Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 22, 2017

Today on the Academic Minute: Matthew DeLisi, professor in the department of sociology at Iowa State University, determines if homicidal ideation is a factor in whether some criminals commit more serious crimes. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

February 21, 2017

Milo Yiannopoulos (right) has become a highly controversial speaker on campuses, known for his personal insults against gay and transgender people (though he is gay), attacks on feminists and mocking of liberals. Several campuses have withdrawn invitations to him or been prevented by protests of letting his appearances go on. Conservatives have made him something of a poster child for what they see as a problem with free speech on campus, and say that the difficulties he encounters reflect an intolerance for conservative views. After a violent protest prevented him from speaking at the University of California at Berkeley (though Berkeley officials defended his right to speak there), President Trump tweeted: "If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view - NO FEDERAL FUNDS?"

On Monday, Yiannopoulos lost a speaking invitation at the Conservative Political Action Conference, which will be held later this month and is considered the premier annual event for conservative politicians. The invitation was withdrawn by the American Conservative Union, whose chairman cited videos circulating in which Yiannopoulos appears to many to defend sex between boys as young as 13 and older men. Yiannopoulos has since said that his views were distorted and that he was talking about older teenagers, and that he opposes the sexual abuse of children. (Those who may wish to listen to the video may find it here,  but many may find words and some of the subject matter offensive.) Matt Schlapp said on Twitter that he believed the statement by Yiannopoulos was "insufficient." The full response by Yiannopoulos may be found here.

In his tweet, Schlapp said of the reason for inviting Yiannopoulos in the first place: "We initially extended the invitation knowing that the free speech issue on college campuses is a battlefield where we need brave, conservative standard-bearers."


February 21, 2017

It’s only been a month since an Iowa lawmaker proposed ending tenure at the state’s public institutions, and two weeks since state legislators published a bill that would gut collective bargaining for faculty members. Now another legislator wants to enforce what he calls “partisan balance” among Iowa’s faculty members. Iowa Republican Senator Mark Chelgren’s bill would require that no professor or instructor be hired if his or her most recent party affiliation would “cause the percentage of the faculty belonging to one political party to exceed by 10 percent” the percentage of the faculty belonging to the other dominant party. Politically undeclared professors would not be included in the tally.

Chelgren wants the state’s commissioner of elections to provide voter registration data to colleges and universities once a year to help enforce his plan. It’s no secret that the bill would likely adversely affect Democrats, since academics tend to swing to the political left. Others have criticized what they call academe's lack of "intellectual" or "ideological" diversity, but Chelgren's proposal takes such concerns to another level. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday, including about what he'd do if swaths of professors took advantage of the ‘no party’ loophole. There’s already been some negative reaction to the bill, with the liberal political blog Iowa Starting Line calling it an “ideological litmus test.”

The North Carolina Senate on Monday night tabled a similar amendment regarding the University of North Carolina System, The Charlotte Observer reported. It would have required tenure-track and tenured faculty members to “reflect the ideological balance of the citizens of the state,” so that no campus “shall have a faculty ideological balance of greater or less than 2 percent of the ideological balance” of North Carolinians.

February 21, 2017

A series of anti-Semitic incidents on the University of Minnesota’s campus have prompted an investigation by campus police, The Star Tribune reported

At least seven incidents have been reported to the university’s Bias Response and Referral Network since December, including one on Feb. 7 where an 18-year-old male student vandalized a public space in his residence hall by drawing a swastika on a desk.   

The student, Matthew Gruber, was arrested last Thursday for criminal damage to property, and the university has called it a bias crime. 

A week earlier, another student returned to his dorm room to find a Holocaust depiction drawn onto his white board — the scene showed a swastika and a concentration camp.

Campus police are now investigating an incident from Friday, when several fliers were found across campus promoting the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer. The fliers, branded with two large swastikas, said, “WHITE MAN are you sick and tired of THE JEWS destroying your country through mass immigration and degeneration ... join us in the struggle for global white supremacy at THE DAILY STORMER.”

A statement from the university's president, provost and vice president for equity and diversity called the fliers "vile" and said the recent anti-Semitic acts were "abhorrent and alarming."

