The classroom is a non-stop hub of feedback: test grades, assignment scores, paper comments, peer review, individual conferences, nonverbal cues, and more. Feedback is essential for student learning.
Still, students’ ability to process and use feedback varies widely. We have some students who eagerly accept feedback or carefully apply rough draft comments, while many others dread or dismiss their professors’ notes or reject exam grades as “unfair.” Although feedback is integral to our classrooms and work spaces, we often forget to teach students how to manage it.
Two Harvard law professors, Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen, argue that identifying different kinds of feedback is a good place to start. Their book Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well (2014) divides feedback into three types (35):
Appreciation: to see, acknowledge, give credit, or thank
Coaching: to help the receiver fine-tune skills, tweak understanding, increase knowledge, improve, or to address the giver’s feelings or a sense of relationship
Evaluation: to score against expectations to shape decision-making
Although Stone and Heen’s book is intended for a wide audience, their ideas can help us coach students into better feedback response. Here are a few examples:
1. Teach students to reflect on their reactions to the three categories of feedback.
From the athletic field to the orchestra pit, the categories of feedback are the same. Still, we’ve seen many accomplished student athletes and musicians struggle to embrace feedback in the classroom like they do in their extracurricular activities. Asking students to reflect on the moments when they’ve been at their best and worst in response to feedback can help bridge that gap. For example, a successful basketball player in our class explained how well he responded to repeated corrections on the court but hated all coaching feedback on essays and class projects. Reflecting on the three types of feedback gave him a way to rethink various encounters. After all, it might not have seemed like his coach was using appreciation with his coaching feedback, but every made 3-point shot brought applause. Maybe, he reasoned, he needed to hear a little recognition of his effort (appreciation) before he could embrace coaching feedback in the classroom.
Consider having students reflect upon contexts other than the classroom where they process feedback. Ask students to reflect on a specific moment of negative feedback where they responded poorly or the moments when they use feedback most effectively.
2. Help students be proactive about how they ask for feedback.
Stone and Heen point out that the feedback sequencing impacts how people react. They illustrate with a comparison of two softball players, Annie and Elsie, who receive the same advice on how to strengthen their swing. Although the two players get the pointers in the same style from the same coach, they respond differently. While Annie takes the advice as belief in her potential, Elsie sees it as a sign that the coach doesn’t think she is any good.
Analyzing the feedback categories and subsequent responses can lead to self-discovery and improved communication. In Stone and Heen’s example, Elsie, the discouraged player, recognized that she needed to know what was going well before she could reasonably contextualize feedback. Without such a frame, she saw the helpful feedback as harsh and dismissive. Annie, on the other hand, admitted that she might see a compliment as patronizing and doubt the coach’s sincerity. She just wants him to provide direct guidance on to how to improve.
Students might have a bit of trouble analyzing the kind of feedback they prefer, but with practice they will become more perceptive to what motivates them and more open to receiving different types of feedback. When meeting one-on-one with students consider asking them to identify the order of feedback types they prefer. Students like Annie may know they feel more respected when a conference begins with direct pointers. Others, like Elsie, may figure out that they process coaching feedback with more ease once they receive credit for their successes.
3. Remind students which categories of feedback they’ll get or give on projects or assignments.
Although we hope our students can evaluate each type of feedback, reminders can make students better at getting and giving feedback. From peer review on essay drafts to group presentation feedback, we ask students to contribute in each of the three categories of feedback. When students self-assess, our questions align to the three categories. Here we change the evaluation category slightly to emphasize decision-making based upon feedback.
Appreciation: Where were you most successful? What improvements stand out? What/Who deserves credit or affirmation?
Coaching: How can knowledge expand? What skills need tweaked or fine-tuned? Where does effort need to be increased or reallocated?
Feed-forward: What needs to change or stay the same to be successful? How does behavior need to change to align with desired outcomes? How can experience inform decision-making?
Although it takes a little work to teach students how to manage feedback, the results are worth it. Consider asking students to routinely use all three types of feedback to reflect on a recent learning experience.
