Notes & Coffee July 31 - August 6

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.

Preparing for scrutiny – Many college leaders and diversity advocates were stunned by the news Tuesday that the U.S. Justice Department is preparing to investigate and sue colleges over their affirmative action policies. Just over a year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the admissions policies of the University of Texas at Austin, which include consideration of race and ethnicity. As a result, many educators were not expecting a sustained challenge to affirmative action this soon.

What’s next on Title IX – Betsy DeVos, who plans to put her stamp on federal policy governing campus responses to sexual harassment and assault, is in the midst of an extended period of deliberation and gathering input on potential changes. But there’s little appetite from any corner for the Department of Education to completely rescind 2011 Obama administration guidelines that have been at the center of ongoing controversies over how the feds enforce civil rights violations involving gender discrimination. Instead, colleges and universities have asked for more clarity on areas of Title IX policy not addressed by the 2011 Dear Colleague letter or subsequent guidance documents. And representatives of accused students have pushed for more transparency in campus proceedings.

Coping with a blockade – For two decades Qatar has been building its Education City, which is now home to six prominent American universities. The Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development has financed the project for the small, wealthy nation, which is located on the Arabian Peninsula. Last month, however, five Arab nations began a blockade and severed diplomatic ties with Qatar, raising worries about the possible impact on Education City and its U.S. partners -- Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Georgetown, Northwestern, Texas A&M and Virginia Commonwealth Universities. Inside Higher Ed’s Scott Jaschik recently met with Omran Hamad Al Kuwari, the executive director of the foundation's vice chairperson and CEO office, to talk about the blockade’s impact and to catch up on what’s new at Education City.

Opposition to Trump-backed immigration bill – A bill backed by President Trump and announced Wednesday aims to reduce overall legal immigration by half while putting in place a new points-based system for applicants for employment-based green cards that would privilege graduates of American universities. Some higher education groups say that while they want to see changes to America's immigration system, these aren't the changes they want to see.

Congress OKs big boost in GI Bill college aid – Congress has sent President Donald Trump legislation to provide the biggest expansion of college aid for military veterans in a decade. The Senate cleared the bill by voice vote on Wednesday, passing the second piece of legislation aimed at addressing urgent problems at the beleaguered U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in as many days. The House passed the bipartisan college aid legislation last week. The measure is a broad effort to better prepare veterans for life after active-duty service amid a rapidly changing job market.

Policy Update for the Week of July 24, 2017


SIGN ON: Letter of Support for the Dream Act of 2017

By ACE and 32 other Associations including NASPA, July 25, 2017

This letter of support is directed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) to advance legislation so the Dream Act can be addressed before the end of the year.  

The Two Best Tools in Fighting Campus Sexual Violence

By Jill Dunlap, July 27, 2017

Amidst a whirlwind of administrative and legislative changes this week, NASPA's Director of Equity Inclusion and Violence Prevention, Dr. Jill Dunlap, circles back to the repercussions of Betsy DeVos’s meetings on campus sexual assault and the accompanying comments by Candice Jackson that overshadowed those meetings which occurred a few weeks back. The course of these events reinforce the need for two key tools in fighting campus sexual violence. In this post, Dr. Dunlap describes the importance of bringing Student Affairs practitioners to the table, as well as the importance of educating legislators and policymakers while centering actual facts at the forefront of those discussions.


The Great Conference Con?

By Colleen Flaherty, July 25, 2017

Tenure-track and tenured professors have recently proposed alternatives to expensive and often politically questionable academic conferences. Assistant research professor of astronomy at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville notes that what may be feasible for senior level faculty or deans, is excessively burdensome for lower-paid professors and adjuncts. James Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association (AHA) posits that conference expenses vary by discipline. He mentions the growing value of virtual receptions, specifically at AHA. Matthew McKay, director of student life and diversity at the State University of New York at Adirondack, conversely argues that the “very nature of a national conference exudes economic privilege.” McKay points to pushback against California adding Texas to its list of places to which state-funded travel is prohibited showcases this level of privilege. Regardless, others argue that increasing accessibility is key and wish academic conferences were a bigger part of certain higher education systems, such as community colleges.

