Monday, August 31, 2015

A depressing statistic from the Chronicle of Higher Education:

A recent study reveals that 33% of all college students surveyed said they were so depressed at some pint during the school year that they could barely function. 

Disability professionals at my own institution report an ever-increasing number of student-clients coming through their doors every year.  These include the physically disabled --- blind, hearing impaired, and wheel-chair bound students.  But the vast majority are students with documented learning and mental disabilities.

Why?  I can hypothesize four reasons:

1.  Better diagnostic techniques and more sophisticated recognition of learning disabilities.

2.  Better medications that enable the chronically depressed, bipolar and schizoid youngsters to manage their disabilities and cope with there effects.

3.  A recognition by some parents and children of the advantages available if you can find a professional prepared to diagnose a learning disorder.

4.  Thanks to laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act, there is far greater acceptance of students with disabilities on our campuses, embraced by some institutions, reluctantly accepted by others.

Let's assume that point (3) above represents only a small minority of all documented disabilities.  Why, then, do these problems appear to be proliferating?  I have been listening to an audio version of "The Bully Pulpit" by Doris Kearns Goodwin, as I make my daily two hour commute back and forth to my university.  Goodwin notes that at the turn of the last century, urbanization, transportation and communication advances resulted in an unanticipated spike in nervous disorders.  How much more so must today's IT advances be affecting our nervous systems?

My parents told me whan I was a youngster that "when you get older, time will pass faster."  I distinctly recall that happening when I was about 35 and leaving my first stint in the academy for a decade of private practice of the law.

Today, my own children, their friends, and the students I encounter all confirm that for them this acceleration of time occurred a good two decades earlier than the phenomenon happened to me.  How stressful! Could it be that this has something to do with the rise in mental afflictions, such as depression?

Here is one opinion I found on the internet:

"On the micro level, young people feel pressure about life, pressure to conform, fit in, succeed and achieve, while trying to balance a strong internal drive to be and experience themselves. Young people are opening up, feeling more than ever; they are sensitive, intuitive and display great wisdom and knowingness.
"It is this conflict, the outer world of mass consciousness versus the inner experience and need to flow, that is leading to the dramatic increases in young people experiencing anxiety, depression, stress and other medically unexplained symptoms."
Another source suggests that stress is caused by too much standardized testing, too much homework, too much emphasis on getting into a good college.
Whatever the cause(s), the evidence is that depression doubled from 1995 to 2001, and has continued to rise in the following 14 years.
And, because the Department of Labor has decided that the law is violated when a university sends a suicidal student home, rather than dealing with the problem on campus, the challenge for academics extends beyond the day to day pressure created by this burgeoning population to the life-and-death challenges that such students present at the sharp edge of the problem.
When we fail to handle the problem in house, here's what can happen:


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

In 2014-15 freshmen entering private, non-profit colleges paid half price.

Last fall the discount rate for incoming freshman hit the all-time high of 48%.
Nevertheless, enrollments are dipping this fall at many private universities.  In Philadelphia for example both Drexel and St. Joseph's universities reportedly have multi-million-dollar budgetary shortfalls due to declined enrollments.  Perhaps Pope Francis can give St. Joe's a special blessing that will help it to bounce back, when he is in Philly next month.

Last year, we saw the crap get kicked out of the private, for-profit sector.  The Department of Education disbanded and destroyed Corinthian Colleges.  The CEO and CFO of ITT were indicted by the Department of Justice.  The University of Phoenix reportedly laid off over a thousand during the course of the academic year.

By and large the private, non-profits came through the year relatively unscathed with only a couple of closures.  Is 2015-2016 the year when this sector takes its first big hit?  The sharp declination in the stock markets, if a sign of things to come, will dramatically curtail available endowment funds, usually the main if not only recourse for tuition-driven schools when enrollments sag.  Watch for a major correction in private higher education to parallel the major correction in the offing on Wall Street.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Public service should be a part of every young American's experience.

