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Faculty group at Alaska's Anchorage campus says Fairbanks should bear brunt of state cuts

Inside Higher Ed - 4 hours 44 min ago

The gloves have already come off in the wake of massive cuts planned for the University of Alaska system, with the Faculty Senate at the university’s largest campus in Anchorage issuing a report detailing why the smaller research campus in Fairbanks should bear the brunt of the financial reduction.

Fairbanks officials were none too pleased.

In late June, Governor Mike Dunleavy vetoed portions of the Alaska Legislature’s state budget -- causing an unprecedented 41 percent cut to the University of Alaska system. Last week, legislators failed to override the governor’s veto. Now, as major financial issues loom closer, infighting has already begun between institutions within the system -- as is often the case in higher education when money gets tighter.

The Anchorage campus's Faculty Senate committee on governance and funding reform released a report last week detailing opinions on how the system should handle the cuts -- and it asserts that the University of Alaska Fairbanks should absorb much of the pain.

Among several recommendations within the report, the committee calls on the university system to apportion funds based on the number of full-time-equivalent students at each campus. The committee said that at Anchorage and University of Alaska Southeast, the smallest of the three campuses, this would mean funding continuing at the previous year's level despite the cuts. However, Fairbanks would receive a significant reduction. The report said that 70 to 80 percent of students in the Alaska system would be able to continue their education as a result of this recommendation.

“Admittedly, UAF would bear the brunt of the cuts,” the committee wrote. “Probably, it will be necessary to declare a state of financial exigency at UAF or for some units that are a part of UAF.”

The report acknowledges that its recommendations would result in "financial vulnerability for the Fairbanks campus" -- but suggests that the susceptibility would result from what it calls "historically unequal" funding that has benefited the Fairbanks campus. According to the report, the Fairbanks campus was funded at a rate of $34,845 per student while Anchorage was funded at a rate of $11,540 per student. The report defines this financial vulnerability through a comparison to UA Anchorage -- pointing to the fact that Anchorage has had to adapt to funding cuts while Fairbanks has not.

“These disparate allocations have encouraged inefficiency in the one institution and efficiency in the other,” the committee wrote.

Tension Has Built

The committee’s report seemed to reveal further animosity between the two campuses, including that cuts in recent years have been generally levied at Anchorage rather than Fairbanks.

Among the other recommendations made in the report, the committee expressed the belief that the Alaska university system should decentralize, blowing up the system office in favor of independent universities with separate governing boards, which the committee said would lead to better financial health at each institution.

Forrest Nabors, an Anchorage political science professor and chair of the committee that created the report, said it was a "false assumption" that the two campuses weren't competing already. Decentralization would lead to healthier competition, he argued.

"Our belief is that when we become independent institutions, our competition will be healthy, and that each of us will be more responsive to the market and will each concentrate on our strengths," Nabors said. "We will be more complementary. UAF and UAA each has unique strengths, and I see no reason why we cannot thrive and collaborate as independent institutions."

Nabors said that no ill will drove the creation of the report, and that recognizing problems was necessary in a time like this.

"I cannot emphasize enough that we do not wish ill to anybody. Faculty, staff and students at UAF are our colleagues, fellow citizens and fellow Alaskans," Nabors said. "We want the best for all of us. We sympathize with them. We have reached out to them to work in common towards a better future for our system. Our dependence on state aid and this abrupt and deep cut to our state aid is the cause of this division. To remove ourselves from this dependency, we must reform. That has been the sentiment of our faculty for years."

Anchorage chancellor Cathy Sandeen said in an emailed statement that the opinions expressed in the report are representative of the committee’s opinion and not necessarily the university’s. Sandeen's statement avoided a direct question about whether Anchorage administrators supported the report or not.

"Under our model of shared governance, faculty, staff and students have the right to come together, form committees and make recommendations on any number of topics or issues. We are committed to an inclusive process and welcome diversity of thoughts and opinions -- especially in this time of budget uncertainty and reinvention,” Sandeen said in the email. “The UAA Faculty Senate took time to provide an analysis based on publicly available data. The opinions and recommendations are their own. It is up to the UA Board of Regents and state elected officials to decide on a path forward based on all the various reports and recommendations they receive.”

In an emailed statement, Fairbanks Chancellor Dan White didn't respond directly to the report but instead simply said those considering UA Fairbanks budget to work with the Fairbanks campus officials to make sure the proposals are "well informed."

"There are many different opinions on how to meet the budget deficit facing UA," White said. "We would encourage those writing proposals about UAF's budget to work directly with us so that the proposals are well informed to the greatest extent possible. At UAF we support our faculty to work across the system in a collaborative and constructive manner."

Response From Fairbanks

Sine Anahita, a UA Fairbanks professor of sociology and president of the Fairbanks Faculty Senate, said his group chose not to respond by releasing a similar report but instead to email the UA Board of Regents to share opinions about the UA Anchorage committee report.

“It is true that the budget crisis has set people on edge across the system. There is deep anxiety, as we are facing massive layoffs and program closures. Some of our colleagues have reacted to the stress by striking out at others,” Anahita said. “But the leadership at UAF -- both governance leaders and administrative leaders -- believe deeply in the power of solidarity, unity and community. While we will correct misinformation as needed, and we will promote UAF's interest, we will not do so at the expense of other campuses.”

In an April interview with Inside Higher Ed, Alaska system president Jim Johnsen pointed to the fact that the different campuses in the Alaska system were distinctive within the state. This could often lead to tension, as Fairbanks is the system’s main research university -- terrain that officials at the Anchorage campus have often expressed desire to expand into.

“My philosophy has always been stay in your lane and do more,” Johnsen said of the two universities. “Let’s educate more nurses; let’s educate more engineers and accountants. Our state needs you for that. We already have one research university, and our board has supported that, generally speaking. There are really interesting research programs that the federal government funds that do ask us to reach out and partner with the other universities.”

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The divide over scholarly debate over gender identity rages on

Inside Higher Ed - 4 hours 44 min ago

Scholars are coming to the defense of a graduate student instructor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who is under scrutiny for her critical perspective on trans women. At the same time, other trans scholars and allies say they’re increasingly targeted for their own views and identities.

These events, among others, suggest that the so-called TERF wars -- in reference to the derogatory term “trans-exclusionary radical feminist” -- aren’t slowing down.

Philosophers recently reacted to an anonymous open letter to them on Medium, titled, “I Am Leaving Academic Philosophy Because of Its Transphobia Problem.” The writer identified herself as graduate student and a trans woman who was been adversely impacted by “TERFs,” or “so-called ‘gender-critical feminists’” and “those who amplify their voices. I am writing this letter because I want people to know that there are real, concrete, macro-level consequences to allowing hate speech to proliferate in philosophy under the guise of academic discussion. In sharing my pain and anger at being forced out of a career that I once loved, I hope to stir some of you to greater action.”

Through philosophy discussions on social and other media, “the knowledge that there is once again trans discourse in philosophy has itself become stressful. In the past year, I have been driven off social media because of feelings of stress, vulnerability, anger and pain that surface whenever there is new trans-related philosophical news," she said. And the cost of not engaging on social media is lost career opportunities.

Moreover, “I do not feel safe or comfortable in professional settings any longer,” the student wrote. Whereas hurtful comments or questions about being trans aren’t tolerated in other work environments, the same is not true in academe. “How can I be expected to attend professional events where people deny and question such an integral part of my identity and act like that is tolerable or normal?” My gender “is not up for debate. I am a woman. Any trans discourse that does not proceed from this initial assumption -- that trans people are the gender that they say they are -- is oppressive, regressive and harmful.”

The student identified Kathleen Stock, professor of philosophy at the University of Sussex and a well known gender-critical feminist, in particular, as someone toxic, and asked why she’d been asked to speak on sexual orientation at the then upcoming Aristotelian Society meeting in Britain. In so doing the student cited some of Stock's statements on Twitter, including, "Transwomen are male. Most have penises. Many fancy females. These too are facts. There are documented cases of transwomen harming females. If we legally allow transwomen into female-only spaces, SOME females will be hurt by SOME transwomen. It's utterly predictable."

Stock responded to the letter in her own Medium post, saying that the writer appeared to be blaming her for her own actions. “Adults make their own decisions, and clearly, a job in philosophy doesn’t suit everyone,” Stock wrote. “Readers might also bear in mind that at least one of my supposedly terrible views, that subjective ‘gender identity’ doesn’t determine womanhood or manhood, is very clearly entailed by the work of some well-known contemporary feminist philosophers on gender, whether or not they would recant it now.”

Stock’s June talk at the society still proved controversial, with Minorities and Philosophy UK and Minorities and Philosophy International saying in a joint statement that the “right to promote hateful ideas is not covered under the right to free speech. Thus, we resist the charge that this is simply an attempt to silence and stifle philosophical debate.”

Not “every item of personal and ideological obsession is worthy of philosophical debate,” the joint statement continues. Skepticism about the rights of marginalized groups and individuals, “where issues of life and death are at stake, are not up for debate. The existence and validity of transgender and nonbinary people, and the right of trans and nonbinary people to identify their own genders and sexualities, fall within the range of such indisputable topics.”

Elsewhere online, there have been discussions about whether it’s acceptable for professors to publicly criticize graduate students about their trans advocacy statements and tactics.

At Santa Barbara, students have reported and are encouraging other students to report an outspoken gender-critical Ph.D. candidate in feminist studies for gender discrimination. A campus protest was organized against her, as were student petitions. One such petition signed by some fellow graduate students doesn't mention Tanner by name but asks the faculty in her department for "transparency" in how the matter is being addressed. It also demands that "specific steps be taken to ensure that those espousing openly racist, anti-sex work and transphobic beliefs do not continue to teach or TA" for the department.

"While we appreciate being referred to Title IX, EthicsPoint, and other institutional entities and resources," the petition reads, "we also recognize that these institutional entities often further marginalize vulnerable students and we ask that the feminist studies department respond publicly to the concerns being raised by undergraduate students, graduate students and alumni in a timely manner."

Stock has come to the graduate student’s defense, publicly calling the campaign against her a “witch hunt.”

The complaints against the student, Laura Tanner, relate, at least in part, to her statements on social media. Tanner’s Twitter profile says “Woman: noun; adult human female. My views are my own, I will not be silenced.” Many of her posts relate to concerns about transing minors; she retweeted a post critical of young trans men getting “top surgery,” or their breast tissue removed, for example.

Tanner, who declined an interview request, on her webpage describes her research interests as “resisting the discursive erasure of women and girls, particularly in health and gender discourse; attempts to disassociate the female body from womanhood; the mistaken idea that biological sex is socially constructed or possible to change, the loss of women and girls' civil rights through changes to laws that remove sex protections and define gender as a feeling; and the abusive and dangerously experimental practices of medically ‘transing’ children and young adults.”

Shelly Leachman, university spokesperson, declined to comment on the case, citing privacy policies and laws governing employees and students.

Santa Barbara “has a process for reporting bias incidents on campus, and procedures for addressing these issues when they arise,” Leachman said. It “also has strong policies related to protecting academic freedom and freedom of expression. Campus community members are encouraged to report violations of these policies and of misconduct in all of these areas.”

Looking Backward, and Ahead

These battles aren’t exclusive to academe, and have been waged for some time in the U.S. and abroad -- particularly in the United Kingdom, where proposed updates to the Gender Recognition Act centering on gender self-identification have proven divisive.

But the issue flared in U.S. academe in 2017, when Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy published an article comparing being transgender to being transracial. The journal’s editors and associate editors disagreed about how to handle the intense criticism the piece prompted, and about whether it should have ever been published. The journal’s Board of Directors eventually stepped in to limit the associate editors’ authority and announce a restructuring of Hypatia’s editorial process.

There have been trans discourse-related controversies in fields beyond philosophy and gender studies. In one instance last summer, both Brown University and PLOS ONE distanced themselves from a descriptive study based on a survey of parents of teens and young adults who’d experienced “rapid-onset gender dysphoria.” In response to criticism about the study’s premise and methodology, the study’s author, Lisa Littman, an assistant professor of the practice of behavioral and social sciences at Brown, said at the time, “like all descriptive studies, there are limitations, which are acknowledged. And although descriptive studies may be one of the less robust study designs, they play an important role in the scientific literature primarily because they are a first description of a new condition or population and they make it possible to conduct additional, more rigorous research.”  An updated version of the study, which included a separate formal comment from social psychologist Angelo Brandelli Costa was published in March.

Is what it means to be trans a legitimate line of inquiry? If so, where is the line between scholarship and discrimination? Paisley Currah, professor of political science and women’s and gender studies at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and founding co-editor of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, said that in general, “If one doesn’t think trans women are women, fine, don’t invite them to your private, women-only spaces. But it’s an entirely different matter to decide gender for someone else and to try to exclude them from gender-segregated public spaces.”

Still, Currah said he disagreed with using offices responsible for following Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits gender-based discrimination, to settle scholarly trans issues.

“No matter how much I agree with the content of the objections to ‘research’ that dehumanizes trans people, I would think long and hard about giving university administrations power to adjudicate speech and the legitimacy of research questions,” he said via email. “Using Title IX in this way may seem like a solution, but in the long term that strategy expands university administrations' policing power over all of us.”

Susan Stryker, professor of gender and women's studies at the University of Arizona and Currah’s founding co-editor at the journal, offered an analogy between how the trans discourse debate and the debate over immigration.

If womanhood is a “a restricted country,” Stryker said, citing the writer Joan Nestle, “Who says what those restrictions shall be? Who is womanhood for? How does one become its citizen?”

It’s “legitimate to ask all such questions,” Stryker continued. “There should be no bounds on academic inquiry.” Yet “what I see in the TERF wars is not disinterested academic inquiry,” she added. “It's more akin to white supremacists wanting to propagandize other whites about foreigners, where the position of foreigners in the conversation has been deemed illegitimate in advance.”

And when trans people “speak out, asserting their presence, and grasp for any lever to address the asymmetries of power that characterize their circumstances,” such as Title IX, she said, “they are all too often seen as being disruptive, provocateurs, aggressors, troublemakers, entitled, uppity, demanding, ungrateful” and more. 

How did the issue become so divisive? Stock said Thursday that in gender studies, queer theory and mainstream feminist philosophy, “the position that trans women are literally women is now an article of faith, disagreement with which is seen as a sign of moral degeneracy, rather than a matter over which reasonable people with different theories can disagree.”

This wouldn’t be so bad, she continued, “except that the article of faith is now being accepted as intellectually defensible by policy makers, who are rewriting laws and policies internationally to grant trans women, with or without legal sex changes or any medical alteration” access to women-only public spaces, resources and activities.

“Many people, both in and outside the academy, and on both left and right of the political spectrum, rightly have questions about how all this affects the original occupants of the category ‘women’ (i.e. females, especially those who can’t ‘identify out’ of poverty or vulnerability), but they are being vilified for raising such questions,” she added via email. Stock noted that since she started speaking out, she’s faced defamation from colleagues, threats and complaints.

Going forward, the anonymous student who is leaving philosophy suggested that journal editors and referees reject “transphobic” articles or those that otherwise question the legitimacy and rights of trans people. Transphobic conference speakers and submissions also should be rejected.

“Do not provide a platform for transphobes in philosophy,” she wrote in her letter. “Do not give them an opportunity to publicly express their bigotry.” Don't share their work on social media. “Finally, if you do see transphobia in philosophy, speak out. Do not remain silent.”

Responding on his blog, Daily Nous, Justin Weinberg, associate professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina, said that banning “trans-exclusionary works simply because they are trans-exclusionary” is “not a good idea.” At the same time, he said, “I’ve urged that we take seriously just how difficult existing discourse about transgender issues can be for our trans colleagues (and students, I should add).”

This involves “not just attending to what happens in academia, but also appreciating the broader discriminatory culture they inhabit and the role that abuse-friendly forms of social media play in our professional lives," Weinberg wrote. Specific examples include providing “explicit statements of support for trans persons in venues in which trans-exclusionary work appears” and balancing scholarship space for trans-exclusionary and trans authors.

Avoid hostility and talk of “sides," he said. And ensure that, “when possible, works you write, host or publish that argue for a trans-exclusionary view engage or otherwise demonstrate familiarity with the relevant scholarly work by trans or trans-inclusive scholars.”

Of the latter point, Weinberg wrote, “This is just basic research ethics: know about what you are writing about.”

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States pass flurry of bills targeting loan servicers

Inside Higher Ed - 4 hours 44 min ago

Before the legislative session that began in January, consumer groups in Colorado had twice sought to work with state lawmakers to pass a bill establishing a student borrower bill of rights, coming up short both times. But with Democrats in control of both state houses in 2019 and a new attorney general focused on consumer protections, the measure passed in May with days left in the legislative session.

Charley Olena, the advocacy director at New America, a progressive group that backed the bill, said student debt had come to be a prominent concern for voters in midterm elections in a way it hadn’t before.

“Debt wasn’t necessarily an issue rising to the top before,” she said. “There were a lot more people in the legislature willing to engage with us on it this time.”

Lawmakers in a growing number of states have sought to tackle student debt as a consumer protection problem. Over the first half of 2019, legislatures have enacted a flurry of bills taking aim at the companies that process and handle payments on the roughly $1.5 trillion in outstanding federal student loan debt.

Loan servicers have come under increased scrutiny from consumer advocates in recent years. And the Trump administration’s decision to dial back federal oversight of the industry appears to have prompted several states to act themselves, often at the urging of consumer groups.

New state regulations are testing arguments by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration that only the federal government, and not the states, has the authority to police loan servicers. Recent court rulings, though, appear to have only strengthened the hand of states seeking to wield more oversight powers.

Seven states so far this year have passed laws requiring loan servicers to meet consumer protection requirements. And a bill that may be the most far-reaching in the country could be headed for passage in the California Senate.

Most of the new laws require loan companies to be licensed through the state and ban deceptive practices. They also will lead states to create several new ombudsman offices to which borrowers can turn with complaints or unanswered questions about student loans.

Critics of servicers say state consumer protections are finally catching up to the scale of the problem. But the industry argues it’s taking the blame for deeper problems with the structure of the federal student loan system. And loan companies say the new laws could create a patchwork of regulatory regimes that drive up costs without real benefits for borrowers.

Only a handful of states and the District of Columbia had sought to regulate loan servicers before this year. The new laws will test the impact of state regulation on a scale not seen before, covering millions more borrowers across the country.

Filling Gaps in Oversight

Under the Obama administration, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau put the spotlight on the servicing sector. The agency began collecting thousands of complaints from student borrowers -- many of them involving issues like faulty information from servicers or errors in processing payments. It began publishing statistics on those complaints in annual reports. In January 2017, the consumer bureau (along with the attorneys general for Illinois and Washington State) filed a lawsuit against the servicer Navient that helped paint the Delaware-based company as a poster child for misconduct by student loan companies.

The company has denied wrongdoing in response to the lawsuit and argued witnesses failed to confirm the allegations by CFPB.

In recent years, DeVos has made an aggressive shift in its oversight of loan servicers. In 2017, she killed an information-sharing agreement between the Education Department and CFPB allowing the agency to track consumer complaints. Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, also shuttered a special CFPB unit dedicated to student loan issues last year.

And after pressure from loan servicers facing new state regulatory regimes, DeVos declared last year that states don’t have the authority to regulate federal student loans. That hasn’t deterred state legislators. While several of those laws emerged from new Democratic trifecta states, a bill adding oversight of loan servicers was also signed into law by Republican governor Larry Hogan in Maryland this year.

“What you’re seeing now is an effort by elected officials across the country -- most of which are being done in bipartisan fashion -- to ensure people who take on student loan debt, when they get ripped off, can get some justice,” said Seth Frotman, executive director of the Student Borrower Protection Center.

Frotman was the student loans ombudsman at CFPB before publicly resigning last year in a letter that rebuked the Trump administration’s higher ed policies. He’s also played a big role in pushing for new legislation targeting loan servicers at the state level.

His group hailed the California State Assembly's passage in May of the loan servicing legislation, which is currently in committee in the Senate. The bill would go further than most other new state laws by requiring that board members of servicing companies pass background checks. Consumer complaints found to be valid under the bill could also result in monetary damages being assessed against the companies.

Scott Buchanan, executive director of the Student Loan Servicing Alliance, the industry trade group representing servicers, said those companies are taking the blame for issues outside their control. Many complaints from borrowers, he said, are related to loan repayment or forgiveness options that were made complicated by Congress. The new state requirements, Buchanan said, “don’t move the needle for borrowers who are really struggling.”

SLSA opposed legislation in California and other states. Buchanan warned that the requirements could drive up compliance costs and force companies to spend money defending themselves from lawsuits.

“Our interests are already pretty well aligned with those of borrowers,” he said. “Our incentives financially are to keep a borrower in repayment, not to become delinquent or default.”

A New Playing Field for Loan Companies

The industry has argued for years that states don’t have the authority to regulate federal contractors -- ever since the first student borrower protections passed in states like Connecticut and Illinois. But a recent federal court ruling undercut that position.

Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that a student borrower in Illinois could sue her loan servicer, Great Lakes Education Loan Services, for violations of the state’s consumer protection laws. The borrower, Nicole Nelson, argued that the company steered borrowers away from options like income-driven repayment toward inferior options like forbearance.

The court ruled that while the Higher Education Act states that loan servicers are not subject to state disclosure requirements, the company could be sued for affirmative misrepresentations -- in this case, statements that representatives offer expert help or that they work on behalf of borrowers, not the company.

“The biggest impact of the decision is that it clarifies that loan servicers are not effectively immune from state consumer protection law,” said Dan Zibel, vice president and chief legal counsel at the Student Legal Defense Network. “The argument they’ve been making fundamentally is that the Higher Education Act pre-empts state law.”

Colleen Campbell, director of postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress, said it’s likely that more borrowers will bring lawsuits against their loan servicers as a result of new state regulations.

“The inclination of folks now is to handle as much as possible in the courts,” she said. “I worry that doesn’t address the root cause of these issues.”

Campbell, who studies how loan servicing can be improved, said Congress crafted federal student loan laws in a restrictive manner so that programs like loan forgiveness are difficult to access and repayment plans are difficult to navigate.

States are often on the front lines of dealing with resulting consumer issues and can push those problems onto the national level, she said. But Campbell said ultimately there is no replacement for federal accountability.

“We want borrowers to be treated the same across the country. I don’t want their treatment to be dependent on their servicer or the state that they live in,” she said. “And unless the Department of Education wants to hire thousands of new employees, we need the loan servicers.”

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Ellucian Banner security flaw highlighted by Education Department

Inside Higher Ed - 4 hours 44 min ago

The U.S. Department of Education has warned of “active and ongoing exploitation” of a security flaw in Ellucian’s Banner system that may have given hackers access to student data such as grades, financial information and Social Security numbers.

A security alert, published Wednesday by the department’s Office of Federal Student Aid, said 62 colleges and universities using Banner had already been targeted. The alert indicates that criminals have been “scanning the internet looking for institutions to victimize” and drawing up lists of colleges to target.

Institutions that have transitioned to Banner 9, the latest version of Ellucian’s enterprise resource planning system, are not thought to be affected. But users using older versions of two Banner modules called Web Tailor and Enterprise Identity Services could be vulnerable.

According to Ellucian’s website, more than 1,400 institutions in the U.S. use Banner to manage student grades, staff payrolls, course schedules, admissions and student financial aid, among other tasks. Web Tailor and Enterprise Identity Services can be used by system administrators to get access to sensitive data protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

The student aid office encouraged institutions that have not recently upgraded Web Tailor or Enterprise Identity Services to do so and to contact the FSA incident team to determine whether there has been a data breach. Ellucian published a patch on May 14 that fixed the security flaw but has not shared how many institutions have installed it.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology described the Banner security flaw as an “improper authentication vulnerability” that enabled attackers to take over users' sessions when they attempted to log in. Depending on the administrative privileges of the user, and the way data are organized by individual institutions, attackers could potentially use this access to drop students from their courses, deny them financial aid or change their personal information and grades.

According to FSA, affected institutions reported that attackers used the security flaw to manipulate admissions and enrollment systems and create thousands of fake student accounts over the space of a few days. “Some of these accounts appear to be leveraged almost immediately for criminal activity,” the office said.

Josh Sosnin, chief information security officer at Ellucian, said in an emailed statement that there is no connection between the security flaw and the generation of the fake student accounts. “Ellucian has confirmed internally that the two issues outlined in the Department of Education report are separate, unrelated issues,” he said. “There is no connection between these two issues and Ellucian has communicated this to the Department of Education.”

If your campus uses Banner/Ellucian as a SIS, I hope you install updates in a timely manner. So far 62 campuses have reported they were affected by exploitation of a vulnerability in the product by "criminal elements." Patch was released May 14. #emchat https://t.co/SwIkZvdZaN

— Dr. Liz Gross (@lizgross144) July 18, 2019

Institutions being targeted by bots that submit fraudulent admissions applications are “an industry issue and not specific to Ellucian or Banner,” said Sosnin. He added that Ellucian’s customer service employees are “standing by to help” customers with questions about patches or updates.

Why the FSA office is reporting on the Banner security flaw two months after it was patched by Ellucian is unclear. It is also not clear how the flaw was discovered, though the NIST advisory links to a document suggesting that it may have been identified as early as December 2018 by Joshua Mullekin, a member of IT staff at the University of South Carolina.

In a GitHub post, Mullekin outlines a “disclosure timeline” indicating that Ellucian took several months to address his concerns. Mullekin said via email that he believes he was the first person to identify the security flaw. 

Scott Shackelford, professor of law and cybersecurity program chair at Indiana University at Bloomington, said it is not uncommon for organizations to take several months to release patches addressing security issues, particularly if they “don’t think it’s particularly troublesome.”

Moving forward, Shackelford encouraged colleges and universities to pay attention when companies release updates and install them “as quickly as possible.”

“This really boils down to basic cyberhygiene,” he said.

Both Shackelford and Emory Roane, privacy counsel at Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit organization that tracks data breach disclosures and advocates for consumer data protection, said it could take weeks before more information about the data breach is made public.

Depending on where institutions are located and what type of data were affected, there are different reporting requirements for disclosing breaches, said Shackelford. In Georgia, for example, there is no enforced timeline for reporting data breaches, he said. Roane would like to see that change -- he thinks the U.S. should move closer to Europe’s 72-hour disclosure requirement under the General Data Protection Regulation.

Without disclosures, it is difficult to determine how serious the Banner data breaches are, said Shackelford.

Charlie Moran, senior partner and CEO of Moran Technology Consulting, described the breach as “bad, but only for a small number of schools.”

Most of the 1,400 institutions using Banner have made the transition to Banner 9 modules, said Moran. “Most schools moved to Banner 9 this past year in a forced march because of a major software change that Ellucian was forced to make, so there are not a lot of schools running this old software,” he said.

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Colleges award tenure

Inside Higher Ed - 4 hours 44 min ago

Centre College

  • Leonard Demoranville, chemistry
  • Jonathon Earle, history
  • Ellen Goldey, vice president of academic affairs and dean of the college
  • John Harney, history
  • Danielle La Londe, classical studies
  • Matthew Pierce, medieval Islamic history
  • Ellen Swanson, mathematics
  • Karin Young, chemistry

Frostburg State University

  • Tianna Bogart, geography
  • Kevin Knott, English
  • Oleg Kucher, economics
  • Haiyun Ma, history
  • Jason Speights, physics and engineering
  • Nazanin Tootoonchi, mathematics

Hamilton College

  • Katherine Brown, physics
  • Courtney Gibbons, mathematics
  • Gbemende Johnson, government
  • Alexandra List, psychology
  • Max Majireck, chemistry
  • Seth Schermerhorn, religious studies
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Chronicle of Higher Education: At Least 62 Colleges Were Exploited by a Software Vulnerability. Here’s What You Need to Know.

Older versions of a software program called Banner, operated by Ellucian, had a vulnerability that allowed hackers to infiltrate colleges’ private records.

At Least 62 Colleges Were Exploited by a Software Vulnerability. Here’s What You Need to Know.

Older versions of a software program called Banner, operated by Ellucian, had a vulnerability that allowed hackers to infiltrate colleges’ private records.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Why Did East Carolina Allow Trump to Speak? The University Probably Didn’t Have a Choice

Other politicians have appeared at the North Carolina institution in the past. Under the First Amendment, a free-speech expert says, it couldn’t say no to the president.

Kaplan International acquires European agency giant ESL

The PIE News - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 11:45

In major consolidation news for the study travel sector, Kaplan International English, the ELT education division of Kaplan, has acquired Europe’s largest student placement agency, ESL Education.

The just-announced deal will also see Kaplan move into French and German language training because ESL – a well known operator in the agency space – also has an education division, Alpadia, which operates 16 adult language schools and summer camps.

The deal between Heverald, parent company ESL Education and Alpadia, and Kaplan International English, was signed on July 11 in Geneva.

This partnership will now be expanded to include all of Kaplan’s 37 English language schools

David Fougere, COO at Kaplan International English, commented, “Joining forces with ESL Education and Alpadia will strengthen Kaplan’s position in the language travel sector.

“Kaplan will expand its relationship with the largest language agency in Europe allowing us to reach more students with our premium language courses.”

ESL places over 25,000 students each year on language courses, operating a network of 46 offices in Europe (and Panama), and is headquartered out of Switzerland.

The move takes Kaplan closer to one of the behemoths of the study travel sector, EF, which – unlike most of the rest of the industry – operates its own network of offices and is not as reliant on education agencies for its student pipeline.

ESL Education had offered a selection of Kaplan English schools as part of its portfolio for years, the company pointed out, and this partnership will now be expanded to include all of Kaplan’s 37 English language schools.

But ESL Education will maintain its independence and broad school portfolio as part of the deal, Kaplan commented.

Anke Menkhorst, ESL CEO, noted, “Kaplan understands the importance of maintaining our reputation for independent high-quality counselling services and for the breadth of our course offerings.”

“Kaplan understands the importance of our reputation for independent high-quality counselling”

And a spokesperson for Kaplan clarified that to date, ESL had not been a big supplier of students to Kaplan International. “ESL has included a small subset of Kaplan schools in its portfolio for many years. However, due to the small number of schools offered, the ESL volumes have been modest.”

Kaplan, which also directly recruits students for its own schools as well as working with study travel agencies around the globe, will now add the Alpadia network to its language school portfolio.

“By including Alpadia’s French and German language schools in our sales portfolio, we will expand our product offering to the worldwide market,” said Fougere.

Patrick Siegenthaler and Alain Vadi, co-owners of Heverald, will remain non-executive board members of the company for two years.

They commented: “We are delighted to see ESL Education and Alpadia become part of Kaplan. We have been impressed by how well our approach to what it takes to be successful in the language travel sector is aligned with Kaplan’s.

“It was very important for us to see that the company we created and developed ourselves will continue to grow and thrive.”

Kaplan has ventured into the area of acquiring an agency some years ago when it acquired Swiss company Pro Linguis in 2008 – before selling it on in 2016 to another Swiss operator. It also has an agency interest in Asia: BEO.

The company – part of Kaplan Inc. – operates 37 English language schools in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland, teaching almost 40,000 students from over 150 countries.

The post Kaplan International acquires European agency giant ESL appeared first on The PIE News.

Chronicle of Higher Education: As the Cost of a 4-Year Degree Soars, Community Colleges Reap More Big Gifts

Big donations to two-year colleges rose from $2.5 million in 2009 to $54 million last year, according to a Chronicle of Philanthropy analysis. Even the metal band Metallica is chipping in.

Aus: Chinese proficiency “concerning”

The PIE News - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 09:04

Chinese language proficiency is hard to find in Australians with no Chinese background, an Australian MP has said, despite China currently being Australia’s largest trading partner and accounting for almost 30% of all Australia’s exports.

During a recent speech, Labor MP Chris Bowen claimed that “out of the 25 million Australians who populate this great country… 130 people can speak Mandarin at a level good enough to do business, who aren’t of Chinese background”.

“Every child in Australia should be learning Mandarin”

The RMIT ABC Fact Check Unit investigated the claim and defined it an “educated guess,” explaining that the experts they consulted agreed it was likely to be “in the ballpark,” although there is no way to precisely calculate it.

However, founder of Chinese language school Mandarin Stars, Dawna Leung, said she wasn’t surprised by the figure.

“Every child in Australia should be learning Mandarin,” she told The PIE News.

“We need to inspire children earlier on. Right now, businesses like mine fill the gap, but we get no funding so Mandarin classes are only available to people who can afford it.”

Mandarin is most widely taught in the state of Victoria and is the fourth most popular foreign language nationally after Japanese, French and German.

“The Australian government is committed to supporting the teaching of languages other than English in Australian schools and to achieving a significant increase in student uptake in their senior secondary schooling within the next decade,” a spokesperson for Australia’s Department of Education told The PIE.

According to the department, the number of non-Chinese born students enrolled in Chinese language courses (including both Mandarin and Cantonese) at Australian universities totalled just 381 in 2017, down from 447 in 2011 but slightly higher than 2016’s 343.

The lack of people taking Mandarin at university may also be down to a perception of a lack of opportunities for non-native speakers in fields requiring Mandarin proficiency.

“For people of Chinese descent who were born in Australia or emigrated at a young age, English is their first language,” said Ping Chen, chair professor in Chinese studies at the University of Queensland, in his 2017 paper Chinese Language Teaching in Australia.

However, Chen added, due to the influence of their family environment, many of them also have relatively strong competence in Chinese, with true bilingual, bicultural talent.

“In applying for the limited number of positions requiring proficiency in Chinese, applicants with Chinese backgrounds had a higher probability of success.

“As this kind of information trickles back to school campuses, it is obviously unhelpful in strengthening non-Chinese students’ enthusiasm and determination to learn Chinese,” he added.

The post Aus: Chinese proficiency “concerning” appeared first on The PIE News.

TOEIC scandal: evidence used by Home Office “could not be relied upon”

The PIE News - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 08:19

The evidence used to accuse thousands of international students of cheating on the TOEIC test has been defined “confused, misleading, incomplete and unsafe” in the report summarising the inquiry of the All Party Parliamentary Group created to investigate the case.

The new report, which was launched in Westminster at the presence of APPG members, Migrant Voice and representatives from the students’ group, urged the government to rectify the situation and set out a number of recommendations.

“Tens of thousands of people have spent five years living a nightmare”

“One thing that struck me throughout our hearings was that evidence from ETS – the basis for denying visas to thousands of overseas students, often with catastrophic effects – quite simply could not be relied upon,” Stephen Timms MP, chair of the APPG, said in the foreword of the report.

“The inquiry concluded that the evidence used against the students was confused, misleading, incomplete and unsafe.”

The APPG conducted four evidence sessions with students, lawyers, technical experts and third sectors, representatives. The Home Office and ETS were also invited to attend sessions but the former didn’t respond according to the report and the latter declined to attend.

“This report reveals shocking new evidence that the Home Office ignored expert advice, relied on dodgy evidence and took action against students they claimed were treated fairly,” Migrant Voice director Nazek Ramadan said.

“The result was that tens of thousands of people have spent five years living a nightmare.”

The inquiry reported “huge numbers” of anomalies, such as the lack of proof that links each recording to the person that sat the test and errors on spreadsheets created by ETS.

Professor Peter Sommer, who was instructed by Bindmans LLP in 2016 to assess the overall reliability of the evidence, explained to the APPG that: “It was unsafe for anyone to rely upon computer files created by ETS and used by the Home Office as a sole means of making a decision.”

Evidence also emerged that students on the “questionable list”, who the Home Office maintained had been given a chance to sit a new test, were reportedly sometimes included in the same list as those with “invalid” results, meaning they didn’t get a chance to clear their name.

The APPG also heard from three students affected, who highlighted the impact the allegations have had on their lives.

In addition to being unable to work in the UK or find employment back home, some students said they felt distanced from their families who don’t believe them, while others have been fighting costly legal battles and experiencing mental health issues.

“My Dad said…you cannot come back and tell me you have a fraud allegation…go and prove yourself in the courts,” one student, Raja Noman Hussain, told the APPG.

Legal representatives lamented the lack of opportunities students were given to challenge the allegations, while others pointed out that students who had had their name cleared in court still have difficulty accessing higher education.

Among the APPG’s recommendations, the report said that those who lost their visas should be allowed to sit a new English language test and, if they pass, their visa should be restored without charge with a validity of 12 months.

Support for students returning to study should be established, including the creation of a working group with representatives from Home Office, UKVI and the Department of Education among others.

The key recommendations from the report.

A Home Office spokesperson told The PIE: “the report does not reflect the findings of the courts, who have consistently found that the evidence of fraud was enough for us to take action.

“As the National Audit Office recently highlighted, the Tier 4 system was subject to widespread abuse in 2014 and almost all those involved in the cheating were linked to private colleges which the Home Office already had significant concerns about.

The spokesperson added that the NAO was clear on the scale and organised nature of the abuse, “demonstrated by the fact that 25 people who facilitated this fraud have received criminal convictions”.

But Timms at the APPG told The PIE that “there is no way the evidence can stand up in court.”

“There is nothing at all to link a particular student with the voice files that ETS says were that students’… there’s no metadata on the clips,” he said. A 2016 ruling defined the evidence used by the Home Office as “hearsay.”

The Home Secretary said this week that he will make a statement on the matter before the summer recess. Timms and Jim Fitzpatrick MP discussed the possibility of asking an Urgent Question in case the statement doesn’t come.

“If there isn’t a statement there is always the option for us of applying to the Speaker for an Urgent Question – but I am hoping he is going to do what he has promised,” Timms said.

“The uncertainty is shocking – it’s devastating”

Students and campaigners have been waiting for a statement from the Home Secretary to bring much-needed clarity to those left in limbo by the situation.

The urgency was made clear by Ramadan’s announcement that Migrant Voice will run a workshop next week to advise students on what to do in case they get detained.

“Instead of telling them we have a workshop on how to get back into education or work, we find ourselves, because of the lack of response and repeated delay of that statement, inviting them to a workshop like this,” Ramadan told The PIE.

“They are at risk of being detained anytime. This is a big fear in their life. The uncertainty is shocking – it’s devastating.”

ETS has been contacted for comment.

The post TOEIC scandal: evidence used by Home Office “could not be relied upon” appeared first on The PIE News.

A faint hope for Venezuela

Economist, North America - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 07:52

SINCE A FAILED attempt on April 30th to trigger a military uprising against the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela has entered a costly stalemate. The opposition is not strong enough to bring Mr Maduro down. He cannot halt the country’s slide into penurious ungovernability. Against this background, both sides sat down in Barbados this week at talks convened by Norway’s government. After three preliminary meetings, this marked the start of “continuous and expeditious” negotiations, according to Norway’s foreign ministry.

The plan is to meet every Monday to Wednesday in Barbados to tackle a six-point agenda, starting with elections and the lifting of sanctions imposed by the United States and others. The opposition’s delegates command wide respect. The government team are officials close to Mr Maduro. The Norwegians are experienced mediators. Having acted as facilitators in the peace talks in Havana between Colombia’s government and the FARC guerrillas they are trusted by Cuba, Mr Maduro’s chief international backer. Yet there are big reasons for scepticism.

Many in the opposition scorn talks, after three attempts since 2014 that Mr Maduro used merely to buy time and sow division. Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader and speaker of the national assembly who is recognised as interim president by more than 50...

To save whales, Canada sets a maritime speed limit

Economist, North America - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 07:52

WHEN 12 NORTH ATLANTIC right whales died in the Gulf of St Lawrence in the spring and early summer of 2017, Canada imposed speed limits on large ships in the area and told snow-crab fishermen to move. In the following year the government worked with researchers, fishermen and the shipping industry to refine the restrictions. No whales died in the gulf in 2018. “We kept wondering if what we had done was good, or were we lucky?” says Moira Brown, a scientist at the Canadian Whale Institute, a research body.

Apparently it was luck. Six right whales died in the gulf in June this year after colliding with ships or getting entangled in fishing lines. Three others were spotted near Miscou Island trailing ropes, which attach crab and lobster traps on the seabed to buoys (see map). Just 400 North Atlantic right whales, which can grow to 18 metres (60 feet) in length, remain alive. The steps Canada is taking to save them from extinction are expensive for industry.


Trump builds a bureaucratic wall to keep out migrants

Economist, North America - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 07:52

AT A MIGRANT shelter in Nuevo Laredo, a city in the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas, the mood is cheerful. Children play among cinderblocks and piles of sand. Volunteers fry eggs in the kitchen. Residents tell their stories. “The salaries! It’s seven dollars a week in Cuba,” says Eldis, an engineer who left the island in May. A woman, her arms draped around her two daughters, one-ups him. “In Venezuela, it’s six dollars a month,” she replies. They are smiling because these hardships seem to lie behind them. But the mood darkens when the conversation turns to news from the United States, where they are heading. 

On July the Trump administration promulgated a rule that upends the United States’ system of dealing with asylum-seekers and could dash the hopes of those in Nuevo Laredo and thousands more. Under the new rules, no migrant can apply for asylum unless he or she has sought it in “at least one” other country along the way and been refused.

The rules affect anyone who is not Mexican and arrives at the American border by land. That describes a lot of America-bound migrants. Of the 688,000 apprehended at the border between October 2018 and June this year, only 18% were Mexican. Most of the rest came from Central America and countries elsewhere in Latin America. Now they must appeal for asylum to Mexico or...

SDGs out of reach without HE, say uni associations

The PIE News - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 06:51

All of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals cannot be achieved without the contribution of higher education and research, three prestigious international university associations, representing more than 2,000 universities, have said in a joint statement.

Additionally, the Association of Commonwealth Universities has launched a network to boost the contribution of universities to the Goals.

During a Higher Education Sustainability Initiative event in New York City, the ACU, the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie, and the International Association of Universities agreed that universities play a “unique role” in producing new knowledge and innovation to address the global challenges outlined in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“This new network will enable [institutions] to share good practice and expertise”

Through research, teaching, and community engagement, higher education has a “direct impact on the development of every country”, the organisations said.

In addition, the role of higher education extends beyond the SDGs’ fourth goal to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.

“The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will not be achieved without partnerships that include universities,” they said.

In the statement, the networks call on the higher education sector to raise levels of attainment and access, adopt policies and practices which maximise their contribution to the 2030 Agenda and incorporate education for sustainable development into undergraduate curricula.

The SDGs’ fourth goal can only be achieved if the UN and its agencies respond to the need for “strong higher education systems globally”, they added.

The UN must recognise the contribution of higher education the agenda, and provide platforms to engage the sector as partners for development, building on the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative and UN Academic Impact Initiative.

Along with partnering with universities, national governments need to deliver well-planned long-term financial investment and “adopt a whole sector approach to the development of strong, equitable, quality education systems”.

ACU’s new network will seek to support universities in their efforts to engage with the SDG agenda, for example through integrating sustainable development into operations, sharing SDG learning content, and developing SDG-focused research strategies.

In a statement, ACU secretary-general Joanna Newman said the Commonwealth was a “living laboratory” for change.

“Our common language and institutional structures are a solid foundation for partnerships between universities,” she said.

“The new network will support collaboration between our members and act as a powerful advocacy platform to demonstrate the contribution of the higher education sector to a wider audience.”

Universities have always had a strong civic role, Budd Hall and Rajesh Tandon, Joint UNESCO Chairs in Community-Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education noted.

“Many [institutions] are already engaging directly with the SDG agenda. This new network will help showcase the great work they are already doing, and enable them to share good practice and expertise.”

The post SDGs out of reach without HE, say uni associations appeared first on The PIE News.

NZ: spike in fraudulent visa applications

The PIE News - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 04:01

Confirmed instances of fraudulent information for offshore New Zealand student visa applications almost doubled in 2018, but the majority of false applications continued to be refused without the need for further investigation.

According to Immigration New Zealand, the number of visa applications confirmed to have misleading information, such as fraudulent bank accounts, funds with no clear origin, or fraudulent qualifications and work experience spiked by 88% in 2018.

“INZ does not dedicate time to confirming fraud where there is no benefit to INZ”

“INZ is focused on ensuring student visa outcomes are of high quality,” said assistant general manager Jeannie Melville.

“As a regulator, INZ needs to balance facilitation and risk which, is why it is critical that the right level of scrutiny is applied to ensure the right decisions are made for New Zealand.”

Speaking to The PIE News, Melville said the figures only applied to applications in which fraudulent activity had been confirmed, noting the majority of misleading applications were rejected without further investigation.

“INZ does not dedicate time to confirming fraud where there is no benefit to INZ,” she said.

“If we are not satisfied with the likely authenticity of the information presented and therefore that an applicant does not meet the relevant instructions, an application may be declined.”

In June, Education New Zealand announced it was working with INZ to investigate ongoing visa processing delays, and Melville said the department was working with other stakeholders to smooth out the process.

“We are also committed to processing visas as fast as practicable and generally do a good job of this when the applications are complete and low risk,” she said.

“However, processing times will always depend on the complexity of an application.”

Melville added INZ would be providing further advice to providers, including guidance on the correct level of information needed for an application, and early submission prior to course commencement.

In 2018, INZ announced the launch of the New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority, which will come into effect on 1 October and impact some short course students.

The post NZ: spike in fraudulent visa applications appeared first on The PIE News.

Statement by ACE President Ted Mitchell on the Senate Dream Act of 2019

American Council on Education - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 02:30
ACE President Ted Mitchell applauds Sens. Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin for introducing the bipartisan Dream Act of 2019.

Chronicle of Higher Education: How to Make Authentic Research Experiences Widely Available

A biology department designed a course-based program to serve many students at a low cost. Now, it’s sharing its work with other colleges.

Florida governor signs tough new hazing law

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 00:00

Florida’s governor has signed one of the country’s most intricate antihazing laws, an attempt to stem the sometimes deadly rituals by expanding those who could be criminally liable and offering protections for those who help an ailing victim.

Historians and experts say the law is among the “most cutting-edge” in the nation. That’s largely because of the unique provisions that ensure Good Samaritans can’t be prosecuted if they see a hazing victim needs medical attention and they’re the first to contact 911 or campus security. In order to escape criminal charges, the person making the phone call would need to remain on the scene until help arrived, according to the law. Such a measure may reduce hazing-related deaths if students don’t fear being punished for contacting authorities. Under the law, a person could also be immune from charges if he or she administered medical aid.

Even those who orchestrated the hazing can take advantage of these exemptions.

“In a few remote possible cases, a true perpetrator of hazing may escape prosecution, but it is far more important that lives do not get extinguished while perps cower in fear and do nothing to save their friends,” said Hank Nuwer, a journalism professor at Franklin College in Indiana who has written extensively about hazing.

Under the new law, those who weren’t physically present during a hazing event, but who helped plan it, can now be prosecuted. This would likely affect a fraternity or sorority leader, but Peter Lake, director of the Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy at Stetson University, said he could envision a legal scenario in which administrators could also be held liable.

Sometimes officials must sign off on a Greek life event, and Lake said the law will likely test whether they would be immune from criminal charges or a civil case.

“This is definitely a new frontier for hazing prevention,” Lake said.

Nuwer said that chapter members have tended to skate by when a prosecutor brings charges only to the most “active” perpetrators and chapter officers.

“Finally it is recognized that individuals in the entire chapter bear some responsibility in a death when they knew, planned and abated actions by the most fervent zealots in the group who took things to a dangerous and fatal level,” Nuwer said.

Andrew’s Law, which the governor approved last month, is named for Andrew Coffey, a Florida State University pledge who died in November 2017 after he drank an entire fifth of Wild Turkey bourbon at an off-campus party.

Coffey, 20, was participating in a “big brother” night where the initiates were expected to finish the bottle of alcohol presented to them by their “big.” Coffey did -- he then fell unconscious and was carried to a couch and ignored until the early morning. His “big” had gone home. Coffey was found without a pulse. His autopsy found he died of alcohol poisoning -- his blood alcohol level was 0.447, nearly six times the legal driving limit.

His death upended Greek life at Florida State. The president, John E. Thrasher, shut down all fraternity and sorority activities that November, proclaiming the entire network of 50-some chapters needed to be reworked. Florida State did not respond to request for comment for this piece.

A couple of months later, Thrasher partially lifted the ban, adding new requirements for Greek life, requiring fraternities and sororities to use a third-party vendor to supply their booze and shortening the recruitment “rush” period, when many of these incidents occur.

But antihazing advocates, among them Coffey’s parents, were not fully satisfied. They lobbied the Florida Legislature to amp up the state’s law, which was already one of the stricter in the United States.

In 2005, Florida politicians made hazing a first-degree misdemeanor and a third-degree felony if a victim was seriously injured or died -- they named the law the Chad Meredith Act, for a University of Miami student who drowned in a hazing death in 2001. Then-governor Jeb Bush signed the law.

David Bianchi, one of the lawyers who helped write the Chad Meredith Act, also worked on Andrew's Law.

Bianchi, who represented the Coffey family, said prior to the bill’s passage that the law needed some improvements. He referenced a hazing case last year, also at Florida State. During a hazing game, Nicholas Mauricio was hit so hard in the face he fractured his skull and was left unconscious. He lived, but police said at the time there was insufficient evidence to prosecute the fraternity members for hazing (Mauricio was already a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity but was not yet registered as a Florida State student).

The new law closes that loophole -- under the legislation, current members of a group can also be considered hazing victims.

The bill sailed through the legislative process, being unanimously approved at every step. It was bipartisan, being sponsored chiefly by both a Democrat and Republican. Lake said lawmakers were likely confident in passing the legislation after a Florida Supreme Court ruling in December that flatly rejected a challenge to the Chad Meredith Act as potentially unconstitutional.

On the federal side, two U.S. representatives, Marcia Fudge, a Democrat from Ohio, and G. T. Thompson, a Pennsylvania Republican, last month introduced the End All Hazing Act, an amendment to the Higher Education Act.

It would require institutions to maintain a website that would publicize information about student organizations that had been disciplined for hazing. Colleges and university officials would also need to report allegations of potentially deadly hazing within 72 hours to campus police or other law enforcement.

The End All Hazing Act has been endorsed by the National Panhellenic Conference and the North-American Interfraternity Conference, which represents many sororities and fraternities nationally. Both groups created the Anti-Hazing Coalition, along with parents of students who died from hazing.

Andrea Benek, a spokeswoman with the North-American Interfraternity Conference, provided a statement on the new Florida law to Inside Higher Ed:

“The North-American Interfraternity Conference is deeply committed to eradicating hazing by advocating for stronger laws throughout the country. We support comprehensive hazing prevention measures -- proactive education, transparency and accountability around standards -- enacted through federal and state legislation. We work in partnership with the Anti-Hazing Coalition to make lasting cultural change in student organizations and on university campuses.”

Editorial Tags: LegislationStudent lifeImage Caption: Andrew CoffeyIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: Florida State UniversityDisplay Promo Box: