Higher Education News

Gender studies scholars say the field is coming under attack in many countries around the globe

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 12/05/2018 - 08:00

The decision by the Hungarian government earlier this fall to withdraw accreditation from gender studies programs -- a full-frontal governmental assault on an academic discipline -- sent shock waves ​through the field.

Gender studies "has no business [being taught] in universities," because it is "an ideology not a science," a deputy to Hungary's prime minister, Zsolt Semjen, told the international news agency Agence France-Presse.

Semjen also said labor market demand for the field was "close to zero."

"No one wants to employ a gender-ologist," Semjen said.

Yet even if the scale of the assault on gender studies in Hungary was shocking, the rhetoric was not. Gender studies scholars say what happened in Hungary is the most extreme manifestation of what seem to be growing attacks on the discipline as right-wing populist parties gain power or influence in many countries around the globe.

The attacks take many different forms, including blacklists and harassment of individual scholars, the proposal of legislative measures to police classroom speech, and attempts to censor academic events. In Brazil the pioneering gender studies scholar Judith Butler was burned in effigy and accosted by protestors at the airport last year after far-right Christian groups objected to her visit to the country for a conference she’d helped to organize. As Butler told Inside Higher Ed in an interview at the time, her sense was that the protesters "who engaged this frenzy of effigy burning, stalking and harassment want to defend 'Brazil' as a place where LGBTQ people are not welcome, where the family remains heterosexual (so no gay marriage), where abortion is illegal and reproductive freedom does not exist. They want boys to be boys, and girls to be girls, and for there to be no complexity in questions such as these."

David Paternotte, an associate professor in sociology at the Free University of Brussels (ULB) and co-editor of the book Anti-Gender Campaigns in Europe (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017), said less extreme attacks on gender studies often take the form of press articles criticizing the discipline. “People saying it’s ideological, it’s not scientific. This is what we hear the most -- that it’s a waste of public money, it shouldn’t be a part of what is taught at universities.”

“Most of the time the critics don’t have access to state power, like in Hungary, but it’s creating a climate that is becoming more hostile to gender studies in many countries,” Paternotte said. “German colleagues are extremely worried because of attacks in the media; there isn't a major threat from the government side, but the legitimacy of gender studies is constantly under attack in the press.”

“What’s happening with Hungary,” Paternotte said, “is now the people with these ideas get the power to impose their ideas.”

From Hungary to the U.S. to Brazil

The American Association of University Professors’ committees on academic freedom and women in the academic profession issued a joint statement in November responding both to Hungary’s move to ban gender studies and reports that the Trump administration had drafted policies that would rescind civil rights protections for transgender students and define sex according to “immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth.” The AAUP statement also references attempts in Brazil, Bulgaria and Poland “to refute the scholarly consensus that gender identity is variable and mutable.”

“The AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure and the Committee on Women in the Academic Profession strongly condemn these efforts to restrict the legal meaning of gender to what are said to be its natural, immutable forms,” the statement said. “Restrictions like those imposed in Hungary directly interfere with the academic freedom of researchers and teachers. Biologists, anthropologists, historians, and psychologists have repeatedly shown that definitions of sex and sexuality have varied over time and across cultures and political regimes. Some of their work suggests that state-enforced preservation of traditional gender roles is associated with authoritarian attempts to control social life and to promise security in troubled times by pledging to protect patriarchal family structures. Authoritarian efforts such as these can justify racial, class, and sexual policing that disciplines forms of kinship and homemaking -- including same-sex, multi-generational, or other nonnormative households -- that deviate from established nuclear family norms. Politicians and religious fundamentalists are neither scientists nor scholars. Their motives are ideological. It is they who are offering ‘gender ideology’ by attempting to override the insights of serious scholars. By substituting their ideology for years of assiduous research, they impose their will in the name of a ‘science’ that is without factual support. This is a cynical invocation of science for purely political ends.”

Roman Kuhar, the dean of the Faculty of Arts and a sociology professor at the University of Ljubljana, in Slovenia, and co-editor with Paternotte of the book on gender campaigns across Europe, described the term "gender ideology" as an "empty signifier": "Because gender ideology is such an empty signifier, it can be filled in with different things," he said. "Sometimes it can be filled in with the issue of marriage, sometimes LGBT rights; sometimes it refers to sex education in schools, sometimes it refers to gender studies as such. Nowadays we have, I would say, a movement which is comprised of different actors, not all of them related to religious institutions or religion as such, but they see this 'gender theory' or 'gender ideology' as a common enemy that they fight against."

Premilla Nadasen, a professor of history at Barnard College and president of the National Women’s Studies Association, said the term "gender ideology" has come to dominate how certain groups talk about gender. “I think what they suggest through this phrase ‘gender ideology’ that this is somehow contrary to family values,” Nadasen said. “But women and gender studies scholars are not rooted in a ‘gender ideology.’ They think about gender as a frame of analysis for understanding the way in which the world works. I think if there’s any ideology that has been manifest in this debate, it’s the right-wing ideology that is attempting to return to a heteronormative patriarchal society.”

Nadasen said there are different ways in which attacks on gender studies scholars manifest. “I think in some places the conversation often centers around abortion, and that has been the kind of launching pad for thinking about the crisis of quote, unquote gender ideology. In other places it’s about reproductive rights. In other places it’s about same-sex marriage. In other places it’s about the breakdown of the two-parent heterosexual family, or even childcare … In all of these cases the culprit becomes women and gender studies scholars. They become the reason for the supposed breakdown in family values.”

Nadasen described "a broader problem of intimidation and harassment, almost a kind of bullying" against gender studies scholars. "It hearkens back to the days of McCarthyism when individuals who attempted to speak out on particular issues were automatically identified as Communists, regardless of what their ideas were, regardless of whether they were actually Communist. We’re seeing something similar today where someone who is a dissenting voice is taking a risk, [who] is attempting to speak out on a particular issue is automatically tainted and is blacklisted and is then a potential target for harassment by a broader audience. I think this is facilitated by the internet by lists that are posted online. I think it’s very, very dangerous for academic freedom."

In Brazil, which recently elected a far-right candidate for president, Jair Bolsonaro, a bill pending in the National Congress would go so far as to bar the use of the term "gender" in teaching.

The bill purports to “respect the beliefs of students that come from their parents and other guardians, privileging family values in their school education related to moral, sexual and religious education,” the executive committee of the Brazilian Studies Association (BRASA) said in a Nov. 15 statement about academic freedom in Brazil. “Our own analysis of the text of the bill, however, suggests that it could have devastating effects on teachers at all levels of education. Among other things, we are gravely concerned that educators will be bullied and dismissed as a form of persecution based on the way they approach issues in the classroom. There is already evidence that this is happening, with elected politicians encouraging students to denounce and slander educators through social networks, verbal aggression, and direct threats of violence.”

"We are also concerned about the application and effects of laws like these on marginalized communities," the BRASA statement says. "If enacted, it could very well prohibit teaching topics related to gender in schools and universities, thus disregarding much of the human knowledge produced in the last decades in many disciplines, which consider gender relations as an essential aspect of human experience at all times and in all societies."

James N. Green, the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Professor of Modern Latin American History at Brown University and the executive director of the Brazilian Studies Association, said with the election of Bolsonaro and a more conservative Congress, there is a possibility the bill might get traction.

Marlene de Fáveri, a professor of history at Brazil’s State University of Santa Caterina, said gender studies has been under "systematic pressure" in Brazil since the bill was first introduced in 2014. De Fáveri herself was sued for “ideological persecution” by a former student -- and a newly elected congresswoman from Bolsonaro's party -- who has called for filming or recording professors who make partisan or ideological statements in the classroom. The lawsuit was dismissed in September.

“The election of the right-wing and ultraconservative candidate drastically affects academic freedom and gender studies," de Fáveri said of the election of Bolsonaro. "His campaign was strongly based on speeches preaching the elimination of what he calls the 'gender ideology,' supported by conservative parties, especially the evangelical party. The proposed minister of education also agrees with his conservative ideology, which is rather alarming and will likely lead to eventual challenges when possible changes in educational laws come into force.”

“What they call ‘gender ideology’ is a fallacy; the introduction of such concept into a bill is, in reality, meant to propagate hatred towards feminists, is a political tool aimed to minimize the scientific character of gender studies and discredit the field. It takes a great deal of effort to deny the world-renowned research efforts and the vast body of knowledge regarding women, gender as a category of social analysis and gendered violence, as well as the hard and numerous battles women had to fight throughout history to be legally recognized,” she said.

‘A Spearhead of a Wider Attack’

Gender studies scholars see attacks on gender studies as part of a broader attack on universities and independent scholarship.

“Every undemocratic government wants to control the knowledge production and sexuality, which explains why gender studies become the target in the first place,” said Andrea Pető, a professor of gender studies at Central European University, which on Monday announced it had been forced out of Hungary and would be moving its main campus to Vienna. “Attacks on gender studies as a scientific discipline [have] become a central rhetorical tool of those efforts that try to determine for the wider audience what 'science' should mean, and thereby try to create a new consensus of what should be seen as normal, legitimate and scientific.”

“I see gender studies as a spearhead of a wider attack on free academic inquiry,” said Ov Cristian Norocel, a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow at the Free University of Brussels (ULB), where he is studying right-wing populist parties in Europe. “It seems that gender studies seems to be one of the first kind of subjects of critical knowledge that are attacked, particularly in this kind of environment in which there seems to be an agenda for dismantling knowledge in general. What happened in Hungary is you have these very aggressive attacks against CEU. CEU is chased out of the country. CEU is also one of the few universities that actually had a gender studies program.”

"Gender studies and gender equality and equality for LGBT people are threatening for authoritarian regimes because authoritarian regimes require for somebody to have more power than somebody else; once you overthrow the idea that the patriarchy is something natural, for them that is the destruction of a kind of building block of culture," said Kevin Moss, the Jean Thomson Fulton Professor of Modern Languages & Literature at Middlebury College.

Moss has written about the role of Russia's academic establishment in producing and promoting "anti-gender discourse." Closer to home, he said that the gender studies program at Middlebury came under attack from pundits who characterized its courses as being "categorically insane" after the disruption of a March 2017 talk by Charles Murray, a writer best known for his controversial work linking intelligence and race. Though the talk wasn't about gender studies, Moss said supporters of Murray looked to the gender studies department “to discredit Middlebury and particularly to discredit the side that was against Murray.”

“I think every subject or field of research that has a critical view on society or that has some ideas about societal change will often be contested,” said Linda Marie Rustad, the director and editor of a news magazine on gender research, Kilden, which is part of the Research Council of Norway and which recently published an article on right-wing attacks on gender studies.

“Gender science studies has developed from a critical tradition in the social sciences and humanities,” Rustad said. “Hence it isn't necessarily bad or strange that gender science studies is being disputed. We have had the same debates in Norway on environmental studies not being scientific enough. And we also have in Europe now, also due to right-wing populism, a critique against research on migration. Looking at the right-wing populist winds, we see globally it is not accidental that gender studies is under attack. We need to understand that the attacks on gender are part of a bigger picture.”

At the same time, Rustad cautioned against drawing too dark a picture. “It’s very important to take this very seriously. But in Norway I’m not worried, and I think that would be the same for many countries.”

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College profs say smartphones can help low-income students have academic success

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 12/05/2018 - 08:00

As social inequality on American college campuses continues to spark debate, the fast-growing use of smartphone technology is raising new questions about the divide between poor and affluent students: Should all students have smartphones, whether or not they can afford them? Have smartphones become as important to student success as food and housing? Would having smartphones help low-income students be more academically successful?

Sara Goldrick-Rab, a Temple University professor known for her work addressing socioeconomic inequalities in higher education, set off a conversation about the necessity of smartphones in higher ed last weekend when she fired back at a Twitter comment suggesting that students wouldn't go hungry if they spent less money on expensive phones.

Moreover, I would love to see anyone attempt college these days without a functioning cell. Many students don’t even have computers- and try to do all their homework on them. Those are $200-300 phones. The savings hardly pays for 4-6 years of college. #RealCollege https://t.co/3SYmpHswY8

— Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab (@saragoldrickrab) December 1, 2018

"I would love to see anyone attempt college these days without a functioning cell," Goldrick-Rab tweeted. For the many students who can't afford a computer, smartphones have become an essential work tool, she said. And they don't have to cost $1,200, as one commentator suggested.

Goldrick-Rab noted that not every student can afford a smartphone, but many have long been using them in place of more expensive computers.

"I think people think phones are just for music or videos," she said. But there is an enormous amount of work that colleges are asking students to do online, such as responding to emails, checking the learning management system and marking class attendance.

"Unless you're chained to your computer, you won't be connected to college the way you're supposed to be" without a smartphone, she said.

Matt Reed, vice president for learning at Brookdale Community College in New Jersey, wrote in a recent blog post for Inside Higher Ed about this debate that "smartphones have, in fact, become necessities" for students.

Computer labs aren't convenient for everyone, and smartphones allow students to work on the fly, he said.

“When assignments are posted online and required to be submitted online, it’s churlish at best to regard internet access as extravagant,” wrote Reed, who is a regular blogger for Inside Higher Ed.

Many professors agreed on Twitter.

