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Articles: Campus Life

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri says the Clery Act, signed into law in 1990, has outlived its usefulness.

Speaking in June to a national conference hosted by Campus Safety magazine, McCaskill said the current law “doesn’t accomplish squat.” If McCaskill gets her wish, Clery would be replaced with a law that requires more effective reporting. “To be honest with you, I am OK removing the Clery Act completely,” she said.

More diverse student populations demand more of the health and wellness services offered on campus today. Colleges and universities must meet the unique needs of veterans, and students who are international, older, recovering from addictions, or who have physical or mental disabilities. Many schools are meeting this challenge by combining physical and mental health services under one roof, and even integrating recreation into the mix.

Commencement speakers have become another point of financial scrutiny in higher ed, with an annual flurry of students crying foul on both the person selected and fees incurred. Some colleges avoid charges by tapping their own faculty for the task (as University of Chicago has done since 1970). Others pursue prominent speakers willing to donate their services.

Getting a spring cancellation from a confirmed commencement speaker—particularly a high-profile one—is a planning team’s nightmare. Pepperdine University’s Seaver College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences had Sir Anthony Hopkins lined up to speak for its May 2 commencement, but a scheduling conflict for the actor called for a new plan. To the rescue: health technology entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes, CEO of Theranos and the youngest female billionaire in America.

Seniors line up by Sweet Briar’s library prior to commencement. (Photo: Photo by Andrew Locascio/Sweet Briar College)

While higher ed leaders acknowledge a range of challenges, many say the shutting down of the 532-student Virginia women’s college does not signal doom for small institutions, including those that are single-sex, rural or religiously affiliated.

Let there be light—and trees and plants: The walkway connecting University of Regina’s Riddell Centre, which contains the student union and the main food service hub, and the Education Building, home to four academic programs, is an inviting space with plenty of daylighting.

A brighter alternative to the pedestrian tunnel is a ground-level enclosed pedestrian street. It’s a concept that the University of Regina in Saskatchewan has taken to the extreme.

Nearly 100 percent of the main campus buildings are connected by these walkways, which form a figure-8-like loop.

This University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill history department building is named for former student, North Carolina secretary of state and Ku Klux Klan member William Saunders.

As high-profile racial incidents on college campuses make headlines across the country, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is grappling with controversy surrounding Saunders Hall.

The history building—named for former student, North Carolina secretary of state and Ku Klux Klan member William Saunders—has spurred petitions and demonstrations by students and faculty demanding a name change.

Susan Henking is president of Shimer College in Chicago.

In a “post-racial” and “post-feminist” America, do we still need colleges and universities that serve women? If most institutions now admit those previously excluded, isn’t the disappearance of women’s colleges and historically black colleges, oddly, a good thing? Not in my view.

Kent Runyon is executive director of the Novus Medical Detox Center in Florida.

The U.S. makes up 5 percent of the world’s population, yet it consumes 75 percent of the world’s prescription drugs. Additionally, 52 million people in the U.S. over the age of 12 have used prescription drugs non-medically in their lifetime. With these statistics working against us, it’s no surprise that prescription drugs are being used illegally on college campuses.

Westfield State University’s Upvote campaign encourages positive Yik Yak messages.

Nearly half of the approximately 500 respondents (48 percent) to a UB reader survey said bullying and insults posted on Yik Yak make the social network and its app a “serious threat.” Nearly the same number of respondents said the network is “benign” and called it a fad that would fade over the next year.

A preferred gender pronoun can be selected by University of Vermont students.

The University of Vermont allows its students to identify their own gender around campus, even if it’s no gender at all.

Though the policy has existed for nearly five years, it wasn’t until a February New York Times article that UVM received significant attention, says Dot Brauer, director of the LGBTQA Center@UVM.

“Nothing prepared us for this level of excitement,” says Brauer, who received several requests for interviews and advice from other higher ed institutions. “The feedback has been nothing but positive and encouraging.”

Paula V. Smith is a professor of English and director of the Purposeful Risk Engagement Project at Grinnell College in Iowa.

The academic landscape is fraught with risk—everything from hazardous chemicals and internal fraud, to flu outbreaks and budget shortfalls.

It seems obvious that any college or university would invest effort to identify and rank its current top risks, if just to assign the right level of attention and resources to each. Yet many academic institutions don’t follow through with enterprise risk management (ERM).

Successful firsts: MIT’s First Generation Program website includes personal snapshots from first-gen students, alumni and faculty.

Along with issues of retention and completion, many first-generation students face day-to-day challenges as they navigate social, academic, financial and administrative challenges. Here are 24 ways colleges can support first-generation students in every aspect and stage of student life.

Dartmouth College has launched a new campaign to combat harmful student behavior, including sexual assault and high-risk drinking.

Under the “Moving Dartmouth Forward” plan, the Ivy League school will no longer serve hard alcohol (30 proof or higher) on campus and will increase penalties for underage students found in possession of hard alcohol. Also in the works:

Columbia College in Missouri is vastly expanding its athletics program, but  officials have no plans to add a football program.

The athletic department at Columbia College in Missouri will have tripled in size by the 2016-17 school year. But it has no plans to field a football team, says Cindy Potter, the associate director of athletics.

In 2012, the college—which has about 1,100 students attending class on its “day” campus and another 25,000-plus in various evening, extension and online programs throughout the country—added men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s cross country, and women’s soccer. By 2016, the Columbia Cougars will also compete in men’s and women’s track, and baseball.