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Why one academic spends hours a week putting together a spreadsheet of documented harassment cases, names and all
Julie Libarkin is a passionate advocate for women in academe, specifically their right to study and work without being sexually harassed or assaulted. She’s also a scientist who loves data.
So two years ago, before much of the country had heard the words “Me Too” in reference to sexual misconduct, Libarkin began to meticulously collect information on -- and, most significantly, the names of -- publicly documented harassers.
Her list of more than 700 cases differs from others created in the Me Too era in that it includes only substantiated reports, based on strict criteria, including institutional findings and admissions of misconduct, settlements between institutions and accusers, and legal findings of fact. Cases where the accused resigned or died during an investigation also are included. This is not a “Shitty Media Men” list for academics, though the men (and the significantly smaller share of women) on it have done shitty things.
“This is a lot of work. I spend hours a week on this," Libarkin said. "But I'm trying to make the hidden visible."
Still, Libarkin is frustrated by all that remains invisible: it’s well-known that most sexual misconduct goes unreported, and much that does get reported doesn’t make it to the public sphere. So strict are Libarkin’s research parameters, both out of scientific integrity and a fear of possible legal action against her, that she won’t publish cases she learns about from institutional paperwork handed over to her by accusers -- at least not without requesting and verifying it herself through open-records channels.
“This is very biased sample,” Libarkin said of her list, cautioning against drawing hard conclusions from it, thus far. Additional research is in the works, however, to try to get a "clearer picture of the nature of sexual misconduct in academia. We often say that sexual harassment is mostly perpetrated by men and towards women, but this sample provides empirical data to begin to let us understand gender makeup more deeply." Libarkin said she and a colleague also are interested in determining "whether or not consequences for misconduct are far-reaching, or if those who engage in sexual misconduct are able to move on to positions of power," receive awards, or more.
Given that many academic harassment conversations focus on unwanted attention or contact by faculty members, Libarkin did note that her list includes high-ranking administrators. There are also staffers for sexual harassment and assault compliance offices, gender studies professors, and those who “are supposed to know better.” She observed that some cases go beyond common conceptions of harassment, to involve stalking, murder and suicide.
“This started as an advocacy project. I was really just researching and documenting cases, and within days and weeks it just kept growing,” she said. “And as I was looking for sexual harassment, I realized there’s a whole category of behaviors that we understand as misconduct, from violation of pornography policies to stalking. Sexual misconduct is this umbrella term, so I came up with a research protocol for exactly what to look for.”
Source: Julie Libarkin
Along with legal accouncements, Libarkin relies heavily on news stories to build her database. Yet she began the document mostly due to annoyance at the news media and its tendency to cover misconduct as what she described as “one-offs” at “institutions that are deemed special for some reason.”
Every once in a while Libarkin reads a piece about whether a particular discipline has a “problem,” she said, while the reality -- both publicly documented and based on experience -- is that harassment happens across fields, too often.
“These cases are presented as unusual,” she said. “But they are not unusual.”
Those observations are similar to what Karen Kelsky, a former tenured professor and founder of The Professor Is In, found in her massive crowdsourced document of harassment in academe. That database does not include names in most cases, and many reports are unsubstantiated.
Misconduct is not new: Libarkin’s database includes a recently documented case from 1917. She also noted there was surge of public cases in the 2000s, when there was a rising consciousness about harassment. Nowadays, she said, reports surge when there are public-records requests.
Libarkin said she’s received mostly positive feedback about her spreadsheet, which 89 people were reading late morning on Wednesday. Some of the responses are “traumatizing,” she said, recalling how a colleague pressed his pelvis into her back at a work-related party in 2010 -- the first day in a year she’d worn a dress, out of fear of something like that happening. She later reported the incident, but as the professor already was emeritus, the consequences were, to her mind, few.
That professor's name is not incuded in the document.Editorial Tags: FacultyGraduate studentsMisconductImage Caption: Julie LibarkinIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending:
A look at the student bodies and the development staffs of many colleges and universities might make evident the demographic mismatch occurring at institutions across the country -- the students are more diverse in race and income; the development staff members are largely white.
This was not a problem when deep-pocketed donors were mostly white and male, but it will likely present fund-raising challenges at many colleges going forward. A new generation of moneyed philanthropists has come of age -- women, people of color, people who identify as LGBTQ -- who not only want to support their alma maters but specifically want to help people who look like them or share similar backgrounds or life experiences. Their numbers are expected to keep growing and surpass the limited pool of fund-raisers that reflect the increasing diversity of donors.
