Higher Education News

University of Florida rejects request for white supremacist to speak

Inside HigherEd - 6 hours 12 min ago

The University of Florida announced this morning that it will not let Richard Spencer, a leading white supremacist and "alt-right" organizer, speak on campus in September.

The move comes just days after the university said that the First Amendment might require it to rent space to Spencer's group, the National Policy Institute, regardless of the hateful messages associated with the organization. But Florida is citing safety issues, not Spencer's message, to justify turning down the request to reserve space on campus.

“This decision was made after assessing potential risks with campus, community, state and federal law enforcement officials following violent clashes in Charlottesville, Va., and continued calls online and in social media for similar violence in Gainesville such as those decreeing: ‘The Next Battlefield Is in Florida,’” said a message from W. Kent Fuchs, president of the university. “I find the racist rhetoric of Richard Spencer and white nationalism repugnant and counter to everything the university and this nation stands for. That said, the University of Florida remains unwaveringly dedicated to free speech and the spirit of public discourse. However, the First Amendment does not require a public institution to risk imminent violence to students and others. The likelihood of violence and potential injury -- not the words or ideas -- has caused us to take this action.”

On Monday, Texas A&M University -- which permitted Spencer to speak on campus in December -- made a similar announcement that it would not permit him to return in September. Texas A&M also cited safety issues, not Spencer's message.

Organizers of the planned Spencer event at Texas A&M have vowed to sue over the refusal to permit him to appear.

Spencer attracted attention after the election, as he was videotaped shouting "Hail Trump" at supporters, some of whom responded with Nazi-style salutes.

In November, Spencer announced that one of the targets for his efforts would be college campuses, and that he was planning an appearance at Texas A&M University in December. The university permitted that appearance but organized a series of events as alternatives to attending the Spencer talk. Members of religious and racial and ethnic minority groups spoke out against Spencer, as so did many white Texas A&M alumni and students. Texas A&M is proud of its military traditions, and during World War II many of its students and alumni fought (and many died) in the war against the Nazis. As a result, there was widespread disgust for a speaker linked to white supremacist ideas.

To understand why so many people are upset about Spencer, consider these background reports from the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, both of which note that he has called for the creation of a white state of America. He regularly includes references in his speeches that suggest his admiration for the Nazis. For instance, he says that most journalists are part of the Lügenpresse, a term the Nazis used to mean "lying press."

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Experts: College presidents' call for students to avoid white supremacist rallies not always the best

Inside HigherEd - 12 hours 26 min ago

Eight days before the protests in Charlottesville, Va., that left a woman dead, the president of the University of Virginia beseeched her campus: don’t go to the rally.

President Teresa Sullivan released a statement Aug. 4, telling students (most of whom had not returned for classes) and local residents that her foremost concern was their safety. Their attendance would only gratify the organizers of the Unite the Right demonstration -- those who sought a spectacle and to draw attention to their white nationalist cause, Sullivan said in her statement.

“They believe that your counterprotest helps their cause,” she said. “One advocate of the rally said, ‘We should aim to draw the SJWs [social justice warriors] out in Charlottesville and create a massive polarizing spectacle in order to draw as huge a contrast as possible. They will reveal themselves to be violent, intolerant, opposed to free speech, the insane enforcers of political correctness, etc.’ The organizers of the rally want confrontation; do not gratify their desire.”

Ahead of a planned talk in September by Richard Spencer -- who is largely credited with coining the term “alt-right,” designating a movement characterized by white supremacy and racism -- at the University of Florida, the president there has put out a message similar to Sullivan’s.

“I encourage our campus community to send a message of unity by not engaging with this group and giving them more media attention for their message of intolerance and hate,” President Kent Fuchs posted to Facebook.

This “stay away” plea is an attempt by university leaders to recognize that they can’t control student choices, but they want to warn them.

Sullivan’s warnings about potential violence in Charlottesville turned out to be correct. Brawls broke out in Charlottesville on Saturday afternoon, culminating in a white nationalist driving his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing a 32-year-old woman.

Not all students bought the president’s message. Wes Gobar, president of UVA’s Black Student Alliance, is among the skeptical. He witnessed the skirmishes but not the car crash -- he said he caught tear gas to the face several times and that white men heckled his friends.

Gobar said students felt disappointed with the university’s response. Though he understood the administration’s interest in the safety of students, urging them to avoid the rally would only benefit and allow these white nationalist groups to grow unchecked, Gobar said.

“This ‘stay away, it’ll be fine’ narrative, well, I know the university may have a different view, but there’s more that needs to be done,” Gobar said.

A UVA spokesman declined to make officials available for interviews Monday.

Such demonstrations are not likely to slow soon, particularly with the fall semester for most institutions imminent.

In addition to University of Florida, Spencer initially had pledged to return to Texas A&M University in September, but the university canceled the event, citing security concerns.

Spencer took delight in aggravating the Texas A&M campus, said Lecia Brooks, outreach director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit that tracks bigotry nationwide. He has also spoken at Auburn University in Alabama, where he successfully sued for the right to appear on campus.

The so-called alt-right and similar racist campaigners have “hijacked” free speech on college campuses with these rallies, attempting to goad the liberal population -- students, but even more so outside “antifascist” activists and radical left-wing groups -- into igniting fights, Brooks said.

Many of the white supremacist-related activities, and the more radical counterprotests, result from outsiders, not those tied to institutions.

Brooks said the center advocates for universities to sponsor alternative events to appropriately combat the white nationalists’, which could pull away the media focus that they crave. Texas A&M did this for Spencer’s first talk. Protests weren’t halted, but nothing turned violent.

She urged college presidents to strongly denounce and identify these people as white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Doing so would ensure that young white college men would not be poached by the movement. She acknowledged that both the UVA and Florida presidents had, in forceful terms, condemned white nationalists in their statements, but said it will take some time for students to recognize the success of nonviolent resistance, like that present during the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

“If you want to confront them head-on, do it silently, don’t feed into their desperate need to get attention,” Brooks said, citing the “angels” who donned gigantic white wings and, without speaking, blocked the Westboro Baptist Church from protesting the funerals of victims of the 2016 shooting at an Orlando, Fla., gay bar.

A University of Florida spokeswoman emailed a statement about the upcoming Spencer talk. “We are still assessing security needs, particularly in light of the events over the weekend. Student affairs is in contact with individuals at Auburn University and Texas A&M to learn what we can from the folks who were on the ground in those university communities during similar events. Our strategy right now is to be transparent with the greater university community about this request, and we will provide additional information as it is available,” the statement reads in part.

Dwayne Fletcher, president of Florida’s Black Student Union, said he understands why the president has urged students not to interact with protesters. The “lunatics” in Charlottesville displayed no regard for human life, and like UVA and the surrounding area, Gainesville has a significant racist past, he said. Fletcher said he could see the events of Charlottesville being replicated. A Confederate monument was just taken down in the city Monday, and similarly to the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, its slated removal drew the ire of the white nationalists.

The University of Florida’s president in his social media post named Spencer and the white nationalists, something Sullivan did not do in her Aug. 4 statement.

Dan Horner, an assistant professor of criminology at Ryerson University in Ontario who specializes in the history of protests in public spaces, said UVA’s tactics evolved. At first, Sullivan did not recognize the protesters as white supremacists, but she more explicitly did so after Saturday. He said he believed the university was hoping the event might fizzle and not be well attended, and that the mention of white nationalists would likely alarm students and their families.

“This fuzzy, soft-focused kind of language was a way to keep everybody calm, but as the situation kind became impossible to ignore, there’s clearly a desire to put herself on the correct side of the story,” Horner said.

He said he was unsure whether advising students to avoid the rally was the proper call.

But Fletcher, at University of Florida, said telling students not to recognize white supremacist demonstrations is more strategic. On Monday, he was in a group text message chat with representatives from nine of the largest and most visible campus student organizations, many representing minority populations. He said they planned to organize a town hall event next week to discuss strategy, and couldn’t say yet whether they would advocate for their membership to appear at the Spencer rally.

“Honestly, I don’t think I’d be able to attend these protests. I know the type of crowd they bring. I’d rather advocate on behalf of the students instead of being in the hospital or dead. I’d rather be smart about it and have a visible presence and stay active and engaged,” Fletcher said.

When students arrive on campuses across the country in the coming weeks, the dynamic will shift entirely, said Angus Johnston, a historian of student activism and assistant professor at Hostos Community College of the City University of New York. He noted that the UVA campus was largely devoid of students, but at the University of Florida and Texas A&M, Spencer’s speech and the backlash will be inescapable for them.

Douglas McAdam, Ray Lyman Wilbur Professor of Sociology at Stanford University, has studied student advocacy in depth. He recently ended a longitudinal study on student activism and in 2014 co-authored a book, Deeply Divided: Social Movements and Racial Politics in Post-War America (Oxford University Press), that touches on the partisanship also bleeding into college campuses.

McAdam said that the students most devoted to activism likely won’t heed advice to ignore white supremacy. In fact, it may inspire the opposite effect, as many of these students are often critical of university practices.

“The idea you’re going to be able to control actions of the activist segment of the student body is a fiction,” he said.

Barring campus outsiders from the grounds and refusing to rent facilities would more effectively minimize the problem rather than trying to separate students from massive and sometimes bloody rallies, Johnston said. At Auburn, Spencer only successfully won his lawsuit because the university’s policies explicitly allowed any outsider to pay for use of a building, he said.

“There’s a reason why he chose a campus over a local hotel or conference center,” Johnston said, referring to Spencer. “Speaking on a campus is a symbolic significant act. It has a lot of cultural salience in the United States.”

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Rejection from state regulator seals fate of Charlotte School of Law

Inside HigherEd - 12 hours 26 min ago

Charlotte School of Law, a for-profit institution based in North Carolina, appeared to abruptly shut down Tuesday, just days after losing its license to operate in the state.

No one associated with the law school publicly commented. But its website was taken down and a letter from the president of Charlotte’s alumni association published by local media confirmed it would close.

The North Carolina attorney general’s office, which opened an investigation last year into misrepresentations to students, said in a statement that it would ensure the law school remains closed. Attorney General Josh Stein said many Charlotte students have been successful, but for the Class of 2016 fewer than one in five admitted students graduated, passed the bar and got a job that required a law degree. That’s despite a promise from the law school that students would be “ready to practice upon graduation” and the $100,000 cost of their legal education, he said.

Charlotte was in negotiations with the Department of Education over conditions for restoring federal student aid. Its abrupt closure now means that the federal government could be on the hook for the federal loans taken out by students enrolled at the law school.

Charlotte shut its doors just weeks after reports surfaced that the department would consider restoring its access to Title IV federal aid, which include federal student loans -- the latest indication to some critics that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos would take a more lenient approach to for-profit institutions. The Obama administration cut off Charlotte’s Title IV access in December, citing the law school’s failure to meet standards set by its accreditor, the American Bar Association, and substantial misrepresentations to students.

The ABA had earlier placed Charlotte on probation for failing to admit applicants who were likely to succeed in the program and pass the bar exam.

The Department of Education, the ABA and the University of North Carolina System, which approves state licenses of for-profit institutions, are the three bodies that provide the authorization or revenue for the law school to operate. But in recent weeks it came up short with all three.

In June, the UNC System’s Board of Governors said that by Aug. 10, Charlotte must have a teach-out plan approved by the ABA and a determination from the department that students still enrolled could participate in Title IV federal student loan programs. As that date passed, though, negotiations with the department were still ongoing.

The ABA Monday notified Charlotte that it had rejected its proposed teach-out plan, a document required of a closing institution spelling out how students will be treated fairly to finish their education. The ABA rejected the plan in large part because it wasn’t clear that it would continue as a degree-granting institution. And the next day, the UNC board rejected a request from Chidi Ogene, the president of the law school, that the board hold an emergency meeting to extend Charlotte's license.

Liz Hill, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, said late Tuesday that the department has received official notice of Charlotte's closure.

"The department is committed to ensuring that students of CSL, who are the ones most impacted by this closure, are protected, treated fairly and are made aware of all of the options available to them," she said.

In the coming days, Hill said, the department will work with law school officials, the state and the bar association to give students information about their options and how they can obtain student records. The department will also post answers to frequently asked questions about school closures to the Federal Student Aid website and contact Charlotte students directly about their options.

In an email to students reported by local media Tuesday, the Charlotte administration said the UNC System's licensure unit had notified the law school it could continue to assist students by, among other activities, conferring degrees or credit to students who completed course credit before Aug. 11. 

While no one from the law school or its parent company, InfiLaw, responded to requests for comment on its status, Stein, the North Carolina attorney general, said Charlotte is now required to close.

“I want to express my disappointment for the students and their families affected by Charlotte School of Law's failure,” he said in a statement. “While good lawyers have graduated from Charlotte School of Law, the school too often failed to deliver for its students.”

Stein wrote a letter to DeVos Tuesday asking that she declare exceptional circumstances exist with the school’s closure, which would expand loan forgiveness rights to all the students who left the law school during or after the fall 2016 semester. He also said his office would be available to help students understand their rights and that an investigation into the law school’s adherence to state consumer protection laws is ongoing.

Charlotte appeared to be dead in the water earlier this year after losing access to Title IV funds in December. But it opted to remain open, even taking measures like offering institutional aid to students so that they could remain enrolled, while insisting there was a path back to viability. Critics, however, said keeping the school open -- and steering students to transfer to other InfiLaw programs -- meant that the company was delaying the inevitable while protecting its bottom line. By not closing after losing access to federal aid, Charlotte could protect its liability for costs related to closed-school discharges sought by students. Meanwhile, options were limited for students who otherwise could have transferred elsewhere or immediately applied to have their student loans forgiven.

The prospects for the institution still didn't look good before the department indicated it would consider restoring Title IV access. In the meantime, Charlotte hired Podesta Group lobbyist Lauren Maddox, who helped DeVos navigate confirmation hearings, to make its case to Congress and the administration. 

Among the conditions the Department of Education had sought to attach to Title IV revenue for the law school were a refund of tuition and fees to students who had not completed their first year by December and a $6 million letter of credit to protect students and taxpayers.

A big lesson from the negotiations with Charlotte is that the department should always obtain that letter of credit before anything else, said Clare McCann, the deputy director for federal higher education policy with New America’s education policy program and a former Obama administration official. The department failed to use its leverage over federal aid to obtain that letter, and now it’s on the hook for the cost of student loans taken out to attend Charlotte, she said.

“I’m not impressed with the oversight work,” she said.

Kyle McEntee, the founder of Law School Transparency, a nonprofit that advocates for reforming practices in legal education, said closure appeared to be inevitable after the Board of Governors refused to budge on a license extension.

