administrators

Congressional Education Committee Leaders Criticize Travel Ban

The two Republicans who lead the education committees of the U.S. Congress have issued statements that criticize aspects of the Trump administration's entry ban on immigrants and nonimmigrant visitors from seven majority-Muslim countries.

Hundreds of higher education leaders have strongly condemned the ban, saying it is morally wrong, unnecessarily harms students and professors, and could have a chilling effect on university research. The statements from Senator Lamar Alexander and Representative Virginia Foxx do not go that far. (See below.) But the Republican leaders of the two education committees said the executive order Trump signed on Friday was confusing and needed more clarity in order for it to be applied in an equitable fashion.

When asked Tuesday whether Congress should act to fix those problems, Foxx said, "My understanding is that the executive order that the president put out is completely legal and authorized, and so I don't know of anything that the Congress might do in response to it." Foxx, who was speaking at the annual meeting of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, demurred when asked if she would support the administration altering its order, saying, "I haven't heard anything about the administration wanting to change anything from what it's done."

Foxx's written statement on the order:

"We have always been a country that welcomes immigrants. However, it is also important to remember that national security is the number-one job of the federal government. Given shortcomings in the current screening process, I joined a bipartisan House majority in supporting legislation to strengthen the vetting process for individuals seeking entry to the United States through the Visa Waiver Program or as refugees. The executive order signed by the president on Friday came with little clarity and caused much uncertainty for foreign travelers. Additional implementing guidance is needed to ensure that the order can be applied in a fair and equitable manner."

Alexander's written statement:

"This vetting proposal itself needed more vetting. More scrutiny of those traveling from war-torn countries to the United States is wise. But this broad and confusing order seems to ban legal permanent residents with green cards and might turn away Iraqis, for example, who were translators and helped save lives of American troops and who could be killed if they stay in Iraq. And while not explicitly a religious test, it comes close to one, which is inconsistent with our American character."

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A roundup of campus fallout from the Trump immigration order

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Harvard medical students don't want fund-raiser at Mar-a-Lago. Old Dominion professor apologizes for email criticizing those who skip protests. Digital pedagogy group considers adding Canadian location for meeting. Wheaton of Massachusetts creates scholarship for refugees.

 

A liberal education includes learning from people with whom one disagrees (essay)

I was horrified reading the latest diktat on immigration from an administration blown into power by the winds of intolerance and resentment. President Trump’s executive order barring immigrants and nonimmigrant visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States is an exercise in cynical obfuscation, bigotry and hard-heartedness.

The obfuscation begins early on with the linking of this crackdown to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 when, as has been pointed out by many commentators, those responsible for those attacks had no connections to the countries targeted by this order. The bigotry of the decree closing our borders to refugees from these seven countries is most evident in the exception it makes for religious minorities in predominantly Muslim countries.

The hard-heartedness of the executive order is unmistakable. Desperate families who have been thoroughly vetted for months have had their dreams of a safe haven in America shattered. Students, scientists, artists and businesspeople who have played by the immigration rules to ensure that they have secure passage to and from the United States now find themselves in limbo. Colleges and universities that attract and depend on international talent will be weakened. So much for the so-called respect for law of an administration that has made a point of promising to crack down on undocumented children brought over the Mexican border by their parents.

Eighteen months ago I solicited ideas from Wesleyan alumni, faculty members, students and staff members as to what a small liberal arts institution like ours could do in the face of the momentous human tragedy unfolding around the world. We discussed the many ideas we received on our campus and with leaders of other institutions. The steps we took were small ones, appropriate to the scale of our institution. Working with the Scholars at Risk program, we welcomed a refugee scholar from Syria to participate in one of our interdisciplinary centers. We created internships for students who wanted to work at refugee sites in the Middle East or assist local effort at resettlement. We began working with the Institute of International Education to bring a Syrian student to Wesleyan. And, perhaps most important, we redoubled our efforts to educate the campus about the genesis and development of the crisis.

In the last few months, I have traveled to China and India to talk about the benefits of pragmatic liberal education, and in both countries I saw extraordinary enthusiasm for coming to America to pursue a broad, contextual education that will develop the student’s capacity to learn from diverse sets of sources. Since returning, I’ve already received questions from anxious international students and their parents about whether we will continue to welcome people from abroad who seek a first-rate education. Students outside the United States are often fleeing educational systems with constraints on inquiry and communication; they are rejecting censorship and premature specialization, and they are looking to us. Will they continue to do so?

