Higher Education News

UC Irvine says it will remove former professor's name from institutions he helped build after finding he harassed women

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 07/02/2018 - 07:00

Francisco J. Ayala, a longtime professor of genetics at the University of California, Irvine, resigned last week after a university investigation found he’d sexually harassed multiple women. Complaints from three faculty members and a student prompted the inquiry.

In an unusually lengthy statement for such cases, the university said it will remove Ayala’s name from the biology school and central science library that were financed by gifts from Ayala (at left). Ayala, who denies deliberate misconduct, grew rich from a wine grape-growing business and donated $10 million to the biology school alone in 2011.

The Francisco J. Ayala School of Biological Sciences is now the UCI School of Biological Sciences. The university has not yet announced the Ayala Science Library’s new name.

“I thank and commend our colleagues who reported this misconduct,” campus Chancellor Howard Gillman said in the statement. “Coming forward with this information was extremely courageous. I applaud their bravery and apologize that they experienced inappropriate behavior from a member of our faculty.”

Ayala’s behavior “defied our core beliefs and was inconsistent with our policies, guidelines and required training,” Gillman said. “Given the number and breadth of the substantiated allegations, and the power differentials at play, I decided that keeping [Ayala’s] name in a position of honor would be wrong.”

Irvine said its Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity opened an investigation into Ayala’s conduct in November and concluded in May. Four women from the biological sciences school, who Irvine said asked to be identified, filed reports: Kathleen Treseder, professor and chair of ecology and evolutionary biology; Jessica Pratt, assistant teaching professor; Benedicte Shipley, assistant dean; and Michelle Herrera, a graduate student.

Investigators interviewed more than 60 witnesses, along with the complainants, according to Irvine. After reviewing the findings, Gillman said, he also authorized removing Ayala’s name from graduate fellowships, scholar programs and endowed chairs.

Ayala resigned, effective Saturday, and will not attend future university events, “following the university’s standard consultative procedures that include a faculty review committee,” Irvine said.

Irvine’s diversity advisers are reaching out to the biology school’s faculty, students, staff and administrators to offer counseling, culture assessments and additional harassment-related education, according to the announcement. “The university is committed to providing an environment in which ideas and knowledge can thrive without fear of harassment, mistreatment or retaliation.”

Ayala, a former Dominican priest from Spain, said in an emailed statement that he regrets “that what I have always thought of as the good manners of a European gentleman -- to greet women colleagues warmly, with a kiss to both cheeks, to compliment them on their beauty -- made colleagues I respect uncomfortable.” He added, “It was never my intent to do so.”

Ayala said he has work left to do but that he won't challenge the university's decision with future appeals or lawsuits.

Micha Liberty, a lawyer who represents three of the complainants, told the Los Angeles Times that Irvine received a complaint about Ayala three years ago from one of her clients, but that it was not investigated at the time.

“They just told him, ‘Stay away from her,’” Liberty said. “Ayala has had a long and successful career and was clearly an asset to the UCI campus … and that in turn motivated [Irvine] to look the other way when it came to complaints of sexual harassment.”

Irvine officials had no further comment on the case. But the University of California System as a whole continues to defend itself against criticism about its historical responses to harassment and assault reports.

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Professor halts study dealing with self-esteem and size of male organs

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 07/02/2018 - 07:00

A Missouri State University professor announced Thursday that she would discontinue her study on penis size and self-esteem after public response to the study threatened the reliability of the research. After only a week and a half of data collection, Alicia Walker realized that the survey responses were skewed and that some of them were jokes, in part due to inaccurate media coverage of the study.

"The tipping point was going to bed after day three of the coverage -- most of which was inaccurate and irresponsible -- once again not being able to field all the emails I received that day despite working all day to do so," Walker wrote in an email to Inside Higher Ed. She is an assistant professor of sociology at Missouri State.

The study called for up to 3,600 male participants over the age of 22 to respond to a survey that asked about their size, self-image, sexual relationships and sexual habits. She also asked for photos of them measuring their genitalia to ensure consistent measurement technique. No identifying information was collected with the surveys or photos, and according to a statement by Missouri State, all of the submitted photos and surveys have already been destroyed and were never viewed. Walker had also been conducting qualitative interviews by email or phone, which will not continue.

Walker's study was mocked in publications that claimed she was collecting "dick pics." The dominant media narrative was that Walker was only looking to prove that men with small penises had lower self-esteem, which affected her data pool. The data were skewed toward men of below average size and prevented Walker from discovering if high self-esteem correlated with men who were above average.

"With the widespread misrepresentation of the study's aims and methodology, you have to question what's happening to your participant pool," Walker wrote. "I'd fielded emails from men who [said] they had purposefully responded with joke answers (e.g. some reported uploading pictures of Sponge Bob and other cartoon characters, their pets, etc.) in an effort to throw the study's findings into jeopardy."

Walker felt overwhelmed. She also received verbally abusive emails and phone messages. She said that men criticizing the research were upset that she was a woman.

"The voices of upset were a small minority of the contact I fielded on any given day. However, their level of upset was rather eye-opening. Every single one of them specifically mentioned that they were upset that I as a woman would dare do this study," she wrote. "I asked why my gender made a difference, and none of them could tell me. Knowing that these folks wouldn't have said anything had I been a male researcher was beyond frustrating."

In general, Walker believes that research on sex-related topics can intimidate people and make them uncomfortable.

"Everyone wants to act as though they know everything they need to know about sexual behavior, sexuality and sexual relationships. But the reality is there is still much to learn. However, there is a lot of pushback and upset about the things we find," Walker wrote. "Some people in academia wave it off as 'not real work,' but those of us who do this work know better. This work is extremely valuable and important. These are topics that touch all of us in one way or another."

As soon as Walker announced she closed the study, she received an outpouring of emails from men who either supported the study or had planned to participate.

"I have had so many men beg me to do the study anyway. So many men have messaged to say that they have absolutely no outlet to discuss this. They cannot talk to their male friends because they will only get ridicule," she wrote. "This study was an opportunity for them to vent and process."

She said she was disappointed with the way her study was covered, particularly for the men who were planning to participate.

"The widespread misrepresentations in the media and clickbait inflammatory headlines robbed these men of their chance to talk about their experiences. And while some think it doesn't matter, it does," she wrote. "One man who had finished his interview with me told me he had not been to the doctor for a physical in close to a decade. After our interview, he went to the doctor. For him, and others like him, that's huge. This work mattered."

Walker will likely revisit the study with a different methodology, although not any time soon.

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Professor shares voice mail she received from someone concerned about her Chinese name

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 07/02/2018 - 07:00

The voice mail Karen Fang received last week alarmed her -- and alarmed many others when she shared it on social media.

The caller, who identified herself as a "concerned American," was apparently trying to reach someone else at the University of Houston, where Fang is a professor of English. It's unclear who the target was, but presumably someone else with an Asian last name, whom the caller assumed had no right to teach or be in the United States. The caller said she was reaching out after having learned that the professor she wanted to reach had been educated in Shanghai. (Fang's degrees are from the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University.)

The caller says she is a "loyal citizen of the United States" who was alerting Fang (or whomever the real intended recipient of the call was) that she had called the president's office at Houston to report her concerns that these Asian professors may not be legally in the United States. The caller asked how the person she thought Fang was could "be a permanent fixture" at a public university. "How can you teach loyalty or promote patriotism?" the caller asked.

People in universities, especially those educated abroad, are "wanting to make us a global country," when "we're not going to be a part of a global society," the caller said. "We're not going to be assimilated into a pagan and Communist nation," the caller added. "We are a Christian nation."

Fang shared the message on her Twitter account, and you can hear the recording here.

In a series of tweets, Fang described her feelings about receiving the voice mail.

the caller seems to have found the name of an #Asian #faculty person w/ a degree from Shanghai, so questions that faculty's authority to teach based on #citizenship and "#loyalty to the #US"

— Karen Fang (@KfangKaren) June 22, 2018

would the caller raise the same "concerns" about #white #faculty, or someone from western Europe? (such as Einstein, Fermi, Nabokov, or Hannah Arendt?)

— Karen Fang (@KfangKaren) June 22, 2018

Many academics and others responded to Fang's postings, noting that they too experience such comments, and experience them more now than in the recent past.

A spokesman for the University of Houston confirmed that people there had received the voice mail, and he expressed frustration over its content.

"It’s ignorant and unfortunate," he said. "UH is the second most diverse public research institution in the country. We are proud of the culture we continue to build that celebrates that diversity, and that diversity is essential in preparing our students to succeed in a global economy. Those on the receiving end of the message have been assured that they have the university’s support."

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No. 2 Senate Republican backs college transparency bill

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 07/02/2018 - 07:00

Senator John Cornyn last week quietly signed on to a bill that would overturn the ban on a federal postsecondary student-level data system.

Advocates for the College Transparency Act say the Texas Republican’s support doesn’t just mean one more co-sponsor for the legislation. The decision by Cornyn, the second-ranking GOP senator, also suggests the kind of bipartisan support that could make stronger federal data inevitable.

The legislation was introduced a year ago with backing from a number of public higher education organizations and since then has continued to add Republican and Democratic co-sponsors. And earlier this month, as association of private nonprofit colleges signaled it would soften its opposition to higher ed transparency efforts. The biggest obstacle to student-level data at this point appears to be Representative Virginia Foxx, the North Carolina Republican who authored the ban and chairs the House education committee.

Cornyn’s office did not respond to a request for comment. But transparency proponents said his support for the bill signals that outside of the education committee, it has the momentum to eventually become law.

“I think it is indicative of pretty broad bipartisan support over all,” said Mamie Voight, vice president of policy research at the Institute for Higher Education Policy. “It’s especially important that someone in leadership is taking this stance and coming out in favor of the transparency that policy makers and institutions really need to help students succeed in college. From that political standpoint, it's incredibly important to have someone who's so well respected within the Republican Party and an important member of leadership to come on board with this bill.”

The Senate bill, which was authored by Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, now has nine co-sponsors, including Cornyn. They run the gamut of the ideological spectrum in the chamber from Iowa Republican Joni Ernst to Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren. Identical House legislation now counts 31 Republican and Democratic co-sponsors plus Michigan Republican Paul Mitchell.

Amy Laitinen, director for higher education at New America’s Education Policy Program, said Cornyn’s support shows passage of the legislation is inevitable. The only thing stopping the bill is the continued opposition from Foxx, she said. Even GOP members of her own committee have expressed frustration over the issue, Laitinen noted.

“It’s obvious that there’s this sort of political legacy problem,” she said. “It’s hard for Foxx to lose face.”

Foxx has cited student privacy concerns in opposing proposals to create a student unit record system, including the College Transparency Act. Marty Boughton, a spokeswoman for Foxx, said her views on the bill and what she believes it does for student privacy concerns have not changed.

For other conservative Republicans, though, the CTA legislation promises to address many of their own priorities involving jobs and the “skills gap” -- the idea that significant unemployment has resulted from an undermatching of specific training with available jobs.

Allison Dembeck, executive director of congressional and public affairs on education, labor and work-force development at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said giving students information on earnings and employment by program and major would help them enter the work force with skills employers need.

“When you ask students why they're going on to higher education, most of the time it has to do with getting a better job or getting better career opportunities,” she said. “So students are clearly going to school to try to meet employer needs.”

And Dembeck said information about transfer and completion rates should help students decide what and where they should study as well.

Cornyn’s support for the bill is also significant because his home state has already undertaken ambitious efforts to work around the federal ban on student-level data. The University of Texas System in March announced a new tool called SeekUT that tracks outcomes like graduates’ earnings by institution and major.

