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The University of Florida announced this morning that it will not let Richard Spencer, a leading white supremacist and "alt-right" organizer, speak on campus in September.
The move comes just days after the university said that the First Amendment might require it to rent space to Spencer's group, the National Policy Institute, regardless of the hateful messages associated with the organization. But Florida is citing safety issues, not Spencer's message, to justify turning down the request to reserve space on campus.
“This decision was made after assessing potential risks with campus, community, state and federal law enforcement officials following violent clashes in Charlottesville, Va., and continued calls online and in social media for similar violence in Gainesville such as those decreeing: ‘The Next Battlefield Is in Florida,’” said a message from W. Kent Fuchs, president of the university. “I find the racist rhetoric of Richard Spencer and white nationalism repugnant and counter to everything the university and this nation stands for. That said, the University of Florida remains unwaveringly dedicated to free speech and the spirit of public discourse. However, the First Amendment does not require a public institution to risk imminent violence to students and others. The likelihood of violence and potential injury -- not the words or ideas -- has caused us to take this action.”
On Monday, Texas A&M University -- which permitted Spencer to speak on campus in December -- made a similar announcement that it would not permit him to return in September. Texas A&M also cited safety issues, not Spencer's message.
Organizers of the planned Spencer event at Texas A&M have vowed to sue over the refusal to permit him to appear.
Spencer attracted attention after the election, as he was videotaped shouting "Hail Trump" at supporters, some of whom responded with Nazi-style salutes.
In November, Spencer announced that one of the targets for his efforts would be college campuses, and that he was planning an appearance at Texas A&M University in December. The university permitted that appearance but organized a series of events as alternatives to attending the Spencer talk. Members of religious and racial and ethnic minority groups spoke out against Spencer, as so did many white Texas A&M alumni and students. Texas A&M is proud of its military traditions, and during World War II many of its students and alumni fought (and many died) in the war against the Nazis. As a result, there was widespread disgust for a speaker linked to white supremacist ideas.
To understand why so many people are upset about Spencer, consider these background reports from the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, both of which note that he has called for the creation of a white state of America. He regularly includes references in his speeches that suggest his admiration for the Nazis. For instance, he says that most journalists are part of the Lügenpresse, a term the Nazis used to mean "lying press."Editorial Tags: Academic freedomBreaking NewsStudent lifeImage Caption: Richard SpencerIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
Experts: College presidents' call for students to avoid white supremacist rallies not always the best
Eight days before the protests in Charlottesville, Va., that left a woman dead, the president of the University of Virginia beseeched her campus: don’t go to the rally.
President Teresa Sullivan released a statement Aug. 4, telling students (most of whom had not returned for classes) and local residents that her foremost concern was their safety. Their attendance would only gratify the organizers of the Unite the Right demonstration -- those who sought a spectacle and to draw attention to their white nationalist cause, Sullivan said in her statement.
“They believe that your counterprotest helps their cause,” she said. “One advocate of the rally said, ‘We should aim to draw the SJWs [social justice warriors] out in Charlottesville and create a massive polarizing spectacle in order to draw as huge a contrast as possible. They will reveal themselves to be violent, intolerant, opposed to free speech, the insane enforcers of political correctness, etc.’ The organizers of the rally want confrontation; do not gratify their desire.”
Ahead of a planned talk in September by Richard Spencer -- who is largely credited with coining the term “alt-right,” designating a movement characterized by white supremacy and racism -- at the University of Florida, the president there has put out a message similar to Sullivan’s.
“I encourage our campus community to send a message of unity by not engaging with this group and giving them more media attention for their message of intolerance and hate,” President Kent Fuchs posted to Facebook.
This “stay away” plea is an attempt by university leaders to recognize that they can’t control student choices, but they want to warn them.
Sullivan’s warnings about potential violence in Charlottesville turned out to be correct. Brawls broke out in Charlottesville on Saturday afternoon, culminating in a white nationalist driving his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing a 32-year-old woman.
Not all students bought the president’s message. Wes Gobar, president of UVA’s Black Student Alliance, is among the skeptical. He witnessed the skirmishes but not the car crash -- he said he caught tear gas to the face several times and that white men heckled his friends.
Gobar said students felt disappointed with the university’s response. Though he understood the administration’s interest in the safety of students, urging them to avoid the rally would only benefit and allow these white nationalist groups to grow unchecked, Gobar said.
“This ‘stay away, it’ll be fine’ narrative, well, I know the university may have a different view, but there’s more that needs to be done,” Gobar said.
A UVA spokesman declined to make officials available for interviews Monday.
Such demonstrations are not likely to slow soon, particularly with the fall semester for most institutions imminent.
In addition to University of Florida, Spencer initially had pledged to return to Texas A&M University in September, but the university canceled the event, citing security concerns.
Spencer took delight in aggravating the Texas A&M campus, said Lecia Brooks, outreach director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit that tracks bigotry nationwide. He has also spoken at Auburn University in Alabama, where he successfully sued for the right to appear on campus.
The so-called alt-right and similar racist campaigners have “hijacked” free speech on college campuses with these rallies, attempting to goad the liberal population -- students, but even more so outside “antifascist” activists and radical left-wing groups -- into igniting fights, Brooks said.
Many of the white supremacist-related activities, and the more radical counterprotests, result from outsiders, not those tied to institutions.
Brooks said the center advocates for universities to sponsor alternative events to appropriately combat the white nationalists’, which could pull away the media focus that they crave. Texas A&M did this for Spencer’s first talk. Protests weren’t halted, but nothing turned violent.
She urged college presidents to strongly denounce and identify these people as white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Doing so would ensure that young white college men would not be poached by the movement. She acknowledged that both the UVA and Florida presidents had, in forceful terms, condemned white nationalists in their statements, but said it will take some time for students to recognize the success of nonviolent resistance, like that present during the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
“If you want to confront them head-on, do it silently, don’t feed into their desperate need to get attention,” Brooks said, citing the “angels” who donned gigantic white wings and, without speaking, blocked the Westboro Baptist Church from protesting the funerals of victims of the 2016 shooting at an Orlando, Fla., gay bar.
A University of Florida spokeswoman emailed a statement about the upcoming Spencer talk. “We are still assessing security needs, particularly in light of the events over the weekend. Student affairs is in contact with individuals at Auburn University and Texas A&M to learn what we can from the folks who were on the ground in those university communities during similar events. Our strategy right now is to be transparent with the greater university community about this request, and we will provide additional information as it is available,” the statement reads in part.
Dwayne Fletcher, president of Florida’s Black Student Union, said he understands why the president has urged students not to interact with protesters. The “lunatics” in Charlottesville displayed no regard for human life, and like UVA and the surrounding area, Gainesville has a significant racist past, he said. Fletcher said he could see the events of Charlottesville being replicated. A Confederate monument was just taken down in the city Monday, and similarly to the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, its slated removal drew the ire of the white nationalists.
The University of Florida’s president in his social media post named Spencer and the white nationalists, something Sullivan did not do in her Aug. 4 statement.
Dan Horner, an assistant professor of criminology at Ryerson University in Ontario who specializes in the history of protests in public spaces, said UVA’s tactics evolved. At first, Sullivan did not recognize the protesters as white supremacists, but she more explicitly did so after Saturday. He said he believed the university was hoping the event might fizzle and not be well attended, and that the mention of white nationalists would likely alarm students and their families.
“This fuzzy, soft-focused kind of language was a way to keep everybody calm, but as the situation kind became impossible to ignore, there’s clearly a desire to put herself on the correct side of the story,” Horner said.
He said he was unsure whether advising students to avoid the rally was the proper call.
But Fletcher, at University of Florida, said telling students not to recognize white supremacist demonstrations is more strategic. On Monday, he was in a group text message chat with representatives from nine of the largest and most visible campus student organizations, many representing minority populations. He said they planned to organize a town hall event next week to discuss strategy, and couldn’t say yet whether they would advocate for their membership to appear at the Spencer rally.
“Honestly, I don’t think I’d be able to attend these protests. I know the type of crowd they bring. I’d rather advocate on behalf of the students instead of being in the hospital or dead. I’d rather be smart about it and have a visible presence and stay active and engaged,” Fletcher said.
When students arrive on campuses across the country in the coming weeks, the dynamic will shift entirely, said Angus Johnston, a historian of student activism and assistant professor at Hostos Community College of the City University of New York. He noted that the UVA campus was largely devoid of students, but at the University of Florida and Texas A&M, Spencer’s speech and the backlash will be inescapable for them.
