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Hiwassee College will close

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 2019-03-29 07:00

Earlier this week, Hiwassee College was on social media promoting events it was holding this spring for newly admitted applicants.

On Thursday, the small Methodist institution in Tennessee announced it would shut down at the end of the semester.

"Growing marketplace trends including substantially discounted or highly subsidized public [higher] education, changes in demographics, our rural location and declining enrollment have combined to produce an unsustainable economic model," the college said in a statement. "Our current full-time equivalent enrollment is 225 students. On May 10, we will celebrate with 33 graduates -- 23 will receive bachelor’s degrees and 10 will earn associate degrees."

The statement also noted the pride of college alumni and others in Hiwassee's 170-year history. "Many of our alumni have pursued additional education to become pastors … teachers in our schools, pharmacists in the region and community leaders across the nation. Hiwassee College’s legacy will survive through those who attended the college and who continue to lead and serve."

Hiwassee was once accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. But the college is among the institutions that -- after getting into trouble with SACS -- sought and received accreditation from the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. Accreditation is crucial for any college that wants its students to be eligible for federal aid.

With Hiwassee's news, three small private colleges will have announced closures this month. The other two are in Vermont: the College of St. Joseph and Southern Vermont College.

Green Mountain College, also in Vermont, announced in January that it will close at the end of the spring semester. Newbury College in Brookline, Mass., announced in December that it would close at the end of this academic year.

Deep Cuts at Wheeling Jesuit

Wheeling Jesuit University, in West Virginia, announced earlier this week that it would remain open, but with deep cuts. The university has not released an official plan for those cuts, but briefed faculty members and local reporters Thursday.

According to WV Metro News (and confirmed in other press reports), the university plans to eliminate 22 of its 30 academic programs and 40 percent of faculty jobs.

The programs that will remain are: doctor of physical therapy, nursing, respiratory therapy, exercise science, psychology, criminal justice, education and business. From the list of currently offered programs on the university's website, it appears that all liberal arts programs -- including English, fine arts, history and political science -- are being eliminated as majors.

Wheeling Jesuit -- with 929 students according to the U.S. Education Department -- is larger than the colleges that have closed this month. But Wheeling Jesuit has been struggling financially for some time. In 2017, to cut costs and get out from under long-term debt, it sold its campus to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. The university will subsequently lease back that campus. In exchange, the diocese paid off the university’s bond debt.

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Remedial education progress in Florida still leaves unanswered questions

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 2019-03-29 07:00

Florida gambled big in 2013 when the state adopted a law eliminating placement exams and remedial college courses and gave recent high school graduates the option to take college-level introductory math and English courses.

New research released this month by the Center for Postsecondary Success at Florida State University found that the gamble paid off. More first-time college students, including black and Hispanic students, passed the college-level math and English courses, also known as "gateway" courses, after the law went into effect in 2014. While other states have made big moves to reform college-based remedial education, Florida remains the only state that allows students to opt in to a gateway course. The state's remedial education law also mandated that two-year colleges replace remedial courses with credit-bearing developmental education courses.

The researchers studied six years of freshman data, from 2011 to 2016, at Florida's 28 two-year colleges and found more students passed the college-level English and math courses after the remedial education law was adopted. The law also required the colleges to offer "enhanced advising" and more academic support services, such as tutoring and early alert academic intervention systems because of concerns that an influx of underprepared students would rush into college-level courses. Those additional services appear to have helped students, according to the report.

About 54 percent of 67,364 students passed gateway English courses in 2016, compared to about 48 percent of 68,440 students in 2013. More students also passed gateway math courses; 22 percent of 67,364 students passed in 2016 compared to about 17 percent of 68,440 students in 2013.

“There has been very good progress,” Shouping Hu, director of the center, said. “But at the same time, a lot of fine-tuning is needed so student success can be optimized.”

Despite the progress, the FSU researchers found they still have plenty of unanswered questions, such as why a significant percentage of students are failing the revamped remedial or developmental education courses. The researchers also have not determined if the progress overshadows the financial and implementation challenges rural colleges and those with modest budgets often face, such as inadequate or no faculty training, when adopting new reforms.

“We cannot just look at the overall trend,” Hu said.

Although the law has helped a lot of students, it hasn't helped those students who don't succeed in developmental education classes or gateway courses, he said.

The study also found that more minorities and students of color are opting out of the revised remedial courses and taking the college-level courses than before the law change, Hu said.

It’s difficult to know if these students took the advice of their college advisers on whether or not to take a remedial course. Hu said the study didn’t collect that information.

“Some students are advised to take the developmental education course, and they decided not to take it, and those students were rather successful,” he said.

The Florida results show that prior to passage of the law, some academically talented, low-income or socially disadvantaged students were improperly placed in remedial courses, or undermatched, as the practice is called. Students in remedial courses often dropped out or took longer to graduate because they didn't receive academic credit for the classes.

The pass rates of black students in gateway English courses increased by 6.17 percentage points from 2013 to 2014, to 44.5 percent, after the policy change. The pass rates of Hispanic students also went up from 49.8 percent in 2013 to 54.3 percent in 2014. The pass rates of black and Hispanic students also increased in intermediate algebra and gateway math courses.

“When students are placed in more rigorous courses, they will rise to that challenge and meet the rigorous standards for those courses,” said Christopher Mullin, director of Strong Start to Finish, a national network of educators and philanthropists who promote policies that help adult learners, low-income students and students of color succeed in developmental education courses. The network is a part of the Education Commission of the States.

Hu noted that despite the increased pass rates, the overall numbers aren't great.

“For some of the student population, we need to encourage or advise them to opt in to developmental education,” he said. “What are the thresholds for students' academic preparedness to advise them to opt out? Until we find an answer on that kind of question, we should have some hesitance to just break it loose and let students do what they want.”

Enrollment rates in developmental reading, writing and math courses declined after the remedial education law went into effect. Even though the traditional remedial courses had been eliminated and replaced with developmental classes, students still chose to opt out of the developmental courses.

Enrollment in developmental math decreased from 12,691 students in 2013 to 9,071 students in 2014. Enrollment in developmental writing and reading also decreased.

Although enrollment in the developmental courses sharply declined, the FSU researchers found that students passed those courses at about the same rate as they did before the law changed and eliminated traditional remediation. Sixty percent of students passed the developmental math course in 2013, and about 60 percent passed in 2014, after the law changed.

The Florida remedial education law allowed colleges to use multiple types of developmental education, which includes modularized, compressed or corequisite remediation. Corequisite remediation places remedial students in a college-level course but offers them additional support such as a computer lab or study sessions. It has become the most popular form of developmental college education in recent years -- California legislators passed a law last year requiring the state’s two-year colleges to transition to corequisite and eliminate traditional remediation, and Texas passed a similar law two years ago mandating corequisite use in remedial courses.

“When we look at the reforms Florida is talking about, they have some things that may be promising but some things we need to dig deeper in to functionally before we can actually say it’s better,” said Andrew Koricich, an associate professor of higher education at the National Center for Developmental Education at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. “What’s glaringly missing is talk about place and locale. We know these reforms are playing out in urban, suburban and rural community colleges differently.”

Hunter Boylan, a professor of higher education at the Appalachian State center, said the original reform models have shown progress in student success, but the level of impact at individual colleges will naturally decline as they look less like the original.

A corequisite course that puts students in a college-level math class but only gives them one hour of extra study time in a computer lab isn't going to work as well as a corequisite course that provides a mentor or tutor who spends multiple hours with a student, Boylan said. And these differences between the types of remediation offered to students vary and often depend on how much funding and resources colleges receive. Colleges that have limited financial resources won’t perform as well, he said.

“It’s a problem that a number of people who are promoting this change believe one size fits all … Many of the institutions implementing some reforms or developmental education need coaching and mentoring,” he said.

Koricich and Boylan, who co-wrote a recent report examining remedial education in rural community colleges, warn that the differences in college characteristics and funding should give lawmakers some pause as they consider changing remedial education policies.

“Whether a student is taking a developmental education or gateway course, there is still a cost to the institution,” Mullin said. “We don’t know how much of a cost savings there is to an institution … in all cases it’s making college more affordable for students, and for institutions it's reducing the amount of money they have to spend to get to graduation."

Hu said the Center for Postsecondary Success at Florida State didn’t study the impact of each type of remediation on student learning because colleges offer the courses in various ways. Nonetheless, corequisite courses stood out during the researchers’ college visits.

“Those who took the corequisite courses tend to be [more] successful in college-level courses than the students who took some other format of developmental education,” Hu said. “Corequisite works a little bit better, because by nature they have the college-level exposure.”

Hu said the center is examining the reforms at each of the state colleges to determine how they adopted the new law and how the different practices relate to student success and narrowing equity gaps.

“Florida is such a diverse state in terms of geography and rural versus urban and suburban areas,” Hu said. “From our site visits, we’ve seen some variation in institutional programs and institutional response and reaction, but we’re trying to figure out all of those variations and how that affects student success.”

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Author discusses her new book on couples who do not live in the same place

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 2019-03-29 07:00

Many academics have partners who are academics, and "two-body issues" complicate many a job search. A new book looks at the impact of these situations on the couples and on society. While many of the couples examined in Commuter Spouses: New Families in a Changing World (Cornell University Press) are academics, the book explores the issues that arise for others as well.

Danielle Lindemann, assistant professor of sociology at Lehigh University, wrote the book based not only on her research but on her personal experience. She responded via email to questions about the book.

Q: Your author ID says of you, your husband and your "feisty preschooler" that "Currently they all live together." As you note in the acknowledgments, this is a subject you know from personal experience. What has your experience as a "commuter spouse" been like?

A: I lived apart from my husband (part of the time) from 2011 to 2013 while I was doing a postdoc at Vanderbilt in Nashville and he remained in New York. We’re actually not a great case study of commuter marriage, because in many ways we had an ideal setup. We knew we were doing it for a finite period, we were childless at the time, it was a research-oriented postdoc, so there was a lot I could do remotely, and we’re also incredibly privileged in a lot of ways. If you changed just one of those variables, it probably would have been a lot less tolerable. As it was, by the end of the two years, I was more than ready to be done with the commuting. In that last respect, I was similar to the people I interviewed for the book. Most people could find at least one thing they liked about the arrangement, but almost nobody was saying, “This my ideal setup and I want to do it forever.” Everyone I interviewed, except for one person, was either back living with their partners at the time I spoke with them, or planned on resuming cohabitation in the future.

Q: Many academic jobs are in small college towns. How does this influence the academic couple in a commuter relationship?

A: I’m far from the first to observe that the geographic dispersal of academic jobs worked OK when academics were primarily breadwinning men with stay-at-home wives (or with wives whose occupations were secondary to theirs). Now, with the increasing democratization of gender roles in marriage, and women’s investment in their education and careers, that model is bursting at the seams. The “two-body” problem is a real issue for academics, as I’m sure we’re all aware. And it’s not just dual academic couples who struggle, but also academics who are married to folks in other fields.

Because we tend to pair with people who are “like us” demographically, academics are often married to other highly educated professionals in specialized careers. These partners, many times, also can’t just go anywhere to work in the types of jobs for which they’ve been trained. It’s a privileged problem, yes, but it seems that sometimes our high levels of education crystallize in a level of specialization that actually limits our universe of job choices (as we perceive it), rather than widening that pool. It’s a paradox. On the other hand, it’ll be interesting to see how technological advances and the possibilities for remote work (including online classes for academics) impact that dynamic in the future.

Q: Many studies of work-life balance in academe indicate that women still have most of the burden of housework and childcare. Does commuter-spouse status change that or reinforce that?

A: We might expect that commuter spouses -- dual-earning professionals who value both women’s and men’s occupations, to the extent that they’re actually living apart to accommodate both careers -- would skew egalitarian when it comes to gender roles. And in some ways, yes, they were egalitarian, but in other ways living apart actually reinforced their standard gender roles. For instance, minor children were vastly more likely to live with their mothers. In these cases, it wasn’t that women felt that they were doing more of the childcare -- they felt they were doing, basically, all of it. Many women I interviewed in these situations referred to themselves as “single parents.”

On the other hand, women were far more likely than men to say that living apart alleviated some of the burden of housework. Interestingly, women were also much more likely to say that living apart enabled them to get more work done. One woman told me that she didn’t think she would have made tenure if she and her husband had been living together! (To be clear, both men and women said that they got more work done while living apart, but women were more likely to say it and to link it explicitly to their gender roles.)

So the commuter marriage actually freed them from some gendered expectations, while reinforcing others.

Q: Your book touches on the subject of "trailing spouses," a term frequently disliked by people who have that label. Should colleges do more to hire the spouses of faculty members?

