Blog

Author: Ron Castro

Cui Bono? New Ruling on Unpaid Internships
Posted by On Wednesday, July 15, 2015

When do companies have to pay their interns?

During the production of the film Black Swan, Eric Glatt and Alexander Footman worked as unpaid interns, running errands, doing office chores, and making deliveries.

Later, Glatt and Footman sued Fox Searchlight, claiming they’d been misclassified and were legally entitled to pay as “employees” under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

“At its core, this [case] raises the broad question of under what circumstances an unpaid intern must be deemed an ‘employee’ under the FLSA and therefore compensated,” the Court wrote.

“An employee cannot waive his right to the minimum wage and overtime pay,” the Court stated. “In 1947, however, the [Supreme] Court recognized that [certain] trainees should not be treated as employees, and thus that they were beyond the reach of the FLSA’s minimum wage provision.”

“When properly designed, unpaid internship programs can greatly benefit interns,” the Court observed. “However, employers can also exploit unpaid interns by using their free labor without providing them with an appreciable benefit in education or experience.”

“In sum, … the proper question is whether the intern or the employer is the primary beneficiary of the relationship,” the Court concluded.

Thus, the Court ordered the case to proceed so a jury could decide whether the educational benefits gained by Glatt and Footman outweighed the value of their services to Fox (in which case they’d be “interns”), or whether Fox had been overcompensated (in which case they’d be “employees” and entitled to pay). [Glatt v. Fox Searchlight (2nd Cir. 2015) no. 13-4478]

Note: The Court also reviewed the US Labor Department’s six-part test for determining whether an intern is an employee (see Fact Sheet #71), and found it lacking, writing: “[W]e do not find it persuasive, and we will not defer to it.”

If you’re interested in learning more, check out our employment-side training, policies, and resources at LawRoom.

Talk About It!Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

[Free Webinar] Involving Parents in Sexual Assault Prevention
Posted by On Tuesday, July 14, 2015

What are best practices for including parents in our discussions around sexual assault, and how might they be invited to be a part of the solution?

Join us for a free webinar with the University of San Francisco’s (USF) Dr. Peter Novak, Vice Provost of Student Life, and Dr. Barbara Thomas, Senior Director of Counseling and Psychological Services, as they discuss how you can support parents and how parents can support your school’s prevention efforts just in time for fall semester. (Register here.)

Tuesday, July 21st

11 am PT/ 2 pm ET

In this webinar, you will learn about

  • new research that suggests parental impact on students
  • a suggested process for communicating with other departments
  • how to support parents through the Title IX process

Additionally, you will receive resources from non-profits that can be added to your website and a sample letter sent to all parents of incoming USF students. (Register here.)

Communicating effectively with parents is an often overlooked tools in prevention education. Dr. Novak and Dr. Thomas will discuss best practice and provide resources that you can use to prepare for this fall’s incoming class. Dr. Novak sends an annual information sheet and letter to all parents/families of incoming USF students around issues of safety and sexual assault. Dr. Thomas and her staff are among the many resources that are offered, free of charge, if parents wish to consult with a professional to find out how to have a conversation with their student.

The webinar is ideal for

  • Vice Presidents of Student Affairs
  • Vice Presidents of Admissions and Enrollment
  • Deans of Students
  • Conduct Officers
  • Counseling and Psychological Services
  • Admissions Teams
  • Title IX coordinators and teams

Space is limited, so register now for the webinar. Register here.

Talk About It!Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Saturday, July 11, 2015

In this week’s roundup we have a summary of recent court decisions related to Title IX, NY’s new “Enough is Enough” law that requires all schools to adopt an affirmative consent standard, and the Department of Education’s annual “Indicators of School Crime and Safety” report. (For more information on recent legislation, check out our blog post here.)