Meanwhile, a shortage of fund-raisers overall is exacerbating the problem. Colleges are relying more heavily on donors to help defray the costs of rising tuition for a student body with less ability to pay, but data projections indicate the shortage of fund-raisers will increase over time with retirements. Experts say the problem will worsen if replacement workers aren't demographically representative of a changing donor base.
"People in the industry, especially higher ed chief advancement officers, deeply feel the crunch in fund-raising," said Liz Rothenberg, managing director of EAB Strategic Research, an education best practices research, technology and services firm. "They don't feel that they have the pipeline to replace those senior fund-raisers, especially diverse fund-raisers."
"Several factors are driving this need," said Brian Gawor, vice president for research at consulting firm Ruffalo Noel Levitz.
"Very few people know that being a fund-raiser is a profession, and that's because our profession is relatively young," he said. "The massive increase in registered nonprofits has also indicated a huge need."
Rothenberg said 20 percent of senior fund-raisers plan to retire in the next four years. She also noted that only 11 percent of front-line fund-raisers or gift officers are people of color, according to Association of Fundraising Professionals estimates. And just 12 percent of people from diverse backgrounds work in the profession over all, according to the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, or CASE.
"College fund-raising is not keeping pace with changing student demographics," Rothenberg said. "There's a lot of worry, especially if you consider that the U.S. will be a majority-minority country in 2045."
CASE recently launched a national effort to address those very challenges. It started a yearlong fund-raising residency program for college graduates as a gateway to fund-raising careers in higher ed.
The program is part of CASE's larger plans to grow and diversify the shrinking ranks of institutional fund-raisers, said Bob Henry, the organization's vice president of education who oversees global strategy on talent management.
"It made sense for us to build a pipeline and enhance diversity," he said, noting that a summer internship program CASE has run for the past three years is also part of the effort. "Some of those interns will graduate and be able to roll right into the residency program."
Henry said the residency program addresses a key concern of alumni donors who "expect to see a diverse work force" on college campuses.
"We think that it's important that alumni are interacting with people who are like themselves," he said. "You're getting voices now that can resonate with your alumni, your community and your student body."
Fund-raising experts widely agree that alumni are more likely to donate to their alma maters when approached by fund-raisers who are of the same race or gender, belong to the same affinity group, or share similar life experiences.
"Demographics is important because a lot of fund-raising is about building relationships and trust," Rothenberg said. She said trust building works when the donor knows the fund-raiser shares a similar background or life story and understands how it may have influenced the donor's experience on campus.
"This is not because donors are racists," said Gawor. "It's because they are looking for a connection. How are you going to get people to give when they're not seeing people who look like them benefiting?"
Although there is more diversity today among philanthropists, the majority continue to be white men, which "matches the demographics of our current fund-raisers," Rothenberg said.
"That's not a problem today, but it's going to be a problem down the road when the younger alumni or students of today are in a position to make a donation 10 or 15 years down the road," she said. "We're seeing that with women donors, black and Latino donors, and LGBT donors."
Until relatively recently, however, most people who went into philanthropy work did not follow a set academic or career path. Instead, they "fell into" fund-raising by happenstance after a friend or a mentor introduced them to the world of philanthropy or helped them land a related job.
"Just hoping people fall into the profession is not a talent recruitment strategy, and it's not a sustainable one," Rothenberg said.
Jesus Rangel is among those who initially entered the profession unintentionally. He's now one of 18 recent college graduates -- people of color, first in their families to attend college, children of immigrants -- placed in fund-raising-related jobs at colleges and universities across the country as part of the CASE residency program.
Rangel, 23, attended Texas State University intending to eventually become a lawyer. He majored in political science, planned for law school and got "super involved" on campus at the start of his freshman year.
He became an official "university ambassador," led campus tours for prospective students and took part in donor events, alumni award banquets, tailgate parties and more. He met the university's vice president for advancement during one of those social gatherings.
"We kind of made a connection," Rangel said.
She became his mentor and invited him to fund-raising events and introduced him to donors and prospective donors with whom she had cultivated relationships. Rangel knew nothing about her line of work but found it interesting.
"Seeing the work that she did and the impact these donors had on students made me want to have an impact, too," he said.
Rangel, who grew up in rural Texas, is a first-generation college student from a working-class family. He said he realized he could help other young people like him attend college by raising money to fund scholarships.
By the time he graduated last May, he'd changed his mind about becoming a lawyer.
