HCC wins federal grant – Connecticut Post

  • Housatonic Community College's Commencement 2017 at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn., on Thursday May 25, 2017. With 612 graduates, this is the college's 3rd largest graduating class in its history. Photo: Christian Abraham / Hearst Connecticut Media / Connecticut Post

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BRIDGEPORT — Housatonic Community College has received a five-year $1.3 million federal grant to help strengthen its student success and retention programs.

The Housatonic Student Success Grant proposal was a college-wide effort according to Paul Broadie, president of the two year college.

“This is a proud moment for the college as we continue to make a profound impact on the lives of our students,” said Dr. Broadie


The Title III Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP) helps higher education institutions expand their capacity to serve students by providing funding to improve and strengthen the institution’s academic impact and institutional effectiveness.

Alese Mulvihill, the grant writing team chair for Housatonic said the money will help reinvent the way students engage across the college.

At Housatonic, the 57 percent of full time students in 2015 returned in 2016 according to the U.S. Department of Education. Among part time students, the retention rate was 46 percent. The overall graduation rate was 10 percent.

The U. S. Department of Education awards Title III grants to institutions of higher education where at least 50 percent of the students receive need-based assistance or grants.

Telling Adjuncts to Quit Is Giving Up on Education

 

 

 

I am an adjunct who did what Claire Potter recently suggested in Inside Higher Ed.

I quit. 

It took me sixteen years to do it, but I quit. For the vast majority of that time I had no desire to quit. I loved the work. Unlike many adjuncts, I was almost always full-time at a single institution with benefits. At the low end I made around $3200/course. At the high end, $6000/course.

Even at the end I had no desire to quit, but having finally reached a definitive dead end with the last tenure track job I could apply for going to someone who wasn’t me, I saw little choice. I called this space Just Visiting at the outset, because I knew no matter how much I tried to make where I’d landed a home, it probably wasn’t going to pan out, and I was right

My enthusiasm for teaching was undiminished, but I could see trouble on the horizon, consigned to a single course, semester after semester, no room for growth or new challenges. I didn’t want to be angry, or worse, bitter.

Because I had some advantages, my transition was easy. I was already making more money writing than teaching. I have an emotionally supportive partner who also could support us financially without me earning a dime.

On my way out the door I sold two book proposals, and dipping my toe into speaking opportunities[1] allows me to earn more with three one-day campus visits than teaching a single course for an entire semester. To tell people who have no financial cushion to “just leave” when even that poorly paying work may be the only thing between them and defaulting on loans or putting rent into arrears strikes me as some pretty casual cruelty.

Even with my cushy landing spot, the psychological barrier to stopping teaching was considerable and required a step-down process from full-time to single course to now, nothing. Financially, professionally, I will do far better having made this move than I could’ve sticking with the full-time instructor life, and yet, many days, I wonder if I made the right choice.

I’m hoping someday relatively soon the new life will be sufficiently established for me to consider adjuncting in the way it was intended, a professional person in the community who has some time and the desire to teach and doesn’t mind it’s basically volunteer work.

Prof. Potter is right that adjuncting PhD’s or other academic castaways can survive outside the academy. She says we “feel more trapped than we actually are,” which is probably true. Highly educated people do tend to do better in the world than others. Over my “career” I’ve encountered dozens of contingent faculty who have left higher ed and gone on to better things, financially anyway.

I believe Prof. Potter is also right that while unions and other collective labor organizing will improve some individual situations, they are unlikely to effect systemic change. The lot of non-tenurable faculty may improve, but they will not suddenly become tenurable.

But I am significantly more skeptical that a sudden uprising en masse of contingent faculty of all stripes quitting their jobs would result in any structural changes either. For sure, this kind of act would be disruptive, but who really believes that school administrations would suddenly see the light and reverse the decades-long trend of labor casualization?

Recommending that contingent faculty quit and move on is good advice at the individual level.

But I think a lot of the people who give this advice aren’t considering what this means in the bigger picture. If all adjuncts are to quit, what’s left?

Will this sort of action cause a giant pot of money to fall from the sky? Will it suddenly alert tenured faculty to the existence of a thirty-year-long trend? For fields like composition, it has never been the lack of jobs, but the largely arbitrary classification of some jobs as beneath security or reasonable pay – and all the attached rationales – that has resulted in the status quo. The conditions which allowed this to happen don’t suddenly change when adjuncts walk away.

The actual administrative responses that would come are fairly predictable because they are the same ones that have been happening. Tenured faculty may be asked (required) to pick up some of the slack, but there is far too much slack to be taken up. If adjuncts have truly disappeared, credentials for teaching will be lowered or credit requirements will either be changed or offloaded to “alternative” providers. MOOCs may be a “failed product” when measured against genuine high contact instruction, but if the alternative is nothing at all, institutions will do what must be done. There is no bridge too far. As long as the credential can be granted, anything goes.

