TIME Education

New Jersey Looks at ‘Yes Means Yes’ College Policy

Laura Dunn
Laura Dunn executive director of the sexual assault survivors’ organization SurvJustice poses for a picture near a church in her neighborhood in Washington on Nov. 11, 2014 Manuel Balce Ceneta—AP

TRENTON, N.J. — You think the attractive woman at the party who has been chatting you up all night is ready to take things to the next level. She seems to be throwing all the right signals.

But if things turn sexual, are you sure that will hold up under legal scrutiny?

That’s a question at the center of a national debate surrounding “yes means yes” — more accurately called affirmative consent — the policy that requires conscious, voluntary agreement between partners to have sex.

A new proposal in New Jersey makes it the latest state moving to require college campuses to define when “yes means yes” in an effort to stem the tide of sexual assaults.

Whether the policy will reduce assaults remains unclear, but states and universities across the U.S. are under pressure to change how they handle rape allegations.

California adopted a similar measure in August, and New York’s governor directed the State University of New York system to implement a similar standard. New Hampshire lawmakers are also considering it.

Supporters and critics agree the measure could encourage students to talk openly and clearly about sex and that a culture of “yes means yes” — an affirmative agreement compared with the “no means no” refrain of previous decades — could help address the issue of campus sex assaults.

Laura Dunn, executive director of the sexual assault survivors’ organization SurvJustice, said she was raped as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin in 2004, after a night of drinking at a party by two men and fellow members of the crew team. She agreed to be identified by The Associated Press.

Dunn believes such a standard could have helped her case during campus judicial proceedings, which failed to find wrongdoing. Her experience led her to become an advocate for sexual assault survivors, she said.

“Had they had an affirmative consent standard they would have realized I would never have consented,” she said.

But skeptics of the policy raise questions — many of which have yet to be settled because the standard is new and it is unclear how many cases have been subjected to the standard— about whether it offers enough protections to the accuser and accused alike.

Affirmative consent standards could unfairly shift the burden of proof to the accused, critics say, pointing out that any sexual contact could then be ruled inappropriate absent some proof of consent.

Some critics also say they could prove to be unfair to victims, who may themselves facing a heavier burden during campus tribunals under Title IX — widely known as the law governing the role of men and women in athletics, but which also aims to protect students from sexual discrimination — which currently defines the standard as “unwelcome and offensive touching.”

Yes means yes “sounds so darn good,” said Wendy Murphy, an adjunct professor at New England Law and an attorney handling sex assault cases. “(But) it doesn’t get better than ‘unwelcome and offensive.’”

Some students, though, express skepticism over the “unwelcome and offensive” standard, saying it fails to convey the seriousness of sexual assault. Student groups at Harvard started a petition last month to get their university to adopt affirmative consent language.

“We certainly agree with the university’s desire to address a wide range of behaviors through their policy,” said Jessica Fournier, a member of Our Harvard Can Do Better, one of the groups organizing the petition. “However, we believe referring to these acts simply as ‘unwelcome’ does not encapsulate the severity of these actions.”

Nationally, reports of forcible sexual offenses on campus rose from 3,443 in 2011 to 4,062, according to the Education Department. In New Jersey, the figure rose from 78 in 2011 to 83 in 2012, the most recent year available. That’s because of increased reporting of crimes due to a culture change and greater support for victims, said Paul Shelly of the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities. Indeed, only 13 percent of forcible sexual assault victims reported the crime to police or campus authorities, according to a 2007 National Institute of Justice study.

What changed, experts said, are students’ attitudes.

“It’s great that it’s receiving this attention, but it’s not a new issue. I think what’s fueling it are student protests about how their institutions have mishandled cases,” said Sarah McMahon, the co-director of Rutgers’ Center on Violence Against Women and Children.

In New Jersey, state Sen. Jim Beach introduced legislation since the debate was making waves nationally. The bill that would withhold state funds from colleges and universities unless they adopt an affirmative consent standard is still waiting for its day in committee.

“We saw what happened in California, realized that it was a problem not only in California but in New Jersey and other campuses around the country,” Beach said. “So we thought that if we did that we would certainly accomplish raising awareness of the entire problem.”

Skeptical supporters said the policy needs to be coupled with education in order for it to succeed.

“The policy is not a magic bullet,” McMahon said.

TIME Crime

UVA Suspends Fraternities After Rolling Stone Article About Rape

The University of Virginia has suspended fraternities until early January following a story about sexual assault on campus

The University of Virginia has suspended all its fraternities until next year, following an article detailing one student’s brutal sexual assault and her quest for justice.

University President Teresa A. Sullivan issued a statement on Saturday saying all “fraternal organizations and associated social activities” were suspended until Jan. 9, the beginning of spring semester.

Sullivan said she has asked the Charlottesville Police Department to investigate the 2012 incident described in the Rolling Stone article, and called on students to come forward about what happened that night.

“The wrongs described in Rolling Stone are appalling and have caused all of us to reexamine our responsibility to this community,” she said. “Rape is an abhorrent crime that has no place in the world, let alone on the campuses and grounds of our nation’s colleges and universities. “

The university’s Inter-Fraternity Council had voluntarily suspended social activities for the weekend, but Sullivan noted that the “challenges will extend beyond this weekend.”

TIME Crime

University of Virginia Contends With Outrage Over Horrific Rape Reports

The fraternity where a brutal gang rape allegedly took place said it was suspending all of its chapter activities and surrendered its Fraternal Organization Agreement

Groups at the University of Virginia moved this week to respond to an article published by Rolling Stone that describes the brutal rape of a first-year student called Jackie. Students and faculty organized events Saturday to protest the campus’ culture as the administration called on local police to investigate “sexual misconduct” allegations.

University faculty organized a rally scheduled for Saturday night called “Take Back the Party,” with the aim of protesting the risks faced by woman on campus. “The purpose of ‘Take Back the Party’ is to protest a social culture that puts our female students at unacceptable risk,” said UVA faculty in a statement published by NBC.

On Friday afternoon, hundreds of people took part in an on-campus “Slut Walk” to protest the allegations outlined in the Rolling Stone article as well as demand change on campus. “I think we’ve reached the point where people are ready to take steps,” the second-year organizer of the march, Defne Celikoyar said. “People are coming together to act up against it. We want to change it. We do not want to live like this anymore.”

Phi Kappa Psi, the fraternity where the brutal gang rape described in the article allegedly took place, said Thursday it was suspending all of its chapter activities and surrendered its Fraternal Organization Agreement.

Students at UVA wrote in to Rolling Stone after the article was published, recounting numerous other instances of rape on campus, blaming a “culture of sexual assault,” according to one commenter.

Teresa Sullivan, the president of UVA, responded to the article by saying the school had asked local police to investigate the sexual assault on Jackie, and said she was reexamining the university’s response to rape allegations. “I want to underscore our commitment to marshaling all available resources to assist our students who confront issues related to sexual misconduct,” Sullivan said.

Rolling Stone describes the violent gang rape in 2012 of a first-year named Jackie, who was reportedly lured into a Phi Kappa Psi frat house bedroom and penetrated by a group of fraternity brothers. The article caused a campus outcry over the administration’s apparent cover-up of sexual assault allegations.

TIME Crime

Los Angeles Schools to Pay $139 Million in Child Abuse Scandal

Mark Berndt, right, a former South Los Angeles-area elementary school teacher at Miramonte Elemenary during his arraignment in Los Angeles Municipal Court Metropolitan Branch on Feb. 21, 2012.
Mark Berndt, right, a former South Los Angeles-area elementary school teacher at Miramonte Elemenary during his arraignment in Los Angeles Municipal Court Metropolitan Branch on Feb. 21, 2012. Al Seib—AP

The settlement affects about 150 children

The Los Angeles public school system said Friday that it will pay $139 million to settle legal claims from students subjected to lewd sexual acts committed by a third-grade teacher.

The settlement with the Los Angeles Unified School District comes in a grisly case that has been ongoing since an employee at a photo development store uncovered inappropriate pictures of the teacher, Mark Berndt, with students in 2010. Berndt, a former teacher at Miramonte Middle School, pleaded no contest to charges of child abuse in 2013 and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Parents of about 150 students filed legal claims arguing that the school district was negligent in protecting children.

“Throughout this case, we have shared in the pain felt by these children, their families and the community,” school superintendent Ramon C. Cortines said in a statement. “Each day, we are responsible for the safety of more than 600,000 students. There is a sacred trust put in us to protect the children we serve.”

TIME Education

University of California System Approves Steep Tuition Hike

CA: UC Berkeley Students Rally Against Tuition Fee Hikes
Students rallied to demonstrate against the university's plan to increase tuition fees over the next five years at the University of California, Berkeley campus on Nov. 18, 2014, in Berkeley, Calif. Alex Milan Tracy—Sipa USA

Students are being asked to pay more as the state reduces its funding

Tuition at University of California schools could rise by as much as 28% by 2019 under a plan approved Thursday.