Last month, he started his residency at Oregon State University as a social media specialist and fund-raiser. He's currently helping plan the university's first Day of Giving campaign scheduled for next April and is seeking out current students and alumni among various affinity groups, including African Americans, people who identify as LGBTQIA and members of Greek organizations, to get involved.
"Students giving back isn't very big here," Rangel explained. "Just looking at the analytics of student giving, you can see it's a very small percentage. I think it can be brought up."
He said the university is considering a Philanthropy Week of events leading up to the Day of Giving to get students, prospective donors and community members energized about giving.
"We're trying to develop ways to get that culture of philanthropy in their mind-set," Rangel said. "Articles that I've read about fund-raising say that some institutions introduce that culture of philanthropy the moment you walk in the door as a freshman so by the time you graduate you have that mind-set of donating your time, talent or treasure," he said.
Rangel is now on a completely different career track than when he first started college. "My current path is to get my master's degree in business and then get my Ph.D. in higher education and become president of a university one day."
Viet Nguyen, 23, who is doing his fund-raising residency at his alma mater, Ohio State University, also hopes to become a university president. He was also a university ambassador and then became a presidential host at his campus. Both opportunities brought him into contact with university leaders, alumni and donors. Still, he didn't consider fund-raising as a career option until his senior year.
"I never saw myself as a fund-raiser," he said. "I did cold-calling in high school and always hated that. The university ambassador program really helped me shape my future career."
Nguyen was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. His parents are immigrants from Vietnam. After graduating with dual bachelor's degrees in strategic communications and business administration, he will work in different areas of the university's advancement department during his residency.
Now he spends his days talking with alumni "and trying to get them to give back to the university." At the end of those conversations, he shares "a perspective story" of why he chose to attend Ohio State in hopes of making that connection that might lead to a donation.
Zachary Price was also introduced to fund-raising through a mentor, an administrator in the advancement office of North Carolina A&T State University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering.
Price now works as a strategic analyst in Dartmouth College's office of Development Research and Prospect Management, where he supports front-line officers performing wealth assessments of potential donors.
"It's been great," he says of the job. He and the other program participants met over the summer at CASE's annual Summer Institute in Educational Fundraising held at Dartmouth.
"As a cohort we have a lot of potential to learn from one another," Price said. "There's a lot of diversity among us."
He considers himself "a product of philanthropy" because he attended North Carolina A&T on a full academic scholarship. He also understands the financial hardships faced by friends who didn't have scholarships.
"I saw so many students who just didn't have the resources to stay in school even though they had the ability to do well," Price said.
He tried to help those students when he became president of the campus chapter of the Alpha Lambda Delta national honor society and created three $500 scholarships that have since been increased to $500, $750 and $1,000. He did something similar as president of the Black Graduate Student Association at Indiana University, where he helped raise money to create a $600 scholarship to help a graduate student fund research.
Those experiences, he said, "Let me know that there was a skill set there that needed to be tended to and help me understand that I really had a passion for it."
At Indiana, Price met more people involved in fund-raising who became mentors, including a professor of philanthropic studies at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, who suggested he attend an African American Development Officers Network conference in Cincinnati.
Price graduated from Indiana in May with a master's degree in higher ed and student affairs and a graduate certificate in institutional research. Since immersing himself in fund-raising, Price sees how little knowledge people outside the field, particularly students, have about fund-raising work.
"If you don't know the right people and don't ask about it, you wouldn't know about it," he said.
That lack of knowledge may change over time as fund-raising and philanthropy are integrated into more higher ed curricula.
"There are now over 50 philanthropy masters' programs," said Gawor of Ruffalo Noel Levitz. "A few years ago there were just a couple."
In the interim, people like Price are encouraging former grad school classmates to consider fund-raising careers that develop skills "that are very transferable to other fields."
Nikia Washington found that external motivation at Bowling Green State University long before she was accepted into the residency program. During her time at the Ohio institution, she helped raise money for the Children's Miracle Network, a nonprofit organization that supports children's hospitals.
After graduation, she worked as an au pair in France for a year, traveled and did some "soul-searching." She returned to her native Detroit and got a job in 2015 as an executive assistant to the president of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
Washington's boss knew that she'd done a short stint as a campaign manager for the United Way and allowed her to do some development work for the museum, which happened to be marking its 50th anniversary as it struggled to keep operating.
"I had some ideas from my work at the United Way and my work on campus in Ohio," she said. She did "prospect research," which involves finding potential donors to the museum.
