California Governor Signs Bill on 'Affirmative' Consent

California Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, on Sunday signed legislation that will require colleges in the state to use an "affirmative consent" standard in evaluating allegations of sexual assault, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The idea -- embraced by some individual colleges already -- requires both parties to explicitly consent to sexual acts. Simply not objecting will no longer constitute consent. The new law also requires other steps by colleges to better educate students about consent and sexual assault. Many women's advocates have praised the legislation, while some civil liberties advocates have expressed concern that the law shifts too much of the burden of proof in these cases to the accused.


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Calls to Override NCAA's New Governance

The Coalition of Intercollegiate Athletics -- an alliance of 63 faculty senates at Football Bowl Subdivision institutions -- is calling on the presidents and chancellors of Division I colleges and universities to request a vote to override the new governance structure approved by the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Board of Directors in August. The new structure granted a greater level of autonomy to the five wealthiest conferences, with the stated goal of allowing those colleges more freedom to address athlete issues like scholarship terms, medical coverage, and support for degree completion. 

"However, it has become clear in the month since the restructuring model was announced that for the vast majority of Big 5 schools -- those whose programs do not generate profits -- the costs of the new athlete benefits are likely beyond their means without resorting to cuts in precisely those sports that most clearly reflect the academic mission of the NCAA," the coalition wrote in a letter to Division I leaders, warning that colleges may have to eliminate Olympic and other non-revenue sports to accommodate the benefits for athletes playing in revenue sports. 

At least 75 Division I presidents have to agree to call for an override vote by Oct. 6 in order for one to take place. 

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Colgate Reaches Deal to End Sit-In

A student sit-in at Colgate University came to an end Friday after administrators released a detailed 21-point plan that the university called a "roadmap to the future." The demonstration, which grew to include at least 350 students and had just entered its fifth day, was meant to raise awareness about how minority students were treated by other students on the predominantly white campus and to convince the administration to do more to improve the climate and increase diversity. 

The plan says that Colgate will install security cameras on campus buses, where racist, sexist, and homophobic slurs have been directed at students; revise its hiring practices so that job postings encourage candidates to describe their strengths with "teaching diverse student populations and in promoting a diverse and inclusive" environment; and develop and carry out diversity training for admissions and financial aid staff. Though a key request from students, the university will not require faculty to go through diversity training, keeping the training voluntary but reworking sessions so that they are more structured and accessible to faculty. Colgate will also expand its bystander intervention programs -- designed to address sexual assault -- to include sessions about unconscious bias, communication across differences, and respect in the workplace. 

"Colgate must fulfill its promise of being an inclusive institution for students of all backgrounds," the Association of Critical Collegians, the student group that led the sit-in, said in a statement. "Our hope moving forward is that this new action plan will create lasting change in our campus community."

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Accreditor Gives Gordon College a Year to Justify Policy on 'Homosexual Practice'

Gordon College has a year to prove to a regional accrediting agency that its policies on gay people meet the accreditor's standards for non-discrimination, Boston Business Journal reported. Gordon's policies barring sex outside of heterosexual marriage have generated significant controversy in recent months, and the policies have drawn the attention of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges' Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, which considered the college at its meeting this month.

A joint statement by the accreditor and the college said that the commission found information presented by Gordon about its policy on "homosexual practice" to be "thorough and pertinent," and that the commission applauded Gordon's plan to engage in up to 18 months of study. The statement said Gordon would report back by next September to ensure that its "policies and processes are non-discriminatory and that it ensures its ability to foster an atmosphere that respects and supports people of diverse characteristics and backgrounds, consistent with the Commission’s Standards for Accreditation." (Note: This item has been updated from an earlier version to correct the focus of the accreditor's scrutiny.)


Audit: U. of North Texas Manipulated Payroll

A state audit has found that the University of North Texas consistently received more state funds than it should have by manipulating its payroll expenditures, The Dallas Morning News reported. The audit to be released today, which the newspaper obtained, recommends that the Legislature require the university to repay at least $75.6 million over a decade to reimburse the state for the excess funds it received by manipulating payroll expenditures in a state accounting system and paying some employees with state funds who should not have been paid that way.

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Faculty members at Alamo Colleges say they're not consulted on curricular decisions

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Less than a year after Alamo Colleges professors objected to their chancellor's plan to require a course in part on the '7 Habits,' they cite new concerns about shared governance, including a move to abolish program-based associate degrees.

Clemson U. Suspends All Fraternity Activity Following Student Death

The day after a sophomore fraternity member fell from a bridge to his death, officials at Clemson University suspended all social and new-member initiation activities at its 24 fraternities. The university did not specifically cite the student's death as the cause of the suspension, but said that the decision was made "in the wake of several recent reports of violations of the law or student conduct code." In a statement Tuesday, the university said that "matters of a criminal nature" had been turned over to law enforcement agencies and that Clemson's Office of Community and Ethical Standards was also investigating some violations.

“It is especially prudent to suspend fraternity activities given the tragic death of Tucker Hipps," Gail DiSabatino, vice president of student affairs at Clemson, said. "There has been a high number of reports of serious incidents involving fraternity activities, ranging from alcohol-related medical emergencies to sexual misconduct. These behaviors are unacceptable and mandate swift and effective action to protect students. There is no higher priority than the safety and welfare of our students.”

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Cooking Up Adjunct Activism

Adjuncts at Front Range Community College in Colorado are cooking up some activism – recipes and all – with their new project, “The Adjunct Cookbook.” The book contains “food bank-friendly concoctions” intended to shine a light on adjuncts’ working conditions and pay at the college’s four campuses and elsewhere. There’s a section on “'Nobucks’ Coffee Drinks,” for example, and other meal recipes calling for very low-cost ingredients, such as beef scraps and bruised tomatoes. Interspersed are facts about adjunct labor, how colleges spend their money, and names of places and programs where adjuncts can find food and other assistance locally.

