The list of potential risks and threats a university or college campus may face is quite long and complex. Threat assessment teams can facilitate the process of managing these threats, handling the decision-making process, and developing a supportive and proactive campus culture. Every team should be developed with the goal of keeping the campus safe for all stakeholders, including students, faculty, staff, vendors, visitors, and community members.
Voluntary consent is a core tenet of all discussions concerning sexual activity. Looking at the context of consent means looking at the big picture: the effect your relationship might have on giving consent, situations where consent might be invalid, and certain responsibilities partners must uphold in establishing voluntary consent.
Almost five years ago, the Department of Education issued its “Dear Colleague” letter on Title IX and sexual violence. The letter was a not-so-subtle reminder that Title IX requires federally funded educational institutions to prevent sexual harassment and violence. After that, the day-to-day work of many higher education attorneys and student affairs professionals has never been the same.
Are similar changes on the horizon with respect to considerations of race on campus? There are several signs suggesting the answer very well may be yes, making now an opportune time to evaluate how your campus is handling these issues.
While state consumer protection laws vary, there are certain defenses to liability that are common enough—and powerful enough—that all schools should be familiar with them. These defenses are (i) preserving and protecting your educational mission; (ii) acting in accordance with regulatory requirements; and (iii) for state schools, preserving and protecting sovereign immunity.
Students considering litigation against colleges and universities have powerful legal tools at their disposal: state consumer protection laws. These laws were designed to empower states and consumers to bring claims against companies that act unfairly or deceptively. Although the requirements of these laws vary from state to state, most allow consumers that prevail in litigation to recover not only compensatory damages but also reasonable attorneys’ fees and double or treble damages. The availability of such remedies makes it easier for consumers to find legal representation and encourages them to bring their claims to court.
Two months ago, in Fisher v. University of Texas, the United States Supreme Court gave a lukewarm endorsement of the University of Texas’ affirmative action program geared to attracting more students of color. Suffice it to say that the Court’s decision is limited to student admissions and the very specific facts of that case.
Of course, the country is in the midst of an intense national conversation on race and systemic discrimination, and as last year’s turmoil at the University of Missouri made plain, higher education is certainly not immune from this discussion. Facing demands from students and faculty members to address the lack of racial minorities within their faculty ranks, university deans and department heads are struggling to address those concerns while not violating the law (which remains somewhat murky). This article outlines the law regarding the consideration of race in employment and provides straightforward, legally permissible suggestions to enhance diversity.
Today’s college campus is a laboratory for the US Constitution’s First Amendment provision declaring that government may not “abridge” a citizen’s individual rights with respect to five related freedoms: religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition. Public colleges and universities must honor these rights and protect them, but private institutions are not so obligated—unless they commit to them by way of recruiting materials, mission statements, catalogues, or faculty and student handbooks.
Free speech, however, must be balanced by the institution’s concern for civility and respect for human welfare. The search for truth in an open and vibrant democracy requires that controversial issues be discussed on campus—in classrooms, special forums, clubs, and elsewhere—with viewpoints that often result in uncomfortable conflicts among diverse groups of students and faculty with different political agendas, personal values, and religious commitments. However, there are limits to acceptable free speech. As US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said in a 1913 ruling, no one can legally yell “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater. Free speech but with restrictions—no easy balance for academic leaders in our time.