Tag Archives: college

Republicans Want to Expel College Kids for Heckling

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, Republican lawmakers in the state are sponsoring a bill that would suspend or expel University of Wisconsin college students who disrupt campus speeches by heckling or protesting.

The Campus Free Speech Act would require administrators at the University of Wisconsin to develop a disciplinary policy for those who interfere with anyone's right to express themselves, and would prevent state schools from taking stances on social issues. What's more, it would give speakers the right to sue UW if their events were shut down by students.

The pending legislation comes at a time when tensions between liberal protestors and conservative speakers are at an all-time high. In the past few months, universities across the country have routinely dissolved into chaos as polarizing figures have tried to speak there. Late last January, a man was shot during a Milo Yiannopoulos protest at the University of Washington. Students effectively blocked eugenicist Charles Murray from speaking at Middlebury University in March, and on Wednesday, right-wing pundit Ann Coulter canceled her scheduled appearance in Berkeley after administrators said they couldn't protect her from possible violence.

Back in 2015, the University of Chicago released a report that said campus protestors there "may not obstruct or otherwise interfere with the freedom of others to express views they reject or even loathe." A conservative think tank called the Goldwater Institute later published a model of how to turn the Chicago report into law, and Wisconsin is just the latest state to consider adopting a version of it. It's already happened in Colorado, and Republicans in Michigan, North Carolina, and Virginia are also apparently considering introducing similar bills.

The legal director of the Wisconsin chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union told the Associated Press that the bill was "unnecessarily draconian." Meanwhile, one of the bill's key sponsors argues that the Campus Free Speech Act will protect free expression by expelling students who use it to voice their distaste for unpopular viewpoints.

"All across the nation and here at home, we've seen protesters trying to silence different viewpoints," Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said in a statement on Thursday. "Free speech means free speech for everyone and not just for the person who speaks the loudest."

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Columbia Spent $2.5 Million to Study Sexual Assault on Campus

Researchers at Columbia University wrapped up a two-year study of students' sex lives on Thursday, pouring $2.5 million into a project designed to help put an end to sexual harassment and violence on campus, the Columbia Spectator reports.

The school launched the Sexual Health Initiative to Foster Transformation (SHIFT) study in 2015, just after the Association of American Universities estimated that one in four women at universities across the country experience some kind of sexual assault while in college. That same year, Emma Sulkowicz, a Columbia student, carried a mattress everywhere she went to protest the university's refusal to kick her accused rapist off campus—even going so far as to lug it across the stage when she graduated. 

In the SHIFT study, researchers tried to dissect what contributed to a culture of harassment on campus. They hosted focus groups and interviews with more than 1,600 undergrads at Columbia and Barnard and asked them about their sex lives and experiences with assault. The researchers' most impressive strategy—and also, perhaps, their strangest—took sociology professor Shamus Khan and his colleagues to parties and bars to get a firsthand look at how students interact romantically, according to Politico.

"My life over the past two years has been thinking about college students and sex, and it's both really boring and really disturbing in sort of twin ways," Khan said Wednesday

Principal Investigator Jennifer Hirsch told the Spectator her team will publish 26 journal articles on the subject by December. Along with the findings, the studies are expected to offer some solutions on how the university could do a better job of preventing sexual assault, something Hirsch said won't come down to one single strategy.

"Effective prevention of unwanted sexual touching by strangers, for example, might differ from strategies to prevent rape in the context of an ongoing hookup," Hirsch told the Spectator. "To be effective with prevention, it's important to focus in a more targeted way on the specifics of what we are trying to prevent."

Columbia's not the only university working to put a stop to rape culture on campus. After conducting a similar intensive study, Indiana University—a school with a top-notch sports program—announced Thursday that it's implementing a new policy that bans any current, incoming, or transfer student with a criminal history of sexual or domestic violence from joining any of its athletic programs.

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Early Morning Classes Are Bad for College Students, Study Says

Aside from the fact that early classes are the worst, a recent study found that they can actually be detrimental to your learning ability—so much so that some researchers are pushing colleges to start scheduling classes later in the day, NPR reports.

The study, published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience this month, found most college students don't stop being complete zombies until about 10 or 11 AM, an ideal time to offer the first classes of the day. Researchers from the University of Nevada, Reno and the UK's Open University quizzed 190 freshmen and sophomores on their sleep schedules and productivity to determine how well their brains function at different times of the day.

The researchers discovered that a vast majority of college-aged kids aren't programmed to use their brains early in the morning and consider themselves night owls, and biology is to blame.

"There has been evidence over time from specific studies indicating that teenagers's body clocks are set at a different time than older folks," Professor Mariah Evans, a co-author of the study, told NPR. "It has nothing to do with laziness. It's not in their control. It's to do with their bodies."