A: I personally think that, yes, in situations where it makes sense, colleges should be much more amenable to this. Like I said before, the structure of the family is no longer consistent with the structure of academic work. Something needs to give, or the pipeline is basically a sieve, and we’re going to lose a lot of qualified people who otherwise could be making real contributions. There’s clearly the fear that these spouses won’t be as qualified as faculty hired through regular processes, but as I discuss in the book’s conclusion, there is research suggesting that this fear is unfounded.

Q: Are there things that colleges can do to help those faculty and staff members who are commuter spouses?

A: I think it would be helpful for us to think more about how we structure our work, what it is we really need to do and what’s just culture. So, for instance, I think it’s incredibly important to be available for our students and advisees, in person, outside of class hours. I feel strongly about that, and I put it into practice in my own life. But that doesn’t mean that we have to be physically in the office all day, every day. From what I’ve heard from my colleagues at other institutions, some places have a culture that if you’re not physically there all the time, you’re not working. That’s an issue not just for commuter spouses but for academics struggling with work-life balance in general. We should be judged on our output, not our attendance.

The other thing is the way that we train our graduate students: Ph.D. programs, especially -- and maybe this is changing -- often offer a limited form of professional training that’s very academia oriented. And that completely makes sense because we’re academics, so we’re best qualified to train people to do exactly what we do. But that results in graduates with very limited senses of their career prospects (that tiny universe of job possibilities I discussed before) -- when in fact many of the skills we learn in graduate school are translatable to a variety of occupational contexts. I think a lot of people don’t know how to get off the academic treadmill once they’re on it, and it doesn’t help that Ph.D. programs sometimes stigmatize nonacademic career paths. Reframing nonacademic paths (away from “failure”) relatively early in the pipeline would be beneficial, I think, in giving people a wider sense of their range of options.

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Colleges announce commencement speakers

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 2019-03-29 07:00
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Racist writing instructor's Listserv post prompts debate about future of the field and how scholars communicate

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 2019-03-28 07:00

Scholars and teachers of writing are on the front lines of demographic and other shifts in higher education. They face students with increasingly varied backgrounds and Englishes, and they’re tasked with preparing students to communicate across an increasing variety of platforms, genres and audiences.

For many of these instructors, the Writing Program Administration Listserv, or WPA-L, is an invaluable resource for disciplinary news, opportunities, advice and research. It’s also a kind of community for the many writing scholars who work in temporary academic positions off the tenure track.

So an anonymous post referencing the Ku Klux Klan has jarred Listserv subscribers -- some of whom now want the list to be formally moderated, or moved altogether. Many have left the list. Other subscribers say this most recent post is only an overt example of the everyday racism that happens on the Listserv.

Others still oppose moderation of the list and insist on the online community’s ability to continue to informally moderate itself -- disposing of hate speech when and where it happens.

Whose English?

The anonymous troll’s KKK-inspired post was sparked by online discussions about this month’s Conference on College Composition and Communication convention in Pittsburgh -- specifically an address by Asao Inoue, professor of interdisciplinary arts and sciences and director of University Writing and the Writing Center at the University of Washington at Tacoma.

The current conference chair, Inoue in his speech talked about the “market of white language preferences in schools” and “freedom from white language supremacy.”

Inoue researches racism in language and has proposed labor-based grading contracts instead of assessing students based on single standard rooted in standardized English. To his colleagues, he said, “I stand up here today asking everyone to listen, to see, to know you as you are, to stop saying shit about injustice while doing jack shit about it. We are all needed in this project, this fight, this work, these labors. But because most in the room, in our disciplines, are white, I have to speak to them too, many of whom sit on their hands, with love in their hearts, but stillness in their bodies.” [Emphasis is Inoue’s, from a version of his speech he posted online.]

Urging white professors present to “sit in discomfort,” Inoue argued that by using a “single standard to grade your students’ languaging, you engage in racism. You actively promote white language supremacy, which is the handmaiden to white bias in the world.” That kind of bias, he also argued, is the very kind that “kills black men on the streets by the hands of the police through profiling and good ol’ fashion [sic] prejudice.”

Inoue’s own language was unusually (and purposefully strong), but it brought to the fore questions composition instructors face all the time: how, and if, to push students with locally diverse ways of speaking and writing toward a single register. What’s gained -- and lost -- when a student learns the way she and her family have spoken together all her life isn’t “correct”?

A Troll in the List

Thoughtful discussions, including praise and criticism of the talk, followed on the Listserv. But then someone identifying him or herself as the “Grand Scholar Wizard” -- a clear reference to “Grand Wizard,” or KKK leader -- weighed in.

“The stakes in this field aren’t that high in the big scheme of things,” wrote the pseudonymous commenter. “When each are finished and gone, you’ll still be able to passionately talk about, or bitch and moan about, or mentally masturbate all over others’ ideas, their shitty analyses, embodiment, identity politics, and any other thing your heart desires.”

Subscribers immediately flagged the post, but the damage was done. As the National Council of Teachers of English/CCCC’s Jewish Caucus said in a statement, “Whether the use of KKK rhetoric on the WPA-L was genuine, sarcastic, strategic or performative, we reject it as deeply hurtful and harmful.”

To Inoue’s points, the Jewish Caucus also wrote, “As compositionists, rhetoricians and teacher educators, we are uniquely qualified to examine the ways in which words represent and disseminate ideologies. We know that rhetorics, languages and pedagogies can be liberatory; we also know that they can marginalize, oppress and silence.” It’s “part of our work to explore how our classrooms, our professional organizations, our scholarship and our discipline continue to promulgate hegemonic beliefs about language, communication and writing that perpetuate the marginalization of so many of our members, colleagues and students.”

A Moderation Proposal

Along with similar denunciations, the troll’s email inspired a movement to moderate the Listserv. Those behind this push point to ongoing racism and sexism on the list, such as critical responses to a discussion about whether to hold the 2018 CCCC convention in Missouri following an NAACP travel warning about police actions against people of color in that state. (The meeting did take place there.) The Twitter hashtag #wpalistfeministrevolution was also created in response to what women on the Listserv have called frequent “mansplaining” from their male colleagues.

Iris Ruiz, lecturer in writing and Chicano studies at the University of California, Merced, is one of the organizers of the moderation proposal and accompanying petition. That proposal calls for a WPA moderation board, which would not have to approve every post but which would monitor active posts and “have the capability to remove posts that violate the established guidelines.”

Proposed guidelines include those on tone (keeping it thoughtful and considerate), content (avoiding “copy pasta,” trolling, harassment and declarations of opinion without context) and warnings. "Any content or activity that disrupts, interrupts, harms, or otherwise violates the integrity of the WPA-L or another user's experience or devices is prohibited," the proposal reads. Repeat violators may get a warning. Multiple warnings may lead to suspensions. Suspensions might lead to bans.

Ruiz, who has previously written about her experiences feeling marginalized at the CCCC conference, said Wednesday that the some posters “continue to devalue the perspectives of people of color on this list.”

Others don’t like the idea of moderation as much as removing clear hate speech and possibly banning repeat offenders.

Jill Dahlman, an assistant professor of English at the University of North Alabama, said in an online discussion that “We need to hear all voices lest we risk becoming those we abhor because we only listen to one voice.”

Dahlman added, “We can continue to police ourselves, and if necessary, remove repeat offenders. Listening to differing viewpoints is vitally important, especially in a world filled with division.”

The End of the List?

There are simultaneous discussions about “moving” the list somewhere else. A number of graduate students effectively did this last year. That's when they started the nextGEN Listserv over concerns similar to those being voiced now. In a November “Listserv to Listserv” open letter, nextGEN encouraged WPA-L and the broader writing discipline to “listen and remain mindful toward personal growth and the expansion of your horizons of knowledge-building practices as we build more inclusive spaces.” Specifically, nextGEN asked that WPA-Lers “apologize for what was said, not for how it was perceived,” “acknowledge and appreciate that someone shared their perspective with you,” and “make a plan to educate yourself and those around you about that perspective, without placing additional burden on those who may have been harmed by your language and/or behavior.”

James Eubanks, a graduate student in English at the University of Alabama who prefers nextGEN to WPA-L, said that as a student of color, the latter “has never really felt like a particularly welcoming space.” A few months ago, for example, he said, the phrase "digital lynching" was used by a white man to describe another white man being criticized online.

As to moderation, Eubanks said he thought there should be “some mechanism to engender accountability.”

“I'm not entirely sold on a system that every message flows through, as I think there is a possibility of exploitation,” he said. But "there should be requirements like names to post, and a set of guidelines that posters should follow. And the removal of hate speech is a definite requirement in my eyes.”

On moving the Listserv somewhere else, Eubanks said he’s not sure he’d "bother with the hassle. All my mentors and peers suggested I stay off it, but I tend to like to know what I'm dealing with.”

Dave Schwalm, professor emeritus of English at Arizona State University, founded the Listserv in 1991, when writing studies was still an emerging field and considered to be a “duty” of many English departments. Things have changed from when he advertised the platform as a “national computer-based bulletin board” with about 150 subscribers, he said. (Today there are about 4,000 subscribers, though many accounts are probably inactive.)

Growth aside, it’s “clear from the outbursts that we had two or three times in the last couple of months that there were a lot of people who felt excluded and insulted by what was going on on the list,” Schwalm said. “Clearly, this list was not addressing topics of concern to a significant number of members who quite rightly and courageously are letting us know.”

Yet these issues are “fundamental” ones that go the “very roots of intellectual endeavor in all academic disciplines,” he said. “They go way beyond the scope initially envisioned for WPA-L. Whether they can be resolved to any degree on WPA-L will really depend on the willingness of participants to make it happen.”

Finding a new home for the discussion “might be a good idea,” Schwalm said, “but that in itself will not make much difference. Monitoring the discussions and enforcing generally agreed-upon guidelines is a good idea, but it requires a lot of compromise" to make it work.

“It may be a good opportunity to find out who was right, Hobbes or Locke," he added.

Lessons for the Field

And what about Inoue’s argument, which also transcends Listserv logistics? Dan Melzer, first-year composition associate director at the University of California, Davis, said there’s a “long and rich tradition of teachers and scholars in writing studies and linguistics working against the idea that there is a single, standard English that writing teachers should impose on students.”

Scholars such as Inoue “and countless others have shown that our diverse students bring a variety of linguistic strengths that aren't recognized when teachers think of literacy as a limited set of standards and inflexible rules based on rhetorical traditions that were created by privileged white males,” Melzer said.

Students also face a future that requires “communicating in global Englishes, working across languages and cultures, and integrating multiple types of literacies to multiple audiences for multiple purposes," he said. So teaching a traditional, standardized version of English “not only ignores the linguistic and rhetorical assets diverse students bring to our classrooms,” but also puts students at a disadvantage as 21st-century communicators.

Melzer, who is white, said that he and other white scholars, teachers and writing program administrators have a responsibility to “constantly interrogate our own visible and invisible privileges" and to "educate ourselves by keeping up with the scholarship on language and cultural pluralism in writing studies.”

Inoue said Wednesday that he's asking teachers and others, when it comes to judging language, "not to give up a personal standard but to be compassionate to others -- that is a harder thing to do."

"We have to see, and hear and feel just exactly how others around us use English differently, and accept those differences, not as some deviation to an arbitrary standard that is maintained by a white, middle class elite, but as the way people actually do language, the way language has to be done on a daily basis by real people in real circumstances for real purposes," he said. Language "always responds to people’s conditions in life, and it will continue to do so. That’s its nature."

And just because "I don’t use a dominant standard to grade my students’ writing doesn’t mean that we don’t look at that standard in our classroom, or consider judgments using it (we do)," Inoue added via email. "I just don’t use it against them. We also consider other kinds of standards -- that’s the only way one can be critical of our own rhetorical and linguistic choices, critical of the linguistic and rhetorical structures we each are and have been habituated to over our lifetimes."

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UC Irvine coach under fire for antigay slur

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 2019-03-28 07:00

After the University of California, Irvine, men’s basketball team lost on Sunday, the head coach, Russell Turner, took a reporter’s question about his interactions with the opposing team’s forward, the University of Oregon’s Louis King.

Turner chuckled and replied, looking pleased, “I was saying, ‘Double-team queen,’ to try to see if I could irritate him. And I did. And I kept talking to my team about what we wanted to do. We were calling him ‘queen’ because I knew it might irritate him.”

During the game against Oregon, Turner continuously referred to King as “queen.” He went on to claim that the taunt was a metaphor for chess -- that “queen” represented King’s importance on his team, though observers said this explanation didn’t quite jibe. Wouldn’t calling him a “queen” be considered a compliment in that context?

Here is the video of UC Irvine head coach Russ Turner explaining his reasoning for calling Oregon freshman Louis King "Louis Queen" during the game.

— Matt Prehm (@MattPrehm) March 25, 2019

More likely, critics said, Turner intended to belittle King with sexist and homophobic tropes. Many studies have found that anti-LGBTQ slurs are ubiquitous in sports, but not necessarily visible. This incident only brought those prejudices to light because it happened in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I men’s basketball tournament, March Madness, its most visible and lucrative event, pundits said in interviews.

