Notes & Coffee: March 5 -11

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.    

DACA lives, but for how long? – “[Monday] was supposed to be a last-ditch deadline for Congress to act if it wanted to keep the protections provided by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in place. Two nationwide court injunctions blocking the Trump administration from ending DACA are temporarily keeping much of the program alive, but with no legislative solution in sight, uncertainty about the long-term prospects for the hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers who have benefited from the program continues.” 

Leading in turbulent times: a survey of presidents – “Public confidence in higher education is waning -- and institutions’ leaders don’t seem terrifically cocky themselves, Inside Higher Ed’s new Survey of College and University Presidents reveals. ­­About a third of presidents agree that more than 10 colleges or universities will close or merge in the next year, while another 40 percent say at least five colleges will do so. And after a year in which the number of colleges either closing or merging ticked upward, nearly one in eight college chief executives predict their own institution could fold or combine in the next five years.”

Mental health crisis for grad students – “Several studies suggest that graduate students are at greater risk for mental health issues than those in the general population. This is largely due to social isolation, the often abstract nature of the work and feelings of inadequacy -- not to mention the slim tenure-track job market. But a new study in Nature Biotechnology warns, in no uncertain terms, of a mental health ‘crisis’ in graduate education. ‘Our results show that graduate students are more than six times as likely to experience depression and anxiety as compared to the general population,’ the study says, urging action on the part of institutions. ‘It is only with strong and validated interventions that academia will be able to provide help for those who are traveling through the bioscience workforce pipeline.’” 

New push to drop drug offenses as barrier to student aid – “If Republicans and Democrats can agree on one priority for reauthorizing the law governing higher education, it’s cutting down the lengthy application for federal student aid. Student advocacy groups hope that a FAFSA simplification push will include eliminating a question about drug convictions while receiving federal aid -- and a corresponding section of federal law denying aid to students with such convictions. At least one Democrat on the Senate education committee plans to reintroduce legislation soon to eliminate the question, a statutory remnant of some of the most punitive steps taken by Congress during the War on Drugs.”

A tax on endowments became law. But congressmen and colleges are still fighting it – “Less than three months after an overhaul of the nation’s tax code was signed into law, a pair of federal lawmakers has introduced bipartisan legislation to repeal a provision that was roundly opposed by higher education. The Don’t Tax Higher Education Act, introduced on Thursday, is sponsored by Rep. John Delaney, Democrat of Maryland, and Rep. Bradley Byrne, Republican of Alabama, and would repeal the levy on university endowments in the new tax law.”

More Notes

The Elmo antidote

No end in sight for campus free speech battles

Trump’s choice for NEH

When students harass professors