But the enormous effort that went into creating that system shows why the federal government should take more steps toward higher ed transparency instead of leaving it to states and colleges, said Stephanie Bond Huie, the vice chancellor for the Office of Strategic Initiatives at the UT System. Establishing the system was a multiyear effort that involved reaching individual agreements with multiple federal agencies that hold data on students and graduates.

“It's been a very long process, and most institutions don't have the time and energy to negotiate individual agreements for data,” she said. “If the federal government is able to provide this information from all institutions across the United States in a way that's transparent and open, our students and families will be better off for it.”

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Pitt moves to rename building of public health school, which honors disgraced scientist

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 06/29/2018 - 07:00

Many colleges have faced debates over building names or statues that honor heroes of the Confederacy or advocates for slavery.

The University of Pittsburgh has confronted a different kind of racism in its own history. And after extensive study, the university's chancellor, Patrick Gallagher, has announced that he is urging the Board of Trustees to change the name of the building that houses the public health program at Pitt.

That building is named for Thomas Parran Jr., a name that isn't as well-known as Robert E. Lee or John C. Calhoun. But to those in medicine and public health, including those who work in the building that has been named for him, Parran is associated with two of the science experiments that most stained the reputation of American medicine -- and that continue to have an impact today.

Parran was the first dean of Pitt's Graduate School of Public Health, serving from 1948 to 1958. He came to Pitt after he was U.S. surgeon general from 1936 to 1948. It was in that role that he oversaw two research projects that are today widely seen as violating the norms of informed consent. He oversaw the Tuskegee study that involved withholding vital information and treatment from black men with syphilis and was involved in similar research in Guatemala. These projects were deemed acceptable by those of Parran's generation of science leaders because the people being experimented on without their knowledge were not white.

Federal officials apologized -- years ago -- for the Tuskegee and Guatemala experiments. But the university did not move to consider a name change until graduate students petitioned for it. Some scientists have opposed efforts to drop names or honors from individuals who made contributions to medical science -- as Parran is seen as having done. But many at Pitt have been pushing for a change.

"While the federal government apologized to the Black community and Tuskegee survivors in 1997 and the American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association renamed its Thomas Parran award in 2013, we still have Parran’s name on our building. While the federal government apologized for Guatemala in 2010, we still have his visage displayed in our building," said the petition.

"We must learn from the mistakes, prejudices, and grotesque acts of institutionalized racism and violence that characterize our history. However, it is imperative that we do not normalize and neutralize them by maintaining monuments to their architects. The name of a renowned public health school should not dedicate a position of reverence to someone who had a hand in such cruel and unethical research and medical conduct. Pitt should not give Dr. Parran reverence by retaining his name on the building," the petition added.

The university last year appointed a panel to consider the issues, and the chancellor accepted its recommendation for a name change.

That panel's report noted that Parran's exact role in Tuskegee and Guatemala is unclear. "However, because of his role as U.S. surgeon general during 1936-48, a tenure that overlapped the implementation of both studies, the committee felt that Dr. Parran bears some responsibility for the studies and their consequences, regardless of the exact level of his involvement." Further, the report noted that "the harm that resulted from these studies continues today" in the "legacy of mistrust by many African-Americans for their health care providers and a lower level of participation in the medical research studies, to the detriment of African-American health."

In his statement announcing his plan to rename the buildings, Gallagher noted that the board first honored Parran in 1969, before much of the information about both sets of studies was public.

"Both studies conducted human trials on vulnerable populations without informed consent," Gallagher wrote. "These actions are fundamentally at odds with the university’s core values. As the extent of Dr. Parran’s role in these studies has come to light after the board’s decision to name the property after him in 1969, it is appropriate to revoke this naming decision and to remove any perception of celebrating a name associated with these unfortunate human trials."

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Universities urged to save media collections before it’s too late

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 06/29/2018 - 07:00

In the basements and back rooms of universities across the country, boxes and boxes of video and audio tapes, discs and film reels sit rotting, their content slowly being permanently lost instead of saved for posterity. For institutions tasked not only with creating knowledge, but also preserving it, this is a big problem.

Digitizing and preserving this so-called time-based media requires specialized equipment, skilled engineers and a lot of cash -- resources that many institutions simply don’t have to spare.

Deteriorating and obsolete media is not a new issue, but it is one that has become increasingly pressing in the last few years, said Dennis Cromwell, director of the Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative at Indiana University.

Faculty at IU started expressing concern about the state of the institution’s vast audio, video and film collection more than a decade ago, said Cromwell.

In 2009, IU conducted a survey of its collection, with troubling results. More than 560,000 audiovisual objects were being stored at the institution's Bloomington campus, but only around 8 percent of these had been digitized. Nearly all items were described as “actively deteriorating, some quickly and catastrophically.”

Digitization and preservation efforts were already underway at IU, but none were going fast enough. The music library, for example, would have taken 120 years to preserve its collection had it continued at the same pace. IU estimated it only had a 15- to 20-year window to save its recordings, which include rare musical performances, oral histories, endangered and extinct languages, lectures, interviews, and original research.

In 2013, IU president Michael McRobbie committed $15 million to the MDPI to preserve some 325,000 audio and video recordings. Another $12 million was later added so that 25,000 film reels could also be preserved, said Cromwell.

The $27 million project, conducted in partnership with media digitization company Memnon, started in 2015 and is now more than halfway through its work. Cromwell said that MDPI is on track for completion by IU’s centenary in 2020. More than 92 percent of the audio and video collection has been digitized, as well as 19 percent of the film reels.

The MDPI project isn’t only about preservation, explained Cromwell, it is also about access. Where possible, the university plans to share its content in the public domain, through an IU-developed open-source platform called Avalon.

In choosing which works to preserve, and which not, Cromwell says his team “cast a wide net,” though they prioritized items that are unique or significant to the university over commercially available recordings.

"There’s a lot of really interesting stuff in there," said Cromwell.

This “interesting stuff” includes a treasure trove of traditional music, including wax cylinder recordings of Chinese folk music from 1902 -- thought to be perhaps the first audio recording in China, said Cromwell. There’s also an archive of Orson Welles’s radio programs, Native American oral histories, videos of surgical procedures, obscure foreign films and much more.

Not all materials identified for preservation could be saved, said Cromwell. Sticky shed syndrome -- a process by which magnetic tape deteriorates because of humidity, claimed several items, though sometimes “baking” tapes at low temperatures to reduce moisture can save them, he said.

Cromwell said that to his knowledge, IU is the only university undertaking such a large-scale preservation project.

“It does require a large marshaling of resources, of people and money,” he said. “I think we’re going to see more institutions doing this. It’s clear that any materials that are important to save really need to be transferred now.”

Working with a contractor is essential to completing the work quickly, said Cromwell. Memnon had the equipment and engineers to process materials at scale, but some more delicate work was done in-house, he said. IU’s contract with Memnon accounted for a large portion of the project’s budget, but the second biggest expense was archival and data storage, followed by temporary personnel costs.

Going forward, Cromwell says that IU will have a streamlined process for digitizing and archiving new materials added to its collection. Choosing the right file formats and technologies to preserve materials, as well as getting good metadata, has been a difficult process. But Cromwell hopes the newly saved media will provide exciting new resources to researchers.

Mary Molinaro, executive director of the Digital Preservation Network, a membership organization that helps institutions develop solutions for the long-term preservation of their collections, said that IU has been “unique” in taking such a comprehensive approach to the digitization and preservation of its collection.

“It’s an issue that people are really struggling with,” said Molinaro. “There are some pretty significant efforts going on, but nothing as comprehensive as at Indiana University.”

Cost is the biggest barrier to most universities doing such large-scale projects, said Molinaro. Of course every institution would like to save as many materials as possible, but in most cases it’s just not feasible.

“It’s like trying to drink from a fire hose,” said Molinaro. “You have to prioritize.”

Molinaro pointed to the University of Southern California’s work with the Shoah Foundation and Warner Brothers as an example of another large-scale preservation effort. Other institutions prioritizing media preservation include Stanford University, the New York Public Library, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institute and many more.

Ann Thornton, vice provost and university librarian at Columbia University, said her institution is about to embark on a smaller-scale media digitization and preservation project starting this July. Following an initial survey, the university identified 59,000 unique materials that will be prioritized in the project. Thornton estimates the project will take at least six years, but the full cost is not yet known.

“Part of our work in the coming year is to figure that out,” said Thornton. A big part of that calculation will be accurately predicting how much digital storage space the collection will require. In the first year, Columbia will focus on preserving its collection of oral histories recorded on reel-to-reel tape, said Thornton.

Like at IU, the drive to preserve these media came from faculty, said Thornton. Similarly, Columbia wants to not only digitize and preserve its collection but also to make it accessible where copyright allows. Thornton said she’d like to see the materials become “much more integral to teaching and learning,” noting this possibility is something “faculty are really excited about.” Developing the university’s preservation procedures is important for future acquisitions, she said.

Though the university has been digitizing selected items over the years, preservation is now “a real strategic priority,” said Thornton.

Many universities have recognized that their materials, “especially magnetic media,” are deteriorating and now at “significant risk,” said Ian Bogus, executive director of the Research Collections and Preservation Consortium. ReCAP was formed by Columbia, Princeton University and the New York Public Library and is the largest off-site library shelving facility in the country. Harvard University is also an associate member.

“There are libraries that aspire to go through all of their AV media systematically, but it is a daunting task,” said Bogus. Which items are most at risk can depend a lot on the temperature and condition in which items are stored.

“It’s not just older materials that are at risk; newer things like CDs, particularly rewritable ones, are a huge problem,” he said.

Media preservation efforts are “gaining some steam” at universities, said Bogus, “but media is not our only preservation challenge -- brittle books are also a big issue.” Libraries are doing so many different things, it’s impossible for them to put all their resources into preserving content, said Bogus.

Bogus said that while not everything can be saved, “the trick will be trying to minimize the loss of important materials as much as we can.”

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Author discusses his new book on literature in era that challenges scholars

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 06/29/2018 - 07:00

These may seem like difficult times for the literary scholar and professor: pundits trash nonvocational education, while many young people confine their close reading to social media.

Christopher Schaberg finds plenty of reasons to worry in his new book, The Work of Literature in an Age of Post-Truth (Bloomsbury). But he also sees reasons why literary study is more important than ever. And in the book, he argues that humanities professors shouldn't apologize for their passions or their commitments -- either in their research or their teaching. Schaberg, the Dorothy Harrell Brown Distinguished Professor of English at Loyola University New Orleans, responded via email to questions about the book.

Q: When you say we are in an age of "post-truth," what does that mean?

A: By this phrase I mean to highlight the way that referring to -- or trying to find or state, in earnest -- the "truth" of any given state of affairs seems not to be persuasive (or even worthwhile) to many people. Viral news stories and clickbait headlines, no matter their veracity, have more cultural purchase and value (literally, in terms of ad revenue) than the slower work of untangling and articulating what is actually happening in the world. I suppose it is strange, in a way, to be coming at the topic of "post-truth" from the vantage point of literature -- poems, fiction and other artistic forms that revel in ambiguity. But it seems to me that by learning about the subtleties and textures of language and communication, people are better equipped to engage -- and to remake -- a world overflowing with messages, meanings and power. Ironically (or perhaps strategically), this is also a time when the study of language and literature is often cast as outdated, out of pace with new technological objects and systems. So it seems important to me to consider these two things together: literature and our age of post-truth, co-existing and in tension.

Q: Much of today's age, as your book notes, is about speed and brevity (think social media). Does this challenge the idea of the careful reading of literature (that's longer than 280 characters)?