Here at home we must resist orchestrated parochialism of all kinds. A liberal education includes deepening one’s ability to learn from people with whom one doesn’t agree, but the politics of resentment sweeping across our country is substituting demonization for curiosity. Without tolerance and open-mindedness, inquiry is just a path to self-congratulation at best, violent scapegoating at worst.

With this latest executive order, the White House has provided colleges and universities the occasion to teach our students more thoroughly about the vagaries of refugee aid from wealthy, developed countries that are themselves in political turmoil. The new administration has also unwittingly provided lessons in the tactics of scapegoating and distraction traditionally used by strongmen eager to cement their own power. There are plenty of historical examples of how in times of crisis leaders make sweeping edicts without regard to human rights or even their own legal traditions.

Our current security crisis has been manufactured by a leadership team eager to increase a state of fear and discrimination in order to bolster its own legitimacy. The fantasy of the need for “extreme vetting” is a noxious mystification created by a weak administration seeking to distract citizens from attending to important economic, political and social issues. Such issues require close examination with a patient independence of mind and a respect for inquiry that demands rejection of falsification and obfuscation.

As the press is attacked with increasing vehemence for confronting the administration with facts, universities have a vital role to play in helping students understand the importance of actual knowledge about the world -- including the operations of politics. To play that role well, universities must be open to concerns and points of view from across the ideological spectrum -- not just from those who share conventional professorial political perspectives. At Wesleyan, we have raised funds to bring more conservative faculty to campus so that our students benefit from a greater diversity of perspectives on matters such as international relations, economic development, the public sphere and personal freedom. Refusing bigotry should be the opposite of creating a bubble of ideological homogeneity.

As I write this op-ed, demonstrators across the country are standing up for the rights of immigrants and refugees. They recognize that being horrified is not enough, and they are standing up for the rule of law and for traditions of decency and hospitality that can be perfectly compatible with national security.

America’s new administration is clearly eager to set a new direction. As teachers and students, we must reject intimidation and cynicism and learn from these early proclamations and the frightening direction in which they point. Let us take what we learn and use it to resist becoming another historical example of a republic undermined by the corrosive forces of obfuscation, bigotry and hard-heartedness.

Michael S. Roth is president of Wesleyan University and author, most recently, of Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters.

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Falwell Says He Will Lead Presidential Commission

Jerry Falwell Jr. announced Tuesday that he will lead a presidential task force on higher education, a Liberty University spokesman said, confirming news reports.

Falwell, Liberty's president and an early Trump supporter, said at the inauguration that he would work with the president in an "official capacity," with a focus on limiting micromanagement of colleges and accreditors by the U.S. Department of Education. The task force apparently will seek to address those issues, although Falwell said the details are still being determined.

President Trump is scheduled to meet with him Wednesday to discuss the task force, Falwell said.

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Conservative, Libertarian Groups Propose Campus Free Speech Bill

Several conservative and libertarian organizations are urging state lawmakers to adopt legislation that aims to "restore and protect freedom of thought and expression" on college campuses. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that launched a new education policy center last week, promoted the proposed state-level law at panel discussion Tuesday. 

The "model bill," called the Campus Free Speech Act, was written by the Goldwater Institute, a libertarian think tank, and Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. The proposed legislation would prevent public colleges and universities from disinviting controversial speakers, require institutions to abolish speech codes and "free speech zones," and require colleges to publish a formal statement affirming that its "primary function is the discovery, improvement, transmission, and dissemination of knowledge by means of research, teaching, discussion, and debate."

In addition, the proposed bill would instruct institutions "to strive to remain neutral, as an institution, on the public policy controversies of the day." Jim Manley, senior attorney at the Goldwater Institute and co-author of the Campus Free Speech Act, said this piece of the legislation would not be mandatory, however, and wouldn't prohibit institutions from taking strong positions in unusual circumstances, such as the wide condemnation seen in response to the Trump administration's executive order to ban immigrants and nonimmigrant visitors from seven countries, which are majority Muslim, from entering the United States.

"This bill wouldn't have prohibited universities from taking positions," he said. "The reason that's in the bill is because universities are funded by taxpayers, and they are big communities with lots of opinions."

The model legislation also states that colleges should create disciplinary policies for students "who interfere with the free expression of others" on campus. "When protestors disrupt visiting speakers, or break in on meetings to take them over and list demands, administrators look the other way," a report describing the bill stated. "Students have come to take it for granted they will face no discipline for such disruptions."