He said the ABA should have taken action sooner, but its hands were tied by a standards framework ill equipped to handle enforcement. As the group refined its standards, they were able to take action that drew the interest of the state and Department of Education.

“We’ve made good progress with the ABA, but we’re not all the way there yet,” McEntee said.

The fate of Charlotte could be a wake-up call to other law schools with spotty records. As fewer students have applied for spots in law programs in recent years, some institutions made the bet they could enroll whoever they wanted and not be held accountable, McEntee said.

“There’s been a tremendous amount of public pressure to hold those schools accountable,” he said. “Now I think there are several dozen law schools who are going to be frightened as to their future. It’s becoming real now.”

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Community colleges push work-force agenda amid doubts about college from working class

Inside HigherEd - 12 hours 26 min ago

As the country divides more fervently across partisan lines, skepticism about the benefits of college is growing among some segments.

As a result, colleges, particularly those in the two-year sector, are feeling the pressure to prove that their institutions can deliver better work-force outcomes.

In recent weeks, surveys have shown that skepticism about the value of college is high not only with Republican voters but also among white working-class voters from all political affiliations. For instance, a poll commissioned by a Democratic political action committee found that 83 percent of white working-class voters said a college degree was “no longer any guarantee of success in America.”

The survey of white working-class voters also found strong support for job-training programs, just like the sort that community colleges offer.

Research shows that jobs in the new economy tend to go to people with at least some college education or an associate’s degree, instead of to workers who hold just high school diplomas. And that’s why some critics feel community colleges should be working harder to advertise and market the career and technical programs they offer.

Wisconsin, for instance, has a broad public education system, between the University of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Technical College systems. But for decades, residents could graduate from high school, go directly into the work force and have a family-sustaining career, said Morna Foy, president of the technical system.

But that has changed dramatically, she said.

“We’ve done a lot and our employers in the state have done a lot to change that narrative,” Foy said. “Maybe there are some people who don’t like that reality, but we don’t talk about it that much anymore as a reality.”

One way the technical college system works to eliminate the disconnect some people may have between college and the work force is by publishing reports that make the connection clear to the public, in the form of how much their graduates make at least six months after graduation.

Between 86 percent and 98 percent of graduates get a job in their field depending on the academic program, Foy said, and the system makes sure to market and promote that information for the public and for policy makers.

Industries like manufacturing didn’t completely go away, Foy said, but instead transformed into advanced manufacturing, where unskilled workers previously would operate an assembly line, but now they’re using robotics and smart technology.

Today there are about 30 million “good” jobs available for people who don’t have a bachelor’s degree and where workers can earn on average about $55,000 a year, according to a recently released report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.

Some community and technical colleges, however, are focusing on building work-force partnerships and confronting the narrative that their programs don’t lead to job opportunities.

“When we talk about college or with people outside of higher education, they think of residential liberal arts colleges or research universities -- they don’t think of a two-year degree or a one-year certificate,” said Anne Kress, president of Monroe Community College in the State University of New York system. “We work closely with employers and we know they’re looking for a fully trained employee who can walk in on day one and start work, because they don’t have the capacity to do a lot of professional development.”

Kress said the college has been intentional in how it works with community-based organizations to raise awareness about what the college can provide.

“If we sit here and wait for them to come to us and find what we offer, it’s not going to happen,” she said.

In Wisconsin, administrators in the technical college system spend time educating people on the value of a technical credential, Foy said.

“There’s a pretty good understanding in this state that you can improve your economic condition by going to a technical college,” she said, adding that they don’t limit outreach on that value to associate degrees, also promoting stackable credentials, short-term programs and apprenticeships that appeal to older students who still want to work and attend classes part-time.

But Foy said people generally are aware of the work-force programs the colleges have to offer.

“There’s always going to be someone who says, ‘Why should I go back to college to get a job I used to have,’ and it can be a lack of finances, a lack of awareness of how accessible it can be to get the credential that has value,” she said, adding that investing two or more years as an adult student can seem daunting. “You have to get them over that hump of thinking, ‘I’ve been out of school so long I don’t remember any math I took in high school,’ or thinking everyone will be younger than them, or they don’t know how to use a smartphone or they don’t have a smartphone. Those are real-life barriers.”

Comments from people questioning the need for college aren’t uncommon in Tennessee. But that state has found some success in creating a college-going culture.

“That’s not accidental,” said Mike Krause, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. “Tennessee faces a situation, not unlike virtually every Southern state and Appalachian state, and that is connecting our residents to an understanding of all the college has to offer.”

While traveling across the state to promote the much-heralded Tennessee Promise program, Krause said a significant concern he heard from parents was that their children would go to college and never return home. So state officials turned to data that could be translated into “kitchen table conversations” and presented them to families.

“The single most powerful piece of data is what happens in real time to students who didn’t go to college in Tennessee,” he said. “If you don’t go to college in Tennessee right now, you’re making $9,000 and have an 84 percent chance of earning minimum wage. That’s not a common piece of data people share publicly, and I don’t think it’s somewhere higher education starts, but for us it’s been pivotal to tell and share with parents because no parent hears that and thinks they want their child to just make $9,000.”

Economic Realities

Seventy-five percent of “good jobs” in the 1980s required less than a bachelor’s degree, but that number has decreased to 55 percent today, said Anthony Carnevale, a research professor and director of Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce.

“You can’t move forward by looking in the rearview mirror,” he said. “There is a lower quantity of those jobs … there is still a certain number who can make it without postsecondary education, but they do need postsecondary education.”

The current political climate seems focused mostly on white men, but working-class black and Latino men have been just as affected by the loss of jobs that could be filled by high school graduates alone, Carnevale said.

“We lost a ton of them in manufacturing, construction, farming, fishing, forestry … since the 1980s, but there has been growth in these jobs in the skilled-service sector, computers and health care,” Carnevale said, adding that women have done well in those latter professions.

Some educators, particularly at community colleges, have argued that Pell Grant funding for short-term programs that lead to a technical certificate would help more working-class people find new or better employment.

“We know we can offer short-term programs to connect our students to employment, but those very same students can’t go to college without financial aid,” Kress said.

Foy said colleges could do a better job of marketing their work-force programs.

“Higher education needs to do a better job of making the case for why it’s important,” she said. “We have to tell people and be honest about job prospects, the pay, the likelihood of placement, and it’s not enough to say ‘we’re colleges and universities so you should want to come to us.’”

Foy said she’s noticed some regional universities have started moving in this direction by the promotion of their graduates’ outcomes, similar to the way the Wisconsin technical system does.

“Even justifying why someone should come to university is a new way to think, especially for four-year schools,” she said. “But for transfer-based community colleges -- and we already do -- we have to market ourselves as having value.”

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Author discusses new book on gender and value of higher education

Inside HigherEd - 12 hours 26 min ago

If most undergraduates are women, does that mean women have the upper hand in today's economy? Should lagging enrollments of men (or of minority men) be discussed as a problem? These are some of the questions raised in Degrees of Difference: Women, Men and the Value of Higher Education (Routledge). The author is Nancy S. Niemi, director of faculty teaching initiatives at the Center for Teaching and Learning at Yale University.

She responded via email to questions about the book.

Q: It is common in higher education these days to talk about the "problem" of women making up a majority of students, as undergraduates and in many professional fields. Is the declining share of male enrollment a problem? Are there problems with talking about gender imbalances in this way?

A: What constitutes a “problem,” in higher education or otherwise, usually favors the perspectives of the powerful. So, when the majority of U.S. college students were male, few named it as problematic. It’s important to note that the number of men in college has not decreased, but their share of the enrollment is lower because so many more women have enrolled. With that greater share came the “problem” label. Labeling the declining share of male college enrollment as a problem is a misnomer, I think, because it misleads us into thinking that balanced gender numbers in college lead to equitable outcomes for men and women once they graduate. The power of a college degree is dependent on its holder’s identities, and one of those is gender.

Q: This issue intersects with discussions of enrollment patterns by race, with many colleges (historically black and predominantly white) talking about the "problem" of two-thirds enrollment of black students being made up of women. Thoughts on those discussions?

A: Again, I refer to the issue of what is named as a problem. I doubt we would be naming black and Hispanic men’s college enrollment as problematic if their numbers were higher; in fact, I think colleges would be displaying those numbers as proof of their commitment to diversity and inclusivity. That minority student college enrollment is largely female seems to offer evidence to some that the “woman problem” crosses racial and ethnic barriers without distinction, while ignoring the issues that such attendance signals.

For example, recent federal data show that black women and men are overrepresented in for-profit master’s degree programs, and black women’s enrollment in those programs is more than three times white women’s enrollment. By pursuing more higher education credentials, women of all races and ethnicities are responding to the cultural mandate that they have to prove their intellectual competence in ways that men do not. Women who are also part of racial and ethnic minority groups have even more to “prove” than white women do.

Q: In many academic fields, women achieve as much or more academic success as do men, but they lag in being hired for the most lucrative and prestigious positions after they graduate. Why is this the case?

A: The Ginger Rogers challenge of having to do everything Fred Astaire did but also do it backward and in high heels still applies: college women excel in academic achievement in part because we know we have to. We know we need to gain higher GPAs, have more leadership positions and more and better college accomplishments just to compete with men. Women also know they need well-connected internships, fellowships and acceptances to prestigious postgraduate placements, which open doors to further success after graduation, but at that point we are subject to still prevalent and sexist notions about who belongs in the most lucrative fields and who can handle the demands of high-status positions.

The recent story of the Google employee who circulated the memo stating, in part, that men have an inherently higher need for status and women are biologically more prone to anxiety and want more work-life balance (making them less than ideal tech workers, in his mind) is just one of the extraordinary number of ways in which women are still told that no matter how successful they are, they’re not good enough. The criteria for money and prestige changes by industry and field, but the bias remains.

Q: In analysis of the Trump electoral victory, many pundits said that educators (and Democratic politicians) failed to see the problems facing white men with little if any higher education, men who are unemployed or underemployed. What do you think of this narrative?

A: I think that what educators and politicians across the spectrum failed -- and fail -- to see is that white men with little or no higher education are afraid of the economic and social changes they see around them. When they found a presidential candidate who offered the possibility of renewing dependable blue-collar jobs, while simultaneously channeling chest-thumping masculinity and downplaying the power of academic degrees and diversity, it was easy to follow Trump’s angry lead.

Men with little or no higher education have traditionally been less willing as adults to go back to school or other training programs (like nursing, teaching and HVAC repair), even when industries are in need of workers. Part of the reason for this seems to be men’s resistance to enter fields that are coded feminine, and part may be their belief that schooling is “what girls do.”

What I also find fascinating (and infuriating) are politicians who assert that universities negatively impact the state of the country, while they themselves possess a number of college degrees. My biggest worry is that college degrees are becoming the equivalent of an unfunded mandate for U.S. women and their employment, even as men either eschew degrees altogether in favor of either under/unemployment, or use elite credentials to create even more entrenched power bases.

Q: What steps should colleges take to confront the issues you raise in your book?

A: Colleges alone will not solve the issues of differential value of women’s and men’s college degrees. That said, they can be much more proactive and constant about discussing the ways in which gender, education and race/ethnicity influence the lives of their graduates. For example, campus leaders from presidents to deans to heads of custodial unions can and should note their own institutions’ gender representations within and across units; roughly equal representation in leadership and learning is not sufficient, but it is necessary.

College advisers of all kinds can be urged to discuss the sexism and the sexist assumptions that still face young women and men as they consider college majors, work opportunities and careers and family. Many women still do not assume, for example, that they will ever be the primary wage earner; choosing majors that lead to potentially well-paying careers is a smart idea to discuss. Further, colleges can and should counter the cultural norms that lead too many young men to believe that they do not need a serious commitment to schoolwork in order to be successful; faculty and staff should have this conversation early and often with the men in their care.

Finally, colleges should find the courage to speak about the powerful -- and political -- ramifications of their work as it relates to gender equity. When they admitted only men, institutions of higher education were clear that they were producing future leaders, creators and power brokers. It’s time for them to unabashedly declare that including women in this vision should produce a more equitable society as well.

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Tool from Union of Concerned Scientists to report political interference

Inside HigherEd - 12 hours 26 min ago

Since President Trump's election, science advocates have become increasingly vocal in opposing actions by his administration, from signing letters of condemnation to marching in the streets and jumping into campaigns for political office.

The Union of Concerned Scientists this month, however, launched an effort that it hopes will promote quieter efforts to defend the independence of science and research. Dubbed the Science Protection Project, the group aims to create an outlet for federal employees and contractors to securely report attempts at political influence over science in the policy-making process.

UCS has set up a SecureDrop server, as well as protected email and text message accounts. It's also advertising a hotline that will be staffed Wednesday afternoons to take tips and a physical mailing address to seek legal advice. Michael Halpern, deputy director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the group isn't seeking classified information or unlawful disclosures.

"If a scientist is having trouble getting information or getting their research out, we want to know about it," he said. "This will be a conduit for information to make it to the public that should be in the public domain."

Disclosures through the project may also point UCS in the right direction to file Freedom of Information Act requests or make reports to inspectors general about allegations of political interference in scientific work.

Among the kinds of reports the group is seeking: removal of public access to scientific data, pressure to alter or "water down" reports, and violations of scientific integrity policies.

Halpern said UCS did much of the same kind of work under the Obama administration, including the use of FOIA requests to scrutinize industry's influence in shaping the work of the Environmental Protection Agency on fracking. "The sidelining of inconvenient facts is not unique to any one administration," he said.

But the group believes the number of cabinet-level officials who have declared themselves in opposition to the mission of the agencies they lead, as well as the increasing surveillance of federal employees, makes a project like this one important now.

The project has already received backing from other pro-science advocacy groups. The March for Science has promoted the project to its followers through social media.

"We wanted to shed a light on this project because we believe science -- whether conducted within the federal government or not -- should be defended from partisan attacks," a spokeswoman for the March for Science said. "Our community is not made up entirely of scientists, but if our sharing a resource like this leads to even one federal scientist in our network finding the support they need to protect their research from partisan meddling, we will have productively used the March for Science platform to further our movement's efforts to support science in the public interest."

UCS and other science advocacy groups have long worked with scientists to protect their legal rights. The American Geophysical Union and the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund for the past five years have run a legal education program for scientists. Chris McEntee, the executive director and CEO of the American Geophysical Union, said the concerns all of those efforts are addressing are not new.

"I would say that there is increasing fear and trepidation that scientists will not be able to share information in an open and objective manner," she said.

Robert Proctor, a professor of the history of science at Stanford University, praised the project as a tool to push back against ignorance.