The stakes are high in today’s college classroom, and it’s easy to let emotions take over. But it’s worth teaching students to move past gut reactions. With a little practice, students can improve how they reflect on specific kinds of feedback. Taking time to analyze what feedback students want and how they react to it is mutually beneficial: students become better, more proactive stewards of their own feedback, while teachers learn what kinds of feedback work best. With a bit of work, we can orient students toward healthy, productive feedback use.
Reference: Stone, Douglas and Sheila Heen. Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well. New York: Penguin Books, 2014.
Karen Sheriff LeVan and Marissa King teach at Hesston in the English and education departments and serve as directors of the first-year experience program.
Since the 1970s, a “doom loop” has pervaded higher education, writes Christopher Newfield in his new book The Great Mistake: How We Wrecked Public Universities and How We Can Fix Them. Newfield, a professor of American studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, calls this loop “privatization”—the hidden and overt ways that “business practices restructure teaching and research.”
It’s a cycle in which colleges spend more and more money chasing research projects, building luxury dorms and academic centers to attract wealthy students, and engaging in activities that compel them to compete against each other, rather than focus on their own students. Newfield says he saw this first-hand while serving on the University of California’s planning-and-budget committee.
One consequence, according to Newfield: After decades of public universities raising tuition, legislatures have learned to rely even more on tuition increases to enable them to cut funding for public higher education.
Families suffer, of course, but the long-term impact transcends that. “The converting of public funding into higher tuition focuses the student on assuring her future income to cover higher costs and debt,” he writes. At stake, he believes, is a citizenry that sees college not as a place for in-depth learning and inquiry, but as a means to economic security, forcing colleges to conduct themselves more like a business and less like a public good that all students can afford.
The Hechinger Report, which published this story in partnership with The Atlantic, spoke with Newfield to learn more. This interview was lightly edited for length and clarity.
Mikhail Zinshteyn: Why are public universities a public good, and why do you think states and the federal government should largely do away with tuition?
Christopher Newfield: Society—culturally, economically, and socially—gets the majority of the benefits. Here I’m using the work of some economists, particularly Walter McMahon, who has actually tried to count up all of the non-market benefits that universities generate.
My parents are first-generation-college people, and they probably wouldn’t have gone if it hadn’t been free for them. The benefit of that was that society got two more productive, also politically more thoughtful, more complex people that had better health, people that were able to make contributions to their community, because they had incomes that allowed them to work only one job.
What’s happened since is, [the reduction in state funding and shift toward operating like a business] is just kind of an arrangement of convenience for state governments, for taxpayers, for business taxpayers, who’ve gotten a cheaper deal. But, it’s economically and socially less efficient to save money this way. It’s also philosophically and economically incorrect.
Zinshteyn: What’s one example of the way colleges have been behaving like businesses at the expense of students?
Newfield: They had to look for multiple revenue streams really starting in the 1980s, and some of those were very high-value and glamorous … like technology-transfer revenues through patenting, increasing contracts and grants revenues, and increasing fundraising.
The national statistic is that universities have to put in 19 cents of institutional funds to make up, to get to, a full dollar of their research expenditures. [And] this number is higher at public universities than it is at private universities. The last numbers that I saw are about 25 cents on the dollar of overall research expenditures at publics, and something like half that at privates. So there’s a public subsidy that’s going on at these institutions, through ongoing general fund contributions, that means that they’re just paying more of their own money … and not paying for what the public thinks it’s paying for, which is instruction, and some other kinds of core things.
There’s actually one article that was published on this in the general press that said on $3.5 billion in gross contract and grant revenues [at the University of California], they lose $720 million [in one year].
Zinshteyn: Why were states increasing tuition—your book notes public colleges raised tuition by about 50 percent in the 1980s and 38 percent in the 1990s—even though, as you point out, state funding was growing slightly?
Newfield: Because they were adding prestigious activities. And after U.S. News came in with [college] rankings in the late 1980s, it just really took off. Because they were having to compete for revenue, for overall amount of R&D expenditures, for selectivity rates, which were tied to the prestige of the faculty. … Bayh-Dole [legislation], in 1980, which is the door opening [for universities] to keep patenting revenues, was a driver that we haven’t talked about enough.
