Higher Education News

New paper makes the case for paying more attention to pretenure faculty members' emotions

Inside Higher Ed - News - July 29, 2019 - 5:00pm

Academics might be known for their intellect, but they have emotions, too -- and those emotions matter, according to a new paper on the pretenure faculty experience.

The mixed-method study, published in The Review of Higher Education, looked at assistant professors’ emotions regarding teaching and research, including their frequency, precursors and relationships with perceived success. It found that teaching was much more associated with positive emotions. Research, meanwhile, was associated with more negative feelings.

Why do faculty emotions matter? There’s a divide between qualitative research that consistently identifies certain factors -- namely clear expectations for promotion and tenure, collegiality and balance between work and home -- as important to faculty success, the paper says, and other quantitative research suggesting that those factors actually have limited influence.

Might understanding faculty members’ emotions help bridge that gap? Perhaps.

No qualitative studies to date “have directly asked professors to identify and describe their emotions related to teaching and research,” the paper says. And researchers “have not sufficiently examined the generalizability of the wide range of faculty emotions from qualitative studies beyond the emotion-related constructs of emotional exhaustion (burnout) or emotional labor.”

Phase 1 of the research involved collecting open-ended, qualitative data to address the following question: What are the most prevalent emotions experienced by pretenure faculty when teaching and conducting research? Phase 2 involved a quantitative study examining whether the range and frequency of pretenure faculty emotions found in the qualitative sample would generalize to a larger, quantitative sample.

Survey data was then used help answer two additional questions: Are there differences in faculty emotions between the domains of teaching and research? And what are biggest predictors and outcomes of faculty emotions?

Interviews with 11 faculty members identified 46 different emotions -- most commonly enjoyment, frustration, excitement, happiness and anxiety. A survey of 102 pretenure faculty members found more enjoyment, happiness, pride, satisfaction and relaxation regarding teaching. There was more frustration, anxiety, worry, fear, envy, shame, loneliness and hopelessness in research.

A more advanced analysis found that faculty members’ sense of control, value and positive or negative affect mediate the relationships of collegiality and balance with self-reported success.

The findings have implications for research pertaining to faculty success and development, as well as for university administrators who want to better understand faculty performance, the paper says.

Specifically, the findings “underscore the importance of examining not only traditional predictors of pretenure faculty success with respect to clear expectations, collegiality and balance, but also faculty emotions as experienced during teaching and research efforts.” Continued research on faculty perceptions of their work environment, their perceptions of value and control concerning academic tasks, as well as the “multifaceted nature of their emotional lives can help to inform faculty development initiatives and provide a fuller perspective on how to best promote teaching and research effectiveness in pretenure faculty.”

The study identifies certain limitations. For one, the vast majority (upwards of 80 percent) of interviewees and respondents were white, meaning that research on the emotional experiences of more diverse groups is needed going forward. The study notes it also only involved faculty members at two unnamed public research institutions in the Midwest.

Robert Stupnisky, lead author and associate professor of educational foundations and research at the University of North Dakota, has previously written about what motivates good teaching and supporting pretenure faculty members to help them find their intrinsic motivation. He said via email that his newest paper is “the most comprehensive study on faculty members’ emotions conducted to date” and that it provided “some very interesting findings.”

In terms of implications for institutions, Stupnisky found that perceived collegiality correlated with both teaching and research emotions, and perceived balance correlated specifically with research emotions. Collegiality was also a significant, direct predictor of control and value and an indirect predictor of success in both the teaching and research domains via faculty emotions.

So “a sense of belongingness” in the workplace appears to be a particularly salient factor in faculty emotional experiences. At the practical level, the paper says, pretenure faculty were found to experience a range of not only positive but also negative emotions. And “encouraging greater discussion of and emphasis on emotions in faculty in general could benefit faculty development.”

Efforts to increase how professors value teaching, or bolster faculty perceptions of control and value concerning research, for instance, should result in improved faculty well-being. And value for teaching may be improved by “providing faculty more choice in what, when or how they teach, by creating awards for outstanding teaching, or by ensuring suitable recognition of high-quality instruction in tenure and promotion deliberations.”

Faculty members may also value research more when institutions provide more time for research activities, such as sabbatical leave, institutional awards for community outreach or research innovation, or sufficient funding for pilot projects and conference travel. Similarly, the paper says, perceived control may be fostered by workshops on research-related issues, including open scholarship and obtaining funding, and mentorship arrangements with established colleagues to develop competence.

As "persistence and achievement in college students has been enhanced through brief interventions reminding them of the importance of controllable explanations for academic setbacks,” the paper says, “control-enhancing programs for faculty may also help to promote research success.” Correlational findings also suggest that faculty emotions may be improved through departmental and institutional efforts to bolster collegiality -- think formal teaching or research support networks -- along with professional balance (transparency or consistency in teaching, research and service obligations), and work-life balance (childcare, fitness and other programs).

Jasmine Harris, an assistant professor of sociology at Ursinus College, said she was fascinated by the article and could, in general, “understand how teaching could elicit more positive emotions than research.”

However, Harris said, echoing the experiences of many underrepresented minority faculty members teaching at predominantly white institutions, “I feel emotions like anxiety, fear and frustration in the classroom.” As an untenured black woman who teaches majority white audiences about inequalities in race, gender and class, she added, “I have to worry about discontent, disengagement and potential challenges to my power and position in the classroom in ways my white co-workers do not.”

In that sense, the negative emotions aren’t a response to the “literal work of teaching, but instead students’ possible responses to it,” Harris said. And negative emotions about her research are similar: Harris experiences what she described as fear and anxiety about how her research on black student communities will be reviewed, and frustration if or when an article is rejected for not including data on white students.

“At a more macro level, both sets of negative emotions” about teaching in research “are rooted in my status on the tenure track, but not yet tenured,” Harris said.

“I hope many of these negative emotions will dissipate after I’ve achieved tenure, but I won’t know for sure until that happens, so they remain for now.”

ResearchFacultyTeaching and LearningEditorial Tags: FacultyResearch universitiesTeachingImage Source: Getty ImagesIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: Faculty FeelingsTrending order: 1College: University of North DakotaDisplay Promo Box: 
Categories: Higher Education News

Miami Dade board reopens search despite faculty anger

Inside Higher Ed - News - July 29, 2019 - 5:00pm

As the Miami Dade College Board of Trustees went into a meeting last week, many expected the board to vote on a new president for the college. Instead the board voted to scrap three potential candidates and open a new search on its own terms.

After a search committee of community stakeholders came together last year to find a new leader for the large public college, many community members are left feeling jilted as the board rejected three of the chosen and publicly announced candidates, all from higher ed leadership positions at various institutions. The board did not reject Lenore Rodicio, the college’s vice president and provost.

“The four candidates identified by the committee were good choices and were qualified,” said Elizabeth Ramsay, president of the Miami Dade Faculty Union. “I don’t know how it’s possible for them to keep one and dismiss the others. MDC is really up in arms. It really jeopardizes not just the community’s faith in the institution but in all public institutions, and of course it's really an egg on the face of our entire community.”

Ramsay said the process has been further complicated by the fact that Republican governor Ron DeSantis, elected in 2018, has been replacing appointees of former governor Rick Scott, also a Republican, on boards across the state -- including the Miami Dade Board of Trustees, where multiple members of the board have been replaced by DeSantis appointees.

The new search is to find a replacement for the nationally recognized Eduardo J. Padrón​, who has served as the college's president since 1995 and earned a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016. Padrón announced last February his intention to retire as president by August.

One DeSantis appointee, Marcell Felipe, defended the decision to reopen the search in an interview on a local news station, saying that new appointees to the board wanted to conduct a new search before approving a candidate.

“You have a brand-new board that’s making that decision,” Felipe said. “It’s my name that’s going on that decision. We haven’t even been told what the mission and the vision is for the next five years -- do we want to be a high-tech university? Do we want to be a vocational leader? I need to know so I can know what to look for in a president.”

The board will apparently continue the search without the input from the agreed-upon search committee. It plans to meet to select an interim president soon, with the fall semester approaching fast. Ramsay called the choice to move forward without the committee and its faculty representatives “disingenuous and frankly unbelievable.”

“There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that in cases like this where the search process is rebooted, the quality of applicants goes down,” Ramsay said. “People of integrity are less likely to apply to a position when there’s a shroud of dishonesty surrounding it.”

Miami Dade spokesperson Juan Mendieta gave little comment on the situation.

“This is a decision of the Board of Trustees,” Mendieta said. “It is not the place for the institution or staff to comment. The board are the policy makers.”

The search was conducted over several months, and the employment of an executive search firm cost the college more than $150,000. Despite criticisms, Felipe denied reopening the search was in any way related to the governor’s office, stating he hasn’t spoken to anyone connected to that office regarding the search. Felipe said the board with its new members need a different process before they can decide.

“If you want me to jump into bed at the last minute, at least take me to dinner and give me some wine and see where it leads,” Felipe said of the search process.

Ramsay said that the Faculty Union would accept only candidates chosen from the original pool, of which Rodicio is the only candidate remaining, and that the faculty are considering what steps to take next.

“[Rodicio] was one of four candidates identified by the search committee, and we ask only the trustees select from the four finalists,” Ramsay said. “We had full confidence in the work of that committee. The faculty of Miami Dade College are going to stand up for the institution and its students -- we’ll always do that.”

Community CollegesEditorial Tags: College administrationImage Caption: Eduardo J. Padrón​Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: Miami Dade CollegeDisplay Promo Box: 
Categories: Higher Education News

NIH requirements offer new hurdles for fetal tissue researchers

Inside Higher Ed - News - July 29, 2019 - 5:00pm

Researchers using fetal tissue faced another setback during the Trump administration as a notice from the National Institutes of Health spelled out new requirements for requesting grants for research involving the use of the tissue.

The NIH requirements are the newest in a number of barriers created by the Trump administration for fetal tissue researchers. Last month, the administration said it would bar scientists at federal agencies from conducting research using fetal tissue from elective abortions.

According to the NIH, those seeking grants for research that would utilize fetal tissue from abortions must, in a detailed manner, explain why no alternative methods could be used to accomplish the research. The new requirements will also ban graduate and postdoctoral students receiving NIH training funds from using fetal tissue in research.

Growing restrictions of this nature have been the result of successful campaigns of antiabortion proponents and groups that have lobbied the Trump administration. Fetal tissues are used by researchers to seek effective therapies for a variety of different diseases and illnesses.

“In addition to the detrimental impact this will have on medical research, these new restrictions highlight the unfortunate trend of politicizing medicine and research. We have seen the same trend with climate change and vaccines,” said Carolyn Coyne, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “My concerns relate to more general concerns I have regarding our government and elected officials -- do they really want to protect human health or do they want to be re-elected?”

Larry Goldstein, a University of California, San Diego, professor of cellular and molecular medicine as well as the director of the UC San Diego Stem Cell Program, said one of the difficulties created by these requirements is in the details of how a grant proposal will have to be made. Goldstein said the justification for the use of fetal tissue, as part of the new requirements, will be included in the “research strategy and approach” section of the application, which has page limitations.

