Experts worry that proposed cuts to CUNY ASAP foreshadow trend in higher ed

The Accelerated Study in Associate Programs at the City University of New York is widely considered one of the most successful programs in higher education for improving outcomes of low-income students.

Students in CUNY ASAP had a graduation rate 18 percentage points higher compared to their peers not in the program, according to a study by MDRC, a nonprofit education research organization. Three years into the study, researchers found that 25 percent of students in the program were enrolled in a four-year college, compared to 17 percent of the students in the control group.

The outcry, then, over a potential budget cut to the program was to be expected.

The New York City mayor's office includes a $20 million cut to CUNY ASAP in its proposed budget for financial year 2021. The cut would come from temporarily delaying a new cohort of freshmen for the program this fall.

City Council members took to Twitter and local news outlets to complain about the proposal.

“The ASAP program has been a lifeline for students pursuing associate degrees in the face of tremendous hardships,” Councilman Fernando Cabrera told the Bronx Times. “At this critical time when the COVID-19 pandemic is showing us the deadliness and potential fatality of racial disparities, how can we end the programs that lead the way out of poverty?”

Siobhan Dingwall, city hall spokeswoman, said the city had little choice.

"The City has lost billions of dollars in tax revenue due to the pandemic," she said in an emailed statement. "In the face of these dire circumstances, we're focused on saving lives, protecting the health and safety of New Yorkers, and making sure everyone has a roof over their head and enough food to eat. We are currently working with City Council to finalize the budget and will have more to share soon."

CUNY ASAP is one of very few programs in higher education to have received rigorous evaluation by MDRC and to be found to be successful, according to Michael Weiss, senior associate of postsecondary education policy at MDRC.

The nonprofit compared a control group of students to those in the program, which is considered a gold standard for research. The outcomes of the program were huge. Even after eight years, there was still a 10-percentage-point lead in graduation rates for ASAP students. The program was replicated at community colleges in Ohio, with similar success.

"It's been seen as a national beacon," Weiss said. "To have this program that already was seen as exceptional then be proven effective again in a new context is kind of unusual."

But, like many programs aimed at helping students improve their social mobility, CUNY ASAP is expensive. Students in the program receive tuition and fee waivers, monthly transit passes, textbook stipends, tutoring, intensive advising, and career counseling.

CUNY spent about $5,000 more on ASAP students than non-ASAP students when the program first began, according to Weiss. The system has been able to whittle the costs down over the years to about $3,000 more per student compared to those not in the program.

The program is also more cost-effective in the long run when it comes to CUNY students earning degrees. Because students complete their studies more quickly, the costs per degree earned were about $13,400 less for students in CUNY ASAP, according to the MDRC study.

CUNY officials did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.

Other higher education experts are also unhappy about the pending cuts and worry what it could mean for similar programs at other colleges.

"Truly, I'm devastated to hear that it is potentially on the chopping block," said Thomas Brock, director of the Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College. "I would just hope that perhaps the city could be more creative or entrepreneurial."

Brock hopes the city will work with philanthropies to find funding to fill any spending gaps created by the budget cut.

"I really understand the budget crisis in New York," he said. "But here’s an example of a program that we know, as a fact, makes a substantial difference and actually saves taxpayers [money] in the long run."

Brock and others worry the proposed cut could foreshadow other funding reductions for similar student success programs and services elsewhere due to the coronavirus-induced recession.

"I think we’re going to see this trend all around the country," Brock said, adding that he is worried that cuts will go beyond specialized programs to core services at community colleges, such as instruction and basic student services.

"Greater reductions in these kinds of services leads to reductions in student outcomes," he continued. "I absolutely think there are long-term consequences."

Weiss hopes the budget cut isn't a canary in the coal mine. He said he expected ASAP to be modeled by other institutions and to be "spreading like wildfire" due to its proven effectiveness, but that did not happen because of the high costs of administering and maintaining the program. Cuts to the program could also deter other colleges from implementing the model.

Brock and others argue that student success programs such as ASAP benefit communities and employers, especially during times of economic uncertainty.

"Higher education is an investment in people. It helps create this kind of prosperity that I think we all are looking for," he said. "While I understand the very real budget pressure, to make cuts here feels to me the exactly wrong move that policy makers should be making."

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Borough of Manhattan Community College is one of the colleges in CUNY ASAP.
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Report shows wide variation in how colleges explain indirect costs

For Ruby Portillo and her friends, the possibility of becoming homeless is a genuine fear.

Portillo, a student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, feels overwhelmed by her financial responsibility to cover both college expenses and living costs such as housing. She's taken out the maximum amount of federal loans available to her, but after paying for tuition, she has barely enough for her living costs.

Debbie Matesun, a student at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, faces the same struggles. She works multiple jobs to cover nontuition expenses, but it's not enough.

"I’m constantly forced to choose which indirect expense takes precedent over the other," Matesun said. Her real costs turned out to be double the cost estimates her university provided before she enrolled. Now, Matesun can't participate in campus clubs because of their extra costs, or pursue a double major because she can't afford the extra courses.

​These students are not alone. They spoke at a news conference sponsored by Representative Ayanna Pressley, which focused on a new study on indirect college expenses from uAspire, a nonprofit focused on making college affordable for all.

"Long before COVID-19, our nation was already in the midst of a college affordability, college completion and student debt crisis," Pressley, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said at the start of the virtual conference.

The uAspire study found broad discrepancies in both how transparent institutions are and how they calculated estimates for indirect expenses. At most institutions, these nontuition costs make up more than half of the total price of attending college.

It's difficult for students to earn enough to offset these costs. The average federal work-study jobs for undergraduates cover only 19 percent of nontuition costs, according to Laura Keane, uAspire chief policy officer and a co-author of the report.

The lack of information and incorrect cost estimates can also lead some students, like Matesun, to face unexpected expenses. The researchers said they were shocked by how many colleges left this information out completely, or at least made it difficult to find, said Brendan Williams, director of knowledge at uAspire and a co-author of the report.

They looked at websites for 820 institutions across five states and were unable to find estimates of indirect expenses on 39 percent of those sites. The report also found wide variation of how valuable the information was on the websites that did have it. Some included full itemized lists with estimates and explanations, while others just had lists that were missing information or outdated.

The terms used to describe these costs also vary widely. For example, 61 terms were used to describe housing and food, Williams said.

Part of this is due to complexities financial aid administrators face when calculating these costs, he said. The researchers spoke with several administrators about the challenges. For example, institutions use different approaches to calculating estimates. They might survey students, collect external data, base estimates on midrange prices or conduct local research. Administrators also said they receive little guidance on how to make calculations. Some institutions also aim to make costs seem lower to attract more students.

While one area of the federal Higher Education Act says institutions must communicate the full price of attendance to students, it doesn't specify what that means or where and how institutions need to do so, Keane said.

Students need specificity, she said, which is why the report argues that each college should be required to have itemized breakdowns of direct and indirect costs on their websites.

