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As debate over reparations heats us, Georgetown University students voted Thursday by a large margin to impose a fee on themselves to pay reparations for the university's ties to slavery.
The student election commission announced the results early this morning. The measure attracted just under two-thirds of voters and passed, 2,541 to 1,304.
The measure calls for the university to start with a fee of $27.20 per semester in fall of 2020, "in honor of the 272 people sold by Georgetown," referring to the slaves sold by Jesuits to finance the university in its early days. The resolution says that proceeds from the fund "will be allocated for charitable purposes directly benefiting the descendants of the GU272 and other persons once enslaved by the Maryland Jesuits -- with special consideration given to causes and proposals directly benefiting those descendants still residing in proud and underprivileged communities,"
The proposed fee would be a tiny fraction of the price of attending Georgetown, where tuition alone is more than $55,000 this year
While the measure is not binding on the university, the vote comes as Democratic presidential candidates have elevated the national debate over reparations. The vote also marks a potential shift in higher education.
In recent years, many colleges -- including Georgetown -- have conducted studies of their ties to slavery. Those studies have led to publications, academic conferences and monuments that honor the labor of slaves.
But the vote by Georgetown is the first move to have students pay reparations.
The resolution calling for reparations summarizes the argument this way: "As students at an elite institution, we recognize the great privileges we have been given, and wish to at least partially repay our debts to those families whose involuntary sacrifices made these privileges possible. As individuals with moral imagination, we choose to do more than simply recognize the past -- we resolve to change our future. And since we truly wish to 'go, set the world on fire,' we choose to do so in this place, on this day, and with this ballot." (The quote refers to a guiding idea of Jesuit philosophy.)
The university has praised the discussion set off by the student referendum, but stopped short of saying it will adopt the new fee.
Todd Olson, vice president for student affairs issued a statement that said in part: "We value the engagement of our students and appreciate that they are making their voices heard and contributing to an important national conversation. Any student referendum provides a sense of the student body’s views on an issue. Student referendums help to express important student perspectives but do not create university policy and are not binding on the university."
A Georgetown senior, Hunter Estes, in an essay in The Georgetown Review, outlined reasons he opposes the reparations fee. He questioned whether there is a system in place to appropriately use the funds, and he noted that every additional expense puts a stress on student budgets (and the financial aid budget of the university).
"At the end of the day, this referendum raises a larger question of who should be culpable for the failures of an institution," Estes wrote. "My question is, why should students accept the moral and financial burdens of the University’s apparent failures. If one believes that the University has not done enough in the process for memory and reconciliation in regards to slavery, then why not hold the school accountable?.... I ask, why is it that to correct an injustice, we should place upon the students another injustice, in regards to the mandated acquisition of student money with no ability to opt-out?"
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Inside Higher Ed survey finds two-year presidents favor -- and four-year presidents oppose -- letting community colleges offer the degrees. Survey also explores free college and barriers to transfer.Ad Keyword: 2019CCPresidents20190412Section: Community CollegesTrending: College: Miami Dade CollegeMichigan State UniversityUniversity of Wyoming
Institutions often double down on unpopular decisions, fearing they’ll otherwise be perceived as weak.
The university’s new acting provost, Cheryl L. Stevens, announced the decision to reinstall Larry Snyder as dean of the Potter School of Arts and Letters in a campus email.
“Given the magnitude of work to do in degree transformation, we must have stability in leadership as we work our way forward,” Stevens wrote. “I look forward to working with Dr. Snyder and the Potter College community as we continue our efforts to provide the educational experience our students want and deserve.”
Western Kentucky is undergoing an extensive program review. A governing Board of Regents committee is set to review a universitywide task force's recommendations for program transformations and suspensions today. Those recommendations, made public only this week, include cutting 101 programs. Nearly half of those majors, minors or other kinds of programs don’t have current students, according to information from the university. The rest do. Majors targeted for elimination are French and popular culture studies, both in Potter.
Stevens said that Snyder will return as dean on Monday and finish out his term, through 2021. Merrall Price, a professor of English and special assistant to the provost who was named Potter’s acting dean, will remain in the provost’s office through July 1. After that, she’ll serve in Potter as an associate dean.
