administrators

The aftermath of the 2016 national election on student affairs (essay)

The past 18 months leading to the election of Donald Trump last night have been incredibly challenging for us as a nation and certainly for all of us who work in higher education.

The angry and hostile dialogue has left many in our communities feeling unsafe, devalued and marginalized. For many of our students and staff members, the results of the election will magnify those feelings of outrage, despair, hopelessness and genuine fear for their future. It is important to note that after the rhetoric expressed during the election, our Muslim, Jewish, African-American, Latinx, undocumented and LGBTQ students and staff, as well as students and staff members who are sexual assault survivors, will likely have strong emotional reactions to this election outcome.

How do we move forward? First, we need to acknowledge what just happened. About 47 to 48 percent of voters, more than 59 million Americans, sent a clear message that they wanted something different and wanted someone who spoke to their concerns. We live in a fractured and divided country with two very different visions about our future path.

This division and the politics of hate that have surrounded this election make the work we do in student affairs even more important today than it was before the election.

This will not be easy, and it never is. Those of us who work in student affairs will need to take some time to absorb the results of this election, tend to the self-care necessary, support those who are hurting or angry and afraid, and then quickly get back to the work we do: providing support to our students who themselves will be struggling with a range of emotions following the election.

This election does not stop the work we must do to address racial injustice on our campuses and in our communities. It makes it more important.

This election does not stop the crucial work we are doing to increase degree progress and completion for first-generation students, low-income students and students of color. It makes it more important.

This election does not stop the need to support the hundreds of thousands of undocumented students who are on our campuses. It makes it more important.

This election does not stop the work we are doing to engage students in difficult conversations around race, gender identity, religion and sexual orientation. It makes it more important.

This election, and its results, creates an urgency for a new generation of leaders -- leaders who are on our campuses. The work we do to encourage active discourse, protest and activism is core to our democracy and to our need to engage a new generation committed to ideals of inclusion and social justice. This is more important than ever.

The next few months will be critical for our country and our colleges and universities. It is unknown how President-elect Trump will view the higher education sector. NASPA will continue to monitor, teach and provide opportunities for dialogue about these issues within the next few months.

I remain optimistic about the work we are doing in higher education and the role each student affairs professional plays in the lives of our students. Our work has never been more important.

Kevin Kruger is president of NASPA, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

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Providence College professor says diversity efforts are stifling the college's religious mission

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Providence College professor says diversity efforts are stifling the college's religious mission, but students, professors and the campus president say he's wrong and his criticisms hurt.

Backlash Against Athlete Protests at Arkansas

A state senator has placed a hold on the University of Arkansas's budget request after six members of the women's basketball team knelt during the national anthem last week to protest police shootings of African-Americans. The Republican senator, Alan Clark, said he will also introduce an amendment that would cut university funding by an amount equal to the women's basketball budget, even though the university's athletics department is self-sufficient and does not use state funds. The university's budget would normally be considered by the state Legislature in February.

Clark, a member of the state's Joint Budget Committee, said the hold was a way to get "answers" from Jimmy Dykes, the team's head coach, and Jeff Long, the university's athletic director. Dykes and Long last week both said they supported the players' right to free speech but did not publicly support or condone the protest itself. Clark has suggested that university officials helped coordinate the protests, though there is no evidence to support that conclusion.

“I’m not using coercion to try to keep them from kneeling,” Clark said. “I am using the budget process to get the attention of Jeff Long and the chancellor and Dykes, to get their attention and whoever else is involved, that if they had anything to do with this, and I believe they did.”

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Boulder Revamps Ph.D. Study in Languages, Literature

The University of Colorado at Boulder is revamping doctoral studies in  languages and literature, it announced Tuesday. The change -- in an effort to recruit top talent -- entails restructuring support for six Ph.D. programs into a new Consortium of Doctoral Studies in Literature and Cultures. Programs involved are those in French/Italian, Spanish/Portuguese, German, classics, English and Japanese/Chinese. Accepted consortium students will be guaranteed five years of funding, with the first and fifth years including cost-of-living stipends and zero teaching obligations. Middle years carry a reduced teaching load and a summer stipend.

“With a fifth year dedicated to writing their dissertations, less teaching in the intervening years and support during the summers, students will be able to complete their degrees and enter the job market much earlier than they are able to do now,” Helmut Muller-Sievers, director of Boulder’s Center for Humanities and the Arts, said in a statement. Students also will be encouraged to choose mentors from outside their departments, emphasizing a more cross-disciplinary approach, according to information from the university.