It will be fairly straightforward for more selective publics to require some equivalent of courses that depend on contingent labor, like first-year writing, prior to matriculation. This will be a boon for the College Board and their AP exams, but it won’t be a benefit to quality education, and the cost of those credits will fall on students

Gazing into my crystal ball, institutions will start touting a “streamlined path to a degree.” You’ll see plenty of op-eds celebrating the end of “pointless” general education courses and more direct path to “career readiness.”

The devaluing of the labor of teaching is a fait accompli. In a lot of ways, it’s the dedication of contingent faculty that keeps the old traditions alive, attempting to do the work as best we can under the circumstances.

Until tenured faculty – en masse – recognize that the first priority must be to protect the value of academic labor, even if that means a diminishing of their status or comforts, no action from adjuncts will result in any meaningful change. 

I don’t expect anything so radical to happen, however.

Telling adjuncts to “just quit” is giving up on education, and only hastens the ultimate demise of security for any faculty.

 

 

 

 

[1] I’m hoping to jump in with my full body on this front in the future, once these books are in the can. Email me. 

UC Davis Sponsored Research Funding Increases to $783 Million

The University of California, Davis, received $783 million in external research funding for fiscal year 2016-17, up $23 million from the previous year. UC Davis remained fourth overall among University of California campuses, which received a combined total of $6.08 billion from all external sponsors during fiscal year 2016-17, about 1 percent above the previous year.

“It’s clear that public agencies and private companies are depending on UC Davis’ innovative spirit and expertise to help solve some of the world’s biggest challenges,” said Chancellor Gary S. May.

Federal government remains top source of funding

Awards from the federal government again topped the list for 2016-17, totaling $384 million, but were down slightly from $391 million the previous year. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services accounted for the largest source of federal funding with $221 million in awards, up from $213 million in 2015-16. The next highest federal awards were from the National Sciences Foundation at $40 million and the Department of State at $32.6 million.

Funding from the state of California made up a significant portion of the awards at $160.6 million, down slightly from the previous year’s award of $170 million. Businesses grants totaled $61.5 million, and higher education grants increased by $10 million to $41 million. 

Top awards tackle infrastructure, public health

A program that will help improve California’s infrastructure, specifically California roads, received the largest university grant during fiscal year 2016-17. Programs that address public health issues made up other top awards, including tracking cancer data for use in research, identifying and responding to viruses that have the potential to create global pandemics, reducing illness and mortality from tobacco, and improving nutrition for low-income Californians.

$29.6 million for ‘Partnered Pavement Research Center 2017-2020’ from the California Department of Transportation

The UC Davis Pavement Research Center works collaboratively with the California Department of Transportation on research, development and implementation of a wide range of pavement technology, management, cost and environmental topics. This three-year contract includes projects in improved pavement design methods, performance-related specifications for construction, recycling of pavement materials and waste tires, development and implementation of systems to collect environmental data and assess sustainability, materials and construction specifications for quieter and smoother pavement, and avoidance of early construction failures. The contract also includes enhancements to the Caltrans pavement asset management system for selection of maintenance and rehabilitation timing and to the life cycle cost analysis system for comparison of treatment type alternatives. Principal investigator: John T. Harvey; co-principal investigators: David J. Jones and Jeremy D. Lea.

$26 million for ‘California Cancer Registry’ from California Department of Public Health

Since 2012, the UC Davis Institute for Population Health Improvement has partnered with the California Department of Public Health to run the California Cancer Registry, or CCR, one of the world’s leading resources for population-based data on cancer. The award is used to support the California Cancer Reporting and Epidemiologic Surveillance (CalCARES) Program. CalCARES conducts the day-to-day operations of the statewide registry and promulgates a number of cancer surveillance reports each year. CalCARES staff members also conduct population-based research about cancer.

Founded in 1988, the CCR collects information about almost all cancers diagnosed in California — over 4 million cases to date, with more than 175,000 new cases are added annually. The data in the registry are used to develop strategies and policies for the prevention, treatment and control of cancer, and have been the cornerstone of a large amount of research that has advanced knowledge about cancer over the years. Numerous UC and other investigators use data from the CCR in their research. Principal investigator: Kenneth W. Kizer.

$20.5 million for ‘Emerging Pandemic Threats Program 2 PREDICT-2’ from U.S. Agency for International Development 

The multi-institutional PREDICT initiative provides rapid detection and response to emerging viruses such as Ebola and SARS that move among people, wildlife and livestock. The program currently operates in more than 30 countries around the world. The project is part of USAID’s Emerging Pandemic Threats program and is led by the UC Davis One Health Institute in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. The implementing partners are the United States Agency for International Development, Wildlife Conservation Society, EcoHealth Alliance, Metabiota and the Smithsonian Institution. Principal investigator: Jonna Mazet.