But I think some of it is just that it was more important to have a kind of a national profile than it was to do really good regional service. Shifting from regional service to national profile created competitive costs; you just tend to duplicate a lot of things that other people have. Then later, in the 1990s and 2000s, when you’re starting to compete for blue chip out-of-state students, the arms race in facilities accelerates, and just re-accelerates after 2008.
Zinshteyn: What’s the most glaring example of privatization at work that you saw on the UC planning-and-budget committee?
Newfield: We just started prioritizing private revenue streams, and energy and brains and additional positions were created in order to go after that other stuff. The Regents were pitched fundraising statistics and contracts and grants, gross statistics—always with the gross numbers, never with net. Undergraduates and academic graduates students became more of an afterthought at the senior management level. They were kind of the revenue source, in terms of tuition and general funds per capita, but then, after that, they were not at the center of policy. We really lost our focus.
Zinshteyn: Let’s say there’s a reformer who’s sympathetic to the arguments in this book. Does she sit down with President-elect Trump? Or with her state’s governor? And what will that elevator pitch sound like?
Newfield: She would say to Trump: You ran on making America great again. And to make America great again, you have to make the economy great again. And to make the economy great again, you have to bring all the non-college workers of the country into it. And to do that, to include the non-college [workers], you have to rebuild open-access, high-quality, public universities. There is no other way. It can’t be job training. It can’t be political rhetoric. It can’t be browbeating a few companies to not off-shore their workers.
This has to be liberal arts and sciences. Rebuild high-end cognitive skills, so that these folks don’t just go down the street to the machinist shop that’s still open if they lost their factory job. They can be eligible for a whole range of jobs, or build jobs and businesses on their own with these skills.
Columbia University’s wrestling program has been halting while racist and lewd texts that members of the team allegedly sent out.
According to a university statement, the wrestling team will not compete while the investigation is underway until they reach “a full understanding of the facts on which to base the official response to this disturbing matter.”
“Columbia University has zero tolerance in its athletics programs for the group messaging and texts sent by several members of the men’s varsity wrestling team,” the university said in the statement. “They are appalling, at odds with the core values of the University, and violate team guidelines.”
The alleged messages go back as far as 2014 and include both racist and homophobic slurs as well as lewd comments toward women.
An online petition is already urging Columbia President Lee Bollinger to expel team members and had reached almost 1,000 signatures as of Tuesday.
Concern about the prevalence of fake or sensationally biased news sources has escalated in the days following the presidential election, with many citing it as a factor (some even the primary cause) of Donald Trump’s win.
The central focus of the concern is Facebook, which has grown beyond a social platform and is now a key information distributor from which 44 percent of Americans get their news. Though Mark Zuckerberg stated publicly that the idea that fake news on Facebook influenced the election was “crazy,” a BuzzFeed News report uncovered that people within his own company consider this response flippant and are busy organizing in secret to dig into the data and make recommendations to senior leadership. This news came out after a Gizmodo report stated that Facebook had already built a system that could weed out fake news but had chosen not to deploy it because of the undesirable optics of the tool going after mostly right-wing “news” sources. Facebook has denied that report, but there’s still a lot we don’t know about what’s going on behind closed doors.
On top of Facebook’s issues, the first Google search result for election results for several hours on Monday was a tiny conspiracy blog that wrongly showed Trump winning the popular vote. Google and Facebook both announced on Monday that they would block fake news sources from using their ad networks (one of the key ways that small to moderately sized websites make money), but the issue of fake news creeping up in search results and news feeds is still an urgent one.
All of this is compounded by the reality that a lot of people don’t know fake news when they see it, sensationalized reports are more likely to go viral on social media than sane ones, and distrust of traditional (and genuinely more reliable) media sources is rising.
To get a better idea of how we can fight misinformation, The Verge talked to Professor Nicole A. Cooke of the University of Illinois. Professor Cooke works in the University’s top-ranked School of Information Sciences, focusing on human information behavior, information literacy, and diversity in librarianship. We discussed why it seems to be getting harder and harder for people to keep track of the truth, what libraries are doing to help them, and what we all need to do going forward.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
What kind of work do you do with information literacy at the University of Illinois?