"If we can trace the mechanisms by which ignorance is being spread, we have a chance of getting the truth out and keeping science alive," he said.

Halpern said his preference is that there would be little reason for complaints about improper political meddling. UCS wants government to function, he said, but efforts like the project could make government officials think twice about censoring or otherwise undermining federal scientific capacity.

"The fact that it exists sends a signal to federal employees that there are entities out there that have their back and support them," he said.

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New presidents or provosts: Berkeley Bethany Chipola Glenville KSU UMass-Dartmouth UW-La Crosse Viterbo

Inside HigherEd - 12 hours 26 min ago
  • M. Christopher Brown II, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at Southern University and A&M System, in Louisiana, has been appointed president of Kentucky State University.
  • Carol T. Christ, former president of Smith College and director of the Center for Studies in Higher Education, has been named chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Sarah Clemmons, senior vice president of instruction and interim president of Chipola College, in Florida, has been appointed president on a permanent basis.
  • Robert E. Johnson, president of Becker College, in Massachusetts, has been selected as chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.
  • Joseph Lane, Hawthorne Professor of Politics and chair of the department of politics, law and international relations at Emory & Henry College, in Virginia, has been chosen as provost of Bethany College, in West Virginia.
  • Betsy Morgan, interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse, has been appointed to the job on a permanent basis.
  • Tracy L. Pellett, provost and vice president for academic affairs at the College of Coastal Georgia, has been selected as president of Glenville State College, in West Virginia.
  • Tracy Stewart, provost at Alaska Pacific University, has been appointed vice president for academic affairs at Viterbo University, in Wisconsin.
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College students unmasked as 'Unite the Right' protesters

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 07:00

The "Unite the Right" rally held in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend drew white nationalists, white supremacists, neo-Nazis and members of the so-called alt-right -- a radical far-right political movement that embraces white nationalism and racism. Some attendees were college students, and photos of them circulating the internet are raising questions on their home campuses.

“You will not replace us,” the protesters shouted, a chant directed at racial minorities. “Jew will not replace us,” the chants continued. “Blood and soil,” a Nazi slogan, was also chanted. Other videos show racial slurs being hurled by white Unite the Right protesters. Richard Spencer, a white supremacist whose supporters have given him Nazi salutes, made an appearance as well. A woman was killed and more than a dozen people injured after a right-wing protester drove his car into a group of counterprotesters, according to Charlottesville police.

Many of those appalled by the rally and its participants have been circulating photographs of participants in an attempt to identify those who attended, calling on employers -- and, in some cases, universities -- to take action. While any disciplinary action is unlikely at public institutions, that doesn't mean issues related to race and free speech will go away.

James Allsup, a Washington State University student who attended the event and was, until Monday, a leader of the College Republicans at the university, will likely face no punishment from Washington State. As a student at a public institution, he’s protected by the First Amendment.

Kirk H. Schulz, WSU’s president, put out a statement on Twitter -- part of which Allsup retweeted -- denouncing “racism and Nazism of any kind,” condemning the violence in Charlottesville. Spokesman Matthew Haugen said that he couldn’t discuss Allsup’s case specifically, citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, but said, broadly, public universities have to uphold free speech.

“Universities are places where controversial voices must be heard,” he said. “Even if those are things that we as a community do not find appropriate. Honestly, WSU has been looking for answers about this for a long time.”

Not everyone on social media agreed with that argument.

This is James Allsup -- speaker at the alt-right rally, Wash State U. College Republicans president, and one of @bakedalaska's racist homies pic.twitter.com/tjDqnHb7YP

— Yes, You're Racist (@YesYoureRacist) August 13, 2017

The leader of one of your on campus student organizations is a white supremacist. If hate has no place at WSU neither does James Allsup.

— Horatio (@lemonsparklingw) August 14, 2017

The American Civil Liberties Union, which fought for Unite the Right organizers’ right to hold the protest, also condemned the violence and views expressed by the organizers.

“We condemn the voices of white supremacy heard in Charlottesville today, and all violence. Our hearts are with those killed and injured,” the ACLU said in a string of tweets. “The First Amendment is a critical part of our democracy, and it protects vile, hateful and ignorant speech. For this reason, the ACLU of Virginia defended the white supremacists' right to march. But we will not be silent in the face of white supremacy.”

In a statement, the College Republican National Committee -- which, as a private organization, is not bound to uphold First Amendment protections for its members -- condemned “in the strongest way possible the vile, racist and cowardly acts committed by white supremacists in Charlottesville.”

The statement called for all leaders who “support or condone these events” to resign immediately. Whether that would actually have any impact on Allsup was not immediately clear, but he had resigned by Monday evening. He -- like many other far-right protesters -- has said that the rally is being misrepresented in the media, and that he didn’t support all of the groups in attendance, although he also defended attending the event.

However, a video -- allegedly posted by Allsup and later taken down -- has been circulating, purportedly showing Allsup marching with right-wing protesters who are shouting racial slurs as Allsup laughs and continues to march with them. The video also allegedly shows Allsup cheering on Spencer when he makes an appearance.

“The university should not be in the business of disavowing what their students do, what their tuition-paying students do in their professional careers,” Allsup told WSU’s student newspaper in an article prior to his resignation.

Allsup, who told the student newspaper he denounced racism and Nazism, did not return multiple requests for comment, including one sent with a link to the video.

White Supremacy, Higher Ed and the First Amendment

Allsup isn’t the only college student who has been identified as attending the Unite the Right rally. Peter Cvjetanovic, of the University of Nevada at Reno, has also been identified as attending the rally, and a petition has been circulating calling for his expulsion. A UNR spokeswoman confirmed he is a student.

The petition, signed by more than 18,000, states in part, "Your student and employee, Peter Cvjetanovic, is a white supremacist and poster boy for the terrible and violent 'alt-right' a.k.a. Nazi marches in Charlottesville … This was not a march for free speech. It was a march filled with hate speech and [that] promoted oppression of civil rights … Since launching this petition I have received numerous messages from your students who do not feel safe going to school and do not want to go to school with him around."

“Racism and white supremacist movements have a corrosive effect on our society,” UNR President Marc A. Johnson said in a statement. “These movements do not represent our values as a university … As an institution, we remain firm in our commitment in denouncing all forms of bigotry and racism, which have no place in a free and equal society.”

But Cvjetanovic will keep his job, and remain a student.

Johnson went on to say, "There have been numerous inquiries about Peter Cvjetanovic, a student at our university who participated in the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. Based on discussion and investigation with law enforcement, our attorneys and our Office of Student Conduct, there is no constitutional or legal reason to expel him from our university … The First Amendment freedom of free speech requires us all to understand that sometimes support of this freedom can be uncomfortable. It is one of the most difficult freedoms we live with. It requires us to support the right of people to express views which we sometimes vehemently disagree."

Washington State and Nevada Reno's situations are nothing new. In 2012, Matthew Heimbach started a white student union at Towson University, a public institution in Maryland.

Heimbach, leader of the Traditionalist Workers Party -- a far-right, white nationalist group with neo-Nazi ties -- has found himself in court since leaving Towson. He was filmed shoving a black protester at a Donald Trump campaign rally, and later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, although he received no jail time.

Heimbach also attended the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, where he directed protesters to break through police barricades.

Last year Nathan Damigo, a student at California State University, Stanislaus, was posting white supremacist fliers at another California State campus. The posters, telling white students to “protect your heritage” and “serve your people,” were the first wave of posters for Identity Evropa, a white nationalist group Damigo founded.

"I will continue to stand for promoting a warm, welcoming and respectful learning environment for everyone on our campus and in the community," Ellen Junn, the university's president, said in a statement at the time. "Though it may be difficult to hear disparate viewpoints, it is ever more vital to remember that Stanislaus State and the CSU have an obligation and commitment to the founding principles of our American democracy -- a democracy that upholds the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech, even when that speech may be controversial or offensive to others. Sometimes speech that occurs on campus is inconsistent with Stanislaus State’s core institutional values of inclusiveness, diversity and respect."

Like Heimbach, Damigo’s actions as a student at a public college were protected by the First Amendment. And, like Heimbach, he would go on to find himself in trouble for violent actions.

In April Stanislaus officials launched an investigation into Damigo after he was filmed punching a woman during protester-counterprotester clashes in Berkeley. The encounter occurred during a “Patriots Day” rally, organized by Trump supporters and far-right groups, billed as a free speech event. 

"The University continues to closely review and coordinate with local law enforcement to assess the event that took place at Berkeley," spokeswoman Rosalee Rush said in an email. "As a public institution of higher education, we are committed to helping our students understand complex issues such as First Amendment free speech and how to cope with hate speech in a productive way." 

At the University of Wisconsin at Madison, a computer science student named Daniel Dropik abandoned his effort to start a campus chapter of the American Freedom Party, a white nationalist group. Dropik, who served time in federal prison after being convicted of arson for setting fires at two predominantly black churches in 2005, faced pressure from the administration and student leaders to do so, although the university could not force him to halt the project.

Reform Through Education?

If many are pushing universities to take action against white nationalist students, some would point to the value of higher education in fighting off those ideas. Derek Black, the son of the founder of the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, found his white supremacist and white nationalist views reversed after attending the New College of Florida, a public institution.

The Washington Post documented Black’s transition from a rising star in the white nationalist movement to someone who came to value diversity, which came through exposure to different students at the liberal arts college.

“I have resolved that it is in the best interests of everyone involved to be honest about my slow but steady disaffiliation from white nationalism. I can’t support a movement that tells me I can’t be a friend to whomever I wish or that other people’s races require me to think of them in a certain way or be suspicious at their advancements,” he wrote of his transformation. “The things I have said as well as my actions have been harmful to people of color, people of Jewish descent, activists striving for opportunity and fairness for all. I am sorry for the damage done.”

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Survey sheds light on how cost, earnings information influences decisions over higher ed

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 07:00

About two-thirds of U.S. adults would want their child to attend a four-year university if they had a child of college-going age, but significant variations exist based on income, educational attainment and partisan affiliation, according to new polling released today.

Support for a child attending a university to earn a four-year degree was substantially higher among Democrats than it was for Republicans, according to a survey being released today by the opinion and research journal Education Next. But the gap narrowed if the partisans were given more information, to the point where it disappeared if survey respondents were given information on both the cost of college and the likely lifetime earnings benefits of a four-year degree. That information made Republicans more likely to want a university education for a child than they had been previously -- but it had the opposite effect on Democrats.

The findings come on the heels of an eye-opening survey released by the Pew Research Center in June that showed Republicans’ view of higher education has deteriorated significantly in recent years. The new survey would seem to point to significant nuance in partisans’ views of higher education, indicating that positions can change based on information available and that broad perceptions do not necessarily translate into personal preferences.

Pollsters working for Education Next asked 4,214 adults over the age of 18 a series of questions between May 5 and June 7 of this year. The questions addressed issues ranging from charter schools to immigration policies in addition to higher education.

Where Would You Want to Send Your Child?

Different groups were asked variations on a question about whether they would want their child to attend a university to earn a four-year degree, a community college to earn a two-year degree or neither. The first group was simply asked which option they would want for their oldest child under the age of 18 or if they had a child of college-going age.

Just over two-thirds of all respondents, 67 percent, said they would want their child to attend a university to earn a four-year degree. About a fifth, 22 percent, said they would want their child to attend community college and to go on to earn a two-year degree.

When the findings were broken down by partisan affiliation and leaning, significant differences emerged. Desire for a child to attend a four-year college was substantially lower for Republicans and higher for Democrats. The opposite was true when it came to two-year colleges.

Just 57 percent of Republicans said they would want their child to attend a university for a four-year degree, compared to 75 percent of Democrats. But 31 percent of Republicans said they would want their child to attend a community college for a two-year degree, compared to 16 percent of Democrats.

A second respondent group was asked a question that included information on the earnings benefits of a four-year degree. It noted that on average, students completing four-year degrees earned $61,400 each year over the course of their working lives, while those completing two-year degrees earned $46,000 annually on average. In responses, interest in a child pursuing a four-year degree rose among all respondents, as well as both Republicans and Democrats. About 75 percent of all respondents, 70 percent of Republicans and 79 percent of Democrats picked a four-year degree for their children.

A third group was asked the question after being told only about the cost of higher education. Respondents were told a four-year degree costs $14,210 per year at an in-state public university on average and that it costs $7,620 per year at a local community college to complete a two-year degree. Interest in a four-year degree fell and interest in a two-year degree rose among Democrats. Interestingly, interest in a four-year degree was still higher among Republicans than it was if they were given no information, while interest in a two-year degree was slightly lower.

When given only information on the cost of college, 60 percent of all respondents said they would want their child to pursue a four-year degree, and 26 percent said they would want their child to pursue a two-year degree. Among Democrats, 63 percent picked a four-year degree and 26 percent picked a two-year degree. Among Republicans, 60 percent picked a four-year degree and 27 percent picked a two-year degree.

It should be little surprise that adding information to a question will change respondents’ answers. The results of such “priming” are a well-known phenomenon among those who construct surveys. However, comparing the way different groups react to different information can be insightful.

Consequently, the survey’s most notable result came from a group of respondents that was given information on both the costs and financial benefits of higher education. When they were given the average annual earnings of a student with a two- or four-year degree and the average annual costs associated with those degrees, respondents’ answers mirrored those who were given no additional information.

Two-thirds, 66 percent, of all respondents said they would want their child to go to a university for a four-year degree -- virtually identical to the rate of respondents who were given no information. About a fifth, 22 percent, picked a two-year community college, also identical.

But the breakdown between Democrats and Republicans changed significantly. When cost and earnings information was presented, 66 percent of Republicans and 66 percent of Democrats chose a four-year university as the desired destination for their child. That’s up nine percentage points among Republicans and down nine percentage points among Democrats from those who were given no information. Another 24 percent of Republicans and 19 percent of Democrats chose a community college, down seven percentage points among Republicans and up three percentage points among Democrats from those who were given no information.

“When we provide information on the costs and benefits of the two types of degrees, the difference between Democrats and Republicans disappears,” said Paul E. Peterson, an Education Next senior editor who is also the director of the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. “In other words, when people have information, the partisanship that we originally identify seems to have evaporated.”

That finding is particularly noteworthy coming on the heels of the June Pew survey finding an increasing partisan divide over higher education. Two years ago, 54 percent of Republicans told Pew colleges had a positive impact on the direction of the country, according to that survey. That fell to 43 percent last year and 36 percent this year. Democrats, meanwhile, have gradually become more positive about higher education, with 72 percent this year viewing higher ed as having a positive effect, up from 65 percent in 2010.

Even so, observers on both the left and the right said the Education Next findings are interesting but not necessarily surprising.