$14.4 million for ‘California Tobacco Control Program’ from California Department of Public Health

The UC Davis Institute for Population Health Improvement, in partnership with the California Department of Health, has operated the internationally acclaimed California Tobacco Control Program, or CTCP, since 2012. Originally established in 1989 after passage of Proposition 99, the CTCP seeks to improve the health of all Californians by reducing illness and premature death attributable to the use of tobacco products. The CTCP has helped to dramatically reduce the use of tobacco in California, which now has the second lowest rate of smoking among all states. Through leadership, experience and research, the highly successful CTCP empowers statewide and local health agencies to promote health and quality of life by advocating social norms that create a tobacco-free environment. The funds are used to, among other things, develop and support a wide range of community-based programs to accomplish these purposes. Principal investigator: Kenneth W. Kizer.

$10 million for ‘University of California CalFresh Nutrition Education Program’ from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through an agreement with the California Department of Social Services and Food and Nutrition Service

The University of California CalFresh Nutrition Education program has served California’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed) communities for more than 20 years. In 2016, the program operated in 31 counties. Using a “school as the hub” model, 89 percent of UC CalFresh’s 116,505 direct education participants are preschool and school-aged youth. Adults receive food resource management education to promote food security at school and community sites. Direct education is delivered at 861 SNAP-Ed eligible sites. The integration of policy, systems and environmental change initiatives has contributed to establishing a bedrock of opportunities for communities to create long-lasting change — decreasing obesity and chronic disease rates — and increasing healthy lifestyles. Principal investigator: David C. Ginsburg.

Other significant awards include $8 million for the UC Davis Clinical and Translational Science Center, $7.6 million for the comparative effectiveness of breast cancer screening and diagnostic evaluation by extent of breast density, $7.3 million for support of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, $6.8 million for the UC Davis Suisun Marsh Study, and $6.5 million for the UC Davis Center for Occupational and Environmental Health.

Where funds are awarded over several years, but distributed in yearly increments, the money is counted in the year received.

Awards by college and school

Based on principal investigators’ home departments, the UC Davis School of Medicine received the largest allocation of research awards at $298 million, followed by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at $162.5 million, the College of Engineering at $82 million, the School of Veterinary Medicine at $71 million, the College of Letters and Sciences at $48.3 million, and the College of Biological Sciences at $47 million.

Momentum for research remains strong

“UC Davis remains one of the top public research universities and remains on an upward trajectory,” said Cameron Carter, professor of psychiatry and psychology and interim vice chancellor for the Office of Research. “Our success in research funding reflects the hard work of a faculty who are the top scientists in their field, and of a university that is always striving to make discoveries that make a difference to the lives of Californians.”

General education requirements see change

Published 10/16/17

Elizabeth Caputo

Contributing Writer

During the summer, new general education requirements were put into place, allowing three less hours for incoming freshmen to complete. The new requirements also set into place some other changes, such as getting rid of the general education capstone, more humanities classes to choose from, and broader math options that meet the needs of all majors.

Kristen Keyser, degree audit specialist in the Office of the Registrar, has been working diligently all semester with students and advisers to help make the transition into the new general education requirements.

“The gen eds are going down in hours, but students still have to have 124 to graduate,” said Keyser. “We’re really excited about the options this now gives students. They can now use that extra three hours as a free elective and choose a class that really interests them.”

These new general education requirements affect the freshmen students entering college, but the requirements can also be added to the degree audit of all other students if their adviser thinks it would benefit them.

“What happens is the global perspective section where you previously needed six hours, now is only three,” said Rebecca Falling, academic adviser. “People who haven’t taken those two global perspective classes yet or aren’t in a major that requires those can switch and take one of those courses instead of two.”

Once it has been decided that it would be beneficial for a student to switch over to the new general education requirements, the request is sent to the Office of the Registrar where Aimee Swensen, academic resource specialist, processes the requests and submits the changes.

“This is very beneficial for students because they don’t have to take unnecessary courses now,” said Swensen. “There have been a ton of students opting for the new gen eds because they are tailored in such a way that helps students achieve their degree faster and more efficiently.”

Along with the three hours less of global perspectives, students now have a broader selection of classes to choose from for their math and humanities requirements.

Math courses have been specified to majors now, meaning that students on the new general education requirements will have more freedom in choosing a math requirement that benefits their degree plan and their line of study. Students have the option of choosing from some recommended math courses for their degree plan. A statistics class has now been added as a potential class as well, and is recommended for social and behavior science students.