“You’ll have to actually shrink the science part of your application to make room for the fetal tissue part,” Goldstein said. “And I think the fetal tissue part won’t be as well justified because of the page limits.”

Goldstein said in typical NIH applications, there’s a separate section for justifying the use of human or animal subjects in research, which is not typically page limited so one can thoroughly justify the use. Goldstein said the fetal tissue justification would be better served in that section of the application.

Applications will go through a review from ethics advisory boards at NIH, which are still in the process of being formed. Goldstein said it’s unclear what the makeup of those boards will be, and he hopes they won’t be a place where “good applications go to die” but instead where proposals are considered on a scientific basis. Goldstein also said he was concerned that researchers who make discoveries in the field of stem cell research who need fetal tissue to compare the results with will have to write a completely new proposal.

“It’s a very redundant process,” Goldstein said. “It really sets the bar high on investigators who made some discovery who need a quick check of fetal tissue -- [they] will write a new proposal and go through a competitive review, which is always a dodgy business.”

Coyne said she believed this redundant process was created to intentionally stymie any potential research involving fetal tissue.

“Many of these new restrictions are clearly intended to make the procedural aspect of fetal tissue research so cumbersome as to discourage researchers from engaging in this research,” Coyne said. “While some of the new restrictions are an outright ban, I suspect others have been made intentionally arduous.”

Both Coyne and Goldstein said these continued hurdles in the field will have a lasting effect on scientific advancement and lead to greater setbacks.

“The new policy forbids all fetal tissue research in any training-type award granted by the NIH,” Coyne said. “This extends to predoctoral students, postdoctoral fellows, clinical fellows and those in training who wish to be funded for transition awards, which are viewed by some as a great strength in faculty applications. Certainly research itself will be delayed, but perhaps more concerning is the impact on our current generation of young scientists, who may be irreversibly damaged by these policies.”

Editorial Tags: Science policyImage Source: Getty ImagesIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: 
Categories: Higher Education News

Hampton fires nine police officers for offensive social media posts

Inside Higher Ed - News - July 29, 2019 - 5:00pm

Hampton University, a private institution in Virginia, fired nine of its campus police officers last week for posting “misogynistic, racist … remarks” on social media.

The historically black university provided few specific details on the matter other than releasing a written statement saying that the Hampton University Police Department officers were fired for “egregious violations of the university’s code of conduct.” The identities of the officers have not been made public.

“After a full investigation, it was determined that the officers shared misogynistic, racist and other offensive remarks via social media,” the university said in the statement. “The university has a zero tolerance for such behavior.”

A university spokesman did not respond to a request for more information about what comments were shared on social media or how the institution learned about them. A spokesperson for the police department responded to a similar inquiry by directing the caller to the university spokesman.

The move by the university police department reflects the heightened scrutiny and growing intolerance for offensive content espoused by law enforcement officers on social media platforms in the wake of an ongoing national debate over racially biased policing and police brutality toward mostly black victims. Similar cases of law enforcement officers posting offensive, hostile and overtly racist comments on social media have made local and national headlines in recent months.

WAVY.com's 10 on Your Side news program obtained a copy of a termination letter that WAVY.com reporters said was sent to one of the fired Hampton University officers and signed by Ronald Davis, the department's police chief. The letter appears to be addressed to one of the fired officers, whose name was redacted. Davis said in the letter that an investigation by the department found the officers participated in a “meme war,” which he described as a "jovial release of photographs and captions designed to level insults at others in the group as well as persons outside the group."

“While you did not produce any of the memes, you admittedly participated in the group,” Davis wrote. “Your involvement is deemed inappropriate behavior and behavior unbecoming of an officer. The memes produced and shared in this group were egregious and extremely inappropriate to be shared in the workplace.

“As a result of your actions, I am recommending your immediate termination.”

Police forces, both municipal and on college campuses, have come under closer public watch for private behavior outside the job, said Sue Riseling, executive director of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators. This trend largely began after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man, Michael Brown, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., five years ago spawned riots and exposed tensions nationwide between law enforcement and citizens of color who have historically suffered mistreatment by police.

A Philadelphia lawyer launched a database called the Plain View Project in June that chronicles more than 5,000 social media postings -- many of which were offensive -- made by officers from eight different police departments. The project allows users to search for officers’ names, ranks, badge numbers and jurisdictions. It led to the firing this month of 13 Philadelphia police officers after their racist, violent Facebook posts were unearthed.

ProPublica also brought to light a secret Facebook group in which current and former Border Patrol agents mocked the deaths of undocumented immigrants in a U.S. detention center and joked about throwing burritos at Latinx members of Congress. One posting in the group included an illustration of U.S. representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez engaging in faux oral sex with a migrant who had been detained.

“Because police have the ability to enforce the law and deprive someone of their liberties temporarily based on probable cause, there’s new scrutiny of their personal lives,” Riseling said. “People want to see if something they said taints their professional judgment. It’s something very much in the public domain now.”

Riseling said more campus police forces are developing social media policies that govern what is acceptable for officers to post. Police chiefs walk a delicate line developing these policies because officers often retain their First Amendment rights.

She said campus police departments are also vetting social media much more carefully before even making hires.

“Police are [on] the public payroll -- there is a different level of scrutiny on what can the police do outside their jobs … it’s pretty profound.”

Editorial Tags: DiscriminationFree speechImage Source: iStockIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Diversity Newsletter publication date: Tuesday, July 30, 2019Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Email Teaser: Campus Officers' ‘Offensive’ Online Posts Prompt Mass FiringsMagazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: 
Categories: Higher Education News

Marlboro, seeing peers around it close, plans to merge into University of Bridgeport

Inside Higher Ed - News - July 26, 2019 - 5:00pm

Mergers of private colleges these days can go a few different ways. On one end of the continuum, leaders of struggling institutions recognize their precarious situations and set out to find an arrangement that best serves their students and staffs and sustains their mission. Think Wheelock College's merger into Boston University.

Then there's the opposite, where none of those things happen. Mount Ida College is a case in point.

Thursday's announcement of a planned merger between Vermont's Marlboro College and the University of Bridgeport, in Connecticut, appears to look more like Wheelock than its counterpoint. The struggling institution, whose student body had dwindled to 142, began a formal process last November of seeking out potential partners, and it culminated in an arrangement that will turn the college into a liberal arts arm of the larger (5,500-student) Bridgeport and work to sustain the employment for most, if not all, faculty members.

With many liberal arts colleges struggling to attract students and New England facing a decline in the college-age population, some of Marlboro’s contemporaries have been forced to close. This was true at another Vermont institution, Green Mountain College, earlier this year.

Closures like this were on Marlboro president Kevin Quigley’s mind as the college began seeking out potential mergers at the encouragement of accreditors. Last fall the college’s Board of Trustees established a task force and hired consulting group EY-Parthenon to help it seek partnerships.

“It’s frankly far preferable to an option none of us would have liked,” Quigley said. “We’ve seen that happen with our neighbors here in Vermont who’ve closed, as well as neighbors in Massachusetts that grapple with issues that we have tried to grapple with.”

1+1 = 3

Quigley cited as two key issues facing Marlboro enrollment numbers and the discounting of student tuition -- which he hopes the merger will help mitigate. Marlboro will continue to offer its programming on its own campus, and Quigley said Bridgeport will create programs in which students in health sciences, engineering and business would have an “immersive experience” in liberal arts for either a semester or a full year. Quigley said Marlboro students will have the chance to take advantage of Bridgeport’s programs as well.

“We want to really prepare students for the future world of work. The idea is, let’s say a student at Bridgeport is studying something like engineering. You would benefit from spending a semester at Marlboro immersed in the humanities and the arts -- taking some courses in physics or chemistry -- but also having some exposure to Socrates and maybe do a course in dance or the visual arts,” Quigley said. “As educators we firmly believe that will help students prepare for the future world of work.”

Quigley said Marlboro’s process of searching for a partner like Bridgeport tried to model the one used by Wheelock, which in 2017 merged into Boston University in what was considered a relatively smooth merger. The number of mergers and acquisitions being undertaken in higher education has grown significantly in this decade compared to previous ones.

The idea of a merger has apparently been in the headspace of Marlboro administrators for some time. Paul LeBlanc, who was president of Marlboro from 1996 to 2002 and is now president of the completely refashioned Southern New Hampshire University, said he had made efforts to organize a merger back then. Though he was unsuccessful, LeBlanc said, “The math was apparent even then.” He said he believes the merger will be positive for the institution.

“It wasn’t a surprise. I knew their numbers had been down,” LeBlanc said of Thursday's announcement. “I think sometimes my fear is when people hear about small institutions like Marlboro closing, they associate it with poor quality, and it’s certainly true that you could be an institution where their finances become so constrained that they make compromises, but Marlboro never made compromises.”

Laura Skandera Trombley, president of the University of Bridgeport, is no stranger to small liberal arts colleges. She was previously president at Pitzer College, part of the Claremont Colleges of California. In a news release, Trombley said both institutions will benefit greatly from the merger. Bridgeport will reserve the greater of five seats or the number required to achieve 15% of the Board’s composition to include current Marlboro College Trustees, Trombley said. 

“At a time of hypercompetition and swift change in higher education, our two unique institutions are demonstrating a new paradigm for colleges and universities of the future,” said Trombley. “In strategically combining the shared values, strengths and resources of the University of Bridgeport and Marlboro College, we are proactively ensuring an extraordinarily enriched academic experience for current and future generations of students.”

LeBlanc said he believed Trombley’s background would be beneficial for Marlboro.

“[Trombley] is very entrepreneurial, and she comes from a strong humanities background, and that probably gave her an appreciation for Marlboro’s very special program,” LeBlanc said.

Early reaction from the Marlboro campus was muted.

Officials at the college were uncharacteristically tight-lipped about the talks with Bridgeport, said Marlboro history professor Adam Franklin-Lyons.

Franklin-Lyons, who is currently chair of a faculty committee on finance, said he was unaware Bridgeport would be the partner until the announcement. He said he’s curious how integration will look with the institutions being so far away, but that he’s not opposed to teaching in Connecticut. It is, he said, greatly preferable to a potential alternative: closure.

“Most of us like the work we do, but we’ve known for a few years the reality,” Franklin-Lyons said. “Certainly all the faculty I’ve spoken to prefer to have some place to move forward rather than a sudden collapse.”

Editorial Tags: MergersVermontIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: Marlboro Merges Into BridgeportTrending order: 1College: University of BridgeportDisplay Promo Box: 
Categories: Higher Education News

Groups protest Israeli visa policies for foreign academics teaching in the West Bank

Inside Higher Ed - News - July 26, 2019 - 5:00pm

Roger Heacock first started teaching at Birzeit University, a Palestinian institution in the occupied West Bank, in 1985. An American citizen, Heacock built a career and raised three children there. For many years he came and went largely without incident, renewing his visa every three months.

But over the past couple of years, Palestinian universities and human rights groups say, it’s become increasingly difficult for foreigners like Heacock who work in the West Bank to get permission from Israel, which controls access to the Palestinian territories, to renew their visas, or to come there to teach in the first place.