Round-up of Decisions in Disciplined-Student Cases

Given the heightened attention on effectively responding to and preventing sexual violence by the Department of Education and Colleges and Universities across the country, it is perhaps unsurprising that there has been some pushback. In particular, students accused of sexual assault have been suing their schools because of what they claim are flawed or discriminatory disciplinary hearings. Students have brought suits on a variety of grounds, including violations of due process, contract, freedom of speech, and, of course, Title IX. Recent rulings in these cases provide insights into how the courts are interpreting a school’s obligations under Title IX. Though many news sites and blogs follow these issues, the Title IX Blog, maintained by Erin Buzuvis, a Professor of Law, and Kristine Newhall, a Ph.D. in Women’s Studies, offers particularly insightful coverage of these issues. In this post, Professor Buzuvis offers a short roundup of several recent rulings. As she summarizes, “in all of these cases, the plaintiff’s Title IX claims were dismissed early in the litigation.”

Governor Cuomo Signs Yes Means Yes into Law

New York’s private colleges and universities now also have to adopt an affirmative consent policy. Also known as “yes means yes,” affirmative consent is defined by the law as  “a knowing, voluntary, and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity.” The definition also specifies that “Silence or lack of resistance, in and of itself, does not demonstrate consent.” The law also grants immunity from code of conduct sanctions for drug or alcohol violations to students reporting in good faith incidents of violence; provides a victim’s Bill of Rights to students; and mandates training on these issues. Read our coverage of this new law and others here. Read our coverage of California’s similar “Yes Means Yes” law.

Department of Education Releases Annual Report of Crime Statistics

Early this week the Department of Education released its 17th annual report on school crime statistics. The report covers crime information on elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schools. The report’s purpose is to establish “reliable indicators of the current state of school crime and safety across the nation and regularly updating and monitoring these indicators.” In general the news for post-secondary schools is good, “the overall number of [on-campus] crimes reported between 2001 and 2012 decreased by 29 percent.” The report was not universally positive. There was one category of on-campus crime where the numbers rose: forcible sex offenses. “In the case of forcible sex offenses, the rate was higher in 2012 (2.6 per 10,000 students) than in 2001 (1.9 per 10,000 students).” Read the whole report here.

 

 

Talk About It!Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Thursday, July 2, 2015

This week the Campus SaVE Act final regulations officially go into effect, the role of judges in campus hearings, and new research on bystander intervention.

The VAWA/Campus SaVE Act Final Regulations Go into Effect

Over two years ago, on March 7, 2013, President Obama signed the Campus SaVE Act into law as part of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA). The Campus SaVE Act increased the Annual Security Report crime reporting categories, and requires colleges and universities receiving federal funds to provide student and employee awareness training on campus sexual violence.
This week, VAWA’s final regulations went into effect after several months of negotiated rulemaking, and request for public comments . While the final regulations have only just gone into effect, colleges and universities have been expected to make good faith efforts to comply with these new requirements in the interim (). Compliance now requires schools to follow the letter and not just the spirit of the law. This Huffington Post article provides a convenient breakdown of what schools must do this year to comply with the regulations and a brief discussion of its significance. Also, see our Campus SaVE Act compliance checklist and rundown of the final regulations, or review our summary of additional requirements under new state legislation.

Should Judges Be Overseeing Campus Hearings?

More and more colleges and universities are turning to judges to oversee campus hearings, especially when they involve sexual assaults, according to this article at Inside Higher Ed. Supporters of the this development argue that judges can serve as impartial and qualified parties to hear these complicated cases. Critics suggest that using judges will make campus hearings more like a courtroom, something the Department of Education has been careful to avoid, since campus hearings provide students an alternative to the legal system. “We’re not in a court, we’re in a hearing about a school’s code, and I think there is a value to not making it like a courtroom,” explained Laura Dunn, the founder and director of a victims’ advocacy group. Another sign of the “professionalization” of campus hearings, according to the article, is the greater role lawyers are playing. Several states have passed or are considering legislation that would allow lawyers to more fully participate in campus proceedings. Despite the push towards greater professionalization, uncertainty still surrounds these developments. Peter Lake, a law professor at Stetson University, told Inside Higher Ed, “I think people are experimenting with a variety of different models, and there are some who think that working with highly professionalized external adjudicators is the right pathway, especially in complex or high-profile cases. It’s uncharted territory. We’re essentially creating a college court system.”