"And that's what pushed me into thinking how to go back to school to do more work in philanthropy," Washington said.
Washington, 28, is now a CASE resident at the University of Washington, where she works in the advancement office. She's also a full-time graduate student at the university studying public administration with a focus on philanthropy.
She's researching how to build strategic philanthropic models to serve underresourced and underserved communities. She's particularly interested in black philanthropy but wants to build models that can also apply to Muslim philanthropy and other groups, and that will also engage young people.
"That stems from being at the museum and seeing this fabulous museum almost having to shut its doors in a majority-black city," she said.
Her specialized approach is indicative of how fund-raising is changing as the field is being transformed by new people with different perspectives.
"More and more fund-raising will be controlled by women and people of color," said Gawor. "We have to build that pipeline and we have to be deliberate about it."Editorial Tags: Fund-RaisingImage Caption: Recent college graduates taking part in a new fund-raising training program started by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: Bowling Green State University-Main CampusDartmouth CollegeIndiana University-BloomingtonOhio State UniversityOregon State UniversityTexas State University SystemUniversity of Washington-Seattle Campus
More than a year ago, a female student at the University of California, Los Angeles, told the institution she was raped in August 2016. Her attacker, she alleged, had already sexually assaulted another of her sorority sisters.
The university found her accusation credible. It expelled the young man, a campus fraternity member, in 2017. In February, he lost his appeal to return to campus.
But the student who filed the complaint was not satisfied. She maintains that the expelled student's fraternity -- and UCLA's fraternity system as a whole -- should have known the assault could occur and should have protected her. The fraternity had hosted a party that August night during which she drank until she couldn't walk, she said.
Last month, the student anonymously filed a lawsuit against her alleged rapist, Blake Lobato (who is named in court documents and whose identity has been widely reported), and his fraternity, Zeta Beta Tau, as well as Sigma Alpha Epsilon and the UCLA Interfraternity Council, the governing body of the university's 22 fraternities. Though the council is a registered student group, it is independent from the institution, which is not named as a defendant.
Her lawsuit comes at a time when the Trump administration intends to overhaul the regulations around Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal gender antidiscrimination law that bars sexual misconduct at colleges and universities.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos last year rolled back Obama-era rules around Title IX, declaring them unfairly slanted against accused students. The Education Department's proposal on Title IX, a draft version of which was leaked to Inside Higher Ed, likely would not even have allowed for an investigation into Jane Doe's case, as institutions would no longer be obligated to investigate assaults that occurred off campus. Title IX experts are debating whether this provision would pass legal muster, as the law is triggered when a hostile environment in present on campus -- such as the presence of a rapist -- regardless of whether an incident occurred on the grounds or not.
Lobato’s lawyer has argued that UCLA's findings against his client were flawed and has requested that a Superior Court judge overturn the sanctions.
A particularly prominent part of the lawsuit are the allegations that fraternities' misconduct isn't isolated to just UCLA -- that alcohol abuse and sexual assaults run rampant among other chapters nationwide, with recent incidents at SAE's chapters at the University of Missouri, Clemson University, Oklahoma University, Northwestern University, the University of Southern California, California State University, Long Beach, and others, as well as ZBT's chapters at Cornell University, Florida State University, the University of Central Florida and the University of Michigan.
The local and national chapters of the fraternities and the Interfraternity Council have either not responded to requests for comment from Inside Higher Ed or declined to comment on the lawsuit. However, the national chapter of ZBT, through spokeswoman Risa Morris, provided a statement:
Zeta Beta Tau was recently notified of a lawsuit against a former member of the Alpha Rho Chapter at the University of California, Los Angeles, which involves serious allegations against that former member. Though the alleged incident did not occur in connection with any fraternity event, Zeta Beta Tau is deeply disturbed by these allegations. We continue to work with our chapters and with universities to prevent campus sexual assault, provide allies for survivors, and encourage healthy relationships.
That is why, contrary to recent news reports, both chapter presidents and Irving Chase, the chapter advisor to whom the plaintiff described her allegations, advised her to report those allegations to the proper university authorities.
In August 2016, Doe alleges she attended a party sponsored by SAE, where its members served copious amounts of alcohol -- a violation of UCLA and fraternity rules. Despite the fact that both Doe and Lobato were intoxicated, they were continually served without anyone checking their IDs -- SAE members hadn't hired security or supervision for the party.