Three humanities courses have also been added to the list of possible classes that count for that requirement. Women and gender studies, rock music history, and jazz appreciation are all classes that can now count to a student’s humanities requirement.

Many students are excited about the possibilities the new general education requirements create in their degree program.

“I’ve been pushing my math requirement back until the last possible second because I’m not good at math at all,” said Brianna Hadley, Oologah sophomore. “Knowing that now I’ll be taking a statistics class instead of college algebra is better. It fits around my degree plan more than actual algebra would.”

While the general education requirements help benefit freshmen the most, Keyser encourages all students to check with their adviser to see if switching over would be the right course for them.

“There are some students who could be really struggling with their gen eds right now and they may have no idea of the changes that have taken place and how much it can really benefit them,” said Keyser. “We’ve really tried to make them as bearable as possible, and we hope students are pleased with the changes.”

For more information, call Kristen Keyser at 918-444-2254 or email her at keyser@nsuok.edu.

WVU to launch global competency certificate program – Charleston Gazette

Next fall, West Virginia University is planning to launch a new global competency certificate program that will require students who participate to study abroad for at least one semester or participate in an international internship.

School officials said they hope the new program will encourage more students to study abroad and will give students a leg up on other graduates in an increasingly global economy, said William Brustein, the school’s vice president for global strategies and international affairs.

“The goal is to integrate international, global perspectives into what students learn on campus,” Brustein said.

Brustein launched a similar program at The Ohio State University when he worked there under then-university president Gordon Gee. Brustein said Gee, now at WVU, brought him to the Mountain State to launch similar international initiatives like the certificate program.

At WVU, Brustein said he is replicating two programs he spearheaded in Ohio. The first involves WVU partnering with foreign universities to expand the school’s academic reach. Already, WVU has started partnering with a private university in Bahrain. The global competency certificate, which Brustein calls the “Global Mountaineers” program, is the second.

The new certificate program will likely launch for undergraduates next fall, then for graduate students soon after, according to Lisa DiBartolomeo, a professor in the school’s Department of World Languages, Literatures and Linguistics who is heading up designing the program.

If all goes as planned, she said the program should be “relatively flexible” so students in nearly every major can participate. The university hopes that non-traditional students who might have already graduated will consider taking part in the program.

“We’re hoping this will be a really attractive opportunity for students throughout West Virginia, and not just students in college or community college,” DiBartolomeo said. “It’s for people in the community, too, people who might be looking to move up in their career path or looking to add an additional credential. Based on our peer institutions, we think this is a very competitive program that will be attractive for a lot of people.”

The program will begin with a one-hour credit class online which introduces students to the basics of world geography, data analytics and comparing and contrasting different cultures and regions of the world.

From there, DiBartolomeo said students will need at least six credits, or two classes, in a foreign language. Many WVU students already are required to take two foreign language credits, and those credits would be able to count toward the certificate.

Students will be required to take six credit hours in core course material — many of which will overlap with the school’s existing general education curriculum — and an ending assessment. Students will also need to complete some sort of education abroad program, which DiBartolomeo said could be an international internship or could be the traditional study abroad program WVU already offers.

“It is tricky in this age when we’re really trying to think about college affordability to say we’re going to require a study abroad component, I fully recognize that represents a significant financial commitment for a student.”

But without that component, she said the certificate program wouldn’t be competitive with other similar certificate programs.

HCC wins federal grant

  • Housatonic Community College's Commencement 2017 at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn., on Thursday May 25, 2017. With 612 graduates, this is the college's 3rd largest graduating class in its history. Photo: Christian Abraham / Hearst Connecticut Media / Connecticut Post

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BRIDGEPORT — Housatonic Community College has received a five-year $1.3 million federal grant to help strengthen its student success and retention programs.

The Housatonic Student Success Grant proposal was a college-wide effort according to Paul Broadie, president of the two year college.

“This is a proud moment for the college as we continue to make a profound impact on the lives of our students,” said Dr. Broadie


The Title III Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP) helps higher education institutions expand their capacity to serve students by providing funding to improve and strengthen the institution’s academic impact and institutional effectiveness.

Alese Mulvihill, the grant writing team chair for Housatonic said the money will help reinvent the way students engage across the college.

At Housatonic, the 57 percent of full time students in 2015 returned in 2016 according to the U.S. Department of Education. Among part time students, the retention rate was 46 percent. The overall graduation rate was 10 percent.

The U. S. Department of Education awards Title III grants to institutions of higher education where at least 50 percent of the students receive need-based assistance or grants.

Extension expected to remain intact under proposal

The proposed restructuring of UW Colleges and UW-Extension announced last week is expected to have minimal effect on the overall function of UW-Extension, which has undergone significant change in recent years, as a continued statewide presence.