In May 2018, Heacock and his wife -- also a Birzeit employee and a U.S. citizen -- were returning from a short stint abroad. Upon re-entry, Heacock said, they were given a two- or three-week visa, even though their work permits were valid through the end of the academic year in September, for him, and the end of the calendar year for his wife. He was given no reason, he said, but told to take his grievance up with Israeli military authorities (which he tried, unsuccessfully).

"We rushed around to get out," said Heacock, a retired professor of history at Birzeit. "We got rid of our rental apartment; we gave away hundreds or thousands of books, our furniture, what we had accumulated over 35 years" (he'd first moved to the West Bank in 1983).

Heacock and his wife attempted to return to the West Bank this past March -- he had a 30-hour teaching assignment at Bethlehem University, and he still supervises graduate students at Birzeit -- but he said they were stopped at the border with Israel and told that they failed to get the necessary permission from the Israeli military’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

“We said we’ve been coming for 35 years,” recalled Heacock, who is now living in Paris. “No one said we needed permission.”

Heacock's case is not unique. Birzeit reports that between 2017 and 2019, four full-time and three-part time international lecturers were forced to leave the country when Israel refused to renew their visas, and that in 2019 Israel denied entry to two international lecturers with Birzeit contracts.

“Not a single international faculty member, with the exception of those directly employed by foreign government-sponsored programs, was issued a visa for the length of their 2018-2019 academic year contract,” the university said in a July 20 press release. “As of press time, six full-time international faculty members contracted for the 2018-2019 academic year are without valid visas; another five -- including a department chair -- are overseas with no clear indications of whether they will be able to return and secure visas required for them to stay for the coming academic year. Over 12 departments and programs face losing faculty members in the coming academic year because of the Israeli policy.”

Birzeit has joined with Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights group, to challenge Israeli visa policy. The groups claim that for the past two years, “Israel has been escalating the visa restrictions it is imposing on international academics, including: denial of entry to the West Bank; refusing visa extensions; delays in processing visa extension applications beyond the duration of the period the visa is valid; arbitrarily granting visas for short periods, sometimes ranging from only two weeks to three months; restricting visas to the West Bank only and permitting entry and exit only via the Allenby Bridge crossing rather than via Ben Gurion Airport; [and] requirements to deposit large sums as guarantees, sometimes as much as … 80,000 [new Israeli shekels] (approximately $23,300).”

In April, Sawsan Zaher, an attorney at Adalah who is representing Birzeit in its suit, wrote to Israeli authorities on behalf of Birzeit demanding that they lift restrictions on the entry to the West Bank for visiting foreign academics, that they “refrain from imposing arbitrary restrictions” on the duration or extension of scholars’ stay and that they “order the publication of a clear and proper procedure for issuing entry visas and visa extensions for foreign academics in the West Bank, similar to the procedure that exists for Israeli institutions of higher education that seek to hire foreign lecturers or researchers.” Israeli universities attract many visiting foreign faculty, and Zaher's letter notes that Israel has detailed regulations in place allowing them to apply for and extend work permits.

In an interview, Zaher said Israeli officials have not yet provided a substantive response to the letter. Zaher said the regulation governing entry for foreign academics to the West Bank hasn't recently changed, but that they “are very vague and they enable as such the arbitrary enforcement that is being done now.”

“The fact that there is an occupation, even if it is a prolonged Israeli occupation over the West Bank, does not cancel the academic freedom of a university in Palestine to decide and determine who will be brought to teach and for what time and what kind of research,” Zaher said. “The international humanitarian law that applies, which is the law of occupation, imposes an obligation on the state of Israel as an occupying power -- the obligation not to intercede in the civil life of the local population, unless there is a security necessity. None of the professors that were denied extension of permit and had to leave were denied the extension because of security reasons.”

“Blocking our right to engage international academics is part of an ongoing effort by the Israeli occupation to marginalize Palestinian institutions of higher education,” Birzeit’s president, Abdullatif Abuhijleh, said in a statement. “The latest escalation in visa restrictions is just one in a long-standing and systematic Israeli policy of undermining the independence and viability of Palestinian higher education institutions.”

The Middle East Studies Association's Committee on Academic Freedom has also weighed in with a July 15 letter echoing the demands of Birzeit and the two legal and human rights groups.

The Israeli Embassy in Washington did not comment over several days.

GlobalInternational Higher EducationEditorial Tags: IsraelInternational higher educationImage Caption: Birzeit UniversityIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: 
Categories: Higher Education News

Authors discuss new book on homelessness in higher ed

Inside Higher Ed - News - July 26, 2019 - 5:00pm

Homelessness is a serious problem in our society. A new book, Addressing Homelessness and Housing Insecurity in Higher Education (Teachers College Press), aims to portray the problem as a crucial one for higher education. The authors -- Ronald E. Hallett, professor of organizational leadership at the University of La Verne; Rashida M. Crutchfield, associate professor of social work at California State University, Long Beach; and Jennifer J. Maguire, associate professor of social work at Humboldt State University -- recently responded via email to questions about their book.

Their answers follow.

Q: There has been strong disagreement about the size of the problem with regard to housing. Where do you come down?

A: The federal government has yet to require postsecondary institutions to gather and report data related to food and housing insecurity. As a result, we do not have national-level statistics about the size and scope of homelessness and housing insecurity among college students. However, multiple research studies from across the nation over the past decade have resulted in fairly consistent results. About 10 to 15 percent of college students experience homelessness with an additional 20 to 30 percent having experienced housing insecurity while attending college. Community colleges tend to have higher rates and elite institutions have lower rates, but all institutions have students who fall into both categories.

We recommend that postsecondary institutions do internal analysis of their student body to understand the issue within the local context. There are good measures that can be integrated within institutional data collection to help institutions understand the size and scope of the issue in order to make decisions about how to address the issue. We also encourage institutions to share these reports. As institutions do this, policy makers can get a better understanding of how homelessness and housing insecurity are issues that impact all institutional types across the nation, and this may motivate more action at the federal level. In addition, we encourage adding questions about food and housing insecurity to national surveys in order to get consistent data about the size and scope of the issue among college students.

Q: There are some who say that the problem has gotten much worse, and others who say that the situation has always been bad but just has not received attention. What you think?

A: The issue of basic needs insecurity among college students is not a new phenomenon. We have been studying this issue for about 15 years and have personal experiences that span much longer than that. We feel confident saying that the issue of food and housing insecurity has existed for several decades. Since consistent data collection did not exist previously, it is difficult to know with certainty if the issue has increased in intensity and, if so, by how much. However, policy makers, researchers and practitioners have become more aware of the issue over the past decade. We hope that postsecondary institutions experience urgency in addressing the issue as more data emerge to confirm what many practitioners have known for years.

Q: Looking at food insecurity, how can colleges make sure that students have basic levels of food security, especially colleges that serve many students who are the edge of financial insecurity?

A: Our book does not specifically address food security, however, food and housing insecurity often overlap. We feel strongly that commitment to student success in higher education must include addressing basic needs, which include housing and food, along with mental and physical health. For example, postsecondary institutions can provide opportunities for students to get support filling out Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) applications (SNAP has colloquially been called “food stamps”) as well as creating food pantries on campus.

Q: What about students at elite and private institutions? Are there particular issues that are common?

A: Food and housing insecurity are significant issues that college students experience while attending all institutional types. Emerging research illustrates how elite public and private universities are finding that they have students experiencing food and housing insecurity. These institutions may have slightly lower rates of basic needs insecurity than public institutions, however, additional data are needed to fully understand the experiences of students at these institutions.

A few insights have emerged from current research at elite and private institutions. First, the high cost of tuition may result in low-income students utilizing all of their financial aid to cover tuition, books and fees. They may have little money left for housing. This can be particularly important for institutions that underestimate the cost of housing. Second, graduate students may have higher rates of food and housing insecurity since there are fewer need-based federal grants and other forms of support. Third, students may experience a personal or familial crisis once they begin classes. Even though they may have had financial resources at the start of their first year, they may be in a significantly different situation after the crisis. Finally, staff and instructors at elite institutions may have fewer connections with community agencies than their public school counterparts.

Q: Can the problems in your book be solved, given the high rates among nonstudents?

A: Homelessness and housing insecurity are important issues in the United States. The issues framing basic needs insecurity are complex. Completely resolving the issue will be difficult without restructuring our social and economic systems. However, higher education can play a significant role in reducing the likelihood that individuals will experience housing insecurity. The Great Recession demonstrated how completing a two-year or four-year certificate or degree significantly reduced the likelihood that individuals would experience loss of job or housing. For individuals experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity, completing a postsecondary degree can be a pathway out of poverty. While improving postsecondary access and retention may not completely resolve the issue, it is an important aspect of the solution.

Editorial Tags: Student lifeIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: HomelessnessTrending order: 2Display Promo Box: 
Categories: Higher Education News

Nobel Prize winner discusses his lessons

Inside Higher Ed - News - July 26, 2019 - 5:00pm

Physicists who attempt to explain their work to the general public are attempting an “almost impossible task,” according to a Nobel Prize winner, because, like secondhand-car salesmen, their words “seem to make sense” but may actually leave the public with little or no genuine understanding.

Michael Kosterlitz, who won the award in physics in 2016 for exploring unusual matter phases at ultralow temperatures, told Times Higher Education that, on the whole, any attempt to explain his work to the “man or woman in the street” is “a waste of time.”

In physics, “every second word is a jargon word,” he said during an interview at the 2019 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, an annual gathering of prizewinners and young scientists in southern Germany held earlier this month. “What you’re saying just doesn’t make sense to them, which is fair enough.”

“People are attempting an almost impossible task,” he warned. “You’re trying to explain something to people who don’t have any background at all in these logical steps that are natural to, are part of, any scientist’s psyche, [but] which are alien to most other people.”

He also likened it to “going to Korea, or China, and trying to communicate without speaking any of the native language.”

Physicists still have to make the effort, Kosterlitz conceded, not least as they receive public money. But, on the whole, they are doomed to have to attempt something that is near impossible, he believed; attempts to explain his work to his wife fall flat 99 percent of the time, he said.

“People do make an effort to put a set of words together that seem to mean something,” Kosterlitz said. “In my opinion, it’s a bit of a con game” (although he later backtracked, adding that this description might be a “bit strong”).

Now 76, Kosterlitz, born in Aberdeen, Scotland, to refugees from Nazi Germany, was not always destined for physics. Instead, he was channeled into the field by a series of other limitations. “When I was at high school and college, I quickly realized that my memory is so lousy that standard subjects -- the humanities -- I couldn’t cope with because there was too much memory involved; therefore maths and sciences were the only possibility,” he told Times Higher Education.

Chemistry was also out. Kosterlitz is colorblind -- he found it impossible to distinguish between different shades of red in test tubes. He also seemed to attract danger in the chemistry lab, forcing evacuations by mixing together mystery chemicals that produced noxious gases, and once being blasted in the face by shards of glass from an exploding test tube.

As a natural sciences undergraduate at the University of Cambridge, Kosterlitz discovered a talent for rock climbing, and he sees parallels between scaling a cliff face and tackling a physics problem. “You’re stepping out into unknown territory, nothing to guide you, and you rely on your own skill,” he said. But the comparison only goes so far: the penalty for failure in physics is not death, he noted.

He even considered quitting physics altogether to become a professional climber, only to be dissuaded by his wife and father.