Hilary Clinton has gotten it exactly right in proposing as part of her affordable-college plan to vastly expand Americorps.
Back in the bad old days of the Vietnam War, public service mostly meant military service.  The Peace Corps was around, but most of us men, if able-bodied, had to choose among the five armed services.  I picked the Coast Guard, which had a lot of peaceful missions as part of the Department of Transportation.  And I got to get married and lead a relatively normal life in Cleveland, where I sailed the good ship "Federal Building," only venturing occasionally onto the Great Lakes when a big story was breaking.  Looking back, I am a strong supporter of two years --- or at least a year --- of public service for every high school graduate... it would promote citizenship while helping kids to mature and amass some money before embarking on college.  I got very little out of college, being highly immature and majoring in "fraternity."  But I got a whole lot out of law school when I was 30.

As for Mrs. Clinton, while she gets this piece of the campaign puzzle, there is so much more she doesn't seem to get.  What the heck are she and Bubba doing in a $100,000 rental in the Hamptons while Bernie Sanders is stumping for economic fairness?  And how can she be so glib about the email issue?  She worked on Watergate as a young staffer.  Didn't the Nixon debacle stick in her mind?

There is a very fine line between being arrogant and being a knuckle head.  I fear that Mrs. Clinton has crossed that line.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Register for my September Higher Education Webinars here:

1.  September 10 - Managing Student Records

2.  September 17 - Student Drug Issues (with an emphasis on the "Marijuana Revolution")

3.  September 24 - Student Handbooks

Friday, August 21, 2015

Ethnographer Alice Goffman's study of the Philadelphia police department is challenged.

This reviewer questions whether Goffman's 2014 tome, which was highly acclaimed, embelishes the facts to make a better story.

If so, she joins a distinguished list of guilders of the truth:
1.  Hunter S. Thompson, the Rolling Stone's doctor of gonzo journalism, comes immediately to mind.  Of course, Thompson's yarns, such as "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," were so over-the-top that only someone as drugged up and spaced out as Thompson himself would have taken them at face value.

2.  Unfortunately, in the Thompson tradition, but without his obvious satirical stance, Rolling Stone last year published a piece, now internationally infamous, about an alleged rape at a UVa fraternity.  Never interviewing the accused, the author allowed the alleged "victim" to hold center stage, her version of the tale unchallenged.  A Rolling Stone editor, who previously had defended unobjective journalist in a college-campus speech, allowed this travesty to be published.  Naturally, lawsuits have followed.

3.  The late, famous historian Stephen Ambrose was accused in 2010 of making up some of his interviews with Dwight Eisenhower.  Ambrose had unique acces to Ike, but relatives of the great general and president have since questioned some of the yarns subsequently spun by Ambrose. 

4.  And of course there is the now-legendary story of Stephen Glass, the journalist courted by (yes) Rolling Stone and the New Republic, who was found to have fabricated many of his best magazine pieces. The 2007 film, "Shattered Glass", does  a nice job of dramatizing his rise and fall.  Vanity Fair's in depth article is even better.

The desire for fame is felt by many of us.  The urge to burnish our own images is also powerful.  Thus the case some years  ago of the Holy Cross history prof who claimed he had fought in Vietnam, when he had never been near the place.  He suffered a one-year suspension without pay during which to ponder his indiscretions.

As Karen Black tells Robert Redford in "The Natural," fame without fortune doesn't amount to much.  Yet, going viral has been the goal of many who post on the Internet.  Not so for Goffman, Thompson, Ambrose and Glass, as well as Rolling Stone magazine, for whom fame and fortune did go hand in hand.  Thompson and Ambrose got out of Dodge before their reputations faded (in Thompson case, he killed himself when his notoriety waned) or were soiled (the accusations against Ambrose came after his demise).  Insurance no doubt will cover Rolling Stone's exposure; I suppose, and hope, that the author of the UVa article is being forced into a different career.  I don't know what happened to Glass, but I hope he too is practicing something other than journalism.

As for Alice Goffman, well, I think that young woman is in for a rocky ride before this business is put to rest.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

"Yes Means Yes"... the Musical

A report in the online daily, Inside Higher Ed, tells us that many schools are using songs, skits and other such clever ways of informing students of their "yes means yes" policies.

I commend them for the effort.  Almost anything they do will help, I think.

