By Teri Lyn Hinds, August 24, 2017
In this post, NASPA Director of Policy Research & Advocacy, Teri Lyn Hinds, reviews legislation related to free speech on college and university campuses was proposed in at least seventeen states, passed in seven, failed in three, and is still pending in at least seven. Much of this legislation requires campuses within the state to create or update policies adhering to principles of intellectual diversity, the free exchange of ideas, and other ideals while also restricting the ability of campuses to designate specific free speech zones. Some bills, based explicitly on the Goldwater Proposal, include provisions that would prevent a campus from disinviting a speaker invited by any member of the campus community along with requirements for campuses to enact sanctions against students who “disrupt” speakers or events. As the events in Charlottesville on the University of Virginia campus earlier this month, coupled with data from a Gallup poll that shows that the majority of Republicans believe campuses are too liberal, portend another dynamic year for free speech on campus, the post includes some additional considerations for campus professionals who may find themselves in the middle of free speech discussions.
By Nashawa Bawab, August 10, 2017
Campus carry legislation was enacted over a year ago at four-year institutions in Texas amidst growing movement-building both for and against its implementation. Recent Texas legislation, TX SB 11, however, has quietly implemented campus carry at the community college level without much uproar in either direction. The law allows anyone with a gun license over 21 to carry a concealed handgun on college campuses in Texas. While private colleges and universities may opt out, community colleges do not have that option, but instead my implement “gun-free zones.” The new guidelines are projected to impact hundreds of thousands of members of the campus community. There are over 700,000 students enrolled in community college in Texas and 50 public community college districts in the state.
By Tiffany Pennamon, August 24, 2017
In light of potential rollbacks to Obama-era Title IX guidance, Dr. Penny Smith’s 2014 Keys to Coping online tool, has been recently modified to increase victim support for students and expand opportunities for sexual assault violence prevention. According to Dr. Smith, consultation with 60 institutions initially led to her nearly dismantling her program due to the poor reputation institutions feared to develop from an increase in reporting expected in a result of the implementation of the tool. However, a case study of four institutions showed that 60 percent of students found the tool to improve how their respective schools handle campus sexual assault prevention. An additional benefit is the self-care aspect of the tool, which provides options for students to assess their needs for mental health support as a part of the reporting process. According to Dr. Smith, Keys to Coping works to assist institutions in achieving Title IX compliance whole also giving sexual assault victims the opportunity to control the information they share.
By Andrew Kreighbaum, August 25, 2017
Although the Obama administration cut Title IV funding to the Charlotte School of Law in December, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos did not extend loan forgiveness to students who attended the school during or after the fall 2016 semester. The Department stated that it was following a statute that provides for loan forgiveness up to 120 days before the closure of the institution, however sources confirm that these stipulations are a part of federal regulation, not statute. Under this declaration, the Department will only honor full loan forgiveness for students that have withdrawn from the program on or after April 12, 2017. Students who withdrew before April 12 will have to make a borrower-defense claim which has a higher standard than that of a closed-school discharge. Students seeking loan forgiveness are also met with DeVos’s recent decisions to stall Obama-Era guidance around borrowers defense and servicer accountability. Former Charlotte students now have to wait for their claims to be considered along with the thousands of claims pending since the start of the new administration.
By Katherine Mangan, August 25, 2017
President Trump continues to send mixed-messaging regarding the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and advocates and analysts discuss whether or not the end of the program may be approaching. Thomas A. Saenz of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (Maldef) argues that Texas must show it has standing to sue over DACA by proving that the costs of the program outweigh the benefits. He continues to point out that even though Attorney General Jeff Sessions has indicated distaste for the program, the Justice Department will be required to defend it, as the administration will need to continue to focus on deporting criminals rather than Dreamers. Recent reports also suggest that White House aides may be encouraging President Trump to strike a deal, protecting Dreamers in exchange for funding for a border wall and increased measures of immigrant enforcement.
While the Policy and Advocacy Team at NASPA has been watching for movement of TX HB 46 and TX HB 50 during Texas Special Session, both failed to move forward by the end date of 8/16/2017. These bills mimic failed legislation HB 2899, a slightly more lenient form of the original TX SB 6 Bathroom Bill. TX HB 46 would forbid “political subdivisions, including a public school district” from adopting or enforcing measures to “protect a class of persons from discrimination” in regulating “access to multi-occupancy restrooms, showers or changing facilities.” HB 50 was identical except applying only to a school district board. In the past few months other states have retreated from the conversation. Additional bills of this kind are unlikely to be introduced during the 2016-2017 legislative session.
In the past few months, we have seen 11 states consider 18 pieces of anti-sanctuary legislation that would affect college campuses. 6 states have introduced (pro) sanctuary legislation that extends to college campuses. Of this legislation, 9 pieces have failed, and 15 are pending, and 4 have been enacted. PA HB 14 was removed from the table on 06/22/2017. CA SB 54, a statewide sanctuary bill is in Assembly and was set for its first hearing on 08/23/2017 and placed on suspense file.
Guns on Campus:
Upwards of 17 states are considering legislation concerning guns on campus during the current session. In the 43 pieces of legislation the Policy and Advocacy Team is tracking, 18 bills are pending, 20 have failed, and 6 have been enacted, in AR, GA, OK and TX. GA HB 280 went into effect on 07/01/2017. CA AB 424 was ordered to a second reading by the Committee on Appropriations on 07/10/2017. TX SB 11 which will allow anyone over 21 with a gun license to conceal carry was enacted on 08/16/2017
*Congress is in recess during the month of August
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