A: Twitter is such a fascinating media form. It’s an incredible tool for broadcasting opinions, for sharing news and even for poetic observations and insights. It’s also, of course, dangerously fascistic for the ways that it can turn reading and writing into mere "following": endless, habitual scrolling and liking, mixed with occasional trolling and public scolding. I’ve used Twitter in my classes by having students keep notes on and discuss whatever we’re reading, using a common hashtag for our course, but I’ve also nearly lost my mind in class when I’ve noticed a student staring into their phone scrolling down a Twitter feed when we’re trying to closely read a paragraph in a novel.

I’m completely ambivalent about this subject, because while in many ways smartphones are the scourge of college seminars, in other ways they offer new texts to actually think about -- and use. Furthermore, the speed and brevity of digital media are so taken for granted as the norm that when we actually manage to slow down for 50 or 75 minutes and linger on a paragraph, a sentence, a word -- it is like something truly mystical and powerful is happening, something that my students actually are struck by, and transformed. That sounds transcendentalist and lofty, but it still happens, it really does, and in some ways the effect is even stronger with the little machines in our pockets buzzing and begging for our allegiance. When a six-line poem can effectively wrest attention away from a $699 iPhone for a half hour, it’s something to behold.

Q: You write about settings (Walmart, the airport) that are not associated with literary study. How do you find inspiration in these settings? (Schaberg is also the author of The Textual Life of Airports: Reading the Culture of Flights.)

A: Part of my own experience has been understanding -- and even forcefully jostling -- the literature classroom beyond the ivory tower realm it often occupies in our cultural imagination. I remember having various jobs in college and grad school that had nothing to do with my academic pursuits, and yet I would have to do my homework during the downtimes, or I’d find some resonance or cross application of ideas to a context outside the classroom. Book learning would become vividly real, and the world of work and play would likewise become a skein of codes to be understood and navigated.

So in my book I tried to foreground this double maneuver: seeing literary study as labor, as (just) a kind of work, and then also turning to outside settings such as airports, consumer sites and forests and river deltas as spaces rife with ambiguity, paradox and linguistic or philosophic nuance -- things that often get reserved for literary interpretation. This sort of mirrors my approach in freshman writing courses: I’d rather encourage my students to write about mundane things in their lives -- to really linger on and pay attention to the details that comprise their everyday existence -- rather than push them to take … fully developed stances on Big Issues. There is a time for the latter, sure -- but it has to be grown from more patient, attentive processes of learning. From minutes and pages filled with observation and reflection first. And this sort of thinking and writing can (and should) happen everywhere that usually gets left beyond bracketed Works of Literature.

Q: You worry about careerism. How does that threaten literary study?

A: I see a trend on university and college campuses to bolster career placement services, success coaching and advising centers not housed in academic departments. I get why institutions do this, I think: it’s like an insurance policy for parents and students. Or at least it's an insurance policy of perception: these sorts of centers convey and create an architectural optic showing that the school cares about the students’ successful completion of their degree, a degree that is carefully tracked to lead to a lucrative and stable career trajectory. But I think this is, in truth, an elaborate fiction, even a farce. A big part of college is wandering, figuring things out in nonlinear and random ways. Making unexpected connections between disciplines, or finding a mentor in a place where you didn’t expect to find one. Getting to know friends and classmates and professors over a not fully charted four-year journey.

When funding is channeled into career and nonacademic advising centers, it is inevitably pulled away from academic units -- fewer tenure-track faculty lines, for instance -- and the core of an institution is threatened: courses that seem too abstruse or difficult or irrelevant to careers go on the chopping block. So careerism palpably threatens literary study as well as other liberal arts modes of inquiry. I’ve seen this play out at institutions of different sizes and scales, always with different justifications and new buzzwords deployed to justify the justifications. Here’s the odd thing: I actually (and increasingly) love the part of my job that involves advising and mentoring students, and helping them as they are on the verge of graduation to think through job opportunities or risk heading out into the unknown. And I love seeing my students land great jobs after college. I prioritize and value my ongoing correspondence with former students as they develop and grow into their adult lives. So it’s not that I am skeptical of careers per se, but just how careerism gets front-loaded by institutions as if students should be planning and thinking about their careers from day one. Instead, let students read poems, let them flounder while learning a new language, let them work on a philosophical problem, let them do an experiment without knowing how it will turn out -- let them wonder.

Q: At many colleges today, humanities and general-education programs are shrinking. How do you feel about the future of literary study?

A: On the one hand, there is real cause for concern, as attention spans get shorter and shorter and as rampant professionalization overshadows the more abstract aspects of life. Not to mention deeper strains of anti-intellectualism in contemporary culture at large. But on the other hand, we’re also familiar with reports of how college graduates with liberal arts backgrounds tend to adapt better to the shifting landscape of the job market today (and most likely for the foreseeable future). Might literary studies have a practical function at this nexus? In one chapter of my book, I wonder about what literature even is -- it is an uncertainty I’ve had that has only grown over the years. Sure, we know what literature is in a stale, static sense, but what does literature do, what is literature for -- especially in a media ecosystem and in a political economy that prefers quick communication and deliverable ends? If anything, the questions for literary study are more intriguing and interesting than ever. So I feel strangely hopeful about the future of literary study. Of course, we need leaders at all levels who recognize the importance of liberal arts education in the service of a better world. And this is certainly an unsettled matter.

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Eastern Michigan sued in sports-equity Title IX lawsuit

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 06/29/2018 - 07:00

Nowadays, when a college or university is sued over Title IX, the federal gender antidiscrimination law, it’s usually because someone thinks the institution fumbled in dealing with campus sexual assault.

But in a lawsuit that legal experts are calling “retro” civil litigation, two female athletes have accused Eastern Michigan University of limiting sports opportunities for women. Several teams were shut down, including softball and women’s tennis, with officials saying the budget could no longer sustain them.

The complaint comes as a political war wages over Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, particularly in the area of campus sexual assault. The Trump administration is in the process of revising its rules for how colleges should handle sexual assault. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s controversial statements on these issues, and the flaws that critics perceive in Title IX guidance from the Obama Education Department, have dominated the news cycle.

That makes it easy to forget how influential the law has been in making campus athletics more equitable -- and that some institutions haven’t met their Title IX obligations when it comes to sports.

“This case should not be happening today,” said John R. Thelin, professor of higher education and public policy at the University of Kentucky's College of Education. “It’s as if it were pulled from the archives of around 1990 to 1999. Athletic directors saw either women’s sports or selected nonrevenue men’s sports as easy targets to cut and balance the budget.”

Earlier this year, when Eastern Michigan announced that it wouldn’t offer wrestling, men’s swimming and diving, softball, and women’s tennis next season, the decision proved to be immediately unpopular. Students, families, professors and team supporters lobbied the administration hard. The faculty union mounted a media campaign and devised its own calculations on how cutting the sports would actually lose the university money.

The university has maintained that the cuts, affecting about 83 male and female athletes, were painful but necessary to remain financially stable.

“As we have stated previously, the decision to eliminate four sports programs was extremely difficult,” the university said in a recent response to the lawsuit. “We initiated the action to reduce expenses in athletics consistent with strategic reductions across the university. These efforts are part of a comprehensive process to realign our budget to ensure our ability to continue to invest in key priority areas, such as high-demand academic programs that meet the needs of today's employers, and to modernize the facilities in which the programs are taught.”

But the students suing the university, the president, the athletics director and the Eastern Michigan Board of Trustees in a potential class action argue that the cuts were illegal and that the university has long discriminated against women.

To be Title IX compliant, an institution must match the proportion of male and female athletes to the ratio of overall enrollment. It could also show a history of continuing program expansion, or that it fully meets the interests and abilities of both genders. Eastern Michigan last reported it had about 60 percent undergraduate women and 40 percent men. The lawsuit alleges that in athletics, participation is about 44 percent women and 56 percent men.

Eastern Michigan mildly disputed those figures, saying in its statement that the lawsuit “understates” women’s participation.

​The university noted that it now fields 10 women’s teams and seven men’s teams. The number of teams doesn't matter under the law, though. Football teams are much larger than, for instance, women’s tennis, which for Eastern Michigan numbered only about eight women. (The university adamantly declined to cut football, which has maintained a poor record in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Mid-American Conference.)

“We recognize how difficult this decision has been for the 83 student athletes (58 male and 25 female) who were participating in the four canceled sports,” the university’s statement reads. “We have great respect for all of them, including the two students involved in the lawsuit. Of the 83 students initially affected by the decision, several have graduated and others have moved on to other schools.”

The two plaintiffs are a women’s tennis player and a softball player who both allege that the cuts destroy their life plans, even though the university has offered to honor their scholarships (and all the other athletes’ from the discontinued teams).

Marie Mayerova, a rising senior at the university and a tennis player, grew up in the Czech Republic and secured a visa to attend college in America -- but only at Eastern Michigan. Even though she got offers to play at other institutions, Mayerova alleges in the lawsuit she would need to be accepted into another university with a women’s tennis program and then receive another scholarship offer before she withdrew from Eastern Michigan. Then she would need to return to her home country and obtain a new visa -- all before the next season.

The softball player, Ariana Chretin, said she enrolled at Eastern Michigan in part because of its aviation major and has had trouble finding another institution where she could both play and continue her desired degree.

Peter Lake, director of the Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy at Stetson University, predicted an upsurge in sports-equity complaints. Title IX lawsuits generally have become much more common, Lake said. And this is a time when government investments in higher education are dwindling and colleges and universities are shrinking their budgets and eliminating athletics programs.

These cuts will likely come to the smaller to midsize liberal arts colleges, which have struggled financially, Lake said.

“There will almost certainly be equity issues involved, the same kind that we went through with an expansion in college sports, and I think we’ll see in certain areas things pull back,” Lake said.

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Colleges start new academic programs

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 06/29/2018 - 07:00



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Departure of Justice Kennedy could erase Supreme Court majority backing consideration of race in admissions

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 07:00

The news Wednesday that Justice Anthony M. Kennedy was stepping down from the Supreme Court could have a major impact on future rulings on the constitutionality of colleges' consideration of race in admissions.

Justice Kennedy was the author of the two most recent Supreme Court decisions -- both involving the University of Texas at Austin -- upholding universities' right to consider race in admissions. While the decisions were hailed by college leaders who support the consideration of race, both decisions were narrow, setting limits on how colleges could consider race. And earlier in his Supreme Court tenure, Justice Kennedy was dubious of the consideration of race.

Depending on whom President Trump nominates, there may be no immediate indication of how the Supreme Court would rule on affirmative action. And much of the public discussion about the nomination may focus on other issues (abortion or gay rights, for example). So it is unclear how much clarity will come from the nomination and confirmation process.

The last U.S. Supreme Court decision on affirmative action was in 2016, when the court ruled, 4 to 3, to uphold UT Austin’s consideration of race and ethnicity in college admissions.

The ruling was unusual in that it involved only seven judges. Justice Elena Kagan, who worked on the case as solicitor general before she joined the Supreme Court, recused herself from the case. Justice Antonin Scalia, who consistently opposed the consideration by colleges of race in admissions, died several months before the ruling was issued.

The three justices who joined Kennedy's opinion -- Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor -- have consistently backed affirmative action. The three justices in dissent in 2016 -- Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito Jr. and Clarence Thomas -- have generally questioned the right of colleges to consider race in admissions.

Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, who was appointed by Trump, has not ruled on affirmative action while on the Supreme Court and did not handle significant cases on the subject prior to joining it. He has regularly sided, however, with the justices opposed to the consideration of race in admissions. So even assuming Justice Kagan would not need to recuse herself on future cases involving race and admissions, a majority backing the consideration of race may be unlikely. It is worth noting of course that many Supreme Court justices have surprised the presidents who nominated them, although legal observers -- including those who disagree with Trump on many issues -- have generally credited him with picking judges who are reliably in line with the conservatives on the Supreme Court.