The lawsuit states that around midnight, Doe was tired and tried to leave the party, but was too drunk to walk home on her own, so she went back to wait for the gathering to wind down. On her walk back to the party, she encountered Lobato, who encouraged her to "hang out" with him at the ZBT house.
Once there, Doe said she saw multiple brothers, but none of them intervened to prevent the assault, even though she was obviously drunk.
Doe lay down, slipping in and out of consciousness. She alleges that Lobato raped her and that she told him "No" multiple times and tried to push him away.
The lawsuit states that she was visibly bruised and sore days after the purported attack.
"ZBT had no mechanism of supervision or security to prevent a fraternity member from bringing an obviously drunk girl upstairs and raping them," the lawsuit states.
Doe alleges that ZBT should have known Lobato was a serial offender, as he had reportedly sexually assaulted another UCLA student earlier in 2015, an attack that the university's Title IX office confirmed. In the lawsuit, she maintains that the fraternity also should have known that students were drinking before the SAE party and should have taken steps to prevent it.
Though Doe reported the rape to the ZBT president and one of its board members, who is a lawyer, she alleges that the board member dissuaded her from filing a Title IX complaint. She did not do so until early 2017. She also told the new ZBT president about the episode that January. He promised to kick Lobato out of the fraternity.
She is suing the Greek entities -- both the UCLA and national chapters -- and the Interfraternity Council for negligence. She is suing Lobato for assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Ricardo Vazquez, a UCLA spokesman, said the institution's Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life works with the Interfraternity Council to "integrate values into their respective councils and chapters." Vazquez said Title IX investigations are confidential, but that the Title IX Office investigates allegations "carefully and impartially."
"The goal is to continually strengthen student safety within the Greek community," Vazquez said, adding that since 2014, the Campus Assault Resources and Education Office and Title IX office have trained all fraternity and sorority members on sexual assault.
In January, the Interfraternity Council approved a six-week ban on alcohol on events at fraternity houses while it developed a new risk-management policy. The new rules require a licensed third-party security guard to check IDs at the door of house parties and to give out wristbands to designate who can drink alcohol. Fraternity members at the houses cannot take visitors into a room privately unless they have reserved a space in advance. And at least two members have to patrol each party as "sober monitors" to care for those who are drunk.
Laura Dunn, founder of sexual assault survivor advocacy group SurvJustice and now a lawyer with the Fierberg National Law Group in Washington, said her firm routinely sees blame shifted about who should handle risk-management policies -- local or national branches of Greek organizations, or the institutions. She said fraternities, like many male-only groups, "self-insulate" from liability -- forming a brotherhood that protects them and perpetuates harm.
"But the reality is, it is left to 'young adults' whose lives are forever changed when they engaged either directly with criminal conduct through Greek life … or indirectly through working to cover up such misconduct after the fact. To break the cycle, nationals and universities need to work together. Lawsuits like this will force that accountability until society responds," Dunn said.Editorial Tags: Sexual assaultTitle IXIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: University of California, Los Angeles
New research shows more community college students pass college-level courses in math and English when multiple measurements are used to determine their placement rather than relying solely on a single placement exam.
The report from the Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness at Columbia University's Teachers College found that when colleges use multiple measurements, such as grade point averages, the placement of students into college-level math instead of developmental courses increased by five percentage points. That increase was more than 30 percentage points for college-level English.
Students who placed into these college-level courses were also more likely to pass them in their first semester compared to remedial students. In the college-level courses, students could receive additional support to help them pass. Meanwhile, it may take remedial students an additional semester or two before they can enroll in the college-level course.
“We’ve got enough evidence now for people to move in the direction of using multiple measurements,” said Elisabeth Barnett, the lead researcher on the project from the Community College Research Center and a co-author of the report. “One thing becoming clearer is that high school GPA is an especially good measurement.”
The researchers followed 13,000 students at seven State University of New York community colleges who took courses in 2016 and 2017. At SUNY colleges, the College Board’s Accuplacer exam is used to determine placement. Students in the study were either assigned placement using Accuplacer or were placed using alternative measurements such as high school GPA, performance on state exams or high school class rank.
Preliminary results for about 5,000 of those students show that 14 percent were placed higher with multiple measurements than they would have been with a single assessment, while 7 percent placed lower. In English, 41.5 percent of students were placed in a higher-level course and 6.5 percent placed lower.
The use of multiple measurements for placement also had an impact on course completion. Students were 3.1 percentage points more likely to enroll in and complete a college-level math course in the first semester after being placed with multiple measurements compared to those who were placed with a single assessment. In English, students were 12.5 percentage points more likely to enroll in and complete the college-level course.