Douglas McAdam, Ray Lyman Wilbur Professor of Sociology at Stanford University, has studied student advocacy in depth. He recently ended a longitudinal study on student activism and in 2014 co-authored a book, Deeply Divided: Social Movements and Racial Politics in Post-War America (Oxford University Press), that touches on the partisanship also bleeding into college campuses.
McAdam said that the students most devoted to activism likely won’t heed advice to ignore white supremacy. In fact, it may inspire the opposite effect, as many of these students are often critical of university practices.
“The idea you’re going to be able to control actions of the activist segment of the student body is a fiction,” he said.
Barring campus outsiders from the grounds and refusing to rent facilities would more effectively minimize the problem rather than trying to separate students from massive and sometimes bloody rallies, Johnston said. At Auburn, Spencer only successfully won his lawsuit because the university’s policies explicitly allowed any outsider to pay for use of a building, he said.
“There’s a reason why he chose a campus over a local hotel or conference center,” Johnston said, referring to Spencer. “Speaking on a campus is a symbolic significant act. It has a lot of cultural salience in the United States.”DiversityEditorial Tags: College administrationDiscriminationImage Caption: Current and former UVA students protest in Charlottesville Saturday.Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
Charlotte School of Law, a for-profit institution based in North Carolina, appeared to abruptly shut down Tuesday, just days after losing its license to operate in the state.
No one associated with the law school publicly commented. But its website was taken down and a letter from the president of Charlotte’s alumni association published by local media confirmed it would close.
The North Carolina attorney general’s office, which opened an investigation last year into misrepresentations to students, said in a statement that it would ensure the law school remains closed. Attorney General Josh Stein said many Charlotte students have been successful, but for the Class of 2016 fewer than one in five admitted students graduated, passed the bar and got a job that required a law degree. That’s despite a promise from the law school that students would be “ready to practice upon graduation” and the $100,000 cost of their legal education, he said.
Charlotte was in negotiations with the Department of Education over conditions for restoring federal student aid. Its abrupt closure now means that the federal government could be on the hook for the federal loans taken out by students enrolled at the law school.
Charlotte shut its doors just weeks after reports surfaced that the department would consider restoring its access to Title IV federal aid, which include federal student loans -- the latest indication to some critics that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos would take a more lenient approach to for-profit institutions. The Obama administration cut off Charlotte’s Title IV access in December, citing the law school’s failure to meet standards set by its accreditor, the American Bar Association, and substantial misrepresentations to students.
The ABA had earlier placed Charlotte on probation for failing to admit applicants who were likely to succeed in the program and pass the bar exam.
The Department of Education, the ABA and the University of North Carolina System, which approves state licenses of for-profit institutions, are the three bodies that provide the authorization or revenue for the law school to operate. But in recent weeks it came up short with all three.
In June, the UNC System’s Board of Governors said that by Aug. 10, Charlotte must have a teach-out plan approved by the ABA and a determination from the department that students still enrolled could participate in Title IV federal student loan programs. As that date passed, though, negotiations with the department were still ongoing.
The ABA Monday notified Charlotte that it had rejected its proposed teach-out plan, a document required of a closing institution spelling out how students will be treated fairly to finish their education. The ABA rejected the plan in large part because it wasn’t clear that it would continue as a degree-granting institution. And the next day, the UNC board rejected a request from Chidi Ogene, the president of the law school, that the board hold an emergency meeting to extend Charlotte's license.
Liz Hill, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, said late Tuesday that the department has received official notice of Charlotte's closure.
"The department is committed to ensuring that students of CSL, who are the ones most impacted by this closure, are protected, treated fairly and are made aware of all of the options available to them," she said.
In the coming days, Hill said, the department will work with law school officials, the state and the bar association to give students information about their options and how they can obtain student records. The department will also post answers to frequently asked questions about school closures to the Federal Student Aid website and contact Charlotte students directly about their options.
In an email to students reported by local media Tuesday, the Charlotte administration said the UNC System's licensure unit had notified the law school it could continue to assist students by, among other activities, conferring degrees or credit to students who completed course credit before Aug. 11.
While no one from the law school or its parent company, InfiLaw, responded to requests for comment on its status, Stein, the North Carolina attorney general, said Charlotte is now required to close.
“I want to express my disappointment for the students and their families affected by Charlotte School of Law's failure,” he said in a statement. “While good lawyers have graduated from Charlotte School of Law, the school too often failed to deliver for its students.”
Stein wrote a letter to DeVos Tuesday asking that she declare exceptional circumstances exist with the school’s closure, which would expand loan forgiveness rights to all the students who left the law school during or after the fall 2016 semester. He also said his office would be available to help students understand their rights and that an investigation into the law school’s adherence to state consumer protection laws is ongoing.
Charlotte appeared to be dead in the water earlier this year after losing access to Title IV funds in December. But it opted to remain open, even taking measures like offering institutional aid to students so that they could remain enrolled, while insisting there was a path back to viability. Critics, however, said keeping the school open -- and steering students to transfer to other InfiLaw programs -- meant that the company was delaying the inevitable while protecting its bottom line. By not closing after losing access to federal aid, Charlotte could protect its liability for costs related to closed-school discharges sought by students. Meanwhile, options were limited for students who otherwise could have transferred elsewhere or immediately applied to have their student loans forgiven.
The prospects for the institution still didn't look good before the department indicated it would consider restoring Title IV access. In the meantime, Charlotte hired Podesta Group lobbyist Lauren Maddox, who helped DeVos navigate confirmation hearings, to make its case to Congress and the administration.
Among the conditions the Department of Education had sought to attach to Title IV revenue for the law school were a refund of tuition and fees to students who had not completed their first year by December and a $6 million letter of credit to protect students and taxpayers.
A big lesson from the negotiations with Charlotte is that the department should always obtain that letter of credit before anything else, said Clare McCann, the deputy director for federal higher education policy with New America’s education policy program and a former Obama administration official. The department failed to use its leverage over federal aid to obtain that letter, and now it’s on the hook for the cost of student loans taken out to attend Charlotte, she said.
“I’m not impressed with the oversight work,” she said.
Kyle McEntee, the founder of Law School Transparency, a nonprofit that advocates for reforming practices in legal education, said closure appeared to be inevitable after the Board of Governors refused to budge on a license extension.
He said the ABA should have taken action sooner, but its hands were tied by a standards framework ill equipped to handle enforcement. As the group refined its standards, they were able to take action that drew the interest of the state and Department of Education.
“We’ve made good progress with the ABA, but we’re not all the way there yet,” McEntee said.
The fate of Charlotte could be a wake-up call to other law schools with spotty records. As fewer students have applied for spots in law programs in recent years, some institutions made the bet they could enroll whoever they wanted and not be held accountable, McEntee said.
“There’s been a tremendous amount of public pressure to hold those schools accountable,” he said. “Now I think there are several dozen law schools who are going to be frightened as to their future. It’s becoming real now.”For-Profit Higher EdEditorial Tags: For-profit collegesIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
As the country divides more fervently across partisan lines, skepticism about the benefits of college is growing among some segments.
As a result, colleges, particularly those in the two-year sector, are feeling the pressure to prove that their institutions can deliver better work-force outcomes.
In recent weeks, surveys have shown that skepticism about the value of college is high not only with Republican voters but also among white working-class voters from all political affiliations. For instance, a poll commissioned by a Democratic political action committee found that 83 percent of white working-class voters said a college degree was “no longer any guarantee of success in America.”
The survey of white working-class voters also found strong support for job-training programs, just like the sort that community colleges offer.
Research shows that jobs in the new economy tend to go to people with at least some college education or an associate’s degree, instead of to workers who hold just high school diplomas. And that’s why some critics feel community colleges should be working harder to advertise and market the career and technical programs they offer.
Wisconsin, for instance, has a broad public education system, between the University of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Technical College systems. But for decades, residents could graduate from high school, go directly into the work force and have a family-sustaining career, said Morna Foy, president of the technical system.
But that has changed dramatically, she said.
“We’ve done a lot and our employers in the state have done a lot to change that narrative,” Foy said. “Maybe there are some people who don’t like that reality, but we don’t talk about it that much anymore as a reality.”
One way the technical college system works to eliminate the disconnect some people may have between college and the work force is by publishing reports that make the connection clear to the public, in the form of how much their graduates make at least six months after graduation.
Between 86 percent and 98 percent of graduates get a job in their field depending on the academic program, Foy said, and the system makes sure to market and promote that information for the public and for policy makers.
Industries like manufacturing didn’t completely go away, Foy said, but instead transformed into advanced manufacturing, where unskilled workers previously would operate an assembly line, but now they’re using robotics and smart technology.
Today there are about 30 million “good” jobs available for people who don’t have a bachelor’s degree and where workers can earn on average about $55,000 a year, according to a recently released report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.
