Posts Tagged ‘colleges and universities’

“The Faulty Logic Of The NLRB College Student Unionization Ruling”

Another huge ruling, as NLRB hurtles leftward at topmost speed during these final Obama months [Inside Higher Ed; Connor Wolf, Inside Source; Jarad Lucan via Daniel Schwartz] “Bringing a union into the mix could interfere with the primary purpose of the student’s relationship with the school: education. As dissenting NLRB member Philip Miscimarra writes, employers subject to NLRB jurisdiction may be required to disclose details of sexual harassment investigations to the union. Universities may also be required to tolerate ‘outrageous conduct’ by students, in their roles as unionized employees, which would otherwise violate the schools’ community standards.” [Preston Cooper, Forbes]

P.S.: No, they’re not done: “NLRB Likely To Drop More Pro-Union Rulings By End Of August” [Daniel Fisher]

“Three Blind Mice” Hallowe’en costumes probed at university

After students at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville used Facebook to post pictures of themselves in Hallowe’en “Three Blind Mice” costumes, a member of the school’s “Bias Incident Team” turned them in herself to the team, which decided that there was a risk the costume idea “makes fun of a disability.” The pictures have been taken down. “The University of Washington produced a six-minute video last year decrying ‘cultural appropriation’ around Halloween. Off-limits costumes included hula skirts, [straitjackets], sombreros, fake mustaches and martial-arts attire.” [Jillian Kay Melchior, Heat Street] No mention of possible offense to the tail-amputee community. More on bias response teams here.

New student-loan rules will encourage more suits against colleges

The U.S. Department of Education has proposed new regulations that will make it easier for borrowers to avoid paying back student loans by alleging that they did not get the education they believed they were signing up for. [Anthony Caso via Caron]:

Called “borrower defense,” existing regulations allow forgiveness of student loans when the college violates state law, committing fraud. That means that the college made a knowingly false representation of a material fact and the student reasonably relied on that representation to his or her detriment. …

[The Department proposes to replace] the old fraud standard with “substantial misrepresentation,” which they helpfully define to mean “misleading under the circumstances.” You might ask what that means. Nobody knows. The standard is left intentionally vague so that Department of Education bureaucrats can make it up as they go along. If there is no legal standard, then everybody is subject to suit.

Did the school advertise some leading professors who retired or moved to other schools before you graduated? Obviously misleading — sue them. Did the school mention some of its more famous alumni — perhaps a Hollywood star — while the only job you can get with your drama degree is as a barista at Starbuck’s? Now you can sue, claiming that the glossy puff piece from the school was misleading.

Higher education roundup

  • Universities across the country steer mandatory student fee proceeds and other privileges to intensely ideological Public Interest Research Groups [David Seidemann, City Journal; PIRG’s crucial role in backing the truly ghastly CPSIA law on children’s products] When a university shuts off this money spigot, does the First Amendment cut more in favor of the group’s right to go on collecting money, or the rights of “students compelled to fund advocacy with which they may not agree”? [Short Circuit, scroll to 14th item on Ninth Circuit decision in Arizona Students’ Association v. Arizona Board of Regents]
  • Appeal to “personal experience, performance, and radical politics” changing college debate for the worse [John Hinderaker, PowerLine, 2014 (thanks commenter for spotting date)]
  • “The Perils of Writing a Provocative Email at Yale” [Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, on Nicholas and Erika Christakis case at Yale; Paul Caron/TaxProf with more links] More: Identity, activism. and sensitivity on campus: Nathan Heller report from Oberlin [New Yorker]
  • Government is our provider: new push to extend school feeding program into community colleges [George Leef, Pope Center]
  • University of Northern Colorado: “‘Bias Response Team’ Threatened Prof To Change His Lessons” [Jillian Kay Melchior, Heat Street] Candidates for tenure at Pomona College will need to explain what they are doing to promote diversity in classroom [Inside Higher Ed]
  • “When Social Justice Education Is Mandatory, But Math Is Not” [Robby Soave; University of Massachusetts, Amherst]

FIRE backs suit over Dear Colleague letter

With help from FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), a former University of Virginia law student has sued the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights arguing that it violated the law in its notorious 2011 Dear Colleague letter requiring many campuses to roll back the procedural rights of students accused of sexual assault. The John Doe complainant argues that the department should at a minimum have put the policy shifts proclaimed in the letter through the notice-and-comment process prescribed for rulemaking, rather than in effect proclaiming them by decree through subregulatory guidance. The letter affected the student’s own case, he argues, because of comments from the retired judge deciding the case that she viewed the evidence as falling short of a clear and convincing threshold, the standard formerly in use, and ruled against him only because the university had complied with federal guidance by dropping its standard to preponderance of the evidence. [Susan Svrluga, Washington Post; Hans Bader, CEI]

Labor roundup

  • Forget about event permits unless you hire union? Feds arrest Boston mayor’s tourism aide on extortion charges [Connor Wolf/Daily Caller, Boston Herald, indictment, WCVB (auto-plays)]
  • Georgia to feds: franchise law is state law, and you’re not free to tear up its terms to favor unions [International Franchise Association, Connor Wolf/Daily Caller]
  • Unique California farm-labor law binds growers to “contracts” they never signed. Is that even constitutional? [Ilya Shapiro, Cato] Upstate farmers furious over Gov. Cuomo’s move to unionize farm labor in New York [City and State]
  • NLRB strikes down innocuous handbook provision expecting employees to maintain “positive” workplace environment [Jon Hyman] “Is it time for a new NLRB rule on handbook policies?” [same]
  • “Funding Ideology, Not Research, at University of California ‘Labor Institutes'” [Steven Greenhut, Reason]
  • NLRB Philadelphia regional director, criticized over role in pro-union fund, suspended for 30 days [Law360, Labor Union Report]

