College OKs ‘empty holster’ protest

Young Americans for Liberty will hold an “empty holster” protest against gun control at Florida’s Santa Fe College, despite opposition by campus police. President Jackson Sasser acknowledged YAL’s free speech rights, after receiving a letter from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).  The “First Amendment is of paramount importance to our mission to educate students and prepare them to be leaders in our society,” Sasser wrote.

Tarrant County College in Texas refused to allow a similar protest for two years. Students sued and won, costing the college $240,000 in legal fees.

Florida claims best community colleges

“Florida’s community college system today is regarded as the very best in the land,” boasts the Gainesville Sun. Florida has placed more community colleges in the Aspen Institute‘s top 10 percent than any other state: 15 of the state’s 28 community colleges made the list this year.  Gainesville’s Santa Fe College and Broward College in Fort Lauderdale were listed in the top 10 colleges in the nation.

Aspen honors give community colleges more credibility, says Jim Henningsen, president of the College of Central Florida in Ocala.

“For us, what’s great is it’s third-party validation of the great work we do for students and our communities around the state,” he said. “… We’re the best investment for the dollar that the state’s got, and the state knows that.”

Because of the Aspen recognition “higher caliber students are picking community colleges,” says Henningsen.

Mentoring helps GED students persist

Students who never made it through high school usually don’t make it through community college. But Florida’s Santa Fe College is improving the odds through a mentoring program for GED students called Pathways to Persistence.

Fifty-five percent of GED students drop out of community college in their first year, Pathways founder Angela Long tells Community College Times.

Pathways offers support through hand-picked mentors—Long chooses a match based on initial scholar interviews—who range from professors to administrators or other college staff, plus a crew of volunteer peers from college organizations for tutoring assistance.

. . . “The goal is to make GED students feel so special that they have an impact on the country and to give them a voice to tell us what is working in education, what has failed them, and how we can make it better,” Long says.

. . . Mentors meet with assigned mentees at least once a week the first month of the program, and every other week thereafter, following assigned topics that include how to pick classes and talk about financial assistance. Mentees also attend a weekly 3-credit course in the fall semester and attend leadership seminars and luncheons with key SFC members.

Thirty students started in last fall and another 20 joined in spring 2012. More than half earned a 3.0 GPA or higher.