same holds true for many Eastern European countries. That is why I think that a comparative perspective analyzing higher education systems across countries and time can help a lot in understanding the broad variety of systems around the globe, their advantages and disadvantages, and potential challenges for the future.
Q: Why did the U.S. and many European nations diverge on tuition policy?
A: That was exactly the question that got me interested in higher education policy. I found this especially puzzling against the background that the higher education systems had been so similar at the end of World War II. Why is it that seemingly similar countries have diverged in these different directions over the postwar period? When I looked into the existing literature, two arguments were predominant: some scholars argued that the divergence is due to different economic circumstances. Others believed it is due to different cultures. I don’t believe either is true. And I didn’t find any empirical proof for these arguments in my research.
Rather, I found — and show in my book — that it’s all about politics. Whether countries have tuition fees today or not and whether they support students financially depends on which parties were in office during the immediate postwar decades and how long they were in office. In some countries — like Sweden — left-wing, progressive parties were predominant in government. They kept tuition low and installed generous student financial aid to expand enrollment levels and to make access more equal. In other countries — like Japan — conservative parties were constantly in office. They held very different goals: they were very concerned that an expansion of higher education would lead to a decline of the quality of higher education. So they tried to slow the enrollment expansion down, did not install any student aid and introduced tuition fees to bring additional money in and to make students pay for their own education.
These cases illustrate why right-wing-dominated countries today have high tuition fees and low student aid, while left-wing-dominated countries combine low tuition fees and high student subsidies. I also found, however, that some countries — like Germany — have low tuition fees and low student support, whereas others — like the U.S. — charge tremendous tuition fees and simultaneously offer far-reaching student aid (grants, and — increasingly — loans). I show in my book that this is again due to politics: it matters not only which parties were in government, but also how long they governed.
Taken together, my research shows that, first, countries used to be highly similar; second, today they fall into four different groups regarding their tuition-subsidy systems (I label these the Four Worlds of Student Finance); and third, the divergence can be explained by the partisan composition of office and the duration of parties in office.
Q: Britain is moving toward an American model, with high (for the U.K.) tuition charges. How significant is that?
A: The change in the U.K. is considerable, even path breaking. As said before, my research shows that the advanced democracies fall into four groups with regard to their tuition-subsidy systems. Over time, these four worlds have become increasingly resilient. In countries with tuition fees — like the U.S. — tuition keeps constantly increasing. In countries without tuition fees — like Sweden or Germany — no attempts are made to install tuition. Although there was a lot of policy change in the 1960s and ’70s, there has hardly been any change since the 1980s. Political scientists call these continuities “path dependencies.” Against this background, the introduction of tuition fees in the U.K. in 1997 was a considerable, path-breaking change. In fact, the U.K. is the only country that has changed from one world of student finance to another.
The U.K. example also shows, however, what the political consequences of such a dramatic policy change can be: the Labour party, which introduced the fees (because the Conservatives had pushed for them for more than two decades, emphasizing the decline of the quality of higher education), lost many votes among young adults and their parents in the subsequent elections. The same happened to the [Liberal Democrats] when they promised not to raise fees but still did so in the end. Moreover, the tuition introduction had a number of socio-economic consequences, some of which are visible already and some that will become much more visible in the future. I am convinced, for example, that we will see an increase in wage inequality in the U.K. in the next years due to the introduction of fees. Educational inequality is also likely to rise. That all said, I think it is noteworthy to point out that it is only England and Wales — and to a lesser degree Northern Ireland — that installed tuition fees. In Scotland, most students still study free of charge. This is again due to party politics….
Q: In the current presidential campaign in the U.S., Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton proposed to make public higher education free for most Americans. Critics say this is impossible, but proponents point to European nations. How relevant are the policies in Scandinavia and Germany to the debates in the U.S.?
A: On the one hand, I believe they are very relevant because they are good examples that one can achieve high-quality higher education and stable economies with considerable economic growth while simultaneously maintaining low private costs. While many U.S. citizens call Sanders’s higher education program “socialist,” it rather appears a moderate Social Democratic program to many Europeans. The countries’ different trajectories can thus stimulate the debate and offer options for policy diffusion.
On the other hand, my research shows that whereas parties and politicians had much leeway in designing the higher education systems in the 1950s through the ’70s, their room for maneuver has become smaller and smaller over the decades. I show in my book that this is mainly due to what political scientists call “positive feedback effects.” That is, the existing higher education institutions shape people’s preferences and affect public opinion. As the share of the population that themselves had paid tuition fees increases year by year, it becomes more and more difficult to reverse track. People of course do not want to “pay twice,” first for their own, then for others’ education. So at this point I agree with the more pessimistic view that it is highly unlikely that we will see free higher education in the U.S. (although for different reasons than those usually brought forward in the U.S. debate).
Q: Do you think the U.S. could make public higher education free without sacrificing its quality?
A: Theoretically yes, practically no. In principle, it is of course possible to have a system with low or no tuition fees but high quality. Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland are but some examples. But this only works at the expense of high public costs. Of course the funding has to come from somewhere — if not from tuition, then from taxes. So in principle, it would of course be possible to substitute the immense tuition fee amounts in the U.S. with public money by increasing taxes. One does not even have to look at Europe to see this. Historically, the U.S. was much closer to this system in the mid-20th century. In practice, however, I don’t believe that could politically be a viable option in current U.S. politics. This is mainly due to the Republicans’ (and especially the Tea Party’s) vetoing and demonization of any suggestions in this direction. As these debates are so salient and prominent in the current debate, more progressive policy making is impossible, at least in the short and medium run.
Q: So what can be done to make the system more just while maintaining its quality?
A: I can imagine several options. Consider two: first of all, while I don’t believe that radical and large policy change is possible, I suppose that small, incremental change is possible. Political actors seeking more equality of opportunities in higher education could try to establish tuition models that defer the costs to the time after graduation. Instead of paying up front, students could be charged income-contingent tuition fees. That is, students would pay fees — but only after graduation and when they are in paid work. The amounts could then differ on their respective wages. This is the case in Australia and the U.K.
A second — in my view crucial — policy change would be to simplify the funding system as much as possible. At the moment the U.S. higher education funding system is way too nontransparent. It is entirely unforeseeable for most students how high the tuition amounts will be and how much financial support they will receive. This is so because of the higher education institutions’ increasing use of “personalized” tuition amounts and due to the nontransparent multitude of funding streams (some state and some federal funding, several public and private grant and loan systems, etc.). This nontransparency is worrisome, because we know that children from lower socioeconomic and educational strata are much more likely to overestimate the costs and to underestimate the benefits of higher education.
Thus, one reason why the U.S. is far away from achieving equality of access is the complexity of its funding system. Simplifying this a lot (to, say, two simple rules) and making highly transparent for each student what the costs and benefits of higher education are could be a second crucial policy for the U.S. system. In fact, the Obama administration has already tried to go some steps in this direction, but overall much more needs to be done for this to be successful. If nothing changes, tuition and student debt amounts will keep increasing, and educational and wage inequalities will continue to increase. In the long run, this might not only have worrisome political and social effects, but also macroeconomic effects, as the total [national] student debt amount by now is larger than total credit card debt and total auto debt.
Source: Inside Higher Ed
By Rick Seltzer
Colorado is more than a presidential swing state this year.
It is home to a statewide election that could swing the University of Colorado’s Board of Regents away from a Republican majority that’s endured for nearly four decades. The race pits Republican businesswoman Heidi Ganahl against Democrat Alice Madden, a former leader in the Legislature. It could have significant effects on an institution that has seen recent fights over state funding levels and is expected to go through leadership turnover as its president and other top administrators age.
The regents race has also dredged up divisive issues beyond those a Board of Regents is typically seen as having power over: research, energy production and climate change. Several sitting regents reported a spike in partisanship as the election nears and the high stakes hit home.
“This is an unusual election because it really is on the line,” said Linda Shoemaker, a Democratic regent who is not up for re-election this year. “I say it’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the Democrats to take control of the Board of Regents.”
The race is not, however, easy to predict. Candidates have relatively little fund-raising ability, and there is no polling published on regents elections. More challenging, voters often have little sense of what a regent does or why they are voting for one. That leaves Colorado’s statewide regent votes usually following the top of the ticket in presidential election years. But political experts say that’s never a sure thing, and it’s particularly uncertain in this year’s unpredictable political climate.