This turned out to be a lucky choice, as Kosterlitz put it, because a few years later he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, ending his climbing career entirely.

“My wife always says, ‘Actually, you know, Mike, I’m pretty pleased you’ve got MS, because otherwise you’d probably be dead by now.’ She’s probably right,” he said, breaking into laughter.

Earlier at Lindau, Kosterlitz told a room full of young scientists that winning a Nobel prize is 95 percent luck. “I followed this incredibly random, tortuous path where basically it was completely unplanned,” he told Times Higher Education.

The one downside to winning is that “I’m now expected to offer words of wisdom on all sorts of subjects, many of which I know absolutely nothing about,” he warned.

Shortly after winning the prize, Kosterlitz, who spent the bulk of his tenured career at the University of Birmingham and Brown University, described Brexit as the “stupidest thing I’ve heard of” during an interview with a journalist. “I just started getting hate emails,” he recalled. “That made me realize that people take what I say seriously.”

“Look, I may have won the Nobel Prize in physics, but, except for that, I’m still the same idiot I was six years ago, so why do you take me seriously now?” he said, with another laugh.

GlobalEditorial Tags: International higher educationIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: 
Categories: Higher Education News

New presidents or provosts: Alcorn Beloit Central Cooley Framingham Hawkeye Tennessee Walden Western Carolina Widener

Inside Higher Ed - News - July 26, 2019 - 5:00pm
  • Eric Boynton, professor and chair of philosophy and religious studies at Allegheny College, in Pennsylvania, has been named provost and dean of the college at Beloit College, in Wisconsin.
  • Kelli R. Brown, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Georgia College & State University, has been appointed chancellor of Western Carolina University, in North Carolina.
  • Todd Holcomb, president of Western Nebraska Community College, has been selected as president of Hawkeye Community College, in Iowa.
  • James McGrath, professor of law and associate dean for academic support and bar services at Texas A&M University School of Law, has been chosen as president and dean of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School.
  • Felecia M. Nave, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at North Carolina Central University, has been selected as president of Alcorn State University, in Mississippi.
  • Donde Plowman, executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, has been named chancellor of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
  • Angela M. Salas, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs at Indiana University Southeast, has been chosen as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Framingham State University, in Massachusetts.
  • Ward Ulmer, chief learning officer and vice president of college administration at Walden University, has been promoted to president there.
  • Jerry Wallace, dean of work-force, technical and community education at New River Community and Technical College in West Virginia, has been appointed president/division vice president of Central Community College's Hastings campus, in Nebraska.
  • Andrew A. Workman, interim president of Roger Williams University, in Rhode Island, has been named provost at Widener University, in Pennsylvania.
Editorial Tags: College administrationNew presidentsIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: 
Categories: Higher Education News

U of Hawaii pursues controversial Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea and is leading indigenous institution

Inside Higher Ed - News - July 25, 2019 - 5:00pm

Protests against the U.S. military’s bombing of the uninhabited but sacred Hawaiian island Kaho’olawe in the late 1970s led to a Hawaiian renaissance. And the University of Hawaii system has played a role in that movement, offering programs in Hawaiian language and Hawaiian studies and otherwise supporting Native Hawaiians and their culture.

Now Hawaiians are again occupying a sacred space as part of a larger cultural effort, at the foot of a dormant 14,000-foot volcano, Mauna Kea, on the Big Island. Protesters have been camped out there for week, halting the long-delayed construction of the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope.

But this time, the university’s path forward is less obvious, as faculty members and students are divided on the project.

“We strive to be one of the leading indigenous universities in the country, and many of the most ardent opponents of TMT have been faculty and students, so this has been extremely challenging for us,” said Dan Meisenzahl, university spokesperson. “Higher education is about the pursuit of knowledge, and this would be an amazing tool for advancement in the field of astronomy.”

That said, “again, we’re committed to be one of the leading indigenous universities in the country,” he added. “I really don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Among the planned telescope's longtime opponents is Jonathan Osorio, dean of the Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge at Hawaii, and a native islander who was born in Mauna Kea’s “malu,” or shadow-protection area. Osorio said this week that he and fellow protesters “do not object to telescopes. We object to them on Mauna Kea, and we have 13 of them on our mountain anyway. That is enough.”

To the Mountaintop

After a decade of legal challenges, plans for the telescope on Hawaii’s Big Island were supposed to proceed to actual construction this month. But many Native Hawaiians and their allies moved the fight against the telescope from the courts to the streets -- namely Mauna Kea's access road.

The protesters' roadblock has the project at a standstill. There have been arrests but it's unclear if anyone in Hawaii has the will to force everyone to leave. The latest official statement from the telescope came on July 10, when Hawaii governor David Ige, a Democrat, and the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory announced that construction would start five days later.

“After being given all the necessary clearances by the State of Hawaii and respectfully reaching out to the community, we are ready to begin work on this important and historic project,” Henry Yang, chair of the observatory’s Board of Governors, said at the time. “We have learned much over the last 10-plus years on the unique importance of Mauna Kea to all, and we remain committed to being good stewards on the mountain and inclusive of the Hawaiian community.”

He added, “Hawaii is a special place that has long pioneered and honored the art and science of astronomy and navigation. We are deeply committed to integrating science and culture on Mauna Kea and in Hawaii, and to enriching educational opportunities and the local economy.”

Only one or two places on earth -- maybe none -- rival Mauna Kea mountain’s conditions for astronomical research: the enormous volcano slopes gently, curbing turbulence from Pacific trade winds. It’s surrounded by thousands of miles of flat waters, isolated from the light interference of major cities and typically shrouded in clouds at its lower elevations. And the air at the summit is extremely dry, increasing air transparency at infrared and submillimeter wavelengths.

But the mountain isn’t revered just for its scientific value. Mauna Kea, whose summit is said to be the realm of the Hawaiian gods, is also a sacred site. Historically, only Hawaiian royalty and priests were permitted to ascend its peak or visit Lake Waiau there. Poli’ahu, Hawaii’s most beautiful goddess, is still said to live on Mauna Kea. And Hawaiians have long visited for cultural and religious reasons.

With some friction, spirituality and science -- along with tourism, which primarily benefits the once tsunami-ravaged city of Hilo -- have managed to coexist atop Mauna Kea for decades. There are already the 13 telescopes Osorio referenced, on land managed by the university. Maunakea Observatories publish more research papers annually than even the European Southern Observatory’s facilities in Chile or the Hubble Space Telescope.

Still, as part of a state plan for Mauna Kea, five of those 13 telescopes -- including one belonging to the University of Hawaii at Hilo -- have been or may be decommissioned in the near term. And there are no plans to build additional telescopes atop the mountain, save one: the TMT.

The TMT is one of a new class of giant telescopes that are unprecedented in sensitivity. The project’s board selected Mauna Kea as the site in 2009, after a five-year global search for somewhere exceptionally dry, stable and cool. And the telescope will be a feat of engineering, with a 30-meter primary mirror. When it's built, wherever it's built, it might help scientists find out what dark matter and dark energy are, and when the first galaxies formed and how. It might even provide clues as to whether there's life elsewhere in the universe.

The telescope is a joint development of the California Institute of Technology, the University of California system and the governments of Canada, China, India and Japan. But under an agreement with the telescope, the University of Hawaii will get up to 10 percent of the coveted viewing time.

Brent Tully, a professor at the university’s Institute for Astronomy in Honolulu, said Mauna Kea is simply “unrivaled as the best place north of the equator for ground-based observations.” Places in Chile are comparable, but they access the southern skies.

Mauna Kea is “the planet's gift to humanity as a place to observe the heavens,” Tully said, describing himself as a “heavy user” of the facilities already in place. The access road demonstration has shut down the existing observatories but Tully's work hasn't been affected so far. 

Beyond Science and the Sacred

Of that and related protests, Tully said that Hawaiians “have a legitimate grievance with the loss of their independence as a sovereign nation,” dating back to 1893. And it’s “very sad that a joint endeavor by many peoples to expand our human awareness of our place in the universe has become embroiled in the sovereignty issue.”

While many students have spoken out against the telescope project, some have spoken up in favor. Olivia Murray, an undergraduate at Hawaii who was born and raised in Hilo, said that she’s already benefited from the economic opportunities the telescope brings to the Big Island. TMT has donated millions to the THINK Fund for academic and community engagement -- think robotics competitions and science fairs -- and, in Murray’s case, the Akamai internship program. She’s working at the Gemini Observatory in Hilo this year and last year worked at the TMT project office in California.

“Without TMT's continued financial support, many of these programs could not continue,” she said.

Tully mentioned sovereignty and Murray, economics. But Osorio, the dean, said that most of the debate has been framed as science versus the sacred. In reality, he said, there are a constellation of concerns: economic, environmental and those pertaining to racism and “consultation and consent” of Native people.

“I really object when people cynically employ the argument that it is all one sacredness to justify a project that offends so many people for so many reasons,” he said. “The biggest problem with the TMT is that more than a decade ago, a number of state institutions decided that the telescope should be built and really brooked no opposition from anyone.”

Then, Osorio said, when Hawaiians' resentment grew, proponents “seized on the notion of this shared reverence to suggest that TMT opponents are being unreasonable. But we are not.” It’s “mahaʻoi,” or an unacceptably aggressive intrusion, to require that “we accept the astronomers' reverence for science as a condition for having them honor ours,” Osorio continued. “Should we travel to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and insist on a permanent exhibit of Native Hawaiian practices and their relationship to the study of the heavens?”

In any case, he said, “This is not about sacredness for the proponents of the TMT -- unless they really believe that somehow the rejection of this latest and very large project somehow projects a primitiveness and backwardness among our residents that embarrasses them and complicates their ability to extract more monetary value from new construction and development.”

Hawaiians’ protests have attracted the support of many across academe, who see the TMT -- in the words of geneticist Keolu Fox of UC San Diego and physicist Chandra Prescod-Weinstein of the University of New Hampshire -- as colonial science.

“Far from some replay of an ancient clash between tradition and modernity, this is a battle between the old ways of doing science, which rely on forceful extraction (whether of natural resources or data), and a new scientific method, which privileges the dignity and humanity of indigenous peoples, including Hawaiians and the black diaspora,” they wrote in The Nation. “It is a clash between colonial science -- the one which, under the guise of progress, has all too often helped justify conquest and human rights violations -- and a science that respects indigenous autonomy.”

Hulali Kau, a writer and advocate working in Native Hawaiian and environmental law, said, "To anyone that continues to try to frame TMT as a science versus culture argument, I would say that this struggle over the future of Mauna Kea is actually about how we manage resources and align our laws and values of Hawaii to connect a past where the state has subjected its indigenous people to continued mismanagement of it lands with its uncertain future.”

Among many concerns, including the university’s past management of the observation space, Kau said she worries that the TMT will include two 5,000 gallon tanks installed two stories below ground level for chemical and human waste. 

Mauna Kea, a conservation district, is home to the largest aquifer in Hawaii, she said. “There are still questions as to the environmental consequences.”

Kau noted that the university was previously embroiled in an indigenous space dispute, when it attempted to patent three strains of taro, or “kalo,” a popular food source. It finally dropped the patents several years later, in 2006. 