Calculations would be difficult to standardize on a national level, but states and university systems could do more to provide consistent guidelines to create some clarity for students. When comparing institutions only miles apart, the report found variations of more than $8,000 in their listed estimated indirect expenses.

"Even across certain institutional systems, we did see inconsistency in the terms used. If you’re all part of the same higher education system, the terminology you’re using should be similar," Williams said. "There is a need for things to be relatively comparable and for students to understand what is included in the basket of goods."

UAspire is advocating to increase Pell Grant funding and to allow need-based aid to cover indirect expenses, to require colleges to provide transparent and accessible information on indirect expenses and standardize the terms and definitions they use, and to improve guidance on how to calculate estimates and simplify how students can access public benefits.

​Higher education experts agree this is an important issue to solve. The report's recommendations, such as increasing funding for the federal Pell Grant and requiring institutions to provide clear breakdowns explaining how they calculated the costs, are keys to solving this problem, according to Megan McClean Coval, vice president of policy at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

Sometimes, institutions face challenges from software providers when trying to comply with the latter recommendation, McClean Coval said. Part of NASFAA's code of conduct requires colleges to break down costs, but that doesn't work with all software.

Some experts also think it's important to ensure students understand which costs are directly tied to college and which are not. Some expenses would exist whether or not the student goes to college, said Sandy Baum, a nonresident senior fellow at the Urban Institute. Attending college incurs expenses like textbooks, but people need to eat whether or not they are a student.

Students also have a lot of discretion over some expenses, Baum said, which can make estimate calculations difficult. They could rent a nice condo or share a bedroom in a run-down apartment.

It's also difficult to focus solely on students when addressing problems like food and housing insecurity.

"Students should have enough money to eat, but so should everybody else," Baum said, adding that it wouldn't be right to only try to solve hunger issues for people who are also attending college. Policy makers need to think about these societal problems in a broader sense when looking for solutions, she said.

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Report shows wide variation in how colleges explain indirect costs

For Ruby Portillo and her friends, the possibility of becoming homeless is a genuine fear.

Portillo, a student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, feels overwhelmed by her financial responsibility to cover both college expenses and living costs such as housing. She's taken out the maximum amount of federal loans available to her, but after paying for tuition, she has barely enough for her living costs.

Debbie Matesun, a student at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, faces the same struggles. She works multiple jobs to cover nontuition expenses, but it's not enough.

"I’m constantly forced to choose which indirect expense takes precedent over the other," Matesun said. Her real costs turned out to be double the cost estimates her university provided before she enrolled. Now, Matesun can't participate in campus clubs because of their extra costs, or pursue a double major because she can't afford the extra courses.

​These students are not alone. They spoke at a news conference sponsored by Representative Ayanna Pressley, which focused on a new study on indirect college expenses from uAspire, a nonprofit focused on making college affordable for all.

"Long before COVID-19, our nation was already in the midst of a college affordability, college completion and student debt crisis," Pressley, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said at the start of the virtual conference.

The uAspire study found broad discrepancies in both how transparent institutions are and how they calculated estimates for indirect expenses. At most institutions, these nontuition costs make up more than half of the total price of attending college.

It's difficult for students to earn enough to offset these costs. The average federal work-study jobs for undergraduates cover only 19 percent of nontuition costs, according to Laura Keane, uAspire chief policy officer and a co-author of the report.

The lack of information and incorrect cost estimates can also lead some students, like Matesun, to face unexpected expenses. The researchers said they were shocked by how many colleges left this information out completely, or at least made it difficult to find, said Brendan Williams, director of knowledge at uAspire and a co-author of the report.

They looked at websites for 820 institutions across five states and were unable to find estimates of indirect expenses on 39 percent of those sites. The report also found wide variation of how valuable the information was on the websites that did have it. Some included full itemized lists with estimates and explanations, while others just had lists that were missing information or outdated.

The terms used to describe these costs also vary widely. For example, 61 terms were used to describe housing and food, Williams said.

Part of this is due to complexities financial aid administrators face when calculating these costs, he said. The researchers spoke with several administrators about the challenges. For example, institutions use different approaches to calculating estimates. They might survey students, collect external data, base estimates on midrange prices or conduct local research. Administrators also said they receive little guidance on how to make calculations. Some institutions also aim to make costs seem lower to attract more students.

While one area of the federal Higher Education Act says institutions must communicate the full price of attendance to students, it doesn't specify what that means or where and how institutions need to do so, Keane said.

Students need specificity, she said, which is why the report argues that each college should be required to have itemized breakdowns of direct and indirect costs on their websites.

Calculations would be difficult to standardize on a national level, but states and university systems could do more to provide consistent guidelines to create some clarity for students. When comparing institutions only miles apart, the report found variations of more than $8,000 in their listed estimated indirect expenses.

"Even across certain institutional systems, we did see inconsistency in the terms used. If you’re all part of the same higher education system, the terminology you’re using should be similar," Williams said. "There is a need for things to be relatively comparable and for students to understand what is included in the basket of goods."

UAspire is advocating to increase Pell Grant funding and to allow need-based aid to cover indirect expenses, to require colleges to provide transparent and accessible information on indirect expenses and standardize the terms and definitions they use, and to improve guidance on how to calculate estimates and simplify how students can access public benefits.

​Higher education experts agree this is an important issue to solve. The report's recommendations, such as increasing funding for the federal Pell Grant and requiring institutions to provide clear breakdowns explaining how they calculated the costs, are keys to solving this problem, according to Megan McClean Coval, vice president of policy at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

Sometimes, institutions face challenges from software providers when trying to comply with the latter recommendation, McClean Coval said. Part of NASFAA's code of conduct requires colleges to break down costs, but that doesn't work with all software.

Some experts also think it's important to ensure students understand which costs are directly tied to college and which are not. Some expenses would exist whether or not the student goes to college, said Sandy Baum, a nonresident senior fellow at the Urban Institute. Attending college incurs expenses like textbooks, but people need to eat whether or not they are a student.

Students also have a lot of discretion over some expenses, Baum said, which can make estimate calculations difficult. They could rent a nice condo or share a bedroom in a run-down apartment.

It's also difficult to focus solely on students when addressing problems like food and housing insecurity.

"Students should have enough money to eat, but so should everybody else," Baum said, adding that it wouldn't be right to only try to solve hunger issues for people who are also attending college. Policy makers need to think about these societal problems in a broader sense when looking for solutions, she said.

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Assessment group releases case study series on equitable ways of judging learning

A few years ago, the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment noticed that some discussions in higher education were shifting.

The sector was starting to focus more on equity when talking about recruitment of students and teaching practices as the needs of students began to change, said Erick Montenegro, communications coordinator and research analyst for the institute and a doctoral candidate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

But, in the assessment world, not much was moving.

As a Latinx, first-generation learner, Montenegro couldn't see himself reflected in the data collected in assessments. To get the conversation going, the institute in 2017 released its first report on equitable assessment, a model that sees assessments as ways to determine how well students are learning and to identify what teaching practices may need adjustment. For example, rather than promoting difficult testing where most students fail, colleges should instead assess students in myriad ways to see if they have reached specific learning goals.