Jessica Calarco, an assistant professor of sociology at Indiana University, posted a statement she intends to add to her class syllabus outlining why digital devices like smartphones are so important to college success and recognizing that some students are unable to afford them.

“Students take pictures of lecture slides, they write papers, they coordinate group projects, they check in for attendance -- there’s a whole host of ways in which students are increasingly dependent on their smartphones,” she said.

The syllabus statement encourages students to come forward if they are having problems with their devices that might impede their work. It also points them to useful resources on campus such as the tech-support hub in the library. She hopes the statement will “signal to students that we care and understand the struggle they’re going through.”

Building on @saragoldrickrab's Basic Needs Security statement, and per @e_hernandez8's request, here's a suggested syllabus statement that acknowledges the challenges students face in purchasing digital devices and coping with tech-related problems.#AcademicTwitter #RealCollege pic.twitter.com/pz9CGA6N3y

— Jess Calarco (@JessicaCalarco) December 3, 2018

In Calarco’s introduction to sociology course, almost all of the 250 students have smartphones, tablets or laptops, she said -- but not all of these devices are in good working order. Calarco describes this as a "new digital divide" between the students who can afford to maintain their devices and those who cannot.

Some universities have taken steps to level the playing field, said Calarco. Ohio State University, for example, has started giving all first-year students an iPad Pro. These initiatives are admirable but out of reach for many institutions because of the cost, Calarco said. In the short term, she suggests professors take the small step of making students feel "supported and seen" by including statements on digital access in their syllabi.

Many students turn to smartphones in class because they have older laptops that can’t hold much charge, said Calarco. She said there are often students sitting on the floor in her class to be near one of the few electrical sockets in the wall. Those without working laptops could borrow them from the library, but Calarco notes students may feel embarrassed to do this. “There is a stigma,” she said.

Professors and students generally agree working on a laptop or tablet is preferable to working on a smartphone, but given the choice to buy either a laptop or a phone, many students may opt for the relative value and dual functionality of a smartphone, said Rashida Crutchfield, an assistant professor of social work at California State University Long Beach.

In efforts to bring down course costs, many colleges have switched from using textbooks and paper printouts for reading assignments and other course work to digital solutions such as etextbooks and online lecture notes.

Crutchfield described smartphones as “an essential basic need for education.”

“We don’t make copies anymore, and students have to be able to look at these documents,” she said. “A lot of us are assuming that students can easily jump on a computer, but smartphones are far more affordable, and a lot more flexible.”

Crutchfield said it’s a misconception that low-income students don’t need smartphones.

“It’s really difficult to communicate socially or professionally without a phone,” she said, adding that the devices are particularly important for students who don’t have a stable home. “If you don’t have a phone, it’s really hard to find a job.”

Both Crutchfield and Lavelle Porter, assistant professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, like Calarco’s idea of a syllabus statement and said they would consider incorporating it next semester.

“I think including a statement like that could encourage my students to talk about what tech they are using, and to let me know what limitations they may face,” said Porter.

Porter said many of his students use smartphones in class and at home to complete assignments. Porter uses the college’s mobile-friendly digital platform OpenLab to share class materials and assignments with students.

But he still wishes the college would provide students with laptops. “Our students have access to computer labs, but the demand gets high at the end of the semester,” he said.

To accommodate students who don't have laptops, Porter says he assigns fewer papers and sets time aside in class for students to work on their writing.

So many of my students type papers on their phones. And unfortunately the "computer labs" at my school are inconvenient with long waits, especially during finals. I think more profs, especially at places like CUNY, need to realize and account for this in their teaching. https://t.co/Qj0R7HAvdc

— Lavelle Porter (@alavelleporter) December 3, 2018

Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, said many colleges do consider the cost of digital devices when calculating the cost of attendance for students but may not specifically budget for smartphones.

"The cost of attendance would include not just books, supplies, transportation, room and board, it also includes any reasonable amount, determined by the school, for rental or purchase of computer equipment," he said.

There isn’t data on whether smartphones are typically considered computer equipment by colleges, said Draeger, “but smartphones are getting more and more like computers, so I’d certainly consider that a justifiable expense.”

Mark Kantrowitz, publisher and vice president of research for savingforcollege.com, doesn’t believe many colleges would consider smartphones computer equipment equivalent to laptops or tablets.

“I don’t know of any colleges that have an allowance for a smartphone purchase as part of their attendance -- I think many would consider it more of a luxury than a necessity,” he said.

Kantrowitz said many students could get by with a cheap phone that doesn’t have a touchscreen or come with an expensive monthly data plan.

“For academic work, a laptop or convertible tablet is going to be much more useful than a smartphone,” he said.

Kantrowitz, who used to do data input research for palm organizers and other technologies, said while smartphones may never be an ideal tool for composing essays because of their small size, the lines between laptops and computers are blurring.

Universities, ed-tech companies and even the federal government are recognizing that students do rely heavily on smartphones and may not have access to desktop computers, he said. For example, the U.S. Department of Education recently released a mobile app to help students more easily apply for federal financial aid.

Even if colleges did allocate money for smartphones in their cost of attendance, Goldrick-Rab said students on financial aid would "still have unmet needs."

"The numbers are just too low," she said of financial aid awards. "The reality is the new economics of college have left students without the means to succeed."

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Amid competition, small private colleges consolidate campuses

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 12/05/2018 - 08:00

Mergers among small private colleges have been in the news lately. In 2017, Wheelock College said it would merge into nearby Boston University, and a recent survey by Inside Higher Ed found that 24 percent of financial officers at private baccalaureate colleges say leaders have had “serious” discussions about a merger.

But another kind of consolidation is playing out among a few small private institutions: they are closing far-flung branch campuses, squeezing students into fewer locations or, if they can't accommodate them, simply helping students enroll elsewhere.

Among the latest to downsize: Nyack College, a small private Christian institution in New York’s Hudson Valley, which last month said it would close its long-standing campus in Rockland County, north of New York City, and move all of its operations to a high-rise building at the southern tip of Manhattan, about a half mile south of 1 World Trade Center. College officials said they can better advance academic programs on a single campus.

Originally known as the Missionary Training Institute, Nyack was the first Bible college in North America, according to college officials. Founded in Manhattan in 1882, it moved to the Hudson Valley in 1897 after founders bought 28 acres in South Nyack, N.Y. They renamed it Nyack Missionary College in 1956, then shortened it to Nyack College in 1972.

Nyack re-established the Manhattan campus in 1997, in response to what it said was growing enrollment, but it now says it wants to be based solely out of New York City. Nyack declined to comment on the move, but President Mike Scales told the Rockland/Westchester Journal News last month that shutting the Rockland campus will “minimize rising costs and maintain high academic standards.” Jeff Quinn, Nyack’s vice president of college relations, said the college is "looking for ways to reduce our operational footprint."

Nyack has not said what it plans to do with its 100-plus-acre South Nyack campus or a 21.7-acre seminary in Upper Nyack. It is working with a commercial realty firm and last month borrowed $38.5 million against the South Nyack property from the New Jersey lender Procida Funding & Advisors, whose CEO called the campus parcel “some of the best real estate the Hudson Valley has to offer.”

The college hasn’t immediately said how the closure will affect about 140 full-time employees in South Nyack, but it said the 600 students enrolled there can take course work in Manhattan or online -- Nyack, which currently offers housing through New York's 92nd Street Y, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit called Educational Housing Services and via other arrangements, is also working to house students in nearby Jersey City, N.J., officials said.

Last June, Northwest University, a four-year Christian college based in Kirkland, Wash., closed its Sacramento campus. The location had been the home of Capital Bible College until 2013, when Northwest took it over. Northwest still operates a second satellite campus in Salem, Ore.

Last August, New Orleans' Tulane University said it would suspend admissions to the Biloxi, Miss., campus of its School of Professional Advancement in the spring 2019 semester -- the campus had operated there since 2001, offering degrees in eight areas. It moved into Biloxi's Edgewater Mall in 2015, The Advocate reported. Another satellite campus, in the Jackson, Miss., suburb of Madison, closed earlier.

Tulane said the latest closure in Biloxi is due to “a steady decline in student admissions” there over the past seven years. The campus recorded its best year in 2011, with 205 students, but since then enrollment had fallen to under 100. It now enrolls just 92 students, Tulane said.

Suri Duitch, dean of the School of Professional Advancement, said Tulane would work with students to help them complete their degrees and certificates, including the option to finish at Biloxi, through online courses at Tulane’s New Orleans campuses or at other local institutions. Tulane said it would also develop teach-out partner agreements for Biloxi students. It will help the campus' three staff members and 25 part-time faculty members find new positions, including elsewhere at the university. The planned closure still must be approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

In a statement, Duitch called the closure disappointing. “We’ve worked so hard to turn around a long-term enrollment decline and had tremendous support from members of the Biloxi and Gulfport communities,” she said. “The campus, however, is simply no longer financially viable.”

Tulane still operates a satellite campus in the New Orleans suburb of Elmwood, La., in adjoining Jefferson Parish, about six miles west of its home campus.

In 2014, George Fox University, in Newburg, Ore., about a half hour southwest of Portland, closed its Boise, Idaho, center after 19 years. The branch campus, which had opened in 1995, 450 miles and an entire time zone away, focused on degree completion for adults. It also offered an M.B.A. and a master’s degree in education, among others.

Ahead of its time when it opened, by 2014 it was a victim of a regional education market that had become saturated with degree programs, from both for-profit and nonprofit providers; students also began taking online courses.

"There are many costs associated with operating a full-service satellite campus hundreds of miles from our main campus," said spokesman Rob Felton. "As a nonprofit organization, we couldn't operate long-term at a loss." He said George Fox would actually consider opening a new site "if the location and programs fit our mission and show potential to become self-sufficient."

Felton said George Fox still offers online course work for Boise-area students that requires "limited travel" to the Portland area. But its brick-and-mortar campuses are limited to areas closer to home in Portland, Salem and Redmond, Ore.

Paul Hassen of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities said small private colleges' "retrenching and consolidating" is to be expected as regional needs change. "From our perspective, it's more a function of the ebb and flow of the environment," he said.

He noted that leaders of a few small institutions have actually found ways to expand -- Hassen noted new programs in cybersecurity and allied health at St. Bonaventure University in western New York. Just five years ago, the Roman Catholic college was pursuing a merger with nearby Hilbert College.

“You see campuses doing things where they think there’s an opportunity to maximize their enrollment -- or to conserve their operating capital,” he said.

Expansions Elsewhere

At other institutions, regional job shortages are driving expansion of branch campuses.

In California’s Central Valley, Fresno Pacific University enrolls about 5,000 students, but only half of them actually attend class at its main campus in Fresno, where virtually all students are traditional undergraduates. The other 2,500 attend at one of four regional campuses, all of them operating in leased space.

About 950 adult learners and graduate students attend class in a leased Fresno high-rise that houses the university’s North Fresno campus; about 1,150 attend class in Visalia, with another 234 students in an office building in Merced. About 100 miles southeast of Fresno, 227 students attend class in Bakersfield.

Jorge Lopez, director of regional campus operations, said the far-flung satellites are “thriving.” Far from closing or consolidating, there’s talk of where to open the next one, he said.

“Those campuses reach out to the community or the regions,” he said, “and they serve that population of adult learners” who are pushing to finish degrees. Part of the system’s success, he said, was targeting adult and graduate students who badly need training for in-demand jobs.

Leasing space instead of building new facilities “allows you the flexibility to move quickly in the way of adding programs, sunsetting programs [and] developing new programs to meet the region’s career needs,” he said.

In two of the locations, Fresno Pacific formed partnerships with community colleges that sublease space from the university and offer their own two-year course of studies. “It creates that stream of students,” Lopez said, offering them the opportunity to complete a four-year degree in a single location.

Fresno Pacific focused on just a few sectors with yawning regional employee shortages, such as nursing, education and social work, he said. In each city “they have community colleges, but no university that’s close to them,” Lopez said. “We find a niche, basically -- several niches, actually -- and then serve that community.”

In northeastern Pennsylvania, Lackawanna College last year expanded from its base in Scranton to Sunbury, an hour-and-a-half drive southwest, where it opened its sixth regional center. Like Fresno Pacific, it saw a niche, in this case for a more affordable private two-year degree for working students.

“We’re really tapping into the local region and trying to fulfill a need within the local communities,” said Philip Campbell, Sunbury’s director. Unlike the Scranton campus, Sunbury serves virtually all commuters -- and like Lackawanna's other centers, it solely offers associate degrees in high-demand fields like criminal justice, sports management, accounting and business administration.

The center, housed in a repurposed retail space in a strip mall -- its neighbors are a dollar store, a hair salon and a brew pub -- also offers what’s perhaps the most valuable perk to commuter students: acres of free parking. The program enrolls about 50 students, with hopes to add as many as 30 more in the spring.

Campbell attributes the centers’ success, in part, to an economy that, for many workers, has not yet recovered. “When the economy is doing well and businesses are staying open -- and factories are staying open -- people aren’t looking to further their education so much,” he said.

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New research provides detailed data better explaining college teaching costs

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 12/04/2018 - 08:00

New research on the cost differences in higher education found that colleges and universities spend more money on providing courses in preprofessional programs and high-paying academic fields in science and engineering than on courses in the humanities and social sciences.