Some community and technical colleges, however, are focusing on building work-force partnerships and confronting the narrative that their programs don’t lead to job opportunities.
“When we talk about college or with people outside of higher education, they think of residential liberal arts colleges or research universities -- they don’t think of a two-year degree or a one-year certificate,” said Anne Kress, president of Monroe Community College in the State University of New York system. “We work closely with employers and we know they’re looking for a fully trained employee who can walk in on day one and start work, because they don’t have the capacity to do a lot of professional development.”
Kress said the college has been intentional in how it works with community-based organizations to raise awareness about what the college can provide.
“If we sit here and wait for them to come to us and find what we offer, it’s not going to happen,” she said.
In Wisconsin, administrators in the technical college system spend time educating people on the value of a technical credential, Foy said.
“There’s a pretty good understanding in this state that you can improve your economic condition by going to a technical college,” she said, adding that they don’t limit outreach on that value to associate degrees, also promoting stackable credentials, short-term programs and apprenticeships that appeal to older students who still want to work and attend classes part-time.
But Foy said people generally are aware of the work-force programs the colleges have to offer.
“There’s always going to be someone who says, ‘Why should I go back to college to get a job I used to have,’ and it can be a lack of finances, a lack of awareness of how accessible it can be to get the credential that has value,” she said, adding that investing two or more years as an adult student can seem daunting. “You have to get them over that hump of thinking, ‘I’ve been out of school so long I don’t remember any math I took in high school,’ or thinking everyone will be younger than them, or they don’t know how to use a smartphone or they don’t have a smartphone. Those are real-life barriers.”
Comments from people questioning the need for college aren’t uncommon in Tennessee. But that state has found some success in creating a college-going culture.
“That’s not accidental,” said Mike Krause, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. “Tennessee faces a situation, not unlike virtually every Southern state and Appalachian state, and that is connecting our residents to an understanding of all the college has to offer.”
While traveling across the state to promote the much-heralded Tennessee Promise program, Krause said a significant concern he heard from parents was that their children would go to college and never return home. So state officials turned to data that could be translated into “kitchen table conversations” and presented them to families.
“The single most powerful piece of data is what happens in real time to students who didn’t go to college in Tennessee,” he said. “If you don’t go to college in Tennessee right now, you’re making $9,000 and have an 84 percent chance of earning minimum wage. That’s not a common piece of data people share publicly, and I don’t think it’s somewhere higher education starts, but for us it’s been pivotal to tell and share with parents because no parent hears that and thinks they want their child to just make $9,000.”
Seventy-five percent of “good jobs” in the 1980s required less than a bachelor’s degree, but that number has decreased to 55 percent today, said Anthony Carnevale, a research professor and director of Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce.
“You can’t move forward by looking in the rearview mirror,” he said. “There is a lower quantity of those jobs … there is still a certain number who can make it without postsecondary education, but they do need postsecondary education.”
The current political climate seems focused mostly on white men, but working-class black and Latino men have been just as affected by the loss of jobs that could be filled by high school graduates alone, Carnevale said.
“We lost a ton of them in manufacturing, construction, farming, fishing, forestry … since the 1980s, but there has been growth in these jobs in the skilled-service sector, computers and health care,” Carnevale said, adding that women have done well in those latter professions.
Some educators, particularly at community colleges, have argued that Pell Grant funding for short-term programs that lead to a technical certificate would help more working-class people find new or better employment.
“We know we can offer short-term programs to connect our students to employment, but those very same students can’t go to college without financial aid,” Kress said.
Foy said colleges could do a better job of marketing their work-force programs.
“Higher education needs to do a better job of making the case for why it’s important,” she said. “We have to tell people and be honest about job prospects, the pay, the likelihood of placement, and it’s not enough to say ‘we’re colleges and universities so you should want to come to us.’”
Foy said she’s noticed some regional universities have started moving in this direction by the promotion of their graduates’ outcomes, similar to the way the Wisconsin technical system does.
“Even justifying why someone should come to university is a new way to think, especially for four-year schools,” she said. “But for transfer-based community colleges -- and we already do -- we have to market ourselves as having value.”Community CollegesEditorial Tags: Career/Tech EducationImage Caption: Monroe Community College student Vincent Owens assembling a tool holder for a drill with his instructor, Anthony McCollough. Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
If most undergraduates are women, does that mean women have the upper hand in today's economy? Should lagging enrollments of men (or of minority men) be discussed as a problem? These are some of the questions raised in Degrees of Difference: Women, Men and the Value of Higher Education (Routledge). The author is Nancy S. Niemi, director of faculty teaching initiatives at the Center for Teaching and Learning at Yale University.
She responded via email to questions about the book.
Q: It is common in higher education these days to talk about the "problem" of women making up a majority of students, as undergraduates and in many professional fields. Is the declining share of male enrollment a problem? Are there problems with talking about gender imbalances in this way?
A: What constitutes a “problem,” in higher education or otherwise, usually favors the perspectives of the powerful. So, when the majority of U.S. college students were male, few named it as problematic. It’s important to note that the number of men in college has not decreased, but their share of the enrollment is lower because so many more women have enrolled. With that greater share came the “problem” label. Labeling the declining share of male college enrollment as a problem is a misnomer, I think, because it misleads us into thinking that balanced gender numbers in college lead to equitable outcomes for men and women once they graduate. The power of a college degree is dependent on its holder’s identities, and one of those is gender.
Q: This issue intersects with discussions of enrollment patterns by race, with many colleges (historically black and predominantly white) talking about the "problem" of two-thirds enrollment of black students being made up of women. Thoughts on those discussions?
A: Again, I refer to the issue of what is named as a problem. I doubt we would be naming black and Hispanic men’s college enrollment as problematic if their numbers were higher; in fact, I think colleges would be displaying those numbers as proof of their commitment to diversity and inclusivity. That minority student college enrollment is largely female seems to offer evidence to some that the “woman problem” crosses racial and ethnic barriers without distinction, while ignoring the issues that such attendance signals.
For example, recent federal data show that black women and men are overrepresented in for-profit master’s degree programs, and black women’s enrollment in those programs is more than three times white women’s enrollment. By pursuing more higher education credentials, women of all races and ethnicities are responding to the cultural mandate that they have to prove their intellectual competence in ways that men do not. Women who are also part of racial and ethnic minority groups have even more to “prove” than white women do.
Q: In many academic fields, women achieve as much or more academic success as do men, but they lag in being hired for the most lucrative and prestigious positions after they graduate. Why is this the case?
A: The Ginger Rogers challenge of having to do everything Fred Astaire did but also do it backward and in high heels still applies: college women excel in academic achievement in part because we know we have to. We know we need to gain higher GPAs, have more leadership positions and more and better college accomplishments just to compete with men. Women also know they need well-connected internships, fellowships and acceptances to prestigious postgraduate placements, which open doors to further success after graduation, but at that point we are subject to still prevalent and sexist notions about who belongs in the most lucrative fields and who can handle the demands of high-status positions.
The recent story of the Google employee who circulated the memo stating, in part, that men have an inherently higher need for status and women are biologically more prone to anxiety and want more work-life balance (making them less than ideal tech workers, in his mind) is just one of the extraordinary number of ways in which women are still told that no matter how successful they are, they’re not good enough. The criteria for money and prestige changes by industry and field, but the bias remains.
Q: In analysis of the Trump electoral victory, many pundits said that educators (and Democratic politicians) failed to see the problems facing white men with little if any higher education, men who are unemployed or underemployed. What do you think of this narrative?
A: I think that what educators and politicians across the spectrum failed -- and fail -- to see is that white men with little or no higher education are afraid of the economic and social changes they see around them. When they found a presidential candidate who offered the possibility of renewing dependable blue-collar jobs, while simultaneously channeling chest-thumping masculinity and downplaying the power of academic degrees and diversity, it was easy to follow Trump’s angry lead.
Men with little or no higher education have traditionally been less willing as adults to go back to school or other training programs (like nursing, teaching and HVAC repair), even when industries are in need of workers. Part of the reason for this seems to be men’s resistance to enter fields that are coded feminine, and part may be their belief that schooling is “what girls do.”
What I also find fascinating (and infuriating) are politicians who assert that universities negatively impact the state of the country, while they themselves possess a number of college degrees. My biggest worry is that college degrees are becoming the equivalent of an unfunded mandate for U.S. women and their employment, even as men either eschew degrees altogether in favor of either under/unemployment, or use elite credentials to create even more entrenched power bases.
Q: What steps should colleges take to confront the issues you raise in your book?
