Higher Education News

White House wants 12 percent cut in education spending

Inside Higher Ed - News - March 12, 2019 - 6:00pm

President Trump called for a $7.1 billion cut to funding at the Education Department with a proposed budget that retreads familiar higher education ideas for this White House.

The budget proposal released on Monday asks Congress to open Pell Grants to “high-quality” short-term programs, eliminate Public Service Loan Forgiveness and subsidized student loans, and streamline income-driven repayment programs for student borrowers. It also called for deep cuts to scientific research.

The budget also said the Trump administration hoped to work with Congress on advancing an accountability system that puts colleges on the hook for student loan repayment outcomes. But although the White House highlighted “risk sharing” for colleges in a preview of the budget, it didn’t offer any details of what that system should look like.

The proposal marks the third straight year that President Trump has asked Congress for major cuts to education spending -- the proposal would mean a 12 percent cut for the Education Department from fiscal year 2019 -- and to overall discretionary expenditures. But Congress has responded to his two previous budgets by ignoring calls for cuts and instead appropriating new funds for programs like TRIO, GEAR UP and Pell Grants.

"Congress and the administration have not been synced up or on the same page around the total funding number for the department," said James Blew, assistant secretary for planning, evaluation and policy development at the Education Department.

Blew acknowledged that Congress in the last two cycles actually increased the budget where the White House had sought cuts. But he said the Trump administration was asking for reductions again because it believes in a need to rein in discretionary funding for the department.

The budget emphasized the administration’s focus on multiple pathways to higher education. In addition to opening up Pell money to short-term programs, it asked Congress to direct new funding to vocational education and apprenticeship programs.

The White House also called for reforming the formula used to allocate Federal Work-Study funds to reflect the number of students receiving need-based aid at an institution. It also would cut the program's funding by more than 55 percent.

Higher education groups were quick to criticize the proposal for its cuts to student aid programs. The Institute for College Access and Success said the White House budget would reduce spending on student loans by $207 billion over 10 years as a result of higher loan payments and the elimination of subsidized loans and PSLF. The budget proposal also called for freezing the maximum Pell Grant award and eliminating the Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant, another need-based aid program.

“These deep cuts overshadow otherwise worthwhile changes, such as automatically enrolling distressed borrowers in income-driven repayment, automating the annual income recertification process and modernizing student loan servicing,” said James Kvaal, president of TICAS, in a written statement. “As college remains more crucial for economic opportunity than ever before and costs continue to rise, these proposals move in the exact opposite direction that students and our economy need.”

Congressional Republicans have backed many of the proposals in the new White House budget, including the elimination of PSLF and overhauling Federal Work-Study. But Trump’s income-driven repayment program would differ on important details from a plan outlined by Senator Lamar Alexander, the GOP chairman of the Senate education committee.

Alexander, who is making a push to reauthorize the Higher Education Act before retiring in two years, has argued for adopting a single income-driven repayment plan that would have borrowers pay 10 percent of their income and forgive the balance after 20 years. President Trump’s proposal would cap monthly payments at 12.5 percent of borrowers’ discretionary income and forgive the remaining balance after 15 years and 30 years, respectively, for undergraduate and graduate student borrowers.

Alexander has also argued for an accountability system that would assess all college programs using a loan repayment rate metric. It’s not clear how the White House’s thinking on “risk sharing” matches that loan repayment framework offered by Alexander, who also sits on the Senate appropriations committee.

“I appreciate the president’s budget suggestions and will carefully consider his recommendations as Congress begins the process to fund the federal government for the next fiscal year,” he said in a written statement.

The White House proposal included suggested cuts of 9 percent for the National Science Foundation and 12 percent for the National Institutes of Health. Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, said those cuts “would begin to cede American strength in science and innovation to our global competitors, slow the search for cures and make it more challenging for students to access higher education and climb the economic ladder.”

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New paper says slapping faculty harassers on the wrists compromises comprehensive prevention

Inside Higher Ed - News - March 12, 2019 - 6:00pm

The absence of serious sanctions for faculty harassers is associated with “antiprevention syndrome,” which renders comprehensive prevention impossible, argues a forthcoming paper from William Kidder and Nancy Chi Cantalupo. And because institutions are legally required to prevent harassment and assault,  institutions risk far more in failing to enact “meaningful discipline” than in shying away from it.

Kidder, research associate at the Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles, and special assistant to the chancellor at California's Santa Cruz campus, and Cantalupo, an assistant professor of law at Barry University, are the team behind a 2017 analysis of nearly 300 faculty-student harassment cases. They found most harassers are accused of physical abuse -- not just questionable comments. That study, which centered on graduate students’ complaints about faculty members, also found that more than half of cases involved alleged serial harassers.

Their new paper, to be published in the UC Davis Law Review, is a companion to that analysis. The focus this time is accountability in organizational culture. 

Some argue that focusing too much on disciplinary action to combat harassment is a mistake, the paper says, but “we disagree.”

Based on a review of literature and policies on trauma-informed and comprehensive prevention, there is a clear “need for each educational institution to commit to the meaningful discipline,” the paper says -- including “serious sanctions involving temporary or permanent separation, of those found responsible of sexual harassment from the campus, especially if they are faculty holding significantly greater formal and informal power over students.”

Anything less risks what’s been called institutional betrayal, or hurting stakeholder confidence.

Moreover, Kidder and Cantalupo argue, from a legal perspective, meaningful discipline is a method of both secondary and tertiary prevention and is closely linked to primary prevention. Referring to the two major federal laws that govern institutions’ handling of gender-based harassment and assault, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Clery Act, the paper says that discipline is “a critical component of the comprehensive prevention approach that we argue Title IX and Clery/VAWA doctrine recognizes and requires educational institutions to adopt.”

The paper includes a framework or spectrum that synthesizes institutions’ varied responses to harassment or assault, based on disciplinary codes, handbooks and other evidence. These responses range from “light” to “medium” to “heavy.” Light might be nothing at all, or retraining in sexual harassment policies. Medium could be removal from an administrative position, such as a chairship. Heavy could be resignation upon a board hearing or termination.

Source: Kidder and Cantalupo

Kidder and Cantalupo say that “experience shows that colleges and universities are hesitant to sanction seriously,” and that such hesitancy is particularly pronounced in cases involving a faculty member. Nevertheless, they argue, “there are few liability-related reasons for this timidity.”

In fact, they wrote, “no compelling legal reasons exist for not adopting sanctioning practices that promote comprehensive prevention of sexual harassment, including ones that accused sexual harassers experience as punitive.”

The article discusses confidential separation agreements and “pass the harasser” scenarios, which it says “raise difficult ‘collective action’ problems in academia.” Kidder and Cantalupo again recommend that institutional decision-making here be based on informed, comprehensive prevention-oriented practices, including greater engagement with accusers.

Regarding due process for accused professors, the authors recommend placing a faculty member on interim suspension while during investigations and faculty misconduct hearings.

This is all part of a public health approach, they argue -- and one that could also prevent “similar harms arising from other forms of discriminatory harassment.”

As for antiprevention syndrome, Kidder and Cantalupo list “a number of mutually reinforcing reasons (which are not rooted in retribution) why it is important for colleges and universities to both have and be seen as having a firm commitment to serious sanctions in faculty sexual harassment cases.” First, the absence of serious sanctions can reflect institutional failure to protect the real welfare of accusers, including students and junior faculty members.

Perceived “slaps on the wrist” -- such as those at California's Berkeley Campus, which became public in 2015 in the case of astronomer Geoff Marcy, who was found to have harassed multiple graduate students but was still allowed to teach -- also damage institutional credibility, they say. And clear discipline also serves as a deterrent for future abuses in that it “internalizes” institutional norms, since it’s “naïve to assume that effective training can prevent all” misconduct.

A major 2018 report on sexual harassment from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine also found that organizational climate is a top predictor of predatory behaviors.

Discipline can help alleviate accusers’ fears about retaliation for reporting their own experiences, the paper says. And, underscoring that colleges and universities are in the business of education, the paper notes that “student victims of and witnesses to sexual harassment will, if the conduct is not addressed swiftly and appropriately, receive a distorted education about ethical norms in higher education, which fosters cynicism and stunts their growth as potential future members of the professoriate.”

The paper included no formal quantitative analysis of known sanctions for faculty members -- other existing data indicate that many institutions have never formally terminated a tenured faculty member for sexual harassment or any other type of misconduct.

“This is true of approximately half of the University of California campuses over the last half century,” they say. “Moreover, multiple sources indicate that Harvard University has never fired a tenured professor for any type of misconduct in its storied history stretching back to 1638, even in the infamous 19th-century case of a faculty member who was hanged for murdering another Harvard professor.” (Harvard -- which is still facing criticism over how it handled a major harassment case -- did not immediately comment on that detail Monday.)

Kidder said it was nevertheless his sense that over the past few years, there are signs of increased reporting and also institutions referring cases for disciplinary hearings.

“These are positive signs, and come with provisos about this being a preliminary observation, and about how far there is to go in the big scheme of things,” he said.

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Purdue professors criticize writing partnership with Chegg

Inside Higher Ed - News - March 12, 2019 - 6:00pm

Professors at Purdue University are criticizing a new partnership between the university’s Online Writing Lab and student services company Chegg.

At a recent meeting of the University Senate, faculty members questioned why Purdue's OWL, a respected and influential resource on writing instruction, would partner with a company that has a reputation for helping students to cheat on their homework.

Ralph Kaufmann, a professor of mathematics who attended the meeting, said several professors were surprised and angered by the partnership with Chegg. Some professors said they had found answers to their old exam papers on the site and accused Chegg of copyright infringement, said Kaufmann. Minutes from the meeting are not yet publicly available, but student newspaper The Exponent identified two professors, Stephen Martin and Jeff Rhoads, as particularly vocal opponents of the deal.