At the same time, I maintain my position that there are several fundamentally unfair aspects of this crusade against sexual assault on campus that ensure continuing violations of rights and increasing litigation:

1.  Sexual assault is a crime and should be handled by the criminal justice system, not higher education institutions.

2.  Referring to the complainant as "the victim" puts the first rabbit in the hat.  It creates a presumption of guilt which throws out the window the presumption of innocence.

3.  The standard of "more likely than not" is far more relaxed than "beyond a reasonable doubt."

4.  When the accused, presumed guilty by the very word "victim" in the charges, is found "more likely than not" guilty, the tendency is to invoke academic capital punishment, i.e., expulsion, or at the least a long suspension.  Why?  Because heaven forbid we cut him some slack, leave him in the campus community and he acts again.  Just think of the liability the institution has now.

I personally do not believe that any amount of training--- of students, investigators, or adjudicators --- will make the typical campus approach to sexual assault allegations a fair system, so long as my objections 2 through 4 persist.  Furthermore, even if these three concerns were answered, I expect to maintain my position that sexual assault --- as contrasted to sexual harassment --- should be handled by the criminal justice system and not by academic institutions.  This is my number one objection and it will take a lot of reform of our industry's current approach to this issue to persuade me to reverse my view.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Are the Chinese hacking American universities?

Evidence suggests that the University of Virginia is only the latest victim.
Stories have been emerging for many years of Chinese post-docs trying to steal secrets from American university labs.

Meanwhile, of course, the Chinese government  is struggling to keep the country's stock markets from freefalling.  This may be a bigger threat tot he US economy than the incessant IP thefts.

Monday, August 17, 2015

NLRB issues a setback to the movement to make college athletes into employees.

Reversing the decision of the Regional Director in its Chicago Office, handed down last spring, the NLRB in Washington ruled that finding Northwestern University's football players to be employees would not further good labor relations.
The Board's ruling effectively ends the players' bid to vote for union representation.  It also delivers a blow to the larger movement to make NCAA athletes into employees not only for purposes of union representation but also for eligibility under the Fair Labor Standards Act for minimum wages and overtime pay.
What is at stake in all this litigation?  Here's the answer I gave back in April:

Brace Yourself for the Revolution That Is Redefining the Word “Employee”
         Background.  The Obama Administration’s six years in office have been characterized by a ramping up of regulatory activity across the bureaucratic spectrum.  The Department of Labor has linked arms with the Internal Revenue Service in challenging bogus “independent contractor” classifications, while DOL has also issued onerous rules restricted when unpaid interns can be excluded by for-profit firms from their payrolls.  Although the Supreme Court threw employers a bone back in January by declaring that waiting time for security clearances was non-compensable (see your February Bulletin at [2.2]), news on the labor/employment law front has been mostly bad for employers.  In particular, as the DOL’s aggressive actions against misclassification of independent contractors and unpaid interns illustrates, the Obama bureaucracy is expanding the definition of “employee” to include categories not previously contemplated.
        This regulatory activity has stimulated analogous litigation.  Boutique law firms, specializing in Fair Labor Standards Act class-action suits are a case on point.  Witness the following statements from law-firm websites:
  • Has your employer failed to pay you for work you did? Are you unsure if you are being paid enough?  There are various wage laws, which dictate the amount employees should be paid. A wage attorney is familiar with these federal and state wage laws and will be able to tell you if you have a claim. The sooner you contact a wage attorney, the sooner you can collect unpaid wages from your employer. If you have any questions about your paycheck, contact a KM&A wage attorney today.” (
  • The Tran Law Firm is a groundbreaking plaintiff's law firm that enforces the FLSA through individual and class action lawsuits. Innovative, energetic, with an unrelenting mindset for success, the firm represents individuals against large companies in complex, class and collective action lawsuits for wage and hour violations. The Firm has developed, changed, and enforced wage and hourly rules to protect workers' rights. What makes the Tran Law Firm different in the field of overtime law is that we are Trial Lawyers who have the skills and experience to succeed in the courtroom. Centrally located in Houston, Texas, the Tran Law Firm has a national practice and litigates and arbitrates cases throughout the United States.” (
  • Some businesses, such as call centers and retail companies, may have hundreds of employees misclassified as exempt. Some legal experts have speculated that the FLSA is the most frequently violated federal labor and employment statute on the books.” (
  • CHICAGO (May 19, 2014) - Leading law firm Seyfarth Shaw LLP has released information charting another record year for federal wage and hour lawsuits filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in 2014, marking the seventh straight year of increases in these cases.
“In data obtained from the Federal Judicial Center, 8,126 FLSA cases were filed in 2014, up nearly 5 percent from 2013 which saw 7,764 cases filed. FLSA cases have exploded across the country, rising 438% since 2000. (For more details, see Seyfarth’s complete chart of federal FLSA claims filed between 1990 – 2014).
“’The wage and hour litigation epidemic continues, and we expect this trend to   expand further in the coming year,’ said Richard Alfred, chair of Seyfarth’s Wage & Hour Litigation practice. ‘While the rise we’ve seen in FLSA cases is astonishing, these numbers are also just one part of the equation. They would be even higher if wage and hour lawsuits filed in state courts under state pay practices, data which isn’t readily available, were added.’” (

