Submitted by Jake New on November 29, 2016 - 3:00am
Liberty University has hired Ian McCaw -- the former Baylor University athletics director who resigned amid widespread claims that his athletic department mishandled reports of sexual assaults committed by football players -- to serve as its new athletics director, the university announced Monday. The university said it hired McCaw with the goal of one day transforming its football team into a top-tier Football Bowl Subdivision program.
“Ian’s success really speaks for itself,” Jerry Falwell Jr., Liberty's president, said in a statement. “You look at what Baylor was able to do during his tenure -- it fits perfectly with where we see our sports programs going. This is an exciting time for us.”
McCaw resigned as athletics director at Baylor in May. His resignation came days after Baylor's Board of Regents fired the university's head football coach and forced out its president following allegations that the world’s largest Baptist university mishandled -- and sought to suppress public discourse about -- reports of sexual assaults committed by its football players and other students. Baylor officials said earlier this month that, in total, 17 women reported 19 sexual or physical assaults involving football players since 2011, and that four of the reports involved gang rapes. Baylor said McCaw was told about at least one of those gang rapes, which involved five football players, but he did not report the allegations to the university's judicial affairs office or anyone else outside the athletic department, as required by federal law.
Last week, Baylor reached an undisclosed settlement with two women who reported being gang raped by football players in 2012.
"Liberty to me represents a pinnacle of professional and personal opportunity where we’re going to be able to develop champions for Christ, develop a world-class student-athlete experience and achieve victory with integrity," McCaw, echoing comments made by Baylor officials before the sexual assault scandal there came to light, said in a statement."We certainly want Christian student athletes to grow up dreaming of competing for Liberty University.”
When asked why Liberty would hire McCaw after what took place under his watch at Baylor, the university said in an email to Inside Higher Ed that McCaw "is a godly man of excellent character." Regarding Title IX and campus sexual assault, the university added, "We can’t think of an athletic director in the country who is more sensitized to the importance of complying with the intricacies of Title IX than" McCaw.
"There will be time, no doubt, for Ian and his attorneys to address questions about what happened at Baylor, but we don’t intend to litigate those facts with the press," the university said. "If he made any mistakes at Baylor, they appear to be technical and unintentional, out of line with an otherwise distinguished record. We are completely satisfied that Ian McCaw is a good man and a great athletic director."
I do not live in a bubble, and one of the ways I work things out is to write. So I have put this piece together as a means of expiating my own grief over the results of the recent presidential election.
At first, I wanted to keep my mourning private, especially as my current role as a college president requires me to tread carefully and not give an institutional patina to my personal thoughts. I have also not wanted to invite the various trolls who consider my views like catnip. But I have come to the view that silence will probably cause greater harm to our country's immigrant students, particularly those "DREAMers" -- the hundreds of thousands of students in the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, who were brought to this country as children and have been allowed to attend college. The 1982 Supreme Court case Plyler v. Doe allowed them to stay in school, while DACA gave them employment authorization, lawful presence and Social Security numbers. It is by no means legalization, but it has been a transformative program while Congress has fiddled over immigration reform.
Indeed, I have dedicated my entire life to many ideals, but the ones that matter the most were repudiated on election night. Since then, I have arranged over a dozen conference calls with DREAMers, immigration lawyers, college presidents and reporters. Many know I helped write the Texas statutes that give many of the DREAMers resident Texas tuition and financial aid. Inasmuch as I have taught higher education law and also immigration law for 35 years, these are my fields. I have won many more contests in this terrain than I have lost, but this one hurts, and I feel as if we all let down my students, a dereliction of duty that I feel deeply. I fear for the DACA students, many of them in my own institution, who placed their lives and hopes in higher education and the polity. I urged them to trust we would do the right thing if they took responsibility for their own lives by studying and coming forward. They have done so, but now we have not held up our part of the bargain.
In the wake of the election, a number of colleges and universities are declaring themselves "sanctuary campuses," saying they will limit their cooperation with federal immigration authorities. However, the various proposals for carving out sanctuary campuses have occasioned even more vexation for me, and this viral-fed option is what finally moved me to write this article.
These well-intentioned efforts to establish a sanctuary use the term in its root ecclesiastic meanings, such as providing safe harbor. But from whom?
"Sanctuary" is also a contronym -- an example of a single word that has opposite meanings. ("Sanction" is another.) To many folks, the term depicts a defiance of law and serves as a trope for unauthorized immigration and liberal pieties. That it has become tinged with racist and anti-Mexican sentiment renders the term even more poisonous. One person's safe harbor is another person's harboring, in the dueling metaphors, if not the actual immigration law.