“I’m not that surprised because we’re polling parents,” said Mark Huelsman, a senior policy analyst at the progressive think tank Demos, which has been a major advocate for free tuition in public higher education. “By and large they aspire for their children to get a four-year degree.”

More than anything, the results show that people need time to do calculations for a cost-benefit analysis, said Mary Alice McCarthy, director of the Center on Education and Skills at New America.

“People have a hard time doing math on the phone,” she said. “I wouldn’t read too much into the results.”

“The Pew survey was very much a 30,000-foot view of higher education,” said Rick Hess, resident scholar and director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. The Education Next survey, on the other hand, steered people away from thinking about their general impressions or the most recent news article about higher ed that upset them. It steered them toward considering the way educational decisions affect their families and their bank accounts over time.

“Republicans, for a host of reasons -- personally, I think, most of them legitimate -- have become quite skeptical about four-year institutions,” Hess said. “But when you ask them questions that point out people who go to four-year institutions are much more likely to earn a good living, that not only gives them information, but it reframes what they’re thinking about. It’s the same thing with Democrats.”

Hess is also an executive editor at Education Next. But he was not aware of the survey or involved in it, he said.

Republicans and Democrats are much more similar when they are talking about a cost evaluation -- about, say a gallon of milk -- than they are when they are asked what they think about higher education in general, Hess said.

“If you’re asking if $2.39 is a good price for a gallon of milk, I think you’d get similar answers right or left,” Hess said. “If you say, ‘Do you think milk should be organically farmed?’ I think you would see more right-left split.”

The Education Next survey also found that white survey respondents without a college degree were less likely than their peers with a degree to want their children to go to a four-year institution. When asked what they would want for their children but not given any cost or earning information, 57 percent of whites without four-year degrees said they would want their children to go to a four-year university. Another 30 percent said they would want their children to go to a community college.

Those findings are substantially different from those for whites with four-year college degrees, 88 percent of whom said they would want their children to go to a university for a four-year degree. Only 8 percent of whites with college degrees said they would want their children to go to a community college.

The splits between whites with and without four-year degrees were virtually unchanged after respondents were given information on both earnings and costs. In other words, those without degrees don’t seem to lack the information they need to make college and career choices, according to Education Next.

Results were similar when splitting white responses along income lines. Only 56 percent of white respondents with incomes of less than $75,000 said they would want their children to go to four-year universities, compared to 80 percent of whites with incomes of $75,000 or more. When they were given information on earnings and cost, 52 percent of the lower-income group chose four-year universities and 79 percent of the higher income group did so.

Hispanic survey respondents did show a substantial difference based on information provided, however. Without being told about the costs or benefits of college, 61 percent of Hispanic respondents said they would want their children to attend a four-year university. That jumped to 72 percent after they were told about earnings and costs.

Sample size limitations prevented pollsters from breaking out results for black non-Hispanic respondents.

Affirmative Action

The survey also contained a set of questions that is pertinent in light of reports that the Trump administration will investigate colleges and possibly sue them over affirmative action.

Respondents were asked whether professors’ racial and ethnic backgrounds, gender and political opinions "should be considered to help promote … diversity among college faculty, even if that means hiring some … professors who otherwise would not be hired" -- or whether professors should be hired "solely on the basis of merit, even if that results in few" minority, female or conservative professors being hired.

Only 19 percent of respondents said racial and ethnic background should be considered, with 6 percent of Republicans agreeing and 28 percent of Democrats agreeing. Just 14 percent said gender should be considered, with 5 percent of Republicans and 21 percent of Democrats agreeing.

A quarter of respondents said political opinions should be considered, with 30 percent of Republicans agreeing and 21 percent of Democrats agreeing.

The only breakdown of the results on racial lines that was available was for Hispanic and white non-Hispanic respondents, again because of sample-size issues for black non-Hispanic respondents. Among Hispanic respondents, 33 percent said racial and ethnic background should be considered, 16 percent said gender should be considered, and 27 percent said political opinions should be considered. Among white non-Hispanic respondents, 12 percent said racial and ethnic background should be considered, 10 percent said gender should be considered, and 21 percent said political opinions should be considered.

Some commentators noted that Republicans were more likely to support such hiring policies when it would presumably lead to more hiring from their ranks. But the same could be said for Democrats.

The findings show how unpopular such hiring policies are across the spectrum, said Max Eden, a senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute.

“It’s interesting how it is such a strongly minority opinion against both parties that race or political ideology should be taken into account when it comes to hiring,” Eden said.

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Sociologists talk about teaching in the political now, with an emphasis on Charlottesville

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 07:00

MONTREAL -- It’s not whether to talk to students about sensitive current events like the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va., but how. That was the upshot of a panel called “Teaching in Our Contemporary Moment” here Monday at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.

“You have to talk about those things in your class,” said Tanya Golash-Boza, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Merced, who specializes in race and immigration. “Whatever you think of sociologists, they’re more socially aware than the biologists and the computer scientists … You have to remember that sociology is a place where students come to talk about what happened yesterday, what happened last week.”

While Charlottesville was subtext for a variety of panels here, Golash-Boza said that her students in particular were rocked by a 2015 campus stabbing attack by student who was later killed by police. And because a majority of her students are Hispanic, with many from immigrant families, there are lingering concerns about President’s Trump’s rhetoric and actions on immigration.

Golash-Boza said it doesn’t make her “feel the most comfortable to manage the feelings of 50 people at once, but I can.” One strategy, she said, is to call for backup: ask experts in the subject matter, from on campus or off, to speak to students. After Trump’s election, for example, she invited a colleague who works for a political think tank to visit and answer students’ questions about what is actually possible, within the limits of the Constitution, in terms of immigration.

“It’s not my forte to try and make students feel safe -- it’s not what I do,” said Golash-Boza. “What I see as more [my] forte is to try and make them feel empowered.” Part of that, she said, is trying to include as many women, writers of color and younger critical voices on her syllabus as possible.

Melissa Brown, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maryland at College Park, recently co-designed and co-taught a class with her professor, Patricia Hill Collins, on black social movements. Brown said the class -- which operated off a living syllabus and encouraged students to use Twitter to discuss current events -- drew on campus activism, including Black Lives Matter. (Collins taught an earlier version of the course just after the death of Freddie Gray while he was in police custody, in nearby Baltimore. Richard Collins III, a black Bowie State University student, was murdered at the Maryland campus this year, and the suspect was a Maryland student with apparent white supremacist sympathies.)

“Maryland’s students are the most activist students I’ve ever seen,” said Brown. “And being so close to [Washington], these students are living this moment -- this stuff is being brought to their front door."

Brown said each class session on black social movements started with a 10- to 15-minute discussion of current events, during which she, Patricia Collins and other co-instructors took a backseat. Assigned student groups next led discussions about a dedicated topic, and the class concluded in group work.

Ground principles -- if not rules -- were helpful in facilitating civil discussions, Brown said. For example, students knew they were not there to debate whether or not racism exists. Golash-Boza agreed, saying that hard facts and figures were the building blocks of discussion, not subjects of debate, in her classroom.

Current Events and the Sociological Lens

Jessie Daniels, a professor of sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, also said that current events are valuable lenses through which to study sociological phenomena. She’s previously assessed students by asking them to pick an event and analyze it, using course materials, for example.

Daniels cautioned, however, that critical media literacy is a crucial "second curriculum" for any course that encourages students’ exploration of varied media -- so much so that she’s created a page on critical media literacy on her wiki site dedicated to teaching sociology through documentary film.

“The critical media piece is incredibly important at this moment, and becoming more important every semester,” she said, “as part of what’s happening in our current era is a manipulation of media.”

Brown agreed, saying while Twitter was useful teaching tool, it had led at least one of her students to conspiracy theory-oriented corners of the web. As he espoused such beliefs in a class discussion, however, instructors corrected him, Brown said.

Sometimes, of course, even professors don’t have all the answers. During another panel with undercurrents related to Charlottesville -- called “Trump’s Challenge to Democracy?” -- scholars struggled to answer the question. Sidney Tarrow, Maxwell M. Upson Professor Emeritus of Government at Cornell University, compared him to Italian dictator Benito Mussolini in his media savvy and "indifference" to ideology, but the overall consensus was that Trump is more of a symbolic menace to democracy than an actual one. 

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, a professor of sociology at Duke University and president-elect of the sociological association, joked that if “God supposedly created the world in six days, Trump in six months has come close to destroying it.” While he admittedly questioned his conclusions in the aftermath of Charlottesville, Bonilla-Silva said that Trump thus far has appealed more to emotion -- and racialized emotion in particular -- than taken concrete steps to dismantle democracy.

“Almost every day, we hear someone saying, ‘Can you believe what Trump did yesterday?’” Bonilla-Silva said, urging sociologists not to "normalize" the political present. “While we should join in this type of criticism -- and I confess the ‘Trumpster’ is in many ways unique -- our central focus ought to be his base policies on the class, race and gender fronts.”

On each, Bonilla-Silva continued, “this administration has not changed the fundamentals of American policy -- although on the race and gender fronts, he’s advancing morals that represent a step back.” Of race, in particular, he said, "Trumpism" has fostered a "dangerous environment that has created and green light for race crimes to flourish." 

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Free speech a focus as Christ starts year as Berkeley's chancellor

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 07:00

As battles in the new culture wars continue to spill onto college campuses across the country, it is no surprise that University of California, Berkeley, Chancellor Carol Christ is making free speech a point of emphasis in her first year.

Christ, 73, will be announcing her plans and priorities for Berkeley Tuesday, the same day the prominent public research university holds a convocation for 9,500 new students. One of her top priorities in the new academic year is focusing on issues of free speech -- what some at the university are casting as reclaiming Berkeley’s legacy as the home of the free speech movement.

The historical ties aren’t the only reason Berkeley’s focus on free speech is particularly important at the moment. The university was rocked this winter by violence before a planned appearance by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. A speech he planned to give was canceled in February amid the unrest, with police saying they were forced to evacuate Yiannopoulos for safety reasons -- officials said "masked agitators came onto campus" and instigated violence. The university was again plunged into a free speech controversy in April, when a talk by conservative commentator Ann Coulter was canceled after threats of violence and police saying they were unable to guarantee safety when and where she wanted to speak.

The incidents drew howls from the right, who accused Berkeley of attempting to silence conservative speech on campus. The university found itself a symbol for the conflict between conservative speakers pushing the envelope and upset protestors pushing back.

Those events took place before Christ took over as Berkeley’s chancellor, a move that became official July 1. But she was interim executive vice chancellor and provost at Berkeley, a role that had her responsible for the campus’s day-to-day operations and finances as well as its academic programs and faculty recruitment.

Berkeley, as a public institution, is fully committed to protecting free speech, Christ said during a telephone interview Friday. She personally believes a healthy political dialogue needs voices from all parts of the political spectrum to be heard, she added.

“We are deeply committed to the principle of free speech,” she said. “At the same time, we don’t want to, in any way, minimize or trivialize the concerns of people in our communities that feel that sometimes speakers come and say not only things with which they disagree, but things that they feel are deeply abhorrent to them. We need to spend a lot of time as a community thinking about those tensions, but that doesn’t in any way minimize our commitment to free speech.”

Controversial speech raises questions about campus security protocols, particularly after the clashes that erupted this winter at Berkeley and the deadly violence that took place in Charlottesville, Va., this weekend after white nationalists rallied at the University of Virginia. In her interview Friday, which took place before the events unfolded in Virginia, Christ acknowledged the need to balance free speech and safety.

“We have the responsibility to protect free speech,” she said. “We also have the responsibility to protect the safety of our students. And so of course we’re doing planning on the security side.”

Berkeley has already been thrust into the free speech debate this summer, even before the beginning of the fall semester. Berkeley College Republicans and Young America’s Foundation in July said the university blocked conservative commentator Ben Shapiro from appearing.

The university said it was unable to find a space meeting size requirements on the September date requested and that it had offered alternative times. The groups labeled the explanation “laughable,” saying “an endless stream of liberal speakers” were being allowed to speak without time or place restrictions.

Berkeley is clarifying some of its policies in response to recent events, Christ said. But she said that rather than being a fundamental change, the move is aimed at specific details, like making sure student groups understand how to reserve venues before inviting speakers.

Yiannopoulos has said he wanted to host free speech rallies at Berkeley this fall. He and other speakers will be accommodated just like any other speaker, Christ said.

Berkeley also plans events, forums and debates under its free speech focus. The essence of the university is a marketplace where ideas can confront one another peacefully, Christ said.

“Free speech is also having those hard discussions between people who disagree fundamentally on important issues and being able to disagree civilly and respectfully,” she said.

Monday evening, Christ sent a statement to the campus saying she was horrified by the weekend's events in Virginia and condemning "the reprehensible acts of the racist groups" bringing violence to Charlottesville. She called on Berkeley to come together to oppose threats and defend a belief in reason, diversity, equity and inclusion.

Christ also noted that planning is already underway for controversial events at Berkeley this fall.

"Paired with our commitment to the First Amendment is an equally firm commitment to the safety of the members of our campus community and their guests," she wrote. "We believe deeply in the value and importance of nonviolence, and we will make every effort to deter, remove or apprehend those who seek to cause harm to others, as well as to provide the resources, support and guidance that can help make events on our campus safe and successful."

Christ was the president of Smith College from 2002 to 2013. But her ties to Berkeley date back decades. She joined the university in 1970 as an assistant professor of English and remained there in various positions both academic and administrative before leaving for Smith. She returned to Berkeley in 2015 to direct its Center for Studies in Higher Education before taking on the interim executive vice chancellor and provost role.

Christ’s other priorities as chancellor at Berkeley include building community at the university, which enrolls roughly 40,000 undergraduate and graduate students, in order to overcome difficult recent events like the free speech clashes, budget worries and sexual harassment scandals. She also wants to improve the undergraduate experience, help faculty perform research, improve the university’s budget situation and boost diversity among students, faculty and staff.

Berkeley faced a budget deficit of $150 million in June 2016, Christ said. The deficit was reported at $110 million this year.

Christ’s goal is to bring the deficit down to $57 million in 2018 and eliminate it by 2020. To do so, she wants to increase revenue from nondegree enrollment, master’s degree programs, entrepreneurial activity like ownership stakes in start-ups, monetizing real estate and philanthropy. She has also written that cuts were necessary but that the university will try to find new revenues instead of future cuts.

Christ has also made finding a dedicated funding stream for deferred maintenance a priority. But she recognizes the university is operating in an environment of constrained state funding.

“I certainly will do everything that I can to advocate that state funding stays stable,” she said. “Understanding the state budget in the way I do, I don’t think it’s likely that it’s going to go back to its former levels.”

