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First-ever New Balance High School Tennis Championship to be held at Harvard

March 26, 2014 01:35 PM

The following is a press release from New Balance:

Global athletic leader New Balance announced the creation of the inaugural New Balance High School Tennis Championship presented by the United States Tennis Association (USTA), an event that will offer young tennis athletes a new, elite level of competition on the national stage. The tournament will be held at the Beren Tennis Center at Harvard University in Boston, July 21-25, 2014.

“New Balance believes the high school tennis player will be a tennis player for life, and we are proud to recognize the commitment these athletes have to the game,” said Bruce Schilling, General Manager of Tennis for New Balance. “We are also excited to build relationships with the high school state athletic associations through this new and exciting event and work with them to develop ongoing programs and services for individual players and coaches.”

New Balance developed the event with the goal of supporting and recognizing all high school tennis players and coaches and the dedication they bring to the game. New Balance sought the USTA’s support for this event because of the strong alignment of both organizations’ goals to promote and develop the sport of tennis, as well as the USTA’s extensive experience managing tennis events.


Harvard dedicates new ceramics studio in Allston

February 28, 2014 01:32 PM


(Rose Lincoln / Harvard Staff Photographer)

The following is a report originally published by Harvard University's official newspaper the Harvard Gazette, a publication of the university's Public Affairs & Communications office.

The Office for the Arts’ 15,010-square-foot ceramics studio was dedicated on Wednesday, with Harvard President Drew Faust addressing a large crowd at the Allston facility.

“This new home for the ceramics program provides cross-University learning and teaching opportunities open to all, including the Allston and Cambridge communities,” Faust told the crowd in the gallery at 224 Western Ave. “It is truly a place of discovery and creativity.”

The space offers classrooms for wheel-thrown, hand-built, and sculptural ceramics, as well as clay and glaze chemistry labs, plaster and mold-making design areas, and a large kiln room with gas reduction, soda, electric, and raku- and saggar-firing options.

“This is an extraordinary time for Harvard arts under the leadership of President Faust,” said Office for the Arts Director Jack Megan when the studio first opened its doors last fall. “This new, state-of-the-art studio is a signifier of her commitment and the University’s commitment to fostering arts practice. The Office for the Arts’ ceramics program has long been a creative intersection for Harvard students, faculty, administrators, and the community from across Greater Boston. This studio will enhance that connectedness and enrich the lives of artists and scholars for many years to come.”

The facility, designed by Cambridge-based Galante Architecture Studio, boasts a public gallery fronting the street. Click here to view a photo slideshow of the studio.

Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

edX, Facebook to partner to create free social education mobile app for students in Rwanda

February 24, 2014 02:39 PM

Cambridge-based online education nonprofit edX is partnering with Facebook, other companies and the government of Rwanda to launch SocialEDU, a pilot initiative that will give students in the African country free access to a social learning platform via Internet-enabled mobile devices.

Facebook and edX will work together to create a SocialEDU mobile app optimized for a low-bandwidth environment, and the government of Rwanda will work to adapt course materials for local students.

"With SocialEDU, students in Rwanda will receive free data plans for accessing free edX MOOCs from some of the world’s leading universities, including Harvard, MIT, U.C. Berkeley, TU Delft, Australian National University and ETH Zurich," Facebook said in an announcement Monday.

"Our platform will allow students to ask questions, engage with other students, interact with teachers, and participate in group discussions," the social media company said. "We are bringing the classroom to them and providing locally-relevant content, while transforming the educational experience to provide collaborative, social and sustainable learning."

Telecom company Ericsson will help test that the app can work in a 2G environment, while another telecom company, Airtel, will provide free data to everyone in Rwanda who participates in the program for one year

Device manufacturer Nokia will provide affordable smartphones, and the government Rwandan will reduce costs further through various financing mechanisms.

The government will also expand an existing program that provides free Wi-Fi access on campuses throughout the country.

The initiative is a part of the project, an effort led by Facebook and six mobile technology companies that are working together to bring the Internet to the two thirds of the world’s population that doesn’t have access.