In other words, asking a kid to get up at 7:30 AM and go listen to some old dude talk about fur trading on the Silk Road is basically the same thing as forcing an adult to wake up for work at 5 AM.

Scientists have advised middle and high schools to push back the beginning of the school day for years, and it only makes sense that college kids—many of whom are still teens—would benefit from the same thing. 

"We want the students to learn," said Evans. "We go to great lengths to increase academic performance with methods that are less effective than the free solution of just changing the timings."

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You Can Actually Save Money By Going to College Abroad

We all want that “finding myself through travel” experience in college, but going to school abroad seems like an impossible, expensive dream. Surprisingly, it’s actually cheaper in some cases, thanks to rising tuition costs in the States. But don’t hop on a plane just yet. There are a number of variables to consider.


These Kids Dragged a Dead Gator to Their Dorm for Twitter Fame

It's no secret that kids do a lot of dumb shit in college, even at the expense of innocent marine life. So it shouldn't be too surprising that a few university students down in Florida would be willing to lug a dead gator onto campus just to take photos of it and rack up some likes on social media—which teens today so desperately crave.

According to a local NBC affiliate, a few students at Florida Gulf Coast University did just that last weekend. Apparently they stumbled upon a dead alligator on the side of the road—a sight not too uncommon to the area—and decided it would be a great idea to drag it back to their dorm room. They then plopped the three-foot gator caracas on a bed, and started posting pictures of it on Snapchat or whatever.

"I was scrolling through Twitter the other day and I saw this girl's tweet that someone kidnapped the SoVi (South Village) gator and I was like, 'What the heck?'" sophomore Kandace Tice told a local CBS affiliate. "So I clicked on the picture and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, it looks like it's in someone's bed.'"

The school's administration quickly got wind of the campus's new viral social media star, and located the culprits, slapping each of them with a warning. Then the school called in the de facto alligator police—Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission—who sent an officer to investigate. 

"It was actually a road kill alligator that they found and that was confirmed by the officer examining the carcass," Brian Norris, a spokesman for the commission, told the News-Press. "It was very clear evidence of it being road kill."

Norris and his colleagues gave the kids a warning for possession of an alligator without proper permits, which, weirdly enough, is a legitimate offense in Florida. 

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Why Guns Might Be Coming to Your College Campus

A version of this article originally appeared on the Trace.

In 2007, a Virginia Tech student opened fire on campus, killing 32 of his classmates and teachers. The incident catalyzed a movement to allow gun owners with concealed-carry permits to bring their weapons with them onto college campuses—places where guns have been traditionally banned.

That same year, Utah became the first state to pass a so-called campus carry law. Since then, at least nine other states have adopted laws that allow guns on university grounds. The most recent was Arkansas, which opened up college campuses—and sporting venues on college campuses—to concealed-carry holders on March 22. Under intense public pressure, the legislature scrambled to give universities a way to keep stadiums gun-free: Governor Asa Hutchinson signed the revised bill on Tuesday.

Georgia could be next: A campus-carry bill is also on Governor Nathan Deal's desk. Last year, he vetoed a slightly stronger version of the same legislation.

Not all campus-carry laws are the same. Here is what we know about where they apply, what they do, and about the movement that is spreading them.

What Is Campus Carry?

"Campus carry" is the broad term for laws that allow for faculty, staff, students, and individuals other than security or law enforcement to bring firearms onto public school property.

The states with laws on the books that mandate public universities to allow guns on campus, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, are Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.

Minnesota has a narrow version of campus carry that allows visitors to carry guns but not students or faculty.

Another 23 states leave the decision of whether or not to allow firearms on campus up to individual universities, and 17 have outright bans, according to NCSL.

I Feel Like I've Only Started to Hear About Campus Carry Recently. Is It New?

The effort to allow concealed guns on college campuses began a decade ago but has gathered momentum in the last two years.

Last year alone, at least 16 states considered such bills. It's important to note that these proposals remain legislatively unpopular, even in states with strong pro-gun populations. Of the bills considered in 2016, only one passed, in Tennessee. And that one has a relatively narrow application: Staff and faculty with permits may carry guns onto campuses but not students or visitors. (In Ohio, a law was passed to give universities the option of allowing firearms, but none have been reported to do so.)

Do These Laws Mean That Students Can Carry Guns Anywhere? Like in Classrooms and in Dorms?

It depends. Some states require schools to allow concealed weapons almost everywhere. However, in some states, schools can prohibit firearms from certain areas.

In six campus-carry states, firearms are not allowed in classrooms. The exceptions are Texas, Colorado, Utah, and Arkansas.

Most states prohibit firearms in campus-living quarters—with the exception of Utah. But, starting next school year, Arkansas will become the second state with firearm-friendly dormitories. In Colorado, firearms are banned from all undergraduate dorms. But if a student requests, he or she can be transferred to graduate housing that allows firearms.