Christ, who is the first woman to be Berkeley’s chancellor, also had some noteworthy comments on diversifying the university, its professors and its leaders. Asked about what is known as the leadership pipeline problem in higher education -- the idea that diverse candidates are not being promoted through the ranks far enough or in great enough numbers to increase their presence in the pool of candidates for leadership positions -- Christ said Berkeley should be able to overcome that challenge.

“Yes, to a certain extent, there is a pipeline problem,” Christ said. “But I think for an institution that is as attractive a place to be as Berkeley, there is talent out there, and we can do a better job recruiting it.”

Editorial Tags: College administrationImage Source: University of California, BerkeleyImage Caption: Carol ChristIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 

Texas A&M, citing security issues, calls off "White Lives Matter" event

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 07:00

Texas A&M University late Monday said it would not permit a "White Lives Matter" event -- featuring white supremacist Richard Spencer -- to take place on campus on Sept. 11.

Spencer appeared at Texas A&M in December. At that time the university's leaders said they deplored his ideas but had to give him the right to appear because Texas A&M is a public institution, governed by the First Amendment. Monday's announcement may reflect how things have changed since the events of Charlottesville, Va., this weekend, when white supremacists not only spewed hateful messages, but one drove a car into a group of counterprotesters, killing one woman. Organizers of the Texas A&M event explicitly said that they saw Charlottesville as a model, issuing a press release that said, “Today Charlottesville, Tomorrow Texas A&M.”

"Linking the tragedy of Charlottesville with the Texas A&M event creates a major security risk on our campus. Additionally, the daylong event would provide disruption to our class schedules and to student, faculty and staff movement (both bus system and pedestrian)," said the statement issued by the university.

The statement added, "Texas A&M’s support of the First Amendment and the freedom of speech cannot be questioned. On Dec. 6, 2016, the university and law enforcement allowed the same speaker the opportunity to share his views, taking all of the necessary precautions to ensure a peaceful event. However, in this case, circumstances and information relating to the event have changed and the risks of threat to life and safety compel us to cancel the event."

The university statement did not cite Spencer by name or mention his ideology. The statement only referred to security issues, post-Charlottesville.

Texas A&M changed its policies on outside sponsored events after the December appearance by Spencer. Under the new policy, reserving rooms or facilities requires the sponsorship of a university group. Organizers of the planned Sept. 11 event lacked such sponsorship, and so planned an outside event.

Preston Wiginton, a former Texas A&M student who organized Spencer's December appearance and was planning the September event, told The Houston Chronicle that he expected to sue, saying that Texas A&M officials "think they're above the law" and that "the First Amendment in America doesn't mean anything." (A Texas Tribune profile of Wiginton describes his campaign to bring incendiary speakers to Texas A&M.)

How a court would rule on the issue isn't certain. Generally, federal courts have backed the right of speakers -- however odious -- to speak on public college and university campuses. Auburn University in April tried to block a Spencer appearance, and a federal judge ordered the university to let him speak, which he then did. But that was before Charlottesville.

A History of Hateful Statements

In November, Spencer announced that one of the targets for his efforts would be college campuses, and that he was planning an appearance at Texas A&M University in early December. To understand why so many people are upset about Spencer, consider these background reports from the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, both of which note that he has called for the creation of a white state of America. He regularly includes references in his speeches that suggest his admiration for the Nazis. For instance, he says that most journalists are part of the Lügenpresse, a term the Nazis used to mean "lying press."

On Saturday night, with the violence in Charlottesville fresh in people's minds, the president of the University of Florida, Kent Fuchs, announced on Facebook that Florida had been contacted by the National Policy Institute about arranging a Spencer speech on Sept. 12. Fuchs noted that university regulations permit its facilities to be rented, provided that groups cover rental fees and security costs. He said the university was working on a security plan.

In another sign of how Charlottesville may have changed the debate about white nationalists on campus, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education declined on Monday night to comment on Texas A&M's decision. FIRE is normally outspoken in defending the idea that public universities should generally be open to all speakers.

DiversityEditorial Tags: Diversity MattersStudent lifeImage Caption: Richard SpencerIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 3Diversity Newsletter publication date: Tuesday, August 15, 2017Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Email Teaser: Texas A&M Calls Off White Supremacy Event

White supremacy is turning up on campus in speeches and leaflets

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 08/14/2017 - 07:00

The events in Charlottesville this weekend have worried educators nationwide.

But they are not typical of how white supremacists are turning up on campus. The last academic year saw more of a visible white power movement on campus than ever before, according to the Anti-Defamation League and others. Much of the activity, however, came in the form of racist posters and leaflets that appeared on campuses, most of the time anonymously and without any link to a person on campus.

The last year also saw, however, a campaign by the National Policy Institute to hold events on campus -- and that effort may be picking up this fall. The institution describes itself as committed to promoting "the heritage, identity and future of people of European descent." The leader of the group, Richard Spencer, is known for "Hail Trump" rhetoric that prompts his supporters to respond with Nazi salutes.

Handling Richard Spencer Speeches

In November, Spencer announced that one of the targets for his efforts would be college campuses, and that he was planning an appearance at Texas A&M University in early December. To understand why so many people are upset about Spencer, consider these background reports from the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, both of which note that he has called for the creation of a white state of America. He regularly includes references in his speeches that suggest his admiration for the Nazis. For instance, he says that most journalists are part of the Lügenpresse, a term the Nazis used to mean "lying press."

Charlottesville: Special Report

While many urged Texas A&M to block the visit, the university declined to do so, noting its obligations as a public university to uphold First Amendment protections of free speech. But the university condemned Spencer and his ideas and organized a series of alternate events -- for the time of his speech -- designed to promote unity at the institution. The backlash against Spencer was strong at Texas A&M, an institution with military roots and pride in the hundreds of students and alumni who died fighting the Nazis in World War II.

In April, Spencer spoke at Auburn University, giving a typically inflammatory speech that was answered at various points by audience members, but which went on as scheduled. Auburn had tried to block the event, saying that it would create unsafe conditions, but a federal judge ruled that Spencer had a First Amendment right to appear at the public institution.

Next up appears to be the University of Florida. On Saturday night, with the violence in Charlottesville fresh in people's minds, the university's president, Kent Fuchs, announced on Facebook that the university had been contacted by the National Policy Institute about arranging a Spencer speech on Sept. 12. Fuchs noted that university regulations permit its facilities to be rented, provided that groups cover rental fees and security costs. He said the university was working on a security plan.

"For many in our community, including myself, this speaker’s presence would be deeply disturbing. What we’ve watched happen in Charlottesville, Va., in the last 24 hours is deplorable. I again denounce all statements and symbols of hate," Fuchs said. "The University of Florida is a community of learners, educators and scholars. We encourage open and honest dialogue, and we strive to build an inclusive environment where hate is not welcome. While this speaker’s views do not align with our values as an institution, we must follow the law, upholding the First Amendment not to discriminate based on content and provide access to a public space."

As officials did at the University of Virginia, Fuchs urged students not to engage directly with visiting white supremacists. "Instead of allowing hateful speech to tear us down, I urge our campus community to join together, respect one another and promote positive speech, while allowing for differing opinions. These types of groups want media attention. I encourage our campus community to send a message of unity by not engaging with this group and giving them more media attention for their message of intolerance and hate," he said.

So far, there are indications that some at Florida very much want to engage in protest if Spencer appears there. A Facebook group called No Nazis at UF has been created, with discussion about protest tactics (with some arguing for ignoring Spencer and others saying counterprotests are essential). The illustration for the Facebook group features a photo from the white nationalist march at the University of Virginia (at right).

Texas A&M is also expecting a "White Lives Matter" rally, organized by the same group that brought Spencer to campus, on Sept. 11.

The Texas Tribune reported that Spencer will speak at the rally and that organizers issued a press release stating: “Today Charlottesville Tomorrow Texas A&M."

Students are already organizing a counterprotest, and a social media campaign under the hashtag @BTHOhate. ("BTHO" is part of a Texas A&M football cheer, meaning "Beat the hell outta" the opponent.) Plans posted by students to social media state, "The protest will take two forms. First, we plan on forming a Maroon Wall, a human barricade around the racist rally to block passersby from having to see it. Second, we plan to hold an adjacent protest to resist racism and commemorate the lives lost fighting fascism and intolerance."

Leaflets and Posters

Only a few campuses have hosted self-avowed white nationalists in the last year.

But a March report from the Anti-Defamation League said that there were 107 incidents of white supremacist activity on campuses during the 2016-17 academic year -- most commonly leaflets or posters from white nationalist groups, the report says. Of these incidents, 65 took place in the first months of 2017.

When Inside Higher Ed and others have reported on some of these incidents, various websites have said that these incidents are hoaxes or "fake news." The ADL said that the tally in the report is of verified incidents, sorted by location, and with photo documentation, campus reports and other evidence for each incident. In most cases, no one on campus claims responsibility for the posters, but they are an affront to black, Latino, immigrant, Muslim and Jewish students.

In several cases, people have hacked college and university library printers so leaflets appear, leaving students to assume that the person next to them might be a white supremacist. The image at left was printed out at several college libraries, remotely through hacking.

Many other posters feature images from ancient Greek or Roman statues, calling on students to embrace a "European" heritage.

Reports of such posters have been less common during the summer, but just last week, the University of Utah started investigating reports on posters on campus, images of which circulated on social media (below). These posters blame crime on black people and feature a link to a website with the name "blood and soil," a Nazi slogan that was among the chants of the white nationalists who marched at the University of Virginia Friday night.

Apparently these fliers were on MY campus. @UUtah what the hell are these? pic.twitter.com/PVd9VHjAWn

— Joshua Soutas (@SoutasJosh) August 10, 2017 DiversityEditorial Tags: Diversity MattersRacial groupsStudent lifeImage Caption: Richard Spencer (left) and posters various groups have put up on campusesIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 1Diversity Newsletter publication date: Tuesday, August 15, 2017Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Email Teaser: Supremacists on Campus

Sociologists seek systematic response to online targeting of and threats against public scholars

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 08/14/2017 - 07:00

MONTREAL -- Race, religion, gender, inequality. They’re all central to sociology, the study of social relationships and institutions. They’re also topics over which scholars -- Johnny Eric Williams, Dana Cloud, Sarah Bond, Tommy Curry, to name a few -- have been targeted in recent months. It’s no wonder, then, that a number of sessions at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association discussed the troubling trend of threats against professors engaged in public scholarship.

One such session, "Protecting Public Scholars From Backlash," was actually pitched 18 months ago, before the newest round of hate mail and threats of violence filled professors’ inboxes. At the time, session co-organizer Eric Anthony Grollman, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Richmond and a columnist for Inside Higher Ed, was concerned about scholars like Saida Grundy, an assistant professor of sociology at Boston University whose sociologically sound online comments about young white men sparked ire in 2015 (she kept her job).

In the interim, Grollman said in introducing the panel, public backlash against scholars has only grown. There’s also plummeting public confidence in higher education and what Grollman described as a new level of anti-intellectualism infused with racism, legitimized by the Trump administration.

Yet while personal attacks can feel isolating and shocking, they and other panelists said, they’re part of a well-funded, systematic attack on progressive academic ideals.

“Our goal here is to think sociologically about this problem,” Grollman said, noting that marginalized scholars -- people of color, women and LGBT scholars -- are disproportionately targeted. “These attacks are not isolated incidents, but they’re actually part of a larger conservative assault on higher education, and it’s not limited to what we call our extramural utterances … There are scholars who’ve been attacked for what they teach in the classroom, for the type of research they do.”

Grollman and others described a common cycle of a professor’s comments on a politicized topic first appearing on a right-wing website such as Campus Reform, which is supported by the conservative Leadership Institute. It’s soon followed by other, similar websites and news outlets and, finally, Fox News. Then, they said, “ensue the death threats, the threats of sexual violence, calls for them to be fired and lose their jobs. This is not a whimsical thing -- there’s an actual system in place.”

If threats against scholars are organized where, then, is sociology’s organized response? Other panelists asked this question and offered thoughts on how the discipline should both support threatened scholars and proactively work to prevent such targeting.

A Systematic Problem Needs a Systematic Response

Borrowing a term from Prudence L. Carter, dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley, panelist Jodi O’Brien, professor of sociology at Seattle University, asked whether sociologists want to be “interventionist scholars.” O’Brien, who lost a deanship at Marquette University in 2010 after accusations that she was anti-family (what O’Brien and many of her supporters allege was a ruse for rejecting her for being a lesbian), said she’s deeply interested in the idea. Indeed, she said, another problem with and goal of anti-academic trolls is that they detract from the faculty mission of fostering “democratic equality in creating citizens.”

Yet as a profession, O’Brien said, “we are ambivalent about public scholarship … We talk a good talk, but we don’t support it in a myriad of institutionalized ways. We don’t support it in our training of graduate students, we don’t support it in the tenure process.”

If sociologists want to be “interventionist public scholars,” she said, amending Carter’s original phrase, they must challenge their elitism and “train, facilitate, value and support one another” in systematic ways.

Picking up on Grollman’s and O’Brien’s assertion that those in the crosshairs are often the most vulnerable, Marisa Allison, a graduate student in sociology at George Mason University, said adjuncts need extra support from their peers. She cited the case of Lisa Durden, a pop culture commentator who lost her job as an adjunct instructor of communications at Essex County College this summer after defending Black Lives Matter on Fox News.

Some More Vulnerable Than Others

“There’s a concerted thing happening here, and we need to wrap our heads around it, while also recognizing those who are the most vulnerable need the most help,” said Allison, who studies non-tenure-track faculty members. Among other recommendations, she said professors need to push for a full faculty review of scholars under threat of termination for their public comments and to start supporting scholars across disciplines.

Allison also said it’s important for scholars to know what their colleagues are working on, to be aware of any possible fallout ahead of time.

Adia Harvey Wingfield, a professor of sociology at Washington University in St. Louis who has contributed to Inside Higher Ed, also linked threats against scholars to the adjunctification and general neoliberalization of the university, saying labor -- even academic labor -- doesn’t carry the weight it once did. At the same time, she said, institutions are keen to “extract” public scholarship work from their faculty members to advance their brand, even if the they’re not prepared to support those faculty members in the face of controversy.

“The irony is that a lot of times universities want to bring, highlight or take advantage of the work of academics who are able to put their work into that public sphere,” she said. “But then what happens when people come after you for that public profile? There’s not that same match there.”

Wingfield said she’s faced public criticism before for her work. She advised against the urge to purge inboxes of hate mail, arguing that it’s important from a legal perspective to save and document everything. That’s after cluing in one’s administration to backlash before the “outrage machine” really gets going.