The research also found impacts related to gender and racial equity. More women than men were placed in the higher college-level math course under multiple measurements, while black and Hispanic students benefited more than their white peers with placement in college-level English.
“What we’re learning is that it’s hard to capture what students have the potential to do with a single test,” Barnett said. “There are so many factors that determine whether and why students will be successful in a course, and high school GPA is capturing noncognitive factors like, did they turn in an assignment? Did they show up? Did they follow through?”
While the CAPR study will continue to evaluate the performance of these students for more semesters, Barnett said the body of research has been clear that using a single placement exam does not work.
Placement Changes in California
A few states and college systems have in recent years enacted policies that require institutions to use multiple measurements. A survey earlier this year found that in 2016, 57 percent of two-year colleges used this approach for math placement, compared to 27 percent in 2011. North Carolina’s community college system, for example, has been using multiple measurements for placement. Last year, California passed a bill requiring the state’s 114 community colleges to begin using multiple measurements for placement in corequisite remediation courses by next year. Corequisite is the popular form of remediation that places students in college-level courses but gives them additional support.
The Public Policy Institute of California found that a large number of students never took or completed college-level courses when a single placement exam put them in traditional remedial courses.
For example, of the students who placed four levels below college-level courses in remedial math, only 8 percent eventually completed the college-level courses.
"It’s pretty appalling and compelling data that students in many cases were starting not just one level below, but two or three or four levels below college level,” said Hans Johnson, senior policy fellow and Higher Education Center director at PPIC. “But strikingly, the share of students who made it out of remediation was much lower. When we’re talking remediation in this lesser system, it would be a year at best for students placed two levels below to reach a college-level course.”
Although a few of California’s two-year colleges started using multiple measurements years ago, there are still many that are starting this system or revamping remediation courses to comply with the law. And some colleges are not looking to make any changes, said Katie Hern, an English instructor at Chabot College and the co-founder and executive director of the California Acceleration Project, which has been helping colleges make the remedial changes.
“Some colleges are very ready and some are looking for loopholes,” she said. “I know colleagues at other institutions who believe this kind of change will undermine the quality of student learning; they fear teachers may dumb down the curriculum, they mistrust the data and there is this disbelief that comes from their pre-existing understanding of what is good for students.”
Geoff Hagopian, a professor of math and computer science at College of the Desert, said he’s opposed to the changes because they eliminate the basic skills curriculum for new students and populate college-level courses with students who are not ready. The idea that students will pass college-level courses because they were placed closer to that course is false, he said.
“The California Community Colleges have managed to compress into three or four semesters of remediation a process that often entails unlearning bad algorithms and reformulating poor study habits: an amazing feat, if you can pull it off,” Hagopian said in an email. “To expect that these same students are going to be more successful … without remediation is disingenuous and cynical.”
Hagopian fears that the state’s new outcomes-based funding formula, which will reward the colleges for student completions of college-level math and English, will lead to more instructors passing underprepared students in the college-level courses instead of placing them in remediation.
Hern said the financial implications of these changes in California are still unknown, because of the new performance funding metrics and because each college will differ in how they implement the changes or reallocate resources.
However, the move to multiple measurements does come with costs for some colleges. In New York, for example, the CAPR study found that across five of the SUNY colleges, building the alternative placement system added $110 per student to the current cost of using a single placement exam. Ongoing costs averaged about $40 per student.
Barnett said the next area to study will be the cost-benefit analysis of using multiple measurements to determine if it’s worth the extra expense colleges incur.Community CollegesEditorial Tags: AssessmentIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending:
Undergraduates considering a law degree are motivated by a desire to contribute to the public good, but high costs and work-life balance concerns deter some of them, according to a study released today.
The study, conducted by the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) and Gallup, utilized survey responses from more than 22,000 undergraduates at 25 four-year institutions and more than 2,700 first-year law students at 44 different law schools. (Note: Inside Higher Ed works with Gallup on some surveys but had no role in this one.)
Researchers administered the survey during a dramatic dip in law school applications: between 2011 and 2016, the number of law school applications fell by 38 percent, from 87,900 to 54,500. According to Judith Areen, AALS executive director, applicant numbers plateaued in 2016 and 2017 and increased by 8 percent in 2018.
“[The application decline] brought home the need to better understand what college students think about law schools,” Areen said. “For students, the more we understand about them, the better law schools can do in meeting their expectations.”