Colorado is rare in electing regents to oversee its university system, a practice that is more common for community colleges. Just three other states — Michigan, Nebraska and Nevada — elect regents to exercise control over at least some of their universities, according to the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. In Colorado, seven regents are elected from congressional districts. Two are elected statewide. Regents’ terms run six years, and elections are staggered.
This year, three regents’ seats are up for election — Democrat Michael Carrigan is term limited in a heavily blue district and Republican Sue Sharkey is running for re-election in a deep-red district. Republican Steve Bosley, who holds a statewide seat, is term limited and cannot run for re-election. Ganahl and Madden are vying to win Bosley’s seat.
Ganahl currently sits on the University of Colorado Foundation board. In 2000, she started Camp Bow Wow, a nationally franchised day care service for dogs that has since been bought by an animal health care company, and she also operates a charity called Moms Fight Back, which focuses on issues like teen drug use, sexual assault and child abuse.
Madden is the executive director of the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment at the University of Colorado Law School, a position she took in June amid press coverage noting she would govern her own employer if she becomes a regent. She is a former majority leader in the Colorado State House credited with creating a plan that flipped the state’s Legislature Democratic in 2004. On the topic of governing her own employer, she says she would not be the first such employee and that she can recuse herself in case of conflict of interest. She also says it would be wrong to prevent the university’s tens of thousands of employees from running for regent.
The candidates staked out differing positions on several issues, notably on university funding. Ganahl says she isn’t against more state funding for the university but finds funding levels unlikely to increase. Therefore, she thinks the university system should cut costs, focus on fund-raising and find new sources of money. Madden, meanwhile, wants to fight for more state funding.
The issue is particularly pertinent in Colorado, where higher education funding has been squeezed in recent years. State funding totaled $197 million for the 2016 fiscal year, down from $207 million in 2001. Regents have also moved to cap tuition increases, this spring putting tuition increase caps in place and guaranteeing tuition levels over four years for incoming classes at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Some advocates have sought more state funding for the university system, including backing a controversial proposal to reclassify the state’s hospital provider fee. Reclassifying the fee would prevent it from counting toward a state revenue cap. Advocates argued that would make more revenue available for higher education funding.
Madden points to that issue as a reason she thinks the Board of Regents needs a change. The board did not weigh in on the hospital provider fee issue last year, she said.
“Over 300 state organizations — including almost every college and university in the state — signed a petition asking the governor to go to a special session to pass this bill,” Madden said. “The board refused to even bring up the resolution to a vote.”
Ganahl retorts that there was no guarantee any extra money would have gone to the university system.
“No one in Colorado has guaranteed any of that money would go to higher ed,” she said. “I’d rather focus on things we can control, like public-private partnerships with our communities and driving private donors and fund-raising.”
Also boiling to the top recently are issues of climate change and academic freedom. A trio of professors at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs drew the attention of conservative media at the start of this semester by sending out an email to members of a Medical Humanities in the Digital Age online course they are teaching. The email said that the course accepts scientists’ consensus that anthropogenic climate change is occurring and that other sides of the issue — like the argument that anthropogenic climate change is not happening — would not be taught or discussed. The email went on to ask students not to take the course if those ground rules were a problem and asked all outside sources used for the course to be peer reviewed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The incident prompted some controversial responses from University of Colorado Regents and its president, Bruce Benson. Benson sent an email to regents saying he had talked about the issue with Colorado Springs’ chancellor.
“I am not happy about it, and I shared that,” said the email, according to The Colorado Independent. “While the issue falls squarely in the realm of academic freedom, it also seems that a little more balance would have helped.”
CU Regent John Carson told The Washington Times students attend the university “to be educated, not indoctrinated.”
The incident was particularly pertinent to the race between Ganahl and Madden because climate change had already surfaced as a major issue. And Colorado Regents have been at the center of ideological questions before. In 2013 the American Association of University Professors raised concerns after regents moved to conduct a survey of the political climate at the university’s Boulder campus because of concerns over liberal bias. Even Benson’s 2008 selection as university system president had the American Federation of Teachers objecting because he was viewed as the architect of tenure changes the union believe to be a threat to academic freedom.
Madden argues the current Republican-controlled Board of Regents isn’t supportive of climate change research and has avoided discussing the topic in the past. Democratic leadership would be more supportive of researchers, she said.
“It’s definitely an atmosphere,” Madden said. “The chancellors will take the regents to their campuses, introduce them to their professors, show of all the amazing things we do, but they’re never going to take them to meet climate scientists.”
Ganahl said it’s not regents’ role to wade into specific research issues.
“The Regents Board is supposed to be a governing board, not a managing board,” she said. “Our job is to hire the president of the university.”
Regents’ energy and climate change debates predate the recent flare-up at the start of the semester, though. University of Colorado regents voted 7 to 2 in 2015 against having the university divest from fossil fuels. But some Republicans have worried a Democratic board would seek divestment again.
Ganahl addressed climate change and divestment in a video posted in August.
“This election for CU regent shouldn’t be about climate change — we can leave that topic to the scientists,” she said in the video. “What we do know is that we promise to encourage feisty debates on tough issues, and this is one of those tough issues. But our focus at CU is on the students, and not on taking sides in partisan debates.”
Ganahl went on to say in the video that divestment would not be an effective way to protect the environment. Not including energy in university investments would be harmful, she said.
The climate change debate is also of interest because the university system’s president, Benson, founded an oil and gas company in 1965. Benson also ran for governor as a Republican in 1994 and has chaired the Colorado Republican party.
Regents approved Benson as president in 2008 on a party-line vote. Madden, who was still State House majority leader when Benson was being selected, had attacked his credentials.
“Aside from the blatant politics involved in this, he has a bachelor’s degree in geology,” she said at the time, according to The Denver Post. “He’s going to be the boss of world-renowned researchers? Now I’m wishing I’d applied. At least I have a juris doctorate.”
Today, Republicans worry the election could turn into a referendum of sorts on Benson, with Democrats ousting the longtime president if he wins.
But Madden said she was concerned at the time because of Benson’s background. She thinks he has done a good job of leading the university.
“He had a super-partisan background, but you know, he’s done a heck of a job,” she said. “He’s given his heart and soul to the job. He returns his salary to the university.”
Madden says she has no plans to run Benson out of his job, and the president hasn’t indicated interest in leaving. Still, Madden points out that the president is 78 and has been in office for the better part of a decade.
“This is a six-year term, so at some point we would be looking for a new president,” she said.
Asked about the president, Ganahl said she supports him staying as long as he wants.
“President Benson is one of the brightest, sharpest people I’ve ever met in my life, and he’s an incredible fund-raiser,” she said. “I don’t think he’s ready to step down, and I certainly don’t want him to.”
Several regents rejected the idea that the elected Board of Regents is an inherently political body. But the race is still viewed as having higher-than-usual stakes.
Faculty members are watching the race closely, said Joanne Addison, an associate professor of English who is vice chair of the University of Colorado Faculty Council and chair of the faculty assembly at the University of Colorado at Denver. She declined to discuss the race further, saying she was hosting candidates at an upcoming Faculty Assembly meeting and needed to be nonpartisan.
The regents election seems to have settled down somewhat after divisive issues swirled earlier, said Glen Gallegos, a Republican regent.
“Early on, I think we were hearing that it could lead to a different president, a different vote on investments,” said Gallegos. “But it just feels like it’s really calmed down.”
Gallegos was elected vice chair of the board in September after regents spent the summer unable to elect new board leaders. Regents elected a Democrat, Irene Griego, as chair, even though the GOP still has a 5 to 4 board majority.
“I have not seen this board as a real partisan board,” Gallegos said. “I personally would hate to lose that 5 to 4 vote, but I don’t think it’s the end of the world, either.”
Democratic Regent Shoemaker said she has been surprised by how much the outside world of politics has impacted the board this election season, though.
“Five people are out there working hard to elect Heidi,” Shoemaker said. “And four of us are working in our own ways to elect Alice and Hillary — and Trump on the other side. It creates some real tensions when you’re trying to work closely and collaboratively with people.”