             An unexpected source.  Just two years ago, it was unlikely that anyone would have predicted that that the National Labor Board would be the sharp point of the revolution to redefine “employee.”  At a time when well under 10% of the private-sector workforce is organized, the NLRB has been in disarray.  The Supreme Court during Obama’s first term reversed hundreds of Labor Board rulings rendered by a rump panels, while the Senate sat on the President’s nominees.  More recently, the SCOTUS has held that Obama’s so-called “recess appointments” to the Board were invalid.
           However, instead of accepting its apparent fate as a backwater agency, the NLRB has moved to the cutting edge of radical labor-law “reforms.”  Wielding Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, which assured all private-sector employees of their right to engage in “protected, concerted activity,” the Board has tackled unfair labor practice charges filed by non-union workers disciplined for joining in criticism of their bosses on such social networking sites as Facebook. 
         But, undoubtedly, the most dramatic Board decision came not out of Washington, but from America’s Second City.  About this time last year, the Regional Director of the NLRB’s Chicago office fired a shot heard round the world, when he ruled that Northwestern University’s football players are employees entitled to vote for a labor union.  The school’s appeal of that radical ruling remains pending before the Board in Washington.  As wildly improbable as it may seem at first blush, the Director’s analysis must be credited as careful, detailed and potentially compelling.  Herewith a few excerpts:
           “The Employer’s football team is comprised of about 112 players of which there are 85 players who receive football grant-in-aid scholarships that pay for their tuition, fees, room, board, and books.3   The players on a scholarship typically receive grant-in-aid totaling $61,000 each academic year.4   The grant-in-aid for the players’ tuition, fees and books is not provided directly to them in the form of a stipend as is sometimes done with room and board. Because the Employer’s football team has a rule requiring its players to live on campus during their first two years, these players live in a dorm room and are provided a meal card, which allows them to buy food at the school cafeteria. In contrast, the players who are upperclassmen can elect to live off campus, and scholarship players are provided a monthly stipend totaling between $1,200 and $1,600 to cover their living expenses. Under current NCAA regulations, the Employer is prohibited from offering its players additional compensation for playing football at its institution with one exception. The Employer is permitted to provide its players with additional funds out of a ‘Student Assistance Fund’ to cover certain expenses such as health insurance, dress clothes required to be worn by the team while traveling to games, the cost of traveling home for a family member’s funeral, and fees for graduate school admittance tests and tutoring.  The players do not have FICA taxes withheld from the scholarship monies they receive. Nor do they receive a W-2 tax form from the Employer.”
       “As has already been alluded to, the Employer’s players (both scholarship players and walk-ons) are subject to certain team and athletic department rules set forth, inter alia, in the Team Handbook that is applicable solely to the Employer’s players and Northwestern’s Athletic Department Handbook. Northwestern’s regular student population is not subject to these rules and policies. Specifically, freshmen and sophomore year players receiving scholarships are required to live in on-campus dormitories. Only upperclassmen players are permitted to live off campus and even then they are required to submit their lease to Fitzgerald for his approval before they can enter into it. If players want to obtain outside employment, they must likewise first obtain permission from the athletic department. This is so that the Employer can monitor whether the player is receiving any sort of additional compensation or benefit because of their athletic ability or reputation.  Similarly, players are required to disclose to their coaches detailed information pertaining to the vehicle that they drive. The players must also abide by a social media policy, which restricts what they can post on the internet, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. In fact, the players are prohibited from denying a coach’s “friend” request and the former’s postings are monitored. The Employer prohibits players from giving media interviews unless they are directed to participate in interviews that are arranged by the Athletic Department. Players are prohibited from swearing in public, and if a player ‘embarrasses’ the team, he can be suspended for one game. A second offense of this nature can result in a suspension up to one year. Players who transfer to another school to play football must sit out a year before they can compete for the new school. Players are prohibited from profiting off their image or reputation, including the selling of merchandise and autographs. Players are also required to sign a release permitting the Employer and the Big Ten Conference to utilize their name, likeness and image for any purpose.  The players are subject to strict drug and alcohol policies and must sign a release making themselves subject to drug testing by the Employer, Big Ten Conference, and NCAA. The players are subject to anti-hazing and anti-gambling policies as well.”
