Swarthmore’s “John Doe” Settles Assault Case With College

Photo credit: Fritz Ward via Flickr.

Photo credit: Fritz Ward via Flickr.

As the epidemic of campus rape continues to flare up — see fraternity, University of Virginia — so do lawsuits from male college students expelled for sexual assault. One such case, which I wrote about in my May feature on rape at Swarthmore College, dealt with a “John Doe” who had been found responsible for assault, then expelled, in May 2013. In January of the following year, while residing in North Carolina and attending a different college, he sued Swarthmore, claiming his punishment had not been merited. Here, from the piece, is a description of the incident in question:

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Will This New “Sex App” Clear Up College Sexual Assaults?

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In his eloquent paean last week to watching porn, Daily News scold Stu Bykofsky equated the practice to stopping by the watercooler to chat with a colleague. There’s one essential way, at least, in which the two acts differ: One is solitary, and one is not. Stu cited the statistic that 29 percent of Americans say watching porn is morally acceptable.

I’m surprised the number’s that low. I don’t give a royal hoot who watches porn, though I’d prefer public officials not be doing so while they’re on the job. But what’s being called “Porngate” reminded me of a handy app that’s being pushed as the answer to the current “crisis” of sexual assault on college campuses. The app, Good2Go, takes the mushy gray out of “He said, she said” college sexual assault accusations by reducing the question of consent to a Wawa touchscreen condiment choice. Read more »

Which Philadelphia Colleges Will Survive?

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Last spring, a week before commencement at Saint Joseph’s University, faculty in the business school voted 27 to one in favor of a resolution rebuffing St. Joe’s president, the Reverend C. Kevin Gillespie. He was the third member of the administration to be hit with a “no confidence” vote in just four months, a gambit by faculty to reshape the financial future of the Catholic college that straddles City Avenue.

In some ways, it was hard to blame the professors. Gillespie had announced a budget shortfall of more than $8 million for the second year in a row, followed by across-the-board budget cuts and a freeze on faculty retirement contributions. It wasn’t exactly financial doomsday — a senior vice president says the school’s money troubles have been exaggerated — but if this wasn’t a monetary bottoming-out, the administration’s actions were signs of a moral bankruptcy to many on campus. “We no longer trust these administrators to lead us through the terrible circumstances they are responsible for creating,” read an editorial in The Hawk, the student newspaper.

In the wake of this, Gillespie announced that he will resign at the end of the upcoming school year. Still, compared to many private colleges in the Philly area, St. Joe’s is actually facing much less austerity. As of May, 13 other local schools still had space available for the new school year, including Widener, La Salle, Arcadia and Immaculata. And last year, to offset financial pressures, Holy Family University reduced its faculty by 19 percent, trimmed 40 staff positions, and began selling some of its real estate.
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The Easy Way to Cut Your College Tuition in Half

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A neighbor of mine is sending her son to a well-respected New England liberal arts college. A friend of one of my kids is starting her college career at a West Philadelphia Ivy League institution. Another friend is attending an excellent state school in Michigan. My kids, as I wrote in this month’s Philadelphia magazine, are each attending good schools in the mid-Atlantic area.

As parents, we are all forking over anywhere from $30 to  $60K per year, per kid in tuition, room and board.

Are we paying too much? Yes.

Is it the fault of our higher education system? Mismanagement? Gouging? Yes.

But let’s not entirely blame these colleges. As parents, we share some of this blame. We could be paying a lot less in tuition and getting the same result. But we don’t. Why?

We’re afraid of what others may think. Our egos sometimes get in the way.

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Why Am I Paying $110,000 a Year in College Tuition?

The author in one of his more desperate moments. Photograph by Adam Jones

The author in one of his more desperate moments. Photograph by Adam Jones

There are some jobs I would love to have. Professional baseball player. Writer for Saturday Night Live. U.S. Congressman. With the exception of baseball (I’m only five-foot-six, unfortunately), I think I’d be pretty good at those jobs. But you know what job I’d be really good at? Running a university or college.

I’ve navigated my 10-person company profitably through the economy’s ups and downs over the past 20 years. And now I have the “pleasure” of paying my kids’ college tuitions as all three of them enter their sophomore year. Yes, all three at once. Two go to state colleges (one in-state, the other out-of-state), and one goes to a private university. Total tab: $110,000 a year.

My kids love their schools. They’re happy. I’m happy that they’re happy. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. And from what I’ve seen over the past year, as both a parent and a business owner, there is lots of room for improvement. A university president? Me? Here’s what I’d do if given the chance.
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How to Skip College — and Thrive

Grace at her South Philly home. Photograph by Adam Jones

Grace at her South Philly home. Photograph by Adam Jones

The lecture hall is packed. The elephant-gray room is set up like a mini-arena to allow for maximum capacity and good acoustics. It’s new but generic — there are probably a million of these very same tank-like spaces in universities around the world. The concrete step I’m sitting on cuts into my back as I shuffle my feet to make room for the other kids and parents who are streaming in. My mom — in her usual chic all-black attire — is perched above me; my friend Carlo and his mom are on a step right below. We are at McGill University in Montréal, the first stop on our college tour — a high-school student’s version of online dating, where we pick out some colleges we think we would like, schedule a visit, and see if sparks fly.