“I would like to thank Dr. Price for agreeing to step up on such short notice,” Stevens added. “I know she will happy to return to her duties in the provost’s office, where she is greatly needed.”
Snyder was abruptly terminated last week by Western Kentucky’s provost of less than one year, Terry Ballman, neither for cause nor misconduct. A day later, the Faculty Senate called a special meeting and voted no confidence in Ballman. Her many faculty critics said at that meeting that getting rid of Snyder midsemester, just as the university faces a major round of program cuts, made her unfit to lead them through tough times ahead. Faculty members and students saw Snyder as an advocate for strong academic programs in the face of calls for budget cuts.
Ballman resigned the next day. And by the middle of this week, Snyder was effectively back as dean.
Snyder said in an interview that he had a case of “whiplash” but was otherwise fine. Despite the challenges the university is facing, he said, he never considered declining the invitation to return. Previously, he was set to return to his faculty job in the department of religion and philosophy.
“Part of my disappointment with the previous episode is that I thought we’d put a number of things in place to address the coming changes,” he said, referring to the program review. “I wanted the opportunity to put those in motion … I didn’t feel I could abandon the college and faculty and students until we got farther along with this process, to a better point.”
Snyder confirmed secondhand reports that he was forced by Ballman to resign. Asked why, he said it remains a mystery, apart from a vague reference to his not being a “good university citizen.”
Considering the rapid vote of no confidence and that even students protested Snyder’s firing, it appears that’s not a common opinion. Numerous professors also said Thursday that they were happy -- and hopeful -- to have Snyder back on board.
'People Tend to Like Honesty'
“We’re in the middle of this process, and this dean is an insider who knows the college extremely well and has a tremendous amount of social capital,” said Jeffrey Samuels, chair of the department of religion and philosophy. “So having someone like that at the helm of course makes implementing these changes and navigating these transitions easier.”
Stevens said that the acting dean, Price, is highly respected as well. But putting Snyder back in the dean’s office, where he’s already worked on the program review, simply assures “more faculty buy-in.”
Price said that she was “happy to step up” and “even happier to step back.”
“It’s been a turbulent time on campus and in the community, and I’m confident [Snyder] and Provost Stevens will help guide us into calmer waters,” she said.
Rob Hale, chair of English, said the reaction to Snyder’s resignation “demonstrates what a valued member of the university community he is and has always been. I really can’t think of anyone who is more respected than Dean Snyder. I’m thrilled that he’ll return to lead my college through the challenges we face. My load just got a whole lot lighter.”
Professors beyond Potter opposed Snyder’s forced resignation. Asked why he’s so beloved, Kirk Atkinson, associate professor of information systems and University Senate chair, said Snyder engages with students in ways deans typically don't, such as by showing up to their art shows and theater performances. With faculty members, Atkinson said, Snyder is a straight shooter. He’s indeed warned the faculty that program cuts will be deep. But he’s also assured them he’ll be their advocate throughout the process.
"He's honest, and people tend to like honesty," Atkinson said.
Even in light of the new information about the cuts, he added, “the mood on campus -- especially with reappointment of [Snyder] -- has been fairly positive. People remain hopeful, and that’s a good thing.”
Snyder, who has been dean for four years but on campus for three decades, described his leadership philosophy like this: “I didn’t necessarily aspire to academic leadership. But I’ve always understood that my role is to be a servant to the college. My primary task is to pave the way for the faculty to teach and do research and for students to learn. And if I’ve done that well, folks probably don’t know a whole lot about what I’m doing behind the scenes because they don’t need to.”
Snyder also said he felt more confident about the future than he did a few weeks ago, in that “this particular episode brought the campus together in a unique and unprecedented way.”