We essentially teach and train aspiring librarians. The librarians that you see in public libraries, school libraries, academic libraries — they all go through a master’s program. That is primarily the work that I do. Prior to coming to Illinois I was an academic librarian in northern New Jersey and I did information literacy instruction. I used to teach college students and faculty members and members of the community how to be better consumers of information. At the library school I teach future librarians how to give that kind of instruction at their organizations and institutions.
For you, how has the job of training librarians changed over the last few years alongside this growing concern we have about fake news?
I think the main change we have to confront is really just the volume of information. Librarians… we’ve always talked about information literacy. Information literacy is just trying to get people to be savvy consumers of information, and getting them to be able to really interrogate the information that is available to them, to see what is quality, to evaluate sources, et cetera.
It’s part of what we’re calling information overload. We’re just inundated with so much information it becomes just more difficult to parse out where the quality information is. And these fake news sites are increasingly savvy. We used to talk to students about “How does the website look? Does it look like you could have done it on your laptop or does it look like there’s a corporation behind it?” We used to and still do look at the url: “Is it a .net, is it a .org?” But these new sites are so savvy, the interfaces can be really slick, and they can look a lot like what we consider to be reputable sources. There’s is also now a lot of manipulation of the domains. I saw something not too long ago that had “.edu.co.” We say that if it has an “edu” it’s a reputable site but there’s that added manipulation with the “.co.” It becomes trickier to identify these deceitful sites right away unless you’re really paying attention and doing due diligence.
Do we have any rules of thumb for identifying fake news left? Is it too complicated now to lay out these simple tricks?
I don’t know that it’s going to be that much trickier. I just think that people have to take the time to actually do it. If you see something on Facebook or Twitter, a lot of people get caught up with just forwarding information without actually reading the article or examining the site. When you see a very salacious headline or something that’s challenging, sometimes the inclination is to forward it without checking. You have to ask: does this appear in multiple places or did you only see it on Facebook? This misinformation is perpetuated because people aren’t taking the time to evaluate sources before they accept it as truth and / or pass it on to others.
Do you think it’s always an issue of people not knowing the news is fake, or do you think it’s possible that they just don’t care?
I actually think it’s both. There is some credence to the idea that people are not investigating sources because they don’t want to believe [the information] is wrong. And they get caught in an echo chamber — they lean towards and absorb news that agrees with and confirms their own sensibilities. I also think that, as I mentioned, part of it is that the fake news sites are so sophisticated now. It is harder to tell with the same techniques that we used to use. But yes, there are some people who are just purposely skipping over things that they don’t agree with.
There’s also a lot of talk about a growing mistrust of conventional media.Do you think that’s in any way related? Do people get the idea that all media is inaccurate and figure it’s not worth it to investigate facts?
Absolutely. I think there’s a lot of credence to what you say about a general mistrust of the media and you hear a lot of comments about “this source is biased” or “this source is slanted.” Lots of media outlets do have a particular stance and if people don’t agree with them then it’s easy [for them] to say “I don’t trust them and I won’t consult them.”
Part of the problem there is a lack of understanding of the idea of neutrality. People are saying “It’s on the internet…” or “It’s in a newspaper so it has to be true and objective.” But the truth is that there are very few truly neutral spaces. Lots of places have a particular idea about what they believe, and that comes out in the reporting. I think the word “distrust” is overused a little bit in the sense that I think a lot of people say that they “distrust” something not because it’s not trustworthy but because they actually just don’t agree with it.
Has the citizenry of the US actually become less informed in an age of seemingly unlimited information? Or is that just cynicism?
In some of the research that I’ve done, we’ve found that there’s a conflation of being able to navigate the technology and being able to evaluate and interrogate the information. There’s an assumption about millennials and younger people, that because they were raised on these technologies that they know everything. That they know how to get information and use it properly. And that may not be the case.
Even people who seem like they’re really talented with technology — that doesn’t necessarily mean they know how to evaluate the information they’re coming across. In that sense, with people just clicking and forwarding headlines, there’s too much speed here. I think we are perhaps less informed, just because of the speed of technology.
As far as addressing the problem, are high schools at all focused on these issues?
