Notes & Coffee: October 23 - 29

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.

Lessons from Spencer’s Florida speech – Compared to scenes in Charlottesville, this was relatively mild, to the relief of the university. And unlike many of the other events featuring controversial speakers, Spencer was able to appear -- and couldn't make himself out to be a free speech martyr. Spencer likely won’t be halting his tour of college campuses. Colleges will need to brace for him, and other controversial conservative speakers, such as the inflammatory former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos. What can academe learn from the University of Florida?

College Promise programs continue to grow – The College Promise movement — which focuses on providing a free community college education to qualifying students — continues to gain traction, according to an annual update from the two-year-old College Promise Campaign. Over the past year, more than 50 new College Promise programs were announced or created in small communities, large cities and states, according to the report. Momentum among states was particularly noticeable, with legislation and executive orders from governors and legislators in 15 states launching their versions of the program, with California and New York among them.

Public higher ed skews wealthy – A majority of the country’s top public universities have grown less accessible for the most financially strapped students since 1999 -- and at the same time, they have grown more accessible for wealthy students. More than half of selective public institutions, 54 percent, have reduced the share of students they enroll from families with incomes in the lowest 40 percent of earners, while also increasing the share of students they enroll from families that are among the country’s top 20 percent of earners. Put differently, 217 out of 381 top public institutions enrolled a larger share of wealthy students even as they reduced their percentages of low-income students.

How much does the government really need to know about college students in America? – The proposal to let the government monitor students’ progress through their higher educations—known as student-unit record-keeping—has significant ramifications for universities and colleges. Some would look better if more accurate success rates were made available to students. Some would look worse. Now injected into this longstanding debate is the objection that collecting such data in an age of hacks, mistrust, political division, and a crackdown on immigrants threatens student privacy. That’s a position being taken by opponents as varied as the ACLU and the Tenth Amendment Center, which backs curbs on federal power.

Panels, not veneers – Sociologists study inequality for a living. The field is also relatively diverse. Panels at sociology conferences -- unlike some of their counterparts in traditionally male-dominated fields -- usually reflect both of those facts. So a preliminary list of panels for the upcoming annual meeting of the Eastern Sociological Society that included two women among 14 academics total startled some earlier this week. It also led to a public debate about professional comportment and the purpose of scholarly meetings.

More Notes

But will her husband move?

Falling behind

Expectations, race and college success

Net price keeps creeping up