          “The first week in August, the scholarship and walk-on players begin their football season with a month-long training camp, which is considered the most demanding part of the season. In training camp (and the remainder of the calendar year), the coaching staff prepares and provides the players with daily itineraries that detail which football-related activities they are required to attend and participate in. The itineraries likewise delineate when the players are to eat their meals and receive any necessary medical treatment. For example, the daily itinerary for the first day of training camp in 2012 shows that the athletic training room was open from 6:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. so the players could receive medical treatment and rehabilitate any lingering injuries. Because of the physical nature of football, many players were in the training room during these hours. At the same time, the players had breakfast made available to them at the N Club. From 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., any players who missed a summer workout (discussed below) or who were otherwise deemed unfit by the coaches were required to complete a fitness test. The players were then separated by position and required to attend position meetings from 8:30 am. to 11:00 a.m. so that they could begin to install their plays and work on basic football fundamentals. The players were also required to watch film of their prior practices at this time. Following these meetings, the players had a walk-thru from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at which time they scripted and ran football plays. The players then had a one-hour lunch during which time they could go to the athletic training room, if they needed medical treatment. From 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., the players had additional meetings that they were required to attend. Afterwards, at 4:00 p.m., they practiced until team dinner, which was held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the N Club. The team then had additional position and team meetings for a couple of more hours. At 10:30 p.m., the players were expected to be in bed (“lights out”) since they had a full day of football activities and meetings throughout each day of training camp. After about a week of training camp on campus, the Employer’s football team made their annual trek to Kenosha, Wisconsin for the remainder of their training camp where the players continued to devote 50 to 60 hours per week on football related activities.
         “After training camp, the Employer’s football team starts its regular season which consists of 12 games played against other colleges, usually played on Saturdays, between the beginning of September and the end of November. During this time, the players devote 40 to 50 hours per week to football-related activities, including travel to and from their scheduled games.  During each Monday of the practice week, injured players must report to the athletic training room to receive medical treatment starting at about 6:15 a.m. Afterwards, the football coaches require the players to attend mandatory meetings so that they can begin to install the game plan for their upcoming opponent. However, the only physical activity the coaches expect the players to engage in during this day is weightlifting since they are still recovering from their previous game. The next several days of the week (Tuesday through Thursday), injured players must report to the athletic training room before practice to continue to receive medical treatment. The coaches require all the players to attend mandatory practices and participate in various football- related activities in pads and helmets from about 7:50 a.m. until 11:50 a.m.  In addition, the players must attend various team and position meetings during this time period. Upon completion of these practices and meetings, the scholarship players attend a mandatory ‘training table’ at the N Club where they receive food to assist them in their recovery. Attendance is taken at these meals and food is only provided to scholarship players and those walk-ons who choose to pay for it out of their own pocket.”
           Bottom line, following a dozen single-spaced pages of such factual recitations, the Director concludes, “Based on the foregoing and the entire record herein, I have found that all grant-in-aid scholarship players for the Employer’s football team who have not exhausted their playing eligibility are ‘employees’ under Section 2(3) of the Act. Thus, I direct an immediate election in this case.” [Northwestern University and College Athletes Players Association (CAPA), Case 13-RC-121359 (March 26, 2014), accessible at]
         The inevitable next step.  Just as the DOL’s enactment of a tough, six-point test of “unpaid internship” under the FLSA instigated a spate of class-action suits by private attorneys, the NLRB’s Northwestern University decision predictably has propagated a private action, which purports to qualify for class-action classification.  On October 20, 2014, PL McDonald Law, LLC of Philadelphia (PA) filed Sackos v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, Civil Action No.1:14-CV-1710 WTL-MJD in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Indiana.  In addition to the NCAA, the named defendants include all 340 NCAA Division I schools.
           Plaintiff Samantha Sackos is identified in the complaint as a Houston resident who “was employed by the University of Houston as an unpaid student athlete on the Women’s Soccer roster from academic year 2010-11 through academic year 2013-14.”  As such, the complaint alleges, “Sackos is a covered employee within the meaning of the FLSA.”
           The complaint also asserts that the NCAA’s rules forbid member schools from paying their players, except for those who receive scholarship aid.   Defendants’ refusal to recognize, and pay, student athletes as temporary employees of NCAA Division I Member Schools under the FLSA, codified in NCAA bylaws, produces the following perverse result: work study participants who sell programs or usher at athletic events are paid, on average, $9.03 an hour, but student athletes whose performance creates 
 such work study jobs in the athletic department are paid nothing.”
        The 24-page complaint pleads for the following relief for all current and former student-athletes affiliated with the 340 named schools:
  • Permission to notify all such athletes of the action and their right to opt into it, and
  • Ultimately, unpaid wages, liquidated (double) damages, plus
  • Pre- and Post-judgment interest; an
  • An injunction of continued violations of the FLSA by the defendants.

