NAICU Washington Update

Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

September 16, 2022

Dear Colleagues,

Tomorrow marks our country’s annual Constitution Day, which commemorates the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787 (see Soundbite below for more information about your responsibilities to recognize this day if your institution receives federal funds). Earlier this week, I was honored to attend a Constitution Day event in Washington hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC). 

The event featured a lively and important conversation among students from across the country discussing free expression on their college campuses and how they are working to bridge ideological divides. This conversation was moderated by BPC’s Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill, who directs the Center’s Campus Free Expression Project and participated in a conversation during NAICU’s recent spring board and committee meetings on the challenges and strategies associated with campus free expression.

Also featured during the event was Nasser Paydar, the Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education, who will be addressing the NAICU board meeting later this fall.

We face many challenges as a nation, especially one as diverse as ours. Everyone interprets fundamental questions about our government, history, and what it means to be an American differently. We each have our own lens through which we view and answer these questions. The fact that we are free to have different or opposing views on these issues is a bedrock of our nation’s identity.

On this Constitution Day, let us celebrate all that unites us as a country. My thanks to Bill Hoagland, BPC’s senior vice president, for hosting and inviting me to participate.

This week’s Washington Update includes an update on President Biden’s proposed Title IX regulations.

  • In a procedural ruling that is likely to be short-lived, the Supreme Court allowed a New York state court order regarding recognition of an LGBTQ student group at Yeshiva University to go into effect. Although the Supreme Court’s decision means that Yeshiva University must, for the time being, recognize the student group despite its religious objections, several of the Justices noted that the university is likely to prevail on the merits if the case returns to the Supreme Court after the school finishes pursing its procedural options for filing an appeal at the state level.
  • As noted above, September 17 is Constitution Day. Colleges and universities receiving federal funds are required to annually conduct an educational program related to the Constitution. Campuses have a great deal of latitude on how to observe the event. The Library of Congress and the Constitution Center both list a number of resources for planning activities and recognizing Constitution Day. NAICU encourages all its members to support this important civic engagement opportunity.
  • With the mid-term elections a few short weeks away, this is a reminder that voter education and registration activities historically have been important undertakings of the nation’s colleges and universities. Since the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act in 1998, postsecondary institutions have been required to make a good-faith effort to distribute voter registration forms to students prior to the registration deadlines for presidential, federal, and gubernatorial elections. NAICU’s 2022 YourVoteYourVoice resource page includes information and links on how to register, registration deadlines by state, and tips on running a campus-focused voter registration campaign.
Double Pell

It’s time to restore the full power of the Pell Grant. We need to double it. It’s time to double down on that success to uplift future generations and ensure they too can afford to pay for college, reach their potential and strengthen our communities and the economy.”

Senator Jack Reed (D-RI)

“We have a lot of work to do and we’re working hard to double it, index it so we don’t have to keep adjusting it, and to make the grant tax-free. We can do those things and we can restore the Pell Grant to the status it had in people’s lives.”

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

“We have to double these grants if they’re going to continue to provide the opportunity that Sen. Pell intended they would.”

Rep. David Cicilline (D-RH)

These remarks were made during a recent event marking 50 year of the Pell Grant.

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