The proposal, unveiled Oct. 11 by UW System President Ray Cross, includes merging UW Colleges with their nearest four-year UW institutions and relocating state Extension leaders from their current Madison offices to UW-Madison; UW-Extension would maintain its county-level offices and staff. Other states, including Illinois, Michigan and Pennsylvania, have a similar arrangement between Extension leaders and land-grant universities, according to a news release.

Other UW-Extension divisions, including the Division of Business and Entrepreneurship, Broadcasting and Media Innovations and Continuing Education Outreach and E-learning, would be integrated within UW System Administration, and UW Cooperative Extension’s two downtown Madison conference centers also would be overseen by UW-Madison under the proposal.

Cross’ proposal cites an aging state population, a relatively high employment rate and financial struggles as the catalysts behind his restructuring plan, which would integrate the state’s 13 two-year UW Colleges into four-year UW institutions, effective July 1, 2018. No campuses would be closed. His plan also would assign divisions within UW-Extension to UW-Madison and UW System Administration. The restructuring proposal will come before the Board of Regents in November.

“We must restructure these two organizations given the state’s demographic challenges, budgetary constraints and the need for closer realignment between research and practice,” Cross said. “We want to leverage the strength of our four-year institutions at a time when overall enrollments at UW Colleges are declining. Our goal is to expand access and provide more educational opportunities for more students, while ensuring our faculty are appropriately organized and supported.”

Restructuring objectives include maintaining and expanding access to higher education by offering more general education and upper-level courses at the integrated branch campuses; identifying and reducing barriers to transferring credits within the UW System; maintaining affordability by continuing current tuition levels at the branch campuses post-merger for general education courses; further standardizing and regionalizing administrative operations and services to more efficiently use resources; and leveraging resources and shared talent at institutions to get more students into and through the educational pipeline, better aligning the university to meet the state’s projected workforce needs.

Cross said that, by 2040, almost 95 percent of the state’s total population growth will be ages 65 and older, while those of working age (18-64) will rise just 0.4 percent. Demographic trends indicate that current enrollment numbers are not likely to turn around significantly in coming years, he said.

“Our labor force growth will be flat,” he said, “while the demand for an educated labor force is growing exponentially. We must plan for the future now and be increasingly bold in our efforts to get more students through the educational pipeline to help meet Wisconsin’s needs. We must do this by improving access to higher education and keeping it affordable for students and families.”

Cathy Sandeen, chancellor of UW Colleges and UW-Extension, said state leaders have been working to ensure that small campuses remain viable and sustainable: “I am optimistic about the potential of this new structure to keep student access and student success at the forefront. Our team has been enacting major change and transformation efforts for the past three years, so we’re well-positioned to help lead a smooth transition upon board approval. Our goal is to ensure the successful future for these campuses because we need more doors open wider to more people in this state than ever before.”

In a letter to colleagues, Sandeen said this is “mainly an organizational/​administrative change that ultimately will not affect what happens on the ground in our various programs throughout the state.”

She said town hall meetings will be scheduled in the coming months in an effort to provide more information about the reorganization plan and to help clear up any uncertainty.

“I know Cooperative Extension, in particular, has experienced many dramatic changes over the last two years, and this new plan will be dramatic, as well,” Sandeen said. “However, I am optimistic about the potential of this new structure.”

For more information about the proposed UW System restructuring or to ask questions, visit http://​go.uwsa.edu/​restructurefeedback.

New report highlights General Assembly’s failed record on higher education

The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), a nonpartisan organization, has published new state-specific data on college affordability that paint a damning picture of the General Assembly’s record.

The report shows that both cost of attendance and student loan debt have risen dramatically from 2008 to 2014. These increases disproportionately create barriers to economic advancement for students of color and students from low-income families.

North Carolina’s constitution places a very important responsibility on the General Assembly. State leaders are required to provide higher education for free “as far as practicable.” Article IX, Section 9 reads:

The General Assembly shall provide that the benefits of The University of North Carolina and other public institutions of higher education, as far as practicable, be extended to the people of the State free of expense.

Of course, the “as far as practicable” language provides policymakers legal wiggle room to place some of the financial burden of college attendance on students. But the SREB data make it awfully hard to argue that General Assembly leaders are continuing to meet their constitutional responsibility.

The share of family income required to support a full-time student at a North Carolina college or university increased dramatically from 2008 to 2014. On average, families in North Carolina needed to devote 13 percent of their income in 2008 to pay for a full-time student at one of the state’s four research universities (UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State, UNC Charlotte, UNC Greensboro). By 2014, the cost nearly doubled, rocketing to 21 percent of average family income.