Bosley, the statewide regent Madden and Ganahl are running to replace, said many issues would come up with or without regent elections.
“The fact we’re elected and we’re elected by party injects some things that make it political,” he said. “Once elected, I would say 95 percent of the things we talk about we agree on and are not partisan in nature. The other 5 percent are philosophical things that would come up whether you’re an elected or appointed board.”
Being appointed by a governor is very different from being elected. Appointed trustees or regents answer to a constituency of one — the governor. Elected officials have larger, more amorphous constituencies. Some states also have regents selected by legislatures.
“When there’s an election of trustees, people who have aspirations for a political career will often use running for one of those offices as kind of an entry to public visibility and a political career,” said Paul Lingenfelter, former president of the State Higher Education Executive Officers. “I think that does change the dynamics.”
From a strategic standpoint, winning a statewide regent election is difficult, Bosley said. Many voters don’t know what regents do, and fund-raising limits are very low. Bosley remembers driving 30,000 miles around the state as he campaigned for his election.
Some regents say this year’s statewide race is getting more press than it would have in the past.
“It seems like the regents race this year is really getting a lot of attention, and I think higher education has gotten more attention in the last few years,” said Sharkey, the Republican regent running for re-election in a heavily Republican district. “It’s an issue that even the presidential candidates talk about. It’s my perception from when I ran the first time six years ago that there’s a lot more public attention, public spotlight, being put on higher ed.”
Yet most experts agree the regents race is not taking top billing within the state, especially with the presidential election gobbling up attention. That would seem to indicate the race will go the way of the presidential election as voters cast their ballots based on political preference at the top of the ticket.
That’s often been the case in the past, said John Straayer, a political science professor at Colorado State University.
“The general picture I have is that … if there’s a CU regent race up in a presidential year with decent turnout, the odds tilt in the Democrats’ direction,” he said. “In down-ticket races they haven’t done well unless it happens to hit a presidential year.”
Yet it isn’t so simple. Many voters will cast their ballots in the presidential race but not bother to check off a regent candidate’s name.
Down-ballot regents underperform top-of-the-ticket candidates, said Stephen Ludwig, an at-large Democrat. When he ran in 2012, the number of votes cast for Barack Obama was 20.5 percent higher than the number cast for Ludwig. The number of votes for Mitt Romney was 15.5 percent higher than the number cast for Ludwig’s Republican opponent at the time.
It’s hard to generate interest in the campaign with current fund-raising limits in place, Ludwig said in an email.
“It is cost prohibitive to do a statewide campaign that would highlight the issues that could move the needle for people one way or another,” he said.
Businesses, federal political action committees, individuals and political committees are all limited to contributions of $200 per primary and $200 per general election for regents races. Political parties can donate nearly $16,000, and small donor committees can donate $4,850 over the course of the election cycle.
Madden had spent just $2,915 on the race and had cash on hand of $19,823 heading into the fall, the Coloradoan reported Sept. 7. Ganahl had spent $22,082.32 and had $12,144.42 on hand.
Source: Inside Higher Ed
By Jake New
A black student at Prairie State College, a community college located outside Chicago, told the college’s trustees last month that he believes he was racially profiled by a campus police officer while trying to attend his first class of the semester. Prairie State officials say the officer did nothing wrong, but some of the college’s faculty and staff members are expressing concern that the board chair was combative and too quick to dismiss the student’s complaints.
“Officers should not stop and question students because of their ethnicity or the fact they think they seem out of place,” an anonymous letter, signed “faculty and staff,” stated. “We ask, would this have happened if the student were white? We don’t think it would have.”
The student, D’Marco Griffin, said he was entering the college’s health-tech building on Aug. 23 when he was stopped by a campus police officer. Still wearing his blue work vest, Griffin had arrived early after concluding a shift at the local Walmart so he would have time to locate his classroom. Within minutes of entering the building, the student was approached by a campus police officer.
Griffin said the officer told him that he “looked out of place,” and that something “seemed off” about him being in the building. The student explained he was there for a class, and the officer asked him to provide identification. When he reached into his pocket to retrieve his ID, Griffin said, the officer “tensed and sternly instructed [him] not to reach into” his pockets.
As another officer arrived, Griffin said, he was told to put his hands behind his back. The officer patted Griffin down and asked if the student had any items on his person he should know about. Griffin told him he was carrying his box cutter from work, and the officer temporarily confiscated it, as well as Griffin’s wallet and class schedule. After confirming Griffin was a student, the officer returned the wallet and schedule and walked him to his class.
The next week, Griffin attended a board meeting and told the trustees about the incident, according to a video of the meeting.
“It was a very humiliating experience,” Griffin said during the meeting, adding that he felt sick to his stomach during the incident and that he worried about his safety when the officer ordered him not to reach into his pockets. The officer never drew any weapons on Griffin, but the college’s police force is a sworn agency and many of its officers are armed. A short police report of the incident largely confirms Griffin’s account, but it does not contain details about what the officer may have said to the student during the encounter.
Throughout Griffin’s time speaking during the meeting, the board’s chair, Jacqueline Agee, repeatedly interrupted the student.
Griffin: This is just an ordeal that I know definitely could have went very less –
Agee: What do you mean by that?
Griffin: It could have went badly, seeing –
Agee: Why is that?
Griffin: Seeing as how, you know, myself and the officer having different perspectives. I’m just on my way to class and he perceived me as a threat, if you will. If I had just failed to properly comply when he told me not to reach for anything, even after he asked for some type of identification, I could have easily not been here today.
Griffin: Due to perceived notions on his end, him seeming to be on the defensive with me giving him virtually no reason to be defensive.
When Griffin began to hand out a written statement to the board members and conclude his remarks, Agee allowed him to distribute the documents but interrupted him again. “You’ve gone way over your time, D’Marco,” she said. “I’m letting you go because it’s usually cut down to three minutes, but I’m letting you go, so you need to wrap it up.”
Griffin had spoken for about four minutes.
In a statement Monday, the college said that administrators first heard of the incident through a post on the student’s Facebook page, and that the college’s dean met with him the following day. Following the meeting, the dean “felt the situation had been resolved,” the college stated, but Griffin addressed the Board of Trustees later that evening. The college said it had not seen the anonymous letter signed by “faculty and staff” until Monday.
“Because the board takes students’ concerns very seriously, the board chair agreed to give Mr. Griffin the floor that evening, despite the fact that, according to board policy, the board is allowed four business days’ notice before allowing a member of the public to address the board on items not included in the agenda,” the college said. “College officials have reached out to Mr. Griffin through various channels since he addressed the board, but to date, Mr. Griffin has declined to meet with any of those individuals. It is the opinion of the college that the officer acted appropriately, given the circumstances.”
Toward the end of the board of trustees meeting, Prairie State College’s police chief, George Pfotenhauer, also defended the officer’s actions, saying he had done nothing wrong or illegal. Griffin, Pfotenhauer said, had entered the building through a door that was normally locked by that time in the evening. Pfotenhauer acknowledged that Griffin would not have known not to use the door, as it was accidentally left unlocked that particular evening, but said that it was the student using this entrance that worried the police officer.
“He didn’t say anything derogatory, he didn’t say anything inflammatory,” Pfotenhauer said, also noting that the officer did not touch the student, “other than a quick pat down.”
“And he had a knife,” Agee responded, referencing the student’s box cutter he had in his pocket from work. “Through that [stop], he found a knife.”
When another board member clarified that it was a box cutter, and attempted to explain that the college should provide comfort to the student for being stopped and searched when had done nothing wrong, Agee interrupted her, as well.
“When the police officer gives the comfort level to the wrong guy, that’s when the police officer doesn’t go home at night,” she said. “What if he was a bad guy with an AK [assault rifle]? I’m going to give him comfort?”
In the anonymous statement this week, faculty and staff members said they sat “paralyzed in shock as [Agee] glared across the room at Mr. Griffin, interrupting him and trying to make the student feel incompetent.” That Prairie State College is a predominantly black institution — with 57 percent of its students being black or African-American — made the incident all the more disturbing, they wrote.