After the backlash -- which included condemnations from a prominent, openly gay high school coach in the New York metro area and former hopeful for the State Assembly, and King’s mother -- Turner apologized, in a statement that has also been attacked as hollow. His statement, which the UC Irvine athletics department posted to Twitter, reads in part:

I take seriously my responsibility as a campus and community leader and I regret that my actions during the Oregon game did not meet the standard of leadership I should consistently set. For that, I apologize to the UC Irvine community, including the student-athletes and coaches of our men’s basketball program. When student-athletes on our team make mistakes, I expect them to take responsibility and to learn from their mistakes in order to improve themselves. I will do the same. I accept full responsibility for my ill-considered actions, and I will learn from this situation to be a more thoughtful coach and competitor.

Turner’s apology doesn’t address the underlying bigotry in his insult, said Russ Toomey, an associate professor of family studies and human development at the University of Arizona.

Using a gay slur against someone repeatedly -- even if the person isn't gay -- sends a message to all gay people, not just the subject to the taunt, Toomey and others said.

“To see a high-profile coach in a high-profile tournament use this language could deter [others] from participating in sports and foster a feeling of lack of safety, which may already be present -- including on the coach’s own team,” Toomey said.

Shaun Harper, an expert on intercollegiate athletics and executive director of the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center, said that the apology looked like it was written by the public relations staff at UC Irvine -- it was imprecise and lacking in substance.

Harper said that in his new book, Scandals in College Sports (Routledge), he documents 21 cases of coaching abuse. He found that coaches more often abuse players in the heat of the moment, rather than their behavior being premeditated.

But in Turner’s case, as Turner acknowledged in the press conference, he had already talked with the team about going after King.

“People who are hurt and affected by those words deserve to have the person who hurt them in that way take full ownership of those words,” Harper said. “You know, like, if you said them, you got to stand by them, exclusively name them, don’t run away from them now. He didn’t run away from them when he was on the sidelines.”

Toomey’s research has uncovered how common anti-LGBTQ sentiment is among college athletes. In one study, he found that only a small percentage of heterosexual athletes -- less than 10 percent -- never reported hearing a slur against one of their LGBTQ counterparts.

The same study found that 7 percent of straight athletes considered themselves LGBTQ allies and were willing to publicly share their views.

Incidents involving anti-LGBTQ language in college sports have cropped up for decades, but there’s some evidence in recent years that administrators now are more willing to harshly punish bad actors.

For instance, in 2004, North Carolina State University guard Scooter Sherrill insinuated (insultingly) that then Duke University player J. J. Redick was gay (he is not). He merely apologized and the incident blew over.

Sherrill said in an interview at the time that when Redick played, he ran “down the court hollering. He's got his hand up like he's gay or something." Then Sherrill laughed about it.

Through Lee Fowler, the athletics director at NC State at the time, Sherrill issued a bland apology, saying the remark was “uncharacteristic and unfortunate” and apologizing to “anyone who was offended.”

ESPN aired a documentary about Christian Laettner, who is straight and who played basketball for Duke from 1989 to 1992, who was hounded by rumors he was gay. During one game against Louisiana State University, the crowd screamed "faggot" at him over and over without consequence.

"It went beyond the pale, but I never said to myself that it was too much," Laettner said in an interview with GQ. "It was just perception, not the truth. I know what I am. It was really easy to let that roll off my shoulder, but at the same time, it didn't feel good. I got teased about it. I would walk into arenas and all the fans would chant it. Then I'd be on campus and the football players would say it. That wasn't cool."

More recently, in July, California Polytechnic State University revoked the scholarship of a star wrestler who was filmed screaming a homophobic slur at a rally in support of President Trump’s immigration policies.

The institution didn’t directly link the recording and its decision, but the Cal Poly athletics director acknowledged the university was aware of the video.

And infamously, Rutgers University fired men’s basketball coach Mike Rice in 2013 after a video surfaced of him screaming homophobic insults at his players. Rice’s behavior had already led the university had to fine him $50,000, suspend him for three games and order he take anger management classes.

Some online have also called for Turner’s resignation. Toomey said he doesn’t think that’s warranted, but he said that Irvine officials should hire an expert to work with Turner and the rest of athletics staffers on inclusiveness and language. He said that his research shows that when coaches demonstrate they’re pro-LGBTQ, that behavior trickles down to players.

Tom Vasich, UC Irvine spokesman, said the university had no additional comment beyond Turner’s statement.

The Oregon men’s basketball team posted a statement on Twitter saying that Turner had reached out to apologize to the King family and the athletics department for his comments.

“He reiterated they were not meant to offend,” the statement reads. “All parties accepted the apology and are moving past the issue.”

The NCAA did not provide comment.

The association has done work on these issues. It sponsors Common Ground, a think tank of both college administrators and students who develop ideas to improve LGBTQ athletes’ experiences, and it has published “Champions of Respect,” a lengthy report on gay athletes in all divisions.

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Colleges fall short on price disclosures, study finds

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 2019-03-28 07:00

When it last overhauled the Higher Education Act in 2008, Congress required that colleges make disclosures on their websites about the actual net price students would pay if they enrolled on campus.

Colleges were supposed to clearly display tools called net price calculators that would show students total costs after subtracting grants and scholarships and factoring in students' family incomes. The idea behind the requirement was that many would-be students see only college sticker prices and don't realize how much aid they may be able to obtain.

But many four-year institutions are failing to meet federal standards for their disclosures more than a decade later, according to a study released today by the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education.

“One of the many advantages that students with wealthy parents have is they don’t have to worry about the cost to attend college,” said Laura Perna, the University of Pennsylvania professor who produced the study. “For most other people, the cost really does matter. And there are few ways to get an estimate of how much the out-of-pocket costs will be early in the process.”

The findings reflect earlier attempts to study net price calculators. They also add to other recent research on college cost transparency showing that financial aid award letters from colleges are often confusing and misleading, making it more difficult for families to determine the true cost of college.

While those award letters are sent to admitted students, the net price calculator was conceived to help prospective students' families estimate the cost of a college before they apply for admission or submit an application for federal student aid.

The study also puts a new spotlight on transparency as lawmakers reintroduce bipartisan legislation this week aimed at informing students about college costs.

Advocates for better information on college prices say students are less likely to pursue a degree if they don’t think they can afford it. And they may be less likely to prepare for college by taking advanced courses in high school.

On the other hand, misleading prices that don’t include the full cost of attendance can make a college look more affordable than it actually is, meaning many students may end up taking out loans to bridge the gap.

Perna found that some colleges did not have price calculators that could be located by navigating from their main webpage, as required by the Higher Education Act.

More commonly, information from colleges was incomplete or misleading. A third of colleges did not prominently display the correct net price. Some left costs of attendance like textbooks out of the net price estimate. Two-thirds of colleges used data that was either out of date or didn’t specify the academic year.

“There was a pattern of findings relating to misleading presentation of information,” Perna said.

The study used profiles for four low-income students with varying academic records and sought to get cost estimates for each one from 40 public and 40 private four-year colleges. There was no pattern in transparency based on the type of institution, although public colleges tended to rely on a federal template for price calculators.

Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, said there has always been skepticism at some colleges about the usefulness of a net price calculator. But others have embraced it as a vital consumer tool. The difference can depend on how much an institution uses tuition discounting, he said.

Draeger said no consumer tool should be seen as a panacea but the price calculator is useful for many students who do make use of it.

"For students who pay attention to it, I'm sure it's helpful in making college-going decisions," he said. "And we want schools to be in compliance with federal requirements."

Lawmakers in Congress are discussing a possible reauthorization of the Higher Education Act for the first time since 2008, when it was first mandated that colleges create the net price calculators. Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican and chairman of the Senate education committee, has made simplifying the Free Application for Federal Student Aid one of his goals for reauthorization.

Three bills introduced by lawmakers Wednesday would aim to produce better information about the cost of college. One of those bills, the Net Price Calculator Improvement Act, would have the Education Department create a central website where students could find and compare the net prices for multiple colleges.

Another would require institutions to use a standard format for financial aid award letters.

Jessica Thompson, director of policy and planning at the Institute for College Access and Success, said the net price calculator requirements in the 2008 higher ed law helped drive a “sea change” in discussions of the sticker price for college. But a TICAS study in 2012 had similar findings as the University of Pennsylvania report -- price calculators were often buried on college websites and provided inconsistent results.

She said the legislation would address those weaknesses in the current system.

“It’s a huge improvement,” she said.

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University of Wyoming again looking for a leader after surprise firing

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 2019-03-28 07:00

For the fourth time in six years, the University of Wyoming is looking for a president.

The university’s Board of Trustees on Monday said it won’t renew the contract of Laurie Nichols when her tenure ends in June. Nichols was a well-regarded leader with western roots and an open-door policy who gained a measure of respect from faculty by closely consulting them as she cut a required $42 million from the university’s budget.

Her ouster has prompted faculty members to wonder exactly what qualifications trustees are searching for in a leader.

After Monday's announcement, Nichols herself told the Faculty Senate that she was “very surprised by this decision,” adding, “It wasn’t anticipated and I just learned of it very recently myself. It is indeed the board’s decision to make, and I think, as an institution, we honor that and move on.” She plans to take a faculty position when her three-year term as president ends, the Laramie Boomerang reported.

In an interview with Inside Higher Ed, the board chair, Dave True, said he couldn’t talk about the details of Nichols’s dismissal, citing confidentiality requirements regarding personnel. Asked of Nichols’s and others’ surprise surrounding the move, True said, “I don’t know that I can comment on other people’s surprises. Everybody takes information at their own pace, and if some found it to be a surprise, that’s certainly fair from their perspective.”

In the absence of more information from True or others, two leading faculty members said they remain perplexed. One of them, Donal O’Toole, a veterinary sciences professor who chairs the Faculty Senate, said he's left questioning whether the board is withholding key information about the move, since there were no signs of trouble before Monday.

“I don’t think I’ve met anyone who did not think she would be reappointed,” said O’Toole. “We met with her briefly, and that was her sense, too.”

The move, he said, was “totally out of the blue,” especially since Nichols had spent much of her tenure making difficult but mandated budget-trimming decisions in what he described as an “astonishingly open process.” O’Toole said he served on the panel weighing the cuts and remembered, “Anybody could come in and sit and watch” the discussion.

“She was admired for toughing it out,” he said. “We found her very approachable, and we knew she was engaged in some very difficult sledding.”

A native South Dakotan and first-generation college graduate, Nichols began her career at the University of Idaho and spent 22 years in South Dakota public higher education, first as dean of the South Dakota State University College of Education and Human Sciences. More recently she was interim president of Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D., and provost of South Dakota State.

Nichols was the Wyoming university’s 26th president but its first female leader. For many, her 2016 appointment stood in sharp contrast to the university’s 2013 decision to appoint as president Robert Sternberg, who stepped down after just four months.

A renowned psychologist who began his career at Yale University and was a onetime president of the American Psychological Association, he said publicly at the time that Wyoming “may not be the best fit for me as president.”

But Ken Chestek, a law professor and chair-elect of the Wyoming Faculty Senate, said Sternberg’s brief tenure holds no lessons for understanding why Nichols’s presidency ended after just one term. He said Sternberg "was instantly controversial" at Wyoming. "That’s the opposite of what’s going on here."

Sternberg, who now teaches at Cornell, declined to comment on his tenure at Wyoming.

By contrast, Chestek said, Nichols arrived literally the day before Wyoming’s governor demanded the university trim its budget by $42 million over two years. “Her first job was to start cutting things and finding ways to save money and laying people off,” he said. “And it was a retrenchment that she had to manage, which was a very difficult job, and she did it very fairly.”

The required cuts came a year after the state's only public four-year institution broke ground on a $53.5 million research facility for its energy programs.

Three years later, Chestek said, Nichols “was leading us in a good direction. She had a lot of support.” He added, “She was open with us, she was honest with us, she was candid with us when she had to be candid. We had a good working relationship with her.”

Last summer, the university garnered a bit of negative attention after it unveiled a new marketing campaign that included the tagline "The World Needs More Cowboys." At the time, a few critics questioned whether the term included women, and whether the term “cowboy” suggested not just rugged individualism, but white male rugged individualism.

Nichols defended the slogan, saying in a statement that “cowboys” is far more inclusive than critics suggest. “Drawing upon Wyoming’s proud heritage, this campaign redefines what it means to be a Cowboy in this day and age, distilling it down to the inner spirit of curiosity and boldness that all who call themselves Cowboys and Cowgirls can identify with -- no matter their race or gender, or whether they’re students, employees, alumni or other supporters,” she said. “The Cowboy spirit is what the University of Wyoming helps instill in students, giving them the skills and support they need to make the breakthroughs that benefit our state and the world.”

