Election 2016

Clinton, Sanders united in call for more federal spending on higher ed, vary on college affordability approach

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Nearly all the Democratic presidential hopefuls are pitching new federal college affordability programs -- how do they differ?

In appeal to college supporters, political campaigns show lack of knowledge of university policy

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In their rush to recruit student volunteers, political campaigns may inadvertently ask faculty members to violate college and university policies.

UTEP faculty and students protest presidential finalist who serves as Trump Air Force appointee

As University of Texas at El Paso’s leader prepares to step down after 31 years, faculty and students say sole finalist for her job doesn't reflect their heritage, values.

Why institutions should shield academics who are being attacked by conservative groups (essay)

Threats to scholars are growing. John Eric Williams, an associate professor of sociology at Trinity College in Connecticut and Dana Cloud, a professor of communications and rhetorical studies at Syracuse University, are among the latest professors to face “physical threats or harassment, or both, for their political speech.” They both received unwanted attention, and their college and university received threats, for statements they made online that ran counter to right-wing orthodoxy. At Trinity College, the president blasted Williams for “poor judgment” and sent the matter to the dean of faculty to review whether “any college policies or procedures were violated.”

When Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, an assistant professor of African-American studies at Princeton, gave an impassioned commencement address at Hampshire College recently, she included a reference to President Trump as a “racist, sexist megalomaniac.” The speech was picked up by Fox News and then circulated throughout the conservative social media ecosystem. Within days, Taylor had received more than 50 “threatening emails” -- some of which contained obscenities and promises of violence. Fearing that those were more than idle threats, she canceled her upcoming speaking engagements.

To its credit, Hampshire College issued a statement in support of Taylor, saying, “We are appalled by the vicious and explicitly racist, misogynistic and homophobic threats being directed against Professor Taylor in response to her remarks. And we condemn the actions of those who are inciting violence by willfully taking information out of context and fanning the flames of prejudice and hate.” That is just the kind of statement that college and university leaders should be issuing when faculty come under attack. Unfortunately, it is relatively rare. As right-wing groups scale up their attacks on higher education, higher education institutions need to take bold steps to protect scholars who are being targeted.

Yet at a time of declining funding for higher education, administrators often become less courageous and more beholden to deep-pocketed donors. In 2014, when the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign rescinded a job offer to literature professor Steven G. Salaita after he posted a series of tweets that were critical of Israel’s bombing of Gaza that killed children, the legal battle that followed revealed emails that circulated between the university's chancellor, Phyllis M. Wise, and donors, including one that read, “Having been a multiple six-figure donor to Illinois over the years I know our support is ending as we vehemently disagree with the approach this individual [Salaita] espouses.”

While there is no evidence that Wise’s decision to rescind Salaita's job offer was a direct response to donor pressure, in the context of cutbacks, such considerations play important, often unacknowledged roles. Giving in to that pressure poses a challenge to faculty members and academic freedom -- and can result in expensive lawsuits. The University of Illinois eventually settled the dispute with Salaita for a reported $2 million in settlement and legal fees, a decision Salaita called, “a vindication” for himself and a “victory for academic freedom and the First Amendment.”

At times, administrators curtail academic freedom more subtly. Lee Bebout’s Arizona State University course U.S. Race Theory and the Problem of Whiteness was singled out for ridicule by Fox News commentators, including Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who called it “quite unfair, and wrong and pointed.” After a group called Campus Reform, which is behind many of these attacks, began to organize online, Bebout received more than 70 hostile emails, including one that said, “I look forward to your suicide.”

The response offered by leadership at Arizona State University was, at best, tepid. When the course was offered for a second semester, it carried the modified, less overtly critical name Whiteness and U.S. Race Theory. Anita Levy, of the American Association of University Professors, said, “Whether or not [Bebout] gets tenure, [he] is going to think twice and thrice about what he teaches next time.” This is the kind of slow, chilling effect that a less than robust response from universities can have on academic freedom and political dissent.

Colleges and universities hire scholars to teach and to produce knowledge. For many years, being a professor was a job where you got paid to read and think, insulated to some extent from the rough and tumble of the rest of society. While there have always been a handful of scholars, usually from elite institutions, who could parlay the life of the mind into a more public career, and universities were happy to bask in the reflected media attention, this was the exception that proved the rule of academic isolation.

Now, “we can no longer hold a position of splendid isolation,” University of California, Berkeley, sociologist Michael Burawoy has said. As the cloistered ivory tower goes the way of the card catalog, we have to rethink what it means to be a professor. Angelique Haugerud, a professor at Rutgers University, recently called upon her fellow anthropologists to participate more vocally in “our era’s economic dilemmas” and reject the economic “oversimplifications that pervade public discourse.” This seems particularly urgent in the era of Trump.

The expanding use of social media by academics at a time of growing national political polarization means that activist scholars face new, unforeseen risks. A 2013 survey found 70 percent of faculty use social media for personal reasons at least monthly, while 55 percent use it specifically for professional use at least monthly. People who take stands on controversial issues, particularly if they’re members of marginalized groups, are more likely to be subjected to scrutiny and even, at times, intimidation. By and large, college and university administrators are not prepared for these new challenges.

While social media enables scholarly work to travel into unknown spaces, it does so in ways that its authors cannot always anticipate. The ease and speed with which ideas move can make us more vulnerable to attack. Those who produce research that calls dominant groups to account and challenges deeply felt assumptions about how the world works are especially vulnerable; if they are members of less privileged groups, that’s even more likely. Social media has introduced a whole new set of potential interlocutors, trolls, who deliberately attack others online without engaging in reasonable debate. When college and university administrators join in and attack their own faculty, they are very effectively being trolled.