Western Kentucky's budget problems stem primarily from steep state funding cuts. There are issues specific to Kentucky at play, such as an unsustainable public pension problem. But many institutions elsewhere are reviewing their academic programs in an attempt to stave off financial disaster. Snyder advised other colleges and universities facing change to "bring faculty into the conversation -- make them a part of it. Be as open and transparent about all of it as possible. We’re only going to pull into safe waters if we’re all pulling on the right sails."FacultyCurriculumEditorial Tags: College administrationImage Caption: Larry SnyderIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: Western Kentucky UniversityDisplay Promo Box:
In a speech last year arguing that higher education faces a crisis in the U.S., Education Secretary Betsy DeVos pointed to eye-popping numbers from the federal student loan program.
Only a quarter of borrowers are making progress paying down their loans, she said, while 20 percent are either delinquent or in default. More than a million borrowers default on their student loans each year, and recent research has suggested the problem is growing worse.
The consequences for those borrowers can be severe, including hits to their credit score and garnishing of federal benefits. Their college may also withhold academic transcripts, and some states will suspend occupational licenses.
While DeVos herself has yet to call for specific changes with defaults in mind, a recent proposal makes the case for Congress to reduce defaults by simply eliminating the loan status outright.
Severely delinquent borrowers could still face negative consequences like credit reporting but would not be cut off from receiving federal student aid to pursue a degree. The idea may sound radical. But it wouldn't include the major costs to the government of large-scale loan forgiveness, argues Colleen Campbell, director for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress and author of the proposal.
It could also put new scrutiny on whether the tools used to collect the most delinquent loans are truly effective as Congress explores potential changes to loan repayment through an update to the Higher Education Act.
Campbell argues that by ending default, the government could reallocate the $1 billion it spends on debt collections annually to more direct assistance to borrowers when they first start to struggle repaying their loans. Eliminating default would also allow borrowers to keep their access to federal aid like Pell Grants and continue making progress toward a degree.
“The federal government has extraordinary collections mechanisms for student loans that aren’t available for other kinds of consumer debt,” Campbell said. “It’s unnecessary to place additionally punitive consequences on top of collections. So why don’t we remove one of the consequences that is most damaging to folks who have been disenfranchised and who are most likely not benefiting from their experience in the postsecondary system?”
She said federal policy shouldn’t remove tools for struggling borrowers to improve their economic situation, especially opportunities to continue their postsecondary education.
A federal student loan enters default when a borrower has been delinquent for more than 270 days. After that, the loan is reassigned from a loan servicer to a debt collection company.
Ending default status wouldn’t mean removing any tools for the federal government to collect on student loan debt, Campbell said. Severely delinquent borrowers could be automatically enrolled in income-driven repayment plans. And the government could garnish wages and withhold tax refunds for those who still don’t repay their loans.
The government could also much more effectively use the money it spends on collections each year, Campbell said, by paying for better loan servicing.
“We can do much more intensive counseling between servicers and borrowers early on to prevent the worst outcomes,” she said.
Her proposal argues that eliminating default should be accompanied by other legislative changes to the financial aid system such as streamlining repayment programs, simplifying the application for federal student aid, providing more grants to students and creating clearer paths to loan forgiveness. Campbell also calls for assessing loan servicers using more objective measures so that the companies with the best repayment outcomes for borrowers receive new accounts.
Information on defaults is limited. But analyses of recent federal postsecondary data show high rates of default among African American borrowers in particular, even those who completed a degree. Nearly a quarter of black student borrowers who began college in the 2003-04 academic year and earned a bachelor’s degree had defaulted within 12 years.
The federal data also show that defaults depend more on a student’s circumstances and the type of institution they attended than their total amount of debt. Defaults are highest, in fact, among borrowers with the smallest loan amounts. And students who enrolled at for-profit colleges starting in 2003-04 were four times as likely as community college students to have defaulted on their loans 12 years later, according to an analysis by the Brookings Institution.
“This would overwhelmingly help people who don’t finish college, who received a certificate, who are borrowers of color, who are Pell Grant recipients,” Campbell said. “What we know about default is that it overwhelmingly impacts those communities.”
But industry representatives said debt collectors and loan servicers are "as different as apples and oranges."
