Monthly Archives: March 2012

Batten School Podcasts

The Batten School now has an iTunes podcast account on public speaker events. Download the first video covering “Morality and Politics: The Challenge of Public Policymaking in Righteous Times” with Jonathan Haidt and David Brooks here!

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Recap: Batten Public Service Conference

Last Friday, the Batten School hosted the first “Building Public Service” Conference featuring keynote speaker Clare Seelke from the Congressional Research Service.

 I thought that the Public Service Conference was a great way to get an inside scoop of what it’s like to work in governmental agencies. The discussion we had with Ms. Seelke over lunch was a less formal, but informative way to talk about things we, as soon-to-enter employees should think about if you want to work for any type of agencies. Opportunities to hear from experts and practitioners like these are very valuable to students to network and learn about policy areas they are interested in. – Katy Lai (Acc. ’13)

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Congressman Eric Cantor

2012 Batten Council Speaker

April 6, 2012 at 11:00 AM

Garrett Hall

 The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy proudly presents Congressman Eric Cantor for the Batten Student Council Speaker Series. Representing Virginia’s 7th District, Eric Cantor has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2001 and in 2010 was selected by his colleagues as the Majority Leader for the 112th Congress. A lifelong Virginia resident, he is the co-author of the New York Times best-selling book, “Young Guns: A New Generation of Conservative Leaders.” He will be speaking to our Batten community about his unique experiences in policy-making and political leadership.

You will need a ticket to get into this limited seating event!

Check your e-mail to RSVP by Wednesday, March 28.


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“A New Kind of Leader”

A feature in the spring 2012 edition of the University of Virginia Magazine looks at the Batten School’s hands-on approach to leadership in public policy:

The Batten School offers the policy-analysis education found at typical public policy schools, but two key factors set the school apart—developing the tools students will need to effectively advocate their positions, combined with insight into how effective leadership works.

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APP Spotlight: Affordable Housing for UVa Workers

With all of the commotion surrounding the Living Wage Campaign at UVa, I think it is just the right moment to discuss my Advanced Policy Project with the Charlottesville Coalition for Housing Opportunity (CHO) and University and Community for Racial Equality (UCARE).

I have been tasked to look into the Charlottesville rental market, and to find out how the University and City of Charlottesville can work together to make more affordable housing options available for low-income Charlottesville residents and UVA workers, because the majority of renters in Charlottesville pay too large a percentage of their income on housing.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development recommends that a person, or family, pay no more than 30 percent of their income on housing. According to the US Census, 54.9 percent of renters in the City of Charlottesville are cost-burdened, and of those people, 77 percent pay more than 35 percent of their income.

CHO cites that in order to afford median rent in Charlottesville, a person or family must make $30,000 a year or around $14 per hour. But my rent, of $1,210 a month (split between me and my roommate) times 12 months, equals about half of that income.

So why are Charlottesville residents so cost-burdened?

The biggest reason is that the student population takes up a large percentage of the private rental market. During the 2010-2011 school year, roughly 30 percent of students lived in dorms. If students occupy rental units at an average of 2.5 students per unit, then there are 4,678 units, or 45 percent of rental units left for residents of Charlottesville to rent. Residents must compete with each other for these remaining units, and with students for the units closest to grounds.

In addition to taking up the majority of the market, students can be charged differently than single families. My rent, $1,210 for a two-bedroom apartment, is around 50 percent of a single family’s income if they make $30,000 a year. Landlords do this because they know that students can split the cost with roommates and have additional income from parents or grants.

But imagine a situation where a family would rent the same unit that students would. In a four-bedroom house, each student can conceivably pay around $700 per month in rent, or $2,800 for the entire unit. This rent would be astronomical for a single family, and is a primary reason landlords prefer to rent to students.

But why should UVA care?

A better Charlottesville means a better UVA. If a large percentage of the Charlottesville population is cost-burdened, then UVA also notices. It’s not hard to find people struggling to make ends meet in Charlottesville.

But more than this, the number of Charlottesville commuters is enormous. In 2000, more than 20,000 people commuted to the city to work. UVA spends a large percentage of its budget on parking and transportation, continually expands its parking lots and garages, and increases the supply of bus routes in order to accommodate the many workers that commute.

Hospital workers who do not live in Charlottesville drive from Albemarle, Fluvanna, Louisa and Greene Counties to park in the University Hall parking lots, and then take a shuttle to the parking lot. Parking and catching the bus can add up to 40 minutes to a person’s commute. If these workers lived in Charlottesville, because they could afford to, they could catch the Charlottesville Area Transportation bus and ride it directly to the hospital in less than 20 minutes.

