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Thursday, March 5, 2015 - 3:00am

Grinnell College's decision to ask the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights to review how it handles cases of campus sexual assault was, in part, a reaction to what the college says is inaccurate media coverage stemming from federal privacy laws that prevent institutions from sharing its? -sj side of the story. "This dilemma has fueled a national problem,” Raynard Kington, the college's president, said in a campuswide letter sent this week. “Without access to protected records, recent media coverage of campus sexual assaults has often been one-sided or incomplete. Nationally, we are seeing the impact of reporters’ efforts to build a narrative without access to the full facts."

The college made the request in anticipation of a Huffington Post article about three sexual assault cases the college investigated in 2012. An announcement of the request sent to reporters earlier this week did not mention the article.should we note that in its announcement, Grinnell didn't note this? -sj

"The privacy restrictions, while consistent with our institutional values and the integrity of our processes, place the college in an untenable position, because we cannot provide open and transparent information about the cases," Kington said in the campuswide letter. "In some instances, the protected education records confirm or refute [the Huffington Post's] claims. In others, the criticisms [it] reports on are subjective and cannot be fairly addressed without a full contextual understanding. In order to overcome this dilemma, on Monday, March 2, the college contacted the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights to request technical assistance. We have specifically invited OCR to review the cases [The Huffington Post] has highlighted to us."

Dissenting Voices, a group of Grinnell students and faculty who are unhappy with the college's sexual assault policies, called the request an "unprecedented attempt to preemptively control the framing of this issue." Six students have recently filed complaints with the Office for Civil Rights, the group said, "so the administration’s request is redundant."

Thursday, March 5, 2015 - 3:00am

A new report is pushing for access to more effective college opportunities for prisoners and formerly incarcerated people in California. In the late 1970s, all of California’s state prisons had in-person college programs, and 15 community colleges offered support services for people with criminal histories, according to a report titled "Degrees of Freedom." Today, just one prison offers in-person education programming. Others have low-quality distance education, the report found.

The report links improved postsecondary correctional education with the state’s need for educated workers. California’s demand for college-educated workers is projected to outpace the number of residents with a college degree in the next decade. One of the report’s recommendations is for improved partnerships between California’s 112 community colleges and 35 state prisons. Most of the state’s prisons are located within a 20-mile radius of a community college, but community colleges and correctional facilities have been operating in silos, the report says. Other recommendations include recruiting qualified teachers and offering both academic and nonacademic support for incarcerated students.

The report was written by the Stanford Criminal Justice Center at Stanford Law School and the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law. The project is paid for by the Ford Foundation.

Thursday, March 5, 2015 - 3:00am

The race- and gender-related hiring practices of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's member institutions have received a C grade in this year's College Sport Racial and Gender Report Card, issued by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida. That is the worst grade ever issued by the institute, which began creating the reports in 2001.

The report card notes declines in the hiring of women and people of color in nearly every major profession in college athletics. The report's grade for gender hiring fell from a B in 2012 to a C- in 2014. Its grade for racial hiring fell from a B to a C+. For the 2014 season, only 22 percent of men’s Division I basketball coaches were African-American (down from 23 percent) and 23.8 percent were coaches of color (down from 24.8 percent). Less than 10 percent of Division I athletic directors are women. The number of head football coaches of color in the Football Bowl Subdivision decreased from 15 in 2013 to 14 at the start of the 2014 season. About 90 percent of the coaches were white. All FBS conference commissioners in 2014 were white men.

“It was extremely discouraging that this year’s CSRGRC showed further deep overall declines," Richard Lapchick, director of TIDES and the primary author of the report, said in a statement. "The drop in the race and gender grades emphasized an area of continuing and alarming concern."

Thursday, March 5, 2015 - 3:29am

Southern New Hampshire University's president, Paul LeBlanc, has taken a three-month assignment with the U.S. Department of Education. LeBlanc's appointment, which begins next week, will be as a senior adviser to Ted Mitchell, the department's under secretary. He will focus on competency-based education and "developing new accreditation pathways for innovative programs in higher education," the department and Southern New Hampshire said in a joint news release.

LeBlanc's university has been an early adopter of a new form of competency-based education. It was the first to receive approval from the department for a "direct assessment" program, an approach that does not rely on the credit-hour standard.

“I hope to help the department, and all of us, answer the many questions we still have about competency-based education," LeBlanc said in a written statement. "The department’s innovation agenda has the potential to reshape and change higher education and ultimately to better serve students. The opportunity to play even a small part in that effort was irresistible.”

Thursday, March 5, 2015 - 3:00am

The French government on Wednesday announced plans to pay for a major expansion in the number of university courses on Islam, International Business Times reported. The courses will be free and will be based on teaching about Islam within a context of the values of the French Republic, officials said.



Thursday, March 5, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Lynn Helding, an associate professor at Dickinson College, discusses the importance of a science of the voice. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015 - 3:00am

A Yale University report has cleared the officer who briefly detained a black student at gunpoint, renewing a debate over racial profiling on campuses. The student who was detained was not the actual suspect, but the student's father was a New York Times columnist who publicized the case. The Yale report found no violations of procedures. "Among its findings, the investigation concluded that the officer drew his firearm in the 'low ready' position, with his finger off the trigger at all times, and put his weapon back in its holster in a matter of seconds. The officer did not violate any Yale Police regulations regarding patrol procedures or the use of force, the report stated," said a summary by Yale of the report.

Charles M. Blow, the father of the student, said on Twitter: "So, according to Yale, this was 'in compliance with department policy'? No apology?" He followed that with "#sigh."


Wednesday, March 4, 2015 - 3:00am

Tensions between the University of California System and state leaders escalated Tuesday, The Sacramento Bee reported. State officials have been pushing the university system to shift some admissions slots from out-of-state applicants to Californians. But in legislative testimony Tuesday, UC President Janet Napolitano said that the university could not increase in-state enrollment at current budget levels. “We will not be admitting students that we don’t know that we actually have funding for,” she said. Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins called Napolitano's statement "UC’s latest attempt to use students as bargaining chips.”


Wednesday, March 4, 2015 - 3:00am

An article in The Star Tribune explores a particular problem faced by Minnesota colleges in dealing with drunk students -- some wander or pass out outside and freeze to death. While colleges nationwide deal with students who pass out, Minnesota and other parts of the country are particularly dangerous in that these students could die, even if their alcohol intake alone would not have killed them.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015 - 3:00am

Cengage Learning and Greenwood Hall on Tuesday announced a partnership that will see the two companies work together on products and services aimed at students. In a press release, Greenwood Hall said the partnership will target the "most significant challenges" facing higher education, including improving student outcomes. "To break it down -- Greenwood Hall has the expertise on the more administrative type services (financial aid, recruiting, enrollment) and we have it on the course solutions, tech and content side," a Cengage spokeswoman said in an e-mail. "Together we can offer institutions more services for students."


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