Bystander Intervention and Cyberbullying

According to a recent study, several factors influence a bystander’s willingness to respond to an incident of cyberbullying in an online forum: the forum’s level of anonymity, the bystander’s relationship to the victim, and the number of people participating. Reported by Inside Higher Ed, the study found that the bigger the group, the greater the anonymity, and the more distant the relationships between the participants, the less likely someone would respond to cyberbullying. “Once online identity is disconnected from offline identity, it can sometimes lead to antisocial online communication,” Nicholas Brody, one of the study’s authors, told Inside Higher Ed. The greater anonymity of online courses reduces participants’ feelings of personal responsibility for intervening. “It comes down to friendship and closeness,” Brody told Inside Higher Ed. “People are going to help out their friends.” Brody suggests that professors who are worried about cyberbullying in their online classes could organize smaller group work and interactions outside of the classroom to encourage students to build relationships with each other. As schools continue to develop their online course offerings, it will be interesting to see how they address sexual violence prevention in these settings.

 

 

Talk About It!Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

LawRoom Launches Intersections
Posted by On Wednesday, July 1, 2015

LawRoom is excited to announce the release of our new anti-harassment (AB 1825) training program: Intersections. Intersections invites organizations that fall under the AB 1825 requirements to create a workplace culture free of harassment and discrimination. Filled with engaging interactive exercises, the course teaches skills to identify, prevent, and report inappropriate and abusive conduct.

With tools to assign the course and track learners’ progress, Intersections enables administrators to meet training requirements easily and effectively.

The course includes the latest legal updates and a completely re-imagined learner experience.

Intersections course at a glance:

  • Completely redesigned look and feel
  • Expanded coverage to meet California’s new AB 2053 (prevention of abusive conduct) requirement
  • HTML5 platform
  • WCAG 2.0 Accessibility

    Putting Learners First

Case studyLawRoom’s team of instructional designers, writers, and artists has developed Intersections to deliver a flexible user-directed learning experience.

Following best-practices in e-learning and online training, Intersections teaches learners through a range of media-rich experiences. Compelling narratives, infographics, and immersive interactions make complicated legal concepts accessible and engaging. Real cases illustrate key legal principles, bringing the law alive and showing the real-world consequences of discriminatory conduct. Immersive interactions allow users to apply their knowledge in authentic situations, helping them develop useful skills.

Updates to the technology allowed our designers to create a more immersive learning experience. “The switch to HTML5 allowed us to design Intersections with interesting new interactions,” explains Jeremy Beckman, LawRoom’s Director of Design. “For the user, this means a greater emphasis on practicing how to apply what they learn in the real world.”

In-Depth Coverage Moves beyond Compliance

The name Intersections reflects the course’s exploration of how different forms of discrimination reinforce each other and how to create a positive company culture to counter those tendencies.

In addition to gender-based discrimination and harassment, Intersections covers discrimination based on other protected characteristics like race, age, and national origin.

Intersections also includes resources to help companies reach a standard higher than compliance. The course discusses important topics such as inclusive language in the workplace, bystander intervention, preventing abusive conduct, unconscious bias, and micro-aggressions.

Legal Updates

IntroPageAs of January 1, 2015, California employers must also include prevention of abusive conduct as a component of the training and education they offer their supervisors. This new law, AB 2053, does not change California’s anti-harassment and anti-discrimination rules. It only requires additional training.

