diversity

Naviance ends requirement that students select a gender

New option also allows “nonbinary” selection.

Research universities partner to increase low-income student graduation

An alliance of 11 public research universities shows that sharing data, ideas and practices can help more low-income students graduate.

Ball State debates how to frame diversity question on teaching evaluations

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Ball State Faculty Council debates how to assess commitment to diversity when using teaching evaluations, and how to phrase the question.

Author Asks Journal to Pull Pro-Colonial Essay

“The Case for Colonialism” caused a stir when it was published in Third World Quarterly earlier this month, with critics calling the pro-colonialism essay offensive and based on subpar scholarship. Some 15 members of the journal’s editorial board resigned this week, saying the paper failed to pass peer review but was published anyway.

Now the author of the essay, Bruce Gilley, an associate professor of political science at Portland State University, has asked the journal to withdraw the paper. “I regret the pain and anger that it has caused for many people,” Gilley said in a statement Thursday. “I hope that this action will allow a more civil and caring discussion on this important issue to take place.”

Gilley did not respond to a request for comment. The journal’s editor, Shahid Qadir, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the request for withdrawal.

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Racist incidents at colleges abound as academic year begins

Assaults and race-related posters and graffiti afflict college campuses across the U.S., inflaming students as the academic year begins.

Why not all LGBT-exclusive spaces are beneficial (essay)

There are safe spaces, and then there are entire segregated social spheres. The first are places where members of a marginalized group can come together in the midst of busy lives to talk together openly, and the second are more like a way of life. One might be a community center on a campus that LGBT students can drop into for a support group, and the other looks more like, say, an LGBT-only dorm -- an idea that has popped up at a smattering of universities. One is a good, even necessary, idea. The other is not.

Birmingham University is currently the only university to offer a LGBT-only living space in Great Britain, and only a handful of colleges and universities offer the option of LGBT-only living spaces on campus in the United States as well. Response from other students, campus administrators and legislators to the concept has been overwhelmingly negative. Most American universities want to ensure the safety of their LGBT student population, and these spaces that create further segregation from the rest of the non-LGBT student population would ultimately create more divide and friction.

Safety is often cited as the central defense of the LGBT-designated living quarters on college campuses. But safety is such dorms’ greatest drawback. An LGBT-only living arrangement would heighten the risk of targeted violence or vandalism. Everyone who passes through the structure’s doors would be forced to come out in a potentially very public way -- a risk that students might not be considering in the moment they sign up for what they hope will be a perfectly safe living environment. The Guardian quoted Simon Thompson, the director of a website about student living, who voiced a similar concern: “Segregation will only lead to more victimization; it will not solve any problems,” he said. “I believe this is the view of a very small minority.”

I hope it goes without saying that I long for a world in which there is no risk associated with publicly announcing oneself as LGBT. Unfortunately, we don’t yet live in that world. Does establishing separate lives, homes and social circles for people who do and don’t identify as LGBT help us closer to that world we all hope for? I suspect not.

As a social equity scholar and human rights activist, I have been researching and teaching in the area of LGBT issues for 15 years. My latest publication is entitled “Leadership and Racing Toward the Arc of Freedom by African-American Gay and Bisexual Men” (a chapter in African-American Males in Higher Education Leadership: Challenges and Opportunities, from Peter Lang). Here I argue that gay and bisexual African-American men and other men of color are routinely left out of the LGBT conversation as a whole, except when it comes down to closeted and/or predatory sexual behavior. I am proud to act as an advocate for all of my students on campus at the University of San Francisco, and I take great pride in being someone who many LGBT college students turn to for advice when they look to make important life decisions.

The long, painful, but ultimately promising mainstreaming of acceptance of LGBT rights happens to have come alongside the dispersing of LGBT communities, even historically well-established ones like in San Francisco. I’m doubtful that the correlation between stronger public support of LGBT folks and lower concentration of LGBT communities is incidental.

How can the segregation of our college campuses contribute to the continuing progress that must happen in our society? In the same Guardian piece cited above, Lily Robinson, a 22-year-old student in Great Britain who identifies as transgender, worried that “rather than tackling the problem by making it clear homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and other discrimination aren’t acceptable, separate living or schooling means we are running away from the problem.”

It’s important to stress here that while I’m leery of LGBT-only living situations at universities, I do wholeheartedly support the development and protection of safe LGBT spaces like support groups and gay bars. Safe spaces usually have clearly defined, collectively maintained codes of behavior that help LGBT folks feel less vulnerable to the possibility of discrimination. In my mind, the important difference here is that community centers and bars are places where people spend just a fraction of their time (although certainly an important fraction -- one that may prove crucial for their social and mental well-being). A person who frequents a gay bar will probably find plenty of other opportunities in their day to establish relationships with people of diverse identities. In contrast, while an especially social person who lives in an LGBT-designated dorm could conceivably do the same, it would also be easy to restrict most social effort to the living space.