“A lot of people have said things like, ‘I hope you get raped,’” says sociologist Lisa Wade, author of American Hookup. Readers occasionally go to the trouble of googling her name to find out where she teaches, and then send diatribes. Usually, says Wade, “they seem perfectly satisfied having had their say. ‘Oh, good, I called her a cunt 16 times, and now I feel better,’” and she rarely hears from them again. Once, though, a man kept sending her abusive emails. “Eventually, he ran out of steam and went away.” (From Going Public, chapter six, interview conducted by Jessie Daniels; unedited interview is online here.)

A newly emboldened cadre of people on the far right has weaponized the use of social media. In 2015, Boston University professor Saida Grundy’s comments on Twitter about white men, race and slavery led to a series of coordinated attacks against her. Grundy had called white college men the “problem population” in America and asked, “Can we just call St. Patrick’s Day the white people’s Kwanzaa that it is?” In response, a right-wing group culled several of her more provocative tweets and began a campaign to fire the newly appointed assistant professor -- although she posted the tweets before she was even employed at her university.

For her part, Grundy admits that she was “completely naïve” about Twitter. “What I did not calculate was that there are people who hunt” for Twitter comments in order to stage coordinated attacks, she said. That is precisely what groups like Campus Reform do. They hunt for remarks that they can take out of context, whether on Twitter or in a commencement address, and then attack. Grundy says she didn’t realize that the title of professor, which suggests power and authority, made her a lightning rod for far-right attacks. Her experience suggests that while it’s impossible to fully guard against being attacked, publicly minded scholars must be wary of the political landscape in which they operate.

That a junior scholar might be unprepared for the specter of coordinated, right-wing attacks on faculty members is understandable. For college and university administrators, it is unacceptable. When faculty members are attacked, college administrators should speak out early and loudly to support them -- as Hampshire College did in the wake of attacks on Taylor. In order to guard against attacks on academic freedom, faculty members and administrators need to be better prepared. Until they are, faculty members can take some steps.

Knowing your rights as a public scholar is important. As of this writing, faculty unions, professional associations and colleges and universities are woefully behind in adopting policies that protect scholars who come under attack for their engagement in the public sphere. While your institution may have some resources, you’re going to have to search for them.

Public scholar Tressie McMillan Cottom suggests: ask whether your college or university has a media office. Find out if your institution has a plan in place for threats against their faculty. Also look into faculty governance, such as the faculty senate, and find out if they have a clear policy in place about social media and public scholarship. And contact your professional association to see if they have any resources for besieged members.

In addition, if you’re in a faculty union, make sure it protects academic freedom. On the day after the election, Orange Coast College professor Olga Perez Stable Cox was secretly videotaped by a student as she was criticizing Trump in class. The student then leaked the video to several conservative outlets. Predictably, a backlash against Cox on right-wing blogs gained strength -- until her union stepped in. The Coast Federation of Educators, which represents Cox, noted that it violates college policy to record a class without the explicit permission of the instructor. Ultimately, the student in this case was suspended, and the professor kept her job.

The cases of Williams, Cloud, Taylor and others suggest that colleges and universities need to do a much better job of protecting academic freedom in a digitally networked age. It’s time for faculty unions, professional academic associations and institutional administrators to develop protocols to guard professors and graduate students against harassment, and support them if they come under attack. If it hasn’t happened to someone on your campus yet, chances are it will.

Jessie Daniels is professor of sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Arlene Stein is professor of sociology at Rutgers University. They are the authors of Going Public: A Guide for Social Scientists, recently published by the University of Chicago Press.

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Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor at Hampshire College
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Protect Scholars Against Attacks From the Right

What Orwell says to us about America today (essay)

It’s not every day that an almost 70-year-old book catapults up the best-seller charts. George Orwell’s 1984 has topped various Amazon best-seller lists several times since mid-January, on the heels of the U.S. presidential inauguration. It’s also been featured at brick-and-mortar stores. For instance, in my neighborhood in Pittsburgh, the owner of an independent store has an Orwell display in his window and reports he’s sold a stack of copies akin to a new Harry Potter.

Who knew that Donald Trump would be good for the book trade?

Assigned in most American high schools, 1984 has sold continuously since its publication in 1949, but now, at a time when one of the president’s press officers declares that there are “alternative facts,” it has struck a renewed chord. It seems as if we have gone through the looking glass and entered a world where, in the words of 1984, “War is peace” and history is rewritten each day.

Still, the analogy can be a bit too easy. How does 1984 fit our world, and how not?

No doubt 1984 captures some sense of living in the modern era, with extensive government, military, technology and media. But in Orwell’s imagined Oceania, the state is monolithic, overseeing all activity with total control. It provides all goods and supervises all work. It sees what you do, tells you what to do, monitors what you think and punishes any variance.

A chilling vision, but that misses perhaps the most distinctive sense of our contemporary world: consumer capitalism provided by a phalanx of corporate sponsors. Conservatives might complain that government extends too far, but if one looks around one’s home, one can immediately see the reach of Apple, Google, Starbucks, Verizon, Amazon, General Foods, Exxon, Citibank and on and on. There are no corporations in Orwell’s world, and very few goods. There is only state-distributed watery coffee and foul-tasting gin -- a far cry from the soy-foam, half-decaf macchiato and the artisanal cocktail.