A video released as part of the campaign emphasized that cowboys may be found among all genders, races and ethnicities, and suggests it challenges conventional wisdom about being a trailblazer. O’Toole, the Faculty Senate chair, said he thought the slogan was “very clever,” especially when the word “cowboy” was superimposed on images of women and people of color. Ultimately, the university stood behind the campaign, and it remains in place on the university home page.

True, the board chair, said trustees, who are meeting through Friday, haven’t decided on a process for selecting a new president, but he said the university “is in a great position right now. There’s a lot of new initiatives going on in different stages.” Enrollment is growing, he said, and public support of the university remains high. “I’m excited about where the institution is. It’s a great opportunity going forward for those who want to be part of this team.”

O’Toole said most faculty are simply longing for “predictability and stability so that we can just get on with things.” He noted that Thomas Buchanan, the last president who remained for more than a single term, stepped down in 2013, making the upcoming search the fourth since then. He and colleagues are also currently searching for a new dean, and Nichols's surprise firing doesn't help. “I can’t but believe it’ll make the searches a lot harder,” he said.

Despite its abundant natural beauty, he said, Wyoming is a hard place to recruit high-quality scholars. The state’s long winters, high elevation and political conservatism, among other factors, make it more difficult than at a public university in California, for instance. “Getting good people here is hard, and something like this, especially when it comes out of the blue, complicates those searches.”

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Scholars complain of visa problems ahead of international conference in Canada

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 2019-03-28 07:00

Some have suggested moving academic conferences to Canada to get around U.S. visa policies that, among other things, bar individuals from a group of Muslim-majority countries from entering the country. But when it comes to visa problems, holding an academic conference in Canada isn’t a panacea.

Terrible that #Canada is denying #visas to scholars & students traveling to #ISA2019 in #Toronto. Holding International Studies Assoc. Conference here was supposed to encourage all those who usually can’t/won’t travel to the US when it’s held there. @isanet @CitImmCanada

— Natasha Tusikov (@NTusikov) March 27, 2019

Members of the International Studies Association have taken to social media to protest visa delays or denials that have prevented a number of participants from attending the association’s annual meeting, which is happening this week in Toronto.

Mark Boyer, ISA’s executive director, said the number of participants who have withdrawn from ISA's annual convention at the last minute citing visa issues has been relatively consistent over the last three years, whether the conference was in the U.S., as it was in 2017 and 2018, or in Canada.

“We think there is in the neighborhood of 100 [participants], plus or minus, each of the last three years who withdrew very late in the process before the convention who were somehow tied to visa issues,” Boyer said. He cautioned that the number is imprecise: “What we really don’t know is when these individuals applied. Some may have applied back in October when they found out they were in the preliminary program; others may not have applied until three, four weeks ago. What seems to be happening is the visa process is just slowing down in North America.”

Thank you Canada for not granting me visa and:

- Ruining the opportunity to meet dear friends and colleagues that I only get a chance to see once in a year!

- Making me waste USD855 (quite dissent money for an academic/father of 2 small ones).#ISA2019

— Nikola M. Zivkovic (@NikolaZile) March 25, 2019

In addition to refunding prepaid registration fees for individuals unable to attend the conference due to visa issues, ISA has for the first time put aside $15,000 to offer partial reimbursements of visa fees and other travel costs for affected individuals. The partial reimbursements are reserved for graduate students and for scholars without a full-time, permanent position, and ISA anticipates making between 30 and 50 partial reimbursement awards of $300 to $500 each.

A sampling of more tweets from affected scholars -- and their colleagues -- can be found below.

Lovely welcome letter from ⁦@JustinTrudeau⁩ to #ISA2019 participants but when he says “experts from across the world” perhaps he and ⁦@cafreeland⁩ aren’t aware of the number of scholars who couldn’t get visas. Hugely disappointing and detrimental to the conference.

— Jim Goldgeier (@JimGoldgeier) March 27, 2019

Deeply disappointed with the Canadian High Comm in Pakistan @CanHCPakistan for refusing visas of two of my colleagues denying them their participation in #ISA2019 My passport is still with them, indirectly denying me too participation at ISA with a day left to travel @isanet

— Rabia Akhtar (@Rabs_AA) March 25, 2019

Just found out about the third person on a panel or roundtable I’m on who isn’t able to travel to #ISA2019 because of visa trouble/border policing. How are folks responding to and supporting people on the individual level when they learn colleagues, friends aren’t able to attend?

— Dr. Jamie J. Hagen (@Jamiejhagen) March 23, 2019

Hi, similar to some others I was also informed that a visa would not be issued in time for travel even though it was applied for within the required time frame. This is a first for me and regrettably now I miss out at presenting and participating. #isa2019

— @thys_vdberg (@VdbergThys) March 22, 2019

South African scholar unable to obtain a visa in time to come to #ISA2019 in Toronto. What possible benefit is this? @CanadaFP @cafreeland? @HonAhmedHussen?

— Stephanie Carvin (@StephanieCarvin) March 25, 2019 GlobalEditorial Tags: Political scienceCanadaIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: 

Scientists criticize Norway's decision to permit student loans for study of astrology

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 2019-03-28 07:00

A fight has erupted in Norway after the country’s higher education regulator agreed to accredit courses in astrology, meaning students will be able to use government loans to look for meaning in the stars.

Norwegian scientists have criticized the decision, but the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT) said that in making the ruling it was only following the law and blamed the government for not heeding its calls for stricter academic criteria.

NOKUT accredited three courses at the Oslo branch of Herkules, an 18-year-old astrology school with sites in four cities across Norway, triggering a wave of criticism.

“Are we a knowledge nation or are we not?” asked an incredulous Svein Stølen, rector of the University of Oslo, on Twitter.

Herkules has fought a long-running battle to win accreditation, which was finally granted after the school argued successfully that astrologers had good employment prospects.

Gisle Henden, director and founder of the school, told Times Higher Education that there were about 300 full- and part-time professional astrologers in Norway. “If there is a field [of employment] for astrology -- that’s enough. That’s the law today,” he said.

Terje Mørland, NOKUT’s managing director, said that the regulator understood the backlash. “But we have to apply the law as it currently stands,” he wrote in a blog post.

The problem for the regulator is that for vocational education, unlike for university courses, it cannot legally assess the “academic standards, objectivity and ethical consideration” of a program, he explained. Instead, accreditation focuses largely on areas such as governance, infrastructure, faculty qualifications and relevance to the workplace.

NOKUT had warned the government that a recently passed law governing vocational education should include rules around “academic standards” -- but the agency was ignored, he wrote.

In the wake of the dispute, the government has set up a working group to define “what should be the knowledge basis for the vocational college sector,” according to Tom Erlend Skaug, state secretary at Norway’s Ministry of Education and Research.

“We want to establish criteria that can strengthen vocational education and ensure that it is primarily based on current knowledge and practice,” he said.

But Henden said that the government would find it hard to settle on a new definition of a course’s “knowledge basis” that would shut out astrology but not also exclude religious schools currently accredited by NOKUT.

The astrology school had been discriminated against by the authorities for years, he claimed. “A few hundred years ago, astrologers were burned … and the people responsible believed in a flat earth,” he said.

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Librarians prepare to take a harder line with publishers

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 2019-03-27 07:00

University of California system administrators shook up the scholarly publishing world earlier this month when they announced their decision to ditch their bundled journal subscription deal with Elsevier.

University librarians have long griped about the rising cost of their “big deals” with major publishers, but relatively few have followed through on threats to cancel them -- fearing the impact that losing instant access to new research may have on their institution’s academic standing.

The UC system’s cancellation has given many librarians hope that they, too, can push for change. If one of the largest university systems in the country can do it, why can’t they?

The University of Virginia, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Minnesota, Duke University and Iowa State University are among the institutions whose librarians have recently published statements in support of the UC system’s decision.

The statements praise the UC system for fighting for a financially sustainable scholarly publishing model and gaining the support of faculty members in the process, but they also serve a strategic purpose -- priming academics for tougher negotiating tactics and the possibility of more big deal cancellations to come.

“A lot of people are feeling inspired by what the UC system did,” said Elaine Westbrooks, vice provost of university libraries at UNC Chapel Hill. “They did what many of us thought was unthinkable.”

Westbrooks is preparing to enter into negotiations with Elsevier next month. The university’s one-year contract with Elsevier is due to expire in December. She is tight-lipped about her negotiating strategy but says she is “open to all options” -- including the possibility of not reaching a deal.

Westbrooks has been meeting with faculty, students and staff for the past year to discuss the library’s position on the Elsevier deal and ascertain which Elsevier journals and services they value most.

“We’re looking at everything, every data point we have,” said Westbrooks.

UNC Chapel Hill ditched its big deal with Wiley, another global publisher, last December and replaced it with an “à la carte” option that lets the university subscribe individually to titles it deems most essential. The change has not led to widespread revolt by faculty members, but some weren’t happy about losing instant access to the latest research, said Westbrooks.

“There have been calls to reinstate some of the journals,” she said. “The inconvenience has been a factor that some faculty have brought up.”

The stakes for breaking up UNC Chapel Hill’s big deal with Elsevier are higher, said Westbrooks. It’s a bigger and more costly deal that includes more titles academics use frequently. But the deal as it currently exists “is just not sustainable,” she said.

“I have a constrained budget,” she noted.

More than 50 big deals have been canceled by institutions worldwide since 2008, according to open-access advocacy group SPARC, which tracks big deal cancellations. In recent years, the number of cancellations has picked up, particularly in Europe, where several national consortia have dropped deals with Elsevier, Taylor and Francis, Springer Nature, and Wiley.

“The big deal dam has been cracking for a while now,” said Rick Anderson, associate dean for collections and scholarly communications at the Marriott Library at the University of Utah.

“I think there’s no question that libraries are becoming more willing to cancel these deals, and this feeling had been building for a very long time,” said Anderson. “But I think the big question is whether and to what degree faculty will support these cancellations. We’ve seen examples of libraries canceling, and the faculty being very supportive, and we’ve seen examples of faculty being upset and wanting the library to reinstate access.”

“Ultimately I think the libraries that are most successful at extricating themselves from the big deal will not necessarily be the ones that give their faculty the most warning, but rather the ones that do the best job of actually involving faculty in the decision making,” said Anderson.

UC system library leaders have been very open about their ambitions and goals for scholarly publishing, said Brandon Butler, director of information policy at the University of Virginia Library. “I was relieved they ended up walking away from Elsevier,” he said. If the UC system had settled for a deal that did not reduce costs, it would have set a bad precedent for other institutions going into negotiations, he said.

The UC system wanted a read-and-publish deal with Elsevier, which would have rolled the cost of open-access publishing into the cost of accessing paywalled content. Not all librarians are in agreement that read-and-publish deals are the best way forward, but everyone agrees that the status quo is “not sustainable,” said Butler. “It’s not just about open access -- it’s also about controlling costs.”

The University of Virginia is two years out from its next round of big deal negotiations, said Butler. “We’re lucky in that we can sit back in luxury and watch how other institutions fare without their big deals,” he said. “But two years will go by in a flash. We are starting these conversations on campus now.”

“The mood is we’ve got to do something about this, this can’t continue the way it is,” said Jeff Kosokoff, assistant university librarian for collection strategy at Duke University. “I’m glad UC was able to do it. I think for them, a key part of their strategy was to spend many years communicating with their faculty to get to this point,” he said. “Faculty have to be onboard.”

Faculty at Duke are now coming to the library and asking about its plans for the future, said Kosokoff.

"Now that the University of California has done this, it makes it clear that it’s possible,” he said.

Kosokoff and colleagues started a student data project last year called “Breaking the Bundle,” which will analyze the university's journal subscription costs. Duke just signed a three-year renewal with Elsevier, but Kosokoff doesn’t see this as a problem. Three years will be a good amount of time to build support and gather the data needed to be “tougher negotiators” next time around, he said.

“Three years is a long time given how quickly things are moving,” said Kosokoff. “I think we’ll see more transformative deals going through. And by the time it comes for us to negotiate, there may be a different menu of options available to us.”

Elsevier has not yet revoked access to its content in the UC system, so it is too soon to say what the impact has been on faculty, students and staff, said Jeff Mackie Mason, university librarian at UC Berkeley. The system is not immediately planning to subscribe to individual journals once access is cut off, he said. “We’ll see how things play out, collecting and analyzing data for a while.”

The big deal model “made life very easy” for librarians by offering access to whole journal catalogs for one annual lump sum. It’s nice to have access to everything, said Butler. But there is a “long tail of filler” that never gets used.

Lauren Pressley, president of the Association of College and Research Libraries and director of the University of Washington Tacoma Library, said that the UC system news has inspired many institutions to start having conversations about the value of big deal subscriptions on their campuses. But Pressley predicts it may be some time before the impact of these conversations is known.