Speaking to Inside Higher Ed, Martin, a professor of engineering at Purdue, said his experience of Chegg has not been positive. "I was teaching a distance learning class a couple of years ago and two students -- one in India and one in China -- both supplied the same answer to an essay question. It was a suggested answer from Chegg, and it was a bad answer."

Martin said several professors had reached out to him since the University Senate meeting with similar experiences. "If this were a site that genuinely helped students to master the materials, it wouldn't be a problem. But it's not set up like that -- it dangles the solution in front of students."

"I think Purdue is a very high-quality academic institution, I don't know why we are lending our hard-earned reputation to a company that is essentially making it easy for students to cheat," said Martin.

Max Boxser, a spokesman for Chegg, said the partnership with OWL is the result of two years' careful planning. OWL's expertise will help Chegg to improve the writing skills of millions of students, he said. "We were sorry to read in the media that two faculty members had concerns and have been in contact with them," said Boxser. "At Chegg, we take any allegations of misconduct on our platform very seriously. We are committed to working with them to address their concerns."

Chegg is a company with "two faces," said Kaufmann. Chegg used to primarily deal in textbook rentals, but now it describes itself as an education technology company, complete with AI-powered learning tools. But while Chegg purports to help students do their homework, students on Twitter are quite blatant about using the site to do their homework for them. Chegg subscriptions start at $14.95 a month and include access to millions of homework answers, step-by-step solutions to problem sets in thousands of textbooks and a network of experts who can answer questions 24-7.

Homework help services like Chegg, Course Hero and Quizlet are all “widely used” by students at Purdue, said Kaufmann, who recently researched academic rigor at Purdue as part of an investigative committee.

Purdue’s Online Writing Lab announced its partnership with Chegg in February. Harry Denny, director of OWL, said in an email that he was not surprised to hear that some faculty members disapproved of the partnership. “People are unaccustomed to the humanities and liberal arts being entrepreneurial,” said Denny in an email.

Denny does not think that working with Chegg will harm Purdue’s reputation. “My experience has been that the company is committed to partnering with faculty and administration to address their concerns, all the while following on its mission to provide a whole portfolio of excellent student services,” said Denny. He added that Chegg, as a publicly traded company, has “a fiduciary and shareholder responsibility to be ethical and responsible.”

OWL was approached by Chegg 22 months ago to help the company develop its writing tools, said Denny. The deal is multifaceted, he explained -- OWL will advise Chegg on writing instruction and help to develop the company’s AI-powered writing improvement tools. Chegg will license OWL’s writing tips and place advertising on its website, helping OWL to monetize its free content. Purdue students will also be given the opportunity to apply for paid internships at Chegg, said Denny. OWL anticipates a six-figure revenue from the partnership, he said.

Chegg already offers an AI-powered tool that checks for spelling, grammar and citation errors on student essays, as well as "accidental plagiarism." But a press release from Chegg explained that partnering with OWL could take this tool to the next level -- helping students to “become better writers on a massive scale.” Currently, 30 million students worldwide use Chegg's services.

Chegg’s writing tools will integrate OWL’s rules and standards to teach students how to write better, said the press release. Students will be given instant feedback on their writing as well as access to resources from OWL on how to improve with “deep context and rich examples.”

While Denny and his colleagues at OWL are excited about the potential of the partnership, Kaufmann said he is troubled by the possibility that Purdue’s data and expertise may be used to train AI that could help students quickly compose essays from materials that they’ve copied and pasted from the internet. He also does not like the idea that ads on OWL’s website might drive students to Chegg.

Susan Schorn, writing program coordinator in the school of undergraduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin, said that OWL has a “well-earned reputation for the strength of its resources,” which she frequently recommends to instructors.

Schorn, who is a vocal critic of plagiarism software, said she is concerned that Chegg will teach students to check whether they have committed plagiarism by running their work through a machine. “In fact writers at the college level, in order to avoid plagiarizing, must learn to distinguish what is considered common knowledge in a field and what is not,” she said.

“I think it’s inevitable that Purdue OWL’s reputation will suffer from this association,” said Schorn. “I understand their desire to bring in a little cash, but I wish they had chosen a partner that didn’t come with the liabilities a platform like Chegg will inevitably have.”

Schorn said she would be keeping an eye on the OWL site to see how intrusive the ads are, and will be watching to see whether the “licensing of material to Chegg ends up making it less accessible to students who don’t want to purchase Chegg services.” If that happens, Schorn said, there’s a "good chance" she’ll stop recommending OWL as a resource.

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Author discusses his new book speculating on alternative models of higher education

Inside Higher Ed - News - March 12, 2019 - 6:00pm

What if every college student had to major in three subjects, unrelated to one another? What if colleges built degrees around a series of global experiences? These are among the speculative considerations of Alternative Universities: Speculative Design for Innovation in Higher Education (Johns Hopkins University Press). The author of the book, David J. Staley, sets forth a series of possible models for higher education, not restricting himself to those immediately possible or practical. Staley, director of the Humanities Institute and an associate professor of history at Ohio State University, sees lessons for higher education in these various speculations. Via email, Staley answered questions about his book.

Q: Many people in higher education look at the MOOC hype of a few years ago and think that most predictions of radical change in academe are just that -- hype. Do you think higher ed could in fact change in more dramatic ways than it has in the past?

A: I do, yes, but not necessarily at the level of every specific individual institution. There have been several historical moments when radically new ideas of the university were introduced. The land-grants, the German research university, the community college, Black Mountain College. That said, it has been historically difficult for any single institution to change and transform into something radically different. Usually such a radical institution must be built from scratch. When the idea of the research university was introduced into the United States after the Civil War, most were developed as new institutions, such as Johns Hopkins University and the University of Chicago. A very few -- like the colonial colleges, Harvard and Yale [Universities] -- transformed themselves into research universities, but these were the exceptions rather than the rule. Those institutions that do transform tend to change into pre-existing forms of the university, as when a commuter campus transforms into a research university with a Division I football program. This is not innovation as much as changing to emulate another institution. Even this kind of transformation is quite difficult to achieve.

I think that part of the reason why it is difficult to radically innovate is that many institutions are risk averse, meaning that they do not wish to risk deviating from the norm. Each has the same offerings, each has the same goals, and their mission statements read very much the same. The expectations for accreditation and other kinds of regulation means that it is difficult for institutions to deviate from expected forms, leading to a kind of standardization of higher education. There are many challenges facing higher education today, and I don’t mean to diminish the problems of adjunctification, student debt loads, access and affordability. But I do think that lack of differentiation is an affliction for many colleges and universities. Indeed, higher education is quickly become commoditized, meaning that institutions appear so similar to each other that they can only compete on price. In such an environment, innovation that seeks to create a radical new form of the university appears risky and quixotic.

Q: What led you to go with the thought experiments of "speculative design" and come up with truly radical ideas for change?

A: A number of sources. I have spent a portion of my professional life working in strategic foresight and have worked with organizations in diverse industries on identifying and considering the implications of various future trends, especially for purposes of strategic planning. About a decade ago, I started to turn my attention toward the future of higher education, and looking especially at the trends that would impact colleges and universities. Here at Ohio State, I convened a group of faculty and graduate students into a working group on the future of the university, and Alternative Universities benefited greatly from the insights of these colleagues.

I’ve also developed a fascination with the biographies of founders of new, innovative universities, such as John Andrew Rice at Black Mountain, Abraham Flexner and the Institute for Advanced Study, even John Sperling, the founder of the University of Phoenix. I wondered what a Rice or Flexner would be imagining today if they had the opportunity to create a new university.

I’ve also been influenced by the work of the philosopher of higher education Ronald Barnett. Barnett has written that our ideas about innovation in higher education --- about what the university can become -- are “hopelessly impoverished,” that our ideas are too limited and unimaginative. Today’s innovators can only imagine a “technological university” or a market-driven university. He has challenged university leaders to expand their imaginations, to explore a wide range of ideas about the future university, and I have taken up his challenge. What we need to practice today is the audacity of imagination about what universities can become.

Q: Could you describe why one or two of your designs are your personal favorites?

A: “Interface University” is, I think, the most necessary and pressing organizational form of the future university. This scenario is based on how I believe the ubiquitous growth of artificial intelligence will impact higher education. While there is a credible scenario that AI will eliminate a wide swath of jobs and professions, I think it more likely that AI will augment human intelligence, and that in fact we will find ourselves partnering with/cooperating with AI to engage in a range of cognitive tasks. Interface University would be the institution where human and artificial intelligence learns to think together, to achieve the state of interface. Interface University would be the institution that generates the knowledge produced by the interaction and human and artificial intelligence. Joseph Aoun is one university leader who has been thinking about these issues.

I also rather like the idea of "Polymath University." In this model, as a condition for graduation, students must major in three disparate disciplines. So, a student could not major in history, English and philosophy, or accounting, finance and business administration. Instead, a student would be required to major in, say, philosophy, sociology and finance, or accounting, history and design. There is some interesting literature on students who double major in such nonadjacent subjects, and the kinds of creative, innovative thinkers they become. A student who triple majors in widely divergent subjects would develop a supple and complex mind.

Q: If a president or dean reads your book and thinks, "Some great ideas, but not anything I could do here," are there ways to apply some of your ideas without turning the entire institution into one of your models? Is there an example you might offer?