“That puts you in a pre-emptive position to protect yourself a little bit,” she said. That way, she added, one is in the position to later say, “See, you know what’s been going on. Don’t act all ‘brand-new’ now.”

R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy, associate professor of sociology and black studies at the City College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, said he’s coached himself and colleagues through the public attacks and warned that when the coast looks clear, it’s not.

The Coast Is Not Clear

“It only calms down so it can start up again,” he said, advising scholars to “understand the cycle.” Namely, he said, “It ain’t over till it’s over and it gets worse before it gets better.”

More specifically, Lewis-McCoy said there’s the initial incident: the tweet, the mention, the comment, the reference. That then gets amplified by the “outrage machine.” Then the professor’s institution is contacted by members of the public, which prompts a meeting with administrators.

That meeting is the beginning, not the end, said Lewis-McCoy, noting that institutional responses to controversy are distinct from the faculty member’s individual response. Because one response is “never enough,” he said, the cycle typically ends only after solution or sanction. For this reason, he advised scholars in the cycle to obtain their own legal counsel, as the campus legal team will protect the institution’s interests (the same goes for union counsel, he said).

For colleagues, Lewis-McCoy advised contacting affected scholars to show personal -- not just public -- support. Ask them if they’re OK, he said, and offer to take over their social media feeds to upgrade their passwords to prevent hacking and off-the-cuff responses.

Over all, he said, “It’s not about avoiding what we do, but doing what we’re doing and getting greater support.”

Support for Affected Scholars

Panel co-organizer Jessie Daniels, a professor of sociology at CUNY’s Hunter College and Graduate Center, recently co-wrote a book called Going Public: A Guide for Social Scientists (University of Chicago Press). She said that even scholars who aren’t on social media can be targeted and it’s up to professors to educate their administrations about systematic attempts from well-funded ideological corners to discredit liberal and progressive professors. Sometimes, she said, they may even find sympathetic ears.

Abby L. Ferber, a professor of sociology and women’s and ethnic studies at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and president of Sociologists for Women in Society, attended Saturday’s session ahead of a panel she’s leading here today on protecting scholars from right-wing attacks. Ferber’s been targeted for online harassment in relation to her participation in the annual White Privilege Conference, via videos distorting her public comments and more. The changing environment for educators involved in such work has led her to teach more classes online, out of safety concerns, she said.

Ferber recently published an article in the Humboldt Journal of Social Relations based on conversations with five other women attacked in strikingly similar ways for their research, including that on climate change. Ferber says that the elements of the political right have begun to attack individual faculty members in hopes of striking from the curriculum historically overlooked subject matter. The overall effort, she wrote, is to silence these professors, with obvious implications for academic freedom.

Of her subjects, Ferber said those who had allies -- especially those who read hate emails and threats of violence for them -- felt least vulnerable. Only one faculty member said she felt supported by her university based on its response to the respective controversy.

Ferber's paper suggests various suggestions for institutional responses, based on feedback from subjects. They include:

  • Be proactive, not reactive. Have a protocol in place.
  • Put safety first. Then ask faculty members what they need.
  • Publicly condemn the form of the attack itself. Support civil dialogue by naming abuse and harassment for what it is.
  • Provide faculty members with resources for help and information about what they might experience next.
  • Honor professors’ wishes about being kept in the loop or not.
  • Do not individualize the problem.
  • Suggested responses for faculty members include talking to local and campus police, forwarding threatening messages to police and federal authorities, saving every message, denying trolls the response they seek, and seeking support from those who know your work.

Numerous attendees at ASA have asked what the association might do further support affected scholars. Michèle Lamont, professor of sociology and African and African-American studies and the Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies at Harvard University, and association president, said its governing council will this week discuss a number of concrete agenda items for action.

Concurrently, and not only because the attacks, the ASA is working to increase public engagement. It asked the Trump administration earlier this year to rescind the travel ban on majority-Muslim countries, for example. The annual gathering also offered a several how-to-style panels on public scholarship.

“Sociologists are not a unique target for these types of attacks, but we do study topics which people do often feel the most passionate about, such as family, religion and race,” Lamont said. “We do hope that demonstrating the value of sociology to a public audience will serve as a tool in mitigating these attacks, but there are all sorts of positive, proactive reasons to engage with the public.”

Lamont said there will always be those who react negatively to the sociologists’ work, but that “they should not be the ones who get to dictate this work through threat and intimidation.”

Looking Ahead

And what of scholars who have already lived out their intimidation cycles? Williams, the associate professor of sociology at Trinity College in Connecticut who was placed on leave (later lifted) this summer for online comments on race, backed out of ASA this year. He and his family had to leave the state due to threats, and it was simply too soon to attend the meeting and talk about his experience, he said via email.

Grundy, of Boston University, attended this year’s meeting, with two years between now and her outrage cycle. Does she think the climate for scholars will improve? No, she argues in a recently published article in Ethnic and Racial Studies called “A History of White Violence Tells Us Attacks on Black Academics Are Not Ending (I Know Because It Happened to Me).” Grundy says that attacks on black academics are fundamentally anti-black attacks and do two things: attempt to stall black progress and reinforce white identities, particularly in newly digitized spaces.

“My assessment is that we have no reason to think this will get better and, in fact, the routinization and ritual of these attacks is part of the point,” Grundy said this week. “Histories of terroristic white violence have shown us the same.”

Threats Against FacultyEditorial Tags: Academic freedomSociologyFacultySocial media/networkingImage Caption: From left: R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy, Jessie Daniels, Marisa Allison and Adia Harvey WingfieldIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 

Report shows improving finances at private colleges, even though some small institutions struggle

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 08/14/2017 - 07:00

Time after time, the fiscal struggles of small private colleges are bursting into headlines.

Institutions from the College of New Rochelle in New York to Mills College in California have decided to lay off faculty members this year in the face of steep budget challenges. Others have taken more drastic steps, such as Marygrove College in Detroit, which last week announced plans to end its undergraduate programs and become a graduate-only institution after the fall semester.

The headlines come after a prominent 2015 prediction from Moody’s Investor Service of a coming uptick in the number of institutions closing, with small private colleges facing particular pressure. They also come as Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen continues to predict that as many as half of all American universities will close or go bankrupt within a decade or so. But some say the rhetoric about small private colleges’ struggles has grown overheated. In their opinion, the situation just isn’t as bad as it sounds.

Now, a new report from one of the country’s major associations of independent nonprofit colleges attempts to measure the financial health of small private institutions and how that health has changed since the turn of the century. The report, which is being released today by the Council of Independent Colleges, calculates several key financial metrics for a sample of 559 institutions of varying size and classification from across the country.

CIC leaders hope the report strikes a blow against the idea that large numbers of small and midsize private colleges are on the brink of financial ruin. Its findings reflect general strength in some financial areas -- and show that individual institutions of all types and sizes can be financially healthy.

“We think the prevailing public view is wrong,” said Richard Ekman, CIC president. “We come up against this all the time. The best way to counter that perception, we believe, is to have good, reliable data. This study is drawn from all public sources of data. You can’t imply that we cooked the books.”

The report does, however, indicate that a group of the smallest private colleges -- those with fewer than 1,000 students enrolled -- have posted consistently weaker financial performance than larger peers through both good times and bad. It also indicates certain classifications of colleges -- those with a Carnegie classification of baccalaureate arts and sciences institutions -- have recorded better financial metrics over the years than their peers.

CIC officials maintain that their findings don’t reveal any single indicator of whether a college is likely to struggle financially.

“As the person who did the on-the-ground research for this, I was hoping for a clear result -- this is the factor that determines whether an institution is financially resilient,” said Hollie Chessman, CIC director of research projects. “What you have in front of you is the true message: there’s a lot of different factors that come into play.”

Other experts said the report still supports the argument that some institutions are in trouble.

“People who think there’s information here which shows we are a resilient industry are perfectly defended,” said Kent John Chabotar, former president of Guilford College and founding partner of the higher education consulting firm MPK&D. “And those who believe that schools are going to gradually close will find ample evidence as well.”

Reading Ratios

CIC looked at 14 years of financial data, from the 2000-01 fiscal year through the 2013-14 fiscal year. Its sample of 559 private baccalaureate and master’s-level colleges and universities represents a majority of its member institutions. Data came from institutions’ Internal Revenue Service filings and the Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

The report is based on a well-known set of metrics for analyzing higher education finances: a primary reserve ratio measuring the sufficiency of resources, a viability ratio gauging debt management, a return on net assets ratio measuring performance in endowment and investment returns, and a net operating revenues ratio measuring operating surpluses or deficits. The ratios were also combined into a marker of financial health called the composite financial index, or CFI. All of the ratios and the CFI have a recommended threshold for financial health.

CIC calculated sample institutions’ median performance and measured it over time. The medians over time of all four individual ratios and the CFI show colleges and universities hit hard during the Great Recession and recovering significantly since then -- albeit to different degrees, and with some bumps along the way.

The primary reserve ratio has a financial health threshold of 0.4, which would mean a college had enough reserves to cover expenses for about 40 percent of its fiscal year without taking in additional revenue. The median primary reserve ratio for CIC’s sample colleges and universities fell below that line in 2008-09, dropping to 0.37 amid falling expendable net assets. But it recovered afterward, rising above 0.6 in 2013-14.

A viability ratio of 1.0 means that expendable funds equal long-term debt. Viability ratios generally should come in above 1.25, a level judged to show expendable funds are adequate to manage debt. But the median viability ratio in the CIC report’s sample has not been above that cutoff since 2000-01. It fell sharply from 2006-07 to 2008-09, bottoming out at about 0.6 before climbing back up in recent years. It remained below the 1.25 threshold in 2013-14.

That shows institutions haven’t had sufficient expendable funds to adequately manage their debt since 2000-01, the report says. It goes on to note that some institutions took on debt during the recession, using low interest rates as a way to cheaply finance new buildings or the addition of academic programs.

The return on net assets ratio is recommended at 3.5 percentage points above inflation -- a level considered to show a sufficient return for endowments and other assets. Institutions’ return on net assets ratio fluctuated significantly over the study’s time period as the financial markets have gone through their ups and downs. CIC -- and many in the investment world -- argue this ratio is best measured over time to account for year-to-year volatility and institutions’ needs to invest some years and grow assets in other years.

The median return on net assets ratio finished above the threshold line in the two most recent years covered by the report. It’s worth noting, however, that other data have shown college and university endowment returns falling in 2015 and 2016.

A net operating revenues ratio of 4 percent is considered to show colleges and universities living within their means. Like many of the other ratios, the median net operating revenues ratio bottomed out in the harsh economic climate of 2008-09 before recovering. It also dipped below its 4 percent threshold in 2011-12 before coming in above the line in the two subsequent years.

The four ratios shown above were weighted before being combined into the CFI. The primary reserve ratio and viability ratio were each weighted at 35 percent. The return on net assets ratio was weighted at 20 percent, and the net operating revenues ratio was weighted at 10 percent.

The threshold for a healthy CFI is considered to be 3.0. A review of the median CFI over the study’s 14 years shows a massive drop during the recession bottoming out in 2008-09, followed by recovery, a dip below the threshold line in 2011-12, and a settling in above the line in the two most recent years studied.

The median of all institutions in the study don’t tell the story for each individual college, of course. The report says that 88 percent of the colleges in its sample had maintained or improved their CFI scores over the course of the 14 years examined. It adds that 67 percent of colleges and universities were at or above the CFI threshold in the most recent year analyzed.

Some observers weren’t convinced those statistics show overwhelming strength among private colleges, however.

“Two-thirds of the schools meet the financial viability ratios,” said Douglas Webber, an associate professor in Temple University’s economics department. “That means that a third of schools don’t, which is kind of striking.”

Small Colleges Struggle

The report goes on to slice CFI results by institutional characteristics. It found unsurprising results when breaking institutions down by financial resource level -- the poorest institutions posted the lowest CFI scores.

More interesting results came from looking at CFI by Carnegie classification and enrollment size. The 149 institutions with a Carnegie classification of baccalaureate arts and sciences institutions consistently outperformed other classes of institution. The 111 with a classification of baccalaureate diverse fields struggled to break the CFI threshold on a consistent basis.

CIC noted that baccalaureate arts and sciences institutions tend to be highly selective and wealthy with clear missions. Baccalaureate diverse fields institutions have a wider range of programs and include professional programs. They often have lower endowments, are less selective when offering students admission and rely more on tuition to meet their budget demands.

“Those colleges that have remained pretty pure in their curriculum also happen to be the ones who are pretty affluent and selective,” Ekman said.

Meanwhile, those with fewer than 1,000 full-time-equivalent students regularly underperformed those with larger enrollments.

Many feel it is important to emphasize that the institutions with the smallest enrollments posted the lowest financial performance.

“The colleges that are struggling the most are the ones with fewer than 1,000 students, which matches up pretty well with the colleges that have either closed or have been threatening closure,” said Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University.

Even so, the analysis does not show that smallness is a predictor of financial weakness or health, said Hal Hartley, CIC senior vice president.

“What you find are institutions, and not just one or two, but a significant number, that beat those kinds of generalizations,” he said.

Also noteworthy was that institutions with 2,001 to 3,000 full-time equivalent students consistently posted the highest CFI scores. That runs against the idea that the largest institutions are the most financially stable.

CIC pointed to small institutions including Nebraska Wesleyan University as examples of organizations that can be financially healthy even in difficult circumstances. The university’s president, Frederik Ohles, said the study shows that as higher education is challenged, most institutions are working to adapt.

“Most of us are working hard and responding to the challenge, and the financial results are reasonably good,” said Ohles, who is a senior adviser to CIC’s presidential vocation and institutional mission program. Nebraska Wesleyan uses some of the same ratios highlighted in the CIC report as metrics to show to its university Board of Governors, Ohles said.

The university, which typically enrolls about 1,500 traditional undergraduates along with another 500 to 600 adult and graduate students, saw its net tuition per student fall and then recover after the recession, Ohles said. Student revenue accounts for 90 percent of the university’s operating budget, making it a good example of a tuition-dependent institution.

Nebraska Wesleyan just finished its 2017 fiscal year with a surplus of 2 percent on a $40 million operating budget. It has discontinued some master’s programs and added others in the last several years and tried to refinance long-term debt when it was advantageous.

“We have effective budget discipline,” Ohles said. “That’s kept us out of difficulties.”

Another small institution reporting budget surpluses is New England College in New Hampshire. The college posted an operating surplus of about $800,000 last year on an operating budget of $57 million, according to Michele Perkins, New England College’s president. It anticipates growing that surplus to $1 million in the 2018 fiscal year.