LawRoom’s anti-harassment courses have always included training around abusive conduct. Keeping with AB 2053′s mandate, we have added an entire section on preventing and responding to abusive conduct. This section includes a definition of abusive conduct based on California’s new law, interactions to test learners’ understanding of abusive conduct, and practical tips for helping create a more supportive environment where abusive conduct is not tolerated. See our blog post for more details: Click here

 

Technological Upgrades

In addition to updating and refining our content, we have introduced important technological upgrades by moving our courses from Flash to HTML5. Intersections uses a standards-based HTML5 platform, improving accessibility and allowing us to make our courses compatible with mobile devices in the future.

“The technology changes in our new harassment course move us forward in several important ways,” says Eytan Klawer, Vice President of Product Development. “The HTML5 technology allows us to make the courses fully accessible, and, also allows us to move forward with our push to make the courses compatible with tablets. Of courses, the course looks great, and the video delivery takes advantage of browser capabilities to request video streams based on available resources.”

On-going Commitment

VisitMenuAt LawRoom we are committed to continually updating and improving our courses. Intersections is the latest in our series of award-winning anti-harassment trainings. For courses to be engaging, we know how important it is to keep our
content relevant and current.

In fact, California supervisors must train on anti-harassment every two years. To ensure that your supervisors don’t repeat the same training, we release a new version every other year.

2013′s releases, Lenses, won a Silver Stevie Award for best training site at the 11th annual American Business Awards. (Our course for students, Think About It, won gold.) Intersections continues this tradition of excellence, and we continue to innovate and develop our trainings to help define our industry’s standards.

 

Talk About It!Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Hazing Prevention [Free Webinar]
Posted by On Wednesday, June 24, 2015

This Thursday we will be hosting a webinar with Dr. Gentry McCreary (register here) at 11 am PT / 2 pm ET. Dr. McCreary is a well-known expert on hazing prevention and the CEO of Dyad Strategies. A scholar and practitioner, he brings a valuable blend of hands on work experience and rigorous research to the problem of hazing on college campuses. During this 45-minute webinar, Dr. McCreary will examine the psychology of hazing and strategies that institutional leaders can take to reduce the prevalence of hazing on campus.

Dr. McCreary will discuss why students engage in hazing practices, factors that contribute to or reduce campus hazing culture, and both direct and indirect intervention strategies aimed at addressing hazing at the individual, organizational, and community levels.

If you’re interested in joining the conversation, please register for the event (space is limited).

[UPDATE 8/28/2015] The webinar is now available online: Hazing Prevention Webinar.

The Problem

As several recent high-profile incidents have shown, hazing remains a widespread problem on campuses across the country. In one of the few national studies of hazing, professors Elizabeth Allan and Mary Madden found that over half of students involved in clubs, teams, and organizations experience hazing, defined as “any activity expected of someone joining or participating in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers them regardless of a person’s willingness to participate.”

While almost three-fourths of members of athletic teams or a social fraternity or sorority reported being hazed, a range of organizations and groups haze, according to Allan and Madden. For instance, 64% of students who participated in a club sport, 56% of students who participated in a performing arts organizations, and 28% of students who participated in an academic club experienced at least one hazing behavior. Nor is hazing a higher education phenomenon. Allan and Madden found that 47% of students reported experiencing hazing before ever getting to college.

Hazing encompasses a broad swath of harmful behaviors, including forcing pledges or initiates to participate in heavy drinking, sleep deprivation, public chanting or singing, and even physical abuse. Hazing can cause psychological or physical trauma with potentially fatal consequences.

Indeed, as the recent controversy over one group’s racist chant illustrate, hazing rituals can also perpetuate harmful myths and stereotypes with consequences far beyond the organization itself.

Allan and Madden found, however, that “more students perceive positive rather than negative outcomes of hazing.” In fact, 90% of students who have been hazed don’t label it as such, and in 95% of cases where students recognized that they experienced hazing, they didn’t report.

While many students Allan and Madden interviewed justified hazing by arguing that it strengthened group unity, less than a third of students in their survey reported feeling more like a part of the group as a positive result of hazing, suggesting a disconnect between students’ perceptions of and their actual experiences with hazing.