May 24 roundup

  • Not the theater’s fault, says a Colorado jury, rejecting Aurora massacre suit [ABA Journal, earlier here, here, and here, related here, etc.]
  • Senate GOP could have cut off funds for HUD’s social-engineer-the-suburbs power grab, AFFH. So why’d they arrange instead to spare it? [Paul Mirengoff/PowerLine, more, earlier] Related: federal judge Denise Cote denies motion to challenge supposed speech obligations of Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino under consent decree with HUD [Center for Individual Rights; earlier here, here, etc.]
  • “Earnhardt Family Fighting Over Whether One Earnhardt Son Can Use His Own Last Name” [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt]
  • Freddie Gray charges, bad new laws on pay, the state’s stake in world trade, armored vehicles for cops, bar chart baselines that don’t start at zero, and more in my latest Maryland policy roundup [Free State Notes]
  • “You can be fined for not calling people ‘ze’ or ‘hir,’ if that’s the pronoun they demand that you use” [Eugene Volokh on NYC human rights commission guidance]
  • Despite potential for schadenfreude, please refrain from taxing university endowments [John McGinnis]

Campus free expression roundup

  • 21 professors, including Bartholet, Epstein, and McConnell, write letter to Department of Education Office of Civil Rights [OCR] challenging its directives on campus sexual harassment [Ashe Schow, Washington Examiner] Student suing Colorado State over multi-year suspension adds OCR as a defendant [Scott Greenfield; more, George Will]
  • President Obama has been saying things students need to hear about intellectual freedom at commencements [Howard and Rutgers, Jonathan Adler] “Does Obama understand that his own government is responsible for the safe-space phenomenon he frequently decries?” [Robby Soave]
  • Protesters these days disrupting and physically shutting down a lot of pro-Israel campus speeches and events on US campuses [Observer; UC Irvine]
  • “Jokes, insensitive remarks, size-ist posters”: from a distance the doings of the University of Oregon’s Bias Response Team can seem kind of hilarious. Maybe not up close [Robby Soave/Reason, Catherine Rampell/Washington Post] “Towson U. [Maryland public university] implements ‘hate/bias’ reporting system to ensure ‘anti-racist campus climate’” [The College Fix]
  • Read and marvel at the arguments being deployed against Prof. Dale Carpenter’s proposal for bolstering free expression at the University of Minnesota [Susan Du, City Pages] “Why Free Speech Matters on Campus” [Michael Bloomberg and Charles Koch]
  • Faculty at George Mason University law school unanimously affirm commitment to renaming school after Justice Antonin Scalia [Lloyd Cohen, Michael Greve]

“The Federal Leviathan Is Crushing Colleges and Universities”

Jenna A. Robinson and Jesse Saffron, Pope Center:

Last year…the Task Force on Federal Regulation of Higher Education—formed in 2013 at the behest of a bipartisan group of U.S. senators and comprised of top university officials from around the country—released a stunning indictment of what it called the “jungle of red tape” produced by the Education Department. The report cited analysis from George Mason’s Mercatus Center that showed federal higher education mandates increased by 56 percent from 1997-2012.

Today, the situation is bleak: There are thousands of pages of federal regulations, and the Education Department has to release “guidance” letters to clarify vague rules once per day, on average, according to the Task Force.

Case studies from individual schools reveal just how burdensome compliance can be. One example comes from Vanderbilt University, which recently analyzed its federal compliance costs and found that they accounted for $150 million—or 11 percent—of the university’s 2013 expenditures. (Vanderbilt announced that for each student, those compliance costs “equate to approximately $11,000 in additional tuition per year.”)

Earlier here. More from reader mx in comments, who notes that the Chronicle of Higher Education has criticized the Vanderbilt number on the grounds that most of the university’s regulatory costs ($117 million of $146 million) is attributed to compliance related to research, which is not necessarily charged to students as tuition.

Campus climate roundup

  • Department of Justice: we’re going to use that Dear Colleague Title IX letter as a basis for prosecution, and colleges are going to need to crack down on speech if they want to stay in compliance [Eugene Volokh, Scott Greenfield, and FIRE, on University of New Mexico case] A brief history of how we got here from the Dear Colleague letter [Justin Dillon and Matt Kaiser, L.A. Times; my Commentary piece three years ago anticipating the basics] Why won’t even a single university challenge this stuff in court? [Coyote, earlier]
  • Dangers of “safe spaces”: Mike Bloomberg’s Michigan commencement address is getting noticed [Bloomberg View, Deadline Detroit, Soave] “Slogans Have Replaced Arguments” [John McWhorter]
  • Compulsory chapel will make no provision for adherents of dissenting sects: Oregon State plans training incoming freshmen in “social justice learning,” “diversity,” and “inclusivity.” [Robby Soave]
  • Running various departments at George Mason U. along lines recommended by Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”: no problem. Naming law school after Antonin Scalia: that might politicize things [Michael Greve via Bainbridge]
  • USC cancels visiting panel of gaming industry stars because it’s all-male [Heat Street]
  • Harvard aims sanctions at students who join off-campus, unofficial single-sex clubs [The Crimson, FIRE, background Althouse, Greenfield]
  • Margot Honecker, hated DDR education minister, filled schools with indoctrination, informants. Glad that era’s over [Washington Post, Telegraph, SkyNews obituaries]