"We know we have a long way to go to provide access to the two-thirds of the world that doesn’t have it today," Facebook said. "Rwanda is our first test of this approach, and our hope is that this will serve as a blueprint for other partnerships to follow. Through committed partnerships like SocialEDU, we move one step closer to bringing everyone in the global community online."

Founded in the spring of 2012 by Harvard University and MIT, edX is comprised of 32 institutions worldwide, or the xConsortium., which features nearly 150 courses, boasts about 2 million unique users from nearly 200 countries.

"Improving global access to high-quality education has been a key edX goal from day one," said a statement from edX president Anant Agarwal. "Nearly half of our 2 million students come from developing countries, with 10 percent from Africa. In partnering with Facebook on this innovative pilot, we hope to learn how we can take this concept to the world."

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

Harvard student killed, other students injured in traffic accident in New Jersey

February 10, 2014 01:23 PM

A Harvard University student died, at least one other suffered serious injuries and several others were hurt when the van they were in was involved in a traffic accident in New Jersey early Monday morning while the group traveled back from a weekend mock trial competition in Virginia, campus officials said.

Angela Mathew, a 20-year-old junior living in Leverett House and studying neurobiology, died in the accident, according to an email an administrator sent to students Monday evening.

She and six other members of the Harvard Mock Trial Association were inside the van when the accident occurred, school officials said.

At least one other student was seriously injured, while several of the others suffered less serious injuries, the email said. Several other Harvard students traveling in a separate vehicle were not harmed.

“Please join me in offering thoughts and deepest sympathies for Angela's family and friends in what is an extremely difficult time,” said the email from Donald H. Pfister, interim dean of the university’s undergraduate college. “This is a tragedy and I join you all in the feeling of loss Angela's death brings.”

Mathew, a native of Albuquerque, N.M., was a member of the mock trial association's executive board, according to the group's website. She was one of three high school seminar directors.

“She was a very bright, talented young woman,” said Pfister's email. “Our hearts are broken. This is a very sudden and unexpected loss. The news comes as a shock not only to Angela's friends in Leverett House, but to all of us throughout the college. All of us - those who knew Angela and those of us who did not - are grieving today.”

“We must also keep in our thoughts the other students who were injured and we are hopeful for their recovery,” he added.

He said that the campus offers support services, including mental health professionals at Harvard University Health Services who can be reached at 617-495-5711.

“In addition to the professionals at HUHS, please reach out to your house masters, resident dean, tutor or proctor if you are struggling,” Pfister wrote. “And please be aware of those around you who might need help and understanding.”

“During times like these it is important we come together as a community to support one another,” he added.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

Boston schools seek to reduce driving on campus, encourage public transportation

February 6, 2014 06:25 PM

In an effort to shift away from driving, universities and colleges in the Greater Boston area are offering students more options to use public transportation and opportunities to shape transportation policy, according to a report released Thursday by MASSPIRG Education Fund.

The report, titled "A New Course: How Innovative University Programs Are Reducing Driving on Campus and Creating New Models for Transportation Policy," featured University of Massachusetts Boston, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, and Harvard University as innovators in transportation policy. The schools offer students discounts on popular public transportation options or make it difficult to park and drive on campus.

"Here in Massachusetts, we have so many great colleges and universities who already have given these policies a test run," said Kirstie Pecci, staff attorney at MASSPIRG. "Now state policymakers need to pick up the baton, look at what works, and institute these policies themselves."

One transportation option all these schools have in common is the Hubway bike-sharing service.

"Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, and UMass Boston have all instituted Hubway stations that would benefit students across the country," Pecci said. "The difficult part of these programs is that every university and locale is unique and there are always new hurdles that they have to overcome. However, when you have a laundry list of different options, it's very doable.

"The Millennial generation believes in alternative modes of transportation. If the state gives them these options, they they can hop on board."

Americans ages 16 to 34 reduced their annual driving miles by 23 percent per person between 2001 and 2009, according to research from the most recent data from the Federal Highway Administration, the report said.

"There has to be a buy-in by all the parties and there has to be investment by the MBTA and by the universities," Pecci said. "Instead of subsidizing parking, do public transportation when the programs have worked and the students have valued it."