In the 2016 Texas decision, Justice Kennedy wrote, "The record here reveals that the university articulated concrete and precise goals -- e.g., ending stereotypes, promoting ‘cross-racial understanding,’ preparing students for ‘an increasingly diverse workforce and society,’ and cultivating leaders with ‘legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry’ -- that mirror the compelling interest this court has approved in prior cases."

But the decision was far from a laissez-faire approach to college admissions. It says a university considering race in admissions has "a continuing obligation" to meet the legal test of “strict scrutiny” by “periodically reassessing the admission program’s constitutionality, and efficacy, in light of the school’s experience and the data it has gathered since adopting its admissions plan, and by tailoring its approach to ensure that race plays no greater role than is necessary to meet its compelling interests.”

Many critics of college affirmative action plans have said that some institutions fail to meet those conditions set out by Justice Kennedy.

Indeed, in an essay published by Inside Higher Ed shortly after the 2016 ruling, Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity, an opponent of the consideration of race in admissions, called the decision "narrow" and said its "silver lining" for those opposed to affirmative action was that it set such strict rules to consider race. So it is unclear how strong Justice Kennedy's support would have been in the future for cases on colleges' consideration of race in admissions.

Currently, a major affirmative action dispute is pending in federal court over Harvard University's admissions policies. The plaintiffs in that case argue that Harvard discriminates against Asian-American applicants, a charge that the university denies.

Student Fees

Another topic on which Justice Kennedy wrote a key decision on higher education involved student fees at public universities. He wrote the unanimous 2000 decision, in a case involving the University of Wisconsin at Madison, finding that public universities could charge mandatory student fees that support various organizations. The Supreme Court decision came in a lawsuit filed by students who objected to some of the groups supported by student fees, and who said that forcing them to pay the fees violated their First Amendment rights. Justice Kennedy's decision said public universities that require student fees must be certain that the method used to distribute funds is "viewpoint neutral" and does not favor some ideologies over others.

Since that decision, there have been numerous legal disputes -- including another one at Madison -- over allegations from various student groups of a lack of viewpoint neutrality on student panels that allocate student fees.

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Former Penn State president loses appeal in the wake of Sandusky case

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 07:00

Graham Spanier, former president of Pennsylvania State University, lost an appeal Tuesday to overturn his misdemeanor conviction for endangering the welfare of a child. The 2-to-1 ruling in the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, the state’s first appeals court, is another nail in the coffin for the legacy of the once-celebrated leader in higher education.

Spanier was convicted on June 2, 2017, after failing to adequately respond to reports of child molestation by Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach at Penn State who is now serving 30 to 60 years in prison for the sexual assault of numerous children. Spanier could spend up to 12 months in prison with two years of probation.

Spanier maintains his innocence. When asked about plans for another appeal, Sam Silver, a defense attorney on Spanier’s case, issued the following statement to Inside Higher Ed:

“Dr. Spanier is deeply disappointed with the Superior Court’s ruling. He has always maintained his innocence of the charges brought against him, and he intends to pursue his appellate options so that he ultimately will be vindicated.”

In the majority opinion, Judge Victor P. Stabile, joined by Judge Carolyn H. Nichols, rejected claims that too much time had passed to charge Spanier, that he was not responsible for safeguarding the welfare of the boys that Sandusky abused and that he could not be charged because he was not directly supervising the boys.

Judge Lillian Harris Ranson issued a dissent and argued that the court had violated Spanier’s due process rights “when it failed to inform him of its intent to rely upon an exception to the statute of limitations at a reasonable time before trial.”

The criminal charge against Spanier is not about Sandusky's initial offenses, but about whether the abuse of others could have been prevented had Spanier and other Penn State officials responded more seriously to reports that authorities say should have raised questions about Sandusky. Two former Penn State officials, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of child endangerment and testified against Spanier, saying that they all should have done more to prevent subsequent abuse.

In May of 1998, the mother of a 11-year-old boy who was involved in Sandusky’s charity program, the Second Mile, contacted Penn State police to report that Sandusky had “bear hugged” her son while both were naked in the shower. Spanier was copied on emails discussing the resulting investigation, but no criminal charges were filed against Sandusky and the university took no further action against him.

In February 2001, Michael McQueary, a graduate assistant for the Penn State football team, witnessed Sandusky sexually assaulting a 10- to 12-year-old boy in the shower of the Lasch building. McQueary told head football coach Joe Paterno, now deceased. A day later, Paterno contacted Curley, who in turn informed Schultz.

Curley and Schultz met with Spanier to discuss the incident and devised a three-part plan that entailed speaking with Sandusky about the appropriate use of facilities and contacting the coordinator of the Second Mile and the Department of Public Welfare. The plan was never carried out, and Curley spoke again with Spanier to express discomfort with the original plan. The two agreed that Curley would instead speak with Sandusky about seeking professional help and forbid him from bringing young boys to Penn State facilities. They would only inform the Second Mile. Spanier mentioned to Curley that if Sandusky did not cooperate, they would be vulnerable for neglecting to report the incident.

Sandusky denied wrongdoing when Curley spoke to him, and Curley never informed campus police or other Penn State officials that Sandusky was no longer allowed to bring children into facilities. McQueary saw Sandusky in the Lasch building after hours on subsequent occasions. Sandusky abused at least four more boys before he was arrested in 2011, including one in the Lasch building shower in 2002.

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France considers plan to create university like MIT

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 07:00

Five grandes écoles (leading French universities) should be formally merged to form a Parisian science and technology university emulating the likes of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the French government has been told.

Jean-Lou Chameau, the former president of the California Institute of Technology who was tasked with advising ministers on the amalgamation, has called for the new university to be given significantly greater autonomy over issues such as staffing and salaries than traditional French higher education institutions, in order for it to be globally competitive.

The amalgamation of the five grandes écoles -- École Polytechnique, ENSTA ParisTech, Telecom ParisTech, Telecom Sud Paris and ENSAE ParisTech -- should be complete by spring 2019.

The institutions are already relocating to a 1,300-acre site on the southwestern edge of the French capital, but last year they opted against joining larger providers in a “mega-university” called the University of Paris-Saclay.

Chameau told a master class hosted by Times Higher Education in Paris that the union of the grandes écoles -- currently known only as “NewUni” -- should be more comprehensive than the previous practice of grouping institutions together in ComUE (communautés d’universités et établissements).

“The faculty will be ‘one faculty,’ it is not five faculties … A soon as possible [we should] create a single entity,” said Chameau, who is also a former president of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia.

Chameau argued that NewUni, as a specialist science and technology institution, could be a “slightly different animal” and complement Paris-Saclay, which will comprise 14 institutions.

He argued that the grandes écoles’ existing areas of research strength should be augmented by a greater focus on areas such as biomedical engineering. Other key features of the institution should be a strong emphasis on the importance of the social sciences and humanities, close links with business, and a focus on the development of “soft” skills and entrepreneurship, including at Ph.D. level.

“We need to have Ph.D. graduates who not only will do great things in academia or research, but also can do great things in the business world,” Chameau said.

France has suffered a brain drain of researchers in recent years, often blamed on the fact that salaries tend to be significantly lower than in competitor countries, so Chameau said he had recommended that NewUni have more autonomy on this issue -- and on other staffing matters -- to ensure that it can retain and attract academic talent.

“Salaries are not the only thing, however, there has to be a minimum if you want to be able to compete,” he said.

Chameau also emphasized the importance of working with private investors to create a “broader ecosystem” including industrial development, hotels and restaurants.

He highlighted how some of the “great institutions in the world” had become “destinations” in their own right.

“People want to go there because exciting things take place there, within or around it: great discoveries, great science, great innovation, new businesses -- it’s exciting, they are destinations. To do that you also have a campus which is attractive, it is fun to be there,” Chameau said.

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Supreme Court rules against public-sector unions with long-awaited Janus decision

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 07:00

In a decision that has to the potential to gut public-sector unions, the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled 5 to 4 that non-union-member public employees don’t have to pay “fair share” or “agency” fees to the unions that represent them in collective bargaining and, in many cases, grievances.

The decision in the case -- Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 -- doesn’t mean the end of unions at public institutions, since some faculty and other employee unions are thriving in right-to-work states that ban such fees. But it means that unions in all states will have to work harder to convince workers to become and stay members -- and pay the regular fees that support administrative staff and other activities. Agency fees are distinct from full dues and may not be used to fund unions' explicitly political activity, but they make up a major share of union fees.

While the high court was widely expected to rule as it did, higher education unions were quick to criticize the decision as a politically motivated example of judicial overreach that will hurt workers and, by extension, higher education.

Frederick E. Kowal, president of the 42,000-member United University Professions union of State University of New York System faculty members and other employees, for example, said in a statement that if “the super-rich and the corporate elites that are behind this case, and so many others like it, think that this ruling is the end of unions, they are sadly mistaken.”

The case is “a blow to working families,” he said, but “we are stronger than those who are trying to blot out unions know. We aren’t going anywhere.” The UUP is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association.

Pro-union faculty members also flooded social media with pledges to remain dues-paying members and otherwise support their unions going forward.

Others declared the ruling a victory for free speech and individual freedom. Unions "will now have to prioritize how they spend their funds without the revenue stream of nonmembers’ compelled agency fees," said Elizabeth Slattery, a legal expert with the Heritage Foundation, which works to advance many conservative principles.

Touching on the K-12 school choice debate, Slattery in a statement also called the decision "a big win for nonunion teachers. The public sector unions in the education system can no longer use compelled fees to lobby against education choice and other political causes that nonunion teachers support."

A Matter of Free Speech

Janus, as the case is known, was brought by Mark Janus, a child-support specialist with the State of Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Janus is a not a union member and said having to pay his union’s agency fees violates his First Amendment rights, as the union advocates for political causes that he does not support, even in simply bargaining collectively with a state entity. In Janus’s case, agency fees made up 78 percent of full union dues, or about $23 per pay period.

As predicted, the justices broke along conservative and liberal lines to side with Janus against the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. This was the fourth high-profile case in about as many years to target public employee union fees on free speech grounds. The most recent one, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, involved K-12 teachers in California and deadlocked in a 4-to-4 vote in 2016, after the death of conservative justice Antonin Scalia. His replacement, Justice Neil Gorsuch, cast the decisive vote against agency fees this time around.

In his majority opinion on Janus, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that states and public-sector unions may no longer extract agency fees from nonconsenting employees, as doing violates the First Amendment. Employees must rather choose to support the union before money is taken from them, he said. The idea is that they should have to "opt in" to union fees rather than "opt out." 

While the Supreme Court generally stands by the decisions of past justices under the principle of stare decisis, Alito -- echoing comments he’s made in other cases -- took aim at the high court’s 1977 decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. In that case, the justices unanimously found that a public school teacher who didn’t want to contribute financially to his union, citing political differences, had to pay it agency fees anyway, to cover the cost of collective bargaining and other nonpolitical activities from which he benefited.

Overruling Abood and calling it poorly decided, Alito in the Janus opinion wrote that Abood was inconsistent with standard First Amendment principles.

Referencing Abood’s logic, Alito said that agency fees can’t be upheld on the ground that they promote an interest in "labor peace," since millions of public employees in the nation’s 28 right-to-work states work harmoniously under exclusive union representation.