By 2018, institutions were starting to realize they needed to shift, Montenegro said, but they needed examples of what equitable assessment could look like. To address this, the institute is releasing a series of case studies on the strategies colleges are using to make their assessments more equitable.

"When you validate someone’s learning, you validate them as a person," said Natasha Jankowski, executive director of the institute and a research associate professor at Illinois. "And if we’re not being very mindful of that, we’re not doing the right thing."

The institute has already released three case studies (from Cornell University, Portland State University and Capella University), and expects to release a total of seven. The goal was to highlight varied examples so that colleges didn't approach the work as simply checking off a box, Jankowski said. The institute also wanted to ensure that colleges could no longer cite a lack of examples as an excuse to ignore the issue.

"We can do equitable assessment everywhere -- we just have chosen not to," Jankowski said. "But we can’t afford to not focus on this anymore."

The case study from Portland State shows how it has integrated equitable assessment practices into its university studies program.

"Our case study represents some of our longtime practices and some of our newer ones," said Rowanna Carpenter, director of assessment for the university studies department. "It's not that we’re rethinking our approach, but that we’re deepening our emphasis on equity."

The faculty group that founded the department about 25 years ago chose to focus on learning outcomes, Carpenter said. From the beginning, the department has used practices like having students create portfolios, and now e-portfolios, to demonstrate they met the department's learning goals. Students can include written reports, artwork, podcasts or anything else they think demonstrates their learning. The portfolios are then graded using rubrics.

In this way, students' learning is not judged solely on a high-stakes test, but rather with a curated collection of activities from the students, which can also include evidence of their learning from outside the classroom. The students' curation of the portfolios is also important, as it demonstrates how they themselves understand their learning. The results are disaggregated into subgroups of students so that faculty can pinpoint which students may be underserved.

Because 90 percent of students will take courses in university studies for their general education requirements, it's important for the department to be inclusive of students coming from all different majors and abilities, Carpenter said.

Faculty review the portfolios using rubrics, and they take a sample to determine how the program itself is doing and where they may need to improve to better help students, she said.

The practice is definitely transportable and is used at many other colleges, she said. One of the important pieces is to shift how colleges approach assessment. Her department sees it as a way to bring faculty members together to improve teaching and learning.

Carpenter submitted the case study to the institute in part because she wanted to highlight how the university supports its part-time and adjunct faculty in this endeavor. They are paid to participate in the portfolio reviews and conversations.

"That's an area of equity that isn't always part of the conversation," she said.

Assessment has generally been based on scientific principles and objectivity, according to Gavin Henning, a professor of higher education at New England College and an expert on this issue.

"It goes back to the Enlightenment, when the whole goal was to separate the knower from the nonknower," Henning said. "It forces voices to be silent because we focus on more generalizable research and knowledge, and we focus on what the majority think."

This approach ends up homogenizing student voices, he said, so the voices of underserved students and those in smaller demographic populations, like Native Americans, are lost.

"We have to start thinking about how we can use assessment to stop perpetuating oppression, and how we can use assessment as a tool for equity," Henning said.

Many colleges, for example, assess students' ability to write by having them produce research papers, when there are many ways to write, Jankowski said. If the learning outcome goal is to ensure students have the ability to write or communicate ideas, it would be more equitable to let them demonstrate this in whatever form suits them best. Jankowski added that some specialized skills, like those required of nurses, can't be learned more than one way. But many general skills that colleges hope to teach all students, such as critical thinking or communication, can be expressed in many forms, she said.

She hopes this series and the institute's other reports push institutions to make assessment about students and their learning, not just measurements.

Jankowski is optimistic about this work given that many colleges have reconsidered standardized testing requirements in recent months and instructors have adjusted their assignments and student expectations in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I’m optimistic that we will see a continuation into the fall. I’m most worried about the lasting change," she said. "We need to be watching out for that stuff and planning our messaging to get it into the water supply. This opened our eyes, but we must refuse to shut them."

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Pandemic coincides with boom in projects to re-enroll college students

When looking at its data, ReUp Education discovered a common problem for some of the students to whom the company reached out.

ReUp helps institutions contact students who had stopped out before completing a degree in the hope that they will return and finish. The company's data show that nearly 90 percent of the students it engages with want to earn a degree, according to Sarah Horn, the company's CEO and founder. For about 75 percent of those students, returning to their original institution and picking up where they left off is a good option.

For the other 25 percent, it's not, she said.

Those results became the impetus for the ReUp Network, a group of colleges that uses ReUp to help re-enroll their stopped-out students. Students will be able to re-enroll in any of the colleges within the network, not just their original institution. Stopped-out students who aren't tied to colleges that already partner with ReUp can also reach out to the company to find a pathway to one of the colleges in the network.

"We can help students find a better path and transfer for free because we have the coaching, communications and infrastructure support," Horn said.

So far 13 colleges across 12 states are in the network, offering a total of 300 programs. Ultimately, Horn would like to have at least one partner college in each state.

"We’ve referred to this as the national on-ramp for college completion, because there’s no similar model like this in the country," she said. "We hope to serve thousands of dropouts through this model."

The project was planned for years, but it's more important now than ever, Horn said. Some 36 million Americans held some college credits and no degree before the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe. Now, with a pandemic-induced recession and rising unemployment numbers, many fear more students will stop out.

While COVID-19 hasn't changed the network's model, it has accelerated interest in it, Horn said.

​"Part of that is because we don’t know how things are going to shake out," she said. "What we are seeing from our partners and institutions is that leaders want to do the right thing. They're saying, 'Let’s do what’s in the best interest of students.'"

Bellevue University in Nebraska had been working with ReUp for a few years before joining the network.

Counselors at the university already were encouraged to help students do their best, even if that meant transferring to a different institution, said Mary Hawkins, Bellevue's president.

​"Most students don’t complete where they start, but they do complete," said Matt Davis, executive vice president of administrative services at the university. "​We value retention to degree over retention to an institution."

The university found a similar ethos in ReUp, Hawkins said, which is why she entrusted the company with the university's students.

While Bellevue already has a large online presence, Hawkins said they still aren't counting out future impacts from COVID-19.

"Undoubtedly for most of those students, education is going to take a back seat," Davis said, adding that the ReUp Network will help institutions and students weather the storm.​

Low-Cost, Low-Risk Entry Points

Other colleges and companies are starting planned partnerships to address stop-outs, as well.

The Community College of Denver, for example, is creating an academy with StraighterLine, a company that offers online courses at lower prices.

Students who stopped out of the college, or students who applied to the college but didn't enroll in any institution, will be encouraged to enroll in CCD Academy. They will have access to a variety of courses for $150 per month, allowing them to go at their own pace, said Ruthanne Orihuela, provost and vice president for academic affairs at CCD. The college's tuition per credit is $242, though it's usually lowered to about $150 with a state fund.