The Massachusetts Legislature voted in July 2013 to override Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's veto of an $800 million transportation finance bill. Patrick originally proposed a $19 billion transportation bond bill to fund road, bridge, and rail projects for 10 years.

"The transportation finance act last year was fine, but there has to be recognition that this was just a first step. Many of the investment programs were handled, but further investment will be needed as we work on the system," Pecci said. "We need to refine what work needs to be done. Much of it is making a modern and safe system. We need to keep this conversation alive."

Some students at universities in Boston said they like having a car on campus because it provides another outlet to get to places further than public transportation allows.

"Having a car offers the liberty that public transportation can't provide us," said Boston University sophomore Tyler Bartels, who has a car on campus. "Public transportation puts everything into a structure. Plans revolve around when you leave in order to make the train, but with a car, it gives you more freedom."

Elliott Johns, a fourth year student at Northeastern, said the only reason he had a car was for his co-op program.

"I work in Billerica and the only way I can get there is by driving," Johns said. "Even when I'm not on co-op, I'm tempted to keep my car because I live in Coolidge Corner on the C Line. Northeastern is on the E Line and it's about a 30 minute walk to campus, but on the T is also about 30 minutes. It's definitely convenient because when it gets colder, it is really easy and convenient to just drive over to campus and park for free."

Mitch Gallerstein, a sophomore at Northeastern, said he does not have a car on campus because in Boston, he can get around well-enough without one.

"You can walk and the T is pretty cheap," he said. "For the most part, they do a pretty good job with the system. Yes, it can be a little painful with delays and not getting a lot of information from them, but it is convenient that we have two stops right on our campus. You can take that downtown and get pretty much anywhere you need to go."

Johns said when he uses public transportation, he is content with the MBTA system.

"Coming from Florida, where the only system we had was buses, it wasn't very practical," he said. "But here, it is very practical. If I didn't have a job where I needed to get a car, then I wouldn't have it. Parking is very expensive here and overall I am happy with the improvements they have made so far."

Uber Boston announces competition between colleges for free week of rides

February 4, 2014 02:46 PM

With the spring semester in full swing and more cold weather fast approaching, Uber Boston announced a promotion Tuesday that will allow an entire college campus a free week of uberX.

The car-for-hire app is offering the free week to Boston University, Boston College, Harvard University, and Northeastern University students who get 1,500 people to sign up for Uber using their own campus code.

"This is extremely relevant for the new semester and the frigid weather we are having," said Meghan Verena Joyce, general manager of Uber Boston and Providence. "Students are looking to go out at night, reconnect with classmates, and start their internships. We just want to offer students an affordable, easy, and safe way to get around and thought this would be a great opportunity to start things off with a bang."

Students have until Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 11:59 p.m. to have their friends, family, and colleagues sign-up using their specific college code. With the promo code, new users will receive $20 off their first ride for uberX and the opportunity to win the free week.

The participating schools' promo codes are the following:

  • Boston University: BosuberXtraCredit1

  • Boston College: BosuberXtraCredit2

  • Northeastern University: BosuberXtraCredit3

  • Harvard University: BosuberXtraCredit4

Joyce said Uber timed the promotion to align with the 62nd annual Beanpot Hockey Tournament.

"It also happens to be the week of the Beanpot and while the players are competing on the ice, we thought the schools could compete and try uberX to win some rides."

While the school who reaches 1,500 people first will win all the fame and glory, Joyce said all the schools have the opportunity to win a free week of uberX if they get all the necessary people by Feb. 12.

"We are just incredibly excited to introduce ourselves to college students and to have them and their friends join together and rally for their school," Joyce said. "It really is an affordable way to get around the city of Boston and it opens up the city to the students. It gives them the option to get around and to safely do it. We are excited to see how this contest goes."

The discount is not valid for uberTAXI and students who already are an Uber user should encourage their friends to download the app, she said.

"Both new and existing riders will get a free ride of uberX if they get all 1,500 people and if I were an existing rider, I would sign up my fellow classmates and post on Facebook to get as many sign ups with my schools promo code," said Joyce.