“Working in a diverse environment at a predominately black institution brings both opportunities and challenges,” the statement said. “As our college becomes increasingly diverse, an understanding of culture and its effect on communication is more important than ever. These behaviors have a devastating impact on people’s physical and mental well-being, as well as their ability to fully engage as members of our learning community.”
Source: Inside Higher Ed
Information technology staff members across the University of California system are holding their breath to see if the layoffs and outsourcing at the San Francisco campus represent an individual cost-cutting measure or the beginning of a trend.
The UCSF Medical Center told staffers this July that — because of decreasing federal health care reimbursement and cost increases associated with the Affordable Care Act — it would cut 97 IT jobs by Feb. 28. Some of the positions will be outsourced to the Indian IT services company HCL Technologies. The university has also contracted with Dell and FireEye for data center and cybersecurity services, respectively.
“Faced with increasing service demands, as well as rising costs, various solutions were explored and discussed over an 18-month period,” UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood and UCSF Health CEO Mark R. Laret wrote in a July 25 email explaining the decision to staff members. “What became clear was that a new course was necessary — one that would yield the services and capacity that the university needs within a budget that we could support.”
The layoffs affect UCSF’s IT office broadly, covering staff members responsible for application support and development, email and phone systems, and data center and network center operations and more, according to an email from university CIO Joseph R. Bengfort. Excluding contract and vacant positions, 49 career employees will lose their jobs.
In interviews with Inside Higher Ed, staff members said they are coping with the decision with a combination of frustration and resignation. Some said they are searching for IT jobs at other campuses in the system. Others said they are considering leaving the industry altogether. They asked that their names not be published as they still have five months of employment left.
“I’m trying to hang on,” a service center employee said in an interview. She said she worried about age discrimination in the job market, since she is in her 50s. “It’s going to be a tough battle.”
Other staff members bristled at the thought of training the workers who will replace them. To aid the outsourcing efforts, some staff members have had their organizational goals updated with a target of completing the transition plan by Feb. 14, with a stretch goal of Jan. 31. A staff member with about 20 years of experience at the university said he feels as though the university is rewarding employees for making themselves expendable as fast as they can.
“It’s pretty degrading,” the staff member said, adding, “I want to make sure that this cancer they’re going to introduce doesn’t spread across the UC system.”
Outsourcing IT jobs is much less common in higher education than in the private sector, said Russ Harrison, government relations director for IEEE-USA, a professional organization for technical professionals. The organization has more than 235,000 members in the U.S., but the layoff at UCSF is the first time it has been able to “conclusively prove” outsourcing in a university IT department, he said.
The layoffs even took some university officials by surprise. Larry Conrad, associate vice chancellor for IT and chief information officer at the University of California, Berkeley, wrote in a Sept. 9 letter to staff members, “Candidly, I am not aware of any major university in the country which has successfully implemented such a substantive IT outsourcing initiative” as the one at UCSF.
Based on the increase in the number of H-1B guest worker visa requests by colleges and universities, however, it is likely that other institutions have done the same, Harrison said. While the U.S. only issues 85,000 such visas a year (20,000 of which are reserved for people with advanced degrees), colleges are exempt from that cap.
Some universities have come under scrutiny for their use of H-1B visas. Wright State University, for example, last year said it was being investigated by the federal government for potentially abusing the guest worker program.
“University people are beginning to realize these H-1B [visa holders] can fill just about any job,” Harrison said in an interview.
UCSF’s $50 million contract with HCL is now raising concerns in IT offices on other campuses as well. A UCSF spokesperson confirmed that the contract, as written, could be used by any of the other campuses and medical centers in the system. None have inquired about it so far, however.
Conrad, in the Sept. 9 letter, stressed that Berkeley has “no plans to follow UCSF’s path.” He still struck a pragmatic tone on outsourcing certain IT services, which he said universities and businesses need to seriously consider.
“You all know the university is under significant financial pressure, so we have to look at all options to deliver quality IT services to our community at the lowest possible cost,” Conrad wrote. “The IT business is constantly changing. What made sense 20 years ago doesn’t make sense today. What makes sense today likely won’t make sense in another 20 years.”
The other medical centers in the UC system gave varied responses to the question of whether they are considering outsourcing IT services. A spokesperson for UC San Diego Health in an email said, “No IT staffing changes being considered here. We are not outsourcing.”
At UC Irvine Health, a spokesperson said the center is “definitely facing some of the same financial pressures as UCSF,” but added that he was “not aware of plans to outsource IT staff” (though he had “not received confirmation one way or the other yet”).
A spokesperson for UCLA Health declined to comment, while UC Davis Health did not respond to a request for comment.
Many IT workers in the UC system are members of University Professional and Technical Employees, a union affiliated with the Communications Workers of America. Keith Pavlik, a senior publications coordinator at UCSF, is managing the union’s response to the layoffs. He said the union is planning several awareness campaigns, including appealing to Janet Napolitano, the system’s president, as well as to state legislators and members of Congress.
Democratic Representative Zoe Lofgren, whose district covers parts of San Jose, has already come out against the outsourcing plan. Speaking to Computerworld, Lofgren said the university is “misusing” the H-1B visa program.
“There’s a number of reasons why this outsourcing is bad for all the stakeholders at the university, whether it’s the patients, the faculty and staff, the students or [their parents],” Pavlik said in an interview. “We will have the voice of public opinion on our side.”
Source: Inside Higher Ed
Faculty advocates argue that tenure decisions are the primary domain of professors, and yet most institutions still involve presidents in the process. So what is the appropriate role of a college or university president in tenure cases?
That’s what faculty members and administrators at Lafayette College are trying to figure out in light of a recent presidential tenure veto that roiled the campus. Yet while Lafayette captured national attention — in part because of the rejected professor’s protest method (a hunger strike) — it’s not alone in trying to iron out the president’s role in tenure decisions.
“We do have a standard that if a president is going to overturn a faculty recommendation, it has to be for compelling reasons,” says Hans-Joerg Tiede, associate secretary of academic freedom, tenure and governance for the American Association of University Professors. “But that does raise the question ‘Who gets to decide in the end whether reasons are compelling?’”
Tiede was speaking generally about AAUP policy, but the “compelling reasons” language is also at play in case of Juan Rojo, the assistant professor of Spanish at Lafayette who launched a hunger strike after being denied tenure last month despite the unanimous or majority support of three separate faculty review panels.
The reason? President Alison Byerly, citing what she called a pattern of negative student evaluations of teaching, said Rojo didn’t meet the college’s standard for exceptional instruction — its most important tenure criterion. Lafayette’s Faculty Handbook mimics AAUP’s standard for presidential tenure vetoes, namely that they should happen in “rare instances and for compelling reasons which should be stated in detail.” And Byerly argued that just being a good teacher instead of a superb one was, in fact, compelling.
Rojo and a faculty panel disagreed with the assessment and the rationale, pointing to Rojo’s broader record of positive student evaluations of teaching and increasingly positive peer reviews. The faculty passed a motion at a special meeting earlier this month asking Lafayette’s Board of Trustees to rescind its negative decision, which was based largely on Byerly’s recommendation.
The board did reconsider — or at least gave the request “serious consideration” before again backing Byerly, Edward W. Ahart, chair, wrote in a letter to the clerk of the faculty last week.
While the Rojo decision stands, Ahart said, “We fully support the suggestions made by [Byerly] and several faculty leaders that further discussion and examination of our tenure process is needed. … The board recognizes that this case has been painful for the community and has revealed significant differences of opinion within our community about some important aspects of the tenure review process.” Ahart asked the faculty to designate a group of representatives to “begin the dialogue that is needed to create a greater level of mutual understanding and agreement.”
A Lafayette spokesperson referred questions to Ahart’s letter, but it’s likely that the compelling reasons standard will be one point of discussion. Rojo thinks it should be, along with more general questions about the role of the president in tenure cases.
“The role of the president is understood by the faculty to be limited,” he said. “The faculty’s reading of ‘compelling reasons’ differs dramatically from both the board’s and the president’s. So much so that over 100 faculty members have urged both the president and the board to change their positions based on what they perceive as presidential overreaching.”
Referring to Ahart’s comment to the faculty clerk that “successive layers of review provide a system of checks and balances in which the responsible parties at each level must affirm their concurrence with a preceding recommendation,” Rojo said, “There has been no balance here. The decision was overwhelmingly in my favor.”