A: In 1927, Alexander Meiklejohn was invited to the University of Wisconsin to create and lead the Experimental College, a Great Books college that operated within U of W. Like my alternative universities, the experimental college began as a design written by Meiklejohn that he then turned into a working model within an existing institution. Many colleges initiated laboratory schools modeled after John Dewey’s at Chicago. Today a university might also develop a “laboratory university.” An existing institution could organize smaller versions of the universities I propose, maybe with only 100 students and a small group of faculty. Many universities today have built technology commercialization incubators near their campuses, where faculty ideas are nurtured and brought together with venture capital and turned into businesses. I can envision an enterprising university establishing an incubator for innovative universities. This would be an institute that would research and develop ideas for innovative academic forms like my alternative universities. Then selected models would be identified to be constructed as working models. Say, for instance, that such an institute were to build Interface University as a working model. A smaller version of this alternative university would be established; the incubator would then assign faculty and would then begin to attract students. If the model proves successful, the experimental college might grow in size, perhaps even reaching the stage where this university-as-start-up is spun off into its own separate entity. Universities themselves could establish incubators for innovative universities.

Allison Dulin Salisbury and Terah Crews describe the kinds of university incubators I have in mind as “moon-shot labs.” “This kind of approach requires visionary leadership, both from the institution’s president and from the person leading the innovation lab,” they write.

“It also requires a high tolerance for risk and patience to wait an extended period to see returns on investment and impact. You will both need to be comfortable with ideas that look very different from business as usual and be willing to invest substantial resources without knowing exactly where it will lead.”

Some universities are establishing academic innovation labs, but this isn’t exactly what I am imagining, as these tend to be centers that implement incremental changes, usually around pedagogy or new program development. The idea of a university incubator would be mission level, creating new forms of the university.

Q: Are there colleges today that you think are particularly adept at radical innovation? Which ones and why?

A: I think that Western Governors University is such a radical innovation. WGU is based on a competency-based model, meaning that students work at their own pace under faculty guidance. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General found that WGU did not meet federal requirements for the level of interaction between faculty members and students. In other words, the very model that makes WGU distinctive and innovate ran afoul of federal guidelines and regulations. It doesn’t appear that the Trump administration is going to penalize WGU, but this episode again points to the challenges with trying to enact radical innovation in higher education.

Southern New Hampshire University’s College for America is an example of an experimental college developed within an existing institution. And although they do not explore mission-level innovation, the Red House at Georgetown University is innovating around curricula and degree programs, and is an excellent example of a campus innovation lab.

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More states are encouraging undocumented students to pursue tuition-free programs

Inside Higher Ed - News - March 12, 2019 - 6:00pm

When Tennessee and Nevada started tuition-free community college programs several years ago, state lawmakers made no allowances for students who were undocumented immigrants. The two states were not alone. Among the approximately 15 states that now offer tuition-free programs, only a handful allow such students to participate.

That trend may be changing. Maryland, which is starting its Promise Scholarship program this year, and New York, which passed legislation in January to extend state aid to undocumented students, are the latest states to join California, Delaware, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington in offering financial aid and grants or scholarships to students who live in those states but lack legal-immigrant status.

In a political climate where undocumented students are increasingly feeling unwelcome under the Trump administration's stated opposition to illegal immigration and risk deportation under its tough law enforcement policies, some states are openly promoting their tuition-free programs to those very students and encouraging them to apply.

“Folks who want to be hard on immigration will say these are people who came to this country illegally so they don’t have the right to be here and shouldn’t have the right to education extend beyond high school. Because basic education is a right but postsecondary education is not?” said Will Del Pilar, vice president of higher education policy and practice at the Education Trust, a nonprofit organization that advocates for low-income students and students of color. “It’s purely political.”

Ben Cannon, executive director of the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission, said lawmakers there decided to include undocumented students when they adopted legislation to start the state's tuition-free program in 2015 because it was in keeping with state precedent allowing undocumented students to pay in-state resident tuition rates at public colleges and universities.

“This was about justice, fairness and keeping faith with students for whom we’ve provided a K-12 education,” he said. “It’s arbitrary and unfair to say that now you’re 18, so public support for education disappears.”

After the Trump administration announced two years ago that it would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which protected certain undocumented young people from deportation, California Student Aid Commission officials alerted administrators of the California Community Colleges system about a noticeable drop in the number of students submitting state financial aid applications, said Laura Metune, the system's vice chancellor for governmental relations. The state application is an alternative to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Undocumented students are not eligible for federal student aid.

“There were worries because of the anti-immigration rhetoric at the federal level,” Metune said. Undocumented students who were eligible for state financial aid were afraid to apply and provide personal information that would reveal their immigration status, she said. Some students worried doing so could put them at greater risk of deportation.

“So the community colleges joined the commission and many other systems in doing direct outreach to colleges and students so they understood their information is protected when they apply for financial aid,” Metune said.

The California two-year system does not track undocumented students or ask them for their immigration status, but officials do track the number of students who receive the state’s nonresident tuition exemption, which allows undocumented immigrants and a few other eligible students to pay in-state tuition rates and fees. From 2013 to 2016, the number of two-year students who received the exemption increased from about 55,000 to 63,000 students. But in 2017 the number of exempted students decreased to 60,500, according to state data.

Nationally, there are about 700,000 DACA students. In California, 200,150 such students were participating in the DACA program as of August 2018, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

The chancellor’s office held a week of action event last October that featured a series of informational webinars to help undocumented students, faculty and staff at the community colleges understand the students' legal rights and explain the financial aid available to help them afford college, Metune said.

“For all intents and purposes, these are California students,” she said. “Their legal residency shouldn’t be a factor for whether they go to college.”

Whether states with tuition-free programs allow undocumented students to participate is often related to whether the states also allow those students to pay in-state tuition rates.

About 20 states offer in-state tuition to undocumented students. But it took New York's Democratic-led Legislature passing the Dream Act in January for students in the state to qualify for state financial aid or scholarships, including the tuition-free program.

The New York Dream Act would affect about 146,000 undocumented state residents who entered the U.S. before age 16 and are under age 35, according to the New York State Youth Leadership Council and New York University Law School's Immigrant Rights Clinic. Governor Andrew Cuomo has indicated he will sign the measure into law.

“In the New York Dream Act, you see a state going against the national politics in creating access for undocumented students,” said Del Pilar of the Education Trust.

Then there are states such as Texas, where there were unsuccessful efforts in 2017 to make undocumented students ineligible for in-state tuition, he said. Texas does not have a statewide tuition-free program.

The Heritage Foundation, a politically conservative organization, is against providing in-state tuition and scholarships to undocumented students. State policies that do provide these benefits encourage illegal immigration, are unfair to students who are U.S. citizens and pay out-of-state tuition, and use taxpayer dollars to subsidize educating undocumented students, according to a paper released by the foundation in 2011.

"Opening up free college and transferring it from hardworking, law-abiding Americans who have been saving for their child’s college fund from the time of their birth to illegal, undocumented students in this country is something we don’t support,” said Mary Clare Amselem, a policy analyst at the foundation's Center for Education Policy.

The foundation is also opposed to tuition-free programs in general, she said.

Cannon, the executive director of the Oregon higher education commission, and a former member of the Oregon House of Representatives, remembers the legislative battles to allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition and receive state grants and financial aid.

“It seemed like a real long shot back then and took several sessions for just in-state tuition,” Cannon said. “This change and this culture and this approach to the policy didn’t develop overnight. It has taken years of efforts and activism.”

Oregon doesn’t track the number of undocumented students participating in its tuition-free program. The state also uses a separate application for students who can’t submit the FAFSA. About 160 students who filed using the state application for aid received more than $271,000 in Oregon Promise grants in 2017.

“There is a real concern to try and ensure there is a viable career path for residents of Oregon who, notwithstanding their immigration status, are very likely to remain residents of Oregon, and some of them for a good long time,” Cannon said.

Del Pilar said he expects to see more states following New York and Maryland in allowing undocumented students to access tuition-free programs and other state grants and aid.

California has already moved in that direction in recent years by passing legislation to expand access to state grants and scholarships to undocumented students.

Metune noted how far the state community college system has come since 20 years ago, when state lawmakers clashed over whether to extend education benefits to undocumented students.

“The actions of our board and the actions of the Legislature and the governor have reinforced our support for this population,” Metune said. “If anything, we see efforts to expand resources for undocumented students … California stands in solidarity with them.”

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Another federal court ruling chips away at NCAA limits on support for athletes

Inside Higher Ed - News - March 11, 2019 - 6:01pm

A federal judge on Friday ruled that the National Collegiate Athletic Association and its members had violated federal antitrust law by artificially capping the value of scholarships for educational purposes -- but stopped well short of creating the kind of free market for athletes' compensation that the players and their lawyers had sought.

The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken -- whose 2014 decision in a related case began the slow chipping away of the NCAA's limits on colleges' support for athletes -- is a clear court loss for the association. But lawyers for the athletes also got far less than they wanted: a toppling of the "amateur" athlete model by which the NCAA has for decades limited compensation to athletes to a scholarship and slowly expanding associated benefits.

The plaintiffs, a group of current and former Division I men's and women's basketball players and athletes who played football at universities in the Football Bowl Subdivision, alleged that the NCAA's complex rules -- approved and carried out by the member colleges and conferences -- unfairly restrict what the players could reasonably get in exchange for their athletic talents in an open market.

The association argued, as it has for decades, that the rules restricting compensation have maintained a form of "amateurism" that sustains public support for the college sports enterprise, and that requiring athletes to be students (and compensating them as such) helps integrate them into their campuses.

In her ruling, Judge Wilken in many ways split the difference. She supported the NCAA's argument for continuing to restrict compensation and benefits that are unrelated to education (i.e., payments for sports-related performance), but concluded that the NCAA's amateurism model (which she described as "circular") does not justify the limitations on the education-related benefits that the NCAA currently maintains.

The plaintiffs proposed three possible alternatives to the current system, two of which the judge rejected as creating problems of their own. The first, to lift all NCAA limits on compensation for athletes, would "open the possibility that at least some conferences would allow their schools to offer student-athletes unlimited cash payments that are unrelated to education" -- little different from how the professional leagues operate, Wilken wrote.

Much the same result, Wilken wrote, could occur from a system in which the NCAA continued to limit education-related compensation but could not limit payments unrelated to education.