“I’d expect that any institution wishing to follow the path that UC has laid out will take the time to engage with faculty and build a shared vision, the same way that UC did with their faculty,” she said.

Both Pressley and Westbrooks said they had observed institutions signing shorter and shorter contracts.

“I don’t know anyone who would consider signing a five-year deal anymore,” said Westbrooks.

The buzz created by the UC system’s cancellation has meant that for the first time, it is not just librarians talking about the challenges they face in providing access to research.

“This is a really pivotal moment,” said Westbrooks. “Librarians have been talking about these issues for 20 years. But now we have some traction and the opportunity to do something about it.”

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Sociology's publishing expectations have doubled in recent decades

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 2019-03-27 07:00

If it feels like publishing expectations for graduate students are way higher than they used to be, that’s because they are: brand-new assistant professors in sociology have already published twice as much as did newbies at the same highly ranked institutions in the early 1990s, according to a recent study in Sociological Science. Changing expectations for tenure over time are similar.

What does that look like, exactly? In 2017, new assistant professors at the 21 departments included in the study had published 4.8 peer-reviewed articles, on average, on their start date. About 25 years ago, the number was 2.5.

Newly promoted associated professors in article-centric subfields in the 2010s also published almost twice as many peer-reviewed articles as their counterparts two decades earlier. And even in book-centric subfields, the number of peer-reviewed articles has risen.

"Book people in the 2010s now publish as many articles as article people were publishing in the 1990s," reads the study, emphasis included.

“What I find, basically, is that the collective wisdom is correct: graduate students entering faculty positions today do publish much more than they did a generation ago, at least in top-ranked sociology departments,” author John Robert Warren, associate professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, says in the study. “Likewise, in top sociology departments, successful candidates for promotion to associate professor publish more than they used to.”

Source: Warren

Warren’s primary purpose is to put data to anecdotes about “the good old days” of faculty work, versus now. But there are other reasons to examine this trend, he says. There is a perception that aspiring sociologists must work harder, more quickly and under greater pressure than ever before “to achieve the same rewards,” he says, “all with few additional resources” -- which may lead to greater anxiety and unhappiness among academics, especially junior scholars. And that may drive talented scholars, especially those trying to balance work and family life (read: women), from the field.

Rising publication exceptions also may “aggravate inequalities within and between sociology departments,” Warren says. That means between well-resourced “have” departments and the “have-nots,” and also among scholars working in article-based subfields and with existing data, who tend to publish relatively quickly, and those working in book-based subfields and who must gather their own research to analyze, who take much longer to publish.

All that might encourage junior scholars to choose subfields and design projects based on publishing speed, not intellectual interest. There are also questions of quality versus quantity. So in the “bigger picture,” Warren says, “rising publication expectations may thus affect the shape and direction of the discipline.”

Why are expectations changing? Warren explores a number of theories. Sociology departments may be more selective in hiring and promoting now than they were a generation ago, based on supply and demand: there are many more candidates than available jobs, for example, he says. And many more sociologists now take postdoctoral positions today than they did a few decades ago, meaning that new faculty hires may have had more time to publish than predecessors fresh from gradate school.

The structure of publishing also has changed over time: in 1986, the Social Sciences Citation Index’s Journal Citation Reports listed 64 journals about sociology, compared to 143 in 2016, Warren says. And, like scientists in many fields, sociologists have become more collaborative over time, co-authoring more papers. Warren also wonders if gender -- more women in the field, feeling they need to exceed expectations to succeed -- plays a role.

For his study, Warren looked at trends between 1991 and 2017 in how much sociology assistant professors had published on their first day on the job and when they were first promoted to associate professor. He narrowed his focus to the top 21 sociology Ph.D.-granting departments based on their inclusion in the 1992 and 2013 U.S. News & World Report rankings and in at least one of the National Research Council rankings. He found faculty members from 1991 to 2017 in these departments using publicly available data, such as websites and information from the American Sociological Association.

Warren says the elite department focus limits the generalizability of his research but makes the scope manageable. He also notes that these departments are “particularly influential in setting broader norms and expectations in the wider discipline,” as they produce a disproportionate share of all new Ph.D.s, “and (for better or worse) their faculties dominate journal editorships, editorial boards, grant-proposal review panels and leadership positions in professional associations.”

The faculty count turned up 342 new assistant professors in these 21 departments between 1991 and 2017. The number fluctuated over time, he said, with real dips observed during recessions. (Kieran Healy, an associate professor of sociology at Duke University, highlighted this -- and more -- in a mini-analysis on Twitter.) Warren used similar methods to identity 272 new associate professors in the same departments between 1991 and 2017.

One thing you can see in Warren's data is the effect of the Great Recession on hires in the Top 25.

— Kieran Healy (@kjhealy) March 1, 2019

Next, he counted peer-reviewed publications on the professors’ CVs, for their appointments as assistant professors and associate professors, respectively.

Of all possible explanations for the doubling of publishing expectations for getting hired and promoted, Warren says that the data most support the supply and demand/selectivity hypothesis and, possibly, technological advances that aid productivity. The number of new sociology Ph.D.s awarded has increased by 50 percent since 1991, but the number of new assistant professor positions has "not nearly kept pace," he says.

Among newly promoted associate professors, these same conclusions both hold. Increasing co-authorship -- especially in interdisciplinary fields -- also is a factor here, he says.

Linking all these forces, Warren says that as fiscal pressures on universities and departments have increased, “they may have found it easier and more financially beneficial to invest in hiring in areas in which it is possible to attract grant funds to support larger, collaborative, interdisciplinary projects.”

Asked whether he thought his findings would apply to other social science fields, Warren said recently that he suspected "the larger macro forces at work -- which really have to do with the organization and financing of higher education -- apply at least to the other social sciences and economics."

In any case, he said, sociologists now face “much greater pressure to publish” and “to publish often.”

Echoing the “why” piece of his study, Warren said that his findings have potential “human consequences,” in that “it's stressful and may push otherwise qualified people out of the field.”

Expectation creep also has “implications both for the quality of scholarship -- which may go down as demands for quantity increase -- and for the topics that sociologists may choose to study,” he said.

In other words, the trend toward more publications might also mean a trend toward “topics or approaches that ensure quicker and more certain publication.”

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Bennett College, hoping to keep the doors open, follows a playbook used by other religious colleges

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 2019-03-27 07:00

When Bennett College, a historically black institution in Greensboro, N.C., made a last-ditch effort to keep its accreditation -- and its access to federal student aid -- last month, it followed a course well trodden by struggling colleges.

Bennett sued its accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, to block its termination over ongoing financial troubles. And shortly thereafter, Bennett announced that it would also seek approval from the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, a national accreditor of religious colleges.

In recent years, a handful of small, religiously affiliated institutions faced with termination by the commission, most notably Paul Quinn College in 2009, have sought approval from TRACS to keep their accreditation and, critically, their access to federal student aid. Hiwassee College, also in 2009, and Paine College last year pursued the same course. Another, Brewton-Parker College, applied for recognition with TRACS in 2015 but later had its accreditation with the commission restored on appeal. Like Bennett, Paul Quinn and Paine Colleges are both historically black institutions.

TRACS was launched in 1991 with a mission of overseeing mostly evangelical Christian colleges uncomfortable with other accreditors. But it’s become an attractive option for other struggling religious institutions. Those moves raise questions about what power accreditors actually have to enforce accountability. And Bennett is fighting to keep its approval as larger debates swirl about the difference between regional and national accreditors as well alleged discrimination by accreditors against small black colleges.

“Bennett is following the playbook that we wrote,” said Michael Sorrell, the president of Paul Quinn. “The logic is sound.”

Sorrell said colleges seeking new accreditation welcome tough evaluation but argues there is more than one way to accomplish that.

“No one here is looking for a free pass,” he said.

Bennett's decision to apply to TRACS followed conversations with Sorrel as well as Paine College president Jerry Hardee. The strategy shows how small institutions looking to stay afloat will exhaust all opportunities to keep their doors open long after an accreditor decides to yank its approval. It also suggests that when an accreditor pulls a college’s recognition, it’s not necessarily game over.

Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University who studies college accountability, said accreditors increasingly don't have the final word about whether colleges continue to operate.

“Lawsuits can drag out for years,” he said. “And politicians are starting to take action against accreditors when they act.”

As long as a college keeps its access to federal aid, though, students themselves will likely take little notice of the complex maneuvering that can go into a struggling school keeping its accreditation. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins, the president of Bennett, said that's the bottom line for the college's students.

"What matters to students is that we are accredited and that we provide a quality education," she said. "The quality of our programs will continue whether we are accredited by SACS or TRACS."

Demands for Accreditors to Do More

Accreditors, which are considered the third leg of the federal accountability system along with states and the federal government, are peer-review bodies that determine whether colleges meet standards for financial strength and academic quality. Without their approval, institutions can't maintain their access to Title IV federal student aid programs, which is critical to most colleges' survival. But accreditors have faced increasing pressure in recent years from lawmakers and federal officials to conduct tougher scrutiny of academic and financial weaknesses at colleges that could pose risks to students and federal funds.

Fueling that political pressure is the growing sense that accreditors have done little to sanction or close the worst schools. The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, with oversaw Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech, came under fire after the failure of those for-profit chains, leading the Obama administration to seek the accreditor's elimination. Arne Duncan, President Obama’s first education secretary, referred to the organizations in 2015 as the “watchdogs that don’t bite.” A 2014 Government Accountability Office report found that when accreditors do sanction colleges, they usually do so because of financial problems, not academic quality issues. That was true of the institutions that have sought approval from TRACS after losing approval from the southern commission.

Belle Wheelan, the president of SACS, said she is glad, however, that the commission doesn’t object to those colleges finding recognition elsewhere.

“That’s fine with us. We don’t enjoy closing down an institution,” she said. “If you ask any of our board members, they are glad our institutions have a safety net.”

Wheelan acknowledged that most of the institutions that are dropped by SACS lose their recognition for financial reasons. That’s an outcome that can take anywhere from three to five years to unfold.

“I don’t know their standards, so I’m in no position to tell you about the quality of their standards,” Wheelan said of TRACS. “I have to assume they have a different way of calculating financial security and stability.”

Origins of an Alternative Accreditor

TRACS was founded for reasons that had little to do with providing another chance to colleges that had experienced financial turmoil. Instead, it was meant to be a home for religious institutions that weren’t comfortable with other accreditors, particularly those who rejected the teaching of evolution. Its statement of faith in particular came under scrutiny. Those statements, which commit faculty and students to living out the ideals of an institution, are common at evangelical colleges. And the TRACS statement stood out in that it references the "six literal days of the creation week" as part of a belief in viewing the Bible as factually true as a historic record.

Its beginnings were somewhat controversial. Then education secretary Lamar Alexander, now the GOP chairman of the Senate education committee, approved the organization despite recommendations against it by the federal advisory board charged with overseeing accreditors. Members of the advisory board had raised questions about the quality of the standards it applied to institutions. Critics also saw the statement of faith as a red flag. But Alexander at the time argued for more diversity in accreditation.

The organization’s federal recognition was renewed last year without any issues; the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, the body that oversees accreditors, voted unanimously to approve TRACS again.

Sorrell said Paul Quinn settled on the organization because it matched the college’s mission as a faith-based institution and was considered the most rigorous of potential accreditors.

“Rigor was very important to us,” he said. “We knew there would be people out there who would say we just did this to get an easier path, and that fundamentally was not true.”

Some skeptics have raised questions about what would appear to be an odd fit between TRACS, which has historically overseen evangelical Christian institutions, and the colleges affiliated with different faith traditions that have sought recognition there in recent years. While these colleges all have religious ties, they teach students of diverse faiths and do not require the same level of faculty and student shared beliefs as do the colleges originally accredited by TRACS.

Paul Gaston, a trustees professor in the English Department at Kent State University, has studied accreditation broadly and TRACS in particular. When he reviewed the organization’s membership for a 2014 book, he found most of the colleges it oversaw expressed an explicit affinity with the principles outlined in the organization's statement of faith.

Those principles include the belief in the Bible as in the infallible word of God and the doctrine of the Trinity -- both common in the faith statements of religious institutions -- as well as a belief in the six literal days of creation.

“That’s what makes this current phenomenon a little unusual,” he said.

But Timothy Eaton, the president of TRACS, said colleges are not expected to adopt the same statement of faith as the accreditor -- or to use it as a cue for the content of academic instruction. The organization expects colleges to issue their own statements of their values to inform staff and potential students.

“We’re unapologetic that we think God is the author and the creator,” Eaton said. “What we’re looking for is a Christian worldview, and so we’re looking for the institution to demonstrate how its Christian perspective plays itself out in the day-to-day life of students.”