Grant Program for Students’ Childcare Imperiled

By Catherine Morris, July 27, 2017

A 2016 report from The Care Index estimates that the cost of childcare exceeds that of tuition at a four-year university, making it a luxury for even those with a stable full-time income. The Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program was created in 1998 to support low-income parents through their pursuit of higher education. CCAMPIS is one of the federal programs predicted to be cut through the FY 2018 budget, despite its meager cost and high return on investment. The grant has attributed to increased rates of student success and the pursuit of supplementary academic opportunities. Advocacy groups such as the Young Invincibles asserts that expanding the program to $500 million would help it reach 250,000 student parents living below the federal poverty line. 

Transitioning from war to workforce under the new ‘Forever’ GI Bill

By Elizabeth Mann, July 28, 2017

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, dubbed the Forever GI Bill, combines a number of legislation dedicated to improve the education and career pathways for Veterans into the largest expansion of college aid for military veterans in a decade. The bill will eliminate a 15-year expiration date for the receipt of education benefits and expand opportunities for Veterans in STEM fields. The Forever GI Bill is a product of its time, acknowledging the demands of today’s economy and providing flexibility to veterans with intersectional needs. The bill focuses on STEM fields to address the national skills gap, and in response to the estimated 2.6 million STEM-related job openings in America in 2018.

GOP sends mixed messages on the future of American healthcare after suffering a blistering defeat in the Obamacare repeal effort

By Sonam Sheth, July 30, 2017

Last week the collapse of Republican Senate efforts to advance healthcare legislation, has resulted in mixed messaging on next steps from the GOP. President Trump is clear on wanting the Senate to continue to focus on healthcare legislation, tweeting out “Don’t give up Republican Senators, the World is Watching…” on Sunday, July 30. However, this messaging is different from his previous comments on ‘Obamacare,’ arguing that allowing the law to stay would result in its own demise regardless. Republican Senator Susan Collins warns of outcomes of a repeal measure without the passage of alternative legislation in its place, noting that the Senate needs to take the legislation back to the health and Finance committee to identify existing problems with alternative measures. She also stated, “I certainly hope the administration does not do anything in the meantime to hasten the collapse.” Republicans are also beginning to realize they will need to work across the aisle in order to come up with a working solution.  


State Summaries

Bathroom Bills: 

In the past few weeks we have seen a rising debate in Texas through the anticipated re-introduction of anti-trans legislation in the July Special Session. Special Session is scheduled to start on July 18 and bills TX HB 46 and TX HB 50 have been filed. 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 is identical except applying only to a school district board. In the past few months other states have retreated from the conversation. So far, 16 states have introduced bathroom bills during the 2017-2018 state legislative sessions. Legislation has failed in AL, AR, KY, MT, SD, VA, and WY.  TX HB 46 and TX HB 50 were read for the first time in Special Session on 07/20/2017.

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 amended and passed the Committee on Judiciary and was re-referred to the Committee on Appropriation on 07/10/2017.

Guns on Campus: 

Upwards of 17 states are considering legislation concerning guns on campus during the current session. In the 40 pieces of legislation the Policy and Advocacy Team is tracking, 16 bills are pending, 20 have failed, and 4 have been enacted, in AR, GA, and OK. 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.  

Federal Summaries

H.R.3218—Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017

-Primary Sponsor: Rep. David Roe (R-TN) (Introduced 07/13/2017)

-Committees: House-Veterans’ Affairs; Armed Services

-Latest Action: 07/25/2017 Received in the Senate (Passed the House)

Portion of NASPA Statement on the Forever GI Bill: [NASPA] is especially pleased to see holistic support measures for Veterans, given NASPA’s focus on both student success and college completion and inclusive opportunities for access and success in higher education. Measures to ensure Veteran students impacted by school closures retain their educational assistance are essential to protecting our Veteran’s from predatory institutions. Further, policies to provide educational counseling, assistance for long-distance independent study, and information on priority enrollment opportunities addresses unique challenges to Veteran students and creates pathways to success.

H.R.3581 - To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to exclude Federal Pell Grants from gross income.

-Primary Sponsors: Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) (introduced 07/28/2017)

-House- Ways and Means

-Latest Action: 07/28/2017 Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means

More Notes

Year-round Pell restoration a great first step when it comes to student access and attainment

The unexpected value of the liberal arts

Time to reset tuition?

Report: Winners and losers in President Trump’s student loan plan

New fears for public service loan forgiveness

Cal State will no longer require placement exams and remedial classes for freshmen