Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

May 11, 2018

The Department of Education plans to issue a draft regulation in September governing colleges' handling of campus sexual misconduct, according to an update of the Trump administration's federal regulatory agenda this week.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said when she rescinded Obama administration guidance on campus sexual assault that her department would issue a new binding regulation within the next year. The department indicated later that a new rule could be released as soon as this spring.

"I don't read too much into it other than the fact that this is really hard and they're trying to get it right," said Terry Hartle, senior vice president for government relations and public affairs at the American Council on Education.

Hartle said that in a best-case scenario for the department, it would take between three and four months to review comments on a proposed rule and submit a final regulation. That could mean assuming a September release date of a proposed rule, a final regulation may not be issued until next spring.

The Department of Education, meanwhile, is still waiting for Senate confirmation of Kenneth L. Marcus, the White House nominee for assistant secretary for civil rights. The Office for Civil Rights, which Marcus would lead if confirmed, would oversee colleges' compliance with a new regulation.

May 11, 2018

It's a Friday at or near the end of the semester. Take an extra couple minutes for yourself today and play Inside Higher Ed's Cartoon Caption Contest.

Suggest a caption for our new cartoon or read those your fellow readers have offered up. Vote for your favorite of the three captions chosen by our expert panel from among the submissions for last month's cartoon.

And please congratulate Carolyn Cardwell, instructional technology administrator at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and winner of our Cartoon Caption Contest for January. Her caption for the cartoon at left -- "This way when the latest big donor gets hauled off to jail we won't have to rename the building." -- was voted our readers' favorite. She will receive an Amazon gift card and a signed copy of the cartoon.

Carolyn was a first-time player, which should be encouragement for all of you to play yourselves.

May 11, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, Bessie Lawton, associate professor of communication studies at West Chester University, explores why the results of DNA tests don’t always match the story we believe about ourselves. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

May 10, 2018

The interim head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced a reorganization Wednesday that will eliminate the separate arm that focused on the interests of students and other young Americans. The Office of Students and Young Consumers had actively and aggressively policed the student loan industry and monitored credit card companies and other financial institutions that serve -- or target -- college students and other young people.

The decision by Mick Mulvaney, a longtime critic of the consumer bureau whom President Trump appointed to lead it in December, fit a pattern in which Mulvaney -- at the urging of corporate groups and lobbyists -- has sought to curtail the agency's reach.

Consumer groups and congressional Democrats blasted the move.

Colleen Campbell, associate director for Postsecondary Education at the Center for American Progress, said, "Acting Director Mick Mulvaney’s decision to close the Office of Students and Young Consumers is a direct attack on every American who enrolls in higher education. Since 2012, this office has worked tirelessly to bring to light systemic issues with our student loan system, recovering billions of dollars on behalf of student loan borrowers and driving bipartisan reform efforts to further protect them. Closing this office effectively shuts out the only independent watchdog for our nation’s federal student loan borrowers and will only hurt students and their families."

May 10, 2018

A professor of journalism at Temple University is accused of anonymously posting anti-Muslim and conspiracy theory-inspired comments on news websites, according to Philly.com. The professor, Francesca Viola, was named as the commenter behind the “truthseeker” account on the cross-website commenting platform Disqus last week, in a Twitter post by Joshua Benton, director of Harvard University’s Nieman Journalism Lab. Viola then reportedly accused Benton of “doxxing” her, saying in a statement that she disputes “the incorrect attributions and specious allegations.” She added, “I consider this a personal defamatory attack as well as an attempt to silence academic freedom and people everywhere. Most importantly, as an investigation is now underway, I would ask the community not to assume I am the author of some or all of those comments.”

Benton rejected the allegations of “doxxing,” or releasing private or identifying information about Viola, saying in his own statement that Viola “voluntarily logged into a commenting service and left a comment on our site using her Temple email address.” He added, “All I did was click one link to see all the other comments she had posted using her Temple email address.” One of the most controversial comments Viola is accused of making is “Scum. Deport them. They hate us. Get rid of them.” It appeared on Gateway Pundit, following a 2017 story claiming that Muslims praying in front of Trump Tower were “working on their Islamic takeover.” 

David Boardman, dean of Temple’s Klein College of Media and Communication, said that Viola “has admitted to writing some but not all of these posts and specifically denies writing the post that is derogatory of Muslim protesters, a comment we find particularly abhorrent,” Philly.com reported. “We are troubled by the content of some of the other cited posts but acknowledge that those in the Temple community are entitled to exercise free speech within constitutional parameters.”


May 10, 2018

In 1990, Princeton University abandoned transfer admissions. The university's board agreed in 2016 to come up with a plan to again admit transfer students and on Wednesday announced that it had admitted 13 transfer applicants. They are among the 1,429 who applied. Of those admitted, eight identify as people of color, including biracial and multiracial students. Eight have served in or are still serving in the military. Eight studied at community colleges. None of those admitted are recruited athletes.

May 10, 2018

A journalist at Foreign Policy wrote that a reference to her reporting experience in Taiwan was deleted from her biography when she gave a talk at Savannah State University’s Confucius Institute, one of more than 500 such centers worldwide funded by the Chinese government to teach language and culture. The journalist, Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, wrote that she later learned the reference to Taiwan in her biography was deleted at the request of the institute’s co-director, Luo Qijuan, who argued that it challenged Chinese sovereignty and threatened to boycott the event if it was not removed. Neither Luo nor the university responded to Foreign Policy’s request for comment.

May 10, 2018

The College of St. Joseph, in Vermont, which last week said it might be forced to close, plans to remain open. The college announced that it will redouble its efforts to reach its enrollment goal of 235 full-time undergraduates for the next academic year. To create extra incentives for admitted students to enroll, the college is offering to match deposits of $250 or $500. The college also plans other attempts to bring in cash, including renting out a campus mansion as a wedding and event site, establishing a day-care center, and starting an online bookstore with college-branded apparel.

May 10, 2018

The traditional algebra-to-calculus mathematics pathway required by most colleges "doesn't reflect changes in the types of quantitative skills that students need in their lives and careers," according to a new report from WestEd, a nonprofit research organization. In addition, with most incoming community college students placing into remedial math courses that emphasize algebra, the report said this traditional pathway often is a barrier to graduation.

With a focus on California's community colleges, the WestEd report looks at the highest-level math courses taken by 900,000 students between 2009 and 2016. It found 11 categories of math that are alternatives to traditional algebra-based sequences, and that transferable alternatives to algebra-based courses accounted for 25 percent of the highest level of math courses completed. Statistics was the most developed of the alternatives.

However, almost half of students "only got as far as remedial math," the report found.

"Those students who stopped at remedial math accounted for two-thirds of students who dropped out of college, more than half of students who earned a certificate, and 20 percent of students who transferred without an award," the researchers wrote.

Pamela Burdman, the report's primary author and a senior project director of Just Equations, a project of the Opportunity Institute, published a blog item on the report and its findings.

May 10, 2018

Students at Wells College started a sit-in on Tuesday morning and some remained in the administration building on Wednesday evening. Those protesting told The Auburn Citizen that they were frustrated by a lack of progress for minority students. In particular, they are upset that a visiting assistant professor has not been hired for a permanent position.

Jonathan Gibralter, the president of Wells, issued a statement in which he said he could not comment on the personnel decision that has upset many students, but he noted that faculty hiring is a process involving shared governance, and not a process in which the president simply makes a choice. "While we have diversity among our faculty and staff, we are actively taking measures to increase proportionately historically underrepresented groups in the hiring process. We have already begun exploring opportunities for more student representation in the faculty search process," he said.




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