According to the Uber blog, students who aren't new to the service have a number of ways to get the word out to the rest of their campus.

Here are some ideas to make things easy:

  • Share the signup code with your dance squad, newspaper staff, lacrosse bros, or Quidditch crew.

  • Tell your RA and TA. Tell your librarian. Get your favorite dining hall lady to get on board.

  • Pitch yourself a tent in the quad and recruit random passersby. Bonus points for tourists sporting your school's sweatshirts.

  • You can share the code with anybody you'd like; as long as they are new to Uber, it will count towards your goal.

Kyle Plantz can be reached at Find him on Twitter at @kylejplantz.

Undergraduate applications to Harvard dip slightly from last year's record high

February 3, 2014 06:04 PM

Undergraduate applications to Harvard University dipped slightly from last year's record high, campus officials said Monday.

A total of 34,295 people applied for admission to the class of 2018, representing a decline of about 2 percent from the 35,023 who applied last year and from the 34,303 and 34,950 in the prior two years, the university said.

“After an early action group that featured remarkable academic and extracurricular excellence and unparalleled ethnic and economic diversity, we are delighted to have a regular application pool that promises more great things for the Class of 2018,” said a statement from William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid.

This year 22.7 percent of applicants requested an application-fee waiver, compared with 16.4 percent last year and 12.4 percent three years ago, the university said.

"This suggests even more economic diversity for the incoming class than for previous ones," said a press release from Harvard.

Campus officials said they believe the university's financial aid program has contributed to high application numbers over the past several years.

“Harvard’s revolutionary financial aid program has again played a pivotal role in attracting the nation’s and the world’s most promising students to apply to Harvard," Fitzsimmons said.

Officials said there were some slight differences between the demographics of last year's applicant pool and this year's

“While the gender breakdown is still about 52 percent male, larger percentages of the pool are Asian-American, African-American, Latino, Native Hawaiian, and multiracial, with a smaller percentage of Native Americans," said a statement from Marlyn E. McGrath, director of admissions.

“There were also some geographic shifts, including a 5.8 percent decline in applications from the Midwest, a 5.1 percent decline from New England, and a 3.4 percent decline from international students,” she said, adding that there were slight increases from the South and Mountain States.

Applicants, including those deferred during early action, will be notified about decisions on March 27.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

Reports of sexual assaults rise on Boston-area college campuses

February 3, 2014 11:00 AM

Reports of sexual assaults at Boston-area colleges have risen over the past five years, a Globe review of federally reported data has found.

Campus safety experts say the rise in reporting of sexual assaults suggests that many colleges – pushed by government agencies, victims, and new federal guidelines – are improving efforts to address the problem by expanding education and outreach and by more thoroughly reporting the widely underreported crime.

“When we see sexual assault numbers increase, that hopefully means the barriers to reporting are finally beginning to be addressed, which means you are beginning the steps to solve the problem,” said S. Daniel Carter, director of the 32 National Campus Safety Initiative who has spent more than two decades studying campus safety.

An estimated 88 percent of college victims do not formally report sexual assaults, according to a federal study.

Across 22 of the largest campuses in and around Boston, reports of “forcible sex offenses” rose by nearly 40 percent between 2008 and 2012, according to the most recent data supplied by colleges as required under the federal Clery Act.

The total of 113 sexual assaults reported in 2012 at the Boston-area colleges reviewed for this report is the highest level in a decade, and mirror trends at campuses nationwide. Meanwhile, reports of other serious type of crime at area schools – murder, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, and arson – have declined or barely increased, according to the federal data.

The Clery reports cover allegations of crimes that occurred on campus, including dorms and other public property; at property owned by but separated from the main campus; and fraternities and sororities. They exclude other off-campus housing.

Below are examples from some of the schools’ with data that stood out:


Over the past five years, Harvard University has consistently reported more sexual assaults per year, and more incidents per enrolled student, than any other campus in the Boston area. In 2012, 38 cases were reported, up from 19 in 2008.

Harvard officials said the university has been active in recent years in trying to address the issue, including creating in 2002 a centralized office with victim-support services and resources to help students learn about sexual assault prevention and response.

