Campus free speech bills: Restrict or protect rights?

Opinion: A pair of bills introduced in the Legislature that seek the suspension or expulsion of outspoken students are causing a stir at Michigan’s universities. Critics say the proposed measures could hinder student activism. However, the main sponsor, state Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton Township, says the “Campus Free Speech Act” ensures invited campus speakers have their voices heard. “It makes sure they aren’t able to shout down the speaker,” he said. “Ideally, I think it would be nice to have engagement in debate if they are willing to have a civil debate on the topic. ... If that doesn’t happen, they could hold their own forum.” (Detroit News)


Aquinas College fills new position to raise funds for students

GRAND RAPIDS, MI -Aquinas College has tapped Jon Hankins for its newly-created community relations officer position. Hankins will work with Aquinas College Foundation staff, as well as Athletic Department staff, to help raise funds to support student scholarships, academic and athletic programming, capital projects and campus life activities.  He has spent the past six years at Habitat for Humanity of Kent County, where he helped to grow and manage their corporate donor partnerships.  (MLive)


Why It's a Bad Idea to Tell Students Words Are Violence

Of all the ideas percolating on college campuses these days, the most dangerous one might be that speech is sometimes violence. We’re not talking about verbal threats of violence, which are used to coerce and intimidate, and which are illegal and not protected by the First Amendment. We’re talking about speech that is deemed by members of an identity group to be critical of the group, or speech that is otherwise upsetting to members of the group. This is the kind of speech that many students today refer to as a form of violence. If Milo Yiannopoulos speaks on the University of California, Berkeley, campus, is that an act of violence? Recently, the psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett, a highly respected emotion researcher at Northeastern University, published an essay in The New York Times titled, “When is speech violence?” (Atlantic)


House Republicans at odds with Trump’s proposed higher education cuts

House Republicans issued a 2018 budget bill Tuesday afternoon that rejects several higher education cuts proposed by President Trump but upholds plans to pull billions of dollars in reserves out of the Pell Grant program for needy college students. Ahead of a markup slated for Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee released the full funding report for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and related agencies that provides money for programs placed on the chopping block in the White House budget. (Washington Post)


The Culling of Higher Ed Begins

It has become trendy to predict that higher education is on the verge of a major collapse, what with enrollments falling as loan debt and rising tuition cause students and families to ask harder questions about the value of a college credential. The most extreme predictions envision hundreds and even thousands of colleges and universities closing over a decade or so. But more even-keeled analysts also have foreseen increases in the number of failing institutions: Moody’s Investors Service in 2015, for instance, said closures and mergers of small institutions would triple and double, respectively, in the coming years. (Inside Higher Ed)


‘If There’s an Organized Outrage Machine, We Need an Organized Response’

Anticipating the possibility of an internet mob harassing a professor because of something he or she said can seem a bit like prepping for a lightning bolt. Yes, people get struck by lightning, but more often than not it feels like a freak occurrence. It’s easily avoided, some might say, by not flying a kite in a thunderstorm. But these strikes appear to have grown more common in recent months. Sure, a professor who calls for the hanging of President Trump should expect blowback, but it’s hard to argue the same for, say, a professor who writes a lengthy essay on classical statues and how they have been co-opted by the modern white-nationalist movement. (Chronicle of Higher Education)


Why Whites and Asians Have Different Views on Personal Success

There’s a saying in China that it’s better to be the head of a chicken than the tail of a phoenix. The premise of the aphorism—it’s better to be over-qualified than under-qualified relative to one’s surroundings—is so widely accepted that similar versions of it exist across cultures. In Japan, they tend to say that it’s better to be the head of a sardine than the tail of a whale. Americans and Brits often declare that it’s better to be a big frog (or fish) in a small pond than a little frog in a big pond. Extensive research supports these axioms, particularly in the realm of education. Longitudinal studies have consistently shown that high-performing students at less-selective schools feel more competent, have higher GPAs, and more ambitious career aspirations than low-performing students at more-selective schools. (Atlantic)


UM changes public comment policy at Board of Regents meetings

ANN ARBOR, MI - The University of Michigan is changing its public comment policy to increase the number of speakers allowed to address the Board of Regents at meetings. The board on Thursday, July 20 unanimously approved a policy change that ups the number of speakers from 10 to 15. The change, however, reduces the time limit for speakers from five to three minutes each. The board allows up to five speakers on the same topic, and two other speakers who sign up after UM posts meeting agendas. Sally Churchill, vice president and secretary of the university, said UM is more receptive to public comment than several peer universities. (MLive)


Grand Valley State trustees OK new building, tuition hike

GRAND RAPIDS — Trustees at Grand Valley State University have approved a new $70-million building project in Grand Rapids. The university says Friday that the project will create more space for the school's health professions and nursing programs. The state Legislature has approved a capital outlay request of $29 million for the five-story, 160,000-square-foot building. The school says remaining funds will come from private donors and university bonds. Construction is expected to start next June. Grand Valley State's main campus is in Allendale, west of Grand Rapids. (Detroit Free Press)

Related story:

> MLive: GVSU increases tuition by 4.11 percent


Education official: ‘I am sorry’ for assault remarks

Washington — The Education Department’s top civil rights official’s “flippant” remarks are raising questions about the government’s commitment to fighting campus sexual violence, even as she issued her second apology in as many days for attributing 90 percent of sexual assault claims to both parties being drunk. Candice Jackson, assistant secretary for civil rights, told victims of sexual assault meeting with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Thursday that she was sorry for her remarks. “As much as I appreciate apologies, which are difficult, unfortunately, there’s no way to take it back. It’s out there,” said Fatima Goss Graves, president of the National Women’s Law Center, who attended the meeting and relayed Jackson’s apology Thursday. “What’s extremely important now is that they do the hard work to counter those sorts of rape myths. They need to explicitly reject them.”

Related story:

> Washington Post: DeVos: Too many college students have been treated unfairly under Obama-era sexual assault policy

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