         The suit appears to be part of a larger crusade in the arena of big-time college athletics.   The lynchpin of this movement is an organization calling itself “SAME: Student Athlete Minimum-Wage Equity,” whose Statement of Principles reads, “Student athletes deserve to be treated the SAME as students in work study programs.
        “Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), colleges are required to pay work study participants at least the federal minimum-wage of $7.25 per hour. Student athletes meet FLSA criteria more than work study participants do.  But the NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA prohibit even modest student athlete pay.
       “SAME legal counsel aims to level the field of pay for all student athletes in NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA sports – regardless of their scholarship status, popularity or performance, team revenue generation, or gender.
        “No student treated better, or worse.  All the SAME.”
       The organization adds, “Collective Actions [the FLSA label for class actions] to change similar rules for NCAA Divisions II and III, the NAIA and NJCAA are on deck --- if good faith efforts to effect change via cooperation are rejected or futile.”
        What this may mean to other employers.  With nearly two more years of Obama Administration activism in front of us, and the very real prospect of a Hilary Clinton Administration in Obama’s wake, an aggressive national executive branch is a fact of employment-law life in the foreseeable future.  The FLSA defines “employ” as “to suffer or permit to work.”  Arguably, never before has the DOL and other federal agencies defined that phrase so liberally and so broadly.
        Our first inclination might be conclude that --- beyond the 1,281 NCAA member schools and some 450,000 student-athletes who compete annually (and the several million athlete-alumni) --- our concerns can be limited to how this lawsuit might impact our favorite Saturday afternoon pastime. 
         Conversely, one might reasonably fear that all this FLSA activity represents not only a significant litigation threat in its own right.  Combined with the increasing activism of such elements of organized labor as the Service Employees International Union and President Obama’s determination to wield the Executive Order as a sword to carve new employee rights --- such as last year’s order extending employment protections to LGBT applicants and employees vis a vis government contractors --- and employers face a “Perfect Storm” of regulatory and litigation challenges.
          Will the courts protect employers from this tsunami?  While the conservative-dominated SCOTUS may be expected to issue more decisions like January’s waiting-time ruling, other courts may not be so solicitous.  Recall, for example, the lead story in your February Bulletin, which reported the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s affirmance of a $151 million jury verdict against Wal-Mart under the FLSA.  No one reading that report can sit back and assume that the revolution underway, regarding who is an employee entitled to relief in one form or another under the federal labor laws, will be confined to collegiate athletics.