“We hope that the book helps [adjuncts] realize they have not failed, but that the system has failed them,” said Caprice Lawless, president of the college’s American Association of University Professors chapter and an adjunct instructor of English who contributed to the book project, in news release. Authors are asking a $7.50 donation for the book, available here. They haven’t copyrighted, they say, because they want their counterparts on other campuses to be able to borrow the model. Andrew Dorsey, president of Front Range, said he hadn't seen the cookbook and therefore couldn't comment. But he said Front Range adjuncts earn from $735 to $1,119 per credit hour, based on experience and other factors, and deliver about 60 percent of instruction.

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New presidents or provosts: Chamberlain Cogswell Denver EWU Monmouth Marylhurst NW Missouri Shelton

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  • Rebecca Chopp, president of Swarthmore College, in Pennsylvania, has been selected as chancellor of the University of Denver, in Colorado.
  • Mary Cullinan, president of Southern Oregon University, has been chosen as president of Eastern Washington University.

Essay about importance of mentors to college students

A few months after Gallup released findings from the largest representative study of U.S. college graduates, there is much to ponder. The Gallup-Purdue Index surveyed more than 30,000 graduates to find out whether they are engaged in their work and thriving in their overall well-being. In simple terms, did they end up with great jobs and great lives?

We learned some stunning things. But one of the most important is that where you went to college matters less to your work life and well-being after graduation than how you went to college. Feeling supported and having deep learning experiences during college means everything when it comes to long-term outcomes after college. Unfortunately, not many graduates receive a key element of that support while in college: having a mentor. And this is perhaps the biggest blown opportunity in the history of higher ed.

Six critical elements during college jumped off the pages of our research as being strongly linked to long-term success in work and life after graduation. Three of these elements relate to experiential and deep learning: having an internship or job where students were able to apply what they were learning in the classroom, being actively involved in extracurricular activities and organizations, and working on projects that took a semester or more to complete.

But the three most potent elements linked to long-term success for college grads relate to emotional support: feeling that they had a professor who made them excited about learning, that the professors at their alma mater cared about them as a person, and that they had a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams. If graduates strongly agree with these three things, it doubles the odds they are engaged in their work and thriving in their overall well-being.

When we looked at these three elements individually, we found that about 6 in 10 college graduates strongly agree they had a professor who made them excited about learning (63 percent). Fewer than 3 in 10 strongly agree the professors at their alma mater cared about them as a person (27 percent). And only about 2 in 10 strongly agree they had a mentor who encouraged their goals and dreams (22 percent) — which means that about 8 in 10 college graduates lacked a mentor in college.

Given how profound the impact of emotional support can be, it’s thoroughly depressing to learn how few college graduates receive it. A mere 14 percent of all college grads strongly agree that they experienced all three elements of emotional support.

Gallup has talked with many higher ed leaders about these findings, and it has been heartening to learn how many leaders are energized by having fresh insights about the importance and value of mentoring relationships in college. But it has also been frustrating to hear how many believe it’s too costly or unreasonable to ensure that every college student receives mentoring.

How is it possible that some leaders feel this kind of experience is more expensive or less practical than building and maintaining multimillion-dollar athletic facilities or high-end residential complexes? Or that it’s more difficult to provide mentors for students than to commit significant amounts of human and financial resources to eke out a few extra students in their admissions yield or create a massive machine to fund-raise from alumni?

If your college or university wants to get serious about finding mentors for its students, it could start by looking at is own alumni base. Assuming your institution has been around for 10 years or more, your alumni are one of the greatest human capital assets it has — not just as donors, but also as potential mentors.

Let’s use my alma mater, as an example. We have about 6,500 undergraduate students. There are more than 140,000 members of the alumni association. If just 10 percent of  alumni agreed to serve as mentors, we would have a pool of 14,000 alumni for the 6,500 undergrads. That’s more than a two-to-one mentor-to-student ratio.

Imagine what would happen if your college applied just a portion of the staffing and budget for its development office toward recruiting alumni to mentor a current undergraduate. This relationship doesn’t have to be complicated — all that’s required is two to three calls, Skype meetings, or Google Hangouts between an alumnus and an undergrad each year for one-to-one coaching, plus some basic framework for how they engage one another. How many of your alumni might take you up on this offer if you made a concerted effort to recruit them? As an alumnus, would you be willing to mentor a current undergrad a few hours a year?

Within just one year, it’s completely conceivable that a college or university could achieve a 100 percent mentoring experience rate for its undergraduates. It’s simply a matter of valuing it and making it happen. For example, in a recent study Gallup conducted of Western Governors University alumni, fully 68 percent strongly agreed they had a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams. That’s three times higher than the national average of college graduates across all institutions – and accomplished at a fully online, adult-learner institution nonetheless.

At WGU, rather than conducting class, faculty members serve as mentors, working with students one-to-one. Upon enrollment, each WGU student is assigned a mentor who stays with them until graduation, meeting regularly by phone and in touch via email and text constantly. WGU mentors provide a wide range of support, from help with time management and finding learning resources to tutoring students on the course materials. It’s possible for all institutions to do this kind of mentoring in many different ways, and it doesn’t have to be costly. And as a side benefit: Imagine how much donations might rise among alumni who have a one-to-one relationship with a current undergrad.

Higher education has never tapped one its greatest human capital assets — its alumni — to provide a service its students might value most. According to Gallup research, it could be one of the most important changes a college or university could make toward supporting the success of its future graduates — or the biggest blown opportunity in its history.

Brandon Busteed is executive director of Gallup Education.


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