Orwell’s state exists for the sake of its own power, in a kind of sadomasochistic relationship that grinds down its citizens to perpetuate its power. In our society, it is easy to denigrate government because it provides a single symbol for the control we experience, but our government is more like a referee to make the market and its juggernaut of enterprises function.

Thus, a more apt vision for our day might foreground those businesses, extending across national borders and delivering pleasure, entertainment and ever newer goods. Aldous Huxley’s 1932 Brave New World captures that better, with mood-improving drugs and sex at the touch of a screen. (In a small-world coincidence, Huxley was one of Orwell’s schoolteachers.) Or William Gibson’s 1984 Neuromancer -- a book that, though a bit clunky in its sci-fi narrative, seems spot-on in depicting an internet that permeates our lives, as well as the companies that control it and deliver our products.

Orwell wrote in a time when totalitarian governments controlled a good part of Europe, notably Germany, Italy and Spain. And even in Great Britain and the United States, society had united in a concerted war effort. It was a time of total government, so in many ways 1984 reflects that moment. Instead, it seems as if we now live in a time of the total market, when major political figures aim to use business as a model for government.

Perhaps the chief thing that Orwell divined, before the advent of television, is media running through our lives. If you’ll recall from 1984, video screens are in every room at home and at work, and they are on all the time. They wake you up, tell you when to exercise and give you news about the state.

Still, there is only one channel, and it is entirely a state apparatus. In our time, so my Xfinity bill keeps telling me, we have hundreds of channels to choose from. My TV is not controlled by Big Brother; it’s spurred by the cornucopia of advertisers and products.

Orwell’s view of media followed World War II, a time of active propaganda, and Orwell knew the workings of propaganda firsthand. He worked in the Eastern Service of the BBC during the war, parlaying British news to India. But more so than propaganda, we live in a time of ads -- accumulating thousands of hours by the time one is 10 years old.

One of the creepier details in 1984 is that the screens can also watch the inhabitants. The social theorist Michel Foucault held that a central feature of modern society is the soft control of surveillance. It informs our sensibility, disciplining us without overt force and compelling us to adhere to normative behavior. Now, with the National Security Agency perusing our phones (hi!), Google combing through our search engines, and our high-tech TVs able to watch us, Orwell was all too prescient.

Still, the surveillance predominantly aims to capture us for a market. If you are reading this on a screen, then you are probably ignoring the ads in a sidebar. How did they know that you are a single 40-something? Or a woman who wants running shoes? Or a man who might wear Brooks Brothers?

In imagining a society of political lockstep, Orwell’s satiric target is usually assumed to be communism. Indeed, Orwell is a hero of the right for being an anti-Communist, as well as of the liberal left. That is why 1984 became an iconic book in the 1950s and ’60s, offering a confirmation of the ills of the Soviets.

However, it is a mistake to see it as a confirmation of the politics of the United States. From the mid-1930s onward, Orwell was an avowed anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist. If you read Animal Farm (1945) in junior high, his literary effort immediately preceding 1984, you will recall that the story parodies the U.S.S.R. under Stalin, as the main pig, Comrade Napoleon, takes control, rewrites history and finally declares that some pigs “are more equal than others.”

But remember that the farmers expelled at the beginning of the book were capitalists who had grossly exploited and abused the animals. They are not the good guys, and the revolution is justified. The problem with the Communists is not Communism; it is that they become corrupted. During a brief moment after the takeover of the farm, things are good, led by a Lenin figure, with a fairer distribution of work and more plentiful food than under the capitalists.

Rather than Communism per se, Orwell’s general target is what he saw as the rise of “managerial society.” That is a term that James Burnham, a prominent social commentator in midcentury, promoted -- seeing it as a sign of progress toward a more rational society. (In some ways, he was the Thomas Friedman of his day.) Although he declared himself a socialist after 1937, Orwell was not a party man and bristled against bureaucracy.

Orwell reviewed several of Burnham’s books and blanched at Burnham’s vision. While attuned to the politics of his time, Orwell retained nostalgia for the bucolic pleasures of the countryside, of the fields, fishing ponds and village pubs before the mechanistic effects of modern society. In 1984, one of the few pleasant moments is when the protagonist and his lover take a day trip outside London.

My bet is that Orwell would detest our day of big box stores and truly mass media. At one time he set up a small shop in a village north of London. It turned out that he was a much better writer than shopkeeper -- he shut it down after a fairly short period -- but on one of his travel visas, he identified himself as a grocer.

One aspect of 1984 that is rarely commented on is its appreciation for work. In his essay “Why I Write,” Orwell declared that he focused on politics from the late 1930s on, but he might be at his most instructive when describing work.

The grind of work is usually glossed over in fiction or film. If a protagonist has a job, their tasks are in the background or summarized in a quick scene. To be truly realistic, if work takes up nearly half of most people’s waking hours, one might expect more description of it, whereas narratives usually focus on a protagonist’s relationships, out-of-the-ordinary events or personal turmoil.

Unlike the majority of writers of his generation, such as the poets Stephen Spender or W. H. Auden, who traveled a fairly direct path from Cambridge or Oxford to London and higher cultural circles, Orwell had held a number of hardscrabble jobs as a British imperial police officer, dishwasher, schoolteacher and bookstore clerk. All of them found their way into his writing, particularly his early novels.