Again, like Lafayette, AAUP’s Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities says that presidents and boards should normally concur with the faculty judgment, except in rare instances for compelling reasons that should be stated in detail. AAUP’s Committee on College and University Governance has said a bit more about the “compelling reasons,” but not much:
“Even if the administration and governing board are persuaded that the faculty judgment is incorrect, they should reverse it only on that rare occasion when they can provide convincing reasons for rejecting the faculty’s presumed academic expertise. A compelling reason should be one which plainly outweighs persuasive contrary reasons.”
If AAUP is short on examples, it’s helpful on process. Tiede said that in the event of a presidential veto, there should at least be additional elements of academic due process, “in particular an opportunity to appeal to an elected faculty body when discrimination, an academic freedom violation or inadequate consideration are alleged.”
Rojo has publicly expressed concern that research suggests student evaluations of teaching are unreliable indicators of teaching quality, and that women and minorities are at a particular disadvantage when it comes to student bias. Lafayette’s board formed a special subcommittee to study his case, which referred it back to the collegewide faculty tenure and promotions committee — something Tiede said was in keeping with the spirit of shared governance. Yet that committee again endorsed Rojo, to no avail.
Byerly’s not the first president to get into a shared governance spat with faculty members over personnel decisions. Phyllis Wise, former chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was widely criticized for blocking the hiring of American Indian studies scholar Steven Salaita for his anti-Israel tweets, for example.
Presidential Input Varies Widely
Scandal hasn’t scared presidents away from the tenure process altogether, however. A 2015 Inside Higher Ed-Gallup poll of presidents found about 60 percent of respondents across institution types want more of a role in tenure decisions — at the associate’s degree-granting level, 70 percent of presidents say they do. Some 58 percent of presidents say they have blocked the hiring of scholars whose competence they questioned, and 54 percent say they’ve blocked scholars from getting tenure for the same reason. Presidents at doctoral-level public institutions were the least like to say they’ve blocked someone from getting hired due to concerns about competence (42 percent), but the most likely to say they’ve blocked someone from getting tenure over such doubts (76 percent). About half of surveyed presidents say they conduct their own tenure reviews.
Robert O’Neil, former president and professor emeritus of law at the University of Virginia, said a “compelling” basis for presidential reversal struck him as “imprecise” and in need of clarification. Yet he described even his own experiences with overturning faculty-approved personnel actions at different institutions over his long career as “varying widely.”
He’s reversed several strong faculty recommendations because “thin”-seeming research records, for example, he said, and reversed one negative recommendation in the interest of what he described as affirmative action. Arguments for and against tenure can differ between campuses, he said — in which one values research over teaching or vice versa, for example — but generally, institutions and their boards are “empowered to determine and apply the core criteria for promotion and tenure.” That’s particularly true at private institutions, he said, since boards at public institutions may be subject to statutory or constitutional restraints.
One irony of the Lafayette case is that colleges generally receive much criticism for valuing research over teaching, yet this situation centers on a president saying she is concerned about teaching issues, consistent with the liberal arts mission.
Judith Shapiro, president of the Teagle Foundation and former president of Barnard College, said she wasn’t privy to private details about the Rojo case. But in general, and ideally, she said, presidents are involved enough in the tenure process that vetoes of faculty recommendations don’t come as surprises — or don’t happen at all.
Shapiro said she read every tenure case as president at Barnard, and sat in on a collegewide appointments committee as a nonvoting member. As a result, she said she was so actively engaged in faculty-led tenure decisions that she never vetoed a single recommendation, for or against.
That level of presidential involvement is more feasible at a liberal arts college than other kinds of institutions, Shapiro admitted. But in any setting, she said the president’s role boils down to “maintaining the integrity of the tenure process.” That means making sure all procedures are followed, she said, and — perhaps — helping the faculty make a tough call about a colleague who isn’t living up to professional standards.
“Sometimes faculty members need to step up to the plate and make a hard decision about their colleague,” Shapiro said.
Kiernan Mathews, director and principal investigator of the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education, said his organization didn’t have a stance on the issue of presidential vetoes, but that colleges and universities, first and foremost, must follow their own policies and procedures regarding tenure and promotion. Similar to O’Neil, Mathews said that if those rules allow a veto for “compelling” reasons, they should be clear about what meets that standard, “and perhaps allow the candidates to address any new concerns that have arisen.”
Like Shapiro, Mathews also argued that presidents can sometimes play an important gatekeeper role when the faculty is truly divided over a candidate’s fitness for tenure. In one such example at an unnamed institution, Mathews said, a large minority thought the candidate fell short, but because “collegial faculty suffer few direct consequences for passing the buck, they all voted in favor, then let the tough decision fall on the administrator — whose salary, they’ll argue, reflects the hazard pay afforded for making unpopular decisions.” Such pressure towards “collegiality” can be especially strong in small college settings, where anonymity — both on and off campus — is limited, he added.
In any case, Mathews said, it’s importantly to remember that the “human cost” of tenure denials “falls squarely on the candidate’s shoulders.” Careers and even one’s mental health can be devastated by rejection. So it’s important to reflect on how a candidate got so far, only to be denied at the presidential level, he said. “How many chairs, mentors, colleagues failed this poor professor? Where was the communication, the push and pull, between faculty and administration about what it takes to get tenure at this institution?”
Mathews said he looks to institutions to prove their “mettle” in the year after controversial tenure denials, through soul searching and, when appropriate, restorative justice. In one case at another unnamed institution, he said, a major research university denied five professors tenure in one year, all of them women. After determining that such outcomes weren’t in line with its values, the university made concerted efforts in some of those cases to find the professors suitable employment elsewhere.
“Universities can do (and some do) better in fully supporting their own on the way out the door,” Mathews said via email.
Source: Inside Higher Ed
Four years after two senior academics at Stanford University challenged medical schools to stop lecturing and start flipping their classrooms, major reforms at underway at a handful of colleges to change the way they teach medicine.
The University of Vermont last week became the most recent institution to join the trend, announcing a pedagogical reform in its College of Medicine that observers say is the most sweeping yet. The college will over the next several years remove all lecture courses, replacing them with videos students watch on their own time. And instead of sitting through lectures, students will meet in “active learning” classrooms, led by faculty members, working with their classmates in small groups.
“We teach evidence-based medicine all the time,” William Jeffries, senior associate dean for medical education at UVM, said in an interview. “If you have the evidence to show one treatment is better than the other, you would naturally use that treatment. So if we know that there are methods superior to lecturing, why are we lecturing at all?”
The approach builds on experiments at Stanford, which has worked with Khan Academy to test a flipped classroom model in certain medicine courses. Other institutions have taken that model a step further. The Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York, for example, has since the 2012-13 academic offered an entirely flipped curriculum.
UVM’s announcement, however, marks the first time a member of the Association of American Medical Colleges has declared it will abolish lectures across all its programs, Lisa Howley, the organization’s senior director of educational affairs, said in an interview.
“What we know about learning in general is different than it was decades ago,” Howley said. “Our medical students are of a generation that has grown up differently when it comes to technology and the impact that has on their ability to receive and retain information.”
But moving away from how medical schools have trained new physicians for centuries is no easy task. Major curricular changes could jeopardize the schools’ regional and professional accreditation statuses, repel prospective students, offend alumni donors and alienate some faculty members, to mention just a few.
The most pressing concern, Jeffries said, is also the simplest: money. “Most schools do not have the resources to ‘turn the battleship around,” he said.
UVM will put a $66 million gift, announced Friday, toward building renovating classrooms and retraining faculty members. It has also renamed its College of Medicine in honor of the donor, alumnus and retired physician Robert Larner.
The college will spend part of the gift on expanding its Teaching Academy, founded last year. Faculty members in the College of Medicine join the academy for three- to five-year periods, during which they are mentored by more experienced instructors, attend conferences and workshops, and complete self-paced courses, among other activities.
The overarching goal of the academy, Jeffries said, is to help faculty members discover teaching methods that can be as rewarding — if not more so — than lecturing.