"There needs to be more help for people who are delinquent," said Shelly Repp, senior adviser and counsel at the National Council of Higher Education Resources. "That doesn’t mean in our view you should get rid of debt collectors once they are in default."
Repp said removing debt collectors from the student loan system also wouldn't save the federal government money, since they only receive payments for loans they collect on.
"That doesn’t mean that more resources can’t be also applied to helping borrowers earlier in the process. As this report points out, compensation to servicer is very low."
Campbell said, however, that collections firms are paid $1,700 for each loan they rehabilitate. And the numbers for those borrowers aren't impressive -- nearly 40 percent of rehabilitated borrowers re-default within three years.
Some financial aid experts say proposals like eliminating default, like efforts in recent years to promote income-driven repayment, wouldn’t actually address whether borrowers are making progress paying down their loan principal. Mark Kantrowitz, publisher and vice president of research for Savingforcollege.com, said student aid policy experts have long questioned whether collection agencies are cost-effective. Many of the most powerful tools used by those companies, he said, could be employed by loan servicers. But he said defining away defaults wouldn’t solve the fundamental issue of loan repayment.
“I do not believe that superficial changes to the name of the problem or slight tweaks to the system will provide a real solution to the underlying problem,” Kantrowitz said. “Unfortunately, policy makers have a tendency to paint a problem a different shade of blue and declare the problem solved.”
But Jessica Thompson, director of policy and planning at the Institute for College Access and Success, said the proposal was an intriguing idea.
“It really does get down to changes that we think are pretty common-sense,” she said.
Thompson said many of the most punitive consequences attached to default aren’t in the interest of the borrower or the taxpayer, because they aren’t effective at getting loans in good standing. Default status for student loans was also created under an entirely different paradigm, when private banks would make loans with backing from the federal government, she said.
The Education Department signaled last year that it was interested in moving away from use of collections firms in the federal student loan program.
And the White House made clear last month that overhauling how defaulted debt is collected remains an ongoing concern for the Trump administration. A broad-ranging executive order on higher ed signed by President Trump included a directive for the Education Department and Treasury Department to recommend reforms of collection on defaulted student debt.
Previous attempts by the Education Department to move away from reliance on debt collectors have been hamstrung by legal challenges. While the executive order could mean more political capital is put behind those efforts, action from Congress could be necessary to move the student loan system away from reliance on debt collectors.
Senate lawmakers are currently discussing a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act for the first time in a decade. Senator Lamar Alexander, the Republican chairman of the Senate education committee, has proposed streamlining loan repayment by having payments automatically deducted from a borrower’s paycheck.
Some researchers have argued that payroll withholding could be the best way to prevent defaults. But Campbell said eliminating default outright would provide benefits to borrowers without overhauling student loan payments in a radical way.
“This isn’t a new repayment plan. It isn’t a complete rejiggering of how people make payments on their loans,” she said. “It’s basically a behind-the-scenes change that ultimately borrowers would experience in a very tangible way.”Student Aid and LoansEditorial Tags: Loan programsImage Source: Getty ImagesAd Keyword: Student loans Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box:
Researchers have, many times over, confirmed a sobering fact: fraternity members tend to commit rape much more frequently than their non-Greek-life peers. They’ve also documented that serial offenders account for many campus sexual assaults.
But a new study quantifies in a staggering way the prevalence with which men in fraternities and on sports teams engage in sex crimes on campuses -- and how repeat rapists are to blame for a vast majority of these incidents. The report suggests that the vast majority of assaults involving alcohol are committed by serial perpetrators.
Experts on campus sexual violence said that these new data support the idea that administrators should kick out students they’ve found responsible for rape. And, they said, it demonstrates need for more targeted education -- especially among the men and groups who are committing the most sexual assaults.
Three professors -- from Union University in Tennessee, Bowling Green State University and University of Redlands -- used data from the Core Alcohol and Drug Survey, or CORE, developed by the Core Institute at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. The group there helps institutions figure out students’ attitudes toward drug and alcohol consumption.
The researchers looked at survey data from more than 12,600 male students at 49 colleges and universities in one Midwestern state that was not named. The institutions included in the sample were both two- and four-year colleges.