Yes and no. There are some amazing school librarians that are doing good work and I know they’re familiar with information literacy and what that means. I don’t know how much opportunity they get to actually do that. School librarians are doing 100 different things in the course of the day, but I’m positive that they’re covering it. Perhaps if given the time they could do a lot more. They have a lot of different class needs and they just might not have the time. I know that they are addressing it, and they do realize the importance of it. The earlier they can get the students to be more news literate and savvy information consumers, the better.
It seems like there are two different types of literacy to talk about here. There’s the academic literacy, which is about looking for the academic sources and peer-reviewed sources that are necessary for your formal education, and then there’s this citizen-training which is more about being savvy about the type of information that you see around you all the time. Is that second type of literacy actually a part of written curricula or do you just have to hope individual librarians consider it important enough to teach?
In my department, in my school, I actually teach a class on library instruction and we’re trying to teach aspiring librarians to value that. It is an information literacy instruction course and that’s what we’re talking about: how do we prepare ourselves to teach and train our students, our patrons, our community members? There are lots of classes in library programs across the country in which we explicitly cover this and explicitly cover this type of teaching and learning and instruction for librarians that will go into various types of libraries.
Certainly it is up to librarians to keep up to date and engage in professional development, but it is very likely that they will have the opportunity, if they so choose, to take an information literacy course while they’re in a graduate program.
How are we doing with high schools? Are people getting better at teaching these things? Are we outdated? I know that when I was in high school not too long ago, I heard the same things that you mentioned before like “trust a .edu” and “don’t trust Wikipedia.” But Wikipedia at this point is probably much more reliable than a lot of the news sources we’re talking about.
I do think that information literacy instruction has changed. Just for example, when I was in high school it was early internet, so we didn’t even have that type of instruction. And during my course of doing this work in a college setting my instruction changed as the technology changed. That’s going to be the same for school librarians. There’s still the type of instruction going on that you described, but it’s just a matter of getting more up to speed with the technology as it changes.
Some of this is going to depend on when the librarian was in school. Things have changed dramatically in just the last five years, never mind the last 10 or 15. More to your point, I think the approach is going to need to be more understanding. People use Wikipedia, and students just need to be made more clear on the editing process. It is possible that there is some misinformation and disinformation because you don’t know who’s editing. Wikipedia requires some fact-checking and digging a little bit deeper. For school librarians the question is how do we get students to go a step further. We have to meet them where they are. We know students use Wikipedia and other sources that were frowned upon at one point — how do we meet them where they are and challenge them and really teach them how to take that a step further?
As education budgets get cut, it seems library resources are always one of the first things to go, and this might be the worst possible time for it.
This has been going on for many years. You see states and regions laying off librarians left and right. And then the ones that are remaining, they have to cover multiple libraries. While they may have just had one library, now they’re responsible for four, and then, as you said, the resources are also being cut. I think it should be a huge priority, but it’s not always up to the district. Money’s tight everywhere. I don’t necessarily have an answer for it, but school librarians are doing more with significantly less, both time and material, than they were before.
It’s unfortunate, and sometimes they probably aren’t able to do everything they want particularly in terms of information literacy because they’re literally trying to keep the doors open.
What about public libraries? What’s being done to help an older generation that might be even more overwhelmed by the internet and by false information?
The public libraries are a slightly different situation in that they don’t run classes in the same way, but on the flip side of that they probably have a lot more access to the community. The best thing they can do is just having good programming and a real focus on seniors because they do have different technology needs. Librarians in a public setting have to be mindful of the different levels and really just introduce information a little bit at a time. Depending on the audience, you might have to have a program where you have basic computer literacy so someone knows how to navigate just turning the computer on and off and getting to the internet. And then you have to level up and ask “How do you find sources online?” And then you have to talk about how to evaluate those sources.
With seniors, it might be about having multiple programs and just having an opportunity to address multiple issues instead of trying to get them from soup to nuts in one hour-long session.
It seems like an issue that might be hard to hit head-on with people. If you’re told, “Oh, you’ve been falling for fake news,” it can come off as “Oh, you’re dumb.”