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education said it supported the proposed law, but cautioned against conflating protests which seek to silence other speakers and those which aim to grab the attention of administrators.

"I think issuing demands is free speech, and silencing others isn't free speech at all," Joe Cohn, legislative and policy director at FIRE, said. "A heckler's veto is not free speech." 

Manley, of the Goldwater Institute, said the institute has heard from half a dozen state lawmakers who are interested in introducing the bill. During Tuesday's panel discussion at the Heritage Foundation, Kurtz, of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, said the proposed state-level law was created in response to the activism that occurred on several college campuses in 2015.

"Interrupting, assaulting or shouting down speakers is tyranny, pure and simple," he said. 

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How faculty members and administrators can help immigrant students (essay)

Several days ago, President Trump issued an executive order barring immigrants and nonimmigrant visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States -- significantly impacting many students and scholars. This follows on the heels of two other executive orders focused on immigration enforcement and border security that he signed last week, which froze refugee admissions and called for the immediate construction of a wall along the southwestern border of the country.

In addition, the president has ordered federal immigration enforcement agencies to increase efforts to deport undocumented immigrants with criminal records, called for the construction of additional detention facilities and restored the controversial “secure communities” program that compelled state and local law enforcement officials to collaborate with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency to enforce federal immigration law.

None of the recent executive orders concerned the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, initiated by President Obama in 2012, which provides a two-year protection from deportation and employment authorization to select undocumented youth and young adults, many of whom are enrolled in our colleges and universities. However, Trump’s aggressive approach to immigration enforcement and his characterization of unauthorized immigrants as “a significant threat to national security and public safety” has already begun to cause upheaval and hardship within immigrant communities -- and this will inevitably have a negative impact on undocumented students, as well as on U.S. citizen and permanent resident students from mixed-status families. Moreover, despite White House statements promising a more nuanced approach to DACA recipients, fears that the new administration may still rescind DACA are not without basis.

In anticipation of the Trump administration’s promises to target the U.S.’s approximately 11 million undocumented residents, over the past few months, campuses nationwide have developed sanctuary statements or issued declarations in support of educational access for all students, regardless of their immigration status. In the past few days, campuses are also now scrambling to provide emergency legal advice and services to faculty members and students from “barred” Muslim nations who, although visa holders, are confronting difficulties returning to America following authorized travel abroad. In many cases, campuses are advising those faculty and student members -- even those who are U.S. permanent residents, and all of whom have already been through extensive vetting during the visa application process -- to avoid leaving the country until the precise parameters of the new immigration enforcement directives are determined.

No one knows with certainty what policies the Trump administration will implement, or what impact they will have in the long term on faculty members and students who have immigrated legally to the United States from barred Muslim nations. What is certain is that undocumented students and students from mixed-status families will also face increased challenges under this new presidential administration. It has long been difficult for such student to earn money, drive legally, travel and afford college tuition. Without clear pathways to legalization, many also experience anxiety about their futures. These are not new problems, but in light of the White House’s recent orders, our undocumented students will face even greater obstacles to their academic success and well-being.

While most university faculty, staff and administrators may not be in a position to directly influence federal immigration law or enforcement priorities, we do have the ability -- indeed, we would argue, the responsibility -- to mediate the impact of immigration policies on undocumented students. As immigration scholars and engaged teachers who work closely with undocumented students, we offer the following suggestions for faculty and administrators to consider.

Be aware of the wide range of people affected by proposed changes to immigration policy. About a fifth of the undocumented residents in the United States are youth and young adults who arrived in America as children, and an additional 16.6 million people live in mixed-status families where at least one member is undocumented. It is important to recognize that anticipated changes to immigration policies will impact not only undocumented students but also permanent resident students concerned about their undocumented parents, relatives, friends and community members. These issues affect individuals from a wide range of ethnic, racial and national origins.

Educate yourself about the laws and policies that impact undocumented students’ educational access. Learn the details of your own state laws here. For example, in California, certain undocumented students can pay in-state tuition at public universities, and the California Dream Act makes state financial aid available to those students. We often find that students do not distinguish those laws from their DACA status, which leads to unnecessary anxiety. Review the recommendations provided by national organizations such as United We Dream and the National Immigration Law Center. Even after educating yourself, recognize your limitations and the high stakes involved for the student who is seeking your advice. It is better to say, “I don’t know,” than to give out misinformation.