These factors all contribute to a problematic hazing culture that has developed escalating concern among researchers and student affairs practitioners.

Cultures of Violence

Hazing does not exist in isolation. The cultures that allow hazing to continue (or even support it) may perpetuate other forms of violence on campuses. In fact, hazing does not hide in the shadows. A quarter of hazing behaviors occurred in “on-campus in a public space,” and a quarter of coaches or organization advisors knew their group was hazing, according to Allan and Madden’s research.

A few weeks ago, we wrote about a presentation at NASPA by Elizabeth Allan and Jane Stapleton. They argued that prevention efforts are too often siloed and that educators need to recognize the potential links between sexual violence and hazing (which often involves sexual violence).

Allan and Stapleton’s work demonstrates the importance of a multi-faceted approach to prevention that seeks to change the entire campus culture, and not just small enclaves. In short, by addressing hazing we can help address sexual violence as well.

Solutions

In the past, educators and prevention experts working with fraternities and sororities around hazing issues have stressed an organization’s values and getting members to act in accordance with those values or principles. Unfortunately, that approach hasn’t borne much fruit. But there are other promising directions.

Dr. McCreary’s research looks at the relationship between hazing prevention and moral development. McCreary points out that an organization’s overt or written values rarely exert a strong influence an individual’s decision to join an organization, which is more often based on the people in the organization or the tacit values expressed through the organization’s day-to-day behaviors. As McCreary writes of his own decision to join a fraternity: “I valued those people, but I didn’t join for values” (AFA Essentials 2014).

Among other approaches, McCreary commends empowering students to develop their own values instead of imposing external values onto them:

If we were truly concerned about student development, we would be creating cognitive dissonance in a way that would lead to a series of crossroads and, eventually, self-authorship. Conversations about how actions reflect values can and should be part of creating that dissonance, but when we impose new external formulas on our students, we are potentially retarding their growth and development. (AFA Essentials 2014)

In his presentation this Thursday, Dr. McCreary will go into greater depth on his research and best practices. We hope you will join us for this fascinating talk by Dr. McCreary. Register here.

[UPDATE 8/28/2015] The webinar is now available online: Hazing Prevention Webinar.

Citation:
McCreary, Gentry. (February 2014). “The Challenge of Values Congruence.” AFA Essentials.

Talk About It!Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Saturday, June 20, 2015

This week we have a poll reconfirming the statistic that 1 in 5 women will experience sexual assault while in college, and some tips for parents and prospective students to help ensure a safe and positive college experience.

Poll Finds 1 in 5 College Women Say They Were Violated

1 in 5 women will experience sexual assault while in college. That number has stirred considerable controversy in the past few years. Now a new poll, conducted by the Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation, has provided another piece of evidence confirming that number. Overall, the poll found 1 in 4 women and roughly 1 in 14 men said they had experienced unwanted sexual incidents while in college. The Post-Kaiser Poll was modeled after the 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Study, which found similar numbers. The poll also found that sexual assaults were “vastly underreported.” While three-fourths of the individuals who reported experiencing a sexual assault told someone about the incident, only 11% told the authorities. Many myths about sexual violence continue to hang around on college campus, according to the poll, like the belief that women who wear revealing clothes are “asking for trouble.” Despite these findings, however, only 37% of the surveyed students said sexual assault was a problem on campus. The Washington Post has run a series of articles discussing the results of the poll, including powerful interviews with survivors.