Yes, it’s defensiveness. Maybe it’s just phrasing: we can ask people to “broaden their horizons,” or something. That sounds cliché, but how do we make it attractive to people, the idea of being able to investigate multiple sides of an issue and know how to fact check? When the debates happened this last election cycle, there was a lot of discussion and what seems to be a little fascination with people saying “Ooh, they fact checked the debates.” Well, yeah. [For] some of us, that’s what we do for a living.
I think some of this is new to people. We have to increase that awareness and say, “Yes, you need to fact check the election, and here’s how you do it.” If people think that it’s relevant to them, they’re less likely to be defensive.
This is all sounding pretty bleak. Are there specific things we can do, or has the internet kind of run away with us?
It is getting harder, just because of the proliferation of information. We have to have more conversations, we have to have more programming, we have to have more classes. For those who are concerned, those in the media, we have to prioritize this as something that’s really important. This is a headline right now given recent events, but will it still be a headline past January? We get into these cycles where we realize it’s an issue and that we should address it and we have good conversations, but then it just peters out. We need to have the conversation and actually do it.
There are lots of good initiatives through the American Library Association and other professional organizations such as the Public Library Association. There’s the Association of College and Research Libraries and lots of other organizations of professional librarians. They need to offer more programs, and librarians need to request things when they feel like they need extra training or a refresher or just some more tips on how to teach a class about fake news sites. There’s been lots of great resources popping up in the last couple of weeks that say things like “how to spot fake sites” and tell you how to address them. You know, it’s going to be a development issue on our end. I would hope there’s enough conversation that our patrons and students start actually asking for instruction.
Correction: A previous version of this article erroneously referred to the Association of College and Research Libraries as “the Association of College and Resource Libraries.”
Students continue to protest the election of Donald Trump as president — and racial incidents are being reported at numerous campuses. At many colleges, the divisiveness of the election campaign has been replaced by a period in which many minority students feel threatened.
Racial incidents take place all the time at colleges and universities and are hardly unique to the period just after Election Day.
But groups that track racial incidents report that an unusual number of such incidents has been taking place since Trump won the election.
The Southern Poverty Law Center released a report late Friday saying that it had counted 201 "incidents of election-related harassment and intimidation" as of Friday at 5 p.m. The center acknowledged that it had not independently verified all of the reports.
The study found that the top locations for such harassment were elementary and secondary schools, followed by colleges and universities.
Kimberly A. Griffin, an associate professor of higher education at the University of Maryland at College Park who studies the campus racial climate, said that racism has been a significant concern well before the election campaign, but that the president-elect’s success has shifted the way racism is expressed on campus.
"Really overt, violent racism in public spaces has become socially unacceptable in the last couple decades," Griffin said via email. "That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, but people could agree that it was wrong and wasn’t consistent with our values. We have a president-elect who campaigned on ideas that made what was previously socially unacceptable racism OK by everything from talking about mass deportations and building walls to accepting endorsements from white nationalist groups. The threats students are facing are often directly connected to his rallying cries and campaign promises. I don’t think that Trump created these feelings and the rage we see, but his election normalized it and encouraged it."
When Inside Higher Ed reported on some of these incidents last week, some commenters suggested that many of the reports may be false or unsubstantiated. Many incidents being reported on social media have not in fact been verified. Many of them can’t be, since they don’t include names or institutions involved. There has been one case — involving the University of Louisiana at Lafayette — in which a student admitted to fabricating a claim. All of the incidents reported by Inside Higher Ed last week and those that follow in this article have been confirmed by campus officials or law enforcement as a credible report that was being taken seriously, although final determinations about the legitimacy of all of the reports have not been made.
Shock Over Messages Sent to Black Penn Freshmen
Students at the University of Pennsylvania were stunned Friday when black freshmen started to receive messages from an account with GroupMe (which makes it easier to send many people a text at the same time) from someone called "Daddy Trump" or "Heil Trump." The messages were full of racist slurs and talked about sharing information about a "daily lynching," complete with photos of such killings in history and images of violent acts today.
The freshmen had not signed up to receive these messages, and many were outraged and shared the messages with other black students at Penn, trying to figure out what was going on. University officials quickly denounced the messages — even as they scrambled to figure out how their black students were being targeted.
As students shared what was going on via social media (see post at right), black students elsewhere became concerned as well.