“We firmly believe that more robust reporting of sexual assaults by victims is an important component of our efforts to prevent these crimes and ensure that victims get the support that they need,” said Harvard spokesman Kevin Galvin.

UMass Boston

UMass Boston reported the second-highest number of alleged assaults in 2012, at 13, up from 0 five years earlier.

Crystal Valencia, a spokeswoman for the school, said none of the 2012 incidents involved a student from the university and only one of the 2012 reported incidents occurred on campus. The others happened at off-campus property the university either owns, leases, or controls.

“UMass Boston is committed to maintaining the highest standards for the safety and security of every person on campus,” Valencia said.

BU, Northeastern

Over the past five years, Harvard has led all local schools reporting on average about 10 sexual assaults each year for every 10,000 students. Still, those rates are still well-below estimates of actual annual rape rates. For instance, a 2007 Department of Justice-funded study estimated that about 5.2 percent of college women, or 520 in every 10,000, are sexually assaulted each year; the study did not calculate a rate for men or men and women together.

Other large local schools have reported significantly fewer sexual assaults each year. Over the past five years, Boston University and Northeastern University have each reported on average about two sexual assaults each year for every 10,000 students.

Alison Kiss, executive director of the Clery Center for Security On Campus, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit that trains colleges and universities to comply with the Clery Act, said she’s usually most alarmed by Clery reports with low sexual assault figures.

“We constantly tell parents and students that higher sexual assault numbers aren’t necessarily a bad thing,” she said. “It often means students know where to go to report and that they’re comfortable doing so.”

“I’m typically more concerned when I see a school reporting zeroes across the board,” Kiss added.

Yet, “All too-often it’s the colleges with the higher statistics that get labeled as being dangerous when in fact they’re usually the ones who are doing a better job reporting,” Carter said.

Madeleine Estabrook, associate vice president for student affairs at Northeastern, said the university is “very diligent” in reporting its Clery data.

She said the school’s low sexual assault reporting may be due to a wide range of variables that could impact the data, including the school’s geographic location and configuration, the number of students living on campus and the university’s efforts around sexual assault prevention and response.

“The work that is done to make the campus safe in secure is a very important variable to consider,” Estabrook said.

She said that five years ago, with help from a grant from the Department of Justice, the university revamped its violence support, response and education programming. That effort included building a collaboration among existing services on the campus, uniting programs around sexual assault, alcohol use and other campus safety issues.

Estabrook said the university's programming around campus safety is regarded as "cutting edge not only in Boston but also nationally."

BU created a campus crisis center in 2012 to focus on rape and sexual assault prevention and support for victims of such acts as well as other forms of physical abuse, such as hazing.

Colin Riley, a spokesman for BU, said the university is thorough and accurate in its reporting of Clery data.

And, "We also recognize it’s very important that students feel comfortable reporting," he said.

Riley said the university works to ensure students are aware of the issue.

"This is a topic that is frequently discussed on campus," he said.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

Congress, experts call on federal officials, campuses to improve campus sexual assault data collection efforts

February 3, 2014 11:00 AM

More than three dozen members of Congress have written to the federal office in charge of enforcing the Clery Act, calling on it to do a better job of collecting data on campus sexual assaults.

Advocacy groups and researchers have been calling for better, more transparent data collection for years. The Globe’s review of Clery data -- federally mandated reports on campus crime -- found that the number of assaults reported by most, if not all, campuses – both locally and nationally – over the past decade have been much lower than estimates of numerous studies.

Even with a spike in reported campus sexual assaults over the past five years, the rates schools are reporting come nowhere close to figures in a 2007 Department of Justice-funded study which estimated that about 5.2 percent of college women are sexually assaulted each year.

Experts say such low numbers tend to mean schools either need to do more to make students feel comfortable reporting the crime or schools need to do a more thorough, honest job in their methods for collecting and reporting the data, or a combination of the two. Stronger federal oversight could be a key driver for this, too, experts say.

Campuses urged to monitor prevalence, not just reported cases

One part of the letter signed by 39 members of Congress called on the US Education Department's Office for Civil Rights to require colleges and universities to conduct anonymous surveys of students to more accurately report how prevalent sexual assault is on each campus – not simply how often it is reported.