“That internal oomph or dopamine release that you get when you lecture and are the center of attention is a barrier to converting faculty over,” Jeffries said. “What we need to do is ensure they have the time and support to develop alternative ways of teaching.”
The most powerful tool the med school has to win faculty members over is that they are “scientists at heart” and “understand the evidence” suggesting students in flipped classrooms perform better than students in lecture courses, Jeffries said. At Touro, for example, the pass rate on an important licensing exam has climbed to above 95 percent — higher than the national average — since the college flipped its curriculum.
About 80 faculty members joined the Vermont academy when it first opened, but the College of Medicine has a long way to go before the faculty is prepared to teach in the new classrooms. The med school has more than 700 faculty members in total.
The transition to an all-flipped model at UVM has already begun, and the university plans to complete it by 2022, Jeffries said. Lecture courses now make up a minority of the college’s foundational curriculum — about 40 percent, down from 50 percent two years ago. The first semester courses have already been redesigned into a series of connected components, and the college plans to pour over data collected from them during a curricular retreat in February, where administrators and faculty members will produce a strategic five-year plan.
There are some major unanswered questions facing UVM, including what an education at the college will look like in 2022, how much time students will spend in the classroom and how faculty members will respond to their roles changing from lecturing to facilitating. Jeffries said he expects some of those details will be settled during the February retreat, while other pieces will fall into place as the medical school transitions away from lectures.
“A lot of this is a great unknown to us,” Jeffries said. “We are starting an evolutionary process in making this initial commitment … to formulate a new model.”
Source: Inside Higher Ed
By Rick Seltzer
COLUMBUS, Ohio — This year’s charged political climate in the United States could seriously hurt colleges’ and universities’ ability to recruit international students, according to high school counselors and admissions officers.
By one unscientific measure, 39 percent of counselors serving students from outside the U.S. said that the result of the U.S. election in November could change their students’ willingness to attend a university in the United States. The number is particularly eye opening for U.S. higher education leaders who increasingly look overseas for students who can fill classroom seats and pay high tuition bills.
The potential problems convincing international students to study in the United States were on display Friday at the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s 2016 national conference. A group of admissions officers and others involved in international recruitment held a session describing trends that could point to an international student bubble that’s ready to burst — just like the housing bubble burst in the United States last decade.
The group conducted an informal political climate survey of 214 high school counselors, independent counselors, U.S. university representatives and foreign university representatives — all based outside the U.S or serving non-Americans. In addition to the 39 percent of counselors saying the election could influence their students’ university choices, the survey found 64 percent of counselors saw an increase in the number of traditionally U.S.-bound students considering non-U.S. options. Reasons included costs, cited by 80 percent of respondents, along with guns and safety, each cited by about a third of respondents.
But concerns over the U.S. political climate were also illustrated by written-in survey responses. Meghan McHale Dangremond, associate director of admissions at Tufts University, showed a word cloud visualization that displayed terms most commonly cited in written-in responses.
Most-mentioned terms included Trump, concern, anti, work, Muslim, family and visa. Dangremond said she presented the word cloud in the shape of an elephant to convey the elephant in the room, the fact the talked-about Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for president and as a nod to the mascot of her employer Tufts University.
“This is what we’re hearing, and this is what they’re hearing,” Dangremond said. “These are the conversations that they’re having on the ground. Our election process is on the mouths of 17-year-olds around the world.”
Dangremond warned against brushing off those concerns under the idea that admissions officers and the colleges and universities they represent tend to be liberal as a group — or under the idea that the election has yet to be decided.
“Some of the concerns that we heard expressed basically told us that even if this election doesn’t go for the elephant in the room, the damage is done,” she said. “There are perceptions about the United States that have been plastered all over the media that have been made very pubic that are not flattering.”
Other factors deterring students from coming to institutions in the United States included difficulties in applying to U.S. colleges — a perception of many hoops to jump through with standardized tests and applications.
Circumstances in other countries could also cut into the number of students studying in the United States. Economies in some key countries have slowed, countries have moved to cut scholarships for students studying in the United States, and countries have tried to build up their own higher educational offerings.
“You’ve got a lot of branch campuses that are opening up in and around the world,” said Ffiona Rees, senior associate director for international admission at the University of California, Los Angeles. “You’re getting regional hubs for American-style education.”
For example, the South Korean economy has slowed, Rees said. The middle class is finding it harder to pay for education in the United States, and there are more educational options within the region.
There is also a change in the way some job markets are perceived. Ten years ago, the perception in Japan and Korea was that a U.S. education opened doors and made it easier to get a job in a student’s home country, Rees said. That perception is now flipped — the idea today is that students need to go to a top local university to have a leg up in the job market.
Japan stands as historical precedent showing international students can stop coming to the United States. In 1995, Japan was the top country sending students to the United States with 45,531 students. In 2015, just 19,064 students were at U.S. colleges and universities, according to data from the Institute of International Education.
Still, the number of international students has risen sharply in the last 20 years thanks in large part to China. There were 39,613 Chinese students studying in the United States in 1995. In 2015 there were 304,040.
Some signs indicate that the massive growth of Chinese students might not hold into the future. There have been moves to downgrade English in the college entrance exam called the Gaokao. Panelists also pointed to a general growth of higher ed options in China and elsewhere in Asia.
International students are increasingly looking at Canada, the United Kingdom, and Europe, said Kristin Dreazen, an educational consultant based in London. Universities in numerous other countries are also trying to recruit students from beyond their nations’ borders.
Dreazen pointed to Canada as a place that is attractive to international students in part because it is open to international students.
“It is very immigration friendly to international students, so students who are on a student visa have a very clearly defined path to permanent residency, the opportunity to work for a significant amount of time after they’ve graduated,” she said.
Currency exchange rates and length of education can also make other countries attractive, Dreazen said. Simply put, it takes fewer than four years to get an undergraduate degree in some countries. That cuts costs for students. So do exchange rates, which can make already-expensive U.S. higher education seem pricier while making education in other countries seem less expensive.
Meanwhile, funding for international students is running into some limits. Although many international students are self-funded, a substantial portion receive funding from scholarship programs, said Becky Konowicz, director of international admission at Santa Clara University.
The scholarship landscape has changed in some countries, she said. Significantly, the Saudi Arabian government has made changes to its foreign scholarship program, prompting American universities to brace for declines in students from the country. Brazil has also cut back.
“Part of this is there has been no replacement,” Konowicz said. “Something to think about as these programs disappear is what’s going to replace them for capacity for full-pay students?”
The changes to Saudi Arabian and Brazilian scholarship programs came amidst economic headwinds in those countries. Economic issues could also affect the Chinese market’s future, said Johanna Fishbein, university advisor at the United World College of SouthEast Asia’s Dover campus in Singapore.
“There is this perception that the Chinese economy is growing and that there is going to be plenty of money left for Chinese students, but actually, some people say that no, it’s really neither a boom nor a bust, it’s just very stagnant,” she said. “Is it a market that we can see growing? Not necessarily. We certainly can’t rely on that happening.”
In order to get a visa to study in the U.S., students need to show that their families have funding available, Fishbein said. So economic fluctuations can have real impacts on U.S. student populations if they hurt families’ savings.
U.S. colleges and universities can still deploy strategies to survive changes, Fishbein said. Colleges and universities can diversify, looking outside of the countries they have traditionally cultivated.
Pathway programs can be useful if universities invest proper attention to them and make sure they support international students, Fishbein said. International students can be interested in higher education connected to employment opportunities. And colleges and universities can evaluate their application processes and requirements.
“We’ve definitely seen when universities do make a choice to go test-optional, it certainly is perceived very well on the international side,” Fishbein said.
Source: Inside Higher Ed
By Jake New
A row of freshmen stand in a row, clad only in their underwear, against a brick wall in a dirty fraternity basement. They’ve already chugged several cans of beer and bottles of hot sauce, when a senior member of the fraternity — the chapter’s de facto drill instructor — picks one pledge out of the lineup, makes him promise not to puke, and forces a gulp of whiskey down his throat.
The freshman immediately vomits. As punishment, he is forced into a cage, where he is drenched with beer, liquor and urine. The moment comes around the halfway point of the new film Goat, a drama about hazing at a fictional university fraternity. When the scene concludes, there are still six more days to go in the fraternity’s “hell week.”