The story is similar at four-year non-research institutions of the UNC System (e.g., Appalachian State, East Carolina University, UNC Asheville, etc.), where the percentage of family income needed to attend full-time has also nearly doubled.

The story is slightly better at North Carolina’s community colleges, but the percentage of family income necessary to attend full time has still increased over this time period: from 14.8 percent in 2008 to 18.1 percent in 2014.

The SREB data also show that the increasing financial burden to attend colleges falls most harshly on low-income families. Even after accounting for need-based federal and state grants, low-income families must dedicate a greater share of their income to attend a North Carolina college.

Higher education is supposed to be the path toward upward economic mobility. However, the disproportionate cost of college for low-income North Carolinians closes off this path for a growing share of the state’s populace. State and federal need-based aid are clearly failing to create equal opportunity for all students to advance their education beyond high school.

Not surprisingly, the SREB data also show increasing levels of student debt. North Carolina students are taking on about 45 percent more debt than they assumed in 2008, according to the SREB report. The average North Carolina student took on $14,328 to attend a research university as a full-time student in 2008, but this number climbed to $20,325 in 2014. As Marion Johnson of the N.C. Budget and Tax Center’s noted in a recent report, student loan debt is both a symptom and a cause of racial inequity. The increasing cost of North Carolina’s colleges and universities is disproportionately burdening black students with high levels of student loan debt.

It’s no coincidence that state support for the University of North Carolina system has deteriorated since 2008. Since 2008, state funding per student has decreased by 14 percent. Over the same period, average, inflation-adjusted tuition and mandatory fees increased by 48 percent. These changes go hand-in-hand. Recent research has shown that “the single biggest driver of rising tuitions for public colleges has been declining state funding for higher education.”

The SREB data should serve as a loud and clear wake-up call to North Carolina’s policymakers. North Carolina’s constitution establishes the goal of making higher education free for all of the state’s students, not just rich ones. But years of austerity budgets have disproportionately put higher education out of reach for North Carolina’s low-income and minority students. Such policies would be unwise and immoral in any state, but are particularly egregious given North Carolina’s abysmal track record in promoting inter-generational economic advancement.

General Assembly leaders must change course and recommit to investing in higher education so that a college degree can be as free of expense as practicable for all of the state’s students, rather than just a select few.

Kris Nordstrom is a policy analyst the N.C. Justice Center’s Education and Law Project.

Tax reform a mystery for those seeking a college education

“I Should Have Gone to Stanford”

“I Should Have Gone to Stanford”



I Should Have Gone to Stanford Illustration

Freshman year had yet to start and I had already been mistaken for a laborer by a Harvard employee.

My roommate and I were picking up a couch that his older sister had left in a House on the river. We walked into the quiet courtyard and found the building manager’s office, since we had to have the storage room unlocked. I stood beside my white roommate as he spoke to the building manager. After my roommate had chatted with him a while, the building manager finally decided to acknowledge my presence.

“I see you brought a laborer.”

The words stung. As my mind worked to process the weight of his statement, the building manager followed up with a second question.

“Or is he the roommate?”

His first impulse was to assert that I was not a Harvard student, yet it was easy to assume that my white roommate was. I couldn’t help but feel that I was being seen as nothing more than the rich melanin in my skin.

But it was freshman year. I had yet to attend my first class so I tried to shrug it off. After all, Cambridge is a liberal bubble and people at Harvard are educated, so there was no way that I, a boy from a middle-class suburb, had just faced racism.

What I did not realize in this optimistic naiveté was that I had, in fact, encountered racism. And more disturbingly, that this racism would be neither the abnormality nor a rogue anecdote in my Harvard experience.

I have made it into this elite institution, fulfilling the dreams of parents who immigrated from El Salvador in search of more than they’d had. But, like the wings of an encaged bird, even these hopes can be clipped.

As a Latino at Harvard, I struggle every day to find a place in an institution that was not built for me. But I am far from the first to struggle. The systemic marginalization of Latinx students is a central, albeit forgotten, part of Harvard’s history.

A HISTORY OF LATINX MARGINALIZATION


Latino Life at Harvard

Nearly 300 years after this institution opened, Latinx students were finally emerging as a presence on campus. In 1974, Harvard and Radcliffe boasted a joint enrollment number of 6,286 students. The 50 Latinx students enrolled represented less than 1 percent of their population, versus the nation’s 4 percent. Being few in number subjected them to reductive stereotypes and racial transgressions.

In 1976, the Harvard chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity advertised a mixer with a caricature of “Brother Chico,” an overplayed Mexican stereotype. Chicano students said it “symboliz[ed] the prevailing attitude towards Chicanos at Harvard and the society Harvard represents.” Mexican American students, who made up the majority of Latinx students at the University at the time, were subject to the derivative stereotypes that continue to depict Latinx communities today: uneducated, lazy, and a foreign threat to American values. Harvard’s reputation as a world leader in education failed to shield its Latinx students from the ignorance of their peers.