Signal to students that you are supportive. Undocumented students often rely on stereotypes to identify faculty and staff members with whom they feel they can safely share their immigration status or ask for help. They may, for example, perceive that “coming out” to faculty members who identify as Latina/o, or as immigrants, presents less of a risk than disclosing their status to white or native-born citizen faculty members. In reality, of course, allies are found among people from all ethnic and racial backgrounds, but some of us may need to do a little more to provide students with verbal and/or visible cues that demonstrate that we are supportive of the undocumented student community. Many colleges and universities offer ally training and provide those that complete it with a sticker to exhibit in their office; do this if the opportunity is available to you. If not, you can signal that you are supportive by displaying flyers about immigration-related events or hanging immigration-related artwork. In your course syllabi, explain how you will accommodate immigration-related emergencies in terms of attendance, late work, extensions and incompletes. Although you may feel that is already described in your institution’s existing policies for medical or familial emergencies, making it explicit sends a powerful signal of both symbolic and concrete support for students confronting immigration crises.

(Re)consider how you discuss immigration-related issues and the current political climate in your classroom. Advise students in advance before initiating classroom discussions of immigration issues, especially if that is not on the agenda from the syllabus. Remind your students that you will be bring up topics that personally impact many people living in the United States and ask those students to frame their participation in ways that are respectful of different experiences and opinions. Avoid spotlighting individual students according to their citizenship status or immigrant background during class discussion. (For example: “Kim, as an immigrant, can you share how you feel about Trump’s proposal to deport three million criminal aliens?”)

Maintain student confidentiality and privacy. Do not refer to students’ citizenship or immigration status in public conversations or written communication. Only do so when necessary and with the students’ permission, such as when helping them identify resources or explaining their personal background in letters of recommendation.

Use appropriate terminology when discussing immigration issues. Many people find the terms “illegal immigration” and “illegal immigrant” offensive; they often prefer “undocumented” and “unauthorized.” Some students may also use the term “DREAMer,” originally a reference to the proposed federal DREAM Act, which would have provided undocumented students with a path to legalization but that now alludes to various state laws that provide educational access. But other students may reject that nomenclature because it suggests that undocumented students are more deserving of support than other undocumented people.

Provide resources that will help mediate the financial instability that many students will also be facing. A recent systemwide survey at the University of California conducted by one of us, Laura E. Enriquez, found that 63 percent of the undocumented students at the UC have experienced food insecurity during the past academic year. Thus, even a small measure can be helpful, such as offering healthy snacks like granola bars during office hours or meetings with students. You can also try to put course readings on library reserve so that students can devote their financial resources toward living expenses. It’s also good to find out and counsel students on whether they can access waivers for course materials fees or tutoring services. It is possible that undocumented students, many of whom are first-generation college students, do not know about these resources or that they may be inadvertently denied access to them.

You can also lobby for additional resources as needed. Encourage your institution to establish alternative legal forms of employment, internships or research opportunities to undocumented students lacking work authorization by providing payment via stipends or as independent contractors. Consider donating to scholarship and/or emergency funds for impacted students. If your campus doesn’t have one, help start one.

Offer career and graduate preparation opportunities. Undocumented students struggle to develop career-relevant work experience or access research opportunities to prepare for graduate school -- in some cases, because they are DACA ineligible and therefore lack the work authorization that allows them to accept paid internships or research assistantships; in other cases, it is because they are ineligible, as noncitizens, to apply for certain programs; and finally, it may be because, like other first-generation, low-income and underrepresented students, they lack the understanding or social capital that facilitates securing these kinds of positions. To that end, Enriquez’s survey of undocumented students in the UC system found that only 31 percent feel prepared to achieve their career goals, and only 49 percent have had a career-relevant experience like an internship or research opportunity. As faculty members and administrators, consider offering independent study courses, sponsoring research opportunities and identifying internships that are open regardless of immigration status. Work with your institution to figure out a method for paying immigrant students for their labor in these areas.

Identify, improve and refer students to campus and community resources. Immigrant students will probably need special guidance and encouragement to access academic resources, financial aid, legal services and mental-health counseling. Familiarize yourself with the resources available at your college or university and in your surrounding community. Identify knowledgeable staff members in relevant campus offices to whom you can refer students directly. Lobby your institution to identify, train and raise awareness of point people in various offices so that students can easily find them and access correct information. Enriquez’s survey also found that 56 percent of the undocumented students at the University of California report being given inaccurate or incorrect information from a staff member about how to complete a university procedure. If your institution does not have a staff member dedicated to supporting undocumented students, advocate for one.

