Notes & Coffee: August 28 - September 3

Notes & Coffee is here to keep you informed of all the trending student affairs and higher ed news stories most critical to our field as they develop. In the age of information overload, we’re here to bring you vetted examinations of the stories that matter to our field. We invite you to brew a favorite morning beverage, kick back, relax, and catch yourself up for the week ahead with Notes & Coffee.

Higher ed and the floods of Houston – Heavy rains continued to inundate the Houston area and its colleges and universities on Monday, with officials fearing that the damage brought by Tropical Storm Harvey, which originally hit Texas as a hurricane, could still get worse. 

As a challenge to DACA looms, participants brace for a battle – As Hurricane Harvey lashed her small home in Houston with wind and rain, Carolina Ramirez hunkered down on Friday to face a threat she finds even more ominous: word that President Trump may be about to rescind the program that has allowed her to work and live there for the past five years without fear she’ll be deported. Ms. Ramirez, 28, is one of the original beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. The program, whose fate is now up in the air, has allowed nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children to work and study here for two-year renewable terms.

DACA recipients’ economic and educational gains continue to grow – Since it was first announced on June 15, 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals(DACA) policy has provided temporary relief from deportation as well as work authorization to approximately 800,000 undocumented young people across the country. As research has consistently shown, DACA has not only improved the lives of undocumented young people and their families but has also positively affected the economy more generally, which benefits all Americans. 

Supporting LGBTQI survivors on campus – II – Understand why LGBTQI students may not report. It is highly likely that LGBTQI students may avoid reporting relationship or domestic violence to the police, campus officials or medical professionals for fear of discrimination or mistreatment. 

Peer mentors jumpstart ASU transition for former foster youth – Thirty new ASU freshmen and transfer students who started classes at the university last week took advantage of Bridging Success Early-Start. The six-day residential transition to college program, held Aug. 6–11, helps welcome alumni of foster care to the university and prepares them for success in their first–semester and beyond. ASU Now sat in on several afternoons of the program to get an inside look at the Early-Start experience and some of the ways that peer mentors help new students’ confidence unfold.

Policy Update for the Week of August 22 - 29, 2017


Campus Free Speech 2017 Legislative Round-up & Considerations Following Charlottesville

By Teri Lyn Hinds, August 24, 2017

In this post, NASPA Director of Policy Research & Advocacy, Teri Lyn Hinds, reviews legislation related to free speech on college and university campuses was proposed in at least seventeen states, passed in seven, failed in three, and is still pending in at least seven. Much of this legislation requires campuses within the state to create or update policies adhering to principles of intellectual diversity, the free exchange of ideas, and other ideals while also restricting the ability of campuses to designate specific free speech zones. Some bills, based explicitly on the Goldwater Proposal, include provisions that would prevent a campus from disinviting a speaker invited by any member of the campus community along with requirements for campuses to enact sanctions against students who “disrupt” speakers or events. As the events in Charlottesville on the University of Virginia campus earlier this month, coupled with data from a Gallup poll that shows that the majority of Republicans believe campuses are too liberal, portend another dynamic year for free speech on campus, the post includes some additional considerations for campus professionals who may find themselves in the middle of free speech discussions.


Campus carry comes, quietly, to Texas community colleges

By Nashawa Bawab, August 10, 2017

Campus carry legislation was enacted over a year ago at four-year institutions in Texas amidst growing movement-building both for and against its implementation. Recent Texas legislation, TX SB 11, however, has quietly implemented campus carry at the community college level without much uproar in either direction. The law allows anyone with a gun license over 21 to carry a concealed handgun on college campuses in Texas. While private colleges and universities may opt out, community colleges do not have that option, but instead my implement “gun-free zones.” The new guidelines are projected to impact hundreds of thousands of members of the campus community. There are over 700,000 students enrolled in community college in Texas and 50 public community college districts in the state. 