A: Colleges alone will not solve the issues of differential value of women’s and men’s college degrees. That said, they can be much more proactive and constant about discussing the ways in which gender, education and race/ethnicity influence the lives of their graduates. For example, campus leaders from presidents to deans to heads of custodial unions can and should note their own institutions’ gender representations within and across units; roughly equal representation in leadership and learning is not sufficient, but it is necessary.
College advisers of all kinds can be urged to discuss the sexism and the sexist assumptions that still face young women and men as they consider college majors, work opportunities and careers and family. Many women still do not assume, for example, that they will ever be the primary wage earner; choosing majors that lead to potentially well-paying careers is a smart idea to discuss. Further, colleges can and should counter the cultural norms that lead too many young men to believe that they do not need a serious commitment to schoolwork in order to be successful; faculty and staff should have this conversation early and often with the men in their care.
Finally, colleges should find the courage to speak about the powerful -- and political -- ramifications of their work as it relates to gender equity. When they admitted only men, institutions of higher education were clear that they were producing future leaders, creators and power brokers. It’s time for them to unabashedly declare that including women in this vision should produce a more equitable society as well.New Books About Higher EducationEditorial Tags: BooksWomenIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
Since President Trump's election, science advocates have become increasingly vocal in opposing actions by his administration, from signing letters of condemnation to marching in the streets and jumping into campaigns for political office.
The Union of Concerned Scientists this month, however, launched an effort that it hopes will promote quieter efforts to defend the independence of science and research. Dubbed the Science Protection Project, the group aims to create an outlet for federal employees and contractors to securely report attempts at political influence over science in the policy-making process.
UCS has set up a SecureDrop server, as well as protected email and text message accounts. It's also advertising a hotline that will be staffed Wednesday afternoons to take tips and a physical mailing address to seek legal advice. Michael Halpern, deputy director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the group isn't seeking classified information or unlawful disclosures.
"If a scientist is having trouble getting information or getting their research out, we want to know about it," he said. "This will be a conduit for information to make it to the public that should be in the public domain."
Disclosures through the project may also point UCS in the right direction to file Freedom of Information Act requests or make reports to inspectors general about allegations of political interference in scientific work.
Among the kinds of reports the group is seeking: removal of public access to scientific data, pressure to alter or "water down" reports, and violations of scientific integrity policies.
Halpern said UCS did much of the same kind of work under the Obama administration, including the use of FOIA requests to scrutinize industry's influence in shaping the work of the Environmental Protection Agency on fracking. "The sidelining of inconvenient facts is not unique to any one administration," he said.
But the group believes the number of cabinet-level officials who have declared themselves in opposition to the mission of the agencies they lead, as well as the increasing surveillance of federal employees, makes a project like this one important now.
The project has already received backing from other pro-science advocacy groups. The March for Science has promoted the project to its followers through social media.
"We wanted to shed a light on this project because we believe science -- whether conducted within the federal government or not -- should be defended from partisan attacks," a spokeswoman for the March for Science said. "Our community is not made up entirely of scientists, but if our sharing a resource like this leads to even one federal scientist in our network finding the support they need to protect their research from partisan meddling, we will have productively used the March for Science platform to further our movement's efforts to support science in the public interest."
UCS and other science advocacy groups have long worked with scientists to protect their legal rights. The American Geophysical Union and the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund for the past five years have run a legal education program for scientists. Chris McEntee, the executive director and CEO of the American Geophysical Union, said the concerns all of those efforts are addressing are not new.
"I would say that there is increasing fear and trepidation that scientists will not be able to share information in an open and objective manner," she said.
Robert Proctor, a professor of the history of science at Stanford University, praised the project as a tool to push back against ignorance.
"If we can trace the mechanisms by which ignorance is being spread, we have a chance of getting the truth out and keeping science alive," he said.
Halpern said his preference is that there would be little reason for complaints about improper political meddling. UCS wants government to function, he said, but efforts like the project could make government officials think twice about censoring or otherwise undermining federal scientific capacity.
"The fact that it exists sends a signal to federal employees that there are entities out there that have their back and support them," he said.Editorial Tags: Sciences/Tech/Engineering/MathTrump administrationAd Keyword: ScienceIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
New presidents or provosts: Berkeley Bethany Chipola Glenville KSU UMass-Dartmouth UW-La Crosse Viterbo
- M. Christopher Brown II, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at Southern University and A&M System, in Louisiana, has been appointed president of Kentucky State University.
- Carol T. Christ, former president of Smith College and director of the Center for Studies in Higher Education, has been named chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley.
- Sarah Clemmons, senior vice president of instruction and interim president of Chipola College, in Florida, has been appointed president on a permanent basis.
- Robert E. Johnson, president of Becker College, in Massachusetts, has been selected as chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.
- Joseph Lane, Hawthorne Professor of Politics and chair of the department of politics, law and international relations at Emory & Henry College, in Virginia, has been chosen as provost of Bethany College, in West Virginia.
- Betsy Morgan, interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse, has been appointed to the job on a permanent basis.
- Tracy L. Pellett, provost and vice president for academic affairs at the College of Coastal Georgia, has been selected as president of Glenville State College, in West Virginia.
- Tracy Stewart, provost at Alaska Pacific University, has been appointed vice president for academic affairs at Viterbo University, in Wisconsin.
The "Unite the Right" rally held in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend drew white nationalists, white supremacists, neo-Nazis and members of the so-called alt-right -- a radical far-right political movement that embraces white nationalism and racism. Some attendees were college students, and photos of them circulating the internet are raising questions on their home campuses.
“You will not replace us,” the protesters shouted, a chant directed at racial minorities. “Jew will not replace us,” the chants continued. “Blood and soil,” a Nazi slogan, was also chanted. Other videos show racial slurs being hurled by white Unite the Right protesters. Richard Spencer, a white supremacist whose supporters have given him Nazi salutes, made an appearance as well. A woman was killed and more than a dozen people injured after a right-wing protester drove his car into a group of counterprotesters, according to Charlottesville police.
Many of those appalled by the rally and its participants have been circulating photographs of participants in an attempt to identify those who attended, calling on employers -- and, in some cases, universities -- to take action. While any disciplinary action is unlikely at public institutions, that doesn't mean issues related to race and free speech will go away.
James Allsup, a Washington State University student who attended the event and was, until Monday, a leader of the College Republicans at the university, will likely face no punishment from Washington State. As a student at a public institution, he’s protected by the First Amendment.
Kirk H. Schulz, WSU’s president, put out a statement on Twitter -- part of which Allsup retweeted -- denouncing “racism and Nazism of any kind,” condemning the violence in Charlottesville. Spokesman Matthew Haugen said that he couldn’t discuss Allsup’s case specifically, citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, but said, broadly, public universities have to uphold free speech.
“Universities are places where controversial voices must be heard,” he said. “Even if those are things that we as a community do not find appropriate. Honestly, WSU has been looking for answers about this for a long time.”
Not everyone on social media agreed with that argument.August 13, 2017
The leader of one of your on campus student organizations is a white supremacist. If hate has no place at WSU neither does James Allsup.— Horatio (@lemonsparklingw) August 14, 2017
The American Civil Liberties Union, which fought for Unite the Right organizers’ right to hold the protest, also condemned the violence and views expressed by the organizers.
“We condemn the voices of white supremacy heard in Charlottesville today, and all violence. Our hearts are with those killed and injured,” the ACLU said in a string of tweets. “The First Amendment is a critical part of our democracy, and it protects vile, hateful and ignorant speech. For this reason, the ACLU of Virginia defended the white supremacists' right to march. But we will not be silent in the face of white supremacy.”
In a statement, the College Republican National Committee -- which, as a private organization, is not bound to uphold First Amendment protections for its members -- condemned “in the strongest way possible the vile, racist and cowardly acts committed by white supremacists in Charlottesville.”
The statement called for all leaders who “support or condone these events” to resign immediately. Whether that would actually have any impact on Allsup was not immediately clear, but he had resigned by Monday evening. He -- like many other far-right protesters -- has said that the rally is being misrepresented in the media, and that he didn’t support all of the groups in attendance, although he also defended attending the event.
However, a video -- allegedly posted by Allsup and later taken down -- has been circulating, purportedly showing Allsup marching with right-wing protesters who are shouting racial slurs as Allsup laughs and continues to march with them. The video also allegedly shows Allsup cheering on Spencer when he makes an appearance.
“The university should not be in the business of disavowing what their students do, what their tuition-paying students do in their professional careers,” Allsup told WSU’s student newspaper in an article prior to his resignation.
Allsup, who told the student newspaper he denounced racism and Nazism, did not return multiple requests for comment, including one sent with a link to the video.