"We are profoundly disturbed by a series of ugly and frightening anti-Semitic incidents that have occurred over the past two months," they said in the statement. "Some of these incidents have been publicized, but there have also been other less visible, but equally painful, incidents threatening members of our Jewish community ... 
We are a campus community that is grounded in respect and enriched by diversity. These abhorrent and alarming acts are inconsistent with the University's fundamental values. They have an especially terrible impact on members of our Jewish community, but all members of our University community must feel this injury and stand in solidarity against hate and bigotry."


February 21, 2017

The South Carolina Secessionist Party mounted Confederate flags on top of five buildings in Charleston on Sunday to protest a speaking event planned for this week at the College of Charleston maybe: "to protest a speaking event planned for this week at the College...-sj FIXEDlater this week, The Post and Courier reported

The speaker, Bree Newsome, was arrested in summer 2015 for climbing the flagpole outside the South Caroline Statehouse and removing the Confederate flag. Newsome was reacting to a mass shooting that occurred just 10 days earlier at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. The shooting, which was racially motivated, left nine people dead. 

A few weeks after her arrest, the South Carolina Legislature voted to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse permanently. 

Newsome is scheduled to speak to the college Wednesday at an event called “Tearing Hatred from the Sky.” The event description says that, by scaling the 30-foot flagpole, Newsome was trying to “create a new image, a new symbol and a new consciousness of the power inherent in direct action!”

The chairman of the S.C. Secessionist Party requested last week that the College of Charleston cancel Newsome’s visit, for fear that others would be inspired to remove Confederate flags in the area. 

When her visit was not canceled, the Secessionist Party decided to gather in Marion Square, just outside campus, and fly Confederate flags from the top of nearby buildings, including a parking garage. 

Counter protesters showed up at the parking garage and across Marion Square with signs supporting Black Lives Matter and LGBT rights. 

Sunday afternoon, Newsome tweeted about the protests and counter protests, wishing her supporters “love & light” and telling the Secessionist Party that “a parking garage is a poor substitute for the dome of the Capitol, isn’t it?”

Newsome is still scheduled to speak to the college Wednesday evening. 

February 21, 2017

Today on the Academic Minute: Peggy Albers, professor of language and literacy education in the College of Education & Human Development at Georgia State University, explains the danger of single stories and why children need to hear different views about the world. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

February 20, 2017

Officials at Saint Joseph's College, in Indiana (right), have been saying that suspending operations for the next operating year will allow the institution to develop a new financial and academic plan to continue the college. But a layoff notice that the college submitted as required to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development is more bleak, saying that there may not be a plan to keep the institution going, The Lafayette Journal & Courier reported. The form states that the suspension of operations "may ultimately result in the closure of the entire college." And while the form references hope that a report to be prepared during the year will offer a path forward, the form says: "While we hope that this action is temporary in nature, unless the report proves provides a viable option, this action is expected to be permanent in nature." Officials did not respond to requests for comment from the newspaper.


February 20, 2017

Barnard College and the union representing its adjunct faculty members reached a deal late last week that will avert a strike that the United Auto Workers unit said could have come as early as this week. The contract, the first for the union at Barnard, will provide significant gains in salaries and benefits. Minimum per course pay will be set at $7,000 for this fall, and will rise to $10,000 by the fall of 2021 -- rates that both the union and the college said would be among the highest in New York City or elsewhere for those off the tenure track. For full-time, non-tenure track faculty members, the deal sets a minimum of $60,000 salary, effective in fall 2017. That would rise to $70,000 by fall 2021.

The union and its supporters held a rally (above right) Friday to celebrate the contract deal.

February 20, 2017

Hundreds of scientists, some in lab coats, held a rally in Boston Sunday to draw attention to their concerns about the Trump administration's policies. Speakers and signs criticized those in the administration who deny that climate change is real, who question the collection and distribution of data on science and other policies. Photos are from social media posts about the rally. More can be found a #standforscience. The rally comes as some scientists are planning a national march for science in Washington.

February 20, 2017

Student debt nationally hit $1.31 trillion at the end of 2016, according to new data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In the fourth quarter of 2016, just over 11 percent of that debt was either 90 or more days delinquent or in default.



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