While at Harvard, Efrain Cortes ’94, a Puerto Rican from the Bronx, was told by a peer that he “thought everything that came out of that area, from Puerto Ricans, was cocaine and crime.” Without a second thought, Cortes was associated with a rhetoric that dehumanizes Latinx communities by viewing them as nothing more but vessels for crime, drugs, and social plagues—even though some of the most famous cocaine incidents occurred along Mt. Auburn St., not Latinx students’ dorm rooms.

In 1997, Harvard University Dining Services was waiting on a campus-wide vote to see if they’d reintroduce grapes into the dining halls. HUDS hadn’t served grapes for 13 years because of multiple nationwide boycotts meant to address the inhumane labor conditions workers faced in cultivating them. The debate quickly became personal when a white student verbally harassed one of his Latinx classmates as he copied fliers that supported continuing the boycott.

During the altercation, the assailant made the racist and false assumption that the parents of Edgar Saldivar ’99 were migrant grape farmers. The experience was deeply insulting, prompting Salvidar write an email where he expressed how this interaction racially victimized him. The assailant refused to see the racial implications of his comments, sparking a heated email exchange between the Harvard-Radcliffe Republican Association and RAZA, Harvard’s Mexican-American student group.

During his freshman year, a student mistook Jesse G. Sanchez ’14 for one of his classmates’ Phillips Brooks House Association mentee from Boston. Though the story was recounted in a Crimson article about struggles low-income students face at Harvard, it’s clear that his classmates’ mistake was a racially influenced transgression. The presence of Latinx students at Harvard is so unexpected that the go-to explanation for a brown student on campus was that he must have come from a struggling Boston neighborhood.

Each of these conflicts reveal the insidious tendency for Harvard students, especially those who are white, to stereotype their Latinx classmates. The history presented above is only a small glimpse of a larger, institutional problem. All admitted Harvard students are promised an equitable educational experience, but these stories of racial marginalization (and the many more that go untold) undercut that promise.

For Latinx students at Harvard, racism is not just a thing of the past—it’s a part of their present and, inevitably, their future. When the news broke that incoming freshmen had made jokes about hanging Mexican children, it wasn’t shocking. And even though those particular students were rescinded, there are students currently enrolled at Harvard who would have laughed at the joke or made it themselves. From the micro- to the macro-, racial aggressions are the price Latinx Harvard students pay to attend an institution founded on whiteness.

EXAMINING ASSUMPTIONS


FM Latinx Feature

History shows us where we’ve been, but it can also offer insight into where we should go. The first lesson, and subsequent area for improvement, is in peer-to-peer interactions. Administrators must focus on what’s making some of the peer-to-peer interactions between Latinx students and their classmates a jarring experience. Racism may operate systematically, but people of color experience it as individuals in a visceral way.

When a white student comes to Harvard from an all-white high school, he doesn’t have a starting point for interacting with actual Latinx people. Subconsciously, these people structure their interactions on the media portrayals of Latinx people, where they are one-dimensional: criminals, labor sector workers, or entertainers. The natural reaction is to then fit their Latinx classmates into shallow caricatures.

When freshmen enroll, the University has a couple of opportunities to address these biases before they snowball into blatant acts of racial harassment. The first is through the readings assigned for Community Conversations, a program meant to “examine your assumptions and learn about your peers’ diverse identities and perspectives.”

When I was an incoming freshman, we were assigned Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s autobiography. By pretty much all standards, that was the perfect book for incoming freshmen to understand what the Latinx experience at the Ivy League can be like, especially when one is also a low income, first-generation student. The problem, though, as I heartbreakingly realized, was that too many people did not read the book at all. If they did, they only read a short section that did not catch the nuances needed to foster true empathy.

Luckily, Community Conversations have begun to address this issue by assigning shorter personal essays and a TED Talk instead of a memoir. The assigned readings now read like personal essays, and they’re written by current Harvard students. This is critically important given that students of color have the best insight into their own experiences.

Moving forward, it’s important that the authors chosen to write these pieces are diverse, along as many axis as possible, and that they offer a critical perspective on Harvard. Latinx students have plenty of positive, rewarding experiences, but assigning fluffy, easily digestible narratives will be of little benefit to incoming freshmen. Instead, the College must present raw, honest, and critical views to incoming freshman to ensure that arriving students don’t mistake Harvard for some sort of racial utopia.