My view on these proposals is that they provide a chimerical outlet for people who are frustrated and have no other pathways to ameliorate the situation. But the term "sanctuary" is a term that is too fraught with restrictionist meanings or misunderstandings about the difference between "defying the law" or choosing not to implement discretionary practices, for policy, efficacy or other reasons. Worse, it has no legal meaning and the admonitions are vague and impossible to implement, which will only frustrate people more.
I have urged all those people who have called me to be very cautious in suggesting that a legal cocoon is possible or even needed for students -- who, after all, are not lawbreakers. Of course, institutions should provide support and services, as they would for all their students, especially vulnerable ones. But exacting pledges that cannot be kept will do no one any good.
And there are longstanding rules of engagement, or, in this context, nonengagement in higher education, such as the current Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy on such enforcement. As it notes, schools and colleges are exceedingly low priorities, and forms of this policy have been in place for many years. Virtually no campus has ever been raided for students in unauthorized status or undocumented campus workers, and they are unlikely to be.
But just as I cannot tell you how to react to any rollbacks of the Affordable Care Act, I cannot tell people what could happen and what the alternatives are. I know it will not be good, if for no other reason than it has already exposed vulnerable populations -- who are not "criminal," and who actually may be lawfully present (such as DACA holders) or in legal status (such as F-1 students from Muslim countries).
And I cannot promise these students that positive results will come of all this. I have urged them to be careful in expressing themselves in ways that might give rise to thermodynamic reactions, as have begun to surface. Getting arrested and convicted of any transgressions would give real rise to possibilities of deportation. And they should be careful about using social media in a way that might expose their parents to possible harm. I will not urge them to march into the valley of death or to put themselves at risk, although I will agree that the peaceful marchas galvanized public attention in 2006. American citizens who urge this option for DREAMers should examine their consciences and not encourage these students to put themselves in harm's way. At the very least, we should do no harm.
Feel-good actions and solidarity are fine and have an important place in the civil-rights narrative. But I do not hold out hope that the sanctuary proposals will make any genuine change or provide actual sanctuary -- whatever that empty vessel means to anyone on either side of the issue. And so I prefer more meaningful actions, such as working with student groups and their supporters: advocacy groups, bar associations, social service agencies, philanthropies and the usual support infrastructures for colleges and communities. The University of Houston Law Center, where I have spent most of my professional life, has stepped up, and my colleagues and law students are providing technical assistance and advice, as have many of my immigration law professor colleagues.
I ride with my students in the university's elevators every day, and it always is a life-affirming experience, as so many are first-generation students, immigrants and students of color. When they recognize me, they relate their experiences and their triumphs and concerns. In the last two weeks, they have actually cheered me up -- not for the first time. I have dedicated my entire life to them, and they have reciprocated. One of them sensed my own dread and said to me, "Llegamos tan cerca (We came very close)."
What can we do? We still have more than 20 states in this country that provide resident tuition for the undocumented. But the students' trajectory would clearly be altered if DACA were abolished or allowed to expire. It would be a foolish and tragic policy to demonize and deport these DREAMers, even as their parents have been criminalized in the narrative. We need these students, and they surely need us now. Can't we all agree that comprehensive immigration reform is overdue 30 years since the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986? If we want to do something constructive, such advocacy has never been more necessary.
That will be a tremendous fight, under the circumstances. But these students in whom we have invested should be at the front of that line, when Congress recognizes its responsibilities. That is where we should all focus our efforts.
Many community groups work to assist immigrants; two of them are directed by formers students of mine, and two others employ former students. All are 501(c)3 organizations, and donations to them are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.
John F. Ebersole (at right), until recently president of Excelsior College, died last week, at the age of 72. He had been president since 2006 and used the position to promote the education of nontraditional (typically older) students through online and competency-based education. He also played an active role in encouraging higher education policies that reflected the needs of those students.
He took a leave from the college this year as he was fighting myelodysplastic syndrome. A statement from the college may be found here.
Ebersole wrote several essays for Inside Higher Ed, including this piece about the need for evidence of learning in massive open online courses, and this one calling for a distinction between competency-based education and the idea of mastery.
Adjunct faculty members at Hillsborough Community College in Florida voted 339 to 189 to form a union affiliated with Service Employees International Union, they announced last week. SEIU also announced that part- and full-time non-tenure-track faculty members at Minnesota’s Augsburg College voted to form an affiliated union, but the college says the final election outcome is unknown, with a key number of ballots still disputed. A spokesperson for Hillsborough said, “Moving forward, we are committed to working with the SEIU to create the best possible teaching and learning environment for all [college] faculty and students.”