The college wants to grow its traditional residential undergraduate enrollment from an expected 1,060 this fall to 1,500, said Perkins, who formerly served on CIC’s Board of Directors. Its residential undergraduate program doesn’t currently generate a surplus -- the institution’s surplus is driven by other programs, like online education and graduate programs, which push total enrollment to about 2,700. Traditional undergraduate programs would break even at about 1,300 students, the college estimates.

To grow, New England College will have to fight against projections of declines in the number of high school graduates in the Northeast. It’s started recruiting in secondary markets like the mid-Atlantic, and Perkins emphasizes that it has a diverse student body.

Over the years, the college has kept its debt levels low, left some faculty positions unfilled and offered voluntary retirements, Perkins said. The college has strengthened its financial standing, she said.

“We’re much less fragile than we were 15 years ago,” she said. “Necessity is the mother of invention, and we learned to be very frugal in our budget, and we learned to be resourceful and creative.”

The stories of small colleges and universities successfully navigating budget pressures contrast with those of institutions that have been unable to bring their finances under control. For example, last week when Marygrove College announced its decision to end undergraduate enrollment, it did so after trying to control its budget for years.

The college in Detroit thought it could balance its budget in 2014-15. Despite cutting expenses by about 20 percent to $20 million, it still ran a $4 million deficit last year. The deficit came as enrollment plunged from 1,850 graduates and undergraduates in 2013 to fewer than 1,000 last fall.

“I need money, but I also need students,” Marygrove President Dr. Elizabeth Burns told Inside Higher Ed last week. “We need volume, and we need a lot of students in class.”

Gainers, Maintainers and Decliners

The CIC report includes another analysis of the way colleges’ and universities’ financial health has changed over time. It subtracted institutions’ average CFI scores from the 2000-04 period from their average scores from the 2010-14 period. It classified those whose CFI scores increased by two points or more as “gainers,” those with scores dropping by two points or more as “decliners” and those in between as “maintainers.” It then removed any gainers from its analysis that did not post a CFI above the threshold of 3.0 in 2010-14. It removed decliners that did not post a CFI below 3.0.

The result is an analysis of 360 institutions. It evaluates colleges and universities whose financials improved or deteriorated to the point where they crossed the CFI threshold. It also evaluates those holding relatively steady. But it doesn’t reflect any movement among institutions that saw significant changes without crossing the key CFI threshold.

Those rules were intended to prevent mislabeling, according to Hartley. Unless the analysis was limited to only gainers and decliners crossing the CFI threshold, it would have been possible for an institution dropping from a high CFI score of 9.0 to a still-high score of 6.0 to have been labeled as a decliner. Such an institution would still have been in a very different ending financial situation than one that dropped from a CFI score of 4.0 to a score of 1.0.

A total of 104 institutions, 29 percent of the remaining sample, were labeled gainers. Another 213, or 59 percent, were labeled maintainers, and 43, or 12 percent, were labeled decliners. That means 199 institutions were thrown out of the analysis of gainers, decliners and maintainers. CIC did not provide data showing how many institutions would have fallen into each category without the CFI threshold requirements.

A full 40 percent of decliners in the analysis were institutions with an enrollment of fewer than 1,000 full-time equivalent students. Only 12 percent of decliners had enrollments of 2,001 to 3,000.

Yet there were still more institutions with enrollments under 1,000 labeled as gainers, 26, than as decliners, 17.

Meanwhile, 79 percent of all decliners were in either the third or fourth quartile when institutions’ financial resources were measured. More institutions in the fourth quartile were decliners, 15, than gainers, 12.

Only 5 percent of the 43 decliners were in the first quartile when institutions were split by their level of financial resources. Just 16 percent were in the second quartile.

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Georgia professor whose syllabus was mocked and criticized says he was aiming to start a conversation in class

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 08/14/2017 - 07:00

In an era when professors complain that no one reads the syllabus, Rick Watson had more attention than he wanted on his.

And now he says everyone missed the point -- including the University of Georgia, which criticized the syllabus of the business school professor and is still criticizing it now that it's better understood.

Regardless of what one thinks of the syllabus, the incident may illustrate how easy it is these days for a professor -- even one who is not engaged in political discussion -- to become the subject of online ridicule.

The controversy concerns a “stress-reduction policy” section of the syllabus for a business course for the fall, which said that students could change their grade if they felt “unduly stressed” by the one they received, and leave group work at any time, without any explanation, if they felt stressed by the situation.

The policy also said that “only positive comments about presentations will be given in class.”

Conservative news sites such as Campus Reform, The College Fix and Media Research Center mocked the syllabus. CSC Media Group, which first reported on the syllabus, called it “a stunning but not-to-surprising [sic] example of the deteriorating quality of education and discipline in America’s universities.” The story went viral. Inside Higher Ed reported on the syllabus when it was removed from the university website.

Watson didn't comment at that time.

Via email this weekend, however, he told Inside Higher Ed that the syllabus was never intended to be taken literally. It was intended to start a conversation with his class, and not as a statement on grading policy.

He said he was "embarrassed by the damage I have done to reputation of the University of Georgia."

A spokesman for the university said that Georgia is now aware that the syllabus was not intended to set policy. "The primary issue, however, was not the professor’s intent. It was the way the professor presented this information on a public website, which was poorly executed and led to widespread misinterpretation," said the spokesman.

Benjamin C. Ayers, dean of the Terry College of Business, released an additional statement after the university confirmed that the professor never intended for his syllabus to be taken literally. "This statement never should have been included in the syllabus regardless of the professor's intent. The syllabus statement violates the university's strict guidelines and academic policies and is completely inconsistent with the reality of the outstanding education and opportunities that students receive at the Terry College of Business," Ayers said.

Rudy Fichtenbaum, professor emeritus of economics at Wright State University and national president of the American Association of University Professors, said via email that the original syllabus made sense to him as a conversation starter, since it addressed the kinds of issues that professors hear about from students all the time. If university administrators had a problem with the syllabus, they should have asked faculty members to review it, he said, rather than making judgments themselves.

"It certainly seems that the administration was more concerned about its public image than it was about insuring that faculty have academic freedom," Fichtenbaum said. "If this was really just a conversation starter, instead of reacting critically, the administration would then be in the position of defending this faculty member who was attempting to deal with a serious issue that impacts students and faculty."

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Study suggests big difference between how college men describe affirmative consent and apply it to their own sexual experiences

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 08/14/2017 - 07:00

MONTREAL -- Many institutions have launched what they consider to be effective affirmative consent campaigns based around the idea that only “yes means yes” when it comes to sex. Some states require such a view. Findings from a new study presented here this week at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association challenge the success of such campaigns, saying that college men are still using ambiguous physical cues to secure what they think is consent before sex.

“Moaning and Eye Contact: College Men’s Negotiations of Sexual Consent in Theory and in Practice” was written by Nicole Bedera, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of Michigan. Bedera recruited study participants from high-enrollment introductory courses across disciplines at a large mid-Atlantic university with an affirmative consent policy and related education efforts. Focusing on heterosexual undergraduate men who described themselves as sexually active -- the targets of so many proactive campus rape prevention campaigns -- Bedera wanted to know how and if consent policies were being put into practice.

The answer was frequently no.

“Over all, the way the respondents sought consent in their sexual encounters did not match up with the strategies they claimed to invoke,” she says. “Respondents were much less likely to ascertain explicit verbal consent and relied on their partners to initiate a conversation about sexual expectations. Most commonly, respondents relied on physical and nonsexual cues like eye contact or an accelerated heart rate to indicate consent, despite the many nonsexual scenarios in which these actions commonly occur.”

Although the respondents used physical sexual indicators of enthusiastic participation at a frequency similar to what they had claimed, reads the study, “they often assumed consent to one sexual activity communicated consent to all sexual activities. In general, the men in this study did not reliably apply what they had learned about affirmative consent, even though they insisted that they did when expressly asked.”

In semistructured interviews with 25 men, Bedera asked questions about sexual experiences in long-term relationships and hookups, as well as attitudes toward consent policies. Seventy-five percent of the sample was white and nearly half were in the second year of college, with a more even distribution of participants across other years. The average age was 20, and participants came from a variety of religious backgrounds. No one was an athlete.

Bedera later coded responses to analyze attitudes toward definitions and indicators of consent, as well as indicators of nonconsent and strategies to get consent. Again, she found that while male students approve of, understand and generally say they follow campus policies about affirmative consent, they don’t consistently apply known strategies to secure that consent in their own sex lives.

Defining Consent

Affirmative consent policies differ from campus to campus but are all based on the idea that consent must be given knowingly, voluntarily and affirmatively, according to the study. Most policies favor verbal consent, but some also include enthusiastic participation in sex as a green light, it says. No-gos include scenarios in which consent cannot be given, such as incapacitation or while under duress, or assumptions of consent based on a lack of protest or a pre-established sexual relationship.

While most subjects struggled to define consent, they generally described it as all parties being willing participants in a particular sexual act -- which Bedera says meets the standard definition. Yet some also matched the definition to their own sexual experiences, such as by saying that because verbal consent was “awkward,” they relied on a partner to physically signal nonconsent, such as by “moving my hand away.”

All but one respondent said they used what they’d learned about consent in their own sex lives, but they reported different means of getting it. Some 34 percent mentioned using sexual verbal signals, 22 percent mentioned physical signals, 19 percent used signals to guess at a partner’s frame of mind, and 16 percent included signals hinting at a revocation of consent.

Most commonly, respondents said they explicitly asked for consent. Two respondents said they ask for consent every time, while another said he typically asks if he should get a condom. Among those who used physical cues, many often conflated enthusiasm for any sexual act with intercourse. Seven respondents used the absence of objection or revoked consent as consent. Students were consistent in their application of strategies and generally pointed to that consistency as proof they’d never raped anyone. Two respondents said not all their sexual encounters had been consensual.

Another Story

Interestingly, the picture changed when Bedera asked participants to explain their most recent sexual encounters -- without using the word “consent” in her prompt.

While verbal sexual signals comprised 34 percent of the strategies mentioned in responses to her previous question, they made up only 13 percent of the signals used by respondents recounting specific sexual encounters.

“When a couple did have an explicit dialogue about sexual expectations, the woman tended to initiate the conversation,” Bedera says. “Men only claimed to initiate an explicit conversation about sexual intentions 20 percent of the time when such a conversation occurred.”

Moreover, some of those men who did initiate a conversation about consent already assumed it. As one participant said, “I was like, ‘Hey, we don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to. Or if we start and you change your mind, we can stop.’ And she was like, ‘OK.’”

Physical sexual signals typically involved kissing and taking off clothes. But by far the most common indicators of interest mentioned by respondents in recounting their own experiences were physical and nonsexual. Moaning -- which Bedera notes can signal pain -- was the most commonly used physical nonsexual signal. Such a signal does not meet the standard of voluntary, affirmative consent, the paper says.

Eye contact also stood out as the most commonly invoked evidence that a woman wants to have sex before it begins, according to the study. Yet when pressed for details, most respondents struggled to explain how this kind of eye contact was different from ordinary eye contact (the study notes that none of the face-to-face interviews ended in sex, after all).

Bedera recalls one respondent’s explanation like this: “After giving ‘eyes’ as his one-word answer about how he could tell his last hookup would take place, he eventually added, ‘It’s like an interest -- a curiosity. It’s like when you look at someone with a curiosity to know more about them … I can see them like, “Hmm … What is that guy like in bed?”’ I asked Ray to physically demonstrate what this type of eye contact would look like. He narrowed his eyes slightly. In fact, the difference was nearly imperceptible to me even when I explicitly looked for it. He explained, ‘It’s subtle.’”

For respondents who didn’t make such a distinction, the study notes, “they usually included eye contact on a list of traits commonly associated with someone actively engaged in a conversation, such as laughing at jokes, listening carefully and not looking for an excuse to leave the situation.”

Putting Policy into Practice

Asked how her findings square (or don’t) with many colleges’ perception that affirmative consent campaigns have been successful, Bedera said this week that “college men are receptive to the idea of affirmative consent, but struggle to apply it in their sexual encounters.”

In many cases, she said, men may believe they’re meeting the standard of consent set by their institutions but are actually falling short. For example, Bedera added, men are using “entirely physical and typically nonsexual social cues, like making eye contact or sustaining conversation, as cues that are not reliable indicators of sexual interest -- much less sexual consent.”

Bedera’s paper attributes some of the problem to cultural perceptions of masculinity as being sexually aggressive. It also asserts that if colleges and universities are to blame for the disconnect between policy and students’ practices, it’s not a problem of educational quantity, since -- at least on the unnamed campus in her study -- there’s ample mandatory training. Rather, she said, it’s the training approaches that may need tweaking.

"Many of the men in my sample seemed to believe they were incapable of sexual assault, especially if they didn't belong to a high risk group like fraternity men or athletes," Bedera said. And since they already believed that rape was wrong and that they were "good men," they didn't analyze their own behaviors.

​In her own volunteer work with fraternities, Bedera said she found that asking men to reflect on their past sexual behaviors, including a time when consent was ambiguous and they could have done to ask for it, "went a long way." 

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White nationalists rally at University of Virginia

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 08/14/2017 - 07:00

Hundreds of white nationalists marched and rallied at the University of Virginia Friday night. They carried torches and chanted, "You will not replace us and "Jews will not replace us." They also chanted "blood and soil," a Nazi slogan.

A major rally by various white nationalist groups -- under the name "Unite the Right" -- had been planned for Charlottesville Saturday. The city is progressive and not at all a center of white nationalism. But various groups have made Charlottesville a target because the city plans to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee from a local park. The Ku Klux Klan and supporters rallied in the city in July, causing concern at the university, but Friday night's march was on campus and ended at the Rotunda, a hallowed space at the university.

Charlottesville: Special Report

The sight of hundreds of white nationalists -- most of them white men -- with torches stunned many at the university, even as they were preparing for Saturday's rally.

Skirmishes broke out near the Rotunda between the white nationalists and counterprotesters, including some students.

Teresa A. Sullivan, president of the university, issued a statement late Friday.

"I am deeply saddened and disturbed by the hateful behavior displayed by torch-bearing protesters that marched on our grounds this evening. I strongly condemn the unprovoked assault on members of our community, including university personnel who were attempting to maintain order," she said. "Law enforcement continues to investigate the incident, and it is my hope that any individuals responsible for criminal acts are held accountable."