Again using the language of Abood, Alito also said that mandating agency fees to manage “free riders” is not a compelling state interest. States can find other, less “restrictive” ways of managing nonunion members who arguably take advantage of union benefits without paying for them, he said. He even suggested that unions ask nonmembers to pay for representation in grievances or contract disputes. Currently, states decide whether public-sector unions must represent nonmembers in these situations. Most say they must.

And while Janus's union had argued that Abood is in fact supported by the First Amendment’s true meaning, Alito said there’s no evidence for that -- and that the opposite may in fact be true.

“Because the compelled subsidization of private speech seriously impinges on First Amendment rights, it cannot be casually allowed,” Alito wrote. “Forcing free and independent individuals to endorse ideas they find objectionable is always demeaning.”

Alito was joined in his opinion by Chief Justice John G. Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Anthony Kennedy -- who on Wednesday also announced his retirement, stirring fears among many that he'll be replaced by a harder-line conservative.

‘Judicial Disruption’

Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan filed dissents, with Kagan joined by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sotomayor.

Kagan chided the majority’s action in her dissent, saying that the court finally succeeded “in its six-year campaign to reverse Abood,” with yet unforeseen, “large-scale consequences.”

“Rarely if ever has the court overruled a decision -- let alone one of this import -- with so little regard for the usual principles of stare decisis,” she said. “There are no special justifications for reversing Abood. It has proved workable. No recent developments have eroded its underpinnings. And it is deeply entrenched, in both the law and the real world. More than 20 states have statutory schemes built on the decision. Those laws underpin thousands of ongoing contracts involving millions of employees.”

Reliance interests “do not come any stronger than those surrounding Abood. And likewise, judicial disruption does not get any greater than what the court does today,” Kagan added.

William Herbert, executive director of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions at Hunter College of the City University of New York, echoed some of Kagan’s comments, calling the Janus decision “a clear form of judicial activism because it wiped out what states have been doing and deciding in terms of how collective bargaining should happen in their state.”

What the high court did “is what legislatures do, come up with public policy,” he continued. “It has now eviscerated states’ ability to do that.”

A ‘Mixed Bag’ for Higher Ed

As for how Janus will impact academic workplaces, experts said it’s probably too soon to tell. The potential for union devastation is there, some said, but so is reinvigoration of the union cause.

Herbert said that some states, including New York, adopted statutory changes ahead of Janus to allow unions access to the information they need to survive, such as names of potential members and chances to meet with them. Now is an opportunity to for administrators and unions elsewhere “to sit down and talk about the same things,” he said, “so these relationships won’t be disrupted.”

Rudy Fichtenbaum, president of the American Association of University Professors and a professor of economics at Wright State University, said he guessed the decision’s impact will be a “mixed bag.” At institutions with historically high union membership, there’s a “better chance of maintaining that membership,” as evidenced by AAUP union chapters in Michigan, which became right-to-work in 2012, he said. “Many of them had 90 percent-plus membership before right-to-work, and those institutions so far have not seen any significant decline in membership.”

But at institutions with low union membership, Fichtenbaum said, it’s “going to be a lot harder to retain members, and since they have been more dependent on fair-share fees, the impact of Janus will be more severe.”

Ian Robinson, a lecturer and associate research scientist in sociology at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and president of that university system’s AFT-affiliated lecturers’ union, said he’s heard different things from different unions across his state about the impact of right-to-work. His particular union’s last contract only expired about a month ago, so right-to-work is only now coming into play. But making the case for continued union membership under right-to-work got easier with the tentative contract the union just negotiated. It includes raises of up to 50 percent for entry-level lecturers within three years, among other gains.

Still, he said, “not all unions have been in a position to negotiate an agreement with the gains that we have, and not all unions will be able to make such an obvious case for union membership as we have.”

Robinson, who studies labor and globalization, described Janus as poorly reasoned and “substantively a bad decision.” Beyond that, he said, “It hurts organized labor by reducing the resources available to it, which is the idea behind right-to-work.”

Observing that a case that arguably serves special interests rested on the First Amendment, Robinson said it’s “fascinating how an amendment so important to democracy is being used to dismantle democracy.”

Catherine L. Fisk, Barbara Nachtrieb Armstrong Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, has previously argued that one way to manage unions’ “free rider” problem is to deny nonmembers union representation even in collective bargaining. That's something similar to what Alito suggested regarding grievances, except that Fisk's solution would require getting rid of a federal rule about exclusive representation.

Fisk said Wednesday that while Alito is clearly convinced that agency fees violate the First Amendment, he didn't clarify whether the First Amendment also affords unions the freedom to decline to represent "free riders" in their grievances. To that point, Florida, which is a relative outlier in allowing public unions to choose whether they will represent nonmembers in grievances, has relatively high faculty union participation. And union leaders there say that such representation is a membership draw.

Asked about comments onlookers made as to how Janus had inspired them to refuse to pay taxes because they disagree with government policies, or to refuse to pay bar association dues for the same reasons, Fisk said it’s “only half a joke.”

People are compelled every day to pay money to groups that spend money on speech, down to home owners’ associations, she said. Employees are required to contribute to health insurance and pension plans, which also spend money on speech down the line, and the same goes for those who invest in stocks.

‘Permanent Organizing Mode’

Raymond Hogler, a professor of management at Colorado State University, noted that Alito repeatedly used the word “private” to distinguish union dues from other compelled payments, such as taxes. So his theory “appears to be that compulsory payments to government are legitimate because we elected those officials,” Hogler said. “My response would be that unions are elected also, and it’s much easier to get rid of a union than, say, Trump.”

He noted that in Colorado, unions may vote once for union representation and then, under state law, vote to have union security in their contracts. If approved, the union can negotiate for compulsory dues. "All public unions have to do is adopt the same process, allow employees to vote if they want union security in a contract," he said. "If approved, then it’s legal. And there are no constitutional problems, because employees chose it.”

Over all, Hogler said that unions at public institutions “will now have to be in permanent organizing mode, constantly recruiting new members if they want to remain effective. Those who are successful in communicating with members and potential members about the benefits of unionization will remain strong. Those who fail to organize and recruit new members will be weakened by Janus.” But the wave of recent K-12 teacher protests nationwide demonstrates what's at stake, he said.

Stephanie Dodge Gournis, a partner at Drinker Biddle who represents management in labor matters, told Inside Higher Ed that despite union “propaganda” about Janus harming employee rights and higher education, its real impact is “less than certain.” 

While the decision will negatively impact "the bottom line of public sector labor organizations that previously have benefited from fair share dues,” she said, successful union organizing campaigns in right-to-work states show that "the elimination of forced dues deductions does not eliminate union organizing.”

Ultimately, she said, Janus “may do nothing more than give union greater incentive to increase union organizing,” including at private colleges and universities covered by the National Labor Relations Act. Tenure-track and tenured faculty members at these institutions aren't entitled to collective bargaining based on a longstanding legal precedent saying that they are managers, but adjunct faculty and graduate student unionization is on the rise. Graduate students, in particular, are ramping up efforts to get their administrations to bargain collectively with them outside of National Labor Relations Board channels, since a Trump-appointed board could reverse a 2016 decision in their favor.


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Study says "tension" between graduate training in research and teaching is false and that teaching training may build research output

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 06/27/2018 - 07:00

Graduate school takes long enough already. That’s one of the reasons, among others, why Ph.D. programs tend to focus on research over teaching. A new study challenges assumptions that building teaching expertise has to come at the expense of research preparation, however.

Looking at a national sample of life sciences Ph.D. students, the study’s authors considered how increased training in evidence-based teaching practices impacted students’ confidence in their preparation for research careers, their ability to communicate about their research, and their publication counts.

In a challenge to conventional but previously untested wisdom, the authors found that the research confidence and output of Ph.D. students who "invested" time in learning evidence-based teaching, or EBT, practices did not suffer. In fact, data revealed what the authors called a “slight synergy” between investing in evidence-based teaching and research savvy. That is, learning about teaching actually appeared to benefit students’ research skills.

The long-standing “tension" between developing research and teaching skills "may not be salient for today’s graduate students,” reads "The Trade-Off Between Graduate Student Research and Teaching: A Myth?" The study was published this week in PLOS ONE. “This work is proof of concept that institutions can incorporate training in EBT into graduate programs without reducing students’ preparedness for a research career.”

Although some institutions already bake pedagogical training into their programs, the authors note, "increasing these programs at scale, and including training in EBT methods could create a new avenue for accelerating the spread of evidence-based teaching and improved teaching across higher education."

The paper’s message isn’t necessarily new. Many academics and some professional associations have previously said that rounding out graduate training to build skills beyond research better prepares students for a variety of jobs inside and outside academe. But new here are data to back up that argument, the authors say. (And of course there's a major push for evidence-based teaching practices in science at the undergraduate level, in part to encourage diversity in the field.)

Cutting Through the ‘Tension’

“The tension between research and teaching has been investigated for decades for faculty, but we were interested in if there is data to support the trade-off between investing in research and in modern evidence-based teaching for graduate students,” co-author Erin E. Shortlidge, an assistant professor of biology at Portland State University, said Tuesday. “I hope that this is only the beginning of research on the topic.”

Shortlidge and her co-author, Sarah L. Eddy, an assistant professor of biology at Florida International University, developed their own survey instrument for gauging students’ self-reported awareness of, training in and use of different evidenced-based teaching methods. To do so, they borrowed heavily from two published surveys of faculty and postdoctoral researcher awareness of such practices and shaped them based on various feedback. The survey instrument also asked students to rate their confidence and training in research, teaching and communication, and about how many papers they'd published.

The survey's ultimate set of evidence-based teaching practices was presented with written definitions, to include case studies, clickers, concept maps, discussion-based instruction or Socratic method, flipped classroom, problem-based learning and/or inquiry-based learning, process-oriented guided inquiry learning, and think-pair-share.

Student participants were recruited through professional scientific society Listservs, departmental Listservs and snowball sampling, or chain referrals. The final sample, which did not include first-year Ph.D. students who hadn’t been studying long enough for their answers to be relevant, for example, was 338 students. They represented 19 subfields in what the authors call “traditional” life sciences (not biology education or philosophy of science, etc.).


In an advanced analysis, increased training in evidence-based practices did not reduce students’ confidence as researchers, but rather had a slightly positive effect. Training in EBTs also increased students' confidence in communicating their research.

Interestingly, teaching experience alone, as opposed to direct instruction in best practices, did not increase research communication confidence.

Controlling for whether students had earned a master’s degree and year in their Ph.D. program, the analysis also found no negative relationship between number of papers published and investment in evidence-based teaching practices.

To the contrary, the paper says, “the trend actually hints at the potential for the opposite pattern: for each unit increase in a student’s average training in EBT practices, they were 1.04 times more likely to have at least one additional paper.” For example, students with the mean EBT training index had a 47 percent chance of having zero publications and students in the third quartile of the EBT training index were slightly less likely to have zero publications, or a 43 percent chance.

Shortlidge and Eddy wrote that, based on other research, many graduate students report having to seek out voluntary evidence-based teaching training and that training of one semester or longer is most effective in building lasting skills. They note that their study is based on self-reported data from self-selected students, and so may not be applicable across the life science graduate student population.

Still, Shortlidge told Inside Higher Ed that in her own experience, based on a forthcoming study, “graduate students perceive that their institutions generally only give lip service to professional development and teacher training -- that such training is not a real priority.”

So maybe the new data will help convince institutions that investing in evidence-based teaching training won't negatively impact students' research, and even "render them more prepared for their future academic positions," she said.

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UNC found to have violated Title IX in multiyear investigation

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 06/27/2018 - 07:00

After five years, federal investigators have found that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill mishandled complaints of campus sexual assaults and thus violated a key gender-discrimination law.