In 1984, the protagonist Winston works in a cubicle, handling memos and other paperwork in the Ministry of Information. However bleak otherwise, he finds some satisfaction in doing his daily tasks. Animal Farm also spends a good bit of time recounting the acceleration on the farm after the Stalin stand-in takes over, with the most honorable character, a horse, finally dying of overwork. Work is a good thing; the problem is not a day of work but overwork, or the exploitation of work.

One of the more poignant facts of Orwell’s life is that, after himself working relentlessly through the 1930s and early ’40s with little money and poor health, he gained financial comfort only in the late 1940s, after the publication of Animal Farm. It was his fifth novel and 10th book in a dozen years, and for the first time in his career, he had the luxury of writing without taking on other jobs. It afforded him time to draft 1984, but he was ill, troubled with the lung problems that would soon take him.

He had also lost his first wife, Eileen O’Shaughnessy, with whom he had gone to fight in Spain and who helped run the grocery, to a presumably safe surgery gone wrong. (The anesthesia caused heart failure.) One could see 1984 as a response to his personal despair as well as the state of the world, after a decade of full-blown fascism and massive destruction, followed by the rubble and squalor of the immediate postwar years.

Our time has a much different character, one of overflowing plenty, ubiquitous images on screen and shopping 24-7. Rather than the gray, pinched air of 1984, we live in an era of cultural ADD, and rather than suppression, we have the rampant personal expression of Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. In this moment, President Trump is a much more fitting figure than Big Brother, more a distinctly American promoter like P. T. Barnum than a Grand Inquisitor. Big Brother, after all, stays focused and runs things with an implacable force, whereas Barnum promises to give people what they want, even if appealing to their less cerebral instincts. It’s gonna be amazing.

Jeffrey J. Williams’s most recent book is How to Be an Intellectual: Essays on Criticism, Culture and the University. He is a professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University and co-editor of the Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism (third edition, 2018).

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The election and new administration have made higher education more relevant (essay)

Two days after November’s presidential election, the students in my section of American Society, an introductory sociology class, seemed to be collectively in shock. Most of them -- politically liberal, I suspect -- were subdued, talking quietly; some were frowning; a few were red-eyed, as if they’d been crying. All were evidently thinking about what had transpired. I don’t know if this makes them “snowflakes,” but they were clearly determined, then and there, to talk about the election results -- how they occurred and what they meant.

The ensuing discussion was one of the most detailed and information packed of the semester. My students truly, deeply wanted to learn about politics: the electoral college, the building and shifting of coalitions, the rural/urban divide in America, the primary system, how redistricting creates majorities in the U.S. House of Representatives, how the makeup of the U.S. Senate benefits rural states, whether voting is “rational” or “emotional,” and what those words even mean. We speculated about the likely effects of a Trump presidency (backed by Republican control of all branches) on a range of policies.

They were already better-than-average students, to be sure. But on that day in particular -- and in fact, for the rest of the semester -- they were as committed to learning as any students I’ve seen in 40 years of college teaching.

That day’s discussion made me think: in higher education, now is our time. If what I saw is widespread -- if large numbers of college students, at least for now, care deeply about what the election and the new administration mean -- then this new semester offers something far broader than a single teachable moment. Perhaps it will mean a reappreciation of higher education’s relevance to real life.

A huge number of academic topics have suddenly become controversial and almost desperately important. Start with how American elections work, in all their weird complexity. And then, why were the most scientifically sophisticated polls so invariably wrong? Students have now certainly heard of “fake news,” but can they distinguish reliable sources from fraudulent ones? “Information literacy,” an ugly coinage reflecting a crucial skill, may come into its own as an important goal of education, along with a revived understanding of slanted language, coded words and dog-whistle appeals. How do social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook shape our thinking about the world?

Once-obscure terms from cognitive psychology -- confirmation bias, for instance -- are beginning to have currency with large media outlets, and with college sophomores. And as ethnic politics have surfaced so rapidly, students may be ready for discussions about what ethnic and racial groups really are and how they are formed (often in political struggle, and for political purposes).

Formerly dry topics such nationalism and nationalistic appeals, migration and labor flows, and the limits of executive power now have immediate resonance. Undergraduates stage protests against President Trump’s travel ban on seven Muslim nations while voraciously reading online hastily constructed guidebooks on “resistance” and on the historical harbingers of authoritarianism.

At the same time, some Hispanic students are worried about their parents’ (or their own) potential deportation, and some job-seeking seniors are sensing an uncertainty in the economy that will affect everyone’s prospects. Never before have obscure trade agreements -- NAFTA? TPP? The European Union? -- received so much (even if superficial) public attention, and business majors might now notice that corporations, small businesses and government are inextricably and complexly interwoven, even in nominally free market economies. Under an administration that promises protectionism, the very definition of “free markets” comes into question.

Now that, as one student told me, “History really is happening,” maybe we professors can hold a lecture audience for the evidence of climate change, the arguments for various national health insurance systems, the efficacy of methods of policing, and the implications of scientific research funding policies, public and private.

It’s an extraordinary time in the intellectual life of America: worries over the symbolism of saying “Merry Christmas” are no longer confined to modern-language departments, while the very nature of truth itself is discussed almost daily on cable TV. The most arcane subjects -- not to mention the very legitimacy of critical thinking based on logic and evidence -- have taken on a renewed relevance, driven by our country’s (and the world’s) political upheaval.

Such discussions may be treacherous, to be sure, because now they actually matter. We will need to be prudent. But when students are hungry to learn, it’s our job to feed them.