In Kansas, a law will go into effect in July requiring that any university building where firearms are prohibited have "adequate security measures," including metal detectors and onsite firearm storage. Universities had four years to comply, which they must do if they wish to keep guns out of classrooms and dorms.

Private colleges and universities are given the opportunity to opt out of campus-carry laws. In response to the Texas law, which went into effect last year, all but one private university opted out.

What About Stadiums?

This fact was lost amid the hoopla over the Arkansas law that briefly opened up all college sporting venues to concealed weapons: It's not the only state to have done so. Utah has allowed firearms inside college stadiums for a decade, with a few exceptions.

In 2015, the University of Utah prohibited guns at US Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor's book-tour stop at the school's flagship arena in Salt Lake City, citing a security threat to the justice.

Do People Who Carry Guns on Campus Need to Have Training?

Generally, yes, people are required to have concealed-carry permits and associated training, which varies state by state. To get a license in Utah, applicants must complete a five-hour class. In Arkansas, in addition to a concealed-carry permit, individuals must complete an eight-hour "enhanced training" course in order to carry firearms on university grounds. (The Arkansas State Police are currently developing the curriculum for this permit.)

However, starting this summer, Kansas will pave new ground on this front. The state did away with permits two years ago, and a bill will lapse this summer that allowed public universities extra time to comply with a law allowing concealed weapons in all public buildings. So, as of July 1, anyone over 21 can carry a concealed weapon to school—no permit or training required.

What Happens When Schools Don't Want to Comply with Campus-Carry Policies?

They can encourage state lawmakers to revise the laws or take them to court. Three professors at the University of Texas, Austin, tried the legal route late last year. They argued that the presence of firearms stifled free discourse at the university. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed.

What Do Students, Administrators, and the Public Think About Campus Carry?

Students and university administrators have been some of the most vocal opponents to campus-carry policies.

More than 400 college and university administrations have joined the national Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus. And in Texas and Georgia—two of the most high-profile campus-carry fights in recent years—student protests consumed colleges as bills advanced through the legislature.

In Arkansas, in the midst of heated debate over its then pending campus-carry bill, the university chancellor, Joseph Steinmetz, issued a strongly worded statement evoking concerns about putting the safety of students in jeopardy with the increased presence of firearms. He cited campus law enforcement, who he wrote, "do not believe that the campus would be safer if guns are permitted."

The same goes for the general public. In Florida, where lawmakers have considered campus carry for several sessions, a March poll found that more than 60 percent of registered voters oppose guns on campus.

Check out the Motherboard documentary about the strange, troubled history of the smart gun in America.

And What About Cops?

By and large, law enforcement has been quiet on campus-carry laws.

The International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators has changed its stance over the years. In 2008, the association issued a vigorous opposition to guns on campus, citing the concern that officers wouldn't be able to distinguish between bystanders and assailants in an active-shooting situation. Yet in March, the group's president told reporters that the organization could no longer come to a consensus on the issue.

Last year, however, the police chief of Austin, Art Acevedo, successfully persuaded Texas lawmakers to amend a provision of the state's campus-carry law that would have limited law enforcement's authority from questioning people with firearms. At a news conference, accompanied by other state law enforcement leaders, he delivered this message to lawmakers: "You can't be the party of law and order and not listen to your police chiefs."

Who Are the Proponents of Campus Carry?

The most active lobbyists for these bills are the National Rifle Association and a network of pro-gun student organizations, Students for Campus Carry. The Trace's reporting revealed that SCC members, more than 40,000 strong, are trained by veteran right-wing operatives.

The argument advanced by these groups is simple: the more guns on campus, the more opportunities to stop a mass shooting.

"The hard facts are, we can't predict where evil may strike—the next campus, the next church, the next shopping mall or airport," Wayne LaPierre, the organization's leader, said last year during an address to graduating students at Liberty University, a private Christian school that allows guns on campus. "And if God forbid a monster should walk onto this campus, that evil will be met with the one indisputable fact of liberty: that the surest way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

Do Guns on Campus Make Students Safer?

Research suggests that the risks posed by guns on campus outweigh their potential for increased safety. One study, published last October by a team from Johns Hopkins University, concluded that increasing the number of weapons on college grounds is "likely to lead to more shootings, homicides, and suicides on campus, especially among students."

There's scant evidence that a "good guy with a gun"—a standard gun rights talking point—can protect against an attack. Of 160 active-shooting incidents between 2000–2013, detailed by an FBI report, the assailant was stopped by a concealed-carry permit holder in only one case—and he was a Marine. On the other hand, 21 active shooters were stopped by unarmed citizens.

A version of this article was originally published by the Trace, a nonprofit news organization covering guns in America. Sign up for the newsletter, or follow the Trace on Facebook or Twitter.

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