Thursday, January 18, 2018

Campus Safety, Advocacy, and a Department of Justice Grant

Campus Safety, Advocacy, and a Department of Justice Grant

In the past few months, the news has been rife with stories exposing numerous high-profile sexual predators. In higher education, the Jaeger case at the University of Rochester has been a particularly cautionary example of the dangers of complacency.

The benefit of the media coverage is that it has cultivated courage among more and more victims to speak up and ultimately bring an end to the predations of those who have victimized them. More importantly, recent events have provoked important public conversations that strive to eliminate tolerance for these unethical behaviors, which should lead to safer and more respectful professional environments.

The increased attention is new, sadly, the problem is not. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace reported that, “Almost fully one third of the approximately 90,000 charges received by EEOC in fiscal year 2015 included an allegation of workplace harassment.”

This is an area where higher education has made important, although not always successful efforts. Following the “Dear Colleague” letter of 2011, our institutions implemented much more sophisticated Title IX procedures aimed not only at responding to complaints of sexual harassment and assault, but through expanded reporting requirements that revealed patterns of malicious behavior, our institutions greatly improved their prevention efforts.

Many of higher education’s most egregious cases of harassment and abuse have been brought to light through these more stringent processes, and had these protections been implemented earlier, many individuals would have been spared victimization.

Earlier this year, the White House rescinded the 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter, but Susquehanna and many other colleges and universities have committed to hold themselves to a higher standard than this recent change requires. The safety of our students and employees cannot be compromised.

It is my hope that all institutions of higher education will continue to embrace this rigor of protection for the members of their communities. Ideally, all employers will uphold these same standards so our graduates will enter similarly responsible and responsive work places.

In an ongoing effort to bolster our own efforts on campus, we have secured a Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women Grant. This grant supports a three-year implementation of expanded education for all incoming students, the creation of a coördinated community response system between the University and external organizations, enhanced training of our campus safety officers, and training for campus disciplinary boards to respond most effectively to situations involving sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking.

This is a very competitive grant. We are grateful for this support from the DOJ, which will enable us to better prepare our students to exercise their citizen leadership as ethical and practical advocates of best practice in their workplaces and communities.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Decline in International Enrollment is Hurting Domestic Students

The Decline in International Enrollment is Hurting Domestic Students

U.S. higher education was dealt a serious blow this fall. The expansion of international education that has been a critical financial stimulus for American colleges and universities experienced an alarming setback. International education in the forms of U.S. students studying abroad and U.S. institutions enrolling students from other countries has been an area of important growth on campuses across the nation for the past decade.

Study abroad has been consistently confirmed as one of the most transformational educational experiences available to a college student. At Susquehanna University, we are so committed to this developmental advantage that we require all our students to have a study-away experience that engages them in a cultural different from their own. To a person, our students declare that this is one of the most empowering and meaningful components of their undergraduate education.

Students who come to the U.S. from other countries are benefiting from the same type of transformative learning experience while they are on our campuses. They are also providing invaluable benefits to domestic students as they enrich our ability to provide sustained intercultural dialogs and important enhancements of campus diversity.

An equally important byproduct in educating foreign nationals is the opportunity to expose them to the best of our culture. They learn the fundamental beauty of a free and democratic society and the ways in which our republic was born out of the founding fathers’ own education in the liberal arts. Our international alumni become our most compelling statesmen as they carry the world of ideas and ways of thinking they encounter at our institutions back to their home countries, and over time, those around them become ancillary beneficiaries of their experience.

Recently, IIE released their annual Open Doors Report. This past year, the number of new international students enrolling in U.S. colleges and universities dropped by 7%. This has been fueled by a variety issues including increased competition from other nations like Canada and Australia. There are also growing perceptions abroad that international students are less welcome on our campuses and in our communities. These perceptions have been fueled by rhetoric coming out of Washington, which has been underscored through actions like the recent travel bans.

International students accounted for $39 billion in net revenue last year. Those funds helped U.S. colleges and universities provide educational services to all our students, and that revenue has a multifold economic impact in our communities. Those benefits alone should encourage our governmental leaders to become champions in recruiting talented international students to our campuses. 

The greater benefit however is the educational gifts these students provide to our domestic students and our faculty and staff colleagues. They are an asset of incalculable value in internationalizing our campuses. As we participate in an ever more interdependent global economy and society, we must provide our students the opportunity to learn from each other how to become effective and informed world citizens. 

We owe this to all our students.


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