A working paper released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research states that teaching costs at higher ed institutions across the country varied widely across academic fields and were generally higher in fields where graduates earn more money.

For instance, the cost of teaching electrical engineering is 109 percent higher than teaching English, but teaching math is 22 percent lower than teaching English, according to the authors of the paper, “Why Is Math Cheaper Than English? Understanding Cost Differences in Higher Education.”

“This variation in costs is a function of large differences in class size and, to a lesser extent, differences in average faculty pay,” the researchers wrote. “We observe different stories across fields in terms of the trade-offs implied by the cost drivers. Some fields, like economics, offset high wages with large classes, resulting in costs that are comparable to English despite higher faculty pay.

“Other fields, such as mechanical engineering and computer science, do not offset high faculty pay with large classes, resulting in costs that are much greater than English. Still others, like physics, partially offset higher faculty salaries with heavier faculty workloads, resulting in costs that are moderately higher than English.”

The findings have implications for higher education policy and funding decisions at a time when state and federal lawmakers are increasingly demanding more accountability from colleges and universities, and more evidence that they provide students with measurable academic and employment outcomes.

“These outcomes differences have prompted policymakers to promote enrollment in high earning fields through various direct and indirect incentives to institutions and students, such as targeted scholarships and performance-based funding,” the authors noted. “However, we know very little about the economic cost of this investment or the resource consequences of steering more students into these fields.”

The researchers used data spanning from 2000 to 2015 from more than 550 institutions representing a “large and diverse” sample, and 7,150 individual academic departments, said Kevin M. Stange, one of the authors and an associate professor at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.

“We wanted to establish a baseline set of facts that are sort of true for the industry overall,” he said, “not just those at institutions in one state, or for fields in one sector, or for colleges with one level of selectivity.”

Doug Webber, an associate professor and director of graduate studies in the economics department at Temple University, predicted that the research will be a game changer.

“I can't overstate how important this paper is going to wind up being for both the research and practice of higher education finance,” he tweeted Monday.

Webber said prior to the new paper he was not aware of any analysis of data on the detailed costs of college instruction.

“There is reasonably good, very aggregate data on how much schools are spending, but it’s not broken down by department,” he said. “Prior to this paper, it was very difficult to draw any conclusions as to why costs have been changing over time and how they been changing,” and whether there has been any success at bending the cost curve.

The findings “should temper a bit” the thinking that producing one more English major versus an electrical engineering major is impractical.

“It costs a lot more to produce the electrical engineer,” he said. “States need to be aware of that.”

“For higher ed researchers, there’s so much that can be done with the data,” he said. “How much of the price increase in higher education over the last few years has been due to these various cost factors? We’ll able to look at this in a much more granular way that no one has before.”

The research estimates differences in instructional costs by field, describes the associations between class size and faculty workload and the cost differences, and documents trends over time in field-specific costs, all with an eye toward “providing a comprehensive descriptive analysis of instructional costs within institutions.”

For instance, they noted cost differences that evolved over time.

“Some STEM fields -- mechanical engineering, chemistry, physics, biology, and nursing -- experienced steep declines in spending over the past fifteen years while others saw increases. Fourth, these trends are explained by large increases in class size (mechanical engineering, nursing) and increases in faculty teaching loads (chemistry, biology) alongside a shift in faculty composition toward contingent faculty.”

By having a better understanding of cost differences across fields, institutions and states could take them into account when setting prices and allocating resources, the authors noted.

"Many public institutions charge students differentially by college or field and some states recognize cost differences in their appropriations formulas, but these cost differences are present even for states and institutions that do not use such practices," they wrote. "Second, the social return to investment in high-earning fields may be lower than wage premiums suggest because high-return fields also tend to be more costly to teach."

Stange said their analysis of cost drivers could help illuminate “the return the U.S. government and the states get from investing a tremendous amount of resources to higher ed.

“The questions is what kind of return we’re getting on these investments and how can it be improved?” he said.

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U of Arizona is being sued once again for alleged discrimination against women in terms of salary and promotions

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 12/04/2018 - 08:00

The Arizona Board of Regents is once again being sued for pervasive gender discrimination at the University of Arizona.

In a new federal lawsuit, Katrina Miranda, an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Arizona, alleges that women in the College of Science are consistently underpaid and passed over for promotions with respect to their male colleagues. She is seeking class action status to represent the women across the college.

Miranda, who has been at Arizona since 2002, says that she and other women in her department have not received raises since 2011, while men in the department have seen their pay increase. Miranda also says that she was denied a promotion to full professor in 2016 by her dean and provost, even though her faculty colleagues recommended her for advancement.

That’s also despite the fact that she’s been assessed to have exceeded or “far exceeded” expectations in each of her routine reviews, and despite her many accomplishments, such as being honored as fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in 2013.

The lawsuit alleges that such decisions at the administrative level are “completely disconnected from standards or metrics and are thus completely opaque,” and that the college dean, in particular, “exercises pay-setting authority in a black box.”

Women, reads the lawsuit, "are routinely disfavored.”

Miranda further alleges retaliation, saying that after she complained internally about what she saw as discrimination, administrators sought to reduce the size of her lab space, remove a prerequisite from one of her courses and block her from teaching a class she had designed.

“Despite Miranda’s strong record of research, service to the university, and contributions to the scientific community, the university has undercompensated and underpromoted her for years,” Miranda’s attorney, Andrew Melzer, said in a statement. “The lawsuit seeks to correct these ongoing wrongs, both for Miranda and for other female professors like her.”

According to public salary data cited in her complaint, Miranda has been paid between $9,000 and $36,000 less than male professors in her department with similar or lesser experience from 2016 to 2018. Miranda says that other women in her department have been similarly slighted.

Miranda earned between $97,000 and $100,000 annually between 2105-16 and 2017-18. By contrast, Arizona paid a male professor of chemistry who was hired and tenured at the same time as Miranda $130,500 annually for the last two years. Another male professor of chemistry who was hired just one year earlier than Miranda received a base salary of about $136,000 for each of the last two years. 

Miranda says that she has a stronger publication record than both men and has done as much service work as they have, if not more. Her research impact H-index score is almost double theirs, she says. Miranda also served as an assistant chair, while neither man has held a department leadership role, according to the complaint. 

Less experienced male faculty members also are paid more than women, Miranda says. A male professor of chemistry hired and tenured two years behind her earned $130,500 in each of the last two years, for example. And in 2011, the university gave that professor a $48,000 raise, bringing his salary to $120,000 annually. At the time, Miranda made $91,500. 

Miranda and other female associate professors approached their department chair about their pay. She was allegedly told be “patient.” But patience has not paid off. In 2011, there were seven other associate professors in Miranda’s department, the lawsuit says. Two additional male associate professors have since received salary increases while none of the female associate professors have.

Retention bonuses have been similarly distributed along gender lines, according to the lawsuit, and women allegedly know to avoid asking for them or risk professional repercussions.

Half of the associate professors in Miranda’s department are female, according to her complaint, but they are just one in every eight full professors -- the rank Miranda was denied.

Frustrated, Miranda complained to Arizona’s Office of Institutional Equity late last year. But her complaints have gone largely unheard, she says -- except for the consequences she’s suffered for speaking out.

Miranda is seeking $20 million in damages at trial via her would-be class action case -- and a change in the way her college does business.

In January, Patricia MacCorquodale, dean emerita of Arizona’s Honors College and a professor of gender and women’s studies, sued the university for gender discrimination, saying she was underpaid as compared to male deans. Janice Cervelli, former dean of architecture at Arizona and current president of Saint Mary’s College in Indiana, joined the suit in March. Cervelli alleges in that ongoing case that the difference between her pay and the average male dean’s was $80,000 annually in her last two years at Arizona.

Similar to Miranda, MacCorquodale and Cervelli seek to represent their female colleagues at Arizona in their $2 million collective action -- in that case, female deans. They are seeking back pay for lost compensation, along with damages and relief, via a jury trial.

The regents have previously said they do not comment on pending litigation, and a spokesperson for Arizona said Monday that the university is not commenting on either case.

Professors and administrators sue their institutions on a relatively rare basis, as lawsuits are expensive to pursue and courts typically defer to institutional judgment on personnel matters. But the two cases, while separate, may bolster each other. And there have been some recent legal wins for professors who take on their administrations. Most significantly, the University of Denver in May settled with the U.S. Employment Opportunity Commission for $2.7 million and agreed to change its law faculty compensation policies.

The EEOC took the unusual step of suing Denver in that case for violations of the Equal Pay Act -- which is also cited in the Arizona cases -- and federal nondiscrimination laws. That’s after seven female law professors complained that they were paid less than their male colleagues for the same work.

The original Denver complainant, Lucy Marsh, a longtime professor at Denver's Sturm College of Law, told the EEOC in 2013 that she was paid less than all of her full-time, male colleagues -- even those who were hired long after her. The EEOC found evidence of a pay gap in the college going back to at least the 1970s and engaged in talks with Denver about it. But the university did not take steps to remedy the situation, according to the lawsuit.

Six other women joined Marsh in the complaint. In 2013, it says, the university employed nine female full professors whose average annual salary was about $140,000, compared to about $159,700 for male full professors. No female full professor earned more than the average salary for male full professors.

Higher education’s pay gap is well documented, and reflects trends across the U.S. work force. Female administrators earn 80 cents on the dollar when compared to men, according to a 2017 report from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources. That’s up just three cents from 2001, when the difference was 77 cents on the dollar. According to that same report, women made up about half of all administrators, but just 30 percent of top executives.

Among faculty members, 93 percent of all institutions pay men more than women at the same rank, according to the American Association of University Professors’ annual salary data. AAUP’s accompanying 2018 report said that women continue to face barriers breaking into the highest -- and highest-paid -- rank of full professor. Challenges include inadequate institutional support, sexual harassment and institutional reliance on part-time positions (in which women are overrepresented), along with unconscious bias, lack of mentorship and problems achieving work-life balance.

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DeVos touts Swiss take on apprenticeships, but approach remains limited in the U.S.

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 12/04/2018 - 08:00

WOODBRIDGE, Va. -- Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and other top Trump administration officials on Monday visited a college classroom where students receive paid, on-the-job training -- and potential employment later -- after just weeks of classroom instruction.

The course at Northern Virginia Community College’s campus here is part of Amazon Web Services’ technical apprenticeship program for veterans of the U.S. military, which the college created last year. It’s the sort of hands-on alternative to the traditional four-year degree that DeVos has been pushing for. The program also reflects the best aspects of worker training in Switzerland, DeVos said, where companies “don’t ask for permission from the government to partner with educators.”

The Swiss system of worker training has been something of a fixation for the education secretary. On Monday, after stopping by classrooms at the Woodbridge campus, she signed an agreement between U.S. and Swiss officials to exchange information and practices on apprenticeships. And 22 Swiss companies with U.S. operations separately pledged to support thousands of opportunities for apprenticeships or other forms of worker training in this country.

The hope is that models like the Amazon program can help the U.S. establish a system of apprenticeships that lets more students get an immediate payoff from postsecondary education without taking on serious loan debt. However, the current reality is that examples like the program at Northern Virginia Community College aren’t common in the U.S. and are usually the product of a unique set of circumstances. And the region already had a high demand for workers with technical skills before Amazon announced it would locate one of two new headquarters there.

Many community colleges offer short-term certificate programs for training demanded by local companies. But few have the sort of relationship Northern Virginia Community College has with Amazon, which proposed the Woodbridge program. And a relatively limited number of companies are putting up the money or have the know-how to launch large-scale apprenticeship programs themselves.

“Scaling is the big challenge with apprenticeships,” said Mary Alice McCarthy, director of the Center on Education and Skills at New America’s Education Policy Program.

McCarthy said a strong national system of apprenticeships requires clear industry standards for skills training, a solid financing strategy and intermediaries who can connect employers with colleges.

The U.S. Department of Education believes the recent update to the Perkins career education law, passed this summer, can play a role in addressing that last component. Perkins allows states and local entities to use federal grant money to fund entities that connect businesses with colleges. That could mean paying local nonprofit organizations or business councils, or funding a position at colleges.

“One of the key components of the Swiss model provides that nexus between business and education,” said Scott Stump, the department’s assistant secretary for career, technical and adult education.

It’s not just Amazon that is working with local colleges to prepare workers. In a roundtable after the signing ceremony Monday, Greg Scheu, president of the Americas for Swiss firm ABB, said the company has helped build curricula for classroom training in Michigan, North Carolina and Arkansas, where it has heavy concentrations of workers.

“The amount of training and retraining really requires a partnership with local universities,” he said.

The federal government made has made new financial commitments to apprenticeships in recent years. For example, a September congressional spending bill included an additional $15 million for apprenticeship grants in fiscal year 2019. But McCarthy said the feds need to figure out a larger financing strategy to help make those local partnerships more viable.

“If we want these programs to be on-ramps to college degrees and continue advances in education, we need to figure that piece out,” she said.

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Central European University is forced out of Hungary, moving to Vienna

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 12/04/2018 - 08:00

Central European University announced today that it has been forced out of Hungary and will move its U.S.-accredited academic programs from Budapest to Vienna in September 2019.