The 2013 complaint that led to the UNC investigation helped spur a national policy debate over rape on college campuses and the federal government's role in regulating investigations of it. And now the institution has agreed to review and possibly change some its policies around Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

In the UNC case, Andrea Pino and Annie Clark, two alumnae who were raped on campus but said that administrators bungled their cases, helped lead a campaign to file the complaint against the institution in 2013. They became national heroes for sexual assault survivors and their supporters, with their story launching waves of Title IX complaints across the country. The women eventually founded an advocacy group, End Rape on Campus, and co-wrote a book.

But their own complaint, more than five years in the making, remained unsettled until this month. The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, after reviewing 387 reports of sexual harassment and sexual violence at the university from 2011 to 2016, concluded that the university was indeed out of compliance with Title IX.

UNC chancellor Carol L. Folt instead released a statement to the campus Tuesday on the university’s resolution agreement with the Education Department -- a tool that OCR has relied on in place of fines or denial of funding. UNC agreed to give notice to students, employees and outsiders about sexual harassment and discrimination policies, and to clarify pieces of its Title IX processes.

The university must prove to the department it has met the OCR requirements and federal officials can come on campus at any time and interview students and staffers to ensure that the university is abiding by the agreement.

“Nothing is more important to us than creating a culture at Carolina where every member of our campus community feels safe, supported and respected,” Folt wrote in her message. “While this concludes the OCR investigation, it does not conclude our commitment.”

Most of the missteps by UNC seemed to happen in the early years that the department investigated, from 2011 to 2013. Investigators noted that the university kept poor records and that administrators weren’t properly trained to handle Title IX cases.

"The university's own records from that time period suggest improper action, or inaction, by university staff at different levels of the complaint process," the department wrote.

From 2014 to 2016, UNC “generally conducted adequate, reliable and impartial investigations of the complaints,” though sometimes it failed to resolve cases quickly, investigators indicated. Of the 18 formal Title IX investigations conducted in those two years, only five were resolved within the correct time frame. The rest lagged, with one case extended to 213 days.

Under the Obama administration, institutions were supposed to finish handling Title IX cases within 60 days. This was part of the guidance that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rescinded last year on how campuses should handle Title IX cases. While survivor advocates credited the 2011 Dear Colleague letter with improving the investigations and adjudication processes for survivors, critics said the Obama rules were unfairly slanted against accused students, which DeVos agreed with.

DeVos didn't mandate a timeline in her interim rules.

The department did indicate that UNC improved its response to sexual violence over the years, hiring a full-time Title IX coordinator and a deputy, as well as more staffers for investigations and new training programs.

“During the course of its investigation, OCR recognizes the university has been proactive regarding its efforts to maintain a campus environment free from discrimination, harassment and related misconduct, including sexual violence and sexual assault, including through strengthening its Title IX response policies, procedures, resources and outreach,” the department wrote.

Both Pino and Clark said in statements they felt validated by the results of the investigation -- especially on the heels of the Me Too movement and the anniversary of Title IX.

“UNC is certainly not the only school that has swept sexual violence and harassment under the rug; however, our students have learned from a great place of higher education, and because we have the knowledge, privilege, and power to do so, we have and continue to hold the university that we love accountable … We as a society have so much further to go. I want every student to feel safe everywhere, but especially at school -- whether that is in kindergarten or college,” Clark said in her statement.

Initially, part of the OCR findings seemed to contradict the department's temporary rules on how campuses should treat Title IX cases, fueling confusion at a time when institutions are still scrambling to understand their legal obligations. But this was simply a department error.

OCR noted in its investigation that its policy on Title IX for employees did not allow for both parties to appeal, which it said “wasn’t equitable.”

This contradicted the interim Title IX guidance that the department released last year. DeVos said an institution could choose to offer an appeal to only one party: the accused.

Institutions can also pick whether they want appeals for both parties or no appeals at all. Department spokeswoman Liz Hill said that OCR is in the process of correcting its correspondence with the university to let it know its policy is consistent with the department's temporary rules.

But Laura Dunn, a lawyer and founder of the advocacy group SurvJustice, now with the Fierberg National Law Group, said that DeVos's interpretation of Title IX is simply incorrect.

"The UNC decision reflects a properly legal interpretation as well as the contradictory position of the department under the Trump administration and its willful misapplication of civil rights law to favor those accused over the protected class Title IX serves -- victims of sex discrimination including sexual harassment and violence," Dunn wrote in an email.

Brett Sokolow, president of the Association of Title IX Administrators, said inconsistency in Title IX isn’t new, adding that he also thought the department’s resolution with UNC was “both confusing and contradictory.”

Though the department did roll back the Dear Colleague letter from 2011, it did not nix a follow-up letter in 2015, which was based on the 2011 guidance, nor rules instituted under the Bush administration in 2001, Sokolow said.

“OCR field officers used to regularly contradict each other in public presentations on Title IX,” Sokolow wrote in an email. The association “has long had the role of trying to translate OCR intentions to the field, and despite our willingness to do that, it really would be preferable for OCR to offer definitive technical assistance itself.”

Given the cutbacks in OCR, this is unlikely, he said.

The interim guidance was “rushed” and “does not reflect a thoughtful balancing of the needs” of institutions and both survivors and accused students, said S. Daniel Carter, president of Safety Advisors for Educational Campuses, which consults with universities on Title IX.

“This is nowhere more clear than the guidance concerning appeals options for complaints and respondents in Title IX disciplinary procedures,” Carter said in an email. He said that another federal law, the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, requires equal appeal rights, as well as reporting certain crimes to the government.

“Advising institutions as OCR has that they may limit appeals under Title IX when this is clearly at odds with the Clery Act requirements is likely to cause confusion among institutions,” Carter wrote.

Jim Newberry, a lawyer who heads the higher education practice at Steptoe & Johnson, said it was difficult to reconcile OCR's findings on the appeals process with directions to colleges in the interim guidance released last year.

"It does create more confusion, there's no question about it," he said.

-- Andrew Kreighbaum contributed to this report.

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Selective universities want more high-achieving community college students to transfer

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 06/27/2018 - 07:00

Educators and researchers have known for some time that most students who enter community colleges with the intention to transfer to a four-year institution never do.

For example, a 2016 report from the Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College found that of the nearly 1.1 million students who enroll at two-year institutions each year, about 80 percent indicate their goal is to transfer and earn a bachelor's degree. But only 14 percent earn a bachelor's degree within six years.

New research released today from the American Talent Initiative shows that even community college students with high grade point averages often aren't transferring to universities.

According to the Aspen Institute's College Excellence Program, each year more than 50,000 community college students are prepared to do well at a four-year university but fail to transfer. And 15,000 of those students have earned at least a 3.7 GPA and could transfer to selective universities.

"Colleges have traditionally looked at high school students as the pipeline for all the diversity they need," said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen program. "You look at the data and the world around them has changed. Students not getting adequate opportunities are ending up more and more at community colleges. This report is about recognizing that talent is distributed in a greater number of institutions than some [American Talent Initiative] institutions and some of the top colleges in our country have recognized."

ATI, which is a partnership between Bloomberg Philanthropies, Aspen and Ithaka S+R, is also an alliance of about 100 four-year universities that have partnered to enroll and graduate 50,000 low- and moderate-income students by 2025. The universities all consistently graduate 70 percent or more of their students in six years. But only 18 percent of new students across all ATI institutions have transferred, compared to 32 percent at all four-year institutions.

"There are many pathways by which colleges can find high-achieving transfer students, whether of traditional age or older," Kathleen McCartney, president of Smith College, said in a statement. "I understand the obstacles and situations that students can face on the route to a four-year degree, and I am enormously proud of the extra lengths that a place like Smith goes to make sure women of promise can realize their dreams."

There are several obstacles blocking even high-achieving community college students from transferring to a four-year institution. One is financial, Wyner said.

The average time to complete an associate degree is four years. For many students who go to a two-year institution using federal financial aid, said Wyner, that money can be mostly gone after four years, particularly for students who attended part-time or took developmental education courses.

"You're hard-pressed to finish a bachelor's degree with a Pell Grant," he said. "You would have to go and finish in two years, and for many students that's hard because they may have to go part-time. They may also get through an associate [degree] and need to move back into the world of work and never get back to a bachelor's degree."

Another issue: some community colleges aren't adequately advising students on what they need to do to be prepared for transfer.

"One of the most important things is to help students pick a major and transfer destination early in their community college career," Wyner said. "If you don't do that, you risk taking the wrong courses."

Preparing students for transfer isn't just the responsibility of the two-year institution, said Tania LaViolet, a senior program manager in Aspen's College Excellence Program and the co-leader of ATI.

"The strongest transfer partnerships and pipelines happen when there are strong relationships between community colleges and four-year institutions from leadership down to the staff level," she said.

Janet Marling, executive director of the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students at the University of North Georgia, said it's a mistake to assume that every community college student intends to transfer and that many, even if they had plans to transfer, instead may find well-paying jobs instead.

"Our four-year institutions need to be absolutely communicating with two-year partners … and to be, certainly, a little more equitable with regard to how credits are articulated for transfer students," Marling said. "There are still a lot of assumptions about rigor at the community college level. Some [are] false and some have merit. We tend to be biased about what we will apply toward a major."

Demographics and Transfer

Even so, a growing number of universities are opening their doors to more transfer students. For example, the University of California system in April signed a joint agreement with the California community college system to guarantee admission for all qualified transfer students.

And two years ago, ATI member Princeton University lifted its ban on transfers and admitted its first transfer students last month.

Wyner said Princeton's move reflects a growing trend of traditional institutions recognizing where a growing number of undergraduates are beginning their educations.

"Community college students, even as recent as 20 to 30 years ago, didn't comprise such a large portion of the undergraduate population," he said. "Forty percent of all undergraduates are in community colleges, and two-thirds of all students are below the median household income in our country."

So universities that care about socioeconomic diversity on their campuses have realized they have to go to community colleges for those students, Wyner said.

ATI universities like Smith and the University of California, Los Angeles, have spent decades working to improve their transfer rates and processes. At UCLA, for instance, more than 33 percent of the undergraduate population are transfer students. More than 90 percent of those students come from the state's community college system.

Since 2006, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has partnered with 10 community colleges through its Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program, or C-STEP, to help about 900 students transfer in and graduate. The program brings community college students to campus to meet faculty, staff and other transfer students. They receive specialized advice, and the university -- as it does with many nontraditional students -- offers help with financial aid, family housing and childcare services.

"It's a fabulous opportunity to reach out to smart students in our community who never thought they had an opportunity to attend," said Rebecca Egbert, senior assistant director of admissions at UNC and C-STEP program director. "We wanted them here and we welcomed them."

Egbert said she would love to see C-STEP expand to some of the other 58 community colleges in the state. In the meantime, she said, other universities are following UNC's lead. North Carolina State University announced last week that it will admit more low- and moderate-income graduates from eight regional community colleges.

Still, the trend to encourage transfer from two-year colleges isn't moving fast enough, Wyner said.

Marling points to barriers that don't involve the two- or four-year institutions that may keep a high-achieving community college student from transferring, such as difficulty in understanding long-term earnings potential based on degree levels, the pressure of relocating from one community to another, finding the university too intimidating and the difficulty in explaining the benefits of more college to a student's family.

"We want to help students build that capital to see themselves as university students," Marling said. "UCLA does this well. All summer long they have community college students on their campuses. They see it and know they can do it through peer mentoring or faculty mentoring … hosting workshops on what to expect."

Next month ATI universities will meet to dive into the research and develop plans for increasing transfer from community colleges, Wyner said, adding that the initiative will track the goals of each institution to see if they've progressed or not.