10 Questions to Ask when Choosing a School

As campus sexual violence gains greater media attention, it may begin affecting how parents and prospective students evaluate schools. This article, from the Christian Science Monitor, offers some valuable tips to prospective students for determining whether a school has set up adequate responses and prevention efforts to halt campus sexual violence. Though most schools make safety data available through their Clery reports, as the article points out, “the numbers of sexual assaults in Clery reports don’t mean much in isolation.” Counter intuitively, higher numbers may indicate that students feel more comfortable reporting, while lower numbers may indicate a climate more hostile to reporting. The advice comes from S. Daniel Carter, the director of the 32 National Campus Safety Initiative — established through the VTV Family Outreach Foundation, which honors the 32 Virginia Tech shooting victims. The questions Carter provides help probe a school’s prevention and response efforts as well as its disciplinary process. The article also points to other information to consider, such as whether or not the school has a binge drinking culture and whether or not the schools in under investigation by the Department of Education for possible Title IX violations.

What Parents Can Do to Help Prevent Sexual Assault

Parents can do more than just help their children choose a college wisely. A study conducted by the University of Michigan Sociologist Elizabeth Armstrong found that women who had “extended conversations” with their parents about partying and sex were safer in college, according to The Washington Post. The Post’s article lists some of the advice young women heard from their parents, including having a “buddy” when going out or determining one’s boundaries before getting into a sexual situation. Armstrong said that many of the young women “felt uncomfortable” talking to their parents about these issues, “[b]ut they actually were listening.”

Talk About It!Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, June 12, 2015

A new survey emphasizes the importance of interactive training, an in-depth examination of Title IX as it applies to intimate partner violence, and a look at the human toll of lengthy OCR investigations.

New Study Illustrates the Need for Interactive Training

It’s well-known that anti-sexual violence training is not just required by law but a crucial aspect of campus prevention efforts. However, it’s important to keep in mind that not all training is equally effective. A new study from the University of New Hampshire’s Prevention Innovations Research Center demonstrates that students asked to interact during prevention training—in this case by taking part in a 20-minute conversation about the material they had just covered—were more likely to retain and process information about the school’s resources and policies. Another group of students was read the policies but did not discuss them afterwards, a third group was told they could watch an optional video in which the policies were read aloud, and a fourth group, used as a control, received no education. Students who were read the policies aloud but did not discuss them later showed improved learning, though not as good as that shown by students whose training included an interactive element. Over 70% of students provided with optional video opted not to watch it, and showed no greater improvement than the control group that received no training.

Domestic Violence, Colleges, and Title IX

As we’ve discussed in this space in the past, many activists and experts expect (and hope) that the enormous amount of attention currently directed at sexual assault on campus, and school’s obligation to address it under Title IX, will soon expand to include an equally pressing issue—intimate partner violence at colleges and universities. This article from BuzzFeed delves into the issue more deeply, pointing out that college-aged women are more likely than any other age group to experience intimate partner violence, talking to young women whose educations were disrupted, diminished, and in some cases ended by the trauma they experienced as victim/survivors of domestic violence, examining the legal reasoning behind a school’s Title IX obligation to address intimate partner violence, and taking a look at what schools could do to improve their support for students who have experienced violence at the hands of an intimate partner.

Long OCR Investigations Take a Toll on Complainants

Another story we’ve been following is the increasing length of OCR investigations. This piece from US News puts a human face on the many problems associated with an investigation that takes years to complete, profiling complainants whose cases triggered investigations that may have brought sweeping change to their school’s policies—but only long after they themselves had graduated. As Wendy Murphy, an advocate, attorney, and adjunct professor of sexual violence law, says in the article, “You can’t fix someone’s hostile education environment if they’ve graduated by the time you announce there was a problem.” The article also delves into the reasons for the lengthy investigations, which include skyrocketing rates of complaints, a badly understaffed OCR, and a new (widely heralded) approach to investigations, which takes the most macroscopic look at a school’s culture as opposed to focusing narrowly on the case in question.

Talk About It!Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Learning Mindfulness at #NASPA2
Posted by On Thursday, June 11, 2015

Earlier this week, we attended the NASPA Region II conference held at George Washington University in Washington, DC. It was a great experience, a wonderful complement to the National NASPA Conference we attended earlier this year in New Orleans. The conference was expertly organized and well-attended.