The second solution to bettering interracial interactions on campus is to add nuance to the way the College markets the idea that Harvard is the place to learn from peers who are dramatically different from us. This is a noble endeavor, and one of the biggest benefits from having a diverse student body. But in pursuing this mission, there are inequities that are not being addressed:

Latinx students carry a larger burden in interracial exchanges. They compose less than 12 percent of the admitted student body, so any individual Latinx student will have to share their distinct experience much more often than any given white student would. The experiences Latinx students share—sometimes concerned with experiences of racism, xenophobia, or poverty—can be difficult or tiring to repeat.

No one should have an obligation to such taxing exchanges, and the way administrators feed us the idea that we should learn from our peers does not address this. Moving forward, we should continue trying to build empathy through the sharing of personal narratives, but the College should explicitly acknowledge the inequity of its emotional toll. If not, Latinx students will continue to feel compelled to “educate” their peers, even at the cost of their own emotional health.

THE NEED FOR LATINX STUDIES


Harvard's Latino Problem Headline

There’s also a need to address issues of race via the classroom. Personal interactions are an effective way of allowing people to understand the complexities of Latinx communities, but they’re not the only way.

Diversifying course material across Harvard is a highly effective method. Through countless academic and literary texts, students can break down stereotypes, understand histories of immigration, and grasp other staples of the Latinx experience in the United States. If professors make an effort to diversify their reading lists, they can help educate non-Latinx Harvard students, taking a bit of that burden off Latinx students. A bit more Junot Díaz in our English classes and Gloria Anzaldúa in our history classes can go a long way.

In addition to diversifying syllabi and course material, Harvard must also begin investing in establishing a full Latinx Studies program. For more than four decades, students and professors have advocated for Latinx Studies offerings at Harvard but have faced numerous obstacles, including egregious administrative shutdowns from former University President Lawrence H. Summers. Because of Summers’s decisions, Harvard lost critical Latinx Studies scholars and the exodus gutted any potential growth in a program, leading to what is present on campus today—a mere skeleton of Latinx Studies.

Currently, students can pursue a secondary in Latinx Studies from the Committee on Ethnicity, Migration, Rights or choose to study Latinx Studies as a subfield in the newly created Ethnic Studies track within History and Literature. However, these tracks are incomparable to a dedicated department, offering only a handful of professors with training in Latinx Studies and course offerings that differ wildly from year to year.

Harvard is not a leader in the field of Latinx Studies, and that hurts students directly. Without a robust Latinx Studies programs there is little chance that students will learn about the important role and place of Latinos in the United States. A lucky few may stumble across a Latinx Studies course, currently hidden in the Romance Languages and Literatures or History departments, but the vast majority will not. Simply put, racial tensions on campus are worse because of our academic failings.

Once we have the course offerings, we need to ensure that students will be encouraged to take the courses. The General Education program is one of the most effective ways of ensuring that students take classes that fall outside of their concentration. It is also one way to expose students to classes that will help them better understand their Latinx peers.

Many schools, including Cornell, University of Massachusetts Boston, and University of Colorado Boulder, have diversity requirements for graduation. The College missed a crucial opportunity during its recent General Education overhaul by failing to add such a requirement. The previous General Education structure required one of the eight General Education courses to “engage substantially with the study of the past.” The diversity requirement could function similarly under the new requirements. A new diversity requirement would encourage students to take courses focusing on the Latinx experience to fulfill their “Aesthetics Culture” or “Histories, Societies, Individuals” General Education requirements.

The need for Latinx Studies is two-fold. First, its glaring absence delegitimizes Harvard’s claim as a global leader in education. Secondly, the lack of an academic program places the burden of explaining the histories and experiences of Latinx students entirely on the Latinx student body. Formal avenues by which to learn would help make peer-to-peer interactions easier and less emotionally exhausting. Pushing for Latinx Studies at Harvard is an issue of student belonging as much as it it is an educational issue.

THE HARVARD LATINX OF TOMORROW

Latinx students at Harvard often carry a burden that their white counterparts do not. While the problem is not unique to Harvard (Latinx students throughout the Ivy League understand this burden), it does manifest itself in a way that is specific to Harvard. Our traditions, the way we frame diversity, and our unique lack of resources puts us behind peer institutions that may be more hospitable for Latinx students.

Lilia Fernandez ’95 once told a Crimson reporter that, “A lot of people just say, ‘I should have gone to Stanford or UCLA.’” Twenty-four years later, Latinx Harvard students utter those same phrases as they dream of warmer, more supportive campuses.

The Harvard Latinx of then and of now are not as different as one might expect. The Harvard Latinx of tomorrow won’t be either, unless Harvard University commits to making their experience as equitable as possible.

Ruben E. Reyes Jr. ’19, a Crimson Editorial Chair, is a History Literature concentrator in Leverett House.

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