Mike Signer, the mayor of Charlottesville, issued this statement: "I have seen tonight the images of torches on the grounds of the University of Virginia. When I think of torches, I want to think of the Statue of Liberty. When I think of candlelight, I want to think of prayer vigils. Today, in 2017, we are instead seeing a cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism and intolerance march down the lawns of the architect of our Bill of Rights. Everyone has a right under the First Amendment to express their opinion peaceably, so here's mine: not only as the mayor of Charlottesville, but as a UVA faculty member and alumnus, I am beyond disgusted by this unsanctioned and despicable display of visual intimidation on a college campus."

A university spokesman said Saturday that university police arrested one protester, who was charged with assault and disorderly conduct. Several injuries were reported, including one university police officer who was injured while making the arrest. The university permits demonstrations without permits on open spaces on campuses, and does not ban open flames during such events. University police declared the event an "unlawful assembly" only after "physical altercations" began to escalate at the event, the spokesman said.

Some in Charlottesville tried (without success) to get courts to ban Saturday's rallies. Sullivan, in statements prior to Friday's march, condemned the ideas behind the planned rallies, but also defended the right of the white nationalists to express their views.

"UVA is public in the most profound and meaningful sense of that word; we are committed to the public good, and we seek to recognize and represent the great diversity of the public in our commonwealth and in the country," said one earlier statement. "We believe that diversity is an essential element of excellence, and that intolerance and exclusion inhibit progress. We also support the First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly. These rights belong to the 'Unite the Right' activists who will express their beliefs, and to the many others who disagree with them."

Sullivan also urged students to stay away from the protest (then expected to be off campus).

"One may stand up for one’s beliefs without physical confrontation. I urge students and all UVA community members to avoid the Aug. 12 rally and avoid physical confrontation generally. There is a credible risk of violence at this event, and your safety is my foremost concern," she wrote.

Sullivan added, "Moreover, to approach the rally and confront the activists would only satisfy their craving for spectacle. They believe that your counterprotest helps their cause. One advocate of the rally said, 'We should aim to draw the SJWs [social justice warriors] out in Charlottesville and create a massive polarizing spectacle in order to draw as huge a contrast as possible. They will reveal themselves to be violent, intolerant, opposed to free speech, the insane enforcers of political correctness, etc.' The organizers of the rally want confrontation; do not gratify their desire."

The events in Charlottesville Saturday left a 32-year-old woman dead and 19 people injured. The white nationalist groups marched around the city, many with Confederate flags and some with Nazi symbols as well. They clashed with residents. In late morning, according to local press accounts, the city barred the rally from taking place, citing the escalating violence, but the worst was yet to come. In the afternoon, a car rammed into a group of the counterprotesters, killing one and injuring others.

Observers said the crash appeared intentional. Charlottesville police later announced that James Alex Fields Jr., from Ohio, has "been charged with one count of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and one count of hit-and-run attended failure to stop with injury."

Also on Saturday, two state troopers who were in a helicopter as part of efforts to monitor events were killed when their helicopter crashed.

The university had planned a series of discussion and talks for Saturday on the theme of "reflective conversation." Topics of talks include “Enfranchising Citizens in the United States: A Short History,” “The Importance of Public Space for Perpetuating or Reducing Social Inequity” and “What’s Right About Conservatives Today.”

Those programs and other university academic and athletic events were called off after the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle County declared a local state of emergency. The university's medical center remains open.

Questions About Washington State University Republican Leader

Among those who participated in the white supremacist rally was James Allsup, who is one of the leaders of the Washington State University College Republicans. His photo at events in Charlottesville was recognized. Many on social media are questioning his fitness to be a student leader at the university.

@WSUPullman why are permitting james allsup to continue at WSU. He is excrement filled w/hate & bigotry. He brings down your university.

— Deborah Swansburg (@debbasue) August 13, 2017

But he has been defending himself on social media, saying that the police caused the problems. He told KREM 2 News that he is a "paleoconservative" or a "right-wing libertarian," and said that the term "alt-right" is a slur. He also said he didn't approve of the swastikas at the event.

To those calling him racist for attending, he said that "they are slandering me and [saying] that I'm racist without evidence because I talk about history and I talk about American politics."

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Charlotte School of Law missed deadline to remain open

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 08/11/2017 - 18:16

The embattled Charlotte School of a Law missed deadlines yesterday that state regulators had imposed in order for the for-profit to stay open. The institution has asked for an extension, according to state officials.

In December the U.S. Department of Education suspended the law school’s access to federal aid, citing its failure to adhere with standards set by the feds and the American Bar Association, which is the school’s accreditor.

The ABA had placed the law school on probation, where it remains, over its failure to admit applicants who are likely to succeed and pass the bar exam. Department officials also said at the time that the law school had made substantial misrepresentations to students about the program’s accreditation and bar-passage rates. North Carolina's attorney general, Josh Stein, also is investigating and reviewing its state license.

However, the law school’s leaders and its parent company, InfiLaw, which owns two other for-profit law schools, were able to keep the Charlotte School of Law open this year while they sought to have federal aid eligibility restored. While it was not allowed to enroll new students, the law school found money to help some current students stay.

In recent weeks, the law school has been negotiating with the department over the terms for possible reinstatement, including how much money it would be required to set aside to protect taxpayers and students in case the school closed.

"Negotiations are ongoing with Charlotte School of Law regarding reinstatement of eligibility for Title IV funds,” a department spokeswoman said on Friday.

In the meantime, the school has created a teach-out plan to allow students to finish their degrees at another InfiLaw institution.

Yet to remain in operation, the state had required the school to have its federal aid eligibility restored and that the ABA sign off on its teach-out plan, both with deadlines this week. That didn’t happen. And it appears that the school remains open while it seeks an extension.

The University of North Carolina system’s Board of Governors is responsible for licensing non-public degree issuing institutions in the state. The system’s general administration office performs compliance reviews to make sure institutions meet statutory and regulatory standards.

In June the board decided that the Charlotte School of Law could use a restricted license to operate in the state, but only if it met requirements by August 10.

“CSL may continue to conduct postsecondary degree activity in North Carolina at this time and on a limited basis while it develops and seeks ABA approval of an appropriate teach-out plan that fully protects the interests of CSL students who may wish to complete their CSL degree programs, and/or approval for continued operation as an accredited law school,” the system said, adding that “the U.S. Department of Education must determine no later than August 10, 2017, that any CSL student who remains enrolled may participate in Title IV federal loan programs.”

Neither of those conditions have been met. The ABA is meeting today and presumably could sign of on the school’s teach-out plan.

A spokesman for the UNC system said the law school had asked for an extension.

“It’s our understanding that CSL is actively working with U.S. Department of Education to ensure the school can participate in the Title IV loan program, but that CSL has not yet met all of the requirements of Education Department,” he said via email. “CSL has requested that the university now consider extending the time to meet the conditions in the restricted license, which would require further action by the Board of Governors.”

The department said that if North Carolina does not reinstate the school's expired license, it will be unable to access federal financial aid. But negotiations between the school and the department will continue until a decision on the license is made.

A spokeswoman for Stein, the state's attorney general, said the office had reached out to the law school to request that it demonstrate compliance with the licensure statute.

"Along with all other licensure requirements, the [North Carolina] Department of Justice is monitoring whether Charlotte School of Law met the U.S. Department of Education’s requirement for a $6 million letter of credit to benefit students," the spokeswoman said in an email. "Our office will do everything possible to enforce state law and protect students."

The law school confirmed that it had asked for an extension.

"Charlotte School of Law is actively working to meet the conditions set out by our state licensing authority and that authority is aware of our progress," a spokeswoman said in a written statement. "Accordingly, CSL has asked the UNC Board for an extension of time to meet all conditions set, as we believe we will be able to demonstrate compliance in short order."

Clare McCann is deputy director for federal policy at New America, who specializes in education policy and is a former department official. She said InfiLaw’s delay in shutting down Charlotte School of Law is bad for students.

"Charlotte School of Law has been providing an egregiously bad legal education, where students have worse than a 50-50 shot at passing the bar,” she said via email. “And at the same time, it has been evading any potential costs of closed school discharge liabilities by dragging out its inevitable closure, meaning students can't get their loans cancelled and start fresh."

-- Andrew Kreighbaum contributed to this article.

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In harassment cases, could institutions be cracking down on even big-name faculty members?

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 08/11/2017 - 07:00

The University of Washington, for the first time ever, has fired a faculty member over findings of sexual harassment. The termination surprised some not only for the what, but also for the who: Michael Katze, a professor of microbiology. Well funded and a major player in infectious disease research, Katze appeared to some as exactly the kind of professor who might have been protected by his (or any) institution in the past.

Also this month, Christian Ott, a professor of theoretical astrophysics at California Institute of Technology, resigned following a drawn-out suspension over the university’s finding that he sexually harassed two graduate students.

Professors on two other campuses have left this summer over allegations of sexual misconduct: Jason Fruth, an assistant professor of education, resigned from Wright State University during an investigation into claims against him, while the University of Nebraska at Lincoln ended the visiting professorship of photojournalist Bill Frakes.

The departures could be a mere coincidence of timing. But they could also be a sign that even big-name institutions are holding their big-name scholars to a higher standard of conduct.

Brett Sokolow, president and CEO of the NCHERM Group, a campus safety consultancy, and executive director of the Association of Title IX Administrators, said it’s not that campuses are now speedier to discipline faculty members found to have harassed students or others. That process still tends to be "painfully slow," he said. Rather, some campuses are now more "willing" to terminate faculty members for harassment.

The reason, Sokolow said, “is that more and more campus mind-sets have shifted, and the culture is shifting as a result from one of permissiveness [or] privilege -- or looking the other way -- to what is more like a zero-tolerance mind-set.”

It's simply too costly, in terms of public relations and crisis management, to try to "shield faculty anymore," he said, "and campuses are finally figuring that out.”

Negative Publicity

Indeed, negative publicity was a major factor in both Katze’s and Ott’s cases: they were the subjects of separate, lengthy stories on BuzzFeed ahead of their departures. Katze actually sued BuzzFeed and the university, to prevent the release of investigation details. (That was his second suit against Washington; another unsuccessfully alleged violations of due process related to his suspension from campus.) The effort failed, and BuzzFeed went ahead with its story -- backed by university documents -- on how Katze sexually harassed two female lab employees and misused university funds.

Specifically, Katze was found to have paid a lab administrator an unusually high salary in exchange for sexual favors. He allegedly harassed another lab worker by making sexual comments and trying to kiss or touch her while he was drunk, and by asking her to email escorts and place personal ads, buy drugs, clean his apartment and schedule his spa services. The university received prior complaints about Katze’s behavior.

Katze has not commented publicly on his case, and an attempt to reach him through his former attorney this week was unsuccessful. He in his lawsuits denied allegations of misconduct and said that a lab employee filed the most recent claim against him just days after he expressed concern about her job performance.

Katze reportedly told Washington’s investigator, "My job is to get grants. I am singularly focused on training scientists. This kind of shit is completely unimportant to me."

The sentiment might have been sincere. But in light of recent events, it recalls, at the very least, an antiquated way of thinking about faculty responsibilities.

Victor Balta, a spokesperson for the University of Washington, said Katze’s termination was the result of a faculty disciplinary process that confirmed “violations of university policies and executive orders, including conduct counter to the core values of our university.” Specifically, Katze was found to have violated campus policies related to sexual harassment, conflict of interest, use of resources and professional conduct, along with state ethics laws.

The decision to terminate any employee is one Washington takes “extraordinarily seriously,” Balta added via email. “The investigation and adjudication process is designed to ensure thorough consideration before a conclusion is reached.”

Ott, meanwhile, was found to have become infatuated with one of his graduate students and then to have fired her because of his feelings, according to documents first obtained by BuzzFeed. He also repeatedly discussed the matter with a second student. Ott was first placed on a nine-month leave and assigned extra training and supervision, but students and faculty members complained about what they perceived as a slap on the wrist for Ott possibly derailing a student’s career over romantic entanglements. His leave was extended after he was found to have contacted one of the students involved in his case, and he eventually resigned. The move is effective in December, but he won’t be back on campus between now and then.

Ott didn’t respond to a request for comment about his departure, but he’s previously challenged the notion that he “fired” the student in question.

Caltech didn’t provide comment as to how many professors it’s terminated over harassment. A spokesperson referred requests for comment to an earlier statement saying that Ott resigned after hearing that a faculty committee found he’d made “significant progress” toward his rehabilitative goals but remained “a divisive element on campus.”

Jason Fruth, at Wright State, resigned earlier this summer, following accusations that he raped a graduate student who worked for him and harassed others, according to the Dayton Daily News. A related criminal investigation did not result in charges; Fruth denied the claims but left his faculty position two weeks before a months-long university investigation was completed. Wright State documents first obtained by the Dayton Daily News say the investigation turned up 29 allegations of inappropriate behavior, such as Fruth sending students messages and photos of himself shirtless, telling them they were attractive and making sexual jokes. The university found that he’d violated campus policies by having sex with someone unable to give consent due to intoxication and engaging in a sexual relationship with a student whose work he supervised.

At Nebraska-Lincoln, the university confirmed that Bill Frakes’s appointment was cut short but did not provide details on the sexual harassment claims against him. Frakes told the Lincoln Journal-Star that those accused of violations of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibit sexual harassment or gender bias in education, are entitled to a hearing. "The university has directed that the process be confidential and I intend to honor that request,” he said.

More Attention to Title IX and Harassment

Erin Buzuvis, a professor of law at Western New England University and moderator of the Title IX Blog, said it’s clear, in general, that institutions “are paying more attention to their responsibilities under Title IX to address sexual harassment.” Real evidence of that shift would include institutional changes to sexual harassment policies applicable to faculty members, and whether such policies played a role in faculty members’ terminations, she said.

In one major example, the University of California System has recently strengthened its policies and procedures regarding faculty misconduct; sexual harassment and assault, for example, are now explicit violations of faculty responsibilities. Those changes came after a group of scandals, including the Berkeley campus’s nonfiring of astronomer Geoff Marcy, who was found to have harassed multiple female graduate students (he eventually resigned, in 2015). The Los Angeles campus, in another example, settled with two graduate students who sued over its handling of a sexual harassment case against Gabriel Piterberg, a professor of history. He’s still teaching, after a short suspension and other sanctions, but his return to campus last semester drew protests.

In making the policy changes, the UC System has said it wants to be a national leader in preventing and responding to sexual misconduct.

Sokolow said the greater awareness of Title IX and attendant publicity does have some campuses “jumping the gun” over things that aren’t, in his view, actual misconduct. As one example, he cited what he called "witch hunts" at Northwestern University, where media studies scholar Laura Kipnis was investigated under Title IX for writing critically of the grounds for a harassment case against a professor on her campus.

Whether most campuses can ride the line, then, remains to be seen.

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