CEU says the Hungarian government refuses to ratify an agreement that would allow it to continue to operate its campus in Budapest under the terms of an April 2017 law on foreign branch campuses. The law was widely seen as a targeted attack by Hungary’s increasingly illiberal government on CEU and its founder and honorary board chairman, the liberal financier George Soros.

The institution previously said it would move out of Hungary if the Hungarian government did not ratify an agreement that would let it continue to offer U.S. degree programs in Budapest by Dec. 1, a deadline that passed Saturday.

“Basically this is a dark day for freedom in Hungary,” said Michal Ignatieff, the president and rector of CEU. “And it’s a dark day for academic freedom.”

CEU’s future in Hungary came into question in April 2017 when the government passed a law on foreign branch campuses that many said seemed designed to specifically target the American-accredited institution. Among other things, the law required foreign branch campuses to have a campus in their home country, which CEU didn't have.

CEU officials say they have complied with the terms of the law by establishing academic programs in New York State. But the Hungarian government has refused to sign an agreement it negotiated with New York that would ensure the university’s long-term future.

"We can't do anything about that," Ignatieff said. "But we can't continue to play these games for another day, or another week. We have a university that we want to move to a country, Austria, where these games are not played, a country where the rule of law and respect for free institutions still means something.

"Let me make it clear that we are not going to Vienna to be a university in exile," Ignatieff added. "We're much more ambitious than that. We'll do what we do here, which is maintain world-class teaching and research in partnership with the great institutions of science and knowledge in Austria."

CEU, a graduate-only institution focused on the social sciences, humanities and law, traces its history back to 1989, when, according to a brief history on the university’s website, a group of intellectuals “conceptualized an international university that would help facilitate the transition from dictatorship to democracy in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.” The university opened its doors in Prague in 1991 and moved to Budapest in 1993.

The institution, which has both American and Hungarian accreditation, is highly regarded internationally, with scholars and administrators from Harvard, Oxford, Stanford and other elite institutions on its board. CEU says it receives more competitive European Union research grant funding than any other institution in Central Europe, having received more than 19 million euros (more than $21 million) in E.U. funding for the 2018-26 period.

But for all its international renown, the university has come under attack at home under the right-wing populist rule of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who has waged a prolonged attack on Soros.

The expulsion of CEU -- what government officials have referred to as the “Soros university” -- comes amid wider attacks on academic freedom in Hungary, including a recent move by the government to withdraw accreditation from gender studies programs and to impose a tax on academic programs for migrants and refugees. The European Parliament invoked concerns about the erosion of academic freedom and other freedoms of expression in Hungary in voting in September to ask member states to determine if Hungary is at risk of violating the founding values of the union -- a first step in a process that could eventually lead to E.U. sanctions against Hungary.

“It’s a sad day for the European Higher Education Area,” said Michael Gaebel, the director of the European University Association’s Higher Education Policy Unit. The EUA previously described the attacks on academic freedom and institutional autonomy in Hungary as "unprecedented in the European Union."

“We are worried about the implication that this has obviously for CEU but also for the higher education community in Hungary” more broadly, Gaebel said. “The government has demonstrated that it can close down or drive out a university. I think that’s a good demonstration of the power that the government has on these issues. I will assume that this will have an impact on the higher education and research sector in a way that people might feel intimidated, and might take to self-censorship. If the government has already decided that there should be no teaching on gender studies, the question is what comes next?”

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of State expressed disappointment but not condemnation. The spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, said the U.S. is “disappointed that the Hungarian government and CEU have not concluded an agreement that would allow the university to continue its U.S.-accredited programs in Hungary … The departure of these U.S.-accredited programs from Hungary will be a loss for the CEU community, for the United States, and for Hungary.”

The U.S. ambassador to Hungary, David B. Cornstein, was involved in trying to negotiate a solution that would have allowed CEU to stay. The Washington Post reported that in an interview last week Cornstein declined to criticize Orbán for the failure to find a solution, instead blaming Soros for not developing a better relationship with the Hungarian prime minister.

According to the Post, Cornstein downplayed CEU’s importance -- contrasting its 1,500 students to the much larger enrollments of major U.S. universities like Ohio State University -- and described the dispute as a personal one between Orbán and Soros.

“It had to do with two men,” Cornstein told the Post. “It doesn’t have anything to do with academic freedom.”

The Hungarian government did not comment on CEU’s announcement Monday, but likewise has previously suggested that academic freedom is not at issue. Hungary's government maintains that CEU can continue to operate in Hungary through an affiliated institution.

“The CEU has an affiliate, the Közép-europai Egyetem, that is registered and accredited in Hungary. Courses may continue to be held and diplomas awarded from this Hungarian-accredited institution. So how does this have anything to do with academic freedom?” a government spokesman, Zoltán Kovács, said in November.

A spokeswoman for CEU, Ildiko Rull, said in October that the university hopes the Hungarian entity, known by the acronym KEE, “will remain intact. However, as currently all of our students are enrolled into American programs, and KEE has significantly fewer programs than CEU, it is unclear whether KEE will be viable in the long run.”

Ignatieff said Monday that CEU plans to retain some teaching and research activities in Budapest, but it is unclear just what the government will permit it to do.

"We retain accreditation and are proud of the fact that we secured accreditation in Hungary in March 2018 after external international review. So we’ll proceed on the basis that this can continue to be a teaching site of some kind. We will maintain research activities, research centers, if we can -- but notice the way I’m saying this. I have to tell you we’re in a lawless situation," Ignatieff said.

"We want to continue in Budapest as long as we can; we want to maintain this beautiful building as a resource for all the citizens of Budapest," he said. "But we’re in uncharted territory here. We're not seeking to provoke the government. I'm just saying we actually don't know what it's going to be possible for us to do."

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Baylor studies find that students perform better on tests after eight hours of sleep

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 12/04/2018 - 08:00

A few years ago, when Michael Scullin started teaching a class on sleep at Baylor University, he noticed a frustrating trend: his students were learning how detrimental sleep deprivation could be, but they never changed their habits. Many slept only five hours a night.

Scullin, director of Baylor’s Sleep Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory and assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience, took it a bit personally, he said half jokingly in an interview.

And so he issued a challenge.

If, during the week of final exams, his students could sleep for at least eight hours a night, he would give them extra credit points on the test, amounting to about 1 percent of their overall class grade. They would wear devices to bed similar to a Fitbit -- but far more accurate in judging sleep time, Scullin said.

Overall, 24 students in two of the classes tried it out -- and performed better on the exams than their classmates who did not take the challenge, even discounting the extra credit they might have earned. This indicates that even though some students think they should cram for finals, staying up to all hours and studying, a better strategy for students likely is to sleep more.

“If you provide a really strong incentive, people will change their behavior,” Scullin said.

The results of Scullin's study have been recently published in two journals: The Teaching of Psychology and, when a class of interior design students tried the challenge, the Journal of Interior Design.

Scullin first tried two iterations of the study. In the first, he offered 18 students the chance to receive the extra credit, but with a catch: if they slept fewer than seven hours during the finals week, five days total in the challenge, they would lose points on the exam.

Only eight students decided to participate because of the penalty, which was put in to discourage “yo-yo” sleeping -- going to bed in short spurts and then rebounding.

In the second version of the study, Scullin removed the drawback, and all 16 students in the class participated.

But in both versions, the students who ended up completing the challenge scored better on the exams than those who did not, or those who had opted out. Students who succeeded in getting eight full hours of sleep earned nearly five points more on the exam than those who didn’t (not counting the extra credit).

One student who had a D-plus grade in the class before the final exam but completed the challenge reported back that it was the “first time my brain worked while taking an exam.”

The study was replicated with students who weren’t in the sleep class -- in the interior design program -- and the results were the same: they performed better on their test.

“Some fields might find it unprofessional, but for many years, in design, sacrificing sleep was viewed as a rite of passage. That's something we're trying to change,” Elise King, assistant professor of interior design, who ran the study in the interior design classes, said in a statement. “Even during stressful deadline weeks, students can maintain healthy sleep habits.”

Scullin said that when he was experimenting with his class, the students reported that only about 15 percent of them were meeting the recommended minimum of seven hours of sleep per night. But the benefits of getting a proper night's sleep are innumerable, he said: better memory, better mood, better health, Scullin said.

Because they have such autonomy, college students tend to spread their work out over longer periods, maybe 19 hours in a 24-hour day, and cram sleep in when they can, Scullin said. But if they were to treat academics more like a nine-to-five job, tapering off in the evenings and heading to bed sooner, they might be more successful academically.

Socializing means that some students won’t go to bed until 2 or 3 a.m., Scullin said. Students, and society generally, also thinks that insomnia is inherent, something that can’t be changed through behavior, but as this study finds, Scullin said, with the proper motivation people can fall into better sleep habits.

For the next round of the study, Scullin will be grouping students and each of them will have to encourage others in the group to follow the schedule more -- and if they fail, then they’ll earn fewer points. Scullin is hopeful that this will inspire students and create more of a “culture” around better sleep.

“Students say, ‘There’s nothing I can do about it,’” Scullin said. “There’s quite a lot you can do it about it, and the first-line treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy, basically just the way you think about sleep and your relationship with sleep.”

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UNC Chapel Hill announces plan to return Confederate statue to campus

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 12/04/2018 - 08:00

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's board and chancellor on Monday unveiled a plan to return Silent Sam, a statue of a Confederate soldier, to campus. The statue would be housed in a new building that would cost more than $5 million to construct and $800,000 a year to maintain.

By returning the statue to campus, officials hope to comply with a state law limiting the movement of memorials. By locating the statue in a building, with security, the university hopes to avoid additional efforts to destroy or take down the monument. Officials have also said that the building's location, less prominent than the spot where the statue had been before, would lessen the offense many feel at honoring the Confederacy.

Chapel Hill officials said that they would prefer to see the statue relocated off campus, but that they are submitting a plan that complies with state law to return the statue to campus. The university also plans to "contextualize" its history, which includes slavery, Jim Crow and the civil rights movement.

"Our community and nation have struggled for a long time with deeply rooted issues of race, inclusion, opportunity, pride and memory associated with America’s history. These driving societal and historical forces will be essential to creating a truthful and full historical contextualization both of our university and the Confederate monument," said an email to the campus from Carol L. Folt, the chancellor, and Robert A. Blouin, executive vice chancellor and provost.

The UNC system's Board of Governors still must approve the plan. Even if the board approves the plan, the controversy is not likely to end.

Erika K. Wilson, the Thomas Willis Lambeth Distinguished Professor in Public Policy at Chapel Hill, wrote on Twitter, "@UNC’s recommendation to not re-erect #SilentSam on campus & to spend $5.3 million on a building to house it & $800,000 annually on operating costs is a slap in the face to the many black students, faculty & staff who oppose this symbol of white supremacy."

Protests were quickly organized and took place Monday evening, with students and others blasting the decision -- regardless of state law -- to return Silent Sam to campus. A statement issued by one group organizing a rally said that "the UNC community has consistently and forcefully made clear that to reinstall the Confederate monument to any location on UNC's campus is to herald for the nation and for the world that UNC is not a welcoming place for black people." The new building for the statue will be "a safe space for white supremacy and forcing us to pay for it," the statement added.

Hundreds of students marched in Chapel Hill, with some calling for a strike by professors to insist that the statue not return to campus. "It seems UNC is more willing to spend money on a racist relic of the past than students who attend this school," an editorial in The Daily Tar Heel said. "Once again, the administration has made it clear that minority students are merely props, to be used and exploited when it is convenient for them."

The editorial said that many projects that would help students -- and in particular minority students -- could benefit from the money the university will spend to house the statue.

Monday's decision was the official response of the university to the topping of Silent Sam by protesters in August. Protesters used ropes to take down the statue, which was then removed by the university, setting off a debate on whether and how it would return to campus.

The action came after years of debate. As many other colleges and universities removed Confederate statues and symbols, UNC officials said that they lacked the power to remove the statue, with the campus deferring to the system, and the system board in July saying that any decision needed to come from a state agency and that the system had no plans to ask that agency to act.

Student and faculty activists have been asking for Silent Sam to be taken down for years, but the violence last year in Charlottesville, Va., gave the effort a new sense of urgency. Governor Roy Cooper said UNC could remove the statue, but the university said it did not have “clear legal authority to act unilaterally.” Meanwhile, protests continued until the August night when the statue was pulled down. (The governor is a Democrat, but system board members are appointed by the General Assembly, which is controlled by Republicans.)

Silent Sam, representing all Confederate soldiers, was put up by alumni and the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1913 to honor alumni who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. The photo at right shows the statue as it appeared on campus.

On some campuses, such as the University of Texas at Austin and Duke University, statues of Confederates have been vandalized (and then cleaned) in the debates leading up to the universities' decisions to remove the statues. But in those cases, protesters did not take down the statues.

Some Republican politicians in North Carolina have been pushing the university to return the statue to its former location or someplace else prominent on campus. Many student and faculty groups, meanwhile, have said that the statue should not return to campus.

Historians have noted that it was put up as part of a campaign in North Carolina to promote white supremacy.