Instead, she endorsed an approach in which the association continues to limit the value of an athletic scholarship to the cost of attendance and to restrict compensation and benefits unrelated to education, but generally does not limit education-related benefits. Her opinion lists a set of "education-related" benefits that the ruling bars the NCAA and its colleges from restricting, including “computers, science equipment, musical instruments and other tangible items not included in the cost of attendance calculation but nonetheless related to the pursuit of academic studies.”

Wilken also said the NCAA would be enjoined from restricting "post-eligibility scholarships to complete undergraduate or graduate degrees at any school; scholarships to attend vocational school; expenses for pre- and post-eligibility tutoring; expenses for studying abroad that are not covered by the cost of attendance; and paid post-eligibility internships."

The ruling also notes that the list could also be amended by a court-approved motion of the NCAA or the players.

In a statement Friday night, the NCAA's chief legal officer, Donald Remy, criticized the court's ruling but acknowledged, without directly saying so, that it could have been a lot worse for the association. "The court’s decision recognizes that college sports should be played by student-athletes, not by paid professionals. The decision acknowledges that the popularity of college sports stems in part from the fact that these athletes are indeed students, who must not be paid unlimited cash sums unrelated to education. NCAA rules actively provide a pathway for tens of thousands of student-athletes each year to receive a college education debt-free."

Michael McCann, a sports law expert and associate dean of the law school at the University of New Hampshire, said in a column in Sports Illustrated that the main outcome of Wilken's ruling would be to crank up the competition among universities and conferences over the value of the sports scholarship.

"Schools that already compete for recruits in myriad ways -- spending many millions of dollars to fund top coaches’ salaries, constructing new stadiums, building state-of-the-art training facilities -- will be able to compete in one additional way: by offering athletic scholarships of higher value," he wrote.

McCann noted that the ruling could have a slew of implications for colleges and their sports programs, including possibly creating Title IX issues that could require institutions to increase their scholarship spending for female athletes if they do so for men.

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Methodist colleges and seminaries react to church vote strengthening prohibitions on gay clergy and same-sex marriage

Inside Higher Ed - News - March 11, 2019 - 6:00pm

When delegates to the General Conference of the United Methodist Church voted late last month to strengthen the church’s prohibitions on performing same-sex marriages and ordaining gay and lesbian clergy, it was over the opposition of Methodist colleges and universities in the U.S.

The presidents of a group of 93 colleges and universities affiliated with the UMC issued a joint statement prior to the vote calling on church leaders to amend “their policies and practices to affirm full inclusion in the life and ministry of the United Methodist Church of all persons regardless of their race, ethnicity, creed, national origin, gender, gender identity/expression or sexual orientation.” The statement was unanimously adopted by all member presidents present at a January meeting of the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church.

The UMC-affiliated seminaries also opposed the adoption by the church of the so-called traditional plan, which affirms a ban on gay clergy members and imposes new penalties on clergy who perform same-sex marriages in violation of church rules.

Under the traditional plan -- which was approved by church delegates in February by a 438-to-384 margin, with much of the support reportedly coming from delegates from outside the U.S. -- clergy who officiate same-sex marriages could reportedly receive a minimum one-year unpaid suspension for their first offense. A second offense could result in removal from the clergy.

The plan will be reviewed by the church’s Judicial Council, which is expected to rule on whether it is in accordance with the church’s constitution at its meeting in late April.

“Most of our students are young, with the majority under 30 years old,” the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools said in a statement read aloud at the General Conference where the vote was held. “Public opinion polls in the United States clearly demonstrate that younger people in this country, including deeply devoted Christians, do not want to organize their spiritual and church lives around the question of excluding LGBTQIA persons.”

“It is clear to all of us as heads of seminaries that if the traditional plan passes, many students and prospective students may decide there is no place for them in this denomination,” the statement continued. “If the traditional plan passes, we may very soon lose an entire generation of leadership here in the United States.”

In the wake of the vote, the leaders of most of the theological schools have issued public statements affirming their own institutions’ commitments to diversity, inclusion and nondiscrimination and in many cases expressing disagreement or distress with the vote outcome (a list of statements can be found here). A group of faculty at Southern Methodist School's Perkins School of Theology also issued an open letter Thursday expressing sadness with the vote outcome and love and support for the institution's LGBTQIA+ students.

Javier A. Viera, the vice provost and dean of the Theological School at Drew University, wrote in a message to faculty, students, staff and alumni that he was "outraged, embarrassed, and wounded by the actions of our church. "

"We will have many decisions to make about how this vote will impact our institutional life at Drew, and how we might respond, organize, and resist these actions which so deeply affect and harm our entire community," Viera wrote. "Those conversations will take place with students, as a faculty, and at the board of trustees, as well in partnership with sister institutions of theological education across the UMC."

“I’m convinced over the next year you’ll see significant change both in the church and also within Methodist higher education,” said Scott D. Miller, the president of Virginia Wesleyan University, one of the 93 colleges and universities affiliated with the Methodist church, a group that includes such names as Duke, Emory and Syracuse Universities as well as many other less well-known small- to medium-size colleges and universities. Miller said Methodist institutions go through a process of reaffirming their affiliation with the church every 10 years.

“You will see some things occur quietly, others probably in a more revolutionary manner,” Miller said. Referring to the January meeting with other Methodist college presidents where they issued the statement calling on the church to adopt more inclusive policies, Miller said, "What I heard in the room when the Methodist presidents were together is that some schools were taking symbols of Methodism out of their marketing materials because it didn’t have the recruiting value that it once did. The impact isn’t there anymore, and all of the institutions are committed to inclusiveness. In this highly competitive higher education market, they want prospective students and prospective employees to know that all are welcome.”

“A number of schools were questioning whether they would seek reaffiliation [with the Methodist church]; a couple of them were debating whether to just discontinue their affiliation,” Miller continued. “All were concerned about the decline in financial resources.”

Miller said the financial support the church provides to Methodist institutions has been declining as church attendance (and revenues) have fallen in the U.S. At Virginia Wesleyan, he said, the institution receives $117,000 per year from the church and expects to receive next to nothing by the next time the college comes up for reaffirmation of affiliation in about eight years.

Miller also said the vote to impose new punishments on clergy who participate in same-sex weddings will raise vexing questions for institutions such as his that have Methodist chaplains on staff and whose campuses have chapels constructed with church funds.

“We have LGBT couples that work here; we have students who fall into that category,” Miller said. “I’d like to think that if they wanted to get married in our chapel we would provide that as a venue. Is that seen as in violation of the new wording? What if our chaplain, who is a joint appointment -- we pay him, but he is assigned to us via an appointment of the United Methodist Church -- if he performs the service, what will happen to him? Our feeling is that our mission of inclusiveness is something that is truly representative of us and the communities that we serve, and we don’t apologize for it.”

DiversityEditorial Tags: DiscriminationSexual orientationReligious collegesReligionProtestantismImage Source: Courtesy of Virginia Wesleyan UniversityImage Caption: The Beacon at Monumental Chapel at Virginia Wesleyan UniversityIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Diversity Newsletter publication date: Tuesday, March 12, 2019Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Email Teaser: Dilemma for Methodist CollegesMagazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: Dilemma for Methodist CollegesTrending order: 2College: Virginia Wesleyan University
Categories: Higher Education News

Cardiologist loses journal editorship over homophobic comments he made to local ballet

Inside Higher Ed - News - March 11, 2019 - 6:00pm

The American Heart Association removed a University of Louisville cardiologist as editor of its journal Circulation Research last week, over antigay comments he made to a local ballet.

The professor, Roberto Bolli, Jewish Hospital Heart and Lung Institute Distinguished Chair in Cardiology and chief of cardiovascular medicine at Louisville, retains his faculty post. 

The heart association said a in a statement that Bolli has become the subject of “public scrutiny in light of public comments he has made that have been alleged to be hate speech.”

The association has a “zero-tolerance policy with respect to personal conduct that conflicts with AHA’s guiding values and commitment to an environment that embraces diversity and inclusion and values cultural, racial, gender and other differences to help the organization succeed in achieving its mission and goals,” it said.

The association’s leaders are further committed to ensuring that the editorial integrity of their scientific journals remains “unimpeachable and unbiased.”

A former editor for another association journal will take over Bolli's editorship temporarily. A new editor was already scheduled to take over this spring.

Bolli did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But his comments to the ballet became public knowledge last month, after the arts blog Arts Writing Is Dead shared a redacted email reportedly written by Bolli from a personal email account to the Louisville Ballet in March 2018. At the time, the ballet was advertising its 2018-19 "Season of Romance" lineup. (Note: An earlier version of this story misstated Bolli's first name. It has been updated to correct the error.)

Bolli reportedly contacted the ballet to complain after he received promotional mail for the ballet’s production of Human Abstract. The show, which wrapped earlier this month, included a love story about two men. The promotional flier features two male dancers wearing ballet leggings, holding hands. It says, “If you love someone, let him go.”

Source: Louisville Ballet

Hardly smut. But Bolli was apparently incensed, writing to the ballet that “You have reached a new low. Your company is now promoting sodomy and homosexuality (see 'Human Abstract' and the lurid picture of two sodomites that you included).”

Bolli declared that he would never again attend a Louisville Ballet production and demanded that its “minions of Satan” peddling “perversion and immorality” stop sending “filth” and “sewage” to his house.

Beth Boehm, Louisville’s provost, and Toni Ganzel, dean of medicine, didn’t include Bolli’s name in a campus memo about the situation last week. But they distanced themselves and the university from his comments.

“The message appears to be a personal one; the faculty member did not mention the university or use his title in the email,” wrote Boehm and Ganzel. “Still, his words have proven hurtful to many of our faculty, staff and students, particularly those in the LGBT community.”