The 14-7 vote by the system’s regent board pitted top state officials, including Gov. Jerry Brown, against those who run the UC’s 10-campus system, including its president, Janet Napolitano.

Students at UC campuses protested the proposed tuition hike ahead of the decision. Students at the University of California, Berkeley staged an all-night sit-in and students on hand for the vote itself, which took place in San Francisco, shouted their protests inside the meeting room and clashed with police outside.

Tuition at UC campuses has more than tripled since 2001, even without the increase just approved. Students and their families have shouldered more of the financial burden of attending UC schools in recent years, as the state has cut back the share of overall expenses it covers. The economic downturn accelerated this trend in California and at public universities and colleges across the country. Napolitano, who conceived and proposed the tuition hike plan, said increases could be scaled back before they go into effect if the state provides more direct funding for the UC system. Negotiations between Napolitano and state officials over how to fund UC will now begin in earnest.

Brown, who was reelected by a wide margin earlier this month, criticized the tuition hike plan and had asked Napolitano and other UC regents to further study how costs could be cut within the system in lieu of raising tuition. Awarding degrees in three years instead of the standard four and more online courses were among the ideas Brown wanted to see considered.

In-state tuition and fees at the University of California is $12,192, compared to a national average of $8,893 for all public colleges, according to the College Board. The cost of attending four-year colleges in the second-tier California State University system is below the national average. Napolitano has said the UC system needs to increase funding to cover pension and faculty costs, increase enrollment and maintain its world-class reputation. More than half of all UC students pay no tuition because their costs are coverage by public and private grants distributed based on income.

TIME Education

America’s Best College Towns

Syracuse, NY
Syracuse, NY Wainwright Photography

Visit these thriving college towns for a crash course in live music, craft beer, art, and history

“Depending on how you look at it, Santa Cruz is either the best or the worst place to spend your college years,” says Keijiro Ikebe, a Silicon Valley visual designer who graduated from the University of California Santa Cruz in 2002.

“With the town surrounded by shimmering water and lush forests under sunny blue skies, the last thing you want to do is spend a beautiful day taking notes in a lecture hall.”

After all, ivy-covered walls, stately libraries, and cafeteria meals don’t make a great college town. It’s more about the distractions—and Santa Cruz is overflowing with them. There are miles of beaches with some of the best surfing in the country; mountain-bike trails at Wilder Ranch State Park; artisanal coffee bars almost as numerous as craft-beer taps; and your nightly choice of any genre of live music.

This kind of lively atmosphere earned Santa Cruz a place among the top 20 college towns in America, as chosen by Travel + Leisure readers in our latest America’s Favorite Places survey. They evaluated hundreds of towns for live music, pizza, dive bars, hamburgers, and other qualities that add up to a great college town.

Syracuse, NY, takes home top honors, thanks largely to an abundance of choices for such collegiate necessities as beer, good, cheap food, and strong coffee. Lafayette, LA, was a close runner-up, with high marks for its live music, cocktail bars, and singles scene.

Read on to discover which other college towns scored big.

No. 1 Syracuse, NY

Syracuse earned top marks for things that fuel your typical university student. It was voted No. 1 for both pizza and hamburgers (sharing the latter honor with Lafayette, LA), No. 2 for coffee, and No. 4 for both food trucks and craft beer—apparently consumed by an abundance of hip locals, for which this Finger Lakes town rates No. 2 in the country. You’re likely to find aforementioned hipsters at Faegan’s Pub on Tuesday nights, when patrons earn their name on a plaque after completing a “tour” of some of the 44 brews on tap. Syracuse also ranked in the top 20 for its historic sites; start that sort of tour at Hanover Square, surrounded by buildings dating back to the Civil War era.

No. 2 Lafayette, LA

Lafayette made the grade for its plentiful extracurricular activities. The Acadian town ranked No. 1 for both its concerts and live music scene, and came in second for its nightclubs, cocktail bars, and singles scene. Music has deep roots in the heart of Cajun Country; tap into it with some “swamp pop” at the Blue Dog Café, a zydeco dance party at Vermilionville, or a Creole jam at the Blue Moon Saloon. When you’re done dancing, curl up with a good book—Lafayette was voted second best for bookstores like husband-and-wife-run Alexander Books.

No. 3 Charlottesville, VA

The University of Virginia was not only designed and founded by Thomas Jefferson, but it’s also the only beautiful campus named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. That stately attractiveness extends to downtown Charlottesville itself, where a brick-paved pedestrian mall is the place to meet for shopping, gallery-browsing, dining, and drinking. You might start the day with a currant donut at the Albemarle Baking Company, then slip into your running shoes for a jog up Observatory Hill. Come evening, slip over to the Whiskey Jar, featuring more than 125 kinds of bourbon, rye, whiskey, and scotch. It’s a decidedly grown-up spot to strike up a conversation with locals, voted No. 1 for intelligence, yet still approachable—among hundreds of towns, Charlottesville came in at No. 24 for friendliness.

No. 4 Fort Collins, CO

The untamed Cache La Poudre River apparently isn’t the only thing to run wild through Fort Collins: the home of Colorado State University was also voted No. 5 for “wild weekends” by T+L readers. Some credit goes to the abundance of destination breweries, both big (Anheuser-Busch, New Belgium) and small (Black Bottle, Equinox). At the Bike Library, check out a free set of wheels and pick up an itinerary for an eight-stop brewery tour. End the day at Social, an underground speakeasy in Old Town serving a toothsome menu of nibbles, including blistered shishito peppers, roasted bone marrow, and charcuterie plates.

No. 5 Duluth, MN

Duluth grew up around the world’s largest freshwater port, Lake Superior, where captains of industry built magnificent mansions (many are now B&Bs), and immigrant dockworkers loaded ships with ore from Minnesota’s nearby Iron Range. Today the waterfront Canal Park is Duluth’s most popular destinations for tourists and locals alike, who grab a seat on the deck atGrandma’s Saloon & Grill to sip one of the dozen or so local microbrews and watch the Aerial Lift Bridge rise to let ships through, just like it has for nearly 110 years. And while the winters are frigid in Duluth, you’re bound to get a warm welcome from this town ranked 22nd for friendly people.

Read the full list HERE.

More from Travel + Leisure:

TIME Education

What California’s College Tuition Hike Says About the Future of Higher Education

CA: UC Berkeley Students Rally Against Tuition Fee Hikes
Students rallied to demonstrate against the university's plan to increase tuition fees over the next five years at the University of California, Berkeley campus on Nov. 18, 2014, in Berkeley, Calif. Alex Milan Tracy—Sipa USA

As state funding dwindles, students at public universities are being asked to pick up more of the tab

When does a public university system become one in name only? That’s the question facing California as officials in charge of the state’s prestigious, but financially-struggling university system clash over how to keep it afloat.

On Nov. 20, the regents that control the University of California system will vote on a proposal to increase tuition at its 10 campuses by as much as 5% a year for the next five years. This year’s tuition and fees for in-state students is $12,192, which could rise to $15,564 by the 2019-20 school year under the proposal. The plan was conceived and put forward by Janet Napolitano, who took over the UC system in 2013.

The fight over the tuition increase pits Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona and federal homeland security chief, against Governor Jerry Brown, a popular figure in the state who was just re-elected with a sizable mandate. Brown has said he opposes increasing tuition, and would restore some state funding cut during the recession only if it stays flat. Brown is a regent and is among a handful of those on the board who have already indicated they will reject Napolitano’s proposal.

“There is a game of chicken,” says Hans Johnson, a higher education expert at the non-partisan Public Policy Institute of California. “It’s not clear to me at all how it’s going to turn out.”

Underlying the clash of big personalities is a philosophical debate about the changing funding models for public universities. In 1960, California created a lofty master plan that said higher education should be free or very low-cost for residents. “We’ve moved away from that pretty dramatically,” says Johnson. “It’s almost traumatic for California to think about it.” In recent decades, the state has decreased the share of overall public higher education costs it pays for and the system has become increasingly dependent on student contributions, among other sources, for the difference. In the 2001-02 academic year, in-state tuition and fees for UC campuses was $3,429, about one-third of the cost today. Similar trends have played out in state university systems elsewhere as well.

The recession accelerated public schools’ reliance on private money. At UC, the system receives some $460 million less per year in state funds than it did in the 2007-08 school year.

“As a political matter, state officials have made the judgment they don’t want to pay for higher education for our citizens,” says David Plank, an economist at Policy Analysis for California Education, a non-partisan research center. “What were once public universities are now private universities that receive some subsidy from the states.”

Napolitano says that if UC is to remain a world-class educational and research institution, it needs more money, no matter the source. And she says students and families will need to fill the gap left by the state. The proposed tuition increase would affect only around half of the student body. Thanks to income-based federal and state grants, about 55% of UC students pay no tuition.

Gavin Newsom, California’s lieutenant governor, has said he and Brown were blind-sided by the tuition increase proposal. The governor’s office has said Napolitano’s plan could void a plan Brown has endorsed to increase state funding 4 percent per year if tuition stays flat. Napolitano has said she never made a deal and if was one was struck before she took charge, she hasn’t found any record of it. “It was unilateral. It wasn’t anything we agreed to,” says Steve Montiel, a spokesman for Napolitano.

On the eve of today’s meeting of the regents planning board, the speaker of the California state assembly reportedly proposed directing $50 million in additional state general funds to UC to stave off increased costs for students. The proposal followed student protests at at least two UC campuses this week.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: November 18

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. The worst ceasefire: Russia and Ukraine are both preparing for war as their uneasy peace slips away.

By Jamie Dettmer in the Daily Beast

2. With the rise of legal cannabis, the small-holders running the industry may soon be run off by the “Marlboro of Marijuana”

By Schumpeter in the Economist

3. From taking India to Mars on the cheap to pulling potable water from thin air: Meet the top global innovators of 2014.

By the writers and editors of Foreign Policy

4. Some charter schools promote aggressive policies of strict discipline, and that strategy may be backfiring.

By Sarah Carr in the Hechinger Report

5. As local police forces become intelligence agencies, we need sensible policies to balance privacy and public safety.

By Jim Newton in the Los Angeles Times

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME global health

Global Youth Population Swells to Record 1.8 Billion

INDIA-EDUCATION-STUDY
Indian students prepare for competitive exams in an open space of the City Central Library in Hyderabad on February 7, 2014. NOAH SEELAM—AFP/Getty Images

The challenges are most acute for less developed countries, where 89% of the world's young people reside.

A swell in the global population of young people has the potential to transform economies for better or worse, depending on the decisions of today’s policy makers, according to a new United Nations report.

In a report released Tuesday, the UN Population Fund estimates that the global population of young people between the ages of 10 and 24 has hit 1.8 billion, a historic high.

“Never again is there likely to be such potential for economic and social progress,” the report states. But the authors warn that this demographic surge could also have the potential to destabilize nations unless young people can secure access to health services, education and jobs.

The challenges are most acute for less developed countries, where nearly 9 out of 10 of the world’s young people reside. India alone has a youth population of 356 million. The report’s authors called on governments and donors to invest in this population’s education, employment and health, particularly sexual and reproductive health.

“International support can unlock the potential of the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, change agents and leaders,” write the report’s authors.

TIME Education

NYC Schools Abandon $95 Million Controversial Computer Program

Boys with Laptop Computers
Lisa Pines—Getty Images

The Achievement Reporting and Innovation System (ARIS), whose creation was overseen by former schools chancellor Joel Klein, will end in 2015

The New York City Department of Education is ending a $95 million computer program that tracks students and their academic performance.

The Achievement Reporting and Innovation System (ARIS) will end in 2015, the New York Daily News reports. The program was designed to help parents, teachers and administrators easily access student data, but in recent years it has been criticized for being slow, expensive and underused.

Former schools chancellor Joel Klein oversaw the creation and implementation of ARIS in 2007, and his company, Amplify, was later contracted to run it; one of those contracts was for around $10 million in 2012. ARIS was originally built by IBM, though Klein recused himself from the decision to award the first contract because of family stock holdings in the company, Amplify said.

Amplify said in statement that there have long been plans to transition to a new system. “Six years ago we were called in to fix this project when it was well underway,” Amplify said. ‘We did so on time and on budget. Since then, we’ve been working over the past two years to wind down maintenance level work because of potential plans to transition to a new state system with similar — and in some cases — overlapping functions.”

Only 3 percent of parents and 16 percent of teachers used in the 2012-2013 school year. The department plans to have a new, more cost effective system in place by next September.

“The Education Department has decided to end our contract with Amplify as a result of the extremely high cost of the ARIS system, its limited functionality, and the lack of demand from parents and staff,” spokesperson Devora Kaye said. “The shockingly low usage of ARIS shows that the vast majority of families and Education Department staff don’t find it a valuable tool.”

[NY Daily News]

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