Every spring, a colleague and I teach a course on Classics of Modern Social Thought. When we get to Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, the students usually fade a bit, slowed by Smith’s step-by-step descriptions of how wealth is created, why protectionism is self-destructive and how a division of labor with regulated free trade is so productive. I’m guessing that this spring, the discussion will be a bit more lively.

Daniel F. Chambliss is Eugene M. Tobin Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Hamilton College.

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How a Republican administration will influence international education (essay)

Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, will be long remembered by those who cast a ballot for the 45th president of the United States. Donald Trump’s election has raised uncertainty and doubts about a reversal of globalization, as well as concerns about a continued commitment to diversity. With a conservative administration about to take office, it would appear that values counter to the international education field have prevailed.

And yet a look at historic Open Doors and other data from the Institute of International Education indicates that the prospects for international education should, in fact, look hopeful for some, while others will need to double down on their efforts. It’s worth analyzing the data to see what they say about the prospects for international education, specifically study abroad and international student enrollment.

Presidential Parties and Study Abroad

Consider first, the recent history of presidential administrations, along with the Institute for International Education’s Open Doors data. Looked at side by side, we can compare the number of students studying abroad from American colleges and universities with the party affiliations of the past two administrations.

While the data limit us to two recent presidents, a significant increase in study abroad students under the Bush administration from 2000-08 may be quite surprising. Yet during this time, study abroad numbers added more than twice as many students when compared to the Obama administration. Between 2008 and 2015, the number of students studying abroad rose from 260,327 to 313,415.

In comparison, IIE’s data on the number of Fulbright applications received also point to significant growth for faculty interested in overseas research during the George W. Bush administration. Between 2000 and 2008, the annual number of Fulbright applications received grew by 2,119, a 713 percent increase when viewed alongside the annual figures for 1993-2000, the Clinton administration. However, during the Obama administration, annual Fulbright applications received also continued to increase, nearly doubling from 6,703 in 2008-09 to 11,091 in 2014-15. This data set may be too small to draw conclusions, but it does provide food for thought and raises key questions applicable to the field. For example, with such an increase of faculty seeking to conduct overseas research, what factors contributed to a declining growth rate for students studying abroad during the Obama administration? Similarly, what more involved role can faculty play in motivating students to share a similar curiosity for global learning?

Presidential Parties and International Student Enrollment

On the other side of international education, what do the data tell us about international student populations? For international student recruitment, the Open Doors data go back as far as 1980-81. Combined with the study abroad data, this analysis leads us to a number of interesting potential trends and predictions.

Looking first at the net increase or decrease of international student enrollment over the past 36 years, the data alone do not shed much light. The number of international students coming to the United States to study has increased during each administration, with the notable exception for the years 2000-08. But when we look closely at the Obama administration, it is difficult not to recognize that international student enrollment increased by a significant 372,223 students -- a 390 percent increase from the prior Republican-led administration. By comparing the growth rates under different presidential administrations, it is clear that under Democratic presidents, the increase in international student enrollment is higher than under Republican administrations.

In addition, a comparison of Open Doors data on international student enrollment as a percentage of total enrollment in higher education in the United States is also significant. Under the two Democratic administrations included in the data -- the Clinton and Obama administrations -- international student enrollment as a percentage of total enrollment increased by 0.5 percent or greater from one administration to the next, rising to 5.1 percent of all American students enrolled in higher education in 2015-16. During the Clinton administration, between 1992 and 2000, international students made up 25 percent of the increase in total enrollment in colleges and universities in the United States. During the Obama administration, the estimated 372,223 international students studying at U.S. higher education institutions represent roughly 31 percent of the total enrollment increase.

Under Republican administrations, however, we see a very different trend. Between 1980 and 1992, and again between 2000 and 2008, international student enrollment as a percentage of total enrollment in American colleges and universities increased by no more than 2 percent. In fact, during the 2000-08 Bush administration, the percentage of international students enrolled compared to total higher education enrollment actually declined, even as total enrollment continued to rise significantly.

Furthermore, during Republican administrations, the data indicate that total enrollment in U.S. higher education increases at a far higher rate than under Democrat-led administrations. During the George H. W. Bush administration, between 1988 and 1992, for example, enrollment grew by 117 percent. During George W. Bush’s administration, from 2000 to 2008, that figure rose a staggering 867 percent. Notably, those increases were not due to an equal increase in the percentage of incoming international students. That percentage remained at or below 4.1 percent.

In contrast, Democratic administrations show a declining rate of growth for total enrollment in higher education in the United States. During the Clinton administration, between 1992 and 2000, total higher education enrollment increased by roughly 300,000, a 77 percent decline from the prior Bush administration. Similarly, during the Obama administration, the growth rate of total enrollment declined by 59 percent.

These findings, combined, lead to a significant correlation for the international education field: during Republican-led administrations, the rate of enrollment for U.S. domestic students increases much more, which is possibly one cause for the observed higher growth rate and corresponding number of students studying abroad.

Impact and Influence on International Education

As we look ahead, what can these data tell us about the next four or eight years under President-elect Trump’s Republican-led administration? More important, what might be the implications for the international education field?

First, if past trends hold, the future points to an increasing growth rate for total enrollment at American colleges and universities -- and possibly a significant increase. Between 2008 and 2016, 1.2 million additional students were enrolled at higher education institutions, bringing total enrollment to roughly 20.3 million. Under the incoming administration, that figure could reach 1.8 million more students or higher, assuming a growth rate of 50 percent under Trump’s administration. At the same time, international student enrollment as a percentage of that total will undoubtedly decline. Estimating how much it will decline is difficult, but based on past data, a forecast increase of 80,000 or fewer international students enrolling in American higher education institutions would be consistent with enrollment figures from 1992 to 2008. This would suggest that international students will account for an unchanged 5.1 percent of total enrollment in American higher education institutions.