They added, “These comments are disheartening. They do not represent the values we hold dear” at Louisville. “We encourage all members of our campus community to continue to respect and honor our differences and to learn from one another.”

A university spokesperson confirmed that Bolli is still on the faculty. If the university took any disciplinary action, he added, it probably wouldn’t do so publicly, as the Louisville typically considers personnel matters to be private.

Arts Writing Is Dead reported that Bolli responded to its initial report about him, telling the blog via email that his words had been distorted and misrepresented.

“I certainly do not hate queer people; as a Christian, I love them. And I certainly do not think queer people are minions of Satan,” he reportedly said. “My personal religious views on homosexuality have nothing to do with my treatment of queer patients. As doctors, we have a duty to care for all patients to the best of our abilities irrespective of their lifestyle or actions or other considerations. I treat all patients, including queer patients, with the utmost compassion and respect.”

Bolli reportedly added that there are "many different types of lifestyles or actions that physicians may find objectionable, yet we do not let these considerations affect our care of patients."

The ballet published an "Open Letter Against Hatred and Prejudice" about the comments it’s heard and read about Human Abstract. It told the Courier Journal that its position “has always been that we will not give this type of rhetoric a platform. We will not fight hate with hate.”

The Courier Journal also reported that Louisville said it received a copy of Bolli’s nearly year-old email last month, when the ballet opened. 

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Categories: Higher Education News

Study documents extent of humanities instruction at community colleges

Inside Higher Ed - News - March 11, 2019 - 6:00pm

Much of the public discussion about the humanities focuses on four-year colleges and universities.

But humanities instruction is extensive at community colleges as well. In an effort to draw attention to the extent of the humanities at two-year colleges, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences conducted a national survey of community colleges and is today releasing the findings as part of the Humanities Indicators project. Among them:

  • About 2.8 million students took a humanities course for credit at a community college in the fall of 2015 (the year for which data were collected). They accounted for approximately 40 percent of all community college students taking courses for credit that term.
  • Over 1.7 million students took at least one course in English, and approximately 700,000 students took a history course. About 300,000 enrolled in courses in languages other than English. More than 255,000 community college students took a philosophy course. Additionally, between 400,000 and 450,000 students took a course in another humanities discipline or a survey course in the humanities.
  • About 70,000 faculty members taught at least one college-level humanities course for credit at community colleges, accounting for approximately 20 percent of all community college faculty.
  • The student-faculty ratio in the humanities is "substantially higher" than the ratio for community colleges generally. The student-faculty ratio for courses in the humanities was 40 to one, compared to 20 to one for all community college courses. Philosophy has the highest student-faculty ratio among the humanities disciplines examined, with about 50 students for each faculty member. The lowest ratio among the humanities disciplines, at 26 students per faculty member, was in foreign languages.
  • High school students in dual enrollment programs made up about 10 percent of humanities students at community colleges.
  • The study found regional differences in humanities course taking. About 35 percent of community college students are in the South, but they make up only 24 percent of those taking foreign languages. But they make up 45 percent of community college students studying history. Community college students in the West are less likely to be studying the humanities than are other community college students, but they are more likely to be studying languages other than English.
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White House convenes meeting on international students

Inside Higher Ed - News - March 11, 2019 - 6:00pm

The White House convened a meeting with universities, higher education groups and companies on Friday focused on international students and their ability to stay and work in the U.S. after graduation -- their interest in doing so, the barriers they face and how they could be encouraged to stay.

The meeting was organized by the White House’s deputy chief of staff for policy coordination, Chris Liddell. Stephen Miller, a senior policy adviser to President Trump, was an active participant in the meeting, which involved representatives from six different White House offices and five federal agencies.

One participant in the meeting said that the government officials were very positive about international students. They were primarily in listening mode, the participant said, and didn’t comment on any of the administration’s own planned or enacted policies, including officials' stated intentions to at some point overhaul practical training programs -- which allow international students to work while in college and for one to three years after graduation -- in order to "improve protections of U.S. workers who may be negatively impacted by employment" of international students.

Many in higher education have expressed concerns about various visa or other immigration policy changes put in place by the Trump administration that have created increased uncertainty for international students, including a policy introduced in August that makes it easier for international students to accrue "unlawful presence" in the U.S. and thereby be subject to three- to 10-year bars on re-entry in the future.

More generally, experts on immigration law and policy are reporting increased scrutiny of applications for visas and other immigration benefits. The Wall Street Journal reported last month that the approval rate for H-1B skilled worker visa applications has declined and that the Trump administration has demanded supplemental evidence from applicants in more cases.  Many international students seek to transition to an H-1B after they work for a U.S. company for one to three years under the optional practical training (OPT) program.

“One of the things that we talked about at some length was the importance of being able to provide students, institutions and employers some degree of stability in the policies that surround international students and people who might stay in the country under OPT or the guest worker programs,” the participant in Friday's meeting said. The participant said it was not clear why the meeting was convened now or what government officials hoped to do with the information gained. But government officials twice said that Trump was personally interested in the issue and that’s why they had convened the meeting.

“We could not have asked for a more open and welcoming discussion,” the participant said. “The whole tone of the meeting was positive and constructive.”

Another participant in the meeting described it as a “very respectful and cordial discussion” that started and ended with the question of how to revamp the lottery process through which H-1B skilled visas are awarded in order to protect American workers and add high-demand skills to the U.S. economy (the number of H-1B visas is capped by Congress, and demand regularly outstrips supply). The participant said that Miller described a need for a “more sane” prioritization for awarding H-1Bs to find a way of rewarding those with exceptional skills who are entering high-demand occupations. The administration recently made a technical change to the order in which the H-1B visa lottery is conducted that is expected to result in an increase in the number of H-1B visa recipients who hold a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. university.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment about the purposes of Friday’s meeting.

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Methodist colleges and seminaries react to church vote strengthening prohibitions on gay clergy and same-sex marriage

Inside Higher Ed - News - March 11, 2019 - 6:00pm

When delegates to the General Conference of the United Methodist Church voted late last month to strengthen the church’s prohibitions on performing same-sex marriages and ordaining gay and lesbian clergy, it was over the opposition of Methodist colleges and universities in the U.S.

The presidents of a group of 93 colleges and universities affiliated with the UMC issued a joint statement prior to the vote calling on church leaders to amend “their policies and practices to affirm full inclusion in the life and ministry of the United Methodist Church of all persons regardless of their race, ethnicity, creed, national origin, gender, gender identity/expression or sexual orientation.” The statement was unanimously adopted by all member presidents present at a January meeting of the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church.

The UMC-affiliated seminaries also opposed the adoption by the church of the so-called traditional plan, which affirms a ban on gay clergy members and imposes new penalties on clergy who perform same-sex marriages in violation of church rules.

Under the traditional plan -- which was approved by church delegates in February by a 438-to-384 margin, with much of the support reportedly coming from delegates from outside the U.S. -- clergy who officiate same-sex marriages could reportedly receive a minimum one-year unpaid suspension for their first offense. A second offense could result in removal from the clergy.

The plan will be reviewed by the church’s Judicial Council, which is expected to rule on whether it is in accordance with the church’s constitution at its meeting in late April.

“Most of our students are young, with the majority under 30 years old,” the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools said in a statement read aloud at the General Conference where the vote was held. “Public opinion polls in the United States clearly demonstrate that younger people in this country, including deeply devoted Christians, do not want to organize their spiritual and church lives around the question of excluding LGBTQIA persons.”

“It is clear to all of us as heads of seminaries that if the traditional plan passes, many students and prospective students may decide there is no place for them in this denomination,” the statement continued. “If the traditional plan passes, we may very soon lose an entire generation of leadership here in the United States.”

In the wake of the vote, the leaders of most of the theological schools have issued public statements affirming their own institutions’ commitments to diversity, inclusion and nondiscrimination and in many cases expressing disagreement or distress with the vote outcome (a list of statements can be found here). A group of faculty at Southern Methodist School's Perkins School of Theology also issued an open letter Thursday expressing sadness with the vote outcome and love and support for the institution's LGBTQIA+ students.

Javier A. Viera, the vice provost and dean of the Theological School at Drew University, wrote in a message to faculty, students, staff and alumni that he was "outraged, embarrassed, and wounded by the actions of our church. "

"We will have many decisions to make about how this vote will impact our institutional life at Drew, and how we might respond, organize, and resist these actions which so deeply affect and harm our entire community," Viera wrote. "Those conversations will take place with students, as a faculty, and at the board of trustees, as well in partnership with sister institutions of theological education across the UMC."

“I’m convinced over the next year you’ll see significant change both in the church and also within Methodist higher education,” said Scott D. Miller, the president of Virginia Wesleyan University, one of the 93 colleges and universities affiliated with the Methodist church, a group that includes such names as Duke, Emory and Syracuse Universities as well as many other less well-known small- to medium-size colleges and universities. Miller said Methodist institutions go through a process of reaffirming their affiliation with the church every 10 years.

“You will see some things occur quietly, others probably in a more revolutionary manner,” Miller said. Referring to the January meeting with other Methodist college presidents where they issued the statement calling on the church to adopt more inclusive policies, Miller said, "What I heard in the room when the Methodist presidents were together is that some schools were taking symbols of Methodism out of their marketing materials because it didn’t have the recruiting value that it once did. The impact isn’t there anymore, and all of the institutions are committed to inclusiveness. In this highly competitive higher education market, they want prospective students and prospective employees to know that all are welcome.”

“A number of schools were questioning whether they would seek reaffiliation [with the Methodist church]; a couple of them were debating whether to just discontinue their affiliation,” Miller continued. “All were concerned about the decline in financial resources.”

Miller said the financial support the church provides to Methodist institutions has been declining as church attendance (and revenues) have fallen in the U.S. At Virginia Wesleyan, he said, the institution receives $117,000 per year from the church and expects to receive next to nothing by the next time the college comes up for reaffirmation of affiliation in about eight years.

