Higher Ed, News, What's Race Got To Do With It?

Study: College students prefer free tuition to prestigious degrees

A new study released this week gives some interesting insights into college students’ views on the rising cost of tuition and the value of degrees from prestigious universities.

College Pulse conducted the poll of 8,887 students currently attending four-year colleges or universities across the United States.

One of its most interesting findings: 67 percent of college students would prefer “free tuition at a university nobody has heard of” to “full tuition at a prestigious university.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, the answers reveal interesting sociological layers when broken down by race and ethnicity.

Black students were most likely (74 percent) to say they would prefer free tuition at an unknown university to full tuition at a prestigious one. White and Latinx students both said they preferred free tuition at about 67 percent. Native American or American Indian students preferred the idea of free tuition at 56 percent and Asian respondents 49 percent.

The study comes as the cost of tuition — and college loan forgiveness — has become a major issue in the Democratic primary for president.

It’s also an issue with which the UNC system and UNC Board of Governors has been struggling the last few  years.

Studies have shown that tuition hikes reduce diversity at universities.

When the N.C. legislature approved dropping tuition at some UNC schools to $500 a semester last year, there were a lot of concerns – lost revenue, the perceived value of a degree, what it would mean for the schools’ reputations to suddenly and explicitly become “value” universities.

Two historically black colleges – including Winston-Salem State and Fayetteville State – opted out.

At the three universities that ultimately became part of the initial NC Promise tuition program –  Elizabeth City State UniversityUniversity of North Carolina at Pembroke and  Western Carolina University  – there are still concerns among some students, faculty, staff and even administrators.

UNC-Pembroke Chancellor Robert Gary Cumming has praised the program.

 

News, What's Race Got To Do With It?

Report: Students divided on free speech vs. hate speech on college campuses

A Knight Foundation report, released Monday, gives some fascinating insight into current college students’ views on the First Amendment, hate speech and which forms of protection should be protected on campuses.

The issue may be particularly of interest in North Carolina, where UNC students are rallying over the final destiny of the Silent Sam Confederate monument, facing off with white supremacist groups who have vandalized campus sites with hate speech and calling for changes in policing policies around protests.

The study polled more than 4,000 full-time, four-year degree seeking students through a confidential mobile app rather than telephone interviews.

A clear majority — 58 percent of respondents — said they do not favor restrictions on free speech, even for hate speech defined as expression that “attacks people based on their race, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation.” But 41 percent said they do not believe hate speech should be protected under the First Amendment.

 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the breakdown by gender shows some important differences in sentiment on questions of diversity.

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News, What's Race Got To Do With It?

Bail reform activists charged after protest at Durham detention center

Two bail reform activists were charged Friday after chaining themselves to a gate outside the Durham County Detention Center Thursday.

Kayla ONeill Hartsfield, 25, and Serena Elysa Sebring Wadlington, 41, both of Durham, were charged with public disturbance, second-degree trespass and failure to disperse. Both were released on $2,000 unsecured bonds with a court appearance set for June 12.

The group Southerners on New Ground, in which the two are leaders, participated in the national Black Mamas Bailout movement, bailing out incarcerated mothers out of jail for mother’s day. The two women chained themselves to the gates outside the detention center to protest the cash bail system and pretrial detention. This led the Durham County Sheriff’s office to close Pettigrew Street, where protesters gathered, and lock down the facility.

“We call for the city and county of Durham to stop caging Black mothers and caregivers before Mother’s Day and end money bail and pre-trial detention,” the group wrote in a press statement.

The two women unchained themselves around 8 p.m. Thursday. Warrants were issued and they surrendered in the early afternoon Friday.

In a prepared statement, Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead said his department respects free speech but the protest crossed legal lines.

“While we honor this fundamental constitutional right, in this specific incident, laws were broken, leading to charges being filed,” Birkhead said in the statement.

Neither Hartsfield nor Wadlington could be reached directly for comment Friday.

 

News, What's Race Got To Do With It?

Pew Study: Americans value diversity, are also bothered by it

A fascinating — and in places troubling — new study was released today by the Pew Research Center.

The poll, which looked at Americans’ views on ethnic and racial diversity, found some interesting contradictions and divisions on the issue.

While majorities of white, black and Hispanic respondents  said they believe racial and ethnic diversity is very good for the country, the breakdown on how good is starkest when broken down by partisan affiliation and education level.

While 39 percent of those identifying as Republican or saying they lean that way think diversity is “very good” for the country, that number is 71 percent among self-identified Democrats or those who lean that way.

More striking, 41 percent of white respondents with a high school education or less said diversity is very good for the country while 69 percent of white respondents with a bachelor’s degree or higher said was.

While the study showed strong support for workplace diversity, 74 percent of respondents said employers shouldn’t take race or ethnicity into account in the application process in order to promote diversity.

The question that is likely to be talked about most: whether it would bother respondents to hear a language other than English in a public place.

While 34 percent of white respondents and 25 percent of black respondents said it would bother them “some” or “a lot,” among white Republicans it was 47 percent. For white Democrats, that number was 18 percent.

 

Read the full study with information about methodology here.

News, What's Race Got To Do With It?

What’s race got to do with it? Transgender women of color and prisons

Editor’s Note: This is part of an occasional series of NC Policy Watch blog posts examining disproportionate impacts on race — in the environment, education, the courts and other sectors — and the structural issues that lead to these inequalities.

Kanautica Zayre-Brown

The case of Kanautica Zayre-Brown has sparked a conversation about the treatment of transgender people in North Carolina’s prisons – and seems certain to result in a federal lawsuit.

Transgender people of all gender identities face unique struggles when dealing with law enforcement, the courts and prisons – in changing their gender marker, being identified by their proper name even after it has been legally changed, in how they are housed, where and with whom they must shower or use the restroom.

Zayre-Brown is one of many transgender women of color who disproportionately face these struggles on top of the daily complications of navigating government systems while transgender.

Nearly one in six transgender Americans — and one in two Black transgender people — has been to prison, as documented by Lambda Legal’s Protected and Served survey.

Those numbers are not a surprise for those who study health and safety outcomes among transgender people in the U.S. Transgender women consistently face poorer health outcomes, more interactions with law enforcement and experience more violence. The numbers are even more grave for transgender women of color.

The 2015 U.S. Transgender survey showed stark racial inequalities and far worse outcomes for Black transgender people than for the Black U.S. population as a whole.

Among its findings:

Last year at least 26 transgender people were murdered in the U.S., according to the Human Rights Campaign. That number is likely low – the result of both under-reporting and the frequent misgendering of transgender people killed violently. All but one of those deaths were transgender women of color.

Candis Cox

Last week  Candis Cox, a Black transgender activist who has become one of the state’s most prominent LGBTQ voices, spoke to Policy Watch about Zayre-Brown’s case and the struggles of transgender women of color in society.

Cox pointed out that despite having lived as a woman for years, having undergone hormone therapy and gender confirmation surgery and having legally changed her name, the prison system still refuses to acknowledge Zayre-Brown’s identity or even call her by her legal name.

Cases like Zayre Brown’s show that for transgender people, even “doing everything right” doesn’t guarantee your government or society will accept you for who you are, Cox said. This is especially true for transgender women of color like she and Zayre Brown, Cox said.

“A lot of these policy makers, what I see is they are okay with wrapping their head around concepts — especially when we start talking about minorities — if they are willing to play the game and ask very little of the system, contribute and be something that they can point to as some shining example that is a white-washed version of something,” Cox said.

“But when we start talking about people who are navigating the actual systems of our society — like the prison system — they’re just another black criminal,” Cox said. “They’re no longer people.”