Late Friday, the university announced that it had traced the messages to accounts in Oklahoma. The University of Oklahoma then announced that it had suspended a student linked to sending the messages.
David Boren, Oklahoma’s president, tweeted that there was sufficient evidence to justify a temporary suspension of the student while a full investigation continues. He denounced the harassment of the black students at Penn and called Penn officials to express his sympathy and concern.
On Sunday evening, Penn issued a new statement saying that the criminal investigation of the incident found no Penn students had been involved, but that three individuals from Oklahoma — one of them the suspended University of Oklahoma student — were responsible. The statement, from President Amy Gutmann and other senior officials, said, "We call on everyone to recognize that the events of the past few days are a tragic reminder of the overt and reprehensible racism that continues to exist within some segments of our society, and that we all need to unite together as a community and a society to oppose. We are deeply saddened that Penn students were the victims of this hate, to which absolutely nobody should be subjected."
Firecrackers Set Off During Protest at Central Missouri
At the University of Central Missouri, about 200 students — minority and white alike — held a protest against Trump Thursday night. During the protest, university officials confirmed, one or more people set off firecrackers at the perimeter of the protest, scaring and endangering some of those participating, although there were no injuries.
After the protest, President Charles Ambrose met with students who had been protesting and talked to them about their safety concerns in light of the firecrackers. He pledged that they would be supported in their right to protest peacefully.
Protests Continue With Controversy Over Flag Burning
As the week ended, protests continued in many college towns and large cities. High school students in many areas have been walking out of classes, and some college students have done so as well. The protests have featured plenty of anti-Trump rhetoric, some of it involving four-letter words. There have been scattered reports of pro-Trump students shouting "USA" or other things at some protests, but those opposed to the president-elect have largely been able to hold marches and rallies without interference from those who disagree with them or their colleges.
One tactic receiving criticism in two protests is flag burning. Some students objected last week when others burned American flags at American University.
But a debate over flag burning has become heated at Hampshire College, which is associated with having a left-leaning student body. At Hampshire, the debate isn’t so much about the concept of burning the flag, which the U.S. Supreme Court recognized in a 1989 decision as a form of political speech protected by the First Amendment. The debate at Hampshire is about burning a flag that doesn’t belong to you — and statements one can make with the flag that don’t involve burning it.
Some Hampshire students, in group discussions after Trump won, said that the college’s American flag should come down. Others argued that it should be lowered to half-staff, and they did so. College officials did not object but planned to raise the flag on Friday, Veterans Day, noting that the college wanted to honor a day important both to students and employees who are veterans.
But sometime Thursday night, the flag was removed and burned. So when students and others arrived Friday morning, there was no flag flying. Beth Ward, secretary of the college, sent an email to the campus criticizing those who had burned the flag and saying, "Hampshire is home to a multiplicity of perspectives and life experiences, and among us are both students and employees who have served (and currently serve) in the military. However, this morning we discovered that the flag was burned overnight and, as a result, veterans and others in our community will come to campus to find the flagpole empty. We are deeply saddened that we are not able to fly the flag today in their honor, and we acknowledge the anger and hurt many will feel both because the flag is absent and the reason for its absence."
The college quickly obtained a new flag to raise, and on Saturday, the college’s board agreed to again fly the flag at half-staff.
"Flying the flag at half-staff is a time-honored way to convey mourning, and many have suggested that, in addition to those occasions specified under the U.S. Flag Code, our flag remain at half-staff as an expression of collective grief for the violent deaths that are occurring daily in this country and around the world," said a statement from the board. "And, indeed, our campus has been directly affected on multiple occasions: among us are students and employees who have lost their homes in bombings, had family members murdered for their political convictions or because of the color of their skin, and who cannot safely return home due to war or threats to personal safety."
"As fiduciaries of a vibrant learning community, the board is committed to supporting spaces for multiple perspectives, nuanced dialogue, and mindful listening to flourish," the board statement added. "One way to facilitate such space is for the flag to be experienced as inclusively as possible by all members of our community. After discussion among the trustees in tandem with some community participation, the board has come to consensus to fly the flag at half-staff, both to acknowledge the grief and pain experienced by so many and to enable the full complexity of voices and experiences to be heard. This is an effort that will require time, trust, broad participation and mutual respect; and while this is underway the flag will remain at half-staff. We have faith in our community’s ability to engage in this process of discernment with integrity, insight and compassion."