White Supremacy, Higher Ed and the First Amendment
Allsup isn’t the only college student who has been identified as attending the Unite the Right rally. Peter Cvjetanovic, of the University of Nevada at Reno, has also been identified as attending the rally, and a petition has been circulating calling for his expulsion. A UNR spokeswoman confirmed he is a student.
The petition, signed by more than 18,000, states in part, "Your student and employee, Peter Cvjetanovic, is a white supremacist and poster boy for the terrible and violent 'alt-right' a.k.a. Nazi marches in Charlottesville … This was not a march for free speech. It was a march filled with hate speech and [that] promoted oppression of civil rights … Since launching this petition I have received numerous messages from your students who do not feel safe going to school and do not want to go to school with him around."
“Racism and white supremacist movements have a corrosive effect on our society,” UNR President Marc A. Johnson said in a statement. “These movements do not represent our values as a university … As an institution, we remain firm in our commitment in denouncing all forms of bigotry and racism, which have no place in a free and equal society.”
But Cvjetanovic will keep his job, and remain a student.
Johnson went on to say, "There have been numerous inquiries about Peter Cvjetanovic, a student at our university who participated in the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. Based on discussion and investigation with law enforcement, our attorneys and our Office of Student Conduct, there is no constitutional or legal reason to expel him from our university … The First Amendment freedom of free speech requires us all to understand that sometimes support of this freedom can be uncomfortable. It is one of the most difficult freedoms we live with. It requires us to support the right of people to express views which we sometimes vehemently disagree."
Washington State and Nevada Reno's situations are nothing new. In 2012, Matthew Heimbach started a white student union at Towson University, a public institution in Maryland.
Heimbach, leader of the Traditionalist Workers Party -- a far-right, white nationalist group with neo-Nazi ties -- has found himself in court since leaving Towson. He was filmed shoving a black protester at a Donald Trump campaign rally, and later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, although he received no jail time.
Heimbach also attended the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, where he directed protesters to break through police barricades.
Last year Nathan Damigo, a student at California State University, Stanislaus, was posting white supremacist fliers at another California State campus. The posters, telling white students to “protect your heritage” and “serve your people,” were the first wave of posters for Identity Evropa, a white nationalist group Damigo founded.
"I will continue to stand for promoting a warm, welcoming and respectful learning environment for everyone on our campus and in the community," Ellen Junn, the university's president, said in a statement at the time. "Though it may be difficult to hear disparate viewpoints, it is ever more vital to remember that Stanislaus State and the CSU have an obligation and commitment to the founding principles of our American democracy -- a democracy that upholds the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech, even when that speech may be controversial or offensive to others. Sometimes speech that occurs on campus is inconsistent with Stanislaus State’s core institutional values of inclusiveness, diversity and respect."
Like Heimbach, Damigo’s actions as a student at a public college were protected by the First Amendment. And, like Heimbach, he would go on to find himself in trouble for violent actions.
In April Stanislaus officials launched an investigation into Damigo after he was filmed punching a woman during protester-counterprotester clashes in Berkeley. The encounter occurred during a “Patriots Day” rally, organized by Trump supporters and far-right groups, billed as a free speech event.
"The University continues to closely review and coordinate with local law enforcement to assess the event that took place at Berkeley," spokeswoman Rosalee Rush said in an email. "As a public institution of higher education, we are committed to helping our students understand complex issues such as First Amendment free speech and how to cope with hate speech in a productive way."
At the University of Wisconsin at Madison, a computer science student named Daniel Dropik abandoned his effort to start a campus chapter of the American Freedom Party, a white nationalist group. Dropik, who served time in federal prison after being convicted of arson for setting fires at two predominantly black churches in 2005, faced pressure from the administration and student leaders to do so, although the university could not force him to halt the project.
Reform Through Education?
If many are pushing universities to take action against white nationalist students, some would point to the value of higher education in fighting off those ideas. Derek Black, the son of the founder of the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, found his white supremacist and white nationalist views reversed after attending the New College of Florida, a public institution.
The Washington Post documented Black’s transition from a rising star in the white nationalist movement to someone who came to value diversity, which came through exposure to different students at the liberal arts college.
“I have resolved that it is in the best interests of everyone involved to be honest about my slow but steady disaffiliation from white nationalism. I can’t support a movement that tells me I can’t be a friend to whomever I wish or that other people’s races require me to think of them in a certain way or be suspicious at their advancements,” he wrote of his transformation. “The things I have said as well as my actions have been harmful to people of color, people of Jewish descent, activists striving for opportunity and fairness for all. I am sorry for the damage done.”DiversityEditorial Tags: Diversity MattersStudent lifeImage Caption: The man at the Unite the Right rally above has been identified as a University of Nevada Reno student, Peter Cvjetanovic.Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 2Diversity Newsletter publication date: Tuesday, August 15, 2017Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Email Teaser: When Your Students Attend White Supremacist Rallies
Texas A&M University late Monday said it would not permit a "White Lives Matter" event -- featuring white supremacist Richard Spencer -- to take place on campus on Sept. 11.
Spencer appeared at Texas A&M in December. At that time the university's leaders said they deplored his ideas but had to give him the right to appear because Texas A&M is a public institution, governed by the First Amendment. Monday's announcement may reflect how things have changed since the events of Charlottesville, Va., this weekend, when white supremacists not only spewed hateful messages, but one drove a car into a group of counterprotesters, killing one woman. Organizers of the Texas A&M event explicitly said that they saw Charlottesville as a model, issuing a press release that said, “Today Charlottesville, Tomorrow Texas A&M.”
"Linking the tragedy of Charlottesville with the Texas A&M event creates a major security risk on our campus. Additionally, the daylong event would provide disruption to our class schedules and to student, faculty and staff movement (both bus system and pedestrian)," said the statement issued by the university.
The statement added, "Texas A&M’s support of the First Amendment and the freedom of speech cannot be questioned. On Dec. 6, 2016, the university and law enforcement allowed the same speaker the opportunity to share his views, taking all of the necessary precautions to ensure a peaceful event. However, in this case, circumstances and information relating to the event have changed and the risks of threat to life and safety compel us to cancel the event."
The university statement did not cite Spencer by name or mention his ideology. The statement only referred to security issues, post-Charlottesville.
Texas A&M changed its policies on outside sponsored events after the December appearance by Spencer. Under the new policy, reserving rooms or facilities requires the sponsorship of a university group. Organizers of the planned Sept. 11 event lacked such sponsorship, and so planned an outside event.
Preston Wiginton, a former Texas A&M student who organized Spencer's December appearance and was planning the September event, told The Houston Chronicle that he expected to sue, saying that Texas A&M officials "think they're above the law" and that "the First Amendment in America doesn't mean anything." (A Texas Tribune profile of Wiginton describes his campaign to bring incendiary speakers to Texas A&M.)
How a court would rule on the issue isn't certain. Generally, federal courts have backed the right of speakers -- however odious -- to speak on public college and university campuses. Auburn University in April tried to block a Spencer appearance, and a federal judge ordered the university to let him speak, which he then did. But that was before Charlottesville.
A History of Hateful Statements
In November, Spencer announced that one of the targets for his efforts would be college campuses, and that he was planning an appearance at Texas A&M University in early December. To understand why so many people are upset about Spencer, consider these background reports from the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, both of which note that he has called for the creation of a white state of America. He regularly includes references in his speeches that suggest his admiration for the Nazis. For instance, he says that most journalists are part of the Lügenpresse, a term the Nazis used to mean "lying press."
On Saturday night, with the violence in Charlottesville fresh in people's minds, the president of the University of Florida, Kent Fuchs, announced on Facebook that Florida had been contacted by the National Policy Institute about arranging a Spencer speech on Sept. 12. Fuchs noted that university regulations permit its facilities to be rented, provided that groups cover rental fees and security costs. He said the university was working on a security plan.
In another sign of how Charlottesville may have changed the debate about white nationalists on campus, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education declined on Monday night to comment on Texas A&M's decision. FIRE is normally outspoken in defending the idea that public universities should generally be open to all speakers.DiversityEditorial Tags: Diversity MattersStudent lifeImage Caption: Richard SpencerIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 3Diversity Newsletter publication date: Tuesday, August 15, 2017Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Email Teaser: Texas A&M Calls Off White Supremacy Event
About two-thirds of U.S. adults would want their child to attend a four-year university if they had a child of college-going age, but significant variations exist based on income, educational attainment and partisan affiliation, according to new polling released today.
