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From: Eric Kelderman
Subject: Daily Briefing: Students behaving badly
Good morning, and welcome to Monday, November 20. Eric Kelderman wrote today’s Briefing filling in for Rick Seltzer. Julia Piper compiled Comings and Goings. Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Student behavior has become a problem. What can the faculty do?
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Good morning, and welcome to Monday, November 20. Eric Kelderman wrote today’s Briefing, filling in for Rick Seltzer. Julia Piper compiled Comings and Goings. Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Student behavior has become a problem. What can the faculty do?
Increasingly, students are making aggressive demands of their professors or acting out in inappropriate ways, our Beth McMurtrie reports. Some lash out — in person or via email — if a faculty member doesn’t help them pass a course, for example, or they disrupt class with inappropriate remarks. Administrators point to several factors driving this boundary-challenging behavior, including a rise in mental-heath problems and a lack of interaction during the pandemic. In addition, they say, national political divides and students’ growing use of social media have given some a warped view of appropriate classroom behavior.
The situation has put many faculty members in a difficult position, Beth found, having to decide whether to endure the troubling behavior or deal with it. Teaching experts and student-affairs administrators are now starting to talk about these challenges. Beth took some time to answer three questions about her reporting for Daily Briefing readers:
What one thing should everyone know about this story?
Professors are uncertain about how they’re supposed to respond to some problematic behaviors they’re seeing in their classrooms, like rude remarks or unreasonable requests to make up missed work. But even less egregious conflicts can make them feel unmoored. This confusion speaks to how the pandemic reshaped social norms, teaching practices, and students’ expectations.
What two things surprised you while you were reporting?
Some students seem to be using the institution’s language of care that came through during the height of the pandemic — “we are caring, we are flexible” — to ask for accommodations that their professors now think are inappropriate. Some professors feel they have no one in their corner if they stick to their course policies on things like deadlines and missed assignments. They fear that colleagues or student-affairs staff might take the side of students, if students complain.
What three questions are you still asking?
How widespread are these student-conduct challenges? What is at the root of these conflicts? Is this a short-term problem as everyone adjusts to post-pandemic life, or has something permanently shifted?
Campus conflicts over the Middle East
Here are the latest stories on how the war between Israel and Hamas is affecting colleges:
- Professor is arrested in connection with death of Jewish protester: A computer-science faculty member at Moorpark College, in Southern California, has been arrested on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter after clashes between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters in Thousand Oaks this month. (Los Angeles Times)
- Hunter College cancels film critical of Israel: Faculty and students are protesting the college’s decision not to allow the documentary, charging that the institution violated academic freedom. The college is part of the City University of New York. (The New York Times)
- Six colleges are under investigation for possible civil-rights violations: The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is looking into allegations of discrimination against students because of antisemitism or Islamophobia. (U.S. Department of Education)
- U. of Florida grad student is banned for allegedly vandalizing pro-Israel banner: A teaching assistant in the department of astronomy has been barred from campus for three years following charges he slashed the word “Israel” on a banner in front of a Jewish fraternity. (New York Post)
- Free speech group sues Florida officials for banning pro-Palestinian student group: The ACLU and Palestine Legal have sued Gov. Ron DeSantis and other state leaders for ordering all public universities to deactivate their chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine. (The New York Times)
- Government watchdog slams Biden administration’s student-loan forgiveness plan: The Government Accountability Office found the administration didn’t take proper steps to prevent fraud in approving applications for debt forgiveness. The Supreme Court struck down the plan in June, ruling the White House had overstepped its authority. (GAO)
- Virginia attorney general threatens to sue NCAA: The state is considering a lawsuit over the athletic association’s decision to bar James Madison University from a football bowl game. The team is undefeated this season but ineligible for an NCAA bowl game because it moved from the less-prestigious Football Conference Subdivision to the Football Bowl Subdivision. NCAA rules require a team to compete for two years in the FBS to be eligible for a bowl game.
Quote of the day
“Many colleges and universities are not only failing to protect academic freedom, they are actively undermining its scope and meaning.”
— A statement by the American Association of University Professors on the way institutions are responding to debate and protests about the war between Israel and Hamas. The statement “condemns the climate of intimidation that now attempts to silence people who express unpopular views on the current conflict in the Middle East.”
Comings and goings
- Paul R. Kittle, senior associate vice president for student affairs at the University of Texas at Arlington, has been named vice chancellor for student affairs for the University of Houston System and vice president for student affairs at the University of Houston.
- Marcus L. Thompson, deputy commissioner and chief administrative officer at the Institutions of Higher Learning for Mississippi, has been named president of the state’s Jackson State University.
- Fernando Rosario-Ortiz, associate dean of faculty advancement in the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado at Boulder, has been named interim dean of the School of Education.
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Thank you to the many Daily Briefing readers who have sent in photos of your work space. Today’s feature is from Mary Wallmark, assistant vice president for special projects in the division of business and finance at California State University at Chico.
“After a 34-year career in higher ed, 27 of which have been here at my alma mater, I’ve been assigned to no less than nine different office work spaces on our campus, including one that was a converted pool-chemical storage room (some days I could still smell the chlorine). As I wrap up retirement this December, I’m currently housed in an office that sports all the amenities … a Mac desktop, a good chair, indoor bike parking, a window … and a place for my giant Willie the Wildcat head! Here’s to whomever is lucky enough to be the next resident.”
📸 Keep the photos coming. Send us a picture of your desk, lab station, or home office. Tell us why it’s important to you and what you do or don’t like about it. Your submission could be featured in a future Footnote. Email photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.