My position is not that we should expect LGBT students, or anyone else, to act as though homophobia and discrimination are things of the past. They are not, and it would not serve anyone to pretend otherwise. In the spirit of fighting for safer, more inclusive spaces everywhere, perhaps we could all advocate for more laws like the one passed in California, which protects LGBT students from discrimination at private universities. But let’s continue fighting for inclusion and equality on all fronts, rather than retreating into segregated social spheres.

Richard Greggory Johnson III is a social equity professor researching and teaching in the areas of race, gender, sexual orientation/gender identity and social class in the School of Management at the University of San Francisco.

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AAU Sets Expectation for Data Transparency on Ph.D. Program Outcomes

Association of American University members institutions want more transparency when it comes to data on Ph.D. programs. Chief academic officers representing AAU campuses at their annual meeting last endorsed a statement calling on “all Ph.D. granting universities and their respective Ph.D. granting colleges, schools and departments, to make a commitment to providing prospective and current students with easily accessible information.” Such data should include student demographics, average time to finish a degree, financial support and career paths and outcomes both inside and outside academe, according to AAU. 

Member institutions "should commit to developing the infrastructure and institutional policies required to uniformly capture and make public such data,” reads the statement. 

Emily Miller, associate vice president for policy at AAU, said that her organization won’t necessarily be enforcing the commitment to data transparency, but that it now expects such a commitment from members. Data on who’s enrolling in graduate programs, what they’re doing while they’re there and where they go later on is crucial to having meaningful discussions about the future of graduate education, she said, noting that a number of institutions both inside and outside AAU have already taken steps toward transparency. 

The University of Michigan, for example, makes publicly available data on admissions, enrollment, funding, time to degree completion and completion rates, along with the results of a basic doctoral exit survey and job placement information. 

Calls for more information about how graduate students fare during their programs and after have increased in recent years, along with worries over the state of the academic job market. Some disciplinary organizations have even sought to provide Ph.D. program outcomes information on their own. The American Historical Association, for example, has tracked history Ph.D. recipients using publicly available information to paint its picture. Jim Grossman, executive director of the AHA, said of AAU’s pledge, “We’re thrilled that AAU institutions have committed themselves to collecting data more comprehensively and providing access to those data.”

 
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AAU Sets Expectation for Data Transparency on Ph.D. Program Outcomes

Democrats Grill Ed Dept. Nominee

Democrats used a Senate nomination hearing Tuesday to press the Department of Education's nominee for general counsel on questions involving federal Title IX policy and oversight of for-profit colleges.

Carlos Muniz, the nominee for general counsel and a former Florida deputy attorney general, is only the third Senate-confirmed education official to be nominated by the administration, after Secretary Betsy DeVos and Assistant Secretary Peter Oppenheim. While Muniz revealed little about how he would act on specific issues, the hearing highlighted areas where congressional Democrats will continue to clash with the department and DeVos.

Senator Patty Murray, the ranking Democrat on the Senate education committee, said the secretary's "lack of understanding of education issues and current law make it clear she needs an independent" counsel.

Muniz said he understood his "ultimate duty will be to the law, not to any individual or objective."

Democratic senators asked Muniz to commit to upholding the preponderance-of-evidence standard in campus-based Title IX proceedings (he didn't directly answer); asked him whether he would "stand in the way" of other federal agencies investigating for-profits colleges (he said he didn't have a view on the authority of other agencies); and asked him to explain why the Florida AG didn't investigate Trump University or for-profit colleges like Bridgepoint Education (he cited a low number of complaints from Floridians).

It was widely reported last year that Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi received a campaign donation from then candidate Donald Trump before declining to pursue an investigation of Trump University, a real estate training program. Her office insisted there was no connection between the donation and that decision. A federal judge this year approved a $25 million settlement between Trump and former students of the real estate seminar.

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Lipscomb president apologizes again after menu choices at dinners for African-American and Latino students come under scrutiny

President who apologized for cotton centerpieces at event for black students now is sorry for a menu that many see as insensitive for being stereotypically black cuisine.

White House goes with nontraditional pick to lead HBCU Initiative

White House ends months of waiting by naming new leader of its HBCU initiative. Some observers cautiously welcome the pick, while others note his lack of experience working in academia or government.

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