At Paul Quinn, the college’s foundational principles are meant to establish a campus culture of high character, Sorrell said.

“We want you to leave a place better than you found it,” he said.

Paul Quinn, as well as Paine and Hiwassee, also publish doctrinal or faith statements corresponding with the teachings of various Methodist bodies. Rather than adopting tenets of the TRACS statement of faith, they say, those documents meet the requirements that they publish an expression of their institutional values.

Dawkins said the history of TRACS has come up in conversations with students and parents. But she said there have been no efforts by the accreditor to impose a particular religious point of view on the college.

"We were told very clearly that we can operate Bennett according to our United Methodist college doctrine," Dawkins said. "They don't discriminate against different institutions by religious affiliation. There's no conflict."

Broader Accreditation Debate Reignited

While the accreditor has been a landing spot for some small colleges, other struggling institutions haven’t been able to pull off such a maneuver to stay open. And colleges without a Christian affiliation wouldn’t find a clear fit at an organization like TRACS.

Bennett’s pursuit of new accreditation also takes place as a rule-making process at the Education Department has reignited a long-running debate over the value of regional versus national accreditation. Sorrell sees little difference for an institution or its students.

“When you apply to a different accrediting body, they’re looking at you from the moment you apply,” he said. “Many times the regional accreditor doesn’t have the flexibility to take everything into account that has transformed the institution.”

The college that Paul Quinn had become when it was approved by TRACS was radically different than the one that had its accreditation terminated by the southern commission, he said.

While the Trump administration has pushed for a re-evaluation of the perceived differences between regional and national accreditors, the regionals' handling of HBCUs has become a particular sore spot for many critics. Their approach to small historically black colleges was the subject of a war of words this month between Wheelan and Michael Lomax, the president of the United Negro College Fund, which represents private HBCUs. In a speech on the state of historically black colleges, Lomax called on Congress to examine the practices of regional accreditors, who he argued have levied "harsh, seemingly disparate" sanctions against black colleges

Lomax said that enrollment size and finances have become the focus of accreditors like the southern commission, indicative of an "apparent bias against small institutions with modest financial resources." The termination of Bennett College's recognition was a prime example, he said. Dawkins, who was in the audience for Lomax's remarks, agreed. She said there is an institutional bias among accreditors against small, underresourced institutions.

"The standards should apply equally across all institutions," she said.

But Wheelan pushed back forcefully on complaints about discrimination against small HBCUs. In a letter to Lomax, she said that colleges like Paine and Bennett with small endowments, declining enrollments and growing debt won't be able to meet the standards of any accreditor recognized by the Department of Education.

"These crippling factors debilitate smaller institutions long before they undergo the accreditation review process," she wrote. "Incidentally, every institution SACSCOC has removed from membership has failed during litigation to demonstrate that the commission did not follow its procedures or that institutions were treated unfairly."

Wheelan's statement points to a harsh reality for Bennett, which will face a long road to securing permanent accreditation even after an impressive fund-raising campaign that took in a haul of more than $8.3 million. The long-term financial picture at the college has been in decline for years; the net assets held by Bennett fell for six straight years before a small uptick in 2018. And it will have to demonstrate financial stability in order to win full accreditation from TRACS, a process that will likely take years to complete.

But Dawkins said she's confident in the long-term prospects for the college.

"We have momentum right now," she said. "Bennett is still relevant to today's society as an HBCU and as a women's institution."

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Asian studies scholars discuss the politics shaping the overseas Chinese student wave

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 2019-03-27 07:00

DENVER -- The rapid growth in the number of Chinese students studying abroad has created complex new political dynamics in the classroom, speakers said during a panel here at the Association for Asian Studies annual meeting titled “Politics and Ideology: Classroom China in the Age of Higher Education Globalization.”

Alisa Jones, a senior lecturer at the University of Tübingen in Germany who studies history education in China, began the panel by discussing what Chinese students learn in their schooling about Chinese history. “For Chinese students, they’ve had a very, very comprehensive study of Chinese history from ancient times to the present, and they have repeated this at every level of schooling,” she said.

Although the historical narrative taught in schools has changed somewhat over time, Jones said what’s currently in vogue is a "narrative of humiliation," a narrative of a great ancient civilization that was oppressed by Western powers from the 19th century to the middle of the 20th. Jones quoted a colleague who summed up the narrative in seven words: “We was great, and we was robbed.”

At the same time, Jones said that while there is an emphasis on teaching students a “correct” version of history, there’s also in Chinese schooling “this idea that we need students who are more innovative, creative and able to think for themselves in order to compete in a global knowledge economy. This creates problems for students who have been taught on the one hand that there is a correct interpretation of history but at the same time are supposed to think critically: these two things don’t really go together. I think the result of that sometimes comes out in school classrooms when these students go abroad.”

David Kenley, a history professor at Elizabethtown College, in Pennsylvania, began his presentation by citing survey research on the motivations of Chinese students in the U.S. The survey -- which was discussed in an article published in 2017 in the Journal of International Students -- found that the top motive for studying abroad reported by Chinese students was to get a different perspective on their home country.

“Alisa’s talked about the education system, the century of shame, the idea from Opium War to 1949 [the year of the founding of the People’s Republic], China had been bullied by West, robbed by the West of their rightful place on the national stage, and it’s their responsibility to make sure that never happens again,” Kenley said. “On the other hand, if we’re going to take their self-reported motives at face value, they say they want to understand other cultures. They want to understand the U.S.”

Kenley said that Chinese students have engaged in activism in different ways in the U.S. “I don’t mean to be simplistic, because with 350,000 students you get 350,000 narratives,” he said, “but we do see at least in the popular press that these students can sometimes use their opportunities abroad to be critical of their home country and at other times they can use their opportunity abroad to be extremely defensive and protective of their home country.”

Kenley cited the case of a University of Maryland College Park student from China, Yang Shuping, who came under immense pressure to make a public apology after she gave a commencement speech praising the “fresh air of free speech” she found at an American campus. He also cited the “Xi’s Not My President” movement, in which Chinese international students on Western campuses registered their protest of the abolition of presidential term limits, a move that cleared the way for President Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely.

Kenley noted, however, that one of the students involved in the "Xi's Not My President" campaign was quoted in media as saying he had to hang posters late at night to avoid being seen. Writing under a pseudonym in Foreign Policy, one student activist wrote that while hanging up posters is a common political act on campuses in democratic countries, "for Chinese studying at these same campuses, it is dangerous to publicly express opinions that go against the party line. We know that our career prospects back in China are likely to suffer if we are publicly known to have criticized the party; it will be more difficult for us to make connections, snag interviews and receive job offers and promotions. Chinese authorities have also been known to harass the families of outspoken Chinese students abroad, to interrogate Chinese returnees, or, in extreme cases, even kidnap Chinese abroad." (Links per original.)

Kenley also referenced a 2018 New York Times article -- "On Campuses Far From China, Still Under Beijing’s Watchful Eye" -- that discusses the ways in which the Chinese government uses affiliated Chinese Students and Scholars Associations to promote a pro-Chinese agenda on campus. A well-known China expert quoted in the article, Perry Link, described the CSSAs as tools of China's foreign ministry that among other things monitor unpatriotic speech by Chinese students: "The effect of that surveillance is less that certain people are caught and punished and more that virtually all Chinese students know they could be reported and, therefore, watch what they say in public fora,” Link, a professor at the University of California, Riverside, is quoted as saying in the article.

“There’s tremendous amount of self-censorship, group pressure. Chinese students who maybe want to be critical of their home country find it’s not desirable to do so for social reasons or peer pressure,” Richard Madsen, a distinguished professor of sociology at the University of California, San Diego, said during the panel discussion at the Asian studies conference.

“I think we need to be aware of ways in which we’re complicit with policing these boundaries,” Madsen said. “Those of us who need to travel from China, those of us who need financial support from China, I think oftentimes we find ourselves censoring what goes on in our classrooms as well.”

With the growing dependence on many U.S. colleges on tuition revenue from China, "we have become addicted to Chinese money," Madsen said.

At the same time, Robert Sutter, a professor of practice of international affairs at George Washington University, raised the difficult question of whether professors should counsel discretion when Chinese students say or write things Chinese authorities likely wouldn't like. He said he recently advised a student who wrote a paper on such a hot-button topic not to pass it around, for the student's own sake.

Madsen commented that the consequences for students of saying things that might upset Chinese officials differ based on their goals. For students who aspire to stay in the U.S., "they can be more outspoken," he said. "There are those who are aspiring to go back to China to work in business or government, and they’re different."

"To be outspoken, if you want to stay here, could be good," Madsen added. "It could get you better jobs."

After all, it's not only Chinese politics that students from the mainland have to navigate while they're overseas. For those studying in the U.S., they face an increasingly complex politics here.

In his comments Sutter addressed the increasingly suspicious view toward China taken by the U.S. government, a suspiciousness that is manifesting in heightened concerns from security agencies about theft of intellectual property and the risk that some Chinese students and scholars might be acting as spies. Sutter said what he believes is driving this discourse is a conviction that whoever wins the high-tech competition with China will dominate the national security space: by this line of logic, he said, "what's at stake is being dominated by China."

“This discourse I think is having an effect on public opinion,” said Sutter. He added that he doesn't believe it will go away any time soon.

“What I see is this trend within U.S. government policy is not contingent on Mr. Trump. The bureaucracy is very much moving in this direction and the Congress, including the Democrats, is supporting this kind of effort.”

Madsen said he thinks multiple narratives -- including anti-immigration narratives, narratives about persecution of Christians in China, and narratives about spying and intellectual property theft -- are gaining traction within various subgroups that all have their own media sources and coalescing into a "grand narrative" in America about China.

“Of course, there’s an American narrative on China, but there’s also an American narrative on America,” added Jones, complicating the picture further. “The American story of America, it’s very triumphalist, and then maybe over the last few years there’s been this loss of the feeling of greatness, and hence, ‘Make America Great Again.’”

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Colleges start academic programs

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 2019-03-27 07:00
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Repeated scandals stymie USC's efforts to improve its image

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 2019-03-26 07:00

After a series of embarrassing scandals and divisive controversies at the University of Southern California over the past two years, students, alumni and faculty hoped 2019 would be different.

It's not.

The university is deeply enmeshed in a national college admissions scandal involving various pay-to-play schemes in which rich parents paid hefty bribes to get their children into some of the nation’s top colleges. USC students were implicated in the fraud and bribery scheme more than were students at any of the other colleges. And one of the USC students was among those most widely mocked for an apparent lack of interest in studying.

Instead of turning the tide of bad publicity and banner headlines, the university has only drawn more critical scrutiny.

Many USC students, alumni and influential benefactors are deeply disappointed and angry about the latest turn of events and are highly critical of the administration under whose watch the bribery apparently occurred undetected. They are particularly annoyed that USC administrators are again scrambling to contain a public relations debacle instead of focusing on restoring the reputational luster already lost as a result of the past incidents.

Although the hiring of a new president was announced last week, raising hopes that a change in leadership might help steer the campus onto a path of positive change, the university's critics are debating the long-term implications of the collective scandals. They're also wondering whether the image of the institution will be permanently sullied along with the standing of current students, the graduating Class of 2019, and alumni.

“I was totally embarrassed,” said Calvin Carmichael, a freshman at USC. “I know how hard I worked to get into the school. Before people would say, ‘Wow, you go to USC -- you must be so smart.’ Now I’m not sure what they’ll say.”

They might say something along the lines of: How much did you pay to get in?

Greg Autry said he was asked that very question at a recent conference, even though he’s not a USC student. He’s an assistant professor of clinical entrepreneurship in USC’s business school but was nonetheless the subject “of a constant barrage of admission jokes” during the conference.

He said variations of jokes about bribing one’s way into USC were “the second thing out of people’s mouths after they said hello and saw the name of my institution. They questioned the quality of faculty along with that of students.”

Autry took the ribbing in stride, but he believes what’s happening at USC is no laughing matter. When the charges and arrests related to the admissions buying were announced earlier this month after a yearlong investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, he was immediately dismayed. He dreaded the thought of more unseemly headlines about USC after widespread media coverage of revelations of sexual assault allegations against a campus gynecologist and charges of drug abuse by the medical school’s now former dean.

“I thought, oh no, not again,” he said.

The admissions investigation led to the arrests of 50 people, including athletics coaches at USC and five other selective institutions who allegedly took bribes in exchange for granting spots on various sports teams to students who did not play those particular sports. The students’ parents and several college entrance exam administrators were also arrested and charged.

The university’s top administrators have not responded to requests for comment, but Wanda Austin, USC’s interim president, has issued several written statements outlining the university’s cooperation with law enforcement authorities and actions taken in the wake of the Justice Department announcement of the indictments and arrests.