A Controversial Facebook Post
At the University of Rochester, a lecturer in computer science resigned on Friday as undergraduate program director in his department after controversy over a comment he made on Facebook mocking a protest called "Not My America" that students held on campus Friday to protest Trump’s election.
Ted Pawlicki, the professor, wrote on the event’s Facebook page, "A bus ticket from Rochester to Canada is $16. If this is not your America, then I will pay for your ticket if you promise never to come back."
The post has since been removed but has circulated online, along with comments — some of which are critical of the professor and say he showed bias against those protesting. Other comments, however, say that to call his comment a bias incident is the sort of overreaction that led many Americans to support Trump in the first place.
A university spokeswoman said that the professor’s resignation as undergraduate program director was voluntary. She released this statement: "The university is aware of a faculty Facebook comment that caused concern and for which the faculty member has since apologized. Freedom of expression is a foundational principle at the University of Rochester and for all citizens of the U.S. Students and faculty alike are free to express their views." Pawlicki did not respond to an email request for comment.
Encouraging a President to Speak Out
Many college presidents have been issuing statements since the election, pledging support for equal opportunity and offering extra support, discussions and so forth.
At the University of Northern Colorado, such a statement wasn’t issued, and 27 faculty members released an open letter encouraging Kay Norton, the president, to do so.
"Over the last few days, we have witnessed, with growing horror, a spike in the number of both bias-related incidents and outright hate crimes on college campuses across the United States …. Indeed, we have heard reports of bias-related incidents on UNC’s own campus," says the letter. "We have also witnessed, with some hope, a number of statements from university presidents, chancellors and other officials in higher administration, proactively condemning such acts and reaffirming the critical importance of tolerance and student safety. We have seen examples of this from such diverse places as Colorado State University, Oregon State University, the University of Virginia and the University of Illinois. We are disheartened that the University of Northern Colorado cannot yet be included on this list."
On Friday, as the letter was spreading, Norton released a video.
In it she said, "Elections are necessarily about a winner and a loser. But our university community is not about winners and losers. It is, in fact, a family. And like all families, we may disagree — even vehemently — with each other, but in the end we come together because we are members of the family and all members of the family are welcome and necessary. And I want you to know the University of Northern Colorado cares about and cares for every member of our campus community — faculty, staff and students — and we reject the idea that behavior that isolates and stigmatizes any member of this community is acceptable to the rest of us. We are family."
Officers Placed on Leave at Virginia
Three University of Virginia police officers have been placed on leave after they used the intercoms in their cars to shout "Make America Great Again" (Trump’s campaign slogan) at students they encountered after the election results became clear.
Michael A. Gibson, chief of police, sent a message to students: "I was disappointed to learn of reports that UPD personnel allegedly used the public address system in their vehicle inappropriately following the results of the election in the early morning hours on Wednesday. UPD is investigating this incident and takes this matter seriously. Please be assured that UPD remains committed to the highest professional standards in law enforcement and will work tirelessly to enhance the safety of our living and learning environment."
At Elon University, many students and faculty members were stunned by images posted to social media showing a message on the corner of a classroom whiteboard two days after the election: "Bye bye Latinos hasta la vista."
A faculty member found, erased and reported the message. President Leo M. Lambert sent a message to the campus. "I want to say emphatically that this incident is reprehensible and directly in conflict with Elon’s values of inclusion and treating each other with dignity and respect," he said. "Elon will not tolerate harassing, denigrating or intimidating actions that create a hostile environment. It should be obvious to all that our nation is deeply divided at this time and we face great differences in our society. Now, more than ever, we need to show kindness and respect toward one another, especially to those members of our community who are feeling vulnerable."
Smith Jackson, vice president for student life and dean of students, later sent another message to the campus saying that after the president’s email, "a student stepped forward, took responsibility for writing the message and is deeply remorseful. The matter is being adjudicated through Elon’s Office of Student Conduct."