The courses will give students the opportunity to earn credits at a much lower cost while easing into the process of returning to college. CCD faculty narrowed down the academy's available courses by seeing which StraighterLine courses were equivalent to ones offered by Bellevue, Orihuela said.

"It’s just another one of those opportunities for CCD to meet students where they are, celebrate their experiences up to that point and then provide opportunities for them to ease back into the college setting with early successes," she said.

The college is the third institution to form such a partnership with StraighterLine, according to Burck Smith, CEO and founder of the company.

The low-risk, easy-entry model is something that's even more critical for students in light of COVID-19, he said.

For colleges, the partnership gives them multiple avenues to reach students. Much is still unknown for the fall, but the online program from StraighterLine can continue no matter what. The program also has a competitive price, helping it cut across other online providers, Smith said.

"People go back and get degrees during recessions, and it tends to be nontraditional students," he said. "What’s different this time is the more mature network of online providers and price competition and consumer behavior in a way that I don’t think was present a decade ago. I think students are going to ask why they are paying the same price for online versus face-to-face learning in a way they haven’t previously."

Programs like CCD Academy provide a relatively low-cost, low-risk entry point for those who want to return to college.

For Orihuela, the goals of the program haven't changed. But they are more relevant now.

"There are likely, unfortunately, to be more students who are in this boat of not going anywhere," she said. The academy provides an opportunity for them to take a few classes and regain momentum.

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Graduate student workers organized to win COVID-19 protections

Health care for the summer. Mental health counseling. Assurance that hand sanitizer will be available on campus.

These might seem like obvious changes universities would make for graduate student workers after the COVID-19 pandemic hit. But some have had to fight for protections like these.

The University of Illinois Graduate Employees Organization, UIC GEO, which represents all graduate employees at the university's Chicago campus, won these protections along with free summer housing for international students and hundreds of jobs to help graduate workers make ends meet over the summer.

The organizing work was tedious, said Jared O'Connor, co-president of the union. The university was holding town halls on Zoom but was only leaving a few minutes for questions.

"I basically had to wave emphatically on Zoom to ask questions," he said. "We just felt like they were asking us to speak up, but they didn’t give us a platform."

The union ended up using the impact bargaining process through the university's human resources department to get the requested policies in writing.

The group's main concern was, and still is, health care. While it won the expansion of mental health services and the expansion of health care in the summer, O'Connor plans to push for more.

Graduate students normally pay $250 per semester for health care. For three months of coverage this summer, they'll have to pay $450. Some graduate students who are working in labs over the summer can't afford the health-care plans, opening the door for a potential hotbed of the novel coronavirus.

"It’s very frightening that, in a global pandemic, the university was very reticent to cover health care at a lower cost," O'Connor said.

In future bargaining, the UIC GEO plans to fight for free, or at least cheaper, health-care coverage.

"Something like COVID-19 could happen whenever," he said.

Many of the other wins will help international students especially. These students were worried about where they would live, where they would work and how they would have health care if they couldn't return home due to the pandemic, said Zukhra Kasimova, a member of the international student caucus and union steward.

To maintain their visas to continue studying in the U.S., international students also need to show they are enrolled in credits. If they can't enroll because of financial troubles due to the downturn, they're stuck. Their visas also don't allow them to work off campus.

"International students face additional burdens during the pandemic," Kasimova said.

To solve these issues, the union secured free summer housing, as well as several hundred summer jobs for all students, Kasimova said. The jobs include building out shells for online classes and teaching assistantships. It also won a new policy that lets all graduate students enroll in classes for the next semester with an account balance of up to $1,500.

The University of Illinois at Chicago did not provide a response to a request for comment in time for publication.

Graduate students at several universities, like Brown and Georgetown Universities, have recently won their first bargaining contracts despite all the odds. Many of the contracts include specific COVID-19 protections, like expanded health care and appointment extensions.

"It basically defies conventional wisdom that everything would be frozen in place, that nobody would try to actually solve problems through collective bargaining," said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, with which many of these unions are affiliated. "What you’re seeing here is that even the administration understood that their workforce, whether they are faculty or graduate student workers, they’re really necessary for the survival of the university."

Many of the wins for Brown students -- an emergency fund for COVID-19 relief, plans for restarting research stipends -- "actually created a very good way of keeping the university viable," she said.

A spokesman for the university said Brown took several steps to support graduate students during the pandemic.

"In the immediate wake of the pandemic’s arrival, Brown implemented multiple measures to support graduate students, including a COVID-19 emergency fund, extended time and stipend support, summer funding opportunities, and extended health insurance coverage for May 2020 graduates," a statement from the university says. "We have continued to discuss COVID-19 support with our graduate student population and, independently, with the union representing graduate student workers during the collective bargaining process. In all of those conversations, our commitment has been to the health and well-being of our graduate students and to working collaboratively to support the continuity of their academic experiences at Brown."

When asked if the pandemic and ensuing recession have given birth to a revival of unions, Weingarten said unions have been increasing in popularity for several years.

"The great inequality of the current economic environment makes it clear that you need to join together to change those rules," she said.

As to whether she is surprised that graduate students had to fight for some of these COVID-19 protections, Weingarten said she never feels that way anymore.

"This should’ve been something you could get without fighting for, but it wasn’t," she said.

Graduate student workers at the University of Texas at Austin were some of the first to win protections related to COVID-19.

Underpaid at UT, an informal branch of the Graduate Student Assembly, drew up a petition demanding extensions of funded time to completion, guarantees that workers wouldn't lose health insurance due to suspension of work activities related to the coronavirus, reduced graduate summer tuition and financial and legal support for international students, among other things. While public workers are allowed to organize and form unions in Texas, they are not allowed to use collective bargaining.

They gathered about 1,400 signatures in four days, according to Megha Joshi, a member of the base-building committee of Underpaid at UT.

There was a demonstration and testimonials from dozens of students, Joshi said. Eventually, on June 5, the dean of the Graduate School responded and addressed each of the demands from the petition.

The group won short-term job opportunities and more teaching assistant positions, lower summer tuition and a guarantee to not increase tuition for graduate students for the next two years, and a commitment for plans to work on a new health-care plan with no coverage gap.

The group didn't win one of its larger asks, which was a commitment from the university to not reopen until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it is safe to do so.

"A lot of graduate students are also worried about UT opening," Joshi said. Many would go back to research positions, and they have to clean those areas themselves, she said.

When asked for comments on why the graduate student workers had to organize to secure these protections, UT Austin provided the following statement:

"For the past two years and since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the university has been working closely with graduate students to identify needs and develop resources and policies to help during this unprecedented time. Many resources and accommodations were available to students during the spring semester prior to student petitions. These new resources were a response to the pandemic as well as the university’s ongoing Graduate Education Task Force, which recommended increased resources for health care and mental health, finances and job placement. The university continues to work with graduate students on solutions to mitigate the ongoing impact of the pandemic. We appreciate our students’ self-advocacy. We work closely with the Graduate Student Association and departments to address the evolving needs of students. For example, the university has conducted town halls and worked with the Graduate Student Association to complete a survey of our graduate students on COVID-19 issues that will inform how we move forward in the coming semesters."