“We have planned significant remedial efforts,” she said in a statement issued on March 12, hours after the Justice Department announcement. “We will take all appropriate employment actions. We will review admissions decisions. We are identifying all funds received that may be connected to the government’s allegations. And we will be implementing significant process and training enhancements to prevent anything like this from ever happening again.”

Austin also announced the firing of two employees, including Donna Heinel, the senior associate athletic director who was among five current or former USC coaches charged with racketeering conspiracy as part of the Justice Department probe. She also said a tenured faculty member named in the federal indictment as a parent would be placed on leave while the university takes "a required procedural step in the process for terminating tenured faculty." The faculty member is Homayoun Zadeh, an associate professor of dentistry who received his doctorate of dental surgery from USC in 1987. According to the Justice Department's affidavit, Zadeh and his wife refinanced their home in order to pay a $100,000 bribe to the athletic director to have their daughter designated as a recruit for USC's lacrosse team, "despite the fact that she did not play lacrosse competitively -- thereby facilitating her admission to USC."

“More employment actions may be possible as new facts come to light,” Austin said in another statement.

Autry said the culmination of various scandals within a relatively short time period -- “It seems like a scandal du jour, or one every six months,” he said. -- contributed to an overall unflattering perception of USC.

“There’s a sense of institutional corruption, and that’s not wrong,” he said. “There’s a severe cultural problem going on that you can’t deny.”

He’s worried the perceptions may become reality and hurt faculty recruiting, “which had been on the upswing.”

Paul Kaster, a sophomore at USC, agrees.

“It impacts USC’s reputation for sure,” Kaster said. “Its reputation is important for recruiting faculty and students and for the value of your degree later, especially when you’re looking for a job.”

Students who were considering applying “might see the university as less prestigious,” he said.

Still, as disappointing as it was for Kaster to learn that 12 students were accepted at USC through admission fraud, he said it was such a small portion of the nearly 20,000 undergraduates enrolled that the impact on campus and on the larger student body is almost negligible.

There’s also the notion that even bad publicity can sometimes result in positive attention.

“I actually hear more about the scandal from people who aren’t at USC,” Kaster said. “It’s kind of good to know that someone is willing to pay a million dollars to attend USC. I’ve actually been offered money to take the ACT test for others, but I declined. I feel honored to be in the company of Yale and Stanford, and being among that caliber of school can also improve USC’s reputation.” (Although USC has become increasingly competitive and selective in recent decades, it is still not as selective as Yale or Stanford Universities, other institutions where parents tried to rig the admissions process. According to federal data on College Navigator, a database of the National Center for Education Statistics, USC accepted 16 percent of 56,676 applicants for its fall 2017 freshman class, while Yale and Stanford accepted just 7 and 5 percent respectively. Yale and Stanford students also scored higher on college entrance exams such as the SAT and ACT, and they graduated from those institutions at higher rates, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard.)

It’s obviously impossible for anyone to predict what will happen over time, especially given the fast pace of news cycles and the short attention span of the general public.

“Reputational damage is not forever anymore,” said Margaret Dunning, managing partner at Finn Partners, a global marketing and communications firm. “There are a few exceptions, but it’s hard to predict what they are.”

Still, some USC alumni remember the university’s less heady days, when it was known for being “a party school” with a great football team and less than rigorous academics. USC was not nearly as selective back then, and the competition to get in was not so intense. People joked that USC actually stood for “University for Spoiled Children.”

No one wants a return of that image, but the involvement of the children of wealthy movie stars and hedge fund managers in the admissions scandal only reinforces that impression. These students have become the focal point of public ire and are seen as the embodiment of spoiled and entitled young people who gained entrée to USC by dint of their parents’ money and influence.

The students and their parents are the source of intense social media attention and derision because they are viewed as unworthy of enrollment spots that might have gone to more deserving students. Many current students and alumni were upset and offended by the YouTube video of Olivia Jade Giannulli, a so-called social influencer with two million followers, casually discussing wanting to experience college “game days and partying” but not academics.

“I don’t really care about school,” she said.

It made matters worse when it became public that Giannulli, whose famous parents, the actress Lori Loughlin and the fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, were implicated in the admissions buying scheme, was enjoying spring break in the Bahamas with other wealthy classmates aboard a yacht owned by Rick Caruso, the controversial chairman of USC’s Board of Trustees.

Lloyd Greif, a 1979 graduate of the USC Marshall School of Business and a member of its Board of Leaders advisory group, was among those offended.

“I’m a native of Los Angeles, and I’m very aware of what USC’s reputation was and what caused it to change and made it what it is today,” he said.

Like many other alumni, Greif credits Steven B. Sample, the institution’s 10th president. USC grew fast, amassed lots of money and raised its academic standing under Sample’s leadership from 1991 to 2010.

“That’s when the University of Spoiled Children name sank and went away,” Greif said. “So to have it come back now is distressing to alumni who lived through the metamorphosis.”

Sample, who died in 2016, was widely praised for transforming USC into a leading research university. During his tenure, USC “recruited some of the most academically talented freshman classes in the country, more than doubled sponsored research to $430 million a year, and completed two comprehensive, universitywide strategic planning processes designed to take USC to new levels of academic excellence,” according to the university. “It also mounted the most successful fund-raising campaign, raising $2.85 billion and becoming the only university to receive four separate nine-figure gifts in one campaign.”

Greif fears that the admissions scandal will undermine all the progress made. He thinks one way to prevent that from happening is for heads to roll “not only at the top of the athletic department … but also at the very top of the university itself.”

He’s not alone in wanting change.

“There are a lot of us that came up the hard way and not with this who you know, who paid what stuff. We had no such connections,” said Robert L. Rodriguez, principal and CEO of First Pacific Advisors Inc., and a USC donor who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the business school.

“To have a vacuous individual like her take a spot from a hardworking applicant who really wants to learn is reprehensible,” he said in reference to Olivia Jade Giannulli.

“When I served on the Board of Leaders several years ago, there were members whose kids did not get in at USC. The kids getting in today have scores that are qualitatively equal to kids getting in at Stanford University. That was not the case 20 years ago. I look at how far the school has come, and when I see the things that drag down the school, it’s very heart-wrenching. Hopefully the whole school will not be condemned just because of the individual bad apples and bad actors.”

According to the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities, which represents 83 private, nonprofit college and universities, the concerns about USC’s image are unwarranted.

“The recent college admissions scandal should have no effect on the reputations of the universities involved,” the organization said in a prepared statement. “The affected AICCU institutions are cooperating fully with the United States Department of Justice, as well as conducting internal reviews to ensure all appropriate responses and campus actions are taken. These were illegal actions committed by individuals at institutions -- not by the institutions themselves -- and do not reflect the mission, vision and values of our member institutions.”

Most people will not likely see things that way, however, and will consider the actions of the individuals involved as representative of the universities that employed them.

Any talk of USC's mission and values seem to be overshadowed by the bad publicity. On social media, the focus is on a campus bursting with students from rich families.

The median family income of a USC student is $161,400 (compared to $62,175 for the average American family), and 63 percent are from families with incomes in the top 20 percent of the income scale, according to data from the Equality of Opportunity Project launched by Harvard University economist Raj Chetty with The New York Times. Fourteen percent of USC students are from families who earned $630,000 or more per year, the top 1 percent of the income scale.

“I think it would be a great shame for people to believe that it should permanently damage a very fine institution such as USC,” said Mary Sue Coleman, president of the Association of American Universities, which represents leading research universities, including USC.

Coleman, who was president of the University of Michigan for 12 years and president of the University of Iowa for seven, believes Interim President Austin and other USC leaders “understand the gravity of the situation and the need to investigate and root out the problems and do the right things to regain the public trust.”

Austin has indicated that USC leaders appreciate the seriousness of the scandal and what’s at stake for USC.

“We will do all that is necessary to continue to strengthen our culture and to restore trust within our community,” she said in a statement. “Moving forward, we will take all necessary steps to safeguard the integrity of our admissions process and to ensure we conduct ourselves with integrity and ethics consistent with our values.”

Coleman said it’s important for all the institutions implicated in the admission fraud “and all of higher ed to live up to the principles that we say we have for our institutions, especially in an era when there is a lot of mistrust that our admissions policies are fair and equitable.”

Greif, who funded the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at USC’s business school, said procedures should have been put in place to prevent or at least detect the bribery and corruption at the heart of the admission scheme.

“How is it that no one at the university was tracking athletic department admissions against athletic engagement post admission?” he asked. “This multiyear misconduct that escaped notice is clear evidence that governance is lacking and that the problems need to be addressed by the Board of Trustees and need to be done right now,” he said. “There’s a critical need for a president to be put in place, and that person needs to come in and clean house.

“This board needs to function like a board that actually oversees the management of the institution and demands accountability of that management, and make changes when changes are necessary. It needs to be more hands-on, more engaged and more involved, and it needs to enforce consequences when it’s clear there are issues that require remediation.”

Erin Hennessy, vice president of TVP Communications and a former admissions counselor and chief of staff to two college presidents, said even though USC may be unique in the numbers of recent scandals it has had, the problems and challenges posed by the admission fraud case are common to all the universities involved, and they’re all searching for the best ways to address them.

“Speaking broadly about what I have seen … all of the institutions that have been named in the indictment have positioned themselves as victims” of the individual at the center of the scandal, she said referring to William (Rick) Singer, who was identified by the Justice Department as the ringleader of the fraud and bribery conspiracy. “And I think that’s the right move.”

“Longer term, all institutions need to think about how this has resurfaced perceptions that wealthy children are treated differently in the admissions process. People think they’re not getting a fair shake,” she said.

Kaster, the USC sophomore, echoed those sentiments.

“For some people it reinforces speculation that the system is rigged,” he said. “But I also know that USC is very selective and hard to get into. I think ambiguity confuses and scares a lot of people. There’s a lot of variation in the process; it’s hard to know exactly what to do to get in -- there’s no one formula.”

He noted, for instance, that he was denied admission by the University of Michigan but was a offered a full scholarship by USC and Vanderbilt University.

Hennessy said the universities should be communicating with internal and external audiences “to reassure them about the integrity of their admissions process and that everyone can be treated fairly based on the institutions’ admissions criteria and the students’ academics abilities.”

She said college enrollment and admissions officials should also be explaining how the admissions process works and how transparent they are about the process

“It’s incumbent on enrollment management professionals to be clear about how they evaluate students and how they go about building a class,” she said.

Despite the widespread negative publicity about the scandal and the loss of goodwill the colleges will have to work hard to rebuild, Hennessy said the damage to their reputations won’t last.

“The universities’ reputations are going to be fine and students are still going to clamor to get in in record numbers,” she said. “Long term it’s still going to be really hard to get into Stanford next year.”

Dunning, of Finn Partners, said the focus on the prestige and image of certain colleges misses an important point.

“The vast majority of American students don’t go to elite institutions and they still do well, and we need to remember that,” she said. “You can get an incredible education at institutions that are neither Ivy League nor tier one.”

“We need to take a deep breath and stop the emphasis on elitism and focus on why higher ed institutions were created. The most important thing that you’re there for is an education, and we’ve lost sight of that. There needs to be a resetting on a variety of levels, and this latest scandal is just a reminder of that.”

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Franciscan U of Steubenville is seeking to block faculty members from talking about university matters anonymously

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 2019-03-26 07:00

Franciscan University of Steubenville is considering taking disciplinary action against faculty members who make anonymous comments to the media.

According to documents first obtained by the conservative Catholic website Church Militant, a proposed policy on academic freedom and personal conduct loosely follows widely adopted professional ethics guidelines from the American Association of University Professors -- before taking a hard left.

“Anonymous communication of facts or opinions about the university to media outlets or other external organizations is unprofessional and unethical, and may be grounds for disciplinary action,” it says. Few to no other institutions have such a prohibition. And professors frequently take concerns about their institutions public, using their names or not, to find support from colleagues elsewhere that may lead to change. 

Another proposed policy on faculty disagreements outlines a process for resolving them and ends with a blanket ban on breaching “confidentiality.” That includes “spreading defamatory material among other faculty, students or the public” and involving “media outlets or providing them with anonymous information.”

Sharing on social media and “otherwise going outside the circle of parties immediately concerned with the alleged objectionable behavior” is also inappropriate.  

A third proposed policy on social media use says professors "shall conduct themselves with the same level of professionalism in social media that they would when speaking to traditional media (newspaper, radio, TV), knowing that anything they say may have repercussions for the entire university community."

The policies appear to have been sparked by a recent controversy over the inclusion of Emmanuel Carrère’s The Kingdom in the syllabus for an advanced English seminar. The 2017 book was critically acclaimed but raised some eyebrows on campus: it discusses pornography and, crucially, questions the Virgin Mary’s virginity and makes reference to her masturbating.

The university initially defended Stephen Lewis, the professor who assigned The Kingdom, in a public statement. But after that statement was published in a Church Militant article called “Franciscan Univ Defends Use of Pornographic, Blasphemous Book,” Franciscan backtracked. Lewis lost his department chairship, and the university said the book would not be taught on campus again.