Support for a child attending a university to earn a four-year degree was substantially higher among Democrats than it was for Republicans, according to a survey being released today by the opinion and research journal Education Next. But the gap narrowed if the partisans were given more information, to the point where it disappeared if survey respondents were given information on both the cost of college and the likely lifetime earnings benefits of a four-year degree. That information made Republicans more likely to want a university education for a child than they had been previously -- but it had the opposite effect on Democrats.
The findings come on the heels of an eye-opening survey released by the Pew Research Center in June that showed Republicans’ view of higher education has deteriorated significantly in recent years. The new survey would seem to point to significant nuance in partisans’ views of higher education, indicating that positions can change based on information available and that broad perceptions do not necessarily translate into personal preferences.
Pollsters working for Education Next asked 4,214 adults over the age of 18 a series of questions between May 5 and June 7 of this year. The questions addressed issues ranging from charter schools to immigration policies in addition to higher education.
Where Would You Want to Send Your Child?
Different groups were asked variations on a question about whether they would want their child to attend a university to earn a four-year degree, a community college to earn a two-year degree or neither. The first group was simply asked which option they would want for their oldest child under the age of 18 or if they had a child of college-going age.
Just over two-thirds of all respondents, 67 percent, said they would want their child to attend a university to earn a four-year degree. About a fifth, 22 percent, said they would want their child to attend community college and to go on to earn a two-year degree.
When the findings were broken down by partisan affiliation and leaning, significant differences emerged. Desire for a child to attend a four-year college was substantially lower for Republicans and higher for Democrats. The opposite was true when it came to two-year colleges.
Just 57 percent of Republicans said they would want their child to attend a university for a four-year degree, compared to 75 percent of Democrats. But 31 percent of Republicans said they would want their child to attend a community college for a two-year degree, compared to 16 percent of Democrats.
A second respondent group was asked a question that included information on the earnings benefits of a four-year degree. It noted that on average, students completing four-year degrees earned $61,400 each year over the course of their working lives, while those completing two-year degrees earned $46,000 annually on average. In responses, interest in a child pursuing a four-year degree rose among all respondents, as well as both Republicans and Democrats. About 75 percent of all respondents, 70 percent of Republicans and 79 percent of Democrats picked a four-year degree for their children.
A third group was asked the question after being told only about the cost of higher education. Respondents were told a four-year degree costs $14,210 per year at an in-state public university on average and that it costs $7,620 per year at a local community college to complete a two-year degree. Interest in a four-year degree fell and interest in a two-year degree rose among Democrats. Interestingly, interest in a four-year degree was still higher among Republicans than it was if they were given no information, while interest in a two-year degree was slightly lower.
When given only information on the cost of college, 60 percent of all respondents said they would want their child to pursue a four-year degree, and 26 percent said they would want their child to pursue a two-year degree. Among Democrats, 63 percent picked a four-year degree and 26 percent picked a two-year degree. Among Republicans, 60 percent picked a four-year degree and 27 percent picked a two-year degree.
It should be little surprise that adding information to a question will change respondents’ answers. The results of such “priming” are a well-known phenomenon among those who construct surveys. However, comparing the way different groups react to different information can be insightful.
Consequently, the survey’s most notable result came from a group of respondents that was given information on both the costs and financial benefits of higher education. When they were given the average annual earnings of a student with a two- or four-year degree and the average annual costs associated with those degrees, respondents’ answers mirrored those who were given no additional information.
Two-thirds, 66 percent, of all respondents said they would want their child to go to a university for a four-year degree -- virtually identical to the rate of respondents who were given no information. About a fifth, 22 percent, picked a two-year community college, also identical.
But the breakdown between Democrats and Republicans changed significantly. When cost and earnings information was presented, 66 percent of Republicans and 66 percent of Democrats chose a four-year university as the desired destination for their child. That’s up nine percentage points among Republicans and down nine percentage points among Democrats from those who were given no information. Another 24 percent of Republicans and 19 percent of Democrats chose a community college, down seven percentage points among Republicans and up three percentage points among Democrats from those who were given no information.
“When we provide information on the costs and benefits of the two types of degrees, the difference between Democrats and Republicans disappears,” said Paul E. Peterson, an Education Next senior editor who is also the director of the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. “In other words, when people have information, the partisanship that we originally identify seems to have evaporated.”
That finding is particularly noteworthy coming on the heels of the June Pew survey finding an increasing partisan divide over higher education. Two years ago, 54 percent of Republicans told Pew colleges had a positive impact on the direction of the country, according to that survey. That fell to 43 percent last year and 36 percent this year. Democrats, meanwhile, have gradually become more positive about higher education, with 72 percent this year viewing higher ed as having a positive effect, up from 65 percent in 2010.
Even so, observers on both the left and the right said the Education Next findings are interesting but not necessarily surprising.
“I’m not that surprised because we’re polling parents,” said Mark Huelsman, a senior policy analyst at the progressive think tank Demos, which has been a major advocate for free tuition in public higher education. “By and large they aspire for their children to get a four-year degree.”
More than anything, the results show that people need time to do calculations for a cost-benefit analysis, said Mary Alice McCarthy, director of the Center on Education and Skills at New America.
“People have a hard time doing math on the phone,” she said. “I wouldn’t read too much into the results.”
“The Pew survey was very much a 30,000-foot view of higher education,” said Rick Hess, resident scholar and director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. The Education Next survey, on the other hand, steered people away from thinking about their general impressions or the most recent news article about higher ed that upset them. It steered them toward considering the way educational decisions affect their families and their bank accounts over time.
“Republicans, for a host of reasons -- personally, I think, most of them legitimate -- have become quite skeptical about four-year institutions,” Hess said. “But when you ask them questions that point out people who go to four-year institutions are much more likely to earn a good living, that not only gives them information, but it reframes what they’re thinking about. It’s the same thing with Democrats.”
Hess is also an executive editor at Education Next. But he was not aware of the survey or involved in it, he said.
Republicans and Democrats are much more similar when they are talking about a cost evaluation -- about, say a gallon of milk -- than they are when they are asked what they think about higher education in general, Hess said.
“If you’re asking if $2.39 is a good price for a gallon of milk, I think you’d get similar answers right or left,” Hess said. “If you say, ‘Do you think milk should be organically farmed?’ I think you would see more right-left split.”
The Education Next survey also found that white survey respondents without a college degree were less likely than their peers with a degree to want their children to go to a four-year institution. When asked what they would want for their children but not given any cost or earning information, 57 percent of whites without four-year degrees said they would want their children to go to a four-year university. Another 30 percent said they would want their children to go to a community college.
Those findings are substantially different from those for whites with four-year college degrees, 88 percent of whom said they would want their children to go to a university for a four-year degree. Only 8 percent of whites with college degrees said they would want their children to go to a community college.
The splits between whites with and without four-year degrees were virtually unchanged after respondents were given information on both earnings and costs. In other words, those without degrees don’t seem to lack the information they need to make college and career choices, according to Education Next.
Results were similar when splitting white responses along income lines. Only 56 percent of white respondents with incomes of less than $75,000 said they would want their children to go to four-year universities, compared to 80 percent of whites with incomes of $75,000 or more. When they were given information on earnings and cost, 52 percent of the lower-income group chose four-year universities and 79 percent of the higher income group did so.
Hispanic survey respondents did show a substantial difference based on information provided, however. Without being told about the costs or benefits of college, 61 percent of Hispanic respondents said they would want their children to attend a four-year university. That jumped to 72 percent after they were told about earnings and costs.
Sample size limitations prevented pollsters from breaking out results for black non-Hispanic respondents.
The survey also contained a set of questions that is pertinent in light of reports that the Trump administration will investigate colleges and possibly sue them over affirmative action.
Respondents were asked whether professors’ racial and ethnic backgrounds, gender and political opinions "should be considered to help promote … diversity among college faculty, even if that means hiring some … professors who otherwise would not be hired" -- or whether professors should be hired "solely on the basis of merit, even if that results in few" minority, female or conservative professors being hired.
Only 19 percent of respondents said racial and ethnic background should be considered, with 6 percent of Republicans agreeing and 28 percent of Democrats agreeing. Just 14 percent said gender should be considered, with 5 percent of Republicans and 21 percent of Democrats agreeing.
A quarter of respondents said political opinions should be considered, with 30 percent of Republicans agreeing and 21 percent of Democrats agreeing.
The only breakdown of the results on racial lines that was available was for Hispanic and white non-Hispanic respondents, again because of sample-size issues for black non-Hispanic respondents. Among Hispanic respondents, 33 percent said racial and ethnic background should be considered, 16 percent said gender should be considered, and 27 percent said political opinions should be considered. Among white non-Hispanic respondents, 12 percent said racial and ethnic background should be considered, 10 percent said gender should be considered, and 21 percent said political opinions should be considered.