"We need to start rethinking the way we imagine and think about the pathways to opportunities at these schools," LaViolet said. "Even if we engage in modest change, if every ATI institution were to increase enrollment and add an additional 40 transfer community college students to their student bodies, that would help us get halfway to our 2025 goal."

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At college lawyers' meeting, a reminder that free speech law is nuanced

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 06/27/2018 - 07:00

MINNEAPOLIS -- Raise your hand if you or one of your colleagues has expressed the view in the last year or two that "this generation of college and university students, and many of their professors, don’t understand freedom of speech"? (Yes, mine is up.)

Rodney A. Smolla, dean of Widener University's Delaware Law School, offered his fellow attendees at the annual meeting of the National Association of College and University Attorneys here a helpful reminder that the history and status of American law on free speech isn't nearly as "simplistic" as is often portrayed.

The topic of campus speech has flared at many colleges and universities, and it is among the most talked-about issues at this conference, formally (in the content of four full sessions) and informally (in hallway conversations and chats over meals).

Smolla, who in addition to being a three-time law dean was president of Furman University and argued a First Amendment case before the Supreme Court, channeled the longtime law professor in him in his presentation at one of those sessions, "Faculty and Employee Expression and Academic Freedom in a Time of Unrest."

Many presentations at a conference like this are filled with minute details about specific court rulings and hypothetical case studies, and the session Smolla participated in was no exception, with panelists exploring real and theoretical (usually pulled from the headlines) situations in which faculty and staff members tested the boundaries of their free speech rights in the classroom, their research and on social media.

Smolla sought to pull back the frame and remind the audience that the last 100 years of American law have reflected a competition between two conflicting interpretations of free speech -- or, as he put it, a "battle between two magnificent, sublime ideas that are in tension with each other."

For much of the 20th century -- until the 1960s, when "the whole country changed," Smolla said -- the dominant legal theory surrounding free speech was what he called the "order and morality" theory. That approach, most famously framed in a World War II-era case involving a Jehovah's Witness and the marshal of a New Hampshire town, cast a highly critical eye on speech that either challenged the keeping of the peace (literal "fighting words") or speech that was readily viewed as immoral (because "by their very utterance [they] inflict injury").

But a series of cases in the 1960s, by embracing Oliver Wendell Holmes's famous dissent in a 1919 case known as Abrams v. United States, set the stage for the theory that has ruled for the last 50 years by urging protection for just about any speech, no matter how loathsome, unless it threatens the country.

The latter approach, in which "the most offensive speech you can imagine gets protected," has held sway for much of the last half century, but "a lot of people on campus" think the former "is the right way to think about free speech," Smolla said.

The sharp bifurcation Smolla laid out has been finessed in recent years, he noted, by embrace of the idea that the setting where speech occurs matters. "In the vast open spaces of our society" -- in the streets, on the internet -- "marketplace theory runs the show," and the courts have strongly protected free speech.

But in certain places, "order and morality trumps the marketplace," Smolla said. Those places include the workplace and public schools, among others.

Where does a campus fall, though?

Many students and their supporters on the faculty, troubled by what they perceive as attacks on students who are members of certain racial or ethnic groups, gay students, or others, believe "the campus should not be the kind of anything-goes, raucous, hate-filled, angry, over-the-top marketplace that exists in the rest of society," Smolla said. "It should be a community of scholars," where "rational discourse" -- order and morality -- rules.

But others believe that "if there’s ever a place where the marketplace should rule" -- in late-night arguments in dorms, faculty meetings and the like -- it should be the college campus. "Let it all hang out," this theory goes.

Smolla did not offer an opinion (directly) on which theory of free speech he thought should hold sway, although he suggested that "some sort of amalgam of marketplace theory and non-marketplace theory" is probably appropriate.

His main point, though, was that it's "not that this generation doesn’t get [free speech], they just buy into one particular version of it."

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Supreme Court upholds Trump's travel ban in 5-4 ruling

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 06/27/2018 - 07:00

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld President Trump's travel ban in a 5-to-4 decision released Tuesday, finding that the president did not overstep his authority in issuing broad entry restrictions to nationals of a group of mostly Muslim-majority countries and that his statements about excluding Muslims do not taint the ban as unconstitutional.

Writing for the majority in the case Trump v. Hawaii, Chief Justice John G. Roberts found that a key provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act "exudes deference" to the president in entrusting him to "make decisions whether and when to suspend entry, whose entry to suspend, for how long, and on what conditions" -- and that the presidential proclamation outlining the travel restrictions "falls well within this comprehensive delegation."

The Trump administration has said that the restrictions are necessary because the affected countries have inadequate systems in place to share information about terrorist threats with the United States.

The court also ruled that the plaintiffs did not demonstrate a likelihood of success in their argument that the ban violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits the government from favoring or disfavoring any particular religion.

"Plaintiffs allege that the primary purpose of the Proclamation was religious animus and that the President’s stated concerns about vetting protocols and national security were but pretexts for discriminating against Muslims," the opinion states. "At the heart of their case is a series of statements by the President and his advisers both during the campaign and since the President assumed office. The issue, however, is not whether to denounce the President’s statements, but the significance of those statements in reviewing a Presidential directive, neutral on its face, addressing a matter within the core of executive responsibility. In doing so, the Court must consider not only the statements of a particular President, but also the authority of the Presidency itself."

The court found that the proclamation contains a "sufficient national security justification" to withstand a review under the rational basis standard; under that standard, Chief Justice Roberts wrote, "plaintiffs’ extrinsic evidence may be considered, but the policy will be upheld so long as it can reasonably be understood to result from a justification independent of unconstitutional grounds."

Chief Justice Roberts was joined in the majority by the other four members of the court's conservative wing, Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito and Neil M. Gorsuch. The court's four liberal justices dissented.

"The United States of America is a Nation built upon the promise of religious liberty. Our Founders honored that core promise by embedding the principle of religious neutrality in the First Amendment," Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in a dissenting opinion in which Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined (the court's other two liberal justices issued a separate dissenting opinion). Justice Sotomayor cited Trump's statement during the presidential campaign calling for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States" in the dissent's preface.

"The Court’s decision today fails to safeguard that fundamental principle. It leaves undisturbed a policy first advertised openly and unequivocally as a 'total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States' because the policy now masquerades behind a façade of national-security concerns. But this repackaging does little to cleanse Presidential Proclamation No. 9645 of the appearance of discrimination that the President’s words have created.

"Based on the evidence in the record, a reasonable observer would conclude that the Proclamation was motivated by anti-Muslim animus. That alone suffices to show that plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their Establishment Clause claim. The majority holds otherwise by ignoring the facts, misconstruing our legal precedent, and turning a blind eye to the pain and suffering the Proclamation inflicts upon countless families and individuals, many of whom are United States citizens," the dissent states.

Justice Sotomayor also wrote of "the stark parallels between the reasoning of this case and that of Korematsu v. United States," a 1944 case in which the Supreme Court upheld an executive order from President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorizing the removal of individuals of Japanese descent to internment camps. "As here, the Government invoked an ill-defined national security threat to justify an exclusionary policy of sweeping proportion … As here, the exclusion was rooted in dangerous stereotypes about, inter alia, a particular group’s supposed inability to assimilate and desire to harm the United States … As here, the Government was unwilling to reveal its own intelligence agencies’ views of the alleged security concerns to the very citizens it purported to protect … And as here, there was strong evidence that impermissible hostility and animus motivated the Government’s policy."

The majority opinion by Chief Justice Roberts objects to the suggestion of any parallel with the Korematsu case. "The forcible relocation of U.S. citizens to concentration camps, solely and explicitly on the basis of race, is objectively unlawful and outside the scope of Presidential authority. But it is wholly inapt to liken that morally repugnant order to a facially neutral policy denying certain foreign nationals the privilege of admission. The entry suspension is an act that is well within executive authority and could have been taken by any other President -- the only question is evaluating the actions of this particular President in promulgating an otherwise valid Proclamation.

"The dissent’s reference to Korematsu, however, affords this Court the opportunity to make express what is already obvious: Korematsu was gravely wrong the day it was decided, has been overruled in the court of history, and—to be clear—'has no place in law under the Constitution.'"

In upholding the Trump administration's travel ban, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which ruled in December in Trump v. Hawaii that the president had exceeded his authority in issuing the travel restrictions and that the indefinite suspension of entry for nationals of certain countries conflicts with the Immigration and Nationality Act’s prohibition on nationality-based discrimination. The Ninth Circuit did not take up the arguments about the Establishment Clause.

In a separate case, which was not argued before the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit had also ruled against the Trump administration, finding that the travel ban likely violated the Constitution's Establishment Clause.

The Higher Ed Impact

Universities and higher education groups have largely opposed the ban, which has gone through a number of iterations, on the grounds that it is discriminatory and blocks them from bringing talented students and scholars from certain parts of the world to the U.S.

The current restrictions, the details of which vary by country, affect nationals of seven countries, five of which are majority Muslim: Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen (an eighth affected country, Chad, was dropped from the travel ban list in April). The September 2017 presidential proclamation outlining the travel restrictions also recommended increased scrutiny of visa applicants from Iraq.

An analysis published by Inside Higher Ed in early February found that the number of F student visas granted for students from the affected countries had fallen sharply, as had the number of short-term B visas, a category used by foreign scholars when they come to the U.S. for conferences. Beyond the countries that are specifically affected, many in American higher education have raised concerns about the unwelcoming message the blanket visa bans send to international students and scholars from around the world.

Alleged damage to higher education has been a key argument in the legal challenges to the ban. In her dissent, Justice Sotomayor cited difficulties in recruiting and retaining students and faculty members as being one among a number of irreparable harms caused by the travel restrictions: “As the District Court found, plaintiffs have adduced substantial evidence showing that the Proclamation will result in ‘a multitude of harms that are not compensable with monetary damages and that are irreparable -- among them, prolonged separation from family members, constraints to recruiting and retaining students and faculty members to foster diversity and quality within the University community, and the diminished membership of the [Muslim] Association,’” she wrote.

In a separate dissenting opinion, Justice Stephen G. Breyer cited the small numbers of student visas granted to individuals from the affected countries in the first months of 2018 as evidence that the administration does not appear to be adhering to the exemptions and waivers written into the travel ban.

The terms of the current restrictions are such that individuals from all of the affected countries except North Korea and Syria technically remain eligible to get student visas. “In practice, however, only 258 student visas were issued to applicants from Iran (189), Libya (29), Yemen (40), and Somalia (0) in the first three months of 2018,” Justice Breyer wrote, citing Department of State statistics. “This is less than a quarter of the volume needed to be on track for 2016 student visa levels. And only 40 nonimmigrant visas have been issued to Somali nationals, a decrease of 65 percent from 2016.”

Justice Breyer also pointed out that only two waivers were approved out of a total of 6,555 eligible applicants in the first month after the proclamation. The proclamation states that waivers can be granted for a variety of circumstances, including for “significant business or professional obligations,” a category that Breyer specifically noted could include visiting scholars.He cited several amicus briefs, including one filed by the American Council on Education and 32 other higher education groups, that "identify many scholars who would seem to qualify."

“In its reply brief, the Government claims that number [of waivers] increased from 2 to 430 during the first four months of implementation,” Justice Breyer wrote in a dissent joined by Justice Elena Kagan. “That number, 430, however, when compared with the number of pre-Proclamation visitors, accounts for a miniscule percentage of those likely eligible for visas, in such categories as persons requiring medical treatment, academic visitors, students, family members, and others belonging to groups that, when considered as a group (rather than case by case), would not seem to pose security threats.”