In comparison, with an estimated 1.8 million more students enrolling in colleges and universities in the United States, the forecast for study abroad points to a tremendous potential for growth. Based on this estimate, the number of students studying abroad could potentially reach 2 percent of all enrolled students in the United States, which would equal an increase of over 130,000 students per year.

If such forecasts come to fruition, global initiative and international offices at American colleges and universities will need to strategically reflect on their allocation of resources. For example, how are admissions offices preparing to counter any negative effects of stable or even lower enrollment of international students? For education abroad offices, the number of students going to study overseas may be set to rise. Are adequate budgets being considered to cover the greater numbers of staff required, as well as the added responsibilities for study abroad advisers?

The Open Doors data clearly point to evidence that a Republican-led administration will play a significant role in influencing the international education community during the next four or eight years. Colleges and universities that are strategically prepared will be better positioned to accommodate the changing requirements of the field.

Bradley A. Feuling is the chairman and CEO of the Asia Institute, based in Shanghai. Over the past nine years, the Asia Institute has worked with more than 2,000 students and faculty members and has quickly become a leading host partner for many educational institutions in areas such as short-term programs, student recruitment, experiential learning, faculty exchange and career development.

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Essay on presidency and symbolic interactionism

“As nearly all scholars recognize,” we read in an article published in Presidential Studies Quarterly in 1983, “there is no apprenticeship or training an individual may obtain in preparation for the presidency. There is no convenient book or guide which provides a detailed step-by-step analysis of the requirements and demands of the office.”

How true! An acquaintance with the Constitution would surely be helpful, but it’s not as if you have to pass a test on it -- even one with simple questions, such as “Would requiring Muslims to register with the government follow the First Amendment (a) to the letter, (b) in spirit or (c) none of the above?” (It’s surprising how far you can get in public life without being able to answer that one correctly.)

But the whole point of the paper just quoted -- “On ‘Becoming’ President of the United States: The Interaction of the Office with the Office Holder” by Robert E. Denton Jr. -- is that coping with the lack of an orientation handbook is one of the simultaneous, urgent and inflexible demands over which the incoming chief executive must demonstrate a mastery, beginning almost immediately. The author is a professor of communications (and head of the department) at Virginia Tech, with a special interest in the “symbolic dimensions of the American presidency,” to borrow the title of the first of his more than two dozen books.

His vita shows that Denton has been analyzing presidential communications more or less in real time since the first Reagan administration, when “On ‘Becoming’ President” appeared. One of his earliest publications, it proves especially interesting just now -- despite having been written long before official speeches and press conferences were joined by such message-delivery formats as the tweet.

“On ‘Becoming’ President” takes its bearings from symbolic interactionism: a school of thought at the intersection of sociology and psychology, and well established even then. Its defining insight -- drawn largely from the American pragmatist philosophers, especially George Herbert Mead -- is that communication between human beings always involves considerably more than the content of a message. We also take in cues about one another’s roles, statuses, expectations and so on -- an ongoing process of learning to see oneself from other people’s vantage points.

They are doing so at the same time, of course. It can get complicated, even when the roles, beliefs and shared expectations are all reasonably clear or well established. Arguably the symbolic-interactionist researcher and the novelist or filmmaker each tries to depict and analyze the range of communicative multitasking constantly underway in life.

The Oval Office emerges as the scene where symbolic interactions of global consequence take place that are conditioned by “expectations and functions of the office [that] are often competing, conflicting and contradictory.” In addition to the president’s constitutionally specified roles (chief of state, chief executive, chief diplomat, chief legislator and commander in chief), another “five extraconstitutional roles must be recognized: chief of [his] party, protector of the peace, manager of prosperity, world leader and voice of the people.” (Denton culls these roles from the poli-sci literature of the day; the references are given in his article.)

Occupancy of the office itself confers a great deal of persuasive force in exercising any given role. But it often requires playing a number of them simultaneously, and while a certain amount of authority may be delegated, the ultimate responsibility cannot. Denton also underscores the constant burden of “vast and complex” public expectation, both to meet of promises and to exhibit a suitable combination of leadership traits and personal morality.

“Many attitudes about the presidency stem from messages received in childhood about the virtues of various presidents,” Denton writes. “Studies continually find that the president is ordinarily the first public official to come to the attention of young children. Long before children are informed about the specific functions of the presidency, they view individual presidents as exceptionally important and benign.”

He mentions researchers who found children attributing to the president qualities of “honesty, wisdom, helpfulness” and related virtues. (All of the studies Denton cites were conducted before the mid-1970s, but comparable findings appear in a book on child psychology from 2005.)

The symbolic-interactionist approach would emphasize not only presidential roles and duties (as established by the Constitution or tradition) or the pressure of public expectations (still tinged with hero fantasies from childhood, perhaps) but also the inner experience of “adopting and adapting the self to the actions of others” through years of public life. The political learning curve “is adaptive,” Denton writes, “resulting from the capacity to change self depending on political environment, beliefs, values and expectations.”