Some commentators noted that Republicans were more likely to support such hiring policies when it would presumably lead to more hiring from their ranks. But the same could be said for Democrats.
The findings show how unpopular such hiring policies are across the spectrum, said Max Eden, a senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute.
“It’s interesting how it is such a strongly minority opinion against both parties that race or political ideology should be taken into account when it comes to hiring,” Eden said.AdmissionsEditorial Tags: College costs/pricesImage Source: iStockIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
MONTREAL -- It’s not whether to talk to students about sensitive current events like the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va., but how. That was the upshot of a panel called “Teaching in Our Contemporary Moment” here Monday at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.
“You have to talk about those things in your class,” said Tanya Golash-Boza, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Merced, who specializes in race and immigration. “Whatever you think of sociologists, they’re more socially aware than the biologists and the computer scientists … You have to remember that sociology is a place where students come to talk about what happened yesterday, what happened last week.”
While Charlottesville was subtext for a variety of panels here, Golash-Boza said that her students in particular were rocked by a 2015 campus stabbing attack by student who was later killed by police. And because a majority of her students are Hispanic, with many from immigrant families, there are lingering concerns about President’s Trump’s rhetoric and actions on immigration.
Golash-Boza said it doesn’t make her “feel the most comfortable to manage the feelings of 50 people at once, but I can.” One strategy, she said, is to call for backup: ask experts in the subject matter, from on campus or off, to speak to students. After Trump’s election, for example, she invited a colleague who works for a political think tank to visit and answer students’ questions about what is actually possible, within the limits of the Constitution, in terms of immigration.
“It’s not my forte to try and make students feel safe -- it’s not what I do,” said Golash-Boza. “What I see as more [my] forte is to try and make them feel empowered.” Part of that, she said, is trying to include as many women, writers of color and younger critical voices on her syllabus as possible.
Melissa Brown, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maryland at College Park, recently co-designed and co-taught a class with her professor, Patricia Hill Collins, on black social movements. Brown said the class -- which operated off a living syllabus and encouraged students to use Twitter to discuss current events -- drew on campus activism, including Black Lives Matter. (Collins taught an earlier version of the course just after the death of Freddie Gray while he was in police custody, in nearby Baltimore. Richard Collins III, a black Bowie State University student, was murdered at the Maryland campus this year, and the suspect was a Maryland student with apparent white supremacist sympathies.)
“Maryland’s students are the most activist students I’ve ever seen,” said Brown. “And being so close to [Washington], these students are living this moment -- this stuff is being brought to their front door."
Brown said each class session on black social movements started with a 10- to 15-minute discussion of current events, during which she, Patricia Collins and other co-instructors took a backseat. Assigned student groups next led discussions about a dedicated topic, and the class concluded in group work.
Ground principles -- if not rules -- were helpful in facilitating civil discussions, Brown said. For example, students knew they were not there to debate whether or not racism exists. Golash-Boza agreed, saying that hard facts and figures were the building blocks of discussion, not subjects of debate, in her classroom.
Current Events and the Sociological Lens
Jessie Daniels, a professor of sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, also said that current events are valuable lenses through which to study sociological phenomena. She’s previously assessed students by asking them to pick an event and analyze it, using course materials, for example.
Daniels cautioned, however, that critical media literacy is a crucial "second curriculum" for any course that encourages students’ exploration of varied media -- so much so that she’s created a page on critical media literacy on her wiki site dedicated to teaching sociology through documentary film.
“The critical media piece is incredibly important at this moment, and becoming more important every semester,” she said, “as part of what’s happening in our current era is a manipulation of media.”
Brown agreed, saying while Twitter was useful teaching tool, it had led at least one of her students to conspiracy theory-oriented corners of the web. As he espoused such beliefs in a class discussion, however, instructors corrected him, Brown said.
Sometimes, of course, even professors don’t have all the answers. During another panel with undercurrents related to Charlottesville -- called “Trump’s Challenge to Democracy?” -- scholars struggled to answer the question. Sidney Tarrow, Maxwell M. Upson Professor Emeritus of Government at Cornell University, compared him to Italian dictator Benito Mussolini in his media savvy and "indifference" to ideology, but the overall consensus was that Trump is more of a symbolic menace to democracy than an actual one.
Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, a professor of sociology at Duke University and president-elect of the sociological association, joked that if “God supposedly created the world in six days, Trump in six months has come close to destroying it.” While he admittedly questioned his conclusions in the aftermath of Charlottesville, Bonilla-Silva said that Trump thus far has appealed more to emotion -- and racialized emotion in particular -- than taken concrete steps to dismantle democracy.
“Almost every day, we hear someone saying, ‘Can you believe what Trump did yesterday?’” Bonilla-Silva said, urging sociologists not to "normalize" the political present. “While we should join in this type of criticism -- and I confess the ‘Trumpster’ is in many ways unique -- our central focus ought to be his base policies on the class, race and gender fronts.”
On each, Bonilla-Silva continued, “this administration has not changed the fundamentals of American policy -- although on the race and gender fronts, he’s advancing morals that represent a step back.” Of race, in particular, he said, "Trumpism" has fostered a "dangerous environment that has created and green light for race crimes to flourish."2016 ElectionDiversityTeaching and LearningEditorial Tags: SociologyFacultyImage Source: American Sociological AssociationImage Caption: Eduardo Bonilla-Silva Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
As battles in the new culture wars continue to spill onto college campuses across the country, it is no surprise that University of California, Berkeley, Chancellor Carol Christ is making free speech a point of emphasis in her first year.
Christ, 73, will be announcing her plans and priorities for Berkeley Tuesday, the same day the prominent public research university holds a convocation for 9,500 new students. One of her top priorities in the new academic year is focusing on issues of free speech -- what some at the university are casting as reclaiming Berkeley’s legacy as the home of the free speech movement.
The historical ties aren’t the only reason Berkeley’s focus on free speech is particularly important at the moment. The university was rocked this winter by violence before a planned appearance by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. A speech he planned to give was canceled in February amid the unrest, with police saying they were forced to evacuate Yiannopoulos for safety reasons -- officials said "masked agitators came onto campus" and instigated violence. The university was again plunged into a free speech controversy in April, when a talk by conservative commentator Ann Coulter was canceled after threats of violence and police saying they were unable to guarantee safety when and where she wanted to speak.
The incidents drew howls from the right, who accused Berkeley of attempting to silence conservative speech on campus. The university found itself a symbol for the conflict between conservative speakers pushing the envelope and upset protestors pushing back.
Those events took place before Christ took over as Berkeley’s chancellor, a move that became official July 1. But she was interim executive vice chancellor and provost at Berkeley, a role that had her responsible for the campus’s day-to-day operations and finances as well as its academic programs and faculty recruitment.
Berkeley, as a public institution, is fully committed to protecting free speech, Christ said during a telephone interview Friday. She personally believes a healthy political dialogue needs voices from all parts of the political spectrum to be heard, she added.
“We are deeply committed to the principle of free speech,” she said. “At the same time, we don’t want to, in any way, minimize or trivialize the concerns of people in our communities that feel that sometimes speakers come and say not only things with which they disagree, but things that they feel are deeply abhorrent to them. We need to spend a lot of time as a community thinking about those tensions, but that doesn’t in any way minimize our commitment to free speech.”
Controversial speech raises questions about campus security protocols, particularly after the clashes that erupted this winter at Berkeley and the deadly violence that took place in Charlottesville, Va., this weekend after white nationalists rallied at the University of Virginia. In her interview Friday, which took place before the events unfolded in Virginia, Christ acknowledged the need to balance free speech and safety.
“We have the responsibility to protect free speech,” she said. “We also have the responsibility to protect the safety of our students. And so of course we’re doing planning on the security side.”
Berkeley has already been thrust into the free speech debate this summer, even before the beginning of the fall semester. Berkeley College Republicans and Young America’s Foundation in July said the university blocked conservative commentator Ben Shapiro from appearing.
The university said it was unable to find a space meeting size requirements on the September date requested and that it had offered alternative times. The groups labeled the explanation “laughable,” saying “an endless stream of liberal speakers” were being allowed to speak without time or place restrictions.
Berkeley is clarifying some of its policies in response to recent events, Christ said. But she said that rather than being a fundamental change, the move is aimed at specific details, like making sure student groups understand how to reserve venues before inviting speakers.
Yiannopoulos has said he wanted to host free speech rallies at Berkeley this fall. He and other speakers will be accommodated just like any other speaker, Christ said.
Berkeley also plans events, forums and debates under its free speech focus. The essence of the university is a marketplace where ideas can confront one another peacefully, Christ said.