Colleges Utilizing Web Tool to Curb Sexual Assaults

By Tiffany Pennamon, August 24, 2017

In light of potential rollbacks to Obama-era Title IX guidance, Dr. Penny Smith’s 2014 Keys to Coping online tool, has been recently modified to increase victim support for students and expand opportunities for sexual assault violence prevention.  According to Dr. Smith, consultation with 60 institutions initially led to her nearly dismantling her program due to the poor reputation institutions feared to develop from an increase in reporting expected in a result of the implementation of the tool. However, a case study of four institutions showed that 60 percent of students found the tool to improve how their respective schools handle campus sexual assault prevention. An additional benefit is the self-care aspect of the tool, which provides options for students to assess their needs for mental health support as a part of the reporting process. According to Dr. Smith, Keys to Coping works to assist institutions in achieving Title IX compliance whole also giving sexual assault victims the opportunity to control the information they share.

Department Lays Out Options for Charlotte Students

By Andrew Kreighbaum, August 25, 2017

Although the Obama administration cut Title IV funding to the Charlotte School of Law in December, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos did not extend loan forgiveness to students who attended the school during or after the fall 2016 semester. The Department stated that it was following a statute that provides for loan forgiveness up to 120 days before the closure of the institution, however sources confirm that these stipulations are a part of federal regulation, not statute. Under this declaration, the Department will only honor full loan forgiveness for students that have withdrawn from the program on or after April 12, 2017. Students who withdrew before April 12 will have to make a borrower-defense claim which has a higher standard than that of a closed-school discharge. Students seeking loan forgiveness are also met with DeVos’s recent decisions to stall Obama-Era guidance around borrowers defense and servicer accountability.  Former Charlotte students now have to wait for their claims to be considered along with the thousands of claims pending since the start of the new administration.

As a Challenge to DACA Looms, Participants Brace for a Battle

By Katherine Mangan, August 25, 2017

President Trump continues to send mixed-messaging regarding the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and advocates and analysts discuss whether or not the end of the program may be approaching. Thomas A. Saenz of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (Maldef) argues that Texas must show it has standing to sue over DACA by proving that the costs of the program outweigh the benefits. He continues to point out that even though Attorney General Jeff Sessions has indicated distaste for the program, the Justice Department will be required to defend it, as the administration will need to continue to focus on deporting criminals rather than Dreamers. Recent reports also suggest that White House aides may be encouraging President Trump to strike a deal, protecting Dreamers in exchange for funding for a border wall and increased measures of immigrant enforcement.


State Summaries

Bathroom Bills: 

While the Policy and Advocacy Team at NASPA has been watching for movement of TX HB 46 and TX HB 50 during Texas Special Session, both failed to move forward by the end date of 8/16/2017. These bills mimic failed legislation HB 2899, a slightly more lenient form of the original TX SB 6 Bathroom Bill. TX HB 46 would forbid “political subdivisions, including a public school district” from adopting or enforcing measures to “protect a class of persons from discrimination” in regulating “access to multi-occupancy restrooms, showers or changing facilities.” HB 50 was identical except applying only to a school district board. In the past few months other states have retreated from the conversation. Additional bills of this kind are unlikely to be introduced during the 2016-2017 legislative session.


Sanctuary Campuses:

In the past few months, we have seen 11 states consider 18 pieces of anti-sanctuary legislation that would affect college campuses. 6 states have introduced (pro) sanctuary legislation that extends to college campuses. Of this legislation, 9 pieces have failed, and 15 are pending, and 4 have been enacted. PA HB 14 was removed from the table on 06/22/2017. CA SB 54, a statewide sanctuary bill is in Assembly and was set for its first hearing on 08/23/2017 and placed on suspense file.


Guns on Campus: 

Upwards of 17 states are considering legislation concerning guns on campus during the current session. In the 43 pieces of legislation the Policy and Advocacy Team is tracking, 18 bills are pending, 20 have failed, and 6 have been enacted, in AR, GA, OK and TX. GA HB 280 went into effect on 07/01/2017. CA AB 424 was ordered to a second reading by the Committee on Appropriations on 07/10/2017.  TX SB 11 which will allow anyone over 21 with a gun license to conceal carry was enacted on 08/16/2017


Federal Summaries

*Congress is in recess during the month of August

More Notes

For-profit colleges find few reasons to lobby a friendlier education dept. 

Why college professors are offering to help students get food and shelter

This college program wants to overhaul the education culture in Alaska

The looming decline of the public research university

Economics faculty war