An estimated 88 percent of victims do not formally report the crime, according to a 2007 study funded by the Department of Justice.

David Lisak, a clinical psychologist who has spent the past three decades researching campus sexual assault, said the fact that few, if any, schools study how prevalent the crime actually is on their campuses “underscores one of the major shortcomings in how higher education has been handling sexual assault.”

Lisak, who recently retired from teaching at UMass Boston, has advised US military officials on how to prevent and respond to sexual assault cases at service academies.

He said that changes made by the Department of Defense in just the past several years has led military academies to implement better methods of collecting meaningful data about sexual assaults than higher education has managed over the past two-and-a-half decades since the Clery Act was signed into law in 1990.

The country’s three military academies not only compile annual statistics on sexual assaults reported to authorities, but also conduct an anonymous survey of cadets and midshipmen every two years to get a more accurate picture of how many sexual assaults actually occur.

For example, during the 2011-12 academic year, 58 sexual assaults were reported at the service academies, according to a report from the Department of Defense to Congress. But an anonymous survey estimated the actual number of sexual assaults at the academies that year was about 526.

“We’ve really been focusing our efforts on trying to increase reporting so victims can get the help they need,” said Department of Defense spokeswoman Lt. Col. Catherine Wilkinson.

Asked why few, if any, higher education institutions anonymously survey students regularly about sexual assault, Lisak said: “Because then the numbers are out there.”

“There’s still a lot of resistance,” he added. “All universities have mechanisms already in place [to conduct such a survey]. This would not be technically challenging really at any level. We really just need the will.”

The Jan. 29 letter from members of Congress also urges the education department office to: be more transparent about its investigations and enforcement actions around campus sexual assault and harassment; create a central, public database about laws and guidelines schools are expected to follow around the issue of sexual assault; and to require campuses to be more transparent in disclosing what each is doing to prevent and respond to sexual assault, including making available information about crime statistics, enforcement actions, and students’ rights under Title IX.

When asked for a response to the letter, Education Department press secretary Dorie Nolt said in a statement: “We have received the letter and will respond to it. We agree that this is a very important issue, which is why we have prioritized civil rights enforcement and are working to galvanize a national effort to help prevent sexual assaults and to better support survivors of sexual violence. In fact, last week, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum to establish the ‘White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.’”

Federal department unsure why some Clery figures seem off

The figures that the Globe reviewed for its story on campus sexual assault came directly from an online database run by the federal Education Department.

Every higher education institution in the US that receives federal financial aid is required by law to submit he data to the department. The department then posts those figures to the website,

The data dates back to as early as 2001, but some of the crime figures, particularly between 2001 and 2003 seem unbelievably high.

Jane Glickman, a spokeswoman for the federal Education Department, also doubted the validity of some of the data between 2001 and 2003 but said she had no idea why the numbers were likely wrong and said she did not know of anyone in the department would could provide an explanation for the apparent inconsistencies.

She said the department simply collects the data from schools and posts the numbers online. She said the department tries to check back with schools if certain numbers seem off, but otherwise the department does not analyze the data it collects.

Glickman also declined to comment on, and said she did not know anyone in the department who could comment on, why the Globe’s review found that the number of sexual assaults has risen in recent years while other crime types have gone down or held relatively steady.

“The law calls on the department to collect campus crime data and ensure that institutions are complying with the law’s provisions,” Glickman wrote in an email. “We do not analyze the data or do research into why certain crime categories are going up or down.”

However, the department is the only agency in charge of enforcing the Clery Act and its data reporting rules.

In the 15 years between 1997 and 2012, the department completed a total of 59 investigations into schools suspected of not being in full compliance with the Clery Act, according to a list of the finished reports on the education department’s website that the spokeswoman referred the Globe to. Of those, 34 investigations were completed in the four years between 2009 and 2012.

She said the department does not disclose investigations that are ongoing.

The department conducts such reviews if: a complaint is filed; “a media event raises certain concerns;” the school’s independent audit “identifies serious non-compliance;” or through a “review selection process,” the website says.