“Free speech is also having those hard discussions between people who disagree fundamentally on important issues and being able to disagree civilly and respectfully,” she said.
Monday evening, Christ sent a statement to the campus saying she was horrified by the weekend's events in Virginia and condemning "the reprehensible acts of the racist groups" bringing violence to Charlottesville. She called on Berkeley to come together to oppose threats and defend a belief in reason, diversity, equity and inclusion.
Christ also noted that planning is already underway for controversial events at Berkeley this fall.
"Paired with our commitment to the First Amendment is an equally firm commitment to the safety of the members of our campus community and their guests," she wrote. "We believe deeply in the value and importance of nonviolence, and we will make every effort to deter, remove or apprehend those who seek to cause harm to others, as well as to provide the resources, support and guidance that can help make events on our campus safe and successful."
Christ was the president of Smith College from 2002 to 2013. But her ties to Berkeley date back decades. She joined the university in 1970 as an assistant professor of English and remained there in various positions both academic and administrative before leaving for Smith. She returned to Berkeley in 2015 to direct its Center for Studies in Higher Education before taking on the interim executive vice chancellor and provost role.
Christ’s other priorities as chancellor at Berkeley include building community at the university, which enrolls roughly 40,000 undergraduate and graduate students, in order to overcome difficult recent events like the free speech clashes, budget worries and sexual harassment scandals. She also wants to improve the undergraduate experience, help faculty perform research, improve the university’s budget situation and boost diversity among students, faculty and staff.
Berkeley faced a budget deficit of $150 million in June 2016, Christ said. The deficit was reported at $110 million this year.
Christ’s goal is to bring the deficit down to $57 million in 2018 and eliminate it by 2020. To do so, she wants to increase revenue from nondegree enrollment, master’s degree programs, entrepreneurial activity like ownership stakes in start-ups, monetizing real estate and philanthropy. She has also written that cuts were necessary but that the university will try to find new revenues instead of future cuts.
Christ has also made finding a dedicated funding stream for deferred maintenance a priority. But she recognizes the university is operating in an environment of constrained state funding.
“I certainly will do everything that I can to advocate that state funding stays stable,” she said. “Understanding the state budget in the way I do, I don’t think it’s likely that it’s going to go back to its former levels.”
Christ, who is the first woman to be Berkeley’s chancellor, also had some noteworthy comments on diversifying the university, its professors and its leaders. Asked about what is known as the leadership pipeline problem in higher education -- the idea that diverse candidates are not being promoted through the ranks far enough or in great enough numbers to increase their presence in the pool of candidates for leadership positions -- Christ said Berkeley should be able to overcome that challenge.
“Yes, to a certain extent, there is a pipeline problem,” Christ said. “But I think for an institution that is as attractive a place to be as Berkeley, there is talent out there, and we can do a better job recruiting it.”Editorial Tags: College administrationImage Source: University of California, BerkeleyImage Caption: Carol ChristIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
The events in Charlottesville this weekend have worried educators nationwide.
But they are not typical of how white supremacists are turning up on campus. The last academic year saw more of a visible white power movement on campus than ever before, according to the Anti-Defamation League and others. Much of the activity, however, came in the form of racist posters and leaflets that appeared on campuses, most of the time anonymously and without any link to a person on campus.
The last year also saw, however, a campaign by the National Policy Institute to hold events on campus -- and that effort may be picking up this fall. The institution describes itself as committed to promoting "the heritage, identity and future of people of European descent." The leader of the group, Richard Spencer, is known for "Hail Trump" rhetoric that prompts his supporters to respond with Nazi salutes.
Handling Richard Spencer Speeches
In November, Spencer announced that one of the targets for his efforts would be college campuses, and that he was planning an appearance at Texas A&M University in early December. To understand why so many people are upset about Spencer, consider these background reports from the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, both of which note that he has called for the creation of a white state of America. He regularly includes references in his speeches that suggest his admiration for the Nazis. For instance, he says that most journalists are part of the Lügenpresse, a term the Nazis used to mean "lying press."
Charlottesville: Special Report
- The rally and its aftermath at UVA
- Patricia McGuire: American Tragedy Redux
- Robert O'Neil: Why Charlottesville?
- John Warner: Taking words at face value
- Tracy Mitrano: The continuing assault on higher ed
While many urged Texas A&M to block the visit, the university declined to do so, noting its obligations as a public university to uphold First Amendment protections of free speech. But the university condemned Spencer and his ideas and organized a series of alternate events -- for the time of his speech -- designed to promote unity at the institution. The backlash against Spencer was strong at Texas A&M, an institution with military roots and pride in the hundreds of students and alumni who died fighting the Nazis in World War II.
In April, Spencer spoke at Auburn University, giving a typically inflammatory speech that was answered at various points by audience members, but which went on as scheduled. Auburn had tried to block the event, saying that it would create unsafe conditions, but a federal judge ruled that Spencer had a First Amendment right to appear at the public institution.
Next up appears to be the University of Florida. On Saturday night, with the violence in Charlottesville fresh in people's minds, the university's president, Kent Fuchs, announced on Facebook that the university had been contacted by the National Policy Institute about arranging a Spencer speech on Sept. 12. Fuchs noted that university regulations permit its facilities to be rented, provided that groups cover rental fees and security costs. He said the university was working on a security plan.
"For many in our community, including myself, this speaker’s presence would be deeply disturbing. What we’ve watched happen in Charlottesville, Va., in the last 24 hours is deplorable. I again denounce all statements and symbols of hate," Fuchs said. "The University of Florida is a community of learners, educators and scholars. We encourage open and honest dialogue, and we strive to build an inclusive environment where hate is not welcome. While this speaker’s views do not align with our values as an institution, we must follow the law, upholding the First Amendment not to discriminate based on content and provide access to a public space."
As officials did at the University of Virginia, Fuchs urged students not to engage directly with visiting white supremacists. "Instead of allowing hateful speech to tear us down, I urge our campus community to join together, respect one another and promote positive speech, while allowing for differing opinions. These types of groups want media attention. I encourage our campus community to send a message of unity by not engaging with this group and giving them more media attention for their message of intolerance and hate," he said.
So far, there are indications that some at Florida very much want to engage in protest if Spencer appears there. A Facebook group called No Nazis at UF has been created, with discussion about protest tactics (with some arguing for ignoring Spencer and others saying counterprotests are essential). The illustration for the Facebook group features a photo from the white nationalist march at the University of Virginia (at right).
Texas A&M is also expecting a "White Lives Matter" rally, organized by the same group that brought Spencer to campus, on Sept. 11.
The Texas Tribune reported that Spencer will speak at the rally and that organizers issued a press release stating: “Today Charlottesville Tomorrow Texas A&M."
Students are already organizing a counterprotest, and a social media campaign under the hashtag @BTHOhate. ("BTHO" is part of a Texas A&M football cheer, meaning "Beat the hell outta" the opponent.) Plans posted by students to social media state, "The protest will take two forms. First, we plan on forming a Maroon Wall, a human barricade around the racist rally to block passersby from having to see it. Second, we plan to hold an adjacent protest to resist racism and commemorate the lives lost fighting fascism and intolerance."
Leaflets and Posters
Only a few campuses have hosted self-avowed white nationalists in the last year.
But a March report from the Anti-Defamation League said that there were 107 incidents of white supremacist activity on campuses during the 2016-17 academic year -- most commonly leaflets or posters from white nationalist groups, the report says. Of these incidents, 65 took place in the first months of 2017.
When Inside Higher Ed and others have reported on some of these incidents, various websites have said that these incidents are hoaxes or "fake news." The ADL said that the tally in the report is of verified incidents, sorted by location, and with photo documentation, campus reports and other evidence for each incident. In most cases, no one on campus claims responsibility for the posters, but they are an affront to black, Latino, immigrant, Muslim and Jewish students.
In several cases, people have hacked college and university library printers so leaflets appear, leaving students to assume that the person next to them might be a white supremacist. The image at left was printed out at several college libraries, remotely through hacking.
Many other posters feature images from ancient Greek or Roman statues, calling on students to embrace a "European" heritage.
Reports of such posters have been less common during the summer, but just last week, the University of Utah started investigating reports on posters on campus, images of which circulated on social media (below). These posters blame crime on black people and feature a link to a website with the name "blood and soil," a Nazi slogan that was among the chants of the white nationalists who marched at the University of Virginia Friday night.August 10, 2017 DiversityEditorial Tags: Diversity MattersRacial groupsStudent lifeImage Caption: Richard Spencer (left) and posters various groups have put up on campusesIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Diversity Newsletter publication date: Tuesday, August 15, 2017Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Email Teaser: Supremacists on Campus