The hazing depicted in Goat is a far cry from the cheerful debauchery seen in fraternity classics like Animal House and Old School. With its big-name stars and opening to strong reviews, hazing prevention groups are hoping the film is part of a larger change in how people view the darker side of college fraternities.
“I think we are seeing a shift,” said Emily Pualwan, executive director of HazingPrevention.org. “If you think about the Animal House days, these things were happening but there was an increased tolerance of some of these activities. I think the extent of these issues is now becoming more apparent, and so you’re seeing it portrayed in films in a more realistic fashion.”
Goat stars Nick Jonas and Ben Schnetzer as Brett and Brad Land, two brothers who attend the fictional Brookman University. Brett is already a member of the Phi Sigma Mu fraternity when Brad arrives on campus looking for a fresh start following his having been carjacked and mugged. Brad, who has yet to come to terms with the emotional trauma of his assault, hopes to join his brother at Phi Sigma. The increasingly violent and perverse hazing rituals strain the brothers’ relationship, and Brett begins to reconsider his role in the fraternity.
The film also stars James Franco as a fraternity alumnus who, despite having graduated 15 years prior and is now married with a child, can’t help returning to the house and encouraging current members to embrace the chapter’s more violent rituals as a fundamental part of fraternity life. The film’s title refers to both what the fraternity calls its pledges and to a constant threat made by the older members: comply with their demands or be forced to have sex with a farm animal.
“The pledges gotta go through this,” one member later says to Brett when he expresses concern for his brother. “Otherwise, what’s the fucking point?”
Goat is based on Brad Land’s 2004 memoir of the same name, which detailed his experiences with hazing as a fraternity member at Clemson University in the 1990s. At the time, Clemson’s then-president told a local newspaper that the book’s depiction of fraternity life at the university was out-dated.
In 2014, the university’s fraternities came under scrutiny again when a Clemson sophomore’s body was found floating under a bridge after he went missing during what was described as an early-morning group run with his Sigma Phi Epsilon pledge brothers. The student’s parents are suing the university, saying they believe their son died after falling from the bridge during a hazing ritual.
A Clemson spokeswoman this week said that university officials had decided to “refrain from commenting” on the film.
In reference to both National Hazing Prevention Week and the new film, the North-American Interfraternity Conference, through a series of tweets this week, encouraged fraternity members to help combat hazing. In a tweet linking to HazingPrevention.org ‘s website on Friday, the NIC said it was “deeply disturbed by movie depictions of hazing.”
HazingPrevention.org organized a series of screenings of Goat on college campuses last week, including at the University of Arizona, the University of California at Berkeley, and the College of William & Mary.
“Goat offers a harrowing depiction of the devastating effects of hazing,” Lenny Sancilio, the group’s president and the dean of students at the State University of New York at Geneseo, said in an email. “Without painting anyone as ‘good’ or ‘evil,’ this well-crafted film gives us an excellent opportunity to open a discussion about the psychological and philosophical underpinnings that give rise to hazing in many areas of student life and why it is so critical to prevent it.”
Goat may soon be joined by another film that aims to depict fraternity hazing in a similar fashion. Last year, a film studio acquired the rights to adapt the 2014 memoir Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy. The book details incidents of hazing — including members intentionally vomiting on pledges and forcing them to chug vinegar — at Dartmouth College’s chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
The author of the memoir, Andrew Lohse, is a former member of the fraternity, and was featured in a Rolling Stone article in 2012 after writing a column in the student newspaper about his allegations. Lohse said Friday that there appears to be a growing market for books and films that take a more critical look at fraternity life.
“I think people definitely are paying more attention to, and have an appetite for learning more about, that dark side of fraternities,” Lohse said. “It’s part of a cultural shift from the idea that fraternities should be portrayed as just a fun, boys-being-boys, comedy thing. And I hope this shift is going to be seen on campuses, as well, not just in movies and in the media.”
Lohse’s chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon survived the firestorm over his allegations in 2012. Four years later, however, Dartmouth revoked the fraternity’s recognition, and SAE’s national organization suspended the chapter over separate hazing allegations.
Last year, Dartmouth also shut down the college’s chapter of Alpha Delta after its members were accused of branding the fraternity’s name onto pledges with a hot iron poker. The fraternity’s lawyer denies that the practice was mandatory or a form of hazing — comparing the brands to piercings or tattoos — but Dartmouth swiftly kicked Alpha Delta off campus.
The chapter was famously the inspiration behind the fraternity featured in Animal House.
“I do believe that we are seeing things change, in how fraternities are portrayed and with how campuses are dealing with them,” Pualwan, of HazingPrevention.org, said. “A light is being shone on the issue much more than in the past. But with at least one hazing death still happening on a college campus every year for the last 40 years, it’s clear we still have a long way to go.”
Source: Inside Higher Ed
A year ago, racial incidents and lingering tensions on many campuses turned into protests in October that spread nationally in November.
This year, incidents have multiplied at the very beginning of the academic year. And so have protests. Some of the incidents are closely tied to campus issues. But many reflect the protest movement — which extends well beyond campuses — against police shootings of unarmed black men.
Many students are joining that movement, and in particular the calls of some not to stand during the playing of the national anthem before athletic events. And some of the racist incidents involve attacks on Black Lives Matter, frequently invoking the name of the movement along with racist images.
Here are some of the incidents:
Protests During Athletic Events
Eastern Michigan students took to the field Friday night at a home football game to continue the protest over the racial slurs.
In the video below, the protest can be seen, starting at about 1:19.
James M. Smith, president of Eastern Michigan, issued a statement after the protest defending the right of students to rush onto the field after the game. He noted that university had worked to make sure this could happen in a secure way for the students in the protest and for the athletes and others on the field. “We have great respect for our students engaged in the constructive efforts underway to address the issues we face, and we strongly defend and support the right of students to peacefully demonstrate about issues important to them,” Smith said.
In recent weeks, college athletes and cheerleaders have joined the movement started by Colin Kaepernick, the National Football League quarterback, to drop to one knee during the national anthem, seeking to draw attention to cases of racial oppression and police brutality.
At Southern Methodist University, several African-American members of the band — while playing the national anthem — dropped to their knees. Some students watching the game did the same.
— Rattle & Hum Sports (@CowboyCamp) September 24, 2016
On Saturday, football players at both Michigan State University and the University of Michigan (in separate games) raised their fists during the national anthem.
— nadeltanz (@nadeltanz) September 24, 2016
Several football players at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln took a knee during the national anthem before their game.
And on Saturday, members of the Black Student Union at Temple University declined to stand during the national anthem at the university’s football game, and said that they would not do so for the rest of the season. A statement from the group said that their refusal to stand reflects “our discontent with the justice system and the state of our country.”
Many fans and students at the football game of Morgan State University, a historically black institution, either sat or raised their fists during the national anthem.
Flags and Marches
Several campuses have been taking steps to try to express solidarity with those protesting the police shootings of black men.
The University of Vermont, at the request of the student government there, on Friday put up a Black Lives Matter flag, along with the flags of the United States and Vermont. A statement from the student government president, Jason Maulucci, said that the flag was meant as gesture of solidarity at a time that “so many are struggling with the violence and search for justice in this country.”
The university posted the photo at left to Facebook, where many posted comments that were highly critical of UVM, calling it, for example, “a college with a majority of self-loathing white students.”
Some expressed shock at how much criticism the university received (although many of the comments appear to come from people with no connection to the university).
And some praised the university. “Thank you for having the courage to support communities of color,” wrote one person. “At a time when so many are feeling increasingly vulnerable to violence, it makes a difference for UVM to be actively creating a safe space and necessary dialogue. Communities are in pain. Empathy goes a long way towards building understanding.”
Many of the protests have demanded more participation from administrators in the cause of racial justice. At Elon University on Friday, the Black Student Union organized a silent march, in which participants marched through the campus, not saying a word, to protest the recent police shooting in Charlotte, N.C., and other such shootings of black men.
Many white students joined the march, as did President Leo Lambert, Provost Steven House and several other senior administrators.
More Attention — on Campus and Off
In an interview, Shaun R. Harper, executive director of the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education at the University of Pennsylvania, said it was important to remember that racist incidents on campus — just like police shootings of black men — are not new.