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California community college alliance aims to improve racial equity in higher education

More than half of California's 115 community colleges are teaming up to address racial inequities on their campuses in the wake of nationwide protests over police brutality and racism.

The California Community College Equity Leadership Alliance will provide resources, trainings and annual assessments to its members, all aimed at improving equity.

The Race and Equity Center at the University of Southern California and its founder, Shaun Harper, also a Provost Professor at USC, created the initiative.

Harper had the idea during a lunch in December. He introduced it to the Los Angeles Community College District in January, and all of the campuses agreed to join.

Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, forcing college presidents to pivot and focus on the switch to remote learning.

Now, Harper is jump-starting the initiative as the nation has "an important reckoning with systemic racism," he said.

"What if we could bring these colleges together to take a united stance against racism in all its forms?" he said. "This isn’t just a statement. [The colleges] are actually signing on with resources to do the work on their own campuses to reduce racial inequity."

With the resources provided through the alliance, the goal is to break down systemically racist structures by training members of various parts of the campuses on how to fight against implicit bias and obvious racist practices.

Each member of the alliance will pay the center $25,000 annually for 12 professional trainings throughout the year, access to an online resource center and annual campus racial climate surveys.

The first training will be held virtually on Monday. Each college can send 20 people to the first training and five people to each subsequent training, Harper said.

Fullerton College plans to send different people to each training, to ensure people from all areas of campus can participate and learn, said Greg Schulz, president of the college.

"One goal I have is to shift the climate," he said, adding that while he is proud of the work Fullerton has done, it still has a long way to go.

Schulz hopes that people will learn to be more comfortable talking about race so they can better understand racial injustices, and so the college can change the way it normally plans so it can stop the cycle of systemic racism.

"It's not enough to just not be racist," he said. "We need to stand together and be definitively antiracist."

The Race and Equity Center previously developed the National Assessment of Collegiate Campus Climates survey, which it will use to assess students' perspectives in the first year of the alliance. The following year, the center will assess the perspectives of faculty members, then staff members in the third year. The assessments will then rotate through again to see what has improved at the colleges over time, Harper said.

Erika Endrijonas, president of Pasadena City College, hopes this training and assessment will help spread responsibility for the work of improving equity throughout the campus.

"For too long, colleges have allowed a particular part of the college to own that work," like student services, she said.

But to achieve her goal of Pasadena being the first college in California to close all equity gaps by 2027, everyone on campus needs to see equity work as their responsibility.

Both Endrijonas and Schulz said these issues are priorities for them, which is why they committed funding to the alliance in the wake of a global pandemic and ensuing financial crisis that has rocked higher education and the state budgets public colleges rely upon.

"Regardless of whether we’re in a financial crunch or not, every way that we spend dollars is a reflection of what we value as an institution," Endrijonas said. "If we value advancing our equity agenda, then we will figure out how to pay for it."

Harper echoed the sentiment that many black activists and their allies have been making over the past few weeks: statements against racism are good, but they are not enough.

"We want action, we don’t want just declarations," he said. "This is a real example of what antiracist action looks like."

Harper sent the invitation to community college presidents on Sunday, so he is hopeful that, with more time, more presidents will respond and join the alliance. The alliance will always be open to those willing to join, he said.

"This is presidential leadership. I’ve never seen presidents come together like this around race," he said. "This is an inspiring, instructive example for the rest of the nation."

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Are virtual apprenticeships the future after the pandemic?

Virtual apprenticeships could be a boon to the future, some experts say. They would open up opportunities for those with disabilities that make working in an office difficult, or provide greater access to those in areas with a dearth of apprenticeship options.

But virtual options could lack the important pieces of apprenticeships that make them successful, others say.

Nationally, registered apprenticeships require two components: classroom learning and on-the-job training with a mentor. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, both pieces had to scramble to move online.

"This is an area where we’re working with the [U.S. Department of Labor] to show that our sector, like many other nontraditional sectors, can have different operating styles," said Jennifer Carlson, executive director and co-founder of Apprenti, a tech apprenticeship program. "This will be a great proof point to show that people are still able to do well."

None of the nearly 1,000 apprentices in the Apprenti program have been laid off or furloughed, according to Carlson. The program quickly pivoted to online education for the learning requirements, and it is working with companies to help apprentices continue their on-the-job training at home.

Other companies are getting into the virtual apprenticeship market, as well. Catalyte, which offers information technology apprenticeships, is pivoting its programming to be virtual, including the mentorship piece, according to Stephen Yadzinski, the acting general manager for JFFLabs. Transfr VR is creating opportunities for virtual reality-based apprenticeships in manufacturing. Interplay Learning provides online training for jobs in the skilled trades.

While some of these companies have been working on these developments for years, Yadzinski is seeing a flood of interest now given the pandemic.

"We expect to see a huge range of innovations to support remote learning," he said. "We also think this will permanently change the digital footprint of apprenticeships."

But some aren't so sure that virtual apprenticeships would work for the vast majority of industries.

Much of the apprenticeship experience is best done in person, said Eric Seleznow, a senior adviser and director of Jobs for the Future's Center for Apprenticeship and Work-Based Learning. Apprentices learn to show up to work on time, how to work in teams and, in some cases, how to use machinery. They also receive coaching from a mentor, which many experts highlight as one of the key aspects of apprenticeships. Some of this can be completed online, but with the possibility that it would not be done as well without in-person interaction.

It's also not clear the Labor Department would allow mostly virtual or 100 percent virtual apprenticeships at scale, Seleznow said. When colleges began shutting down campuses due to COVID-19, the department issued guidance that said classroom learning could be done using distance learning technology for safety, but it didn't speak to on-the-job training.

The department did not provide an interview or comments before this article's deadline.

Seleznow can envision programs where training is split between virtual and in-person experiences. Virtual training is also risk-free, which could be helpful in trades where apprentices face some risk of injury or could make mistakes that negatively impact others, he said. But companies also pay apprentices decent wages because they can contribute while being trained on the job, and a virtual reality training experience would take that away.

"I don’t know whether companies see the value of paying someone $15 per hour without production on the job," he said.

While Yadzinski sees the challenges that virtual apprenticeships raise, he doesn't think their progress is going to move backward.

"I think industries are going to adapt," he said. "I think there are many roles in numerous industries where remote roles would be permanent in an evolution of business."

Other experts emphasize that virtual apprenticeships need to be held to the same standards as traditional apprenticeships.

"Apprenticeship is an education strategy, but it’s also fundamentally an employment strategy," said Mary Alice McCarthy, director of the Center on Education and Skills at New America. "The virtual strategy has to be for a real job," meaning virtual apprenticeships should come with the same good wages and W-2 status as in-person options.

Virtual apprenticeships could broaden access, but they would have to be done right.