Identify and raise awareness about your campus’s policies regarding undocumented students. Currently, U.S. immigration officials consider educational institutions, including colleges and universities, to be “sensitive locations” where enforcement actions “generally should be avoided.” You should try to identify under what circumstances you and others are your institution are legally required to share student information and provide access to immigration enforcement officers. Your institution should work with legal counsel to clearly lay out under what circumstances cooperation is required and designate a senior administrator to promptly respond to any staff or faculty members who receive information requests or visits from immigration enforcement officials. It should ensure that faculty members know whom to contact if they receive such requests or visits and publicize procedures for reporting and documenting hate speech and threatening incidents on the campus. It is important for campuses to assess their own situations in order to respond appropriately.

The actions that we’ve outlined are just a few ways that faculty members and administrators can provide support for students facing immigration-related crises. Although they are small steps, our research and work with students suggest that they can and do make a difference. We firmly believe that collaboration among students, faculty members and administrators is essential to supporting undocumented students and students from mixed-status families as we move forward.

Finally, despite the multiple -- often invisible -- ways undocumented people contribute to the U.S. economy and society, we think it is important to recognize that only a tiny percentage of undocumented people in the United States ever benefit from the opportunity to pursue a higher education. With this in mind, we encourage educators to also consider how they can support the broader undocumented immigrant population in their communities and nationwide.

Anita Casavantes Bradford is associate professor of Chicano/Latino studies and history at the University of California, Irvine. Laura E. Enriquez is assistant professor of Chicano/Latino studies at the University of California, Irvine. Susan Bibler Coutin is professor of criminology, law, and society and anthropology at the University of California, Irvine.

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Washington U Dean Faces Child Pornography Charge

A former dean of students at Washington University, in St. Louis, has been indicted on a federal child pornography charge. The former official, Justin X. Carroll, retired earlier this month for "personal reasons," but the university said it became aware of the investigation on Dec. 20 and immediately banned Carroll from campus. Carroll, had also served as Washington's interim athletic director, officially resigned on Jan. 5. The indictment covers activity between November 2015 and December 2016, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and includes allegations that Carroll was in possession of sexual videos involving children. 

"While our investigation is ongoing, at this point, we have no reason to believe that Mr. Carroll had inappropriate interactions with any member of the university community or any participant in university programs," the university said in a statement Monday. 

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Hillsborough CC President Arrested for DUI

Kenneth Atwater, president of Hillsborough Community College in Florida, was arrested Saturday night for driving under the influence, and he spent the night in jail before bond was posted Sunday morning, The Tampa Bay Times reported. Authorities said Atwater was driving erratically, he refused a breath analysis test and his speech was slurred. Atwater did not respond to an email message from Inside Higher Ed seeking comment.

The college's board released this statement to Inside Higher Ed: "The District Board of Trustees of HCC is in the process of gathering all of the facts from this situation. Once we have had an opportunity to conduct a thorough review, we will determine the necessary next steps ensuring that we protect the best interests of the college."

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Liberal arts college tries new approach to teaching soft skills

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Reinhardt University launches program to train students in soft skills such as conflict management and strategic listening -- while preserving liberal arts mission.

Student Creating 'Pro-White' Group Torched Black Churches

A University of Wisconsin at Madison student who has been campaigning to create a white nationalist organization on campus was convicted of racially motivated arson against two African-American churches in 2005. In a statement released Thursday, Rebecca Blank, the university's chancellor, defended the student's right to free speech but denounced his actions.

"The student claims to be affiliated with the American Freedom Party, a recognized hate group," Blank said. "Its activities are diametrically opposed to our campus values of respect and inclusion. I’ve been heartened to see many students state their strong disagreement with the views of this group. At this point, we have no information to suggest a specific safety threat to individuals or campus. Any time we become aware of a potential safety concern, we work with law enforcement and other partners to gather information and determine whether laws or campus policies are being violated. We continue to track this situation closely given the student’s history."

The University of Wisconsin system's admission process does not allow institutions to consider a student's criminal history. In her statement Thursday, Blank said the process "is intended to ensure that students who have made mistakes, but paid their debt to society, are not prevented from accessing education." She said the university's Board of Regents will now consider reviewing the policy.

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