We look toward the middle-aged speaker, one of McGill’s top faculty members. As he rattles on about the perks of being a student here, I feel myself pull away, hearing only background noise — the audience laughing at a joke, someone standing up to ask a question. I can focus only on my quickening breath, attempting to slow it down. None of this feels right.

The program ends, and the crowd surges out of the room, chatty and eager to attend the next lecture. We make our way out the front door, and I’m blasted with a gush of arctic air. Thank God it’s cold here, I think; I can bury my face in my scarf and my hands in my pockets — no one can see that my lips are pursed tightly together, that my jaw is clenched, that my hands are in fists, that I’m doing everything I can to not cry.

We go to a French bistro for lunch, and I excuse myself to the bathroom. The lock on the heavy wooden stall door clicks, and the battle is over: My face is soaked with tears, and my mind is racing. This is supposed to be my time, the first chapter of my adult life. This isn’t nervous energy I’m feeling; it’s just plain dread. People are always reminiscing about their college days — the adventure, the possibilities, the freedom, the emotional evolution. All I can see is a socially acceptable prison.

I fake my way through lunch. We talk about junior-year exams, about which summer jobs would improve our college applications. All I want to do is something real, something meaningful, something new. As the waiter brings our check, I wonder how much he makes a year, and if it’s enough to live on. I try to figure out a way to tell my mom that all of this isn’t right for me. That college isn’t the answer to my dissatisfaction about high school. I had imagined college would be different — challenging classes, worldly people, professors who are passionate about teaching. But today had been a profound first date: I couldn’t sit in another classroom. I wanted to really learn.

This overwhelming stream of emotions was the inception of a clear and sudden reality: I wasn’t going to college.
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True Grit: Why Temple Is Turning Away From the SAT

William N. Black.

William N. Black.

Temple University is going to take the road less traveled.

The university announced last month it will become the first major research university in the Northeast to make SAT scores optional for admission: Instead students can opt to take a short, four-question essay quiz testing the students on “grit factors” identified by Penn’s Angela Duckworth to see if they have the mettle to attend college. About 10 percent of applicants are expected to take the option.

Students who get into Temple via this route will be nurtured by the university, which has a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to mentor them through their four-year stay. “Our overall goal here is to understand what makes students successful in high school and how can we continue to promote that success in college,” said William Black, Temple’s senior vice provost of enrollment management.

Black talked to Philly Mag about why SAT scores might not be great predictors of a student’s college performance, how to make the new system fair, and how post-graduate schools might be affected.

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Were You Offended by FAFSA’s Kristen Wiig ‘I’m Poor’ Tweet?

In the still of the night last week, the Twitter account for the U.S. Department of Education’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) made a huge gaffe that resulted in a resounding “thud” each time it was retweeted onto a new timeline:

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The offense here seems obvious. Apparently, it is only obvious to every person who isn’t the social media manager of the FAFSA account. There are a lot of things to address here, one of them being the flippant way we’ve come to use the word “poor,” which desensitizes us to real issues of poverty.

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Former Philadelphia University Student Sues Over Sexual Assault Expulsion

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Photo via Facebook

Anthony Villar (left) was a junior at Philadelphia University until January 23rd, when he was expelled by the school after his former girlfriend accused him of sexual assault just five weeks earlier. And now Villar has filed a federal lawsuit against both the school and his ex, claiming that she lied and that the school barely bothered to investigate before kicking him out. Read more »

Eric LeGrand, Paralyzed Ex-Rutgers Football Player, ‘Hurt’ by Commencement Decision

UPDATE: Rutgers has released a statement from president Robert Barchi:

“Eric LeGrand will speak at our Commencement and personally receive his degree from me as a representative of the Class of 2014.

It was never our intention that Eric would be the only speaker. We have resolved that miscommunication and are delighted to have him participate.

ORIGINAL: Eric LeGrand is a football player from Middlesex County in New Jersey who played defensive tackle for Rutgers. In 2010, he was paralyzed from the neck down while playing for the Scarlet Knights. He’s since gone on to become a motivational speaker while continuing his rehabilitation.

On Saturday, he says, he was offered a chance to become Rutgers’ commencement speaker. The university had selected Condoleezza Rice to give the commencement speech, but after protests from students and professors — she worked in the Bush administration during the Iraq War, two unpopular things on college campuses — Rice pulled out of the speech.

So Rutgers needed a replacement, and it selected Eric LeGrand. On Monday, he called to confirm the situation. And he says the school decided to go in a different direction.

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