"I don’t think it’s as easy as, 'OK, you were going to do this in the workplace and now you’ll do it at home and it’s a better fit,'" said Taylor White, a senior policy adviser for K-12 education and workforce at New America. "It would be naïve for us to assume that the transition is so easy."

Virtual apprenticeships would require technological supports to truly broaden access, she said. The Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies found that about 32 million people aged 16 and up lack digital literacy skills, according to Lul Tesfai, a senior policy analyst at the Center on Education and Skills at New America.

"Do people have the skills to access online learning platforms?" Tesfai said. "For those that don’t, it’s really hard to build digital literacy in a remote environment."

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June 8 roundup: Sewage water tests, calls to cut ties with police and a special Q&A

This is it, our final goodbye.

Thanks again for your readership and kind notes.

We'll get right to the news today, but please stick around for an important Q&A at the end. I spoke with a policy analyst from Education Trust, as well as two students from the California State Student Association, about how COVID-19 has affected students of color and how the current protests against racism are impacting black students and other students of color.

To the news.

Kery Murakami has the details on the divide between Democrat and Republican lawmakers over whether to grant liability protections to colleges or students.

Syracuse University is planning to test its sewage water for coronavirus particles, Paul Fain reports.

California Lutheran University has decided to grant credit to all students who take an Advanced Placement test, regardless of their scores, in light of the disruption caused by COVID-19, Scott Jaschik reports.

As nationwide protests continue, students are calling on colleges to cut their ties with local police, Emma Whitford and Lilah Burke report.

Incoming or current college students who have used racist speech on social media are now facing repercussions from colleges, Greta Anderson reports.

Colleen Flaherty has a story on #BlackBirdersWeek, a movement to disrupt stereotypes about who belongs in nature.

News From Elsewhere

Education Dive reports on the latest outlook for the race to recruit college students.

WBUR in Boston looked at how Massachusetts colleges are preparing to take on infected students.

The Chronicle of Higher Education looks at how faculty can teach in a trauma-informed manner.

Percolating Thoughts

This is a time when everyone has an opinion. As journalists, we try not to have opinions, but we've gathered some interesting ones from others.

The dean of libraries at Clemson University wrote about how academic libraries could be forever changed as a result of the pandemic.

A first-generation college student and journalist who has been a contributor to Open Campus wrote about the distance between herself and her parents now that she is a college graduate.

A history professor at the New School for Social Research argues in The New York Times that COVID-19 has made the best case so far for free higher education.

Here is our last Q&A, edited for length and clarity. I spoke with Satra Taylor, a higher education policy analyst for the Education Trust, a D.C. think tank focused on improving equity for students of color and low-income students. Two students also joined our conversation -- Zahraa Khuraibet, an entering graduate student at California State University, Northridge, and the newly elected president for the Cal State Students Association, and Wonuola Olagunju, who will graduate from California State University, Stanislaus, in the fall. Olagunju has served as the vice president of university affairs for CSSA and was president of her university's Black Student Union. We discussed how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting students of color, as well as how the current unrest spurred by racial violence is affecting black students.

Q: We know that people of color, especially black people, are being disproportionately affected by the pandemic. How do you see that playing out for college students?

Olagunju: The first thing to note is that a lot of students, especially those of color, have been affected in ways that I would say their counterparts have not. They have to come home, take care of family members; they've been having to give up space, to give up time. I have friends who are looking for jobs, because they need a job in the midst of all of this to provide for their families.

Students have been displaced or told to go back home. I used to be a resident assistant on campus this past year. We had a lot of students, when everything first started, whose first question was, "Can I stay? Because I don’t want to go home." Because going home means that I have to go back to whatever that might be -- that harm, that pain that they may have. By the time I finished up the year, we still had 100-plus students.

I do know and I see the pain of my fellow students, being a part of and a former president of the Black Student Union. We’ll have online meetings where we’ll just talk with each other, vent out our feelings. It's students crying over Zoom, talking about how they don’t know if they'll get through this and they don’t know if all of this is worth it. "Should I take a year off? Should I take a semester off?" Those types of things I hear on a daily basis.

We come together to unify and just hear each other out, give each other support wherever we can, because I think that’s the most some of us can do right now for others.

Taylor: COVID-19 is a global pandemic, but communities of color are disproportionately contracting and dying from COVID-19. That means students of color will face greater challenges and barriers on the path to starting and returning to college.

Students of color are more likely than white students to have a family member who has died of COVID-19. Students of color are more likely to be in a household with one or more of the 40 million people who are now on unemployment.

It’s a question of whether colleges can provide safe and supportive spaces, which is particularly relevant for students of color, who are battling two public health crises. One is COVID-19, but the other is racism during this time. Already there are indications that students of color and students from low-income families will feel pressure to opt out of higher education.

Lastly, action or inaction from colleges, states and the federal government could either exacerbate or deconstruct inequity in higher ed, which we’ve already known existed before COVID-19 with vast racial disparities in higher ed. As public officials and college leaders think about what decisions to make, they can either retreat from their moral and legal obligations to provide equal opportunities for education, which will worsen racial divides, or they can act with courage to advance the cause of educational justice.

I’d just like to add that I’m very excited to have the two students joining from the Cal State Student Association, because we’re seeing a lot of students of color leading and holding their institutions accountable during this time to make sure that, with the statements they’re releasing, they’re putting their money where their mouth is.

Khuraibet: To really highlight and emphasize the points that were made, the CSSA represents almost half a million students. We range from the northernmost points of California to the southernmost points. We have 23 campuses. And you hear this from every board member that participated in our COVID-19 discussions -- that students of color are being impacted the most. It’s the point that I hear again and again from every one of the 23 CSU campuses. It’s pretty obvious out there that our students of color are being impacted the most.

Q: Do you think COVID-19 will cause equity movements at colleges to backslide?

Taylor: I don’t think so. I’ll use the University of Minnesota as an example. They recently divested from their police department. I think students, frankly, are holding their feet to the fire. We see more student associations, like those at the University of Virginia, the Ohio State University, who are making demands right now as we speak, and institutions are responding. I’m really looking forward to seeing more lessons learned from this time. I do think institutions will be responsive and stay committed to their diversity and inclusion efforts. Especially because student activists are not letting up during this time.

Khuraibet: This could easily be a devastating result for our students if our institutions don’t respond appropriately. But I have to say, our student voice has been pretty strong and the CSUs and the Chancellor's Office have really been working with the CSSA, and individual campuses have been working with their student governments.

For example, our counseling services now are not as backlogged as they used to be because of the ability to meet through Zoom. We’re making sure that our voices are always heard at the table. So any conversation or decision or update that’s happening, there is a student voice in there. Our students of color are being invited into those spaces. Recently, on my campus, we’re scheduled to have a conversation to talk about the recent events that happened with George Floyd and the protests and the injustices that are happening that disproportionately affect our students of color. Our campus presidents have been releasing statements. At least from what I’ve been seeing, there are a lot of efforts right now to even further address the challenges that are affecting our students.