Other institutions are implicated in telescope debate. There are petitions to divest Canada’s research funding from the telescope, for example. In response to such calls, Vivek Goel, vice president of research and innovation and strategic initiatives at the University of Toronto, released a statement saying that the institution “does not condone the use of police force in furthering its research objectives.” Goel said he’d conveyed those views through the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy.

“We know through our own Canadian experience that a commitment to truth and reconciliation impels us to consult and engage with indigenous communities and to work collaboratively towards change,” he added. “We must work to uphold those principles as we engage with indigenous communities beyond our borders as well as within them.”

Noelani Goodyear-Kaopua, associate professor of political science at Hawaii, chained herself to a cattle guard during the first day of protests last week, in preparation for any engagement with law enforcement.

She said that “in no framework of ethical research is it acceptable to arrest dozens of people to set up research infrastructure and conduct research. Peaceful coexistence does not involve calling out police forces from multiple islands, tactical teams and the National Guard.”

And yet, she said, that is what the university, state and TMT partners “are supporting at this moment.”

FacultyEditorial Tags: Sciences/Tech/Engineering/MathFacultyResearchImage Source: TwitterImage Caption: Protesters on Mauna KeaIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: Massive Fight Over TelescopeTrending order: 1College: California Institute of TechnologyUniversity of California, Santa CruzUniversity of TorontoDisplay Promo Box: 
Categories: Higher Education News

Appeals court says university may have violated rights of 'repugnant' humor publication

Inside Higher Ed - News - July 25, 2019 - 5:00pm

"The worst in collegiate journalism since 1982!" The Koala, a student publication at the University of California, San Diego, boasts on its home page.

But a student publication is a student publication, whether it traffics in satire or offensive material (as many at UCSD believe The Koala does) or, more traditionally, in nonfake news. And if a public university allows student publications to compete with other student groups for funds, barring the publication in retaliation for content it published violates its free press and free speech rights, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned a lower court's 2017 ruling dismissing The Koala's lawsuit against UCSD. The appeals court found that the student publication had offered sufficient evidence to suggest the university (and its student government) had changed their policies for funding student groups to single out and retaliate against The Koala.

The Koala describes itself formally as "a student-run humor publication" and less formally as a "safe and clean atmosphere for normal UCSD students to get drunk (on life) and write funny stuff. We also are not as dumb as we look, so don’t fuck with us." Its history of alienating students earned it a 2014 profile in The New York Times with the headline "Free to Be Mean: Does This Student Satire Cross the Line?"

The university's student government tried multiple times to end funding for The Koala, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education says, but had been told repeatedly that it could not strip funding for any one publication without violating the First Amendment.

The article that got the publication into legal hot water in 2015 was entitled "UCSD Unveils New Dangerous Space on Campus," and its takedown of "safe spaces" -- which the University of Chicago and others had turned into a hot topic at the time -- offended many on the campus with its use of the N-word and other ethnic slurs.

A few days after the article was published, UCSD's senior administrators, led by Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla, published a statement condemning it.

"We, the UC San Diego administration, strongly denounce the Koala publication and the offensive and hurtful language it chooses to publish. The Koala is profoundly repugnant, repulsive, attacking and cruel. The UC San Diego administration does not provide any financial support for The Koala, and we call on all students, faculty, staff and community members to join us in condemning this publication and other hurtful acts."

The day of the chancellor's statement, the university's student government, the Associated Students, held a meeting at which a vice president read Khosla's statement. The student government also considered and approved legislation that eliminated "media" as one of seven categories of student organizations that could receive funding from student-paid campus activity fees. That approach was seemingly designed to avoid going after The Koala alone.

According to the court's ruling, that change stripped The Koala of $452.80 in funds, enough to stop it from printing any additional issues during the rest of the 2015-16 academic year. While it has continued to publish occasional issues online, the publication says that doing so "hinders its ability to reach and engage with its intended audience." (Inside Higher Ed takes vehement exception to that view.)

The publication sued, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, and a federal judge in 2017 dismissed the suit, saying that the 11th Amendment shielded the state university and that the university and the student government had the right to eliminate the "media" category. The Koala appealed, backed this time by FIRE and by media organizations such as the Student Press Law Center.

The three-judge appeals panel of the Ninth Circuit disputed all of the lower court judge's findings.

It rejected the conclusion about the 11th Amendment because the student publication sought only the opportunity to compete for compulsory activity-fee money, rather than asking the court to force the state to fund the publication. The appeals court also noted that since students paid the fees as part of their tuition bills, "the suit's outcome would not increase or decrease the overall financial burden on the state," but would merely change how the fees are distributed.

More substantively, the appeals panel also rejected the lower court's conclusion about The Koala's free press claims, ruling that withholding a subsidy to a publication can be just as much an attack on the free press as imposing a fee or a fine, if evidence suggests that the action was taken to punish the publication for its viewpoint.

"We see no reason why the rule … that the government may not withhold benefits for a censorious purpose … should not apply when the state singles out and burdens the press by revoking a subsidy, particularly where, as here, the record includes unusually compelling allegations that the government acted with discriminatory intent," the Ninth Circuit decision said.

The Ninth Circuit panel also asserted that by closing the "media" portion of its student activity fund in a way that more or less singled out The Koala, the university had created -- and then closed -- a "limited public forum" in a way that could be seen as violating the publication's free speech rights.

"If the government could define the contours of a limited public forum one way at its inception, then redefine its scope in response to speech it disfavors, the government would be free to zero in and selectively silence any voice or perspective," the decision reads.

Advocates for free press and free speech cheered the appeals court's decision -- and how bad an outcome the other way would have been.

"Had it gone the other way, it would have been really disastrous for anybody that relies on government funding for their speech," said Frank D. LoMonte, professor and director of the University of Florida's Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, who wrote an amicus brief in 2017 when he directed the Student Press Law Center. "We feared the judges could get waylaid by the distasteful content of this particular publication, but they saw past that to the much larger legal principle."

That principle, LoMonte said, is that "once you create funding system, you can’t just yank it out because you don’t like someone's speech."

Or, as David Loy of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, put it: "You cannot manipulate the scope of a program as subterfuge to justify and get away with censoring speech because of viewpoint. They tried to do an end run around the First Amendment."

A spokeswoman for UC San Diego said university officials could not comment because the litigation is still active.

Editorial Tags: Free speechStudent journalismIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: UC San DiegoDisplay Promo Box: 
Categories: Higher Education News

Title IX lawsuit alleges Louisiana State ignores fraternity hazing

Inside Higher Ed - News - July 25, 2019 - 5:00pm

A lawsuit filed by the parents of a Louisiana State University student who died during a fraternity hazing ritual could drastically reform college disciplinary systems nationwide if it is successful.

This month, a federal judge agreed that a groundbreaking legal argument by the student's parents potentially has merit. The parents' argument is that fraternity members and pledges at the state's flagship institution are far more at risk than their sorority counterparts because the university disregarded the dangerous and sometimes fatal hazing activities that occur among men in Greek life and cracked down on the women more severely.

The lawyer for the parents of Max Gruver -- an 18-year-old who died in 2017 after being forced to chug hard liquor -- alleged this violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal law barring sex discrimination at public and private educational institutions that receive federal funds.

Title IX cases often grab headlines because the law prohibits sexual violence on college campuses, a problem that has received increased media scrutiny and prompted public outrage in the past decade. In recent years, however, advocates for students accused of sexual assault have increasingly asserted that guidance on Title IX issued by the Obama administration on how these cases should be adjudicated infringed on the due process rights of the accused.

Still, the law has never been tested in a case involving hazing and purported gender inequities in Greek life. Legal observers said this interpretation of Title IX stretches its boundaries and could prompt others to challenge colleges' disciplinary measures with legal arguments that have not applied under the law.

“You would need to be watching every equity point -- to traffic court, to sabbaticals, to discipline in residence halls,” said Peter Lake, director of the Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy at Stetson University in Florida. “You would need to have an equity monitor at all times … the infrastructure to monitor this would be extremely costly and fairly intrusive.”

U.S. District Court Judge Shelly D. Dick wrote in a recent ruling that she would allow the Title IX allegations in the Gruver family's lawsuit to go to trial. They are seeking $25 million in damages.

Dick was persuaded by the argument that men involved in Louisiana State’s Greek system possibly “face a risk of serious injury and death,” which is a far cry from how university administrators publicly portray Greek culture on campus.

The lawsuit notes that university officials sent Max Gruver a book -- Greek Tiger, a guide to fraternity and sorority life at the institution -- the summer before he arrived on campus, and that his parents say encouraged him to join. But the handbook did not mention the “rampant” hazing incidents in fraternities, the lawsuit states.

Institutions rarely publicize fraternity or sorority infractions, even serious incidents such as hazing and sexual assaults, and it’s a long-standing problem, said John Hechinger, senior editor at Bloomberg News and author of True Gentlemen: The Broken Pledge of America’s Fraternities.

“It’s sort of shocking that colleges promote these organizations when all of these terrible things have been happening," he said.

Four fraternity pledges, including Gruver, have died from hazing at Louisiana State since 1979. In contrast, “hazing of female Greek students is virtually nonexistent,” the lawsuit states.

The Gruver family's lawyer, Douglas Fierberg, contends that because the university has essentially protected sorority members by limiting hazing among them, it has violated Title IX by not doing the same for fraternities.

Louisiana State countered in court filings that Title IX did not apply in this case.

Judge Dick disagreed.

“If these facts are proven, a jury may infer that LSU’s policy created the heightened risk to Greek male students of serious injury or death by hazing, thereby inflicting the injury alleged herein,” she wrote in her ruling.

Matthew Naquin, 21, the accused ringleader of the hazing against Max Gruver, was recently found guilty of negligent homicide. Gruver had been made to recite the Greek alphabet as part of a hazing episode -- he was forced to take swigs of 190-proof liquor each time he erred. An autopsy revealed Gruver died from alcohol poisoning.

Ernie Ballard, a Louisiana State spokesman, declined to comment on Dick’s ruling other than to say it was a preliminary motion. He did provide a written statement on the verdict related to Naquin.

“Our hearts ache for the Gruvers and all those impacted by this trial and the verdict,” the statement said. “Hazing is an irresponsible and dangerous activity that we do not tolerate at LSU. These tragedies, and the penalties that follow, can be prevented and we have been working diligently to put more safeguards, education and reporting outlets in place for our students regarding hazing. [The] verdict shows that allegations of hazing are fully investigated, and those found responsible face criminal charges.”

While the Gruvers won in moving the lawsuit forward, Gentry McCreary, chief executive officer of Dyad Strategies, which consults with institutions on Greek life, said he doubts their rationale on Title IX would hold up during a trial.

McCreary said the initial strategy was “brilliant,” as many institutions would be tempted to settle during this phase in the legal proceedings. But he said the lawsuit would likely fall through unless the data supported the lawsuit’s theory.

A settlement is more likely, he said. He cited the settlement between Pennsylvania State University and the family of Tim Piazza, a fraternity pledge who died after being forced to drink until, intoxicated, he tumbled down a flight of stairs. Fraternity members carried him to a couch but did not get him medical care, and he died the next day.

