Win for Ashford in Fight Over GI Bill Eligibility

Iowa's Department of Education last week dropped its opposition to a request by Ashford University for more time to resolve a challenge to the for-profit university's eligibility to receive students' Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, according to an email the company distributed to employees on Thursday. The Iowa agency will not decide whether to withdrawal Ashford's GI Bill eligibility until after a judge rules on a lawsuit the university filed to prevent that action, said Staci Hupp, a spokeswoman for the department.

The university enrolls roughly 6,250 military and veteran students. In May the Iowa agency ruled that Ashford would need to register in California, where the for-profit is now based, to continue its GI Bill eligibility. Ashford sued to block the move, citing its continuing presence in Iowa. The company also released emails from an Iowa official, which it secured as part of a lawsuit, in which the official said the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and two California agencies had improperly meddled in Iowa's decision to terminate Ashford's eligibility.

Ashford's CEO, Andrew S. Clark, said in the Thursday email that the Iowa agency's decision means the university will be able to continue accepting GI Bill benefits for the "full length of time" needed to resolve the legal dispute. "We anticipate that this process, and related court proceedings, could take approximately 10 months to complete," he said.

Hupp said the goal of the agency's decision last week was to "make sure that veterans receive their tuition benefits without interuption."

Student writes online essay accusing U of Richmond of mishandling her sexual assault report

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U of Richmond student goes public with her grievances about the way the university handled a sexual assault she reported -- and she is joined by many in criticizing the university's response to her story.

'Rushing' the Academic Job Market

Is applying for tenure-track jobs like rushing a series of exclusive sororities? That’s the idea behind a new web video performed and produced by Jillian Weise, an associate professor of creative writing at Clemson University who is currently an editor in residence at The Iowa Review. Throughout the video, Weise is in character as Tipsy Tullivan, a truth-talking, blond-wigged, fake-eyelashed Southern woman reminiscent of (though more verbal than) some of those featured in high-budget sorority recruitment videos.

“Rushing for a sorority is a whole lot like rushing the academic job market,” Tullivan coos. “It costs a lot of money …. So consider whether you are wealthy enough to rush the job market before you do it.”

Tullivan also warns applicants to keep some things “zipped up,” namely one’s disability status. “Just go get yourself into a closet underneath a box of shoes,” she says, since people are “confused” by disability.

The sorority-style video is just one in a series of YouTube videos Weise has created -- many of which center on the notion that disability is still somehow taboo in academe and society at large. Weise said via email that Tullivan is performance art, conceived after an academic conference rejected panels on disability. “The exclusion of disabled academics was absurd,” Weise said. “It required an absurd response. So I invented Tipsy. I was thinking of Emily Dickinson's line ‘Tell all the truth, but tell it slant.’”

“Ableism is bigger than one conference,” Weise added. “So Tipsy continues.”

Tipsy's message in the recruitment video, for example, is, “Come join us! You only need to have the right amount of money and the right identity for the market,” Weise said. “Obviously, something is wrong with that message.”

Tipsy advises that unlike disability status, scholars don’t need to hide their “queer” status. “I wrote the line to question why higher ed seems more at ease with queer theory than, say, critical disability theory,” Weise said, recalling the case of William J. Peace. The disability scholar’s controversial piece in a Northwestern University bioethics journal on his sexual awakening after paralysis was censored in 2014. Two faculty members resigned as a result.

“Why are we uncomfortable with disability in higher ed?” asked Weise, a poet who has written about sexuality vis-à-vis her own disability, including in The Amputee’s Guide to Sex. “Does the disabled academic have free speech?”

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Feds Issue Guidance on Campus Policing

The U.S. Department of Education and the Justice Department on Thursday released guidance on campus policing that draws from the final report of the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The task force's broad recommendations are designed to "help campus and local law enforcement both keep students safe and safeguard students' civil rights," John King Jr., the Secretary of Education, said in a written statement. The report covers changes to the culture of policing, embracing community policing concepts, ensuring fair and impartial policing, focusing on officer wellness and safety, implementing new technologies, and building community capital.

"We look to the campus policing community both as agents for public safety and advocates for student success," King said. "As you prepare to begin the new academic year, it is important that you focus on the effectiveness of safety enforcement and policing on your campus, as well as analyze and take action on opportunities for improvement."

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Volleyball Players Kneel During National Anthem

Three West Virginia University Institute of Technology volleyball players took a knee during the playing of the national anthem before a game on Wednesday. The players, all of whom are black women, said they were kneeling in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, the National Football League quarterback who set off a national debate for refusing to stand during the national anthem in protest of racial oppression.