Miller also said the vote to impose new punishments on clergy who participate in same-sex weddings will raise vexing questions for institutions such as his that have Methodist chaplains on staff and whose campuses have chapels constructed with church funds.

“We have LGBT couples that work here; we have students who fall into that category,” Miller said. “I’d like to think that if they wanted to get married in our chapel we would provide that as a venue. Is that seen as in violation of the new wording? What if our chaplain, who is a joint appointment -- we pay him, but he is assigned to us via an appointment of the United Methodist Church -- if he performs the service, what will happen to him? Our feeling is that our mission of inclusiveness is something that is truly representative of us and the communities that we serve, and we don’t apologize for it.”

DiversityEditorial Tags: DiscriminationSexual orientationReligious collegesReligionProtestantismImage Source: Courtesy of Virginia Wesleyan UniversityImage Caption: The Beacon at Monumental Chapel at Virginia Wesleyan UniversityIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Diversity Newsletter publication date: Tuesday, March 12, 2019Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Email Teaser: Dilemma for Methodist CollegesMagazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: Dilemma for Methodist CollegesTrending order: 2College: Virginia Wesleyan University
Categories: Higher Education News

Cardiologist loses journal editorship over homophobic comments he made to local ballet

Inside Higher Ed - News - March 11, 2019 - 6:00pm

The American Heart Association removed a University of Louisville cardiologist as editor of its journal Circulation Research last week, over antigay comments he made to a local ballet.

The professor, Ricardo Bolli, Jewish Hospital Heart and Lung Institute Distinguished Chair in Cardiology and chief of cardiovascular medicine at Louisville, retains his faculty post.

The heart association said a in a statement that Bolli has become the subject of “public scrutiny in light of public comments he has made that have been alleged to be hate speech.”

The association has a “zero-tolerance policy with respect to personal conduct that conflicts with AHA’s guiding values and commitment to an environment that embraces diversity and inclusion and values cultural, racial, gender and other differences to help the organization succeed in achieving its mission and goals,” it said.

The association’s leaders are further committed to ensuring that the editorial integrity of their scientific journals remains “unimpeachable and unbiased.”

A former editor for Circulation Research will resume that position temporarily. A new editor was already scheduled to take over this spring.

Bolli did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But his comments to the ballet became public knowledge last month, after the arts blog Arts Writing Is Dead shared a redacted email reportedly written by Bolli from a personal email account to the Louisville Ballet in March 2018. At the time, the ballet was advertising its 2018-19 "Season of Romance" lineup.

Bolli reportedly contacted the ballet to complain after he received promotional mail for the ballet’s production of Human Abstract. The show, which wrapped earlier this month, included a love story about two men. The promotional flier features two male dancers wearing ballet leggings, holding hands. It says, “If you love someone, let him go.”

Source: Louisville Ballet

Hardly smut. But Bolli was apparently incensed, writing to the ballet that “You have reached a new low. Your company is now promoting sodomy and homosexuality (see 'Human Abstract' and the lurid picture of two sodomites that you included).”

Bolli declared that he would never again attend a Louisville Ballet production and demanded that its “minions of Satan” peddling “perversion and immorality” stop sending “filth” and “sewage” to his house.

Beth Boehm, Louisville’s provost, and Toni Ganzel, dean of medicine, didn’t include Bolli’s name in a campus memo about the situation last week. But they distanced themselves and the university from his comments.

“The message appears to be a personal one; the faculty member did not mention the university or use his title in the email,” wrote Boehm and Ganzel. “Still, his words have proven hurtful to many of our faculty, staff and students, particularly those in the LGBT community.”

They added, “These comments are disheartening. They do not represent the values we hold dear” at Louisville. “We encourage all members of our campus community to continue to respect and honor our differences and to learn from one another.”

A university spokesperson confirmed that Bolli is still on the faculty. If the university took any disciplinary action, he added, it probably wouldn’t do so publicly, as the Louisville typically considers personnel matters to be private.

Arts Writing Is Dead reported that Bolli responded to its initial report about him, telling the blog via email that his words had been distorted and misrepresented.

“I certainly do not hate queer people; as a Christian, I love them. And I certainly do not think queer people are minions of Satan,” he reportedly said. “My personal religious views on homosexuality have nothing to do with my treatment of queer patients. As doctors, we have a duty to care for all patients to the best of our abilities irrespective of their lifestyle or actions or other considerations. I treat all patients, including queer patients, with the utmost compassion and respect.”

Bolli reportedly added that there are "many different types of lifestyles or actions that physicians may find objectionable, yet we do not let these considerations affect our care of patients."

The ballet published an "Open Letter Against Hatred and Prejudice" about the comments it’s heard and read about Human Abstract. It told the Courier Journal that its position “has always been that we will not give this type of rhetoric a platform. We will not fight hate with hate.”

The Courier Journal also reported that Louisville said it received a copy of Bolli’s nearly year-old email last month, when the ballet opened.

FacultyMedical EducationEditorial Tags: FacultyDiversityImage Caption: Ricardo BolliIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: University of Louisville
Categories: Higher Education News

Study documents extent of humanities instruction at community colleges

Inside Higher Ed - News - March 11, 2019 - 6:00pm

Much of the public discussion about the humanities focuses on four-year colleges and universities.

But humanities instruction is extensive at community colleges as well. In an effort to draw attention to the extent of the humanities at two-year colleges, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences conducted a national survey of community colleges and is today releasing the findings as part of the Humanities Indicators project. Among them:

  • About 2.8 million students took a humanities course for credit at a community college in the fall of 2015 (the year for which data were collected). They accounted for approximately 40 percent of all community college students taking courses for credit that term.
  • Over 1.7 million students took at least one course in English, and approximately 700,000 students took a history course. About 300,000 enrolled in courses in languages other than English. More than 255,000 community college students took a philosophy course. Additionally, between 400,000 and 450,000 students took a course in another humanities discipline or a survey course in the humanities.
  • About 70,000 faculty members taught at least one college-level humanities course for credit at community colleges, accounting for approximately 20 percent of all community college faculty.
  • The student-faculty ratio in the humanities is "substantially higher" than the ratio for community colleges generally. The student-faculty ratio for courses in the humanities was 40 to one, compared to 20 to one for all community college courses. Philosophy has the highest student-faculty ratio among the humanities disciplines examined, with about 50 students for each faculty member. The lowest ratio among the humanities disciplines, at 26 students per faculty member, was in foreign languages.
  • High school students in dual enrollment programs made up about 10 percent of humanities students at community colleges.
  • The study found regional differences in humanities course taking. About 35 percent of community college students are in the South, but they make up only 24 percent of those taking foreign languages. But they make up 45 percent of community college students studying history. Community college students in the West are less likely to be studying the humanities than are other community college students, but they are more likely to be studying languages other than English.
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Categories: Higher Education News

White House convenes meeting on international students

Inside Higher Ed - News - March 11, 2019 - 6:00pm

The White House convened a meeting with universities, higher education groups and companies on Friday focused on international students and their ability to stay and work in the U.S. after graduation -- their interest in doing so, the barriers they face and how they could be encouraged to stay.

The meeting was organized by the White House’s deputy chief of staff for policy coordination, Chris Liddell. Stephen Miller, a senior policy adviser to President Trump, was an active participant in the meeting, which involved representatives from six different White House offices and five federal agencies.

One participant in the meeting said that the government officials were very positive about international students. They were primarily in listening mode, the participant said, and didn’t comment on any of the administration’s own planned or enacted policies, including officials' stated intentions to at some point overhaul practical training programs -- which allow international students to work while in college and for one to three years after graduation -- in order to "improve protections of U.S. workers who may be negatively impacted by employment" of international students.

Many in higher education have expressed concerns about various visa or other immigration policy changes put in place by the Trump administration that have created increased uncertainty for international students, including a policy introduced in August that makes it easier for international students to accrue "unlawful presence" in the U.S. and thereby be subject to three- to 10-year bars on re-entry in the future.

More generally, experts on immigration law and policy are reporting increased scrutiny of applications for visas and other immigration benefits. The Wall Street Journal reported last month that the approval rate for H-1B skilled worker visa applications has declined and that the Trump administration has demanded supplemental evidence from applicants in more cases.  Many international students seek to transition to an H-1B after they work for a U.S. company for one to three years under the optional practical training (OPT) program.

“One of the things that we talked about at some length was the importance of being able to provide students, institutions and employers some degree of stability in the policies that surround international students and people who might stay in the country under OPT or the guest worker programs,” the participant in Friday's meeting said. The participant said it was not clear why the meeting was convened now or what government officials hoped to do with the information gained. But government officials twice said that Trump was personally interested in the issue and that’s why they had convened the meeting.

“We could not have asked for a more open and welcoming discussion,” the participant said. “The whole tone of the meeting was positive and constructive.”

Another participant in the meeting described it as a “very respectful and cordial discussion” that started and ended with the question of how to revamp the lottery process through which H-1B skilled visas are awarded in order to protect American workers and add high-demand skills to the U.S. economy (the number of H-1B visas is capped by Congress, and demand regularly outstrips supply). The participant said that Miller described a need for a “more sane” prioritization for awarding H-1Bs to find a way of rewarding those with exceptional skills who are entering high-demand occupations. The administration recently made a technical change to the order in which the H-1B visa lottery is conducted that is expected to result in an increase in the number of H-1B visa recipients who hold a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. university.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment about the purposes of Friday’s meeting.

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Colleges announce commencement speakers

Inside Higher Ed - News - March 11, 2019 - 6:00pm
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Another federal court ruling chips away at NCAA limits on support for athletes

Inside Higher Ed - News - March 10, 2019 - 3:00am

A federal judge on Friday ruled that the National Collegiate Athletic Association and its members had violated federal antitrust law by artificially capping the value of scholarships for educational purposes -- but stopped well short of creating the kind of free market for athletes' compensation that the players and their lawyers had sought.