The Penn State settlement encouraged fraternities to enact new safeguards to stop hazing, including having a “trained adult” who is not a chapter member live in the Greek houses. Penn State also must provide more training against hazing and on alcohol abuse as part of the settlement.

Courts and lawmakers nationwide are taking hazing more seriously. The governor of Florida just signed one of the country's toughest antihazing laws. Legislation has been proposed in Louisiana that would require universities to immediately report hazing incidents to law enforcement. It would also force institutions to document every step they take in responding to hazing complaints.

Lake theorized that if Louisiana State wanted to settle, it may have offered to earlier on. He believes Fierberg, the attorney representing the Gruvers, may not want to settle. Because his argument was so unorthodox, he may not have expected to win, Lake said. Now, Fierberg is leading one of the most significant college discipline lawsuits in higher education, Lake said.

“If he’s successful, lawsuits will be filed in every federal court on this,” Lake said.

Editorial Tags: Legal issuesTitle IXImage Caption: Max GruverIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: Title IXTrending order: 2College: Louisiana State UniversityDisplay Promo Box: 
Categories: Higher Education News

Minority workers support free college to offset automation

Inside Higher Ed - News - July 25, 2019 - 5:00pm

American workers are driven to pursue additional education, but they are looking to employers and the government to cover the college price tag, a new report revealed.

In its "Racial Differences on the Future of Work" survey, released Wednesday, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a think tank that focuses on African Americans, found that financial constraints are the primary barrier preventing American workers of all races from pursuing additional job training or higher education.

The survey, which oversampled and identified 1,500 black, Latino and Asian American respondents, showed about half of workers of color are interested in pursuing community college and certification and degree programs, compared to about 41 percent of white workers. The Joint Center surveyed U.S. adults of working age and included only employed adults' answers to questions related to respondents' jobs.

“One message to educators is -- they have a product that people want. The big question is accessibility,” said Spencer Overton, president of the Joint Center and a law professor at George Washington University. “People want … to attain skills so they can be a part of this new economy.”

However, a majority of survey respondents, even those considered high income, were not willing to personally invest more than $2,000 per year for additional job training and education that could advance their careers. The average tuition and fees for one year of college in 2018-19 was $3,660 for public two-year institutions, $10,230 for public four-year institutions and $35,830 for private four-year institutions, according to the College Board.

Workers are reluctant to invest in higher education and job training, unsure whether the return will be worth the capital it requires, Overton said. Though now, more and more positions expect workers go beyond their GED.

Increased automation also has led to less demand for low-skill workers, pushing more to pursue additional education. African Americans and Latinos are more concentrated in occupations vulnerable to replacement by technology, like retail and food preparation, according to a December 2017 Joint Center report on the economic consequences of technological innovation.

But in order to offset job loss to automation, minority groups expressed more desire than whites for the government to provide free college and other financial support.

An overwhelming number of minority respondents of both high and low income levels supported government solutions for workers who are displaced by automation. Eighty-five percent of African American respondents, 74 percent of Latinos and 77 percent of Asian Americans who make more than $75,000 annually favored tuition-free community college as a response to job displacement, versus 67 percent of whites at the same income level.

About two times as many respondents to the "Future of Work" study put the onus of preparing the American work force on the federal government rather than state governments, some of which have created free community college programs. Most states are having difficulty determining how to pay for them, said Harin Contractor, the Joint Center’s work-force policy director and co-author of the study.

“African Americans have more confidence in the federal government to take care of this,” Overton said.

While free community college was generally popular across the board, other government-provided solutions, including a federal jobs guarantee and universal basic income, had significantly lower levels of support from white respondents in the Joint Center’s 37-page study. This could be because minority groups have relied more on the federal government to provide financial support in the past, said Contractor, and they expect it in this era of technological change as well.

Contractor spent three years with the Obama administration as economic policy adviser to former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, where he said the department worked on guiding young people of color into after-school and summer jobs that would present pathways to college.

“This demand for upskilling is critically important for communities of color,” Contractor said. “Policies to address the coming nature of the changing nature of work -- overwhelmingly, people of color want some policy responses from the government on this.”

It was especially important for the Joint Center to focus on communities of color because the shifting economy will disproportionately impact these communities, Overton said. The "Future of Work" survey is one of the first reports that analyzes how minority groups perceive their and their children’s future stake in the American economy and career outcomes, he said.

“People of color are estimated to become the majority of the United States population by sometime between 2040 and 2050,” the Joint Center report said. “Therefore, the perspectives of people of color today about technology, job readiness, employability, the acquisition of skills, benefits and education for children are even more critical to understanding the future of work.”

Minority groups also may be more interested in further education and training than whites because they have historically lacked these opportunities, Overton said. Even with community college or some college education in their backgrounds, minorities have the same work outcomes as less educated whites, Contractor said, suggesting it will take more than increased investment in education to close the achievement gap between racial groups.

“We really need to invest in human capital,” Overton said. “It can't just be low wages, some tax breaks and we'll have jobs. We’ve got to actually invest in people in terms of education, and also in terms of skills. If we don't, a lot of the racial disparities that we’ve seen in the past [are] going to be replicated.”

ResearchEditorial Tags: Federal policyJob trainingRacial groupsImage Source: iStockIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: 
Categories: Higher Education News

Spending and costs of textbooks continue to decrease, according to surveys

Inside Higher Ed - News - July 25, 2019 - 5:00pm

Keeping in line with recent trends over the last couple of years, spending on course materials such as textbooks decreased 14 percent in the last year, an annual survey of students finds. A separate study of internal prices of one textbook retailer found that prices had decreased 26 percent in the last year.

According to the survey of more than 20,000 students across 41 institutions conducted by the National Association of College Stores, students on average spent $415 on course materials in the 2018-19 academic year, down from $484 last year. Student spending has declined almost every year in the last decade -- in 2008 students spent an average of $700 on course materials.

Richard Hershman, vice president of government relations at NACS, said this decline is the result of attempts within the college stores industry to make materials more affordable.

The survey found that the numbers on purchasing and renting have remained the same since 2014, with 83 percent saying they had purchased a textbook, 44 percent saying they had rented one and 15 percent saying they had borrowed one.

“Since 2008 spending has declined 41 percent,” Hershman said in a news release. “It is clear that many of the affordability solutions developed over the past 10 years by campus stores, the broader industry and postsecondary institutions have led to substantial savings.”

An internal survey conducted by the textbook retailer Campusbooks.com found the company’s average textbook prices had fallen 26 percent in the last two years. In a news release, the company’s CEO, Alex Neal, cited the proliferation of rental textbooks as the reason for the decline.

“The college textbook price decrease is primarily due to the increase of rentals, which are typically less expensive -- a large factor for students who are often taking out student loans as a result of increased tuition costs,” said Neal. “Textbook rentals have nearly doubled in the last three years due to widespread awareness and acceptance, and there are more books available to rent.”

However, Hershman said, the continued use of online access codes in textbooks sometimes make rentals less cost-effective, and his data were unable to substantiate the claim that rentals have increased.

"We have seen rentals remain pretty steady, at least since 2014," Hershman said. "If we go back to 2013, we’ve seen an increase of nine percentage points. Historically rental programs priced new and used rentals the same way, but overtime they started charging less for used rentals -- that is part because publishers include access codes with many new books, but once the code is used by one student, it no longer works. So if a student rented a used rental, they may still need to buy the access code separately."

Nicole Allen, director of open education at the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, said the results are consistent with recent trends in the pricing of course materials.

The NACS survey also found that 89 percent of students said they had downloaded some kind of free material, whether it was part of open-resources material in a specific class, free content online or illegally obtained material. Allen said the increased use of open educational resources has played a role in the changes in the textbook marketplace over the last decade.

“One of the effects of high costs of textbooks is that it has started conversations on campus about the limitations of traditional textbooks and created opportunities for faculty to tailor more of their material to their course or even go beyond textbooks to other collections of resources,” Allen said. The changing role of libraries has possibly contributed to lower student spending, Allen said.

“Libraries have gotten a lot more engaged in conversations around course materials,” Allen said. “They’ve been working with faculty to help get students access to academic materials.”

Allen said while increases in opportunities like this should be celebrated, decreased spending on textbooks could mean students aren’t buying all of their course materials due to expenses, which wouldn’t be an answer to the problem.

“One of the problems with surveys that look at spending is they don’t answer the question of why,” said Allen. “The good reasons are that students are able to shop around for more affordable options -- in some cases digital textbooks and the rise of open educational resources is helping more students get access to their materials or a very low cost. But just because the problem is getting better doesn’t mean it’s getting solved.”

Books and PublishingPublishing IndustryEditorial Tags: TextbooksImage Source: Istockphoto.com/SvetlanaisIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: 
Categories: Higher Education News

Penn Law condemns Amy Wax's recent comments on race and immigration as others call for her ouster

Inside Higher Ed - News - July 24, 2019 - 5:00pm

Amy Wax is in trouble again, this time for her comments on race and immigration. The Robert Mundheim Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania reportedly argued at a conference last week for “taking the position that our country will be better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites.”

More than 1,000 student groups and individuals affiliated with Penn have signed a petition calling for Wax to be relieved of all teaching duties. Wax’s dean, Ted Ruger, the Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law, on Tuesday condemned her remarks.

“At best, the reported remarks espouse a bigoted theory of white cultural and ethnic supremacy; at worst, they are racist,” Ruger said in a statement. “Under any framing, such views are repugnant to the core values and institutional practices of both Penn Law” and Penn.

Wax’s recent comments, first reported by Vox, came at the inaugural National Conservatism Conference. The event was hosted by the Edmund Burke Foundation and headlined by National Security Adviser John Bolton, Fox News host Tucker Carlson and tech billionaire Peter Thiel, among others.

The foundation hasn’t released a transcript of the event yet. But according to Vox, Wax called for a “cultural distance” approach to immigration, giving applicants preference based on their ethnonational background. (Some present at the conference have challenged Vox's reporting. But writer Zack Beauchamp has said he double-checked his recording to make sure and provided his own partial transcript for context. Other journalists in attendance have since confirmed Beauchamp's account.)

“Conservatives need a realistic approach to immigration that … preserves the United States as a Western and first-world nation,” Wax reportedly said during a panel. “We are better off if we are dominated numerically … by people from the first world, from the West, than by people who are from less advanced countries.”

These are "toxic topics that lie outside the Overton window in polite society -- as evidenced by outraged reaction to [President] Trump’s profane and grating ‘why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?’ That needs to be regarded as a serious question and not just a rhetorical one," she also said.

Wax has previously attracted criticism with related statements. She wrote in a 2017 op-ed that “all cultures are not equal,” despite the modern “obsession with race,” for instance. At the time, the university defended her, citing academic freedom. In 2018, however, after Wax questioned the aptitude of black law students, Ruger said that no student would be required to take any of Wax’s courses.

In his new statement, Ruger alluded to those previous comments, saying that “past episodes have made clear that when Professor Wax speaks about race and culture, she does not speak for this institution or those who work and study here.” Broadening access to Penn Law remains a top priority, and that's demonstrated in new hires and the “most diverse and accomplished” incoming student classes yet, he said. 