Karen Kaivola, Augsburg's provost, said in a statement to colleagues, “We will continue [to] operate openly, honestly and in good faith in this final phase of the election process and in its aftermath, whatever the final outcome of this election turns out to be. If the final vote affirms that unionization is the majority’s choice, some of the direct engagement we’ve enjoyed will change, but I am confident that, no matter the result or the scenario, our commitment to teaching and learning and to our students’ success will remain a shared priority.” The outcome of the ballot challenge won't change the election result, according to SEIU.
Baylor University has reached an undisclosed settlement with two women who reported being gang raped by football players in 2012, ESPN reported. Baylor confirmed that the football players are no long enrolled but didn't provide additional details. A statement from David E. Garland, interim president of Baylor, said, "It breaks my heart that even one student would be sexually assaulted while a part of this university. I offer my sincere apologies, both personally and on behalf of the university, that we did not do more to prevent, respond to or support the care of these young women."
ESPN reported that, in total, 17 women have reported 19 sexual or physical assaults involving football players since 2011, and that four of those reports involve gang rapes.
In another controversy involving Baylor's football program, its associate athletic director, Heath Nielsen, has been arrested and charged with assaulting a reporter at the end of a football game, ESPN reported. The reporter said Nielsen grabbed him by the throat and pushed him away from a football player he was photographing. A statement from Baylor said, "Baylor Athletics was made aware of the postgame incident involving Heath Nielsen shortly after the game and took immediate action to address it with him through the university's human resources process. We will continue to handle this personnel matter internally."
A police officer at Wayne State University was shot in the head while on duty off campus Tuesday night. The university announced that it was adding campus patrols as a caution, after the shooting. This is the most serious attack ever on a Wayne State police officer. After the police officer, Collin Rose, was released from surgery, Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson told reporters, including one from The Detroit News, that Rose remained in critical condition and has "a tough road to climb but we’ll just have to see what happens." The News also reported that a man was in custody in relation to the shooting but that it remained unclear what led to the officer's shooting.
The American Association of University Professors is the latest academic group to speak out against hate crimes and support the campus sanctuary movement for undocumented students. Its national council recently approved a resolution saying that since Donald Trump’s election as president, the U.S. has experienced “an unprecedented spike in hate crimes, both physical and verbal, many of them on college and university campuses. These have been directed against African-Americans, immigrants, members of the LGBTQ community, religious minorities, women and people with disabilities. In some instances the perpetrators have invoked the president-elect in support of their heinous actions. The AAUP national council unequivocally condemns these attacks and calls on college and university administrators, faculty, staff and students to unite against them. Violence, threats of violence and harassment have no place on campus.”
The resolution urges colleges and universities to ensure that all members of their campuses “may seek knowledge freely,” reiterating AAUP’s 1994 Statement on Freedom of Expression and Campus Speech Codes. That statement says that on a free and open campus, “no idea can be banned or forbidden. No viewpoint or message may be deemed so hateful or disturbing that it may not be expressed.”
At the same time, the new resolution says, “threats and harassment differ from expressions of ideas that some or even most may find repulsive. They intimidate and silence. The free exchange of ideas is incompatible with an atmosphere of fear. Colleges and universities must be places where all ideas and even prejudices may be freely and openly debated and discussed, but such discussion cannot happen when some members of the community are threatened or excluded. Our goal must be to provide safety for both ideas and for all those who wish to engage with them.”
AAUP calls on administrators “to take swift and firm action, consistent with due process rights, against those who have perpetrated violence and those whose menacing behavior threatens both the safety of members of our community and their sense of inclusion,” and “to make clear to all on the campus that such assaults will not be tolerated and to encourage frank and respectful discussion instead.” The association encourages AAUP chapters and all faculty members “to speak out against these assaults and to support all efforts to ensure that campus communities are welcoming and inclusive of all groups and ideas. During this difficult time the faculty voice needs more than ever to be heard loud and clear.”
AAUP says undocumented students, “many of whom have been in this country since early childhood,” are particularly vulnerable. “Concern for the welfare of these students has already prompted a rash of petitions calling on colleges and universities to become ‘sanctuary campuses,’” the resolution says, endorsing the notion. “While colleges and universities must obey the law, administrations must make all efforts to guarantee the privacy of immigrant students and pledge not to grant access to information that might reveal their immigration status unless so ordered by a court of law. Nor should colleges and universities gather information about the citizenship or immigration status of people who have interactions with the administration, including with campus police. College and university police should not themselves participate in any efforts to enforce immigration laws, which are under federal jurisdiction. Faculty members should join efforts to resist all attempts to intimidate or inappropriately investigate undocumented students or to deny them their full rights to due process and a fair hearing.”
The resolution also calls on Trump to reconsider his appointment of Stephen Bannon as his chief strategist and “to more vehemently denounce the hate crimes being committed in the president-elect’s name and act to ensure the safety of members of threatened communities and the freedom of all to teach, study and learn.”