Proponents of the consortium also stressed its inclusion of English, classics and Asian literatures. “Often, universities try to streamline their literature offerings into a generic program in modern European languages, or such,” said Muller-Sievers. “Having Chinese and Japanese in the mix gives students an understanding of non-European traditions and cultures. Also, the inclusion of classics -- of ancient Greek, Latin and classical archaeology -- deepens our students’ understanding of our literary heritage, as well as of the materiality of texts and artifacts. The presence of English gives students access to faculty who are working on today’s most hotly debated topics.”

The Modern Language Association suggested in a 2014 report that humanities graduate programs do what they can to cut time to degree to five years. Stanford University already has moved forward with the idea.

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San Jacinto Drops 4 Teams

San Jacinto College, a community college in Texas, announced Monday that it is dropping four intercollegiate athletic teams: men’s and women’s basketball, women’s volleyball, and men’s soccer. The college will keep its baseball and softball teams.

College officials cited the expenses associated with the eliminated teams, which involve about 150 students. Annual spending is about $2.6 million, and athletics facilities currently require about $25 million in renovations.

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Ex-Dean at UVA Awarded $3M in Defamation Case

A federal jury on Monday said that Rolling Stone and one of its writers must pay a former University of Virginia associate dean $3 million for defamation, The New York Times reported. The ruling came in a suit was brought by Nicole Eramo, an administrator who was in charge of handling sexual violence cases in the period covered by a now discredited article about an alleged gang rape at Virginia. On Friday, the jury found that Eramo had been defamed, but a subsequent hearing and deliberations led to Monday's award.

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Dubious Claim in WSJ Editorial About Laureate

In an opinion piece alleging that Laureate Education may have been spared from the Obama administration's crackdown on for-profit higher education because of its ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton, The Wall Street Journal's editorial board noted that information about Laureate's Walden University is missing in the relatively new federal College Scorecard.

"Laureate is also a rare major for-profit college in the U.S. that has been spared from President Obama’s war on the industry," the article said. "Laureate may have an impeccable compliance record and provide a world-class education. But it’s hard to know since the Obama administration’s College Scorecard doesn’t include a graduation rate for Laureate’s largest U.S. college, the online Walden University, which makes up the majority of its U.S. enrollment."

Walden's graduation rate is not included in the U.S. Department of Education's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) because of a mundane reason: the federal database's graduation rate tracks only first-time, full-time undergraduates, and Walden lacks enough students who fit that profile to generate a meaningful rate. The Journal editorial itself mentions Walden's first-time, full-time issue, citing a department spokesperson.

The university is heavily tilted toward graduate students, who comprise more than 80 percent of Walden's overall enrollment. And roughly 85 percent of the university's undergraduates are at least 25 years old, meaning many likely are not first-time college students. That's partially because Walden's undergraduate academic programs until recently were focused on degree completion for returning college students.

The Education Department's College Navigator, the companion to the College Scorecard, explains Walden's lack of a federal graduation rate. "Data reported in the IPEDS Graduation Rate survey is based on a cohort of first-time, full-time undergraduates," a footnote in the entry says. "Undergraduate students enrolled at Walden University do not typically fall into this group."

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Embattled AFI Conservatory Dean Will Step Down

Jan Schuette will depart as dean of the American Film Institute Conservatory at the end of the academic year, the institution announced Monday. Schuette has led the institution since 2014 but butted heads with faculty members, who voted 35 to eight earlier this year to express no confidence in him and request that he resign. Faculty concerns included those over shared governance, due process, academic freedom and instruction. Schuette said he plans to continue working in academia, as well as resume his professional career as a filmmaker and producer.

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A compilation of key articles on higher education and the 2016 election

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Key articles about the candidates’ positions and how the campaign has played out on campus -- plus a selection of commentary.

Vassar Faculty Approves Plan to Cut Teaching Load

The Vassar College faculty has approved a plan to shrink the teaching load to four classes per year, from five, while adding a new student supervisory requirement. The plan, referred to as 2-2-1, also includes cutting the number of units students need to graduate. The vote was 135 in favor and 40 opposed, with one abstention. Though it passed by a relatively wide margin, with faculty proponents emphasizing a renewed commitment to one-on-one interaction with students, the plan has been controversial and remains so, to some. “My fear that Vassar's bad example could start a trend” among selective colleges, Donald Foster, Jean Webster Professor of Dramatic Literature, said via email.

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