For Ajmal Alami, it’s more important “to have workers win a $15 minimum wage than it is to, maybe, change the name of a building to someone else’s name.”

“Not that those aren’t campaigns worth going for,” said Mr. Alami, the campus coordinator for the Young Democratic Socialists at Virginia Tech, “but there are bigger fish to fry.”

On the campus, in Blacksburg, Va., Mr. Alami said, the newly formed socialist group is trying to help graduate students organize around Virginia’s right-to-work laws, and it’s hoping to help dining-hall workers navigate the same anti-union rules. Elaina Colussi, who organizes the University of Oregon’s Young Democratic Socialist chapter in Eugene, is also looking inside its cafeteria for causes.

“Our student campus workers that work in the dining halls and stuff just got their free shift meals taken away, and now they have to pay, like, $3 a meal, which is ridiculous,” Ms. Colussi said, referring to a policy change that went into effect last fall.


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At a University of Maryland University College career fair last week, the scene was familiar: Students and recent alumni of the flagship’s online college, dressed in their professional best with blazers, name tags, and business cards, lingered before tables of recruiters, who gave out free merchandise and spoke of job opportunities.

The longest line of job seekers was at the U.S. State Department’s table — ironic, since hiring at the department is still stalled under a partial freeze signed by President Trump.

Right across from that table, only a handful of prospective hires waited to speak with representatives of an agency with sunnier employment prospects — U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In a corner, next to a table for the Washington Nationals, a border-patrol agent and a CBP officer, whose job is to maintain security at ports of entry, stood dressed in full uniform, ready to recruit.



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A federal judge in Hawaii issued an injunction late Wednesday blocking the Trump administration from temporarily barring nationals of six Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — from entering the U.S.

The injunction is against President Trump’s revised travel ban, which he issued this month after federal courts blocked his first ban. While many in higher education said the second ban was in some ways better than the first, they still objected to its automatic refusal to allow some people to come to the United States to study or teach because of their country of origin.

The judge’s order is likely to be appealed by the Trump administration. As with the first round of litigation, higher education is playing a prominent role in the legal arguments.


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WASHINGTON — Though the discourse of diversity on campus has been subsumed by a “bigger political landscape” as of late, America’s colleges and universities must still fight to make the nation’s professoriate more reflective of the nation as a whole.

That was one of the key arguments that UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski III made Tuesday as he spoke to attendees at the annual conference of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, or NADOHE.

“I want you to keep in mind that the reason we’re doing this work is not to give a person of color a job,” Hrabowski said during the keynote speech at the conference as he lamented how the professoriate is 85 percent White and not reflective of American society.


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Stylistically and politically, Robert P. George and Cornel West don’t have much in common. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, is one of the country’s most prominent conservative intellectuals. West, a professor of the practice of public philosophy and African and African-American studies at Harvard University, is a self-described “radical Democrat” who, in addition to many books, once released a spoken-word album.

So when George and West agree on something and lend their names to it, people take notice — as they did this week, when the pair published a statement in support of “truth seeking, democracy and freedom of thought and expression.” It’s a politely worded denunciation of what George and West call “campus illiberalism,” or the brand of thinking that led to this month’s incident at Middlebury College, where students prevented an invited speaker from talking and a professor was physically attacked by some who were protesting the invitation.



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The Trump administration has made numerous proclamations about recapturing or preserving traditional manufacturing jobs in an effort to shrink the US trade deficit and make America great again. Most are populist cries to bolster old industries, such as automobile manufacturing, that purportedly have been ravaged by unfair global competition. It’s too bad we romanticize businesses lost to progress and ignore vibrant sectors in which the US is still justifiably great and even dominant. “Like what?” you may ask. How about higher education?

While American colleges and universities are often vilified as hotbeds for liberal elitism, we forget that our 8,000 learning institutions constitute an enormous economic engine. US manufacturing has been declining in importance since the 1970s, but higher education has countered that trend dramatically. Our postsecondary schools will generate more than $550 billion in revenues in 2017, growing to $700 billion by 2024—a multiple of the American automotive industry’s contribution to the economy. The 4.1 million people working at colleges and universities—from teachers and scholars, to administrators, to food service professionals, to engineers and construction workers—is roughly the same number as those employed directly and indirectly in the US auto sector.


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Here is a fascinating paradox: in the abstract, most people believe that sexual violence is a bad thing. We largely agree that victim trauma is severe, that perpetrators should be punished and that our communities would be better places if we could somehow eliminate this evil. Yet, when we examine specific cases, that consensus unravels.

Adjudication is comparatively straightforward when the alleged perpetrator is a stranger. If the “bad guy” is an outsider, literal or figurative, we have no trouble bringing down the hammer and the full weight of the criminal justice system. But when the alleged perpetrator is an insider, or a person with whom we feel some sort of affiliation or reverence, it becomes difficult to label him as someone who would do such a thing. We start to make excuses and bend over backward to deny the plausibility of the victim’s experience.


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When San Francisco announced in February that it would make community college tuition free for all city residents, regardless of their income, it joined a multitude of cities and states that are doing something similar. According to the most recent count from the College Promise Campaign, an initiative tracking these numbers, nearly 200 states and localities have initiated “College Promise” programs.
Promise programs make tuition free for students attending two- and, in some cases, four-year schools. Some tie program participation to GPA, or limit it to recent high school graduates, while others, like San Francisco, are open access. Such programs have seen a surge in support across the country, and as their number continues to grow, have evolved into what might be termed a movement.


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After years of bad news about sexual harassment and assault involving professors within the University of California, its Board of Regents voted this week to strengthen the systemwide Faculty Code of Conduct’s policies against such behavior.

Specifically, regents approved an amendment to the code making sexual harassment and assault violations of faculty responsibilities. Previously, sexual misconduct did not explicitly constitute a violation.

The board also clarified the deadline by which campus chancellors must initiate disciplinary proceedings against a faculty member accused of misconduct, putting it at three years. It also eliminated any timeline for making reports of harassment and assault involving faculty members.


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If we want to make a positive difference for the future of America, change begins with education. Emphasis must be placed on inclusion of all students, regardless of gender, ethnicity or economic status. Diversifying our nation’s elite colleges would be a step in the right direction. Increased number of college graduates from top universities equates to a more educated, skilled and productive workforce for our country.


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