Olagunju: A lot of administrators and faculty members are reaching out, talking to those students, trying to learn. If they don't need to learn, they are just hearing those stories, hearing the pain of what a lot of students are saying. Our president, Ellen Junn, reached out to our faculty association and to the Black Student Union, and black staff, faculty and administrators. We just had a conversation, and she talked with us about what happens in Turlock, what happens in the area where our school is in. We told her our stories, the frustration that we have, just letting her hear that this is who we are and we want to see change, not just this conversation. What are the next steps, how are we going to move forward? Those types of things are what we’re looking for.

Taylor: I just want to emphasize, we know that students of color are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and yet they still have the strength to lead these efforts. Overwhelmingly, it’s students of color leading these efforts despite everything they have going on right now, and I just want to acknowledge that.

Khuraibet: When our students demanded financial supports, our campuses began offering technology to students who can’t afford it, giving us internet hotspots and laptops. Even with everything that’s going on, they’re still advocating and they’re working really hard, and their voices are being heard.

Q: How can institutions support students whose communities are the hardest hit by the virus?

Olagunju: There’s still a growing need for financial support. But also the overwhelming idea of basic needs -- having a home, having shelter, having food, having mental health services -- are what a lot of students are trying to at least maintain.

Our school has food distribution. When COVID-19 hit, students would drive from out of town to come get food because they needed that food. You have mental health services now being offered at a better and fuller scale because they have more time. You have housing on campus being offered to students for different or lower rates because students need a place to stay, instead of letting them couch surf or live in their cars. Those types of things are what students are looking for, and students are continuing to advocate and fight for even through whatever happens next.

The aftermath of this is going to be unknown for a while. We might not see the effects immediately, but there are going to be some effects that we’re going to have to underline and make sure we’re not letting students seep through the cracks, to make sure they’re still successful and able to complete that four-year degree they first started.

Khuraibet: Institutions of higher education really should be taking the lead in that battle in supporting our students of color. I'll fall back to what the Board of Directors of CSSA passed when we spoke about how we can support our students. We spoke about how making sure our students with disabilities have different accesses and how we can make sure that their education continues. Just because we’re in a pandemic doesn’t mean our education has to stop. We need to be creative, and we have enough technology in this world. I strongly believe that there are ways around it that we can support our students.

Also, making sure that our housing is still open for our students who are struggling the most, for international students who can’t go back home. I’m an international student as well, and it’s been incredibly difficult for me to leave because I can’t do my online Zoom classes if there is a 12-hour difference. Making sure that students aren't being charged with certain fees that are no longer applicable. Because at the end of the day, finances are the biggest factor that’s impacting us all. Making sure that our undocumented students or formerly incarcerated students still have the support that they had when they were there in person. To ensure that our student jobs are still there.

A last call that I say to faculty, and this changes from campus to campus, is that faculty here can really shine in how they can accommodate students for what they’re going through. Because not everyone has the space to study. If you have seven people in a house, how do you expect them to do certain things? Really accommodating students without requiring them to explain their circumstances is a great opportunity for them to lead and show how we can support our students of color.

Q: When I first contacted Ed Trust, this Q&A was supposed to just focus on the coronavirus. But a lot has changed in two weeks. How do you see these protests affecting students of color?

Olagunju: I can say personally, every summer around generally this time of the year, there’s a black body on the news somewhere. There is a name that we have to chant and scream for justice for. I finally think that we have reached the tipping point where people are now finally agreeing enough is enough. It took, and it’s still taking, decades, centuries, for students of color to, first off, even be in those classrooms, be in college. On top of that, now we are having to fight to even complete college.

The revolution doesn’t stop for us when the protests are done and the cameras are off. It doesn’t stop for us when … it just, it never stops. Us being in those places, us going to colleges is the physical embodiment of what happened in the 1960s. Black students will never stop fighting for justice, for social justice, especially on their own behalf. That is not something we can just leave behind. Other people may have that opportunity, but we do not. We will always be consistently fighting for those social injustices to stop, for equity gaps to close, for police officers to stop hurting black men, black women, black trans men, black trans women, everybody in between. There cannot be another summer where again we’re stuck seeing the same thing.

Taylor: I think, quite literally, black students right now are putting their lives on the line.

Black people make up 13 percent of the population, but they comprise 31 percent of people with COVID-19. In states like Wisconsin, Missouri and Michigan, black people make up about 40 percent of those killed by COVID-19. And they’re at the front lines, they’re continuing to fight, and quite frankly, they’re tired as well. When you think about what institutions can do or how can they respond to this, the majority of public or private universities have done little to nothing to address the outcry from students.

This has been since the 1960s. These student demands to divest from police or abolish the police is nothing new. I agree with you, every summer, I feel like around this time, I’m saying, "Say their name" -- another person’s name. Colleges and universities continuing to invest in the police is saying a lot. On average, most colleges and universities spend about $2.7 million for campus law enforcement.

We talk about this a lot in the K-12 space. Equity advocates question the presence of police in their schools and its effects on students. Higher education also needs to take note and do their research on what is the effect of having campus police, and how can we make sure campuses are safe, especially for our black students, especially during this time. They need to take action.

Khuraibet: I really struggle to even comprehend what my brothers and sisters in the black community are going through. People have almost become immune to hearing that another black man has died in the hands of law enforcement. When is enough is enough? We’ve reached that point, where enough is enough. People in the black community are putting themselves literally in danger by being out there and protesting and fighting for justice. COVID-19 shows no mercy to anyone. The black community and their allies who are out there are saying, "You know what? We’ll risk our lives, because we’re dying anyway. So why not put ourselves on the line again?"

Something has to stop. I mentioned earlier that our institutions are making progress, they’re starting to do things. It’s something, but is it enough? No. We still have a long way to go in our battle for social justice and fighting inequities. It’s important that we don’t sugarcoat it. I speak as an ally and as a person of color and as a Muslim woman. Sometimes when I walk on the street, people look at me funny, and so you know, I can relate to that experience. But we need to not generalize students of color, and instead highlight the differences that students of color go through. Our black communities face completely different experiences than Muslim students or undocumented students. So really highlighting these disparities between our communities is really important in the fight for justice.

Q: What do you think students want to see when they return in the fall?

Olagunju: One thing that needs to be asserted throughout all 23 campuses is more hiring of people of color in administration, staff and faculty. The first black professor I had was in my junior year. It took three years of me going to college to have a black professor. I didn’t know of any black administration or affiliation of any black administration until two years ago. I’m not even sure all departments have multiple people of color, especially tenure-track faculty of color. That’s the change that I know a lot of students want. We want to see people who look like us teaching us. Reflection in what you see is very important.

Let’s take the statement and use it to move forward. Give us more professors of color. Give us more opportunities. Fund more programs that help people of color. Those are the things I feel students will be looking for in the time to come, because that’s what needs to happen for the change to happen. It’s not just a statement and we’re done, back to normal. It’s the progression. You want to see change, you want to see movement. In higher education, sometimes it does take time. But at the same time, if we don’t start taking those steps now, who’s going to start them in the future?