Implied by Denton’s remarks on what he calls the “political self” is some normative sense of a successful candidate’s personality and career: a self conditioned by the experience of political action and debate, informed by some modeling of another’s leadership, and skilled at anticipating the impact of both words and deeds. The tempered political self -- so understood -- will presumably be as well prepared as anyone can be to incorporate “the trappings, powers and prerogatives of the presidency” into itself. And he suggests that the process is not without its risks, even then.

Our majestic treatment of presidents causes status inequality, inflation of self-concept and distorted perception of external events. Such exposure manifests distortion of social comparison processes, ‘overidentification’ with the office and misinformed decisions …. Presidents are constantly pressured to misrepresent or distort themselves to various national constituencies. Such a continual pressure causes further misrepresentations, erosion of truth norms and self-delusion.

It appears that the author had Richard Nixon in mind as the worst-case scenario, although Nixon had more than 20 years of political experience (including one previous presidential campaign) before taking office. In any event, Denton’s paper is something to chew on this week -- and to choke down in the months ahead.

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Four fundamentals colleges must communicate in the post-election era (essay)

In the wake of the presidential election, most analysts have concluded that the higher education community  was one of the biggest losers. American colleges and universities may offer the education the world desires, but people in huge swaths of the country perceive campuses as elitist and full of political views they reject.

The election results arrived, too, amid long-boiling cynicism and doubt about the value, and values, of our institutions. Even for students seeking degrees, the costs and debts have often become onerous, and the results -- notably the jobs -- are not always what have been promised. Now, exit polls say, the election has confirmed how differently college and noncollege graduates view just about everything.

We in higher education must address vital issues of access, cost and effectiveness (let alone widespread and brutal economic inequality). We must also reconnect who we are and what we do with our own campus communities and especially with America’s wider citizenry. But communication is especially fraught as postelection campus strife swirls, amid calls for sanctuary campuses, walkouts, hate speech and acts of violence.

Our institutions, aiming to serve outstanding talent wherever it is found, bring together human differences -- cultural, racial, economic and more -- that even in normal times invite tension. Day after day, in classrooms and residence halls, events and offhand conversations, diverse and changing generations wrestle with ideas that invoke all those differences. Even without postelection duress, conflicts over ideology, language, race, gender identity and every other complicated topic would be guaranteed. Throw social media into the mix and you have quite a brew. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the like can turn campus struggles into national, and immediate, spectacles.

When such crises emerge, we must respond with speed -- and across numerous media simultaneously. But what do we say in those moments, and even more, over the longer term? Having worked in higher education, at both public and private institutions, since the administration of George H. W. Bush, I believe that four pillars must serve as the foundation of higher education communication in this postelection era.

First principles. Higher education is by definition about something, well, higher. Ideals that are the cornerstone of mission statements everywhere express a commitment to liberation of the mind, rigorous pursuit of the truth, skepticism about received wisdom, engagement in civic life, respect for freedom of speech, and the imperative of decency and character. These ideals connect colleges and universities to something greater in the human spirit than the pressures of the moment -- be they political, cultural or otherwise.

These ideals are largely American ideals, too. Especially when doubts are greatest and bigotry is rising, the vocalizing of those ideals must be steady. Through speeches, statements, emails to alumni, op-eds and other means, campus voices must convey and stand by them. Presidents, provosts and deans -- the academic leadership -- must take the lead, as some already have done forcefully since Nov. 8. That must spread and continue for months and years to come. Presumably we believe that, in difficult times, higher education has light to fight for, and to offer.

The academic core. The noble principles that our institutions profess are rooted in the belief that powers of the mind can bring us closer to truth, and therefore closer to those better angels of our natures that our missions promise to inspire. Reason, logic, analysis, accuracy -- colleges and universities are built around such qualities. Foregrounding what is essential seems especially critical when the difference between fact, falsehood and opinion is being muddied. But a cursory examination of much of our messaging will find other ideas prioritized: career value, community service, leadership development, economic impact. These are important, but they all depend upon delivering the academic mission first, and the rhetoric shouldn’t confuse what’s first and foremost.

Stories. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about human beings going back to our cave days, it’s that we’re fascinated with stories. We in higher education need to tell ours, specifically the ones that show why the ideals and academic mission of our institutions matter.

The election autopsy is making the case that elites too often talk past other people, but that argument isn’t only about the failures of ignoring economic pain or “flyover country.” It’s also about assuming that facts and data are sufficient for argument or advocacy. Our ideals need a down-to-earth life, because that is where they reveal themselves. If we’re going to make our missions real and honest, sound reasoning has to be paired with stories of the people who are affected by the ideals. Thankfully our resources for these stories, in the experiences of students and alumni, are virtually limitless.

A bigger audience. Four-year colleges and universities naturally spend most of their time communicating with people already in the same sphere: people on the campus, admissions prospects and alumni. But only a third of American adults have a four-year degree. If we’re not communicating regularly with the rest of the country, meaning the rest of the community around us, we actually are living in a bubble, just as critics allege.

There are numerous places through which to connect, including local civic clubs, shelters, hospitals, K-12 schools, churches, farms, small businesses, industry -- and local two-year colleges, too, where so many of tomorrow’s bachelor’s degree aspirants begin. This can’t only be through service work by students and others, either. It has to be through sharing ideas, listening and building understanding and relationships. The election has been an intense reminder of the vast gap that can exist between how people with a four-year degree and those without one experience the world. Higher education can do more to listen, learn, serve -- and bridge the divide.

The election makes clear the striking importance of reaching out -- and of how, how often and how extensively we do it. The stakes have become extreme for higher education, and more importantly, for our nation. Getting this right is crucial.