The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken -- whose 2014 decision in a related case began the slow chipping away of the NCAA's limits on colleges' support for athletes -- is a clear court loss for the association. But lawyers for the athletes also got far less than they wanted: a toppling of the "amateur" athlete model by which the NCAA has for decades limited compensation to athletes to a scholarship and slowly expanding associated benefits.

The plaintiffs, a group of current and former Division I men's and women's basketball players and athletes who played football at universities in the Football Bowl Subdivision, alleged that the NCAA's complex rules -- approved and carried out by the member colleges and conferences -- unfairly restrict what the players could reasonably get in exchange for their athletic talents in an open market.

The association argued, as it has for decades, that the rules restricting compensation have maintained a form of "amateurism" that sustains public support for the college sports enterprise, and that requiring athletes to be students (and compensating them as such) helps integrate them into their campuses.

In her ruling, Judge Wilken in many ways split the difference. She supported the NCAA's argument for continuing to restrict compensation and benefits that are unrelated to education (i.e., payments for sports-related performance), but concluded that the NCAA's amateurism model (which she described as "circular") does not justify the limitations on the education-related benefits that the NCAA currently maintains.

The plaintiffs proposed three possible alternatives to the current system, two of which the judge rejected as creating problems of their own. The first, to lift all NCAA limits on compensation for athletes, would "open the possibility that at least some conferences would allow their schools to offer student-athletes unlimited cash payments that are unrelated to education" -- little different from how the professional leagues operate, Wilken wrote.

Much the same result, Wilken wrote, could occur from a system in which the NCAA continued to limit education-related compensation but could not limit payments unrelated to education.

Instead, she endorsed an approach in which the association continues to limit the value of an athletic scholarship to the cost of attendance and to restrict compensation and benefits unrelated to education, but generally does not limit education-related benefits. Her opinion lists a set of "education-related" benefits that the ruling bars the NCAA and its colleges from restricting, including “computers, science equipment, musical instruments and other tangible items not included in the cost of attendance calculation but nonetheless related to the pursuit of academic studies.”

Wilken also said the NCAA would be enjoined from restricting "post-eligibility scholarships to complete undergraduate or graduate degrees at any school; scholarships to attend vocational school; expenses for pre- and post-eligibility tutoring; expenses for studying abroad that are not covered by the cost of attendance; and paid post-eligibility internships."

The ruling also notes that the list could also be amended by a court-approved motion of the NCAA or the players.

In a statement Friday night, the NCAA's chief legal officer, Donald Remy, criticized the court's ruling but acknowledged, without directly saying so, that it could have been a lot worse for the association. "The court’s decision recognizes that college sports should be played by student-athletes, not by paid professionals. The decision acknowledges that the popularity of college sports stems in part from the fact that these athletes are indeed students, who must not be paid unlimited cash sums unrelated to education. NCAA rules actively provide a pathway for tens of thousands of student-athletes each year to receive a college education debt-free."

Michael McCann, a sports law expert and associate dean of the law school at the University of New Hampshire, said in a column in Sports Illustrated that the main outcome of Wilken's ruling would be to crank up the competition among universities and conferences over the value of the sports scholarship.

"Schools that already compete for recruits in myriad ways -- spending many millions of dollars to fund top coaches’ salaries, constructing new stadiums, building state-of-the-art training facilities -- will be able to compete in one additional way: by offering athletic scholarships of higher value," he wrote.

McCann noted that the ruling could have a slew of implications for colleges and their sports programs, including possibly creating Title IX issues that could require institutions to increase their scholarship spending for female athletes if they do so for men.

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Survey finds college presidents more upbeat about finances, race and higher ed's image

Inside Higher Ed - News - March 8, 2019 - 7:00pm

Our annual report on the views of college and university leaders finds them more confident in their financial stability, less worried about public (and Republican) opinion.

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Categories: Higher Education News

First Amendment scholar Geoffrey Stone, who's previously defended the use of the N-word in the classroom, has a change of mind

Inside Higher Ed - News - March 8, 2019 - 7:00pm

Geoffrey Stone, Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law at Chicago, is something of a free speech purist. He chaired the committee that wrote the much-emulated Chicago statement on campus speech, for example, and he’s not afraid to make students uncomfortable if it helps them learn.

Until this week, that included saying the N-word in during a First Amendment law lecture he often gives on the fighting-words doctrine. That’s the legal line between free speech and words that would incite immediate violence or retaliation. Stone has previously argued that saying the N-word to illustrate it is useful.

This week, however, after meeting with a group of students who were hurt by his recent use of the word, Stone said that he won’t say it anymore.

“This is really important -- this is not about censorship, or about anybody telling me what to do or not to do,” he said. “This is something on which students have enlightened me. And that’s great.”

Stone’s been telling the following anecdote from early in his teaching career for years: a black student in one of his classes said the fighting-words doctrine might be outdated. To make a point, a white student in the class then said, “That’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard, you stupid [N-word].” As Stone tells it, the black student immediately lunged at the white student, illustrating that the doctrine was indeed still relevant.

This semester, however, the anecdote didn’t go over as he’d intended. Stone said he was visited by a white student in his class who was deeply offended by his use of the N-word and by a law school student leader who had heard complaints from several black students.

Stone said that he spoke with the two students and heard their concerns. He also explained his rationale for using the slur -- to educate, not to harm students -- at the next meeting of the First Amendment law class.

That’s something of a common distinction for professors to make: using the word because it appears in a text, case law or pertinent example of a concept is acceptable, while using it against a student or any other individual or group is absolutely not.

Increasingly, however, professors are facing complaints from students and, in some cases, colleagues, for using the word in any form. A professor of anthropology at Princeton University, lecturing on hate speech and cultural taboos, gave up teaching a class last year after students faulted him for using the slur in a manner that he believed was educational, for example.

Princeton supported that professor’s right to use the word. That isn’t always the case on all campuses. Augsburg University recently suspended a professor for using the N-word in a class lecture about a James Baldwin novel in which it appeared.

But Chicago supports Stone, saying in a statement that it is “deeply committed to the values of academic freedom and the free expression of ideas, and to fostering a diverse and inclusive climate on campus.”

Universities “have an important role as places where controversial ideas can be proposed, tested and debated by faculty and students,” Chicago said. “Faculty members have broad freedom in the choice of ideas to discuss in the classroom and in their expression of those ideas, and students are free to express their views on those subjects.”

Regardless of institutional responses, many professors have vowed on their own not to use the word at all.

In Stone’s case, he believed the matter was resolved after he clarified for his class why he’d used the slur. But the student who’d originally complained to him went on to publish an op-ed this week in The Chicago Maroon student newspaper about the incident.

A professor “doesn’t have to use the actual N-word to explain to students why that word could incite violence. We already get it,” wrote the student, David Raban. “And any point he tried to make was completely obscured because both his story and act of retelling it were racist.”

Raban added, “They were racist because he, as a white man, repeated a word used by white people to perpetuate the subjugation of black Americans for hundreds of years. He trivialized the word’s history and the lived experience of black students. He employed the word to highlight a white student’s reprehensible treatment of a black student. He lent credence to the false stereotype that black men are prone to violence. He primed black students through stereotype threat to learn less and perform worse.”’

A day after the op-ed appeared, Stone said, he left his office to get lunch and was approached by a group of black law students who asked to talk to him.

In what Stone said was productive exercise of the First Amendment, the students conveyed to him that the N-word was so loaded, hateful and ultimately distracting that using it in class negated any educational benefit.

Stone was persuaded.

“It was very illuminating, I have to say,” he said. “I then went into class and basically said that, having had this conversation with these students -- not because anybody made me do this, just from listening to them about what a distraction it is, and how much pain is caused -- I’ve decided not to use this example in class.”

Stone didn’t want to overstate the significance of this shift. He’s changed his mind about many other things many other times in his career, he said. But it is a shift. Just last year he told Inside Higher Ed that it is “perfectly appropriate to use such language in the classroom if the word is relevant to the material or issues being discussed.”

A literature professor teaching Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, a history professor teaching about racism or a law professor teaching a case involving the use of such language can “and in my view should use the word if using it is relevant to what is being taught,” he added at the time.

In 2017, he also publicly defended his use of the N-word in a lecture at Brown University, after a student present told him it had a chilling effect on the conversation.

Stone isn't sure how he'll talk about slurs in his class going forward, when necessary. He doesn't like to say "N-word" when it's clear the relevant content pertains to the actual word, he said. But he's confident he'll figure it out.

Things change, Stone said. Ten or 15 years ago, students probably wouldn’t have reacted to the word the way they do now, he added, saying he wished offended students had approached him sooner to express their views. Stone also said he has two small grandchildren who are black, and who he hopes won't be made to feel the way the group of students said they did, when they someday attend university.

“That’s why this a great example of free speech, which means not only talking, but also listening,” he said.

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Categories: Higher Education News

Sex assault allegations roils UC Berkeley tech club

Inside Higher Ed - News - March 8, 2019 - 7:00pm

In January a Facebook page that shares anonymous anecdotes from University of California, Berkeley, featured a graphic post -- allegations of a rape during a campus coding group’s retreat.

The posting prompted waves of supporters on the page to urge the victim to seek out police or directly contact them if she needed to talk. It also launched a broader conversation around campus about whether these student groups were being trained enough in sexual violence prevention.

Pundits tend to focus on fraternities when opining on campus sexual assaults -- for good reason, as multiple studies have concluded fraternity men are three times more likely to commit rape than their non-Greek counterparts. But other student groups do not receive the same sort of scrutiny or media attention, even if they are male dominated and are in some cases known for a culture that demeans women. Indeed, the survivor in her account likened the club to a fraternity, dedicated only to drinking and finding job opportunities.