“I know these statements by Professor Wax have caused pain and outrage to many in the Penn community. My colleagues and I pledge to work with you so that together we can heal and learn from this experience and each other,” Ruger said. “We are training lawyers to shape the legal profession and the law of the future, which we are committed to making more just and inclusive than what has come before.”

Ruger did not mention academic freedom, free expression or otherwise defend Wax this time.

Wax declined immediate comment but said a transcript from Burke would be released later this week. The foundation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wax is taking a sabbatical next year. Steven Barnes, a spokesperson for the law school, said via email that it was preplanned.

Academic FreedomFacultyEditorial Tags: LawFacultyDiversityImmigrationLaw schoolsImage Source: University of Pennsylvania Image Caption: Amy WaxIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: Amy Wax, AgainTrending order: 1College: University of PennsylvaniaDisplay Promo Box: 
Categories: Higher Education News

Warren introduces debt relief legislation, drawing contrast with Sanders

Inside Higher Ed - News - July 24, 2019 - 5:00pm

When Senator Elizabeth Warren, a contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, joined House Majority Whip James Clyburn in unveiling an ambitious student debt cancellation bill Tuesday, she said they weren’t “looking for one headline” about the $640 billion proposal.

Clyburn, a member of the Democratic leadership, said he plans to push legislation that could pass in the House. The South Carolina lawmaker added that the bill was about making headway over headlines.

The lawmakers argued that the bill, which would offer up to $50,000 in debt relief to borrowers with incomes under six figures, would address a problem that had reached crisis proportions.

The comments also illustrated a contrast with the approach of Senator Bernie Sanders, another candidate for the Democratic nomination, who has introduced an even more expansive bill to cancel all $1.5 trillion in student debt. Without directly referring to the Sanders bill, Warren and Clyburn made a case that their bill more directly addressed the racial wealth gap and was more pragmatic.

“It was very important to the congressman and me that when we devised a student debt relief package, that it aimed directly at bringing down the black-white wealth gap in America,” Warren said at a news conference introducing the bill. “The numbers we picked are the numbers that do that best.”

In Clyburn, Warren is partnering with one of the most high-powered House Democrats. The Sanders proposal is being carried in the House by Representative Ilhan Omar, a freshman Democrat who’s gained notoriety for challenging President Trump. It’s also got the backing of fellow star freshman representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Representative Pramila Jayapal, the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Warren and Sanders have proposed going much further than anyone else in the Democratic primary field to address outstanding student loan debt. Former San Antonio mayor Julián Castro has proposed a targeted debt relief plan. And some other presidential candidates, like South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg, have argued that debt cancellation should be attached to public service requirements.

In some sense, Warren and Sanders offering very similar proposals to address student debt. The contrast between the two bills, though, reflects the differences in their approaches to policy more broadly.

Student Debt and the Racial Wealth Gap

Warren said student debt has become a burden for a generation of students that creates a drag on the entire economy. But she said the effects of student loans have been consequential for black borrowers in particular. The average black borrower, she noted, owes more on her loans 12 years after graduating than she did when she left college. (Nearly half of black borrowers who entered college in 2003-04 defaulted on their loans within 12 years, according to recent federal data.)

“The day our bill gets signed into law, that black-white wealth gap would shrink by 25 points,” she said.

The legislation, like a campaign proposal Warren released in April, would grant up to $50,000 in loan relief for borrowers with incomes up to $100,000. Higher-earning borrowers making up to $250,000 would be eligible for graduated debt relief.

Clyburn, responding to a question about Sanders's bill, said lawmakers shouldn’t go about addressing that problem “by opening the door so that everybody is free to come in.”

Critics of expansive debt cancellation plans have argued they would be regressive because more benefits in dollar terms would go to high-debt, high-income borrowers who took out loans to obtain medical degrees or graduate credentials that pay off big over the long term.

Lanae Erickson, vice president for social policy and politics at Third Way, said debt forgiveness is regressive as a general policy but said the Warren legislation is “infinitely more nuanced and targeted” than the Sanders bill. While passage of a massive debt forgiveness plan is unlikely even in the House, she said, Warren also appeared to be thinking of how to enact her plan.

Some have argued for limited debt relief to target the borrowers struggling most. A report released this week by the Center for Responsible Lending found that providing $10,000 in debt relief across the board would mean total debt cancellation for 40 percent of current borrowers.

Marshall Steinbaum, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Utah who has argued for full debt cancellation, found in a recent working paper that more debt cancellation would have bigger effects in reducing the racial wealth gap. That means, he said, that the Sanders plan would do more to reduce the racial wealth gap.

“That's because the low-wealth households with more than $50,000 of debt outstanding, and who thus retain the balance under the Warren plan, are disproportionately black,” he said. “However, both plans substantially reduce racial wealth inequality relative to the status quo, and contrary to the conventional wisdom that student debt cancellation would worsen racial wealth gaps.”

A group of academics that analyzed the Warren campaign’s debt proposal found differently, concluding in April that universal debt cancellation would widen the wealth gap. Tom Shapiro, one of those academics and the director of the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University, said the different conclusions were a result of how researchers counted wealth -- his team included assets like cars -- and whether they examined both relative and absolute wealth gaps. Shapiro found the wealth gap grew in terms of actual dollars.

“Despite whatever technical or policy differences might exist here, the issue of student debt cancellation has broken through to the public,” he said.

Some of the organizations that advocate for student borrowers said they supported both the Warren and the Sanders legislation. Persis Yu, director of the National Consumer Law Center’s Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project, said either bill “would provide our clients life-changing and much-needed relief.”

Both Warren and Sanders have offered campaign proposals to enact free tuition at public colleges and universities along with student debt cancellation. Generation Progress executive director Brent Cohen said in a statement that any attempt to address college affordability should be accompanied by policies targeting current student borrowers.

“The solutions proposed in these two pieces of legislation would provide meaningful recourse for millions of borrowers and should be the start of efforts to correct our broken higher education financing system, not the end,” he said.

The Policy DebateStudent Aid and LoansEditorial Tags: Election 2020Bernie SandersElizabeth WarrenFinancial aidAd Keyword: Student debt Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: 
Categories: Higher Education News

Knight Foundation devotes $50 million to research democracy and tech

Inside Higher Ed - News - July 24, 2019 - 5:00pm

The spread of misinformation, election interference and the growing prevalence and influence of social media companies have all been hot-button topics since the 2016 election. But how much is technology really shaping people’s lives?

Leaders at the Knight Foundation, a nonprofit organization best known for supporting journalism and the media, think urgent research is needed to help answer this question. The foundation this week announced $50 million in funding for 11 universities and research institutions to support research exploring how social media is influencing democracy.

Half of the funding will be used to create new cross-disciplinary research centers at Carnegie Mellon University, George Washington University, New York University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Washington. Each will receive $5 million.

The foundation is also awarding $13.7 million to support existing initiatives at the Data and Society Research Institute, Indiana University, Stanford University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Wisconsin Madison and Yale University. The remaining $11.3 million will be used to create a new funding opportunity for policy and legal research into how tech companies such as Facebook should be governed.

Sam Gill, vice president for communities and impact at the Knight Foundation, said the $50 million fund is part of a larger commitment to strengthen journalism and democracy. The foundation committed $300 million last February to researching the impact of technology on society and democracy. It also pledged to support local news and “rebuild trust in democracy from a local level up.”

The Knight Foundation received over 100 responses to a call for proposals from institutions eager to create or grow their own research centers and selected 11 institutions where there was already “energy and coherence around this work” but “it just needed a nudge,” Gill said.

Foundation administrators hope the investment will draw attention and give legitimacy to a new field of research -- one where there is already high-quality work happening but that has not yet gained prominence, he said.

“We want the insight and ideas from this research to inform urgent debates,” said Gill. “What should our relationship to technology be? Are social media companies too big? These are questions of the highest stakes.”

Gary Marchionini, dean of the school of information and library science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will be the principal investigator at the newly created Center for Information, Technology and Public Life.

The center will give academics a multidisciplinary space to brainstorm and hold discussions -- uniting researchers with expertise in computer science, media, law and politics, said Marchionini.

There are no commitments to offer new classes to students through the center, but such offerings could be made in the future, he said.

The funding will enable UNC to hire one new tenure-track faculty member and at least three postdoctoral researchers at the center, he said. Two other funders, the Hewlett Foundation and Luminate, have already pledged additional financial support.

The Knight Foundation’s $5 million support for the new cross-disciplinary research center at UNC is a one-time gift to be spent by UNC over the next six years. Marchionini doesn’t foresee any problems finding future funding sources and believes the research of the center, and others like it, “is going to attract a lot of attention.”

Marchionini expects that government funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation may follow suit and turn their attention to this kind of research. Tech companies, too, will likely continue to fund research efforts, but accepting this money raises ethical questions for researchers, he said.

Zeynep Tufekci, associate professor of information and library science at UNC, said she is excited to finally have “a genuine place for interdisciplinary work” on campus.

The Knight Foundation funding provides an “enormous opportunity” not just for UNC but for the field nationally, she said.

“It can’t just be one place or one academic looking at these issues -- we need a societal response,” she said.

Tufekci believes research on the impact of technology on society has been “terribly underfunded,” especially when the profitability of technology companies is considered.

“It’s an urgent area of public interest,” she said. “If we look back at how much the world has changed in the past few years, we haven’t scaled the research accordingly. I think the Knight Foundation deserves a lot of credit. This was going out on a limb for them -- they don’t usually fund basic research.”

While Tufekci noted the importance of researchers remaining independent from technology companies, she acknowledged that researchers also need the companies' collaboration to access data and information. Accessing data from social media platforms is better than it used to be, as political pressure has forced some transparency, but it is still a problem, she said.

The new Institute for Data, Democracy and Politics at George Washington University would not have been created without Knight Foundation funding, said Steven Livingston, professor of media and public affairs. Like UNC, GW hopes to hire several new postdocs and establish a new discipline with a distinct purpose.

“This institute has been the result of hundreds of hours of refinement,” said Livingston.

Although the Knight Foundation’s funding was spurred in part by reports of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, the research at GW and elsewhere will be broad in scope. Livingston’s recent research has focused on disinformation campaigns surrounding important global news, such as Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was gunned down over Ukraine in 2014, and the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

“We believe that the 2016 election has already been so thoroughly researched that it doesn’t make sense for us to do it,” he said. “We’re turning our attention to the 2020 election. But the work is not just about elections.”

Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: 
Categories: Higher Education News

NCAA suspends DePaul head men's basketball coach for three games

Inside Higher Ed - News - July 24, 2019 - 5:00pm

The National Collegiate Athletic Association on Tuesday suspended Dave Leitao, the DePaul University head men’s basketball coach, for the first three games of the upcoming season for failing to monitor his staff and making sure they complied with NCAA rules.

Leitao did not commit any direct infractions himself, but the verdict seems to reflect the NCAA’s growing desire for head coaches to take responsibility for misconduct in their programs. The association has been criticized in the past for allowing head coaches to escape punishment. But just this month, the NCAA came down hard on the University of Connecticut head men’s basketball coach for lying during an investigation of free training and free meals provided to UConn athletes by a trainer whose son was a prospect for the university's football team.