A little more than 5 percent of those men self-reported that they had committed a sexual assault when alcohol was involved. This matched other literature, which has put the percentage of college men who committed a broader range of sexual crimes between 6 and 11 percent.
Of those who sexually assaulted someone while under the influence, it was more common for them to do it again rather than just once. The researchers found that nearly 3 percent of the men in the overall study committed assault twice or more when alcohol was a factor.
“If you have a man who has been accused of sexual assault and you … find him responsible, it makes sense to expel him from the institution, not necessarily just give them educational sanctions,” said John D. Foubert, dean of the College of Education at Union and one of the report’s authors. “It’s cutting down on the rate of rape at the institution drastically.”
More significant was how many more incidents could be attributed to recurring rapists rather than one-time offenders.
The authors of the study weren’t precise with these data, given that students in the original CORE survey could report a range of how many assaults they had committed (again with alcohol involved). For instance, students could report if they assaulted someone three to five times -- in this case, the researchers counted that in their report as an average of four assaults per person.
The researchers documented approximately 2,071 sexual assaults -- of those, roughly 950 assaults, or about 46 percent of the incidents, were committed by students who admitted to raping 10 or more times.
S. Daniel Carter, president of Safety Advisors for Educational Campuses, which consults with colleges and universities on sexual assaults and federal policy, said this was the most striking figure.
“Removing those repeat perpetrators from the population is the only solution in my point of view,” Carter said.
As the researchers note, the men didn’t always classify their acts as rape, per se. Other studies and interviews with men have found sometimes they consider their victim saying no to be a game or a way to spice up the encounter.
Being associated with a fraternity or an athletics team also had a positive correlation with alcohol-fueled rapes, the study found. Heads of fraternities were less likely to commit alcohol-related assaults than just members. The opposite was true for sports teams -- the leaders of the teams reported more assaults.
This reporter provided Todd Shelton, a spokesman for the North-American Interfraternity Conference, with a copy of the study, but Shelton said by email he did not have a chance to review it.
“I will say sexual violence has no place on any campus or in the fraternity experience,” Shelton wrote in his email. “NIC fraternities are committed to creating safer campus communities and recently adopted new health and safety guidelines including banning hard alcohol at fraternity houses and events to create a safer environment for members and guests.”
A previous study by Foubert shows that men who joined fraternities were just as likely to have committed sexual violence prior to college as men who didn’t join a fraternity. But the same study showed that fraternity men were three more likely to assault women than their counterparts, suggesting that fraternity culture was the driving factor for the assaults.
Institutions should more aggressively focus on teaching students in “high-risk” environments such as fraternities and sports teams, rather than just the general population, Foubert said. He said bystander training -- educating students to intervene when they see their peers are about to commit a heinous act -- has been proven to be effective. Foubert called for more research with a larger national sample, noting their information was from a single state. He said it would also be beneficial to interview directly admitted rapists to learn their motives and how they behave.
“They don’t define their behavior as rape -- they sometimes define it as seduction,” Foubert said. “I think it would be helpful [to know] what their techniques are to alert women.”
Colleges and universities trying to stamp out sexual predators could learn from law enforcement efforts to prevent terrorism, said Peter F. Lake, a law professor and director of the Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy at Stetson University.
Lake used this analogy -- the public shouldn’t write off fraternities in total, just as they shouldn’t consider all people of a certain race to be terrorists. Institutions should partner with fraternities to help locate bad apples in a group or the misbehaving fraternities on campus. He said many times, the fraternity members, most of whom are not raping women, don’t have the knowledge or skills to respond to “serious psychopathic behavior.”
“If you eliminate the ones that are doing that from the culture, then the culture will thrive,” Lake said.Editorial Tags: Sexual assaultTitle IXIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box:
The president of the Czech Republic is attempting to turn the country’s population against intellectuals and polarize society by vetoing professorships for critical academics, according to an art historian who has had his promotion repeatedly blocked.