Parental education plays a major role in student decisions about law school. Only 12 percent of American adults age 45 to 64 have an advanced degree, but 55 percent of undergraduate students considering law school had at least one parent with an advanced degree. Family members are also the primary source of advice for undergraduates considering law. To Areen, this indicates that law schools need to work harder to reach first-generation students who might not have that family network.
“Law schools and graduate schools have to do a better job of getting more information to first-generation students so they know about the possibilities and they apply on time and get all the information they need,” she said.
Law school isn't a last-minute decision. Over half of undergraduate respondents said they had considered law school before college, and one-third had considered it before high school.
“[Law schools] need to start reaching out, not just during college but even before,” Areen said.
When asked why they wanted to pursue a law degree, undergraduate students most often reported that law school would be a “pathway for a career in politics, government or public service,” that they had “a passion for or high interest in the type of work,” that a law degree would provide “opportunities to help others or to be useful to society” and that they wanted to “advocate for social change.”
“We think the reasons they give are pretty interesting and will be a surprise to people who think of lawyers as only interested in money and greed,” Areen said.
Law school tuition continues to rise. Data from Law School Transparency, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group, shows that between 2011 and 2017 the average annual sticker price for a U.S. public law school increased by about $4,500, or 17 percent, while tuition at private law schools increased by more than $7,000 -- 15 percent. Undergraduates considering law school cited high costs/potential debt and work-life balance as the greatest deterrents. So did the first-year law school students.
“Cost and work-life balance are cited by undergraduates who are still making up their mind, but the same two are cited by first-year law students,” Areen said. “So that shows us that the same two are barriers, but they still came to law school anyway.”
Jim Greif, director of communications for AALS, added that the same two deterrents were cited by students considering other types of advanced degrees, such as master's programs, Ph.D.s or medical degrees.
Other notable findings include:
- Women are more likely than men to say that law school is too hard and that they don’t want to defend guilty people, while men are more likely to say that three years is too long and that too few jobs in the field pay enough money.
- Fifteen percent of undergraduates considering an advanced degree reported hearing about law programs, while 55 percent of students considering law school reported hearing about them. This may be due to confirmation bias, that students who are interested in law degrees will seek out and remember information about law school.
- Students with a lower grade point average are more likely to pursue law school because it could lead to a higher-paying job rather than because they're passionate about the work or see law as a path to a career in politics or public service.
When a statue of Cecil Rhodes, a British mining magnate and colonizer, came down at the University of Cape Town, it was just the beginning of a now worldwide conversation about colonization in higher education. Rhodes was instrumental in founding universities and scholarship programs around the world, but he was also a noted imperialist who acted with disregard for the people who lived in much of the world. Since the statue fell in 2015, students and faculty at a number of universities have begun to argue for decolonization at their own institutions, in part by removing honors for Rhodes.
At the University of Oxford, where another statue of Rhodes still stands, student and faculty activists find themselves pushing back against those who tell them that "the past is the past" and to be grateful for Rhodes's contributions to higher education (notably, the Rhodes scholarship). Having each been involved in Rhodes Must Fall Oxford in different ways, editors Roseanne Chantiluke, Brian Kwoba and Athinangamso Nkopo put together a comprehensive story of the movement in their new book, Rhodes Must Fall (Zed Books).
All three editors answered questions about the book via email.
Q: Instead of writing one narrative about the Rhodes Must Fall movements, you strung together a series of primary accounts, interviews, poetry and writings from the protests. Why did you decide to put the book together this way?
Kwoba: We wanted to give expression to a wide range of different voices and experiences, because that is ultimately what made up the movement as a whole. Not “me” but “we.”
Nkopo: The varying accounts we put together in the book are also a reflection, to a great extent, of what the movement Rhodes Must Fall has inspired and made possible not just in South Africa but throughout higher education the world over.
Q: Why did you decide to get involved with Rhodes Must Fall at Oxford?
Kwoba: I co-founded the Rhodes Must Fall Oxford movement because I was inspired by the action that black students took at the University of Cape Town. They made the statue of Cecil Rhodes a focal point for a much larger conversation and mass movement against the white coloniality of that institution. Oxford has its own statue of Rhodes, so after our initial solidarity demonstration, we came to realize that Oxford, too, needed to be decolonized in a similar way.
Chantiluke: I decided to organize for Rhodes Must Fall Oxford because I was inspired by the fact that the movement did not seek to work within the university’s structural framework, but sought to work outside of it, in solidarity with students from across the globe.