Here, this is what Silent Sam was explicitly designed to celebrate.

If you want to keep him up, this is the message you’re endorsing. https://t.co/CSv0JuC7cQ

— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) August 24, 2018

In September, the university said that the statue would return to campus, but that the location remained to be determined. Initially, the plan was to have a proposal for the university system's Board of Governors prepared by November, but an extension was granted, setting the stage for today's announcement.

The September announcement led to many statements calling for the statue to never be returned to the campus.

A statement from black faculty members at UNC, published in The Daily Tar Heel, said in part, "A monument to white supremacy, steeped in a history of violence against black people, and that continues to attract white supremacists, creates a racially hostile work environment and diminishes the university’s reputation worldwide. For us, arguments of moral equivalency are extremely problematic; there are not two morally valid sides to the history the monument represents nor to its current significance … To reinstall the Confederate monument to any location on UNC’s campus is to herald for the nation and for the world that UNC is not a welcoming place for black people."

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Is Temple defending the academic freedom of a professor when board chair says he is seeking ways to punish him?

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 12/03/2018 - 08:00

Marc Lamont Hill lost his job as a commentator for CNN last week after he gave a speech about the Palestinian cause at a forum at the United Nations. The speech was harshly critical of Israel, but it was his closing lines that have prompted many to call for Temple University to fire him from his job there as professor of media studies.

Hill ended the speech by saying that he hoped for a free Palestine "from the river to the sea." That phrase is commonly used by Palestinian supporters and is viewed by many as a call to eliminate Israel. The river in the phrase is the Jordan River, which marks the eastern border of Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank with Jordan. The sea is the Mediterranean, which marks Israel's western border. A Palestinian state from the river to the sea, many say, means one in which Israel does not exist.

Other critics noted that Hill's speech (viewable here on YouTube), while endorsing nonviolent protest, said that Palestinians should not be limited to nonviolent tactics.

After CNN fired Hill, Temple initially said that his views were protected free speech. On Friday, President Richard M. Englert issued a new statement. This one referenced Hill's right to free speech, while disassociating his views from the university. "Let me be clear: Professor Hill does not represent Temple University, and his views are his own. Further, Professor Hill’s right to express his opinion is protected by the Constitution to the same extent as any other private citizen," the statement said.

It went on to say, "Temple condemns in the strongest possible terms all anti-Semitic, racist or incendiary language, hate speech, calls to violence, and the disparagement of any person or persons based on religion, nationality, race, gender, sexual orientation or identity. The university, in the best interest of its community, will take necessary and proper action to protect these values when they are threatened."

Faculty leaders became alarmed, however, when The Philadelphia Inquirer published an article on the controversy Friday night, quoting Patrick O'Connor, chair of the Temple board. O'Connor not only denounced Hill's remarks but made comments suggesting he did not think the speech might be protected. "It should be made clear that no one at Temple is happy with his comments," said O'Connor. "Free speech is one thing. Hate speech is entirely different."

O'Connor was also quoted as saying that he had instructed Temple's legal office to consider steps the university could take in response to Hill's comments. "I'm not happy. The board's not happy. The administration's not happy. People wanted to fire him right away," O'Connor said. "We're going to look at what remedies we have."

He added that Hill's speech "blackens our name unnecessarily."

A Temple spokesman did not respond to questions about whether the board chair's comments indicated that Hill's comments were not being treated by the university as protected speech.

The faculty union at Temple, affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, on Saturday afternoon issued a statement questioning the board chair's comments.

The Temple Association of University Professionals "finds unacceptable the statements by Temple’s chairman of the board, Patrick O’Connor, in response to Professor Marc Lamont Hill's speech about Israel and Palestine at the United Nations," the statement said. "Professor Hill's remarks are clearly protected by the principles of free speech -- as President Englert noted in his message to the Temple community -- and by academic freedom, which we are disappointed to find has thus far not been mentioned by Temple's administration.

"We are also deeply disturbed by Chairman O'Connor's claim that the administration is looking at 'what remedies we have' to discipline Professor Hill. Professor Hill is covered by the TAUP contract, which begins with the principles of academic freedom, and which clearly sets out procedures for disciplining faculty members. We trust that the contract will be followed; if it is not, the administration can count on a vigorous defense by TAUP of Prof. Hill’s rights as set forth in it."

Hans-Joerg Tiede, associate secretary of the American Association of University Professors' Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure and Governance, said via email that Hill's comments were protected free speech. The AAUP believes that professors should "have the freedom to address the larger community with regard to any matter of social, political, economic, or other interest, without institutional discipline or restraint, save in response to fundamental violations of professional ethics or statements that suggest disciplinary incompetence."

The board chair's statement, Tiede said, suggest that he "appears to be micromanaging a personnel matter" that should be left to campus officials. If the president believes some sort of review of Hill is needed, he should ask appropriate faculty bodies to do so, Tiede said.

Adam B. Steinbaugh of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education also criticized the board chair's statement. He said via email that Temple "had it right the first time" when it said simply that Hill's comments were protected free speech. "This is very clearly protected speech on a matter of public concern, and Temple cannot take steps to penalize Hill for his speech. The chair of a Board of Trustees of a public university, an attorney himself, should know better than to steer his institution toward infringing First Amendment rights," said Steinbaugh.

Hill did not respond to a request for a comment on the latest developments.

On Twitter, Hill said that he did not call for Israel's destruction. (In his speech, he called for a return to pre-1967 borders, which did have Israel as a state.)

My reference to “river to the sea” was not a call to destroy anything or anyone. It was a call for justice, both in Israel and in the West Bank/Gaza. The speech very clearly and specifically said those things. No amount of debate will change what I actually said or what I meant.

— Marc Lamont Hill (@marclamonthill) November 29, 2018

I support Palestinian freedom. I support Palestinian self-determination. I am deeply critical of Israeli policy and practice.

I do not support anti-Semitism, killing Jewish people, or any of the other things attributed to my speech. I have spent my life fighting these things.

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Princeton a cappella group discontinues singing Disney song over complaints of misogyny and lack of consent

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 12/03/2018 - 08:00

In its typical performance of “Kiss the Girl” from The Little Mermaid, one of Princeton University’s all-male a cappella groups, the Princeton Tigertones, selects a woman from the audience.

The singers will playfully dance with her for a bit, and right before the number wraps up, they’ll pick a man from the audience, too. They might pretend to groom him, and spin him around, and then pull the duo together. And at the end, they declare that, in a node to the song's title, they should kiss -- and the couple will comply, sometimes on with a peck on the cheek, sometimes briefly on the lips.

The entire ritual appears harmless and lasts no more than three minutes, a usual and relatively well-liked selection in the group’s repertoire. But complaints over whether the encounter is consensual and appropriate has prompted the Tigertones to discontinue the song until the members can perform it in a way that’s comfortable for the entire audience, the group said.

Last week, a sophomore student, Noa Wollstein, wrote to the student newspaper The Daily Princetonian that the song was misogynistic and “dismissive” of consent. This was the first time the issue was raised publicly, though the group noted that audience members have expressed discomfort over the performance before.

Remove the context of magic and mermaids, Wollstein wrote, and the lyrics blatantly encourage a man to try to make physical advances on a woman without her consent.

The tune, which in the film is crooned mostly by Sebastian the talking crab in an attempt to unite the voiceless Ariel and the handsome prince Eric, also is a “heteronormative attack” on “women’s rights to oppose the romantic and sexual liberties taken by men,” Wollstein wrote.

As Sebastian the crab sings, “Looks like the boy is too shy” and “it’s such a shame, too bad/you’re gonna miss the girl.”

“Such expressions imply that not using aggressive physical action to secure Ariel’s sexual submission makes Eric weak -- an irrefutable scaredy-cat,” Wollstein wrote. “Applied outside of the realm of the movie, these statements suggest that masculinity is contingent on domination of women.”

Wollstein also objects to the Tigertones’ interpretation. The fervor of the members encouraging the kiss on stage enforces the song’s “toxic masculinity.” Wollstein wrote that she has witnessed queer women having to “push away” the male counterpart during the song and heard that unwilling women were subjected to their first kiss.

“Too many people have felt uncomfortable and violated by this practice to continue its justification on the basis of popularity or tradition. The fact that it has continued as long as it has is disturbing,” Wollstein wrote.

Wollstein demanded that the group remove the song from the lineup.

And the Tigertones have agreed.

Wesley Brown, president of the group, wrote to the Princetonian on Friday to say that the singers’ highest priority is creating a “positive atmosphere” and that as Wollstein’s column pointed out, not every audience member has felt at ease.

Brown wrote that performances have made previous participants “uncomfortable,” and offended observers, and so the group has tried to make sure that audience participation is voluntary -- he did not elaborate what steps the members had taken.

This has not succeeded, Brown wrote, and so the group is eliminating the song. He apologized to past participants in the skit who felt uncomfortable. He did not respond to a request for additional comment.

“Our group is always striving to impart joy and positivity through our music, and we take very seriously any indication that we fall short of this goal,” Brown wrote. “For that reason, we want to make sure that all audience members feel encouraged to reach out to the group and initiate a dialogue if they ever feel that any aspect of our show is upsetting or offensive. Our repertoire, traditions, and group as a whole are constantly evolving, and thus we value this opportunity to ensure a more comfortable performance environment moving forward.”

Tony Huerta, president of the Contemporary A Cappella Society, said he felt the group's need to connect with the audience but could see how some audience members might feel uncomfortable kissing in front of a mass group of strangers.

He suggested having one or maybe two people in the audience be a "plant" that are part of the performance, who are already willing participants -- either male or female, or a gender-neutral kissing moment could also work.

"Make it part of the show," Huerta wrote in an email. "The audience doesn't need to know that it was planned. Then it's entertainment without hurt feelings. But don't expect strangers to kiss without some pushback."

Artistic performances have faced new scrutiny on college campuses, especially in recent years, amid accusations that the content is offensive. Plays and musicals that were once considered acceptable have since been challenged over being racist or insensitive. Comedians who were once able to make certain jokes during college sets have found they need to focus more on politically correct content. At Purdue University, a female student was pulled up on stage by comic Andy Gross, who made sexual references toward her during the set. This prompted a walkout by some audience members. Gross since apologized and said he would no longer perform on campuses.

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DeVos promises innovation with accreditation reform, but will alternative providers bite?

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 12/03/2018 - 08:00

The Trump administration in January will begin a new round of deregulation targeting some of the most fundamental rules that govern higher education. The hope, according to officials at the U.S. Department of Education, is that loosening current rules for accreditors can spur new innovation.

Yet as the regulatory overhaul draws near, some operators of alternative postsecondary programs are facing deliberations over whether to pursue federal financial aid if the department loosens current restrictions.

Observers of the sector -- which includes coding boot camps, online professional programs and other skills-based training -- don’t necessarily expect a rush for those federal funds, especially student loans.

“I don’t see a lot of evidence the market wants what the department is offering,” said Trace Urdan, managing director at Tyton Partners.

That reluctance stems partly from the government scrutiny that comes with access to Title IV of the Higher Education Act, the law that governs federal aid. Eligible institutions first must open their books to get approval from an accreditor. They then may face scrutiny over student results like loan repayment rates (although colleges rarely are booted from federal student aid programs over poor outcomes).

Alternative providers also tend to favor market-based financing options, such as private student loans or income-share agreements. Unlike with federal student loans, which critics say distort the higher ed market because students can get money to attend a program no matter the payoff, supporters of ISAs say the private market will support worthwhile programs.

Several observers, including some involved in funding skills-based training, say those programs are doing just fine without extra help from the government. And while Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, has named innovation as a top goal, many conservative policy makers have argued that the higher ed sector doesn't need more public money and should function more like the private market -- exactly what boosters of income-share agreements say those products accomplish.

Those calculations could be complicated when it comes to Pell Grants. Grant aid is targeted to low-income students by definition, and most people attending coding boot camps or other kinds of postdegree career training program won't qualify for Pell. So some ISA supporters, who don't have concerns about grant aid changing higher ed incentives, say they'd be open to taking grant money but not loans.

Revenue generated from either grants or loans could be a boon to alternative providers if they decide it’s worth significant changes to their existing programs to join the roughly 7,000 colleges and universities that participate in Title IV. David Bergeron, a senior fellow for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress, said federal data indicates that 9,000 institutions take in revenue from GI Bill benefits or other federal programs, a potentially large pool of providers that could seek out new federal funds if restrictions on accreditation are lifted.

"Our goal is to enable otherwise accredited institutions to innovate and serve students based on what today’s students want and need," Diane Auer Jones, the principal deputy under secretary for postsecondary education, who has been the point person for the upcoming package of regulatory changes, said in a written statement. "We are also interested in exploring ways in which institutions could partner substantively with businesses so that work-based learning can be credit-yielding or so that institutions could better utilize the facilities and expertise of businesses rather than trying to keep up with the latest technologies in the traditional classroom environment."

Sustainable Emerging Market or Fad?

In recent years, advocates have promoted ISAs as a solution to anxieties over growing student debt. The agreements require graduates to pay back a certain percentage of their income for a set number of years. That offers a certain amount of security to students who earn less than expected.