Miloš Zeman, who is known for his opposition to Muslim immigration and closeness to Russia and is often described as a populist, has repeatedly used presidential powers to block the professorships of political opponents since he was elected in 2013.
In the latest development during a dispute stretching back to 2015, Prague’s Charles University announced in February that it would launch new legal challenges against Zeman for blocking the professorships of two academics put forward by the university.
“He is struggling against intellectuals and polarizing society in this country,” said Jiří Fajt, currently director general of the National Gallery in Prague and one of the two affected academics.
The president’s “populist” aim was to convince the majority of the population that they did not need to listen to intellectuals, Fajt told Times Higher Education, eroding academic freedom in Czech universities. He wanted to undermine “the position of intellectuals in this society,” he warned.
Fajt said that he thought his appointment had been blocked in part because of his support for Zeman’s opponent during the 2013 presidential elections.
Czech presidents -- who wield far more political power than presidents in countries such as Germany, where they are in essence figureheads -- have had a long-standing right to approve professors put forward by university scientific boards, explained Tomáš Zima, rector of Charles University, but this had never caused serious issues before.
“These problems started only after Mr. Zeman became the president of the Czech Republic,” he said.
This is not the first time that Zeman has blocked the professorship of a critic. In 2013, the president refused to approve the promotion of Martin Putna, an expert on Czech literature who prior to the presidential election released a satirical impersonation of Vladimir Putin urging Czechs to vote for Zeman, Radio Prague reported.
The incident caused an outcry, triggering student protests in favor of Putna, and was seen by critics as an unprecedented use of presidential power, as previous incumbents had never overruled a university’s choice before.
In Charles University’s latest lawsuit, “our key argument in the current lawsuit is that the president cannot question or review whether a professorship candidate is sufficiently qualified or has adequate moral integrity,” explained Zima -- this is rather a judgment call made by universities themselves.
In a press conference announcing the lawsuit, Zima accused the president of menacing academic freedom. “At this moment, this is a violation of rules and academic freedoms at Charles University, but in future it may concern every one of you,” he reportedly warned the country.
Charles University’s legal challenge is now being processed by Prague’s municipal court, and the university is awaiting a hearing, he said. Both professorial candidates have also filed previous lawsuits against the president, Zima added.
Fajt said that the veto had denied him the opportunity to teach students, and the lack of a professorship was an issue of “social status” and “acknowledgment of my academic qualifications,” he said. The president had raised questions about his habilitation thesis -- a kind of second doctorate -- even before 2015, he said. “I don’t know him personally at all. We have never met each other,” he said.
A spokesman for the president said that he had rejected the professors for “substantial legal and moral reasons” but did not elaborate further.
But a presidential statement in January accused Fajt of demanding a bonus to his salary from a bank that had partnered with his gallery, and of not being truthful in his professor application, claims that Fajt dismissed as “total nonsense.”GlobalEditorial Tags: Foreign countriesIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box:
- Albion College: Barbara Weiskittel, director of scientific leadership in the Diabetes Franchise for Merck and Co.; and Craig Rundle, former head football coach at the college.
- American International College: Denise R. Jordan, head of the Springfield Housing Authority.
- Arcadia University: Valerie Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners and physician anesthesiologist; and Michael S. Brown, regental professor of molecular genetics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and Nobel laureate.
- College of Mount Saint Vincent: Jim Breheny, director of the Bronx Zoo.
- Dartmouth College: Yo-Yo Ma, the cellist.
- Heidelberg University: Judge K. J. Montgomery of the Shaker Heights Municipal Court.
- Long Beach City College: Veronica Miracle, the broadcast journalist.
- Maryville College: Jack Neely, the journalist.
- Roger Williams University: U.S. senator Jack Reed.
- Rutgers University at Camden: Kenneth C. Frazier, chief executive officer and board chair of Merck and Co.; and Neal Katyal, former acting U.S. solicitor general.
- SIT Graduate Institute: Meghan Audette, deputy director for the United Nations’ Palestinian refugee organization in the West Bank.
- Spring Hill College: Ohio governor Mike DeWine.
- Wagner College: Richard Guarasci, who is retiring as president.