Nkopo: I went to Oxford from the University of the Witwatersrand, and there I had already gotten involved with the Decolonise Wits movement and in organizing some of what would result in the Fees Must Fall movements. Rhodes Must Fall Oxford was a welcome and natural step in my career as an activist intellectual. It was also very appealing that the movement in Oxford was a global one in terms of the students involved and organizing in the small city.
Q: Several voices in the book, including Roseanne and Athinangamso in your "Skin Deep" interview, discuss the need to focus on decolonizing higher education rather simply implementing greater diversity and inclusion initiatives. Can you explain how those two goals are different?
Chantiluke: Diversity operates on the higher education institution’s public facing level only. It is a marketing ploy that convinces external stakeholders that a university is doing all that it can to improve the lives and experiences of brown, differently abled, LGBT+ and nonbinary people by virtue of inviting them to study there. Meanwhile, the university is allowed to operate as normal without reforming the systems, structures and attitudes that are hostile to such people. On the other hand, decolonization operates at the political, epistemic and ideological heart of the university, with reformative implications for every facet of a university’s operation. It involves the decentering of Eurocentric value systems and knowledge production, the overhaul of the hierarchy of European ideologies and the reappraisal of whitewashed history. Decolonizing the university is a prerequisite for true diversity of thought and peoples to exist there fully.
Q: What’s the biggest difference you observed between the Rhodes Must Fall movement in South Africa and the protests at Oxford?
Nkopo: In a sense, there was no great difference in terms of the structure and complexity of the university. The formerly white universities in South Africa are dominated by white academic staff and the curriculum is no different in terms of representation. The perspectives, histories and epistemological outlook of universities like UCT, where I am now a TA, are Eurocentric … Similarly, students of color there experience the kind of impostor syndrome students at Oxford experience, perhaps for slightly different reasons. The institutional culture of formerly white universities in South Africa, like in Oxford, remains white and the configuration of those spaces still uphold and glorify villainous white men and women such as Cecil John Rhodes, Jan Smuts and the like.
Kwoba: We were both up against educational institutions of white supremacy and coloniality, but in Oxford we were a tiny minority of black and Asian students in a majority-white imperialist country, whereas in SA black students are in a majority-black neocolonial country. Internally, Rhodes Must Fall in South Africa had a much clearer articulation of its political boundaries, basing itself on black consciousness, black feminism, the black radical tradition and pan-Africanism. Rhodes Must Fall in Oxford structured itself more loosely (and less politically) around decolonizing the iconography, curriculum and racial representation of the university.
Q: What do movements like Rhodes Must Fall need to do to be successful?
Kwoba: One thing we need to do better is to build links with university workers and working people in the larger urban environment in which the university is housed. The support and mobilization of community organizations, political parties, trade unions and oppressed people on a larger and extracurricular scale is what it took to kick the colonizers out historically.
Chantiluke: The demands for action and organizing can often leave very little time for a movement’s internal education. Internal education refers to conversations that relate to the ethos and ideology of a movement: What are the core principles of a movement and why/how are they formed? Should they be open to adaptation as a movement’s trajectory develops? How do we develop our thought and how do we learn? Time must be made to ensure that organizers engage in internal education as a collective with an end to ensuring consistency of ideology and ethos across organizers. Otherwise, assumptions are made about the ideological cohesiveness of organizers, which is extremely problematic.
Nkopo: We need to decentralize movements away from individuals, while preparing for a time when an organizing group have left the university as students.
Q: Similarly, where do you typically see movements falter?
Kwoba: One place that student movements often falter is by failing to train and prepare the next generation (e.g. first- and second-year students) to continue the movement. The university administration knows it can just stall until the most vocal and active students eventually graduate, and that is what often happens. Also, as one of our book chapters explains, Rhodes Must Fall Oxford really faltered on place of blackness and its relationship to feminist politics within the movement.
Chantiluke: Patriarchy always finds a way of blocking progress in these movements through the toxic social dynamics of the movement, the gendering of work and the ideas of "leadership" and hierarchy that it brings. Also, to challenge a powerful white institution as a nonwhite student involves an incredible amount of physical and psychological exertion that can be extremely destructive if left unchecked. The demands for action and organizing often appear to trump the individual demands for rest, wellness and self-care. Movements need to ensure that their organizers are looked after as much as possible and must operate on a politics of radical compassion.New Books About Higher EducationDiversityEditorial Tags: BooksIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: