Notes & Coffee: August 7-13

Notes & Coffee is here to keep you informed of all the trending student affairs and higher ed news stories most critical to our field as they develop. In the age of information overload, we’re here to bring you vetted examinations of the stories that matter to our field. We invite you to brew a favorite morning beverage, kick back, relax, and catch yourself up for the week ahead with Notes & Coffee.

White nationalists rally at University of Virginia – Hundreds of white nationalists marched and rallied at the University of Virginia Friday night. They carried torches and chanted, "You will not replace us and "Jews will not replace us." A major rally by various white nationalist groups -- under the name "Unite the Right" -- had been planned for Charlottesville Saturday. The city is progressive and not at all a center of white nationalism. But various groups have made Charlottesville a target because the city plans to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee from a local park. The Ku Klux Klan and supporters rallied in the city in July, causing concern at the university, but Friday night's march was on campus and ended at the Rotunda, a hallowed space at the university. The sight of hundreds of white nationalists -- most of them white men -- with torches stunned many at the university, even as they were preparing for Saturday's rally.

2-pronged strategy against ‘Gainful’ rule - When the Department of Education gathered comments this summer ahead of an overhaul of its gainful-employment rule, it heard a litany of familiar refrains from representatives of the for-profit college sector. They argued that the rule, which holds career programs accountable for graduating students with debt they can’t repay, should apply to all programs regardless of tax status, that it should reflect long-term earnings, and in some cases that it should not be tied to federal aid. Whether the department crafts a new gainful-employment rule that reflects those broad goals will have implications for the accountability measures currently in effect for career programs and the kind of data it would provide students.

All too familiar bias - A leaked internal memo at Google, written by a now-fired male employee, has raised serious questions for women looking to enter Silicon Valley tech companies or to join academic STEM departments, both known for allegations of being hostile environments for women. The memo questioned whether discrimination is a factor in gender disparities in tech and at Google, and instead largely attributed those disparities to biology. The memo also railed against Google’s programs aimed to recruit and aid women and minorities, calling those programs themselves discriminatory.

‘Zero-Tolerance Mind-set’ – The University of Washington, for the first time ever, has fired a faculty member over findings of sexual harassment. The termination surprised some not only for the what, but also for the who: Michael Katze, a professor of microbiology. Well funded and a major player in infectious disease research, Katze appeared to some as exactly the kind of professor who might have been protected by his (or any) institution in the past.

Colleges, universities plan for possible assault on affirmative action – The flurry of public denouncements came quick. Some were bold and defiant. Just as the announcement that the Trump administration was implementing an immigration ban drew the ire of administrators at colleges and universities across the nation, so too, did a media report that the Department of Justice was looking to go after universities that employ affirmative action in their admission processes. In the days since The New York Times reported the story, colleges and universities—small and large—have been vocal in condemning any attacks on the more than five-decade policy aimed at leveling the racial playing field in higher education.

More Notes

Harvard goes outside to go online

Calling attention to a postdoc’s struggle and suicide

Colleges have increased women computer science major: what can google learn?

Men flock to short-term career ed

Federal aid headaches in West Virginia

A few telling freshman trends