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Access to Higher Education

The Myths of Meritocracy

As the daughter of affluent professionals, I always thought merit-based aid filled a gap in the funding of higher education for students like me, who excelled in school by traditional measures but did not qualify for need-based aid, even after going through the grueling process of filling out applications for student financial aid offered by the government and the College Board.

From the Editor: No Entrance

Three years ago, I became the editor of Academe. This is my last issue. Editing the magazine has been enormously rewarding.

Though I’m a pessimist, I often remain cheerful. Even when I think the glass is two-thirds empty, I can find ways to enjoy whatever juice is left in the bottom. Still, I’m shocked by how much worse off higher education is now than it was when I became editor. By almost every measure. Of all of the things that dismay and exercise me, of the multitude of scandals and crises in higher education, one subsumes them all.

New Ways to Fund Higher Ed?

The Campaign for the Future of Higher Education has released three working papers with ideas on ways to fund higher education. One, by AAUP president Rudy Fichtenbaum, explains how to achieve vastly improved funding for higher education through a miniscule tax on selected financial transactions. Learn how to add your voice to the conversation.

Three Things HBCUs Could Do to Survive and Succeed

Is there still a place for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the United States? This question has been asked repeatedly since the end of legal segregation and exclusionary policies at predominantly white institutions more than a half century ago, but it is based on a false premise. HBCUs have not become dinosaurs.

Palestinian Universities and Everyday Life under Occupation

On my last night in the old city of Jerusalem, I enter through the Flower’s Gate and walk through a busy market, past boys chasing each other on narrow streets, clusters of old men visiting in shop doorways, women leaning out of upper windows. The fading afternoon light amplifies the social relations of a neighborhood bound by intimate conversation and cheerful laughter. Just before I reach the Muslim cemetery, however, teenagers loitering a block away from the Lion’s Gate fling an empty glass bottle in front of a car backing out of a narrow driveway.

What Do Graduate Employee Unions Have to Do with Academic Freedom?

Only a minority of graduate employees in the United States have collective bargaining representation, and for that lucky minority, collective bargaining agreements rarely contain explicit protections for academic freedom. Existing contract language at strong and long-established unions such as my own provides due process protections and guarantees against arbitrary termination; these protections, however, fall very short of securing genuine academic freedom. Graduate employee unions have reasonably focused on economic priorities to ensure continued access to graduate education: improved stipends, health care, and childcare, and security for tuition waivers. However, as academic freedom and shared governance increasingly face renewed challenges from the corporate university, the need to secure academic freedom protections in a binding labor contract has never been more pressing.

Populism, Elitism, and Academic Deference

Courtrooms and Classrooms: A Legal History of College Access, 1860–1960 by Scott M. Gelber. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016.

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