ISAs to some extent operate like income-based repayment on student loans. But the provider who offers the plans, rather than students or the government, would be on the hook if a program doesn’t pay off. And unlike federal loans, income-share agreements allow for underwriting, where investors assess whether a particular program will pay off.

“Whether it’s a coding boot camp or a specific skill in health care, all these programs should have a return on investment that is supported by the market,” said Daniel Pianko, co-founder and managing director at University Ventures. “Why else would we be doing skills-based training?”

Pianko said ISAs compete primarily with private student loans. He argues that federal loans remove market incentives and allow programs to survive that wouldn’t otherwise.

“The answer folks are looking for is not Title IV funding, it’s to increase the legality around income-share agreements,” he said of skills-based programs.

Purdue University rolled out an income-share agreement in the 2016-17 academic year. But most institutions that offer the agreements are private sector skills-training programs, many of which focus on older students who already have a bachelor's degree. For example, General Assembly, one of the largest and most respected coding and skills boot camp providers, announced this summer that it would offer an ISA to students.

Another boot camp focused on coding, Make School, offers an income-share agreement that requires graduates to pay back 20 percent of their income for five years as long as they make a minimum of $60,000. At lower salaries, the payments would be deferred.

Ashu Desai, the co-founder of Make School, said those terms -- 20 percent is high compared to most ISAs -- reflects the younger demographic of the school’s student body.

“Initially it was an experiment and a way to get off the ground. We ended up continuing with the model because we felt there was a big challenge with the student debt crisis,” Desai said. “It ensures the school is responsible for getting a good outcome for students.”

ISA providers like Make School operate in a largely unregulated market. (Legislation introduced by Representative Luke Messer, an Indiana Republican, would clarify the rules for income-share agreements, but it hasn’t gone anywhere in Congress.) Mark Kantrowitz, a financial aid expert and publisher of savingforcollege.com, said the regulatory environment gives ISA operators a pass on consumer protections.

“ISAs are just a different type of loan, and they should be subject to all the same rules,” he said.

The agreements face skepticism even within the skills-based training sector. Rick O’Donnell, founder and CEO of the Skills Fund, which makes loans to coding boot camps as well as some other career-training programs, said the agreements are at best a small innovation that won’t get wide-scale traction, or possibly just a marketing gimmick. Skills Fund makes loans for students to attend short-term skills training programs, many of them online, creating another postsecondary pathway without federal aid.

The company acts as both the lender and an accreditor by using its own quality-assurance process to determine which programs are eligible. Alternative providers likely won't pursue Title IV money if it requires them to substantially change their offerings to match the standards of traditional programs, O'Donnell said.

“That money comes with strings attached,” he said. “And the private sector is already responding to the needs of students.”

Some liberal advocates of a more tightly regulated higher education system say they’re fine with options like ISAs as long as students don’t take them out on top of federal loans. The roughly $100 billion the federal government disburses through the federal student loan program each year is a much bigger worry, they say.

“There’s just not as much money on the table. It’s a different scope of risk,” said Clare McCann, deputy director for federal higher education policy at New America. “Federal aid is my concern. That’s when the fraud and abuse kicks up. It’s easy access to money.”

And McCann noted it’s almost impossible to get kicked out of the Title IV program once you’re in -- it’s extraordinarily rare for the Education Department to cut off federal student aid to even the worst-performing colleges. ISAs at least provide accountability to investors, she said.

Barmak Nassirian, director of federal relations and policy analysis at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, said he was skeptical that many non-Title IV programs would turn down federal money if it became available.

“They’re making a virtue out of necessity,” he said of the ISA model.

Nassirian predicted that more alternative programs may seek partnerships with existing federal aid-eligible institutions to provide courses -- a model along the lines of the EQUIP experiment launched by the Obama administration. That experiment is ongoing but has struggled to attract participants, and several colleges have already dropped out.

“The minute the spigot is turned on, they will all be in line to get theirs,” Nassirian said. “It’s really hard to compete with free money.”

Many of alternative providers DeVos has praised already have formed partnerships with traditional Title IV programs. StraighterLine, an operator of online college courses, which does not offer degrees or credentials, has guaranteed credit-transfer agreements with 130 colleges. And the provider has relationships with other colleges that refer students directly to StraighterLine for courses. The company charges a subscription price of $99 a month, a fairly inexpensive proposition for students who wouldn't qualify for federal aid.

Burck Smith, StraighterLine's CEO and founder, said whether the company pursues Title IV funds would depend on how much the program would have to change its offerings to qualify. StraighterLine has looked at ISAs, he said, but concluded they didn’t make sense because the company offers only individual classes, not degrees or credentials.

"We're a piece of the program as opposed to the whole thing," he said. "Our ability to control outcomes for students after the degree is limited."

Some ISA operators like Make School, meanwhile, are already making plans to get accredited -- a first step toward access to Title IV. But the company’s not planning to seek access to federal student loans, said Desai. Instead, it wants to offer the kind of broader college education that both students and employers are asking for, he said.

“We’ll have a foot in both worlds,” Desai said.

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President of LeMoyne-Owen college accused of plagiarism

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 12/03/2018 - 08:00

The president of LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis, Tenn., has been accused of plagiarizing a famous pastor during her convocation speech to new freshmen in October.

WREG Memphis, a news station that first reported the story, spoke to Michael Robinson, a professor at LeMoyne-Owen and the president of the college’s faculty organization. Robinson said that he and other members of the faculty were disappointed in President Andrea Lewis Miller for setting a poor example by using parts of a sermon by Joel Osteen without attribution.

“The president is the highest academic and administrative officer at the college and she sets the standard for ethical and moral conduct at the college as well,” Robinson told WREG. “I think these are some serious allegations, because it impacts the credibility of the college going forward, and with the president being the face of the organization, that's a serious allegation and a serious infraction.”

Miller and the university's communication representatives did not respond to Inside Higher Ed's request for comment. But Miller sent the following statement to WREG defending her decision to use material from Osteen’s sermon "I’m Still Standing," saying that she was within the bounds of fair use.

“A few members of the LeMoyne-Owen College faculty are calling for my resignation because they feel I plagiarized a sermon by Joel Osteen. The fact is I did use material from Joel Osteen within the boundaries of fair use, which means I may not photocopy or print text for distribution,” her statement read in part. “In my notes, I have a statement giving credit to Pastor Osteen that I may have overlooked while delivering the speech. In that instance, it would be an oversight and does not constitute a serious breach of academic standards that would rise to level of review for faculty or students. The faculty as a body did not call for my resignation. It is no secret that organizational changes, the pace of change and our new direction at LeMoyne-Owen College has caused consternation among some faculty members. Still, I am committed to ensuring this 156-year-old institution achieves new heights in outcomes for the students and families we serve.”

In 2017, faculty took a vote of no confidence in Miller, who has served as president since September 2015.

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Professor says she's terminating Michigan State as her employer after it ignored her harassment complaints

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 11/30/2018 - 08:00

It’s not every day that a professor fires her university. So an online Me Too essay doubling as a termination letter to Michigan State University captured the attention of many academics.

Joy Lisi Rankin, a historian of computing, was until recently an assistant professor at Michigan State’s interdisciplinary Lyman Briggs College. In an essay she posted this week on Medium, Rankin says she had no choice but to “fire” the university and leave it after what she called a Kafkaesque series of events: seeing her serious allegations of harassment against an administrator go nowhere, while her college pursued a research misconduct case against her based on an online critique of her work.

Rankin says she filed two harassment complaints against an administrator who leered at her, touched her without her consent and generally would not leave her alone leading up to May 2017, and that both were unsubstantiated by the university’s institutional equity office. Also in May, Brian Dear, an independent scholar, posted a harsh criticism of Rankin’s scholarship on Medium, based on a talk she’d delivered weeks earlier at a niche conference at the Computer History Museum in California.

At the conference, video of which is available here, Rankin said she’d come across hundreds of decades-old notes from workers at the early PLATO computer network, housed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Some of the notes demonstrated hostility toward female consultants, foreshadowing the online sexual harassment that happens today, she said. Dear, who recently wrote a book about PLATO, alleged that Rankin was wrong about the network and that her scholarship was flawed.

"Rankin’s presentation makes assertions about the PLATO system, its developers, its users, and its online and offline culture at [Illinois] in the 1960s and 1970s, that paint a decidedly negative picture, one where Rankin declares PLATO suffered from 'endemic misogyny' and that she likens to a 'fortress of patriarchal heterosexual power in American computing,'" Dear wrote. "Such a description stands in stark contrast to the picture described to me by roughly 1,000 PLATO people over the course of more than thirty years of research." He included interviews with some of the women Rankin discussed, and the women appeared to disagree with Rankin's interpretation of their comments or actions.

The next month, in June 2017, Rankin says that her former dean at Briggs filed a research misconduct allegation against her based on Dear's essay. By contrast, Rankin says, the dean of a college with which she was affiliated declined to pursue a similar investigation based on flimsiness of the claims (that could not be immediately confirmed).

“Let us pause for a moment. In the exquisitely competitive academic job market,” she said, “Michigan State recruited me for a much-desired tenure track position because of my expertise as a historian of gender, science and technology. My degrees, the prestigious fellowships I had won, articles and essays I had published, my book contract with Harvard University Press  --  all of those were indicators that I was a vibrant and valued thinker in my field.”

But then, she says, “I became a vibrant and valued thinker who filed two complaints of sexual harassment.”

Rankin was cleared of the charges after a lengthy investigation. An inquiry panel determined that there was no evidence of misconduct, and that while Rankin "drew conclusions from her research with which Dear takes strong issue," that "does not make them the product of misconduct." She maintains that the charges against her were in retaliation for her complaints against the administrator, and says that the university refused to investigate her subsequent complaint about retaliation.

In an interview, Rankin said that hers was not a resignation letter, since that sounds like she’s giving up. To the contrary, she said, “I am standing up for myself and others.” She said she’d been “devastated but not surprised” by the number of people who have expressed solidarity with her, sharing their own experiences with misconduct.

“Part of the reason I wrote this essay is that sexual misconduct is a part of academia. But it’s particularly egregious at Michigan State,” she said. “Misogyny and, frankly, the abuse of women is entrenched in the [campus] culture. And as hard to come by and precious as tenure-track jobs are, I did not want to be associated with a place that had been perpetrating this kind of harm.”

The obvious angle in Rankin’s story is Michigan State, which repeatedly dropped the ball regarding sexual assault in the Larry Nassar case that eventually took down former university president Lou Anna Simon and shook U.S.A. Gymnastics.

But some academics working within the history of computing said Thursday that Rankin’s case is another example of the field’s -- and academe’s -- hostility toward women.

Mar Hicks, an associate professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology who is currently a fellow at the National Humanities Center, and author of Programmed Inequality: How Britain Discarded Women Technologists and Lost Its Edge in Computing, said that the history of computing as an academic field is “still disproportionately white and male, although that has been changing, particularly with all the books being written by people outside of academia.” Hicks noted that the “most important” book on the topic to surface of late, Hidden Figures, was written by Margot Lee Shetterly -- a black woman who has not had a traditional academic career.

Still, Hicks said, “Who gets to tell the history of computing -- all histories, actually -- is still a highly contested issue. This is all part of who gets to claim expertise and be recognized as an expert both in academia and the wider world.” While academe sees itself as more progressive than the rest of society, she added, “most academic institutions are conservative institutions even if they may employ some radicals.”

Hicks said retaliation against people, usually women, who speak up about harassment is “so commonplace that most people don't report at all.” She said she’d seen and experienced many incidents similar to what Rankin described over the course of her career, and that academe “is still overdue for a serious reckoning when it comes to sexism, harassment and assault -- and all the other categories tied up with privilege in academy, including race, class and sexuality.”

Sarah T. Roberts, an assistant professor of information studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, who chaired the panel for Rankin’s talk in 2017, said it was entirely appropriate for the conference and within her realm of expertise. She further remembered it as “not particularly provocative.” It’s therefore chilling that someone -- especially someone outside academia -- could launch allegations that could derail a scholar’s career, she said. Junior faculty members, in particular, need institutional support when they are criticized for exactly the kind of work they were hired to do, not institutional scrutiny.

Dear says he was eventually banned from a disciplinary Listserv on computing history and blocked on Twitter by some of those involved in the field. He says he only sought to engage scholars in discussions about the important questions he raised about PLATO and that he was effectively silenced. But Roberts said his comments seemed personal, and that “what is essentially trolling seems to have the ability to bleed over into serious administrative processes. And institutions need to take more care there, and more safeguards should be in place.”

Rankin declined to name her harasser at Michigan State. Elizabeth Simmons, the former dean at Briggs whom Rankin alleges investigated her in retaliation for her report of harassment, is now executive vice chancellor of academic affairs at the University of California, San Diego (and a contributor to Inside Higher Ed). She said in an emailed statement that the allegations of research misconduct were brought to her attention by "faculty in the college." Due to the ongoing harassment investigation with Rankin as a complainant and herself as a respondent, she said, "I consulted with the Office of General Counsel. They advised that I was obligated, as an officer of the university, to forward the allegations to Michigan State's research integrity officer for an impartial investigation, which I did."