Church Militant reported this week that some of the faculty members who originally contacted it about The Kingdom, angry that Franciscan hadn’t immediately taken a harder line against Lewis, had retained lawyers in response to the new policies on anonymous sources. It’s arguably ironic. But so is the university responding to an academic freedom crisis with new limits on faculty speech.

Daniel Kempton, chief academic officer, said in an emailed statement Monday that the policies “are part of a broader set of draft policies that were recently proposed by our Faculty Standards Committee for consideration by the full Franciscan faculty.”

Kempton underscored that the policies are still drafts that “could well be revised prior to approval, or not implemented if not approved by a faculty vote.” The standards were “collectively developed by the members of the Faculty Standards Committee and were not authored by the administration,” he added.

Lewis did not respond to a request for comment, nor did numerous other faculty members.

John K. Wilson, co-editor of the AAUP’s "Academe" blog, previously criticized Franciscan’s actions regarding Lewis on that platform. As for the new policies, Wilson said what appears to be a growing trend toward prohibiting “staff and even faculty from speaking to the media” is a “threat to both academic freedom and transparency on campus. Freedom of expression, not secrecy, is a fundamental value of a university.”

Franciscan’s proposed policy on faculty disputes, in particular, is “extraordinarily broad,” he added, noting that it covers concerns about colleagues' publications. Faculty members "should not be immune from criticism, especially from their colleagues,” he said. And it's “particularly appalling that Franciscan wants to invoke the AAUP's principles of academic freedom then add on their unsupported belief that anonymous whistle-blowing is unprofessional and unethical.”

Anonymity is “far from ideal,” Wilson said, but academics may feel “they have to be anonymous because they work at an institution that fails to protect their academic freedom.” And while the “attacks” on Lewis and his academic freedom in response to The Kingdom were “terrible,” Wilson said, “the solution is for colleges to fiercely defend the academic freedom of faculty, not to try to silence criticism of them.”

Frank LoMonte, director of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Florida, said that rules against employees sharing information with reporters are widespread, but they are “on doubtful legal footing” and are regularly struck down when challenged.

The anonymous comment stipulation is one LoMonte hadn’t seen before, but one that he said “seems like an especially dangerous variation of the employee gag order.” That’s because it would be easy for someone to be the mistaken target of discipline based on "the erroneous suspicion that he is a leaker.” (LoMonte said this would also be a recruitment challenge, in that it would scare away potential faculty hires.)

The policy, as written, is weak in that it makes no distinction about the kind of information being shared, whether it’s sensitive and or “the location of the annual Christmas concert,” he added.

William C. Ringenberg, an instructor of history at Taylor University and author of The Christian College and the Meaning of Academic Freedom: Truth Seeking in Community, said that at these institutions, “attributable communications are usually preferable to anonymous ones, for the sake of open dialogue.” But the forbidding of anonymous statements “may be even more undesirable than the making of them.”

People in a community “must be able to trust one another,” Ringenberg added. “Often what is needed is more open dialogue rather than a restriction on communication.”

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Colleges announce commencement speakers

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 2019-03-26 07:00
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Jerry Falwell, a key Trump ally, falls short of big talk on free speech, critics say

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 2019-03-25 07:00

When President Trump issued an executive order last week dealing with campus free speech, he was joined by conservative students who complained their rights had been trampled by liberal censorship.

One of the earliest backers of the Trump executive order was Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr., who has frequently called out the alleged "silencing" of conservative college students.

“The president is right to stop our government from handing out taxpayer dollars to subsidize institutions that practice censorship -- regardless of whether that censorship is used against those on the left or the right,” he wrote in a Fox News opinion column earlier this month.

No college president is more closely identified with the president than Falwell, who invited Trump to give a 2017 commencement address at Liberty and has frequently attacked the president’s critics in the media and on Twitter. He’s also claimed unique credentials on campus speech, having declared in the past that Liberty promotes free expression “unlike many major universities where political correctness prevents conservative students from speaking out.”

But the university has been repeatedly taken to task by civil libertarians in recent years for censorship of student journalists and speakers on its campus.

It’s not clear that the executive order will actually endanger federal research funds for colleges and universities that fail to protect free speech. And it states only that religious private colleges like Liberty must comply with their stated institutional policies on campus speech. However, despite Falwell's boasts about the freedoms at Liberty, the complaints about the university show that -- contrary to many statements from President Trump -- censorship isn’t just an issue affecting conservative speakers on largely liberal campuses.

Among the incidents of alleged censorship that have become public, Falwell instructed the editor of Liberty Champion, the campus newspaper, in October 2016 to spike a column critical of then-candidate Trump after a leaked recording from Access Hollywood in which he is heard bragging about assaulting women.

In October 2017 and again the following year, Falwell and faculty members pressured student journalists not to cover a gathering of a progressive evangelical Christian group in Lynchburg, Va., where Liberty is located.

In an April 2018 meeting with Champion staffers, Bruce Kirk, Liberty’s dean of the school of communication and digital content, told Champion staffers their job was “to keep the LU reputation and the image as it is … Don’t destroy the image of LU. Pretty simple. OK?”

World magazine released an article in August 2018 detailing those and other instances of alleged censorship on the Liberty campus.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a group that advocates for free speech on campuses, urged Falwell in a letter shortly afterward to reconcile the university’s actual policies and practices with his stated commitment to free expression.

“I think Falwell Jr.’s statements about his commitment to freedom of expression would be more well received if he didn’t have a history of engaging in a campaign of press censorship on his campus,” said Sarah McLaughlin, a senior program officer for legal and public advocacy at FIRE, and the author of the letter.

In February, FIRE listed Liberty in its annual list of the 10 worst colleges for free speech.

A spokeswoman for Liberty said the university would pass on commenting for this story.

Complaints about censorship at Liberty go back even further. In 2009, Liberty de-recognized the College Democrats chapter on campus. But FIRE found that, according to the institutional policies published at the time, respect for free expression did not appear to be among the chief values it professed. There was no mention of free speech or free association among the 10 "distinctive" attributes of Liberty published on its website at the time, the organization found.

Although Liberty does not rank among the top universities for federal research grants, which the executive order addresses directly, it ranked sixth last year for total federal student aid it received. The order does not affect federal student aid.

The extent to which censorship is an ongoing issue on the campus is difficult to track in part because the university requires student journalists to sign nondisclosure agreements. That means their ability to continue their education could be affected by complaining to outside groups.

According to the executive order signed by President Trump -- the first in what he said would be “a series of steps” to protect students' rights -- public institutions must uphold the First Amendment while private colleges like Liberty must comply with their stated institutional principles on free speech. Liberty’s institutional policies, which were previously available online in its student handbook, are now password protected on its website.

It’s unclear if the executive order, which provided few details on how it would be implemented, will push more private colleges to disclose those policies. FIRE has called out those colleges that choose not to make them public.

“Generally, our stance is that schools should make these handbooks and any policies public so students can know what kind of campus they’re agreeing to go to before they actually attend,” McLaughlin said.

Because of the lack of transparency at the campus, it’s difficult to say whether censorship has gotten worse in recent years, McLaughlin said.

“I can say that over the past two years it appears to have been a sustained campaign of censorship,” she said.

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Beloit student suspended after social media posts

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 2019-03-25 07:00

On March 15, in the early hours of the morning after the bloody shootings at New Zealand mosques, Beloit College student Nathaniel Acharya made an emotional post to a campus Facebook group.

Little did he know that this -- and other statements on his social media -- would set off a free speech battle at Beloit that Acharya said resulted in his temporary suspension and removal from the private institution’s grounds.

Acharya has since been reinstated, but placed on probation. The college has refused to discuss his case, despite Acharya alleging he was targeted for his religion and background. The kerfuffle comes at a time when free expression in higher education has broadly been called into question -- President Trump last week signed an executive order threatening to cut off research funds to colleges that do not support free speech.

Acharya, who is Muslim, wrote in that post about how he was sick of the attacks against those who practiced his religion (the shooting killed 50 worshippers and injured 50 more) and other minorities. He said his post was an open letter to the campus chapter of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), a national conservative group, and its leader, who planned to bring Erik Prince to the college to speak on March 27. Prince is the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and known as the controversial founder of Blackwater, a military security company that has been accused of crimes against Muslim people in many countries.

“I would like it to be public record that I, personally, at least, have had it with your shit,” Acharya wrote to the group. “To everyone with a basic sense of human decency, let’s organize to repel the March 27th invasion of our college, lest we be complicit in it and all that it represents.”

Two days later, Acharya received a letter from the college. Administrators alleged he was engaged in “acts of serious of misconduct” that violated the college’s policies.

The letter stated he had been accused of intimidating others and threatening violence, and referenced two social media postings (neither was the Facebook post against YAF).

The first was a Facebook post he had made that included a photo of someone else’s violent tweet. The original tweet read “don’t worry, revenge is coming” with a picture of a gun. Acharya wasn’t endorsing the message in that tweet, but urged his social media followers to stay safe.

He wrote that if the person was to “spray his bullets at the fascists, then perhaps he will rest among the green birds,” which is reference to his religion -- green birds are the souls of dead martyrs who live in paradise. Acharya was essentially saying that if the person was fighting fascists, he will enter heaven.

“Should he be one of those poor brothers that is only anger and no rationality, his will not be the resting place of the righteous,” Acharya wrote, indicating that if the person would murder innocent people, he will end up in hell. “Stay safe my friends. Please.”

The second of Acharya’s postings was a photo on Snapchat with a caption that read “Hey if you post on 4chan or [8chan] I don’t care what board you’re part of, you deserve to be shot for knowingly [participating] in one of the biggest breeding grounds for white supremacist terrorists of the modern era.”

Both 4chan and 8chan are social media platforms, but far less regulated than are Facebook or Twitter. They generally allow for memes and other showings of support for white nationalism. The alleged New Zealand shooter espoused white supremacist ideology, and he and his supporters were active on those platforms.

Acharya said that the proceedings against him were unfair.

The rest of the letter he received, as is common for campus disciplinary process, detailed where his hearing would take place, which administrators he would be facing and told him he was allowed a “support person” -- who could be a peer, professor, even an attorney.

But the problem was Acharya’s hearing was supposed to take place that day at 3 p.m. -- less than an hour after the letter had been delivered, he said.

This gave him no time to scrounge up someone to attend with him, he said. The hearing was also scheduled during spring break, which meant fewer people were on campus.

After the hearing, Acharya said he was suspended from the college and barred from campus pending a second hearing and a final meeting to decide the verdict against him. He said that the administrators in the first meeting mentioned the social media posts in the letter, but also the post against YAF.

Acharya’s friends launched a full campaign -- writing down the series of events and posting about his situation to Facebook and contacting media.

Another of Acharya’s friends created a petition, which she said was signed by nearly 300 people in the 24 hours after she published it online March 18. On Tuesday, the day of Acharya’s second hearing, his friends said that more than 50 students and a couple of professors camped outside the Office of Residential Life with signs that read “Nate Is Not a Threat/White Supremacy Is the Threat” and “Bring Nate Back.”

The petition read in part, "I condemn and protest the behavior of Beloit College in their choice to suspend him, and in the way the institution has responded to the alleged 'threats' he made on social media. The posts in question are not threatening, nor do they incite violence, which is more than can be said for the ideology [white supremacy] Nathaniel spoke out against."

Administrators lifted the interim ban against him on campus on Tuesday, saying that their investigation determined there was “no evident threat to campus,” according to a letter from the college.

In the letter Acharya received Wednesday, the college called his social media postings “disturbing” and said they could be construed as threatening to the campus. However, administrators acknowledged Acharya did not intend to threaten violence. The college said he violated the conduct code and put him on probation through May 19.

“Any student or student group at Beloit could consider your posts, individually, or in their totality to be intimidating and an effort to shut down speech you disagree with,” the administrators wrote. “Your personal views are welcome, but introducing the subject of guns and shooting people into the discussion is not acceptable at Beloit, or likely anywhere else. This is true whether you subjectively intended to harm anyone or not. Your communications are treated the same way as they would be if made by another student objecting to another speaker that you agree with.”

Tim P. Jones, a spokesman for the college, declined to discuss Acharya’s case, citing federal privacy laws. Asked what kind of speech that college would consider threatening and in violation of the conduct code, he said, “Every situation is unique and requires a great deal of context. The college follows its processes and procedures in the student handbook."

Acharya said he appreciated how the college handled his hearing, but he said he believes he was singled out because he was a minority. He pointed to Prince’s scheduled appearance -- he said the college feels comfortable giving Prince a platform, but pursued him for no reason.

“There’s not a lot of Muslim students here; I can count us all on two hands. They tend to really jump to conclusions pretty easily,” Acharya said.

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