We had the opportunity to speak about how we transform compliance requirements into engaging learning experiences, and we valued the discussion with the audience afterwards. But what we enjoyed the most was the opportunity to meet with practitioners and attend other sessions.  We always learn a lot from these conferences.

One session we wanted to write about was actually the last one we attended. Yael Shy, the Director of Global Spiritual Life at NYU, presented on NYU’s Mindfulness Project. Director Shy outlined the Project’s popularity and rapid rise, discussed the current research on mindfulness, and led the session in a guided meditation, letting us experience what she was talking about.

According to the Project’s website, Mindfulness is “[t]he intentional moment to moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, sensations, and surrounding environment without judgement.” The practice of mindfulness usually involves meditation (meditation does not always have a spiritual or religious dimension). Having grown rapidly, NYU’s Mindfulness Project now offers weekly meditation and yoga classes as well as programs and events centered on Mindfulness and meditation. Besides detailing the success of the program at NYU, Director Shy argued that mindfulness could help address some of the challenges schools are facing today.

For example, according to the Higher Education Research Institute’s  (HERI) American Freshman survey, “students’ self-rated emotional health dropped to 50.7%” in 2014. This is the lowest level in the history of the survey. By itself this information should worry college administrators, but HERI’s research also suggests that poor emotional health hurts student engagement, negatively impacting affected students’ college experience.

Mindfulness might be one way to help elevate student’s emotional health. Although meditation and mindfulness research is still young, the results are quite promising. They suggest that meditation can enhance mood, promote a healthy immune system, reduce stress, improve sleep, benefit relationships, and even slow the loss of brain tissue associated with aging. If you’re interested in learning more, UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center has a good research summary on the positive effects of mindfulness and meditation.

Given this research, starting a mindfulness practice on your campuses could be a valuable goal to set for next year. A good place to start would be reviewing the website for NYU’s Mindfulness Project to look at their offerings. UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center also provides useful resources, including guided meditations and research. Also check out Calm.com, a website with relaxing music, peaceful scenes, and timed, guided meditations. Or visit the American Mindfulness Research Association.

Talk About It!Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

How the HALT Act would Transform Title IX Enforcement
Posted by On Saturday, June 6, 2015

Last summer we wrote about the HALT Act, Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency on Campus Sexual Violence Act. The bill was introduced into the House by Representatives Jackie Speier and Patrick Meehan. According to Congresswoman Speier’s website, the HALT Act will significantly expand the federal government’s ability to hold colleges and universities accountable if they fail to protect their students’ civil rights by:

(1) requiring the Department of Education to issue penalties for noncompliance with civil rights requirements under its authority, including Title IX;
(2) increasing penalties for violating the Clery Act from $35,000 to $100,000;
(3) creating a private right of action for students harmed by institutions that fail to meet campus safety requirements;
(4) instituting biennial climate surveys;
(5) requiring greater transparency and public disclosure of a list of institutions under investigation, the sanctions (if any) or findings issued pursuant to such investigations, and copies of all program reviews and resolution agreements entered into between higher education institutions and the Education and Justice Departments under Title IX and the Clery Act;
(6) increasing funding for Title IX and Clery investigators by $5 million;
(7) expanding institutional requirements to notify and publicly post students’ legal rights and institutions’ obligations under Title IX; and
(8) creating an interagency task force to increase coordination between agencies and enhance investigations.

The HALT Act is similar to the CASA Act, the Campus Safety and Accountability Act, introduced last year in the Senate by Senators Claire McCaskill and Kirsten Gillibrand, which strengthens the enforcement of Clery Act and Title IX and would also require schools to provide an annual climate survey.

Contact us at 1-800-652-9546 to find out more about how we can help your institution comply with Title IX and how we can help you with climate surveys. Follow us to stay up-to-date on compliance news.

Talk About It!Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrEmail this to someone