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Your Daily Briefing, a New Feature for Chronicle Individual Subscribers

August 22, 2017

Individual subscribers to The Chronicle now receive an email newsletter called the Daily Briefing. Through it, readers are presented with everything they need to know in higher ed to start their day. Below is an example of the Briefing, from Tuesday. To receive this newsletter, subscribe to The Chronicle.

Welcome to Tuesday, August 22. Today a white supremacist makes it his mission to bring extreme racial politics to a college he once attended, the White House will host a conference for HBCUs next month, and a new study reports on the benefits of freshmen taking at least 15 credit hours their first semester.

A white supremacist and a college campus.

In his 40s, the white supremacist Preston Wiginton attended Texas A&M at College Station for a year and then dropped out. Despite that less-than-robust connection to the university and his failure to generate much student support for the widespread white-identity movement he believes is needed, he has persisted in stirring up controversy at Texas A&M over the past decade. Last December he did manage to cause a significant ruckus by hosting an event featuring Richard Spencer, one of white supremacy’s most visible spokesmen. Our Tom Bartlett spoke with Mr. Wiginton about his mission to force extreme racial politics upon College Station.

HBCU conference still on.

The annual conference for historically black colleges and universities will proceed as planned despite calls that it be postponed, Omarosa Manigault-Newman, a top aide to President Trump, told Buzzfeed News on Monday. Last week, Rep. Alma S. Adams, Democrat of North Carolina, and Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, asked that the conference be postponed in light of recent events and because of the lack of an executive director for the White House Initiative on HBCUs. The Chronicle reported last month that each of the past four administrations had appointed an executive director for the initiative by July of the inaugural year. The administration says it plans to name an executive director next month.

Quick hits.

  • Liberty University issued a statement in response to alumni's returning their diplomas because of the support expressed by Jerry Falwell Jr., the university's president, for President Trump.
  • Democrats from the U.S. House and the Senate sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos seeking information on their approach to affirmative action and race-conscious admissions.

Credits and graduation.

Easing into the first semester of freshman year by taking 12 credit hours instead of 15 might seem smart to a nervous student. But a study summary released on Monday by the consulting firm EAB suggests that the tactic could backfire. Even C students, the researchers say, should take 15 credits a semester regardless of whether 12 is considered full-time. If they do, they’re 19 percentage points more likely to graduate in four years, and more likely to stay for their sophomore year, according to a study of nearly 1.3 million full-time students at 137 colleges. — Katie Mangan

Confederate-flag perceptions.

When white Americans are asked about the meaning of the Confederate flag, one of the biggest divides seems to be whether or not the respondent has a college degree, a survey finds. For 71 percent of white working-class Americans, the Confederate flag is a symbol of Southern pride, not racism, according to a report from the Public Religion Research Institute. Among college-educated white respondents, only 42 percent share that view.

The talkers.

  • Free speech is going through a public-relations crisis, and the best response is to develop a high tolerance for different opinions, write Greg Lukianoff and Nico Perrino in Politico Magazine.
  • This past year has revealed more problems for college football, including programs that cover up players' sexual-assault charges and potential medical problems. So why are people still cheering? asks Erin C. Tarver in The New York Times.
  • In this Twitter thread, Desirae Embree crowdsources essential advice for first-year graduate students.

Student debt and luxury dorms.

From roughly 2000 to 2010, spending on new student residences skyrocketed on many campuses. The race for luxury buildings and amenities like jogging tracks and 24-hour computer labs has also increased fees, usually for students who did not vote for the increases. Now that race is slowing down. To learn about what's behind the shift, read Jeffrey Selingo's story in The Atlantic.

Quote of the day.

"As student-athletes, we know that we have a voice, and I think it’s time for us to put out a strong, united message from the football program.”

–Daniel Hamm, a senior on the University of Virginia's football team, on the clashes on his campus and the importance of standing up against racial hatred

Comings and goings.

  • Tracey Tsugawa, Title IX officer at the University of California at Santa Cruz, was named director of the University of Oregon's Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity.
  • Lisa Magaña, an associate professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University, was named interim director of ASU's School of Transborder Studies.
  • Benjamin Akande, president of Westminster College in Missouri, is resigning from his post. He became president in 2015.

Footnote.

From The Chronicle's Chris Quintana:

While our intrepid editor Andy was on the beach in South Carolina and in line to catch the eclipse in full, the breaking-news team had to be content catching just a portion of the celestial event here in the sweat pit that is summertime Washington.

Location woes aside, one can’t help but smile at the sight of grown adults donning flimsy paper-framed glasses to squint at the sight of one sphere obscuring another. As Fernanda put it, it all felt like an adult science fair, albeit one filled with grown-ups laughing and gasping as they looked through cereal boxes, oatmeal cylinders, and Pringles cans to catch a glimpse of the celestial. And for a few minutes, The Chronicle crew and dozens of other professionals who gathered atop a D.C. building were able to rise above workday concerns, in view of the convergence above.

It’s no beach, but it’ll do. After all, someone has to put out the newsletter.

—Fernanda and Adam

Fernanda Zamudio-Suarez and Adam Harris are breaking-news reporters at The Chronicle. Reach them at fernanda@chronicle.com and adam.harris@chronicle.com.

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