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News & Media

Washington Update

September 1, 2021

APLU Higher Education Reconciliation Priorities
On Monday, APLU sent a letter to Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and House Committee on Education and Labor leadership outlining higher education priorities for the $3.5 trillion FY2022 reconciliation package. The priorities reiterate APLU’s support for doubling the maximum Pell Grant award and a $62 billion College Completion Fund. Additionally, the letter urges Congress to strengthen Maintenance of Effort requirements to protect funding of public higher education and to invest in public four-year higher education infrastructure. According to news reports, the House Committee on Education and Labor is expected to markup its portion of the reconciliation bill on September 9.

APLU and AAU Outline Evacuation Efforts in Afghanistan
Last week, APLU and the Association of American Universities (AAU) sent a letter to Department of State Secretary Antony Blinken and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas outlining efforts by member institutions to safely evacuate students and scholars in Afghanistan. APLU and AAU members are working with humanitarian organizations in their evacuation efforts and are offering scholarships to Afghan students and scholars seeking to exit the country. Member institutions are also communicating with students/scholars and their families involved in U.S. university-led research and education programs as well as those connected to U.S. campuses and alumni unable to leave the country.

The letter also asks the Departments of State and Homeland Security to work with APLU and AAU membership in their ongoing evacuation efforts and to utilize the academic community when efforts evolve from evacuations to resettlement.

Department of Education to Cease Enforcement of Title IX Provision Related to Cross Examinations
The Department of Education (ED) announced it will immediately stop the enforcement of a provision included in the Trump administration’s Title IX regulations that prohibited “decision makers in sexual misconduct investigations from considering evidence by parties or witnesses if they don’t participate in cross-examination.” The announcement follows a court ruling last month which sent the provision back to ED for review after declaring it “arbitrary and capricious.”

Department of Education Expresses Intent to Repeal Components of “Free Inquiry” Rule
Last week, ED announced plans to repeal components of the Trump administration’s “Free Inquiry” Rule after it conducts a thorough review of the regulations. Specifically, ED intends to publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on certain aspects of the rule, which impose additional obligations on ED higher education institutional grant recipients. The Department said it will keep in mind several key elements throughout the review process, including “First Amendment protections, nondiscrimination requirements, and the promotion of inclusive learning environments for all students.”

SUNY System developed a document that outlines policy options for institutions in light of the regulations. The Trump administration’s regulations prohibit public institutions from denying “any student organization whose stated mission is religious in nature and that is at the public institution any right, benefit, or privilege that is otherwise afforded to other student organizations at the public institution . . . because of the religious student organization’s beliefs, practices, policies, speech, membership standards, or leadership standards, which are informed by sincerely held religious beliefs.”

APLU recently participated in a “listening session” with ED on the regulation and urged repeal while reiterating arguments made in the association’s comment letter to the proposed regulation.

DOE Announces Plans to Launch Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize
The Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity (ED) announced plans to launch the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize this September. EERE and ED intend to award $2.5 million (up to $250,000 each) to “groups and organizations support entrepreneurship and innovation in communities historically underrepresented and underserved in the energy sector.” Additionally, the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize will aim to “support colleges, universities, and other educational institutions that serve large populations of students traditionally underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), including Minority Serving Institutions, tribal colleges, community colleges, and predominantly undergraduate institutions.”

  • Council on Governmental Affairs

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