Simmons added, "It is the role of the investigatory department to make a determination as to whether a violation of policy has occurred. It was determined that there were no violations of university policy" by any of those named in any of the complaints, she said.

Emily Guerrant, Michigan State's spokesperson, wrote in an email Thursday that improving the campus culture surrounding sexual harassment involves “making sure every single student, faculty member and staff person feels confident in bringing forward their concerns.”

In this particular case, she said, Rankin “appropriately reported the incidents to the office of institutional equity, which is charged with the responsibility of conducting investigations.” That office conducted an investigation, applying the processes in place at the time, and found no policy violation.

“We continue to take into account the experiences of those who have participated in the investigative process to make improvements,” Guerrant said. “The university is committed to thoroughly investigating all complaints to create a safer, healthier and more respectful campus community.”

At an event in Washington earlier in the day, Michigan State's interim president, John Engler, said that he was unaware of the case but that if Rankin “made it public, probably there will be more conversation.”

In an interview, Dear called the allegations that he'd tried to torpedo Rankin's career "horse shit." As someone who was at the time finishing a book on PLATO, he said, he was shocked to hear Rankin's comments about a history of misogyny and wondered if he'd missed something in the research. He said he appealed to Rankin for help several times before publishing his blog post, but heard nothing. He felt it was therefore his duty to correct the record, he said, denying that he ever asked the university to investigate her for misconduct.

"I utterly, categorically deny these misleading, very carefully, strategically orchestrated accusations against me, that have really been going on for a long time," he said. Expressing sympathy for what Rankin says she endured in terms of sexual harassment, but saying that she appeared to be "conflating" two separate issues, Dear added, "This is entirely about the PLATO system."

C. K. Gunsalus, director of the National Center for Professional and Research Ethics at Illinois and a former PLATO worker, is singled out by Rankin as having actively perpetuated Dear’s criticisms. Via email, Gunsalus (who has written columns for Inside Higher Ed) said Rankin’s post “mischaracterizes my role in a situation where, along with many others, I disagreed with her conclusions, based on our experiences and the historical record.” At no point did Gunsalus file any research misconduct charges against Rankin, she said.

Rankin’s termination of Michigan State is effective immediately. As of now, according the bio on her website, she’s “institutionally homeless.”

Greg Toppo contributed to this article.

 

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Autograder issues upset students at Berkeley

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 11/30/2018 - 08:00

Students in one of the largest computer science courses at the University of California, Berkeley, have spoken out about problems with the automated system used to grade their work.

The class prompting complaints, CS 61B, or Data Structures, relies on an autograder to evaluate hundreds of students’ coding skills and assign them grades.

Autograders are widely used in computer science and engineering programs, particularly in large introductory-level courses such as the one at Berkeley, which has more than 800 students.

Autograders test students' computer programs, identify errors in their work and assign a score. Universities commonly design their own autograders in-house.

Berkeley's system, designed by the computer science faculty, typically works without incident, but the students ran into technical obstacles this semester. The problems were first reported in the university's student newspaper, The Daily Californian.

One sophomore student in CS 61B, who asked to remain anonymous because she is still taking the class, said there were autograder difficulties with each of the three projects she and her classmates have submitted so far this semester.

The autograder stopped running for a "very frustrating" few hours on the evening of the deadline of the first project, preventing students from seeing whether or not their code worked, she said.

“Many students complained on Piazza -- our online interface with the staff -- and we were simply told that it would be up again as soon as possible.”

With the second project, the autograder misrepresented students' results and had to be modified -- resulting in some students “getting fewer points than they had on previous submissions,” the student said. Students were given a 24-hour deadline extension to make up for this issue. “That extension has been the only concession that the staff has made to compensate for their autograder’s problems,” she said.

On the third project, rather than being able to submit their work multiple times before the deadline to see if they achieved their desired grade, students were told the autograder would run only once, 24 hours before the deadline. But with everyone submitting their work at the same time, there were “multihour delays between submission and result,” the student said.

“It seems odd that the autograder for a required course -- that routinely has over a thousand students in it -- doesn’t have the capacity to handle peak submission times, such as in the 24 hours before and after the deadline,” the student said.

The student said although her grade might be “slightly negatively impacted” by the autograder issues, the main impact was “a significant increase in my stress levels.”

“It’s one thing to be stressed out because of a big project with an impending deadline; it’s another entirely to be worried that I might not even know whether my code passes the staff’s hidden tests before the deadline,” she said.

James Demmel, chair of the electrical engineering and computer sciences department at UC Berkeley, said in an email that the technical glitches that occurred with the autograder this semester “are due to some new projects that were introduced into the course, rather than symptoms of scale.”

It is “quite uncommon” for anything to go wrong with the autograders used at UC Berkeley, said Demmel.

“In our largest courses, autograders and other pieces of infrastructure typically run smoothly. In fact, as the courses have grown, the technology infrastructure has generally improved because more instructor and staff time is available for larger courses," he said.

“In general, we have not observed that student feedback about our courses has decreased as the course sizes have grown to meet the increasing demand for computer science at UC Berkeley,” he said. “On the contrary, ratings for teaching effectiveness have reached their highest level ever in recent semesters for our largest courses -- CS 61A and CS 61B -- even though these courses have increased in size by more than a factor of three in the last seven years.”

The student who did not want to be named, and another classmate who also asked to remain anonymous, said they are unhappy with the way their professor, Paul Hilfinger, has handled the problems with the grading system.

"It doesn't seem that Professor Hilfinger is particularly concerned about the student experience," the first student said. “He seems unwilling to accept responsibility,” she said.  

Hilfinger confirmed there was an error with the autograder earlier in the semester that meant students’ work had to be rerun through the system, resulting in some students getting lower marks. He also acknowledged that large numbers of students submitting work at the same time caused some students to receive their results back slower than usual.

Hilfinger said part of the problem is that some students submitted work “many, many times, somewhat pointlessly” before getting any results back -- causing a backlog. “I’m not sure why they are doing that, but they do,” he said.

Asked if he would consider staggering deadlines to alleviate the backlog, Hilfinger said he felt this would be unfair because it would give some students a time advantage.

“I think what we’ll probably do at some point is move into the cloud -- use some scalable service that would allow us to scale up the processing as the frequency of submissions increases,” he said.

Tushar Soni, co-founder of free computer science autograding tool AutoGradr, said autograding systems should be built with the expectation of handling large numbers of submissions at the same time. He agreed with Hilfinger that staggering deadlines would not be the right solution as it would give some students more time than others.

At the current class size, it would be “unfeasible” to assess students’ projects without an autograder, said Hilfinger. He said there are downsides even when the system is functioning at full capacity -- an autograder can tell you whether or not a program works, but not measure how creative it is.

Mark Guzdial, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan, said in an email that while not using an autograder does take more time and require more teaching assistants to help with grading, it results in better feedback for students.

“For the things that I teach, the subjectivity of a human being is better than the objectivity of an autograder,” said Guzdial.

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Several Canadian universities are allowing marijuana use on campus

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 11/30/2018 - 08:00

The University of British Columbia is in the middle of tweaking its campus smoking policy to allow recreational marijuana use after the drug was legalized by the Canadian government in October.

Michael Serebriakov, legal counsel for the university, is helping to prepare the revised policy for approval by the Board of Governors. The move is expected to make the university -- and others in Canada making similar shifts -- among the first in North America to permit marijuana use on campus.

“Under the current policy, under the definition of smoking, we already included smokable plant products. That’s why when legalization came up on the 17th [of October], smoking cannabis was already included in the policy,” Serebriakov said. “The revised version will make it more explicit.”

Smoking regulations on the University of British Columbia’s two campuses differ. The Vancouver campus prohibits smoking in specified areas such as student housing and university transportation, but it is otherwise permitted. That policy will likely apply to marijuana. The Okanagan campus, which is significantly smaller, has six smoking gazebos. Two of those, Serebriakov said, have already been designated as “mixed use” for tobacco and cannabis.

Several states in the United States have legalized recreational marijuana use in recent years, but college campuses have continued to ban the drug due to unwavering federal laws. Candace Smith, assistant vice chancellor for strategic media relations at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said that the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act requires the university to ban the drug in order to be eligible for federal funding. In addition, many students are under the legal age for use and possession of marijuana in Colorado.

“The majority of our students are under the age of 21, so state law continues to prohibit their use/possession,” Smith wrote in an email. “Furthermore, any marijuana use -- including medical marijuana -- is prohibited in campus housing. That’s a part of their housing contract.”

The University of Denver also bans the drug due to federal guidelines. Jon Stone, a spokesman for the university, said that it’s too early to speculate about whether those rules will ever change.

“Smoking and tobacco products are banned on the University of Denver campus. So, obviously if any laws were to change on the federal level, the marijuana policy would have to be examined,” he wrote in an email.

The University of British Columbia’s new policy is “not unusual,” Serebriakov said. Two nearby universities are also allowing marijuana use on campus.

“It is a bit of a different climate [in the United States],” Serebriakov said. “Our closest institutions here in British Columbia -- the University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University -- they’re both allowing smoking of cannabis in designated areas.”

The University of Victoria allows marijuana use in designated smoking areas on campus, per its amended smoking policy.

Simon Fraser University is also in the middle of revising its policies and has established two temporary cannabis-smoking areas on its Burnaby campus in the meantime. According to the Simon Fraser website, “Policy revisions are set to be proposed this fall and at the forefront of the policy planning is responsible usage and education of all university community members. SFU will be holding a public consultation on the proposed approach before presenting the policies for final approval by the Board in early 2019.”

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Two-year colleges in Arizona consider cutting football after five institutions drop sport

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 11/30/2018 - 08:00

For the second time in its history, the Pima Community College Aztecs will play in a football bowl game hosted by the National Junior College Athletic Association.

But the Aztecs' appearance this weekend in the C.H.A.M.P.S. Heart of Texas Bowl will be Pima's last game.

The community college, which is located in Arizona, decided in June to cut football, citing the expense of the program. That decision followed a similar one by the Maricopa County Community College District to eliminate football programs next year at its Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa and Glendale colleges. Now other two-year institutions in Arizona are questioning whether they can maintain football programs in the Western States Football League, which only has three teams left with Eastern Arizona, Arizona Western and Snow College in Utah.

“We have to decide now what to do with this league. Is it viable and is it worth it for us to pay to do so?” said Todd Haynie, president of Eastern Arizona. "Football has been around since 1920 at the college so it's a part of us … I hate we have to come to this conversation, and we have to talk about it, but it's something that was given to us."

The Arizona Legislature and governor eliminated all state funding for Pima and Maricopa in 2015. Since then the two districts have struggled with declining enrollments and budgets.

Leaders of the four Maricopa colleges weighed the costs of maintaining insurance premiums and stadium facilities for their football programs before ultimately deciding they were too expensive, said Matt Hasson, a spokesman for the district.

Maricopa pays an overall annual insurance premium of about $890,000, he said. But the premium will decrease to about $630,000 without the football program. Last year, 31 percent of the district's insurance claims were football related, he said.

Likewise, the total cost to the district of maintaining and updating football stadiums over the next five years was projected to be as much as $25 million, according to Hasson.

“The state stopped funding us in 2015, and we just don’t have the money for these programs,” he said.

The lack of state support also played a role in Pima’s decision.

“It’s expensive,” said Edgar Soto, acting Desert Vista campus vice president and director of student affairs at Pima. “It costs half a million dollars to run the basics at a community college football program. Our decision wasn’t because of a viable conference, or because of future risk, it was because financially there are challenges.”

Pima recently cut 15 staff jobs and 23 faculty positions. Soto said the college couldn’t justify paying for a football program while it copes with that level of financial strain. It’s also difficult to measure the return on investment from football.

“You’re not filling up stadiums, you don’t have endorsements from big-time companies,” he said. “But what we have to look at is not just the return on financial investment, but the return on social investment. Team building, leadership, being a part of a team -- with athletics you do have a unique skill.”

But you can’t run a football program on a “shoestring budget,” Soto said. Colleges can’t buy cheaper helmets or cheaper pads, he said, because there are too many safety risks and the priority should be protecting the health of student athletes.

National Impact

The NJCAA's membership includes 400 community college basketball programs, compared to 73 football programs.

“Four or five schools possibly drop football, and it certainly impacts other school programs,” said Christopher Parker, the association's executive director. “We respect and understand all the decisions the State of Arizona and the Maricopa system have to make. But we’re also true advocates for those students who are only attending school because football is the driving force to get them to attend.”

While two-year college football programs exist across the country, Parker said the strongest ones are in Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi and Texas. And the number of programs nationwide has remained steady for the past decade.

Starting football at a community college costs about $100,000 on average. But eliminating it could be even more costly, according to Parker.

“Schools look at the football programs as enrollment generators,” Parker said. “We’re talking 100 to 200 students attending these schools to play football … Many of our two-year football student athletes graduate and earn significant four-year scholarships to continue their athletic careers at four-year schools.”

For example, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers are both former NJCAA student athletes and examples of football players who used community college as a launching pad for their NFL careers.

However, the enrollment effect of cutting football at Maricopa isn't the same as it would be at Eastern Arizona. Maricopa, which enrolls about 200,000 students across 10 colleges, this year enrolled 318 football players on four teams. Eastern Arizona, with roughly 6,300 students, enrolls 77 football players.