Harper’s center conducts interviews with students — of all races and at all kinds of colleges — about race relations. “The racial ugliness on campuses and on social media in recent weeks are not new,” he said. “White students did not just suddenly start painting the N-word and other racial epithets on black peers’ residence hall doors and on ethnic cultural centers. This has been occurring for many, many years.”
What’s different, he said, is that students are using social media and other creative forms of protest to attract attention. Similarly, he said, the Black Lives Matter is using video and social media to draw attention to police shootings of black men — also something that has been going on for a long time.
Students have learned from the movement, he said. “Students on predominantly white campuses can now distribute their own photos and videos for the world to see,” he said. “They no longer have to wait for their campus newspapers to publish stories that may only get local coverage.”
Kimberly A. Griffin, an associate professor of higher education at the University of Maryland at College Park who studies the campus racial climate, agreed that these incidents are not a new phenomenon (even if social media has changed the way people experience and spread the word about campus racism). “I think it’s really important that folks know that we have a couple of decades of research that shows that the stereotyping, the name calling, the doubts of their academic abilities, the questions about whether racism really exists,” Griffin said via email. “These things have been consistent and persistent in the lives of students of color.”
At the same time, however, Griffin added that “I do think that this is a unique moment.”
She explained: “Our national narrative is that the U.S. is a fair place where everyone has an equal chance to be great. What we are seeing on TV and on our computer screens is almost the exact opposite of what we say we are. While racism and violence against black bodies aren’t new, I think that social media and technology are forcing people who may have thought that people were making up or overstating their experiences to actually see what is happening. At the same time, college campuses are getting more and more diverse, and students of color are demanding that these spaces be welcoming and inclusive for them. Again, these are things that student activists have demanded for decades, but perhaps larger populations of black and brown students and access to technology and social media make these demands feel louder than they have been.”
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Source: Inside Higher Ed
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Three years ago, the Assembly of the National Association for College Admission Counseling approved a change to its ethical standards to permit the use of commissioned agents in the recruitment of students outside the United States. The vote followed years of debate over the practice, which is controversial in part because federal law bars such commissions in the United States.
On Saturday, the NACAC Assembly approved a measure that would seek more information from agents and colleges about their use. The measure adds two best practices to NACAC’s Statement of Principles of Good Practice, the organization’s ethics code:
The intent of the measure is to deal with what some in admissions see as a conflict of interest in the way agents interact with students. In the United States, guidance counselors or private counselors who advise students and families receive no money from colleges and universities, so there is no potential financial incentive to recommend one college over another. Many agents abroad, however, receive some of their compensation based on enrollment decisions, and these agents typically only work for some colleges. So the concern is that they may push some institutions over others without the international student knowing of the financial conflict.
Jon Westover, senior associate director of freshman admissions at Jonathan Law High School, in Connecticut, said at the Assembly that he viewed the measure as “a foundation on which we can build” and said that he wished that there was enough support to make these measures a required practice as opposed to a best practice (essentially just recommended).
He said that the measure sent a “message of integrity and transparency.”
When NACAC changed its rules to permit the use of agents, and in discussions leading up to that vote, debate was intense and at times contentious.
In contrast, no one spoke against the best practices proposal Saturday, and it was approved by a vote of 194 to 8.
Privately, some NACAC members who are critical of the use of agents said they viewed the measure as well meaning, but unlikely to lead to serious changes in practice. They noted that it was not mandatory and that many agents work without much supervision by the American colleges that hire them.
Source: Inside Higher Ed
By Rick Seltzer
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Fallout from a controversial statement was on full display Saturday at the annual membership meeting closing the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s 2016 national conference.
The organization’s outgoing and incoming presidents both made a point of saying that black lives matter, a move coming two days after the outgoing president, Phillip Trout, drew criticism for saying “all lives matter” during the conference’s opening general session. Several commenters shared their feelings on the events. Some debated the way the comments were discussed critically on social media.
Trout, a college counselor at Minnetonka High School in Minnesota, handed over the presidency Saturday to Nancy Beane, a college counselor at the Westminster Schools in Georgia. First, he presided over the membership meeting, opening with his second public apology in two days.
“At Thursday’s opening general session, I wanted to acknowledge all the violence occurring in our communities along with a statement of sympathy and solidarity for all those affected that should have used the words ‘Black Lives Matter,’ ” Trout said. “I regret that my insensitive statement caused hurt and offense and that the impact of my message of inclusion and respect actually had the opposite effect. I am sorry to have hurt the feelings of so many people, and I offer you my sincerest apology.
“Let me restate,” Trout said. “Black lives matter.”
Trout had issued an apology in a statement Friday that did not include the words “black lives matter.” His remarks Saturday were delivered to a large meeting hall filled with hundreds of people.
The Thursday comments generated negative responses on social media, although much was said to be posted privately on Facebook. Supporters of Black Lives Matter say that they value the lives of others as well, but the phrase “all lives matter” has become widely associated with those seeking to minimize the issue of police killings of black men and women.
How I feel after Phil Trout the president of NACAC and college counselor of Minnetonka, decided to say All Lives Matter. He doesn’t get it. pic.twitter.com/xx1KOHEcay
— BougieBlackBlogger (@CicelyRenee) September 22, 2016
When NACAC CEO Joyce Smith took the podium Saturday, she addressed the social media climate. She mentioned difficult and uncomfortable situations. Then she said several words drive her in her work — integrity, transparency, accountability and trust.
Smith went on to talk about respect, adding that she hoped the ideas she outlined resonated with attendees.
“I hope that all of us do think about our use of social media and the immediacy of the message, whether it’s in organizing something important or communicating with large groups outside of the conference,” she said. “Your words have power. But also know that we’re listening, and we will acknowledge when and how we can to make sure that you have an answer.”
Some in attendance did not fully agree with that message. Brandi Smith, a NACAC director and the assistant dean of admissions at Emory University, spoke during an open forum. She explained that she was speaking for herself, not in an official capacity.
“Earlier today, some comments were made about how we need to be transparent about what we are doing as an organization, and we should be careful about what we say on social media,” Brandi Smith said. “While I agree with that to an extent, I think it’s important to note that even as leaders, we must adjust to the times that we live in, and people will oftentimes find places like social media as an opportunity to have a voice.”
It is difficult to stand and speak in a large room filled with people like the one on Saturday, Brandi Smith said. Doing so can put a target on the speaker’s back.
“For some people, the comments that were made on Thursday were incredibly hurtful,” Brandi Smith said. “We can’t dismiss the feelings that people have. Their feelings are valid. The emotion is valid.”
The idea that speaking up is unacceptable is akin to victim blaming, Brandi Smith said.
“We are hurting, and many of us are trying our best to be positive,” Brandi Smith said. “But we are not necessarily living in a world or profession that always makes that very easy for us to do, and I think that is worth saying.”
Smith went on to call for cultural competency training and other work to move forward.
Objections to the phrase “all lives matter” often center on the idea that it minimizes the Black Lives Matter movement. Rakin Hall, an associate director of multicultural recruitment at the University of Southern California, stood Saturday to talk about the phrases.
“All life is precious,” Hall said. “Regardless of your political affiliation, regardless of your religious stance, your gender identity, all life is precious.”
But it’s important to note why the rallying cry is “black lives matter,” Hall said. He listed the names of several black Americans killed recently.
“We’re crying out because blood is in the streets,” he said. “Men are laying died, women are laying dead, unaccounted for. We are better than this, and as leaders of our institutions within this academe, please, keep fighting the good fight.”
Hall noted that NACAC’s members can have a major influence over students who will become leaders in the future.
When Beane officially took over the presidency and gave remarks, she also addressed the issue.
“It’s important this afternoon to say black lives matter, because they do,” she said. “Racism has been so deeply embedded within the fabric of this country from its early days, and it is a cancer which we have not yet seemed to eradicate.”
She went on to call for a way forward.
“We have to listen,” Beane said. “We have to forgive one another. WE have to keep working. I feel strongly that this is a crucial time in our country, as many of you this afternoon have referenced. While we can’t control or fix everything in the world, imagine what we can do.”
Source: Inside Higher Ed