Taylor: Higher education leaders and public officials have to step up. College presidents should follow suit of the black students and faculty and answer their demands to cut contractual ties with police departments. Congress needs to make sure colleges where black students attend have fair and additional resources, which they never have, to address distance learning and the lack of reliable internet access right now. Congress must do something about the fact that black students are disproportionately impacted by student debt. A black bachelor’s degree recipient is more likely to default than a white college dropout, and black borrowers from families in the highest income tax bracket have higher default rates than the white borrower in the lowest income tax bracket. Policy makers need to make college more affordable for students in the first place so that they don’t have to take out so much debt.

Without any of that, they will continue the racial disparities that we’re seeing right now.

Khuraibet: It’s pretty clear that money equals power. By investing in higher education, we build the power of the students. Higher education is the path to change. I am a strong believer that when we have our students of color and our black students becoming the policy makers, becoming the lawyers, becoming the ones who make the decisions, we will finally see a drop in the injustices that we see.

Our programming needs to invest more in the faculty, in training staff and administrators, in resources. On my campus, we have so many different buildings and resources, like the LGBTQIA center. We need to start expanding on these places. People of color need a place to go to where they feel safe on campus.

These people who are graduating are going to be taking these jobs, and they’re going to be the change makers. We can’t do that unless we’re given the chance and the opportunity to get into those places.

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to say about these issues?

Taylor: I just want to go back to a point that Zahraa made. Keep in mind that colleges and universities have undocumented and incarcerated students. Both are barred from receiving federal coronavirus emergency aid. They’re the most vulnerable members of our community. Here's more context of what’s going on for incarcerated students: right now, they’re facing a public health catastrophe due to the existing unsanitary, overcrowded conditions of confinement in U.S. prisons and jails. Incarcerated students’ college education has also been disrupted, just like students who are not incarcerated. Their face-to-face educational programming and visitation is terminated right now. So they’re doing correspondence and distance learning, and it can be very difficult because a lot of these facilities don't have the broadband access that we may have in our homes. Right now we need to make sure that these students stay alive. They need to have access to essential cleaning supplies and toiletries, including soap, hand sanitizer, feminine hygiene products -- the basic essentials you would think they should have, they don’t right now. Then, when it’s safe to go back to normal, or whatever that looks like, we need to make sure their face-to-face programs are reinstated.

Khuraibet: I would also add the importance of being involved and being active. It’s a privilege to say you don’t care about politics. Politics impacts us all, and we really need to be engaged. Even at your school and campus level. If I didn’t decide to run, I wouldn’t see a Muslim woman in this position. If Wonuola didn’t run and take part, how many black women would we see in these positions? We have to stop letting these spaces that have power be taken away from us. I can see that we are all tired, but we have to eventually take leads so that it’s easier for other people, to make a pathway for other people.

Olagunju: To speak to those who may not understand what’s happening right now in the black community, what’s happening across the world now: police brutality is not something new. This is not something that has just magically appeared on everyone’s front doorstep. This is something that has been happening, and it needs to stop.

I fear for the black men in my life. My brother, who’s also attending a CSU, I fear for his life. I fear for my nephews, I fear for my people. The next thing you know, it could be one of them that I’m seeing, that I have to say their names. Now is the time, if you don’t know, to get educated. Now is the time to reach out to friends, those who are going through the experiences that you’re seeing, the injustices that you’re seeing, and learn from them. Get those stories, understand and learn. Continue to advocate and push forward for understanding and equality and not just thinking momentarily about what’s happening.

Martin Luther King Jr. said that riots are the voices of the unheard. That’s what’s basically happening right now. People cannot be surprised when you’ve been oppressed for centuries that suddenly, you’re not going to go out and do something that garners attention. You’re garnering the attention to let people see that this is not something new.

Now is the time that if you haven’t, educate yourself. I just want to drive that home.

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June 5 roundup: Resignations, local hospitals and the end

We'll touch on more serious issues later on this roundup, so we'll start on a lighter note: Pet Friday.

It's been hard to come by levity during this time, but it's important to still search for enjoyment for our sanity -- and to remind us of how the world can be good.

Here is Cala, the snoozin' tortoiseshell kitty adopted by Colleen Arnett, coordinator of operations for the Office of Housing & Residence Life at Bellarmine University in Kentucky. The spoiled cat thinks "the whole purpose of me working from home is to be more available when she wakes up from her long naps and wants attention. She also has a knack for knowing when I'm on conference calls and demanding to make an appearance," Arnett said.

Here are Scooby and Sydney, lounging on an outdoor couch. The pair belong to Janet Crane, international student and scholar coordinator at Columbus State University.

And the final pet for Pet Friday is Daisy. Emma Snyder Bahner, a compliance analyst at the University of Denver, said she is a 10-year-old boxer. "She used to enjoy hiking in her younger days, but now she mainly enjoys lying in bed all day, eating anything she can get her paws on, and showing off her favorite toys," Bahner wrote.

Let’s get to the news.

Colleen Flaherty reports on professors who have resigned or are facing pressure to do so after they tweeted insensitive and controversial remarks about the ongoing protests against police brutality.

Some community college systems have announced they will be reviewing their programs that train law enforcement. I have the scant details here.

Democrats are urging Congress to include $1 billion in the next coronavirus relief package to help students pay for internet access, Kery Murakami reports.

Emma Whitford looks at how small colleges are working with local hospitals to coordinate COVID-19 testing and tracing efforts.

Emma also has a story on the latest report from Moody's Investors Service, which found that tuition revenue is likely to decline even if enrollments increase.

News From Elsewhere

Many colleges are still planning to reopen their campuses in the fall, but some told lawmakers they won't unless testing and tracing for the coronavirus are expanded, CNBC reports.

AL.com reports on the University of Alabama system's plan to use a tracking app to manage the virus on campus.

In Texas, colleges are reporting a surge in summer enrollments, The Texas Tribune reports. But it's unclear what this means for the fall.

Percolating Thoughts

This is a time when everyone has an opinion. As journalists, we try not to have opinions, but we've gathered some interesting ones from others.

The acting dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Kean University proposes on NJ.com creating a GI Bill, but for all students, in the aftermath of the pandemic.

The vice president for academic affairs at Valencia College urges colleges to recommit to equity in actionable ways as the country protests against racism.

The director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute argues in USA Today that paying elite college tuition prices may not be worth it if learning continues online.

All things must come to an end. Monday is the last of these roundups. Much has changed in the last few weeks, and while COVID-19 still matters, it feels wrong to continue this daily feature as if the other crisis dominating our world right now -- the centuries-long reality of systemic racism -- isn't as important, if not more.

We will be continuing to cover both the coronavirus and higher education's reckoning with race elsewhere in our pages.

Thank you for reading along, sending in your comments and pet photos, and participating in my Q&As. And stay safe.

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