Housing encompasses more elements of a person’s life than just being a physical place to eat and sleep. Housing policy is a point of struggle, but it can also be a huge opportunity to strengthen relations between the University and Charlottesville Community. There are many benefits to be gained from living in diverse communities. The hostility between town and gown can be minimized if all persons in Charlottesville could live together, in close proximity, and work together to solve residents’ housing burden.

Post by Kristen Sweaney (Acc. ’12)

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Legislative Update from the Honor Committee

As Michael Karlik’s term as one of the Batten School’s representatives on the Honor Committee draws to a close, he wanted to give an update on the projects that he has undertaken over the past several weeks to make the Honor System more rational, relevant, and responsive to the interests of the student body.

Informed Retraction

In late January, I introduced into the Committee a piece of legislation that would have created an “Informed Retraction.”  Many of you may have heard that the Committee discussed an Informed Retraction during the fall semester, which would have established a punishment of suspension for people who admitted to committing an Honor offense.  My version of the Informed Retraction was less punitive and was intended to satisfy many of the concerns that led to the prior proposal’s defeat in the Committee.

My legislation was a response to a comment that I heard at the Batten School’s town hall meeting on the Honor System in December.  Students often feel that when they witness an Honor offense, they only have two options: report the person or do nothing.  Many students—and instructors—are understandably wary of getting involved with the Honor System if they believe that they could cause a student’s expulsion.  This reluctance to act allows many offenses to go unacknowledged and unpunished.

My proposal would have allowed a student or a teacher who witnessed an Honor Offense to confront the suspected student, talk about what happened, and permit the student to submit an Informed Retraction.  The Retraction would include a description of the offense and any amends that the student would make to the instructor or other relevant party—most likely in the form of a zero on the assignment or an F in the class.  The student would not go through an Honor trial and would remain at the university.  In my view, this policy would have allowed more students to take ownership of the Honor System, introduce an element of forgiveness, and formalize something that is actually already occurring outside of the System.

Unfortunately, through a combination of fear appeals and an aversion to acting boldly, the Honor Committee rejected the legislation in mid-February.  It marked the second time that this do-nothing Committee failed to think creatively about how to solve the major structural flaws that make many individuals skeptical of our Honor System.

Letter to the Board of Visitors

Earlier this week, I sent a letter to the Board of Visitors’ Student Affairs and Athletics Committee, which oversees the Honor System.  Because I feel that the Honor Committee as an institution is incapable of making any meaningful reforms to make the Honor System fairer, more salient, and more logical, I have asked the Board to rescind the authority it has granted to the Honor Committee over disciplinary matters and reorganize the Honor System.

I did not make this request lightly, given the university’s culture of student self-governance.  However, I believe that the structure of the Honor Committee makes it poorly-equipped to challenge an unsustainable status quo.  I am hoping that the Board of Visitors will act to revise the Honor System to include significant faculty involvement, introduce a set of fair and proportional punishments, and establish sanctioning consistency among dishonorable behaviors.  Only through this intervention will the Honor System be able to focus on the legitimate goal of addressing academic dishonesty without being perceived as antiquated and overly punitive.

You can view the full letter by clicking here.

Honor System Jurisdiction Review

Since the fall semester, I have had the great privilege of working with Committee member Becca Feild of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies to review the Honor Committee’s jurisdiction.  Currently, the Honor System can only punish acts of lying, cheating, or stealing.  Many students, however, do not understand why someone would face automatic expulsion for incorrectly citing their sources in a research paper, and yet would not necessarily be expelled for assault or vandalism.  Many Batten students in a survey felt that there are several behaviors that fit the definition of dishonorable conduct.  However, the Honor System only addresses three.

We determined that there are indeed other activities that should become Honor offenses:

  • Harassment
  • Offenses against property
  • Unprovoked assault
  • Animal abuse
  • Neglecting financial responsibilities

We recommended that the Honor Committee, University Judiciary Committee, and the Sexual Assault Board work with each other as well as with the Board of Visitors and President Sullivan to ensure that these behaviors are treated the same as lying, cheating, and stealing.

To read the full report, click here.

Post of Michael Karlik (Acc. ’12)

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Batten Debuts in U.S. News Grad School Rankings

The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy was barely off the ground in 2008 when U.S. News & World Report last rated schools of public affairs for its annual graduate and professional school ranking. With the 2013 ranks, released Tuesday, the University of Virginia’s newest school has arrived. Batten cracked the top 50, tying for No. 46 with City University of New York-Baruch College, the Naval Postgraduate School, Northern Illinois University, Portland (Ore.) State University, Rutgers University-New Brunswick and the University of Connecticut.

Read the full article here.

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