Happy Days Are Here Again?

A new report from Georgetown University's Center for Education and the Workforce claims that 2.09 "good jobs" have been added to the workforce during the post-Great Recession recovery and that 2.8 million of them went to college grads.  A "good job" is defined as $53000 or better.  Most, says the report, are in management, STEM occupations and the like.  Nearly 200,000 such good jobs disappeared from education and have not come back, adds the study.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Is everybody in America high?

Clinton's foray into New England resulted in an outpouring of stories by voters about their problems with substance abuse or their family member's problems, or their... well, you get the idea.
So, here are some interesting questions this revelation raises:

1.  Should America be legalizing marijuana?

2.  Has the War on Drugs been good or bad for America?

3.  What are the root causes of all this drug abuse?

As to this last question, I am listening to Kearns-Goodwin's "The Bully Pulpit" in my car.  Just this morning I  listened to a section in which she noted the steep rise in anxiety and stress related health issues in the first years of the 20th century. Publisher JJ McClure had to take a year off from the magazine to take the cure in Europe.  K-G hypothesizes that urbanization and the increased pace of American life were responsible for this "epidemic" of nervous breakdowns among professional and business men and socially active women.

How much more so today?!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Clinton proposes to put Uncle Sam's money where his mouth is.

The Democratic front-runner wants to spend $350 billion over the next decade to make public higher education a debt-free experience and community college a tuition-free option.  Other aspects of her plan:

1.  Tougher regulation of the for-profit sector of higher ed

2.  Grants for small private colleges with modest endowments

This is a solid and sensible plan.  It could ensure that the U.S. remains the world leader in higher education, while giving all Americans an equal opportunity to get the education, training and preparation to prevail in an increasingly competitive world.

Sexual Assault Cases: Didn't we all know this was coming?

A Tennessee state-court judge has ruled that the University of Tennessee violated the due-process rights of a student accused of sexual assault.  The university required that the student prove that he had consent from his partner.  When, of course, he had no way of meeting this burden of proof, he was expelled.  Her Honor rightly observed that shifting the burden of proof put the accused in the position of having to make some sort of recording of the consent before proceeding.  Not only was this an impossible and unfair burden for him to meet.  Additionally, the requirement violated the university's own rule, which states that consent can be manifested by unmistakable conduct on the partner's part.

Couldn't we all see this ruling coming down the road?  It is the inevitable result of an untenable set of circumstances that has higher education tying itself up in legal knots.

This mess began with President Obama's call a year ago to obliterate sexual assault on college campuses... a laudable idea on its face.  Who could be against it?  The challenge was taken up by the US Department of Education with a passion.  DOE placed the burden on colleges and universities to get the job done.

In response, many a new job --- usually called Title IX coordinator --- was created across the country.  Policies were created or revised.  Panels of adjudicators and phalanxes of investigators were trained.  And the blunders began.

Mistake number one was thinking that colleges and universities are qualified to replace police departments and courts.

Mistake number two was replacing guilty beyond a reasonable doubt with the "more likely than not" standard that prevails in most college adjudications... a perfectly fine standard when the issue is "was the student intoxicated," but hardly appropriate when sexual assault (a crime... often a felony) is at issue.

Mistake number three was in calling the complainant "the victim," a term that carries with it the presumption of guilt on the part of the accused.

Mistake number four was in erring on the side of playing it safe.  If the accused can't acquit himself, expel him, lest he do what he supposedly did yet again... thus compounding the institution's potential liability.

These fundamental mistakes are being repeated time and time again.

Given this litany of errors, we can anticipate more decisions from the country's courts along the lines of this one out of Tennessee.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Find and Register for my August and September Higher-Ed Law Webinars Here:

1.  August 20 -  Facilitating Students with Disabilities

2.  September 10 - Managing Student Records

3.  September 17 - Coping with the Marijuana Revolution

4.  September 24 - Student Handbooks