The NCAA also put DePaul's Blue Demons on a three-year probation. The case involved a former associate head coach who arranged for the assistant director of basketball operations to live with a recruit. The officials and player are not named in the NCAA report.

“The head coach could have stopped or prevented the violations if he promoted an atmosphere of compliance or monitored his staff. Instead, he fostered a culture of silence where multiple staff members did not report or question violations because they feared doing so would hurt their careers,” the NCAA report on the case states.

In 2016, the associate head coach instructed the assistant operations director to travel out of state and live with the team prospect, who was a top recruit who had already graduated high school but had not met the NCAA’s academic requirements.

DePaul had aggressively wooed the recruit, who in April 2016 signed a letter of intent to play for the university. But the associate head coach was worried the prospect wouldn’t complete the online course work that was necessary for him to be eligible to play. The recruit needed to complete 16 to 20 assignments, as well as prepare for midterms and final exams in a single month, but around the time he signed his letter, he had only finished one or two of the assignments. He also had “several distractions” around the house that reduced his productivity, the NCAA report states.

The assistant operations director lived with the recruit for nearly two weeks, limiting his extracurricular activities and making sure he finished his assignments. At least two other staffers -- including the director of basketball operations -- were aware of this arrangement. The NCAA’s Division I Committee on Infractions said it was “troubled” that the director knew the situation was an NCAA violation, but he did not want to be “disloyal” or “cause tension” by reporting it.

The assistant director told NCAA officials that he feared his career would be jeopardized if he undermined the associate head coach and reported to Leitao.

Leitao was initially oblivious to the assistant operations director’s activities and did not ask questions about his two-week absence. He explained to NCAA investigators that the assistant director typically would be away for periods of time to visit family.

"The committee directed that head coaches must verify -- not just trust -- that staff members are following the rules," the NCAA said in a statement.

The prospect eventually successfully completed the course work and enrolled at DePaul in fall 2016.

In addition to Leitao’s punishment, the former associate head coach was slapped with a three-year show-cause order, which essentially makes him unemployable with an NCAA member institution. The games in which the recruit played will be vacated and not be considered part of the team's record. University officials said they will make public at a later date the number of games affected.

The NCAA also levied a $5,000 fine, plus 1 percent of the men’s basketball program budget on the university. DePaul had already self-imposed recruiting-related sanctions, eliminating six men’s basketball recruiting days in the 2017-18 academic year and six more in April. Institutions are only allowed a certain number of days to recruit athletes.

DePaul said in a statement the NCAA’s decision on Leitao was “disappointing.” The university said the incident was “isolated” and gave a single athlete a limited advantage. But DePaul also said it would accept the findings -- indicating it would not appeal.

“Coach Leitao is a man of character and integrity, who has the support of the administration in leading our men’s basketball program,” the statement reads.

Editorial Tags: AthleticsNCAAImage Source: Getty ImagesImage Caption: Dave LeitaoIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: DePaul UniversityDisplay Promo Box: 
Categories: Higher Education News

Being smart with money in college helps graduates feel more like adults

Inside Higher Ed - News - July 24, 2019 - 5:00pm

When students make sound financial decisions during their final year of college, they more quickly develop their adult identity, researchers found in a University of Arizona study released Monday.

The study, conducted by Xiaomin Li, a doctoral student at the university who focuses on family studies and human development, asked participants to evaluate their own and their romantic partners’ financial habits during the span from their fourth year of college to five years after graduation, a period called “emerging adulthood.” Respondents also ranked their maturity levels and recalled if they thought others perceived them as adults.

The emerging-adult period is particularly unstable, Li said, as recent graduates are learning how to navigate adult life. Positive financial behavior and emergency funds can help offset stressful social changes, like newfound independence from one’s family.

“Emerging adults' development in financial, personal, relational domains are interrelated, with progress in financial domains predicting progress in personal and relational domains,” the study said.

Researchers, including Li and Melissa Curran, the study’s co-author and an associate professor in Arizona's Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, sought to analyze emerging adulthood during the 2007-09 Great Recession, which they thought could impact graduates’ financial stability, Li said. They began studying a group of more than 1,500 fourth-year students at UA in the spring of 2010.

"Adult identity formation has been greatly delayed, and finances are a big reason for that delay," Li said.

Students and graduates who displayed responsible financial behavior -- effective budgeting, spending and building credit -- during their fourth year of college and those who improved behaviors by the time they reached their late 20s to early 30s had fewer mental health conditions and felt stable while transitioning into the work force. This was consistent throughout the study, Li said, no matter whether the individuals were in relationships or not.

Researchers found that more financially stable college students had fewer symptoms of depression two years after graduation, along with more formed adult identity when they reached their 30s. As a result, the study suggests higher education officials should provide more financial guidance to students.

“Universities can require students to take a personal and family finance general education-level course in which emerging adults can acquire necessary financial knowledge and develop needed financial behaviors,” the researchers wrote.

Relationship satisfaction was an additional indicator of financial responsibility during and after college, according to the study, which was published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. Higher relationship satisfaction showed higher levels of commitment, which marked young people’s adult identity.

“Emerging adults are at a particular stage, and in this stage, people become independent of their family and more involved in close relationships,” Li said. “The participants were forming their own relationships and their own families.”

In that period, she said, “individuals not only need to rely on themselves, but on their partners to cope with challenging situations.”

The emerging-adult period can be even longer and more challenging for people who do not attend college, an issue Li said could be the subject of future university research on adult identity. This group likely would be analyzed during their final year of high school and the five years after, with the goal of comparing their financial stability and adult identity with that of college graduates.

“The relation may exist between the two groups, but there needs to be more research on the non-college-educated population,” Li said. “As prior researchers said, the non-college-educated population is the forgotten half.”

Editorial Tags: Student lifeImage Source: Istockphoto.com/damircudicIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: 
Categories: Higher Education News

Lawyer attempts first-ever class action lawsuit for college students accused of sexual assault

Inside Higher Ed - News - July 23, 2019 - 5:00pm

In a groundbreaking move, the first-ever prospective class-action lawsuit that would benefit students accused of sexual assault has been filed against a university, potentially reversing the outcomes of dozens of sexual violence cases.

Experts say the suit against Michigan State University is a clever legal maneuver that takes advantage of a significant ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Judges determined in September 2018 that students accused of sexual assault, or their representatives, had a right to directly question their accuser, which legal experts said would reshape the notion of due process in these cases.

The lawsuit could theoretically challenge, even retroactively, the results of any campus sexual violence case that didn’t offer due process protections.

Advocates for accused students have long maintained that institutions disregard due process rights in investigating and adjudicating campus rape charges, ever since the Obama administration in 2011 released guidance around Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal sex antidiscrimination law.

Though these rules were popular among sexual assault survivor advocates for giving victims more protections, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos pulled them nearly two years ago and replaced them with regulations that have not yet been finalized. These regulations, and other rulings in the Sixth Circuit, have asserted that students are entitled to due process under Title IX.

“If those protections are inherent in law, all decisions made without those protections could be revisited by the courts as procedurally insufficient to meet due process,” said Brett Sokolow, president of the Association of Title IX Administrators. “The Sixth Circuit opened the door to this, and now it’s going to need to figure out how to clean up the mess.”

The lawsuit was filed by a male student, who is anonymous in the court filings and referred to as John Doe. He was accused of sexually assaulting his date to a fraternity party in February 2018. He sued Michigan State in December 2018.

The lawsuit states that Doe believed he and the female student were just friends after she rejected a kiss from him earlier that year. But at the party, the female student kissed him, giving him the impression that she was interested in him, the lawsuit states.

According to the lawsuit, Doe asked the student to return to his dormitory, and she agreed. Although Doe initially believed their sexual activities in his room were consensual, the woman “appeared uncomfortable and was shivering” after he started to initiate sex, the lawsuit states.

The female student left shortly after the encounter, and Doe thought that she regretted going home with him. But around 3 a.m., he received a text from a mutual friend saying that she was told that Doe forced himself on the student.

Several days later, the student with whom he had the sexual encounter reported the alleged assault to the Office of Institutional Equity. After an investigation, Doe was suspended from Michigan State for two years. The lawsuit alleged that investigators were biased and ignored conflicting statements from the female student.

The suit notes that Michigan State was already under scrutiny for mishandling sexual assault allegations by female students, which Doe suggested affected the outcome of his case.

Around the same time that Doe was accused, a scandal was unfolding at Michigan over the long-term conduct of Larry Nassar, a former team physician at the university and a doctor for the U.S.A. gymnastics team who was found to have sexually abused hundreds of patients, including Michigan State athletes. Officials were widely criticized for allegedly ignoring students’ complaints about Nassar’s conduct. (​Lou Anna K. Simon, Michigan State's former president, lost her job over the controversy and faces charges for possibly lying to police during the criminal investigation.)

At the time, the university was also under investigation by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights for potentially violating Title IX in its handling of complaints unrelated to the Nassar case.

“Determined to placate OCR, to avoid the potential loss of millions of dollars in federal funding, to restore its reputation, and to protect itself from future liability, defendants … launched a campaign to -- in its own words -- go ‘above and beyond’ even OCR’s demands, and to ‘drive cultural change,’ prosecuting female students’ sexual assault claims aggressively, proving its willingness to believe female students who claimed sexual assault, and convicting and punishing alleged assailants,” the lawsuit states.

Andrew Miltenberg, the lawyer representing the accused student, amended the complaint this month and requested class-action status. The court would need to be persuaded that enough current or former students accused of sexual misconduct may have been denied due process to justify them as a class. Michigan State could also request that the case not be classified as a class action. A spokeswoman for the university declined to comment.

Miltenberg, a managing partner at Nesenoff & Miltenberg, said his client is not asking for monetary damages, but rather that sanctions imposed on these students be reversed.

Several Michigan State students have approached his firm about flaws they perceived in their Title IX cases and problems with the university’s processes, he said. After researching the number of potential accused students and after the Sixth Circuit decision in September, Miltenberg said he believed the class action was possible.

Miltenberg said he believes “several hundred” current and former students could be affected.

The lawsuit includes statistics on sexual violence that universities must disclose under federal law. Michigan State fielded 86 reports of sex crimes in 2017, with similar numbers in 2015 and 2016. If the lawsuit was successful, the findings in all those cases could be overturned. These numbers may be inaccurate, however, because of the way incidents are reported -- a report of dating violence might also count as stalking, creating duplicates.

Miltenberg said he believes he will win the lawsuit and if he does, he hopes it would pave the way for similar class actions in other jurisdictions.

“We need a much more transparent, fair and equitable system that gives everybody the chance to be heard completely,” Miltenberg said.

The lawsuit’s success hinges on whether the right to cross-examination was a key factor in every Title IX case at Michigan, said David A. Russcol, a lawyer specializing in Title IX at Zalkind Duncan & Bernstein in Boston. Russcol reiterated that the Sixth Circuit has been strong on issues related to due process.

“It certainly does make it plausible that with the dozens of cases at Michigan State over several years, it could raise these issues,” Russcol said.

Editorial Tags: Legal issuesTitle IXIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: Class Action for Title IXTrending order: 1College: Michigan State UniversityDisplay Promo Box: 
Categories: Higher Education News