WASHINGTON -- Two lawmakers introduced a bill on Thursday designed to combat sexual assault on college campuses. The bipartisan bill, introduced by Representatives Jackie Speier, a Democrat from California, and Patrick Meehan, a Republican from Pennsylvania, would provide $5 million per year in additional funding to the Department of Education's understaffed Office for Civil Rights; require the department to issue stiff penalties for colleges that don't comply with the nondiscrimination law Title IX; increase penalties for violating the Clery Act, which requires colleges to disclose information on campus crimes, from $35,000 to $100,000; and require colleges to conduct biennial climate surveys. The bill, called the Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency (HALT) Campus Sexual Violence Act, would also create an interagency task force to increase coordination between the agencies dealing with campus sexual assault, and require colleges to sign memorandums of understanding with local police.
“No student should have to fear sexual assault on campus and no parent should fear their child is in danger when they send them to college,” said Meehan, who is so far the only Republican member among the 27 sponsors of the bill. “As a prosecutor, I worked closely with the victims of sexual assault on campus and I saw firsthand the need to improve protections for survivors. This legislation takes sensible steps forward to strengthen protections for victims and it will help them access the resources they need in the wake of attack.”
Barnard College, the women's college associated with Columbia University, will begin admitting transgender women in fall 2016. The Barnard College Board of Trustees approved the new policy at its June 3 meeting following "a full year of conversations" about the issue. "As expected, a wide range of passionate and deeply held beliefs were discussed and debated," Debora Spar, Barnard's president, and Jolyne Caruso-FitzGerald, chair of the Board of Trustees, said in a statement. "But on two main points, the responses were compelling and clear. There was no question that Barnard must reaffirm its mission as a college for women. And there was little debate that trans women should be eligible for admission to Barnard."
Non-tenure-track faculty at Siena College voted to form a collective bargaining unit affiliated with Service Employees International Union, they announced Wednesday. The vote was 86 to 27 among adjuncts and 16 to 5 among visiting professors. Siena is the second New York campus in a week to approve an SEIU-affiliated adjunct union, after Ithaca College. Both drives are part of SEIU’s Adjunct Action campaign to organize adjuncts across metro areas.
Mara Drogan, a visiting assistant professor of history at Siena, said in a statement she hoped the union would help set new standards for faculty pay, benefits and working conditions across the Albany region and beyond. Siena said in statement to the Times-Union that as a Franciscan and Catholic institution, “we recognize and respect the dignity of work, the right of workers to organize and the need for all workers to make informed decisions.” The statement said the college was committed to “productive dialogue” with the bargaining unit.
The former president of the University of Saskatchewan has sued the institution to challenge her dismissal over a free speech issue on the campus, The StarPhoenix of Saskatoon reported.
Ilene Busch-Vishniac was fired a year ago after the controversial dismissal by the university of its public health dean for disagreeing in public with a reorganization plan pushed by Busch-Vishniac. Many academics at Saskatchewan and elsewhere criticized what they said was unwillingness by the university's leaders to hear dissent. Busch-Vishniac claims in her lawsuit that politicians and university administrators illegally interfered with the decisions of the university's board, and that the board violated its own procedures when it called an emergency meeting and fired her without cause.
Bill Gates is among a group of rich college dropouts people often cite when questioning the value of a college degree. He isn't buying that argument.
“Although I dropped out of college and got lucky pursuing a career in software, getting a degree is a much surer path to success,” Gates wrote on Wednesday.
Gates published two blog entries encouraging more people to earn college credentials to help them get jobs. He cited data from Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, which projects a shortage in the U.S. of 11 million skilled workers with college degrees over the next decade.
The blog entries included a video interview (below) with Cheryl Hyman, the chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago. Hyman, who dropped out of high school, has led an aggressive campaign to increase the urban community college system's low graduation rate, which stood at 7 percent when she arrived in 2010. It has since doubled to 14 percent.
“Cheryl and I discussed the need for colleges to create a less confusing course selection process. Students often waste time and valuable credit hours taking classes that don’t help them progress toward graduation because they don’t understand the degree requirements,” Gates wrote. “New personalized online guidance tools provide students with clear, semester-by-semester maps to graduation and a career.”
Gates also touted City Colleges' increased focus on careers, its addition of student supports and its efforts to redesign remedial math.
National University will lead a newly formed coalition of nine universities that are seeking to expand teacher development and early childhood initiatives, the San Diego-based National announced this week. The $30 million Sanford Education Collaborative will reach into more than 2,000 schools in California, Florida, Maine, New York, South Dakota and Washington.
The project will expand on two existing programs, which were originally developed at Arizona State University. Sanford Harmony stresses positive interactions between students through exercises featuring communication, empathy, critical thinking, communication, problem solving and strengthening peer relationships. Sanford Inspire seeks to give K-12 teachers professional development tools and resources to create inspiring classroom environments. Both are named for T. Denny Sanford, a philanthropist who has helped fund them and the new university collaboration.
A local National Labor Relations Board office decided this week that adjuncts at Saint Xavier University may count their union election votes. The count was halted four years ago after the Roman Catholic University opposed the National Education Association-affiliated union drive, saying its religious identity put it outside the board’s jurisdiction. The university’s appeal was pending before the NLRB for some time, but earlier this year the national board sent back several similar adjunct union cases to their local board offices for further consideration in light of the recent Pacific Lutheran University decision.
In that case, the national board determined that Pacific Lutheran adjuncts could form a union affiliated with Service Employees International Union, since their duties were not of a religious nature. The landmark decision also included new guidelines for evaluating such cases, and those guidelines were used to evaluate the Saint Xavier case anew. A spokeswoman for the university said it has two weeks to appeal, and that it is reviewing its options. Charlie McBarron, a spokesman for the Illinois Education Association, told the Chicago Sun-Times that the union believes the “desires of the voters should be known.”
Anthem Inc., a national health care company, announced Tuesday that its 55,000 employees can pursue a no-cost associate or bachelor's degree at College for America, a competency-based subsidiary of Southern New Hampshire University. The new benefit is available to any Anthem employee who works 20 hours or more per week and has been employed there for at least six months. The company's tuition reimbursement plan will cover the full price of the online degrees.
Southern New Hampshire is the first of six institutions to have received approval from the U.S. Department of Education and regional accreditors for direct-assessment academic programs, a form of competency-based education that does not rely on the credit-hour standard. Students can move at their own pace in direct-assessment degree tracks -- taking as much or as little time they need to master the required competencies.
“Anthem is committed to offering its associates a robust benefits package that goes beyond salary and health benefits,” Jose Tomas, chief human resources officer at Anthem, said in a written statement. “Our partnership with College for America has proven successful for our associates who participated in the pilot program in New Hampshire, and we want to build on that success by providing opportunities for education, development and career advancement to all our associates.”
Paul LeBlanc, Southern New Hampshire's president, said thousands of Anthem employees will benefit from the partnership.
“As an employer, Anthem is building talent and the skills needed for promotion in its workforce while associates earn an accredited degree that will help them get ahead in their life and career without taking on debt,” LeBlanc said in a written statement.