Pete Mackey led communications at such institutions as Amherst College, Bucknell University and the University of South Carolina and now runs the communications firm Mackey Strategies.

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After the election, academics should pursue a form of radical dialogue (essay)

I am a professor of sociology who did not vote for Donald Trump, and I do not know of a single academic colleague who did. (And if they did, they are certainly not disclosing this in academic circles.)

I remember sitting with colleagues before the primaries when Trump was gaining ground. They laughed him off. They did not know anyone who would vote for him.

The pollsters got it wrong, too, and they all seemed to get it wrong in the same direction: in favor of established liberal Hillary Clinton. They are already writing about the statistical reasons this may have happened. I am going to set those aside for now to address a sociological, qualitative reason.

Sociologists have long studied the tendency of people to bond with others like them. Case in point: I love my academic colleagues because they are a lot like me. We are a group of passionate people who care deeply about the poor. And we are similar in other ways, too. We like to read dry academic articles and make arguments that contain the word “nuanced.”

And politically, many of us lean to the left (or even the far left). When I am with other sociologists, I tend to de-emphasize the things that are different about us and emphasize the things that are similar: I talk a lot about how my husband is an equal partner in care for our daughter, how I come from a biracial family and how I am raising my daughter in, as much as possible, a gender-neutral fashion.

That is starkly different from the way I was brought up.

I was literally raised on Podunk Road, where trailers and beat-up cars dotted the landscape. Our family was probably among the richest of a group of poor white people. Among those I went to school with, I am one of the only ones who attended an Ivy League school, Cornell University. I was likely let in under affirmative action because of a land grant that required the university to take in a proportion of local farm kids. I fit this description.

When I am with my colleagues, I talk less about how most of my family were church-going, card-carrying members of the National Rifle Association or how I still go to church every week.

The truth is, academics at elite institutions tend to be more liberal, less religious and more in favor of big government than the rest of the American population. Most of us would be hard-pressed to give a well-reasoned, conservative argument in response to any social issue. And more than one academic colleague has told me that if their neighbor had a Republican sign on his lawn, they probably would not make any effort to get to know the neighbor.

I join my colleagues in the fight against social inequality in all its insidious forms. But many academics like me have not spent much time trying to understand the groups of people who likely voted for Trump, nor have we spent much time trying to translate our academic work to these groups. And given the demographics of the United States, we forget that, for Trump to win, he needed to have some of the people whose interests I think his views work against actually vote for him -- including poor people, immigrants, women and Latinos.

For most academics, our candidate did not win the presidential election. We now face a crossroads. Will we lock ourselves in our ivory towers and face the outside world with cynicism? Or will we concede that our best social scientists got the prediction wrong?

Now is the time to move forward in pursuing a form of radical dialogue that we do not hear very often on university campuses. I would advocate that we move forward as leaders in listening to and learning from the entire world outside the academy. We need to live up to the best vision of the university, where everyone is welcomed to hear and be challenged by views different than their own.

Here are some concrete suggestions:

  • Challenge yourself to find the best voice on the other side. Academics are human, and it’s tempting when dealing with controversial issues to choose an unattractive opponent. I study religion, and I have heard many debates between erudite, attractive academics and inarticulate faith leaders. We must find the most attractive, well-spoken person on the “other side.”
  • Claim the best vision of the university as a protected space for dialogue. Each month, through the Religion and Public Life Program that I direct at Rice University, I host a discussion or reception for 20 to 30 religious and civic leaders at my home. In the midst of polarized faith communities and tensions between faith and secular communities, the leaders who come say that this is one of the few places in their lives where they have the opportunity to meet with someone who is different. I have seen conservative and liberal faith leaders, people who would never meet under another circumstance, come together around common social justice issues.
  • Claim a nonutilitarian vision of the university. Universities have fallen prey to business principles. Some of this is unavoidable as funding streams narrow. In its best form this utilitarianism is born from a desire to do work that really counts. But universities can be the soul of society. Sometimes we academics -- who are busy with committee work, raising funding for projects and getting out the last possible publication for the academic audience -- forget what a privilege it is (especially for those of us who have stable academic jobs and even stable academic jobs with tenure) to work in a university context where we get paid to do work that we love.

In its worst form, the academy is often rightly criticized as being in an ivory tower with no central importance to helping solve societal problems. But in their best form, universities can provide society spaces to stop and reflect. That is why, in particular, the modern university needs the humanities. In my university classes, I learned practical skills for a job, but the best classes I took were my history and philosophy and writing classes -- those that prepared me to think, reflect and appreciate beauty.

I write this from a sabbatical in France. I grew up among the rural poor, but I do not know many of them anymore. In the next few months, I will return to America, to reality and, I hope, to trying to understand this new reality and sharing that knowledge with my colleagues, students and the rest of the world.

The election has changed me. When I return I want to be a better teacher and do a better job incorporating views and traditions different than my own in my classes. I might spend more time trying to translate my work to a broader public that can benefit from it and from whom I can learn. When colleagues say things that cut off dialogue or say that certain views are not welcome, I might feel freer to gently challenge. I might spend more time in my community translating my work, and I might take my students with me. I might try harder to bring that community to campus. In the best case, the election provides a chance for the academy to reflect on itself and achieve a new vision of service to the broader society.

Elaine Howard Ecklund is the Herbert S. Autrey Chair in Social Sciences at Rice University, where she directs the Religion and Public Life Program.

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