Five students at Clemson University were arrested Thursday evening after they refused to end a sit-in in a campus building that has a closing time of 5:30 p.m., WYFF News reported. The students are part of a larger movement that has demanded that Clemson do more to recruit minority students and faculty members and make the campus more inclusive. The student demands state that the university's responses to racial incidents have been insufficient. The university pledged Thursday to do more to recruit and support minority students, but the protesters call those pledges inadequate.
Higher Education Quick Takes
A transgender adjunct professor of English is suing Saginaw Valley State University for sex discrimination for allegedly taking away her administrative position after she began presenting as a woman. According to the suit, filed this month in a Michigan federal court, Charin Davenport has taught at the university since 2007, when she was still presenting as a man. She took on a second, part-time job as coordinator of academic tutoring services in 2011 and was named assistant director of academic programs support in 2012, reporting to Ann Coburn-Collins, director of academic programs support.
Davenport received strong performance reviews, the suit says, until 2013, when she informed the university that she was undergoing a gender transition and intended to dress as a woman from then on. She asked her colleagues for support, but Coburn-Collins made negative comments and told Davenport that she must have had too much free time on her hands, according to the suit.
Coburn-Collins stopped talking to Davenport and two months later informed her that her administrative job was being eliminated for budgetary reasons, the complaint says. When Davenport tried to talk to her former supervisor about what had happened, Coburn-Collins allegedly called her a liar and threw an unspecified object at her, and said that Davenport disgusted her.
Davenport says she lost the job in retaliation for her transition, not budgetary reasons, as stated, and she is seeking an unspecified amount in damages and lost wages. Neither Coburn-Collins nor a Saginaw Valley State spokesperson immediately responded to requests for comment, but the university told The Daily Beast, “We are aware of the lawsuit and we are confident that we will prevail in court, as all the facts come out. SVSU does not tolerate discrimination of any kind. … We support all our students, faculty and staff, including those who are members of the LGBT community. We have a Pride Center on campus to serve those individuals and to contribute toward an inclusive campus environment.”
College students are largely dissatisfied with their campus bookstores -- particularly with their prices, according to a study commissioned by bookstore service provider Akademos. The survey of 1,000 students at two- and four-year institutions found that 89 percent of respondents take the price tag into account when shopping for textbooks, and that 55 percent say prices as their college bookstores are too high. As a result, nearly half of the surveyed students (44 percent) said they never shop at the campus bookstore, choosing online vendors such as Amazon (49 percent) instead.
The main association of for-profit colleges in Washington on Thursday asked Education Secretary John B. King Jr. to delay implementation of the Obama administration’s “gainful employment” rule that is aimed at cracking down on for-profit colleges.
Steve Gunderson, the president and CEO of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, asked King to delay any penalties for colleges under the rule for one year.
Gunderson said in a letter that the debt-to-earnings ratios by which colleges are judged under the regulation do not accurately capture students’ long-term earnings. He cited recent studies that he said make clear that “recent graduates face significant challenges in finding work related to the value of their degrees.”
The Obama administration on Thursday didn’t provide any indication that it would be willing to entertain the for-profit college group’s request to delay one of its signature higher education policy achievements.
“We’ve received APSCU’s letter and will respond soon, but students and taxpayers deserve not to wait any longer for these commonsense protections,” said Kelly S. Leon, a department spokeswoman.
A federal appeals court earlier this year rejected the for-profit college group’s legal challenge to the administration’s regulations, which took effect last July.
Earlier this month Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts signed legislation to require the state's public institutions to provide students with detailed annual reports on their projected student loan debt, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.
Under the legislation, which is modeled on an Indiana law, colleges must tell students the total amount of federal loans received, estimates of monthly payments, the number of years they can expect to be in debt and how close they are to aggregate borrowing limits.
A group of professors known as Faculty Against Rape has deep concerns about the American Association of University Professors’ recent draft report arguing that some interpretations and applications of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prevents sex-based discrimination in education, threaten academic freedom. “As it stands, we are troubled by much of the framing, content, unrepresentative nature of, and failures of accuracy within, the draft report,” reads an open letter from the group to the AAUP.
“The overall impression given by the report is that the Department of Education’s Office [for] Civil Rights is ‘overreaching’ in its mandated mission of providing guidance to universities and ‘abusing’ Title IX; this, despite the fact that there is broad underreporting of campus sexual assault by universities,” the letter says. “While we would ordinarily join with the AAUP in resisting the corporatization of institutions of higher learning, we are deeply concerned that the AAUP’s analysis of this issue as it pertains to Title IX, by pitting student concerns for campus safety against faculty interests, reinforces the symptoms instead of addresses the problem.”
Faculty Against Rape says it does support the report’s recommendation for more funding for programs and departments that “analyze how sex, gender, power and advantage operate,” but it requests that AAUP not release draft reports to the media before seeking broader input from its members and subject matter experts. It also includes a number of suggestions for improving the report, including by ceasing -- in the group’s view -- to conflate “the actions of the [civil rights office] with specific university actions in a few specific cases, while ironically, ignoring the much more frequent retaliation against students, staff and faculty as sexual assault survivors, allies and advocates.”
Faculty Against Rape plans on sending its letter to AAUP today. Risa Lieberwitz, a professor of law at Cornell University and chair of the AAUP report committee, said via email, "We welcome all comments on the AAUP draft report and will carefully consider those submitted by [Faculty Against Rape]. As the AAUP draft report explains, universities should effectively address and prevent problems of sexual harassment while fully protecting academic freedom and due process. We do not argue that speech can never create a hostile environment, nor that all speech is protected, only that matters of speech in the university always require attention to academic freedom. The report criticizes both the OCR and university administrations for failing to adequately protect academic freedom and due process. The report also offers recommendations for developing, through shared governance, fair and effective policies that pertain to sexual harassment."
The American Council on Education this week named the next 33 higher education leaders for its fellows program. In the program, colleges nominate up-and-coming administrators or faculty members to work under the mentorship of a senior administrator elsewhere. The fellows program is known for producing many future presidents and provosts. The names of the new fellows may be found here.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and several other veterans' groups held a rally on Capitol Hill Thursday to protest a proposed cut to a benefit included in the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
The veterans, who were joined by several Democratic members of Congress, were pushing back against a provision in a bill the U.S. House of Representatives passed last month. The bill included a 50 percent cut in the housing stipend for dependents of a military or veteran parent who had transferred the benefit to them. The U.S. Senate is considering a similar version of the bill.
"It is embarrassing that we have to come here and beg our elected officials not to steal from the pockets of our military, veterans and their families," said IAVA founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff in a written statement. "As we stand in front of the U.S. Capitol, men and women are fighting in a prolonged war in Afghanistan and ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, earning this very benefit. We are once again seeing the impact of a growing civilian-military divide in this country. It is national disgrace that some members of Congress are willing to use veterans' benefits as a piggy bank to pay for other programs."
It's time once again for Inside Higher Ed's Cartoon Caption Contest.
Click here to suggest a caption for this month's cartoon.
At this link you can vote for your favorite among three nominated finalists for our March cartoon.
And congratulations are in order for Chuck Paine, winner of our contest for February. Chuck, who is associate chair for core writing and director of rhetoric and writing at the University of New Mexico, suggested this caption for the cartoon at left: "… and the References section is creamy nougat." His selection was chosen by our readers from among three finalists. He will receive an Amazon gift certificate and a signed copy of the cartoon. Thanks to all for playing.