“It seemed like people cared about each other, and even the parties were pretty chill and respectful compared to the frats I’ve been to,” the woman wrote. “But the longer I remained, the more I realized that the club was just a bunch of [computer science] kids basically recreating the frat culture/narrative with lots of alcohol at social events and barely any other way for us to get to know one another.”

Sex assault prevention advocates said in interviews with Inside Higher Ed that institutions need to educate their students better and exercise more oversight among these groups to stop sexual violence.

The young woman who submitted the story said that, after a night of drinking in Lake Tahoe, when everyone on the trip was passed out and she had moved to her sleeping bag, another student slipped his hands into her bra and fondled her.

The woman said she lay there, scared and hoping the sensation would go away. That maybe she was dreaming. But her stillness apparently emboldened him, and she said that he took off her pajamas and sexually assaulted her. She wrote that she was scared to report the incident because the student was so prominent in the organization.

Initially, the group’s name was redacted online, but representatives came forward on Facebook and identified themselves as the subject of the post: members of a club called CodeBase.

The demographics of this group are unknown (it did not respond to a request for comment), but many student coding clubs (and the field) are largely dominated by men -- only about 26 percent of professional computing jobs belonged to women in 2017, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology.

After the post had received significant attention online, CodeBase set up a digital form to take anonymous comments and wrote on the “Confessions From UC Berkeley” page that it was committed to rooting out the alleged rapist and removing him from the club.

In a post on the CodeBase Facebook page, someone also wrote that its members contacted campus and local law enforcement and organizations that support sexual assault survivors, such as Berkeley’s PATH to Care Center.

“We want CodeBase to be a safe and nurturing environment for our members, and these steps will only be the first of many our organization will take to create this space,” the group wrote on Facebook.

The allegations did not surprise Alyssa Peterson, a state organizer with advocacy group Know Your IX, a reference to the federal gender antidiscrimination law Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

With male-centric groups, women are often the target of sexual harassment or more, Peterson said. Title IX means to prevent such clubs from altogether excluding women, but it also can be triggered if a male member raped a woman who would likely want to leave the organization, Peterson said. In that way, women -- who are already marginalized in the tech world -- could be pushed out further, she said.

A comprehensive survey of more than 200 Silicon Valley-based female tech professionals revealed that 60 percent of them had been sexually harassed in their careers, but 39 percent of those women kept quiet because they thought it would interrupt their professional trajectories.

Elephant in the Valley,” as the report was called, in 2015 helped unearth the breadth of the problem at the epicenter of the industry. Years later, an academic, BethAnn McLaughlin, an assistant professor of neurology and pharmacology at Vanderbilt University, took advantage of the momentum of the Me Too movement and spun it off into #MeTooSTEM to highlight personal stories of women in the sciences and tech fields who had been harassed. At least 72 stories have been published on McLaughlin’s #MeTooSTEM website. She is well-known in academe, and her activism has seemingly jeopardized her chances for tenure.

Too many of those accounts, like the one at Berkeley, were anonymous because women don’t feel that the reporting mechanisms at universities work, McLaughlin said.

“We know Title IX doesn't protect victims,” McLaughlin wrote in an email. “It just does the minimum to save institutional ‘brand.’ Collecting stories … empowers us to see patterns, to alert media and to mount changes in the laws and ways universities get money.”

Berkeley officials did not make themselves available for interviews. But in a statement, spokeswoman Janet Gilmore said, “We are committed to fostering a campus environment where everyone feels safe and respected, and toward that end, we have strengthened our prevention and response efforts over the years, particularly in the past few years. That effort continues.”

Gilmore said that when administrators hear about a sexual assault accusation within a student group, they contact the club’s leaders to “understand the situation” and connect them to the proper resources.

All Berkeley students must take an in-person class their first year on sexual violence (and other topics) called Bear Pact, and all students must be trained annually in it online. They are required to complete these seminars before registering for classes.

To become a group affiliated with the university, students in the club have to designate four to eight signatories. Of those, at least two of the signatories have to attend a two-hour orientation that covers certain group responsibilities for their members, including mental health, drug and alcohol awareness, and sexual assault prevention.

Reports of sexual assault often happen among groups, especially smaller ones, where the membership is spending a lot of time together and feels comfortable, said Sage Carson, the manager of Know Your IX. Carson said she was sexually assaulted in a music-related program.

Again, this isn’t limited to fraternities. Consider two major scandals in recent years involving marching bands and hazing. A drum major died after a hazing ritual at Florida A&M University in 2011, and Ohio State University’s marching band received widespread attention for the members’ hazing practices in 2014, which included giving freshman members sexual nicknames such as “Twat Thumper” and “Boob Job.”

Training for students should start even earlier, prior to college, Carson said. Poor behavior isn’t learned when a student joins a club or a fraternity -- it’s ingrained with a lack of understanding and media. Students can also not quite grasp certain concepts from a singular course on sexual violence, or twist the lessons to their advantage, Carson said. Students might ask for consent but do so when their partner is drunk, she said. Or a student can learn “exactly what to say” from training to avoid punishment -- there needs to be more empathy around these issues, and far before they enter college, she said.

The Berkeley campus newspaper, The Daily Californian, in an editorial urged officials to beef up sexual violence training for student groups on campus. The staffers at the paper called it “unacceptable” that only two club members are mandated to attend the in-person training on sexual assault and other issues, with no obligation that the two pass on their knowledge to sometimes hundreds of other members. The newspaper reported how other students felt there was a “semitoxic and misogynistic culture” among coding and engineering clubs.

“Adequate training on sexual violence is key to harassment prevention within clubs,” the editors wrote. “The LEAD Center must increase its resources to ensure trained individuals lead consent talks and workshops within clubs for all members. With proper training, campus organizations must then work to create an inclusive culture that centers the needs of survivors. The victim blaming in response to the anonymous Facebook post embodies the stigma and shame that prevent survivors from reporting in the first place. Leaders must address this toxic trend by putting the needs of survivors first and creating a space that upholds the respect and dignity of all club members.”

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With possible Friday closure looming, Argosy scrambles to find buyer

Inside Higher Ed - News - March 8, 2019 - 7:00pm

A court-appointed receiver plans to close Argosy University campuses today if a buyer is not found for the for-profit college, a decision driven by the Trump administration’s decision to cut off Title IV student aid to those colleges more than a week ago.

But the receiver has yet to convey those plans officially to the Department of Education and is due to appear Monday before a federal judge in an ongoing legal challenge over his management of the colleges. The murkiness over the campuses’ status entering Friday adds to uncertainty students have faced since Argosy failed to make financial aid payments for the spring semester.

Campus closures would mean students could either opt for loan cancellation or seek to transfer their credits to a different college -- a choice that could be more difficult without an official agreement in place between Argosy and another institution.

Lawyers for Mark Dottore, the receiver, said in court filings this week that he had worked “around the clock” since the department cut off federal aid to find potential buyers to take on those campuses. Dottore has had discussions with 15 potential buyers for various campuses held by Dream Center Education Holdings, the Argosy parent company, according to the court filings. But some observers said the prospects of a deal happening before the colleges run out of money appeared dim.

“On this kind of time frame, I think that’s highly unlikely,” said Trace Urdan, a managing director at Tyton Partners, a consulting firm with a focus on the education sector. “I would be shocked if somebody comes along at the 11th hour for this particular asset.”

More than 8,800 students would be affected by campus closures, according to Education Department estimates. Argosy said in court filings this week that more than 10,000 would have their studies interrupted.

If a buyer isn’t found, the college could find a “transfer partner” where students could complete their studies. In another court filing Thursday, Dottore identified one potential partner as South University. The college was formerly owned by Dream Center and retains its access to Title IV access. In an emergency motion, Dottore outlined an articulation agreement that would allow Argosy students to transfer credits to corresponding programs at the Savannah, Ga.-based college, which has campus locations across the South.

Dottore sent an email to students about the deal telling them they would receive a tuition discount and promising that the South University online experience "will be very similar to your Argosy University experience." 

Antoinette Flores, the associate director for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress, called the proposal a “Band-Aid.”

“It’s not necessarily any more stable. They themselves are on shaky financial footing,” she said of South University. “It’s just prolonging the pain for students.”

The Dream Center-operated Western State College of Law, meanwhile, told students this week that it is in discussions with a potential buyer. Allen Easley, the law school’s dean, said in an email to students that its administration is working on plans to stay open long enough for them to complete the semester -- regardless of whether a sale goes through. Although the law school’s leadership would prefer to find a buyer that would allow it to stay open permanently, Easley said school officials have also had extensive discussions with their accreditor, the American Bar Association, and other nearby law schools about making arrangements for students to complete their programs elsewhere in case Western State closes.

Senator Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat and frequent critic of for-profit colleges, said in a statement that it “appeared increasingly likely that Argosy’s closure is imminent.”

“I’ve called on the Department of Education to immediately step up to work with accreditors and states to establish options for students to continue their studies at high-quality institutions. I’ve also called on the department to immediately notify Argosy students of their option for federal closed-school discharge should Argosy close and to extend the window for students to be eligible,” he said. “As this shameful spectacle plays out in court and in the news, the department’s silence when it comes to providing meaningful information to students is inexcusable.”

The Education Department already provided information to Argosy students about their options through the Office of Federal Student Aid after it cut off Title IV funds. On Thursday night, it posted an update on those options in light of potential campus closures.

"Although the court has not yet granted the receiver’s motion to close the campuses, ED recognizes that an imminent closure is a distinct possibility and is providing additional information for students," the department said in an announcement posted to the FSA website Thursday.

If closures do occur, the department will post updated information about students' eligibility for loan cancellation through a process called closed-school discharge as well as transfer options.

"Even if the schools do not officially close, ED has begun the process to identify Argosy and Art Institute students that were disbursed a federal direct student loan for the current term and is in the process of cancelling those disbursements," the statement said.

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