"He's exercising his right to choose to sit or stand, so you have to recognize that he's got that right," Keyonna Morrow, one of the players and vice president of WVU Tech's Black Student Union, told a local news station.

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President Who Took Blue Collar Sabbatical Dies

John Coleman, president of Haverford College from 1967 to 1977, died Sept. 6 at the age of 95. At Haverford, as detailed in this obituary from the college, he was widely praised for his leadership, including ending a rule that banned students with beards or long hair from playing on intercollegiate teams, pushing for coeducation (a campaign that led to his resignation when board members and others disagreed, with the shift not happening until later), promoting the arts and expanding the campus. He also dealt with growing student protests over the Vietnam War -- and did so without creating the divisions that so many of his colleagues at other campuses faced. He is probably best known, however, for a sabbatical he took in which he spent time working in blue collar jobs, such as hauling trash and digging sewer lines. He wrote about his experience in the widely regarded book Blue Collar Journal: A College President's Sabbatical.

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College: Cheaper Fast Food Is 'Benefit' of Being Adjunct

Looking for reasons to teach? What about a discount at Arby’s, Subway or Chick-fil-A? (That last one’s dine-in only.) Adjunct instructors at Motlow State Community College recently received a handout detailing the “benefits” of teaching there part-time. Among them are “recognition,” in the form of eligibility for a Faculty Excellence Award; free Microsoft Office 365 software; and discounts to a number of fast-food restaurants in the Tullahoma, Tenn., area. Goodwill also was on the discount list.

“Thank you so much to all of our adjunct faculty for all you do to support Motlow State! We are so appreciative of your time and effort,” Melody Edmonds, interim vice president for academic affairs, wrote in an email containing the flier attachment. “I hope you find this helpful. It is just some other ways we try and show our gratitude for the outstanding service you provide to our students every day.”

Though well intentioned, the flier struck a nerve with some adjuncts, who criticized it as patronizing and tone-deaf -- including one who wanted to remain anonymous, citing job security concerns. “Getting 10 percent off my (dine-in only!) meal at Chick-fil-A is a perk,” the adjunct said via email. “Health insurance is a benefit. The language in the email itself is also a problem. I thought I was paid to educate students, not serve them.”

Edmonds that the said the benefits flier “was sent out simply to make our adjuncts aware of what is available to them.” The same “benefits are also available to all of our full-time faculty, staff and students,” she said.

Study: College Football Upsets Affect Judges' Sentencing

Judges whose college football teams lose in an upset fashion frequently let their emotions over the loss affect sentencing decisions, according to a new working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

To reach their conclusion, Naci Mocan and Ozkan Eren, both economics professors at Louisiana State University, examined every defendant case file from 1996 to 2012 for juveniles in the state of Louisiana. Each file contained information about the defendant, his or her offense, and sentence length. Most of the files also listed where the judges in the cases went to college and law school. The researchers then compared this information to LSU football game records.

Mocan and Eren found that in the week following LSU's football team losing a game it was expected to win, judges with bachelor's degrees from LSU doled out harsher sentences, especially to black juveniles. In some cases, a surprise LSU loss resulted in a sentence that was as much as 74 days longer than cases following an LSU win or cases decided by judges who graduated from other institutions. In total, the researchers said, juveniles spent an extra 1,332 days in custody or on probation because a judge may have been in "emotional shock" over an upset.

"These results provide evidence for the impact of emotions in one domain on a behavior in a completely unrelated domain among a uniformly highly educated group of individuals (judges), with decisions involving high stakes (sentence lengths)," Mocan and Eren wrote. "They also point to the existence of a subtle and previously unnoticed capricious application of sentencing."

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New presidents or provosts: Cardiff Fresno Maine Newcastle SCSU Texas Chiro Texas Tech Thomas Wingate

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  • Cara Carmichael Aitchison, vice chancellor of the University of St. Mark & St. John, in Britain, has been selected as vice chancellor of Cardiff Metropolitan University, also in Britain.

New Federal Report on Remedial Education

The U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics released a new data analysis this week on U.S. college students who took remedial courses and on who completed them.

The report followed first-time students for the six years from 2003-9. Among community college students, 68 percent took remedial courses, and almost half took two or more. The data showed that 40 percent of incoming students at public, four-year institutions took remedial courses, with 21 percent taking at least two.

About half (49 percent) of community college students completed all their remedial course work, according to the report, compared to 59 percent of students at public, four-year institutions. And 16 percent of remedial course takers at community colleges failed to complete any of their remedial courses, as did 15 percent of students at public, four-year colleges.


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