Glickman said the department takes all complaints and reviews seriously but noted that some reviews take several years and said that the department has limited resources to conduct such investigations.

A 2002 study funded by the Department of Justice found that about only 36.5 percent of schools reported “crime statistics in a manner that was fully consistent with the Clery Act.”

The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights also investigates allegations of colleges and universities violating Title IX, the federal civil rights law protecting students from general discrimination.

Over the past several years, the number of such complaints related specifically to campus sexual violence has risen, according to data provided by department spokesman Jim Bradshaw.

In the both the 2009 and 2010 fiscal year there were 11 such complaints. There were 18 complaints in 2011 and 17 the following year before the number of complaints spiked to 30 during 2013.

In the department’s current fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, there have already been 13 such complaints.

The office said it currently has 39 pending Title IX investigations involving allegations of sexual violence at post-secondary institutions.

Still, experts say more needs to be done to hold schools accountable.

“The Office for Civil Rights is broken,” said Colby Bruno, an attorney at the Victim Rights Law Center in Boston, who runs training programs about the education rights of sexual assault victims and helps some students file federal complaints against their schools.

“The law isn’t really lacking. Where we’re lacking is enforcement,” she added.

Getting Clery data from the Education Department website, especially for years prior to 2005, can be confusing and cumbersome.

Even after the data is found, it’s can be difficult to interpret, in part because schools are given leeway in how they interpret certain aspects of the law and thus how they report. For instance, Glickman said schools “have latitude” in how they determine what areas around their campus to include when they report Clery data.

“To me the data is vitally important because there’s a sense of accountability and I think schools need that,” said Bruno. “Reliable data is also important because we want to see if programming and prevention efforts are working.”

Other past, ongoing efforts to improve Clery

The letter from members of Congress was led by Democrat US Representatives Jackie Speier, of California, and Carolyn Maloney, of New York. The letter also said the office should provide campuses with better guidance about how to respond to same-sex violence and gender identity discrimination.

In recent years, some efforts have been made to improve the effectiveness of the Clery Act.

In a “Dear Colleague Letter” issued April 4, 2011, the federal education department outlined a series of guidelines for how colleges should respond to sexual harassment and violence.

Last year, Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed an updated version of the Violence Against Women Act, which added a section called the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, a law setting new standards for how campuses report sex offenses. Schools will need to comply with those new regulations for the first time when they submit Clery reports this coming fall.

And, last week, to go along with the release of a White House report on the prevalence and devastating effects of sexual assault on college campuses, Obama created a task force of senior administration officials who, with input from campus officials, students, advocacy groups and law enforcement, will try to find ways to protect students from rape and sexual assault.

Obama said he the group’s first body of work is due in 90 days.

Advocates for sexual-assault victims say that, to go along with changes at the federal level, they have seen a surge in activism around the issue from students, campus organizations, and alumni.

Particularly, “We’re seeing a lot more victims willing to step forward and publicly talk about what happened to them and using that as a pressure for change,” said Scott Berkowitz, president of the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, a Washington, D.C.-based anti-sexual violence organization.

“Hopefully that will put some pressure on colleges about how they deal with it,” he added.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

Dartmouth College joins online learning platform edX

January 23, 2014 04:08 PM

Dartmouth College announced today it has joined edX, the free online education collaborative created by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“As home to some of the finest teachers in higher education, we are excited to explore how new technologies can further the reach of our excellence,” Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon said in a statement. “By joining edX, we enable our faculty to pave the way for the future, discovering new ways to teach that will take Dartmouth classrooms to the world.”

The Ivy League school in Hanover, N.H., said it plans to offer its first massive open online course, or MOOC, through edX in the fall and has plans to add three additional courses.

The courses will be taught by Dartmouth faculty who will get “substantial support” from the college’s academic computing and library staff to create and manage the online content.

Anant Agarwal, president of edX, welcomed the college to its growing consortium, which now partners with more than 30 higher education institutions from around the world.

“Dartmouth shares the consortium’s commitment to expanding data-driven research on teaching and learning to create the best student outcomes online and on campus,” Agarwal said.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

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