Higher education groups on Tuesday expressed disappointment about the Supreme Court ruling.

“While we strongly support the government’s efforts to keep our nation secure, we fear this broadly written prohibition will have a long-term impact on our standing as a global leader and hamper our education and research enterprise and the overall U.S. economy,” Ted Mitchell, the president of the American Council on Education, said in a statement. “This decision makes it far more difficult to maintain the United States as the destination of choice for the world’s best students, faculty, and scholars, regardless of their nationality.”

Jill Welch, the deputy executive director for public policy for NAFSA: Association of International Educators, said in a statement that the Supreme Court ruling "tarnishes our reputation and casts doubt in the minds of all students and scholars around the world that the United States is a welcoming nation that fosters religion freedom."

"While universities and colleges work tirelessly to welcome international students and scholars, the chilling effect of this policy and the uncertainty for our international students and scholars will undoubtedly continue the current downturn in U.S. international student enrollment as the world wonders whether America will hold true to our values. Today, the United States can be seen as a country that bans people from our shores, not on the basis of what they have done, but for where they are from," Welch said.

The White House issued a statement from Trump lauding the ruling: "Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a tremendous victory for the American People and the Constitution," Trump said.

"The Supreme Court has upheld the clear authority of the President to defend the national security of the United States. In this era of worldwide terrorism and extremist movements bent on harming innocent civilians, we must properly vet those coming into our country. This ruling is also a moment of profound vindication following months of hysterical commentary from the media and Democratic politicians who refuse to do what it takes to secure our border and our country."

Tuesday's Supreme Court ruling marks the culmination of a 17-month legal challenge since the implementation of a first ban on entry into the U.S. for nationals of certain countries issued a week after Trump’s inauguration in January 2017. The first 90-day travel ban immediately barred all travel for nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries, causing chaos at the nation’s airports and leaving some students and scholars with valid visas stranded overseas.

The first ban was enjoined by federal courts, as was a second, somewhat altered 90-day ban, although the Supreme Court allowed a modified version of the second ban to go into effect over the summer of 2017. In September, upon the expiration of the second ban, Trump issued the proclamation outlining the third and essentially current version of the ban, which unlike the first two is not time limited and includes indefinite restrictions on entry.

The Supreme Court’s support for the Trump administration in this case did not come as a surprise. The court’s conservative-leaning majority signaled sympathy for the administration’s position in oral arguments in April, and the justices ruled in December by a 7-to-2 majority that the third ban could go into effect pending the resolution of the lawsuits.

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Re-evaluating perceptions about first-generation college students and their academic engagement

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 06/26/2018 - 07:00

Popular perceptions of first-generation college students as being unsure about college and academically unprepared to succeed may not be true.

New research from Campus Labs, a higher education data collection and software company, examined the noncognitive skills of first-generation students and compared them to their multigenerational peers, finding that first-generation students are more engaged and committed to their education.

“Based on the literature, one would have negative assumptions and expect first-generation students to be lower in academic engagement, because the literature says first-generation students are academically unprepared,” said Shannon LaCount, an assistant vice president of campus adoption at Campus Labs. “But they’re right there with multigenerational students or they’re scoring higher. It says to me that first-generation students are coming in with an attitude that they are academically prepared and they can handle the work.”

Campus Labs measured responses to roughly 40 questions from students at more than 60 colleges and universities that work with the company. The colleges' demographics, locations and sizes varied, but most are four-year American institutions.

About 750,000 students responded during the initial weeks of their first academic terms on campus. The company reported that 14 percent of respondents said neither of their parents nor a guardian held a four-year degree. Campus Labs then scored responses from this group of first-generation students on six noncognitive factors -- educational commitment, academic self-efficacy, academic engagement, campus engagement, social comfort and resiliency.

The first-generation students outscored their peers in educational commitment, self-efficacy, academic and campus engagement. But they lagged behind multigenerational students in resiliency -- or the ability for students to overcome challenging situations and stressful events -- and social comfort.

“It’s true that first-generation students may not know the structure of the language or follow the higher education culture because [they] haven’t been exposed,” LaCount said. “[They] may be naïve walking in, but it doesn’t mean [they’re] not capable.”

Tiffany Jones, the director of higher education policy at Education Trust and herself a former first-generation student, said she is not surprised that first-generation students have a lower sense of comfort on college campuses.

“First-generation students feel it is such a privilege to go to college,” she said. “It’s why they’re more engaged. They want to chart and clear a path for those coming behind them.”

A Growing Population

Campus Labs studied responses from students on five additional statements. For this survey, the company chose a sample of 53,000 students, of which 32,000 self-reported first- or multigenerational status, with 29 percent identifying as first generation. This sample of students may or may not include the same students who responded about the noncognitive factors, LaCount said.

Fully 91 percent of first-generation students disagreed with the statement "I sometimes wonder if attending college was the right decision," while only 84 percent of non-first-generation students disagreed. Both groups of students gave similar responses to the four other statements.

LaCount said the responses from first-generation students show that colleges need to be more careful about the language they use about the group, especially if it’s creating negative assumptions that don’t help these students complete.

“The negative language leads to a narrative that students are unsupported, and that’s not necessarily true,” she said. “It also assumes [first-generation] students are coming from poverty or have a lack of education, and that’s not always the case, either. There are a lot of successful people out there who didn’t get college degrees, and yet their [children] would be first generation and it’s not a deficit.”

There’s also a perception that first-generation students are navigating college alone. LaCount said they could be supported by their families, it’s just that they and their families often don’t have experience with the financial aid or college registration processes.

“First-generation students feel significant pressure,” said Wil Del Pilar, vice president of higher education policy and practice for Education Trust, who was also a first-generation student. “When I graduated I had 18 people there, because I was the first to do it. Everyone wanted to celebrate, but with that came an incredible amount of pressure. I went to college with my mom, my dad, four other siblings … and a bazillion cousins. It opened doors for other folks in my family.”

John Gardner, chief executive officer of the Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, a nonprofit organization that partners with colleges to help them improve outcomes, said much of the research on first-generation students tends to come from graduate research centers, where those students are not well represented.

“They’re columns that have to be solved and plugged into a system that wasn’t designed for them,” he said, adding that the demographics in colleges are changing, with more students identifying as first generation. Many first-generation students come from low-income backgrounds and aren’t white men, Gardner said.

According to the American Association of Community Colleges, the percentage of first-time community college students who identify as Hispanic increased from 13 percent in 2001 to 26 percent in 2016. The population of black first-time students during that same time period has remained flat, while the percentage of white first-time students declined from 61 percent to about 44 percent.

First-generation students enter college with confidence in themselves and eagerness to participate in student activities on campus, LaCount said, but their low responses in the resiliency factor show where colleges can step in and be more helpful.

On the resiliency questions, students were asked to respond to whether they believe they can navigate stressful situations in college. LaCount said first-generation students scored low in that area because they’re being asked to navigate an environment that often feels unfamiliar.

“The first thing is to recognize if a student is struggling in the class, it might not be because they are not valuing higher education or they’re not committed to being in the class,” she said. “We don’t immediately have to jump to the idea that a student can’t handle the content. It may be they don’t know the resources available to help, or they may have a different way of thinking and need more time. To immediately assume first-generation students will struggle academically is a bit unfair.”

Gardner said colleges have an opportunity to create an environment where first-generation students, especially those who are racial and ethnic minorities, see more leaders who come from similar backgrounds. And faculty members shouldn’t lower their expectations of these students, he said. Arizona Western College, for instance, launched a campaign last year called "I Am First Gen," for students to celebrate being the first in their families to attend college and to connect with faculty and staff members who also self-identified as being first-generation students.

“You take students into a college setting and you have to teach them how to meet those expectations,” Gardner said. “You don’t just give them a syllabus and say, ‘Here, do it,’ as if it’s magic.”

Showing first-generation students the resources that are available to them will require more flexibility from colleges.

“Think of two-day orientations,” Del Pilar said. “If I’m low income or a first-generation [student’s] parent, I may not be able to take time off from work to go … those are created for upper-middle-class parents who can take time off work to support students.”

Del Pilar also said he doesn’t buy the notion that multigenerational students are more resilient.

“They have the networks and the people they can draw on to get this information,” he said. “The social capital piece can’t be underplayed … they have more access to information and resources.”

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Vermont Law School to cut tenure to deal with budgetary concerns. Skeptics wonder how it will help.

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 06/26/2018 - 07:00

Barring bad behavior or documented underperformance, tenure means a permanent position. But Vermont Law School, an independent, freestanding institution known for environmental law, plans to shift some tenured professors to untenured posts as it deals with ongoing financial troubles.

“It is no secret that [Vermont], like many institutions of higher education (and particularly law schools), has been facing considerable financial pressures for most of this decade,” President Thomas McHenry wrote in a recent all-campus email about those challenges and related changes.

With the “unanimous support and guidance of our Board of Trustees,” he said, “we are currently undergoing a process of programmatic restructuring: one that focuses our faculty and staff resources on our core educational goals and most essential and useful programs.”

While the environmental program will remain a “core, integral” part of the institution, McHenry said, the restructuring process “has also raised some difficult decisions and conversations,” particularly with regard to faculty and staff members.

The law school says it doesn’t yet know exactly how many of its 20 tenured professors will lose tenure. But the VT Digger reported that two unnamed senior faculty members say more than a dozen professors’ tenure protections will be lost. Those who stay on will work on contracts, similar to how many full-time, non-tenure-track professors are currently employed.

Vermont Law School is negotiating employment terms with faculty members this week, before the fiscal year ends on Friday. Final numbers will be available next week, according to information from the institution.

Colleen Connor, chair of the school’s Board of Trustees and counsel at GE Power, said in a separate statement, "Recognizing that the future of law schools in the U.S. is changing, we have put our energies into working with the administration to design a model for the future of Vermont Law School that adapts to the changing market while continuing to deliver on our mission."

The school believes “the best path forward is through restructuring our instructional model,” she said. “As difficult as this process is, we feel confident in the end, Vermont Law School will be a stronger, more vibrant institution that is sustainable in the long term and that continues to meet our mission of an exceptional legal education, producing leaders and being a pre-eminent environmental law school.”

While the school has struggled with debt and fewer students enrolling within the past decade, enrollment is on the rise again, to about 180 expected first-year students this fall. The law school has a waiting list for the first time in years.

Professors who already have reached agreements with the institution were asked to sign nondisclosure papers preventing them from speaking out, the VT Digger reported.

McHenry was not immediately available for comment, so it’s unclear exactly how the institution expects to save money by stripping away professors’ tenure. In general, critics of tenure say that getting rid of it offers colleges and universities more instructional and financial flexibility, since it is much easier to terminate professors without tenure than those who have it.

Still, the American Association of University Professors says that all professors who have worked full-time for an institution for seven years deserve the same due-process protections that their tenured counterparts enjoy.

Referring to Connor’s statement, Greg Scholtz, director of academic freedom and tenure at AAUP, said Monday that by “this process,” Connor appears to mean “eviscerating tenure at the institution.” In that case, he said, continuing to quote her, it’s the association’s view that “tenure and its protection of academic freedom are essential for a higher education institution to be ‘stronger,’ ‘more vibrant’ and capable of ‘pre-eminence’ and producing ‘exceptional education.’”

Scholtz also said he wondered how the new structure would square with American Bar Association accreditation standards on academic freedom and tenure.

Current ABA standards say a law school "shall afford to full-time clinical faculty members a form of security of position reasonably similar to tenure, and non-compensatory perquisites reasonably similar to those provided other full-time faculty members." The standards also say that law schools shall have an "established and announced policy with respect to academic freedom and tenure."

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