Haynie said if all the football players decided to leave the college because the program was cut, it would mean losing about 3 percent of total full-time enrollment.

“On one hand it’s not a lot in the grand scheme of things,” he said. “But our enrollment declined 7 percent from last year. So, another 3 percent on top of that would be significant, and I don’t know what next year’s enrollment will be like.”

Eastern Arizona also will take into consideration its marching band and sports medicine program when it examines whether to cut football. The marching band is the only one at an Arizona community college. And Eastern Arizona's sports medicine program allows students to receive on- and off-the-field training with football players.

“Would we continue marching band?” Haynie said. “I don’t know.”

Students in the sports medicine program get a great experience on the football field, he said. But the college features seven other sports that allow those students to get the experience they need. The college has other bands that would continue as well, such as jazz and symphonic ensembles. But Haynie said cutting football and possibly the marching band could affect recruitment.

“Every college or university is trying to define ourselves as unique, and we’re the only community college marching band in the state,” Haynie said. “We’ve claimed that title for a long time, and if we have to drop that, it would be a blow for us.”

Officials at Arizona Western said they will be evaluating whether the football program can survive in a smaller conference after the team's bowl game this weekend.

NJCAA is monitoring the situation and is in discussions with Arizona colleges that have not eliminated their football programs to figure out whether the conference can remain feasible.

“It’s a difficult situation right now,” Parker, the NJCAA executive director, said. “We’ll have to work with different conferences on evaluating their needs and helping to facilitate more games for them to play and to fill a schedule. It’ll take some creative and out-of-the-box thinking.”

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Colleges start academic programs

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 11/30/2018 - 08:00

 

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Adult film star's invite to campus gets Wisconsin chancellor in trouble. Some see hypocrisy on part of state university system

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 11/29/2018 - 08:00

One year after passing a free speech policy that campus chancellors are required to enforce, the University of Wisconsin System formally reprimanded a chancellor for inviting an adult film star to lecture during his campus’s inaugural free speech week.

Joe Gow, chancellor and tenured professor of communications at the La Crosse campus, invited actress Nina Hartley to visit earlier this month to give a talk she called “Fantasy Versus Reality: Viewing Adult Media With a Critical Eye.”

The event was optional. And it was, by many accounts, a success: students asked Hartley, a self-identified feminist who advocates for sex education and free expression, about the relationship between pornography and human trafficking, and whether porn is exploitative.

But several days after the event, Gow received a letter from Ray Cross, university system president, saying, “Apart from my personal underlying moral concerns, I am deeply disappointed by your decision to actively recruit, advocate for, and pay for a porn star to come to the La Crosse campus to lecture students about sex and the adult entertainment industry.”

Cross said that while he understood and appreciated Gow’s “commitment to freedom of expression and public discourse, as chancellor, you need to exercise better judgment when dealing with matters such as these.”

Cross chided Gow for not informing him that he’d talked to news media about the event, despite his “prior cautions about your interactions with the media and your need for a public information officer.” His “underlying moral concerns” notwithstanding, Cross’s primary contention appears to be financial. He told Gow that as “we continue to struggle for greater financial independence and public trust, your decision to spend money from this fund on a one-sided lecture by an ‘ … [adult entertainment] performer, educator, and … activist’ unfortunately, puts all of our funding at risk. I fear your actions also detract from our budget request and our capital plan, which should be one of your highest priorities.”

The formal letter of reprimand will remain in Gow’s file and be “part of future evaluations,” Cross wrote, saying he’d also order an audit of the chancellor’s discretionary fund -- from which Gow paid Hartley $5,000 -- going back to 2016. Gow already voluntarily repaid that sum out of his own pocket.

Gow’s “poor judgment” and “lack of responsible oversight with respect to the use of state funds” also will impact his salary adjustment, before the board next month, Cross said.

In an interview Wednesday, Gow said that he asked Hartley to La Crosse to promote free speech in the spirit of the new system-backed policy.

“She’s someone who has a perspective that the rest of us would not have, and her views are not in any way hateful,” Gow said, recalling how he made his decision, and hinting at other, more divisive figures on the campus speech circuit. “She’s a thoughtful speaker who has written a book, and she’s spoken on other campuses. I was surprised this caused so much controversy.”

Others academics in Wisconsin are surprised at the system’s outrage, too, given that its Board of Regents last fall adopted a lengthy Commitment to Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression Policy. It guarantees that “all members of the university community the broadest possible latitude to explore ideas and to speak, write, listen, challenge and learn.”

While different ideas will naturally conflict, the policy says, it is “not the proper role of the university to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they, or others, find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.”

Although the university “greatly values civility,” it continues, “concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable those ideas may be to some members within the university community.”

The policy essentially follows the law on the limits of free speech. It includes accountability measures and punishments for violations. Its final line says that “each chancellor shall be responsible for implementing the provisions of this policy.”

Asked if he thought that the system’s reaction to his choice of speaker contradicted that policy, Gow said, “People will have to make up their own minds.” The more important issue, he said, is “free speech on university campuses, and what are the limits of that. Because I don’t see this [speaker] as crossing a line, but obviously some people do.”

Does someone "who is involved in making pornography have the right to speak or not? That would take us to the Constitution,” Gow said. “There’s no exception there for makers of pornography.”

The regents’ free speech policy was backed by state Republican lawmakers. It was met with skepticism from some Wisconsin professors who wondered just what kind of speech it would protect: all expression, or just the kind of speech those lawmakers supported? Other states have passed mirror legislation, inspired by blueprint language from the conservative Goldwater Institute. Other campuses, including the University of Chicago, have acted wholly independently to enforce free speech.

Some of those skeptics were quick to criticize the Wisconsin system Wednesday, after Gow’s sanction was first reported by the Journal-Sentinel. Don Moynihan left the Madison campus last year, due in part to what he called “ongoing attacks on the university by state officials,” to become the McCourt Chair at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University. He said that “many people doubted how sincere [the regents’] commitment to free speech was if it was not coming from a conservative speaker. This incident confirms their concerns.”

Henry Reichman, professor emeritus of history at the California State University at East Bay and chair of the American Association of University Professors’ Committee on Academic Freedom, said that Gow’s chancellor role made the incident something other than a “traditional academic freedom case.” (He has elsewhere explored whether other kinds of academic administrators are entitled to academic freedom.) The main issue, he said, is the “hypocrisy of system leaders who have made a big stink over protecting free speech getting offended when a speaker is invited, never mind by whom, whose message or background they don't like.”

The university system said in an emailed statement that Cross's letter to Gow "acknowledged the chancellor’s commitment to freedom of expression and public discourse. The primary focus of [Cross’s] letter is the need for the chancellor 'to exercise better judgment' with regards to the planning and paying for a campus event."

Gow said the fund through which he originally paid Hartley was a discretionary one, from interests from other auxiliary accounts.

In a local op-ed, Bob Atwell, a regent, publicly criticized Gow and Hartley, saying that pornography "is a horrible hill on which to plant the flag of free expression." He added, "Most of us don’t need science to know how devastating pornography is to the mental, physical and social health of those enslaved by it. We can see it in the sad and empty eyes of millions of boys and young men whose zest for life is being sucked into their smart phones."

Will Creeley, senior vice president of legal and public advocacy at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said it was “very hard to square” Wisconsin's “admirable [and historic commitment to sifting and winnowing in search of truth] with the outcome here.” He said Cross erred specifically in disciplining Gow, rather than answering speech he didn’t like with a statement or counterprogramming. It’s hard not see the system's response to Gow as chilling to other academics, he said, and its apparent reduction of Hartley to a porn star as "demeaning."

“What may be looming offstage and what faculty, students and legislators may reasonably conclude is that the content of the speech is determinative in what speakers are protected and which will be subject to reprimand,” Creeley said. “It’s deeply regrettable that students, faculty and administrators could rationally conclude that they’d better just keep their mouth shut, or not share that information, or refrain from that scholarship, lest they be subject to that kind of response.”

Gow, and free expression, have someone else in their corner: Hartley, who defended them -- and herself, pointing out she's a trained nurse -- in her own local op-ed.

“Sexual freedom is a fundamental human right in that it requires bodily autonomy, free from coercion from the state, church, family or other institutions,” she wrote. Wisconsin’s “intolerance of me as a knower of sex, one worthy of knowing what I know, is an exertion of control and reveals the university offers partial and distorted understandings of adult media. This harms students by stunting their critical engagement on an important topic for which a college education is supposed to prepare them.”

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Engagement survey finds students feel prepared for their plans after graduation

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 11/29/2018 - 08:00

A vast majority of college seniors believe what they’re learning is relevant to their career paths, and they feel relatively confident in their plans after graduation, according to findings by the National Survey of Student Engagement, released today.

About nine in 10 seniors who participated in the annual survey believe that what they learn in class will be relevant to their career plans. This data point strikes a more optimistic note than previous studies, namely one by Gallup and Strada Education Network earlier this year that indicated students feel ill prepared and unconfident before entering the work force. Only about 34 percent of students surveyed for that report indicated they believed they would graduate with the knowledge to be prepared for a career.

About 3,700 seniors from 38 four-year institutions answered questions on career preparation in the survey. This was part of the NSSE, which is administered to a limited number of institutions and changes every year depending on what officials find most topical. Last year’s NSSE focused on whether students were learning about different cultures and diversity in the classroom.

Over all, 289,867 students from nearly 500 institutions (almost all American) responded to the broader survey.

NSSE director Alexander McCormick said that with the public so focused on the value of higher education and whether students are truly benefiting from college with the amount of money they spend, the researchers wanted to emphasize career prep.

“It’s important and very much on the mind of students,” McCormick said.

About 85 percent of seniors in professional fields, including business, communications, public relations, engineering and health and social services, said they knew what they’d like to do postgraduation and had a specific career in mind. Roughly 80 percent of seniors in arts and science-related fields indicated the same.

A little more than half of the seniors indicated that sometime in their final year in college they had used their institution’s career services department to learn about their field. About half of the seniors attended a career fair, and 60 percent or so of them had interviewed or shadowed a professional in their chosen field. About 40 percent of students in the Gallup/Strada survey said they had used their career center at all. 

McCormick pointed out that the question only asked students whether they had done that type of the career prep work in their senior year, meaning many of them may have laid the groundwork earlier in college. He also said that the Gallup poll was designed differently than NSSE, and that Gallup's survey was provided a "neutral" response while NSSE did not, meaning that some students would have been drawn away from the two ends of the response frame. He also said that Gallup's survey only highlighted the students who answered "strongly agree" on the survey questions, while NSSE combined both "agree" and "strongly agree."

Only about half the seniors talked to career services staffers about their career interests, but almost all of them had discussed their plans with a family member (98 percent) or another student (94 percent).

While research shows students are still visiting traditional career centers, not as many find them particularly helpful -- another Gallup study showed that only 17 percent of recent graduates considered their interactions with career services “very helpful.”

Student services such as career centers generally struggle with attracting their clientele, McCormick said. But he suggested that institutions examine how they’re connecting students and perhaps consider outreach -- a focus group, or a campus-based survey -- on how to bring in students to the centers.

“It only takes a couple students to have a bad experience to damage the whole operation, sometimes unfairly,” McCormick said.

The NSSE researchers also studied career preparation for first-year students -- 484 of them -- at seven historically black colleges and universities, and compared them to 346 African American freshmen attending predominantly white institutions.

Students at the HBCUs reported using career services much more than their counterparts -- nearly 50 percent of the first-year HBCU students took advantage of resources from career services versus more than 25 percent of students at the predominantly white universities.

“It suggests that the HBCUs are being a lot more intentional about drawing students in early in career preparation,” McCormick said.

Time Spent on Academics vs. Outside the Class

Outside of the focus on career prep, the NSSE included its standard questions on students’ academics and how they allotted their time.

About 23 percent of first-year students -- as well seniors -- estimated they spent between six and 10 hours per week preparing for class, which would include studying, reading or writing, or doing lab or other course work.

Only about 6 percent of the freshmen indicated they spent more than 30 hours on this type of academic work, compared to 8 percent of seniors.

Roughly 33 percent of first-year students didn’t participate in any sort of activity on campus such as student government, a club or a fraternity or sorority, while 44 percent of seniors didn’t devote any time to extracurriculars.

About 30 percent of seniors said they spent between one and five hours a week relaxing or socializing -- spending time with friends, watching TV or videos, or going online. Fewer first-year students (21 percent) reported spending one to five hours on recreational time. About 26 percent of first-year students said they spent between six and 10 hours socializing or relaxing.

Civic Engagement

Freshmen and seniors seem to discuss issues both on campus and off -- at the state, national and global level -- more than they act to change them.

About 45 percent of first-year students and 43 percent of seniors indicated they “sometimes” talk about local or campus issues with others. And 41 percent of freshmen and 37 percent of seniors reported “sometimes” discussing national or world issues.

But 64 to 65 percent of freshmen reported they had never organized with others to work on either local problems or state, national or global issues. And 63 percent of seniors had never done any advocacy work around either campus issues or beyond.

Only about 4 percent of first-year students said they “very often” organized to work on any issues, campus or otherwise, versus about 5 percent of seniors.

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